A couple announcements coming soon

Hey, everyone!

I’ve been so busy with clients, my Couch to 5K program, speaking with civic groups and still trying to be a mom to four daughters, it feels like I haven’t had time to get my head above water. However, with the holidays rapidly approaching, I’m getting ready to announce a couple of very exciting opportunities for those of you who are wanting to begin working on your personal health and fitness.

If you have yet to LIKE my Facebook page, now would be the time to do it and then watch closely for one of my surprises coming to social media.

Similarly, by subscribing to my blog as well as liking my business Facebook page, you will be among the first to hear about two additional items I’ll be announcing in the next week or two. I know I’m excited about everything I have coming up and I hope you will be too.

So, stay tuned!


Substitute of the week – Mustard vs. Mayo

Mayo v Mustard 2Mustard is a far better choice than mayonnaise. On top of its minimal calories, only 5-10 calories per tablespoon depending on the type of mustard, it is also low in sugar and contains virtually no fat. Mayonnaise is typically 70-80% fat, including bad for you artery clogging saturated fat. A typical tablespoon of mayo contains around 90 calories!!

Beyond its low calorie count, yellow mustard has several health benefits. One tablespoon of mustard contains approximately 21mg of potassium. Your body requires around 2,000mg of potassium per day to help with digestive health, a steady heartbeat and to allow proper contractions of muscles.

Mayo v MustardThere are about 7mg of magnesium in each tablespoon of mustard. Magnesium is very important to our bodies as it is involved in over 300 metabolic processes! The average adult male requires about 410mg of magnesium per day and the average female requires around 315mg per day.

Mustard also contains two minerals important to the health of our teeth and bones; phosphorous and calcium.

On top of the obvious health benefits of mustard over mayo, mustard has an almost indefinite shelf life, while mayo has a refrigerated shelf life of only about two months.

This should be an easy choice, boot the mayo and grab the mustard!!

Substitute of the Week – Greek yogurt vs. sour cream

Greek yogurt v sour cream 2Much like fashion, new diet “fads” are continually changing and morphing.  What doesn’t change, however, is the basics. In dieting terms, this means if your goal is to lose weight, you need to lower your caloric intake and burn more calories. Put even more simply: move more and eat less.

With a limited number of calories allowable, you want to make the most of what you get. There are numerous ways to cut calories without changing your entire menu. This comes in the form of substitution, or choosing a healthier option to replace the higher calorie food without losing the taste. Each week I will bring a new, healthier alternative to incorporate into our diets.

Cooking with yogurtThis week:  Greek yogurt vs. sour cream. 

The nutritional differences between fat-free and regular varieties of both sour cream and Greek yogurt can be huge. While nonfat Greek yogurt has approximately  130 calories per cup, 1 gram of fat and 8 grams of carbohydrates, a 1-cup serving of the regular type has approximately 300 calories, 23 grams of fat and 7 grams of carbohydrates. One cup of sour cream has more calories than Greek yogurt, even when it’s a low-fat brand. One cup of reduced-fat sour cream has approximately 400 calories, 32 grams of fat and 16 grams of carbohydrates. Moreover, you will get more protein as a result of using Greek yogurt over regular sour cream.

Greek yogurt has a similar consistency to sour cream, but with a stronger flavor, which is not noticeable in most recipes. It is a fantastic substitute for sour cream when making dips and dressings because of their shared characteristics. Greek yogurt also acts as a great substitute for toppings for chili, baked potatoes or tacos.

Make cutting calories a little easier with this easy and flavorful substitute. Check back for your next “Substitute of the Week”!

It’s not about the exercise, it’s about accountability

PersonalTrainerHelpingI recently had a chance to speak with some people at a networking event about what I do as a personal trainer. Most understand that I help customize a workout routine to help achieve a person’s goals — whether it’s weight loss, muscle build, core strengthening, cardio improvement or combinations of everything. Yet, in the age of YouTube and downloadable apps, there are hundreds (perhaps thousands) of outlets to get workout routines or exercises to try. So, why makes a personal trainer special or even necessary?

At the very core, it’s about accountability. As human beings, many of us, maybe even the overwhelming majority, will find ways to avoid doing things we find difficult, painful or arduous. We will binge watch a television show for hours rather than find time for a 30-minute walk. I once had a science teacher who explained the concept of enthalpy and entropy could be illustrated in the life of a teenager. According to science, all things seek to use the least energy while seeking the highest amount of disorder. Look at your teenager’s bedroom and you see that principle in action!

But, we are all built that way. We want to exude the least amount of effort necessary to keep the chaos around us at an acceptable level. It’s why we sometimes let the lawn go a few more days before cutting. When the clutter (chaos) of how the lawn looks starts to get on our nerves, we decide to spend just enough energy necessary to fix it.

Health and fitness falls directly in line with this phenomenon. We will do the least amount necessary to sustain what we think is an acceptable level of disorder within our own bodies. We decide it’s easier to buy the next size up in clothing, put on a baggier sweater or shirt and keep cruising along without addressing the actual issue. At some point, we all know we need to do a little more to keep ourselves healthy, but the effort necessary quickly fades after we get the burst of inspiration to do something.

Having someone like me is how you combat the normal urge to return to a state of least energy and highest chaos. I will keep you accountable! I will push you to stick to your routine, to keep your appointments and to make health and fitness a priority. For some, it takes just a few months to gain the confidence and form the habits needed to sustain a new lifestyle and then I move on to the next person. For others, it may take a little longer. The goal is for me to be part of your daily routine just long enough for you to not need me any longer. The goal of a personal trainer is not to make you dependent on me, but to get you to a point where you can become accountable to yourself.

If you would like to learn more about what I do and how I can help you with your own health and fitness goals, just contact me to setup a free initial consultation. I got into this line of work because I needed to help myself and now I want to help others. Let me be the person who will help you.

I can promise you this, it is a lot easier to get fit when you have someone in your corner.


Can you avoid the Freshman 15?

Freshman15 v4College is stress. It’s a world of, “do your work”, “study for that test”, “earn some cash” and to top it all off, “don’t fail.” With the constant pressures of school and classes, exercising tends to take a back seat. While many older students have found balance between class, work, exercise and socializing, freshmen going into college have a world of responsibility thrown onto their shoulders. As a result, the dreaded freshman fifteen comes into view. This concept, the idea of freshman gaining fifteen pounds their first year of college, results from the freshman tendency to minimize exercise and maximize meal plan possibilities.

As any freshman will find (or will have already discovered), college gives you far more free time than high school. It’s a whole new world. No longer are you trapped in the rigorous cycle of school, academic clubs, sports activities, work, eat, sleep, wake-up and do it again. The classes are a fraction of the time and even using hours upon hours to study still allows time to meet up for dinner or hangout with friends. The issue most freshman face is then reaching a healthy balance. Exercise, an action proven to reduce stress and increase focus, is forgone and replaced by an excess of studying or an excess of partying. Its not an intentional, “Oh, I don’t need to exercise,” but an, “I’m too tired,” or, “I’ve already done so much today.” For all the new free time in a freshman’s schedule, college is busy. It’s stressful. By falling prey to the “I’ve done so much” or “I don’t have the energy” mentality, students fail to realize the lack of physical exertion present in their schedules. Walking to class doesn’t make up for a weekend of drinking or Netflix binge watching. Classes are mentally exhausting, but don’t mistake mental exhaustion for exercise. Yet, exercise accounts for only a portion of blame regarding the “freshman fifteen.”

Freshman15 v2The eating habits of many college freshman resemble those of a toddler trapped in a candy aisle. The four basic food groups of carbs, sugar, grease and fat can be found littered among the plates of the dining hall. Freshman claiming to “eat healthy” make the mistake of getting a bowl of pasta, three cookies and a banana. The biggest cause of the freshman fifteen and the most difficult problem to fix is the freshman diet. Dining halls offer massive amounts of food from all food groups and after being set loose from the leash, freshman can’t seem to avoid the sweets station or the late night pizza bar. Need snacks for the dorm? Freshman stock up on cookies, chips and soda, but continue to claim they “eat healthy.” Rare is the freshman who eats apples and peanut butter instead of a snickers bar. Freshman mistake eating a treat every now and again for eating sweets every day and, when combined with the lack of exercise, find themselves gaining pound after pound with no idea as to how or why.

Exercising doesn’t require hitting the gym for two hours a day every day and eating healthy doesn’t require the total elimination of sweets from your life. The key is balance and the sooner a rising freshman, freshman or any college student can reach that balance, the less worry they should harbor for weight gain. Putting them on a path ahead of time (or after their first year wake-up call!) on how to properly fit in weekly exercise and diet choices may be one of the best gifts you can give to your soon-to-be (or already existing) college age student.

There’s a reason it’s called ‘personal’ trainer

My husband and I were chatting not long after the NW Georgia Women’s Expo and we both noted how many people came up to my my booth asking if I was associated with a gym? In nearly every case, when I said I worked privately in either my home or would come to them, there was a sigh of relief, followed by, “Good!”

When I first decided on the name of my business, I wanted to include the tag line, “A personal trainer, keeping the person in mind.” My initial thought was I wanted everyone to know I would be providing customized training plans for each individual; not cookie-cutter printouts where everyone would do the exact same exercises. But, it occurred to us that there was additional meaning behind the word, “personal.”

Many realize, as unfair as it is, that they will be judged by others when they walk into a gym. Not by the employees, but by some of the members. I get so angry when I see a larger person struggling to stick to their workout, sweating through their workout clothes, and I see two fit individuals snickering.  I want to go up to them and ask, “Why are you wanting to make someone feel bad for trying to make themselves healthier? Are you suggesting they need to be in shape BEFORE joining a gym!?”

Similarly, my husband has commented several times about the guys who make a point of walking around the gym, pretending to carry two imaginary watermelons under each arm, grunting and shouting as they slam weights to the ground. It can be intimidating (intentional or not) to those who haven’t been muscle building their whole lives. And, lets’s face it, some are more genetically predisposed to muscle-mass than others. Shouldn’t we be encouraging the effort at least as much as the results?

Susan with inspirational textWhen signing up for that gym membership, it is hard enough to make time in our busy lives to go. Now, add to that, the anxiety and stress that can arise from the snickers, the stares and the eye-rolls some feel the need to levy unto others, and suddenly all that money ends up circling the drain with no results to show for it. Instead of going straight to a gym, only to give up, why not try a different approach where you can be first taught how to workout, while gaining more confidence in yourself?

The reason I became a personal trainer is because I can relate. I know the struggles and how hard it is to commit to a program. Throw in negativity and hurt feelings and many end up worse than when they started. You feel alone and depressed because you wanted to make a change but it feels like the world is out to stop you from succeeding.

It is important for everyone to know I am thrilled to meet each new client because I know that person has made a commitment to get healthier and more active. It is my job to help them succeed. By using my home-based gym or by coming to you, I will give you the personal, one-on-one, training you need to get you on the road to a better you. Once you have spent a few months with me, you will feel stronger, look better and start seeing the payoff for all of your hard work. It takes time and commitment, but I will do all I can to encourage, inspire and push you. It’s not just a meaningless tag line — I really am a personal trainer who keeps the person in mind.

If you want to learn more about me and how I design custom workouts, just reach out to me via my website or my Facebook page. I would love the chance to meet with you and help to make you feel more at ease about your decision to begin a workout regimen. Wishing everyone all the best.

What are you doing today?

Demo 2Everyone I meet is busy. It’s one of the automatic replies that comes from so many. “How are you doing?” “BUSY!” With all we have on our plates, finding the time to stay fit and healthy becomes a huge challenge.

Now, while I will argue that when you sign-up to have a personal trainer, it’s amazing how people can find the time for health and fitness once they have made a commitment. But, that’s not what I wanted to cover today. My goal is to help everyone get a little more fit, even if they don’t have the time or budget.

We all have moments throughout the day where we aren’t really doing anything productive. Maybe we are waiting for someone to call or standing at the copier waiting on the job to finish. Maybe you’ve finished a report and want to let it sit for a minute before going through it one last time. Or, you’ve just hit SEND and need a moment before moving to your next TO-DO item. All those moments make for a perfect opportunity to work in personal fitness.

The next time you are at the printer or copier, spend that time doing calf-raises. Do 15 with your toes pointing outward, then 15 with them parallel to each other, then 15 with them pointing inwards (pigeon-toed). Just raise up on your tip-toes, tighten your calf muscles at the peak and then come back down, never fully putting your heels completely on the floor. It will take no more than 60-seconds to accomplish and now  you’ve just done a set.

When you park your car at the start of your day, why spend time looking for the closest spot? Park further; walk more. Take the stairs. Why waste five minutes looking for a close parking place when you can spend that same five minutes walking?

ExerciseBestAntidepressantWaiting on the conference call to start, when everyone is slowing signing in, try fitting in a 60-second wall-sit. Just place your back against the wall and slide down until you are in a seated position. Be sure your knees don’t extend out beyond your toes. Your shin and thigh should be at a 90 degree angle as if you are sitting in an invisible chair.

Or, if your door is closed, do a 60-second plank. You can fit planks in several times during the course of the day and in no time at all, you will start to notice how your body is beginning to tone.

If you have time for a 60-second plank or wall-sit, you could choose to do a set of push-ups or chair dips. Both are easy to accomplish right in your office without any equipment and without taking more than a minute.

Ladies, how heavy is your purse? Ever think to put the loops around your ankle and do leg extensions while sitting at your desk?

These are just a few ideas to help you realize, you can find small moments throughout the day to do something to help your core strength and begin your journey toward health and fitness. What are some other suggestions you’ve tried? Let me know! I’m always looking for new and innovative ideas to get people up and moving.

Have a great day!

The start of my Couch to 5K is here!

Today marks the opening week for my 9-week, Couch to 5K program and I am ready to kick this off. If you haven’t had a chance to email (or snail mail) your registration, don’t worry! You can print out a registration form and just show up tonight at Dellinger Park by 5:30PM for today’s first session. If you can’t make tonight, the offer is still available for this entire first week. Beyond Monday’s at 5:30PM, I’ll be at Dellinger Park on Tuesday’s at 7:30AM, Thursday’s at 5:30PM, Friday’s at 7:30AM and Saturday’s at 8AM.

Couch to 5K - Banner Ad for Website2

You can technically join into the program anytime, but with each passing week, you won’t get quite as much out of it, so if you are leaning toward joining up, come out to the park or contact me via email, sjdhealthandfitness@gmail.com, using the contact me form on my website (www.sjdhealthandfitness.com or www.georgiapersonaltrainer.com) or you can call/text me at 770-881-3256.

Don’t give in to that voice telling you you can’t do it. Come out and join in with everyone else. It’s a lot easier to get motivated when you are part of a group. No matter your current fitness level, I can guarantee you will be doing more for yourself, even just walking, compared to everyone else sitting at home watching TV on the couch!


Sign-up now for my Couch to 5K class

Couch to 5K - Banner Ad for WebsiteWith the days getting longer and spring in the air, I decided to bring a new offering to my lineup of services. I am taking sign-ups now for a Couch to 5K class that will last 9 weeks and end with everyone entering into a 5K race. I will work with each person to make sure we are addressing proper stretching and training techniques to get you ready for the race. I’ll provide a yoga mat to each participant (for stretching) along with a training log and then everyone will get a t-shirt at the end. You’ll also get proper training in warm-ups, cool-downs and nutrition. And, I’m excited to add that we have partnered with Athlete’s Locker (West End Commons Shopping Center, 650 Henderson Drive, Cartersville, GA 30120) to get a discount on running shoes if you need a good pair. You can print your own flier and the registration form straight from my website.


Exercise can help alleviate depression

My husband often tells me I think too much. Unfortunately, it’s not always in a good way.  I would find myself lying awake at night thinking about all the things I could have done differently, should have done differently or didn’t do at all. I would think about whether or not I was a good mother, wife, friend. I would think about all of my short-comings. Obviously, this was NOT healthy and it started a spiral of depression. I would feel listless, lack motivation and sometimes eat, and not because I was hungry. This led to more depression because I didn’t get anything done, I wasted my day, I ate senselessly….and the spiral continued.

I didn’t want to face depression (who does?). I wanted to be able to wake up each day and be excited about facing the challenges ahead of me. I knew enough to realize that I had to break the cycle. I needed to be more active, but, when you are depressed and down, exercise is usually one of the last things you want to do. I had to start slow, little things, like taking the dog for a walk. It wasn’t magic, or an overnight cure, but I slowly started to feel better. The walks became longer, the moods not so down. Suddenly, the spiral was reversing and the more exercise I got, the better I felt and the more I wanted to do.

ExerciseBestAntidepressantDepression is a very real and scary thing. It affects roughly 10% of the adult US population each year and billions of dollars are spent on treatment and research. It can be mild in some and life-changing in others, and when present, it’s painful.

Studies prove (and I can attest to this!) exercise WILL help with depression. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 1999 found that over a 16 week study period, depression had lowered equally in both a group taking an anti-depressant as well as a group solely following an exercise program. AND, a follow-up study showed that the exercise group had longer lasting effects. Another study showed that those who got regular vigorous exercise were 25% less likely to develop a depression or anxiety disorder within the next five years.

“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t kill their husbands. They just don’t.” – Elle Woods from Legally Blonde.  While this quote comes from a fictional comedy, the sentiment is true. During exercise, or periods of increased heart rate, endorphins are released. They act as natural painkillers and improve the ability to sleep, which in turn, reduces stress. Also, a neurotransmitter, norepinephrine is released, which gives you an almost euphoric-like feeling. On top of the actual chemical changes, exercise can also help to alleviate depression by acting as a distraction. You are removed from the cycle that feeds into your depression and anxiety.

The key (and hard part) to all of this, is to break the cycle. For some, starting out may mean a two mile jog; for others, it may mean walking to the mailbox. Regardless, setting a goal and reaching it will give you the confidence to set new goals and more challenges.  Make a commitment to yourself. Break the cycle. Make a change.