The Power of Positive Thinking

You’ve probably heard the quote, “It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you react to it that matters.” When times get tough, it’s easy to forget how far a positive attitude can go. That’s why you have to prepare yourself ahead of time. You have to “fill your glass” with positive thoughts and daily habits that can help you push through when you can’t see the other side.

Creating a positive mental space is particularly important for a healthy lifestyle. No matter how hard you exercise or how well you eat, stress and regular negative thinking can be very harmful to your body. When you think about your health, remember that everything is connected. So, if you’re struggling with negative thoughts, self doubt and stress, what can you do to overcome?
Just like the picture says, you can start by letting go of the thoughts that do not serve you and drawing near to the ones that do. How can you accomplish this?
Daily Affirmations
Get a piece of paper and write down affirmations to say out loud each morning and night. You can say things like, “I will not let negative people affect me.” “I am responsible for my own feelings.” Or, you may just want to find some positive quotes that resonate with you and say those. If you say them enough, you will begin to believe them, and those positive beliefs will go a long way in times of need.
Meditation
There is scientific evidence that suggests meditation can help balance emotions, relieve anxiety, and increase awareness and focus. Studies have shown that meditation can positively impact physical health as well. Scientists have seen measured biological changes when studying people during meditation. More importantly, neuroimaging has shown that the positive effects on the brain persist after meditation has ended. 
How to Begin a Meditation Practice
1. Choose a convenient time and quiet place so that you can continue to practice regularly. Making a “meditation spot” will help you settle into your practice each time.
2. Sit comfortably. Some people enjoy sitting on a pillow so their knees are below their hips. This allows your hips to remain more open.
3. Practice on a relatively empty stomach. If you need to eat before meditation, I recommend a light snack like fruit or nuts. A heavy meal requires more effort to digest and you want to reserve that energy for your practice.
4. Begin by deep breathing. Find a pattern of breath that is calming and works for you. It may take a second. Stick with it.
5. Open your eyes slowly at the end of your meditation. Take time to allow yourself to come back to where you began, with a new set of eyes and intentions.
Here are a few resources for guided meditations to get you started:
Do you practice meditation now? If so, how has it helped you improve your health and overall outlook?

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New Year, New Goals- Set Them Now

A new year is here. The decorations are put away, the holiday parties are over, and life is beginning to look a little more normal again. Now is the time to sit down and set your goals for 2015.

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Many people start a new year with hopes of losing weight or getting healthy. They tell themselves this will be the year. There’s just one problem- if there’s no plan of action and no goal or sincere motivation behind these thoughts, they will remain nothing more than thoughts. In order to achieve what you want, you need to set measurable goals.

How do you set measurable nutrition and fitness goals?

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Beginner
If you don’t already workout or eat well, you start from the beginning. Here are a few examples:
I will eat at least five servings of vegetables every day.
I will workout for at least 30 minutes three days a week.
I will walk for 30 minutes every morning before work.
I will drink 64 oz of water per day.

Remember that you don’t have to begin making all of these changes at once. Begin with one, succeed, and then add another. This is especially important for someone beginning a new lifestyle.

Advanced
What if you’re more advanced? In that case, you may wish to get stronger, more flexible or to lose a specific amount of weight. Here are a few measurable goals to consider adapting:
I will strength train three times per week and I will do cardio two times per week.
I will prepare all of my meals and snacks for the week on Sunday.
I will incorporate high intensity interval training two times per week.

You may set a goal to lose 10lbs, but what is actually going to get you to that goal? Probably setting goals that lead to the 10lb loss, which would be more challenging workouts or a healthier nutrition plan.

What will help you reach these goals?
We often need more than just internal motivation to reach our health and fitness goals. There can be a lot of pressure from society to look a certain way or eat a certain way; and in some cases, these pressures may actually hinder you from reaching your goals. That’s why I recommend joining one of my Challenge Groups.

When you join a Challenge Group, you’ve got a whole team of people, myself included, rooting you on! I will help you set goals, and we will all provide you with accountability and support. You have people to check in with when you’re struggling. Best of all, they will be able to relate to how you’re feeling. They can tell you what has helped them get over a hurdle, and you can return the favor as needed. Joining a Challenge Group is the best way to set measurable and attainable goals, and achieve them.

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Have you set your 2015 nutrition and fitness goals yet? What are you waiting for? Use the Challenge Group Application on the left side of the page, so we can work towards your goals together.

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Muscles Sore? Keep Moving

If you’ve ever worked out, you know that pain can be part of the process. Your muscles get sore and your body aches as you begin to challenge it. You may wonder whether or not you should continue working out while you’re sore. The answer is yes, but responsibly. Let’s learn a little bit about how the body works first.

When you begin to exercise, especially any form of strength or endurance training, lactic acid begins to build up in your muscles. This is caused by a decrease in the amount of oxygen getting to your muscles. You know that term, “feel the burn?” That’s exactly what I’m talking about.


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That burning sensation is just one reason why a cool down is so important to your workout routine. If you don’t let the muscles cool down and loosen back up, it’s similar to your muscles being wound up in a tight ball. Always cool down. It improves your recovery time and makes you more prepared for your next workout.
Sometimes, you may notice that you don’t feel any soreness right after your workout, or even the following morning. It may be a full 24 hours before the pain hits. This is called delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS for short. Anytime you’re lifting weights or doing more intense cardio like running or even HIIT, you are creating tiny tears in your muscle. These tiny tears are what create DOMS, but they are also what helps your muscle grow! More muscle means you are burning more calories at rest. It means you’re creating a stronger and more shapely body. In short, DOMS means you’re taking care of business!


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So, what can you do when you’re body is sore? How do you keep going and meet your goals?
First things first. It helps to plan your workouts for the week in advance. If you know you’ll be doing an intense lower body strength workout on Monday, plan to do cardio, or even yoga, the following day. Both of these will help loosen up your muscles while keeping your body moving. If you really want to get in more strength training, work your upper body the next day and let your lower body rest.
I already covered part of this, but I’m going to expand on it. Your warm up and cool down play an important role in your soreness, recovery and overall results. Make sure you’re doing some active stretching and getting your muscles nice and warm before you jump into any workout. When you’re done, allow at least five minutes minimum to cool down. Don’t just walk away after your workout. You will be doing yourself a great disservice. Use your cool down to reflect on your workout. What went well? What can you improve on? Some workouts may challenge you more than others, but that’s no reason to quit. 


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In addition to planning your workouts ahead of time and including a good warm up and cool down, make sure you’re fueling yourself properly. If you’re strength training or doing intense cardio, make sure you get a good source of protein and carbohydrates right after your workout. The protein will help heal and grow your muscles, and the carbohydrates help shuttle some glycogen to your muscles. Glycogen is depleted during intense exercise so those carbs are important. Shakeology is the perfect post-workout treat because it’s easy to drink and requires little preparation. Other options to consider might be a vegetable omelette with a little sweet potato, or lean chicken with veggies and brown rice.
Now that you know a little more about muscle soreness and how to push through the pain, I’d love to hear about your experiences with this. How do you keep up your motivation when you’re sore? What do you do to help your body recover faster?
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