COVID-19 update: We have moved into a 100% online studio operation...
Body Essentials Personal Training & Wellness

For many people, physical activity isn’t something that comes as a part of a normal daily routine. Especially if you work a job that requires sitting at a desk for significant portions of the day, you may have trouble getting the exercise that you need to stay healthy. Therefore, you might consider adding a daily workout to your routine. Doing so can have numerous perks for your health. Continue reading for a look at the benefits of daily exercise and some tips for designing a routine that you can stick to. 

Immediate Benefits of Daily Exercise

You’ve probably heard of a runner’s high before—maybe this is even a sensation you’ve experienced. But feeling good because of exercise isn’t exclusive to runners. Your body needs to move to stay healthy, so it rewards physical activity with the release of brain chemicals that improve your mood, help you sleep, and help your mind feel sharper. In addition to feeling good right after you work out, you’ll notice an immediate effect of reduced blood pressure. Over time, daily exercise will have even more benefits. 

Long-Term Benefits of Regular Exercise

Longer-term benefits of exercise can be achieved without working out every single day. If you get moving on most days, you’ll notice far reaching positive effects on your health. Perhaps the most important benefit is for your heart—regular exercise strengthens your heart and reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease. It also lowers the risk of at least 13 different types of cancer.  

Thanks to benefits like improved coordination, stronger bones, easier weight maintenance, and better balance, daily physical activity also helps reduce your risk of fall-related injuries as an older adult. Furthermore, studies have linked daily exercise with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s, depression, and other conditions that can impact your brain health. In addition, there’s a growing body of research that suggests a link between exercise and improved immune function. Given this data, it’s safe to assume that your fitness routine may pay off in ways you don’t yet even realize. 

What are the best exercises to do every day?

Because muscles need time to rest and repair after a hard workout, you might wonder if it’s okay to work out every day. In most cases, it’s safe and deeply beneficial to exercise every day or on most days of the week. The best way to work out daily is by varying your routine to give different muscle groups a break and prevent yourself from getting bored. Utilizing group fitness classes or on-demand training is a great way to keep your work out varied and dynamic. You can also select classes based on your target muscle group. 

Ideally, you’ll include endurance exercises, such as moderate to intense cardiovascular workouts, as well as strength and flexibility exercises like weightlifting or yoga. 

How long should your daily workout be?

The CDC recommends getting about 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily (moderate meaning that you’re having to put in a strong effort, but you’re not giving 100% throughout your workout). Even better, you can shoot for about half of that time to be comprised of intense physical activity. You can, of course, work out for longer sessions each day, but simply increasing the intensity of your workout may have better results. It’s better for your fitness to do a short workout each day than a long workout occasionally. So, even if you can only put in 5-10 minutes, it’ll be much better than no workout at all. 

What are some stretching exercises to do every day?  

If you’re feeling tired or sore, incorporating stretching into your exercise routine can help. Even in the absence of soreness, dynamic stretching before a workout and as part of your cooldown helps reduce your risk of orthopedic injuries and improves circulation. Taking a Mind-Body group fitness class can introduce you to some gentle stretches to move your body, relax the muscles, and connect your movement to your breath. 

How can you improve your motivation to work out daily?

Despite the numerous benefits of daily exercise, it may still be challenging to take that first step and start a new fitness routine. Alternatively, maybe you find yourself regularly starting up and burning out with the same set of exercises. Working with a personal trainer can help you overcome these hurdles. A trainer can offer accountability to help you stick with your workout in addition to offering new and exciting ways to get moving. Even more importantly, a personal trainer can ensure that you’re going at the right pace for your current fitness level and utilizing the right form in your workouts. This means that you’re less likely to get sidelined by an injury that prevents you from reaching your goals. 
Find fun and welcoming fitness classes along with online personal training at Body Essentials. We offer a variety of virtual programming to help you get fit and stay fit on any schedule. In addition to great workouts, we offer ongoing support and motivation to keep you focused on your self-improvement goals.

This week last year at Body Essentials (BE), we wondered what would become of working out in person! We spaced people out on bikes in Spinning class, altered our training sessions and other classes for more space and less equipment and fully disinfected each piece of equipment before putting away after every single workout each day. We even prepared for possible zoom or face-time workouts. Who knew we would be HERE now 1 year later!

The studio was ordered to close down on Saturday March 20, 2020 within an hour of having closed for the weekend after the morning classes! I was on my way to the studio to workout and clean when I heard the news from Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, while listening to public radio I quickly alerted all of our members and invited them to come and borrow equipment so we could workout together online while we waited out the pandemic. Little did any of us know at that time, we would never move that equipment back in because the pandemic kept dragging on but also because we enjoyed the convenience and ease of working out online! Less than 24 hours after closing our doors we all gathered for our first online workout, Mindful Movement. We needed that  quiet stretch that day and to figure out the Zoom setup. NONE OF US knew what we were doing, we just gave it our best shot and have never looked back.

On Business.......

Over the last year we have mirrored what we did in person online thru zoom, maintaining the same group fitness schedule and training schedule, we simply increased the size of our semi-private groups from 2-3 to now 4-5. Jumping so quickly into Zoom was not only a matter of survival but a means of community and service and connection during a period of time that was 100% uncharted territory for all of us. It would have been easy to be all doom and gloom about how bad virtual training was and that is what the outcome would have been but my mindset is that anything is possible and awesome if you engineer it that way and that was what we did. 5:30am online workouts all of sudden offered us more sleep because we did not have to commute. All that equipment we bought in years past, thinking we could workout at home on our own, all of a sudden came in handy and driving to the gym after work and not getting home until 7pm to still have to make dinner no longer happened. We engineered a schedule and system that increased the wellbeing for all of our clients.

By June when there was still a lot of unknown about COVID, but the slow down of life felt good as a human being I took another leap of faith and decided our studio would go permanently online maintaining our zoom virtual space indefinitely. Turns out it has been a great decision. Although I was still paying expenses on a physical location and then started remodeling an in home studio, I was by no means saving money but was very fortunate for the space at home to create a professional appearance. Our members did the same thing, leaning in to creating a permanent studio space or nook in their home and it has been so much fun to see how at home workout spaces have evolved!

There are so many highlights of creating a virtual studio from a business owner perspective. Being my own landlord is probably my favorite. It has allowed less headaches and 110% more creativity in programming and enhancing our mission beyond simply fitness. This time has allowed for reaching our greatest potential in nutrition and lifestyle programming especially as we have started 2021!

On Life.........

As March of 2020 turned to April and it became clear I needed to get comfortable at home finding a balance of running a business in the space that was also my place of respite. What I knew for sure and said out loud to my beloved husband, Tom was that this pandemic was (thankfully and optimistically) going to be a once in a lifetime OPPORTUNITY to shed what was not working in any aspect of life and make time for the things that I was seeking in all aspects of life. For me this meant slowing the hell down and figuring out how to create a healthier flow to work and life including getting more sleep, adding in more leisure time activities, working less on the weekends to just scratch the surface. Whether it is noticeable to any one else I have been able to accomplish more than I thought possible. I will not bore you with the details. What I know for sure is that we become conditioned to working far too much, sleeping far too little and letting trivial details clutter our head space when in reality and when willing we can cut all of it back to a healthier (literally healthier, like prevent risk factors for disease level) levels and accomplish more, doing less. Life is short, we must play hard and not wait until retirement to do all the things "we don't have time for" while we are working professionals.

On Fitness & WellBeing......

I consider myself a warrior of health because I wholeheartedly believe that only I am in responsible for my level of fitness and wellbeing, physically and mentally. In 2019 I made the switch to a Naturopathic Dr as opposed to a general physician. What a difference a Dr makes, focusing on health and not working from a place of illness. It even inspires me to want to do better. As such, this year I have increased my meditation time to 30 minutes per day because it truly helps me slow down my pace physically and mentally and be more fully present in everything I do in a given day. I have also spent the first part of the year cleaning up my nutrition which I can guarantee was not that "filthy" to begin with but was not as great in 2020. So that means now I practice 95% of my weekly nutrition being gluten, dairy, alcohol and added sugar free. The 5% means that I may have a beer per week or a toasted english muffin, or something else that would seem healthy to the average person.

Nutrition & exercise will always be the greatest form of medicine to me. I have never had so much clarity and energy and so little inflammation in my body as I have in the last month especially since upping my nutrition game and walking away from work when feeling frenetic, getting out in nature when feeling suffocated by working and living under one roof, and getting 8+ hours of sound sleep. There is no prescription medication that can make you feel as good as getting your lifestyle in order.

Perhaps some of this sounds preachy but I take the work that we do at BE very seriously and practice what I preach 100% but am on the journey just as much as our members are. Doom and gloom gets me no where and it is astounding to me that it took a global pandemic to create enough space to fully embrace the business and life of my dreams.

If you are skeptical about virtual fitness, I invite you to schedule a time to meet with me to find out how we are breaking all the rules about what it means to workout virtually. I say with confidence that we provide more extensive support, accountability, structure, programming and inspiration virtually than any in person gym in our local area does and beyond our local area. This post only scratches the story of the progress we as a collective community have made! Schedule a consultation on our website at https://bodyessentialspt.com/

Cheers to a brilliant 2021 & surviving OR thriving thru a global pandemic!

xoxo

Christie

Starting Monday March 8th, we will be launching our newest live online group training option, Adult Fitness Training. This program is perfect for adults who have not recently or ever engaged in a structured exercise program led by a certified fitness and health coach. Sessions will occur on a rolling basis on Monday & Thursday from 1:15pm-2:15pm and include all of the following:

As a result all participants will experience improvements in:

-increased strength

-decreased pain

-increased confidence

-increased endurance

-increased energy

...to name just a few

The cost is $97 per month.

To register, learn more or set up a consultation, contact Christie @ [email protected] / 802-345-9644.

Enrollment is ongoing and a waiting list will be utilized as needed.

Walking and running are popular exercises for good reasons. They don’t require any equipment beyond a pair of shoes and your feet. You can do both activities virtually anywhere, and they both have long track records of success when it comes to fitness. A persistent question about these exercises remains: Is it better to walk or run? When it comes to walking vs. running, you’ll need to consider a few factors. Here is what you need to know. 

Injury Risk
It is a well-documented fact that runners are prone to injuries. This is because running causes your legs and feet to absorb the pressure of about two-and-a-half times your body weight with each step. Runners often experience plantar fasciitis, hairline fractures, and knee injuries. However, many of these injuries are avoidable with a more gradual introduction to running. You’ll also want to maintain cross training routine—it’s a common misconception that running builds strength in the legs. In fact you need to focus specifically on strength training to gain muscle in the lower body. 

Walking, on the other hand, rarely leads to injuries. Walking is easy on the joints, and even at long distances does not pose the same orthopedic risks as running. However, you can ease from walking into a running routine with the following 3 tips to ensure your safety. 

  1. Start slowly by integrating short spurts of running into your walks. 
  2. Do not run every day. Give yourself time to rest and use non-running days building strength with weight training and other muscle toning exercises. 
  3. Avoid overexertion by checking your intensity level. If you cannot talk conversationally while running, you should slow down or switch to walking at a quick pace. You’ll build more stamina through time and find yourself better able to run longer, faster with this gradual approach. 

Fat Loss Benefits
Running and walking are both aerobic exercises, and both burn calories. You burn calories faster by running but walking also offers fat burning outcomes. If you’re motivated by fast results, you’re likely to see them more quickly through running. But if you love to walk yet can’t seem to get into running, walking will still help you burn fat effectively. 

Health Benefits
Running and walking both improve cardiovascular health, boost flexibility, and may even help to reduce depression and anxiety. Generally, about 15 minutes of walking provides similar health benefits to five minutes of running. However, both activities offer the benefit of getting outside, which can work wonders for your mental health in addition to your physical health. In addition, walking may have longer-term benefits for many people because it’s easier to stick with over time than running. 

Let Body Essentials help you find a well-rounded exercise regimen that works for you, including aerobic activity and strength building. Get on the path to weight loss and fitness by scheduling a free consultation today.

Losing belly fat is a great way to improve your overall health. Belly fat is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and a long list of other health complications. However, for women in particular, belly fat can also be the hardest type of fat to lose. Fortunately, there are many exercises to lose belly fat that you can do at home. Try these strategies to trim your abdominal region and safely burn belly fat at home.

Incorporate Aerobic Exercise
Strength training is a critical part of staying fit, but aerobic exercise has been proven to be effective in battling belly fat. Getting your heart rate up is a good way to burn fat. Riding an exercise bike, walking, jogging, or taking online aerobics classes are all good ways to get aerobic activity without going to the gym. Try to work up to 300 minutes of aerobic activity per week for peak benefits.  

Focus on Strength Training
When you build muscle, you’ll burn more fat at rest, including belly fat. To lose belly fat, experts recommend using heavier weight and cutting down your rest time between sets. Even a 15-minute workout with heavy weights will boost fat burning. However, it’s worth checking in with a trainer to ensure proper form for weightlifting so you reduce the risk of injury. 

Don’t Overlook Nutrition
If you want to lose belly fat, dietary changes are necessary in addition to aerobics and strength training. Working with a trainer can help you design a nutrition plan that fits your fat burning goals. In general, reducing your intake of sugars and simple carbohydrates will be a good start. You should also include more belly fat burning foods like avocados, berries, citrus fruit, and green tea in your diet.

Move more and eat less—that’s the key to weight loss, right? Unfortunately, most people end up struggling to lose weight and keep it off with this advice alone. In reality, losing weight to get healthy isn’t so simple. That’s where a weight loss trainer comes into the picture. If you’re on the fence about hiring a weight loss personal trainer, here are three reasons you should take the leap. 

A weight loss trainer can develop a personalized program. 
Are you exercising often and still not seeing any results? There may be lots of reasons you’re not getting the results you want. You may be doing the wrong exercises for your body type, or you may not be pushing yourself hard enough. A trainer will devise a plan that focuses effectively on the changes you want to make and that challenges you safely. A customized plan designed with your goals in mind will give you boost you need to stay motivated with consistent results.

You will learn how to exercise safely. 
There are right ways and wrong ways to work out. If you’re consistently doing movements with the wrong form, you could also risk serious injury—and fail to see results from your workouts. Personal trainers are educated in body mechanics and can show you how to complete your workouts safely, so you can remain active. 

Your weight loss trainer is an accountability partner. 
Losing weight is hard, so support is crucial. Your personal trainer for weight loss can help you stay on track by helping you stay accountable. It’s harder to blow off a workout when you know a trainer is waiting for you, and they can make sure you work hard throughout your session. This kind of support can be what makes the difference between you succeeding in reaching your goals and giving up. 

At Body Essentials, we’re here to help you become the best version of yourself. We offer a variety of training services designed for all fitness levels. Request a free consultation now.

The pandemic has increased interest in working out from home, but how can you ensure you’re getting the same quality workout if you’re not working with a trainer in person at the gym? The answer is virtual personal training. Virtual personal training lets you reap the benefits of having a fitness trainer without leaving your home. Even without the pandemic to consider, there are many benefits of using virtual personal training to stay fit. Here is what you need to know. 

Virtual Personal Training 101
Virtual personal training provides you access to a skilled trainer who can help you achieve your fitness goals. It simply happens via an online platform rather than in person. Your virtual fitness trainer can work with you on a customized fitness plan designed to help you reach your personal goals while ensuring you’re moving effectively and safely. Some online personal training packages include one-on-one meetings with a trainer, some offer personal training in small groups, and others offer pre-recorded workout classes on demand. 

Good Candidates for Virtual Personal Training
Anyone who is interested in getting in better physical shape is a candidate for virtual personal training. With this training experience, you can select the kinds of workouts that are best for you based on your goals. So, whether you are experienced in exercising or just getting started on a new fitness routine, you can find an online personal training package that aligns with your needs. 

Benefits of Online Personal Trainers
One of the biggest benefits of having virtual personal training is that it works on your schedule. Instead of trying to adjust your busy schedule to make room for a workout, you can pick a time that doesn’t complicate your day. You also get the advantage of customizing your workouts and having the accountability support of a trainer to keep you motivated. 

Contact Body Essentials and learn more about the best virtual personal training options for your needs. Request a free consultation now.  

In order for our clients to be fully prepared for a complete year of amazing fitness and health, I hosted our first Fitness Fest in place of our usual line up of classes on Saturday January 2nd. For four hours we focused on all the important details of starting and maintaining a fitness routine that will get results which of course includes many "not" fitness specifics. Here are the top tips from each hour for you to consider on your own journey.

  1. Know your body. There are plenty of subjective ways to measure improvements from exercise like being able to lift heavier weights over time, feeling and being more stable and balanced when doing 1 foot exercises, having more energy, experiencing less pain, clothes fitting differently, being able to exercise longer. However everyone likes numbers when it comes to body improvements from exercise so dump the scale and just take body measurements when you start and then periodically do it again (like every 2-4 months). Photos of your journey before, during and more during is a great way to see change over time! AND instead of trying to remember things in your head, write it down. What was your body feeling like when you decided you just had to start exercising or change your eating plan? Take daily or weekly notes. It is so easy and beneficial not only to write it down but to actually be mindful about what your body is feeling and perhaps how bad lifestyle habits are part of the problem and more importantly to see how breaking some bad habits can make you feel oh so much better! Not to mention, knowing your own body well can save a lot of wasted time going to the Dr's for every cough, ache, and sniffle.
  2. Before our clients first workout we complete a movement screen with them that helps us understand areas we, as coaches, need to address right away to start building an effective program. It provides a great time to start good conversations about proper posture, stability and movement patterns when performing different exercises and in daily life! If you are beginning an exercise program on your own start slow and build up. Just like we meet clients where they are at (never intentionally making them so sore they have a hard time sitting down), meet yourself where you are at! You will be much more successful and less of a statistic of those who drop out of exercise after a short time, especially in January!
  3. Be clear WHY you are putting time into exercise and what you are trying to get from it and what that end result will look and feel like and WHY that will improve your life. Understand your own track record with creating a healthy lifestyle and be honest about how motivated you are to work thru the thick and thin of reaching your goals. Know who is on your side and will support you to work towards improved health vs those who will deter you from it. If you cannot answer 8 out of 10 as to how committed you are to seeing a consistent exercise program thru, spend more time considering why you should do it, stick with it and how amazing you will feel as a result! Anything less than an 8, especially working out on your own will make it very challenging to persist.
  4. Now perhaps most importantly, is how you workout and by that I mean make sure your exercise routine is based off of strength training the uses adequate weight being lifted. There are a couple hard and fast rules that we live by in our training. 1 is that there is VERY RARELY a reason for any of our clientele to lift a weight lighter than 6lbs. Women are not going to bulk up by lifting heavy weights, and I am not talking big barbells here. I mean 10, 15, 20, 25lbs....it is not going to happen. If you are working out and doing 3 sets of one exercise for 10 reps and you get to the end of that 30th rep and you do not feel fatigue, you are not lifting heavy enough (that is rule 2). Knowing your baseline weight on numerous different exercises and movements takes the guess work out and then depending how an exercise is scaled, you scale the weight to match. And most importantly do the exercise well, know what should be moving and what should be stable. If you do not overload the body in a reasonably safe manner you will not get results. Same goes for life. Status quo will get you know where.
  5. And finally, take good care of the rest of your life. You cannot out exercise a crappy diet and sleepless nights. Your body needs a well-rounded lifestyle to benefit from your workout routine. Wear good shoes, drink lots of water, surround yourself with good people, practice good posture in all your daily activities whether working out, cleaning your house or working at a desk and go to a physical therapist, massage therapist or chiropractor as needed and be knowledgeable about how to take care of pain points on your own with a foam roller, therapy ball or some type of percussive massage device like the Theragun. Whether you workout or not, your body is going to give you pain. Take care of it. And strength train so it is mostly good pain!

Make 2021 your  fittest and healthiest year. YOU deserve it!

Here we are three weeks from the end of 2020. We are all feeling different emotions of what this year was or was not but one thing we have to agree on if you are reading this is that YOU are going to survive! 2020 was not for the faint of heart and on January 1, 2021 we are not just going to flip a switch and go back to pre-pandemic life. If you struggled continuously or periodically in 2020 , you are not alone. This was a year that impacted absolutely everyone and we all had a choice of how we would respond to all the restrictions, changes, and cut backs. What was or is your coping mechanism? Blame? Anger? Grief? Relief? Curiosity? Something different entirely?

Personally, I am allergic to negativity of any type. This does not mean that I do not have bad days or have not suffered hardships. It is precisely those experiences that I wanted to be more resilient against that set me on a path to automatically moving to a growth mindset where I constantly ask myself what am I learning from this challenge and how can I improve because to me, any other response is a waste of my energy and does not take me in the direction I want to move in my business, my life or with the clients I serve

So you may be reading this and rolling your eyes, thinking that is such "pie in the sky," idealistic thinking and that is just fine but if you are reading this and thinking, I would love to get out of that rut of negative thinking and immersion that seemed especially pervasive this year, then I want to talk to YOU. Since March 22nd, our community has run entirely online with 13 live group fitness classes per week, and countless private and semi-private training sessions. As a personal trainer, coach and group fitness instructor it is imperative to go above and beyond 100% to be able to get the most maximum potential out of our participants and like so many businesses, when I made this pivot it was an act of survival so bringing over 100% energy and positivity to every hour of remote work was partially for myself and the eventual sustainability of my fitness community. Suffice it to say, it worked. We are thriving and feeding off one another's positive energy and each month, week and day that energy multiplies and creates great things like results, physically and emotionally and the vision for more possibility.

Body Essentials is indefinitely staying as an online fitness and wellbeing facility and now that we have mastered how to provide live fitness online well we can get back to other important aspects of our eight year mission to be the most comprehensive provider of fitness, nutrition and well-being services as we start 2021 and we want to serve you.

Here are some of the most exciting options coming up as soon as 2021 launches!

See what I mean by most comprehensive provider of fitness, nutrition and wellbeing services??

If ANY of this sounds compelling to you please e-mail me at [email protected] or text me at 802-345-9644 to set up an absolute zero obligation consultation so you can learn more about what it is like to workout at a virtual studio, so I can learn more about your goals and we can learn more about how we can collaborate to get you feeling better than you ever expected. Let me remind you, it will take work on your part!

And you are probably wondering about cost! It always depends on what training option becomes the best for you based on my recommendation. So perhaps it is less than $100 per month or up $300 per month. Is your health worth it? are YOU worth it?? If you are only concerned about the cost of services, we are not the studio for you.

Just contact me today to learn more. We have limited space in our live programs and the earlier you join our on-demand program, the more money you will save.

I cannot wait to meet you!

Christie Garofano

Chief Empowerment Officer

On March 22, 2020, Body Essentials started training clients and holding all group fitness classes live online using the Zoom platform. We are still going strong after energetically springing into action and evolving each month to provide the best programming experience possible for our clients so they stay safe, accountable, motivated, connected and perhaps most importantly, get results! “Live Online,” means just that. Our clients show up at their desired class or session time. Their coach meets them in our Zoom studio and leads them thru the workout in the exact same way we did at our in person location. It is keeping everyone safe and healthy while also saving everyone commuting time and I dare say, increasing even more consistent and long term participation. Due to the success and satisfaction of our model and the ongoing nature of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Body Essentials will stay virtual indefinitely.

We invite you to see if training with us is a fit for your lifestyle. There are no geographic limitations. We have three distinct flexible and affordable training plans and you do not need big, expensive, or fancy equipment, just some essentials to get started. We offer workouts throughout the day, 7 days per week as early as 5:30am and as late as 6pm.

Text me today to get started! 802-345-9644. I look forward to hearing from you!

See our Group Fitness Schedule here: https://www.bodyessentialspt.com/get-started/

Christie Garofano
Founder & Chief Empowerment Officer

I love food! And really who doesn't? What I do not like about food is grocery shopping and wedding thru food items that manufacturers are trying to sell as healthy when I do actually partake in a grocery shopping trip. I enjoy preparing food at home when I have ample time to do it in a manner that does not seem like I am just doing it to fuel myself (AKA rushing to put the healthiest thing together in the quickest amount of time) and obviously I enjoy eating food!

First things first, the BEST thing to happen too Rutland, VT is the Hannaford To Go service. Being able to order my groceries online from the comfort of my home with the ability to check the fridge and pantry to assure I do not over look something is as AMAZING as it is to walk into Hannaford and get great customer service at the HTG check out area when I pick up my groceries. Lets face it, most of the challenge of eating well is in the plan and prepare phase. Hannaford has lightened the load in part of that process. The only redeeming aspect of physically doing the grocery shopping now is seeing any new products on the shelves that I may not have seen in the online grocery store BUT similarly the same thing happens when I shop online at Hannaford, I see things I may not have found walking around the store. Truly this is not meant to be a manifesto about HTG but it has been a game changer in my weekly schedule for over 2 years now!

In August I reflected on how 30 days of no alcohol made a difference in my life so in September I went on another nutritional journey and eliminated as much added sugar from my diet as I could. Added and processed sugar is a huge issue in the Standard American Diet (SAD). According to the American Heart Association (2009) Men & Women over 19 years of age average 18-25 teaspoons of added sugar per day. The recommended daily amount if no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams) for men and 6 (25 grams) for women. Given that data was from 10 years ago, there could be some changes but they would not be improving numbers. If you read nutrition labels at all when you are shopping, you may see an added sugar total on some labels under the total sugar number. As of January 2020 this will be mandatory  on a majority of food items  with the date being expanded for others. So depending on your nutritional knowledge base, just because something says it has sugar, does not always mean it is added sugar, some are naturally occurring in the food product  such as some dairy and some grains. It can be confusing. I have a relatively healthy diet but it is not perfect and a month of looking a bit more carefully at this particular ingredient further enhanced the quality of my diet and overall health.

As I started my month of no added sugar the first two changes I made were that I only bought plain greek yogurt which was already a staple but I would allow a flavored yogurt as a snack (and I could write an entire post on the spectrum of bad to good flavored yogurts). I also stopped using maple syrup. Shhhh, do not tell my husband. Although maple syrup is all natural it is still sweet so I wanted to go entirely plain on my yogurt which is the only place I use syrup (aside from the occasional pancake, french toast or vanilla ice cream). These changes were relatively simple because what I found as I continued this process is that I really don't have a diet high in added sugar so the flavor changes were not huge for my palette. I did minimize bread intake which again I was doing anyway but even more so in September. I have a weird weakness for toast but months earlier I had switched from regular bread (cue the Klingers Jewish Rye) for whole wheat sandwich thins which have less than 3 g of sugar. One of my biggest learning came from my affinity for Cabot Cottage Cheese (great source of protein for snack). I had no idea some of the sugar was added sugar. No more cottage cheese which meant more fruit and plain yogurt. Next up was my love of lattes on any given day of the week and when one certain coffee shop in Rutland starts selling pumpkin lattes in September, the challenge is on. Thankfully THESE pumpkin latte's are made with REAL pumpkin, not that flavored sugar syrup of many coffee shops so I was in the clear especially since I prefer oat milk from Planet Oat which is low in sugar from the oats and no added sugar. Otherwise the challenge was in condiments which are not huge for me but when my husband does the cooking he is more likely to use BBQ sauce if grilling chicken and just loves sauce in general. AND of course, salad dressings. Unless you make your own salad dressing, you are accumulating added sugar even from locally made dressings. So I did some research when I was shopping (online of course) and ended up going back to an old favorite, Briana's French Vinaigrette. Any food not mentioned is because it is fresh protein with only fresh herb flavoring, fresh fruits and fresh or frozen vegetables so sugar was not an issue at most lunch or dinners. Moreover, staying away from things like ice cream and other sweets was quite easy. Now that October has rolled around, I got a bit more lax the first week but have stuck with most small changes I needed to make and the box of chocolates I just received are hidden and unopened!

Another area that I was unsure about was oatmeal but I was pleasantly surprised that I was in the clear here. So overall I was reassured the my diet was above average with no plan to change anything!

So if I have piqued your interest as to what are some big offenders when it comes to added sugar (aside from the obvious), here is a list of things that I talk about regularly when coaching & advising nutrition to clients:

-Boxed/Shelf Stable food items including boxed meals

-Processed food items from the shelf, frozen, food section, in the dairy section AND in the "healthy food section"

-Pasta Sauces

-Yogurts

-Condiments (Salad dressings, BBQ Sauces, Ketchup etc)

-Bread Products

-Flavored foods (like frozen veggies with added sauce, or frozen prepared foods, or canned goods with additives).

-Flavored Coffee Creamers

-Dried Fruit

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, just some items that always shock people where other high sugar items are obvious including alcohol & most everything you can buy at a convenience store. The best strategy when trying to reduce sugar in your diet is to get things as plain and natural as possible and then added your own flavoring via fresh or dried herbs, prepare your own foods as straight forward as possible (AKA not from a box and with fresh or plain frozen veggies).

Source: American Heart Association, Scientific Statement on Dietary Sugars Intake & Cardiovascular Health (2009)

I have always struggled with my weight. I have done Weight Watchers 3x, participated in Zumba, walking and have been a member at other gyms but never stuck with it. I am the type of person who needs accountability and "tough love" neither of which I have ever had. I would start out with a bang and just give up after a while.

In 2014 my marriage fell apart and as I went through the divorce process I was most worried about my son and how we would handle it all. In 2016 the divorce was finalized. After making sure my son was Ok and I had made peace with everything and found the strength to forgive and move on, it was finally going to be time to prioritize myself.

In November of 2017 I was diagnosed with diabetes and had to start taking medication. This was a wake up call for me that I really needed to make some changes and literally get moving and change my diet. I did both of those things and dropped my A1c by 1.2 points  but needed to do more.

It was not until April of 2018 when I found Body Essentials (BE) via Facebook when I decided to reach out and commit to myself to get better. Since starting at BE I have found a community that holds me accountable and give me the tough love that I sometimes need. Through 2018 I was on a roll. I lost the weight, improved my diabetic condition and was close to getting off medication (which I will accomplish ASAP). I was happy, motivated and getting stronger. There were no excuses or giving up and not following through.

In January of 2019 I came down with pneumonia. I was unable to do almost anything until the middle of March. When I returned to my exercise, it was difficult and I still had some challenges with my breathing and got sick 1-2 more times before I was fully on the mend and back to my regular schedule of working out 4-5 times per week on top of working full-time, attending my son's sporting events, taking care of others and trying to keep myself and my motivation  a priority. It was hard. I have never once considered giving up. I love the BE community and the friends I have made.

Coaches Note: Marietta is one of the strongest people I know of in every way, shape and form. I always tell her she has "farm strength" because she handles a lot of weight with ease because of her farming history but she is also resilient to challenges. We are excited to continue her progress the rest of this year and share it with our virtual community.

Three months ago we started tracking Lisa's progress publicly. Fitness & nutrition comes with many ups and downs as Lisa had experienced but we are so happy to report that she is back on track to the best version of herself after some hard work this summer and navigating all the challenges of daily life and not using social events and holidays as an excuse or not the right time to change. Read on for Lisa's own words.......

How did I get here, and by here, I mean 21 pounds lighter,  eating a whole food plant-based diet, and certainly stronger then I was three months ago? It’s not just the big change in my eating habits it’s the change in my habits period. At the beginning of the summer I was tired all the time. I started every week with a good nutrition plan only to have it fall apart by day 2 or 3 then just give up. I was avoiding the gym because my weight gain made everything so much harder. I certainly would have given in to my pain and come home gone to bed and never even considered a low impact walk to get some exercise in.

Over the past three months I have changed my habits a little at a time. It started with accountability. Weekly weigh-ins made me really think about what I was eating. This is where the support of Christie and the other trainers at Body Essentials became an important part of my journey. Their support encouragement and constantly pushing me to jump out of my comfort zone was key to my success. Toward the beginning of the summer we, as a group, hiked up Killington. I was slow and struggled most of the way up. One of the trainers stayed behind with me and encouraged me to take it a few steps at a time until we reached the cabin. I gave up at the cabin, a decision I regret. I have made a plan to go again mid-October, this time I am determined to go all the way to the top and can’t wait to feel the difference. Another change was just changing up my times to exercise. I exercise two mornings a week giving me some evenings to walk my dog, spend time with my husband or just do nothing (I rarely do this anymore). This, I believe, was an important change for me. Starting my work week off with a good day of exercise and some accountability made me think twice about every bite of food. Logging my food intake also was an important part of this journey. It is part of the accountability. I always reminded myself if I eat it and don’t write it down it was just hurting myself. Looking back every week to see where I could make changes no matter how little they were they made an impact.

Part way through the summer I got food poisoning. The bacteria I had was reportable to the health department. When the health department called to follow up all their question about my food intake were meat related. (By the way I could answer their question because I had my food logs I knew exactly what I ate 2-5 days before my symptoms started). I, at this point stopped eating meat. I was eating meat replacements, but no meat. About two weeks later I went to a talk at Body Essentials about anti-inflammatory diet, watched Forks over Knifes on Netflix and am now I have been eating a whole food plant-based diet for 14 days.

So, what have I learned through all this? One, if you get off track don’t give up. In the past 14 days I ate a piece of pizza I didn’t say to myself oh well I’m off track I might as well have two pieces I said how do you feel? I felt full and like someone had put a weight in my stomach. I felt hungry or maybe just a craving within 20 minutes of eating it. I wrote that down and have it on my desk at work to remind myself that if I make that choice again that is how I will feel. I learned vegetables actually taste ok. I learned it’s ok to live it up once in a while. I went out one night with friends and Christie was at the same restaurant and there I sat with a bowl of pasta, but I still lost weight that week because I had my pasta then I was 100% locked down on my nutrition the rest of the week. I learned I am strong. I learned it’s ok to be pushed out of my comfort zone. I learned I am the only one that can make the changes and do the work. Others can encourage and give advice, but I have to do the work. I learned not to compare myself to other people. I learned to start my week prepared. I learned to plan ahead for events. I learned a schedule is so important (I keep mine on a wipe off board). I learned how important it is to have friends and family encourage, love and support me. I, also will not ever forget that the support and encouragement Christie and the other coaches at Body Essentials gave me. They made this journey fun, challenging and possible. I am looking forward to continuing on this journey and ending the year at an all-time high (or low) with another 20 pounds lost stronger than ever. Thank you, Christie, Megan, Jacob, Julie and Sabrina.

Coaches Note: Lisa was not perfect or without challenges in this process but she stepped up to every difficulty and navigated it with 100% heart. If we had not been challenging her or making her accountable with record keeping and coaching check-ins first thing Monday morning, I am not sure she would be in the place. It is easy to not be accountable to yourself or talk yourself out of the right behaviors. At Body Essentials clients can only "hide" for so long before we pull them aside and say something is not working well, what is going on, we have to do something about it. The benefit of our clients working with more than one coach and in small groups is that everyone is holding everyone accountable for all the right reasons. Lisa is and always has been a leader in our community. She tried to slip to the back of the room for a little while but when she did not come back to the front of the classroom, we pulled her back to the front. We know she will reach her ultimate goal by the end of the year. It will only take 1 lb per week for most weeks and at the rate she is going with her new nutrition plan, she will reach her goal before Thanksgiving.

 

Before   (May 2019)                                                                                                      Today (September 5, 2019)

In 2017 we traveled to Alaska and that is when I reconnected to the value of nature as a means of restoring my mind & body. I openly share with people that I love Vermont and I love exercise but I do not love camping and other "woodsy" related outdoor activities. My idea of camping is a hotel with no indoor hallways. My idea of outdoor fitness is running on pavement. Who knew it would take going clear across the country and outside of the 48 contiguous states to reconnect with an appreciation for nature.

When returning home my goal was to keep the same feeling I had on vacation in my daily life. Well it worked out for a while but I guess it is called vacation for a reason. Nonetheless, one way to get back to that fairly regularly is in nature. Because that feeling is peace, quiet, nothing else calling for your attention, nothing else to do besides whatever it is you are doing in nature which for me is never camping but always moving. So within two days of getting home I put our dog Austin in the car and set out for the first of many walks on the Trails Around Pittsford. All of them are super close to our house, relatively short and flat, all of which were a bonus of getting away with an aging dog who likes to believe he is 8. That summer we completed all the trails. The best one is the one closest to our home so we have done that one numerous times. If you are looking for a quick and easy solution outside of Rutland check them out: Trails around Pittsford

Last summer my nature consisted of a bit more time on the golf course which is a frustrating form of nature but very beautiful in its own way and certainly enjoyable in that when the going gets tough, the beer cart is probably close by. But I digress, last summer was hot and a great place to escape to on hot days is the mountain so the ONE, only one hike I did in the summer of 18 was Camels Hump and to this day it is the trek with the best view and it is just enough of a challenge to remind you that your workouts are working or that you better start getting more exercise. It was the perfect combination of everything you want in an active summer weekend day trip. Lets face it (in my personal opinion), once you get to the top of any Vermont mountain the view is essentially the same. The fun and the benefit is getting there, catching your breath, taking a peek and then seeing if you can get back down faster than you made it up! Camels Hump is 360 degrees of pure beauty on the edge of  a rock. Make it a priority!

Now this summer has presented itself with many more opportunities to get to the mountains than I was planning on. First and most pleasantly was Mt. Mansfield. I happened to be in the area so instead of a day trip, I made it an overnighter and got up and down bright and early. This hike was just plain enjoyable as it was early enough to not be crowded and there is something fun about knowing you have been to the top of "that spot" when you see it from a drive you are making around the state, similar to Camels Hump.

And then there are the decent hikes in our own backyard which frankly were my least favorite. Killington. A group of us from the studio did this hike together so that was definitely the highlight, getting 10 people at varying fitness levels to the top. But when you have busted your butt moving up the Bucklin Trail to the peak and then out of state (or local) folks come galavanting to the same point in their bright whites after taking the chair lift, you lose your level of accomplishment fairly quickly. Nonetheless the Bucklin Trail is great and it sneaks up on you after a relatively level start. And Pico. I was reminiscing that hike at the start of the 4th of July holiday. I had done it a number of years ago, may I say decades so thought I would go for it again since it is so close and I had nothing else going on. The time and the people I met along the way was nice, the hike, meh but the peace and quiet, priceless. OH the snake sighting I could have done without but the run back down again confirmed that my workouts and level of fitness are on par for my cardiovascular and joint health at age 44.

The one place I have not made it to yet is Pine Hill Park . Talk about being close by. The last time I was there we were building a trail, that was definitely long ago and the only other time I had been there it had felt a bit more creepy than peaceful. So very soon I will head out there seeking serenity and shade from everyday life. The whole point of this is fitness appears in many different ways and sometimes with fitness we get relaxation and peace of mind and body especially living in Vermont. So as summer winds down and you are looking for things to do outside and closer to home, getting out in nature is the answer whether there was a question or not and regardless of you are seeking from your nature experience!

After two months of working more consistently on myself I am at a point where I feel more motivated because I am feeling stronger, seeing results and hearing from others that they see the results. I have had some victories on the scale and some non-scale victories including my clothes fitting better and having more energy.

One thing that has really helped is remembering that I had once been told that it takes 30 days to make something a habit. I have been maintaining a more consistent exercise schedule for 30 days now and it definitely has become more of a habit now. I am adding some outside walks at Pico into my routine and have really enjoyed that and my dog Gertie appreciates the exercise as well.

Another thing I think is instrumental in being successful is to share with friends and family that I am working toward this goal. They give me continuous encouragement and help with accountability as do my friends at the studio and colleagues at Bayada.

I have been struggling with the nutrition end of things. I have mostly good days but those bad days creep in. I have tried to hold myself accountable and have just begun being more diligent with my food log. I have started using a log that gives me an opportunity to reflect on my week and adjust as needed. I haven’t been consistent enough to say how it works but it is my goal to make this my new habit.

A habit I am having trouble breaking is weighing in daily. I find it sets the tone for my day. If there is a gain no matter how small or no loss it is discouraging.

Thanks to all who are encouraging me along the way.

Coaches Note: Lisa starts month 3 this week and we know she will continue to make great progress and improve on her challenges including her food log and increase in journal writing to help her understand and get clarity on her challenges in addition to her mindset around weighing in. Keep up the great work Lisa!

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