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Hormonal Harmony

3 Simple Ways to Stay Young

The old saying “you’re only as old as you feel” is not only scientifically backed, but recent research now reveals that the sentiment can actually help you live longer. Researchers first began to validate the health benefits having a “youthful” attitude several years ago in a study published the Journal of the American Medical Association. In the study, scientists found older people with positive views on aging were 44 percent more likely to recover fully after severe disability than those with negative views on aging. In more recent times, research has found that older people who felt three or more years younger than their actual (chronological) age had a lower death rate compared with those who felt their age or those who felt more than one year older than their actual age.

If you don’t naturally feel “peppy” or young, don’t worry. With just a little practice and some good habits you can begin to think and even feel younger. Start with these three simple steps:

Stay in the present. Thinking too much about the past and your youth, or about getting old in the future may only bring on feelings of depression. Try your best to bring your attention to the present moment.

Don’t give up on your passions. Sure, you may not be able to play basketball like you used to or water ski like you could when you were young, but that doesn’t mean those hobbies have to go out the window with age. It just means they likely have to be modified—you may still be able to shoot hoops, just not play intense games, and maybe you can’t ski anymore, but you can still enjoy the water by swimming.

Think outside of yourself. When you focus solely on yourself, your needs, pleasure or pain, you’re likely to experience more difficulty with the aging process. Focus on something larger than yourself, whether that’s connecting with people close to you or helping improve the lives of others.

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Hormonal Harmony

3 Things I Struggle With…

As someone who spends their week training clients, creating sustainable nutrition programs, and writing numerous blog posts each week, I sure do dish out my fair share of advice.

In fact, it’s probably easy to think that I’ve got it all figured out, right? (<—- ha!)

In all reality, I DON’T have it all figured out.  I do pretty well for myself in most areas of my life, but there are still areas where I struggle, and I think it’s important to share our struggles with others.

Maybe that’s why I have gotten such amazing feedback over the last 3 months as I’ve written about a lot of my issues and struggles?  Because it’s nice to see the “human” side of people.

In keeping with that theme, today I am writing about 3 things I struggle with, and what I am doing to fix them (or not fix them).

1. Sleep

Getting proper sleep has been a struggle for me for as long as I can remember. I can recall tossing and turning in my bed for hours as a young child because I couldn’t fall asleep. Then I would wake up the next morning and be miserable because I was so exhausted.

Unfortunately, this cycle hasn’t changed much, except since I don’t have a parent to force me to go to bed, I just stay up later working, watching TV or reading until I am tired enough to go to sleep. It probably didn’t help that I worked as a waitress at a late night bistro for 7 years through undergrad and would often go to bed at 3 am. Ugh.

What I Am Doing About This:

– Holding myself accountable – Recently I asked a friend to be my Accountability Partner/Life Coach.  At the time I asked her, I was routinely going to bed around 12 am. She gave me a bedtime, yes, a bedtime of 11 pm, and a wake-up call of 7:30 am every day. (I get up most mornings between 7:30 and 8, but since my schedule has some flexibility, some mornings I would sleep until 8:30 or 9 if I had been up late working the night before).

In fact, I have to text her when I wake up, and if I don’t, she will drive to my house. She also routinely asks me what time I went to bed, to ensure that I stay accountable.

– Trying to relax – I try to spend the last 30-60 minutes before bed reading, taking a bath, avoiding the cell phone, and just relaxing. This calms me down, and allows my brain to chill out a bit as well.

2. Saying NO to projects

Over the last 2 years, my plate has (luckily!) become very full with my personal blog, 2 businesses growing and many others projects and tasks. One of the best parts about being busy, is that you get a lot of cool opportunities. One of the worst? They can be impossible to say no to.

Taking on too many projects prevents you from being able to focus appropriate time and energy on any one project, and prevents you from doing things really well.

What I Am Doing About This:

– Finding a coach – I’ll be talking about this more in the future, but having a Life Coach, that really knows and understands me, was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. He has helped me get really organized and helped me prioritize my projects and tasks so that I can get more done in less time.

But even better, he has helped me recognize what projects will lead directly to my goals, and turn down or discard projects that won’t. He has also helped me learn that it’s OK to say, “No.”

– Therapy – So I didn’t start therapy to deal directly with this issue, but believe it or not, it’s helped. (Side note: I’ve been in therapy for 3 years now and I love it. I think every single person should go at least once a month.) What therapy has helped with is my tendency to be a people pleaser and not want people to be upset with me.

Whenever I struggle with saying, “no” to a project, I remember this quote (paraphrased):

Say ‘no’ more often so that your ‘yes’ has more power and meaning.

3. Artificially Flavored Gum

Yes, you read that correctly. Artificially Flavored Gum (yes, I chew this stuff…and it may one day be the death of me).

Anyone who knows me well knows that it’s an ultimate vice and obsession. I know that it’s not good for me, and yet I cannot seem to shake the habit. On a “good” day, I’ll have none or one peice. On a “bad” day, I might have 3-4. I have been working to reduce this further and further….so I have improved.

Thankfully, I don’t chew it while training clients, so I never spend a full day doing a jaw workout. Which is also not very attractive, kinda gross, and in my opinion, gives a client the impression that you don’t care as much.

And just to be clear, I chew Spry (a naturally sweetened gum). And I always drink water with my gum to neutralize the chemicals and preserve my teeth (which my dentist told me look awesome, so luckily, no worries there).

All I can say, is that I am a sucker (or chomper) for that long lasting chew that you can only get from the artificially flavored stuff. Occasionally, I’ll hit the hard stuff.

Once, I’ve even received gum as a birthday present before. Yup. It’s that bad. I gave it up for 42 days last year, and when that 42 days was up, my taste buds rejoiced.

Everyone teases me because I am such a stickler about what I put in my body. I eat as much organic, local food as possible, and I do my best to avoid chemical cleaners and beauty products at all costs. But that sweet-neurotoxic-flavored gift from God?

YES PLEASE, GIVE ME MORE!

What I Am Doing About This:

– To be completely honest, not much. I absolutely love the stuff.  No one can be absolutely perfect all the time (I’m not even close). And if they are, well… I don’t really want to hang with them because that’s just annoying.

– OK, so I guess it’s not entirely true that I’m doing “nothing” about it. Because I consume that junk, I am extremely diligent about almost everything else I put in or on my body. If I am going to minimize the amount of chemicals and crap I am willing to expose my body to, then I have to be diligent. It’s all a tradeoff, right?

What about you? What do you struggle with? What are you doing to change it, if anything?

Love to hear from you. xxx, Amber

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Hormonal Harmony

“Be Bold, and Love Your Body!”

I want to share with you an exercise I’ve recently been doing every morning that helps me love my body and connect to her more deeply.

-When you wake up, stand in front of the mirror in your underwear, or birthday suite.

-Put your hands on your body in some way – I usually rub my belly, stretch my arms overhead and touch my hands together, or sway my hips a little.

-Instead of picking yourself apart (which may be your natural inclination), just observe your body like a work of art, look for the details and intricacies.

Since I’ve been doing this everyday for quite a while, I notice things like how the shape and feel of my belly changes with my cycle and the tone of my skin changes with the seasons. I’ll notice a new freckle or how my muscles are changing shape or taking form.

Get to know your real self.

Once you get comfortable doing this practice, you can take it a step further by finding something new to admire on your body everyday. Even if it’s a small space like your collarbone, the space just above your belly button, your ankle.

All of it matters.

All of it is yours.

All of it is home.

Never ask permission to express your soul’s desire.

Exploding with love and gratitude,

😉 Xoxo, Amber

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Hormonal Harmony

Advice for Great Looking Skin

When it comes to having healthy skin, I’m ALWAYS learning. Moreover, I’m ALWAYS experimenting to see what works and what doesn’t.

Not gonna lie: sometimes the results are disastrous. Sometimes, however, they’re fantastic. These are a few of those strategies that have yielded FANTASTIC results – for minimum investment.

I usually have a few healthy skin favorites that I’m incorporating on the regular, in addition to the core, foundational goodies. Sometimes, these change, but right now, I’ve got some new skin-care staples I want to share.

As always, the foundation for healthy skin is good nutrition and well-managed digestion. I talk about this LOTS with my clients, and I think they are pretty used to hearing it from me by now.

So I suppose this blog should be called “Besides the critical puzzle pieces of nutrition and digestion that lay the foundation for healthy skin no matter who you are, here are my three current favorite pieces of advice for great looking skin.”

Obviously, that’s too long for a blog title.

So here’s what I’m loving right now. If you have anything to add, tweet me or post a comment on this page!

Strategy #1: Dry Brushing

So far, I’ve found nothing more powerful in enhancing my skin’s glow than dry brushing.

Dry brushing isn’t just exfoliating. It can’t be done in the shower, as the effects aren’t the same (I know this from experience). It’s really a circulation booster, and I’ve found it not just invigorating, but also health-promoting. The directions are pretty simple:

Start on dry skin before bathing.
Work in gentle circular, upward motions, then longer, smoother strokes.
Always begin at the ankles in upwards movements towards the heart – the lymphatic fluid flows through the body towards the heart, so it’s important that you brush in the same direction.
Your back is the only exception to the preceding rule; brush from the neck down to the lower back.
After you’ve finished with the ankles, move up to the lower legs, thighs, stomach, back and arms. Be cautious of softer and sensitive skin around the chest and breasts, and never brush over inflamed skin, sores, sun-burnt skin, or skin cancer.
Ensure you shower to wash away the dead skin cells and impurities.
Tip: alternating temperatures in the shower from hot to cold will further invigorate the skin and stimulate blood circulation, bring more blood to the outer layers of the skin.
Then follow it up with a slick moisturizer to nourish the skin (personally, I use coconut oil).

Dry brushing daily for just a few minutes is an amazing way to start the day. Give it a go for 30 consecutive days and your body will love you for it! And while I don’t dry brush my face, it definitely impacts the skin of my mug. Observe my before-and-after:

Great Looking Skin
healthy skin

Just kidding.

Strategy #2: Do LESS.

Too often, we think we have to do MORE to have better skin. This is absolutely not true. It’s one of the reasons I don’t recommend exfoliation for everyone – for some, it’s too harsh and can hurt your skin.

You don’t have to have eighteen different routines conducted every waking hour, on the hour, to care for your skin. The less you can manage to do, the more your skin can go about the business of HEALING and becoming less sensitive and angry.

These days, I just do a quick cloth wipe-down to cleanse in the morning. (I like using a Norwex cloth, as the embedded silver keeps it from harboring any wonky bacteria, but any microfiber cloth will do.) When I’m not wearing makeup, this is often the entirety of my cleansing routine in the evening as well. While I still do my coconut oil cleansing several times per week, I find that at this point in my journey, I can do even LESS when it comes to cleansing. I dab on some oil-based moisturizer (always organic) and I’m good to go.

It sounds scary, I know – and sometimes your skin has to actually ADJUST to doing less. It’s often used to such frequent pressure, manipulation and abuse – even with “natural” skin care routines – that it continues to respond as if it’s being ambushed. This will pass.

Strategy #3: SLEEP, dammit!

Sleeping when it’s dark, and getting ENOUGH sleep, is key.

I KNOW how difficult this one is. We are all so busy, and life (and the new season of Eastbound and Down) keeps us up late. But proper sleep is a HUGE bugger to getting healthier skin. I see it way, way too often – even in myself.

It’s not always possible to get great sleep during normal nighttime hours, and sometimes we have to work pretty hard at it. While I DEFINITELY don’t advocate stressing about sleep management (stress is another bugger to healthy skin), I do recommend being proactive.

Have an earlier dinner, and record your favorite nighttime TV shows to watch early the following morning so you can wind down with the sun. Keep the lights low as the sun goes down. Whatever you like to do at night, see if you can do it as the sun comes up instead.

THIS DOESN’T HAVE TO BE ALL-OR-NOTHING! ONE night per week of proper, good sleep is better than NO nights per week. You can feel GREAT about a single evening’s sleep hygeine! (I’m so happy I got to work in the phrase “sleep hygeine.”) Don’t get caught up in feeling like if you can’t do it 100% of the time, you can’t do it at all.
That goes for ALL of these strategies. Just do your best, when you can. Over time, everything becomes easier! Patience and long standing dedication are the keys.
All right – now it’s your turn! What are your tried-and-true, natural strategies for better skin? Please share.

Stay Strong! Xo, Amber 🙂

Categories
Hormonal Harmony

It Is Time To Ditch Your Fat Loss Timetable

One of the quickest ways to disappointment is to give yourself strict, rigid rules that need to be followed to perfection.

One way in which we set ourselves up for disappointment and even more DE-motivation is through setting a time in our mind by which we “need” to achieve a specific outcome, or else is means we’re a failure or we suck.

“Amber, but what about goal setting? Don’t we need specific goals?”

In my opinion, goals are worthwhile ONLY if your approach to them allows for you to be gentle with yourself if you don’t achieve them. You cannot hold yourself accountable to a rigid timetable and also give yourself the win. It’s either/or. And I would argue that the latter is much more important as it applies to your happiness, and ALSO because it’s more empowering in the long run. Goal setting works in the short-term, but when the motivation is external (e.g. the threat of having to step on stage in a bikini), it doesn’t last in the long-term.

Here’s what happens when we set up a random timetable when it comes to our physiques and lose perspective when it comes to time:

We mistakenly feel like results can’t come fast enough. If we lose 5 lbs in the first week, it should have been 8. If we lose 7 inches in a month (incredible results by any standard), it doesn’t seem like all the much. If we need to lose 20 lbs by October and we only lose 17, it’s not good enough.

What is the rush? WHY do we feel like it all has to happen so fast?

I will give you this one key insight about time: The faster it comes OFF, the faster it comes back ON. Truth.

And despite what you may think, fast fat loss is actually not what you really want. The reason being that sustained fat loss is the result of many, many days, months and years of practicing good behaviors. Fast fat loss is a result of intense, willpower-based practices that, by definition, must rebound. You literally have not had THE TIME needed to turn those white-knuckling practices into habits yet. So inevitably, once willpower wanes, the old habits are still there, ready to override any ounce of willpower you try to muster.

Here’s a timetable for you: Today.

Focus on that and only that. What will you practice TODAY? Don’t think about tomorrow, next month or your vacation this Fall. Today is all you need to effectively practice your healthy habits. Your next meal. Your workout today. Get through that. Practice that.

And begin allowing your arbitrary timetable of expectations to fade into insignificance. It’s liberating! Knowing you get to practice (not be perfect!) a healthy lifestyle forever is empowering 🙂

Ox, Amber

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Hormonal Harmony

TODAY’S TRAINING TIP

MY Training Tip For Everyone Today Is: Being overweight and out-of-shape is hard. Being lean and in-shape is hard. Choose your hard.

Let’s get serious people! Do it and have fun!
xxx, Amber

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Hormonal Harmony

Do you know how to Breath Right?

Here’s an email I sent to all of my clients. Keeping your clients educated is SOOO important. I talk about breathing and how it’s so important to breathe right. Do you have dysfunctional breathing?…. Fixing your breathing could change your life!

What I have realized over the last 7 years of training and coaching clients/athletes, is that almost no one knows how to breathe properly. And, don’t get me wrong, I could add myself to this group, up until a couple years ago. This is no big deal, right? It’s only the FIRST functional movement we did as babies.

Some of you at the gym may be wondering:

“Why do you keep telling me to keep my eyes parallel?”

“Why are you telling us to close our mouths?”

“Why do we have to breathe all the way out?”

“Why are you telling us to focus and practice on our breathing when we’re at home?”

I know, I know! It sounds crazy and pointless, but believe me, it’s reeeally important! If you’ve been a longtime client of mine, you’re probably used to all of my breath training craziness.

So why do I care if you’re breathing correctly? Why does it matter?

Consider this: we breathe between 20,000 and 25,000 times daily. If you’re mouth breathing, shallow breathing, or holding your breath all the time, you may not be getting ideal oxygen levels throughout your body. This includes your brain, and more importantly to you workout fans, your muscles. So breathing properly may help your performance in the gym and in your daily lives. I don’t seem so crazy now, do I?

When your lips are sealed and I have you take a breath in for 3 seconds, air gets to the lungs and oxygen to your blood. When you exhale for 5-6 slow seconds, oxygen gets to your brain and muscles. Exhalation is just as important as inhalation because it removes waste! Some people never breathe all the way out! So, I guess you could say they’re full of…carbon dioxide.

So as you can see, if you improve your breathing, everything at the gym will also improve! Below I have my description of the importance of proper breathing when training. I’ve mades it simple to understand:

Breath work is vital to maximizing strength in any client whether they are male or female, young or old, athletic or non-athletic. Helping someone to use proper breathing techniques has many benefits from oxygenating blood for maximum contraction of max lifts, or to calm someone that might be new to resistance training.

Data and research have proven that without proper breathing, brain function is compromised. If a trainer/physical therapist, etc is trying to coach someone to move properly to avoid injury, or to rehab an injury and they are not breathing properly, we are sabotaging our own work and negatively impacting our outcome and our clients.

So, what in my opinion is optimal breathing? Optimal breathing occurs when:

– Eyes are level with the floor (parallel)

– Lips are together, without strain

– Nasal breathing is established in all bodily positions

– Breathing is silent

– Breathing is rhythmical

– Neck and shoulder muscles are not tense

Are you starting to see how important breathing properly is?

Here are a few things you’ll need to work on to achieve optimal breathing:

Keep your eyes parallel to the floor. When you begin focusing on this, you’ll start catching yourself looking down ALL the time.
Breathe in through your nose for 3 seconds, and out for 5-6 seconds. Once you get the breathing down, you won’t have to focus on it so much, you will naturally breathe in and out for about the right amount of time.
Keep the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth, your teeth are not touching, and your mouth is shut!

Fill in your belly!
· If your diaphragm is not being used while you’re asleep, all your other muscles are having to help you breathe, and you’re not getting the restorative sleep your body needs to recover. If you can’t recover, we can’t push you as hard at the gym.

Breathe in through your nose, breathe ALL the way out, and see how many steps you can take without taking a breath in. 12 steps? 25 steps? Try getting up to 50 steps without dying. Practice that twice a day! It’ll help your body get used to being in a state of exhalation. It sounds really easy until you actually try it! I only got 25 on my first try.
Consider buying a Nasal Cleanser, e.g. Neti Pot.
I’ve been doing it for almost two weeks and I CAN BREATHE THROUGH MY NOSE. I thought it was normal to always be congested on one side.
Don’t look at me like I’m crazy when I tell you learning how to breathe correctly, it will change your life!

There you have it guys! Not only do you now understand why breathing is so important, but you have some easy action steps that you can implement immediately to help you get on the proper breathing path.
Hope this help you and don’t forget to share this with everyone you know, since we all need a refresher course in breathing right.

Categories
Hormonal Harmony Nutrition & Supplements

My Biggest Challenge Eating Real Food

Today I ask myself a tough question that I often ask my clients after they complete a 30 Day “Whole You” program.

What has been my biggest challenge eating a real food diet, and how did I overcome it?

There was a time when I had this nagging feeling that I needed to be “lean,” with a very low body fat percentage, to truly epitomize a real food diet “success”. I finally realized that health is the REAL truth-teller, and the body must be loved and appreciated for wherever real health brings it. There was nothing to be gained from giving old food neuroses a new disguise; or from allowing old insecurities to manifest themselves over and over again through different types of food. I had to forgive myself all those mistakes! I’m grateful to have come through that internal battle, because it has shifted my perspective entirely and allowed me to appreciate my body and my food in ways I never thought possible. But it wasn’t an easy mind-set to relinquish.

lunch
A Favorite, Quick, Real Food Lunch!

I would love to hear what challenges you have faced eating a real, whole food diet (paleo or primal diets). Please comment below to share your experiences with others and me. Thanks! 🙂
xxx, Amber

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Hormonal Harmony

The Way You See Yourself

…is actually quite subjective 🙂 Like most things, when we quit all the mental aerobics, it just comes down to a choice. In fact, we are probably one of the worst judges of how we look because our insecurities make us biased. I actually like subjectivity as it applies to self-judgement, but ONLY if we can learn to judge FAVORABLY.

Besides, being a certain weight, circumference or dress size, without the personal biases we place on them, are arbitrary–have no meaning. We MAKE them mean something.

I remember talking to a client of mine a couple years ago, a woman who was in her early 40s and she told me that she “needed to get down to 119 lbs.” Well, naturally I was surprised at her specificity, and inquired about it. She said it was what she weighed AS A FRESHMAN IN COLLEGE. Here, over 20 years and 3 kids later, she was still desperately holding on to a number that meant something to her as a teenager, like it was some sort of magic pill for happiness.

Why? Why do we make it about a specific number? A random number. 119 lbs is not healthy if it’s skinny fat or done in a way that makes us miserable. I’d rather be a strong, healthy & happy 150 lbs than struggle in dissatisfaction for 20 years to reach a number that holds no real value except the one we made up in our head.

What is valuable however, is health, functionality and happiness.

As a fitness and nutrition pro, I don’t advocate just any weight as “healthy.” Obese is not healthy. But I do advocate LIKING YOURSELF in the meantime as you strive towards a healthier body fat percentage.

The two are not mutually exclusive. You can like yourself NOW, while also striving for more in the FUTURE. This is called “acceptance without resignation.” And despite the fact that we often think dissatisfaction is what drives us, most people are actually MORE motivated when they experience a sense of self-acceptance. Less mental effort used for self-loathing, therefore more mental effort available to help us stay on track with our healthy goals.

Ok, so let’s try this: Look in the mirror and say, “I’m ok.” Can you say it with conviction? Or are you faking it? Try, then try again. And again 🙂

Want more mindset coaching? Contact me to schedule an appointment to receive online or in-person mindset coaching to begin your journey to mastering your self-image and food obsessions.

Self Image

As always, let me know how you’re doing, and drop me a line.
xoxo,
Amber

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Hormonal Harmony

What does status have to do with your fat loss journey?

Ever wonder why so many people feel compelled to argue with you, contradict ideas and be generally disagreeable? Because “STATUS” is one of the major needs of the human brain.

People do not like feeling out of the know and often subconsciously resist information others present. This is a telltale sign of insecurity since it is their perception not yours that creates the in-congruency in their mind. People would prefer to be at the same level or above others. This is why chat boards are often filled with negative and contradictory comments (and why people act the way they do on FB :-)).

The need for status can be so powerful in some that they will literally find something wrong in almost anything you present. Ever meet anyone like that? You write an incredibly moving passage and they will point out all the misspelled words. Formulate a well thought out argument and rather than agree they will find the one flaw in it, eat healthy and they will make sure to reprimand you for not having fun, take up exercise and they will tell you why your chosen form of exercise is not as good as their own. And on and on it goes.

Why do we bring this up? Because the process of body change is an individual endeavor and often takes a thick skin. Understanding why the people in your life act this way can provide new insight. We realize it is frustrating, but many of these people are simply being human and not all of us are equally secure. Realize that status seeking is a game they can’t help but play and rather than buy into it, continue finding your own solution. Try to let go of the subconscious need for status in yourself and don’t take it as personal when others do it. Focus on the honest pursuit of what works for you instead.

I would love to hear from you on this topic. Please send me your comments and stories.
In good health, XXX-Amber