A Simple AB Exercise You Can Do Anywhere And Anytime

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Your abdominals are part of your body’s foundation so it’s important to maintain them properly. Strong abdominals help support your back,  can improve your posture, and even help you look leaner.

Time is precious and it can be a challenge to find time to formally exercise.  This is when lifestyle activity can help you meet your goals.  Last week I posted a short video on Facebook demonstrating a very simple abdominal exercise that you can do anytime and anywhere.  The video was SO popular that I decided to post it here on my blog because I did not want you to miss out.

Scroll down to watch the video and have a great week!

A simple ab exercise you can do anytime and anywhere from Jennifer Ledford on Vimeo.

Why And How To Avoid Tempting Fad Diets

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How to avoid fad diets

It’s January, it’s a new year, and almost every magazine or health related email you open this month will have advice on what you should and shouldn’t be eating.

It can be really tempting to try the latest fad diet that the fitness and/or diet industry is promoting.  It’s a normal human response to be intrigued by all the marketing that these industries roll out in January… especially if you’ve gained a few pounds over the holidays.

While I completely understand the desire to want to lose weight quickly, research continues to  show us that restrictive dieting is not very effective long term and can potentially do you more harm than good.

Some of the reasons diets fail you are:

  • They slow down your metabolism
  • They cause you to store fat, not burn it
  • They’re unsustainable for most people’s lifestyle
  • They are a means to manipulate bodies to become a size they were never designed to be
  • When you stop starving yourself and go back to normal calorie-consumption, you WILL gain weight
  • Lack of energy due to being hungry
  • Some diets ask you to eliminate entire food groups and key nutrients
  • They can cause binge eating due to a scarcity mentality
  • They can cause stress which is known to cause belly fat due to hormonal changes in the body

There is nothing wrong with wanting to lose unwanted weight.  I recently lost a few pounds after recovering from a broken foot.  What’s important to remember is that long term, sustainable, weight loss happens when you focus more on health and less on the size of your jeans.

Healthy weight loss is not about counting calories just to reach a number on a scale.  It’s about feeling good, having plenty of energy, feeding your brain properly, creating balance in your life, being happy,  and allowing your body to settle into it’s own natural and healthy weight.   Things like eating the appropriate amount of food, cutting back on the foods and or liquids that you know are excessive,  avoiding overly processed foods, and meal planning are all considered healthy eating, not starvation diets or skipping meals entirely.


1) Eat enough food.  It absolutely amazes me that there are still diets out on the market today that recommend dangerously low calorie meal plans when the science says otherwise.  Your body will get really good at storing what it doesn’t get enough of.  For example, if you eliminate fat from your diet, your body will not want to burn fat. It will want to store fat.  Sound nutritional research tells us that you need to eat fat in order to burn fat.  I am a firm believer that the low fat and low carb craze has contributed heavily to the weight issues in the United States.

Instead of restricting what you eat, you’ll find more success when you focus on a balanced diet that is centered around whole foods.   A balanced diet includes carbohydrates, proteins, fruits & vegetables, healthy fats, and water.  Any diet that cuts one of these important nutrients out should be avoided.

2) Exercise.  One of the most effective ways to lose weight for good is a combination of eating well AND regular exercise.  However, there are many other reasons we should all be exercising regularly besides a desire to lose weight.  Research shows that exercise can help with depression, lower the risk for heart disease and cancer, reduce the risk of diabetes, and even grow new brain cells.  Exercise is an excellent anti-aging tool!

3) Eat in.    Cook at home as often as you can and bring your lunch.  When I make our food, I get to choose how much butter, oil, salt, and sugar I add.  Sometimes I add more than the recipe calls for and sometimes I cut it back.  I can also make substitutions that I think are healthier for us like swapping out more refined grains for whole grains, adding more veggies, and choosing oils that I believe are better than others.

4) Cut back on liquid calories. Try substituting alcohol, sodas, and other higher calorie drinks with water. Try adding lemon or cucumber for some variation.

If cutting out liquid calories sounds extreme, take a more moderate approach and cut down to half or even a quarter of what you usually drink. You can always go back to your normal consumption if you want to.  This is about figuring out what works for you personally.

5) Get plenty of rest.  Substantial medical evidence is telling us that a lack of sleep affects hormones which are linked to an increase in appetite. Your body becomes less satisfied and you are tempted to eat more food than you may actually need.  Sleep deprivation can also affect your hormones in such a way that your metabolism will literally slow down.  The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.

6) Tell guilt to take a hike.  First off, guilt should never be associated with food ever.  When I go into a restaurant I order what I want and I do not feel guilty about my choices.  Guilty thoughts that attempt to beat us up usually come from a desire to be perfect.  And, even though most of us know that perfection is impossible, much of the”professional” advertising we see focuses on displaying perfection as a form of happiness or acceptance.  Thank goodness for social media!  Live raw video helps to remind us that nobody is perfect and to give ourselves a break.

7)  Be yourself.  It’s really important that you know what’s most important to you.  Not everyone wants to be or was designed to look like the models on the cover of fitness magazines.  If challenging yourself to reach an elite athlete status is fun for you and you can achieve it in a healthy way, then by all means go for it!  However, if you know in your heart you’d just like to live a long healthy life, fit in your clothes, and have the stamina to do the activities you enjoy without a whole lot of restrictions in your life, then general health and fitness is for you so please don’t beat yourself up because you’re not “doing whatever it takes” to try to look like a fitness model.  Perfection is overrated and impossible to achieve.  Even fitness models don’t look like their photos all of the time.

Instead of dieting, I recommend you pick as many things from above that you can realistically implement without stressing yourself out and then stay consistent.  Diet and exercise are very personal which is why a canned approach rarely works.  We all have different lives, different goals, and different needs. 🙂

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2018!

Shared with love,


Start The New Year Off Right With Realistic Goals

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Realistic New Years Goals

Happy New Year!

Traditionally, this is the time of the year when many of us reflect on the last year and our lives in general.

We think about what we want to see happen in the new year and what we want our life to look like.  All of this reflection usually leads to goal setting.  While setting new goals is usually exciting, it can also be a little intimidating.  Adding new things to our lives means we need to make space for them and that’s usually easier said then done.

One of the main reasons people have a hard time keeping their resolutions after the new year is that the goals they’ve set are usually unrealistic.  Even the most disciplined person on the planet is going to have a hard time meeting a goal that is so lofty, the odds of winning the lottery are better than achieving the goals they’ve set.

For example, if you only have thirty minutes a day to exercise and it takes twenty minutes to drive to the gym, setting a goal of going to the gym five days per week is a recipe for failure.

No matter how good you are at setting realistic goals life can cause us to get off course or make necessary changes.  Last July, my husband and I packed up our house, put most of our things in storage, and moved into temporary housing while we sold our home.  We have been living in a a 600 square foot house with our three dogs for about five months.  I am happy to share that we will be moving into our new forever home at the end of this January.  And yes, our dogs will finally have a nice big yard!

We are very happy with our decision to move and have zero regrets.  However, the past six months have reminded me that different seasons in our lives can require us to spend our time differently.  It’s not a bad thing, it just means that we may have to give ourselves a break and not get upset if we aren’t meeting all of our goals exactly the way we planned them on our calendars.

When we first moved into our tiny and low maintenance beach house, I had it all laid out in my mind that I was going to write my book, finish my on line classes, and launch a new product for my business.  What I didn’t take into account was that I was in charge of over seeing the sale of our home, settling us in our new area, house hunting, doing all of the paperwork, and working with the consultants.  Needless to say, I was much busier than I anticipated and had set unrealistic goals for myself.  There were moments I felt like a complete failure in my business.

Fortunately, I coach people on how to set realistic goals as part of my personal training business so I was able to give myself permission to put some things on hold.  I didn’t give up on the goals, I simply reset the timeline.

I reminded myself that we were moving, house hunting, and purchasing a new home so I needed to stop focusing on the things I was unable to do and should focus on the things I could do instead.  For example Instead of finishing all of my classes sitting in front of my laptop, I listened to them while driving and doing other things like exercising.  Will I need to go back and watch them to pick up things I missed? Yes. However, do I have more knowledge than I did before?  Yes!

This year, I’ve decided that when it comes to my goals I’m going to focus on what I know I can do and I’m not going to stress or beat myself up about the things I can’t do right now.  I’ve decided to give myself a break and I recommend you do the same.  Focusing on what you can’t do can paralyze you.  However, when you focus on what you are able to do momentum begins to occur.

Maybe you aren’t able to devote six days a week  to your exercise routine just yet, but you know you can start with twenty minutes three times per week.  Those three days per week are going to take you way further than doing nothing at all or waiting until you have more time.  It’s really important to take care of your health.  It’s also important to remember  that doing what you can stress free is way better than feeling guilty about a workout you aren’t able to fit into your day.

None of us can or should neglect our current responsibilities so if we want to add something new I believe it’s important we do so with thought and care.  I also believe we should prioritize things based on our values, self care,  and what we want our life to look like.  Those are very important things to think about  when setting new goals.

Here’s to a healthy, happy, and super productive 2018!

With Love,