Heath and Fitness: Habits

April 9, 2013 by  
Filed under Family, Healthy

By Susan Howard, Personal Trainer



Habits are often thought of in a negative way.  Something to be kicked…smoking, nail biting, boozing, getting that sugar fix…the list goes on and on.

We poor mortals are victims of our habits.  Unconnected to our repetitive behaviors, we simply must continue acting them out.  How did it all begin?

Well let’s break it down.   At one point way back when, you felt anxious (or tired or bored) and you turned to sugar, which relaxed you, or gave you a momentary burst of energy.  Now that action has imprinted itself as something to help you fulfill that void.  Then you become addicted to the substance, and at this point you don’t even really need a reason to turn to the habit. The habit becomes the cue.

Our brains are so overwhelmed, sifting through constant stimuli to decipher what is important and what isn’t.  Once something becomes a true habit our brain goes into cruise control and doesn’t even need to think; it just repeats itself.

Knowing that we like patterns, that familiarity is comfortable to us…why not use this to our advantage?   Create a routine to workout everyday (if possible the same time of day).  Put out your shoes and clothes the night before, get your same water bottle ready, all of it.

At first it will take thought.  But ultimately it will become such a ritual that you may not even remember doing it.  Your brain goes into autopilot.  Then when you miss it, you will crave it.  Like a junkie.

So….I want you to have a nasty habit, a dark little secret you partake in at the crack of dawn, something that makes you jittery if you skip using it even once.

The gym.


Are You SURE You Don’t Want to Workout?

February 4, 2013 by  
Filed under Healthy

By Susan Howard, Fitness Ghuru

Often I hear clients complain about not having time to workout, which translates to not wanting to workout.  I have been training long enough to know that people are only going to do what they want to do.

Why don’t people want to workout?  Why not?  It’s because they forget how awesome it feels.  How incredible it is when your body burns through that ATP, lungs take in oxygen, the adrenal glands release epinephrine, endorphins kick in, the heart rate raises up and the blood is pumping.

When I am at my best I feel strong.  Being static makes me feel lazy and like there are no possibilities.  Energy equals more energy.  Kind of like you get what you pay for, or you reap what you sow.

So why don’t people want to workout?  Because they haven’t found the thing they love.  Here are a couple photos from a hike and a run I took last week.  Embracing my true spirit up in the mountains.  I stand in awe of these moments in that I wonder why do I have to beg people to get moving, to commune with nature, to be who they truly are?  WE ARE MOVERS!  We are supposed to move.  It shouldn’t be that big of a bummer to run in beauty and feel powerful. It’s amazing. It’s out there. It’s your day. Take it.


griffith park hike


Burn 500 Calories Now!

June 27, 2012 by  
Filed under Family, Healthy

By: Susan Howard


After over a decade of touting the benefits of working out for weight loss, I have come to realize that, unless you watch your diet, true weight loss will be an uphill battle.

Diet. I hate that word and I hope I am never on one.

As I use it here, I merely mean “calories in.”

Here’s why just exercise won’t work:

I’ll bet you aren’t going to celebrate finishing a big project at work by running a half marathon with your colleagues, but you might go to happy hour at TGI Fridays and slurp down three strawberry margaritas -1150 calories. (Many of their entrée items tip the 1000 calorie scale as well.)

In the middle of a huge fight with your significant other, you aren’t likely going to go on a 50-mile bike ride to console yourself, but you may eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk -1200 calories.

If you are feeling bored, lonely, tired, or any other emotion really, you probably won’t swim five miles, but you may very well eat a plate of chicken nachos at Baja Fresh -coming in at a whopping 2020 calories.

Point being this: it’s easier to unconsciously consume a large amount of calories, but likely you won’t accidentally burn a bunch. You aren’t going to turn around and say oh shit I just hiked for five hours; I was so angry, how’d that happen?

With restaurants and fast food chains serving such hugely portioned, high caloric fare, nobody’s got your back. (But me of course.) We as a nation are more obsessed with thinness, yet we are fatter than ever and growing. With Venti Cookie Frappuccinos coming in at 800 calories, Starbucks has become a malt shop disguised in a coffee suit.

The next time you are bummed out, down and out, out and about, falling down that slippery slope of food hell, grab a number and do a triathlon instead. Remember you got to pay to play.

How much should you eat in a day? Daily, women can take in about 1600 to 1900 calories and dudes should have about 1800 to 2200. This all depends on size and activity levels.  How do I burn 500 calories, you ask? Don’t take them in. (If you do it will cost you one hour running on the treadmill.) There, they are gone.


Take a 30 minute walk after dinner, with your family, or a friend. You will digest your food better and it will set a great example for your kids. Make it a nightly ritual.