fitness

Get a Running Start On Your New Year’s Goals

This Is Your Year

It’s no surprise that starting a running regime tops the charts as the #1 goal of fitness seekers. Not only is running a great way to get fit and lose weight, but it’s also just a great deal. If you’ve got the will and a pair of running shoes(which can be easily purchased on close-out sale with all those holiday gift cards you’ve acquired), you can start immediately, no joiners’ fee or long-term contract required.

These benefits are enough for most to strap on their kicks and get started. But, there are also a slough of other perks that will not only increase your ROI, but also keep you motivated to stay consistent. And we all know that consistency is key when it comes to long term success with any goal, particularly in the business of fitness.

Contemplating your own New Year’s Resolutions? Unlike most trend-following fit pros, I encourage any of my clients who have interest, to get running. And I help them do just so. Here’s why…

Running Is The Best Form of Rhythmic Cardio

This fact gets easily overlooked but the truth stands: Lifting weights faster does not fulfill all of your cardio requirements. HIIT workouts done with strength moves will certainly make the walls of your heart stronger. Your heart will need to work hard to pump blood to your body and adapt accordingly. But this is just one half of the cardio equation.

When prolonged tension is placed on your blood vessels(as with lifting weights), blood flow back to the heart is actually restricted. And the walls of your heart will not adapt and EXPAND over time correspondingly as they should in relation to the thickening of the walls we just covered. This creates an increase in pressure that can actually put you at higher risk for cardiac episodes. 

Running however, does improve your heart health more completely. The sequencing of muscles during the motion actually allows for increased venus return to the heart, forcing that expansion of the ventricles that your heart needs to stay strong and healthy. 

So, if you’ve been thinking you should add some cardio into your fitness routine, you probably should. And running is a perfect way to get all the benefits your heart desires. 

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Running Will Give You That “Fit” Look

Yeah, you know what I mean here. That lean but shredded physique that gives the impression that you could rock a red carpet, but also crush a quick 10K if you needed to straight after. Defined, but not necessarily jacked.

This physique phenomenon is not a genetic anomaly, but merely the result of improved glycogen storage in your muscles. Glycogen is a source of energy for your body. This little adaptation occurs from the result of endurance work, not from heavy lifting as you might imagine. Although, it’s important to know you’ll need strength training to ensure there’s muscle to be pumped in the first place.

When your body is asked to do prolonged bouts of works, it must begin to use glycogen as fuel, instead of just ATP(bio lab flashback!). That glycogen that’s stored in your muscles has certain H2O binding factors that help it give you a “shredded” look. Yes, your body depletes it during the run, but going forward, your body learns to become more efficient and keeps better stores on the daily. Those glycogen molecules will in turn rip more water from underneath your skin and suck it into your muscles, further defining those lines that make us look “fit.”

So, if you’ve been hoping to fend off the fluffier look you normally rock in the colder months(those hibernation instincts are strong in 14-degree cold of New Jersey), running can give you that bikini-ready look in March.

Running Helps Your Brain Become More Resilient

Yes, we all know that exercise helps release some feel-good hormones that can help you deal with chronic mental health issues like depression and anxiety. But, running also releases the chemical norepinephrine. 

Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter, but it’s also an important hormone present during the body’s stress response - your “fight or flight” mode. Running has been shown to increase the production and storage of norepinephrine, effectively allowing your body to manage it’s response to physical and mental stress better. 

So, if you feel you’ve been dealing with stress poorly or you know you’ve got a tough couple of months coming up, starting a running regimen can be a great way to troubleshoot or preventatively balance. 

Get a Program

All of these potential benefits from running paint a very bright future. But, it’s all just speculation until you actually get rolling. You’ve got to be consistent with your efforts and meticulous in your planning. You could just hit the road and start logging miles without any more awareness or knowledge, but this is how most fitness seekers drop off by February. 

You need a program that will keep your mind motivated and your body strong. Ready to finally tackle that mental block that seems to get in your way every year? Get STRONG ENOUGH TO RUN on sale now and find your inner runner.

Learn more by clicking the link above or purchase before the sale ends here!

Why Too Much HIIT Is Killing Your Progress

...And How You Can Incorporate Intense Training For Maximum Results

HIIT workouts are EVERYWHERE. From Barry’s on the east coast to Orange Theory on the West Coast. Think those combo treadmill/dumbbell workouts are it though? Soul Cycle and Flywheel are the HIIT of cycling. In most cases, your neighborhood hot yoga class is probably an HIIT workout more than it is an ancient mobility practice. The magazines and the Instagram fit-pros pretty much deal in nothing else. And oh yes, Crossfit is an HIIT workout too. 

There are multiple reasons to explain why  HIIT training has become the new go-to workout. But, they aren't what you might think.

HIIT training is (on first glance) accessible. It’s what we call in the industry low-barrier-of-entry. Don't be fooled, though. That does not mean that the workouts are easy. Decidedly the opposite is true. What it means to boutique fitness is that instructors can pack a class in a relatively small space with dozens of bodies and minimal equipment. And similarly for the IG stars and fitness editors, they can provide a workout that followers can perform in their living rooms without registering for a class. 

HIIT also fits our deeply engrained ideas of what an effective workout is. We believe that training should be ALWAYS be hard. It should leave you feeling spent, sweaty, and sore, right? This assumption is not true. But HIIT checks all those boxes we’re tempted to tick. 

But wait! Isn’t HIIT so popular because it’s good for fat-loss???

Well, yes. Of course it can be. But any new and novel training style will result in initially favorable fat-loss. And HIIT certainly has it’s place as PART of a well rounded fitness regimen. But as most things go, too much of anything is too much. 

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And that too much - that high level of intense acute stress can turn into chronic stress that threatens your health and sabotages your success.

Now anecdotally, you may have already come to this conclusion on your own without knowing exactly why. You want to lose fat but no matter how much you increase your effort, you seem to have plateaued. And you’re supposed to be getting strong, but in fact you’re realizing more aches and pains than when you started.

So why does progress seem to reverse when you’re working out hard? And how can you incorporate HIIT into your program with favorable results? Those successful studies on the multitude of benefits must have some merit, yes?

Well, I went to my friend Justin to get some clarity on this very complicated and potentially frustrating issue. Justin Janoska is a clinical nutritionist and coach who helps women facing autoimmune disorders turn their lives around. He is an expert when it comes to hormones. And that’s what we spent much of our time chatting about.

It All Depends On Stress And Hormones

You see, different types of workouts elicit different hormonal responses. And workouts that are super stressful, just like life situations that are super stressful, temporarily cause a spike in cortisol. This acute elevation isn’t bad as you might have heard. Chronically elevated cortisol is a problem though.  It’s persistent and prolonged bouts of stress that result in excess cortisol and subsequent belly fat buildup.

“Hormones dictate your ability to lose weight before calories can even be spoken about,” says Justin. “If abnormal cortisol and thyroid hormones levels are present, no amount of caloric restriction or deficit will push the needle.”

This is why consistent under-eating and frequent hard workouts may have little or no effect on your ability to make physique progress. 

What’s even more startling is that this particular kind of hormone dyregulation can result in digestive havoc and induce cognitive changes in your brain - i.e. giving you problems like IBS, depression, and a multitude of autoimmune disorders that seem unrelated.

“It literally puts the kabosh on any chance of weight loss because the body is too preoccupied with overcoming the challenges. Bionergetically, its shifting towards immune function and inflammation, which is costly in energy requirement.” says Justin. Think of it like going into fight or flight-mode. Basic body functions gets under prioritized as your body struggles to adapt.

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Too little cortisol is not good either. Your training program should provide the RIGHT amount of stress, an appropriate challenge that your body can adapt to. But without any stimulus, there can be no prompted change either.

How To Incorporate HIIT Correctly

You can totally avoid the negative health effects of chronically elevated stress hormones, and find your own RIGHT amount of HIIT for the positive results you’ve read about, if you follow these simple but important guidelines.

1. Realize that HIIT is one course of the meal that is your personal fitness plan.

 And if you want to get really specific with your metaphors, consider it dessert. It’s the “use sparingly”, indulgent treat of the fitness pyramid and should be treated as such. Your training plan should be grounded in mobility and highlighted by focused strength and rhythmic cardiovascular sessions. But that doesn’t mean that Barry’s class you love to take with all your friends and your favorite instructor doesn’t belong. Fitness should be fun. Simply try scaling back to just 1 or 2 times per week.

Monitor your body’s response.

It can be difficult to know if you're pushing too hard. But you can ask yourself these guided questions: Do you feel at least 80% recovered at the beginning of each new interval? Is your heart rate back to normal by the time you get to the subway or your car? Do you sleep well that night and wake up feeling rested? Just these simple questions can start a really good inner dialogue, which Justin says is key for figuring out what works for you.

Stay conservative.

This can be tough if the prescribed parameters from the instructor are extreme to begin with. And that added pressure of class competition and having your results displayed on a huge screen can also tempt you to screw it and go beast mode. But, don’t be afraid to be that girl doing something different(this is bigger if advice too). I always recommend my lovelies begin at a 1:2 work:rest ratio. So if you have 30 second bouts of burpees, break 60 seconds. This will also allow you to crush the pace and keep the intensity high. When you can no longer recover in 60 seconds, take a longer break, switch things up, or call it.

Monitor the intensity of other stressors.

Like your emotions, job, relationships, finances, etc. Stress is stress. If the intensity in these other areas of your life is high, you may not need to add additional fuel to the fire by ending the workout in a puddle of your own sweat and starting the next day too  gassed and stiff to be productive. What’s the cost? What’s the benefit? If the benefit isn’t higher, find a less intense outlet to move your body and blow off steam. Resume when conditions improve. 

And most importantly, remember that fat-loss and fitness are about working WITH your body, not against it. 

Ready to try something new? For just

Play With Speed (Part 1) - Add a Pause To Your Lifts

When you think about your overall abilities in most strength exercises, you probably tend to judge your progress by how much weight you can move at once or how many reps you can complete at one time. And so, these two variables, load and volume, are likely the ones you focus on the most as you practice. You make the work more challenging by increasing one or both.

This strategy is quite smart. Changing only these two variables will work for quite some time before your progress seems to level off - years, really(when programmed correctly). However, there is another variable you can manipulate just as easily to bust through that next plateau. You can play with the speed of your repetitions to help you get stronger, and closer to your aesthetic goals.

And there are a lot of upsides to this beyond those two more obvious, covetable benefits. The first is that you can work with relatively light weights for big gains. You’ll have considerably more options to train sub maximally and still continue to build strength, without super heavy weights all the time. Working with super heavy weights more than a few weeks at a time can fry your nervous system and stunt your progress and cue significant detriment to your health, so this one is major. Whether increasing or decreasing the speed, you'll be working with no more than 60% of your max.

The second is that you'll really OWN the movement. Like any other skill - and strength is a skill to be sure - it's to your advantage to practice slowly at first. As you gain proficiency and fluidity in the movement, you'll be able to add speed and complication while maintaining integrity.

OK, OK. On to the reasons you really care about...

Add Speed For Challenge

As you can imagine, you have many options here. You can try to move your body or the weight(the load) really quickly and explosively. This action teaches your brain to recruit motor units very quickly, and therefore get your muscles to help you execute the action really fast. We’re talking about building efficiency here. You'll feel more like the strong chick you already are. Keep in mind, this is on the advanced end of the spectrum. 

Decrease Speed For Mastery

You could also slow down the concentric or eccentric(the push or pull) parts of the lift, fighting gravity a little more to lengthen out the time of the reps. This action teaches your brain to recruit a higher number of motor units, and therefore get more of your body involved. We’re talking about keeping your bod looking like it does all the work you do. Also important to note, is that exaggerated isometrics and eccentrics have been shown to reduce inflammation that can keep you feeling both achey and boxy(you know what I mean here). These are great options on the more beginner end of the spectrum, as we sort of touched on above.

Or, you could slow things down so much that you take a PAUSE somewhere in the lift.

Pause To Break Through Plateaus

Now the pause is great for multiple reasons including all the benefits that come from decreasing the speed of work. But, the pause being a quick hold that you add to a specific part of the lift, also helps you gain more specific strength at the moment you stop, and work through weaknesses that might be holding you back from progress. For example, if you find it difficult to get your back knee close to the ground in a split squat - if that end range mobility is tough - you could dump some of the weight and add a pause in the bottom of the movement, adding greater value and dare I say FUN to the session.

There are an unlimited amount of moments at which you can add an unexpected pause to your typical movements. So, get creative if you're not sure. Really girl: Trust yourself. Try adding it in different places and see which feels most challenging. This can lead you to intuitively find the weak links and learn about your body.

Here are some wonderful ideas (including the split squat example above) that focus on owning that end range of motion, as most of you lovelies express concern with mobility. Beginners can start with 10 reps and a three-second pause. More experienced lifters can use loads of 40-50% for 4 sets of 5 reps and a two-second pause.

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Plus right now, you can train with me for just $9. The Holiday Challenge is back and better than ever with 30 days of progressive workouts, fat-loss nutrition support, and science-backed mindset strategy to help you find your motivation. The Challenge begins December 1st so sign up now for a chance to win a prize!

The Pull-Up Tutorial

Welcome To My Pull-Up Tutorial

Some of you Lovelies may be looking for your first rep. And some of you might just be looking to improve your current abilities. Either way, this comprehensive tutorial will teach you drills and progressions to help you finally master this highly coveted skill.

Don't forget to download the written program. Just tell me where to send it!

The Secret To Improving Your Squat Depth

Many of you lovelies are concerned about squatting past parallel. So we’re going to chat about that today.

But, let’s get one little disclosure out of the way first:

***Getting to rock bottom in a HEAVY barbell squat is really not as important as you may think. Unless you are stepping onto the powerlifting platform that is - in which case you’ll want to train to that desired depth as outlined by the rules of your league. Otherwise, dropping it to the point that is comfortably difficult is the best course of action when faced with more MAXIMAL EFFORT weights. And this kind of squat is really not what we’re talking about here anyway.

OK. Back to it...

To get this started, let me just say that I happen to think it’s generally SUPER important to be able to goblet squat at sub maximal loads to at least a depth that allows your hips to sit below your knees. But it’s this type of squat—the more upright, front loaded, tailbone-at-6pm kinda squat, where we seem to struggle the most.

I don’t really mean “we" as in you and I. I am not one of the strugglers. Just recognizing the truth here: I don’t have ANY issue with dropping it like it’s hot. I wait for the subway at Spring Street with my booty between my heels and my nose between the pages of a Henry James novel. 

 

Some Bodies Can Just Get There Easier

I don’t point this out to gloat. Although this ability has certainly allowed me an immeasurable advantage in shaping my very curvy backside. Hah.

I note this for two reasons. My joints are arranged definitively differently than yours. And, I spent many hours from the ages of 4 to 13 working on my flexibility in ballet shoes. What that means is, I’ve got an advantage in both leverage and training history. Those are two very important factors contributing to squatting ability.

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But You Can Drop It Low Too!

But, just because you may not have the same body or background as me, doesn’t mean you can’t get to be as comfortable as I am in a fuller range of motion with some intentional practice.

And oddly enough, all those releves and grand plies - those deep knee bends at the bar - taught me an important cue that you might find is the game changer for improving your squat training.

The one cue that makes all the difference - the one that will ultimately allow you to sit into a fuller range of motion - is exactly how you initiate lots of your basic ballet skills....

Instead of moving from the hips to start, you need to begin solely by pushing into the knees first.

 

But Won’t That Hurt My Knees?

Now, you may be thinking to yourself “But I have bad knees.” First off, don’t talk about your joints like that. How you speak about your body has a powerful effect on your brain. Don’t forget that! 

And yes, it’s certainly easy to imagine that aspiring for a sharper angle at the knee as we’re implying here, is going to make matters worse.

But, the thing is darling, doing a slow and controlled deep squat—putting your knee into greater flexion with intention and care; will actually help strengthen that knee you are worried about.

You know that knee of yours that doesn't feel so great after lunges or jump squats or sprints - when it’s forced into those tighter positions under much higher speed, load and pressure from that amrap clock. Slow it down. Give your brain and body a chance to learn and understand the motion.

As you practice BONUS, you'll also be giving your body a chance to strengthen other joints in a fuller range of motion like your hips and ankles - and those guys love to move.

 

How To Initiate Your Front Squat

So here’s your challenge. Start tall with your feet rooting down and the crown of your head reaching to the ceiling. Begin to pull the floor apart with your feet (if you've never heard that before, click here!) as normal. Now, keeping your hips locked up tight underneath your shoulders, continue to pull the floor apart as you bend the knees and pull them apart too. You can think of this like sliding your back down the wall a few inches.

Once you've got that slight bend, THEN you may move from your hips. But instead of sitting back, aim to get your butt right between your heels on the way down - i.e. push forward as you go down.

Watch this quick vid for a visual demonstration of what we're saying.

Did you get lower than you normally do? Do you think you could get even lower if you held on to something like a rack or a TRX? Make adjustments with assistance to achieve an even better result if you can't get all the way down there.

And more importantly - Do you feel how your quads, those muscles on the front side of your thighs, are working super hard? Thats gonna help you get that nice defined leg you’ve been chasing after. Just beware, you’re gonna be a lot more sore than you normally are.

 

Practice!

Start with 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps. Try and descend nice and slow - like a 3 second count, before returning to standing. Add in a 2-3 second pause(without losing tension) once you've practiced a couple weeks. Add weight as needed.

Like what you're reading? Follow me on IG @ashleighkast and sign up for my free nutrition tips here.

Three Valid Reasons You Don't Like Running

But, you still kinda wanna get into it...

Oh girl, you are not alone. I've had tons of friends and clients over the years who've felt the same way. They kinda hate running. But, they still feel like it's something they'd like to get into, or at least should be able to do.

Many of them have even made numerous attempts to pick up the habit - investing in top-of-the-line kicks and using the most highly rated run programs - only to be disappointed by increased aches and pains, very little progress, and even less enthusiasm. 

First off, let's be clear. If you really don't want to run, there are plenty of other ways you can get cardiovascular benefit and keep your heart healthy. 

However, I will tell you this. You absolutely SHOULD be able to sprint. We're not exactly living in a world where you're being chased down by predators, but you may need to hustle to that 1 train before the doors smash into your ribcage. Ok, maybe that's just New York, but I'm sure you can think of a scenario where sprinting comes in handy as well. Sprinting is something we're meant to do.

And, I also happen to believe a 5K is a reasonable endurance test for any fit person. I'm not saying you should go out and run a marathon. Progressing from your couch to 26.2 miles is actually the opposite of health. But, training to run 3 miles will get your energy systems in tip-top shape; and I think that attribute fits everyone's abstract ideas of what makes one "fit."

So, if running is so good for you - and it is - then why do you hate it so much? Well, contrary to what you probably tell yourself,  it's not because you don't have enough willpower, or whatever bogus self-shaming thought crosses your mind. 

As a former track coach and strength and conditioning specialist, I've seen what passes as a typical 5k training plan in the magazines and running websites, and uhhh... they're mostly bullshit. 

There are a plethora of common problems I see with most programs, and any one of them could result in a crippling lack of motivation. 

Let's talk about the most important ones:

It's Boring

Running endless miles at slow speeds for days on end is both tedious and boring. But more importantly, this method prescribed by most running magazines, is really not effective at building you the specific speed and endurance necessary for a 5k. Your workouts should include varying bouts of intensity and time that result in both efficient cardiovascular improvements, and more interesting and fun challenges. A mere ladder of increasing bouts of running will not produce good enough results to justify your efforts.

2. It feels like you're dying
It is completely valid that you don't like feeling like your heart is going to explode out of your chest, or that your legs feel like a hundred pounds of dead weight being dragged along with you. And both are signs that you're training in suboptimal conditions. Your workouts should have very specific intensity prescriptions and appropriate parameters to ensure that your training is making your body stronger and better, not weaker and overly stressed. If your running gets worse as the workout continues, it's not a good workout. 

3. It makes your joints hurt
If you experience excessive aches or pain in your joints during or after running, you may have another indicator that your workouts are too stressful for your current level of ability, or just poorly programmed from the get-go. Proper progression is key. And it's not just your heart and lungs that need to be built up, but also the capacity of your legs. Your training should factor in muscular endurance so that your workouts are pain free. And an  appropriate strength training program should be completed in tandem with your running workouts to build your resilience. 

So maybe you do ACTUALLY hate running. But, if you still find the idea of running for fitness COMPELLING, but one of the above reasons has been holding you back... well then I've got the solution.

And this 12-week comprehensive strength training and running program is only on sale for $39 until Sunday. 

Come on. Let's give this thing one last shot.

The Easiest Nutrition Fix For Fat Loss

As I discuss in an upcoming vlog (you can peep the latest one here), I've got a few major priorities when it comes to fat loss. You can certainly never underestimate the impact of consistent sleep and workouts, but right now, I'm talking about the easiest nutrition skill you can starting practicing right now!

And that is to simply eat more protein.

Eat More Protein

Eating more protein has multiple benefits. This macronutrient is involved in pretty much every chemical process that your body carries out. Proteins are kind of like the raw material of all your body's projects. Of course, they are first broken down into amino acids and reconstructed into more purposeful combinations that your body can use. But, in any case, they are needed and necessary.

By ensuring our bodies get enough protein, we fulfill an essential requirement of the myriad of processes we commonly refer to as our metabolism, making the whole thing run that much more efficiently . In simple terms, that means that we can make the most of what we've got with the least amount of energy expended.

And that my friends, is what fat-loss is all about: finding the most benefit, with the least amount of cost.

SNAP!

*** BTW You should write that one down in your notes. It's a gem.

Anyways, let's move on to your potential protests regarding this recommendation...

You're Not Eating Enough

Now you might say "But Coach, I heard eating too much protein can damage your organs."

Well, dear I have an answer for that.

Of course, if one eats TOO MUCH protein (which is a very subjective value btw), it's reasonably possible to assume the kidneys can be affected. BUT, it's also very unlikely that you are anywhere close to this very subjective amount. It's also very unlikely that you are anywhere close to consistently hitting the number you need to support fat-loss in the first place, which is typically the lowest benchmark that nutritionists suggest you hit. So, we really don't need to discuss what "too much" is anyway.

And even further, formation of kidney stones and other potential harm to these vital organs (which is really what we're talking about), has much more to do with the amount of water you are drinking. Byproducts of increased protein intake are excreted normally, without any harm done, in the pee of adequately hydrated humans.

"But Miss Ashleigh, I eat enough protein every day."

Oh dear, I've got an answer for that too. I know you came up with that reply way too quickly. You likely scanned the last 24 hours, and the ease with which two to three instances where you ingested some protein came to mind, led you to conclude that you're doing just fine. But, unless you ran some numbers and calculations in your head, I'm going to say this is not really a fact you could know with any kind of certainty.

Not to worry. It's a common human error to highlight the negative possibilities and grossly overestimate the actuals, as demonstrated by both of these complaints.

The Fix

Let's work together to figure out the truth. In the next three days, I want you to plug in what you eat to any macro app. I personally like to use MyMacros+ as it easily connects me to my clients, but choose whatever program suits you. 

Figure out the average amount of protein you eat. You'll find this number represented in terms of grams. And then just try to increase it by about 20 grams. That's as easy as adding one quality Greek yogurt, two eggs, or half a cup of chicken. And since that amounts to an average of less than $2 per serving, it's also way cheaper than that weird skinny tea or the currently trending fat-loss superfood.

Hit that number consistently for a few weeks(I said weeks, not days! And a "few" means at least three. I did not say "a couple"). Forget about why you were practicing this skill in the first place. And then pull on that pair of skinny jeans you reserve for the moments when you feel really good about yourself, and try em' on again. I know you also save these for your greatest self-shaming moments too, but this won't be one of those. See also: stop doing that.

And stand in front of the mirror as long as you like admiring your work. Because real talk: you're most beautiful when you're being the most kind to your body. And giving it the nutrition it needs is part of fulfilling that purpose.

Even More Fat Loss

Increasing your protein intake by 20 grams will make a huge difference. However, you might have even further room for improvement, and by that I mean, more room to create in those sexy, skinny jeans. To find out what that fat-loss benchmark is, plus even more fat loss habits, check out my latest vlog here.

The Sophisticated Way To Tackle the Holidays

It's my favorite time of year!

The windows at Saks. Choosing gifts for my loved ones. Cuddling up on the couch with my siblings to watch Christmas movies. Getting together with old friends. The good cheer from strangers on the street.

I love it all.

And let us not forget the holiday parties and traditional meals!

Don't even talk to me about Paleo this or that. I have a list for Saturday's Thanksgiving shopping and the first item on it is butter. The second is vodka.

I'm going to keep this post short, because we're all about to be very short on time; and for very good reason.

Do yourself a favor. Don't go overboard in the gym. Don't restrict yourself. And don't look on the upcoming temptations to indulge, with any kind of dread. 

Stay consistent with your fitness. Give your body what it needs to feel good. And be present in the moment. 

These practices are easier said than done. So, I'm going to give you my top tips for tackling the holidays like the cool and confident chick you are the rest of the year.

Because truthfully, a couple of cookies won't kill you, but a month of spiked cortisol from stressing over every little bite and workout might.

Prioritize Protein

If you've been through my Sophisticated Eats challenge, you know this is basically rule #1 for me. Protein helps you keep up with your physique goals and will also keep you more satisfied and full throughout the day. Translation: you won't want to eat the whole pumpkin pie, just a piece.

Get Those Greens

If you're going to eating less than stellar, planning ahead to ensure you get your greens every day will help you make the most of your nutrition through digestion, and keep your tummy happy at the same time.

Do Your Own Baking And Cooking

This one has a way bigger impact than you can imagine. Food is about sharing. Through it, we share culture and experience. Cook with family. Share recipes with coworkers. Throw a potluck with friends instead of meeting at a restaurant. Connect your brain to the process to create mindfulness. How we think about food is powerful stuff. Plus, by preparing your own dishes, you're likely avoiding excess preservatives and other gunk that can challenge your digestive system.

Stay The Course

Business as usual in the gym. There is no need to punish yourself with workouts. It's that kind of extreme behavior that sabotages our success. Start a progressive program now. Something that will keep you motivated to stay on track and empowered to fight the guilt that keeps us on the treadmill until last call. 

Don't have a program?

I'm hosting a FREE Holiday Challenge to help keep you fit through December. 25 days of workouts, plus more helpful tips. Don't have a gym? With two weights -- dumbbells of kettlebells -- and a pair of running shoes, you can do these workouts anywhere.

Plus, I'll be hosting some Facebook LIVE sessions to walk you through the program and teach you the moves. Come one. Let's beat the holidays together.

SIGN UP NOW!