Getting out of a rut

At least they are gluten free

I am constantly helping people get back on track, so, what happens when I hit a low point? I embrace my low points because I realize it is the only way to get back up.  

Last Thursday was particularly challenging. I let my family know it was a low point before I changed into my running clothes and strapped on my running sneakers. I tried to go for a run but instead I drove to Trader Joe’s(just walking distance from my house), bought my favorite chocolates, and cuddled in bed with Netflix. I had to text my husband because I couldn’t find the remote control. The good news is that there is an app I could download to watch Frankie and Grace in bed with my dream chocolates. I watched way too many episodes in my chocolate covered sheets. 

When my family learned about my tough day they all bought me the same chocolates from Trader Joe’s. When I finally got out of bed for dinner I realized my husband bought me my favorite ice-cream with hot fudge and caramel. So, instead of dinner I ate ice cream and tried to sleep, but the sugar kept me up until 2 am.  

Surprisingly, eating a lot of sugar did not provide a solution to my stressful day. I embraced my low point and at 2 am wrote down a meal plan and workout schedule for the following three days. 

My plan had one big obstacle…my work week was crazy. I might not have time to even get my first workout in, but I set my alarm for 4 am, and worked out at 5 am. I jumped over that first hurdle and I was back on a normal schedule.  

We are allowed to struggle and not feel good. We are allowed to choose a day and time to start to feel better. If we truly love ourselves then we shouldn’t punish ourselves for not being perfect. If we really care about our family then we should always choose a healthier lifestyle as soon as possible with no judgement for past bad choices. 

Please let our team hold your hand jump over those first hurdles. You are not alone in struggling.

Yours in health,

Nicole

No Treadmill for My Gym

On January 15th, we will unveil our new equipment. We are working towards creating our dream studio, slowly with input from our community. On January 1st, we were on the fence about a piece of equipment, and headed to a local gym to try out the fancy treadmill. We walked three floors of shiny equipment and were in awe. The facility was gorgeous! We saw cardio equipment lined up in front of the window facing a beautiful warm winter day.  I get it. If you sign up for the gym because of the amazing facility you are obligated to get your money’s worth. Even worse, if you sign your family up for a membership, everyone has to use the gym. You start making decisions like going to the gym to walk on a treadmill on a beautiful day. The fitness industry encourages people to drive around a parking lot to find the closest parking space, and limit more outdoor time so they can walk on a treadmill inside, or even worse go on an elliptical and watch Law and Order. 

While in Paris, I couldn’t help but research the fitness industry. Everyone was smoking and drinking as they walked past small fitness studios with very few people inside.I could barely walk or run the streets of Paris because they were so packed with pedestrians and bikes. I never saw a three story building filled with gym equipment. So why do I think people in France live longer? Well, I am not a scientist and have not done any real analysis but I do think the fitness industry in the U.S is not helping with our stress or helping us get healthier. There is no shortage of research on the French culture and their longevity.  “The French Paradox” was coined to describe this cream sauce eating, heavy smoking culture. Well, why I wouldn’t advise taking up smoking, I would like to point out my observations while in Paris. Parisians sit and eat and respect their meal (and themselves). There is no take meal in the car on the way somewhere. Parisians walk to markets and enjoy feeling healthy. There is evident pride in one’s health directly related to their meals and movement. I learned so much by being immersed in this culture. In fact, my first piece of advice for many new members at embody has always been to cancel all gym membership and stop working out so much. The advice works. Our members lose weight and feel better.

When we drove home from the exquisite fitness facility, we passed fewer people walking on the bike path on a perfect day than we saw in that facility. A lot of people set goals in January.  Exercise is a wonderful gift to give yourself, but don’t feel like it has to happen with fancy equipment under artificial lighting. If you hire a trainer remind them you are training to live an active lifestyle. Although the facility we toured was beautiful,  the bike path on a sunny day is far superior. The high end facility is not as healthy as walking to Trader Joe’s and preparing a meal with real food in your kitchen. We are more committed than ever to providing our members with a program that focuses on stress management and great doctors appointments.  We want to aggressively get the message out there.  

The fitness industry is frustrating but the only thing I am more frustrated with is social media rants with no real solutions. Here is definitely my rant, but also a solution. Here are some of my favorite outdoor activities in the area.  https://www.paddleboston.com/skitrack/skitrack.php  http://www.greatbrookski.com/  http://minutemanbikeway.org/ https://bostonfrogpond.com/

In addition, embody wants to help.  We have created a running group for our members that continues year round!   Also, if your friend joins embody during the month of January, you get a free gift from us. You get our favorite embody sweatshirt to wear on the couch after doing something fun outside. Also, we will support that outdoor activity goal.  Here are some ideas; 5k, cross country skiing day pass, outdoor skating, or downhill skiing, dog walking, walking to any walkable errand. Let’s celebrate your commitment to embody by using that body to be active. The only rule is that it has to be outside!  A gym needs to be place to train for your life and not a place to spend your life.

BTW Are we buying that treadmill? No, we decided that a running group would be a better investment in our members.  

My Road to 50 Miles

I have lived with lupus most of my life, and on the 8th Anniversary of my MS diagnosis, I ran the JFK 50 miler. I wouldn’t have considered running if my coach, business partner, and friend had not tricked me into training. I would not have survived the run without her.

The training was brutal! I had to train my body to do things that weren’t natural for me. Eating sugar again and eating sugar while running was a shock to my system. It was challenging but thanks to great public bathrooms, I survived. Running multiple times in a day and giving up on having good hair was tough, but in the end my legs could run two marathons in 48 hours without any side effects(except bad hair). My training plan was so good that I was over confident at the start line. It only took 6 hours of running the JFK 50 miler for me to begin to question my ability complete 50 miles in one day.

It was a difficult course that brought me through the Appalachian Trail for miles with blood soaked stones and runners with broken bones. Falling was common and a just a little scary for someone with MS. I felt like I should where a t-shirt that said, “You have no idea.” I kept thinking that it was irresponsible for someone with a balance issue to navigate this trail but I survived. I remember another runner saying, “You won’t win the race here but you could lose it.” Her words were in my head for miles and I made up the time on the flats.

The entire run was filled with pain, joy, and lessons.

The course is known for its support and I was not disappointed. Food, gatorade, water, Christmas cookies and even Santa was available. The volunteers and runners were the best part! The veteran runners loved offering advice and when you have endless miles to run any guidance is welcomed. People only wanted to finish and no one seemed to care about their time. I discovered that runners considered their past attempts as opportunities to learn and never failures. These veterans had great advice about slowing down and enjoying the experience and views.

And, then there were times that I was alone for a long periods and lived off the messages and supportive words I received before the run. I had a hard time falling asleep the night before because my phone kept alerting me to the flood of support.

Every once in awhile a medic on bike would ride past me with more words of encouragement like, “You are looking better than most of the people.” I started to get concerned for most of the people and questioned the logic of running this type of race. But, I also wondered how they knew just what to say to keep me going. Being reminded that I wasn’t alone in my pain and suffering gave me some weird type of solace. When things got really bad I thought of my daughter who reminded me to stop if my health was in jeopardy and weighed that against my desire to finish. I kept checking my body for any noticeable signs but felt strong.

Just like life you can prepare as much as you want but in reality it is in the moment that we learn how to run the race. The last 30 miles were tough and most runners would run/walk which lead to this amazing game of leapfrog. You would pass a struggling walker who would pass you in just a few feet. I would spend hours with the same people getting to know them at their most vulnerable moments which lead to a contest of supportive of words. “You are doing awesome.” “You are crushing it.” “Where are you from?” “You are probably a very fast marathon runner.” “Those are really short shorts, you must be freezing, but I am impressed.” “Please go ahead of me and run like the gazelle you are.” For a compliment hoar like me it was truly heavenly. I love giving as much as receiving when it comes to encouragement and this was a love fest for my type of people. Apparently, people who lacked the common sense to not sign up for a 50 miler were my people. I desperately wanted these strangers to cross the finish line.

In the end I finished in a respectable time. I received a medal that will be one of my proudest medals. I called my husband immediately to thank him for the years of support and quickly went to the medical tent. As soon as I listed my medical history I had every medical professional in the facility hovering around my cot. I always have to manage my chronic diseases but Dr. Google didn’t have any research articles of what to expect after running 50 miles with lupus and MS. I agreed to an ambulance ride because my daughters words were in my head.

The paramedics and intake nurse were fascinated with my disease management and had a lot of questions. I was reminded of the magnitude of the feat. A 46 year old women living with lupus and MS finished a 50 mile ultra marathon. I was discharged early because rest was more important than being observed at the hospital.,

The run was a great reminder of how I am surviving two chronic disease. I learned so much from training and running the race that will keep me moving forward as I face new roadblocks….and I will face new ones. Here are the top 10 things I learned:

1. Coffee shops have the best bathrooms.

2. I am only as good as my coach and my ability to listen to her.

3. I will always chose the path with no regrets.

4. Past attempts are not failures if you keep learning from them.

5. I feed off my community and their words.

6. Other peoples success fuels me.

7. I am not cured of chronic disease but I will have some great days.

8. Accepting the limits of diagnosis is challenging but necessary, especially for the people I love.

9. Grilled cheese at mile 32 is not appealing.

10. Check the weather before I pack shorts.

Bye-Bye Back Boobs

“Mom, you lost your back boobs.” I can still remember hugging the hubby in a tank top when my girls made the announcement at dinner. My back wavered between a B and C-cup for nearly 3 decades of my life. So, how did I get rid of my back fat in my 40’s? I did a million toning classes…just kidding. Did I get cool-sculpting at a Medispa? Nope. Actually, I lost my back fat when I quit the the gym and stopped dieting. That’s right, I lost my back fat by cutting down my fitness classes and eating more food!

Let’s focus on the myths associated with getting rid of body-fat.

Getting toned is a made up phrase. There is no class that will tone your muscles. Burning fat and increasing muscle requires a holistic approach to fitness.

Spot training doesn’t work. One million lat pull downs will not get rid of your C-cup back boobs. 1200 tricep extensions will not get rid of batwing arms. Six millions sit-ups will not get you a 6 pack…but it could get you a trip to the hospital with a possible muscle strain.

You can not burn the fat off your body by cutting calories and adding more cardio. I am convinced that formula was the reason why I gained 40 pounds in my 20’s and basically hovered around that weight until I hit my 40’s and I lost 40 pounds. Overrestricting the amount of calories the body gets and increasing the amount of energy production usually sends the body into survival conservation mode, aka: not burning calories.

Hormonal shifts related to our age are not the reason we put on fat. This can signal our bodies WHERE to put the fat, but we are in control of the calorie surplus. However, years of engrained beliefs, dieting and poor habits can wreak havoc on your hormones and metabolic rate. The fountain of youth is real and comes from a healthy lifestyle.

THree best ways to get rid of back fat

Posture

Grab a bag of sugar (I know it will be hard to find in your kitchen) and sit it on the counter. Now, gently pull up on that bag of sugar and notice the difference. Does that bag look thinner? Bad posture can add the appearance of 15 pounds of fat in a second. Focus on improving core muscles and fix the posture muscles that are going slack with too much computer and phone time. Functional training, yoga and pilates are the best ways to support good posture. This is one of the fastest ways to see immediate results while having the additional benefit of helping with injury prevention.

HIIT Workouts

Tons of cardio will only add stress to your already stressful life. I was teaching a spin class, going for run, and teaching another spin class when my 39 year old photo was taken. I would keep my calories close to 1200 just to be in a calories deficit. I was always taught a 500 calorie deficit meant one pound a week of weight loss. Too many workouts without proper nutrition actually causes weight gain. Use targeted HIIT workouts (25 minute high intensity interval training) to challenge your body and maximize your time and effort.

Eliminate sugar

Don’t track another calorie if you want to lose fat! Our bodies need calories for energy. Limiting those calories can be dangerous to our metabolism. And sure, not all calories are created equal. Our body does not need the amount of sugar that is in average meal or drink. For example, a Chai Latte at Starbucks has 56 grams of sugar. This is too much sugar for anyone in a single day. It’s even scarier that many of us consider that Chai Latte a healthy cup of tea. Tracking and eliminating sugars is only a piece of the puzzle. Be careful when it comes to following grams of sugar on a meal-tracking app. Artificial sweeteners don’t show up on those apps which can be deceiving. Artificial sweeteners need to be managed for many reasons. I lost 5 pounds in one week when I gave up all artificial sweeteners.

Research shows that consuming artificial sweeteners leads to over-consuming calories from other sources. Leading the brain to think it is getting sugar, and then not handing it over creates a sugar seeking brain and an unsatisfied appetite. Adapting your tastebuds to less sweet flavors doesn’t truly take that long, and is healthier in the long run over artificial sweeteners – all artificial sweeteners. Even the ones from plants. Years ago, I would say that artificial sweeteners should only be used in the event someone could not manage blood sugars, in the case of diabetes (which is why these sugars evolved) but research, science and the nutrition environment has changed dramatically over the last 15 years, and I say without hesitation, that no one needs to be consuming an artificial sweetener. Work to get sugar out of your routine, and then once in awhile is fine. Some folks do not manage that reintroduction well and may need years of sugar free life before reintroducing it to be successful, but it is possible.

Anne Rollins MS CSSD RD LDN

Final thoughts

There is no quick fix when it comes to fat loss. Successful long term fat loss requires changing habits. The hardest part of changing habits is getting into the rhythm of success. Find a plan that works and stay accountable.

embody The Lifestyle.

Staying injury free after forty

“My back hurts. I need to take time off from the program.”

“I can’t run because of I have degenerative disc disease.”

“I have to put my membership on hold because I need to get an MRI.”

We built embody for these exact reasons, to help heal, and yet people want to put their membership on hold when they have pain. Should an injury create opportunity to revert to unhealthy habits. If your pain improves with wine and cheese while you watch Netflix, please let us know because we want to meet your doctor. We all want the same prescription.

As active fitness professionals finishing up our forty’s we have a unique perspective on living in pain. Personally we are never injury-free. A trip over an aggressive pine cone can lead to a knee injury which would derail most runners. A muscular imbalance that causes debilitating back pain might send most people to an MRI . How do we continue to train for our first 50 miler? We have the secret to feeling great in your forties and beyond.

You will get hurt.

The first moments, hours and days after an injury are important and what you do in that time can seriously impact the outcome. Keeping a sprained ankle totally immobile will absolutely prevent the sprain from getting worse. However, this will also likely lengthen the recovery period significantly. Ibuprofen, while decreasing the pain, will not allow you to know what a safe range of motion is for your injury.  If you can tolerate the pain, avoid the ibuprofen.   We are not fans of liberal pharmaceutical use, but take meds when it’s necessary.  But before we drive to a pharmacy we usually make an acupressure appointment for some much needed body work .

Pain is part of life.

Knowing the early warning signs of a strained muscle can be the difference between no injury and a MCL tear that sidelines you for weeks, months, or a lifetime. That little twinge when you go downstairs is something. Listen to your body. While the twinge is not likely serious, it is your advance warning signal that something is out of balance.

Understand the diagnosis.

A diagnosis is not a reason to get unhealthy. Most people over 40 have degenerative disc disease. If you start poking around with imaging you will find something. Understanding the source of pain is a reason to design a healing plan. Anything involving the spine is scary, and a disc disease sounds horrifying, but not moving will decondition your muscles, decrease your balance and increase the likelihood of a fall.

Nutrition

What you put into your body can greatly impact your outcome, as well. We have had, and seen many people with, significant injuries and one of the most important points to stress is nutrition. Eliminate inflammatory, increase anti-inflammatory foods. If you think that there is not connection, simply ask anyone who has followed an anti-inflammatory diet when injured. We are not sure why people think they can put a medicine into their bodies to be digested, metabolized and be delivered to an injury site in their bodies, but that foods would be handled differently.

Of course there will be an injury that requires rest, but pain or injuring yourself is not a reason to not get healthy. We have a unique perspective as wellness coaches completing our forties. Be an active participant in your recovery, and we guarantee the recovery goes faster. We are not special because we stayed fit in our forties.

“I hurt my knee. My physical therapist told me take time off from the program.” Statements like this are commonplace, and unfortunately, understandable. No one wants to be responsible for someone making an injury worse which could happen if you overexert an injury, even stretching it too far. So while, stretching and mild movement is great for an injury, there is too much room for misunderstanding and misinterpretation for a medical professional to give that advice. The safe answer is to rest and take ibuprofen. While this answer isn’t wrong, it’s not right.

Check in for guidance with a licensed professional and see if someone can explain what might be some safe movements for you to do instead of keeping the area immobile and stiff. Don’t limit your focus to just the injury because spot healing(intense focusing on managing the pain without focusing on the entire body) will just lead to more injuries. Heal the entire body with fitness, nutrition and restoration.

Sure there are some injuries, that usually involve broken bones, that require stability, but most muscles, ligaments or tendons would appreciate some TLC.

embody includes an intense restorative program for a reason. Take advantage of the embody 30 minute Stretch and Core Class. Enjoy a special Spa Yoga Class. Commit to balance with Tai Chi in the fall. Don’t miss a functional training session. Finally, food is medicine! Nothing heals like a healthy lifestyle.

Yours in health,

Anne and Nicole