What to do when you conflict?

Yesterday on my morning run, I saw the oddest thing. This man was riding his bike while smoking a cigarette. My first thought was “What an interesting combination!” It made me think that many of us may have conflicting behaviors that don’t align with our ultimate vision for our lives.

For example, maybe you exercise regularly but your eating habits are horrible. Or maybe you eat well, but never workout. Perhaps, you’re really successful in your career but are really overweight and out-of-shape. Maybe you’re in great shape but you’ve got huge amounts of debt. Maybe you’re filthy rich but have been married and divorced five times and can’t seem to maintain a solid relationship.

It seems that happiness, what we all ultimately strive for, can only be attained when we have a balance in all realms of our life – physical, work, mental/emotional, relationships/social etc. When we are struggling in one area it seems to inhibit our abilities to be at our best and live our dream life.

No one is perfect but it does help to recognize which areas of your life are not lining up with what you want your life to be. Recognition and awareness allows for positive actions in the right direction.

Also, keep in mind that making positive action steps in one area can lead to positive actions in other areas. So don’t beat yourself up if you’re not where you want to be yet. Take it one step at a time. For example, my cycling smoker may learn to love biking so much that one day he decides to stop smoking because it inhibits his ability to progress and continue a more fuller enjoyment of cycling. It has been shown that smokers that take up exercise are more likely to quit smoking so cycling smoker is on the right track!

Are there any parts of your life that need to be put on the right track to your Personal Best? I’ve got a few redirections myself…

Yours in health and fitness,


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What will you do?

“A healthy body is a guest-chamber for the soul; a sick body is a prison..” F.B.

If your body truly hosts your soul, what will you do this week so it functions at it’s best?

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Avoid the Most Embarrassing Situation of your Life…

My little guy Jackson is taking a nap right now so I thought I’d take the time to fill you in on a lesson that was affirmed for me yesterday.

Started the morning off with a brick workout with my Triathlon Group. We did an 11 mile cycle followed by a 3 mile run. A perfect workout on a perfect day. Afterwards, I had about 1.5 hours to get home, showered, grab some lunch and head to our Portland studio for a 2 hour meditation course that we were hosting. My little girl wanted to hang with me so we decided we’d grab a quick sandwich at Rosemary’s café, a quaint little deli in downtown Vancouver that we both love. When we arrived at Rosemary’s, there was a note on the door saying “Closed for Memorial Day weekend”. So I blame what happened afterwards on Cheryl, the owner of Rosemarys! At this point, we didn’t have a ton of time, she was hungry and I was starving due to my earlier brick workout. She pleaded to go to McDonalds and I said absolutely not – something to do with the fact that I worked at Micky Ds for 5 years when I was younger (a separate topic for another blog!) So we compromised on Burgerville – the route that any Northwesterner trying to be healthy will take while trying to justify eating fastfood. Afterall they do use local ingredients…And isn’t it all organic?! Not to mention they are very community-oriented and environmentally friendly. Yes, they do make it very easy to justify…

So needless to say, I’m not sure whether it was the fact that I had to eat so quickly to get to the meditation course on time, or whether it was because it was a fast food burger or whether it was because I ate so close to the start of the meditation course (what was I thinking – aren’t you supposed to meditate in a fasting state?!)…Anyways, I’m sure you know where this is going…Right as our meditation instructor was leading us through the most tranquil visualization technique…As we were focusing on very slow, deep, cleansing breaths. As we were imagining our breath inhaling as a pristine white light purifying our entire system and thoughts…As we could hear nothing but the tick and tock of the clock in the distance, we were all startled and I mean ALL-the entire room-startled by a loud eruption, a monstrous, groaning and moaning as if something was being tortured and enduring a slow death. I literally jumped. And then a sense of complete mortification engulfed me as I realized that that sound was coming from me – deep inside my belly as if something was trying to escape. I nervously murmured a low apology to all those around me. A few giggled.

The next 2 hours became a constant struggle between trying to focus on tightening my core to control my inner mumblings, whispering a few apologies when squealing sounds would loudly emerge to disturb and distract all those around me and at the same time, trying to personally benefit from this meditative session. Once I realized that it was going to be impossible to actually truly achieve a meditative state in my current situation, I contemplated leaving. I’m sure many around me wished the same. But I decided to endure after feeling a sense of hope when a number of minutes would pass where my intestines would calm down and I could almost relax only to be rudely awakened by a ‘cat in heat’ screech. I was mortified to recognize that the instructor knew what was happening even though I was at the back of the room and she at the front when numerous times she mentioned cues such as “No matter what else you hear, acknowledge it but then refocus back on your breath” or “Regardless of what your body is experiencing, recognize it but then return to your meditation.” I could only imagine some of the other gals around me smirking. Or worse, being annoyed by my involuntary gurgles!

Finally, the meditation session ended and I could escape. I offered a few light-hearted apologies to those around me. One gal mentioned, “Wow, that must have been some good lunch you had!” I laughed at myself and mumbled something in response but then quickly retreated.

So where is the lesson and why am I telling you all this?! At the very least, I’ve ruined your appetite so you will consume less calories at your next meal! ?

• Grab & Go. I could have avoided this whole scenario by having some quick food options available that we could have grabbed on our way out. Fast Food isn’t really faster than pulling together a quick sandwich, raw veggies with dip, fruit, granola and yogurt, hummus and pita, crackers and cheese…I could have had some energy bars in the car to tide us over until after the course. We think Fast Food is fast but often it takes longer, costs more and can obviously lead to some pretty significant short and long term health concerns!
• Eat Slowly. Your food will digest better, you’ll feel full more quickly, be less likely to overeat and avoid the most embarrassing meditation session of your life!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

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How to stick with your fitness plan no matter what…

“Thomas Edison was asked why he kept going when he failed at creating the lightbulb 2000 times. Edison replied that he did not fail but learned that making the lightbulb was a 2000 step process.”

If you haven’t quite found your fitness rhythm, never give up. Sometimes you got to start and stop a number of times before it sticks forever!

Over the years, I have noticed a number of characteristics separate those who succeed with fitness and those who do not. Those who succeed buy into the “Four Laws of Success”. You’ve got to get your head around these thought processes.

First Law – The law of possession. You need to understand that if you are going to achieve results, it is going to be up to you. The phrases “If it is going to be, it is up to me” or “If I think I can or think I can’t, I’m right,” ring very true. You have to take ultimate responsibility for success or failure. You must be willing to make and stick to the changes. You can not completely rely on someone else like a personal trainer or workout partner to make it happen for you and likewise, you can not blame the kids or your partner for any failures.

Second Law – The law of effort. Anything worth achieving is worth working for. Exercise and healthy eating takes discipline, will power, character, persistency and a commitment to delayed gratification.

Third Law – The law of consistency. A month-long effort is not going to get you where you want. In order to achieve any goal, you must stick to your game plan on an ongoing, long-term, consistent basis. Getting off track for a week is no big deal if you are consistent in your efforts. But if you are regularly tempted away from your program, you will not succeed. Consistency and persistency are the keys to manifesting any goals. Remember that if you want to be 10 pounds thinner 10 years from now, it is not what you do over the next eight weeks that matters, it is what you do over the next 10 years. Fitness is a life-long thing! There are no short-term, quick-fix solutions. Safe and permanent fat loss often takes years – not weeks or months!! Researchers have found only one characteristic common to those who succeed with exercise. All such people move towards their goal one step at a time. They are committed to constant, never-ending improvement. In practical terms, it means that regardless of anything else – busy work schedules, lack of energy, lack of time, feeling old, feeling lazy, hating exercise – they made no excuses! They kept exercising, taking their long-term goals and splitting them up into smaller goals. They took it one day at a time.

Fourth Law – The law of self-efficacy. If you are already questioning whether or not you can actually make the required changes, you are going to have a difficult time with your program. You must believe you can do it! Think of self-esteem as a bank. Each time you keep a promise to yourself, the store of self-esteem gets bigger, making it easier to keep the next promise to yourself. Each time a promise is broken, however, your self-esteem goes down, making it easier to break the next promise. Reinforce this belief in yourself by surrounding yourself with others who are doing or have accomplished what you’re attempting. After all, if they can do it, so can you!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Posted in Fitness, health, Motivation, Nutrition by Sherri | No Comments

Try a Circuit Workout for a Change of Pace.

“People often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it even if I didn’t have it in the beginning.” Mohandas Gandhi

Next workout, try a Circuit Workout. Here’s what I’d like you to try. Perform 5 minutes of cardio exercise like walking, running, skipping, stepping or cycling. Then complete a lower body, an upper body and a core exercise. Then do another 5 minutes of cardio and then complete a different lower body, upper body and core exercise. Perform about 8-15 reps of each exercise. Go through this circuit workout 5 times with different exercises for a cardio and full body workout.

Try it and then tell me what you think.

Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail!

Have you heard that saying before?

Well there’s a lot of truth in it. It’s Monday and I strongly suggest you set your plan and intention for the week. You can do this for all areas of your life – work, fitness, family…

Write it out – the brain processes things better when you can read it and not just think it.

So in terms of fitness, what will you do every day. Provide as much detail as possible. So instead of saying, I will workout four times this week. Instead, write, I will take Sherri’s Monday noon Outdoor Bootcamp class, then I’ll go for an hour walk on Tuesday and do 10 minutes of core work afterwards. On Wed I’ll take my favorite Yoga class with Ted. Friday I’ll do my personal training session with Kristin.

Do the same for nutrition, work, family time etc. It’s nice to know that you’re in the driver seat to create the life you want to live!

You get the idea. Set the plan and then work the plan!

Posted in Fitness, health, Motivation, Nutrition by Sherri | 2 Comments

Exercise without Exercise!

How can anyone with kids and a job find the time to exercise? Time constraints are the number one reason most people don’t start or quit an exercise program. When life gets rough, exercise is usually the first thing to go when it should be the last. In fact, research shows that exercisers are more productive at whatever they’re doing. So instead of thinking that exercise will take up precious time, consider that exercise will actually give you more time and the energy to do the things you’ve always wanted to do.

The good news is that exercise doesn’t have to involve a huge time commitment. Just moving more throughout the day would eliminate the need to spend hours and hours at the gym. On average, we expend 500-800 calories less per day than we did 30 years ago. Let’s face it, the age of technology is making us fat. Escalators, elevators, remote controls, computers, the internet,…we never have to leave the house, and if we do, we sure don’t need to walk or take the stairs to get where we’re going! Things have gotten so bad that someone has actually invented an indoor treadmill for your cats and dogs so you don’t even have to leave the couch to take them for a walk. That’s pretty frightening and down-right lazy! And what about those People Walkers – the ones where people who are completely capable of walking just stand on to get from A to B. Come on, is this what our country has come to?! People don’t realize that by using those machines to walk for you, your overall strength, conditioning & health will deteriorate so quickly that one day you may not be ABLE to walk even if you wanted to!

The moral of the story is obvious. If we just start moving more in our lives, we won’t have to spend so much time at the gym! The Surgeon General’s Report concluded that light activity equivalent to gardening, walking or performing household chores for 30 minutes every day would be enough to offer health benefits. It’s nuts that the Surgeon General has to come out and tell us to just move our bodies for 30 minutes a day. But if you think about it, most people don’t. We wake up, sit to eat breakfast, drive to work, sit at our desk all day, drive home, sit and have dinner and then hang out on the couch watching TV all evening.

Other studies have found that just 10 minute brief workouts interspersed throughout the day are better than nothing and will provide benefits. So here are some easy tips on how to increase your daily caloric expenditure without actually “exercising”.

· Are you always looking for the perfect parking spot closest to your destination? Do you sometimes find yourself frustrated or circling the block waiting for a spot to open up? Make it a goal that you’ll begin to always look for the farthest parking stall or you’ll park at least one to two blocks away from where you’re going. The calories expended will add up and you’ll find it a lot less stressful.

· Are you an escalator or elevator junkie? Have you taken the elevator up or down just one flight? Commit to always taking the stairs if you need to go less than 5 flights.

· Leave the car in the garage and walk, run, cycle or inline skate to do quick errands.

· Take a 10 minute walk before work, at lunch or after dinner. Every little bit counts!

· Schedule active outings with your family or friends. Go for a hike, bike ride, skate, or walk together. Enroll in an active family camp or register for a rock-climbing, kayaking, or cross-country skiing program. Sign up for ball-room dancing or Yoga together.

· Do a few light exercises like knee bends, toe taps, heel raises or tricep dips while making dinner or during TV commercials

· At work, get up, move and stretch every 30 minutes. It’s bad for your back to sit in the same spot for any longer than this anyways.

· Choose to stand more than sit. Choose to sit more than lie down. Try to choose the more active route of performing any daily task.

Practicing a few of these ideas will get you into better shape without putting a drain on your time bank. Remember, every little bit counts!

Finally, consider this. For those of you who feel you don’t have enough time to exercise, if you really look at your schedule, I’m confident you’ll find the time. It comes down to you making the time – making exercise a priority in your life. There has to be a compelling reason for you to want to make the time. You have to feel that you and your health deserve it. Are you going to wait for the by-pass, osteoporosis to set in or extreme overfatness before you find the motivation to start exercising? Find a reason today and you’ll find that fitting exercise into your schedule will be a lot easier than you imagined!

On that note, I’m going to ride my bike to work!

Posted in exercise, Fitness, health by Sherri | 1 Comment

Should you sleep in or are you being lazy?

Your alarm goes off so you can get up for your morning workout. But you’re tired so you press the snooze button and decide to sleep in. Are you being lazy or doing the right thing? Here’s a few guidelines to help you decide.

  1. Energy creates energy. If you’re tired instead of saying “I’m too tired to exercise!” instead say “I’m so tired today, I really NEED to exercise!” Even a quick, easy workout will wake you up, get the endorphins flowing and make you feel great about yourself. You just have to change your mind-set.
  2. Watch the clock. Research shows we need 7 plus hours to achieve optimal health and maximize fat loss. So if you’re well below 7 hours, it may be better for you to get a bit more shut-eye and workout later in the day.
  3. Let your body decide. One of our friends uses this guideline to help her. When the alarm goes off, if she falls immediately back to sleep, it tells her her body really needs a little more time to repair and recover. But if she just lays there awake pondering whether she should get up, then she knows she’s just being lazy and she should get up and workout.
Posted in exercise, Motivation by Sherri | 3 Comments