Synergy Fitness Boca

Synergy Fitness Boca. Located at 221 East Palmetto Park Road only a half mile from the Ocean, A1A, Boardwalk, Beaches, Bridges and Intracoastal in beautiful Downtown Boca Raton (think hill runs, bear crawls, sit ups in the surf).

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Celebrate Non Scale Victories

So many times people focus on the numbers; numbers on the scale to determine success. Instead of looking at the scale numbers (which sometimes are slow to move) we should look at non-scale victories other measures in our lives that determine success or achievement of our goals. Here are 15 Non Scale Victories – email me with others that you have found represent your health, wellness, fitness and weight loss success.


Non-Scale Victories

  1. Smaller Clothing Size /A once too small dress now fitting: Going through your wardrobe and finding clothes that have not fit you for 2-3 years or more. Losing weight and you have just provided yourself with a new wardrobe without spending a dollar.
  2. Ability to lift heavier & heavier. I love the achievement of knowing that I am lifting heavier than I did 6 months ago. I used to think wow I will never be able to lift or press that and now 6 months later I am loading more weight on to challenge myself and I also know that I can push beyond my perceived limits.
  3. Being able to run faster & farther. Running without pain, running faster and PR’ing a 5K, running further and for longer amounts of time.
  4. Lower Blood Pressure and Heart Rate. Going to the doctor and seeing improvements that are measureable and knowing that lower heart rate and pressure is putting less strain on vital organs and blood vessels.
  5. Improved Cholesterol, Liver Function. Kidney function, cholesterol levels, Liver function tests all improved
  6. Not being winded when you take the stairs or even viewing the stairs or the walk in the parking lot as a challenge and not an obstacle. Your mind set changes you see the stairs as exercise and calories burned not a punishment.
  7. New or renewed interest from the opposite sex. This one goes without saying renewed interest from your partner or significant other or even just a member of the opposite sex. When you once felt invisible and nondescript you are now aware of the glances from others.
  8. Rings fitting. There is nothing more uncomfortable than something feeling tight, especially rings but this NSV can be applied to a shirt or waistband of pants.
  9. Muscle Definition – When you recognize the definition in your biceps or seeing the delineation between hamstring and glute or quad area.
  10. Decrease in Body Fat Percentage – Every percentage inches you closer to your goal and every % towards your goal is an improvement in your health.
  11. Waist Circumference <35 or decreasing – Anything less than 35 Inches harkens to improvements in health outcomes.
  12. Keeping up with your kids – Lets go to the beach, the park, hiking or swings – why stop at keeping up with your kids – why not try to pass them !!!!! Especially when they are good athletes.
  13. Completing a New Class/ Trying something new such as a 5K or Obstacle Race. Knowing you can accomplish a goal often leads to you setting new goals and challenges. All of a sudden things that were previously out of reach become new goals – Paddle boarding, Mud Runs, Adventure Races all become achievable !!!!!!!!!!
  14. Making differences in your family’s life. Kids mimic what their parents do and even at an older age – Your family will be more inclined to follow your healthy lifestyle if they see you leading by example. Food choices will be shared by you family as will exercise and leisure choices. You never know who is watching you.
  15. You save money – by eating healthier you often eat out less preparing healthy and nutritious meals at home and when you do eat out your bill is often less due to the fact that you are foregoing alcohol which at restaurant prices is expensive.


So while people are often focused on the number on the scale dropping look around you and see all the small positive changes that are occurring in your life due to your positive and healthy diet, fitness and health lifestyle!

 Dolores Van Bourgondien ARNP-BC




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Stretch Relief – Benefits of Stretching for Runners, Cyclists, Triathletes and More


Did you know that stretching can lead to better posture, fewer aches and pains, greater confidence, and a cheerier outlook on life. That’s because stretching increases your blood flow and circulation for a healthier body, and sends oxygen to your brain for a clearer mind and sunnier moods.

Runners following a training program tend to focus on building endurance and speed. Yet, a flexible body is more efficient, sees more gains in strength and endurance, enjoys more range of motion, is less injury-prone, recovers more quickly, and simply feels better. Regular stretching is a must.

Here are some tips on the benefits of stretching and how to get the most our of your “Stretch Relief”: 


  1. Vary your stretch routine using a variety of different stretches
    1. Static — Target muscles are stretched by the work of other muscles
    2. Active-isolated — Flexibility training that isolates a single muscle group
    3. Contract-relax — Isometric contraction of the targeted muscle
    4. Yoga — Static-active stretching that increases flexibility and can speed recovery
    5. Dynamic — Controlled movements to improve range of motion and       loosen up muscles


  1. Only Stretch Warm Muscles – You will be warmed up from your run or bike but Bea will warm you up at the start of class
  2. Helps relieve post-exercise aches and pains. After a hard workout, stretching the muscles will keep them loose and lessen a shortening and tightening effect that can lead to post-workout aches and pains.
  3. Helps reduce or manage stress. Well stretched muscles hold less tension and therefore, leave you feeling less stressed.
  4. Promotes circulation. Stretching increases blood supply to the muscles and joints which allow for greater nutrient transportation and improves the circulation of blood through the entire body


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Lets Be Bad – 10 “Bad” things that are actually good for you !


Who can keep up with it – One days its Good, Next day its Bad !!!!!  Eat this, no don’t, do that, Ummm not this week.  Here is a list of 10 things that we have been told are bad that actually have benefits – All except one in moderation !

  1.  Sun – OK too much can cause skin cancer, wrinkles, aging and more but Sunlight in moderation is actually necessary.  Its benefits include decrease in symptoms of depression, promotes growth and bone health, activates Vitamin D, deficiencies of which have been linked to all major cancers and also new studies show Schizophrenia.  So get about 15-30 minutes daily especially in the early morning  (not midday in South Florida) – Did you know that most of the patients I see are Vitamin D deficient in South Florida
  2.  Salt – Sodium deficiency can cause headaches, confusion, nausea, vomiting and Seizures !!!! Indeed Sodium is necessary for conduction of nerve impulses !  The avoidance of salt stems from the HIGHLY Processed diet in the Western World which used Sodium as a preservative and exposed us to higher levels of sodium intake but shunning all salt can leave us depleted and then add in high levels of exercise with sweating (where sodium is excreted) and you can become deficient and other conditions such as Diarrhea and Vomiting can rob you of sodium.  The advise is to cut salt if you are eating a highly processed diet and if your doctor or nurse practitioner recommends it due to a medical condition such as Addisons disease or Hypertension – but don’t look at Salt as evil as it is a necessary electrolyte.
  3.  Wine – This is one of my favorites – Drinking to excess, as we all know, contributes to esophageal,stomach and breast cancer, pancreatitis and much more – not to mention alcoholism !  BUT there are studies that say that the antioxidants in red wine such as reservatrol can actually benefit you.  Studies show that ONE glass of red wine can improve cardiovascular health, improve good cholesterol (HDL) and in a very recent study improved blood glucose levels in Type II Diabetics.  For me there is a lot to be said about the “sharing” a glass of red wine with a great friend, over dinner and chatting – it is this reduction in stress, the “communion” associated with the glass of wine that is good or beneficial to us.
  4.  Oils/Fats – Fats for so long have been the enemy leading to the explosion of Non- Fat foods but guess what we have goten fatter and heavier !!  Fas and Oils are essential in your diet the key is to consume “good” fats.  Fats are high in energy, contain “essential fatty acids” and are needed to transport the fat soluble vitamins A.D.E.K and hormones.  Try to consume “good” fats in foods such as Avocado, nuts, fish (salmon).  Lets not forget Omega 3 which has been shown to effectively lower triglyceride levels and improve blood pressure and cardio vascular health while also reducing inflammation and supporting the immune system it can also improve the symptoms of depression  In addition to taking an Omega 3 Supplement and eating oily fish you can add edamame and walnuts to your diet !
  5. Sugar/Chocolate:  Yes the body needs glucose – but we should be getting it from “clean” forms not from copious amounts of candy or processed foods !  Like Salt our Western Diet has been corrupted with an overdose of things that are actually good and essential for you. We have consumed those things to excess and this is where the problem arises.  So began he movement telling us – in blanket form- that all sweets/sugars were bad for us and that a created chemical “aspartame” was better – Duh we all know what happened there with newer research showing “aspartame” associated with cancer !  Dark chocolate contains Fiber, Iron, Magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium (OK you have to eat ALOT to get the RDA of these elements)  it also contains anti-oxidants and flavanols which have been shown to increase nitrous oxide production which relaxes the lining of blood vessels leading to a reduction in blood pressure.  Again its good in moderation
  6.  Sex – Sex is great – but it has often been labelled taboo – especially in excess but the benefits of sex are well known.  It relaxes you, decreases blood pressure, boosts the immune system, improves bladder control, decreases heart attack and prostate cancer risk and keeps you young and often improves body image and awareness – SO GET MORE OF IT !
  7.  Sitting – Sitting is the new smoking ! A sedentary lifestyle and too much time spent in desk jobs have been linked to heart disease, hypertension and cancer ! BUT Sitting in silent meditation has been proven to be beneficial including a reduction in stress, improved immune system a decrease in pain, improved memory and so much more.  People such as Jon Kabat-Zinn have espoused the benefits of meditation and its curative powers !
  8.  Anger – Especially pent up and restrained anger is definitely bad for you it can lead to depression, heart disease, hypertension, GI related problems, skin issues, depression and so much more !  The upside is releasing your anger in a CONSTRUCTIVE way can be therapeutic.  Take out your anger on a punching bag, at the gym, by going for a run and decrease all of its negative effects.
  9.  Lazy:  Being “inert” or “inactive”  We live in a rushing, frantic and frenetic dog eat dog world – laziness has often had a multitude of negative connotations.  But it is good to sit down, relax and reflect without the stress of planning and wondering what to do next.  A lazy day or even a few  lazy hours have actually shown to improve both mood and productivity so give yourself permission to laze around !
  10.   Fail – Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly – Robert F. Kennedy.  We are so afraid to fail yet failure is the only way to succeed it is a stepping stone to success.  Failing means that you are trying and actually in weight lifting or working out – Working to failure is success – so go out and try and fail as many times as it takes but keep getting up and trying

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It’s all about that Base: Building Great Assets by incorporating Multi-Dimensional Exercises into your Lower Body Routine

It’s all about that Base

Build a Great Asset by incorporating Multi-Dimensional Exercises into your Lower Body Routine

Jen Selter, Justine Munro, Bruna Lima or Michelle Lewin – what do they all have in common – well reportedly great derrieres. But such assets require hard work and training.

One of the great things about a great butt is its multi dimensional quality its lift and its its shape. That’s why you need multi – dimensional exercises to achieve that Butt shape and definition.

Everywhere you look the humble squat is being credited with providing a great butt, 30day squat challenges are all the rage, but squats are really only one component or dimension of the exercises that are needed to build a great butt.

To create a really great butt you need to employ multiple glute building exercises while also enlisting the help of hamstring and quad exercises which enhance the definition on the glutes.

The following are, in our opinion, the best exercises to build your ass-ets and we do include Squats right at the end.

We cannot stress enough the importance of GREAT FORM especially in those exercises that also potentially stress the low back such as deadlifts – we therefore recommend asking a trainer to show you correct form and also to spot you especially when lifting heavy,  and while you can create your own program it can take time to come up with a winning COMBINATION of exercises to create the best butt in the least amount of time.

Lunges: Forward, Backward, Alternating, Side, Curtsey. Use your body weight or add dumbbells and barbells for more definition

Bridges – The Mac Daddy of Glute Exercises and there are many variations. Basic on the ground, single leg, on a low step, BOSU or shoulders on a higher bench. Add a band to add resistance and then progress to weighted glute bridges. By changing the height of the item you rest your back, mid back and even shoulders on (ground, Step, BOSU, Bench) the better you can isolate areas of the glute. Feeling confident with no back issues add a box and do box thrusters. Enlist the help of other gym accessories such as the SBT (TRX) and Val slides – purple disks that slide on the floor while you isolate the hamstring.

Kickbacks and all their variations; Start with non weighted Glute Kick back, Donkey Kicks, Straight Leg Raises, Rainbows and Fire Hydrants. Once you have mastered the movement you can add ankle weights to make the exercise more challenging , our show stoppers use 20llb ankle specific weights, and don’t forget when completing the exercise to focus and isolate the glute. Also in the range of kickbacks are the great cable kickbacks .   Can you say BURN !

Step Ups: Using a box or step, step up and back down repeating on the same leg.   Add variations by adding weight, do knee raises, kick that leg back, or extend leg to the side.

Deadlifts (hamstring): Awesome exercise for engaging the hamstrings which add emphasis to the glutes. Try Romanian, Stiff, Sumo, we also add anterior reaches to this category and good mornings, while not deadlifts they are great for isolating the hamstrings. Add weight barbells, dumbbells or kettle bells.

Squats– and all their variations Regular, Plié, Sumo, Back Squats, on the toes add in a plyometric jump.

Synergy Show Stoppers split their leg concentrations. Quads, Glutes and Hamstrings are all completed on different days but we do add “extra credit” moves. Bridge sprints, Plyo exercises, Sled Push & Pull and compound exercises which can all help in creating a great derriere.

So what are you waiting for choose your exercises, add some weights and work that bootay!

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13 Tips I love that Helped me to Lose 50 Lbs.


  1. Stop being horrible to yourself. 50lbs ago I didn’t like myself. I felt like a failure, I felt unattractive, I felt unsuccessful, I felt unworthy and then I said – no more of this what am I gaining from this negativity!!!! I am a great person I have so much to offer I just happen to be overweight. As soon as I was nice to myself, as soon as I stopped hating myself I was able to address my problems and formulate a plan to tackle my weight and I didn’t dwell on the self loathing which had become exhausting.
  2. Get off the Weekend revolving roller coaster – Monday was always start day I would do great lose 3-4 lbs. throughout the week and then “reward” myself on the weekend by having a couple of glasses of wine and then allowing myself to eat what I wanted. This resulted in a weight gain of 4-5 lbs., over the weekend, self-loathing and guilt and the repeat of this process again starting on Monday.   When I jumped off this roller coaster and stopped drinking on weekends I saw significant losses, which were consistent over time. Looking back on it I must have lost that same 3-4 lbs. 1000’s of times
  3. Cut out Alcohol!!!!!!! I LOVED my glass(es) of wine. That’s the long and the short of it BUT alcohol is not conducive to weight loss. So I cut it out and guess what that did ? It allowed me to NOT consume empty calories, which then allowed me to avoid mindless eating of all the wrong foods and also because I wasn’t hung over and had also gotten great quality sleep I was able to get up in the morning and workout – Plain and Simple. Don’t get me wrong I gave myself permission to drink on special occasions but no more than 2 drinks at any time and I built it into my calories/workout for that day. I haven’t deprived myself , I don’t feel I’m missing out but I also have not made alcohol a consistent habit.
  4. Devise a great plan that consists of diet and exercise and stick to it. I was lucky as I had great people with extensive knowledge of nutrition around me but the advice they gave me is free to everyone. Eat good, fresh nutritious foods 5-6 times a day in smaller portions to activate your metabolism. Drink water and workout consistently. Every week I plan my diet and exercise for the week and I especially plan for those days that I know will be busy so there are no pitfalls – by doing this I am able to be successful about 90% of the time!!!! And that works!
  5. Meal Plan – I cook enmasse once every week. Brown Rice, Quinoa, Sweet Potatoes, Chicken, Vegetables and Oatmeal. When I feel hungry there are always good and nutritious foods available.
  6. Ditch the Processed Foods – if it comes in a bag or box ditch it ! One of the reasons my diet works is that it is really clean. All of my foods are fresh, unbleached, unprocessed. There is NO added sodium, sugar or preservatives, they are easily digestible and are filling and satisfying.
  7. Plan your Workouts – Very simple for me – If I don’t get my workout in, in the morning I don’t get it done. On a daily basis I have no idea how busy my day will be. I could have the best intentions in the world on planning on attending a class at 600 PM but if I have a patient at the hospital that I have to see and its 500 PM I have to see that patient. Once I planned to workout in the morning my workouts became more consistent
  8. Lift Heavy & Juggle up your workouts – I was doing TONS of cardio and putting on weight. With the encouragement of my great trainers I began to left heavy, to push myself every workout and guess what the pounds fell off, 50lbs so far.   Now I do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Lift Heavy. While I do have goals to do a ½ Marathon in less than 2:30 I don’t think I will ever go back to that amount of slow state cardio that I did previously. Plus the benefits of weight lifting for women, especially as they age are well documented.
  9. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate – Yes 1 Gallon a day of H20 and carry your water bottle with you everywhere. I often drank my water only so that I didn’t have to carry a full water bottle from a given hospital floor to the parking lot as I went from hospital to hospital
  10. Supplements – I was never a big believer in vitamins BUT with consistent working out come aches, pains and strains. I have taken a great multi vitamin, Omega 3, Catalyst (branch chain amino acid) and, as I am Peri-Menopausal a Women’s Formula with MACA!!!!!!! All of my products were clean and from Advocare In addition part of my problem was not eating enough (this is a huge problem when people who diet think the route to weight loss is deprivation) or not having the ability to access food – Many times I would use a meal replacement shake between hospitals, which kept me full and kept me away from vending machines and fast foods.  I love all the Advocare products and they make weight loss and supplementation easy.
  11. Slow and Steady Wins the Race. Realize that it took months and years to put on the weight – it is going to take months and years for it to come off. Be gentle to yourself, realize that you will hit a plateau – I didn’t lose any weight for nearly 3 weeks and this sent me into a tail spin but I didn’t turn to food or alcohol and I knew (with help from others) that I had to outlast my brain!!!!!!!   Consistency, Persistency, Determination and Planning will win out in the end!
  12. Surround yourself with great people who make working out fun!!!!! My friends have encouraged me and cheered me on more times than they know. I looked forward to working out and even if I didn’t want to go to the gym I did want to see them, to see how their day was going etc. – Even if I didn’t want to do an exercise a word by a training partner – “I love this S**T” (SDS) can completely change your mind set. Throw in some good healthy competition and it makes that workout fly by.
  13. Enjoy the Journey/Trust the Process. This is a journey – I am so excited to continue on this journey. I have new goals and plans, I will get there but I am realizing that it is the journey that makes it great, not so much the actual destination! Though the results are totally worth it !

Hope these tips help!!!!!!

You can contact me at if you have any questions or comments !  I am a full time Nurse Practitioner, Mother of two, wife, and assist Mark with his gym Synergy Fitness Boca.  Life is busy but you can get it done just plan, prepare, remain dedicated, persistent and consistent and be kind to yourself.

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Sunday Planning Day – Goals & Strategies for Success

Learn more about the science of success with Heidi Grant Halvorson’s HBR Single, based on this blog post.

Why have you been so successful in reaching some of your goals, but not others? If you aren’t sure, you are far from alone in your confusion. It turns out that even brilliant, highly accomplished people are pretty lousy when it comes to understanding why they succeed or fail. The intuitive answer — that you are born predisposed to certain talents and lacking in others — is really just one small piece of the puzzle. In fact, decades of research on achievement suggests that successful people reach their goals not simply because of who they are, but more often because of what they do.

1. Get specific. When you set yourself a goal, try to be as specific as possible. “Lose 5 pounds” is a better goal than “lose some weight,” because it gives you a clear idea of what success looks like. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve keeps you motivated until you get there. Also, think about the specific actions that need to be taken to reach your goal. Just promising you’ll “eat less” or “sleep more” is too vague — be clear and precise. “I’ll be in bed by 10pm on weeknights” leaves no room for doubt about what you need to do, and whether or not you’ve actually done it.

2. Seize the moment to act on your goals. Given how busy most of us are, and how many goals we are juggling at once, it’s not surprising that we routinely miss opportunities to act on a goal because we simply fail to notice them. Did you really have no time to work out today? No chance at any point to return that phone call? Achieving your goal means grabbing hold of these opportunities before they slip through your fingers.

To seize the moment, decide when and where you will take each action you want to take, in advance. Again, be as specific as possible (e.g., “If it’s Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, I’ll work out for 30 minutes before work.”) Studies show that this kind of planning will help your brain to detect and seize the opportunity when it arises, increasing your chances of success by roughly 300%.

3. Know exactly how far you have left to go. Achieving any goal also requires honest and regular monitoring of your progress — if not by others, then by you yourself. If you don’t know how well you are doing, you can’t adjust your behavior or your strategies accordingly. Check your progress frequently — weekly, or even daily, depending on the goal.

4. Be a realistic optimist. When you are setting a goal, by all means engage in lots of positive thinking about how likely you are to achieve it. Believing in your ability to succeed is enormously helpful for creating and sustaining your motivation. But whatever you do, don’t underestimate how difficult it will be to reach your goal. Most goals worth achieving require time, planning, effort, and persistence. Studies show that thinking things will come to you easily and effortlessly leaves you ill-prepared for the journey ahead, and significantly increases the odds of failure.

5. Focus on getting better, rather than being good. Believing you have the ability to reach your goals is important, but so is believing you can get the ability. Many of us believe that our intelligence, our personality, and our physical aptitudes are fixed — that no matter what we do, we won’t improve. As a result, we focus on goals that are all about proving ourselves, rather than developing and acquiring new skills.

Fortunately, decades of research suggest that the belief in fixed ability is completely wrong — abilities of all kinds are profoundly malleable. Embracing the fact that you can change will allow you to make better choices, and reach your fullest potential. People whose goals are about getting better, rather than being good, take difficulty in stride, and appreciate the journey as much as the destination.

6. Have grit. Grit is a willingness to commit to long-term goals, and to persist in the face of difficulty. Studies show that gritty people obtain more education in their lifetime, and earn higher college GPAs. Grit predicts which cadets will stick out their first grueling year at West Point. In fact, grit even predicts which round contestants will make it to at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The good news is, if you aren’t particularly gritty now, there is something you can do about it. People who lack grit more often than not believe that they just don’t have the innate abilities successful people have. If that describes your own thinking …. well, there’s no way to put this nicely: you are wrong. As I mentioned earlier, effort, planning, persistence, and good strategies are what it really takes to succeed. Embracing this knowledge will not only help you see yourself and your goals more accurately, but also do wonders for your grit.

7. Build your willpower muscle. Your self-control “muscle” is just like the other muscles in your body — when it doesn’t get much exercise, it becomes weaker over time. But when you give it regular workouts by putting it to good use, it will grow stronger and stronger, and better able to help you successfully reach your goals.

To build willpower, take on a challenge that requires you to do something you’d honestly rather not do. Give up high-fat snacks, do 100 sit-ups a day, stand up straight when you catch yourself slouching, try to learn a new skill. When you find yourself wanting to give in, give up, or just not bother — don’t. Start with just one activity, and make a plan for how you will deal with troubles when they occur (“If I have a craving for a snack, I will eat one piece of fresh or three pieces of dried fruit.”) It will be hard in the beginning, but it will get easier, and that’s the whole point. As your strength grows, you can take on more challenges and step-up your self-control workout.

8. Don’t tempt fate. No matter how strong your willpower muscle becomes, it’s important to always respect the fact that it is limited, and if you overtax it you will temporarily run out of steam. Don’t try to take on two challenging tasks at once, if you can help it (like quitting smoking and dieting at the same time). And don’t put yourself in harm’s way — many people are overly-confident in their ability to resist temptation, and as a result they put themselves in situations where temptations abound. Successful people know not to make reaching a goal harder than it already is.

9. Focus on what you will do, not what you won’t do. Do you want to successfully lose weight, quit smoking, or put a lid on your bad temper? Then plan how you will replace bad habits with good ones, rather than focusing only on the bad habits themselves. Research on thought suppression (e.g., “Don’t think about white bears!”) has shown that trying to avoid a thought makes it even more active in your mind. The same holds true when it comes to behavior — by trying not to engage in a bad habit, our habits get strengthened rather than broken.

If you want to change your ways, ask yourself, What will I do instead? For example, if you are trying to gain control of your temper and stop flying off the handle, you might make a plan like “If I am starting to feel angry, then I will take three deep breaths to calm down.” By using deep breathing as a replacement for giving in to your anger, your bad habit will get worn away over time until it disappears completely.

It is my hope that, after reading about the nine things successful people do differently, you have gained some insight into all the things you have been doing right all along. Even more important, I hope are able to identify the mistakes that have derailed you, and use that knowledge to your advantage from now on. Remember, you don’t need to become a different person to become a more successful one. It’s never what you are, but what you do.

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Fuel Your Body for Fitness

Are you fueling or under fueling your body ?

Fuelling your metabolism Your body needs enough energy to support all the basic processes that keep you alive – be it your organs functioning, your heart beating or your hair growing. The sum of these processes is known as your basal metabolic rate (what is often referred to as your metabolism), or BMR.

Once you get out of bed, however, you start burning energy through what is known as activities of daily living (ADL) – we’re talking about brushing your teeth, climbing the stairs or typing out an email. For a typical adult female, the total of BMR and ADL is about 1,800 calories per day, give or take a few hundred calories due to age, genetics or amount of lean muscle (more muscle means a higher BMR). That means you would need to eat an average of 1,800 calories per day to keep your weight stable – and this is assuming you aren’t even going to the gym.

When you add exercise into the equation, your energy needs can jump considerably. For more casual gym-goers, exercise might add up to a few hundred extra calories a few times per week, but for the truly hardcore, it could translate to a thousand calories or more per day. However, many women are reluctant to eat that much out of fear that they might gain unwanted weight or body fat.

Undereating defined

So what happens if you eat less than your body needs? You’ll start by losing weight – at least for a while. But if you keep trimming your calories, your body will eventually adapt by reducing the amount of energy it burns to do everyday tasks, resulting in a drop in your metabolic rate.

Put another way, you start burning fewer calories at rest as your body tries to adapt to the lack of fuel. Keep it up over time, and your body will eventually harvest its own muscle, dragging your metabolism down even further. Beyond the effect on your biceps and metabolism, undereating can have other potentially serious consequences (see “5 Signs You’re Underfuelled” for details). In a world where overeating and being  overweight is the norm, it makes sense that active women want to be mindful of what they put in their body. But being overly cautious for too long could hinder your fat-loss goals and your health! The good news? According to research done on elite runners and gymnasts published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, the bestfuelled athletes had lower body-fat percentages than those who were consistently undernourished.


Not sure if you’re undereating? A few warning signs that your engine might be running on empty:

1. You’re losing – or not gaining – muscle. The key dietary factors in muscle growth are calories and protein. If you’re working out hard and eating enough protein, but seem to be getting weaker or losing definition, your energy intake is low.

2. You’re tired all the time and you’re not sleeping well. If your body constantly lacks fuel, you’ll find it harder to recover from your workouts. Over time, undereating can also rob you of sleep, which is when you build and repair muscles.

3. You can’t get rid of that pesky belly fat. While it might seem to go against traditional weight-loss logic, it all boils down to metabolism and hormones: Undereating promotes muscle loss and rises in the levels of the belly-fattening stress hormone cortisol over time.

4. Your period stops, or becomes irregular. Yes, active women should still have their periods! If yours is becoming erratic (menopause aside) or has
stopped entirely, or if you’re having trouble getting pregnant, it could be a sign that your body doesn’t have enough fuel to produce key  reproductive hormones such as estrogen. (Note: Some forms of birth control may affect your period. Be sure to consult your doctor.)

5. Your bones are showing signs of weakness. If you’ve had a recent stress fracture or an unexpected broken bone from a fall, it could be a sign
that your bones are weakening, a side effect of both low estrogen levels and inadequate calories. Over time, this could lead to osteopenia  (reduced bone density) or full-blown osteoporosis.

What does under-eating look like?

Take a look at the sample diet below. It may look well balanced because it includes five meals per day, doesn’t totally eliminate carbs and even includes a treat after dinner. However, this day adds up to only 1,170 calories – too little for almost any active individual. While you might be able to stick to this regimen for a short while, the 1,917- calorie “Clean Additions” meal plan will do a better job of helping you maintain peak  performance in the long run. Depending on your age and activity level, your caloric needs could be even higher – be sure to check with a registered dietician.


So you have a hunch that you’ve been undereating. Now what? “Eat more” seems like the obvious answer, but what exactly does that mean? Here are some strategies:

Get a better idea of your input and output. While calorie counting can be a drag, using an online tool to track how many calories you are eating
versus how much you are burning over a two- to three week period is a good place to start. Your daily intake should not be consistently less than
what you’re burning.

Start gradually. Eating more can feel strange – and even uncomfortable – when you’ve trained yourself to get by on few calories, so take it slow. If your intake is far less than what you’re burning, try adding in just a few hundred more calories per day at a time, giving your body, and your appetite, time to adapt.

Keep foods clean. Adding more fuel to your diet doesn’t mean picking up an order of fries the next time you’re out. Instead, add extra calories from fruit, nuts, avocados, whole grains, sweet potatoes and oily fish.

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Top 10 Holiday Survival Tips

Top 10 Holiday Survival Tips

  1. Stay Hydrated – Make sure you stay hydrated through out the day and also at a party –try and intersperse water between dinks it will cut down on the amount of alcohol you consume, make you feel more full so that you also don’t over eat
  2. Stick to your routine – Make sure you try and get in your exercise daily – do not skip on it also if you prep your meals continue to do so that that you can at least stay on track at leat 80% of the time
  3. Fill yourself with a Salad and Water – Before a party eat a small salad and drink making you less likely to indulge.
  4. Holiday Potluck make a healthy dish – Don’t know what the hosts and others are going to prepare well bring you won healthy dish – Others may thank you for it. How about a Quinoa or Edamame Salad or healthy Grilled Asparagus as a side you can control what goes in your mouth
  5. Enjoy but don’t over indulge – It’s the holidays, we’re all human so allow yourself a little indulgence, Try a piece of Dark Chocolate or try fruit salads as Deserts (see #10)
  6. Partner Up and Stay Accountable – Arrange to meet a friend at a class or for a run on Saturday morning. Knowing someone else is depending on you makes you more likely to show up and guess what you’ll have fun !
  7. Build In Splurges – Know that your going to that party build in splurges. Eat super clean for the meals earlier in the day to allow for that glass of Wine or Champagne or even Pie !
  8. Get in even a 30 Minute Workout – We live in a culture of all or nothing but guess what shades of grey are good. Only have 30 Minutes do an intense HIIT workout (see below) that elevates your heart rate and as studies show is hugely effective for weight loss and calorie torching.
  9. Prepare ahead – Have clean meals, water, healthy snacks on hand. Cut up fruits and vegetables, chicken breasts and sweet potatoes on hand. Program you iPhone to alarm when you should be eating a small meal. Take the guess work out of your day.
  10. Split in ½ – When at a restaurant ask for a togo box to come out with your meal immediately split your meal in ½ guaranteed you will be full and wont have to eat the other half therefore saving ½ the calories.

Rule Number 11 is Don’t Beat Yourself Up –The Holidays are about family and friends, giving thanks and blessings and enjoying the people you are with. The key is to get back on track as quickly after you slip or over indulge. Don’t feel guilty, savour the time and people you are with.

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How our arms help us run!

How we hold our arms affects how we run, but probably not in ways that most of us would expect, according to a new study of upper body biomechanics. The ideal arm swing may be the one that you’re already using, the study concludes.

Distance running is, of course, physiologically costly, meaning that it requires large outlays of energy. Almost every aspect of the activity adds to that energy expenditure, like holding your body upright and metronomically swinging first one leg and then the other forward and toward the ground.

But scientists and some running-form coaches have speculated that pumping your arms, although requiring energy, reduces the overall metabolic cost of running by helping to balance the moving body, increase forward propulsion or, perhaps, provide a bit of bounce, helping to lift us off the ground with each stride. In this theory, swinging the arms makes it easier to run.

That idea, however logical it might sound, had not been proved. So for the new study, published last week in The Journal of Experimental Biology, researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder invited 13 experienced adult runners to pull on their favorite running shoes and visit the university’s locomotion lab.

During their first session, the runners were fitted with masks to track how much oxygen they took in and carbon dioxide they puffed out. Those measures establish energy usage. The runners stood quietly for seven minutes as the scientists determined their baseline numbers.

Then they ran on treadmills at a comfortable pace while holding their arms normally or in one of three increasingly unorthodox positions. In one instance, they held their arms loosely behind their back; in another, their arms were crossed at the chest, like a mummy’s; and in the last, they held their hands, fingers entwined, at the back of their skulls. In each case, the volunteers ran for seven minutes, with a rest period between each run. Their respiration was monitored throughout.

On a separate lab visit, the runners wore reflective markers on their shoulders, trunk and legs and repeated the four variations on arm positioning, as the researchers filmed them with three-dimensional motion-capture cameras.

The results showed, as the scientists had expected, that the volunteers used the least energy and were most efficient when they ran normally, their arms swinging at their sides. With each change in arm position, their efficiency dropped. Holding their arms behind their backs required 3 percent more energy than running normally; draping them across their chests used 9 percent more; and parking them on their heads demanded 13 percent more energy.

The motion-capture recordings established why the oddball arm positions were so inefficient. When the runners did not swing their arms, the biomechanical measurements showed, they could not readily counterbalance the pendulum action of their legs. Their upper bodies began to oscillate. Like Weebles, they wobbled, increasing their bodily movements and energy expenditure. The runners’ upward momentum did not change when they did not use their arms, undercutting the idea that arm swing provides bounce.

Essentially, the scientists found that arms were a nice accessory for runners to have.

“Normal arm swing is energetically a much cheaper way to counteract the motion of the legs than using the muscles in the torso,” said Christopher Arellano, an National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow at Brown University and lead author of the study.

That conclusion, although foreseeable, had needed to be tested, said Rodger Kram, a professor of integrative physiology at the University of Colorado and the study’s senior author. “Obviously, it’s not likely that anyone would run with their hands on their head,” he said, “but we wanted to see what would happen if they did.” The answer is that every stride became a bit more grueling.

At the same time, the study’s results offer surprising encouragement to those whose arm swing might be idiosyncratic.

“There was tremendous variation in the normal arm swings” of the volunteers, Dr. Arellano said. All bent their elbows, but apart from that, some were stiff and robotic, others noodly. Most but not all crossed their arms slightly in front of their chest with each swing. Efficiency was largely unaffected by these differences, the researchers concluded.

“This is good news,” Dr. Kram said. “There’s been a vogue for telling runners that they have to hold their arms this way or that way and not cross them in front of the chest.”

But the study’s findings emphasize that there is no single, ideal way to swing the arms, he said, as long as you swing them at all. “Most people,” he said, “will settle into the arm swing that is the most efficient for them.”