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1. How do you stay motivated when times get tough?
No matter how dedicated you are, I think it’s nearly impossible to stay motivated all the time. Even competitors who are all in can lack motivation now and then. For me, kid distractions and lack of sleep can often douse the flames of motivation, sometimes almost as quickly as I start. That’s why I like to have a plan made and set out to follow.
When I create plans for my Oxygen readers, I write them out just as I would for myself. I then try to maintain perspective from day to day, telling myself that all I must do for my fitness goals is what is already written out for me. That way, when I lack motivation, I always have the programming there to carry me through.
Also, it often helps to get my workouts done earlier in the day so there is less opportunity for things to come up and derail my plans. Working out at home, I can have crazy bed head, mismatched clothes and a sleepy face with no one there to judge me, and I don’t have a gym commute to slow me down.
My favorite exercise right now is the dumbbell thruster, which is a compound movement combining a squat with a shoulder press. It works the entire body, improving endurance, cardiovascular fitness and strength.
2. How do you stick to eating clean when you don’t feel like it?
Simplify, simplify, simplify! I have my go-to meals always at the ready, like homemade frozen pancakes and waffles (which I don’t only eat for breakfast) and big batches of homemade chili or chicken salad, and healthy alternatives to traditional sweets, like homemade biscotti or protein bars. Having things that I genuinely enjoy, always on hand and ready, helps me say no to other options that aren’t so good for me.
When I make meals from scratch, I try to avoid complicated recipes. If I can’t make it with three to five ingredients, then that recipe needs to wait until I have some downtime. For three-ingredient recipes, think grilled chicken, sweet potato and low-sugar [barbecue] sauce or grilled chicken with salsa in a high-fiber tortilla. Other examples are roasted veggie and chicken kebabs or fish with veggies in parchment, avocado sprouted-grain toast and Ezekiel English muffin pizzas made with healthy tomato sauce and cottage cheese.
It’s important to take some time to find and create the healthiest version of the foods you typically crave. I’ve found over time that the healthier versions end up tasting better and are more satisfying than the original versions, as my taste buds start to appreciate and prefer whole foods in their most natural state.
3. What is your favorite clean meal or snack?
That’s a hard one to answer because I love so many foods! For a snack, I love raw yellow, red and green bell peppers, either alone or with tzatziki. I’ll eat that with a hard-boiled egg and/or beef jerky. That’s about the only beef I eat.
I also really like to make quick homemade pizzas with a toasted Ezekiel English muffin, spread with low-sugar tomato sauce, sprinkled with additional Italian seasoning and fennel seeds (leave out for the kids) and topped with a few tablespoons of low-fat cottage cheese. I then top each half with a teaspoon of grated Parmesan before popping them into the oven, setting it to broil on high for three to five minutes. I also add some fresh basil. It’s quick, delicious and kid-friendly, too. It’s been a great alternative to the mini frozen pizzas that my kids always want from the store.
4. Why is it important to be mentally “healthy” to keep a consistent fit lifestyle?
As humans, I believe we were created to love, be loved and have a purpose. If we can’t maintain focus on the things that matter and dwell on past failures or fears, it’s incredibly hard to stay focused and hopeful for positive outcomes on anything, including fitness. Allowing negative thoughts to infiltrate our lives creates an oppressive environment. Henry Ford was right when he said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” Envisioning victory in all areas of life is paramount to success. See yourself crossing that finish line or wearing the shorts you’ve been wanting to wear. Let that vision manifest into reality.
5. What’s your top advice on how to stay consistent?
Consistency is a process won over time. I don’t just start something and then, boom, I have a new habit overnight. Forming habits that stick takes time and a manageable approach. My best advice for someone starting a fitness program is to realistically choose the number of days you can commit to working out. Don’t choose five days a week when, really and truly, you can only do three. You’re setting yourself up for failure right out of the gate. If you can truly commit to three days, design a workout that targets the areas of your body that trouble you most for that first day, so that if anything comes up later that week, you’ve at least trained the most important part. That is not permission to skip those other two days but rather a suggestion for helping you to prioritize what matters most.
For food, start by eliminating or replacing just one thing that you know is not a good choice for you. Maybe it’s soda or the sugary creamer you put in your coffee. Look for alternatives like sparkling water with zero sugar or unsweetened almond or coconut milk for coffee. Then focus on adding as much nutritious food as possible by increasing your vegetable intake and swapping out unhealthy fats for healthier fats and leaner meat.
Making better choices will hopefully make you feel better and motivate you to keep going. At the grocery store, avoid buying the processed foods you may have once bought. Stick with creating simple and easy meals from clean, whole foods. Fortunately, many manufacturers are starting to produce cleaner packaged options for consumers, but get into the habit of making meals from scratch so that you don’t fall back into the trap of relying on packaged foods. You can’t go wrong with fresh or frozen whole-food options.
6. Do you deal with insecurities? If so, what are they and how do you deal?
Oh my goodness! Do I deal with insecurities? If I were to make a list on paper, I might run out of room. There are the typical insecurities that come with aging or weight gain, but there are also insecurities about measuring up to other moms, being successful enough in the eyes of others, being a good example to my kids, etc. The list goes on and on!
I think it’s only natural to have insecurities. It’s part of being human, and this age of social media perpetuates an impossible standard that even a perfect Instagram feed doesn’t likely measure up to in real life. I think it’s important to realize that we all have insecurities. When I would go on modeling gigs years ago, I would meet some of the most incredibly beautiful and flawless- looking people who you could ever see, yet I don’t recall meeting a single one who was 100 percent confident in their appearance or with who they were.
So many of us deal with imposter syndrome, where we feel like we are faking a reality that we wish we truly had. Whether it’s the perception of being successful, happily married or just living your “best life,” the reality is that few people are doing that. And for many who reach a pinnacle, they are just waiting for the tables to turn or the hammer to drop. It’s sad that we live like this, but so many people do.
I can’t deny it. I still have insecurities. But I can honestly say that as I’ve matured and grown in my faith, my relationship with God has stifled many problems on which I would previously fixate. When I realized that my purpose in life isn’t to achieve some unrealistic level of perfection but rather to admit my dependence on God and to pursue what He would want for my life, I began to focus less on superficial things.
Now that doesn’t mean that I’m throwing in the towel and I don’t worry about my appearance or aim for success in life. It simply means that my motivation isn’t to seek approval from the world around me but rather from the one who created me, who is rooting for me and wants to see me thrive. Building a strong, healthy body, taking care of my skin, serving my family and community, loving others and pursuing a relationship with God are the things that I focus on because where my attention goes, my energy flows, and no one has time for negative thoughts.
7. What’s a random piece of advice you can offer concerning starting over or starting a new healthy lifestyle?
When it comes to starting out, don’t be afraid to try something new or step outside your comfort zone. Think back to when you got your first job or first pet. It’s a bit rocky when we first make the transition, but once you get familiar, things start to flow. The ultimate example is when you have your first child. The life change is huge, and you wonder how you’ll get through it. A new fitness program can be like that. It’s unfamiliar and hard in the beginning, but unlike with kids, a pet or a new job, with a fitness program, you can just stop.
But what if you didn’t stop? What if you treated it like a major priority and incorporated it into your lifestyle? Imagine the positive changes. It’s important when you pursue a healthy lifestyle that you stick with it. That doesn’t mean that each day must be a portion of perfectly healthy food and exercise daily, but you should aim to have far more good days than bad. That’s what will help you make that transition to a healthier life. Explore options for exercise until you find something that you love, grab a buddy for companionship and accountability, and focus on the journey. We all need hobbies outside of work. Why not make yours all about you?
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