Five Reasons to Track Your Activity

Five Reasons to Track Your Activity - Team by EJ

At the end of last year, I entered a challenge to workout three days a week and win a free Fitbit One. I entered it just to see what the hype was around Fitbit and its range of products. Little did I know that it would change the way I moved. This post is for those of you who are thinking of getting a daily activity tracker like the Fitbit or are interested in downloading an app to do the same job..

 

If you are still on the fence, here are five reasons why using these tools to track your activity can do wonders for your lifestyle:

Determine How You Move

A lot of us think that we move a lot more than we actually do, but if you are working at a desk job there is a high probability that all the movement you get is to get from your car to your desk and the other essential places. Research is showing that exercising only a few times a week isn’t enough and that moving more throughout the day can significantly improve your health. Wearing an activity tracker to track your steps will show you just how little [or how much] you are actually moving. When I got my Fitbit, I was amazed that on an average day I moved only 3,000+ steps compared to the recommended 10,000.

Estimate The Number of Calories You Burn

The basics of losing weight is summed up in this statement – “Your calorie intake needs to be less than your calorie burn.” There is a calorie expenditure equation that you can use to determine how much you burn at your current weight, and it takes your BMR [basic metabolic rate] and factors this up by an activity factor. But wearing an activity tracker such as the Fitbit can give you a more accurate estimation of how many calories you are burning during your daily activities. Knowing this information can help you better determine how to adjust your calorie intake so as to achieve your goals. To continue with myself as an example, my Fitbit calorie burn average for the past few weeks have been about 2000 calories a day*. Since I’m not trying to lose weight, this confirms that the 2000 calorie eating pattern that I currently use as a guideline is sufficient. Because I exercise, I could actually stand to increase my intake to a 2,200 calorie pattern without gaining weight, but that is just too much food for me.

Set Goals

Knowing the number of steps you currently walk can help you set SMART goals to increase your activity level. 5,000 steps or less a day is considered inactive, and 10,000 is the current golden number for highly active people. If you currently walk 2,000 steps, aiming for 10,000 steps off the bat is not in your best interest as that is a lot of steps to make up. Instead, increase your step count in manageable percentages, and you can only do this when you have an initial number to start with. Continuing with my personal example. My first goal was 5,000 then I decided to increase by 50% to 7,500 and finally to 10,000. Now I’m beyond that, averaging about 11,000 a day. I was only able to achieve this because I was conscious of the initial number and I set a SMART goal to ramp it up. You can do this too.

Gain Confidence

Confidence is a practice. It is not something that happens to you, but something that you cultivate every day when you surprise yourself by doing things you didn’t think were possible. If your current mantra is “I don’t have time to exercise,” using an activity tracker to set goals can show you just how easy increasing your activity levels can be. And the confidence that comes from achieving the goals that you set for yourself can spill over into other aspects of your life.

Create Community

When I started working to increase my step count, I started alone. I would take short breaks from my desk to climb to the penthouse of my office building [15 floors]. Eventually, some colleagues joined in, and other groups formed. As I got more active, a friend of mine encouraged me to join them in walking outside during lunch, and that has opened up my world. The bottom line is the walking breaks I take have brought me closer to my friends. Starting on your own doesn’t always result in you building a community, but encouraging friends to join you can have the surprising effect of helping you create a support system like I’ve done. Now at 11 AM, I’m itching to leave so that we can catch up on gist as we walk.

Take Action

Leave a comment to answer this question – If you are interested in tracking your activity, what tools are you considering?

*This is the weekly burn summary from my Fitbit weekly report. Note that if you use a Fitbit, the calories burned include your BMR. An app like Accupedo only counts the calories that you burned walking.

Working out is an important tool to help you be healthy, but there are more…

In You Don’t Need a DietI break down why diets don’t work to help you get healthy and lose weight, but I also share the eight tools you need to get results without dieting + how to get started no matter how busy you are.

You Don't Need a Diet Team by EJ

Photo by Tanja Heffner on Unsplash

Is walking enough to help you improve your health?

Is Walking Enough to Help You Improve Your Health? - Team by EJ

When you’re a boss lady who’s got a lot of balls in the air at one time, it’s easy for you to forget to put yourself in the mix. And when you choose to take the time for self-care and start to exercise, your first desire might be to go for the simplest thing you can do starting out – you know like walking. But is exercise as simple as walking enough to improve your health? Well, I’ll answer that, starting with the short answer…

The short answer

  • Walking is a full body exercise that can help you improve your health!
  • An active person on average walks 10,000 steps a day. More on the minimum number to get you started further down in my answer.
  • Tracking your steps can help you determine how much you currently walk and you can track your way to 10,000 by focusing on increasing your daily step count. You can either use a Fitbit or just use the tracker that comes with your smartphone to get you started.

Now let’s get into the details

I see walking as the forgotten child of running and strength training when it comes to exercise. And choosing to walk as your primary form of exercise can boost your long-term health.

First, whats walking [nope I’m not kidding]?

Walking is literally the act of putting one foot in front of the other and it engages all the muscles of your lower body and then some. Here is a simple snapshot of some of the muscles you use.

Your:

  • calves help you point and push off your back foot. This action also engages the butt muscles in your back leg.
  • hamstrings bend the knee as you push off the back foot.
  • quads are used to straighten your back leg as it takes the lead.
  • core muscles [the muscles in your hips, abdominals, and around your spine that keep you stable and the muscles in your shoulders that help you swing your arms].

This is a simplistic representation of a complex process, but reading through the list helps you realize that walking is no slacker.

Also the more you walk, the more times you recruit these muscle groups and the more benefits you get.

What benefits do you get from walking?

To look at more of the benefits of walking, the kind folks at the Harvard Medical School took some time to analyze some of the research that explains the benefits of walking. Here are some benefits – in the populations studied those who walked at least:

  • 9 miles a week had a 22% lower death rate. That’s less than 1-1/2 miles a day or about 20 – 25 minutes of walking each day.
  • 30 minutes a day had an 18% lower risk of coronary artery disease.
  • 3 hours a week had 35% lower risk of a heart attack and cardiac death and a 34% lower risk of stroke.

And overall walkers gained LESS weight than those who didn’t over a 15-year period. If your desire to change your lifestyle is driven by a desire for better health, you can see that walking can have real benefits for you. Not only does it have these benefits, it is something that can be seamlessly incorporated into your life today!

How much should you walk to get the benefits?

The broad stroke recommendation for you to consider walking a viable form of physical activity is to walk 10,000 steps a day.

And 10,000 steps a day adds up to approximately about 5 miles, which is nothing to sneeze at in the activity department. It also closely correlates to the lifestyle of an active person, and if you couple it with three moderate to high-intensity workouts, you will be in business.

A little research showed that this 10,000 step-a-day guideline originated from a marketing campaign by a Japanese manufacturer of pedometers. So take it with a pinch of salt. Don’t put pressure on yourself to get to 10,000 steps a day. Start with what you can. As you saw in the section where I shared some research numbers, even as little as a 20 minute walk can have a big impact on your health.

Finally, how do you know how many steps you’ve taken?

There are activity trackers out there you can use. You can go for a basic pedometer to the more complex Fitbit.

If you want to see how step tracking will work for you without spending so much money up front, you can use the apps that come with most smartphones these days. You:

  • can get one on your iOS [iPhone] or Android device.
  • will have to carry your phone with you so that you can get an accurate step count.
  • need to understand that it might not be as accurate as a dedicated step tracker like the Fitbit, but it’ll give you a good sense of where you are right now.

I know this is quite an info download, but it can change how you look at activity. If you don’t think you have enough time to exercise, at least now you know you can walk your way to better health.

It’s time to take action…

Answer this question in the comments section below: What will you do to walk more this week? Remember, as little as 20 minutes a day can pay off big!

Exercise is an important tool to help you live a healthy lifestyle, but there are more…

In You Don’t Need a DietI break down why diets don’t work to help you get healthy and lose weight, but I also share the eight tools you need to get results without dieting + how to get started no matter how busy you are.

You Don't Need a Diet Team by EJ

Photo by Anika Huizinga on Unsplash

How Do You Get Started with Exercise?

How Do You Get Started with Exercise? - Team by EJ

Exercise is a big part of living a healthy lifestyle. Exercising can improve your heart health, can flush out toxins by releasing sweat through your skin, and can help you reduce your weight. While exercise is fantastic, it’s benefits are even more pronounced when combined with healthy eating changes. But there’s the question of how to get started.

If you are wondering how much exercise it will take to start reaping some of these benefits, the short answer is this:

Start with 15 minutes.

Why 15 minutes? Well if you don’t currently have an exercise habit, it is a good place to start. Also research sussed out by Get-Fit Guy of quickanddirtytips.com found that 15 minutes of daily exercise is all that’s needed to maintain good health over time.

The next question becomes, what can you do in 15 minutes? Here are some ideas:

  • Go for a brisk walk.
  • Kick it up to a jog. Instead of walking, you can jog for a bit more intensity.
  • Do short bursts of jumping jacks that add up to 15 minutes every day.
  • Do several rounds of a quick workout such as the “12 Minute Full Body Blast” workout and a short workout after to get to a total of 15 minutes.

Doing regular formal exercise is a great start, but you can take it further by incorporating exercise into your daily activity. Formal exercise is especially critical if 15 minutes is genuinely all you can carve out of your day.

In addition to 15-minute formal workouts, you can sprinkle in movement throughout your day like standing up every hour to stretch your leg or taking a short lunch time walk.

These little spurts of movement will help you be active overall and feel great and get results.

To know how active you are throughout your day, consider wearing an activity tracker to see exactly how active you are each day. You can meet your step goals by adding short bursts of activity through the day through taking the stairs for 5 minutes or going for a short walk every hour or two, or by walking to your favorite lunch spot instead of driving or riding with a colleague. The options are as vast as your imagination, and you and I know you have an amazing imagination so put it to work for you.

Take Action

Now that you know that exercising can be as simple as taking 15 minutes to move a little, what do you think you can do to incorporate that into the new week coming up?

Exercise is an important tool to help you live a healthy lifestyle, but there are more…

In You Don’t Need a DietI break down why diets don’t work to help you get healthy and lose weight, but I also share the eight tools you need to get results without dieting + how to get started no matter how busy you are.

You Don't Need a Diet Team by EJ

How to enjoy the non-negotiable foods you love

How to enjoy the non-negotiable foods you love - Team by EJ

The reason why diets don’t work for a lot of us is because they usually don’t include the foods that we love to eat. These are foods that I call non-negotiable foods. This means that for however long that you are dieting, you’re overriding one of the ways that you get enjoyment.

A Lifestyle Change on the other hand requires moderation i.e. understanding that you can have what you want in moderate amounts rather than nothing at all. The difference between both is subtle, one says none at all while the other allows some.

This brings me to the topic of non-negotiable foods. When overhauling your eating habits, your first step should be to write a list of foods that you think you cannot live without.

In most cases learning the nutritional information or impact of these foods usually results in slowing down or stopping their consumption altogether. And in some other cases, you just learn to enjoy them in small quantities or in some other way.

Here is my example list of some of my non-negotiable foods and how I hacked them

Let’s start with Indomie

Indomie is a Nigerian brand of Ramen noodles. And I used to love indomie, but when I realized that indomie was deep fried, it dawned on me that it didn’t belong in my eating pattern.

You see, not eating fried food and not drinking my calories are two simple strategies I use to keep my eating pattern healthy.Plus, if we think about it, indomie is not VAFs™ so it was hanging in 10% food territory and it didn’t belong on my exclusive list of non-negotiable foods.

So Limiting indomie from my diet was a conscious personal choice rather than a rule from a diet book and it’s one that I’m happier and healthier for.

Then there’s fried plantain

Fried Plantain: This one was a biggie. I think my love of fried plantain is genetic. Due to the oil content, 2 fried plantain has about one serving of carbs if you’re in the counting game.Have you ever tried eating just 2 fried plantain? It doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of a proper meal. So I focused on what I loved about the plantain, the sweetness.

Instead of focusing on the fact that I “couldn’t have” fried plantain, I constantly remind myself that I can have it every once in a while and go for roasted or boiled plantain all the time. And I’ve even taken to adding a little bit of cinnamon and salt to take plantain to the next level.

And then the sweets!

Finally I love sweets, and going without something sweet for more than a week at a time has me chasing down a cheese cake like a dog running after a bone.Again, I focus on the base taste of cake and other sweets like it – the combination of buttery and sweet. One way I hack this is to have something sweet during the day.

An example is a slice of whole wheat toast with a pat of butter and a little jam. To me that combination tastes like cake and satisfies my sweet tooth for about 50 calories and some whole grains.

Hack your non-negotiable foods - Team by EJ

So how do you take action with what you just discovered?

Here are some ideas:

  • Understand what it is in particular that you love about each of these foods
  • Spend five minutes doing a bit of research to determine if these foods can fit into your eating plan
  • If they can’t fit, find clever substitutes that can still give you the satisfaction that you get from these foods

It’s all about going from the subconscious enjoyment of food to consciously choosing foods that are healthy and still give you enjoyment.

By the way, this isn’t the same as choosing cheat meals. That’s a whole different post in and of itself, but this is a great start.

Your next step?

Do you want a weight loss plan that helps you lose weight without feeling deprived? Then check out Weight Loss for High Achievers. It’s a great guide that can help you design a self-care routine that helps you eat healthy, lose weight, keep it off, all while taking care of those you love. Click the button below to learn more about the book, get a free preview, or get a copy for yourself. There’s an entire chapter…Chapter 7…dedicated to helping you get the results you want without feeling deprived.

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What is the key to lasting weight loss success?

What is the key to lasting weight loss success - Team by EJ

Today I’m going to use a comedy to break down the essential key to lasting weight loss success.

When I’m able to make the time to go to a movie, I make an attempt to find one with lessons to teach. So I was thrilled when the trailer for Ride Along, the Kevin Hart and Ice Cube movie (the first one), showed that it would deliver on the laughs and lessons.

It was a great movie with lots of laughs, but it also had a crucial lesson to those of us who are pursuing our goals.

The key lesson was that: [bctt tweet=”The key to success lies in pacing yourself, things don’t happen overnight!!!” username=”ejogenyi”]

Lasting weight loss success happens if you’re willing to stay the course

The premise of the movie is that Kevin Hart’s character had to spend a day with Ice Cube on the streets as a cop to prove himself man enough to marry Ice’s sister.

Since Hart is no police officer, this is like asking a newborn to prove herself by requiring that she walks before she crawls.

The expectations were set unrealistically high, but in true movie star fashion,  Kevin eventually pulled through.

In real life though the outcome would have likely been failure because it’s almost impossible to ask someone to successfully execute at something they’re unprepared for.

So what does this have to do with lasting weight loss success?

If you have goals to change your body long-term, it’s crucial to understand that reaching your goal will be much easier if you pace yourself.

Why?

Because pacing yourself gives you time to:

  • Take action
  • Make mistakes
  • Learn from your mistakes
  • and decide what works for you

So if your goal is to run a 5 kilometer race and you have never run before, you can’t expect to go from zero to race in 2 weeks.

Instead, you’ll want to pace yourself and this means making an appropriate training plan. For example you can start by walking then gradually add short bursts of running. This will make it easier to reach your goal than if you set yourself up to run all of your training sessions.

Bottom line, when you’re trying to change your body start with your big outcome goal. Then identify mini milestones that you can hit on your way to achieving it. This way you can have several small wins on your way to your big hurrah.

More importantly though, you get to enjoy the experience of getting to your goal with a lower chance of being overwhelmed like Kevin Hart was on his one day with Ice Cube.

So how do you put this into action?

The trick here is to use this simple question am I trying to rush the process? 

Rushing the process means that you’re trying to get the results no matter the cost. This is what happens when you choose to go on a detox or buy supplements that promise results even when the science doesn’t back it up.

I have my clients reinforce this idea every time they check in with me by asking whether they want maintainable long-term results or short term gains. Because any program can help you lose weight, but the difference maker is that:

  • maintainable long term results happen if you take it slow
  • but rushing through it gets right back at square one.

The easiest way to make sure you don’t rush the process is to break your goal down into smaller chunks. This means:

  • a 20 kg weight loss goal  becomes 5 kg at a time
  • a lifestyle overhaul becomes “let me get consistent with my workouts first”
  • and changing your habits all at once becomes “let me take it one habit at a time”

Chunking your goal into smaller bits is a kindness to yourself because it helps you pace yourself, learn from mistakes, and design a lifestyle that’s truly a great fit for you.

So your task for this week to figure out how your big goal can be broken down into smaller, more achievable actions.

How to handle unsure food situations like a boss

How to handle unsure food situations like a boss - Team by EJ

If you spend time networking for your business or have any kind of social life, sometimes you’ll get invited to an event with a buffet line or a menu that you don’t have access to beforehand. These are what I call unsure food situations and your next conversation with yourself [yes you talk to yourself, we all do, it’s okay] goes like this:

Do I not go to this party/event because I don’t know what’s going to be served? What if they don’t have anything healthy to eat? What if they have all my favorites and I go all out? Maybe I won’t go, or I could make it a cheat day?

When your food choices are blurred, your first instinct to skip an event that could get you and your business visible or make it a cheat day are normal. But doing those things are knee jerk reactions that are inconsistent with what you need to grow your business while being a healthy boss lady.

The first reaction is to skip saying “I can’t handle this so I might as well skip it all together” while the second reaction to have a cheat day is saying “What lifestyle change? Let’s have a whole day of indulgence and go back to it tomorrow.” Both of those reactions don’t work because:

  • At some point there is going to be that one event that you can’t miss, and you would have had no practice in dealing with a situation like this when it inevitably rolls around
  • Habits are built by the things you do everyday, and having a full on cheat day flies in the face of the fact that habits cannot be put on a shelf and taken off when the need strikes. It takes consistent practice

Instead you should make a plan of how you are going to navigate the event without compromising the good habits you have built.

Here Are Some Actionable Ideas

  • Eat Around the Event: In the grand scheme of things, its just one meal and you are better off making sure that the food choices that you make for the other meals in the day are the healthiest that you can make. The other meals are the ones you have control of. So rather than skip them to “save your calories” for the event, eat meals that are a balance of the food groups. Load up on whole grains, lean meats, fruits, and vegetables and by the time the event comes around, you won’t be so hungry that you eat too much to compensate for the fact that you haven’t eaten all day
  • Select Your One Item: Rather than making the whole day about a “cheat” commit to filling your plate with the healthiest fare that is available and picking that one thing that you really want. Most parties serve salads, get a salad, the healthiest carb available, skip the fried stuff, and pick the one food on display that you believe you can’t do without. Eat the others first and take your time with your one food. Having this one food last can give the illusion that it was all you ate
  • Don’t Drink Your Calories: I think the worst offenders at parties are the drinks. There is juice, champagne, wine, beer, and of course even the deliciously sweet cocktails. But there is also water. While drinking water might seem like no fun, it frees up calories for the other things that won’t fill you up with gas and sugar. Water also keeps you hydrated so that you can dance the night away. And with your meal can take up space that makes you feel full without the sugar crash that comes with calorie-full options

So remember:

  • if you have a party
  • an office event
  • or any situation with an unsure food situation

It’s not an all [cheat day] or nothing [skip it] proposition. I’ve given you at least three options.

It’s time to take action

Join me in the comments section and share more options for handling events like a boss.

The strategy you share might help you be another busy woman’s hero because you might share something she hasn’t even thought of that could make her life so much easier. OR… You could remind yourself of some of your favorite tried and true strategies.

I can’t wait to read them!

 

What Does it Take to Stick Your Goal?

What Does it Take to Stick Your Goal

The handstand was my goal for the longest time.

It took me forever to learn how to do it in the middle of the room. One of the reasons that the handstand eluded me for so long was that I was going too fast. I have been practicing yoga for almost eight years now, and most of the handstand-based classes that I have taken so far have been more focused on playing with momentum.

While this is a great way to [eventually] get there, it Continue reading “What Does it Take to Stick Your Goal?”

{My Fit Life} Here’s A Peek Into my Typical Training Plan

How are you doing today? I’ve been MIA for a couple of weeks, and I decided to come back with my training plan for December/January because:

  • I promised to share two weeks ago when I talked about my race
  • It’s a good way to go into the holidays when a lot of us tend to let our training plans slip

My Big-Audacious-Goal for my next training cycle is to be able to get into handstand. Right now I can get up in one try when I’m by the wall, but I’m all hops in the middle of the room and I still need to work on getting my hips over my shoulders to let gravity help. This is where I am now:

IMG_4286
Right now I can Step Up to It and Attempt a Few Hops

This is where I intend to be eventually:

My Future Handstand
One of my fave teachers on Yogaglo, Kathryn Budig, in Handstand via Pintrest

Here is how I’m getting there:

Days Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
December/January
December 8 – 31 Freestyle Jog Yoga Push Up and Drill-a-Thon Yoga Rest Push Up and Drill-a-Thon Freestyle Jog
January   1 – 25 Freestyle Jog Yoga Kettlebell Workout + Drills Yoga Rest Kettlebell Workout + Drills Freestyle Jog

This plan is typical of my regular ol’ training plan because it incorporates running, yoga, strength (in this case drills), and of course rest.

Here are More Details

  • Free Style Jog: Jogging is part of this training plan because after this training cycle, I plan to start training for an 8 kilometer race. My focus with jogging is to have fun, which means a lot of intervals, listening to my body, and rocking out to some great music.
  • Yoga: You only get good at what you want to get good at by practicing. So two days a week I will be doing some yoga classes on Yogaglo and some classes that I sequence myself that are built around getting up into handstand.The only criteria for my yoga practice is that I have to work towards getting into handstand each time. By the time this training plan is over, I should have tried handstand at least 50 times.
  • Push Up and Drill-a-Thon: I was inspired by the fitness writer and former rugby player Jen Sinkler to try an agility drill workout. In true EJ fashion I bought an agility ladder and got to it and fashioned a workout inspired by Jen’s Ladder Lunacy by using four of her drills and throwing in five push up variations to build some of the upper body strength to get into handstand.Turns out this thing is a calorie scorcher, I burn almost 300 calories in 30 minutes [per my heart rate monitor] and that is almost as much as you burn doing a running workout for the same duration. Here is what the workout looks like [P.S. That’s me in the video on a freezing day in the park. Sorry there isn’t any sound, next time I promise]:

 

  • Kettlebell Workout + Drills: I haven’t designed this workout yet, but it will have the same upper body focus with the kettlebell portion of it and I’ll try some new drills.

When a lot of us start the journey to our body health and beauty goals, we focus more on what we would do to get there. This is great, but we sometimes do this at the expense of the mindset that is needed to get us there victorious.

When I started my journey to lose weight, I had a diet mindset i.e. I would cut out [insert food group here] and work out as hard as possible and it would be over once I get to my destination. And since it is not in my nature to deprive myself, I found myself failing more often than I would have liked.

It was when I realized “each success is an opportunity to reward myself and a milestone that leads to even more success” that things started to change. So rather than continue on hitting the reset button and riding the hamster wheel called weight loss, I decided to see each training plan through regardless of the setbacks and give myself props for that.

Take Action

The question I have for you today is “what is the mindset that you need to have to get to your goal?” Answering this question honestly and working towards that mindset will set you on the path to the body and the life that you want.