Yes, you can cheat!

Dear clients, family and friends,

It’s a proven fact that stress can make you fat. So if your goal is to look and feel your best, you’ve got to figure out how to either reduce your stress or respond to it better. I thought this would be a timely topic considering the holiday season begins tomorrow.

Exercise Tip #1: Breathe. Take 60 seconds to just stop and breathe deeply and be in the moment. Just this very act of oxygenating your entire system including your muscles, tissues, heart and organs brings forth incredible health benefits. Can you stop and do it right now? It’s only 1 minute. What do you have to lose?! (besides some negative energy and a lot of stress!)

Exercise Tip #2: Cheat Days are okay!
(I thought this would be a good tip considering tomorrow!)

A successful nutrition plan will focus on what you need to be consuming every day rather than what you should not be eating. For example, set a goal of eating 3 fruits for the day instead of deciding to not eat any chocolate. In addition, allow yourself one or two “free” days every week. For example, if you love pizza, and chocolate, then one day a week allow yourself to indulge in these items. This will eliminate the feeling of being deprived of your favorite foods and you will be less likely to experience the inevitable binge that goes hand-in-hand with total elimination of your favorites. This type of plan is feasible for most people. You are not telling yourself you are never going to eat chocolate again, but instead, just limiting how much and when you will indulge. Just make sure you don’t go crazy on your free days. It’s not a free ticket to gorge! And try to avoid making deals with yourself regarding your free days. If Saturday is your free day, make sure you stick to Saturday. For example, avoid indulging on Thursday because there’s an office party and then promising that on Saturday, you will skip your free day. Often you end up of taking more free days than you agreed to and all of a sudden every day turns into a ‘free’ day.

We prefer to follow the 80:20 rule for nutrition, which states that if you are eating well 80 percent of the time, you can allow yourself to indulge the other 20 percent. Eating well 80 percent of the time will definitely keep you healthy and will be a much more enjoyable process. This type of belief system is long-term focused. It is important that you decide to only do things that you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life. The only way to do this is to achieve your goals while upsetting your life as little as possible. Look at it this way – even our Northwest Personal Training Personal Trainers indulge so don’t try to be ‘perfect’.

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Two simple tips to improve your fitness and change your body.

Dear clients, friends and family:

Thanksgiving is two days a way so I’m hoping my daily exercise and nutrition tips will launch you into a very healthy and happy holiday season – minus the 10 pound typical weight gain.

Nutrition Tip: 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 actually 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.

Side note: Here’s a recipe from the American Heart Association for Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry salsa that you might enjoy as a healthy alternative for Thanksgiving dinner.

Exercise Tip: If your goal is fat loss, try to burn at least 300 calories per workout session. Obviously, anything is better than nothing but if you can commit to at least 300 calories, you will get to your goals much faster. One of the best ways to estimate caloric expenditure is to invest in a Heart Rate monitor. Perhaps you can put it on your Christmas Wish-list?! We find the Polar monitors the most accurate and user-friendly.

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Did you know that I am super lazy?!

Hey clients, friends and family:

I am extremely ambitious when it comes to my career. I love what I do and I work hard. In fact, I’ve been accused of being a work-a-holic! Likewise, when it comes to workouts, I am very consistent, disciplined and hardly ever miss a workout. I like to challenge myself with various physical adventures and I love the feeling of really exerting myself. And for my kids, I am an energetic mom that likes to play and do fun things with the kids.

But for some reason, as soon as I enter the kitchen, I become the most lazy, lethargic, unmotivated person around! If it takes 20 minutes, forget it. If it requires multiple ingredients, cooking and fire – yeah, that’s not happening. I am the queen of quick and easy in the kitchen. Get me in and get me out as quick as possible. So adhering to a healthy nutrition plan with this type of mind-set can pose a challenge. But I’ve learned to accept who I am and work around my little limitation which brings me to today’s nutrition point to get you looking and feeling great for the holidays.

Nutrition Tip: Eat your veggies! We all know we should be eating more vegetables for optimal health and fitness. But for some reason the act of cleaning and chopping veggies for 10 minutes or so is just too much of an effort for me to fathom (but working out for 2 hours – no problem…Go figure?!) so I purchase a lot of my veggies already pre-washed and cut and ready to eat. Sure, they cost a lot more but because I do this both myself and my kids eat a ton more vegetables. So if you’re lazy in the kitchen like me maybe this approach would work for you too! Another quick and easy way to ensure you’re getting enough veggies is a product called “Greens Plus”. It’s a blend of 29 nutrient-rich Superfoods, Sea Vegetables and Herbal Extracts that you mix with water or juice that gives you a nice little extra insurance. You can pick up a jug of this at most health food stores or the health food section of your grocery store.

Exercise Tip: Make some Muscle – Strength training is the true fountain of youth! When you lose muscle mass so many other health variables are negatively affected including your strength, endurance, tone, posture, bone density, metabolism, body composition and more. So commit to hitting the weights at least two times per week and watch your whole body change!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Two simple and effective tips to get you Looking Hot for the Holidays!

Hey Clients, Friends and Family.

Here are your next two tips to get you looking and feeling your best for the holidays.

Exercise Tip: It’s all about the effort!
So today one of our clients was mentioning to me how much she loved a certain Elliptical trainer over a different model. I asked her what was the main difference. She said she really loved working out on her favorite machine because it’s so much easier, hardly feels like she’s working out at all and yet, she burns the most calories on that machine. Do you see the problem here?!

Let me explain to you how caloric expenditure is calculated on cardio machines. Each manufacturer uses a mathematical algorithm to estimate calories burned based on a few variables such as duration and intensity. However there are no Cardio machine police! So manufacturers are free to be as generous as they want with these formulas. And of course, most understand that if their machine reports a higher caloric expenditure, more people will want to use it and therefore they will sell more units.

Bottom line – if a particular machine or exercise feels harder, it is harder. And therefore if you are working harder, you are burning more energy and calories and that translates into more fat burned!

Remember this – if you are going easier, you are going to have to go longer. And if you are going harder, you can go shorter to burn equivalent calories. So mix it up people and train your entire system!

Nutrition Tip: First thing in the morning, before you put any food in your mouth, drink at least 8-16 ounces of cool, refreshing water. Flush out your system and start your day off on the right foot!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

One Exercise and One Nutrition Tip that you can commit to right now!

Hey clients, friends and family.

Instead of waiting until New Year’s to resolve to carve out time for yourself so you can look and feel your best, let’s make a commitment to ramp it up right now. Why wait? There’s no better time than today. Plus, we’ll get you looking and feeling amazing for the holidays!

So over the new few weeks, I’m going to regularly offer you a quick and easy exercise and nutrition tip. Some will be basic – stuff you’ve heard before but a good reminder! And others may offer a new approach that may help you lock into your program.

Make one small change at a time – it’s often the small but consistent changes that bring forth the biggest results!

Exercise: It’s Wednesday and many people experience the mid-week workout slump. So if this is the case for you or you recognize another day during the week when you really struggle with sticking to your workout, try a different approach. Plan something on this day that you would never want to miss. Maybe you schedule a tennis match or bike ride with your best friend. Or maybe you plan to always take your favorite instructor’s class this day. Maybe you sign up for a new program like Zumba or Dance lessons that you would absolutely love. Perhaps you schedule an appointment with your trainer so you absolutely can’t miss your workout. Or maybe you need a restorative day so you schedule in a Yoga class or stretching session. Bottom line – plan do something that you know you will 100% commit to and soon the day that you once struggled with will become your most consistent day.

Nutrition: If you struggle with portion control, try Psyllium Husks as a method to decrease appetite. Psyllium seed husks are indigestible in humans and are often used as a source of dietary fiber. They are used to relieve constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and improve regular GI transit. Some recent research is also showing them to be promising in lowering cholesterol, controlling diabetes and providing a sense of fullness therefore helping with portion control and weight management. You can purchase Psyllium Husks powder that you mix with water and consume 10-15 minutes before your meal. You can pick up at your Natural Food Store and/or the Natural section in most grocery stores.

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Read this before Thanksgiving!

Many of us are still dealing with Halloween Candy and now Thanksgiving is about a week away. It’s enough to take even the most-disciplined, die-hard exerciser off track.

In America, Thanksgiving dinner goes hand-in-hand with an all-out gorge until you’re about to burst. A retreat to the couch follows because you’re just too stuffed to move. It doesn’t have to be this way – everyone always regrets it afterwards. Remember last year’s moans and groans “Ugh, I shouldn’t have ate the second helping of stuffing and sweet potatoes!”

This year, we’re going to help you be more pro-active:

It’s estimated that the average American can consume 5000+ calories on Thanksgiving Day. Most people enjoy a bigger than usual breakfast, Thanksgiving meal and we can’t forget the left-overs later in the evening. Now if you were an Olympic Athlete this wouldn’t be too much of a problem but since the only activity most people do on Thanksgiving is the walk from the kitchen to the TV, Thanksgiving can wreck havoc on your health.

Plan a Healthy Thanksgiving Meal:
If you’re in charge of dinner or helping to plan, keep these tips in mind:

• Schedule the meal earlier in the day. Thanksgiving Dinner between 2:00-5:00 will allow some time for the body to digest the heavy meal before you hit the sack. Or do Thanksgiving the European way – schedule Thanksgiving as an all- day celebration and serve small dishes every hour or so. This seems so much healthier and civilized than mom busting her butt all day long preparing a meal that is consumed ravenously in 5 minutes. Spread the calories out throughout the day and you’ll be less likely to feel awful.
• Minimize the carb overload – Instead of preparing sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffing and rolls choose only one or two of these dishes. It will save a ton of calories and you’ll feel less ‘stuffed!’ (pun intended!)
• While guests are arriving, have a vegetable platter available for them to munch on
• Serve a delicious soup as the appetizer
• Serve a beautiful salad
• Serve two or three different types of vegetables at the table
• Use skim or semi-skim milk for all your recipes
• Serve water with dinner

You can have Desert: But before desert is served, insist everyone go for a beautiful walk around the neighborhood. Or plan some fun activities while you allow your body to process the meal. For example, plan a fun game of charades, break out the WII, or maybe pull out the Holiday decorations and have the family help get your house looking festive. Or maybe earn some brownie points with mom, grandma or Aunt Jane by raking some leaves.

Get your workout in: Head to the gym for a quick workout (many are open for limited hours including our facilities in Portland and Vancouver WA) or take a run, walk or bike ride around the neighborhood. If you’ve got family visiting, do it first thing in the morning before people wake-up. A workout will actually make you feel better and help to suppress your appetite so you’re less likely to overeat. And consider ramping up your workouts over this next week so you’re expending a little more energy in anticipation of the increased caloric intake next Thursday.

You can still enjoy a wonderful dinner and atmosphere without having everyone feeling bloated and horrible for the rest of the evening and suffering a Thanksgiving Hang-over the next day!

Forward this email to everyone you are celebrating Thanksgiving with this year so you’re all on the same page!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

When was the last time you saw a guy in a wheelchair Bungee Jump?

We place our own limits on ourselves. When I lived in Vancouver BC, I had the fortunate honor to be Rick Hansen’s Trainer – the man who wheeled around the world raising millions of dollars for spinal cord research. He told me once he had to decide to focus on the 1000 things he couldn’t do anymore because he didn’t have the use of his legs or the 100,000 things he still could do. And he has gone on to live the most incredible life inspiring so many others that you can do anything if you want it bad enough.

He just recently Bungee Jumped in Whistler BC. You’ve got to watch this clip. It is both hilarious and inspirational showing you that you can do anything when you put your mind to it! It will be a highlight of you day!

If you can’t see the clip above, clip on this direct link.

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

ps. If you are local, please join me this weekend for our 3 hour Exercise-a-thon to collect food and clothing for a local shelter. Click below for more details. We’d love to see you there.

When was the last time you had Geese chasing you?!

Happy Monday!

I just finished presenting at the fabulous CanFitPro fitness conference in Vancouver BC. I often hear from clients that they have a hard time keeping up with their fitness routine when they travel. I always explain to them that if you want something bad enough, if your health and fitness is really that important to you, then there are NO EXCUSES! That’s right – no excuses. It doesn’t matter if you’re tired, jet-lagged, your hotel doesn’t offer a fitness facility, or you can’t find a gym in the area – you’ve got to make it happen.

For example, today it was raining in Vancouver BC so it would have been easy to talk myself out of going for a run. But I went anyways and here’s what happened. First, I found a beautiful trail along the river that was a breath of fresh air and once I got outside, the rain didn’t bother me at all and it was actually quite incredible. I would have never got to experience this had I not left my hotel. Then I stumbled across the new 2010 Olympic Oval being built and was able to run all around it and check out how awesome it was. That was pretty cool. And then on my way back there was this group of Canadian Geese hanging out by the trail. It felt so nice to connect with nature. And then as I ran by the geese, a few proceeded to chase me and nip at my butt. I think they were mad that I moved to the states! 🙂 So anyways, had I not gone out for my run, I would not have experienced that exciting adventure!

Bottom line, no matter where you are or what you’re doing, you need to do something to move your body today. Don’t ask yourself “Should I workout today?” That’s the wrong question because the answer will always be yes. Instead ask yourself “WHAT should I do to move my body today so that I can look and feel my absolute best!”

Have a fabulous week!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

ps. If you’re starting to look for good stocking stuffers for the holidays, one of my books might inspire one of your loved ones to get off the couch. Click below for more details.

Happy & Healthy Halloween

Happy (& Healthy) Halloween

Halloween is on Saturday and although it’s so fun to dress up, as fitness professionals it’s not one of our favorite holidays. The last thing our kids need is more sugar, fat and a candy binge! So how can you promote moderation and a healthy diet without coming off as the world’s worst parents?!

Go against the norm: The American Dietetic Association offers the following suggestions for nutritious Halloween goodies. You may not be the favorite Halloween house on your block but at least you can feel good about the fact that you’re not sending your neighbors’ kids into sugar oblivion!
• Mini rice cereal bites
• Packages of trail mix
• Cereal or energy bars
• Small boxes of raisins
• Small packages of dried fruit
• Sugar-free gum
• Mini juice boxes

Does it have to be candy? Many kids would enjoy just as much some cool, new Halloween pencils or pens, spooky stickers, tattoos, or spider rings.

Control Consumption: If you leave it up to the kids, they’ll have half their candy eaten before bed-time on Saturday night! Instead, sit down with their stash, and separate it into small sized snack pouches that limit how much candy they have per day. Not that we’re saying that kids need candy every day but at least it’s a start! Explain to them clearly how much and when candy can be consumed. For example, you may set limits that prevent candy intake before bed or in the morning before school. But you may allow a small snack bag only after they eat their nutritious lunch.

In Oregon and Washington, 24.5 percent of 8th graders are overweight or at risk for becoming overweight and this number is increasing every year. As parents and teachers, we need to limit children’s consumption of candy year-round so now is a good time to discuss the benefits of a healthy diet and the ramifications of an unhealthy one.

Move their bodies: The rise in childhood obesity is partly due to the fact that kids are just not moving their bodies as much as they need to. Computers, video-games, TV and the fact that only 54.8 percent of Oregon eighth graders participate in daily PE is wrecking havoc on our kids’ health. So take this weekend as an opportunity to promote an active lifestyle and get them outside for a hike, a long walk or a bike ride. Their bodies will thank you for it!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Don’t buy Halloween Candy yet!

If you haven’t purchased Halloween Candy yet, don’t do it until Saturday. Because otherwise you know what will happen. You’ll probably end up eating half of it between now and then and will have to go out and buy more!

If you already have purchased, then put it somewhere very inconvenient to access. For example, put it in the garage on the highest shelf or in the attic that you would need to use a ladder to get at. Or store it at your neighbors house – just make sure you tell them they can’t eat any of it either!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan