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How to Stay Healthy and Get Fit in the New Year


Photo courtesy of Erin Woodbury

Is getting fit in 2014 one of your New Year’s Resolutions? Wondering how to stay healthy in 2014? We sat down with fitness expert Erin Woodbury to discuss ways that you can get fit and stay healthy in the New Year!

What is the best tip for getting fit?
My best tip is to not get caught up in resolutions. Fitness and health need to be priorities daily, not one big push once or twice per year. A resolution is usually stated once, and often, the statement is too vague. Committing to “get healthier,” or “go to the gym more often,” doesn’t claim a specific goal. Fitness needs to be a daily discussion people have internally, and out loud with others. The internal voice must be louder than the one that says, “I’m too tired to go to the gym today,” and the external voice needs to tell as many people as possible for instant accountability. People let themselves down all the time, but the instant you involve others, the stakes are higher; no one wants to let other people down or appear like a quitter. 

So many women struggle with the famous “muffin top” what tips can you share that will help moms get rid of this in the New Year?
Most women think that lots of cardio is the answer to all their problems. Cardio is great, but a more effective muffin-top-destroyer is a week filled with variety. HIIT, Tabata or Interval training are workouts that combine all-out effort with periods of rest. If you train the same, you’ll look the same, which is why most people walking on treadmills or cruising on elliptical machines never see huge body transformations. Hitting up two high intensity training sessions per week with a day or two of weights with another day of cardio, or even Pilates or yoga, makes for a well-rounded schedule and a well-rounded body. Putting on muscle is a mom’s best friend! The increase in muscle ignites the metabolism so she’ll burn more calories all throughout the day. Ditching the “muffins” and other empty carbs helps too!

What is a reasonable weight loss goal for moms to set?
The standard is ½-1 pound per week. Some people can safely lose up to 2 pounds per week, but at that rate, it’s usually not sustainable. There are 3,500 calories in a pound of fat. To lose 1 pound per week, moms need to cut out 500 calories per day. If they burn an extra 250, and not consume the other 250 (the amount in one Starbucks latte), they’d reach that goal quite easily. The trick is to keep eating though. Logic might say to simply skip a 500 calorie meal each day, but doing so only dips a busy mom’s blood sugar and leads to big-time carb cravings later on. Spacing small meals out every 3-4 hours is the very best way to turn one’s metabolism into a fat-burning machine. It’s an “eat, burn, eat, burn” philosophy that really works. When people crash diet, they skip meals and the body uses muscle- NOT FAT- for fuel. Skipping meals actually lowers the metabolism. To keep metabolism fired up, and energy going strong, eat lean protein, a little healthy fat, and some moderate carbs (preferably fibrous carbs) about 5-6 times per day.

What are your tips for staying motivated?
There are two biggies for staying motivated. The first is finding something you love doing. Fitness is ever-evolving, so the good news is, there really is something for everyone, even those who say they don’t like exercise. Some gyms offer up to 25 different classes per day. You’d be hard pressed to find a mom who cannot connect with at least one class or great instructor. If the gym isn’t her thing, try an organization like Stroller Strides where the kids are included. Walking might not be your favorite, but doing it with a bunch of other mommies makes it a lot more fun. Attending a class makes the motivation about community—seeing friends, a favorite teacher, doing 5 pushups instead of 1— as well as the individual goal. The second motivation trick is to imagine your life without any change. What would it feel like to stay heavy, tired, flabby or sick? Most people think about what they want and how hard it is to attain it. Very few think about the hard question: how will it feel if I do not change? Acknowledging what you don’t want is just as powerful as stating what you do want. Once you truly let yourself feel what you don’t want, motivation is the only alternative.

When is a good time to work-out, and how often to see the best results?
The right time is the time you find. Not everyone is a morning person, so if it means fitting in a walk after 3 p.m. carpooling, so be it. Generally, mornings are ideal because there are fewer excuses to crop up. If a moms waits until 5 p.m., there are more opportunities to get called from the school nurse, get stuck in traffic, lose the dog, have a child beg for a playdate, or simply feel too tired by the time night rolls around. 

What type of workouts would you recommend for moms with back or knee problems?
Depending on the severity of the pain/injury, easing into some Pilates or yoga is a good plan. These formats are quite restorative and help build up the core and increase flexibility while strengthening joints and ligaments. Avoid jarring, pounding and plyometric type exercises until the body is ready. There are a variety of sculpting classes that focus on muscular endurance (lighter weights for longer sets and reps). This aids in building stamina without the fear of too much lateral movement or bouncing.

Total Woman Gym + Spa, a full service gym and spa focusing on women’s lifestyle and wellness. Erin Woodbury is a personal trainer and fitness expert for Total Woman Gym + Spa in Laguna Hills. She holds a B.A. in English and Master’s degree in Education, specializing in Group Exercise, children’s fitness, and nutrition.

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