Ask Dani – Thintervention Intervention

Ok, so I’m randomly flipping through channels and came across “Thintervention,” that show on Bravo — and thought of you. I remember you saying that you thought shows like that and “The Biggest Loser” weren’t all that great. And I was like, I wonder why not? Aren’t they inspiring obese people to change their lives? Aren’t they exposing the awful health consequences of being really fat? So I tuned in to Jackie Warner and all of her ab-fab glory to see what she had to say.

The theme for the episode I saw was “total muscle exhaustion” — pushing yourself until your muscles give out (as way overly-enthused Ms. Warner explained). So as I’m watching these obese people basically pass out on the treadmills, wheeze and gasp for air as they lift weights — I’m thinking, OK this can’t be good. Right? This looks awful (and painful). But then I’m like: Or, is this just how obese people have to lose weight? Is losing 20 lbs not just “a little easier” but actually an entirely different ballgame than losing 120lbs? And either way, is “muscle exhaustion” ever the way to go? Or is that more of a made-for-TV stunt?

So those are my questions (I know there are a lot). Basically — is this why you take issue with shows like “Thintervention”? It it worth watching to pick up tips, like muscle exhaustion, from these shows; or is it more like “don’t try this at home”?

Sincerely,
Not Ms. Warner

Hey Ms. Warner,

Awesome awesome and again, awesome question! You’re right, these shows do inspire people to lose weight and they give them that feeling of “hey, if they can do it, I can do it too”, but the thing to realize and to really drive home is that yes, you can lose weight, but it’s not going to be as glamorous as it is on TV. And the environments that they create on these shows are not real life. Take it from me, a personal trainer, my clients would probably find it pretty creepy if I randomly surprised them on their doorstep one day (which is what Ms. Warner did on one of her shows). Believe me, I would love to do that, it would make everything a lot easier for me if I could baby-sit my clients, but I don’t believe in extreme hand holding. I do believe in taking baby-steps though and in seeking the help of a personal trainer. But that trainer’s purpose is to guide and empower you, and to teach you the tools necessary to take charge of your own life, not follow your every waking move. If you want to lose weight and/or become healthier, and I mean REALLY, you will do it no matter what. Sure, everyone needs help from time to time, and losing weight is hard, but the more someone is doing the work for you the less likely it is that you’ll be able to maintain it on your own. The secret of success is that only you can make it happen and if you desperately want it then you will make it so.

With that being said though, I don’t find fault in everything that Thintervention is doing. I couldn’t find the episode that you were talking about, but I did find a different episode, and I’ll admit that I was ready to hate it, but actually found some good things hidden inside. She gets to the point and calls her clients out when they’re not trying hard enough, but she also lets them have some space by not forcing them to say what she wants to hear. I also like that she has a psychologist on hand, because you can’t really lose a significant amount of weight without facing some of the things that got you there in the first place. But, do I think that working till muscle failure is good thing or is it just a made-for-tv stunt? I think it can be a good thing to show you what muscle failure really feels like and to show you how far your mental strength can take you, BUT I don’t think it’s for every client. You have to remember that these shows have physicians and paramedics on hand in case something happens and they are in the hand of a professional. I would not tell someone to go into the gym and start following what Jackie says, because this workout is designed for the clients on the show, not you. There is no one-size-fit-all workout program, because we are all different in our abilities and fitness levels. Which is where the 20lb weight loss vs. 120lb weight loss comes in…

Both are difficult. An average sized woman who only needs to lose 20lb is going to lose weight slower than an obese woman who needs to lose 120lb, because relative to her size 20lb may be a lot. And for the obese woman she may take a lot of weight off quickly at first, but then it will start to slow down as her size starts to shrink. Added to that is the difficulty in which the obese woman might find working out to be. Walking a mile for the slightly overweight woman might feel difficult if she’s out of shape, but for the obese woman it is a triumph. And that’s why I’m on the fence about this show. When someone needs to lose that amount of weight I think it’s more important to make them feel successful at what they’re doing rather than have the possibility that they’ll feel defeated, because the workouts are too hard. Wheezing and almost passing out on a treadmill is not something that I would allow my clients to do. I would find activities that exhaust them, but are also doable.

A very long saga short: Take these shows with a grain of salt. If you find motivation from them then that’s fantastic, but don’t follow what they say, because you’re not Jackie or any of her clients.

Ask Dani – Help, I Like My Boobs!

Dear Dani,

My friend, who recently got engaged, and I were discussing wedding gowns and how they usually only show off your upper body and arms. She said she wants to “tone up” for her wedding, but is only concerned with losing weight in her arms — not anywhere else. She likes her current bust size and thinks that if she loses any weight, she’s likely to also lose some boob-a-licious-ness. I told her I didn’t think it was possible to lose weight only in one part of your body. Can you clear this up? Is it possible to lose weight in one area, like your arms, without affecting any of your more, um, valued assets?

Sincerely,
Loves Her Assets


Dear Loves Her Assets,

Unfortunately for your friend you are right. You can’t lose weight hoping to lose in just one area of your body. In industry terms that’s called “spot reduction”. The way you lose weight usually depends on your body type. Pear shaped girls for instance lose from the top down. The first thing you’ll notice thinning out is her face, then her collar-bone, then her chest, waist, and then finally the hips and legs. But take a more ruler shaped girl and notice that she will lose weight pretty much evenly all the way from her head down. And that’s because of her body’s proportions. You can change the measurements of your body by losing or gaining weight, but you can’t change the overall shape of it. As I always say, “once a pear always a pear.” Actually, I don’t always say that, but it fits.

Your friend can work out and lose weight in hopes of toning her arms, but she can’t spot reduce in hopes of not losing her bust. Here’s my advice though, strength training and cardio are important whether you want to lose weight or not. If your friend is at a good weight now and begins working out, but doesn’t change her diet then most likely she’ll lose only about 3-5 pounds, but she will tone up. Now, I’m not guaranteeing that her bust size won’t change, but as long as she’s not going to any major extremes she shouldn’t see any drastic changes. If she keeps up with a 2-3 day per week weight routine and a 5 day per week 30 minute cardio routine she will start to see her arms take shape. Begin with light weights and high reps (about 12-20) for the first four weeks and then heavier weights and lower reps (8-10) for the next 4 weeks. Keep toggling back and forth between the two rep ranges to keep the body challenged.

I have to say one more thing before I go, otherwise I wouldn’t feel good about this answer. I have pretty strong opinions about bridal bootcamps, which is that I think they are CRAZY! I know they’re popular, but being engaged and planning a wedding is hard enough, so don’t make yourself even more stressed out by becoming obsessed with the way you look in your wedding dress. Your fiance’ wants to marry you just the way you are now and all your friends already know what you look like, so walking down the aisle looking like a skeleton in a dress is just pure insanity. Plus, you’ll end up gaining it all back and then some after your honeymoon. I know that your wedding day is something that you’ve imagined forever and you want it to be just perfect, and I promise that it will be whether you’re a size 0 or a size 14. It doesn’t matter! Really! And I know this, because I gained 15 pounds right before mine!

Congratulations!

Ask Dani – Did I Make The Right Choice?

Dear Dani,

I was in the cereal aisle of the supermarket the other night trying to decide between two cereals. One had 100 calories per serving, but no fiber, and the other had 140 calories with 5g of fiber. I ended up choosing the one with the fiber, figuring that the fiber makes it better, but now I’m not sure if I made the right choice. Can you help me out?

Thanks, Munching Michelle

Dear Munching Michelle,

You definitely made the right choice by going with the fiber filled cereal. Just because something is lower in calories doesn’t mean it’s a better choice, because they can be empty calories and your body doesn’t use them as efficiently as nutrient dense calories. Fiber creates more bulk in your food which will help you feel fuller longer and ultimately help you eat less, plus it’s great for your digestion and colon. But, just because something has fiber in it doesn’t mean that you can eat whatever you want. There are a lot of products on the market now that tout added fiber, but that doesn’t give you leeway to eat 5 fiber filled cookies. Plus, the added fiber that they put in yogurts or even cottage cheese isn’t necessarily the same kind of fiber that is naturally found in grains and produce (but, that’s a whole other conversation…). If you’re looking to lose weight you still need to take in fewer calories than you burn. So, you did a great job at choosing the fiber cereal, but always pay attention to the ingredients and serving sizes to make sure that you’re actually making the best choice. It sounds clich

Ask Dani – Diet Dilemma (South Beach Diet)

This is an old-time diet. They thought that would work too.

Dear Dani,

I’ve been thinking about doing the South Beach Diet, but I’m not sure. There’s so much information on diets and I don’t know how to figure out what would be the best one for me. What diet do you recommend and how would you choose which one to go on?

Thanks, Dieting Dilemma

Dear Dieting Dilemma,

Dieting is such a dirty word. When I think of a diet I think of agonizing weeks of being hungry and wishing I could eat everything else, but what I’m allowed to eat. I can’t stop thinking about food and my whole day revolves around thinking about what I’m going to eat at the next meal. Most of the time I’m also counting how many days until it’s over, which means that all the hard work I’ve done over the past few weeks will be completely undone by a mega binge on some Coldstone Creamery, as soon as I can get my hungry little paws on it. So, as you can see I don’t like diets. They are only short-term solutions to long-term issues. It’s like putting a band-aid over a gun shot wound.

What you need is to learn how to maintain healthy eating for a lifetime, which doesn’t include cutting out whole food groups or restricting your calories so much that you’re constantly hungry. You can’t keep up that kind of thing for long and it will only backfire and make your problem worse. All of that being said, I don’t condemn the South Beach Diet. I think that it does a good job at teaching you balance, but that’s only true if you really follow their guidelines and treat it as a learning process and not a quick fix. The fact that they focus on whole-grains and fiber is a good sign, because so many bad diets will cut carbs out completely or tell you to restrict way more than you need to. Normally I would say that the fact that they cut out fruit for the first 2 weeks is bad, but I can understand them doing it in order to regulate your blood sugar levels and to kind give you a reset button. My advice though is that if you want some fruit in those first 2 weeks then have the fruit. But, if you want to really maintain your weight loss you need to do some homework, which may include keeping a food diary to track your patterns, keeping a journal to track your emotions, relearning your hunger cues and patterns, and trying to get past emotional triggers. A good diet will never dip below 1200 calories per day and will have a balanced mix of all the major food groups. Every meal should consist of a carb and a protein (so that means grapefruit diets and cabbage soup diets are a major no-no), and will never cut out fats entirely (you actually need good fats in order to lose weight, as well as for healthy akin and hair). You should never feel deprived and the emphasis should be on teaching you how to make better food choices and portion control.

If you have any questions on some of the things I mentioned, such as relearning your hunger cues or getting past emotional triggers, please don’t hesitate to ask me for help!

**Have a question that needs answering? Send em in! Every Thursday I ll be answering a new question, and it might just be yours!

Ask Dani – 200 Calories or 240 Calories?

I couldn't resist this pop-tart kitty picture. Sorry.


Dear Dani,

My friend and I were arguing this week about what’s better for you to eat: A 200 calorie pop-tart for breakfast or a 240 calorie egg sandwich on whole-grain bread. I said that the sandwich was a better option, since the stuff inside it is better for you, but my friend swears by eating as little calories possible to lose weight, and therefore the pop-tart is a better option. Help me prove her wrong please!

Thanks, Fighting Friends

Dear Fighting Friends,

Sorry to say this, but your friend is wrong. Just because something has fewer calories doesn’t mean it’s better for you to eat and it doesn’t mean that it will help you lose weight. It is true that the formula for losing weight is calories in vs. calories out, but not all calories are the same. Pop-Tarts are loaded with sugar and refined flour, which means that when they enter your body they get absorbed way too quickly, and because of that you’re hungry (and most likely sluggish) an hour later. And that means you’re going to end up eating something and then not only take in your lower calorie pop-tart, but something else on top of that too. Had you just had the egg sandwich, which is full of whole-grains, fiber, and protein you would have been satisfied for at least 3 hours. Plus, because your body absorbs those kinds of calories a lot slower you would be using more of them for energy.
So, sorry friend, I don’t mean to be the bearer of bad news, but if you want to lose weight, make sure that your calories are coming from good sources, even if it means eating more of them.

Ask Dani – Hobbled in Hoboken

Dear Dani,

You have really nice toes, by the way :)

Last week I went running on a dirt path trail thinking it would be less impact on my joints. It was, but ironically enough I ended up tripping on the roots of a tree and got a minor fracture in my ankle. It doesn’t need to be in a cast, but it is in an ACE bandage, and I was told by my doctor to lay off of it for a little while. She said that cycling is ok, but nothing with any major impact. I’ve recently lost some weight and have been working hard at staying in shape, but now I’m worried that I’m going to lose my momentum, strength, and gain the weight back if I have to lay low for a while. Do you have an alternative workout that I can do while still allowing my ankle to heal?

Thanks, Hobbled in Hoboken

Dear Hobbled in Hoboken,

So sorry to hear about your ankle. Injuries are the worst to get after you’ve worked so hard to get where you are. But fear not, because an injury doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything, it just means that you have to change some things up a bit. You should actually look at it as a good thing, because it’s going to give you the chance to try something new out and shock your muscles in a different way.

I came up with a workout that will work your opposite leg, so that it doesn’t lose it’s strength while you’re recovering and I also added a bunch of upper body and core exercises. Simply click here and print out the workout. If you have any questions, just let me know! This is also a great workout for anyone else looking for something else to do. There are a lot of stability exercises to challenge and keep you motivated.

The last thing I want to tell you is to remember to RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Rest the leg as much as possible, ice it after you’ve used it to reduce swelling, compress it with a bandage (such as an ACE bandage), and elevate the leg above your heart when sitting. A few pillows under the leg should be just fine. Be religious about this treatment and it will be healed in no time. And whatever you do, avoid the temptation to rush back into working out – it will only delay recovery or make the injury even worse.

Feel better!

Ask Dani – A Reformed Gym Avoider

Dear Dani,

I recently signed up for a gym membership and as a welcome they offered me a free session with a personal trainer. I’ve worked with a personal trainer from a gym before and wasn’t all that thrilled with her. She basically made me go from exercise to exercise until I felt like my heart was going to pop out of my chest. I felt embarrassed and defeated by my lack of fitness, and was so sore for days after that I never went back. Seriously, I could barely walk down the flight of stairs to leave the gym afterwards, my legs were so wobbly. I desperately need to lose 40 pounds and I realize now that I can’t avoid the gym forever because of one crazy trainer, but I really don’t want a repeat of last time, so basically I’m looking for some pointers from you on what to ask the trainer and what to look out for to make sure that I’m getting what I need out of the session.

Thanks,
A Reformed Gym Avoider

Dear Reformed Gym Avoider

Good for you for not letting an embarrassing session get in the way of your weight loss. And even more good for you for not making excuses for not losing the weight. You should never let a bad experience define what you can and cannot do. Here is my list of 5 important things to look out for:

1. Is the trainer certified? This is the most important question that you should ask. Most people don’t know this, but after years of working in a gym I can tell you that many of the “trainers” there are not certified. There is a high turnover rate at gyms, so they do a lot of “panic hiring” in order to not be understaffed. They hire these people with the understanding that they will do the orientations and will get their certification within the first few months, but many times new members are learning from people who don’t know proper progression, technique, form, science, etc. This isn’t to say that just because someone has a certification that they’re qualified, but you can be sure that if the trainer you’re working with took the time and money to study that they aren’t just some kid who worked in GNC for a summer thinking that being a trainer will be an easy job. Some of the best certifications are ACSM, NASM, and ACE.

2. Does she do a complete health history? Before you even begin to work out with a trainer they should take you to a quiet place where you can discuss your health history. They should know if you have any injuries, pain, illnesses, history of heart disease with yourself or in your family, or are on any medication that may affect your workout. In certain circumstances you may need to get medical clearance, so a trainer that doesn’t go into detail on these things can really be jeopardizing your health. Even if you don’t need medical clearance the trainer might need to know if any modifications to the workout need to be made.

3. Does she discuss your goals with you? One of the most important things for success is to have clearly definable and realistic goals. Without them you’ll have no motivation and the road will seem endless. If your trainer doesn’t discuss this with you she either isn’t competent enough to know that this is important or she is just going to treat you like a cash cow and string you along. Also, if she doesn’t know what your goals are then there is no way that she could possibly design a proper workout for you. It’s really important for the trainer to know what drives and motivates you, otherwise how can she help you succeed?

4. Does she take a baseline measurement? There has to be some sort of baseline to work off of, so that you can tell if you’re making progress. I don’t believe in asking a client who is coming in for weight loss to get on the scale, because one, it’s embarrassing, and two, you’ve already told me you need to lose weight, am I really going to subject you to staring at that number? Likewise, I don’t believe in body fat testing either at this point. Again, we’ve established that you have more body fat than is healthy. There’s no need to put you through that. Once you get to a healthier weight then we can look at body fat and see if that needs to be tweaked. For now, I like to take other measurements, such as a Step Test to see what your fitness level is according to your heart rate. This way, you have something else aside from your weight to base your fitness on. Fitness isn’t only about being a size 6, it’s about how quickly your heart rate can recover from activity too. It’s a good thing to put the focus on something else other than the thing that you’re most obsessed about.

5. Is the workout understandable? Your first workout should never be filled with anything too complicated. A lot of trainers at gyms want to give you the workout of your lifetime, because they think that if you walk out of the gym feeling like Jell-O that you’ll buy more sessions. This is ridiculous and can really set you up for injury, or at the very least turn you off from working out all together, because you’ll think it’s too hard. Make sure that your trainer is giving you things that will build the foundation for the future. Anything at this point will seem new to you and perhaps awkward, but at this point make sure they are focusing on building core strength and stability. Ask the trainer about this if you want and make sure that she can give you a reason for every exercise that she’s giving you. The workout should be something that challenges you, but also something that you can do on your own. After your session a good trainer will ask you how you feel, if you have any questions, and will send you on your way with the workout that you just did.

These things are just the beginning. Obviously there are many more things to look out for, especially if you’re going to hire the trainer long-term, but now you’re prepared for your orientation session. If you feel like something is off, don’t feel bad about asking for another trainer. You have the right to ask for someone else if you feel like your needs are not being met. Make sure that you walk out of that session feeling energized, invigorated, and excited about your new routine.

Have a question that needs answering? Send ‘em in! Every Thursday I’ll be answering a new question, and it might just be yours!

Ask Dani – Nutrition Label Novice

Dear Dani,

I’ve recently started to eat healthier in hopes of losing weight. There are so many foods that say low-fat, high fiber, no sugar added, etc., and I’ve bought those foods in hopes that will help me take off a few pounds. I know that I should be reading the nutrition label too, but I’m just not sure that I understand it all that well. Can you give me a quick breakdown of what everything means, so that I can make better choices? What should I look out for?

Thanks, Nutrition Label Novice

Dear Nutrition Label Novice,

Congratulations on deciding to eat healthier! Navigating a nutrition label looks hard, but once you know the basics it’s actually pretty easy. Take a look at this nutrition label:

Click to enlarge - (SHAMELESS PLUG: If you want to learn more about all of this, including my tried and true tips and tricks to losing weight and keeping it off in a sane, non calorie counting, non measuring way then join my 12-week weight control phone group starting at the end of this month. All you need is a phone. You ll get to the heart of why you gained the weight in the first place and then take baby-steps to create new helpful and better behaviors. Mention this blog and save 10%! Get a friend to join and you save another 10%, and they save 10% too!)

Now let’s break it down:
Serving Size: This means that the label information is based on 2 tortillas. If you were to have 4 tortillas you would have to double all the information on the label. So, before you buy anything check the serving size to see if it is a reasonable amount. Sometimes you might see a small amount of calories, but if you look at the serving you will see that it might also be a small amount of food. Calories can add up fast when you’re doubling and tripling serving sizes, so watch out for this.

Servings Per Container: This lets you know that there are 6 servings in the entire container. Which means, if the serving size is 2 tortillas and there are 6 servings in the container, then 12 tortillas come in the package. Sometimes you need to know how many servings are in the container, because as I mentioned above you might not always eat just one serving. For example, if these tortillas were really small and wouldn’t be enough to fill you up, you might need to have more than just 2, which means that you would have to double the calories, fat, carbs, protein, etc. to calculate how much you’ve really had.

Calories: This is the mount of calories in a food. To lose weight you’re going to want to cut back on your calories a bit, but make sure to never dip below 1200 per day, otherwise your metabolism will slow down, because your body will go into starvation mode to conserve itself. What’s more important though is where those calories are coming from, so let’s go a bit deeper…

Calories From Fat: This is how many of the calories in a given serving come from fat. The bigger the difference between the number of calories and the number of calories from fat, the better the food choice.

Total Fat: This is the amount of fat grams in a serving. Make sure that you are getting enough good fats into your diet, but still being careful about how much of it you’re consuming. If you’re trying to lose weight then aim for 30-45g of fat per day in your diet.

Saturated Fat and Trans Fats: Limit saturated fat as much as possible. They are the key culprits of high cholesterol heart disease. Trans fats are what’s produced when food manufacturers add hydrogen to an unsaturated fat to turn into a solid saturated fat, in order to increase a food’s shelf life (think of the words “partially hydrogenated” that you’ve seen on some ingredient labels). They’re even worse, so keep those to 0.

Cholesterol: I think we’ve all heard that high cholesterol is bad for you, so keep these to under 300mg a day.

Sodium: AKA salt. If you have high blood pressure or a tendency for high blood pressure then you definitely want to limit this. So, keep it low – 2400-3000mg or less per day.

Carbs: Ready for this… Eat these often! (Oh, how Dr. Atkins would be rolling around in his grave now.) They are the most important nutrient for things like cognition and energy. Without them your body cannot produce energy for your brain or muscles to function properly and instead will go to sources such as protein (aka muscle) to get it, which means that you might lose weight, but you will lose muscle too, which doesn’t make for a very pretty sight. And the loss of muscle will slow down your metabolism to boot. So eat your potatoes, bread, and pasta, but just make sure that they are the right carbs. Look for complex carbs, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain and high fiber sources.

Fiber: This is important and will guide you in the right types of carbs to eat. There’s soluble fiber and insoluble fiber and both are good for you.

Protein: Most people get more protein than they need, thinking that low-carb, high protein is the way to go if you want to lose weight. That’s not the case though. To figure out how much protein you need per day multiply your weight by .4536 and then multiply that by .5. For example, a 135lb. woman’s calculation would look like this: 135 x .4536 x .5 = 30.61. This means that a 135lb. woman should be getting 31g (I’m rounding up 30.61) of protein per day. Choose lean meats, such as fish and poultry, or beans, cheese, and nuts.

Vitamins and Minerals: Your goal is to get 100% of each for the day. In order to do this, you’ll likely need to eat a variety of foods.

Daily Values: For fats, saturated fats, cholesterol, and sodium choose foods with a low daily value %. For carbs, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, your goal is to get 100% of the daily value. Be aware that daily values are based on a person who needs 2,000 calories per day, so if you’re a woman and trying to lose weight, the food label won’t accurately predict how much of each nutrient you need.

So, there you have it, a food label deciphered. It’s good that you’re trying to be more mindful, because you mentioned before that you’re eating lots of low-fat, no sugar added, high fiber food (“diet” food). Just because it says “low-fat” on it doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily the best choice for you. You have to take into account where all the calories are coming from and what the serving size is. It’s great that a Snackwells cookie may only have 75 calories in it, but are you really going to stop at just one? Most of the time these snacks have so much filler and added sugars, that you’re not really doing yourself a service by eating them. So be mindful of the nutrition label and where the calories are coming from so that you can make the best possible decision. Good luck!

Ask Dani – Surviving Vacation

Ahhhhhhhh, vacation.

Dear Dani,

I’m going away for July 4th weekend and am worried about how I’m going to eat healthy and stay active while I’m away. I’m not sure what’s around me, so I’m worried that I’m going to slip up and eat whatever’s around. And the people who I’m going with aren’t too conscious of their weight like I am. I don’t want to be too crazy about it, but I also don’t want to lose control and throw away all my hard work. Do you have any suggestions?

Thanks, Tempted Traveler

Dear Tempted Traveler,

Going on vacation is so exciting, but it can also be stressful when you’re worried about your eating. The first thing I’m going to tell you is not to stress out about it too much. It’s just a weekend, so nothing that you do can be too damaging. This doesn’t mean that you should completely let go of everything, but allow yourself to indulge and enjoy yourself a little bit. This isn’t a time to lose weight, rather focus on just maintaining.

Here are my 5 tips that you can take with you:

1. Make A List – Before I go on a vacation or sit down to a huge meal with family and friends I like to put together a little “Survival Cheat Sheet”. I simply write down a list of things that will help me make the right choices, such as reminding myself to ask for help from someone supportive if I need it, and walking away from the table when I’m done eating, so that I don’t overeat. I also jot a few things down that remind me why I want to stay on track. For instance, I need to remind myself that I feel so much better when I don’t overindulge and that if I do it’s only going to make me feel bad.
Make sure to put this on your list: Ask yourself “what purpose is this serving me?”. Before you give into something tempting or feel lazy and don’t want to work out ask yourself this one question. If your answer is legitimately that you want to indulge this one time and that you won’t be mad at yourself later then go for it this once. But, if your answer is that it serves no purpose other than to have some immediate gratification and then be upset later, then you know that you don’t really want to give in.
Take this list with you and look to it when you need some extra support.

2. Have A Battle Plan – Before you leave for your vacation do an internet search of markets and restaurants near where you’re staying. That way when you get to your destination you won’t feel tempted to eat the first thing that you see. You can stock up on good foods at the market and know where to go for a nice night out. Most restaurants have full menus online, so you can choose the place that has the best options for you.

3. Be “That Customer” – When eating out don’t be shy about asking the waiter for some healthier. Don’t worry about being annoying. If you’re nice about it they won’t mind too much. I always start by making a joke about how “I’m sorry, but I’m going to be “that customer” tonight”. It usually lightens things up and then I can ask for what I want, such as dressing on the side, an egg white omelette made “dry” instead of with a ton of oil or butter, or even to have my salmon baked instead of fried. Be sure to leave a nice tip too.

4. Pack Your Bags – Of course you’re going to pack your bags, but what I mean is to make sure you’re well equipped for your getaway. Just in case you don’t have time to buy food or you need something in a pinch pack some things to take with you. Some things that pack nicely are Kashi Crunchy bars and instant oatmeal. Even some part-skim cheese sticks and yogurts (secured safely in a Ziploc bag) will hold well in cargo (it’s freezing down there!).
And don’t forget workout clothes, so that you set the tone for your trip. Packing your Lulu Lemons and sneakers will remind you to make time for your workouts while you’re away. Resistance bands and a jump rope are super light, take up next to no room, and are like a full gym in a bag.

5. Be Kind To Yourself – Vacation is a time to let go a bit and not be so hard on yourself. Do your best to stay on track, but also cut yourself some slack. If you slip up, don’t worry about it, you’ll get back up. Allow yourself to enjoy the moment, because you don’t always get a break. Sometimes allowing yourself some time to go a bit easier on yourself renews your vigor for later. You can’t always be perfect, so take some time to enjoy yourself.

Bon Voyage!

Have a question that needs answering? Send ‘em in! Every Thursday I’ll be answering a new question, and it might just be yours!

Heart Shape

Dear Dani,

I’m a 36-year-old guy and have recently taken up running. I’ve always been active and in shape, but this is something new for me. I’ve heard a lot about resting heart rate, but am unsure what it is, why it’s important, or even what mine should be. Can you help me out?

Thanks, New Runner

Dear New Runner,

It’s awesome that you’ve started running. It’s always good to change up your routine to avoid plateaus and boredom, and running is the perfect way to strengthen your heart (and tone, tighten, and strengthen your legs and core). Your heart is the most important muscle in your body and it needs to be worked out just like your chest and arms do. Not to mention your lungs as well. The stronger your lungs the more oxygen you can take in and the stronger your heart the more oxygen rich blood is pumped through your body, resulting in more efficient workouts. So, that’s where your resting heart rate comes in…

Your resting heart rate (RHR) is the number of times your heart beats per minute while at complete rest. It is an important indicator of health and fitness. The lower the number the more fit you are (unless you are suffering from an illness, which sometimes can cause your heart rate to dip). What that indicates is that your body can preserve itself, but still maintain proper function while using the least amount of energy. In other words, the lower the number, the more efficient your body is. For instance, Lance Armstrong has a RHR of 32-34 beats per minute (bpm), which is insanely low! He can cycle up what would be a pretty tough hill for us and not really be affected all that much, because his heart can pump oxygen rich blood through his body with the least amount of effort. Rates vary from person to person and are different between men and women.

How To Measure Your RHR:
- Measurements should be taken first thing in the morning before you get out of bed. Do not take it right after waking up though. Wait about 10-15 minutes and then start your measurement, so that you’re calm and relaxed.
- You can measure from your Radial pulse (by placing your index and middle fingertips on the thumb side of your wrist) or your Carotid pulse (by placing your index and middle fingertips along the windpipe of your throat).
- Make sure to hold gently, because pressing on the pulse can affect the rate.
- Count the beats for 10 seconds and then multiply by 6. That is your RHR.
- Make sure to take an average of your RHR by measuring for 3 days, because various things can affect the rate, such as stress, lack of sleep, overtraining, illness, alcohol, etc.

Like I said, RHR can vary from person to person based on sex, age, fitness, etc. With that being said here’s a simplified look at what your RHR should be for your age group:
Men ages 36-45 = Excellent: 57-62; Good: 63-66; Above Average: 67-70; Average: 71-75; Below Average: 76-82; Poor: 83+ (**Athletes: 50-56**)
Women ages 36-45 = Excellent: 60-64; Good: 65-69; Above Average: 70-73; Average: 74-78; Below Average: 79-84; Poor: 85+ (**Athletes: 54-59**)

Exercising will help improve your resting heart rate, so keep on running. Just make sure not to overtrain as that will actually increase your RHR.

If you need any running tips let me know!

** Have a question that needs answering? Send ‘em in! Every Thursday I’ll be answering a new question, and it might just be yours!