Friday, February 28, 2014

5 Rules to Improve Your Nutrition and Diet

Hi Everyone, 

The new 30 Day Challenge starts tomorrow. We are going to be doing some awesome workouts! To get the best results from your workout program it's important to pair them with a good nutritional plan. 

So what does a good nutritional plan look like? It varies a bit from person to person. Your nutritional plan should include foods that you enjoy. 

That said, there are some aspects that should be included in your diet. Don't be afraid to explore and figure out what works best for you.  Here are some rules that I try to stick to when deciding what to eat. 

1. Learn to Recognize Portion Sizes: This is by far the one I have the hardest time sticking to! I eat several meals (5-6) throughout the day, so it is especially important to be aware of portion sizes when you do this. Otherwise you end up with 5-6 huge meals and an excess of calories. 

If you aren't sure what a portion size looks like measure it. Three foods that I find shocking when measured are cereal, granola and trail mix. I keep a little sandwich baggie with a 1/4 cup portion size inside my bag of trail mix and granola. It's an easy visual cue to show me what a portion size is with these foods (otherwise I might eat them 3-4 handfuls at a time). You don't have to do this with every food, but if there is something you know you tend to overeat measure it out until you learn to recognize the portion size. 

Remember, you don't have to limit yourself to just one serving with every food, but being aware can help you make healthy choices throughout the day. 

Spinach salad with Fish and Cherry Tomatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Eggplant and Zucchini, Apple
2. Eat Vegetables: Incorporate them into all of your meals. When you fill your plate, aim to make half of that vegetables. I start almost every day with an egg sandwich with fresh baby spinach on 100% whole wheat bread. Sometimes I add hummus or peanut butter (yes, I do love PB with a lot of strange things), sometimes I skip the bread and have eggs with fresh spinach.

Vegetables are full of nutrition and fiber, and most of them are naturally low in calories. The more colors you incorporate into your day the bigger the variety of nutrients you are consuming. Vegetables will help keep you full longer, and help prevent overeating. An added bonus of crunchy vegetables (carrots, celery, etc) is that they take longer to chew, which can help your body recognize satiety (fullness) signals more quickly. 
Egg, Spinach and Bacon
Some Recipe Ideas: Apple OmeletVegetable Grilled Cheese, Chicken Vegetable SoupVeggie Wrap, Green Smoothie, Chicken Vegetable Rice SoupGrilled Eggplant Sandwich, Filling Green Endurance Smoothie

3. Eat Protein: Protein will help your muscles grow stronger and repair more quickly. It also helps keep you full and satisfied throughout the day. Research is variable on the amount of protein you should consume per day. However, most people trying to build lean muscle aim for 1 gram per pound of desired body weight. 

One serving of meat should be approximately the size of your palm or a deck of cards. Leaner cuts of meat are typically lower in saturated fat. 
Baked Fish and Vegetables

4. Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth: Whoa! Did I really just say that? I sure did. I keep dark chocolate chips in my freezer at all times. If I have a major sweets craving I have a few chocolate chips (remember rule #1 about portion sizes!) 

Remember, you can satisfy your sweet tooth while eating clean. Get creative, and try to steer yourself closer to fruits and away from overly processed sugars. 

If you let the cravings build without ever appeasing them it can lead to binge eating of very unhealthy items. Also, a "diet" will only work if it is a lifestyle change that you are able to stick to. For most of us that means we need to incorporate in some sweets. Don't be afraid to try some healthy versions of your favorite dessert. You just might like it!

I'm a big fan of Sincerely Yogurt. I stick to the Original Flavor, which is refreshing and delicious, and I top it with fresh fruit. Jesse usually gets the chocolate. 

Some Recipe Ideas: Peanut Butter Oat Stuffed Baked ApplesProtein Chocolate Frappucino, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes, Frozen Banana Bites

5. Log Your Food: Try keeping a written or photographic log of your food. Snapping photos of everything you eat, or writing it down can help you be aware of what you are putting into your body. It can also help you identify if there are certain foods that trigger you to over eat. On the flip side, it can be a great tool to tell you when you aren't eating enough. Eating to much and eating to little are BOTH detrimental to your health and fitness. Food is fuel for your body. To little food and you catabolize your muscle, which increases your body fat percentage. To much food and you become sluggish and consume extra calories which can lead to weight gain. 

Remember, contrary to what you can find on Pinterest, Calories are NOT little creatures that sew your clothes tighter in the night. Calories are simply a measure of energy. 1 Calorie = 4.184 Joules. Calories measure the amount of potential energy that a food item has. It takes your body a certain amount of energy just to pump your blood! One gallon of gasoline has about 31,000,000 calories. You wouldn't fill up your gas tank with gasoline, and then start pouring the gas into the back seat. You also wouldn't be able to drive your car on an empty tank. Fuel your body with what it needs. 

This doesn't have to mean counting calories! Many people find counting calories useful, but it can become something that people get hung up on or start doing compulsively. If you are one of those people it's probably better to just skip number 5. Having a healthy approach toward food will get you results faster, and keep you saner than counting calories. I log my food at the end of the day when I am done eating. That helps me keep the log as a tool for learning, and not something to get fixated on. 

I hope you find these tips helpful! See you tomorrow for Day 1 of the new 30 Day Challenge!


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Bikini Prep/Body Sculpt: Workout 22: Leg and Core Toning Workout

Hi Everyone!

This was my workout last night. It's a full body workout, 1 round takes 15 minutes (feel free to repeat it for a longer workout!) I used a barbell (75 lbs total weight) for the workout, but I also demonstrate body weight variations in the video. 

I was very tired yesterday. I am still feeling better, but it sometimes takes a little while to get back up to full speed after being sick. I kept it to one round because I didn't want to over do it. 

I started this workout by running an 800 (.5 miles). I did 2 minutes at a 7 min/mile pace, 1 minute at 6:30 pace, and 30 seconds at a 6 min/mile pace. It felt great to get moving. 

You can substitute jump rope, high knees, or this 5 Minute Cardio Workout if you aren't able to run. 

The entire workout can be repeat between 1-3X. 

Enjoy! I teach a yoga class tonight. I will be filming a new yoga video soon. :)


10/50 Second Intervals

Repeat 1-3X


1. Plank Crunch Squat (Deadlift)
2. Lateral Burpee
3. Reverse Plank Scissor
4. Side Plank Leg Lift (right)
5. Side Plank Leg Lift (left)
6. Warrior (Single Leg) Deadlift (right)
7. Warrior Deadlift (left)
8. Down Dog Hop (right)
9. Down Dog Hop (left)
10. Ninja Jump
11. High Knees
12. X-Jump
13. High Knees
14. X-Jump
15. High Knees

Repeat or Cool Down
Down Dog Hop

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Bikini Prep/Body Sculpt: Workout 21: Tighter Tummy Sculpt

Hi Everyone!

Last night's workout is focused on sculpting a tighter tummy. A strong core is imperative to a healthy lifestyle. Your core impacts the biomechanics of your entire body. 

One round of this workout takes 15 minutes. If you want to increase the intensity you can incorporate 30-45 second intervals of jump rope or high knees between each exercise. 

I paired this workout with a 4 mile run. I kept the pace at 8 minutes per mile. I am looking forward to incorporating some speed work in the upcoming weeks. I will be posting all about it so be sure to check back! 

Also, don't forget that the next 30 Day Challenge starts on Saturday. I am planning on posting some nutrition tips and meal ideas along with the challenge. It's very common for people to struggle with the dietary side of things. I do not eat 100% clean all the time, but as my next NPC bikini competition comes closer I will certainly be focusing on nutrition a bit more. 

Enjoy the workout!

10/50 Second Intervals
Repeat 1-3X

1. 3 Park Abs
2. Temple Tap Abs
3. Crescent Plank (right)
4. Crescent Plank (left)
5. Heel Tap Abs
6. Angel Abs
7. Plank Crunch
8. Russian Twist
9. Elbow Tap Hip Lift (right)
10. Elbow Tap Hip Lift (left)
11. Boat Lift
12. Slow Mountain Climber
13. Leg Scissor
14. Tricep Leg Lift
15. Cheek to Cheek

*I paired this workout with 30 minutes of Cardio. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

15 Minute Cardio Sweat: HIIT Bodyweight Workout

Hi Everyone!

This is a 15 Minute HIIT workout. You can repeat rounds if you are up for it, or even switch back and forth between HIIT and Reps if you want to vary the challenge. 

Unfortunately the cold that I have been fighting has come back full force. It started nearly two weeks ago, so I am calling the doctor tomorrow. I have to get back into tip top shape for the start of my next 30 Day Challenge

The next challenge will run through the month of March and starts on Saturday, March 1st. Like my last 30 day challenge I will have daily check-ins on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. This challenge and all of the workouts will continue to be available on my blog so if you join in later it's okay. 

I recommend keeping track of your workouts via check-in or workout journal. Keeping a workout journal can be very motivating, especially if you keep track of your reps during each workout. When you keep track of your reps when you repeat the workout your goal will be to increase the number of reps you were able to complete. It's a great way to see how your fitness level has improved. 

People often ask how long my workouts will be available. Every workout that I have done since starting my blog is still available on my site and youtube channel. You can subscribe to my youtube channel here: Melissa Bender Fitness on Youtube. Another easy way to browse my workouts is through my Fitness board on Pinterest

I am continuing to rest my body. I have never had a cold that lasted this long so I want to do everything I can to get rid of it. I will be calling my doctor tomorrow, and as soon as he clears me to get moving again there will be brand new workouts. I can't wait!


Max Reps 50 seconds, 10 seconds rest between exercises

1. Mountain Climbers
2. Jump Squats
3. High Knees
4. Lunge Jumps
5. Russians
6. High Knees
7. Frogger
8. Plie Jumps
9. High Knees
10. Hip Thrust (right)
11. Hip Thrust (left)
12. High Knees
13. Pendulum Hop
14. Burpee
15. High Knees

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Bikini Prep Body Sculpt: Workout 20: HIIT It, Sweat It, Sculpt It

Hi Everyone!

I really enjoyed this workout. One round takes 20 minutes. 

This workout can be performed with body weight, or you can increase the intensity by adding weights. 

I used a barbell (total weight 75 lbs), and two dumbbells (20 lbs each). Remember, the number one focus is always form. Choose a weight that you can use while consistently maintaining form, that is still challenging for you. When you are lifting or setting down your weights be sure to keep the core tight and the back straight. Always protect your back!

If you don't want to use a weight you can substitute cardio bursts of your choice during the 30 second intervals. Some great options are: jump rope, jumping jacks, high knees, mountain climbers or froggers. 

I hope you all enjoy the workout! I am off to teach a yoga class. :)


Repeat 1-3X
30 seconds Bear Complex or Cardio, 50 Seconds Max Reps.
1 Round=20 Minutes

(Equipment is optional: barbell or dumbbells for Bear Complex). 

*Bear Complex/Cardio
1. Superman
*Bear Complex/Cardio

2. Bear Crawls
*Bear Complex/Cardio

3. High Knees
*Bear Complex/Cardio

4. Temple Tap Abs
*Bear Complex/Cardio

5. Pendulum Hops
*Bear Complex/Cardio

6. Wall Climb
*Bear Complex/Cardio

7. Plyo Pushup/Shoulder Tap Pushups
*Bear Complex/Cardio

8. Chair Lunge
*Bear Complex/Cardio

9. Tuck Jump
*Bear Complex/Cardio

10. Bicycle
*Bear Complex/Cardio

11. Rotating Hip Drop
*Bear Complex/Cardio

12. Lunge Jump
*Bear Complex/Cardio

13. Sprinter Situp
*Bear Complex/Cardio

14. Wall Sit Leg Lift
*Bear Complex/Cardio

15. Lateral Mat Run

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Glute-tastic: Melissa Bender Fitness Workout

Hi Everyone!

This is a workout tutorial of some of my favorite glute moves. This is an older video. I am still fighting off the cold I mentioned in my last video. Jesse and I taught our boot camp class tonight and it wore me out. 

I will be filming a new workout tomorrow. I am not used to being "out" this long due to illness, but I believe in listening to your body and allowing it to heal. I would rather miss a couple of workouts and be back at full force than jump in and extend my illness leading to several weeks of half-fatigued workouts. 

When I filmed this workout I went through it for reps, but it would also be a good HIIT workout. If you enjoy this and want a full length version let me know and I will re-film it. 

See you tomorrow! 

Beginner: 10 reps
Intermediate: 15 reps
Advanced: 20 reps

Repeat 2-3X

1. Side Jump Burpee
2. Pistol/One Leg Squat (right)
3. Pistol/One Leg Squat (left)
4. Standing Leg Lift Hop (right)
5. Standing Leg Lift Hop (left)
6. High Knees Jump Squat
7. Oblique Warrior (right)
8. Oblique Warrior (left)
9. Side Scissor Reach
10. Tricep Leg Lift

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Bikini Prep Body Sculpt: Workout 19: Ten Move Tone Up

Hi Everyone!

For my workout today I used dumbbells. It's a quick workout, and it can be repeated. As always the breakdown is below. 

I have been fighting a bad cold/allergy since Wednesday and I'm still not 100%. It felt good to finally be able to workout, but it was definitely challenging. 

I posted on my Facebook page asking if anyone was interested in another 30 Day Challenge for the month of March. The response was overwhelmingly positive, so March 1st marks the start of another challenge. :) 

It's going to be a good one! Enjoy the workout today. Hopefully tomorrow I will be back up to full speed, and feeling healthy. See you then. 


Repeat 1-4X 
*If using body weight reps can be increased to 15 or 20. 

1. Wide/Narrow Squat
2. Warrior Deadlift (right)
3. Warrior Deadlift (left)
4. Lunging Fly
5. Goddess Twist
6. Runners Lunge Row
7. Romanian Deadlift
8. Split Squat (right)
9. Split Squat (left)
10. Supergirl Row

Friday, February 14, 2014

Belly Fat Burn Workout and 30 Minute Yoga Flow

Hi Everyone! 

Happy Valentine's Day! I didn't get my workout in (yet!) today. I just got home from work and Jesse and I have dinner reservations and a fun evening planned. If I have time to film tonight I will get it posted early tomorrow. If I don't I will be completing one of my favorite fat burning workouts: The Belly Fat Burn Workout. 

The video is posted below. I also included a 30 minute yoga flow video if you scroll to the bottom of this post. Thursday nights I teach an hour long yoga class. This isn't the same flow that I taught this week, but it's a good one. Don't let the main image scare you. If you're not ready to get upside down you don't have to. :) I demonstrate some movements you can use to build the strength necessary for Crow/Crane pose. The main difference between Crow and Crane (for any yogis out there that are wondering) is the arm position. In crow pose your elbows are bent allowing for some of the weight of your lower body to rest on the back of your arms. In crane pose the arms are straightened and support less weight, requiring you to lift through your core to raise the hips toward the ceiling. 

Crane Pose
Crow Pose

I hope you all have a great evening and enjoy the workout(s). There will definitely be a new workout posted tomorrow. :)


Beginner: 10 reps, 30 second cardio intervals
Intermediate: 15 reps, 45 seconds cardio
Advanced: 20 reps, 60 seconds cardio

*Timed Cardio Burst between each exercise

1. Situp Crunch
2. Sumo Pushup
3. Heel Tap Leg Lift
4. Side Plank Hip Lift (right)
5. Side Plank Hip Lift (left)
6. Prone Heel Lift
7. Leg/Hip Lift
8. Knee Drop Plank
9. Bicycle
10. Clockwork Plank

 30 Minute Yoga Flow:

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Cardio and NPC Bikini Prep Update

Hi Everyone,

I was planning to film a new workout today, but I am not feeling well so I stuck to some light cardio instead. I have a sore throat and headache. My body feels all right, but I didn't want to over-do it. I got in 4.5 miles at a very easy/light pace on the treadmill. Jesse ran outside tonight. I alternated the level of incline during my cardio to vary the intensity throughout the workout. 

Remember, you don't need a treadmill to get in cardio. Here are some other cardio ideas: Cardio Workouts. My 15 Minute High Intensity Interval Training workout remains one of my favorite cardio challenges. I have repeated this workout and successfully increased my reps on each exercise. It's been a while since I re-tried this so I would like to do it again sometime soon. It can be great motivation to try to improve your number of reps. 

I am still training for my NPC Bikini Competition, but I had to choose a new show. The show I originally wanted to compete in was at the end of March, but the location changed and I won't be able to travel to it. I want to stick to competing in Natural shows so I selected another competition on May 24th. 

No matter what show I compete in I will always be doing it naturally. I like that in Natural shows there are no fat burners, diuretic pills, or steroids, and they do drug testing. 

You can find my original 12 Week Bikini Competition Workout Plan here. 

I teach yoga tomorrow night after work, but I am planning to also film a new workout so be sure to check back!


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Bikini Pre/Body Sculpt: Workout 18: FIT, HIIT, Sweat

Hi Everyone!

This was my workout last night, and we will be doing a variation of this workout again tonight with our Boot Camp class.

One round takes 16 minutes, and the workout can be repeated. Tonight we will complete 3 rounds with our class for a total of 48 minutes of hard work. 

I also got outside for a 3.6 mile run yesterday with Jesse. The temperature was about 19 degrees F. It was cold, but it felt amazing to be outside. It has reached that time of year when I am anxiously awaiting spring, sunshine, and warmer weather. 

I hope you enjoy this workout!

10/50 Second Intervals.
*I used a 15 lb dumbbell for one exercise. You can use a weight of your choice, or complete the exercise with body weight. 

1. Mountain Climbers
2. Side Lunge Kick (right)
3. Side Lunge Kick (left)
4. Mountain Climbers
5. Tricep Extension Squat
6. Tuck Jump
7. Mountain Climbers
8. Temple Tap Abs
9. Plank Walk Out
10. High Knees
11. Side Plank Hip/Leg Lift (right)
12. Side Plank Hip/Leg Lift (left)
13. High Knees
14. Knee Drop Plank
15. Hip Lift Hook
16. High Knees

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Bikini Prep/Body Sculpt: Workout 17: 15 Minute HIIT

Hi Everyone!

Yesterday my sister, Kristen, joined me for another workout. Kristen's wedding day will be here in less than four months so she has been on a journey to be in the best shape of her life. The workout video and breakdown are below. 

Kristen has joined me for two other wedding prep workout videos:
Wedding Boot Camp Tutorial
15 Minute HIIT and Burn

Kristen has also been incorporating outdoor walks, riding a stationary bike, and other Bender workouts. Kristen's fiancĂ©, Jason, has been doing outdoor running with his dog and a weighted vest. 

Over the past two months Kristen has lost:
1.4 inches from her waist (from 29 inches to 27.6 inches)
1.4 inches from her hips (from 41.5 inches to 40.1 inches)
2.2 inches from her thigh (from 25.5 inches to 23.3 inches)

Jason has lost:
2.7 inches from his waist (from 44 inches to 41.3 inches)
.3 inches from his hips (46 inches to 45.7 inches) (*He has probably lost a bit more, but he was wearing jeans when we took his measurements)

They are both working hard, and this workout was no exception. 

I hope you enjoy the workout!

10/50 Second Intervals

1. Plank
2. High Knees
3. Table Lift
4. Mountain Climber
5. Unicycle (right)
6. Unicycle (left)
7. Russian Kick 
8. Warrior Squat
9. Pendulum Hop
10. Heel Tap Leg Lift 
11. Prone Heel Tap
12. Squat Jump
13. Twisting V-Up
14. Pendulum Squat
15. Super Girl

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Three Keys to Starting a Successful Running Program

By Ed Shephard

If you want to begin running and keep running, then you need to get off to a good start.  If you get off to a good start, it’s more likely that your experience will be enjoyable and injury free, rather than frustrating and injury filled.  If you have a good first month, you’ll find that you are motivated to continue running.  Three keys to starting and sustaining a running program are:  being patient, getting adequate rest & recovery, and practicing moderation.

Patience is one of the most important attributes any runner, novice or veteran, can possess.  You need to remember that you didn’t get out of shape in one day and you won’t get back in shape in one day.   Even after you have been running for a while, you’ll need to remind yourself that improvement will come from maintaining a consistent level of running. Getting caught in cycles of overtraining, injury, and time off is no way to either improve or enjoy running. 

To maintain a consistent level of running that will keep you injury free and and experiencing steady improvement, you’ll need to allow your body to get adequate rest and recovery between runs.  Improvement comes from repeated cycles of training and recovery, not just the training.  Think of training as pushing down on a diving board and rest & recovery letting the board spring up.  Too much training, without rest, is like continually push the diving board down without ever letting it spring back up.  Eventually, the board breaks(you get hurt). The biggest mistake runners make is trying to do too much too soon, or making big increases in mileage that their bodies aren’t ready to handle. You need to remember that your body’s cardiovascular system will adapt to training more rapidly than your muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones.

This difference in how quickly different parts of your body adapt to running can lead to issues with your legs.  Your recent increases in training might not be tiring you out and you might not even notice anything with your legs until things like shin splints, tendonitis, or stress fractures suddenly appear. In the long run (no pun intended) you will be healthier and more likely to still be running, if you error on the side of doing too little rather than too much running.  This is particularly true when you are beginning to run, or are returning to running after a long break.  It is much wiser to do one less mile, go a little slower, or take a day off than risk getting hurt.  The cost of losing an extended period of time to injury will be much greater than the benefit from squeezing in some running that you should have skipped. 

Every runner is unique and every runner must exercise good judgement in answering three questions about their training: how far, how fast, and how often.  The answers to these questions depend upon your current level of fitness and how your body responds to training.  The toughest part of starting and maintaining a running program is making it through the first month. By being patient, getting adequate rest & recovery, and training at a moderate, but consistent level will make it much more likely that you’ll have a good experience with running and be on your way to becoming a lifelong runner.

Ed Shepherd finishing the DC Marathon
About Ed Shephard:

Ed "Shep" Shephard is an accomplished runner and Cross Country/Track Coach. Shep was inducted into Westminster's Athletic Hall of Fame for his accomplishments in Cross Country and Track including setting records in the 1500, 5000 and 10,000-meter runs. 

Shep has a passion for running, and has coached many runners to successful running careers in high school and beyond. He has coached multiple cross country runners and track athletes, from sprinters to jumpers, to the top 10 at States. 

Shep has successfully competed in races of all distances and is a fountain of knowledge in all things running related. He was the first coach Jesse Bender ever ran for, and they continue to run together. He is the person the Benders turn to for running advice. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Bikini Prep/BodySculpt: Workout 16: 15 Minute HIIT

Hi Everyone!

This is a quick, but challenging full body workout. We did three rounds of this workout with our Boot Camp class on Tuesday, and when some of my students came to yoga on Thursday they were still sore. I was proud of them because that showed how much they were pushing themselves during each interval! 

Last night I went through this series once after teaching an hour long yoga class. It was a fun one to repeat. 

I am looking forward to filming a tough workout either tonight or tomorrow morning. I also have a workout challenge that I did last weekend to get posted. I called it the 52 New You workout. It was 52 reps of 7 different exercises for a full body workout. 

Lots to look forward to! :) Enjoy this workout, and remember to push yourself. Always listen to your body, but make sure you are working at a pace that is challenging to you. That challenge is what makes you stronger. 


10/50 Second Intervals with Maximum Reps. 

*It can be very motivating to keep track of your reps in a little notebook. That way whenever you repeat the workout you can challenge yourself to improve. 

1. Burpee
2. Leg Lift/Hip Lift
3. High Knee Clap
4. Leg Series (right)
5. Side V-Up (right)
6. Leg Series (left)
7. Side V-Up (left)
8. Cross Plank Tap
9. Rolling Burpees
10. Donkey Kicks (Frog Hopper)
11. Goddess Squats
12. Crunch & Tap
13. Side Lunge Jumps (alternating)
14. Dive Bombers
15. High Knees

Thursday, February 6, 2014

What Is Fit and Healthy?

Written by: Suzanne McCurdy

So you are ready to make a change, or perhaps you are already deep into that change and not quite sure how to balance your new healthy life with your old lifestyle?  

At some point in modern society we have all slipped up and gone taken the fast route through the drive thru, popped that frozen dinner in the microwave, or just grabbed a bag of chips and called it dinner.   It's too easy not to have done this at some point, but now you don't want that life.  

You want to live a healthy life like generations before us, or you just want to keep your healthy lifestyle going without sacrificing some of your favorite past times with family and friends.  Let's face it, when we gather food is usually involved.    

Food is welcoming. Feeding someone is a sign of caring so don't stop! Just make some new wonderful stuff they wouldn't even imagine.  I love going to a friend's party and finding fresh hummus and veggies, a rotisserie chicken and fruit for the spread!  (Check out: Healthy Holiday Entertaining). 

When there are healthy options available I can have that one drink, eat well, and not feel like I'm going to regret it in the morning. I don't feel miserably full from junk and can laugh and dance with my friends. You would be surprised how happy people are when you put out something outside of the norm.  

At some point we are all faced with questions, "I'm healthy and I'm being healthy, but why won't this tummy go away?" or "shouldn't my arms be tighter?"  We are all faced with the healthy vs. vanity conundrum.  Some come to an acceptance that those 8lbs of vanity weight really don't matter and you stop worrying. Others of us really wish we could get a restraining order to force those 8 lbs. to stay as far away from us as possible.  

The point is you have to choose.  How important is it for you to look like the fitness model in the magazine?  PS...they probably did a special diet and a possible water deplete before that shoot.  It's okay if you don't want a six pack, that is not the definition of being fit.  Decide what your definition of a fit life and body should look like and be happy with it.  

Learn to appreciate the choices of those around you. It's not a reflection on you that they choose to workout 2 hours a day to your 30 minutes, you are both being fit and healthy.  

Still not sweatin' the small stuff?  How often do you let yourself get out of your comfort zone?  Change is natural with as unnatural as it can feel.  Think about the planet earth (corny but go with me here), we change each year, all the time: seasons (some parts of the world more than others), weather, even day to night. Change is truly natural.  

Change is happening all the time even when we cannot see it.  Long before those leaves change colors and fall off the tree change is happening within and we don't see it, but that is where faith, persistence, and discipline come in.  Changes are happening in your body long before it shows on the outside.   We just have to go with it, accept it and let it happen. Learn to feel alive when you are outside of your comfort zone.

This leads me to stress.  It should not be stressful to live healthfully.  However we all do it, we stress over the number on the scale, over the size of jeans we are buying and the pinch of fat on our sides.  However, what most people don't realize is that stress is wreaking havoc in your body.  While the world around us has changed from century to century and even decade to decade (hello let's remember the 80s!) our bodies have relatively remained the same.  

When we stress our internal systems have no idea that we have an abundance of food surrounding us or that we are really stressed over an email from our boss shortening an already short deadline.  Our bodies go straight into survival mode!  Our bodies only know one type of stress:  "There is no food and a Sabre tooth tiger wants to eat us!"  What does that mean?  Store fat, stop all systems and conserve energy ASAP!  This means your goals are now on the back burner, not by your choice, but by your bodies.

So while you have goals and you are a driven person and want to reach these goals, be proud of what you have accomplished so far.  Even if that accomplishment is simply that you got up this morning and did the cardio you told yourself you would start today.  You deserve to be proud of that.

Hi, Suzanne here! A little about me! I'm 33 currently serving in the Air Force and also serving as an Army wife to my amazing husband and soldier. I love to run and eat healthy! I have a B.S. in Dietetics from Texas Woman's University and am a certified personal trainer.  I have run races, competed in fitness competitions, and most recently added nutritional counseling to my resume.  Motivating others is my passion.  I love this so much I have to remind myself from time to time that it is a job or just pinch myself.  I do not believe in a one size fits all and that each body is different.  Therefore I work hard to help each and every person find their fit and what fit means to them.

You can find Suzanne at: