The most effective form of exercise is…

I’ll never forget the question.
The crowd that day was eager to hear from Exercise Physiologist and trainer to the stars, Jimmy Pena (who also happens to be an old friend of mine) when it came out of nowhere:
“What is the most effective exercise you can do for physical fitness?”
hmmm..
Decked out in their track suits and tennis shoes, people were throwing out answers left and right- “Running!” “Spinning!” “Rowing!” “Crossfit?”
I admit, I was thinking up a few of my own, and once everyone quieted down he said, “After writing countless articles on health and fitness since 1998 (he’s being modest, he’s one of the nation’s most published fitness experts) and even after co-authoring or contributing to 6 health and fitness best sellers, I can say with certainty that the most effective form of exercise is (wait for it…) whatever you’ll do.”
huh.
That’s.. yeah.
wow.

(The truth is always simple.)

We all know that we can have the most sophisticated equipment, the best workout plan, etc., etc.. but if we have no desire whatsoever to even do the work, it does us no good, because we won’t do it. Right? (Raise your hand if you have now or have ever had a piece of exercise equipment that sadly became an extra closet or bookshelf in your bedroom. Hmmm? Anyone?)
I never had that problem. I love to work out. It’s ok, you can hate me. Lifting weights is enjoyable for me.
Well, that is, until about 3 months ago.. when my world turned upside down.
I was going through a big life change (which I’ll write about soon) and I started experiencing a drop in my energy level, and then out of no where, I completely lost my desire to lift weights.
(Moment of silence, please)
Utter sadness.
So I did what most fitness fanatics do. I pushed myself to stay after it anyways, going through the motions until one day I just couldn’t do it anymore. And I stopped.
What happened? Where’s the love? I mean, seriously, this wasn’t supposed to happen to ‘people like me’, I encourage others to work out and live healthy, I’m supposed to be the good example, dangit!

I felt bad and even guilty for not working out, don’t ask me why, I just did. Habit.
But the motivation had absolutely left me. And it was no where to be found.
It was about a week later, when I decided I wanted to finally start a garden in my back yard (after years of wishing), aaaaand I thought it would be cool to lay a brick walkway around the two beds (because I like to come up with new ways to torture myself).
Our home is 104 years old and every square inch of her bad self needs renovating, including the large mess behind the house most people refer to as a “back yard.” So, completely uncharacteristic of me, I started spending two hours outside every morning working on my back yard. Hauling around buckets of dirt, shoveling sand, carrying bricks of all shapes and sizes, digging compost trenches,

knocking the mortar off the old bricks with a small axe, etc..

And guess what? I loved it! (Whoa, stop the presses.)
I was out of breath and sweating up a storm (it was hotter than Hades out there), but I really loved it! The two hours flew by and I couldn’t wait to get back out there the next day. I felt like I did when I first started with weights. I felt at home.. and relaxed, it came naturally.
(Here’s my yard in progress..poor thing. If you blink you might miss my cucumbers coming in.)
So, somewhere in the middle of all that I stopped feeling guilty about not doing ‘regular exercise’ and started to see the work in my garden/backyard for what it was- a dang good workout. And wouldn’t you know it, just this week (some 3 months later), my love for lifting weights, returned. Aaaaand they’re back to kicking my butt. :-)
So, am I starting over in some ways? Have I lost a little ground in the weight room? Yes. There’s no other way around it. But what I gained was a refresher that exercise can be anything that’s physically demanding (and progressive), even hauling bricks and shoveling sand.. and it should be enjoyable. Because, bottom line, it doesn’t matter how “effective” a particular exercise is for the masses, what works best for me is… whatever I’ll do.

What is your favorite form of non-traditional exercise? Do you enjoy lifting weights? Do you have a garden? (Please say yes to that last question so you can help this little brown thumb out.) :-)

“Expert”

Around every corner and under every rock you will find a “Fitness Expert”, especially in the social media realm, right?
Yup, everyone’s an expert. :-)
There are some fantastic (true) experts out there, that offer amazing and insightful information that will help us on our journey to better health and fitness, follow them! Read their books and blogs and posts, etc. and everyone else? Hmmm, take them with a grain of salt. :-)
Even better, do your own research, experiment with your own diet and training and become an expert.. of you!
I caution you about anyone who will a.) ‘push products’ on you, b.) suggest that their diet and workouts are the only way to go and c.) those who are inconsistent.. at best. You want someone who models a life you want to lead, if they haven’t figured out what works for them yet, give them a few years to gain some experience and knowledge, then check them out again.
And again, take the time to shape your own path to better health, do simple elimination tests to find out what you’re allergic to, pay attention to what foods make you feel energized (not high) and what foods make you feel sluggish and sick. Take out what’s harmful and add in what’s beneficial.
I’ve spent 400+ hours researching my current diet and workout plan and I’m not done yet. I want to always be growing in my knowledge of how my body works and how best to fuel it. And I encourage you to do the same.
Well, you don’t have to put in 400 hours, but you can start somewhere though, right?
Right. You little expert, you. :-)

Easy Peasy Healthy Side Dish.. whoa.

When people start out on a new path to be healthy and fit, one of the first questions I get from them is this, “what can I eat?”
The second question is, “can I still eat this?” But that’s a whole ‘nother post all together. :-)
So, I tell them- eat whole foods. Single ingredient foods (mostly). Foods from an animal, from the ground or from a tree. Then they’re silent for a few seconds, look at me again and ask, “So what exactly can I eat?”
Sigh…
So, below is a video on one option for you, the delicious and uber healthy- baked sweet potato. It’s lower in carbs than the regular potato, and heck, it’s just prettier. Right?

Now, I understand there are many great cooks who read this blog and may be saying, “really? do we really need a video on how to bake a sweet potato? How hard can it be?”
And if that’s you… well, what can I say, this video may not be for you? LOL
It IS for those who are new to cooking for themselves,¬† but need easy instructions on how to make simple, yummy foods. That’s it. :-)
CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO and share it with those you know who are trying to eat healthy, too. Hey there aren’t very many of us, we gotta look out for each other, right? :-)
Happy Cooking!
~Catrina

You are what you…

You are what you… listen to.

You thought this was going to be about food, didn’t you. :-)

You probably thought I was going to say:
YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT.
Well, we all know that, don’t we.. (please say- yes..) it makes little difference on how most people feed themselves, but yeah, we all know that, right?
Next.

You are what you watch on tv and in the theater and online.

You are what you read.

If you want to know what/who you are going to be in a few years, look no further than your friends and/or your media choices.

We’ve heard it a thousand times- You become who you hang around (the younger crowd still doesn’t buy it, us older folks- we know it’s true), but what happens when you ‘hang around’ just as many television shows, movies, music, games, books as you do actual people?
Well, hmmm.. it’s no different. You become.. what you hang around.

What you feed your mind is just as much a contributor to who you are as your eating choices.
Wait, you don’t think what you watch, read, or listen to has any impact on you?¬† Really?

The average cost for a 30 second commercial in the Superbowl is 3.5 MILLION dollars. Folks, EVERYONE¬† in marketing and advertising knows that everything you see, hear and read has an impact on you. And that impact will shape who you become. It will shape how you feel about yourself, your income, your car, your clothes, your values, your family, your career, your looks, your future, your spouse… And 30 seconds? WOW, they can just about own you with that much time in your head. That’s the ONLY reason anyone would be willing to pay that much for just 30 seconds. And HOURS?!?

Look back at how your views and values (good and bad) have changed over the years, they can all be traced back to what you read, saw, listened to or were modeled.

I challenge you to guard what goes into your mind as closely as you guard what goes into your mouth. Take a closer look at what you’re taking in. The mind, body and soul are all connected, to be health conscience is not merely about watching what you eat, it’s time to start taking care of our whole body health.

Since I’m going to become what I read, watch and listen to, I want my choices to reflect my values and my goals.
I want to be fed with possibility and potential.. I want something to aspire to.
I want my choices to point to the person I want to be in a few years from now.