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Our thoughts on what's healthy and unhealthy to eat sometimes gets more complicated than need be.

OMG, I ATE RICE

By Susan Howard

Recently I was listening to a health podcast and there was a popular nutritionist talking about food choices. Since I am trying to get my clients to make better choices, I am always looking for new solutions to reaching our best self.

This chick was talking about cheat days and picking between a glass of wine or a dessert when you are out. Agreed, both are high in sugar and are considered treats for anyone, especially those looking to tighten up. Then she goes on to say, “If I have sushi with rice, I can do it on a cheat day, but I just have to find a great yoga class to work through all those carbs.”

Wait, what?!

Since when did sushi become a big splurge? Pizza, spaghetti and meatballs, banana split, a six pack of beer, yes, I get that these are gonna pack on the pounds, but little old sushi rice?

Come on!

I love rice. I actually love grains ..read more

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There's no use getting your dream body if you don't start to love yourself before you get there.

Hate

By Susan Howard

When we start from a place of self loathing — “I don’t look like she/he looks”/“I don’t look like I used to look”/“I don’t look like I should look”– there are a few things that happen.  We malnourish ourselves, or we overfeed ourselves, or we actually look and feel great, but secretly despise ourselves.  Ironically, I think the level of body disgust runs equally from my in-shape clients to my out-of-shape ones.

If we come from a place of love, there is a chance we will find movements our body loves to perform, food that digests well in our systems and clothes that fit our body and accentuates our figure. Seem easy? It’s nearly impossible. Even as I sit here typing I have my own level of  old school mental body noise that I am trying to abort.

I say, “Go blank off, you voices that say we are not enough!  We are enough, our bodies do incredible things everyday ..read more

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Susan Howard explains how post natal moms can work on their cores after having a baby.

Where Did My Core Go

By Susan Howard

It is still in vogue to talk about core strength, but for post natal women, especially, abdominal activation can seem miles away.

Here’s how I explain it: “What if you were to get punched in the stomach. How would you brace to receive that blow?” With your core.  Core and abdominal contraction are a big part of how we live and move. Even just moving from sitting to standing, we find that the abs contract to facilitate that move.

Now back to my post natal moms… When you get pregnant, all those intercostal muscles stretch out to create room for the little beast inside. If you get a C- section, the doctors cut through some of these connections to get to the baby.  How then do we make it back to the one?

Well, it’s harder for my pregnant ladies, but hey, at least you get a mini me.

When you workout, stem all of your moves from your core.  This is ..read more

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Susan Howard shares some tips on how to get a morning routine started during the week.

Wacked Out Weekend Warrior

By Susan Howard

There are those that jump up every morning at 6:05 AM and go for their morning workout, hit the shower at 6:50 and then head off to work with a nonfat latte in one hand and an egg white sandwich on gluten free toast in the other.

Then there is the rest of us.

If you are not this kind of type A personality, have no fear — even the erratic can become consistent.

When you just workout one or two times over the weekend is you tend to try and cram a whole week into one day and you really go for it.  In being aggressive, you risk injury or at the minimum, extreme muscle soreness.  In addition, your results are negligible because you don’t keep stoking your metabolic fire throughout the week, so the impact putters out.

Is it better to do something during the week, than nothing?  Yes.  It’s always better to be moving than static.

Here’s 3 ways to ..read more

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Work out with total abandonment -- be strange.

Reservoir

By Susan Howard

I was walking with a client around the reservoir, an Eastside dirt track meant to get her heart rate up. As we walked, we checked out the ducks and people watched.  With our dogs in tow, we walked and chatted.  No, we weren’t the fastest ones around the loop; we were there just to enjoy the morning and burn a few calories.

There were some hard core folks practicing their interval routines, and some serious competitors clocking their fastest miles, which is all good and normal…until…

We saw a women run/sashay/bootie boogie/ around the trail, complete with large arm gestures and random hip twitches.

“Maybe she is a dancer?” My client wondered if she was practicing a routine.  She could have been.  What it reminded me of was the pure joy of movement, the celebration of one’s body for it’s own sake.

This purity of fun, a spunk and strangeness, was not lost on me.

So for you out there that was cruising ..read more

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The secret to not gaining weight back when you go on vacation.

Vacaution

By Susan Howard

“I’m down ten pounds, but I’m heading out to New York.  I am worried that I am going to put it all back on,” said one of my clients who was stressing about her upcoming vacation and all the temptations in her path.  Hanging with old drinking buddies, the amazing N.Y. restaurants, and the “screw it” mentality all play a part.

When she says I am going to put it all back on, I trust that she is right.  I believe my clients know themselves well and are attuned to their patterns.

“Let’s create a plan,” I said.  I will offer you two drink cheats and two meal cheats in the two-week trip.  So, pick a night each week and let loose old school with your friends.  If you at least have a plan, you are much more likely to stick with it.  With no rules, every night is a party, and yes, you will regain the weight you worked ..read more

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How finding joy can help you get fit and find happiness in your body.

Keep It Real

By Susan Howard

While visiting my parents in my hometown on the outskirts of Chicago, I got to connect up with some friends that I hadn’t seen in years. We went to Highland Park High together and suffered through Algebra tests, Homecoming dances and dealing with the bitchy girls.  We weren’t popular by any means, but there were enough of us to feel like we had our own pack.

Let me tell you something, after years of life, we look good.  All of us had kept healthy lifestyles and seemed happy in spirit.  The best part about seeing my old friends is that we laughed and laughed.  There is an inherent comfortability with people you have known for years that you automatically slip back into when you see them again.

With this I say, be joyful.

What brings you true joy?

Answer that and you will be on your way to a healthy life.

We are constantly looking for these quick fixes and they aren’t going ..read more

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The fitness industry has changed. Personal Trainer Susan Howard discusses how her thoughts on exercise and wellness has changed over the years.

Things I No Longer Believe

By Susan Howard

My industry is constantly changing, so if I stay set in my ways, I will likely be missing some cool new innovations coming down the pipeline. Past trends recommended barefoot running and now it has swapped to hyper-cushioned gym shoes. Yoga was a unique new age meditative stretch class, now there is a power yoga on every corner. People used to do Jane Fonda videos, now they listen to a podcast, use an app or follow along with their favorite YouTube chick. You get it.

So what do I think now that I didn’t ten years ago? Here’s my top 5:

1. You have to workout for at least one hour to make it count.

Today, I know that you can crush a workout in under 30 minutes with HITT routines, heavy lifting, and intense runs.

2. You must do a ton of cardio to burn your fat.

Cardio is great, but strength training is better. Hit the weights!

3. Don’t eat high ..read more

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Abstain from sugar this holiday season.

Sugar, You Devil

 

By Susan Howard

If you are a parent (or a person in the U.S.), come Oct 31st, we begin a Sugar-fest that starts with Trick or Treating and continues on through April with the Easter Bunny.  That’s 5 months of the year that one is tempted with chocolate-covered whatevers and frosted bunny heads.

STOP the insanity.

Don’t get on the holiday dessert train.  Once you get on, you can’t get off.  It’s addictive.  Make no bones.

Sugar is addictive like nicotine or caffeine and, if you are like me, it’s tough to just have a little.  Sugar turns to fat on your tummy.

This is the first year I am going to try abstinence from sugar and I implore you to jump in with me.

I am skipping out on all the sweets.  This does not include a cocktail or two, just the sweets.

Who is with me???

Comment below.

Stay Ready.

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Working out is a great confidence booster.

Check Me Out

By Susan Howard

Today at my local gym, I got totally checked out.  The gawker was a tall broad type of guy, blond hair pulled back into a ponytail and muscular. Let’s just say he was the kind of hot that you’d see in an ad for a sports watch or men’s cologne.

I know, I shouldn’t want to be “objectified,” and I don’t even like guys, and, hell, I have a wife, but it’s nice to know I still got it.

Maybe he was checking me out because I was lifting heavy and he was in awe of my brute strength, roar!  Maybe when you workout you emit an extra glow that says I am alive and in the zone.

I just turned 48 and got a head turn from a 20-something Greek god.

Working out works.  You look better, you feel better, and people check you out.

Now get to it.

Stay Ready.

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