Tagged "new years resolutions"


6 Reasons Why You’re Not Losing That Weight

Posted by Amina AlTai on

Eating clean, lifting weights and running all the way from here to Timbuktu but still can’t lose weight?  It’s a common problem in my coaching practice.  Time after time, I encounter dedicated gym bunnies that are checking off all the boxes and seemingly doing it all “right,” but the number on their scale just won’t budge; even more demoralizing, sometimes the number goes in the opposite direction. What’s that about?! 

First, let’s have a little lesson in what the number on the scale really means.

Our weight is a compilation of body fat, muscle mass, water weight and more.  So when you see the numbers on the scales increase, it doesn't necessarily mean you’ve gained fat.  To dig more into this, let's have a little biology lesson, shall we?

Body Fat percentage & Body Fat Mass:

  • Body Fat Percentage is the proportion of fat to the total body weight.
  • Body Fat Mass is the actual weight of fat in your body.

Visceral Fat:

  • Visceral fat is located deep in the core abdominal area, surrounding and protecting the vital organs. This tends to increase with age and can cause more fat around the abdomen. 

Muscle Mass:

  • The predicted weight of muscle in your body. This includes the skeletal muscles, smooth muscles such as cardiac and digestive muscles and the water contained in these muscles. Muscles act as an engine in consuming energy.  Often, when we exercise more, our muscle mass increases.  Since muscle weighs more than fat, it can often cause the scale number to shift in the other direction. 

Total Body Water:

  • Total Body Water is the total amount of fluid in the body expressed as a percentage of total weight. Over half of our body weight is water and it helps to regulate temperature and eliminate waste.  The amount each of us needs varies from day-to-day, depending on the climate we live in and the amount of physical activity we’re doing. 

 Yes, it’s true that increased muscle mass can make us weigh in a little more, but if you have a smart scale, you’ll see that that isn’t the case.  There could be more at play.  Like what, you’re wondering? Here are some weight-gaining culprits:

Stress

We all have a ton of stress in our lives.  But if we don't manage it properly, it can lead to an over-production of cortisol, the stress hormone.  Cortisol also causes higher insulin levels, which can impact your food choices.  It often leads to craving fatty and sugary foods which contribute to weight gain specifically in the stomach area.  Managing stress through breathing exercises, meditation and relaxing activities is a great way to reduce cortisol. 

Over-exercising

 Many of us type A's are busting our a$$es at the gym, thinking it will lead to increased muscle mass and lower percentage body fat… but the numbers often go the other way.  The reason being is that when we exercise with great intensity, we often overestimate calories burned and then overeat calories needed for recovery.  Additionally, intense exercise also produces cortisol which can cause weight gain and encourage overeating.  So pull back on the seven days of intense workouts and vary your exercises incorporating gentle yoga practice, long walks and leisurely bike rides. 

Bad Bacteria

Our microbiome is a delicate balance of bacteria and occasionally, some bad bacteria can work its way in there.  Recent studies have repeatedly demonstrated that the makeup and variety of our flora can have a big impact on our weight. The most current literature suggests that obesogenic bacteria can exacerbate weight gain and trigger metabolic dysfunction.  If you suspect this may be the cause, speak to your health care provider about a stool analysis test to better understand the bacteria at play in your gut. 

Yeast

 Overgrowth of Candida Albicans or yeast as a result of overuse of antibiotics, birth control pills or just the standard American Diet can lead to weight gain and stubborn pounds that just won’t budge.  Candida is fed by sugar and carbohydrates so a diet rich in both can perpetuate weight gain.  Some health care practitioners even believe that yeast overgrowth can even cause thyroid imbalances which only further perpetuate metabolic challenges.  A stool analysis will identify the role of yeast in your weight challenges. 

Food Sensitivities

Food sensitivities, overgrowth of bad bacteria and candida can all greatly affect the gut and lead to widespread inflammation.  Digested food particles can leak into the bloodstream causing your immune system to react to the perceived toxins and triggering inflammation, weight gain, joint pain and more.  So if you're eating foods the leave you bloated and achy, it might be time for an elimination diet to understand which foods might be taking you down.  

PH Levels

The optimum PH level is between 7.2-7.4.  Very specific, I know.  Symptoms of PH imbalance including everything ranging from heart burn, constipation, slow metabolism, hormonal imbalances, brain fog, low blood sugar, sore muscles and more.  How do we become too acidic, you ask?  Even if you’re eating somewhat clean, years of less-than-perfect eating could be contributing.  Meats, sugar, caffeine, dairy, beans and grains are all acid forming.  The remedy?  More greens, please!  Swap your morning coffee for green juice, eat more raw veggies and scale back on meat. 

 

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Sticking to Your Resolutions Is Easy When You know How

Posted by Amina AlTai on

We're less than a week into the new year and we're already casting major side-eye at our resolutions.  Why are they such a challenge to stick to?  Why does it always feel against our good nature to embrace a healthier, more positive version of ourselves?  It's not us that's broken though.  It's the idea of resolutions that is failing us.  Here's how we can do better:  

1. Set goals, not resolutions:  We all know that resolutions are made to be broken.  We set them too high, too lofty and we often set ourselves up to fail from the get-go.  If there is an area of your life you're working on, set specific and measurable goals for the day, week, month, quarter and maybe even the year.  Don't expect to go from zero to 100 overnight though.  So, if for example you set a goal of working out more in 2017, you might say in January you want to go to the gym twice a week.  Once you comfortably accomplish that, think of how you might kick your goals up a notch for February and go from there.  The key is taking the goal one milestone at a time. 

2. Remember your why:  Connecting to your reason for change is a great way to stay on track.  If your goal is to lose weight so you can have more energy to play with your kids, focus on that not just the weight loss.  Imagine how you'll feel running with them at the playground, going on bike rides or playing hide and seek.  Hold on to that feeling.  Finding the real meaning in your goals will keep you connected to the bigger picture.  Keep constant reminders with you all day.  Maybe it's a picture of your child on your desk at work, or your favorite positive affirmation.  Whatever it is, make sure your why is visible so you remember it throughout the day.  

3. Keep yourself accountable:  A recent study found that those who go it alone at the gym have a 43% dropout rate over the year while those who workout with a partner dropout at a rate closer to 6%.  And for good reason.  The positivity and camaraderie we find in groups keeps us on track and moving towards the bigger picture.  If you have a big goal on your list for 2017, phone a friend and ask them to keep you accountable.  Break your goal down into attainable chunks and update your friend weekly on your progress.  

4. Forgive and reboot:  Change is not about perfection, it's about progress.  If you find yourself falling short, don't get stuck in shaming or white-knuckling yourself.  Simply forgive yourself, (you are human after all) reboot and vow to do better next time.    

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Doing DRY-UARY?! 4 Fun Activities that Don't Require Drinking

Posted by Amina AlTai on

Giving up booze this January?  Yeah. Me, you and Bridget Jones too.  But it can be tough and isolating since most adult activities always seems to result in a beverage in hand.  But fear not.  After many dry Januarys (and February and March...did I mention I'm not a big drinker?!) acting like a hermit, we've decided to scout around for fun activities that don't require a glass of champs.  

1. Switch Playground: AKA club sweat where the beats are sweet and the moves are no joke.  This epic workout is done with a partner, so grab your fitness bestie, your sneakers and a big ole bottle of H20 and get set to sweat.  The live DJ and club-like atmosphere will make you forget you're torching nearly 600 kcals and not dancing table-top at your fave locale.    

2. Central Park Winter Jam: Not sure about you, but if I can't be curled up with an adult-bevy, then I'm letting my hair down and my inner child loose.  Mark your calendars for January 28th and come to Central Park's Bandshell for ice skating, sledding, snowboarding and food from local vendors.  

3. Grab a Mocktail: The Nomad Bar is by far and away my fave place to get a mocktail.  If you're use to a boring old dirty shirley, you'll be delighted by the range of flavors and complex combinations that will delight the senses and make your forget you're sally sober.  

4. Take A Cooking Class:  Less drink usually means more food.  So, satisfy your tastebuds and your waistline why not try a healthy (and delish) cooking class!  Check out the Natural Gourmet Institute for delectable vegan desserts, healthy breakfasts, vegan burgers and pizza, oh my!  You can even plan your very own dry January event there.  

 

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Gave Up Coffee this New Year? Here's 5 Natural Ways to Deal with the Fallout

Posted by Amina AlTai on

Giving up coffee is like giving up air for most of us. Ironically, it debuts on plenty of New Year's resolution lists. In all corners of the globe, the clock strikes midnight and we all run to our coffee canisters, toss the grinds in the trash and vow never to imbibe in the rich, dark goodness of a latte ever again.  And then we wake up feeling groggy and hungover and curse the day we ever made such a silly decision.  What now?!  How will we ever accomplish our 600 tasks in a day without our life force?  Easy.

1.  Start your day with a big glass of water:  Most of the time when we're tired, it's actually a symptom of dehydration.  Being thirsty is way worse for us than a little dry mouth.  In fact, not having enough water can actually cause our brain to shrink and us to perceive tasks as harder than usual.  So, when life feels challenging at 7am it's not for your lack of java, it might just be that you're dehydrated.

2. Add a little lemon water to your life: One of the many reasons my coaches love coffee so much is that it keeps them "regular."  And we all know that a life backed up is no life at all. So, I recommend swapping a morning cup of joe for warm water with lemon.  The benefits are endless: It fires up your digestive juices, supports liver detoxification and bowel movements.

3. Adaptogens change the game: You've probably heard about adaptogens before: They're magical substances that help your body adapt to stress.  Coffee, a known stimulant, taxes our adrenals while adaptogens support them, while acting as natural fatigue fighters. Ashwaganda, rhodiola, Asian ginseng and cordyceps are my go-tos and can be taken as powders or in pill form.

4. Eat energy-supportive foods: When we're struggling a bit with fatigue we naturally want to reach for sugar for a quick energy boost.  But that is actually counterintuitive. Sugar will provide a temporary rush of energy followed by a big crash.  When you're feeling a little sluggish, reach for foods like walnuts or coconut chips; they're rich in healthy fats to support your body and brain.

5. Squat what your momma gave ya: A side effect of giving up coffee, especially if you've become dependent, is a caffeine withdrawal headaches.  That's because coffee helps to dilate constricted blood vessels.  So when you stop drinking it, your vessels go back to being tight and constricted which causes pain.  Instead of reaching for a jar of aspirin, do some squats or go for a nice jog.  Both support blood flow and can counter the effects of constricted blood vessels.  

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My Guide To 2017 Resolutions

Posted by Amina AlTai on

We make um and we break um, right?  Usually, resolutions are far too tough to stick to because they're usually rather lofty or because we have some fundamental shifts to make before we can allow ourselves to really achieve those goals.  Here are my tips on how to set resolutions and goals; allowing them to be a source of joy and fuel, versus a list of failures.   

1. Don't just set goals for the year:  That can be too big picture for most of us.  Create a pathway to success by also setting 3 and 6 months goals for you to achieve along the way.  When you tackle the smaller, more attainable goal, the next step much more within reach.

2. Have someone hold you accountable: Accountability is really key to everything.  Some of us can hold ourselves accountable by making promises to ourselves and offering consequences when those promises are broken.  For the rest of us, we need another person to keep us engaged and delivering week after week.  I fall into the latter camp.  When I started writing my book earlier this year, I knew I needed someone else to hold me accountable.  So I started chatting with friends and colleagues and soon realized they also needed the same thing.  So, I created a weekly accountability group where we all share our goals, what we're working on and hope to achieve in the next week.  It helps us get even more micro with goal setting—drilling down into the week by week. But, it also holds a safe space for us to honor our feelings and what we're working against.  Which is a great segue into my next point.  

3.  If you're out of integrity with your actions, look at your emotions:  Let's say one of your resolutions was to workout more and eat healthier.  But 8pm rolls around every night and you reach for the box of cookies and devour the whole thing.  What's up with that?!  Your heart might be in the right place with the goal, but there is probably more to it.  What is the emotion that's behind the self-sabotage?  Are you afraid to step into your own power?  Are you punishing yourself because you don't think you're worthy of success?  Whatever it is, get a pen and paper and start free writing.  Write it out until it's clear to you what the emotion behind the action is.  Then set some promises around that.  If you realize that you're reaching for cookies at night to sabotage your diet because you're afraid what it might feel like to love yourself and step into your own greatness, start by just realizing what you're doing.  That awareness is the biggest and best step you could take.  Instead of punishing yourself or beating yourself up, be kind to yourself and make a promise to do better next time.  And just keep at it.  The more you catch yourself and clear our the emotions behind the self-sabbotage, the easier it will become to stay in integrity with your resolutions.  

4. Write them down: When we take then out of our heads and put them on the page, they become real.  Jot your weekly goals down and share with your accountability group.  Put your annual goals down too—but don't look at them everyday if it causes anxiety and you feel too disconnected from them.  I write mine on a small note card and place them in my wallet.  I come across them once a month and it makes me smile knowing I'm working towards the bigger picture.  

5. Don't just make a list:  A list can be completely devoid of feeling.  When we feel things, truly and deeply, they become real to us.  So, instead of a love-less list, write your dreams out in paragraph form and focus on how they FEEL to you.  When I write my career dream every year I focus on how the environment feels, the amazing people I want to work with and the joy I get from doing what I love day in and day out.  That feeling is what keeps me connected to the goals day in and day out.  

How do you go about your resolutions?  We'd love to hear!

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