Fighting the Zs with Better Habits

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

Plenty of SleepSometimes that morning coffee just doesn’t do it for you. We’ve all had days where we are just dragging, whether we are low on sleep, overworked, or just plain worn out. But if you’re having a hard time shaking sluggishness in general you might need to make some changes.

Some people can’t recall the last time they didn’t feel somewhat tired, which may be a sign that something is a little off. Chronic sleep problems could be a symptom of something other than stress. Constant fatigue is also a potential sign of depression. These are things to look into if you think there may be a serious cause.

But before you go running off to the doctor you might want to try out some simple fixes. Your diet can have a major impact on your energy levels as well as your level of activity. Incorporating exercise and healthy eating could not only boost energy but help you sleep better. Also, some people react differently to caffeine. That soda with dinner may not be much but it could be keeping you up at night.

If you find yourself fighting exhaustion all the time try to figure out why. A few changes to your day could have you feeling healthy, energized and ready when the sun rises.

Fitness Partners Improve Workouts

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

fitness partnersWhen Dave and I moved to Utah, the one thing we decided to get rid of that was a big sacrifice was the treadmill. It wasn’t a big sacrifice for me, because I never used the thing, but Dave used it religiously. Every. Single. Day. We knew it wouldn’t fit in our home here (or one like it, since that one was held together with duct tape), but I knew that if there was no way Dave could exercise without me that I would feel obligated to exercise with him. And that’s the promise I made: get rid of the treadmill and I will walk with you every day.

I have often found it difficult to make the time to prioritize fitness. Between kids, work, and other demands, little time or energy is ever left over for fitness and exercise. But I have had a lot more success prioritizing my fitness since moving to Utah. Getting rid of the treadmill was the best solution, because for Dave to get his walk, I had to find a way to make time to go with him. And I do, every day.

As fitness partners, we help to keep each other motivated. We typically walk early in the morning after the kids leave for school, knowing that when the end of the day comes all we want to do is collapse. Having Dave as my exercise partner has provided motivation and has improved my likelihood of success.

Why You Need a Fitness Partner

A fitness partner can increase your commitment to exercise because whenever you feel like not working out, you will have to tell your fitness partner no. Not only will she have the opportunity to help cheer you on and keep you going, but the thought of having to disappoint your partner will make it more difficult to give up in the first place. By having someone encourage you to keep going when your motivation is lacking, you will be more likely to stick to your fitness plan and achieve your goals.

Choosing a fitness partner should be done carefully. You should choose someone who has similar goals and is at a similar fitness level as you. (Someone who jogs three miles a day when you have not walked around the block in six months may not be a compatible fitness partner, which is why I don’t exercise with my sister!).

Communication is important between training partners. Knowing your partner’s weaknesses can help you both. If your fitness partner is not an early riser, perhaps an after-dinner walk, run, or trip to the gym is more appropriate. If either of the partners are easily bored with the same exercise routines, change things up as much as possible. One day go for a walk through the park in your neighborhood; the next day, lift weights at the gym. When the weather gets colder, try walking in the mall before it opens or hit the local fitness center together.

If you are having trouble staying motivated, a fitness partner can help keep you on track. Talk to your husband or partner about your desire to get fit; maybe he or she can pull extra kitchen duty so that you can have a little more time to exercise.

A fitness partner knows how important exercise is to you. They can help you meet your goals, make exercise more fun, and keep you going when all you want to do is stop at the store and grab a bag of cookies.

Image source: Morguefile

3 Easy Exercises To Lose Weight From Home

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

Losing weight quickly isn’t exactly easy, most of all if everything is up to you alone. However, there isn’t any reason why you shouldn’t put much effort into doing the 3 easy exercises to lose weight from home listed in this article. Not only will these easy exercises help you lose your fat stores faster than your current diet and supplements, but they will also help make you feel much better about yourself in the long run.

1. Aerobics

BH_F8_Treadmill__63342.1351160663.400.400Aerobics happens to be a great exercise to do at home since you can find more inspiration from television workout shows and DVDs. The best part is that you can do hours of aerobics from the comforts of your bedroom or living room as you see fit.

Yoga is one of the best aerobic sports out there to date because it is great at strengthening the joints and increasing flexibility, yet works wonders for weight loss, as well. Naturally, you shouldn’t forget to stick to a healthy diet plan, either, especially if you want to reap the rewards in the long run.

Now, if you suddenly start noticing a decline in your weight loss after doing aerobics for a while, don’t worry. This merely means that your body is starting to tone and develop into a firmer version of itself. This, in turn, means that you will have a much harder time putting on weight from now on.

Home Gym Equipment can also provide a great workout in the comfort of your own home. There are many folding treadmills available that can easily be stored away when not in use. Similarly, If you do not have much space, an exercise bike may be a good solution as they too can easily be stored away and will take up little floor space.

2. Dancing

Dancing alone or with a partner is easy if you follow dance routines on television or on DVDs. You can either work on choreographed moves or just figure things out on your own. The choice is yours.

Generally speaking, it might be best to learn choreographed dances at a proper school, but there isn’t any reason why you can’t practice from home, as well. Whether you choose to do ballet, jazz or hip hop; an hour of dancing can help you lose at least 300 calories while tightening up all of the major muscle groups in your body, and toning your abdominal muscles without having to work out hard at a gym.

Conversely, you can try and come up with your own moves. A lot of people who go to dance classes eventually find that they can develop their own personal style afterwards. Either way, feel free to do what you want when it comes down to it. Jump, twist, turn and roll your way through your favorite songs and get your heart pumping, so that you end up losing more calories in the process.

3. Walking

While walking may not sound particularly strenuous as a form of exercise, you shouldn’t underestimate how walking and a balanced diet can work wonders in burning off excess fat.

Ideally, you should find time to walk every morning and every evening for a total of two hours of exercise every day. Lastly, make sure that you weigh yourself before you start any kind of exercise or diet program since watching your weight go down will help boost your confidence and motivation.

What do you do for exercise?

Making Changes for a Healthier Lifestyle

Getting Real With +Shadra Bruce, Owner of +MomsGetReal

Change is difficult, especially when it comes to making changes to eating and exercising habits. You can’t just change your eating habits over night.  It has to be a LIFESTYLE change.  When you’re making lifestyle changes, the first thing you have to change is your mind. Change your mind set, then work on your eating and exercise habits.

You can literally eat like a rabbit and still not be healthy.  Health is on the inside, too.  Do you have a strong heart?  How much energy do you have?  What percent is your body fat?  Do you have healthy muscle tone?  Are you limber and flexible?  Are you happy with your life, your job, your path?

Changing your body can take years, and it has to be a total lifestyle change for it to be a permanent change.

When making lifestyle changes, it’s best to make small changes that you can incorporate into your life. When Dave and I first started focusing on health, we cut out using the microwave. All of our research pointed to the microwave as a source of damage to our bodies and our food, and we believe that the dangers of microwaves are a reality. We’ve now been microwave-free for three years, adjusting to reheating food on the stove or in the toaster oven.

The next change we made was to eliminate high fructose corn syrup. It was simply a matter of reading labels and paying attention, sometimes forgoing a favored salad dressing or barbecue sauce. Finding foods without high fructose corn syrup has become easier; Post has come out with an entire line of HFCS-free cereals (Post Good Morenings) at a price point most families can abide by at $2 a pound. With a variety of flavors, Post is the perfect choice for morning cereal eaters. Hunt’s offers ketchup with no high fructose corn syrup. I found a helpful website that lists HCFS-free foods; it’s not entirely up to date, but it’s a start.

Once we’d overcome the high fructose corn syrup, we moved on to tackle trans fats.  Cutting trans fats was the most difficult change, but also the most effective. Cutting trans fats meant skipping fast food meals, paying close attention to food labels, and making more significant changes to our diets. The difference we’ve experienced in the last year since ridding trans fats from our lives has been substantial.

Even though I haven’t seen the kind of change on the scale that I wanted – mostly due to my own lack of ability to regularly prioritize exercise as much and as often as I should – removing trans fats from my diet has most likely saved my life. You see, my family history for heart disease is pretty lengthy. My great-grandmother died during an Angioplasty. My mother’s uncle died of a heart attack at age 40. Her other uncles have all had multiple heart attacks and bypass procedures. Her mother had a heart attack at age 50 and died of complications related to heart disease. My mother, who was ill with leukemia, actually died from congestive heart failure brought on by the chemo. My uncle has had a heart attack, and he is young and health.

Last year, in the midst of making changes but still struggling, I had a C-reactive protein (CRP) test. You really want your results to be <1.00. Mine was 7.85. As in, wow, you haven’t had a heart attack yet?

So we really went to work on cutting out trans fats. We switched to I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter for cooking, because it has no trans fats. We stopped – literally stopped – eating fast food. I’ve not had a cheeseburger from Burger King or McDonalds in more than a year. This year, I had a repeat of the CRP test.

It is now a 3.45.

I’m still high risk, and I still have a long road ahead of me to achieve the health I want…but I have CUT IN HALF my risk of heart attack or stroke.

Cut it in half!

I’m not worried about the number on the scale; I’m not beating myself up for not getting on the treadmill every morning.

I am going to continue to tackle my changes one at a time, making changes I can incorporate into my life.

If you’re ready to make some changes, here are some easy ones to start with:

  • Watch how many of your calories come from fat and how many calories you consume in total. Make sure less than 10% of your calories come from fat and that the fat you consume is not trans fat or saturated fat. Not only can this make a difference on the scale but it can do wonders for your cholesterol and heart disease risk.
  • Cut out fast food as much as possible and make better choices when you do go (we rely on Eat This, Not That to help guide us)
  • Cut out simple carbs (chips, white breads, etc) and replace them with high fiber (brown rice, whole grains)
  • Add exercise, any exercise. Walk to the store. Dance to music. Hop on a treadmill. Go for a walk with a friend. Park further away from the office, or better yet, get a bike. Get active!  Do you normally rent movies on Saturday night?  Go bowling instead.  Do you spend Sunday lying in bed reading the paper?  Get up and go to the park.  Walk, feed the ducks, play frisbee with your dog (he needs exercise too!)  It’s winter??  Go out in your own back yard and build a snowman!
  • Meditate. Lowering your stress levels can do wonders for everything from your blood pressure to your weight, not to mention your mind and clarity of thought.
  • Eat breakfast every single day.
  • Sleep at night (with the phone, laptop, tablet, and mind OFF)

Don’t try to completely change overnight.  If all you’ve done for exercise for the last year or more is heave the remote control,  start slowly and build up.  And remember, if your mind does not accept the change in lifestyle, you will not be successful.  Change as you can, and make the changes permanent.  Burning energy creates energy, so when you use it, you’ll have more.  The more you use, the more you lose.

All life needs balance, and balance comes from feeding and exercising the mind as well as the body.

  • Feed the mind a healthy diet: read, observe, listen, think.  Read fiction and non-fiction, for the mind learns from both.  Exercise the mind with creativity-draw, write, paint, sculpt, play music.  Be creative.
  • For your mind (and your soul) keep a journal.  Write a few thoughts at the end of the day, or the end of the week.  Speak freely, and keep it locked.  This is only for you, to get to know yourself and examine your priorities.

The key to being really healthy is to be happy and content with your life.  The more you take care of and love yourself, the happier and healthier you’ll be.

New Mommy Makeover For a Fit & Firmer You…Not Just for New Mommies!

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

I had my last baby nine years ago. She was my second birth child and the fifth child in our blended family. By the time I was three months pregnant, people asked if I was having twins; by eight months, most were convinced the doctors had missed triplets. When this little 6 pound, delicate little angel appeared, I was pretty surprised at how very little she was compared to how big it seemed she’d be.

I never got the chance to really focus on recovering my body; with five kids and full-time college, a son who headed off to the Army, a mother dying of cancer, and a cross-country move to be nearer to her, my health was completely off the radar.

So I’m a little late to the Mommy Makeover effort but that hasn’t stopped me from truly benefitting from Colleen Riddle’s incredible advice and encouragement. Riddle, the creator of New Mommy Makeover and an AFPA Certified Pre/Post Natal Exercise Specialist developed a series of three DVDs to help new moms (and moms finally focusing on themselves) a way to firm, tone, and regain shape.

What I love about the exercises is that in addition to being effective, they are never boring. In addition to having a variety of exercising that focus on tightening and firming combined with cardio to get your blood pumping, Riddle takes the time during the video to explain how the exercises benefit your body.

Recognizing that every mom has those days when it’s difficult to find even a moment to focus on herself, Riddle offers a 4-minute exercise routine (accessed as a PDF on the DVD), offering a quick and guilt free solution to those days where nothing else will fit.

There are three phases to the program, each designed to get you a little closer to your pre-pregnancy body. Unlike any other DVD exercise program I’ve seen , Riddle goes one step further: she offers a nutrition plan to complement the exercise program in the form of a 44-page book entitled The New Mommy Makeover Nutritional Guide, written by Mary D. Brown, MS, RD, LDN.

This comprehensive health and fitness package is ideal for new moms who want to regain their pre-pregnancy look, but it is useful for anyone looking for interesting and motivating exercise routines to get moving and get fit.

As always, consult your physician before beginning any exercise or nutrition program.

I was provided a copy of the DVDs and book in order to offer my honest review. You can win New Mommy Makeover Phase I from MomsGetReal!

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Deal Your Way To Better Health with FitDeck

FitDeck is a unique exercise tool that requires no equipment besides your body. Easy to slip in a suitcase or keep handy at your desk, FitDeck allows you to work out anywhere. You can use an individual FitDeck, or you can use multiple decks shuffled together to get a cross-training effect.

The greatest thing about FitDeck is that the randomness of which card you choose keeps your exercise from becoming boring or routine. Each deck has 56 cards, 50 of which are exercise cards while the other 6 are informational. The cards have images and instructions for the exercises, stretches, and movements you can do to improve your health and fitness.

FitDeck features these series –

  • FitDeck Bodyweight
  • FitDeck Senior
  • FitDeck Junior
  • FitDeck Yoga
  • FitDeck Pilates
  • FitDeck Stretch
  • FitDeck Prenatal
  • FitDeck Postnatal
  • FitDeck Basketball
  • FitDeck Soccer
  • FitDeck Swimming

The decks come in a handy hard case, making them easy to stow in your purse, briefcase, or suitcase for exercising anywhere you happen to be.

While you should always consult with your physician before starting a new exercise routine, FitDeck is a great solution for those who need inspiration, guidance, and motivation that is easy to carry anywhere and inexpensive.

I was provided with sample FitDecks  in order to offer my honest review. 

You can enter to win a FitDeck from MomsGetReal!

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For Fitness and Sanity

Getting Real With Kathy Winn

If you’re asking your kids to exercise, then you better do it, too. Practice what you preach.

– Bruce Jenner

My husband and I were both “chubby” (that’s what they used to call it) as kids and we are trying to head that off for our little ones, so we take exercise pretty seriously in our house. I am a runner (for fitness and for sanity) and enjoy hitting the pavement when the weather cooperates. My husband is a basketball nut (again for fitness and sanity) and plays in several different leagues. Together as a family, we hike, ride bikes, and look for ways to get exercise into our lives. And we are cautiously optimistic about the effect it’s having on our kids.

Our 7 year old has done the myriad of youth sports (soccer, football, and currently baseball). Never more than one sport at a time and usually a few months off in between (once again for sanity’s sake – ours). But his outlook towards healthy activities is the most promising effect. He talks about exercise – and making good food choices – to stay healthy (not about his weight). In school they learn about heart disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions. Combined with the volunteer work that we do with cancer organizations, he’s getting a pretty accurate portrayal of the health scene in the world. He wants to exercise and make good decisions to “stay healthy.” And that makes me pretty proud.

Right now, we are getting ready to train for a one mile run that we will do together.  And that makes me even prouder.

As a country, I don’t think we move enough. We are complacent to sit and watch television or surf the web (myself included). But the attitude and outlook of our children is being shaped on a daily basis. If we teach them to love exercise and movement, it becomes a part of their life, and hopefully a part of their family’s life. And so on.

So we keep moving. For fitness and sanity.

An Unlikely Source of Motivation to Get Fit!

I’ve been grateful to Jennifer Proctor’s weekly doses of encourage that she has been contributing to the site. She’s right, you know, you CAN do it. It’s just a matter of finding the reason, the motivation, the WHY. For me, it’s the desire to be a better mom, to set the right example for my kids and be healthy enough to be around for them for a long time.

I’m no fitness expert, but I’ll tell you something: for last two weeks I’ve been exercising daily, and I feel great. The numbers on the scale aren’t changing, but my attitude is, and so is my clothing size.  And I have a very special person to thank for helping me stay motivated: my 7-year old daughter, Anika.

Anika loves to exercise. She exercises in her room every day. She goes to ballet once a week and practices in her room at least three times a week. She even has her own set of dumbbells. We are definitely raising our kids to have habits I did not have as a child. A few weeks ago, I told Anika how proud I was of her for exercising so regularly and making it a part of her life, and I told her I wanted to do the same thing but that I always felt like I had trouble finding the time.

But Anika found my time: in the morning before she goes to school, I always spend time with her, putting work aside, postponing whatever is waiting to have time with her before she heads to second grade. We have about 45 minutes in the mornings. Now, we’re exercising together!

Anika is a born motivator. If I’m tired and would rather do anything but exercise, she grabs the Billy Banks Tae-Bo tape (our current favorite, although when we first pulled it off the shelf it had collected A LOT of dust) and pops it in and says, “Come on, Mom. We can do it!”

How can I resist that? How can I resist my little girl wanting me to be healthier? This little angel of mine has managed to break through all the barriers I’ve managed to put up around myself and has made it possible for me to literally begin the transformation I’ve longed for.

She’s tireless, and supportive, and wonderful. Seven years old or not, she is everything I’ve been looking for in a fitness guide. Rather than taking away from our special morning time together, it’s given us a closer bond.

Thanks, Anika!

Exercise! (I might actually like it!)

Is it really possible? Could I really be enjoying exercise? Is it possible to love the burn in your legs as you take one step after another? Honestly, I never thought I would see the day that I looked forward to exercising. I have been walking my children to school every morning which works out to be right at 2 miles a day. It is nice to ensure that they get to school safely every day but it has proven to be so much more than that!

As we walk in the fresh morning sunshine we have great conversation. It is amazing to really see and embrace your children and their varying personalities. It is nice to really enjoy their company without any other distractions. I guess like a lot of people, it is easy to get busy with everyday life and I forget to really pay attention to all of the wonderful things they do and say.

It has really surprised me how quickly you are able to see all of the benefits of regular exercise. I can definitely feel things firming up and I am enjoying the extra endurance as I feel that I can sustain more and more. I have tried to be active and stay somewhat in shape, but the regular intervals have proven to be much more beneficial than I ever would have ever believed!

I have great friends that are very encouraging. One of which, Jennifer Proctor will be joining the MomsGetReal™ Group as a regular contributor! It is important to realize how essential regular physical fitness is to our overall health. We can never get back yesterday but we should definitely plan to live for today and tomorrow! You might actually find that you like it!!

Remember to take time to rest the body. Your body structures are changing, being stressed and creating new muscle memory- complex, but healthy stuff! Rest allows the body to rebuild, regenerate, and rejuvenate. ~Jennifer Proctor