How Important Is Exercise?

Is it really necessary to exercise?

So last week, I talked about some of the benefits of exercise for your mental health. But there’s more!
Just in case you’re not sure if exercise is really a big deal, I have some facts for you ๐Ÿ™‚
Also, this is not a complete list. But if this doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will!

Exerciseย can helpย prevent osteoporosis (1).

If you lift weights after you lose weight, you’re more likely to maintain your new body weight by preserving muscle massย (2, 3, 4, 5)

Exercise can increase your energy levels, even if you have chronic fatigue syndromeย (6).

It’s kind of crazy to think that you would have more energy by expending energy, but it’s true.

Exercise has many other benefits:

Regular exercise improvesย insulin sensitivity, aerobic fitness and body composition, while lowering blood pressure and blood fat levels (7, 8, 9, 10). Consistentlyย exercising even can help you sleep better (11)

So these are just a few of the benefits of exercise.


Easy ways to incorporate more exercise into your routine:

  • Pick whatever form of exercise that you enjoy the most! The best form is exercise is the one you can do most consistently.
    • It doesn’t matter whether it’s weight training, cardio, yoga, swimming, sports, or even working out from home. What matters is that you enjoy it. That way it doesn’t feel like a chore and you will actually be motivated to do it
  • Make it fun! Don’t be afraid to use music to your advantage!
    • Don’t underestimate to power of a good playlist!ย I recommend any type of music that makes you excited or motivated.
  • Figure out what works for you
    • This is more trial and error, but the better you know yourself, the better you will be able to have a consistent exercise routine that you enjoy.


What type of music do you guys listen to in your workouts? Looking for any song recommendations?

Let me know in the comments!


The Connection Between Mental Health And Fitness

So today’s post is going to be a little different.

I came across a post on my Instagram, and I just felt like it was too important not to talk about. It was a quote, which read:

“Food is the most abused anti-anxiety drug. Exercise is the most under-utilized antidepressant.”

There’s a lot in these two sentences, so I’ll try to unpack it a bit.

When it comes to food, many of us eat based on our emotions instead of just physical hunger.

You know, you’re having a terrible day, but you open up the freezer and see a pint of your favorite ice cream? Or maybe you decide to treat yourself to some french fries. As you might guess, this bad habit can lead to significant weight gain.

(Stay tuned for a future article on emotional eating!)

As for the exercise part, I can personally tell you from experience that my mood is significantly better when I consistentlyย exercise.

Sometimes people ask me why I exercise so much. I always tell them I do it for my sanity.

With all the stress that can come from pharmacy school, working, and other extra-curricular activities, the one thing that keeps me sane is exercising. I know that no matter what else is going on, I can put on my workout playlist and head to the gym; I always feel better afterwards.

“People may let me down, but the weights always stay the same.”

But on a serious note, exercising has been shown to have real benefits for mental health. A recent study even showed that weight training can increase brain function in older adults (1). There is also a plethora of research about the benefits of exercise for depression (2).

In the coming weeks, I will talk more about exercise.

But in the mean time, I want to get feedback from you guys!ย What has your experience been? Have you noticed any differences in your mood when you exercise?

Let me know in the comments!

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2 Very Underrated Things You Can Do That Will Make A Huge Difference In Your Fitness

1. Make sure you get enough sleep!

This one kind of goes without saying.

Too many of us proclaim that we’re sooo busy, that we don’t have enough to sleep as much as we’re supposed to.ย Some people feel like sleep is for the weak, but sleep is really for the strong.

Most people need somewhere from 6 to 9 hours. ย Personally, I need about 7 hours, but everyone is different.
Sleep is when your body repairs itself, and it is essential for maintaining your metabolism, building muscle and losing fat.

Not getting enough sleep has been show to slow down your metabolism by decreasing your resting metabolic rate, making your body burn calories less efficiently and making it easier to gain body fat (1,ย 2)

My advice is to find what works for you. Know yourself.ย 

Easy ways to try to get more sleep:

Having a regular sleep routine does wonders.ย Try to turn off your electronics at least 30 minutes before you plan on going to sleep. Being exposed to blue light late at night has been shown to have a negative effect on circadian rhythm and sleep patterns. If you absolutely must use electronics, try f.lux (computer) or the “Night Shift” feature on iOS. Also, anything to relax or calm you down before you sleep is also a good idea.

2. Meal prep!!

Meal prepping is a complete game changer

The hardest part about getting in shape isn’t working out.

Working out is maybe an hour on most days of the week.ย It’s the other 23 hours in the day that are the biggest challenge.ย 

The key to making the most of those other 23 hours is eating right. And eating right is exponentially easier when you make your own food, i.e. meal prep.

When you prepare your meals ahead of time, it makes your life so much easier because:

1) You already know what you will be eating

2) You will save time because it only takes a few minutes to heat up your food in the microwave once it has already been prepared

3) Byย making your own food, it becomes much easier to eat healthy because you won’t be tempted to eat fast food

Easy ways to incorporate meal prep:

Pick one day of the week to do most of your cooking. The idea is to make enough food for at least several days, or maybe the whole week if you’re feeling ambitious. Since the setup and cleanup is the same no matter how much you cook, you’ll really be saving a lot of time. If you need help with examples, check out my Instagram page on the right side of the page ———————————–>>>

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Do You Struggle With Motivation? Focus On This Instead

Do You Struggle With Motivation? Focus On This Instead

We all wish we had more of it, don’t we?

Motivation tends to be the one thing that we try to rely on to get results. Many of us wait to feel that burst of inspiration before we can get the momentum necessary to achieve the goals that we set.

What if I told you that you were focusing on the wrong thing???

It turns out that commitment (you can also think about it as having discipline) is more important than motivation.

Motivation comes and goes, but if you make a commitment for the right reasons, it can last a lifetime.One of the biggest lesson’s I’ve learned is that consistency is the most important factor when it comes to getting results.

No one wakes up 7 days a week with an equal amount of motivation, so to get results with anything, especially fitness, you have to make it a priority, make time for it, and make it into a habit.

Another important point is to be honest with yourself. Lying to yourself is especially bad because it prevents you from making the changes necessary to take you to the next step of your fitness journey.

If we’re really being honest, “I don’t have time for the gym” really means “The gym isn’t a priority for me.”

Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day, it’s just a matter of what you do with your free time.

The takeaway:ย Making the commitment in the beginning is the key step. After that, you can put your habits into place. It will then be much easier to persevere through the inevitable challenges that life will throw your way.

That’s the only way you’ll succeed.

I’ll be talking more about habits in a future post. Stay tuned!
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Two Very Important Nutrients That Many People Are Lacking In Their Diet

What makes the difference between packing on pounds of fat and staying lean and fit? Your diet. And when it comes to your diet, there are two nutrients that you especially need.

What makes the difference between packing on pounds of fat and staying lean and fit? Your diet. And when it comes to your diet, there are two nutrients that you especially need.

1. Make sure you get enough protein in your diet.

The first thing you need to do is focus on eating the right types of food.ย One very important nutrient is protein.

Making sure you eat a high-protein diet is a major way to increase your metabolism (1).

In addition, eating protein also keeps you full for longer and can make you eat less during the day (2,3). Eating more protein may lower your blood pressure (4), and has been shown to fight diabetes (5).

In one study, women who ate a diet that was 30% protein ate 441 calories less per day. They lost 11 lbs in 3 months, just by eating more protein.

This is most likely because eating protein fills you up more and you don’t have cravings during the day. I personally think you could lose even more weight if you do 35% protein. That’s what I personally do.
However, one concern people have with eating a lot of protein is kidney damage.ย 

This is a false concern.ย 

Healthy kidneys have never been proven to be damaged with a high-protein diet (even up to 2-3x the Recommended Daily Allowance) (6).

Easy ways to add more protein:

Try to drink a whey protein shake. The best times to drink one are right after your workout, right when you wake up, and right before you go to sleep.

2. Don’t forget about the fiber!


Another major key is to make sure to get enough fiber in your diet.
Fiber has many benefits. An Australian study that followed over 1500 adults for 10 years found that the subjects that had the highest fiber intake had a 79% greater odds of aging disease-free (7). Fiber slows down the absorption of sugar in your bloodstream, which reduces your risk of diabetes.
Fiber can alsoย prevent constipation (8) and help you eat less and feel full faster (9).

Easy ways to add more fiber:

Try to eat oatmeal in the morning. If you’re really ambitious, do that and maybe some broccoli or spinach (steamed broccoli is my favorite) with lunch and/or dinner

3 Harmful Myths Preventing You From Reaching Your Fitness Goals

There are a few myths that become very pervasive in the fitness world. You may even believe some of them yourself. Check out the article below to see if you are making any of these fatal mistakes.

There are a few myths that become very pervasive in the fitness world. You may even believe some of them yourself. Check out the article below to see if you are making any of these fatal mistakes.

1. ย  ย Myth:ย You can eat whatever you want as long as you exercise enough to make up for it.

Truth:ย You cannot out-exercise a bad diet.

Diet has a much larger effect on your weight than exercise does. According to one study,ย only 10 to 30% of the calories your body burns in a day are actually related to body movement (i.e. exercise)ย (1).

Most of the calories your body burns (60-80%) comes from your resting metabolic rate (RMR), which is the calories your body burns just to maintain itself.

In other words,ย your body burns most of its calories while you’re doing nothing.

About another 10% of the total number of calories you burn is directly related to the type of food you eat.

When you are trying to burn calories and lose weight, why only focus on that 10-30%?ย When you do the math, it becomes clear that focusing on exerciseย withoutย changing the types of food you eat will not result in significant weight loss.

A great example of this isย NBC’s TV showย The Biggest Loser. Just like many people trying to lose weight,ย the contestants exercise for hours every day and restrict their calories in order to lose weight.

But one study that looked at 14 contestants from the show found thatย 13 of them regained the lost weight within six years, and 4 of them were even heavier than when they began the competitionย (2).

They were unable to achieve a Fitness Transformation because believed the myth that you can out-exercise a bad diet.

What you should do:

Make sure to address any deficiencies in your diet, whether it’s too many sweets, too many processed foods, or eating out too much and not cooking meals at home.

A really good diet that I recommend is one called theย Mediterranean diet. Studies have shown that it may reduce the risk of stroke, heart attack, and type 2 diabetes (3,ย 4). It has also been shown to be better for weight loss and improving diabetes, when compared to a low-fat diet (5). For tips on how to follow the Mediterranean diet, clickย here.

2. ย  ย  Myth: To lose weight, you only have to “eat less and exercise more.”

Truth:ย Cutting calories is not a good long term solution for fat loss and staying lean.ย You have to change the quality of the food you eat, not just the quantity.

What’s the problem with severely cutting calories in order to lose weight?

The problem is that you lose fat,ย but you also lose muscle. This slows down your metabolism.

The quality of the food you eat is much more important than how much food you eat.

Think of it this way:ย if you eat junk, eating less junk will always be better than eating more junk.

Unfortunately, most people eat a lot of junk, so this is why cutting calories works to lose weightย in the short term.

But if you eat less junk, as opposed to more junk,ย it doesn’t change the fact that you’re eating junk in the first place.ย This is the critical problem that you need to solve if you want to have any long term success with getting and/or staying in shape.

The traditional model of weight loss is “eat less and exercise more”. But as we have seen the results of that approach with contestants onย The Biggest Loser,ย that approach does not work in the long term.

What’s the problem with the traditional model?

The problem is that starving oneself, combined with lengthy, intensive exercise,ย actually slows your metabolism down.

That’s right.ย So that means you burn fewer calories in a day than you used to. For example, one particular contest from the show now burns 800 fewer calories per day than would be expected from someone his size.

This is becauseย your body adapts to the drastic decrease in caloric intake by burning calories less efficiently. In physiology, this is known as homeostasis.

This is the exact outcome you want to avoid.ย A slower metabolism will make it harder for you to lose weight and keep it off.

You want a faster metabolism, not a slower one.

A faster metabolism will help you burn calories more efficiently.ย This will make it easier for you lose fat, gain muscle, and stay lean.

The best way to lose fat and to stay lean is through good eating habits and increasing your metabolism through exercise.ย This can be very difficult because some of us are born with slower metabolisms, but it is not impossible.
What are the best ways to increase your metabolism, you may ask?ย Stay tuned for a future post on this topic!

What you should do:

Focus on the quality of your food, and not just the quantity. If you need somewhere to start, see above links on theย Mediterranean diet. Try to make a habit of grocery shopping (make sure you don’t shop when you’re hungry! People tend to make bad decisions when they’re hungry). Also, try to pick one day during the week to do most of your cooking. It’s easier this way, since most of the hassle is the setup and the clean up, both of which are the same no matter how much food you cook.

3. ย  ย ย Myth:ย Women shouldn’t lift weights because it will automatically make them get “big and bulky.”

Truth:ย Eating too much ice cream is much more likely to make you get “big and “bulky” than lifting weights is.ย It takes more than just lifting weights to gain a significant amount of muscle mass.


Women simply don’t have enough testosterone to naturally get to the same size as a man; men have 7 to 8 times as much testosterone as women doย (6).

And trust me, if getting big and muscular was so easy,ย then all the guys you see in the gym several times a week would be huge,ย instead of looking the same after lifting weights for years. Making significant muscle gains requires a significant increase in overall food intake and protein consumption, in addition to getting enough sleep at night.

As a woman, lifting weights is not enough to make you โ€œbig and bulkyโ€ because you don’t have enough testosterone, plain and simple.

What lifting weights will do, however, is increase your metabolism by increasing your resting metabolic rate, or RMR (7,ย 8).ย This means that you will burn more calories while sitting and literally doing nothing.
This will help you gain muscle and lose fat.

What you should do:ย 

Don’t be afraid to incorporate some weight training into your exercise routine!! I recommend to start with light weights in whatever exercise you’re doing and focus on your form. You can then increase the weight once you have your form down and the previous weight no longer seems challenging.ย 

If you are not sure where to start, I recommend clicking on thisย linkย (for females) or thisย linkย (for males). It’s a wonderful resource, and I’ve used it many times myself. Click the muscle group you would like to target, and you will see a vast list of exercises to target that muscle group.

Why Most New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work

Everyone makes them. Or almost everyone. But do they work?…..

Everyone makes them. Or almost everyone. But do they work?
Chances are, you’ve made New Year’s Resolutions in the past. And while you may have started off year strong, I’m willing to bet that your resolutions didn’t go exactly as you planned.
But before you get too disappointed, think about it. It’s really just another day.

Is anything really going to change, just because the clock strikes 12 on New Year’s Eve?

The truth is, you must make lifestyle changes to see permanent results.

Diets, “challenges”, and other temporary changes to the amount and type of food you eat are not good long term solutions. As soon as you revert back to your previous food and exercise habits, you will continue get your previous results.ย 
So what can you do?

The good new is that when you start a new habit, you can easily continue it for the whole year. ย Even longer.ย However, this goes for good habits as well as bad ones.

Here’s anotherย quote about habits:

“You don’t determine your future. You determine your habits, and your habits determine your future.” – Unknown

So try to resolve to start healthier habits in 2017.

Here are 3 easy tips for habits you can try to start in the New Year. Try them out and let me know how they work for you!!

  1. Don’t undermine your progress on weekends!!!

    • I know this one won’t be popular, but try to moderate your alcohol intake on the weekends.
    • Calories DO count on the weekends. I know it can be hard to make healthy food choices, but try to do your best. Your body will thank you for it.
  2. Pick healthier options when eating out

    • For example, instead of ordering pancakes at brunch, try an omelette and hash browns or potatoes
    • Or instead of getting fries with your burger, try another side that the restaurant may have. Depending on the place, they may have mashed potatoes or chili, both of which are healthier and will fill you up more than fries. Some places may have options that are even healthier. Don’t be afraid to explore!!!
  3. Try not to drink your carbs

    • I’m sure you’ve heard this everywhere, but drinking pop/soda is not doing your body any favors. Liquid sugar is even worse than regular sugar, because it goes into your bloodstream quicker. So try to drink more water instead!
    • If you have trouble drinking water because it doesn’t taste good, don’t worry. That was me a few years ago. What you can do is try to get a water filter to make water taste better. I use a Brita filter and my water tastes great. You can either keep the water at room temperature or in the fridge. If that still doesn’t work for you, and you really want something sweet, try some sugar-free flavor packs for water.