New Year Resolution Solutions

Well, now that the Christmas rush is over, many of us have begun to turn our attention to the New Year. Typically, at the end of a calendar year, people will look back at the previous year and assess the highs and lows, the accomplishments they’ve achieved and the things they wanted to do but never got around to. Generally, we’ll examine aspects of our lives that we’d like to do better next year and establish personal goals for making those changes.

For many it might be weight loss, starting an exercise program, quitting smoking, healthy eating, climbing the corporate ladder, spending more time with your kids…Whatever it is, at this time of year many of us get motivated to pursue our dreams for the life we want to live.

Did you make promises last year that you didn’t keep? My guess is that you did because 80 percent of people set the same New Year’s resolutions year after year and within a few months, most have thrown in the towel on their original ambitions. With that kind of failure rate, I’m convinced that it’s not a problem with the person but rather the process.

I’ve been in the fitness industry helping people look and feel better and live life to the fullest for over 20 years and I can tell you this, most people set themselves up for failure before the clock even strikes midnight! Regardless of the goal, have you ever wondered why?

Most people attempt to do too much too quickly. They don’t do any planning and they have no idea how to monitor their progress. Your chances for success will improve dramatically, however, if you break the process into a few simple steps. Click on the link below and review some common resolutions and how you might approach them differently this year:

http://www.columbian.com/news/2012/jan/02/sherri-mcmillans-four-tips-health-resolutions/

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

 

Holiday Fat-Buster

Are you the type to sing-a-long with all the carols, get your cards out before we see the 1st day of December, and look forward to the crowds at the malls?  Or do the joyous songs start to get on your nerves and the endless responsibilities from getting your cards out, decorating the house inside and out and finding the perfect gifts for your loved ones offer enough stress for you to break into hives?  Whether or not you buy into the holiday season, we all probably experience some level of stress at this time of year.  Plus most people gain 5-10 pounds over the holidays so here’s some ideas to ensure the holidays don’t get you down and the scale up:

Exercise: Bet you guessed this would be at the top of my list.  As I enter the holiday season, I try to ramp up my workout intensity and/or frequency to account for the fact that I’m probably going to be indulging a bit.  Sorry, I’m just not one to completely forbid myself of the holiday treats.  For me, it’s all about balance!  Plus exercise is the best de-stressor at any time of year and this still holds true during the holidays.  But don’t get yourself worked up if you can’t keep up with your regular fitness regime or can’t imagine ramping things up.  Instead set some minimums.  For example, instead of following your regular 5 workouts a week, over the holidays allow yourself to drop back to 2 really good, solid workouts a week to maintain your fitness.  This will keep your energy levels up and you won’t feel like you’ve got to start all over in the New Year.

A quick workout is all you’ll need to help make you feel better when you’re feeling a little overwhelmed with everything you’ve got to get done.  The endorphins that are released during the workout will give you the energy to tackle errands with a more positive attitude.  You’ll also find that committing to your workouts over the holidays helps to keep your nutrition in check.  For one, when you’re exercising you seem to have more self-control to pass on some of the holiday extras and even if you do decide to indulge, it helps to know that you can afford a few extras because you didn’t skip your workout.  In fact, on Christmas or New Year’s morning  I love to workout.  It really sets the day up nicely.  I feel great and am less likely to overeat at dinner

Nutrition: Pigging out on chocolates, cookies and cakes and drinking till you see 3 of everything is enough to make you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck!  It’s perfectly ok to indulge over the holidays but you’ve still got to keep your health and fitness goals in check.  Instead of forbidding any treats over the holidays rather, focus on drinking 8 glasses of water, consuming 5 vegetables and 3 fruits, eat breakfast, and consume 5 small meals/snacks each day.  If you’ve still got room for your favorite holiday cookie, go for it.  But eat it slowly and really enjoy the taste.  At parties you may find yourself eating a lot later than usual.  Try to eat something small earlier and then at the party you’ll be less likely to overeat right before bed. Try stocking up at the veggie and fruit tray first so then you’ll have less room for the ‘extras’.

Daily Activity: When you’re running around like crazy and can’t commit to your normal fitness regime, try to incorporate more activity into your days.  For example, go for a walk with your family and friends, in the mall take the stairs instead of the escalators, and park at the back of the lot.  The little bits of extra activity will help you feel better.

Say No! Remember you’re in control of your life and how much you’re going to enjoy the holidays.  If attending every single party you’re invited to frightens you, choose only the ones you know you’ll have a great time.  If seeing each of your relatives during the holidays will leave you feeling exhausted, perhaps set up a rotation system for each year or schedule one large party where everybody gets together and there’s no need to drive to 3 different locations. If the thought of cooking dinner for the whole family makes you want to cry, delegate responsibilities and enjoy a buffet dinner. If purchasing presents for everybody in your family or all your friends is enough to break the bank, draw names or instead, spend your time planning how you are going to enjoy special, quality time with them.  In fact, my favorite holiday memories are not of gifts – I can’t even remember what I got last year – but of long walks, hikes or sitting around with friends and family talking in front of the fireplace.

Manage your stress: Get enough sleep.  If you’re tired, stress appears worse than it is.  If you do feel stressed, take a number of slow, deep breaths and try to relax.

Remember the spirit of the holidays – Do something nice for someone.  Go out of your way to be kind.  Schedule time for your family to recognize and appreciate all the things you should be thankful for.

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Look 10 to 20 years younger!

Each of us is getting older right now, minute by minute. But the good news is older doesn’t have to look older. If you could look 10-20 years younger than you actually are, you’d be all for that correct?!  Okay, well there’s no question that a healthy and fit lifestyle guarantees a more youthful appearance.

You should have these memorized by now but here are the five critical areas to an anti-aging program:

1.  Aerobic cardiovascular exercise

2.  High-intensity anaerobic cardiovascular exercise

3.  Muscle strength and conditioning

4.  Flexibility training

5.  Balanced nutrition and lifestyle

In addition, today’s exercise specifically will have an anti-aging effect.  As we get older, we lose muscle mass and this loss is predominantly in our fast twitch muscle fibers. This seriously impacts our reaction time, speed, power, agility and overall ability to move our bodies effectively. If you don’t use it, you lose it!  However, if you continue to train in a way that forces your body to move quickly, it will help you preserve these fast twitch muscles and maintain that youthful ability to ‘spring’ into whatever it is you’re doing.

“Rectangle Drill” – Place 4 cones in the shape of a rectangle or square with each cone about 30 feet apart from each other.  Start at one corner and sprint to the top of the square.  Then shuffle across the top of the square.  Then back-shuffle.  Then laterally shuffle back to the start.  Do this 5x one way.  Take a break and go the other way.

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Set up 4 cones for Rectangle Drill

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Sprint laterally, forwards and backwards to maintain your agility

Look and feel your best at any age!

Forty doesn’t look like forty anymore…or at least it doesn’t have to!  One of our staff recently attended her high-school reunion and sent me a photo of her and her classmates.  The difference between her and her peers was startling.  They had all put on a ton of weight and looked at least 20 or 30 years older than her…like they could have easily been her mother! Because she exercised daily and ate well, it dramatically affected the aging process.  So it is very clear what you do or don’t do today, with either have a positive or negative effect on what you look like now, 10 years, 20 years, 40 years or more from now.

As a reminder, there are five critical areas to an anti-aging program:

1.  Aerobic cardiovascular exercise

2.  High-intensity anaerobic cardiovascular exercise

3.  Muscle strength and conditioning

4.  Flexibility training

5.  Balanced nutrition and lifestyle

In addition, I want to provide you with a specific muscle conditioning exercise that counteracts the aging process.

Today’s exercise will focus on strengthening your weaker posterior muscles, help to keep your spine elongated and help to maintain a youthful posture.Stay tuned next week for more anti-aging exercises.

Tri-Pod Training: a)  Start by getting down onto your hands and knees.  Position your arms directly under your shoulders and your knees directly underneath your hips.  Keep your abdominals contracted inwards and your spine completely stabilized.  Your back should be completely neutral and it should feel like a straight line from your tailbone to the top of your head.  Start the exercise by lifting one arm from the shoulder and reaching it out in front of you.  You should attempt to really stretch the arm forwards and lift upwards while maintaining the abdominal contraction and spine stabilization.  Return to the starting position and then repeat on the other arm.  Then perform the same movement with one leg.  Then the other leg.  While you lift one leg, be sure to not shift all your body weight to the side that is supporting you.  Try to stay completely stabilized.  Do this entire set 5x.  b)  If you want to intensify this movement, lift the opposite arm and leg at the same time.  Do this 10x each side.  Remember the key reference points for this exercise are that you must keep the abdominals contracted inwards and the back should be completely stabilized.  Try to avoid arching your back as you lift the arms and/or legs – think more about reaching the arms and legs rather than lifting so high that you have to arch your back.

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Tripod Starting point

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Tripod Opposite Arm and Leg option

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

 

Maintain your youth….

There is a whole generation of people fighting the aging process – myself included – and doing a very good job at it.  Aging is not a chronological issue…it’s a factor of disuse and inactivity! I feel just as good as when I was 20 so this stuff totally works!

As I mentioned last week, aerobic and anaerobic cardio exercise, muscle conditioning, flexibility training and balanced nutrition are the four critical components to a healthy mind and body.  But to be even more specific, there are certain exercises that I feel directly counteract the aging process.  Last week, I reviewed an exercise to work your posterior muscles which helps to keep your spine elongated and maintain a youthful posture.

Today’s exercise options are more of a stretch but equally as critical as last week’s exercise. Try any of these at the end of a long day or anytime you’ve been sitting for too long.  Stay tuned next week for more anti-aging exercises.

  1. Pillow arches – Place 2-3 pillows on the floor.  Lay on your back over the pillows so that the pillows are at about the level of your shoulder blades.  Stretch your arms to the side and up over your head.
  2. Stretch over the Stability ball or BOSU -  Start by sitting on a stability ball (or BOSU) and then slowly walk your feet outwards until you are lying comfortably over the stability ball with your head, neck, shoulder and back comfortably supported and arched over the ball.  Extend your arms out to the side.  You should feel a great stretch in your chest, shoulder and back.

These are great stretches for all of you who spend a great deal of time at a desk or at a computer.  It places your body in a position that counteracts the strain on your back that you experience from sitting in a flexed position for an extended period of time and will help you maintain a long spine and a youthful posture.  Hold this stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds.

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Try this pillow stretch at the end of a long day

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Try this Stability Ball stretch to counteract a 'hunch-back' posture

 

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Try this BOSU Back Stretch to elongate and maintain a youthful posture

An exercise to help you age beautifully…

Okay, I’m 41 and not getting any younger.  But you know what?  I feel just as good as when I was in my 20s and most 20 year olds can’t keep up with me so I think I’m doing okay. There is definitely some truth to the Fountain of Youth being a consistent commitment to taking care of yourself.

Aerobic and anaerobic cardio exercise, muscle conditioning, flexibility training and balanced nutrition are the 4 key ingredients to a healthy and youthful mind and body.  To be more specific, there are certain exercises that I feel directly counteract the aging process and normally, I could charge over a million dollars for these secrets.  But since you are all wonderful people and friends, I’m going to reduce the price in half if you do the exercise tonight.  So is looking and feeling your best worth $500,000?  You know what, you’re so cool, that if you do a set of 10, I will reduce the price by 3/4 for only $125,000.  Plenty of people pay at least that much to look young again.  Okay, how about if you promise to do the exercise 3x this week?  If you do, I will slash the price to just $1000. Add in your healthy eating discount, your getting enough sleep discount, your managing your stress discount and surrounding yourself with amazing people who build you up and inspire you discount, and I’m going to give you today’s exercise for FREE!  Yep, I said for FREE! But remember you’ve got to do 10 reps today and at least another 2x this week or else expect an invoice from me!

Okay, here’s a great anti-aging exercise. Stay tuned next week for more anti-aging exercises.

Read the rest of An exercise to help you age beautifully…

Fastest way to get in shape…

I’m training for the Girlfriends Half Marathon and have been doing quite a bit of endurance work but I noticed that my speed was not where I would like it to be.  I was telling one of my colleagues Fraser Quelch, Education Director at TRX, about my frustrations and he suggested I try the following workouts that I’d like to share with you. So if your goal is to improve your fitness, increase your speed as a runner, cyclist, rower, walker, swimmer or improve your performance in any sport, try this…

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Try intervals if you have a need for speed!

Start by warming up for about 5 minutes. Then go very hard for 30 seconds followed by a 1 minute slower, more comfortable pace.  Do this 15x for about a 20 minute workout and then cool-down. Do this workout 2x/week for one to two weeks.

The next stage will be exactly as above except decrease the recovery pace down to 45 seconds.  Again, complete this workout 2x/week for one to two weeks.

The next stage will be exactly as above except decrease the recovery pace down to 30 seconds.  Start with 20 minutes of these intervals and then increase the volume to 30 minutes over the next few weeks.

Fraser reminded me that during the hard intervals, you should focus on quality. If your quality decreases because you are getting fatigued, take a longer recovery set so when you’re ready to go hard, you can really push the pace.

And guess what, I’m a believer.  I’ve only done 3 of these workouts so far and this morning I did a 12 mile run 8 minutes faster than my last 2 training runs of the exact route and distance.  Speed work is definitely the most effective way to get fit and fast quickly!

Try it and let me know how it goes,

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

 

Avoid storing ‘winter’ weight and fat!

It is common that as the days get shorter, darker and colder, we find ourselves at home settling in earlier in the evening.  As a result, many people notice they find themselves in front of the fridge and cupboards more often munching mindlessly on excessive calories. It’s easy to see why people tend to carry additional ‘winter’ weight.

So if you’d like to avoid extra layers this fall and winter, here’s some tips to keep you in great shape right into spring and summer.

  • Set a rule that you will not eat a substantial meal 3 hours before bedtime. If you have planned your meals correctly throughout the day, you shouldn’t need to eat anything right before bed.  Often the calories that are consumed after dinner are those that are eaten not because you are hungry and need the energy but because of habitual patterns or boredom.  Think of it this way – you are just going to bed.  How much energy do you really need?  If you find yourself needing to eat late at night, choose something that is low in calories just to get you by until morning.
  • To help avoid mindless, late-night eating, brush your teeth after dinner, chew gum or pop a breath mint or breath strip.  This will send a signal to the brain that you are done eating.
  • Make a list of substitute activities that you can do in the evening.  They must be activities that compete with the action of eating -  ie. it’s difficult to eat while doing the activity.
    • Game night with family/friends, schedule an after dinner walk with neighbors, sign-up to learn a new sport or activity like rockclimbing, or ball-room dancing, visit your neighbors/friends, write in a journal, give yourself a manicure, read a magazine/book, plan your next vacation, Relaxation/breathing exercises, walk/jog/swim/bike ride/go to gym/exercise video/dance to some upbeat music, take a bubble bath, get a massage, listen to music, prayer, meditation, housework, pay bills, balance your check book, complete a home improvement project, rearrange your furniture, clean out closets/drawers, run errands, floss, play video games

If you have a tip for avoiding late-night eating, please share with the rest of the group.  You might help someone avoid 5-10 pounds or more of extra body fat!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Mental games to keep you focused on your fitness workouts

I’m just like anyone…sometimes I just don’t feel like exercising or I’m having to stay really focused to get through a workout.  But I hardly ever miss a workout so I must be doing something right!  I believe in order to have solid consistency, you have to sometimes play mental games to get through workouts.

Here’s some examples of what I mean…

  • Sometimes when I’m really tired, I tell myself that I will just go out for 10 minutes and that will be enough to get me going. And then pretty much 100% of the time, once I get out there, I start feeling better and more energized and complete a full workout.
  • When I am really tired I never tell myself “I’m too tired to workout!”  Instead I say “I’m so tired that I need to workout to get some energy!”
  • I find interval training breaks things up mentally. So instead of doing a 40 minute cardio workout on one machine, I will do 10 minutes on 4 different machines.  Or instead of doing 30 minutes straight endurance, I will do one minute hard, one minute easy 15x. I find it easier to get through the workout and the time passes more quickly.
  • Running, walking, biking, hiking OUTDOORS is always easier mentally and the time passes much more quickly than on an indoor machine.
  • Recruiting a buddy to workout with you will hold you accountable to being there and the conversation also makes the workout seem so much easier.
  • Music is a motivator so if you need it to distract you from your workout, strap on your IPOD and away you go.
  • Movies – I know many people who exercise while watching a movie or their favorite TV show and find that their exercise consistency and duration is much better.

Please leave a comment with any tricks that you use to get you through your workouts.  You may just give someone a tool that will totally change their life!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri

Inspirations to help you Achieve your Personal Best!

I hope you enjoyed an amazing summer! Mine flew by and was full of incredible adventures including Cycling through Italy, teaching at a resort in Mexico, climbing to the top of Mt. St. Helens, attending two of the world’s best fitness conferences, IDEA in LA and CanFitPro in Toronto, fun runs, triathlon, paddle-boarding, amusement parks, and tons of fun with family and friends.  Always living life to the fullest! So you’ll notice I took a hiatus from blogging so that I could live it up! Well, I’m back and ready to ramp things up for fall and send you a weekly post to help you reach for your Personal Best!

As you know, I am a firm believer in setting goals, creating bucket lists, challenging your limits and living life to the fullest.  And I believe by doing so, not only do you create an unbelievable life for yourself, you also inspire others to achieve their dreams.

On that note, recently, I took a group of clients on a Cycling Adventure through Italy. I wanted to document the trip, one for my own memory and two, to hopefully inspire you to commit to your next adventure. Maybe you’ll even recreate our trip one day! Hopefully, minus a few crazy adventures as you’ll read below! Print this blog post and store away just in case you want to  cross “Cycling through Tuscany” off your list one day.

Let me know when you’ve made the commitment to the next adventure on your bucket list!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri

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Amazing views while Cycling through Tuscany

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