fitness

Start With a Clean Slate

Happy New Year! The start of 2017 marks a new opportunity to wipe the slate clean. It’s time to hit the reset button and gain a more pleasurable approach to fitness. Turn the page, and get off to a good start.  Replenish your body and re-energize your life.

“Change your food to change your mood.”

You already know the way you eat is central to your well being. But you may not know exactly what meals yield the most satisfying and healthful results. The back to basics, old fashioned approach to nourishing our bodies is truly the way to go. Making meals from scratch with whole foods, eliminating processed foods, and enjoying all the colours of the rainbow is your answer. A simple clean eating and exercise plan incorporated into your way of life will be the catalyst to making 2017 healthier and happier.

If a desire to wipe your fitness slate clean is on your 2017 resolutions and you are looking for some direction, don’t miss our New Year New You Challenge launching next Monday, January 9th.

Wishing you a healthy and happy New Year!
Meryl

green-drink

Featured Recipe

Anti Inflammatory Green Drink

Combine everything in a blender:
1 cup baby spinach leaves
1 stemmed and chopped large kale leaf
1 chopped apple
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3-5 cubes of ice
Enjoy!

An Apple A Day

apple-picking-1

“So what are you going to do with all the apples?” Said the Mom next to us on our way home from the apple picking adventure. As sure as back to school comes each year, so does the apple picking trip. Kind of like fair day in Texas, up here we have apple picking day.  And instead of turkey leg tacos, deep fried nachos, and deep fried oreos, there are warm apple donuts and apple pie. Mmmm. But that’s not what I’ll be doing with all the apples.

apple-picking

If you’ve got the 5 pound bag of apples (or 2 or 3 bags depending how many apple picking outings you got to go on) here are some of our favorite apple ideas:

  • Use a peeled, cored and chopped apple in your soup base along with the traditional carrot, celery, and onion. This adds a rich sweet flavor to puréed soups like butternut squash and pumpkin.
  • Peel, core and chop a large batch and toss in a pot. Simmer with a cup of water and cinnamon for a delicious home-made apple sauce. Add a spoonful of warm applesauce to your oats in the morning.
  • Julienne along with a cucumber for an amzing fresh and crispy salad.
  • Slice into 1/4 inch pieces and use as a crunchy base for appetizers instead of the traditional cracker or sliced baguette.
  • Toss slices with coconut oil and cinnamon and bake until soft.
  • Try this amazing (clean & gluten free!) apple crisp recipe:

Apple Crisp

Ingredients:
8-10 apples; peeled, cored, and sliced
1-2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger

Topping Ingredients:
1/3 cup coconut oil, softened
1 cup raw pecans
3/4 cup almond flour
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground allspice

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375. Toss the sliced apples with the spices and place inside a baking dish. Add all the crisp topping ingredients to a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Spread the topping on top of the apples and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the apples are soft and bubbly. Enjoy!

Have a great week!

Meryl

Do Sore Muscles = A Good Workout?

Maybe you took a summer hiatus from your training program. Good job for taking the step to get back into it! (you have started back, right?!) When starting up again, or starting an exercise routine for the first time, you will most likely experience muscle soreness. (I most commonly hear grumbling related to trying to sit while using the bathroom, trying to walk up stairs, or when picking up the groceries/kids after a workout!)

But does this muscle soreness represent the quality of the workout you performed? The short answer is NO! Delayed onset muscle soreness (aka DOMS) is most pronounced when you have introduced a new training stimulus. This could be from returning to exercises after a break, trying a new activity, or simply by increasing the intensity or weights of your workout. The soreness is felt most strongly 24-72 hours after the exercise. The technical reason for DOMS is the micro trauma to your muscle fibers caused by the eccentric (lengthening) of the muscles during training. As your body adapts to your training program and learns to distribute the workload across your muscle fibers more effectively, you will feel less sore. Nonetheless, there is a genetic component to our individual response. Some people are more sensitive to pain and soreness. Proper nutrition also plays a role in how your muscles respond and heal.

We often believe if we’re not sore after a workout, then we’re not doing enough. Some like to think of soreness as their “good job!” sticker, but it’s not the case. There are many factors that influence how significantly DOMS presents itself. And you can perform a highly effective workout while not experiencing any muscle soreness.

So does the old saying no pain no gain really stand true when it comes to physical fitness? No! And DOMS should not be feared or revered. It is a natural muscular response to training.

Looking for that new program to get you back into a fitness routine? Don’t miss our Back to School Bootcamp starting next Tuesday, September 6th.

Have a great week,
Meryl

Get your Groove Back

Summertime, vacations, cook-outs, what’s your excuse? For me it was a bad landing on an exercise jump that left my knee in a big mess. Forget about squats and lunges, I was struggling to bend the leg enough to get in and out of the car. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective) this happened right before taking the flight to our Florida family vacation. So initial plans of beach workouts, filming new videos for my online bootcamps, runs along the beach, and water aerobics changed to sitting in the chair, elevated leg, ice, and a good dose of patience. Maybe a little R&R isn’t so bad every now and then.

Despite billions of dollars spent on gym memberships, diet programs, etc., a recent paper published by the Mayo Clinic reports that fewer than 3% of American adults are living a healthy lifestyle.

Less than 3%. Wow! Just Feel it Fitness has a lot of work to do! 😉

The study defined living a healthy lifestyle as meeting these four parameters:

  • Being sufficiently active (150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each week)
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Being a nonsmoker
  • Having a recommended body-fat percentage (5%-20% for men, and 8%-30% for women)

The results of the study showed many people accomplished multiple healthy lifestyle goals. 16% met three of the healthy characteristics, 37% had two, but fewer than 3% met all four. Women were more likely to not smoke and to eat a healthy diet, and were less likely to be active, compared with men. Older individuals were more likely to be nonsmokers and healthy eaters, and were less likely to have a normal body-fat percentage and active enough.

Granted, this is only a study of 5,000 American adults, but the bottom line this study does an excellent job at providing four concrete steps anyone can take to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

Things happen like injuries and vacations and busy periods at work. Life gets crazy. Getting back into a fitness groove can be tough. I know. But get your groove back. None of these steps are easy to take. However, even small improvements make a difference and any effort toward these 4 lifestyle goals can have a life changing impact. Become a nonsmoker, be sufficiently active, eat a healthy diet, and achieve a recommended body –fat percentage.

I’d love to help you towards meeting these healthy lifestyle criteria.  Do you need help getting your groove back?

Our next round of Summer Slim Down starts July 18th. This is a 6 week Challenge. For more details, click here.

Have a great week,
Meryl

Featured Recipe

Tuna Salad Boats

Tuna Salad Boats

Ingredients:
1 can tuna
1/2 very ripe avocado
1/2 cup chopped purple grapes
Splash of white wine or champagne vinegar
Salt & Pepper to taste
Large Boston or Romaine lettuce leaves

Directions:
Mash the avocado with a fork. Combine with all other ingredients. Spoon onto large lettuce leaves and eat like a taco.

Go Bananas

“Bananas have too much sugar.”
“Bananas make you fat.”
“You should not eat bananas if you are trying to lose weight.”

Woah. Really? But I eat a banana every day. When I buy bananas at the store, I always buy 2 bunches! And just rarely they will turn brown before getting eaten, which in that case makes perfect bananas to freeze for smoothies or mash for oat ‘n egg banana pancakes!

So why the ridiculous banana bashing, claiming they make you fat? I think the bottom line comes down to sugar. Bananas do contain sugar, thus one might come up with the logic that bananas make you fat.

The reality is bananas contain natural sugar. Along with the natural sugars, the nutrient profile in bananas helps support a healthy and energized lifestyle. Bananas are packed full of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, biotin, copper, and manganese. The fiber in a banana is naturally occurring fiber, which means you’ll most likely feel more full and satisfied versus consuming a cereal or piece of bread containing isolated fiber. Isolated fibers are those added to increase its fiber content but not naturally found in the foods.

The healthy dose of potassium found in bananas can help diminish water retention, thus helping belly bloat. Additionally, potassium has been shown to lower blood pressure, sustain muscle mass, and preserve bone-mineral density. The vitamin B6 in a banana fulfills around 30-35 percent of the daily-recommended intake for adults. The benefits of vitamin B include treating anemia, promoting healthy nervous system functioning, producing energy from food, and maintaining healthy skin, eyes, hair, and liver. Vitamin B6 is found in most animal-based products, so for vegetarians and vegans, consuming a banana a day is a great way to attain almost half of the recommended intake.

I’m not saying to go bananas and consume them like a chimpanzee, but eating them in moderation (like any food!) is part of a healthy diet. I’m going to go enjoy a chocolate dipped frozen banana pop with the kids now. (Recipe below!)

Have a great week-end, would love to see you at my Lululemon Bootcamp in the Park this weekend!
Meryl

lululemon Bootcamp.JPG

Featured Recipe

Go Bananas

Chocolate Dipped Frozen Banana Pops

Ingredients:
Bananas
Dark chocolate
Coconut oil
Toppings: pistachios, sprinkles, chia seeds, coconut flakes, etc!

Directions:
For the kid-approved version, melt 1/2 cup chocolate chips with 1 tsp coconut oil in the microwave for 30-45 seconds. For the healthier (can’t guarantee kid-approved) melt 3 tsp coconut oil with 3 tsp raw cacao powder. Poke popsickle sticks or straws through half a banana, dip in the chocolate, and roll in topping of choice.
Enjoy!

Still Not Seeing Results

You hit the gym more days than most people you know. You bring your lunch and eat less than most people you know.  You can run miles around your friends.  But, you’re still not seeing the results you are hoping for. If this resonates with you, here are a few items to consider. Just run a quick self-check and let’s see how you answer the following questions:

Are you getting enough sleep?
Are you eating adequate amounts of protein and carbohydrates for the amount of energy and time you spend training?
Are you over training/under training?
Are you lifting weights?

When it comes to not seeing the results we are hoping for, we have to consider all these things.

Sleep is essential for the repair of our muscles. When you train you are breaking down muscle fibers and the only way for them to grow back and repair themselves is when your body is sleeping. Try to hit the hay around the same time every night. Kids need routines, and so do we. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night.

The amount of protein and carbohydrates you consume should be adjusted according to your activity level. You need a balanced approach that will give you all the energy you need to power through your workouts and your daily lives, while still helping you lose weight. Fuel your body with the power of protein.

Maybe you are training too hard. When we truly are over-training, the elevated cortisol levels keep your body in a state of stress. This causes your body to store fat, not shed. Aim for 2-3 resistance training sessions per week and 3 heart pumping/cardio activities.

Lifting weights helps to build strong lean muscle mass. Muscle burns calories faster, even while at rest. Build the muscle, eat accordingly, sleep so your body can repair itself, and sit back and watch the weight fall off. Ok, let’s be realistic, it’s not that simple. But we do break it down into a very simple manner with the Just Feel it Fitness 6 Week Summer Slim Down Program.

If you’ve hit a plateau and you are looking for a plan of action, this program is for you. Stop comparing yourself to anyone but the best version of yourself.

Ready for the Plan? Resistance + Cardio workouts that can be done from your home or gym, Meal Planning Tips and Tricks, Daily Accountability from me. Put it all together and get the results you’ve been hoping for (lean, sculpted abs just in time for summer!).  Our next group starts May 23rd. Check it out here.

Have a great week,
Meryl

Spring Cleaning Your Fitness

It’s amazing when the days start to get longer and the sun shines brighter, Spring cleaning floods the brain. Lifelong dreams of organized closets and sparkly clean windows and baseboards come racing back (or maybe that’s just me). After hibernating through the shorter days of winter, Spring brings an opportunity for a fresh start and a sense of renewal.

It’s not uncommon that these feelings should carry over into our body awareness as well. Let’s shed the layers and allow Spring to give us a fresh start for our Fitness.

What steps can you do to start Spring Cleaning your Fitness? Here are my top 5 Spring Cleaning your Fitness ideas to bring on the new season:

  1. Add some new herbs and spices to your kitchen as you spring clean your pantry. Alternatively, start a small planter of fresh herbs like basil, oregano and mint. Pack a punch of flavor to your foods without adding any extra calories.
  2. Get outside and get some Vitamin D. We need sunrays, we need sunshine. Even 10 minutes a day helps the body to better facilitate normal immune system function.
  3. Squeeze a lemon. Lemon helps rid your body of toxins and restore alkalinity. Lemon and bitter greens like arugula and endive help with digestion. Enjoy a daily detox by starting each morning with ½ lemon squeezed into a cup of water.
  4. Book some exercise into your schedule. If your New Year’s Resolution was lost somewhere back in January, here is a new opportunity to get your body moving again. Spring is in the air, energy is abundant, and by starting a new fitness program now, you might be much more encouraged. Check out our next fitness challengehere.
  5. Reach for color. Fruits, veggies, the more variety of color the better. By choosing to eat from the rainbow of colors, you will increase the amount and variety of vitamins and minerals consumed.

You don’t have to go on a strict detox to Spring Clean your Fitness. By simply bringing in more of the good, you can flush out the bad and give your body a fresh start this Spring.

Have a great week,
Meryl

Featured Recipe

sweet potato chips

Roasted Sweet Potato Chips with Guacamole

I have no description for this, except JUST TRY IT! These are so delicious. Use the sweet potato chips as a base in place of crackers for various appetizers. Add some shrimp on top, or feta and black beans, or fresh cut peppers. The possibilities are endless!

Ingredients:
2 large sweet potatoes, very thinly sliced
Olive oil
1 avocado
1 lime, juiced

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400. Lay the sliced sweet potatoes on a baking sheet. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and using a pastry brush (or your fingers) rub the oil on both sides of the sweet potatoes. Bake for 20 minutes, flip each chip over and bake another 10 minutes.

Mash avocado with lime juice and salt and peper.

Enjoy!

Who doesn’t love a good Challenge?

push yourself

I love a good challenge. The feeling of working toward a lofty goal and accomplishing it at the end is an awesome feeling, right? Many of you heard me talking about my 60 day Master’s Hammer & Chisel Challenge I started back in January. This was an intense weight training program, a little different than the standard functional training I typically incorporate with clients. I would almost call the program something more like body building.

The Master’s Hammer and Chisel is an innovative resistance training system created by Autumn Calabrese and Sagi Kalev of Beachbody, professional trainers and fitness competitors. The program focuses on SSP Training: Stabilization, Strength, and Power. I set a goal to complete this 60 day body sculpting program, 6 days a week of resistance training for a total of 8 weeks. And it’s done, woohoo! And the honest truth is that it kicked my butt! But I stuck with the workouts, and am proud to have accomplished the full program. Some days I felt like it was more difficult than marathon training even though these workouts only take 30-45 minutes each day and marathon training is more along the lines of 45 minutes to 2 hours some days! My physical results from this program include more defined muscles and definite strength gains such as: improved push-ups, pull ups, chin ups, pistol squats, etc. The program calls for light, medium, and heavy weights and I used 10, 15, and 20 pounds accordingly. Do I look like a body builder? No! Do I feel stronger, leaner, and proud of completing a challenging program? Yes!
flex
With nicer weather upon us and summer just around the corner, I’d like to encourage you to find a challenge that will motivate you and push you out of your comfort zone. Commit to something that will push you and that you will feel proud and accomplished when done. Need some ideas? Sign up for a 5 or 10k run in your community. Join a triathlon training group.  Or why not join the Just Feel it Fitness 6 Week Summer Slim Down Challenge starting Monday, April 11th!  This 6 week Challenge will focus on clean eating, cardio and strength training workouts that you can complete from home with minimal equipment. I’m running an amazing promotion on this program, guaranteed to help you achieve phenomenal results! Just ask me for more info today.

After the Summer Slim Down Challenge, I’ll be working on getting ready for the Montreal Half Marathon in September. I would love to help you find a Challenge that will motivate and push you out of your comfort zone and into confidence. Let’s do it!

Have a great week,
Meryl

Featured Recipe

Nori wraps

Nori Wraps

Try this crunchy wrap instead of a sandwich for a light and delicious lunch.

Ingredients:
4 sheets Nori 

1 avocado, thinly sliced
1 mango, thinly sliced
Handful of alfalfa or pea sprouts
1/4 cucumber, thinly sliced

Directions:

Lay out 1 sheet of nori and moisten it by sprinkling water on it. Place the vegetables along one end and roll it up into a wrap! Enjoy!

Recipe from “The All-Day Fat-Burning Diet” by Yuri Elkaim.

The Troublesome “Tech Neck”

Take a look at your posture as you are reading this. Chances are you are hunched over looking down at your tech device. In today’s society, this “Tech Neck” posture is all too common. We spend so much time looking at our devices, our shoulders round and heads jut forward into a troublesome position that now feels natural.

In actuality, the natural position should be shoulders back and down, with the chest open. Try it. Pull your shoulders back and pull your head in line with your spine. If you’re like most, this “natural” position probably feels very unnatural at this point.  Try to become aware the next time you are hunched over in the “Tech Neck” position. The “Tech Neck” might have found its way into your posture, but the good news is there are ways to fight it.

With some simple exercises focusing on strengthening and stretching the upper torso, we can retrain our bodies to good postural habits.  Here are 3 exercises to add to your fitness routine. You won’t need any weights or equipment, so no excuses!

  1. Bent-Over Reverse Fly

Begin by standing up straight with feet shoulder-width apart, knees soft. Hinge forward from your hips, maintaining a neutral spine, and arms dropped down naturally. Lift your arms up laterally and feel your shoulder blades retract. Lower your arms and repeat 12-15 times. Perform 2-3 sets.
Progress this move by adding weights in each hand.

  1. Superman Breast Stroke

Begin by laying flat on your stomach. Extend spine and lift chest and legs off the floor while reaching forward like superman. Begin circling your arms to hips like the breast stroke. Repeat 8-10 times. Perform 2-3 sets.
Progress by alternating straight-leg kicks as your arms circle.

  1. Chest Expansion

Begin by standing with feet wide, toes facing forward. Clasp your hands behind lower back. Slowly hinge forward from the hips, while your arms reach toward the ceiling. Hold the position for 4 deep breaths and return to start position.  Perform 2-3 times.

  1. Wall Snow Angel

Stand up straight against a wall. Try to have three points touching the wall: tailbone, shoulder blades, and back of head. Reach arms out to the side and raise and lower like you are making snow angels.  Repeat 8-10 times.  Perform 2-3 sets.

By strengthening and stretching the upper torso, these simple exercises will help you fight the troublesome “tech neck.” Focus on your posture when you stand, when you sit, when you eat, and when you read. Pull those shoulders back, bring your head in line with your spine, and breathe in the air of confidence.

Make it a great day,
Meryl

Featured Recipe

squash chick pea pecan salad

Savory Squash Salad

Ingredients:
1 Buternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes
1 can chicpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup pecans
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup

Dressing:
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:
Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, preheat oven to 400.
Combine squash, chickpeas, pecans, oil, and maple syrup. Spread onto baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Pour over the cooked squash mixture. Serve on top of your favorite greens. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from “The All-Day Fat-Burning Diet” by Yuri Elkaim.

New Year, New You?

Don’t be fooled, just because it’s New Year’s does not mean you will suddenly morph into a new person when you wake up on Friday! Did you know most people who make New Year’s resolutions fail within the first month? Not because they aren’t capable of reaching their goals but because they set unrealistic, and quite often, way too many goals. Don’t let this be you!

If you are ready to tackle 2016 and really pound through some of those goals you’ve been wanting to accomplish, here are some goal-setting pointers I find helpful.

1. First things first, define your priorities.
Goals that don’t align with your key priorities simply don’t work. You will not have enough inner drive to hold up to a goal if your priorities aren’t tightly woven into that goal.

For example, if your goal is to lose 15 pounds this year but your key priorities are your job, your family commitments, and your community involvement, then it will be very difficult for you to prioritize everything it takes to accomplish your weight loss goal.

Step one = Define your priorities. Some examples might be: your health, your family, your career, or your faith.

2. Set one goal for each key priority. Just one. This is your priority goal. Don’t get overwhelmed by setting too many goals. This is a pitfall and a recipe for failure. When you set just one goal for each key priority, you set yourself up for success.

For example, if one of your key priorities is your family then setting aside daily focused time with each member in the family might be your priority goal.

3. Set 3-5 action items for each goal. This is your game plan, your to-do list, your recipe for success.

If your key priority is your health and your priority goal is to lose 10 pounds, then your action items might look like this:

-sign up at the gym or reach out to Meryl and set up an exercise plan you could do from home
-clean up your pantry and stock the fridge with healthy and nutritious foods
-start using an app like My fitness pal to log your daily food intake
-take the stairs at work rather than the elevator

4. Last but not least, stay the course. Set yourself up for success by visualizing what success looks like for you. Defining your key priorities, choosing one goal for said priority, and setting up tangible action items will help you rock your goals this year. Review your goals on a weekly if not daily basis and track your success along the way.

I truly hope this year brings you much satisfaction, enjoyment, and success. Remember, if you can’t stop thinking about your goals then don’t stop working for them.

But above all, find happiness in your daily routine. In light of the recent incident in my hometown (tornadoes struck down the day after Christmas, just miles from my parent’s home, demolishing houses and leaving people with nothing), I’d like to urge us all to be grateful for each new day and each new opportunity to tackle our goals.

Happy New Year!
Meryl

Featured Recipe

Crisp Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp. Fresh grated ginger
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup sliced cucumber
1/2 cup sliced apple
1 cup chopped kale
1 cup cooked quinoa

Directions:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, ginger, oil, and a pinch of salt.
Add the cucumber, apple, kale, and quinoa. Stir to combine. Enjoy!