It’s that time of year when everyone makes resolutions to do things differently. They will join a gym or do a cleanse to kick off a diet or sign up for a marathon. While some people will use their gym membership and follow through with their diet, for most of us, it can be hard to stick with a new year healthy lifestyle plan. So how do we find something that we can maintain? I asked Yoga Instructor and CrossFit Trainer, Carolina Phipps Stone, for advice on how to eat healthy and start working out in a manageable way.
What do you recommend for people that want to start a lifestyle plan and stick with it?
“Lifestyle” is such a big word and really encompasses so many potential factors. A healthy lifestyle can involve anything from getting enough sleep each day and drinking plenty of water to a full overhaul of diet and nutrition and a daily exercise routine. I find that to keep any plan accessible and more importantly sustainable, start with small steps or simple changes. For example, try adding just 10 minutes of stretching each day or making water your go-to beverage for a week. Get comfortable with that smaller step and then add on something else like working out for 20 minutes 2 times a week or removing refined sugars from your diet. All of those seemingly small steps will take time to adjust to and turn into habits. However, once they become habits and we start to put them all together, we’re looking at a healthier overall lifestyle!
What are some good workouts for moms to do when they have little free time?
I love using a Tabata style work out when I’m at home or traveling or only have a little bit of time. Its easy to do almost anywhere and there are endless ways to mix up the movements. All you need is 16 minutes and a timer! You pick 3 or 4 movements and do 8 rounds of 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest. When I’m in a rush, I normally do body weight movements like sit ups, push ups, squats, and burpees but you could also use kettlebells or barbells or anything you’d like! You finish the 8 rounds of one movement and then move on to the next. I love the feeling of quick bursts of maximum effort with little windows of rest to reset and recommit. Its also nice to be able to complete the 8 rounds of one movement knowing that when I’m done with it I get to move on to a completely different movement! I love using the timer to hold me accountable to the work. Without the timer, I might not be giving maximum effort or even worse, I end up wasting tons of time in between! This is quick, efficient and as intense as I want to make it within each 20 second window of work! (Editor’s note: There are many workout apps with Tabata workouts including Nike + and the Seven Minute Workout.)
If a mom wants to see changes in her body and become healthier, how many days a week should she be exercising? At what level of intensity?
To SEE changes is in your body and to FEEL changes in your body usually requires different things. You may start to feel changes in your body just after your first few sessions of exercise. You’ll feel exhilarated from the movement, a rush of blood and hormones, a good flush to your skin, and probably a little sore in the muscles the next day. To actually start to SEE changes in your body it will be important to start to incorporate some healthier eating habits that are specific to your goals. If you want to see muscle definition and tone this may actually mean increasing the amount of protein and healthy fats that you take in. If you want to lose overall body fat you will need to adjust your nutrition a little more specifically. If you don’t want to worry about counting calories or spending tons of time in the gym but still want to see some aesthetic changes, start with simply eating clean, whole, and unprocessed foods and 2 to 3 days of moderate exercise that incorporates some functional weight training. CrossFit gives you a little bit of everything in every workout which is why I keep using it as my main source of overall fitness!
What are some small, specific changes people can make if they’re looking for a new healthy diet?
A seemingly small change but actually pretty challenging is making sure that you’re drinking enough water each day. A healthy amount of water each day would be about 1/3 of your body weight in ounces. So for example, I weigh 130lbs so I would need to drink about 43oz. of water each day to meet that goal. Another small but very effective change is to remove refined sugars from your diet. Sugars from fruit are ok in small amounts but start checking the labels of your sauces, frozen or packaged foods, and beverages and you’ll be shocked at the amount of sugar and sugary products are added into them. The next step would be to remove even artificial sweeteners from your diet as well. Organic or not, even honey and agave can have a negative hormonal impact on your body. You’ll quickly feel (and see!) the huge ripple effect that drinking more water and removing sugar will have on the rest of your diet and overall well being!
What inspires you to keep working out and living a healthy life?
The thing that inspires me to work out the most is the feeling I get during the workout itself. When I find myself doing things I never thought I could do, when I get to feel my heart racing, and the sweat pouring, it’s a reminder that I’m really alive and pretty fortunate to be able to move at all. I’ve made quite a few mistakes in my life and lived through times that I was very unhealthy and very irresponsible with my choices and my well being. Now I try to take each day, each meal, and each opportunity to work out as a gift. I also love how a good workout is almost always guaranteed to clear away any stress or negativity from my day. I can get to the gym in the most irritable, grumpy, or down mood and getting my heart pumping and the blood moving is like a giant reset button for my attitude.
In addition to a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer Certificate, Carolina is also a certified Yoga instructor with 800+ hours of training ranging from Hatha and Vinyasa to Yin and Restorative. She currently teaches at Modo Yoga LA and Crossfit High Five. She brings her tremendous knowledge of anatomy and movement to each class. She has an exceptional understanding of how to organize the body in order to maintain a safe position and access full physical potential. She will help you discover alignment, show you the balance of strength and mobility, and guide you towards a greater sense of body awareness. Her classes will always challenge you while making you feel supported and safe. She loves to walk the line between effort and ease, between strength and grace, and finds the perfect balance to fulfill that desire in both Crossfit and Yoga.
Note: When starting any fitness plan, make sure and see your doctor first!