Do you gain weight in cooler months?

I personally feel like I want to hibernate during the cooler months. I just want to eat and eat and eat and lounge around in my PJs for days while binge-watching Netflix movies and series. Winter weight gain is a real thing – here are some common reasons why this phenomenon can happen.

  1. In cooler months, I find that people tend to stop exercising – especially those who do outdoor exercises like walking or jogging. Even I have to drag myself to the gym. I am thankful that people expect me to be there to teach a cardio class so I have no excuse – I need to show up and workout.
  2. Carbohydrates become people’s best friend. Researchers have found that in the winter months, people will often turn to carbs as comfort food. Carbohydrates can help reduce stress and give a temporary sense of wellbeing (from serotonin release) but ultimately results in excess weight gain.
  3. You could be too warm at night. People often combat the cold by burrowing under comforters and blankets. Unfortunately, being too warm at night actually reduces your sleep. Researchers have linked poor sleep and lack of sleep with weight gain.

Even if winter weight gain is real – it doesn’t mean that we should give in and just gain weight and worry about it later. Here are a couple of suggestions on how you can combat winter weight gain.

Set an exercise plan in motion. It could be an entirely home-based exercise plan if you don’t want to leave the house. There are various types of workout videos you can follow on the internet. Or, just commit to 3 days of going to the gym. Mark it in your calendar. The key is – COMMITMENT.

Start planning your meals. Instead of spontaneously eating whatever’s around, be deliberate about what you cook and what you eat. Be mindful of what you are putting into your body. If you have not tried it, you may even want to start meal prepping. Here’s a tip – don’t overdo it on the holiday meals. The triple whammy of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year can really wreak havoc on your waistline. Do enjoy your meal and eat till you’re full – but no more. Don’t stuff yourself just because it’s the holidays.

Winter weight gain is a very real phenomenon. Fortunately, proper exercise and nutrition can still help you prevent weight gain – and if you really put your heart into it, you may possibly even lose some unwanted weight.

Let’s talk about motivation

In my experience, in order for me to achieve something, I need to be motivated. Motivation is my WHY. It’s why I do something. It’s the reason behind my goal. It is the reason I act a certain way or the cause behind repeating certain behaviors and actions. Motivation can be high the entire time someone is reaching for a goal or it can wane and get people stuck. But when people hit a slump, it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road. We just need to get up and get motivated again.

Sometimes it’s hard to get started or hard to continue when we are reaching for a goal. It can often be hard to reach the finish line. But no matter what stage we’re at, we need the motivation to complete it. Motivation is important for a variety of reasons.

Motivation is what gets things started. Without it, anything we choose to do takes more effort and will end up being less successful.

Motivation fuels us to continue. It keeps us going. We have to nurture our motivation, sometimes reevaluating what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. But as long as we keep our motivation strong, we will succeed.

Motivation can keep us going when things get difficult, expensive or complications occur.

Motivation can change. Our reason for accomplishing our goal might change as we go along. Maybe we started out with one reason but it changes halfway through or even again at the end.

Motivation keeps us persistent. When we have a long way to go we can get tired, burnt out or disappointed along the way. But by having a strong motivating factor we can keep going and know it will be worth it in the end.

Motivation can be many different things to different people. Having more money is motivation. Improving your health is excellent motivation. Improving your lifestyle for your family or even starting or expanding your business can both be great motivational factors. No matter what your motivating factor is it’s important to remember to keep your momentum and motivation high and fresh.

To stay motivated, keep a list of your daily tasks and cross them off as you finish them. Having a visual reminder of your productivity feels good. It also helps you see you are making progress and that will motivate you to keep going.

Have you lost your motivation? Take a break. Sometimes losing your motivation, getting depressed and wrung out is a matter of being overworked. Taking regular breaks can keep you going longer. Clearing your head and getting away from your work can get you motivated to return to your goal.

Accept that you are going to make mistakes and learn from them. Having things go wrong is enough to make you lose your motivation. It’s fine to feel bad for a very short time. But quickly accept it and then figure out what went wrong.

Move forward. Think about the benefits you’ll get when you accomplish what you set out to. Don’t think about how hard it is going to be. Instead, focus on how good you will feel when you’re done. Thinking about the benefits of something energizes you and keeps you motivated to continue.

Get rid of negative thoughts. It’s hard to be motivated when you are constantly telling yourself you can’t do something, or you’re not good enough or even that it’s too hard. Replace them with positive thoughts. The positive reinforcement helps you realize you can do something.

Are you comfy where you are?

A few months ago, my life was super hectic. After a major milestone – my life slowly started to calm down. Right now, I’m at a point in my life where I feel comfy. So comfy, I am itching for a change. I know I can choose to just stay inside my comfy bubble and hang and watch everything pass by … but, there is so much life has to offer and I don’t want to miss out. I may not be in my thirties anymore but I am not ready to just sit around and act tired.

Why do we like to stay in the comfort zone anyway? It’s because the comfort zone is the stress-free zone that we are used to. It’s a familiar place where we are the most dissatisfied with our lives. Here’s the issue though …

When we stay in our comfort zone, we are forcing ourselves to stay stagnant. Clearly, we are intimidated by change. Our brains are trained to keep us safe so we stay in our comfort zone instead of facing the unknown.

Staying in our comfort zone may be fine but it can cause problems as well. Here’s why it’s not all that cool to stay in your comfort zone.

Not setting/reaching your goals. If you get too comfy where you are, you are less likely to set a goal or follow through on reaching your goals. Your fear, procrastination, or any other excuse keep you from taking action toward your goal.

Lack of growth. You’ll always be stuck where you are, never going forward and never growing and changing. You might end up not achieving your goals because you’re stuck on doing things the same way you’ve always done them, even when you’re not seeing any results. You fail to see what great things you can achieve.

Feeling left behind. Everyone else seems to be moving forward but you. Others might have been behind you in terms of life or career but because they stepped out of their comfort zone, they have passed you by.

Settling for less. By continuing to live in your comfort zone, you settle for less than you desire. Come on, you deserve better! Don’t put your passion or things you love aside.

You lose your self-confidence. When you don’t move out of your comfort zone, you aren’t building the confidence you need to grow and take on new challenges.

Your health suffers. More often than not, when you are not getting out of your comfort zone you aren’t taking care of your health either. It can be from fear of going to the doctor, not wanting to change your routines, avoiding going to the gym for some reason such as being looked at or trying something different.

Stepping out of your comfort zone is not easy but it’s doable. Take it easy – little steps – one foot in front of the other …

You can do it!

Exercising Again? Focus On the Process, Not the End Results

This comparison picture from 2005 and 2019 makes me wonder why I waited so long. It actually hurts my heart looking at the 2005 photo. That was my regular “everyday” face – perhaps at one point of time I probably didn’t even care how I looked. So sad, right? I can’t remember truly exercising back then – I was busy being “mom”. My exercise was housework, errands and chauffering kids from school to activities to home. I was busy for other things but not to take care of me. An online friend commented about how “brave” I was posting old photos of me. It’s not actually being brave but making a promise to myself (publicly) that I will not go back to my old ways of loving myself less.

True confession – before being successful in losing the extra weight I was carrying around, I wanted to give up multiple times. You see – I used to get so impatient. I would exercise hoping to get great results in a couple of weeks. Or, I’d try a workout for a couple weeks and if I don’t get impressive results, I would be so upset. But … that was before. I have since then realized that it takes time, effort, consistency and hard work to achieve the fitness goals I have set for myself. It’s not just the results that matter but also the process involved in reaching the end result.

Here are some facts. Exercise works. It makes you healthier. It builds muscles that burn fat and calories 24/7, even while you sleep. Exercise makes your heart stronger, and turns your immune system into a supercharged security force that effectively repels infection, disease and injury.

Physical activity, which is at the basis of all exercise, also sharpens your mind. Studies show that when you stay active, as opposed to being sedentary, you boost your natural ability to resist neurological disease development.

Simply put, there are a lot of good reasons to exercise.

Too often, someone who lives a very inactive lifestyle decides they want to lose 25 pounds of fat, or build a muscular physique, or achieve some other very specific fitness-oriented goal. There is nothing wrong with that. Goals are important to give you a finish line to aim for.

However, you should initially stick to the process when you exercise, and not worry about the results. This is especially true when you are returning to exercise after being sedentary for a substantial length of time.

You may not see the results happen quickly enough to make you happy in the beginning. This can be very frustrating, and could possibly cause you to reclaim your couch potato lifestyle and give up exercise. Don’t let this happen.

Focus on the process. Take one day at a time. Record your results. Work hard enough to push yourself, but not too hard. Let the process work. Regular exercise used to achieve specific health goals has continually proven successful.

It took a while for you to create the unhealthy body you are living in. It will also take time for exercise to deliver the fitness goals you are looking for, so do the daily work and the process will give you what you want. Again, if you need a cheerleader – I’m here for yah!

Pictures don’t lie

Here’s a story about when I decided to get my sexy back a little over 10 years ago. Let me tell you – it wasn’t easy getting back to exercising after being sedentary and inactive. It was grueling and truth be told – I wanted to quit so many times especially in the beginning. But, the good news is – it gets easier and with consistency, you will enjoy not only the process but the results. I remember looking at the 2009 picture and just crying and thinking –” Oh my goodness, how could I have let myself go?” Pictures don’t lie! This harsh realization of what I have become was my turning point.

Here are some things to consider …

The human body was not intended to sit around and do nothing. We are at or healthiest as human beings when we are active as opposed inactive, moving around as opposed to just sitting.

Active people live longer and have fewer health problems in their life compared to inactive people. Physical activity not only helps your body. It improves the health of all of your organs and internal body processes as well.

All exercises are rooted in physical activities and movements. This is why exercise is so important to being the healthiest “you” that you possibly can.

If you are coming back to exercise after little or no physical activity, there is one thing you should remember. Even if you start slowly, you will experience pain and physical discomfort. This is a natural and normal signal that your muscles have been torn down and are beginning to repair.

Don’t worry, this is a good sign!

You tear down your muscles when you stress them. The health benefits that come from exercise are not limited to the calories you burn while you are working out. For as many as 38 hours after your exercise is over, your body is attempting to repair itself. These repairs take a lot of fuel, which is how exercise burns calories and fat.

Unfortunately, the muscle tear-down process during exercise can result in mild pain. If your pain is extreme, you are overworking yourself. On the other hand, you shouldn’t be wary of the mild pain and discomfort exercise causes. This is a sign that you are building a bigger, stronger, healthier body, which is why you are exercising in the first place.

If you need someone to cheer you on – reach out to me. I’ll be your cheerleader. Know that you can do it! I believe in you.

Going from couch potato to a fitness fanatic? Don’t Expect Instant Miracles

Admit it, you have been inactive for a while. You have enjoyed a rather sedentary lifestyle, with very little activity, and now you want to start exercising. That is fabulous. The benefits of exercise can improve your mind and body substantially.

However, you shouldn’t expect miracles when you just start out.

Here are some things to ponder about. Did you begin running the day after you first started to walk as a toddler? Probably not. A week after you first started swimming you were probably not in the Olympics. It’s not like you ate burgers, chips, and cookies yesterday and this morning you woke up weighing 20 pounds heavier. Nor should you expect working out after long periods of being sedentary to deliver immediate results. It took time for your body to get to the state that it’s currently in so it will take time to lose the extra weight you’ve gained.

The good news is, you will start to feel better when you exercise. Sitting and physical inactivity can truly harm you. It is proven to take years off of the average human lifespan. So anything you do other than sitting on your rump is going to make you start to feel better.

Quick story – after giving birth to 3 kids – my life and my body changed. My focus shifted from “me” to “the kids”. As the kids slowly grew, so did my body. It was a sad day when I finally realized and accepted that I gained weight. A highschool reunion changed all that. The fear of having my old friends judge me for how big I have become – pushed me into deciding that I needed to lose weight – quick. I worked out every day for 3 weeks before the reunion and I lost 5 pounds. That may not be the success I was looking for at the time but – it helped propel me into a healthier lifestyle. It was enough to keep me going. It has been over 9 years since that reunion and I have not gotten back to my old unhealthy habits.

If there is one thing I want to emphasize, it is “a consistent and repetitive exercise program will eventually deliver the health benefits you are trying to achieve“. Just keep at it. You probably know you should start off slow in the beginning. This keeps you from becoming injured and ditching your exercise program altogether.

The story of the hare and the tortoise is applicable here. Slow and steady wins the race, so adopt a regular exercise routine. Stick to it, week after week, month after month, and you will eventually achieve the results you’re looking for.

When Returning to Exercise, Think like Goldilocks

So the year is almost at its end – most people are already contemplating New Year’s resolutions. The more popular resolution during this time is “FITNESS”. I really don’t think that you have to wait for the New Year to set a FITNESS goal. I mean, why wait? You are just going to set yourself up for a bigger problem if you wait. If you truly want to get healthier and want to focus on adding more fitness into your life – just do it! If you are worried about how to get started, let me talk you through it.

Are you familiar with the story of Goldilocks?

You probably do. In case you don’t recall, it is the story of a little girl who goes wandering in the forest. She finds a house, and since the door is unlocked, she goes right in. She finds 3 bowls of porridge, 3 chairs, and 3 beds.

In each of these items, she kept trying – until she found the bowl of porridge, chair, and a bed that was “just right”. This is what you want to do when you begin to exercise after being sedentary and inactive for a period of time.

Work on a schedule that has you challenging your body, but not overstressing it. Newbies to exercise often work too hard too early, and sustain an injury. The injury keeps them from exercising for a while, and in some cases, they develop the mindset that working out is dangerous.

You should also find an exercise program that is “just right” for you.

If right now, your life involves a lot of sitting, little physical activity, and absolutely no exercise, begin with something easy – like walking. There is no shame in incorporating 3 walking sessions of 10 to 15 minutes each and every week when you are just beginning to workout. While you may not think of walking as exercise, it is an excellent all-over workout. If you enjoy dancing, you may want to try a Zumba class or a similar dance cardio class. When starting, don’t be intimidated by the moves. Don’t worry about the other people – just go at your own pace and try your best. You do not have to finish the class – try a few songs and gradually increase your time as you continue to attend classes.

The idea here is to not overdo it. You don’t want to “underdo” it either. Push yourself enough but not too much, and only work out every other day of the week when you start out. Remember to warm up before your exercise and stretch after.

It’s not so hard to have a Positive Attitude

In our everyday life, we often catch ourselves with both negative and positive thoughts. It is so easy to point out the things that are not going well and just let negativity take over. But, when negativity becomes a habit, it can have some unpleasant effects on you. When that happens, it’s probably a good time to make an attitude adjustment and adopt a positive mindset.

Listed below are a few suggestions on how to cultivate a more positive attitude:

  1. QUIT complaining. Complaining is a very negative response to any situation. It drains you of energy and it just makes you UGLY! Tell me, do you want to be ugly? I don’t think so. If you catch yourself complaining – STOP.
  2. Express gratitude every day – even for small things. There is always something to be grateful for. Even if you complain about dirty dishes all the time – it just means – you are eating something (hence the dirty dishes) – so quit complaining and instead be grateful that you are able to eat something. If you get into this habit, eventually you will become grateful for everything.
  3. Keep a list of things you have accomplished. Sometimes, you do not realize how much you have accomplished until you list them down.
  4. Let go of the people around you who are negative, critical, and abusive of you. They drain your energy. Instead, surround yourself with supportive, positive people.
  5. Let go of envy. Envy is a very negative emotion. It eats at you, pointing to the faults we see in ourselves.
  6. Choose to be happy. Happiness is a choice. When a negative thought enters your mind, push it out quickly. Substitute a happy thought.
  7. Be kind and smile at others.
  8. Have faith in yourself. Believe the Universe will help you.

Cultivating a positive outlook takes conscious thought. Be mindful of your thoughts and the attitudes of those around you. When you are mindful of the negative thoughts around you, you’ll be able to counteract them more quickly.

A little positivity can go a long way

I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately – life had thrown me a curve ball. I recognize that it is just a situation – a temporary uncomfortable situation but I still let it bother me. It’s normal – people get bummed because things don’t turn out the way they expect it to BUT I believe that it is up to us to turn things around. It’s all about perspective. Just a matter of looking at the positive side of things instead of the “not so positive”.

A positive attitude is one of the stepping-stones to a happier life. Everyone has a negative thought occasionally but the good news is that you may be able to counteract it with a positive thought. When negative thoughts fill your mind, it may be time to change your mindset. Here are a couple of tips that can help you out with that.

Become aware of your thoughts.

The trick is to take control of your thinking. Get into the habit of asking yourself, “What am I thinking right now?” Learn to recognize your negative thinking patterns and replace them with realistic, positive alternatives.

When a negative thought enters your mind, immediately replace it with a positive thought.

Negative thought: “I can’t believe that jerk cut in front of me!

Positive thought change: “I’m not rushed and in a hurry like that guy. He must be extremely stressed.”

Negative thought: “I can’t believe the poor service at this restaurant today!”

Positive thought change: “The waitress must be having a bad day because the service is usually great here.”

Do things you love.

If you are not sure what it is that you love – try different activities (running, dancing, singing, painting, etc.) until you find something you enjoy doing.

Do at least one thing every day that you enjoy doing. This makes a big difference because it makes you look forward to each day.

Yes, everyone has a negative thought occasionally. The trick is to recognize it and replace it with a positive thought so you don’t dwell on the negative. Dwelling on the negative does not change anything – LIFE goes on (whether you are feeling great or less than great). Time does not stop just because you are having a bad day – there are better things to do than sulk.

Life is too short not to notice the simple things that make us happy

Have you ever made plans because you believe that the fruition of these plans will somehow bring happiness into your life? Sometimes, we get too concerned with our plans to achieve what we think is “happiness”. We forget that there are other things that can make us happy and make us feel complete. Have you ever stopped to even think about the simple pleasures in life and how we can count on these simple pleasures to give us continuous joy. When we appreciate and enjoy the simple things, the gratitude we feel will extend to other areas as well. Life is too short not to realize the simple things that can bring us joy. Here are some of the simple pleasures that are worth making an effort to experience often.

Giving and Receiving Smiles

What a better way to experience a simple pleasure for free? Give smiles not only to your friends, but also to random strangers you pass on the street. You will be amazed at how good it feels to see first the surprise of others, and then their own smile in return. Sometimes too, I notice that smiling while doing an activity that is not your particular favorite – makes that activity easier to do. A smile is the nicest curve in your body – so flaunt it!!!

The Endorphin Rush after Working Out

When you work out in a strenuous manner, you will get an endorphin rush as a reward. These natural, feel-good chemicals are sure to brighten your day. Work out in the morning in order to use this endorphin rush to help you be especially productive throughout the rest of your day. If you do not like working out alone, join a group workout. Most importantly, find a workout you enjoy. That way, it doesn’t feel much like a workout but just a FUN activity!

Enjoying Your Favorite Food

Even if your favorite food is not especially healthy, allow yourself to have it every now and then. The feeling of your much-loved food will bring you a little boost of pleasure. Studies have shown that if you refrain from a particular food for a certain time, it will be even more enjoyable the next time you try it, so use this trick to make your favorite meal taste even better than usual. Just remember to eat in moderation – watch your portions!

Laughing until It Hurts

Laughter is like medicine. Everyone should have an opportunity to laugh until it hurts at least once a day. Whether it is with a friend who could write comedy, or watching a good movie, take some time to laugh away your stress.

Expensive fun is great, but can be hard to come by. Having big plans is a good thing especially if there are rewards attached to them. Instead of feeling sad about your plans slowing you down, indulge in one of the simple pleasures mentioned above. By learning to appreciate the little things right next to you, you will find great fulfillment each and every day. This can help you go through life with more hope to continue to push thru to achieve your plans. Happiness can happen everyday (even in small ways) until you achieve your great plan which will ultimately bring your greater joy and fulfillment.