Monthly Archives: November 2015

Weight Loss Programs for Women: How Emotions Prevent Weight Loss

releasing anger to lose weight

One key component of the Step It Up with Steph weight loss programs for women is that we focus on how your emotions and mental state contribute to what you’re eating and whether or not you’re exercising.

How do your everyday thoughts about yourself impact your weight loss success?

Did you know your emotions can keep you from losing weight, even if you use willpower to avoid emotional eating?

Learn more about the relationship between emotions and weight loss–and what to do about it in this video:

My client (who you’ve probably heard about by now if you’ve been in this community for a while!) who lost 83 lbs in just 12 weeks without any diets or gimmicks was mentally in the game. as she followed one of our comprehensive weight loss programs for women.

There were no maybes, woulds, coulds, or doubts when it came to the fact that she was going to hit her weight loss goal and thus lose the most weight out of anyone on the reality TV show that we were on.

Marissa weight loss Before and After

In fact, once she started working with me and using our 30 Days to Love Your Body & Your Life Workbook to even further boost her self-confidence in herself, that’s when we unlocked any mental obstacles or emotional struggles that she may have run in to along the way. We course-corrected before we even hit a jagged part in the road.

If I tell you everyday that the sky is purple, eventually you may start to believe me – even though logically you know it’s not. If you grew up in a household in which you were told that you needed to watch what you eat, or that “hard work is the only way you’ll reach your goals,” these messages are probably still ingrained in your subconscious mind, whether you realize it or not. And that’s where 90% of our decisions get made – in our subconscious.

So let’s take the example of “hard work is the only way you’ll reach your goal.” I used to believe this, too, until I started studying successful people, people who had reached their goals already. And what I realized was that it wasn’t just hard work that got them to where they are today; it was SMART work.

In my work with my private weight loss clients, we are not only fiercely committed to the goal, but we are also smart and methodical in how we get there. My clients are NOT held captive by diets or strict workouts.

They don’t have their head down 24/7 in a bowl of salad. Instead, we balance all of the structure with the emotional and feelings side of weight loss – something I don’t see any other weight loss programs for women doing.

If you’re looking to an integrative approach to weight loss and reaching your goals, then you’re in the right place.

Check out the free preview of what’s in the 30 Day Workbook here, or schedule a complimentary Signature Slimdown Session with me and we’ll talk through your goals.

We’re in this together, ladies!


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Weight Loss Coach: Strength Training Circuit Workout

Get your step on with Chicago weight loss coach Stephanie Mansour and Jenny Milk on the lake!

strength training circuit workout

One of the mistakes I see my weight loss coaching clients make is sticking to cardio and skipping the strength training. Cardio helps you burn calories, but strength training helps you build muscle. Muscle burns more calories than fat, and strong muscles help you look more lean and toned.

When you’re out for a run, be sure to add some strength training to your routine. You don’t have to go to the gym; you can do it wherever you are with a strength training step up circuit workout.

This step circuit workout will have you marching up and down steps, doing push ups, and tricep dips!

To step it up even more with weight loss coach Steph, check out her weight loss programs for women and shop our store for a weight loss workout DVD, recipe book, and more.

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How to Travel Stress Free Over Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day weekend is near! As millions of people gear up to spend the holiday weekend away, one thing that you might not be anticipating is the stress that can accompany travel. In my weight loss programs for women, learning to deal with stress is one of the main issues we address together.

When women want to lose weight and keep it off, I’ve found that managing stress is critical to their success. Stress raises cortisol levels and also leads to stress eating , poor planning, and general feelings of overwhelm.

However, with a little planning there are some easy ways to reduce the stress that comes along with traveling on one of the busiest weekends of the year! 

I shared my top 5 stress-free travel tips on CBS Chicago recently! Watch (or read) on and you’ll soon be on your way to a stress-LESS Labor Day weekend!

One way to relieve stress is through the use of essential oils. Put a bottle of your favorite scent in your purse or bag (my favorite is citrus!), and when you feel the stress creeping in, take it out and have a sniff. Research shows that certain scents can make you feel more relaxed.

Another great technique to reduce stress is controlled breathing. Take a deep breath in while counting to four, hold it for another count of four, and exhale while counting down from four.

What about gratitude? Reflect on all of the wonderful things you have going on in your life. Showing gratitude attracts more positive thoughts, thus reducing stress. If you need a little jump start, try my 30 Days to Love Your Body & Your Life workbook. It’ll help you transition into positive thinking and boost your mood and confidence.   


Don’t skimp on the (healthy) snacks, especially on a long road trip! Try crackers and hummus or one of my personal favorites, snack boxes-to-go by Wild Garden. If you’re more of a protein powder person, Vega has packets that you just mix with water and enjoy.

Avoid soda and sugary drinks. Instead try a sparkling water, like LaCroix. They have a huge variety of flavors, and can really hit the spot when you’re craving something carbonated. For your sweet tooth, bring a piece of raw fruit. If that’s not an option, try a fruit bar with minimal ingredients like a product from KIND snacks.

Lastly, what’s one way to make your trip even better? An upgrade, of course! If flying, one way to try for an upgrade is by humanizing yourself to an airline agent. Tell them your personal story, if you’re in a bind or experiencing an unpleasant delay. When staying at a hotel, share with the staff what you’re there celebrating. Maybe it’s a family vacation, a birthday or an anniversary. Many times, hotels will upgrade guests that are there for a special occasion.

Follow these five tips and you’ll surely enjoy your Labor Day weekend even more. Be safe (and healthy) out there!  

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Interested in learning more about my private weight loss programs for women? Click here to learn more and apply for a complimentary Signature Slimdown Session.

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Weight Loss Workouts for Women: Quick Arm Workout Routine

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Weight loss coach Stephanie Mansour shows Fox Chicago’s Jenny Milkowski one of her best weight loss workouts for women.

Have you been feeling self-conscious in tank tops or sleeveless dresses this Summer?

Are you sick of the jiggle?

I hear this complaint from my clients a lot in the Summer. Since we’re more exposed, there are more areas to critique and feel self-conscious about.

My workout DVD has a full 5 minute workout routine dedicated to trimming and toning the arms, and I’m sharing a few of those exercises in my latest video with Fox Chicago’s traffic reporter in this video below:


One of the biggest mistakes I see women making when it comes to arm definition is lifting too heavy of weights. For example, even though I am pretty strong, I still do NOT lift more than 5 lbs dumbbells! I build muscle quickly and if I add on more than 5 lbs, I start to get bulky.

Even for my clients who don’t bulk that easily, I recommend doing lesser weights and higher repetitions. This is going to get you that sleek and toned look, minus the jiggle and bulk.

Another tip that I give to my clients is about how to pose in pictures. Do you ever see a picture of yourself and think that its an unflattering angle or that you look large compared to others?

Well, there ARE certain poses and angles that can make even the thinnest woman look heavy. In my work on-camera, I’ve learned how to pose and stand to avoid these unflattering positions.

Make sure that when you’re standing in a picture, you have a little bit of space between your body and your arms. You may see me putting my hand on my hip, which creates a lot of space between my waist and my arms.

You don’t have to do a large move like that, but you can just open the elbow up a little bit away from your side to create the illusion that your waist is smaller instead of smashing your arm into your waist.

flattering pose for smaller waist

Similarly, stand straight in photos but pop a knee out. Bend a knee so that there’s some depth to your body and so that your legs aren’t squished together.

slimming pose for women

Questions? Let me know!

For more weight loss workouts for women, recipes, and confidence-boosting tips, visit the Step it Up With Steph store.

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Weight Loss Workouts for Women: Ballet Barre Workout

Join Chicago fitness coach for women Stephanie Mansour and Jenny Milk as they demonstrates one of many great weight loss workouts for women–ballet barre exercises.

ballet barre workout

Ballet barre classes have become quite popular in recent years, but you can get some of the benefits of a ballet barre class on your own. All you need is a stable railing and a few graceful moves.

In my work as a fitness coach and weight loss coach, my private clients are looking for ways to slim down and tone up without bulking up. If you have similar goals, this is a great workout for you.

In this video, I show you how to perform curtsy jumps, ballerina lifts and Pilates squats.

For more weight loss workouts for women, check out the Step it Up With Steph Signature Slimdown Workout DVD.

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Weight Loss Workouts for Women: Ab Workout on Stairs

Chicago fitness coach & health coach Stephanie Mansour teams up with Jenny Milk to demonstrate one of her weight loss workouts for women–an ab workout you can do anywhere, even on the streets of Chicago!

When working with my private weight loss coaching clients, I’m always on the lookout for new ways to fit in a workout wherever we go. When the weather’s nice, I love to encourage them to take it outside.

During the warm months here in Chicago, nothing beats being near the water. I bet your town has an area where you like to get active in beautiful surroundings too. If you can’t think of one, it’s time to do some exploring.

Every so often, skip the gym to take advantage of the weather. And while you’re out for a run, mix in a good ab workout.

In this video, we include ab moves for when you’re sitting on your butt, a plank with a knee in to elbow maneuver using the stairs as your assistance, as well as a basic crunch (as a modification).


To get more weight loss workouts for women, check out the Step it Up with Steph Signature Slimdown DVD.

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Health Coach Tips: How Stress in the Workplace Can Affect Your Wellness


Every other month this year, I’ve appeared as a health coach on Morning Express with Robin Meade on CNN to discuss health and wellness topics.

Overall, health and wellness and stress reduction are key to my work as a health coach and weight loss coach. Stress, chronic pain, and injuries often prevent women from making the best choices in their daily lives.

In one of my latest segments, Robin and I talked about how to relieve carpal tunnel syndrome–a condition that can add to your stress levels, interfere with feelings of wellbeing, and hinder your ability to workout consistently.

The exercises I demonstrate in this video can help you either prevent carpal tunnel syndrome or feel better. You’ll want to watch if you sit at a desk all day, pick up your kids with your hands, or feel pain in your wrists and bottom side of your arms.

Aside from assigning specific exercises to fix specific problems, I also work as a corporate wellness consultant and with my private weight loss coaching clients on how to reduce the effects of work-related stressors. Here are a few more tips:

  • When you leave the office (or if you’re at home with kids or in a stressful situation), think about cutting the energy off between you and that location. Physically think of using scissors and cutting the cord that connects you to that chaotic and stressful environment.
  • Pump up the jams: Turn on music in your car or put headphones in to refocus your mind with new sounds and noise that you enjoy.
  • Drink a glass of water or put a fresh piece of gum in your mouth to signal that it’s time to transition to a new line of thinking.

And if you’re looking for even more ways to relieve stress at work, check out this video for stretching exercises (and find more workplace wellness tips here):


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Weight Loss Programs for Women: Cardio Burst Workout

Chicago weight loss coach Stephanie Mansour shares tips for blasting fat with a cardio burst workout.

cardio blast workout for women

In my work as a weight loss coach, women often ask the same question: “What’s the best way to lose fat?” I always say that you have to take a holistic approach, including healthy eating and consistently working out with variety.

One way to blast fat is with high-intensity cardio blasts, such as what I demonstrate in this video.

Do 10 squats with a jump, 10 step sprints, followed by 10 squats jumping backwards!

Click here to learn more about my weight loss programs for women and check out the Step it Up with Steph store for products to help you with weight loss.

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5 Tips To Breaking Bad Sleeping Habits

break bad sleep habits

Getting good sleep can make the difference between having a great day and having a mediocre day. According to a survey from Serta, 82% of Americans report experiencing a bad mood due to lack of sleep. Even successful people with all of the best intentions can seriously sabotage themselves when it comes to sleep and weight loss, and sleep is crucial to losing weight!

Step It Up With Steph has the pleasure of stopping by abc 7 Chicago to discuss five “bad habits” that could be causing you to wake up in the middle of the night, wake up before your alarm, or have a hard time falling asleep.

Watch the full segment here, or read below for a cheat sheet and be on your way to a good night’s sleep tonight!

Try a healthy snack before going to bed. Have a sweet tooth? Try a fruit bar. Kind has a great variety of fruit bars. When having a snack, be sure to have it two hours before you hit the pillow.

Always remember, set yourself up so you’re eating protein throughout the day so you’re not starving at night.

Bad Habit #2: Drinking too much water before bedtime.

If you find yourself extremely thirsty and needing to consume a lot of liquid right before going to sleep, this could be a sign that your body may be dehydrated throughout the day. Set up alarms on your phone so that you’re drinking at least half of your body weight in ounces of water before dinner! If you want to add a little flavor to your water to make it more palatable, try adding some fresh squeezed lemon juice!

Much like eating, you should stop drinking two hours before bedtime.

Bad Habit #3: Going to bed angry or with unresolved issues.

Anxiety can keep you up at night; do some deep breathing to relax yourself before going to bed. If you can’t resolve the issue, keep a journal next to your bed and write down your feelings. Close the journal and make a pact with yourself that you can think about it in the morning.

If you’re having an especially difficult time, do some mental exercises–such as those included in our 30 Days to Love Your Body & Your Life workbook–to transition into positive thinking and boost your mood and confidence.   


Bad Habit #4: Falling asleep on the couch.

Get into a healthy bedtime routine, and entice yourself into bed with a nice scent, soft cozy sheets, or even a piece of chocolate before bed!

Bad Habit #5: Too much caffeine during the day or alcohol at night.

You should cut off caffeine at 2:00 p.m., or eight hours before you’re going to go to bed. Regarding alcohol, make a rule with yourself: the last cocktail is consumed two hours before bedtime.

Wishing you a good night’s sleep tonight and every night!


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Weight Loss Coach Tips: Ab Workout While Lounging At The Pool

poolside workout with weight loss coach stephanie mansourLearn how to get in a good workout poolside with Stephanie Mansour, weight loss coach for women.

Have you ever been in such intense pain that you didn’t know if you would every find relieve?

A little over 10 years ago, I thought that I was going to have to deal with back pain for the rest of my life. I was routinely on the floor, unable to move because I was in so much pain. The pain would shoot down my low back, into my butt, and then down the side of one of my legs. I saw a chiropractor weekly, tried massages, and kept exercising in the hopes that I’d get some relief.

I had sciatica, and it was miserable. It wasn’t until I discovered my core that I was able to find sustainable relief.

After taking a few Pilates classes, I started finding some relief that lasted more than a day or two. And, not only did the regimented 45 minute class help me, but I found myself able to engage my abs and core throughout my everyday life.

Today’s video may seem silly – can you really do ab exercises while relaxing at the pool?

The answer is YES, and on a serious note, I personally NEED to do ab exercises while I’m lounging in a chair. I have to keep my core in mind throughout the day in order to use the front of my body (abs) to take pressure off of the back of my body (where the low back pain starts).

As a weight loss coach, I encourage all of my clients to be mindful and self-aware.

One of my weight loss coaching clients was NOT seeing results with kickboxing in the way that she had in her 20s. So now, in her 50s, we needed to try something new. Yoga & Pilates worked for her instead!

She was so over-tired and stressed that the last thing she needed to be doing was an intense workout. Once we reduced the cortisol levels and got her body (and mind) to a more relaxed state, she was able to shed the pounds.

On the other hand, one of my private weight loss coaching clients responded best to spinning classes.

We figure these things out through a combination of my clients getting in tune and letting me know what they feel is best for themselves, and then my analysis and expertise in what they should be doing to lose weight on any given week, based on the eating plan and their activity level for that week.

As women, weight loss can be much more complex than it is for men. And, what works for me may not work for you, and vice versa.

The key is to integrating as much self-awareness and mindfulness as possible into your daily life so that you’re in tune and working WITH your body (a la ab exercises at the pool!) rather than against your body.


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