How to look a size smaller

Do you wear your clothes inside out so the tag shows? Hopefully not; however, if the smaller size fits, you buy it in every color, right?

Have you ever been guilty of any of the following?

  • Buying an article of clothing simply because it fit in a smaller size than you normally wear.
  • Not buying an article of clothing because it fit in a larger size than you normally wear.
  • Buying a smaller size in hopes that it would fit after you lost some weight.
  • Buying a smaller size, even though it wasn’t as comfortable on as a size up, just so you could continue to claim it as “your size.”

Why do we torture ourselves by purchasing the smallest size we can fit into only to worry that we will only be able to wear it on our best (skinniest) days?

Here’s the deal: Wearing the wrong size makes you look bigger than you actually are.

The only thing other people see is how your clothes fit you. You’re the only one who knows what size you’re wearing. Others won’t know you’re wearing a smaller size than normal, but they will see if you have a muffin top spilling over the waistline of your pants, or if your top is straining at the buttons.

If your clothes are too tight, it doesn’t matter that you were able to squeeze into them. Ill-fitting clothes cheapen your appearance. Wearing the appropriate size, even if it’s a size up from what you would like to wear, will actually make you look smaller.

It may make you feel good to buy a size 4 or know that what you’re wearing is smaller than you normally wear, but – being intentionally redundant – you’re the only one who knows that.

Don’t rush out and buy clothes that are way too big, though. If they don’t fit your shape you may as well be wearing a potato sack.

Sizes vary by brand, so you’re not going to wear the same size across the board. Always try on clothes before you buy them.

A visit to a good tailor can make a huge, inexpensive difference in your wardrobe. Let out a little on one seam; take in a little on another, and voila!

Another tip is to dress from the inside-out. What I mean by that is you have to start with the right undergarments. There is no point investing in nice clothes if you’re not going to wear something nice and appropriate underneath them.

If your bra doesn’t fit you well or fit well under your outfit, you can ruin the entire effect. Your bra straps should not cut in and give you unnecessary fat rolls, and your chest should be adequately supported. A good bra will lift your breasts off of your rib cage, giving the appearance of a longer, slimmer torso.

The same goes for your underwear. There are enough options and contraptions out there now that there is no excuse for elastic cutting in, panty lines, etc.

Our bodies are changing all the time. Whether you need tummy support, a butt lift, thigh smoothing, invisible straps, etc., there is a piece of lingerie developed just for you.

A healthy diet and regular exercise will help you look and feel better, and those in conjunction with a nice wardrobe will no doubt make you look your best. However, whether you adhere to a specific diet and exercise regimen or not, any figure looks good in clothes that fit well.

Remember that your clothing size is not your identifier. I only know people by their name, and no one has ever called me by a number off my tag. The person who invented clothing sizes wasn’t trying to hurt your feelings or boost someone else’s.

Love yourself enough to take pride in your overall appearance. The way you look and feel in your clothes makes a difference in how confident you appear, and confidence is your best accessory.


Get rid of pounds and bloat with a little addiction subtraction

Sugar and salt are addictive; and, as with most things that are addictive, they’re not good for you. The more you have, the more you crave, and the harder you have to work to undo the damage.

You won’t find a surgeon general’s warning on their packaging; but, if there was one, it would mention that they can both be harmful to your heart and your waistline.

What’s worse? They’re both very sneaky about getting into your food without you realizing.

While eating dinner at home the other night, my husband reached for our favorite creole seasoning. I mentioned the high salt content to him since he tends to overpour, and he said, “Oh well, it should be okay since I haven’t had any other salt today.” He thought he hadn’t had salt that day because he hadn’t used a salt shaker. In his defense, this is a common misperception.

Where are they hiding?

  • Check the labels of pre-packaged foods, sauces, seasoning blends, dressings, marinades, bottled/canned beverages, etc. and you’ll quickly understand why your body is hanging on to unwanted pounds and water-weight.
  • I love soy sauce, ketchup, hot sauce and Worcestershire, but I use to use them as freely as if they were made up of air or water. Now I know better, and I’ve also learned that a little goes a long way. Now I understand why ketchup packets are so tiny.
  • Bread, cereal, snack foods, dried fruit, nuts, jerky, olives, pickles, hot dogs, baked beans, etc. are full of unnecessary sugar and salt, and energy and athletic replenishment drinks are just as guilty.

What you can do to get off sugar and salt?

  • The less sugar and salt you have, the less of them you’ll want, and both addictions are much easier to kick than something like smoking.
  • Cook at home, and pay attention to everything you add. Try out different herbs, spices, freshly squeezed citrus juices or even alcohol to enhance the flavor of your food without salt, and make sure your canned goods are low sodium or say ‘no salt added’ on the label.
  • Taste your food and think about all the natural flavors of what you’re eating before you add anything to it. Here in Italy, salt isn’t commonly on the table at restaurants. Why should it be? If you’re paying a chef to cook your food, maybe you should let him/her decide how it should be seasoned. I’m not a trained chef, but I’m insulted when someone seasons the food I’ve cooked before they taste it.
  • Make dessert a real treat. One night of not reaching for something sweet after dinner will make it easier the next night. It should be a treat rather than something you have to have. Try having an orange after dinner to cleanse your palate and satisfy your sweet tooth, or go brush your teeth right after your meal.
  • If you’re a parent, you are in control of whether or not your child starts out with an addiction to salt and/or sugar.

How much can/should you have?

  • The National Academies’ Institute of Medicine recommends that most adults get no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day; the equivalent of about one teaspoon of table salt. If you are at risk of hypertension, cut that number down to no more than 1,500 milligrams.
  • Nutritionally, you do not need any added sugar; especially not refined sugar. Most fruits and vegetables have natural sugars in them, and these cover all you need.
  • A balanced diet of natural, “real” food covers all of your nutritional needs.

It’s not all evil.

Everything in moderation is fine. I like sugar and salt too, so I’m not saying you have to cut it out entirely to lose weight. The goal is for you to be aware, and in control, of how much you have. Knowing that they are both in most of the food you eat, even if you don’t add them yourself, will help you moderate your consumption.

If you need a nasty visual, imagine a sticky sugar substance making fat stick to you, and salt making you swell up. Got that image in your head? Doesn’t look nearly as tasty that way, does it?


Recipe: Drink this, not that – (Green) Tea Time

Sweet tea was a beverage staple growing up in Georgia; but, after making more than a hundred pitchers of it working in restaurants, I can’t bring myself to drink it anymore.

When you look at a glass/pitcher of sweet tea, imagine half of the container filled with granulated sugar. That’s a lot of sugar, right? It’s dissolved, so you can’t actually see it, but it’s in there.

Tea itself isn’t bad for you; it’s the amount of sugar in most tea drinks that’s bad. Even the bottled, green teas that claim to boost your metabolism on the front of the label give a different message when you turn them around and check out the sugar content.

It’s true that green tea can boost your metabolism, but you’re not maximizing the benefits by drinking the bottled stuff. Green tea helps your body burn fat with catechins and caffeine, but you would need to drink almost twenty bottles to get the same amount you can get from one home-brewed cup. Your body does not need, 1) sugar from twenty bottled drinks or, 2) that many trips to the bathroom in a day.

I brew green tea at home and keep it in the fridge. It’s cheaper, healthier, and I think it tastes better, too. Give it a try. You can say “yes” to this beverage as a staple.

Chilled Green Tea

  • 8 of your favorite green tea bags (Yogi and Tazo make my favorites)
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Orange
  • 1/2 Tbsp agave
  • Pitcher, Hot Water

Clean the outside of your lemon and orange. Slice each in half, squeeze juice into the pitcher and then drop in the rest of the fruit. Add agave and stir. Put your tea bags in the pitcher and fill with hot water. Cover pitcher and let steep for 10 minutes. Set in fridge and let cool without adding ice. Enjoy once cooled!



Which comes first: weights or cardio?

You use to always hear that you should perform your cardio first to warm up before you hit the weights. Then, a few years back, the order got flipped. So, which is it? What order should you do your weights and cardio in to achieve the best results?

The shortest answer is that you should do weights first, but if you don’t understand why, then you aren’t setting yourself up for the highest level of success.

Why weights first?

In order to perform short bursts of energy in weight training, your body uses glycogen (carbs), so the idea is to burn off the glycogen so that you can move straight to burning more fat when you switch over to cardio.

Another reason to do weights first is to prevent injury. The thought behind that is, if you are tired from cardio, you won’t be as agile and conscientious during your weight training, which could be dangerous.

What to be aware of when performing weights before cardio

Even though I suggest starting with weights, that does mean you should skip your warm up. You should never walk right into the gym and lift your max. Obviously, if part of the reason to start with weights is to help prevent a weight training injury, there is more to it than simply swapping the order.

Warm up with light weights, perform some kettlebell swings, do jumping jacks or something else along those lines for 5-10 minutes so that you can safely perform a light stretch and prepare your body for the workout.

In the end, it’s all about your body.

If you are exclusively using light weights or performing a circuit training routine that mixes weights and cardio, you don’t need to worry about the order. You aren’t as likely to hurt yourself using light weights, and circuit training is a combination weight-cardio workout rather than a split order.

Above all else, as long as you’re working out, you’re doing great. If you’re covering both weights and cardio, and your method is working for you, then stick with it. If you’re not currently on an exercise plan, I hope this information fuels you to get off your rear and take that first step towards becoming a stronger, hotter version of yourself.


Why weight? How to really speed up your metabolism and burn off fat

Two exercise misconceptions are, 1) all you need to do to burn fat and lose weight is cardio, and 2) if you use weights you’re going to get bulky. I refer to these as misconceptions instead of as myths because they aren’t completely true or false.

Yes, you need to do cardio in order to help burn up fat; however, if all you’re doing is cardio, you’re not working out efficiently, and neither the mirror or the scale is going to show you what you hope to see.

Yes, if you do the same movement all the time, specific areas can grow bulkier than others; but, you would have to do A LOT of the same thing – which I don’t suggest anyway, and you would need to possess a lot of testosterone. So, ladies, you can stop worrying about becoming manly, because you’re missing the necessary hormone balance.

Your body needs iron, and I’m not talking about taking a supplement.

A few quick facts to get you pumped for pumping iron:

  • The more muscle you have on your body, the more calories you burn while doing absolutely nothing. Muscle and metabolism go hand in hand.
  • Muscle is denser and takes up less room than fat. So, the scale might not change, but you’ll need smaller sizes in your clothes.
  • Skin lies much more nicely over muscle than over fat.
  • Your body remains a furnace for up to 72 hours after a good strength training session.
  • Your skeletal system responds to resistance training by building itself up to be stronger. (Final score: Body:1, Osteoporosis: 0)

Even though you can burn more calories during the period you are actually doing cardio, the continued afterburn from a weighted workout more than makes up for the initial difference.

So, why not make every workout a weighted one? Your muscles need time to recover. You can break your body into sections if you want to use weights more than every other day (i.e. Monday-legs, Tuesday-arms, Wednesday-core…), but cardio IS important too, so my recommendation is to mix it up with some of both by alternating days.

How much weight should I use if I just want to tone up? My advice is to use what you can, and change it up frequently. Do some sets of 12-15 reps with lighter weight; some where you can only manage 4-8 reps with heavier weight; and other exercises with only your own body as resistance.

Trust me, I spent many years sweating all over cardio equipment for hours at a time in fear of getting bulky. In all honesty, the only time I’ve ever been bulky was when I rowed, and that was because I did the same movement over and over, which caused my body to shift fat to the areas of muscle it thought needed a fast fuel source the most. (This was compounded by the fact that my meal plan at the time included a buffet with an endless supply of ice cream, not to mention late night pizzas and keg parties.)

Now, after lessons learned through experience and education, I can tell you that the best way to get the body you want is to get over the fear of getting bulky, and go try to show up some of the guys in the weight room at the gym. When you notice them looking at you, don’t get self-conscious. They’re checking you out because a girl in the weight room is hot, and you probably look like a bad ass. They’re much more likely to make fun of the prima donna on the elliptical trying desperately not to break a sweat or mess up her makeup.


If you can find 30 minutes, you can get a better body

Time is the most frequent excuse I hear for why people don’t exercise. It’s also the most annoying excuse because it assumes that I (and everyone else at the gym or running outside) have all the time in the world to workout.

The reality is that everyone is busy, and yet we all find time for things we choose to prioritize.

The minimum suggested time you should spend exercising each week is 150 minutes; 225 if you want to see significant change. If you can find 30 minutes a day, five days a week, you’re doing better than most.

Where can you find this “extra” time?

-You could use half of your hour-long lunch break on weekdays – a great habit that’s been shown to reduce stress and boost performance. After all, it doesn’t take an hour to eat.

-You could use three, 10-minute mini-breaks at work to go up and down the stairs or walk briskly around the office perimeter.

-Most of us spend at least 30 minutes playing on the computer each day. I’m sure Facebook will wait for you to get your workout in and you won’t miss too much.

-Download a podcast or an episode of your favorite show onto your MP3 player so you can do cardio instead of sitting on your bum while you indulge in some of your nightly TV time.

What can you do in 3o minutes? In two words… A LOT!

When you’re short on time, you should always up your intensity. It’s about efficiency.

Try out this workout:

Start with 20 Push Jacks. What are Push Jacks? They’re a heart rate boosting combo of two great exercises. Perform a jumping jack, then jump right down into push up position. After you push up, jump back up and go right into the next jumping jack.

Next, do 10 Lunge Circles. What are Lunge Circles? Star with your right leg and lunge forward. Return to start, then lunge out to your right side into a side lunge. Return to start, then do a reverse lunge so your right leg lunges behind you. Return to start, do a reverse lunge with the left leg. Return to start, left side lunge. Return to start, left front lunge. And you’re back to the start again. Make sure to really sit into your lunges to get the most out of them, but never let your knee extend out over your toe when you bend.

One you finish the Lunge Circles, do 20 minutes of cardio, and really give it your all.

After cardio, do a quick core blitz: 30 crunches, 30 seconds holding a V-pike position, and a 1-minute plank.

As always, stretch out, drink plenty of water, and make healthy food choices to thank your body for working hard for you.

Please understand that I’m not saying 30 minutes is all the time I’d like to see you invest in your body; but, in a time crunch, it’s important to know that this small chunk of time can make a significant difference. When it comes to exercise, some is always better than none.

Now, go move your booty! It’s not gonna get any smaller while you’re sitting here.


Need a diet? Here’s an easy one: Lose weight by cutting out fake food

Don’t eat fake stuff. Sounds so simple, right?

I’m not talking about not eating decorative fruit. Although, it might be a better option than some things we do consume.

It’s sad that we have to look at food labels to make sure what we’re buying is actually made of what it’s called or is claiming to contain. Most cereals that claim to have fruit in them have no trace of actual fruit, and most creamers today don’t have any cream/milk product of any kind in them. Doesn’t it make you nervous when you don’t know what the ingredients listed on your food even are?

Think of it this way: if something has been removed or added to alter fat/calories or enhance color/flavor, something unnatural has likely happened to the ingredient list. An exchange has occurred, and it’s probably not to your benefit in the overall scheme of things.

Okay, so they took out some fat, but look how much sodium is in the new version…

As a rule of thumb, a short ingredient list of things you recognize is a good indicator of a quality product. In contrast, if it has enough preservatives to live in your house for a long time, it can probably live in your body a long time, too.

If you don’t recognize the ingredients you’re putting into your body, how do you expect your body to recognize them? We’re all clogged up with artificial crap and preservatives.

Yes, good, real food typically costs more; however, the money you save buying cheap, processed food will likely be spent many times over in medical fees down the line to undo the damage. Also, if you go to a farmers’ market instead of a supermarket, the price will be lower because they haven’t spent as much overhead on transportation and advertising.

The list of ailments that can be cured with a clean diet is amazing. Mood swings, digestion issues, headaches, obesity, etc. can all be helped by taking the time to make sure what you’re eating is real food.

Skip over all the fad diets, and just reach for real food. It’s a no brainer.


Put on your bikini today

YellowPolkaDotBikini-300x300

You know that “not so hot” feeling you get at the start of each summer when you get ready to put on your swimsuit for the first time of the year? You think, “Man, I should’ve been working out more and eating cleaner.”

As much as you’d like to postpone that feeling, it might just be the motivation you need to get in better shape, make a change now, and be ready for the big reveal in plenty of time.

Rather than waiting until the last minute, try on your bikini today and see how you feel.

Like what you see? Way to go, and keep up the good work!

Don’t like what you see? It’s only February, so you’ve got plenty of time to adjust your diet and workout so you can feel great come summertime. If you haven’t reached your goals or stuck to your guns on your current plan, we can chat about improving it and hitting the mark.

Need a quick fix to make you feel better? Get a spray tan for instant bronzing and slimming effects. No sun or SPF required!