Is there a suspension trainer hanging in your workout room, lonely and unused?
Thinking of buying one, but want to make sure it’s worth it?
You’ll be surprised how much you’ll use your TRX suspension trainer once you learn a few new exercises … and feel how effective they are.
Plus, they’re a fun way to mix up your workouts, and the exercises you do with them actually incorporate more muscles – which means you can get fitter, faster.
After years of doing mostly gym-style workouts, I was a skeptic but now I use mine every day with my clients, and I often incorporate it into my own workouts.
Here’s Why You’ll Love TRX Workouts:
- You can simulate many gym-machine exercises for a fraction of the cost.
- Suspension trainers force you to use your stabilizer muscles, helping you get stronger, faster.
- My clients with form/joint issues tell me that doing lunges/squats with the suspension trainer places less stress on their knees. They also tell me they still feel them the next day in the “good” way that lets them know they had an effective workout.
- You can adjust how challenging an exercise is by your placement relative to the TRX.
- Working your back muscles at home can be hard – the TRX makes it easy.
Still not convinced? There have been a number of studies investigating the effectiveness of suspension trainer workouts.
While there seems to be some disagreement how much “bonus” work your get gets, one thing is clear: using TRX-style trainers DOES activate more muscles overall than more static exercises (1).
Which Suspension Trainer Should I Buy?
I bought a TRX at a fitness trade show about 10 years ago for $200.
And it’s great – its straps are solid, well-made, and that thing is NOT going to fall apart anytime soon.
I bought a knockoff suspension trainer online last year for about $40 … and it was pretty great too, although I would be concerned about regularly using it with someone who weighs 200+ pounds.
Here’s something to know, though, before you go searching for knockoffs. The company that owns the TRX (Fitness Anywhere) won a major lawsuit against the company from which I bought my knockoff. And that knockoff company is out of business now.
But if you DO buy a knockoff, make sure it’s strong enough to support your weight. The bigger you are, the more important this becomes.
TRX Suspension Trainer Workout
Here’s a surprisingly effective workout I put together using the suspension trainer. Below the video I’ve included reps, sets, etc.
Before I get into the details, let’s talk facts.
1. Who Is This Workout For?
Because of a few of the exercises included, I’ve labeled this one an intermediate workout. The jump squats, single-leg lunges, and mountain climbers can get a little tough for anyone with joint issues.
Otherwise, it would be good for all levels, because your foot placement when using the TRX can help you modify how challenging the exercises become.
2. How Long Does This Workout Take?
This workout should take around 30 minutes.
3. How Often Should I Do This Workout?
If you’re doing total-body workouts like this one, you will want to take a day off between them, as the actual change within your muscles occurs during the time BETWEEN workouts.
You can always alternate total-body workouts with cardio workouts.
4. What Muscles Does It Work?
This workout hits nearly every muscle in your body. That being said, because of the stabilization effect I personally feel this one in my triceps, hamstrings, and obliques every time I do it.
TRX Suspension Workout Details
Below the video I’ve included reps, sets, etc. but as always, listen to your body. If you haven’t been working out much lately, maybe one circuit will be enough.
And if you’re more advanced and looking for a challenge, you can set a time limit (say 30 minutes) and see how many times you can make it through the circuit using good form.
As always, be sure to warm up with some light bodyweight exercises (squats, arm circles, pushups, etc.) before beginning the workout, and cool down with an easy walk to bring your heart rate back to normal when you’re done.
Repeat the following circuit for 2 to 4 sets:
- Low Row, 10 to 15 reps
- Squats, 15 reps
- 1-Arm Row, 8 to 12 reps each side
- Jump Squats, 15 reps
- Standing Fallout, 10 reps (keep this one under control!)
- Alligator, 10 reps
- Single-leg lunge, 8 to 10 reps each side
- Reverse mountain climbers, 10 reps each side
- Triceps extension, 10 to 12 reps
- Hamstring curl, 10 to 15 reps
- 1 minute break
Focus on Form
When you try these exercises, really focus on your form.
Keep your knees “soft” and unlocked, your core engaged, and key in on the muscles you’re using.
You’ll feel it tomorrow, trust me! (And you might even have some choice words for me during the reverse mountain climbers, hehheh.)
Build a Stronger Core
Looking for more? Sign up below for my 6-day Stronger Core Challenge! You’ll combine a few diet tweaks with some sneaky exercises to get you on your way to a flatter belly, fast.
What if I told you there was a simple task that you could do several times a week that would make a huge difference in helping you lose weight?
Or keep that weight off, once you reach your goal?
In fact, it’s a task that study after study – dating back to at least the 1970s – has validated. But at the same time, it’s something that almost every course I’ve taken over the years says you likely WILL NOT do.
This tool is absolutely FREE, but the fact people don’t/won’t use it has spawned an entire industry that makes billions of dollars a year.
You’ve seen the title of this post, so you already know what it is.
It’s keeping a food journal.
But wait! Before you click off, here’s something to know:
If you can just keep a food journal SOME of the time – it doesn’t have to be ALL of the time – it can make a real difference.
See what I did there? Like, kind of beg you NOT to shrug this off?
As a trainer and fitness coach, this is part of my job. I’ve spent years soothing people about this topic. I’ve been apologetic. I’ve clicked my tongue, telling them I know how hard it is, oh and how I wish it wasn’t so. I’ve held their hands and searched desperately to find a spoonful of magic to help this medicine go down.
Some bullet points why food journals kick butt:
- You can eat a flexible diet (still enjoy your favorites) while achieving your physique goals.
- Nothing is banned from your diet.
- They give you data – you can see little ways to tweak your program to attain maximum results.
- AND … they help you follow my training/nutrition maxim: How to do the least to get the most.
See why I’m feeling a little tired of soft-selling food journaling?
“But it’s so hard, Wendy. I don’t have time. I’ve tried but I just can’t stick with it.”
Grown-Up Wisdom From My Father
I know it can be challenging, but most worthwhile things are.
Did you ever see the TV show That 70s Show? Red, the dad in the show, was a lot like my father.
I hated going to school. Like: HATED. And some days he didn’t love his job so much and would have preferred to stay in his garage, tinkering.
And yet every morning he would drive me to school, listening to me complain/whine/beg not to go. And there he’d be, on his way to a job he didn’t always love, listening to me.
He would tell me: “Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do.”
And it’s true. The way I look at it is this:
- If you want clean clothes, you have to wash them when they get dirty, even if you’d rather be doing something else.
- If you want to save up for vacation, you have to cut back on spending elsewhere so you can sock money away.
- And if you want to earn some money, you have to go to work.
The only guaranteed way to get the results you want is to take the tested-by-time approach.
Like keeping a food journal, yes?
Oh and one more thing before I get into the nut of this: I have to keep a food journal, too. And guess what? I don’t always (ever) feel like it. But when I don’t keep one, my weight starts to creep up.
So I’m not asking you to do anything I don’t do myself. I have to follow the rules, too.
Science-Backed Proof that Food Journals Work
As science has established, to lose weight you have to create a calorie deficit. That means, basically, burning more calories than you take in. Even if those calories are gluten-, sugar-, dairy-, and even carb-free.
Question: How do you know if you’re eating less than you are burning, unless you keep some kind of record?
Let me ask you another question (or three). Have you ever stood on the scale after “dieting” for a week, praying to see the scale go down?
And then it didn’t?
It’s a total bummer, right? Especially if you’re not sure what went wrong.
This is where a food journal comes in. If you write down everything you eat, then you have a pretty good idea if you’re eating at a calorie deficit.
It only makes sense, because you have actual DATA to work with.
Here’s another thing: it doesn’t matter how fancy your food journal is. You can keep a paper record, although studies show it can be time-consuming and cumbersome. Or you can use an app or website to record your food intake.
You don’t even have to keep a meticulous record every day of the week. Studies show that keeping a record 75 percent of the time seems to be the sweet spot (see study below).
I’m gonna get into the particulars of how to keep a food journal below, but I wanted to share with you some real science. If you don’t want to read it, just scroll on past it. 🙂
6 Actual Quotes from Actual Scientific Studies/Reviews
There are dozens and dozens of studies showing the efficacy of food journaling. In fact, it was challenging to choose just a few to include here, so I picked 6 at random to show you.
Like, seriously, in less than 10 minutes on a Sunday morning, I came up with these.
If you want to find more of your own, here are some search terms to google: “self-monitoring weight loss nih ncbi,” and “food journal weight loss nih ncbi.” NIH = National Institutes of Health, NCBI = National Center for Biotechnology Information.
The language used by researchers is a little dense, so I’ve included only tidbits, but you can click the links for more.
1. Dietary Self-Monitoring and Long-Term Success with Weight Management
This study looked at weight maintenance AFTER weight loss.
“Higher total frequency of (dietary) self-monitoring was significantly associated with lower percent weight change within individuals who self-monitored consistently, but had little impact on weight change for those who did not self-monitor consistently (1).”
So, those who logged their food gained back less of the weight.
Also in this study, it was noted:
2. The Role of Self-Monitoring in the Maintenance of Weight Loss Success
“… Self-monitoring can play a key role in successful long-term weight management. These initial results support previous research demonstrating self-monitoring as an effective tool to promote weight loss (citing the study above). However, it extends beyond prior studies in illustrating the beneficial impact of self-monitoring on long-term weight loss (2).”
Basically, study participants who self-monitored their food intake for longer periods of time got better results.
3. Comparison of techniques for self-monitoring eating and exercise behaviors on weight loss in a correspondence-based intervention
“Findings suggest the self-monitoring process, rather than the detail of self-monitoring, is important for facilitating weight loss and change in eating and physical activity behaviors …. A reasonable target for consistency for self-monitoring within the context of a professional cognitive-behavioral treatment program may be self-monitoring all foods eaten on at least 75% of the days (3).”
4. The Effect of Electronic Self-Monitoring on Weight Loss and Dietary Intake: A Randomized Behavioral Weight Loss Trial
“In summary, in our study that used 3 different approaches to self-monitoring diet and exercise, each group achieved a significant weight loss … These findings suggest that use of an electronic diary facilitates improved self-monitoring however, the use of an electronic diary plus a daily feedback message that was tailored to what had been entered in the diary was related to the best weight loss (4).”
People in this study who received immediate feedback after they completed a food diary did the best. Some online apps offer this feedback for free, or as part of their premium services (like MyFitnessPal, Fitbit, or more).
5. Can following the caloric restriction recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans help individuals lose weight?
“Individuals who averaged an energy deficit in excess of 500 kcal per day lost nearly four times the weight as individuals whose average energy deficit was below 500 kcal per day. Individuals who lost 5% of their body weight during the intervention self-monitored more than twice as many days than individuals who failed to lose 5% of their body weight.
Individuals interested in losing weight should continue to be advised to regularly self-monitor energy intake and expenditure as well as to create a consistent daily energy deficit (5).”
6. Self-Monitoring and Eating-Related Behaviors Associated with 12-Month Weight Loss in Postmenopausal Overweight-to-Obese Women
“Greater food journal use predicted better weight loss outcomes while skipping meals and eating out more frequently were associated with less weight loss. This study identified specific behaviors linked to weight outcomes that can inform the development of practical, evidence-based weight loss recommendations for overweight/obese postmenopausal women. From a clinical point of view, these findings are promising and suggest fundamentals such as eating out less, eating at regular intervals, and use of food journals are weight loss strategies that may be effective for postmenopausal women (6).”
How To Keep a Food Journal
Pretty convincing stuff, huh?
It’s so convincing that I actually feel guilty about trying to find workarounds my clients will use. I almost feel like I’m selling them short.
Why? Workarounds take longer. They are less precise, so when the weight doesn’t come off, it’s hard to know exactly why.
And it’s super hard to stay motivated when you’re not getting any results.
But before I get into all THAT, here are things to keep in mind when it comes to keeping a food journal.
Rule One: Don’t Judge Yourself
Yes, keeping a food journal does require that you ‘fess up to every bite you eat.
But it doesn’t mean you’re “bad” or “good” or that any kinds of foods are inherently “bad” or “good.” There really are no BAD foods (well, k, maybe trans fats …), but there are foods with better or worse nutritional and health benefits.
At least to start with, you’re just entering data when you’re keeping a food journal.
Think of it as an educational process.
Every time I revisit my food journal, I’m surprised at how I’ve let my portion sizes creep up, inadvertently taking in more than I thought.
Using a food journal can help you stick with a program because it doesn’t ban specific foods. You don’t have to deprive yourself of your favorites.
If you really want to eat a slice of pizza, you will have to deal with the fact it contains a certain number of calories, and trade them off somewhere else.
But you still get to eat your pizza. It’s a matter of choice.
Rule Two: It’s Not About Perfection
This ties into the rule above.
We’re all human. We have complicated relationships with food.
Contrary to what anyone says, food is not just fuel. We celebrate with it, we enjoy it, we have memories and happy (or not-so-happy) associations with it.
The minute you start trying to be perfect or follow stringent rules is the minute you derail yourself. That’s because your mind starts thinking you’re either “on” a plan or “off” a plan. And when we go “off” a plan, it often means we’ve strapped on the ol’ feedbag.
Food journaling allows you to create a lifestyle that supports your weight goals, where you don’t have to be “on” or “off.”
Rule Three: Foods Are Not Just Calories
It’s very easy to start reducing food to the number of calories it contains. You can start to think that eating a cookie is the equivalent of spending 45 minutes on level 5 of the elliptical.
As I mentioned above, food is more complicated than that.
What you eat forms the building blocks of your body. The kind of food you eats affects how full you feel after you eat it, your mood, and, most importantly, your health.
Certain foods (like sugary and processed foods) can even make you gain weight in your belly. And other foods (like proteins) can help you maintain muscle while you lose weight. Some foods can keep your digestive system happy, others are good for your brain health, and yet others will make your skin glow with health.
So while it might be tempting to start seeing “calorie equivalents” on everything you eat, keep in mind that 150 calories worth of banana is much different to your body than 150 calories worth of chocolate chip cookie.
Simple Steps to Make Food Journaling Work
I highly recommend experimenting till you find a method that works for YOU.
Personally, I like to use the food journals offered by Fitbit or MyFitnessPal. I also happen to prefer the computer version vs. the phone app, because at least in their current forms they break down the info better. But there are dozens of free options available.
I prefer online/app journals because they’re portable and they do a lot of math for you. Plus, once you use them for a couple days, they store the foods you regularly eat, so it becomes increasingly easier/faster to log your foods.
Now, here’s something important to be aware of: most of these sites will try to have you set a daily calorie goal immediately.
I recommend holding off on that for a bit. Sometimes the goals the sites set up for you can be pretty aggressive, setting you up for failure right out of the gate.
My suggestion: for 3 days, record everything you eat. Don’t try to be “good” unless you can’t help yourself.
Chances are you’ll be a little shocked to see how many calories some of your go-to foods contain.
The next step, if you want to lose weight or change your body composition, is to start to refine your food intake. I’ve created a calculator for women you can find here to help you do this (I am working on one for guys).
But my recommendation with THAT is not to get too spun out about your macronutrient breakdown, especially at first.
Keep It Simple for a Happy Life
If you want to lose weight, experts recommend a 300- to 500-calorie deficit a day, which works out to about 1 pound a week. If you fall into the obese category, you can create a slightly larger deficit.
So, you would try to find ways to cut that number of calories from your average daily food intake, as recorded on your 3 first days. Do that for a few days and see how you feel.
You might notice that some breakfasts keep you feeling fuller longer.
Or you might discover if you don’t eat enough during the day, you’re super hungry at night.
You might notice that if you don’t drink enough water during the day, you crave carbs.
When you start paying attention to these things, you’ll start noticing real results.
And THEN, once you master the process, you can start to put together an eating program that works for you and your everyday life.
Flexible Food Journaling Is The Key
This is about creating a healthy lifestyle that supports your weight/body goals, not about depriving yourself.
Why? The more rigid your eating plan is, the harder it is with stick to long-term. And when you go “off” your plan you’re more apt to regain any weight you’ve lost.
Instead, try using your food journal as a way to let YOU run your food intake, and not let your food intake run you.
Have you had success using a food journal? I’d love to hear about it!
The other night I made a delicious meal – OK, actually 8 meals – that required no chopping whatsoever.
Basically, all I did was throw a bunch of stuff in an oven-proof skillet and, barely 30 minutes later, ended up with a nutritious, filling and low-cal meal that tasted great.
That’s why I love frittatas, which are kind of like Italian omelettes but require absolutely no folding or flipping. That means cooking them requires very little actual cooking (yay!).
Plus, they’re pretty much infinitely versatile and are a great way to use up any veggies or ingredients that you have left over in the fridge.
Low Calorie Frittata Recipe
I made this frittata for my dinner on a Sunday night and, after I ate, I still had seven meals left. Well, in theory anyway, because it tasted so good that on Monday, I actually ate two servings for lunch (but once you look at the nutrition numbers, you’ll see that’s not a big deal).
Yes, the purist in me doesn’t love convenience foods. But the realist? Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, and this recipe heavily relies on canned/packaged foods. But as “convenience” foods go, the ones I’ve included in this recipe are fairly harmless.
The feta cheese in this recipe doesn’t necessarily go with the Mexican theme of the rest of the ingredients, but it’s what I had the fridge and I like its zesty flavor. If you have a different cheese on-hand … or if you want to go without cheese … that’s OK. If you do a swap out, know that the nutrition info might be a bit different.
And just as you can swap out the cheese, you can also use different bean varieties and also different veggies.
But I happen to like this combo because it’s basically rinse, toss it into the pan, and cook.
Calories Count in Weight Loss
If you’re looking to make a change in your body composition, knowing exactly how much you’re eating is vital. Calorie are the units we use to measure both how much fuel we take in and how much we expend.
Creating into a modest fuel deficit is (eating just slightly less than we burn off) is the key to long-term and healthy fat loss.
Here’s how to track your calorie intake: 6 Science-Backed Reasons to Rethink Your Food Journal.
No chopping required for this recipe. Just rinse the ingredients, throw them in a skillet, and a half-hour later it's time to eat.
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 58
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Total Carbohydrates 16g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 6 cups raw baby spinach, washed
- 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed
- 16 oz. jar of salsa
- 32-oz carton of egg substitute
- 6 oz. reduced-fat feta cheese crumbles
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Heat oil in a large oven-proof skillet. When it's hot, add baby spinach, cooking until wilted.
- Add black beans and stir for 3 minutes.
- Add salsa and cook for 1 minute.
- Stir in carton of egg substitute, stirring to make sure ingredients are evenly dispersed.
- Add cheese, stirring gently to incorporate into the mixture.
- Cook on stove for 3 to 5 minutes, then move the skillet to the oven, and cook until set, about 30 minutes (this will depend on the size of your skillet).
- Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Cut into 8 slices.
Wendy Fitness Coaching http://wendyfitness.com/
Like you just can’t keep up?
It can happen when you are:
- Trying to juggle work, home, and family projects.
- In the middle of a personal sh*storm – dealing with financial, health, or family crises.
- Faced with too many things to do in too little time.
- Overtired, overstressed, or just plain “over” stuff.
What does this have to do with fitness, you ask?
Kind of everything. I’ve spent the past 10+ years watching and listening to overwhelmed clients try to do it all. And I’ve heard them talk about their sore backs, their knees, their hips, and their shoulders. It’s as if they are carrying the weight of the world. And yet they think it will all better better if they just do more … and do that more even BETTER.
I’ve also been there. Over the past couple years, between some huge business/work changes, battling a pesky health bump, juggling online/offline work, walking my never-enough-walks dog, AND trying to get my own workouts in, there have been days I didn’t know which way I was going.
So Much To Do, So Little Time
My grandmother, who also was an entrepreneur, had a saying: “I’m so busy I am going to meet myself coming around the corner.” (She also occasionally said she was “busier than a one-armed paper hanger.” She said a lot of non-corny things, too.)
Anyway, when you’re in the middle of all that overwhelm, it’s normal to think: “I just need to get organized.”
But have you ever noticed that when you’re feeling overwhelmed, any attempts you make to organize your mind/tasks/life/stuff don’t ever stick?
That’s because when your mind is overwhelm mode, you can’t get a handle on exactly what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, how you’re going to find the time, and often, how you’re actually going to do it.
Plus, when you’re struggling with brain clutter, you somehow seem to come up with even MORE stuff you have to (or want to) do. It’s a crazy self-perpetuating cycle.
Get Quiet, Get Clear
Before you can organize your tasks, your life, your stuff, your finances, or whatever … you have to do one thing first.
You have to clear your mind.
I know. Sounds impossible, right? When your thoughts are running you with a never-ending list of stuff to do/think about/etc. how are you supposed to shut them up?
Take it from me: going on a massive multi-tasking binge to get caught up on a few things first is the exact OPPOSITE of what you need to do.
Instead, try to STOP and get quiet … even though you think stopping is going to make it worse.
Taking some time to pull back and declutter your mind is totally worth it.
And here are some simple ways to make that happen.
8 Ways to Declutter Your Mind Backed By Science
1. Take a Nap
When you’re tired you’re especially prone to feeling overwhelmed.
When you haven’t had enough sleep, the pathways in your brain just don’t work the way they are supposed to. Your brain’s info-filtering system has a hard time differentiating all the input that’s being thrown at it.
And that means making decisions is even harder (1).
Seriously, what’s one of the first things you would do for a fussy toddler who can’t seem to get comfortable or happy? You’d think: “If only they would just take a nap.”
Try to take some time to chill, and if you’re freaking out about wasting time, set your timer and let yourself relax for 20 minutes. It’ll be worth it.
2. Write Down Your Feelings
One of the best ways to clear your mind of clutter is to take the time to write down your feelings/thoughts/tasks.
Here’s a huge hint that you will benefit from journaling. If the idea of taking the time to write down your feelings makes you feel stabby … like you have NO TIME for it, and it’s a stupid idea… it means you should do it.
Trust me. I’ve felt that way on numerous occasions. And then I’ve picked up my notebook, written for a while, and felt so much better that I vow to write in my journal every day (which I mostly do).
Anyway, study after study points to how beneficial journaling is to our well-being (2).
I find it to be especially effective if I do it as soon as possible after waking up, either in the morning or after that nap I mentioned above.
Write down how you’re feeling and thinking, organize your thoughts, and you’ll start to see your priorities develop, which will help get you out of overwhelm mode.
And if you’re worried someone will read what you wrote, rip up the pages. Problem solved.
This is another one of those things that if the idea of it makes you feel grouchy or like kicking the wall, maybe you need some of it in your life.
You’ve probably noticed over the past few years that meditation has moved out of the “woo-woo” sphere to become more mainstream. That’s because more stressed-out individuals have found it to be an effective tool to clear the clutter in their heads.
When life is hectic, do you ever feel as though you’re having a non-stop conversation (with yourself) in your head? Like your thoughts are scattered and out of control? That’s called monkey mind, and it’s a real thing.
But here’s another real thing: meditation helps soothe that monkey talk (3). Study after study has has pointed to the powerful effects meditation has on our brains.
It also has been proven to help improve coping abilities and resilience (4).
Try the Headspace app for some meditation assistance.
4. Go Outdoors … Maybe Barefooted
Getting outside to enjoy the sun and earth is huge when it comes to changing your mood, in so many different ways.
First, sunshine itself has powerful impact on your mood, energy, and sleep quality (5).
Second, if you go for a walk somewhere in nature – the woods, a meadow, the ocean, anywhere you aren’t surrounded by dozens of buildings and honking traffic – it can help qualm what Stanford researchers called “a maladaptive pattern of self-referential thought.”
Which basically is ruminating on negative crud. You know, like all that brain clutter (6).
Third, and maybe this is deep into the woo-woo sphere, but there is a growing belief that actually “grounding” or “earthing” your body by walking barefooted outside can help reset your body’s systems. It’s all rooted in bioelectricity.
I mean, if you think about it, your body actually DOES have an electrical system, one that operates all the way down to your cellular level. And electricity is a natural force on the planet. Yet we are the only living beings that do not (at least now, in modern times) regularly come into physical contact with the earth’s surface by walking on it.
Many alternative and integrative health practitioners (and even some mainstream ones) are suggesting our bodies “recharge” by coming into contact with the earth … that it makes a difference in our moods, our sleep, and maybe even more (7)(8).
5. Go for a Run (or Walk!)
There are so many reasons that workouts – like running and walking – help you feel better mentally.
Cardio exercise has a direct impact on the hormones that help you get stuff done (it’s true! there are hormones for that!) (9).
It also can help boost your mood and reorganize your brain for resiliency (100).
And if you do it outside (see number 4, above), you can get even more benefits, whether it’s from mood-boosting sunshine or extra calorie burn (11).
Listening to music when you run is even more beneficial.
Why? A Ohio State University study recently discovered that when someone exercises with music, it activates the area in the brain that deals with a higher level of mental function (12).
6. Spend Time with a Pet
For most people, pets aren’t just animals – they’re beloved members of the family.
And if you have a pet, you know that spending time with them – you know, actually patting, walking, or playing with them – brings you to the present moment. Pets don’t get preoccupied with their to-do list, their phone, or anything else (except maybe sniffing things, but that’s another story).
Anyway, that present-ness is incredibly centering.
And not only that, if you spend quality one-on-one time with an animal, it triggers the release of oxytocin in your body (12). Oxytocin is commonly called the “love” hormone, as it is helps increase feelings of warmth, well-being, and affection (13).
If you don’t have a pet, take a few minutes to watch one of the thousands of cute pet videos on the internet. You’ll get a dose of cuteness – and relaxation – without any strings attached.
Even though I have pets of my own, some mornings I watch cute pet videos online and they always start my day with a smile.
Seriously, check out this video of cat fails and try not to laugh.
7. Cut Back On Sugar and (Maybe?) Caffeine
What food group do we crave when we want a quick hit of energy or a mood boost?
Carbs, of course. And what do carbs contain?
Sugar. (Of course.)
But here’s the kicker. While sugar might temporarily elevate your mood and power you through that brain clutter, there’s the inevitable sugar crash, which can leave you feel agitated, tired, stressed and … overwhelmed.
Eliminating sugar from your diet is hard, but reserving it for sweet treats is easy, once you start to feel your mind calm (15).
Caffeine, meanwhile, is a tricky little beast. In the right amount, it can help give us focus and energy, but too much and we’re heading to the land of chaos. (16) (17). As with most things that can cause dependence, moderation is the key.
8. Set a Timer and Do Something
On paper, Saturday mornings should be an upbeat, relaxing time for me, because that’s when I finish work for the week and have the rest of the weekend off.
But often when I get home from the studio on Saturday, I’m super stressed. That’s because I start to think about everything I want or need to get done during the weekend, and when I think of the list I’ve created for myself, I get overwhelmed.
And that overwhelm makes makes me want to say “screw it” and take a nap (which actually isn’t a bad idea, as per item 1 on this list … except on Saturdays I’m really not that tired, just overwhelmed).
So here’s what I do instead.
I pick one thing on my to-do list (say, clean the fridge), set a timer for 15 minutes and I crank it out.
Sometimes I listen to music when I do this, sometimes a podcast. Sometimes, nothing.
It’s kind of awesome. Once I have knocked one thing off my list, it gives me a feeling of accomplishment and focus to do at least a couple more things before I kick back and enjoy my time off.
Make Some Brain Space and Feel Better
Taking advantage of some of these tips should help you get more organized overall – and also help quiet “monkey mind.”
One of the things I found when taming my own monkey mind – an ongoing process! – is that just as we develop physical habits, we also can develop habits with our thought patterns.
Taking a few moments to “declutter” our thoughts to break the overwhelm cycle goes a long way toward getting more organized with everything long-term (18).
Even if you’re currently the most disorganized person you know, it’s not impossible to change… with a little help from your mindset.
Anyone else love their iced coffees and iced lattes? Especially on a hot summer afternoon?
And especially if they’re mocha iced lattes? So yum.
The problem with coffee shop iced lattes and coffees is not only the price, but who knows what’s in them? If you’re not careful, you’ll be ingesting a bunch of unnecessary and potentially harmful sugar, fat, and processed food products (1).
Also, they really don’t do very much for you nutritionally.
That’s why I came up with this iced protein coffee recipe, which you can rev up to make a full-on latte if you want. It lets me enjoy my afternoon treat guilt-free. It’s low in sugar, has a favorable macronutrient profile (fats/carbs/protein), and is pretty darn tasty.
Adding protein not only adds some extra creaminess to this recipe, but protein helps keep your blood sugar stable as well as helping you to stay fuller, longer. Not only that, but if you are trying to lose weight, it’s important to eat an adequate amount of protein so you can maintain your muscle (2).
If you’re staying away from caffeine, this is just as delicious with decaf coffee. You also could make it with a coffee substitute, such as Teeccino or chicory root, although honestly neither of them will impart the true coffee flavor. But they’re close.
Here’s a recipe for a Starbucks-like mocha Frappuccino, revved up with some extra protein.
I personally like to use Sun Warrior’s plant-based Warrior Blend protein in my beverages.
Mocha Iced Protein Latte
This iced protein coffee is a great afternoon pick-me-up with some muscle-building benefits. You can
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 34
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Total Carbohydrates 9g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
- 1 cup double-strength coffee, cooled
- 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, plus additional cocoa powder for garnish (I like the dutch processed, which is a little milder tasting than regular, more bitter, cocoa powder)
- 1 scoop Sun Warrior chocolate protein powder
- 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
- Ice cubes
- Mix the cocoa and protein powder into the milk, mixing it as smooth as you can.
- Place the coffee mixture into a blender with the ice and blend till smooth.
- For a richer coffee taste, freeze cooled coffee in an ice cube tray and use a couple cubes in place of plain ice.
Wendy Fitness Coaching http://wendyfitness.com/
Try it and Let me know!
Do you have any recipes or snacks you’d like to see healthy-ed up? Have you created healthier versions of your favorites? I’d love to hear about it. Hit me up!