If How You Eat and Work Out Doesn’t Make You Feel Good About Yourself, Read This Now

feel good
photo: some rights reserved by Donna Cymek

Warning: semi-rant ahead.

Demand more.

Seriously. We need to demand more from health and fitness. I believe 100% that how you eat and work out should make you feel better about yourself. It should reduce the amount of stress in your life, and not add to it. It should make you feel empowered and carry over into every other aspect of your life.

And it most certainly should not make you feel bad about yourself. You should never feel guilty if you “go off plan” or eat a bowl of ice cream. You should never work out because you hate how you look or because you over indulged so you’re “working it off”.

Demand more.

Our eating and fitness habits should not define us – they should make our lives better.

I’m not belittling anyone who wants to lose fat and look better because we all want to love our bodies and exude confidence. But we can still demand more in the process to changing how our bodies look, feel, and perform.

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7 Ways Strength Training Makes Your Life More Awesome

more awesomeMost people strength train, or work out in any form, to change how their body looks (i.e. lose fat or build muscle). Building a “better looking body” and improving health are the main benefits people desire when they train.

While that’s certainly true, it’s also short sighted.

But how in the world can strength training help you live a more awesome life? How can what you do in the gym carryover into every other aspect of your life, and improve it?

Here are seven ways …

1) The strength carryover effect. Being physically strong will have a positive effect on other activities, and your entire life.

No matter what sports or recreational activities you participate in, you’ll experience an improvement in your performance. Likewise, daily tasks will become much easier as will playing with your kids and grand children (or your dog if you’re a canine-parent like me). For older adults (a.k.a. Mature Beautiful Badasses) it keeps them living independently and reduces fall risk.

Bottom line: being stronger can only make your life more awesome.

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The “But I Only Have 20 Minutes” Workout Solution

short on time
photo: some rights reserved by StephenMitchell

“But, Nia, I only had 20 minutes so I didn’t have enough time to do my workout!”

“There’s no way I can have an effective workout in 20 minutes.”

I’ve heard these statements before and I always respond with, “Correction. You do have 20 minutes. That’s plenty of time for an effective workout.”

Don’t underestimate what you can accomplish in 20 minutes. If you do things right, that’s enough time for an effective, fast workout. Below you’ll see four sample 20-minute workouts, and they should give you some great ideas to create your own as well.

These 20-minute workouts are perfect for …

  • When you’re short on time and can’t perform your regular routine.
  • You just don’t feel like doing your regular routine!
  • You don’t want to spend more than 20 or so minutes working out.

And to get the greatest benefits from these sample 20-minute workouts, there are a few simple rules to apply.

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The Problem with “Listen to Your Body” and What to do About It

listen to your body
photo: some rights reserved by Thomas Hawk

Listening to your body is incredibly helpful when it comes to developing simple, sustainable eating habits. By “listening to your body” I mean eating primarily when you’re hungry, eating slowly, and stopping when satisfied but not stuffed.

This is something I practice and recommend because it works.

But it doesn’t always work as well as it should.

During a recent Beautiful Badass consultation (currently only open to those subscribed to the Lift Like a Girl newsletter but will be made public in the near future) we had a conversation about the problem with the “listen to your body” suggestion. The wonderful lady I was chatting with had a past somewhat similar to mine in regards to food.

We both had habits of scrutinizing what we ate and viewed certain foods as “good” and others as “bad”. If we didn’t eat well we’d feel guilty and proclaim that we “screwed up” and just continued to make poor food choices for the rest of the day, or weekend. Unfortunately this mindset carried over to the “listen to your body” guideline as well.

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Life is too Short to Diet

photo: some rights reserved by Gideon
photo: some rights reserved by Gideon

Let’s clarify something first. By saying, “Life is too short to diet” I’m not suggesting people eat whatever they want with complete disregard to health. This is not one of those “You’re going to die somehow so you might as well do what you want” articles where that statement is used as justification for doing anything they please without considering the possible consequences.

What I am suggesting is that life is too short to spend copious amounts of time stressing over what you’re going to eat and scrutinizing every little thing you put in your mouth. Likewise, life is too short to obsess over your workout habits.

Health and fitness should empower you. It should build you up and make you a better version of yourself. It should make you more, not less.

Most diets do the opposite. Many fad workout programs do too.

I have a simple, yet powerful, challenge for you: if you can’t proclaim with unwavering certainty that your current health and fitness regimen is empowering and making your life more awesome, then you need to change.

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5 Principles to Stay Fit on Vacation (or Traveling)

stay fit on vacation
photo: some rights reserved by OneGreatClick

“Stay fit” is a very broad, generic term. But for all intents and purposes, it suits this article. Better than saying How to Not Lose Your Results and Prevent Fat Gain When on Vacation.

It should come as no surprise that I do things differently. Be it with how this website looks (no pop-ups or ads), the guides and books in the store (some are pay-what-you-think-is-fair and all are about achieving your goals by becoming the best version of yourself, not dieting or working out to total exhaustion), or the Lift Like a Girl manifesto.

The same applies to how I approach nutrition and fitness when traveling – it should be as relaxed and stress-free as possible. My goal is to enjoy every moment of the vacation, and that means not obsessing over what I eat, but I don’t throw caution to the wind and intentionally avoid making good choices either. It’s about finding a simple balance that combines maintaining good food choices but still enjoying amazing foods that may contain good amounts of sugar (hello, ice cream) or be oh-so-delicious calorie bombs (hello, cheeseburger with pork belly).

If you too want to stay on track with your fitness but not obsess over working out or eating well on vacation, apply these five simple principles.

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Changing Women’s Health and Fitness – Join the Revolution

women's fitness
photo: some rights reserved by takebackyourhealthconference

WARNING! There is a rant ahead. As with the recent, and popular, rant on Fit and Fat Shaming, this is something that needs to be said.

(Note: I wanted to title this An Article Every Woman Should Read That Can Drastically Impact Your Health and Fitness in the Best Way Possible or even Some Health and Fitness Stuff is Pissing Me Off but Complaining about It is Worthless so Here’s How We Can Make a Positive Change, but both seemed a tad too long. Let’s move along …).

Hey, you. Yes, you.

Why do you work out? Why do you choose to eat, or not eat, the foods you do?

What thoughts drive you to perform your workouts? What are you thinking when you decide what to eat for breakfast or dinner?

Do you feel compelled to change the shape or appearance of your body because you’ve been told how you look “isn’t good enough” or that you’re “flawed”?

Let’s cut to the chase …

If you work out or eat because you’re concerned with what someone else thinks or what you think they want, then you need to stop everything you’re doing. If you think, “This is going to make me fat” when you eat certain foods or you praise yourself for “being good” when you eat others, you need to stop everything, right now.

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7 Reasons Why You Should NOT do a Sugar Detox

Sugar Detox
photo: some rights reserved by Moyan Brenn

Unnecessary, and even potentially harmful. That’s my opinion of sugar detoxes.

This isn’t a new fad but seems to be making a huge comeback. The promised benefits from a sugar detox include losing weight, higher energy, better sense of well-being, and more. Who wouldn’t be tempted by that, right?

But as we’ve covered before, I think you should avoid detoxes and cleanses, and sugar is no different.

The hosts of the Today show recently endured a 10 day sugar detox, and viewers likely joined them in the sugarless adventure. While some people champion the benefits from abstaining entirely from added sugar, I believe there are seven great reasons why you should NOT do a sugar detox.

1) Can actually lead to weight gain.

This one is going to confuse people because one of the main reasons to do a sugar detox is to lose weight.

Hoda Kotb, host of the Today show, said during her sugar detox, “I’ve gained two pounds since I’ve been on it” because she kept reaching for things like potato chips to satisfy her sugar craving she couldn’t fill. “I’m eating stuff I don’t really like” and “I had two cough drops before the show, because they tasted sweet” she went on to say openly about some of the not-so-great effects from the detox.

She later asked her co-host Kathie Lee, “Why am I gaining weight? Why?”

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Why Most 30 Day Challenges Suck (and 3 Challenges That Actually Work)

photo: some rights reserved by trevy

I’ve seen my fair share of 30 day challenges, and I’ve heard not-so-great stories that usually entail abandoning the challenge and diving head first into a tub of ice cream or box of doughnuts … and cookies … and forehead deep into a pie … and any other foods that were “forbidden” during the 30 day chalenge.

There’s no shortage of 30 day challenges that can include a diet change, some type of daily workout, a cleanse or detox, or any combination thereof.

But there are three problems with many popular 30 day challenges.

1. They Suck

Some 30 days challenges (especially in regards to nutrition) tell you to avoid a whole host of foods and food groups. Sure, you can slurp on all the cabbage soup you want and drink limitless amounts of water with lemon. So what if you’re so full from all of the liquid you feel like your eyeballs are floating and your bladder is going to explode unleashing the force of a raging river and wishing you had worn a diaper because you’re going to erupt at any moment and there isn’t a toilet near by – at least you can have all you want!

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Fit and Fat Shaming – This Needs to Die. Now.

body shaming
Common negative stereotypes. Photo from About-Face.org

Warning! You’re entering a rant zone. I rarely do this but could no longer remain silent with this particular issue. You’ve been warned.

Befuddled. Confused. Annoyed. Maybe even a little disturbed.

That’s how I feel about the current wave of fit and fat shaming. Even though I don’t read about it on social media where’s it’s quite popular, I’m still hearing it in conversations.

(NOTE: the picture here shows common negative stereotypes applicable to the fit and fat shaming discussion and is NOT saying “this is the way it is” or “all people think this way”.)

You see comments from both sides such as …

“Women who are incredibly fit are narcissists and can afford the luxury of being super fit because they don’t have families or other obligations.”

And …

“Women who are overweight are just lazy and full of excuses.”

Why would anyone think they’re superior or inferior based on their physical appearance? Why do some go out of their way to criticize the way another person looks? Why would someone make an immediate judgement on why a person is that way?

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