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THE TOP 16 FITNESS THINGS I LEARNED IN 2016

In 2013 I shared the top 13 things I learned, in 2014, I shared the top 14 things I learned. Apparently I had a serious case of #mombrain and completely spaced on the list in 2015, but I thought it’d be fun to bring back the tradition…

2016 has been one heck of a year!

On a fitness/business front, this spring I had the amazing opportunity to take the stage and win 1st place in my class at a fitness competition, the BeyondFit team expanded, and our #beyondfitarmy continues to spread the message of how to #dofitnessbetter across the globe.

beyond fit mom fitness competition, fit mom

In addition to our local boot camps, BeyondFit continues to grow as we reach more women across the globe (via the BeyondFit Life member’s portalwith the message of sustainable fat loss. As always, it’s been a privilege to walk alongside hundreds of women as they not only completely reshape their bodies, but learn how to live healthy, happy and balanced lives.  

On the family front, Patrick (aka BeyondFit Dad) and I have loved to watch our sweet boys (aka the BeyondFit Kids) grow, learn & explore.  

It’s been a busy but wonderful year and as we look forward to 2017, I can’t help but be excited about all that is to come.

I don’t really believe in New Year’s resolutions…but I do believe the end of the year is a great time to take a moment to reflect on the past year, determine where you want to go and set some small, 
attainable goals as you work towards your bigger goals for 2017. So, as you work to reach your goals in the upcoming year, I want to leave you with…

 

The top 16 Health & Fitness things I learned in 2016:

 

#1 Nutrition makes the biggest impact (and is often the biggest struggle)

Whether you’re training for a Bikini Competition or just a big event where you want to look your best (wedding, vacation, etc.) the first place you start is with your workouts – that’s a given. You must be consistent with your BeyondFit Life workouts each week. (Download the workouts + schedule in the members portal).

But for most women, consistency with workouts isn’t the problem.

Consistency with NUTRITION is a much bigger issue and is often the thing keeping you from being in bikini competition shape. To lose weight you need two things…a calorie deficit and hormonal balance.

If you can’t achieve this you won’t lose weight no matter how “healthy” you are eating. When it comes to nutrition, there are three approaches you can use to get ready, check out the 3 ways that you can create your own nutrition/diet plan here. There’s no right or wrong way to do this – you need to determine what is best for YOU! If you need help, click here to work with me one-on-one!

#2 Save TIME with efficient workouts

My focus for this year has been on burning fat while preserving my lean muscle mass. This change in body composition is what gives women the tight, toned, and lean look we’re all working towards. In addition to changing body composition (fat to muscle ratio) my goal for my 2016 workouts was to save TIME!

As a busy mom, wife, business owner, etc, I don’t have any time to waste!

I see lots of fitness girls doing 1+ hours of cardio daily in addition to their normal weight training workouts!

NO THANK YOU!!

My goal was to make the most of my time. I wanted to get stage ready WITHOUT sacrificing time with my family and WITHOUT doing long term damage to my metabolism…and I did! If you want to be in the best shape of your life this year, you need to focus on sustainable efficient exercise. Click here to learn about  3 Workouts That Burn More Fat in Less Time. 

#3 You don’t HAVE to go to the gym to be a fit mom

In the BeyondfFit Life Club our motto is “Healthy, Happy & Balanced.”  I’ve learned more than ever this year that balance matters.

Balancing fitness + motherhood is a challenge, for sure. I’m all about making time to make health a priority, and I’m not bashing moms who regularly hit the gym…but I do hope we will all remember to practice BALANCE as we navigate life as busy moms. Personally, I find I’m a better, more patient mom when I make time to get a workout in…buuuut I also don’t want to miss lots of time with my boys, especially when they’re so little.

I don’t want to be so obsessed with my own physique that I’m spending hours at the gym and completely missing out on special times with my family.

That’s why I created workouts that can be done entirely from HOME! Yes, you can get slim without the gym! All I need is a set of dumbbells, a yoga mat and some sweat and effort, and I get fat burning results without leaving home. I haven’t had a gym membership in over 4 years! There’s no right or wrong way to be a fit mom, but I do think it needs to be said that you DON’T have to spend hours at the gym to stay fit and healthy.

#4 Get a natural booty lift with lunges, deadlifts, and squats

If you want build or tone your booty, you absolutely have to incorporate this trifecta into your weekly workouts. Lunges are a fabulous exercise for toning the lower body. Within a few weeks of incorporating heavy lunges into your routine, inches will start coming off and definition appearing. Deadlifts are another exercise that targets the glutes and isolates the hamstrings. And squats target the inner thighs and quads, as well as hitting hamstrings and glutes for an overall leg burn.

Note on form: When you lower into the squat, check out your knees in the mirror to assure they are about 90 degrees at the bottom and are going in the same direction at your toes.

fit mom squat, proper squat form

We incorporate these three lower body movements into almost ALL of our BeyondFit Hybrids.

Why? Because they WORK!

Remember, it is much better to perform these with heavier weight and take short rests throughout the set than to go lighter and be able to do the whole set with ease.

#5 Sustainability matters

From “quick fixes” to diet gimmicks…and everything in between. Lots of people are trying to sell you on the “latest and greatest” new years fitness trends, diets, workouts, etc, but here’s a secret that they’re all missing: SUSTAINABILITY! If it’s not sustainable it won’t work long term. Don’t waste your money on quick fixes. This year when I was planning my workouts and nutrition, I asked myself “is this something I could do for the rest of my life?” If the answer is no, it simply won’t work for me. Look for something that lasts.

#6 Long duration cardio is overrated

Yep, I said it. I’ve seen mores results, both for myself and for my clients, with 10 minute sprint workouts than I ever did with hours (and hours and hours) of moderate intensity, long duration steady state cardio per week. Note to moms: I love to do my sprints with my jogging stroller! Just make sure you keep the proper form by checking out the guidelines here.

Running burns fat, yes, but does nothing to tighten and tone your legs.

Instead, try some sprints! Sprints are one of the most effective lower body exercises because they literally teach your body how to be an effective fat burner.

The last twenty years in exercise science has provided great insight into how the body uses fuel during and after exercise.

Unlike steady state aerobics, sprint training produces a metabolic ripple that leads to enhanced fat burning for days after the workout is over.

fit mom stretching, sprinting, exercise for mom

I have found sprints to be one of the most effective ways to lose fat and get toned. Read: 5 Reasons Why I Love Sprint Workouts for Moms.

Simple sprint workout: 10 sprints – 30 seconds all out sprinting, with one minute of rest in between sprints.

#7 Metabolic conditioning works!

Metabolic Conditioning, or “met con” workouts are an advanced training technique that really does work to tighten tough-to-tone areas.

Generally these exercises focus on plyometric movements that are explosive movements and add intensity to your total body training. This year I tried to incorporate a couple of metabolic conditioning moves into our BFL weekly weight training circuits (download new workouts each month here) and when I was training for my bikini competition I kept my weight training the same, and added in an extra sprint or met con workout as needed based on progress.

#8 I hate the fitness industry for what they have accepted as “normal”

Allow me to rant for just a moment… The idea of getting your best body ever through the fitness industry’s “norm” is a physically, mentally and emotionally draining process that does much more harm than good.

  • Suffering through weeks of extreme dieting
  • Hours (sometimes twice/day!) of cardio
  • Sacrificing endless amounts of time with family & friends

 

For most women, and especially for busy moms, this is neither practical or attractive. That’s why I’m passionate about doing this a different way (#dofitnessbetter)

  • Quick & efficient workouts done AT HOME!  (download them here)
  • No dangerous dieting – even eating all the foods I LOVE!
  • Plenty of time for what truly matters most!  (and no, it’s not my body)

#9 The trashy fitness trend needs to end 

While I’m in rant mode, may I just remind you that fitness motivation must go beyond looking good naked. A couple of years ago I stopped scrolling through those “motivational” pics of photoshopped girls in lacy thongs and decided to focus on real life motivation instead.

It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

If you see me during a workout, here’s what you’ll find: no makeup and no photoshop… It may not be pretty, but for me, that’s what it looks like when a real life, busy mom gets up early to squeeze in a quick workout before her family starts the day.

My motivation for staying fit isn’t to look good naked on your newsfeed….

fit mom planking, exercise for moms, proper plank form

It’s to set a good example for my boys! In my opinion, the fitness industry desperately needs less of the trashy fitness trend and more real life mamas makin’ a change!

#10 Carb cycling helps you break through plateaus

Carb cycling takes the macronutrients (the proteins, fats and carbs) of your meals and manipulates them to reduce body fat to very low levels while still preserving your muscle and keeping your metabolic potential high.

A lot goes into a carb cycling diet, but essentially this strategic cycling of low/high carb days is maximizing our muscle breakdown and fat storage.

If you’re already consistent with your workouts and day-to-day nutrition and want to take your results to the next level, give carb cycling a try.

Carb cycling is an alternative to traditional dieting and calorie counting that can yield great fat loss results if strictly followed. Strategically altering no-carb, low-carb and high-carb days will positively influence powerful fat burning and muscle building hormones, and it may make it psychologically easier for you to follow your fat loss, lower-carb nutrition plan knowing high-carb day is coming.

Remember that the macros that each person needs will vary on your individual body composition, but this blog post is designed to give you a general idea of how carb cycling works.

#11 Your body needs carbs

Speaking of carbs, I also learned this year that less is not always best. In my previous dieting days, I thought that if low carb was good, then lower carb was BETTER…I was terrified to eat anything with carbs. Looking back on it, that mindset really hindered my progress. 

When you eat carbohydrates your body releases the storage hormone insulin in order to break down the carbs and deliver them as fuel to your muscles.

The problem is that excess carbs that are not stored in the muscle will be stored as fat.

High carb days are beneficial as they help promote muscle growth and replenish the glycogen stores that fuel your muscles. This extremely important for women who are engaging in high intensity weight training workouts.

On high days you’ll notice you feel more energetic and have more intensity to bring to your workouts. High carb days also work to minimize muscle break-down (catabolism) and reset the hormones leptin, cortisol and serotonin to help burn fat, boost mood and hinder cravings.

Low carb days help to minimize fat gain from the higher carb intake of the previous day and promote fat burning as well.

On low carb days you are signaling your body to burn fat for fuel instead of burning the carbs that it normally eats as it’s fuel for the day. Low carb diets also improve insulin sensitivity, which is beneficial for both fat loss and muscle building.

Want more help? Work with me one-on-one to set up a carb cycling plan that’s right for you!

#12 Cortisol consequences = belly fat 

Cortisol and its fellow “stress” hormones, epinephrine and norepinephrine, are produced in the adrenal glands.

Here’s a general idea of how this process works:

When you first become stressed, your body releases these “stress” hormones. Epinephrine relaxes the muscles in your intestines and decreases blood flow to your stomach (hello, belly bloat). Norepinephrine tells your body to stop producing insulin in so that fast-acting blood glucose is ready for use.

When you and your body have calmed back down and the stress is over, cortisol tells your body to stop producing epinephrine and norepinephrine, and to go back to breaking down food and digesting regularly. It’s not uncommon for cortisol levels to go up and down throughout the day–like when you wake up or workout–but the issues arise when you suffer from chronic stress–like weeks and weeks with limited sleep. Chronic stress causes cortisol levels to elevate and never return to a normal state.

Increases in belly fat and possible loss of muscle mass are two imbalance symptoms attributed to an imbalance of cortisol. When cortisol levels are high for long periods of time, your body can store food as fat and refuse to burn the fat that you do have. Essentially, your body is saving fuel.

Studies show that cortisol may even be responsible for taking fat from other places in the body and moving it to your stomach (which naturally has more cortisol receptors) as a way to protect and surround your organs…causing MORE belly fat than before.

If you suspect you suffer from elevated cortisol, try to get sleep when you can (that’s easier said than done for busy moms) and focus on proper postpartum training and nutrition to avoid causing more physiological stress to your body due to low-calorie diets or over training.

#13 Sleep is significant! 

The quality and quantity of sleep you get each night directly impacts your body’s ability to burn fat. Sleep issues disrupt the production of the hormone leptin, which helps regulate appetite and causes your body to feel full. Ever crave fatty, sugary treats and/or eat more when you’re tired/stressed? And one of the most noticeable hormonal imbalance symptoms related to poor sleep is low libido. Without quality sleep, sex hormone production has been shown to diminish.

Most healthcare practitioners agree, women need an average of 8-10 hours of sleep a night to maintain hormonal balance.

For moms–especially those of us with little ones –this seems impossible.

If long periods of rest still aren’t in the cards for you, try to make rest and recovery the focus of your fitness plan. It really is a significant part of living a healthy lifestyle.

#14 Lifting weights changes your shape 

I’ve known this for awhile, but as my body is slowly building muscle, I’m seeing it more clearly. If you want to change your body shape, you absolutely have to lift weights. The BeyondFit Life fitness program incorporates a balance of activities including leisurely walks, some sprints/metabolic conditioning, plenty of stretching, core training, and also weight training. If you really want to take your fat loss to the next level, adding some heavy strength training will be key.

Cardiovascular exercise may get you bigger or smaller, but you will stay the same shape– weight training is the #1 way to change the shape of your body.

weight lifting for moms, fit mom

Here’s my current plan, and what I recommend to all the mama’s I work with… do strength training 3 times a week for 30 minutes. This will increase hormones that help burn fat long after your workout is over and will go will a long way toward speeding up your metabolism, tightening and toning. I believe this is the most often missed secret in fitness for women.

#15 Not all protein supplements are created equally

I’ve tried a TON of protein shakes. The key is to find a high quality shake that has a TASTE and TEXTURE that you enjoy. Let’s be honest, some protein shakes are seriously DISGUSTING! And when I say high quality, I mean it. Do your research – not all protein supplements are created equally. Read: why I switched protein powders this year. The protein I use currently contains whey protein that digests and absorbs rapidly, along with slower digesting casein protein that helps you feel full faster. It’s gluten-free and has the perfect balance of carbohydrates, fats, and high-quality proteins provide sustained energy and appetite satisfaction. Great to support for lean muscle tissue, fat loss and increasing energy.

#16 “Hardcore” core training does more harm than good for many moms 

This year I’ve talked to so many moms who failed to take time to heal and rebuild their core after having their babies. Specifically, I’m thinking about regaining strength, correcting any pelvic floor issues, and addressing abdominal separation. The most overlooked issue is that of Diastasis recti (DR). Some degree of abdominal separation will always occur during pregnancy, but in about 60% of pregnancies the abdominal separation will be wider than 2 – 2.5 finger widths apart and you will be considered to have DR during your pregnancy.

The good news is that in most cases, DR in pregnancy will heal naturally post birth…IF you take the right steps and do the correct exercises!

The bad news is that many trainers aren’t aware of the correct exercises and don’t teach the DR moms the importance of these right steps.

When I had Jackson (aka BeyondFit Kid #1) I had NO idea how to figure out if I had DR, and nobody told me that there were everyday exercises and things in life that I should be avoiding (both while pregnant and then immediately postpartum).

diastasis recti test

Thankfully I was able to figure out how to test myself (and now I test all of my clients) after Warren (aka BeyondFit Kid #2) I knew what I should and shouldn’t be doing in terms of getting my body back. If you have diastasis recti and need help, please contact me! I’ll be working with a group of women in 2017 through my brand new Mom Tummy Rehab program, and I’d love to help you get your flat stomach back!

Thanks for reading my blog that is as long as a book! And with that said…who is ready for 2017?

I wish you a wonderful year with good health, love and lots of happiness!