All posts by Step It Up with Steph

About Step It Up with Steph

Hi! I’m Stephanie Mansour. In 2008 I started Step It Up With Steph to help women everywhere “step it up” in their lives. I offer in home workouts for women through one on one personal training sessions, in home yoga, and private pilates in Chicago. Aside from being a certified personal trainer, yoga instructor, and Pilates instructor, my real mission here is to coach women to feel more confident and secure in their bodies and to define beauty in their own terms. At the University of Michigan I studied Communications with an emphasis on Women’s Studies and Psychology. Do you ever read magazines or watch TV and think, “What a horrible example this is for women!” or “These messages are confusing women, causing them to criticize and self-doubt themselves, and training them to be self-conscious competitive lunatics!” No? Sometimes? Maybe it’s just me. As I’ve intimately worked one on one with women through my personal fitness programs, I’ve discovered that the root of most of our problems today is a lack of confidence. This can manifest in weight gain, unhappy or unsuccessful relationships, feeling like there’s not enough hours in the day, working with a demeaning boss, and so many other ways. As a certified professional life coach, I’ve combined my education and experiences to create a holistic, comprehensive approach to women’s health, fitness, weightloss, and confidence. Last year I trained and coached my client to lose 80+ lbs in 12 weeks on a reality TV show in Chicago. I’ve been featured on CNN, AOL, WGN, NBC Chicago, Crain’s Business, and have online programs like the 30 Day Jumpstart and 30 Day Workbook to help women across the world. I’m known for my in-home personal training in Chicago as well as my one on one yoga and one on one pilates sessions. I create custom fitness plans for women who make up the majority of my clientele. I also work with companies (large and small!) to help employees “step it up” in their everyday lives through my Cubicle Crunch workshop – a fabulous way to energize and exercise at the office. And finally, in 2012 I was named an “Inspiring Chicagoan” by Inspire.Connect.Grow, a top 20 trainer by Nike in Chicago, one of Chicago‘s top 30 female entrepreneurs under 30, and one of 50 inspiring trainers on Twitter. I also worked with Shea Vaughn (Vince Vaughn’s mom) on her new foundation, Healthy Initiative, in which I helped train and coach 40 participants to lose weight and gain confidence through a 90 day breakthrough program. It was a busy year. For more information on how we can work together, email me direct at info@StepItUpwithSteph.com or call 323-636-2262.

The Hoda Show: How to Step It Up Physically and Mentally to Boost Your Confidence and Reach Your Weight Loss Goals

Weight loss coach, Stephanie Mansour, stopped by the Sirius XM Radio studio to chat with Today Show host, Hoda Kotb, live on The Hoda Show .

Stephanie Mansour and Hoda Kotb

As a weight loss coach for women, one of the most important messages I’m passionate about spreading is that weight loss is not just about fitness and it’s not just about watching what you eat.

While it is important to step it up with your nutrition and workouts, it’s equally, if not more, important to step it up mentally. If you want to reach your fitness and weight loss goals, first you have to believe that you deserve to hit those goals.

If you don’t feel like dragging yourself off the couch, you have to change your thinking first.

If you’re too embarrassed to walk into the gym because you haven’t worked out in over a year, you have to build your confidence first.

If you want to stop binging on a whole row of Oreos every night, you have to believe you deserve to treat yourself better first.

There’s a mental shift that has to happen in order for you to value yourself so much that you want to do healthy things for yourself. I know this because I experienced this mental shift myself over a decade ago and it made all the difference — I finally lost the weight and kept it off for good! Plus, I’ve helped my private weight loss coaching clients and the women in my community do the same. 

Once you shift your thinking, you’ll skip the emotional eating, pass over junk food, and enjoy moving your body. Instead of rewarding yourself with a milkshake or zoning out on the couch at the end of a long day, you’ll begin to reward yourself with a healthy salad or a fun walk around your neighborhood.  

Then, after you’ve made this powerful mental shift and you’ve created healthy new habits, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with eating a few Oreos occasionally if you want — everything in moderation!

Recently, I stopped by the Sirius XM Radio studio to chat with Today Show host, Hoda Kotb, live on The Hoda Show. Listen to the interview HERE to hear my story about how I struggled to lose weight, the mental shift that turned it all around, and the strategies you can use to shift your thinking too.

Stephanie Mansour and Hoda Kotb

Want to start shifting your thinking so you can finally reach your weight loss goals? Join us for FREE guidance and support! Sign up for the FREE 21-Day Challenge for a simple but powerful workout plan, an easy-to-follow eating guide, and fun confidence-boosting exercises.

Healthy Eating Tips: Healthier Ice Cream Options

Chicago weight loss coach for women, Stephanie Mansour, stopped by ABC 7 Chicago to dish out some healthy eating tips and give the scoop on healthier ice cream options that you’re sure to love.

What kind of weight loss coach tells you to eat ice cream? I do!

What I’ve learned over the years is that nobody wants to go on a diet that requires cutting out all of your favorite foods. It’s a sure way to set yourself up for failure and disappointment. That’s why I don’t believe in diets or deprivation. Instead, I want to set you up for success;  so I encourage my clients to make the healthiest choices possible as often as possible. And you know what? It works! (Check out some of my client success stories  here).

My private weight loss coaching clients are often shocked to find out that they don’t have to give up the things they love to eat. And my advice to you, too, is that you don’t have to give up what you enjoy eating if you want to reach your weight loss and wellness goals.

In some cases, you may choose to indulge in moderation. But in most cases, you can find healthier options that are equally delicious and satisfying that you can substitute for your go-to treat.

And here’s a secret–there’s a good chance that you’ll end up liking the healthier option even better!

Once you cut the junk and start focusing on getting more nutrient-rich foods in your diet, you’ll be able to taste the difference and feel the difference in how your body responds to low-quality foods.

I recently stopped by ABC 7 Chicago to dish out some healthy eating tips and give the scoop on healthier ice cream options that I think you’ll love.

Want more guidance and support in making healthier choices when you eat, so you can finally lose the excess pounds that are holding you down? Join the FREE 21-Day Challenge with weight loss coach Stephanie Mansour for a simple but powerful workout plan, an easy-to-follow eating guide, and fun confidence-boosting exercises.

How to Break Through Weight Loss Plateaus

Fitness Plateau Busters

Chicago weight loss coach, Stephanie Mansour, sat down with Sylvia Perez at the Fox 32 Chicago Studio to provide tips on what to do when you hit a fitness or weight loss plateau and how to break through it.

Few things can be more frustrating along your weight loss journey than hitting a plateau. You’re moving along, making progress, hitting your goals, feeling confident, and then– bam! Your progress suddenly comes to a complete stop and the scale may even start to creep back up again.

Congratulations, you’ve hit a weight loss plateau! The reason I’m congratulating you is that hitting a plateau simply means you’re human and perfectly normal. And the good news is, it also means you have already made significant progress. You’ve been doing something right and now you are getting closer to your goal. Way to go!

The bad news is, hitting a plateau along your weight loss journey can be discouraging. In many cases, this is the point at which many people give up.

As a weight loss coach for women, one of the most challenging parts of my job is helping women gain the confidence necessary to push through their plateau — reassuring them that it isn’t happening because they are doing something wrong, encouraging them to keep making healthy choices, and guiding them through how to tweak their program.

The truth is, you have to switch up what you’re doing. When your body gets used to one way of eating or one way of working out, it’s not going to keep responding the same way. So it’s important to change things up as you go.

Most importantly, to break through each plateau, you’ll have to get into the right mindset — change your thinking to break through what’s really holding you back.

I recently stopped by the Fox 32 Chicago studio to sit down with Sylvia Perez and share advice on what to do when you hit a fitness or weight loss plateau and how to break through it. Watch the video below and let me know what you think.

Want more guidance on how to break through your weight loss plateaus and get on track to finally lose the weight for good and step it up for life? Join the FREE 21-Day Challenge with weight loss coach Stephanie Mansour for a simple but powerful workout plan, an easy-to-follow eating guide, and fun confidence-boosting exercises.

7 ways to trick yourself into working out when it’s the last thing you want to do

how to trick yourself into working out

Do you ever feel like skipping your workout? Of course you do! Even the most dedicated fitness enthusiasts want to skip their workout some days.

It’s perfectly normal and it’s okay to let yourself off the hook occasionally. But, as a weight loss coach for women, I often find myself advising private weight loss coaching clients on how to stop skipping their workouts and start skipping their excuses instead.

When you don’t feel like working out and exercise is the last thing on your mind, sometimes it helps to trick yourself into getting off your butt to get moving. If you’re serious about reaching your goals and you’re tired of giving up on yourself, I encourage you to do what it takes to find the inspiration and perseverance you need.

From years of experience helping women get fit and lose weight, I can tell you that no matter how resistant you feel at first, once you get to the gym, press play on your workout DVD, or lace up your running shoes and step outside, your mood will shift and you’ll want to stick with it.

But I also understand that sometimes it’s not that easy. Sometimes life starts to get in the way — the work projects are piling up as high as the dishes and your to-do list is a mile long. So when your coach tells you to jump on the treadmill and knock out a mile, you may want to tell her to hit the road. I hear you and I’ve heard it all before. And so have my fellow health and fitness coaches.

For one of my latest Today.com articles, I reached out to a few of my favorite trainers to ask for their input on how they motivate themselves and their clients to exercise when they don’t want to. Read their tips here.

Peter Cirolia, trainer and owner of Ballet Muscle in New York
Personal trainer and founder of Caliente Fitness in Los Angeles
Yoga instructor Claire Fountain, founder of Trill Yoga in New York City
Nikki Walter, a Bodybuilding.com team athlete and trainer in South Dakota
Boston-based personal trainer Jessica Diaz

Read More Here: 7 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Working Out When It’s The Last Thing You Want to Do

Ready to stop making excuses and create new habits that stick? Join us for FREE guidance and support! Sign up for the FREE 21-Day Challenge for a simple but powerful workout plan, an easy-to-follow eating guide, and fun confidence-boosting exercises.

Pilates Arm Exercise: How to Hug a Tree for Toned Upper Arms and Shoulders

Pilates Hug a Tree Arm Exercise for Toned Arms and Shoulders as Demonstrated by Chicago Women’s Weight Loss Coach Stephanie Mansour and Jenny Milkowski of Fox 32.

Pilates arm exercise hug a tree

As women age or gain weight, they tend to lose muscle tone in their upper arms. Some of this can be blamed on the natural aging process, but generally, lack of tone in your arms comes from lack of exercise. So let’s get moving!

In my work as a women’s weight loss coach, many of the women I work with in my private weight loss coaching programs are over the age of 40 or 50. I always let them know that sculpted toned arms are still well within reach. And there’s no need to add bulk by lifting heavy weights in order to get toned arms.

Pilates arm exercises can work and tone arms for long and lean muscles. When doing Pilates arm exercises at home, the idea is not to lift heavy weights for a low number of repetitions. Instead, opt for lower weights and aim for a higher number of repetitions.

The Step It Up With Steph Signature Slimdown DVD includes a quick core-strengthening Pilates workout!

When done properly, Pilates arm exercises engage the upper body as well as the core. So keep in mind as you do your Pilates arm exercises, that you want to concentrate on your movements and your posture, bringing awareness to your breath, the alignment of your spine, and the torso.

Focus on your movements, not the worries of the outside world. And remember that the benefits of Pilates (and all exercise) goes beyond muscle tone and weight loss; so enjoy the stress reduction and enhancement of your overall wellbeing.

Watch this quick video as Jenny and I demonstrate a Pilates arm exercise called Hug a Tree to work the biceps, triceps, upper back, and shoulders.

Here’s how to do Pilates Hug a Tree arm exercises at home:

  • Pick weights to suit your fitness level. If you’re a beginner, select 1-3 pound weights. Jenny and I used 5-pound weights in our video demonstration.
  • Start by sitting with your legs crossed in a lotus position.
  • With a dumbbell weight in each hand, open your arms wide, extending them out to each side at chest height, as if you are going to give someone (or a tree!) a hug.
  • Lengthen your spine and open your chest. Inhale.
  • Contract your chest muscles as you exhale and bring the weights together in front of you, maintaining chest height. Keep your elbows slightly bent.
  • Focus on keeping the muscles around your spine engaged. You can also choose to round your spine as you exhale.
  • Pause, breathe, and then slowly return to your starting position.
  • Stay focused. Go slow. Concentrate on your breath and movements.

Repeat 20 times until you feel the burn. Increase the number of repetitions as you advance.

Try it and let us know what you think!

For a quick easy-to-follow Pilates routine, grab a copy of the Step It Up with Steph Signature Slimdown DVD.

 

How to Avoid Emotional Eating

Discover the science behind emotional eating and learn how to avoid emotional eating with weight loss coach and health and fitness expert, Stephanie Mansour.

how to avoid emotional eating

Have you ever wondered how to avoid emotional eating?

If you sometimes find yourself scarfing down a bag of chips at your desk while you’re trying to meet a deadline or mindlessly eating a pint of ice cream at the end of a long stressful day to numb out, you’re falling victim to emotional eating.

In my experience as a women’s weight loss coach, I’ve found that emotional eating is one of the most common problems that my private weight loss coaching clients struggle with daily. I also find that as soon as I mention to someone during a conversation that I’m a weight loss coach, the conversation about emotional eating comes up immediately.

Everyone wants to know how to stop reaching for a candy bar when the going gets tough or turning to cookies when they’re feeling sad. Emotional eating is nothing to be ashamed of, but it is important to learn how to avoid emotional eating.

Unfortunately, emotional eating is not harmless and it doesn’t help you feel better or improve the problem that caused you to want to eat in the first place. When you let emotional eating get the best of you, you’ll tend to choose poor-quality foods that are low in nutritional value and high in salt, sugar, fat, and calories.  It can lead to binge eating disorders, food addiction, health problems, obesity, low self-esteem, and difficulty losing weight.

Recently, I visited Fox 32 Chicago and sat down with Sylvia Perez to discuss the science behind emotional eating, the physiological triggers that cause emotional eating, and what you can do to avoid emotional eating.

Tips I cover include rewarding yourself with healthy choices and indulgences that feel good — anything from a kale salad at your favorite restaurant instead of eating at home to scheduling a wellness-centered vacation or staycation.

I recently had an amazing trip to Miraval Resorts in Arizona and I’m looking forward to an upcoming Katanga Fitness Retreat getaway. Treating yourself, changing your scenery and pace, and staying active will help you focus on your well-being and shift your thinking away from turning to food for comfort.

I often suggest that women visit a local spa or manicurist, or even paint your own nails, take a bubble bath, and do some self-care at home. Go to the park, visit a museum, call a friend — anything you enjoy to change your frame of mind away from food as a default.

Want more guidance on how to avoid emotional eating and get on track to finally lose the weight for good and step it up for life? Join the FREE 21-Day Challenge with weight loss coach Stephanie Mansour for a simple but powerful workout plan, an easy-to-follow eating guide, and fun confidence-boosting exercises.

 

What I Shared On The Today Show About How To Trick Yourself Into Working Out Around The House

Do you sometimes feel like you don’t have enough time to work out? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, not having enough time for exercise is a top complaint of many of my private weight loss coaching clients before we begin working together. But as I tell my clients, it’s always possible to fit more exercise into your busy schedule if you change the way you approach it.

You don’t always have to go to the gym or carve out 30 minutes of uninterrupted time. Incorporating fitness routines into the daily activities you are already doing can make a big impact on your health and fitness and help you reach your goals faster.

I stopped by NBC Studios in New York City to share 7 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Working Out with the Today Show audience.

Whether we’re juggling a family, career, both, or other responsibilities, we all have to get ourselves up, dressed, and on the go in the morning. We all have to see to it that our healthy meals get made, the dishes get washed, the laundry gets done, and so much more throughout the day. So I understand that many women feel as if they simply don’t have enough time to work out.

But the truth is, you do have time if you make the most of every moment and you have the confidence to believe you’re worth it!

Watch the video and read more here.

Join us for FREE guidance and support in creating healthy lifestyle habits that will put you on track to lose weight and love your body along the way! Sign up for the FREE 21-Day Challenge for a simple but powerful workout plan, an easy-to-follow eating guide, and fun confidence-boosting exercises.

Pilates Roll Over: Advanced Core-Strengthening Exercise for Flatter Abs

Pilates Roll Over for Flatter Abs and Core Strength Demonstrated by Chicago Women’s Weight Loss Coach Stephanie Mansour and Jenny Milkowski of Fox 32.

Pilates Roll Over Demonstration

Pilates is one of the best ways to build core strength, develop and flatten your abs, and strengthen your back. Core strength workouts are exercises that focus on the center of the body, which includes deep abdominal muscles, the muscles closest to your spine, especially the lower back, and the hips and buttocks

Core strengthening workouts will help you to improve your overall fitness, your ability to perform daily activities, and sports performance.  Because of the slow and controlled moves of Pilates,  a Pilates workout is easy on the body with minimal impact on the joints, which makes it a great option to ease into fitness if you are overweight or out of shape.

Many of the women I work with in my private weight loss coaching programs choose to practice Pilates because it helps them gain long lean muscles, increases their flexibility, and they are able to a enjoy a well-balanced and conditioned body with improved overall feelings of well-being. I also recommend Pilates because when you do it regularly, it can help you prevent injuries and even alleviate chronic back pain.

The Step It Up With Steph Signature Slimdown DVD includes a quick core-strengthening Pilates workout!

In addition to the physical benefits of Pilates, I believe every woman should incorporate some Pilates into her workout routine, whenever possible, because it also helps improve your mental state. Pilates requires concentration and forces you to focus on your body movements and your breath, rather than the distractions of outside stress. Research has also found that Pilates boosts brain power and improves cognitive function.

I teamed up with my favorite workout and Pilates partner, Jenny Milkowski, to demonstrate an advanced Pilates core-strengthening exercise. Watch the video below:

If you’re ready to try an advanced core-strengthening exercise for flatter abs, here’s how to do a Pilates roll over:

  • Start by laying flat on your back with your legs together and your arms at your sides, palms facing down.
  • Make sure your neck is long and your chest is open as you inhale.
  • Keeping your legs together, extend them straight up toward the ceiling until you reach a 90-degree angle.
  • Exhale while using your abdominal muscles to draw your hips and legs over your body until your legs are parallel to your chest. You will be releasing the lower back and lifting your butt off the ground with your abs.
  • Roll back onto the wide part of the shoulders. Feet should be flexed and toes should be toward the ground behind your head. Use your arms to balance you but lift primarily with your abdominal muscles.
  • Inhale and lengthen the back of your legs through your heels and flex your feet. Widen your legs to shoulder-width apart in a V formation.
  • Exhale and use core control to allow your legs to lower toward your chest while slowly lengthening your spine, rolling down, placing each vertebrae one-at-a-time on the mat, until your legs are again at a 90-degree angle — feet flexed and stretch through the heels.
  • Keeping your legs together, lower them slowly.
  • Begin the exercise again and repeat the process.

Try it and let us know what you think! Again, remember, this is an advanced core-strengthening exercise. For a quick easy-to-follow Pilates routine, grab a copy of the Step It Up with Steph Signature Slimdown DVD.

How to Get Rid of Cellulite

How to Get Rid of Cellulite

Have you ever wondered how to get rid of cellulite? If cellulite has become a problem for you,  you’re not alone. You may consider it unsightly or blame yourself for getting it, but it’s a common problem. In fact, studies have shown that as many as 90 percent of women have cellulite.

Because I’m a weight loss coach for women, women often ask me how to get rid of cellulite. It isn’t easy but it is possible to minimize the appearance of cellulite on your body. If you have cellulite, you should know that it’s nothing to be ashamed of and the first step toward feeling better about it is to love your body right now, no matter what.

Here are a few more facts about cellulite:

  • Even women who are thin, fit, muscular or athletic often notice that they have cellulite.
  • Being overweight or obese does not necessarily increase the likelihood of cellulite, but it is likely to make the divots appear larger and far more noticeable.
  • Genetics is often a factor. If the women in your family have cellulite, you are more prone to having it as well.
  • Cellulite appears lumpy because fat cells are stored right beneath the skin and push through the connective tissue and fascia.

While you may not be able to get rid of cellulite completely, there are some exercises, self-care practices, and foods that can help reduce it. I always say that it’s important to approach your cellulite reduction from a holistic and integrated standpoint.

I recently stopped by the Fox 32 Chicago studio to share some of my favorite tips on how to get rid of cellulite.

  • Lose the fat. The less fat you have on your body, the less noticeable your cellulite will be. It may still be there, but it won’t stand out as much.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink half your bodyweight in ounces and snack on hydrating fruit and veggies, such as watermelon and cucumbers.
  • Brush or scrub your skin in a circular motion to stimulate the lymph.
  • Massage the fascia with a foam roller to increase blood and lymph flow.
  • Integrate proper nutrition into your diet with healthy fats, such as salmon and sunflower seeds.
  • Pump up your exercise by working and stimulating muscles in the affected area.

Want support taking a holistic approach to health, so you can get on track to lose weight and learn to love your body along the way? Join the FREE 21-Day Challenge for a simple but powerful workout plan, an easy-to-follow eating guide, and fun confidence-boosting exercises.

 

How to Do Kneeling Side Leg Circles to Give Your Booty a Lift

Kneeling Side Leg Circles to Give Your Booty a Lift as Demonstrated by Chicago Women’s Weight Loss Coach Stephanie Mansour and Jenny Milkowski of Fox 32.

Looking for booty exercises to perk up a flat butt for an overall shapely and toned look? Kneeling side leg circles will work your glutes and help you get the look you want.

As a women’s weight loss coach, many of my private weight loss coaching clients ask me how to not only lose fat but also tone up what they consider problem areas. One of the areas many women feel most self-conscious about is their rear-end. 😉

And while I firmly believe true confidence comes from within, I also recognize that you also want to do what you can to get a firm backside! 😉

The Step It Up With Steph Signature Slimdown DVD includes a 5-minute workout that targets the legs & butt!

Watch the video below as Jenny Milk and I demonstrate kneeling side leg circles.

Want to try it yourself? Here’s how to do one of my favorite butt-lifting exercises–kneeling side leg circles:

  • Begin by kneeling on a mat.
  • Place one hand on the ground and your opposite hand on your hip. For example, start by placing your right hand on the ground and placing your left hand on your left hip.
  • Raise your left leg to hip level and extend it straight out to the side.
  • Keeping your left leg at hip level, make small circles in a clockwise direction.
  • Next, do small circles with your left leg in a counterclockwise direction.
  • Be sure to keep your hips steady throughout this exercise.
  • Now adjust your position to switch legs and repeat the exercise on the other side.
  • I recommend doing 10-15 circles in each direction on each leg.

Try it and let us know what you think!

Want more fun and body-boosting exercises, including a 5-minute legs & butt workout? Grab a copy of the Step It Up with Steph Signature Slimdown DVD.