It’s been a while since I’ve written anything, not because I don’t have anything to say but because I have so much to say that it’s hard to narrow it all down. I’ve learned so much this year, about health and wellness and about myself about how life can be so simple if we allow it to be.
I am writing this post from the kitchen table of my 600 square foot beach condo. It’s 6:21am and my family is asleep in our little 200 square foot bedroom, my daughter’s cot snug right against our king sized bed. At first I wasn’t sure how we would all adjust to the close quarters of our new surroundings. In the beginning, there were a lot of family naps and early bedtimes as our daughter became acclimated in her new home. In 600 square feet, there’s not much to clean. It’s one of the reasons that I have zero desire to “upgrade” our home near Annapolis. I clean and do enough laundry as it is, I don’t want room for more. Some people think more is better. I believe the opposite. I like less. Less isn’t as messy. Less is less responsibility. If one of us lost a job, it’s easier to manage when you own less, have less, want less. I like less. Less is freeing.
At the end we will have spent over 50 days at the beach this summer. Grateful is an understatement. Our life here is very simple. A freezer full of homemade dinners that I prepared before we left, a closet with the bare essentials that we need for a beach life, mostly bathing suits, t-shirts and workout clothes. Gianna has about 3 toys here that she plays with when we are indoors, one of them being a set of poker chips since we had to improvise one day. Our mode of transportation is our bare feet or our bikes which we take to the beach, pools or to the ice cream shop. We go to the ice cream shop a lot.
During my first 20 days here, I limited my cardio to biking and incline walking only. This was the first break I had taken from teaching spin class since Gianna was born, and my body enjoyed the long rest from intense cardio. I learned that there is no better way to unwind and relax than having the sand between my toes and the salty air in my hair (which I had to wash a lot more often than when I was at home). I learned that my daughter really loves the beach. Many times throughout the day she randomly would run up and hug me or my husband and say, “I love you. You’re my best buddy.”
There aren’t a lot of photos of these moments because I spent a lot of time away from my phone this summer. When it wasn’t a work day, I’d leave my phone at the condo for hours at a time, not feeling the need to capture every moment on camera to post on social media to shout, look at my life. There were plenty of meltdowns and whining (mostly by my daughter, sometimes by my husband). Speaking of husband, I was reminded this summer of how wonderful of a guy that I have, being that he was the primary caregiver for our daughter Monday through Friday while I worked in my full-time job (remotely from our deck). Taking her to the beach, the pool, the watersides, the swings while packing her snacks, toys, extra diapers and supplies all while hauling it in the beach cruiser wagon in 90 degrees across to the sand on his own. He was grateful for her daily 2pm naps so he could relax and he got a glimpse into the life of a stay-at-home parent. Hard work.
We have 7 days left before we return home to the “real world,” back to normal life, back to his demanding job (a job which also allows us this stretch of off time in which we are grateful), and back to my structured life as I start dieting for my 2 bikini competitions this fall. Part of me wants to go back, and part of me just wants to buy out the ice cream shop and hole up here forever. However I think my fitness career would be over if I owned a creamery.
One thing is for certain, when I get home, I’ll be cleaning out my closets, donating any extra items to charity and minimizing my lifestyle even more. I’ll think twice and three times before I click “buy now” on Amazon Prime Day. Do I really need this? I’ll remember the salt and the sand and the simple days of this summer when things get hectic this fall. Are the things on my to do list really that important or can they wait so we can have more time to play. Play more. Stress less. My new motto. Happy summer friends.
You know it’s Valentine’s Week when the television commercials really kick it up a notch with their cheesy jewelry ads. My husband is one of those guys who believes that Valentine’s Day is a “made up holiday to get guys to buy things.” I would not describe him as a hopeless romantic (to say the least) but I do know that I am loved on a regular basis when he brings me a random bouquet of food coloring dyed flowers from the Giant or spends his rare weekend off doing endless loads of laundry. He reminds me everyday with his actions that love is a verb, not a heart pendant from Jared’s Galleria of Jewelry. For that I am grateful.
For me, Valentine’s Day is a great reminder that we need to love ourselves BEFORE we can truly love another. It took me years to understand the true meaning of self-love. Self love takes practice. I work with a lot of women who struggle with self-love: not good enough, pity-parties, mom guilt emotions. It is so easy to tell others to be kinder to themselves, but why is it hard sometimes to take our own advice?
Recently I’ve started conducting a social experiment where I treat myself as I would treat my best friend. Would I tell my best friend to get on the scale every morning and verbalize feelings of disappointment if I didn’t like how much she weighed? Would I over-schedule my best friend so that she is so busy that she has no time to rest? Would I tell my friend she shouldn’t take one hour of the day for herself because she needed to be with her kids 24/7? I would never treat my best friend that way, so why would I treat myself that way? I have encouraged the women in my macro group to conduct this same experiment. How did that change the way they treated themselves that day? The results were eye-opening. Why are we so kind to others, but so hard on ourselves? Don’t we deserve to be treated with the same love and respect?
After many years of practicing this habit, I have become very good at taking care of myself. When my daughter was 4 weeks old, I quickly lined up family to come and watch her for an hour or two a day so that I could hit the gym or get a manicure. I have heard of the term “mom guilt” many times, but honestly I have never experienced it myself. I know that I am a better mom and wife when I take time for me. Period. I am sure that if I had a conversation with Gianna twenty years from now when she is a young adult that she would agree that it was important for me to continue to enjoy my individuality as a woman when she was a child. I highly doubt she would be mad at me for taking that time for myself when she was wheeling around Elmo in her toy stroller. So why is the term “mom guilt” used so often these days? It makes me sad. Whether it’s an hour yoga class or just a cup of coffee alone at Starbucks, we all need that time to just be us. Not moms, not wives, not employees, just women.
Here are some ways that I practice self-love on a daily basis. These simple steps help me to be a whole and healthier me and the best version of myself:
- Drink a gallon of water a day. A gallon is conservative. My average is 1.5-2 gallons a day. I start every morning with 2 large Tervis tumblers of lukewarm lemon water. I started doing it after I watched this video about 3 years ago, and I’ve rarely missed a day. Water increases energy and reduces fatigue. Since our brain is mostly water, drinking it helps you be more alert and focused. Water promotes weight loss, improves skin’s complexion and is a natural headache remedy.
- Sleep for 8 hours a night. Sleep is a health tip that is often overlooked. I strive for at least 8 hours a sleep a night. When I first met my husband, he only slept for 4-5 hours a night, stating that’s “all he needed.” Then I started to convince him to go to bed at the same time as me each night (which we still do every night). Now he complains when he “only gets 7 hours.” When you are sleep deprived, you are moodier and you tend to make poor food choices the next day. Your body is looking for a way to cope with being tired, and usually it looks to cope with fatty, salty food cravings. No television show is worth me staying up too late. I tape it, watch it the next day, and get to bed.
- Rest on the weekends. I have mentioned this many times before (and recently on my Snapchat @ MaryGoNavy), but on the weekends, I prefer to do nothing. I teach my 1 spin class on Saturday, hit the grocery store and come home, shower and get back in to my sweats for the day. I don’t want my weekends filled with activities. I want to rest and enjoy time with my family doing simple things. We have 1 child who is too young for sports activities, so it’s easy for me to do nothing. I am sure that will change one day, but for now we are enjoying reading books and watching Mickey Mouse. As a result, I am more recharged and refocused when Monday comes because I was able to rest on Saturday and Sunday.
- Choose foods that make me FEEL good. 90% of the reason that I choose the foods that I eat is because of the way that they make me feel. During bikini prep, I really view food as fuel. If I’m going to workout, I know I need to choose carbs and protein to help give me energy and build muscle. Post workout is the same. At night, I have been reducing carbs to help with fat burning when I sleep. I eat very little refined sugar, not because it’s “not on my diet” but because it makes me FEEL terrible afterwards. On the rare day that I choose to have ice cream or a decadent dessert at a restaurant, I enjoy the foods while I’m actually eating them, but 10-20 minutes later the “crash” sets in and I regret the choice. Not because of the scale or the physical impact of how I will look, but because those foods make me tired, cranky and irritable when they start to digest. I don’t like doing that to my body. My body is so kind to me, so I try not to punish it with foods that make it crash and under perform. My body doesn’t deserve that kind of treatment.
- Engage in healthy relationships. I don’t do drama. At all. I don’t gossip. I choose relationships, mainly friendships, based upon mutual respect, a common bond and no bullshit. I am a straight-shooter, loyal and generous. I have close friends which are near and dear to my heart, and I spend time in healthy relationships that are mutually beneficial and that help me continue to grow into a better person.
- Sweat 6 days a week. The mental release that I experience when I workout outweighs the physical result tenfold. I really cannot describe the mental shift that takes place when I teach a spin class or set a deadlift PR. It just happens. It’s a chemical reaction, a mental breakthrough, an emotional and a spiritual experience.
I hope this post will inspire you to take a little more time out this week for you. Love your spouse or significant other a little harder. SHOW them you care everyday. Then show yourself the same love and compassion. You deserve it. It’s not selfish. It’s self-love.
Happy Superbowl Sunday. If you’re like me, you just dove into a pizza and some chips to celebrate this annual game (that most people really don’t care about). Treats like this for me are few and far between at 12 weeks out from my next bikini competition. Tonight, however, I enjoyed every bite because I knew that I was set up to succeed with my meal prep for the remainder of the week.
Someone recently asked me to help her get bikini-ready for a spring break vacation that was 6 weeks away. She wanted to know what type of workout schedule I would recommend to lean out a little in this short time. My response was simple. If you have 5 hours a week to devote to your fitness, use 4 hours of that week to meal prep.
That doesn’t mean she needs to be in the kitchen for 4 hours, chopping and cooking and chopping some more. That time would include making a grocery list, shopping, looking at the calendar to plan ahead for a busy schedule of dropping her kids at activities, and then actually cooking or prepping some simple foods that were ready to go.
Here are some of my top meal-prep hacks that I use regularly to stay on track when time is tight:
Pre-Cut and Pre-Washed Lettuce and Veggies
I spend a little extra money each week to have Whole Foods wash my lettuce for me. Do you know how annoying it is to wash lettuce? Don’t even get me started. I don’t even own a salad spinner to dry the lettuce, and frankly I have no space for one. Sign me up to pay fifty cents more for clean lettuce that’s ready to go. I also splurge on some veggies that are already washed and pre-sliced. It sounds silly, but have you ever bought whole vegetables at the store with intentions to wash/peel/chop them and you find them a week later in the back of your fridge, rotten? Go on. I’m with you. Sometimes our weeks are too busy to even chop a vegetable, and when we do have 5 minutes to ourselves, that’s the last thing we want to be doing. This is a minor expense that I pay to save me a little bit of time. That way when I am ready to assemble my daily salad, all I really have to do is assemble.
I also purchase a lot of frozen vegetables and use them as sides for many of our dinners. Broccoli, green beans, asparagus and spinach are all good choices that are low carb (yes, veggies have carbs) and packed with fiber.
I buy 2 rotisserie chickens a week, one on Sunday and a second one on Thursday. I always do a second grocery shop on Thursdays to restock anything that I need, so that I go strong into the weekend prepared. I know a lot of people that undo all of their hard work on the weekends, and they are back to square one on Mondays. This second shop helps to ensure that I can still meet my goals, even on a Saturday.
Rotisserie chickens are a simple solution for the lazy cook (or the bad cook). The KEY is to remove the meat when the bird is still warm. Trust me, you do not want to unpack the groceries, throw that bird in the fridge and think “I’ll get to it later.” You just spent $8-12 on a delicious bird, take that meat off (eat the juicy wings while you’re doing it) and shred the breast for later.
You can use that chicken for a lot of things:
- Salad topper
- Chicken tacos
- Throw it in the food processor (when cooled) with some carrots, onion, celery, some mayo or Greek yogurt and some hot sauce for buffalo chicken salad
- Make chicken enchiladas
- Make chicken soup
The list goes on. Get creative and use this simple hack to help you add protein to your week.
Whole Grain Rice Packets
I recently discovered that Whole Foods sells these whole grain rice packet medleys that are ready to go after 90 seconds in the microwave. Each packet serves two, so it’s perfect for me and the hubs. They come in blends like Spelt, Green Lentils & Long Grain Brown Rice and Long Grain Brown & Wild Rice. You can use it as a side for any dish or mix it with some taco meat, and make your own little burrito. Plus, 90 seconds is about the most time I want to spend on rice these days.
Frontera Sauces and Marinades
We eat a lot of Mexican cuisine in our home. Fish tacos, taco soup, enchiladas, flank steak tacos. The list goes on. I always have Frontera Sauces and Marinades on-hand, since all you have to add is the protein of your choice and wa-la a tasty dinner. I love the Carne Asada marinade for flank steak, the Red Chili Barbacoa Seasoning sauce for a slow cooker meal, and the Texas Original Taco Sauce for ground beef. Just buy a pouch, and follow the recipe on the back. There are no sketchy ingredients, and the calorie content is minimal. Keep and eye on the sodium if you have a history of high blood pressure.
Last but not least is frozen fish. Fish is an excellent way to add a well-balanced side of protein to your family dinner. I typically cook very bland white fish (cod, tilapia and halibut) and spice it up with Flavor God seasonings. If you haven’t heard of Flavor God, check them out. They are low sodium and they come in both sweet and savory flavors like pizza, spicy everything, and chocolate donut (which is amazing in oatmeal). They are non-GMO and MSG-free.
To make the fish, I defrost it (same day), rinse it and pat it dry. I place it on a foil-lined baking sheet (another hack to reduce clean up time – just toss the foil after the fish is cooked) that is sprayed with cooking spray. I drizzle a little olive oil on each piece and load up the seasonings. Fold up the sides of the foil and then the ends, sealing it tightly. Bake the fish for 10-12 minutes at 375 degrees. Open the foil and scrape gently at the fish with a fork. It is cooked through when the flesh flakes easily and the color has turned opaque all the way through.
Another quick dinner that is healthy and easy in under 15 minutes.
I believe that I have mastered the simple-quick weeknight dinner in our home. It’s not fancy, but it’s healthy and easy. On the weekends, I venture out a bit and try new recipes .
I know you’ve heard the phrases “abs are made in the kitchen” and “you cannot out exercise a poor diet.” These statements are 100% accurate. Take some simple steps to plan ahead with your meals, and you can skip the gym a bit more often.
I’m a pretty low-maintenance kind of girl. Time is money, and I don’t have a lot of either, so all of my beauty products need to perform and make my life easier.
I have three clothing styles: lululemon, “shirts with words,” and real clothes. I wear real clothes about 10% of the time, and my collection of lululemon is so large that we recently had to buy a new dresser just to make room for it all. I work from home, so sweatpants and comfort and those soft fuzzy socks are what you’d find me in if you rang my doorbell at 2pm on a Tuesday.
Even though my uniform may scream casual Friday, I do like to feel put-together from the neck up most days. Here are my favorite, no-fuss beauty products.
Chanel Primer and Foundation
I wear very little makeup because I have a little beauty secret which makes me look like I have my “face on” when I really don’t…I’ll get to that later. There are 3 products that I use on my face each day: Chanel foundation, MAC Dollymix blush, and eyebrow filler. If you’ve never used eyebrow filler, test it out sometime. It really helps to frame the face and make the eyes pop.
I have tried many kinds of foundation, and without a doubt, Chanel provides the best high-quality, flawless application. While it is pricey, one pump goes a long way. I like the Le Teint for a more studio-finish matte look (think date night) and Les Beiges for a more casual glow. I pair both with Le Blanc primer to make sure it lasts all day.
Beautycounter Charcoal Face Mask, Cleansing Balm and Peppermint Lip Conditioner
I started using Beautycounter products about 6 months ago when I began to learn more about all of the harmful ingredients contained in many of our beauty products, many which are banned in other countries. I have tried almost every product from their line, and my top three favorites are these.
The Nourishing Cleaning Balm removes makeup, but I wear it as an overnight mask each night. It is very pricey at $80, but a small amount of this Vaseline-like balm goes a very long way. It has helped my skin stay hydrated during these long winter months, and my skin always looks refreshed and plump in the morning. The Charcoal Face Mask draws out impurities from the skin and soothes. It’s actually a bit scary what my face looks like as it starts to dry, specifically over my nose and forehead. You can just SEE it working. It’s like a 10-minute facial for my skin. Each night before bed, I turn on my essential oils diffuser and apply some of the Peppermint Lip Conditioner. My lips have never felt so soft. I also love Beautycounter’s lip glosses in opal and dahlia. Considering we probably swallow about 50% of our lip applicants, I want to make sure that mine are free from any harmful ingredients.
Contact my Beautycounter rep Molly Hauck to learn more at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rodan+Fields Micro-Dermabrasion Paste
Speaking of facials, I really wish I could see my girl Charlene Mazariegos at Vaughan Diann Salon in Annapolis a bit more. She gives the BEST facials in town.
Since I can’t make the time to see her as often as I would like, I use Rodan+Fields Micro-Dermabrasion Paste a few times a week in the shower before I get my face wet. It contains sugar and salt crystals to help exfoliate the skin, and the base is silicone, so you’re not left with oily skin. I LOVE the way it makes my face feel – a mini facial in a jar.
Contact my R+F rep Jennifer Premo at email@example.com to learn more.
While I’m on the topic of exfoliating, I became an expert in exfoliating when I prepared for my first bikini competition last fall. In order to get a flawless application of that orange spray tan for stage day, you must be thoroughly exfoliated. I ended up buying one of these body brushes randomly, and now it’s one of my favorite items that I own. I use it in the shower with soap, and it feel so good so scrub your skin down with it. It makes me feel refreshed and renewed, and it gets my skin ready for my after shower lotion, which happens to be my next favorite item.
Skin Food by AB Body Butter and RAW
Never heard of Skin Food? We’ll you’re not alone (for now). Local to the Ohio area, my best friend in Cleveland turned me on to these natural, homemade products that are sold in her local Whole Foods. The buzz is catching on, however so hopefully they will be nationwide soon. I started with the deodorant, but honestly I really don’t wear deodorant that often (weird I know, but I only really sweat during my workouts). I have recently come to love the body butters and RAW. Unlike many butters which are greasy, this thick cream goes on so smoothly without that oily feeling left behind. Listea is my favorite scent. RAW can be used as an all-purpose balm for dry patches and redness. I even use it on Gianna. You can buy Skin Food on Etsy here.
Next up is Living Proof Dry Shampoo. I used to wash my hair everyday, and then I had a baby…and then I realized that there were some corners I could cut in life and no one would know and no one would care. Washing my hair (or not washing it) is one of the corners I cut several times a week. Now, trust me, if I happen to teach a spin class one day, you can guarantee that I’m washing my hair (because it’s that kind of class), but if I’m just lifting or lifting plus the stepper, I’m definitely not washing my hair afterwards. I was very skeptical at first, but this stuff actually works, and I actually like my dirty hair better than my clean hair. Day 2 or 3 it looks the best. Try it and see for yourself.
Finally, my best kept beauty secret isn’t a beauty product, it’s a beauty person. Her name is Amber Kwong, and she is hands-down the BEST in the area for lashes and professional airbrushed makeup. I have been seeing Amber for five years now, every 3 weeks for a 75-minute last appointment where I leave feeling like a supermodel in sweatpants.
Amber is a perfectionist and her standards for her work are extremely high. Sometimes I’ll look in the mirror and compliment her work, and she’ll say, “Wait I can put a lash there. Lay back down,” She’s sweet, professional, approachable and the best in the business. Because of this 1 beauty service a month, I rarely wear eye makeup, but I look like I have it on. With summer coming, schedule your lash appointment with Amber, and say goodbye to running mascara forever.
Amber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on IG @ makeupmemories_amberkwong
So there’s my two cents. Take it or leave it. I’m certainly not a beauty expert, but I do love having nice skin that is no-fuss with very little effort. These products help look like I have it all together, when I really don’t. Shhhh, don’t tell.
I take my workout gear pretty seriously. I have to. I live in it for 12-15 hours a week, and I put it through hell. Soaking wet cycle workouts. Stretching and lunging and squatting during weight lifting sessions. I need it to perform. I have high expectations for what I wear, which is why I always go for quality over quantity when it comes to clothing and fit tech devices. Here I will share with you my list of favorite things. It’s always growing and evolving, but as of today, these are my must have items.
1) Wunder Under Crop II *Full-On Luxtreme crops by lululemon athletica
I love all things lulu, but these crops are my number one! They are very flattering and hold everything in where it should be. They are also really lightweight, so they keep you cool even during your sweatiest workouts. They are worth every penny of their $72-82 price tag.
2) Balega Socks
I used to think all socks were the same. A sock is a sock right?! Then my friend Ericka gave me a pair of these socks for Christmas, and since then I have become a complete sock snob. They are the ONLY socks I wear when I workout. Try them, and you’ll see.
3) Polar FT4 Heart Rate Monitor
My go-to recording device for all of my workouts. This is a very versatile and now inexpensive (since it’s a few years old) way to track your calories burned and average heart rate. You can purchase this one (which includes the heart rate strap) for about $60 on Amazon.
4) Jaybird X2 Wireless Headphones
In my opinion, nothing messes up my workout mojo more than earbuds that won’t stay put and long, dangling cords that get caught in my dumbbells. These earphones have an amazing sound, and they come with so many sizing options that they are sure to fit in any shape ear. They are pricey, but they connect via bluetooth to your iPhone and iPod, so they function as double duty during workouts and conference calls.
Set yourself up for success with these great items that will help you to smash your workout today!
A lot has changed in my life over the past 4 months. My husband and I went from a party of 2 to a party of 3. I remember when I was pregnant, people kept telling me that EVERYTHING was about to change. Comments like, “Get your sleep now,” “Just wait till you have a baby,” and “You’ll never be able to _______ (insert verb and eye rolling here) again!” were frequent and sometimes a little unsettling. Yes, I knew our life would change. We would have a little bundle of love to take care of everyday!
So when little Gianna came into our world, we knew it would be wonderful and exhausting and funny and all of those emotions, and we were ready. We had planned ahead before we got pregnant to make sure that we were as ready as we could be when baby came. Those plans included money set aside for when I was on maternity leave, dinners stored in the freezer for the nights we didn’t want to cook, and HELP on the line for times when we needed a break.
After the first 6 weeks postpartum went by and our sleep started returning to normal, we started to settle back into our “normal life.” I started to get back in the gym several times a week. My family helped babysit, specifically my mom and my in-laws, who were all such a great help to me during that time. At first it was a little difficult to leave the baby, but I always reminded myself that she was in great hands and that I needed to do this for me – to get out of the house – to clear my head – to be on my own! As the weeks went by it got easier to balance motherhood, being a wife, cooking dinner, teaching 4 spin classes a week, and doing all of those little things everyday that moms and wives do that go unnoticed (like cleaning out the refrigerator or the splatter in the microwave). At 12 weeks postpartum, I went back to work full-time. I work out of my house, so the transition was easier for me than it would have been if I had to commute to an office. I found a wonderful nanny, who loves G and gives her undivided attention, and I can continue to help financially support our family – while sneaking out of my office from time to time for snuggles.
Now that I am busier than ever, I have to be more organized than ever. I have to be a time efficiency master in order to balance all of my responsibilities – also known as blessings! I have an awesome Erin Condren planner that I live by. It has everything in there from my scheduled workouts to my meal plans for the week. Plus it’s just fun to write in because it’s so pretty. On Sunday mornings, I sit down with my cup of coffee and plan the week. What we are eating, when I am working out, when I can squeeze a personal appointment, all juggling that around my work schedule and my nanny’s schedule. On weeks when I can stick to the schedule I am relaxed, present, happy. On weeks when I am off, I AM OFF. I am more irritable, annoyed, and not as good of a mom or a wife.
I also have 9 pounds to go to get back to my prenatal weight of 132, and I am determined to get there. So I can’t “wing” lunch or dinner if I want to stay on track in a healthy way. On Sundays I meal prep and make sure we know what is on the menu for lunch and dinner during the week, making my health and my husband’s health a priority.
Another part of making me a priority is making sure I don’t over schedule myself. If I look at my calendar and it’s packed with commitments, it makes me feel unsettled. Will I be too tired to handle all of this? When will I have time to just sit and relax? Are all of these appointment necessary, or can something be cancelled? We are in the thick of an awesome football season. My husband is at work between 5:30-6:30am most days and is home close to 7pm at night. He also works Friday nights and all day on Saturday. Our time together is precious and very limited, so we make time for date nights every other week where it’s just us – focusing on us!
And then there is the little peanut whom we love so much. The more downtime I have, the more I can focus on her. So when I feed her, I don’t watch TV or look at my phone, I just look at her. Time has already gone by too fast, and before I know it, she won’t want me to hold her anymore. On that note, I am signing off because I am tearing up, and I need to get back to my schedule, so I can hold her later.
Make yourself a priority. It’s not selfish. It’s self-love.
How do you stay motivated?
I get this question a lot. For me, the answer is simple: “it comes from within.” I know that is not very specific, and it doesn’t really help to explain my personal motivation, so let me share a little bit about motivation in general, and maybe you’ll see what I mean.
There are two types of motivation: intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation.
Intrinsic motivation means that the individual’s motivational stimuli are coming from within. For instance, a person is taking a spin class at the gym because he or she gets pleasure from taking the class and from the feeling that results after it’s over. It’s motivation that comes deep from within the core. Not everyone has it, but everyone can get it. People who are intrinsically motivated are physically active because they truly enjoy it.
Extrinsic motivation means that the individual’s motivational stimuli are coming from outside or really anywhere except from the inside. Examples of an external factor that motivates people are: to lose weight, to be healthy, to make their spouse happy, to look good, or to meet new people.
Very few people are entirely intrinsically or extrinsically motivated. It’s usually a combination of the two.
Now here is the KEY…
You are more likely to stay on-track with your fitness and nutrition plans if you are INTRINSICALLY motivated.
The boyfriend, the hot bikini body, the compliments, they are great and all, but you have to want it for yourself from within in order to ensure long term success.
Here are some strategies for transitioning towards intrinsic motivation:
- Remind yourself why you are here – If you’ve taken one of my spin classes, you’ve heard me say, “why are you here?!” Remember your personal goals and motivating factors for getting to the gym and staying on track.
- Stay hooked on that feeling – Reflect on the positive feelings and successes you’ve previously experienced from regularly exercising. How did you feel overall? Did exercise improve other aspects of your life besides your physical appearance? For many people exercise is a mental stress-reliever, not just a physical one.
- Set GOALS – I cannot stress this enough! I ALWAYS have a goal in mind. Create a short-term (weekly), medium-term (monthly), and long term (6+ months) goal for yourself. Make sure it is a S.M.A.R.T. goal, meaning Specific, Measurable, Attainable, REALISTIC, and Timely. For instance, “to lose weight,” is NOT a good example of a S.M.A.R.T. goal. I want, “to lose 5 pounds by June 1st” is a S.M.A.R.T. goal if the current date is May 1st, because that is a realistic and achievable goal that you can measure.
- Keep in mind that change takes time – It is important to remember that change does not occur overnight. Recognize that in order to obtain desired results both time and continued effort are required. Consistency is key to success!
- Remember that you have to do this for YOU – You will have the most success if you are your own cheerleader, not your spouse, your best friend or your weight loss group. In the end, it’s you vs. you in the mirror.
More to come on motivation, but I hope this helps to start your weekend off with a little extra pep in your step for staying on track. Stay healthy people!
I have a love-hate relationship with traveling.
Sure, 5-nights at a 5-star resort and spa in the Bahamas, is WONDERFUL, don’t get me wrong. But, when I travel my brain typically likes to trick me and say, “Mary, this is your time to indulge.”
So, I have to fight my natural instinct to have dessert after breakfast, lunch AND dinner when I am on vacation and try just to limit it to just dinner. Sometimes I am successful. Sometimes I am not. I am not a drinker (that’s a virgin pina colada shown in the photo), so the thought of a tropical drink does not entice me at all. I am a structured, type-A, routine loving person, so when I am traveling, and all of that structure and routine gets jumbled up, I tend to relax in other areas as well. Like, pile on the carbs and sugar with a heaping bowl of dairy. The result is always the same. I am relaxed after vacation, and I am really glad I don’t have to get back in a bathing suit for a little while.
Why I am I telling you this?!
Because I don’t want you to think that I have everything in a nice little organized box, and staying fit is EASY for me. It’s not. I have to plan ahead to stay ahead for myself, because I can easily get off track just like you.
I have found through a lot of trial and error and major missteps that I have to prepare for vacation in order not to go completely off the wagon! Here are a few guidelines that I try to follow when I am planning a vacation:
1) START the vacation off right. That means, don’t pull into the airport and immediately grab an Auntie Annie’s pretzel for the plane ride. (Okay, I have done it. They ARE good). I usually empty my fridge before I leave for vacation, and throw all of the leftover protein and veggies into a Tupperware (or one of those plastic bins that the pre-washed lettuce/kale/spinach comes in) as my plane ride snack. Then I buy dressing once I pass through security or just make do with hummus and lemon juice. You save money, don’t waste all of your food at home, AND start your vacation off making healthy choices.
2) Plan vacations that are 4-nights or less. Any longer than 4 nights, and I am ready to roll home to my routine, my kitchen, my fitness classes, and our normal life. Justin and I lead a pretty simple life. We believe that less is more, and we enjoy life at home just as much as life on vacation, so we usually don’t plan vacations to “escape” from anything (except the laundry and emptying the dishwasher). We like to relax in the sun, turn off our cell phones, and enjoy each other’s company. We can usually accomplish that and recharge in 3 or 4 nights.
3) Stay in resorts with access to quality food and fitness facilities. I am a foodie. That is no secret. I love to eat. I need to balance that out with a sweaty workout when I am on vacation, because we do a lot more eating out when we are traveling, and I don’t count my macros. For instance, I am writing this post from Atlanta, GA. I came here on a business vacation (my job allows me to work from anywhere), but I also came here because my favorite workout, Flywheel is in this area. So I can take a crazy spin class every morning and eat in some amazing restaurants in Buckhead for dinner. It’s the best of both words.
4) Pack a sh*t ton of food. My husband usually gives me a big eye roll when he sees what I have packed for our vacations, but he is always happy when we land at our destination, and we don’t have to spend $30 each on a breakfast buffet every morning or be subject to whatever food is available at our resort in the overpriced gift shop. I pack A LOT of food. Some items that are always with me on vacation include: Vega One Bars, RX Bars, protein powder, brown rice cakes, my homemade protein bread, nuts, individual packets of nut butter (you cannot bring a whole container of nut butter through security. It is considered a gel, and they will take it. I learned this $12 lesson the hard way). Sometimes I load up on other snacks as well. It really depends on how long we will be gone and where we are going. My motto here is NOT less is more. It’s more is better.
I hope some of these tips help you prepare for your next trip too so you can “plan ahead” and “stay ahead.” Happy traveling!
The hubs and I snuck away to Aruba for a decadent babymoon this March. We LOVE to travel, and because of his profession and his ability to rack up an obscene amount of Marriott and Southwest points, we are able to travel often without breaking the bank.
It was our first time in Aruba, and we stay at the Ritz Carlton, recently built and full of amazing amenities. Our vacations typically go like this:
Wake up at 7am, workout, breakfast, lay on a beach chair all day, fancy dinner, asleep by 9pm. We are early birds and typically hit the early bird specials for dinner. Essentially, we are the oldest thirty-somethings you’ve ever met.
This Rtiz included some great perks that we partook in daily including a great gym and complimentary stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking.
I decided to take one of my workouts outside.
Lunges, 3 sets of 20 lunges (each leg)
Planks, hold for one minute
High Knees, 30-45 seconds
Donkey Kicks, 3 sets of 25 kicks (each leg)
Mary Davis Fitness Vacation to South Beach
Justin and I headed to Miami for a mini vacation this past week. He gets some time off in February and in March, so we usually try to sneak away to somewhere warm during those times to relax and recharge. We are very compatible vacationers! There are three things we like to do most when we travel: hit the beach (or pool), workout and eat great meals.
When we planned our trip to Miami, I got some recommendations from friends on the hottest workouts to try in the area. There are so many to pick from, but the top few were Flywheel, Barry’s Boot Camp and running with the Raven. We only had time for two, so we decided to save Barry’s for another time, since that workout is also available in other large cities. Justin had read a few articles on the Raven and seen a documentary on him recently, so he definitely wanted to run with him.
On the second day of our trip, we met up with Robert Kraft (a.k.a., the Raven) at 5th street at the lifeguard stand and joined him for his daily 8-mile run along South Beach. A few words to describe Robert include: committed, die-hard, inspirational and caring. This isn’t just some ordinary runner. The Raven has been running 8-miles on South Beach every day for the last 40 plus years. Yes, you read that correctly.
No rest days, no calling in sick, not even any vacations or runs in other parts of the country. Rumor has it he took a day trip to Daytona once, but of course he was back in time for his run. He has run with people from 82 different countries, and he has not run alone once in the past ten years.
Robert arrived to that lifeguard stand on 5th promptly at 4:15pm like he does each day. He performed the same 15-minute pre-run ritual which includes stretching, applying suntan oil on his arms, and disrobing from his signature pair of black pants and black leather jacket to small black running shorts. By 4:30pm he was ready to run. We introduced ourselves to him along with another new runner named Dave who was in town from Philadelphia. Dave had heard of the Raven too and wanted to join in on the fun.
At 4:30pm, we started to run. Up and down the beach on the packed sand. For two hours. We talked to the Raven about his journey and he gave us all nicknames like he does with all of the newcomers that run with him. Justin was dubbed “Morning Kool-Aid” after he told the Raven he was going to give a motivational talk (often referred to as a kool-aid) about his story to the Navy Football staff during spring ball. I was “Oregano,” since I loved to cook and was particularly good at recreating my Dad’s homemade spaghetti sauce. The Raven also told me that I was runner number 2300. Pretty cool. After you complete the run, he writes down your birthday and your nickname. He never forgets the people he runs with. Many times we passed people on the beach that he has run with in the past and he called them out by their nickname, told us something about them and recited their birthday.
It was a little weird to run in my body that was not really my body. At 18-weeks pregnant and plus ten pounds, everything felt a little off. My hips were a little sore, and my legs were heavy, but I kept pushing through and finished pretty easily. At the end of the run, we got some pictures with Robert and told him we would definitely see him again during our next trip down south. It was an experience we would soon not forget, and it was truly inspirational to meet a man who was so dedicated to his craft.