Holiday Madness

“I’m going to start eating healthy in January.”

“I need to get back on track after the holidays.”

Sound like you?

I hear this. Every. Single. Day.

How about staying on track and starting 2016 with a healthier you?

Rather than digging yourself a deeper hole, why not take advantage of the season and work on your personal health goals?

The holidays really are a special time of year; it’s a great time to focus on time with friends and family. Unfortunately, most of us find this season loaded with sugary foods that leave us feeling tired and full of more cravings. Coupled with the added stress, this can really be a recipe for disaster (and sickness, bloating, and weight gain).

Most common complaints over the holiday season:

  • Fatigue
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Bloating and digestive issues
  • Weight gain

Here are my tips to keeping healthy over the next several weeks

1.Scope it out. Don’t just start loading up your plate. Check out your options and know where you want your “treat” calories to go. Keep portions realistic—no need to keep eating once you’re full. Plan on your plate being mostly protein and vegetables. If you know that your favorite sweet potato casserole is at the end of the buffet, then you can make sure you skimp on the stuffing at the beginning.

2.Plan your beverages.Keep track and know how many you are letting yourself have. Bring something you know you can drink if there won’t be anything else you like available (bottled or carbonated water). DO NOT drink the sugary beverages (and that includes juice)! Go in with a plan.

3.Don’t give up your exercise routine!If you’re short on time, split it up or add in some extras during the day. Holiday party after work? Take 15 minutes in the morning to squeeze in some squats and push ups, take another 15 at lunch for a brisk walk. Exercise increases metabolism, decreases stress hormones and reduces cravings- all MUST haves during these winter months.


4.Grab a healthy snack before you get to the party! This will help you to make more rational decisions during the festivities. When you show up starving you're much more lively to fill up on "carbage." We'll talk more about that shortly.

5.Starving when you get to the party? Load up on protein. If you made the mistake of not having your snack, fill your plate up with chicken, turkey, fish, beef, etc. Don’t fill up on high-carbohydrate foods (stuffing, potatoes, casseroles) that won’t keep you full for very long and don’t provide many nutrients.

6.Don’t chat near the snacks. Standing near the snacks and appetizers is going to increase the chances that you will eat more of them (and you know you probably shouldn’t). Keep social hour away from the cheese ball.  You want to fill up on the nutrient dense stuff (turkey, meat, veggies), not the nutrient poor snack items.

7.Avoid the snacks completely if possible. These tend to be loaded with empty carbs and inflammatory oils (corn, canola, soy and “vegetable" oil).  These aren't only bad news for your waist, but also for your heart, brain and joints. 

8.Carry mints and gum.Want to decrease the likelihood that you will eat more cookies? Chew on some minty gum or mints.

9.Share a healthy treat you like. Bring something you know you want to eat! If you're brining a dish to share, make sure its one that you know you can enjoy in excess.

10.Make the most of the meals you ARE responsible for.If you know you and your family will not be eating the “best” over the next several weeks, make the most of the meals you serve at home. Leave the "treats" to the parties and social events, keep them OUT of your house. Keep up with your healthy habits at home and leave the holiday madness to others.

11.Don’t be afraid to say “no, thank you.” Its okay to say NO. You are doing what’s best for your health. Hosts will survive if there are cookies and cakes left over. Sorry food pushers, but no thank you.

12.Support your stress response. Magnesium or adaptogenic herbs can help promote relaxation and a feeling of calm if you are under additional stress. Adaptogenic herbs are those that can help you “adapt” to stress better. The most common are ashwagandha, ginseng and rhodiola. My favorite is rhodiola, but you should always check with your healthcare provider before starting a new regimen. Magnesium can act as a natural muscle relaxant and also promote a feeling of calm.

13.Get enough sleep! Sleep has an impact on stress hormones, cravings, and more. Aim for 7–9 hours in a dark room. Turn off your T.V. and smart phone 1-2 hours prior to bedtime if you're having trouble falling asleep.

14.Relax. Try to enjoy the holidays! You should be enjoying this time! If you're not then you have some work to do!

Good luck! You can make the most of this holiday season and start off 2016 with a healthier you.

Crossfit. Why I love to hate it.

I'm a runner. I have always hated the idea of "cross-training," dreaded doing anything else besides logging miles. I've tried lifting weights at the gym, but always looked confused and bored (because I was). Then I tried some "at home" workout videos, which just didn't do it for me either.  I mean seriously... I CAN'T JUMP AND DOWN IN MY LIVING ROOM by myself that many times.

About 2 1/2 years ago I was training for a marathon, and I wanted it to be "the one." The one where I officially qualified for the Boston Marathon. The problem was that running just wasn't cutting it anymore. I wasn't getting faster and I really didn't have much muscle. For the amount of time I was spending working out (running) you would think I would at least have some decent muscle mass, but besides my legs I really didn't have much definition (not to mention I could barely lift anything).

And lets face it, logging miles all the time can get a little boring. I tried going to the big box gym to lift, do squats and some cross-training...but once again that didn't work out. Going to a big box gym (even though its "only $10 a month") really doesn't give most people the support they need to be successful. Every time I walked in the only people who said hello were the employees. Why is that? Looking back on my visits to big gyms I realize that's one of the reasons why I love to hate cross fit.

So how was I going to get faster and improve my overall fitness level? I had heard of cross fit from the paleo community but it had always sounded so freaking scary. But I needed something. Something to get my butt moving and something to do besides running. So I googled to find some cross fit boxes in my area and luckily there was one close by, Black Swamp Crossfit. I was SO SCARED to call. I remember sitting in the kitchen with my sister calling to set up an appointment. The lady that answered the phone sounded terrifying, she was the owner (who I know now is absolutely the nicest, most welcoming person) and she was YELLING at people. What was I getting myself into...I hung up and was already scared.

So I showed up for my first initial meeting. I walked in to loud music and a bunch of sweaty people. Seriously sweaty people. They were currently doing their WOD (workout of the day) and I could tell they were in great shape. What the hell was I doing here? I didn't even know how to load weights on a bar, let alone lift it above my head while squatting. Abbey the owner greeted me and put me at ease, but she was still yelling at people. When those scary sweaty people were finished with their workout guess what they did? THEY ALL SAID HELLO. Every. Single. One.

I did my first cross fit workout that day. I was sore for almost a week.

I LOVED it. I loved knowing that I was using muscles that I normally didn't use. I was also excited that I got such an amazing workout in UNDER AN HOUR! Actually the workout was probably just 15 minutes.

I signed up. I figured I would give it 3 months and see how it went.

After having butterflies in my stomach EVERY time I went there, I started to feel more comfortable after the first 2 months. Don't let me fool you, I still ran most the time. Lucky for me there was a running endurance group that had started, so that got me out of doing regular WODs sometimes. But I still was getting more "non-running" workouts than every before, and on a fairly consistent basis.

It worked. I qualified. After 4 marathons and dozens of half marathons over the past 10 years, I finally qualified for the Boston Marathon. It was a great moment, one I have CrossFit to thank for. After doing CrossFit for JUST 5 MONTHS, I shaved almost 30 minutes off my time.

Here is my sister and I at the finish line of the Columbus Marathon. Finish time- 3 Hours 33 Minutes 23 seconds.

Almost 2 years later I'm still doing CrossFit. Here is the AMAZING box I go to, a little before and after shot. The owners are hardworking, friendly, inviting people that have turned a warehouse into a second home for so many.


And some of my favorite WODs...

This box can be what you want it to be (along with all the other CrossFit boxes out there). It can be a place you stop by to get a quick workout in, OR it can be a place you workout, make friends and have good conversations. THEN those friends PUSH you to do better. They are HAPPY for you when you run a faster mile, and you're SINCERELY HAPPY for them when they get a new 1 rep max back squat (I hope I'm saying that right).

I even have my own fancy jump rope now! Look closely and you'll see it has my name on it. This little string with handles has helped me to actually do Double Unders, something I didn't even think I cared about a couple years ago. I have one from Cyclone Speed Ropes, but some people at my box also recommend one from Rogue. Either way having your own rope is a game changer.

Sometimes we even have fantastic events where our friends and family come and participate! These are usually open to the public! Heres my sister (also a runner) thinking Im crazy for telling her to try and flip a tire. Check out Black Swamps Facebook page if you're in the area and want to know when we have things coming up! It's a great way to get involved in your community.

 Why am I posting this? Because I want people to not be intimidated to TRY SOMETHING NEW, even if its terrifying, it may CHANGE YOUR LIFE. Being physically active is SO important for your health. If you're skinny and don't exercise, you're still at risk for a lot of health issues. Its really all about being active and finding something you will do on a REGULAR BASIS.

If you don't enjoy watching TV while your on the elliptical for 45 minutes then why are you still doing it? If you hate running then stop. If you dread putting in that workout DVD then stop.

If you're in the Toledo are you should stop by! Check out their website for hours and trial information. Who wouldn't want to workout with these friendly faces?!

I weigh more now than I did when I started CrossFit, but I'm faster and can back squat a lot more than I weigh. My goal for this year is to be able to do pull-ups. Who would have thought....

I hate CrossFit because it makes me sore, it pushes me to do things I never cared to do. I love it because it makes me a better, stronger person. I also LOVE the fun stuff we do in addition to working out- like paleo challenges and the intramural games we having going on this summer. Sometimes I don't go for a week because I need to log some miles...then I realize I miss it. I miss the workouts and the people. The best part is when you walk in after not being there for a few days, you're welcomed with open arms and smiles. No joke- the owner gave me hug today when I showed up after missing a few days. I can't imagine not having this box in my life. I would probably still be dreading going to the big gym where no one says hello.

So go find an exercise that you ENJOY.