The Four Pillars Of Fitness: Pillar 3-Flexibility

045090-YogaPoolside-17Have you ever stood up after sitting for a prolonged period and felt tightening and stiffness in your muscles?  Then it’s likely you need to improve your flexibility.  It’s also likely that you know that.  Yet flexibility is one of the most commonly neglected areas of fitness, perhaps because the progress is not visibly apparent.  But improving flexibility does a body good.  A flexible muscle has greater strength potential.  Improved flexibility increases cardiovascular endurance and performance.  With increased flexibility, you’ll also move more comfortably, avoid injury, and whatever you do – from stooping to pick up a piece of paper to stretching to grab something off a tall shelf – will feel easier.

That said, you’ll spend the smallest amount of time working on flexibility.  That is not to diminish it’s importance but to help you prioritize the time you have to devote to fitness.  Your goal may involve dramatic gains in flexibility, but for most of us, flexibility objectives center around improving our function in everyday life.  The easiest way to maintain your current level of flexibility is simply to stretch for 5 minutes after your cardio, while your muscles are warm and pliable.  To actually improve your flexibility, you’ll need to devote 1 to 2 days a week to flexibility training.  It doesn’t take much time, either.  Simply tack an additional 20 to 30 minutes onto your post-cardio or post-strength-training to stretch.

Improving your flexibility, and including flexibility exercises as part of your regular routine, might not get the scale to move as quickly as a run or eating the right foods, but it will give you an edge.  Consider the benefits of improved flexibility:

~ More energy and mobility

~ More muscle strength and power

~ Improved posture and balance

~ Better athletic performance

~ Reduce stiffness and joint pain

~ Reduce muscle stress and chronic injury

So take the time to schedule flexibility training.  It will be so good for your body!  I promise!

Don’t forget to leave me a comment or question below! It’s how I serve you better.  And don’t be shy! Click the Pin it button below and share this post with those who would benefit from it.

Chalene

The Smartphone Advantage

IMG_1448For years, writing out goals has been taught as one of the pillars of success.  And it always will be.  But if you have a smartphone, you can turbocharge the speed at which you achieve your goals and give goal setting a 21st-century makeover.

Earl Nightingale, whom many considered to be the dean of personal development, once said that we become what we think about most.  Now, because of technology, we have this incredible advantage.  In the past, before the use of smartphones, if you wanted to think about something, if you needed to focus your thoughts around your goals, you had to rely on your memory.  I don’t know about you, but my memory is out of hard drive space.  Not too reliable.  Thank goodness for my phone!

When it comes to weight training, I’m fanatical about proper technique.  My personal training clients used to call me a “freak for form.”  I’m equally passionate about smartphones.  Call me a cell snob if you must, but my persistence stems from a sincere belief that if it makes life easier for people, I have a duty to push.  Now listen, there are plenty of very smart people who do not have smartphones.  You might be one of them.  Most people who don’t use a smartphone say, “I just don’t know why I would need one.”  I get it.  It’s hard to imagine needing something you’ve gone this long without.  I remember thinking the same thing about the internet.  Today, I can’t imagine how we survived before Wi-Fi.

Of course you’ll survive without a smartphone.  Your success does not hinge on whether you have a digital device.  BUT…It will give you an edge.  It will make life easier.  Your smartphone becomes your personal trainer, your accountability, and your personal assistant in your pocket.

Some technologies you can do without.  I happen to believe the smartphone is one of the game-changing breakthroughs that can have a tangible impact on every corner of your life.  You don’t have to make a decision today.  You can get where you’re going without it.  I just ask that you keep an open mind.  It is an investment that I promise will pay you dividends.

What are some ways your smartphone has made your life easier? Leave it in the comments below!

~ Chalene 

Success Is A Decision

PYO_ChaleneOnPiyoSet-07-243We all know the guy who’s scheduled for his second bypass yet continues to smoke, drink, and eat crap.  Or the aunt who’s been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes who manages it with meds and lies to herself and everyone around her that she’s changing her lifestyle.  They both have beautiful kids or grandkids, great jobs, or whatever.  Even with all of that at stake, it’s not enough to motivate them to make a steadfast commitment to succeed.

If a life threatening illness doesn’t get your attention, what does!?  And that’s the interesting part about my experiences with long-term successfully healthy folks.  All formally unfit, unsuccessful people start their new life with a decision, a mental commitment, a day, a moment when they commit to live life differently – forever.

For some it’s a health scare, a photo, an all-time high on the scale, but for most it’s a culmination of relatively tolerable events and their love for someone else that finally leads to a moment of mental clarity in which they just decided this must end!

So while the decision must be yours, you may have heaped so much hate on yourself that right now you don’t feel deserving of the transformation.  It might be the love you have for someone else that brings you to this point.  But there’s one thing I know: There’s no transformation, no life changing, no bangin’ body, or better time management until you decide you are worth the effort.

So…No more excuses.  No more hiding out.  This is your moment.  Make the decision to succeed.  Once you do that – and believe me, that’s the hardest part – success itself is just a few habits away.  You’ll never be the same person again.

Did you decide yet?

Come on.  Do it now!

I’m serious!  Right now, in this very moment…make a decision!

Once you do…POOF! Failure has just been removed from your vocabulary.  Finito! Gone! Success is yours to be had! It all begins with your decision to succeed.  If you keep this mentality with you, nothing else will be as difficult moving forward, because of your belief in yourself.

Chalene

Recipe For Healthy Waldorf Salad

This is my go-to healthy recipe for Waldorf Salad.  I cut the calories and fat almost in half by using non-fat greek yogurt as opposed to mayonnaise.  This is a great trick that you can carry over into other recipes!  My recommendation is to triple this recipe so you have it on hand for several meals.  It will hold up great in the refrigerator.  Serve over romaine or butter lettuce and you’ve got a super yummy salad that will keep you full for hours!

Ingredients:

1/4 cup Fage Total 0% Plain Greek Yogurt (or your favorite fat-free Greek-style yogurt)

1/2 teaspoon orange juice or lemon juice

1 chicken breast

1/2 tart green apple, peeled, cored, and sliced small

1 stalk celery, cut into small pieces (optional)

1/2 cup seedless grapes, halved

1/4 cup dried cranberries or golden raisins

10 toasted raw almonds

Directions:

In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt and orange/lemon juice.  Set aside.  Then in a skillet, bring 2 inches of water to a boil.  Add the chicken, reduce the heat, and simmer for about 8-10 minutes.  Do not let the chicken boil or it will get tough.  Cool the chicken and cut into 1 inch chunks.  Make sure chicken is cooked all the way through and is not pink in the center.  Combine with the apple, celery, grapes, dried cranberries/raisins, and almonds.  Give yogurt mixture another stir, then pour over chicken.  Toss all of the ingredients and chill for at least 1 hour.

Makes 2 servings.

Per serving: 220 calories, 19 g protein, 26 g carbohydrates, 5 g total fat, 2 g dietary fiber, 94 mg sodium.

Don’t forget to let me know how much you enjoyed this recipe by leaving a comment!  Also, don’t be shy! Click the Pin it button and share the love!  Want more great FREE recipes from me?  Join my 7 Day Challenge by clicking HERE and eat clean and train mean with me!

~ Chalene

The Four Pillars Of Fitness: Pillar 2-Rest & Sleep

045090-Lifestyle_BedroomBedThere are mountains of research suggesting that Americans are overweight in large part because we are chronically sleep deprived (among other factors).  Somewhere along the line, we’ve been brainwashed into thinking that rest or sleep is something lazy people do.  This carries over into fitness, where many people say they are too tired to exercise.  Those who work hard and miss the rest they so desperately need never allow their bodies to heal or to achieve adequate recovery.

 

 

Science teaches us that adequate hours and quality of sleep will help:

~ Metabolize carbohydrates properly

~ Maintain leptin and growth hormones

~ Increase energy levels

~ Increase cognitives abilities

~ Maintain proper blood pressure and insulin resistance

~ Decrease anxiety and perceived stress

~ Repair muscle

Most people fall off the exercise wagon after just a few weeks of effort.  They fail to make adjustments in their sleeping patterns, and the results is a tired body and defeated resolve.  Without enough sleep, it’s difficult to do just about anything, let alone exercise and eat right.

It generally takes about 7 hours as quality sleep for most people to gain the reparations and benefits of sleep.  People often lose sleep when they add exercise to the equation.  This happens only when exercise is simply added to the existing busy schedule and no accommodations are made to scrape other activities off your plate!

Make an effort to measure and record your sleep hours and quality as carefully as you track your progress in any other area.  Devices like Bodybugg and Fitbit, worn while you sleep, can help you track and improve your sleep patterns.

MUSCLE REST

Your body needs adequate time to recuperate after exercise.  The quicker the recovery, the quicker you’ll see gains in strength and physical transformation.  Strength and muscle gains (which translates into fat loss) increase during periods of rest.  The amount of rest needed will vary from person to person based on your goals, your intensity, and your unique makeup.

Here are a few general guidelines to consider when planning rest:

~ Moderate muscle soreness is normal.

~ Intense muscle soreness means those muscles should not be “loaded” for a period of 24 hours of rest.  That is not to say, however, that you can’t work the soreness out by doing something of moderate intensity.

~ When weight training for strength, allow 24 hours of rest between muscle groups targeted in that day’s workout.

~ A day of rest after physically loading your body is strongly encouraged.  However, a brisk walk can be considered rest!  There’s a difference between elevating your heart rate and enjoying the mental benefits of moderate activity versus pushing yourself and taxing or loading your system.

Listen to your body, but don’t be an excuse maker!  Everyone needs rest.  Your best progress will be made during periods of sleep and when you allow your body to repair itself.  Here’s my honest-to-goodness rule for rest: I do not schedule a day of rest for myself, I let “life” do that for me.  In other words, I set out to get 7 days of exercise per week, or 2 days out of 10, something more important than my workout comes up.  No problem!  Instead of rigidly denying life’s little surprises, I chalk them up to rest days.  Granted, I will still find a way to get my heart rate up for a minimum of 30 minutes on those days, but it’s not life and death.

Don’t forget to leave me a comment or question below! It’s how I serve you better.  And don’t be shy! Click the Pin it button below and share this post with those who would benefit from it.

Chalene