5 Healthy Swaps to Get You Ready for Summer

The weather is getting warmer!  (Finally, it's almost May...)  Which means that summer is right around the corner.  Check in with yourself.  Now that the year is almost a third of the way through, how are your healthy habits stacking up against what you vowed to do at the beginning of the year?  If you've stuck with your plan and are making this year THE year, props. to. you.  Seriously.  It's not easy!  But if you've gotten off track, or need a little boost, take this as a reminder to get back in the groove.  If you need a push in the right direction, here are 5 super simple healthy swaps you can make RIGHT NOW to jump start your healthy living and get you ready for summer.

5 Healthy Swaps to Get You Ready for Summer

1 | Juice for Water

Warmer weather calls for even more hydration than the colder months.  It also means that juices of all kinds are stocked to the max at grocery stores and restaurants (think lemonade, cranberry juice, and fruit punch).  Most of these juices have TONS of added sugar, which can lead to dehydration among many other health hazards, so swap out the sugary sips for a nice glass of H2O.  If you're one for soda in the summer, grab a seltzer instead - you still get the carbonation with no additional calories.

2 | Added Sugar for Fruit Infusions

I know this is a popular one, but it's for good reason!  Add some lemon, watermelon (so good), strawberries, or limes to your water for a flavor boost.  Like sweetened iced tea?  Try adding some fruit to that as well!  Strawberries in black iced tea are delicious!  Cut back on the added sugar in your drinks, and you might just feel less bloated and a bit more refreshed.  Who doesn't want that in the summer?

3 | Fried for Baked (or Grilled)

Alright, I know you know fried foods aren't great for you.  But I'm not just talking about the drive-thru french fries or bucket of fried chicken.  I'm talking more along the lines of the potato chips at backyard barbecues, or the fish 'n' chips at the boathouse.  Picnics, outdoor parties, waterfront restaurants, you name it, you're bound to find some type of fried food at these places.  When you encounter them, try to opt for the baked version.  Baked chips are pretty delicious, and they definitely satisfy the salt craving.  In my opinion, baked potato wedges are just as good as fries (as long as you get them super crispy!).  If fried chicken or fish is what's on the menu, ask for it grilled instead.  Just about every restaurant can accommodate that request.

4 | Mayo for Greek Yogurt

Also common among the backyard parties and family gatherings is your classic potato or egg salad.  These are usually made with tons and tons of mayonnaise to get that creamy consistency.  A great substitution for mayo is greek yogurt.  You get a lot more added protein which will keep you satiated longer, and if you opt for the nonfat version, you'll be cutting the large amount of fat from the mayo entirely.  Another great option for smaller mayo substitutions is avocado.  Talk about an added flavor punch and lots of healthy fats!

5 | Indoors for Outdoors

This one is my favorite of the 5 swaps (maybe in addition to the fruit-infused water).  Everyone loves being outside in the summer, but a lot of us work inside during the day.  If you can, try to take a walk outside during your day, or make it a point to get some fresh air on a break.  The warm sunshine will do wonders for your mood, and there's nothing like a nice walk outside to reinvigorate your spirits.  The activity will do wonders for your productivity as well.  And hey, with the way this spring has been lately (at least in the northeast), we have to take advantage of all the sun (and warmth) we can get!

Readers: chat with me!  What healthy swaps are you making right now?  Any that are listed here?  What would you add to this list?  Are you excited for summer?  How have you been staying active?

3 Motivational Fitness Quotes to Inspire Your Next Workout

3 Motivational Fitness Quotes to Inspire Your Next Workout

I'm a sucker for a good quote, especially when they're motivational and fitness related.  And I'm not talking about the cheeky (and quite UNmotivational) quotes like, "Fitness is not about being better than someone else, it's about being better than you used to be."  The quotes below are less common, but motivational just the same.  I have many I'd like to share, but here are 3 that I find particularly motivating about fitness and working out.  I hope they help inspire you to get to that fitness class or do that next workout you have planned!

Transformation

I love this one, and not because it's from Jillian Michaels.  She's so right that to really transform your body, you have to be present.  You have to be conscious of the choices you make, and know that you always have the option to choose better and healthier.  I've experienced this myself back when I first got into working out.  I started with exercise and really made an effort to get to a fitness class multiple times a week, but my diet needed some cleaning up, too.  I started choosing healthier meals and cooking at home more often, and after a few years of gradually eating healthier, it's now become a habit that I don't intend to quit any time soon.  

That's the idea behind this blog, too - hence "one healthy choice at a time."  Those healthy choices will add up over time, and become habits to help you live a longer, better life.

Physiology quote

First off, I love Jonathan Goodman.  (And no, not the John Goodman from Roseanne days.)  This Jonathan Goodman is a personal trainer extraordinaire, the author behind numerous fitness books, and the mastermind behind the Personal Trainer Development Center.  All that is to say he knows his stuff, and this quote is one of my all-time favorites.  If you don't get your mind right and drop the mental road blocks, your success in a new (or existing) exercise regimen will be challenging.  Stop saying tomorrow will be the day.  Stop giving yourself excuses.  Make it happen.  You can do this!  Watch the transformation that happens to lifestyle habits, and subsequently, physical and emotional wellness, when the mind is trained for positivity.

Relax, Have Fun, Work Out

Pat Sherwood is a pretty well known Crossfit athlete, and while he said this with Crossfit in mind, it holds true for just about every fitness class, small-group training session, and even one-on-one training.  Fitness should be enjoyable, at least in my opinion.  The goal is to have fun, meet some new people, and know you're building a better you.  I really do think that a fitness class/workout can be (one of) the best time(s) in someone's day.

So regardless of whether you're new or seasoned, can do 1 or 100 reps, or lift 5 or 50 pounds, fitness is about you and your ability.  Not anyone else's.  Relax and have some fun with it.  I highly encourage you to try different classes, instructors, styles of workouts, or other types of fitness activities to find one (or two, or three) that you genuinely enjoy... then stick with it.

Readers: chat with me!  Are you a fan of motivational quotes?  If so, what are some of your favorites?  Do any of these resonate with you?  If not, where do you pull your motivation from?

Fitspo and Why I'll Never Post A Half-Naked Gym Selfie

The word 'selfie' makes me cringe.  What's worse is what fitspo (a.k.a. fitness inspiration) has become these days.  I mean really.  You're telling me girls actually work out wearing this, or that an image of a half-naked woman with probably-photoshopped abs (or at least filtered and enhanced) is going to motivate someone enough to clean up their diet and get to the gym or that fitness class?  I think not.

Fitspo and Why I'll Never Post A Half-Naked Gym Selfie

Fitspo is polluting the internet these days with countless images like the ones linked above and it makes. me. sick.  As a fitness professional, there's nothing more UNprofessional than posting pics that might as well be soft-core porn on social media under the guise of inspiration and accountability.  Not to mention the pictures with the 'motivational' messages like "once you see results, it becomes an addiction," or "nothing tastes as good as being fit feels."  Actually, exercise addiction is a very real issue and something that shouldn't be taken lightheartedly.  A balanced diet that includes some treats every now and then is part of a healthy relationship with food.  These messages are out in full force and are doing more harm than good by creating unrealistic ideals.

Fitspo Is Insidious At Best

In my opinion, these messages are insidious.  They're everywhere and after seeing them day in and day out, eventually they're hard to ignore.  You might think okay, I will do this.  I will make it to the gym or do this workout if it kills me because society is telling me I need to be that thin.  (But 'that thinis borderline anorexic.)  After a while, you see some more images with ripped abs and a barely-covered perky backside and think that's what you need to look like in order to be accepted in this world.  (But those abs and glutes are so digitally enhanced, they're beyond realistic for anyone!)

Why the Half-Naked Pictures Matter...

There's no denying that fitness has recently become more of a glamorized trendy endeavor for the young.  Everyone and their friends are posting pictures of their latest sweat sessions.  So, what about these porn-like pictures (I mean "selfies") that are in every Instagram and Facebook feed?  You know, the ones of girls lifting up their shirts in the locker rooms to show off their midsection, or posing for the camera with severe lordotic lumbar posture in order to accentuate their backside.  What messages are those pictures sending?  I'd argue that they're no better than the 'motivational' messages mentioned before.  

Everyone's body is built differently, and you can't hold yourself to the same standards as a picture you see in passing on the internet.  It is, after all, a picture and not the actual person standing in front of you.  You don't know how doctored that image is or what that person's fitness journey has been up to that point.  What's more is that these photos are turning what should be a pursuit of health and self-love into a sexed up competition for whose body is harder.

... And Why I'll Never Post One

This might be the more personal part of this blog post, but I don't see the point in posting those types of pictures myself.  Like I mentioned at the beginning, I think there's something very UNprofessional about posting a snapshot in your underthings to show off muscle gains.  Sure, I do post the occasional bicep flex or shoulder pic (and I suppose one could make the argument that that's along the same lines), but what I'm talking about is the porn-i-fied photos of midsections and butts that young fitness enthusiasts, athletes, and trainers seem to love.  Do these pictures make them any more knowledgable as a trainer?  Do they promote their services and encourage people to contact them because of how they look?  Maybe on a very rare occasion, but I'd argue that the majority of the time, these pictures are scaring people away and turning people off.  As an instructor, that's the last thing I want.  My goal is to be seen as a professional who helps others on their fitness journeys.  Pictures of me in a sports bra and underwear don't help anyone.

Bottom Line: Make Health the Goal

Instead of setting the standard with a 6-pack and unhealthily low body fat percentage, we should be focusing on how our bodies feel and what they can do for us.  Focus on curing the cardiovascular disease.  Focus on developing proper movement patterns.  Focus on gaining muscle and increasing flexibility in order to make quality of life better (i.e. decreased lower back pain, improved posture, reduced body fat, which lightens the load placed on the knees and ankles.)  The list goes on.  Instead of glorifying the sexed-up super-fit, focus on health.  Focus on getting your body where it needs to be in order to live your best life possible.

Readers: chat with me!  What's your take on fitspo?  Do you find it motivating or a turn-off?  If you find it uninspiring and could replace one message with a positive one, what would it be?  What DOES motivate you and fuel your fitness goals?  

Instead of posting related blog posts here, I wanted to point your attention towards some other amazing articles and blog posts on this topic.  If you have a minute, they're worth the read:

Cert By Selfie by Amanda Vogel via ideafit.com
Why 'Fitspo' Should Come With A Warning Label by Rebecca Adams via The Huffington Post
Change Our Fitspo by Kaila Proulx via The Healthy Helper Blog