Sister Chicks Guide to Fitness & Exercise at Home!

Welcome! You've landed on my personally-touched business page highlighting the wit and wisdom of how exercising at home (or anywhere!) can be positive and fun!

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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Thankful for 2013! And Hopeful for 2014!

It's the final day of 2013, and as I sit here reflecting on this past year, I am thankful for my clients that I have had the pleasure and honor of having in my home to exercise with me!  Lots of pounds and inches have gone away, and have been replaced with strength.  Strength... not only in muscle strength, but the strength in their confidence and attitudes.

When a new client starts classes with me, she generally tends to be apprehensive in picking up a dumbbell that she thinks might be too heavy for her, or she might say she can't do push-ups or planks.  But what she learns very quickly (through the encouragement from me and from others in the class) is that she CAN do it!  And every time she tries, she gets that much more confident in herself.  It's a beautiful transformation to watch!  My passion for teaching small group women's exercise classes is all about that transformation!  

  • I love watching their cars start lining up in my driveway to start that day's class together!
  • I love greeting them on the front porch or in the front doorway of my home!  
  • I love the small (and sometimes deep) talk that we share before, during, and after class!
  • I love the laughter that fills the room!  
  • I love the friendships and camaraderie that continue to develop!
  • I love the encouragement they give to each other, not only about exercise, but about life in general.
  • I love seeing them work hard during class to challenge their bodies to get stronger!
  • I love hearing that they are making healthier changes in their food and drink choices!
  • I love it when they step on the scales and see the positive results from their efforts!
  • I love them... my Sister Chicks... and I wouldn't be in business without them.  I'm thankful for their friendships and for trusting me to be their fitness instructor.
As I look towards 2014, I am hopeful and seek God's direction in continuing my business by bringing new ladies into our group.  I would love the privilege of being a positive impact and encouragement to more women, and I trust God will bring them my way in the coming days!

2014 also brings a larger menu of services that I can offer.  In addition to the small group classes that are offered, I will now be taking appointments for one-on-one personal consultations where we can sit down together and talk about nutrition and bettering your eating habits, or we can use that personal time for exercise instruction.  These one-on-one hourly consultations are available whether you are a member of the small group classes or not.

*If you have further questions about details of my classes, etc., please do not hesitate to contact me!  Thanks, and I look forward to hearing from you in the next couple of days!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The "Miracle" Diet... a Journey about Healthy Eating

As I begin to crack open my brand new textbooks for becoming a "Fitness Nutrition Specialist", I am looking forward to bringing you little bits and pieces of knowledge about how important eating right is.  My "Group Fitness Instructor" certification requires me to add continuing education credits to my resume; and so I have chosen to explore the nutrition area to specialize in.  Knowledge of exercise PLUS knowledge in nutrition sounds like a good match! 

A regular exercise routine several times a week is WONDERFUL!  There are so many benefits to exercising.  But it's only about 1/4 of the story.  The other 3/4 of the story, is what you're eating and drinking.

There are a lot of diet plans and miracle pills out there that claim a lot of promises. Some are helpful.  But most are just downright ridiculous AND dangerous!  As we jokingly hear so very often, "It's on the internet, so it MUST be true"... this statement makes me cringe, especially when it pertains to something as important as proper nutrition.  These are our bodies we're talking about!  Please do not buy into diet plans and miracle pills that sound too good to be true. Major red flag!

A good goal to set about what you eat and drink should not be about "losing weight".  But instead, it should be about fueling your body with balanced, healthy nutrients... and in return for fueling your body properly, one of the awesome "side effects" is the losing the weight part!

We live in such a fast-paced society... the get-it-quick, needed-it-yesterday, microwave vs. oven way of life has seeped into our mentality of how we should lose weight.  But if you really want the weight loss to stick, I want to encourage you to be patient and be smart.  Slow and steady wins the race, right?

So, as I begin this journey of study time for the next couple of months, I hope you'll join me as I share little tidbits with you along the way.  Here's to us both learning something new and refreshing about eating smart!

Smiles and blessings,

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Souvenirs for My Mantel

I have a collection of "souvenirs" this morning.  What do I mean by that term?  It means I have several sore muscles from my exercise routines yesterday.  Yes, that was plural... "routines" with an "s" at the end.

My Sister Chicks small group exercise classes that I hold in my home are held in 8- or 9-week sessions with a typical one-week break in between sessions so that I can give my body a break and time for healing and rest. By the way, that's super important... to give your body a rest once in a while.

Well, yesterday was the first day of the first week back for our new 8-week session.  I do 3 morning classes a week, and 3 afternoon classes a week (with Saturdays and Sundays off).  On Mondays, I do both a morning AND an afternoon class (with only one class per day for the rest of the week).

So you might imagine that after taking a week off from all exercise, and then coming back and doing two classes on the first day... well, I was fine DURING the classes... but today... WOW!  What a collection of souvenirs I could put on my mantel right now!

So, what is muscle soreness?  Why do we get sore from a workout?  There are a lot of "experts" out there on your search bar that could tell you all about it, using big words... and 3 pages later... you're still confused by it all.  Some of the information is correct... and some is a little off.  But the most simple way to explain it is that when you work a muscle that you haven't used in a while (even as little as just a handful of days... trust me on that! ha!), or you use that muscle at a different angle than you have for a while, the muscle (under the strain of the work put on it) will develop small microtears in the fibers of the muscle.  These small tears are perfectly normal!  And the body is a wonderful God-made machine that heals quickly within a day or two.  

Some people take supplements or pain relief meds.  Some use massage therapy or compresses to relieve the soreness. And some just tough it out and enjoy their "souvenirs" as little reminders of time well spent in the gym or in an exercise class.  How you handle the pain of the soreness is up to you!  But, the next time you're sore... put a smile on your face (as long as those smile muscles aren't sore, too), pat yourself on the back (if your sore chest and arms muscles will let you reach back there), and tell yourself "good job"!

And if you want to read a little more on this subject, here's a relatable post called Fact or Fiction? "No Pain. No Gain."

Smiles and blessings - Tonya

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Enjoy the Journey - No Matter What Your Pace!

So, there's this small lake just a couple of miles south of where we live, and we (our family) recently discovered that it has a 2-mile, asphalt-paved path that winds through some beautiful scenery... lots of trees that provide constant shade, deer who are not afraid of humans, birds, butterflies, flowers, and a bridge that crosses over the lake.  It is all just absolutely beautiful.

A couple of nights ago, my husband, two of our kids, and I decided to go over there and walk the loop.  And, when I say walk, I mean stroll... or even perhaps, amble... our way around it.  Why so slowly?  Because we weren't in any hurry, and the scenery just stops me in my tracks where I just have to pause and enjoy God's amazing artwork.

From the Bridge:  A tree-lined horizon and beautiful clouds reflecting off the lake.

The pathway is wide enough that on many occasions, the four of us would happily move over to the right to let faster walkers and several runners go past us.  It kind of made me feel lazy, comparing myself to those passing us, for not having a faster pace.  But our goal for the evening was to "enjoy the journey"; not to finish the race in first place.

The ironic thing was that 2-mile loop, no matter how fast you walk or run it, burns the same amount of calories... approximately 200 calories for your average-sized person.  It's just that most people burned off their 200 calories a whole lot faster than we did because they were going at a faster pace and finished the 2 miles before we did.

What's my point of this article?  A couple of things:

1) When you're exercising, enjoy the journey at your own pace.  If you have plenty of time, feel free to take your time.  It'll take you longer to reach the goal, but you can still have fun doing it.  Finding something you enjoy makes it seem less like exercise, and more of just pleasure.  What a great way to burn calories, and not even realize it!  Enjoy the journey.

2) On the flip side, if you are short on time, you're going to have to pick up your pace, work at a higher intensity (get that heart rate and breathing rate up), and challenge yourself more to get those calories spent in a shorter amount of time.  And, that's ok, too!  Your journey will be shortened, but you will reach your goal that much faster!  There is a lot of satisfaction in knowing you worked hard in such a short period of time!

Both of these scenarios are still getting the job done.  You're being active at whatever pace you choose and you're making great use of the time that you have!  It's a win-win... as long as you get yourself up and be active in one way or another.  :o)

Smiles and blessings - Tonya

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Just a Spoonful of Sugar

Mary Poppins said (or sung it) best:  "Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down; the medicine go down; the medicine go down. Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, in a most delightful way."
Washing down the medicine or not, I admit it... I have a sweet tooth.  Actually, I have a FULL SET of sweet teeth!  So, what's a girl to do?  I wish I had a good answer to that.  However, I CAN help educate you and hopefully convince both of us of how sugar is of the devil, and we should avoid it as much as possible.  :o(

So, What is Sugar?  Sugar is one of three kinds of carbohydrates... the other two are starches and fiber. In food, sugar is classified as either natural or added. Examples of naturally occurring sugars would be such things like the lactose in milk, fructose in fruit, honey, vegetables, and maltose in beer. Added sugars come from corn, beets, grapes, and sugar cane, which are processed before being added to foods.  However, our bodies cannot tell the difference between naturally occurring sugars and added sugars because they are identical in their chemical makeup. Food that has naturally occurring sugars DO provide vitamins and minerals, BUT still accounts for high calorie count.  Food containing added sugars provide mainly calories and very few vitamins and minerals... and therefore are referred to as "empty calories."  On the Nutrition Facts panel of a food label, "sugars" include both added AND naturally occurring sugars.  But, on the ingredient list, only added sugars are listed. Added sugars would be ingredients like corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose, maltodextrins, granulated sugar, invert sugar, and concentrated fruit juice sweetener.

How Much Sugar Does a Person Need on a Daily Basis?  Zip. Zero. Zilch.  Although our bodies DO need about 130 grams of carbohydrates per day for energy and other necessary functions of the body to be healthy, we don't need to get ANY of those carbohydrates from sugar.  We can rely on starches and fiber to meet that daily requirement.  Important Side Note:  For anyone reading this who is on (or is considering) a "low-carb diet", please make sure that your definition of "low" isn't too low.  You seriously NEED some good carbs in your diet every day (as I stated above: 130 grams daily is a good number; and more if you are active/exercise).  Without that essential amount of daily carbs, you will begin to feel sluggish, grouchy, and lethargic.  Yes, you'll probably lose weight on a low-carb diet... but who wants to be around an irritable, skinny person?!  :o)

Food and Drinks that are High in SugarSo, what should you avoid if you want to flee from the Evil Sugar Devil?  Soda is the #1 culprit; followed by sweetened fruit drinks.  Also at the top of the list are sweets such as candy, cake, cookies, ice cream, cereal, breakfast bars, donuts, muffins... (takes a deep breath)... pastries, honey, flavored milk, flavored coffee (yep, that includes your endearing, sweet Starbucks drink), yogurt, pancakes and syrup, frosting... I could go on, but it's just too depressing.

NOW, is artificial sweetener a good substitute for sugar?  As far as calorie count -- yes.  But as far as being "better" for you... hmm, that's very debatable.  Both have their long list of cons.

So, next time you go to the grocery store, and you're ready to cut back on those Ever-So-Yummy Sugary Items from your diet, just start flipping over those packages and reading some labels.  Look closely at the "sugars" line, and keep that number as close to zero grams as possible!  Will you have withdrawals while you are learning to lessen the amount of sugar you're ingesting?  Probably.  But, this too shall pass... and most likely sooner than you think!  Give it a try!  And maybe I will, too!  Maybe. ;o)

I leave you with this:

Smiles and blessings -- Tonya 

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

What Every "Sweater" Should Know About Weight Loss

No, not THAT kind.

But, THIS kind...

MYTH:  "I'm sweating... therefore, I must be losing weight.  The more I sweat, the more fat is melting off this body of mine!"

TRUTH:  Sweating is NOT a good indicator of weight loss.  Maybe a LITTLE water weight is lost during exercise, BUT not much of any measurable amount... especially if you take into consideration that you're putting fluids right back into your body when you drink water during and after your workout.  But as far as FAT loss?  Chances are, if you're working hard, you ARE losing fat... but it's NOT because of the sweat dripping off the tip of your nose! (A little further below, you'll read how you know you ARE losing fat.)

EXPLANATION of SWEAT:  Sweating is the body's thermostat that regulates temperature control... it cools the body off.  "Goose bumps" and shivering are at the other end of the thermostat spectrum... it's trying to warm the body up.

Some people just sweat more than others.  Most professional athletes sweat more than the average person because their bodies are more efficient at using sweat to cool down. However, people who are overweight tend to sweat more than those who are not. The temperature gauge in someone who is overweight has to work harder to keep the body cool, which results in more sweat production.

And, then you have some people who break out in a nervous sweat, and some who sweat when they look cross-eyed at an ice cube.  I'm pretty sure they're not droppin' many fat pounds by doing that!  :o)

SO, HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU'RE LOSING FAT WEIGHT??? The best way to know that you are burning up the calories, and therefore melting off the fat, is by getting your heart rate up and your breathing rate up. If you are able to carry on a casual conversation with your workout buddy without huffing and puffing, you are not getting much done... except for catching up on current events or on the latest bit of gossip.  Instead, getting in as much "cardio" (exercise that raises the heart rate and breathing rate so that it's very difficult to carry on a conversation) for as long as you can stand it is a great way to shed those extra pounds...

... as long as you're not scarfing down a quarter pound cheeseburger and a milkshake to reward yourself for a job well done!

So whether or not you're a heavy sweater, a glistener, or a glower... go hop on that treadmill or elliptical, or join a spin or cardio class, or grit your teeth in a breath-taking resistance training course... you can do this!  "NO SWEAT!"

Smiles and blessings - Tonya  :o)

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Exercise... the Other Half of the Story

Eating healthy or "dieting"... whatever you want to call it... is a great way to lose weight, and I STRONGLY PROMOTE good, healthy eating habits!  BUT exercise is the other half of the story... and here are 4 reasons why it is so VERY BENEFICIAL to us women:

1. Women tend to store up fat and flab a lot easier than men... I know, it's not fair.  However, exercise (especially resistance training) is what helps you SCULPT AND FIRM your body (which dieting alone cannot do).  AS YOU BUILD STRONGER MUSCLES (and I'm not talking about big, bulky, boy muscles) YOU WILL INCREASE THE FAT-BURNING PROCESS.  And adding cardio/aerobic exercise increases that process even more!

2. As women get older, we need strong muscle tone and strong bones for good health (to help decrease the possibility of bone breakage, poor posture, lack of energy, and overall loss of strength).  Exercise and resistance training is a great way to help prevent those issues.  Starting now, at your current age... you will thank yourself later in life!  It's not too late!

3.  Over time, our balance and flexibility decreases.  As people age, you hear of some falling and hurting themselves (sometimes severely).  This is often due to balance and flexibility issues.  Exercise and resistance training can greatly help in this area, too!

4.  Women are dying of heart disease and respiratory issues at a very high rate.  Exercise can help prevent you from falling into this serious statistic.  When you begin exercising, I agree, it is hard to keep up (your heart feels like it's beating out of your chest and you can't catch a breath).  HOWEVER, this is very short-lived as your heart and lungs grow stronger with each and every session of exercise.


With all of this said... I want you to know how much I care about you and your health.  My passion is to strike an excitement and motivation in ALL women to begin exercising... AND ACTUALLY ENJOYING IT... and reaping the benefits of good health (both now and as we get older).

The time is now... even if you have to literally drag yourself to my house for classes (or to the gym, or popping in a DVD at home)... it WILL get easier!

I beg you to join me in this quest for getting in some exercise - several times a week... if not for yourself... how about for those that you care for?  In a very short amount time though, you'll realize that it IS for you as well!

Smiles and blessings - Tonya  :o)

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