Give me strength

Being a strong person is more than the physical, which is why this phrase resonates so much with me. It’s aspirational and inspirational. It says strength of will, of character. It speaks to grit and determination. Accomplishing what we set our minds to. Knowing we’ll slip up from time to time, and getting right back to it. Speaking up. Being bold. Taking risks. Protecting what’s important to us. Taking care of ourselves so we can take care of our loved ones.

Strength training is a fundamental part of being a strong person. And it’s a core part of my programs because it is key to changing your body and improving your overall health. Lean muscles transform your body’s shape and appearance. Stressing your body with strength-based exercise is good, because it tears you down to build you back up a little stronger, building more lean muscle mass and bone density. And it has so many other benefits. According to Mayo Clinic, people with lean muscle mass sleep better, have more energy throughout the day and during exercise, and strengthen their bones.

I [heart] food

Successful weight loss is 80% diet, 10% exercise and 10% genetics. What you eat plays a huge role in your healthy body and healthy life. It’s the main reason I focus on food just as much as I focus on exercise and other healthy behaviors. And why you’ll find so many food-related resources here. From healthy recipes, nutritional tips and advice, and ways you can stick to your healthy eating plan during times when it’s not always so easy, to how to read nutritional labels, what to eat to get your daily requirements of micro (vitamins and minerals) and macro nutrients (carbs, protein, fat) … you’ll find it all here.

With a new fad diet every time you turn around, it’s hard to know what to eat. Most of these diets want you to do really stupid things—like massively restrict your calories (bad, bad idea) and removing total food groups (hello, we need fruit and we need good carbs like whole grains!). Diets really suck. They say “deprivation and constant hunger” to me. I don’t want to be on one for the rest of my life. And neither do you.

That means you have to find a healthy way of eating that is based on whole, clean, nutritious foods and that you will be able to sustain permanently. The recipes in my Flat & Happy Recipe Guide are all built around whole foods that taste delicious and are easy to make. You have to become more aware of how much you need to eat each day to satisfy your body. Understanding what a portion or serving actually looks like, the nutritional content of your food and how many calories you really need to lose or maintain weight are tools we all need.

Eat what you’re craving … and enjoy it

We all have moments when we want pizza or a cupcake or chips and guacamole or a really good glass of red wine. Yep, I freely admit that I will never pass up quality guacamole. Wine? Of course I want a glass. When I do crave something, I don’t try to bury it. I don’t eat three other “healthy” things in an effort to avoid eating the one thing I really want. I have some (not a platter’s worth, some). And I enjoy it. Then, I go back to my normal routine of eating clean without feeling guilty.

Good health isn’t just the number on the scale or the size of your jeans

Good health is not just about the number on the scale and the size on the tag of your clothes. It’s about being happy within yourself, avoiding situations and substances that are not good for you, and taking care of yourself as a whole. It’s a life long commitment. To keep that commitment, you’ve got to figure out what to embrace and what to avoid. Because as soon as you start feeling bored or deprived, you’ll start thinking about “cheating” on your commitment by stressing out, not getting enough sleep, not moving every day or eating those cookies even though they really don’t taste good.

You’ve heard the expression “everything in moderation.” It’s a good way to approach life. Yes, you can enjoy the pasta, just not three times a week! You can go out and indulge until the wee hours of the morning on Friday night, then aim for more restorative activities Saturday night like a walk after a healthy dinner and a night in spending time with your friends and family doing something that makes you laugh. Living a healthy lifestyle is about balance. You know what’s good for you but you want what feels good to you.

Exercise, eating clean and avoiding stress as much as you can are three of the most important ways to live a healthy lifestyle. But there’s so much more to it than that. Drinking plenty of water, sleeping regularly (and well), having good friends and healthy relationships, helping others and being productive are also important.

Prevention is a good approach to adopt too. So many people avoid the doctor simply because they don’t want to know if they are sick or at risk. But age- and gender-related exams like pap smears, breast exams, mole checks and a biometric screening will help you catch any potential hazards to your health early … so you can do something about it before it becomes serious or life threatening. So, make that appointment for your annual exam with your regular doctor, your OB/GYN, your dermatologist and your dentist.

No boredom allowed

Changing things up keeps your body adapting to the stresses you place on it through exercise, so you keep getting leaner and fitter. And it keeps you from getting bored—one of the top motivation killers! Workouts with me are efficient, challenging and full of variety. I hand-pick the exercises for my private personal training clients and in programs like my 8-Week Challenge to burn fat, sculpt muscle, improve balance and effectively target the typical trouble zones many people (ahem, me included) have—arms, thighs, butt and stomach. Variety in your routine will also keep you away from a plateau—where you stop losing weight and stop seeing positive gains in lean muscle mass. Changing up your location helps too. At home, at the gym, outside or with a group–-you’ll do it all when you work with me.