About Holly

I am a fitness coach, Jesus-follower, and believer that truth and beauty are found in overlooked places. I often write about the connection between the physical and spiritual to encourage strong and empowered Kingdom living.

Setting Successful Fitness New Year’s Resolutions

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Wrapping paper is filling your trash cans, the eggnog in the fridge is almost gone, and the number on the scale has somehow jumped far higher than anticipated, despite your best efforts. It’s a brand new year, a clean slate.

So what are you going to do now?

Sure, it’s a bit cliché to set New Year’s Resolutions, and even more cliché to say you want to lose weight. Then again, it IS a great time to start fresh with a new plan and a hopeful outlook. This could be the year that you finally achieve your goals; the year you finally DO what you always say you’re going to try. This is your year for Renewal. don't give up

But how? Weight is one of the top resolutions every new year – probably because most people never achieve it.

As you begin to think about this year and your weight loss and  body transformation goals, here are some simple tips for how to set goals that will set you up for success:

  1. WHAT specifically do you want to achieve? Write it down.

Decide what your goals are and don’t be vague or overly complicated. Don’t pick too many goals that may contradict each other. Don’t just say you want to lose weight – define a number that will make you feel good; something big, yet attainable.

Even if you have 50 pounds to lose, that can feel unattainable and overwhelming, so start with “Lose 10 pounds by the end of March”. This number is smaller and attainable, has a deadline to keep you motivated, and is not arbitrary. You can safely lose one pound per week, so if you start week one of January, you could actually be down eight pounds by the beginning of March.

Or perhaps you want to run a 5k. Great. Focus on that, not on gaining muscle, so you can train and eat accordingly. Training for endurance is different than how you eat and train to gain muscle or lose fat, so focus on endurance so you can run your best race. Even better, plan to run a 5k by April in under 30 minutes. Be specific and write it down so that every day you have a goal to work toward. physiotherapy-595529_1280

  1. HOW are you going to get there?

Don’t set a goal and then just hope your best efforts will get you there. Has that worked for you yet? No? Then it probably won’t work this year either.  Did you jot down a goal to “eat better”?  Uh oh. I’ve never seen a client, or myself, lose weight quickly or easily with “I’m trying to eat better”. As I was reminded by my Star Wars-obsessed, Yoda-quoting nephews this Christmas, “Do or do not. There is no try.”

Eat better is too vague. Instead, come up with a plan. You can get help creating a meal plan for you to know exactly how many calories, carbs, protein, fats, and sugars you should be eating to take the guesswork out. Or over one week, write down everything you eat. Then average out how many calories you’re eating per day to determine how many to cut or add (and yes, you may actually need to ADD calories because you’re eating so little that your metabolism has slowed so far down to help you survive that you’re holding onto every ounce of fat). Then look at what healthy foods will help you stay within your numbers.

For instance, “I will eat two eggs and oatmeal every morning, cut out sugary cereals, eat an organic turkey sandwich for lunch, and chicken and veggies for dinner. On Saturday, I will have a cheat meal.” This will help you grocery shop for the right foods, meal plan, and prevent eating according to your mood, which often leads to fatty and sugary comfort foods that pack on pounds.

Or it may be as simple as “eat breakfast every morning within 30 minutes of waking up” or “Run 15 minutes every day.” Baby steps are okay, as long as you have a plan every day to get you to your destination rather than just hoping for the best and never getting there.

  1. WHY haven’t you reached your goals yet?

Sure, New Year’s goals are a great idea and sound wonderful, but how many years have you fallen off the wagon?  No shame, we’ve all done it. And there are reasons we’ve done it.  It’s time to find out why. If you never address your obstacles or areas of weakness, you’ll never be able to renew your mind and body for the long term. Who cares if you lose 5 pounds in January if by May you’ve gained it all back? Quick fixes and band-aids don’t work.

A few years ago I had to look at why I wasn’t achieving my physical goals despite my efforts at the gym, and most often it was late night comfort snacking. A need to feel in control by actually relaxing and not controlling my impulses was a bad habit that took many forms from college on. Whether it was large amounts of healthy snacks like trail mix, or three too many servings of chocolate, or 1-2 glasses of wine, I got in a comfortable routine with foods I loved that provided stability and a sense of both control and relaxation. Now I know I have to be careful that I don’t allow myself to fall into habits of nighttime eating, or replace them with something like drinking tea. That has made a profound impact on my weight and ability to maintain weight loss. christian female personal trainer and fitness coach

 Maybe your “why” is something like this:

-You’re intimidated by the gym or you can’t afford a membership, so you don’t go. No problem, but can you workout at home?

-No time to workout? I bet you do have time, but it’s not a priority. We always find time for priorities. If it’s not a priority, why not? Take some time to think through why your health or self-confidence are important to you, and remind yourself of those things. Do you find time to watch TV with your children? Then replace TV watching with an after-dinner family walk, or tossing a football outside. Or maybe your lack of self-confidence is affecting your marriage. Would feeling stronger and more energetic improve things? Would 10 less pounds decrease jealousy or make you feel more attractive to your spouse?

Yep, we’re getting real.

-Maybe you just feel tired and starting all over with fitness makes you feel discouraged. Do you miss being athletic and have trouble facing the fact that you’re just not capable of the same things anymore? Remind yourself that it’s never too late to start or to reach your goals. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll feel better. The body can change and adapt in amazing ways, and your fear of feeling less significant or unable might just go away within a few weeks. You can keep waiting and stay where you are, or you can start now and look back in a few months, grateful that you chose to take a step and have moved forward.

Renew Your Life

Keep these “Whats” “Hows” and “Whys” in front of you. Post them on your bathroom mirror, or at your office, so that when you’re lacking motivation (which will happen) you have something of substance to remind yourself to keep going and why you’re doing this. Remind yourself that you’re capable of more than you think.

This year, it’s time to renew your mind and how you think about fitness. It’s time to renew your strength and transform your body. It’s time to renew your life. You can do it, and I’m here to help.

 

 

6 Tips for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain

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Holiday weight gain.

It seems like an inevitable part of life, right?

From Halloween on, social gatherings with special seasonal foods and beverages seem to pop up every weekend.  And who doesn’t have just a little bit of FOMO (fear of missing out)? Missing out on celebrations, fabulous parties, and FOOD!

Between the endless socializing, big family meals, and warm sweaters that cover cold weather weight gain, it’s easy to enter the new year with a few extra pounds.

Serving of spicy apple crumble

credit freefoodphotos.com

Indulge AND Maintain Your Weight

But winter weight gain is NOT inevitable! In fact, it’s simple to avoid – IF you’re prepared.

Believe it or not, I’ve actually lost weight between November and January for the past few years. I think because I’m hyperconscious of what lies ahead and how to plan ahead to avoid gaining weight, more so than at any other point during the year.

Does that mean I don’t enjoy myself? Heck no!

I, too, love a good Starbucks Peppermint Mocha, a big plate of turkey and gravy, and rich desserts that my family only makes at the holidays. I don’t deprive myself of these fun treats over the holidays.  But I also don’t go overboard.

You don’t have to be a statistic that resolves to lose weight January 1st with 10 excess pounds from Thanksgiving and Christmas, because I’m arming you with my tips for how to maintain your weight and still enjoy those festive gatherings with family and friends:

How to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain female running in the park

1) Determine Your Calorie & Macronutrient Needs to Maintain Your Weight.

This can be estimated with calculators on sites like www.iifym.com, www.freedieting.com, or www.bodybuilding.com. These numbers don’t take into account some specific factors like your body type, and you’re left guessing which percentage to use for carbs, protein and fat. So if you want something really custom and specific, ask a trainer or fitness coach (like me!) :)

You may want to reduce the calorie intake number by 50-100 to cover those underestimated calories that come in homemade baked goods and holiday dinners, since you don’t know how they were made.

2) Track Your Calories/Macros

Don’t just know the numbers and guess. Weigh and measure foods, and use an app like MyFitnessPal and enter everything you eat. And start NOW to determine if these numbers really do work to help you maintain (or even lose!) weight. You can also start getting used to what is in foods, what proper portion sizes are, etc.  This can be a great tool, especially on those party days.

For example, if you know you can eat 1600 calories per day and 185 carbs, then if you know you have a party in the evening where you’ll be eating appetizers and desserts and enjoying a glass of wine or champagne, then you can plan to leave, say 700 calories and 70 carbs for your evening out. With that in mind, as you track your food throughout the day, eating slightly smaller amounts than you normally would, and eat higher protein. Then you can safely indulge in a few sweets or snacks without drastically exceeding your calories and carbs for the day.

3) Don’t Starve Yourself 

Just because you know you’ll be splurging one night doesn’t mean you should starve yourself earlier that day or the day before. Eat every 3-4 hours to keep your metabolism boosted and hunger at bay. Just eat small, balanced meals with some carbs, protein and fat to keep you satiated. That way, once you get to your party or dinner out, you won’t be ravenous and will be less tempted to eat as much junk. Don’t go to any event hungry or you’ll be sure to overdo it.

4) Drink LOTS of Water! 

Thirst is often mistaken for hunger.  Before you reach for snacks lying around home or at parties, drink a big glass of water. Even before you start feeling hungry, drink several glasses of water between meals to keep you satisfied and feeling full.

Also try to fill up on fruits and veggies during the day, full of water that will keep you feeling full without huge amounts of calories.

5) Decide What’s Most Important

One of the hardest things for me at the holidays is all of the options! So many fun foods that I may not see again for another year! No one wants to miss out on the festive foods, right? But just because they’re available doesn’t mean you have to eat them. And truly, some of those foods you’ll see over and over again long after the holidays. So, decide what is really special and what you really want to spend those calories on.

For instance, pumpkin pie is pretty much guaranteed at any gathering, but I personally don’t LOVE pumpkin pie. If someone gives it to me, I’ll probably eat it, though. So I remind myself ahead of time that I should turn it down, rather than have to face a decision in the moment. Instead, my game plan before a party is: enjoy some marshmallow-covered yams, chocolatey dessert, and a few sips of egg nog, and avoid the things that really aren’t a big deal. If I don’t think about it ahead of time, I guarantee I’ll fill my plate with a bit of everything and end up feeling bloated and horrible when I leave, regretting my “need” to over consume.

Roasted festive turkey

credit freefoodphotos.com

6) Schedule Your Workouts – and Don’t Skip Them

Make sure to get in a workout 3-5 days per week (ideally 5 if you’re already working out). Even if it’s just a quick high intensity 20 minutes at home, don’t let the busy days let you get off track. Keep burning those hundreds of calories per day to burn more than you’re consuming through working out, and so your metabolism stays boosted.

And plan ahead. If you plan to rest and indulge on Thanksgiving, for instance, then the day before hit the gym and add in an extra 30 minutes of cardio beyond what you would normally do to help make up for the additional calories.  But don’t forget the weights! The more weight lifting, the better. (If you’re not sure what that means, watch this video for an easy workout to do that will help boost your metabolism and build muscle).

There you go – 6 simple tips for planning ahead so you can navigate this holiday season successfully without gaining weight. Enjoy those gatherings and treats that make this season extra special!

Please share this with anyone who might like it, and if you’re not already, click on the social media icons at the top of this post to follow me for more tips, workouts, and inspiration!

 

Fears & Physical Transformation: Sharing My Struggle

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Can I be vulnerable with you?

As much as I like to cheer others onto succeed at their goals and overcome fears,  I find that quite often, I am just as afraid of success as those I’m cheering on. I didn’t think I was, and in fact never understood being afraid of success.  It seemed absurd to me – who fears being great at something?

Well, apparently I do. Oops.

Fear of Success

See, to be great at something requires work. Hard work. And hard work is not typically something I want to pursue. I’d rather keep life fun and easy.

Yes, I’ve put in a lot of hard work to change my physical body, and I’ve seen it pay off, so I didn’t think I feared hard work or success. However,  that’s just one area of my life. (And to be honest, I don’t feel I’ve really succeeded yet).

Now I’m at a place where I’m trying to build a personal training business and brand out of me, which requires the use of a website, blog, videos, photos, and self-promotion – in other words, lots of attention focused on me. If I succeed, people will look at me. I’ll be held accountable to doing things well. female personal trainer

I’ll have to admit that I’m not immediately great at everything, and struggle for excellence. To build a great brand, I have to lay all of me on the line. Truthfully, I’ve discovered I’d rather just hide behind decent work, make excuses for why I’m not excellent, and maintain a mediocre business and level of success that doesn’t  hold me to higher standards.

Does anyone else struggle with this?

Building this business, where I encourage others to look deep within themselves to the real fears, insecurities, and reasons behind lack of progress, has forced me to do the same. After all, I can’t teach what I haven’t learned, right?

What did I discover? That I like to appear strong on the outside, because it hides the inside that often feels weak. That sometimes, the hard work is more for the approval of others than for myself. Yep, I just admitted that.

What else have I discovered?

Outer Transformation Does Not Transform the Inside

That unfortunately, physical transformation can’t transform the inside. Outward strength doesn’t make me strong inside. Controlling what I eat doesn’t bring control or freedom to my life.

Many of you have told me your struggles, so I know I’m not alone in this.  Some of you struggle with under-eating to find a sense of control, or overeating to find comfort. Others try to protect yourselves with extra weight, hiding your beauty with a less-than-ideal figure to prevent being sexualized. And some stay just slightly overweight because you’re comfortable with mediocrity and fear failure.

We can search all day on Google and YouTube for “lose weight fast” tips and “get a bikini body” programs, but if our weight is an emotional and spiritual issue, quick tips aren’t going to do us any good.

No matter how physically fit I look, God and I still know that there are poor choices I make, ways I settle, and weaknesses in my mind and spirit that keep me from truly being my best. If our weight is an EMOTIONAL and SPIRITUAL issue, -quick tips- aren't going to do us any good.

In the process of starting my own training business, God has been calling me out and forcing me to look at my fears. Like a scary movie, I don’t want to look, but as I slowly peek through my fingers covering my eyes, God brings healing to insecurities through his love.

He’s breaking strongholds, and teaching me that as I let him transform my insides, the physical transformation comes much easier, and it’s just the cherry on top.