Monthly Archives: November 2015

What to Eat Before a Workout

Health & Fitness Expert and Women’s Weight Loss Coach Stephanie Mansour shares advice on how to choose the right foods to eat before a workout on Fox 32 Chicago.

what to eat before a workout

Do you ever wonder what to eat before your workouts? You don’t want to workout while you’re hungry because you will run out of energy quickly. But you also don’t want to feel full while working out because you know it will weigh you down.

One of the most important parts of my job as a women’s weight loss coach is helping my clients create an eating plan that works for their busy lifestyle. There’s much more to creating a healthy nutrition plan than coming up with a list of foods to eat. It’s also important to eat the right foods at the right times to fuel your body for energy and fat loss.

As I always tell my private weight loss coaching clients, you should be thinking of food as fuel. Whether you’re preparing to hit the gym first-thing in the morning or after a long day, your body is hungry for fuel. So to get the most out of each workout, you’ll want to feed that hunger with sufficient carbohydrates to provide a burst of energy and plenty of protein.

While I advise you to steer clear of empty calories and sugary snacks that will cause your energy to crash fast, don’t shy away from allowing for extra calories in the form of protein and healthy fats.

A few snacks I recommend to eat before a workout include:

  • Protein bars rather than regular granola bars
  •  Greek yogurt instead of regular sugary yogurt
  • A good quality protein shake, such as Vega
  • Quinoa with veggies

And one of my new favorite pre-workout foods, when I’m on the go, are Nourish Snacks by nutritionist Joy Baur. They’re low in calories with good quality carbs for fast energy and healthy fats. Plus, they’re delicious!

I stopped by the Fox 32 Chicago studio to share some tips about what to eat before a workout. Watch the video below.

Want more guidance on what to eat when, for healthy weight loss? 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 Do a Side Plank for Flatter Abs and More

How to do a side plank for flat abs and more as demonstrated by Chicago Women’s Weight Loss Coach Stephanie Mansour and Jenny Milkowski of Fox 32.

Side Plank with Stephanie Mansour & Jenny Milkowski

Looking for an exercise that works your whole body for long, lean muscles and an overall toned look? If you want to build a strong core and flatter abs while also toning your arms, legs, back, and more, I recommend adding side planks to your workout routine.

When I create custom workout plans for my private weight loss coaching clients, I consider it part of my job to help them understand the benefits of exercise beyond developing muscle tone and burning fat. Doing side planks regularly will also help you improve your balance and concentration, which will help you prevent injuries, add to your overall conditioning, boost your performance and confidence, and reduce stress.

Here’s how to do a side plank:

For a beginner side plank…

  • Start on your side with your elbow under your shoulder and your hand flat on the ground.
  • Stack one leg on top of the other with your knees slightly bent and put the other hand on your hip.
  • Raise your hip off of the ground, keeping your legs together and bent. Squeeze your glutes, keep your abs engaged, and pull your hips upward as if by a rope from the ceiling.
  • Hold and breathe
  • Return to the starting position and repeat until you feel the burn

For a more advanced side plank…

  • Start on your side with your elbow under your shoulder and your hand flat on the ground.
  • Stack one leg on top of the other, straighten your legs and put the other hand on your hip.
  • Raise your hip off of the ground, keeping your legs together and straight. Squeeze your glutes, keep your abs engaged, and pull your hips upward as if by a rope from the ceiling.
  • Hold and breathe
  • Return to the starting position and repeat until you feel the burn

For an even more advanced side plank (as demonstrated in the video)…

  • Start on your side with your elbow under your shoulder and push up to straighten your arm so you are propping yourself up with your hand.
  • Stack one leg on top of the other, straighten your legs, and put the other hand on your hip or reach to the sky.
  • Raise your hip off of the ground, keeping your legs together and straight. Squeeze your glutes, keep your abs engaged, and pull your hips upward as if by a rope from the ceiling.
  • Raise your top leg in the air and lower
  • Hold and breathe

As you can see, there are many variations of the side plank exercise you can incorporate to challenge yourself and enhance your results. The key is to keep your abs, core, arms, back, glutes, and leg muscles engaged throughout the entire exercise.

Watch the video for a quick demonstration of how to do a side plank.

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.

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.

Watch a quick the behind-the-scenes peek below:

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.

7 tips to help you stay alert all day without much sleep (as seen on Today.com)

Chicago weight loss and health coach, Stephanie Mansour, shares tips from top health and wellness experts on how to stay awake and alert all day when you haven’t had adequate sleep.  

how to stay alert with little sleep

When your energy levels are low, you don’t perform at your best or look your best. You may find yourself dragging through the day, your work slipping, your motivation lagging, your relationships becoming strained, and your overall happiness affected — not to mention, it makes losing weight and reaching your health and fitness goals more difficult.

As women with hectic schedules and a mountain of responsibilities, sometimes we don’t have the opportunity to get adequate sleep. A few days per week, you may be working on only a few hours of sleep. And while skipping sleep is never recommended, we’re not always going to get the rest we need, no matter how much we prioritize self-care.

So when you sometimes find yourself with heavy eyes, dragging through the day, wondering how you’re going to make it through your to-do list, I know you can use some advice on how to stay alert.

In a recent Today Show article, I shared 7 strategies you can implement today to get by on minimal sleep. Plus, you’ll get to watch my One-Minute Meditations for Peace of Mind (click here).

steph one-minute meditations for peace of mind

As a health coach and weight loss coach for women, my private weight loss coaching clients often ask me how they can boost their energy without resorting to calorie-packed sugary snacks or dehydrating caffeine.

In this article, I share advice from sleep expert, Dr. Christopher Colwell, Reiki practitioner, Erica Joy Dunn,  New York personal trainer, James Shapiro, physician and preventative health care expert, Dr. Yael Varnado, registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner, certified Pilates instructor, Alessa Caridi, New York City cardiovascular surgeon, Dr. David A. Greuner,  and functional medicine specialist, Dr. Darshan Shah.

Their tips on how to stay awake and alert all day when you haven’t had much sleep include:

  • Skipping the lure of the snooze button to get up on your normal schedule
  • Moving to rev up your physical and mental motors
  • Taking a cold shower
  • Eating a hearty breakfast
  • Staying hydrated
  • Taking a moment to stretch
  • Adding energy-supporting supplements

Read the Today.com article here.

Quick Workouts: How To Do Wide-Leg Squats to Tone Your Inner Thighs and Booty

How to do wide-leg squats to tone your inner thighs and booty as demonstrated by Chicago Women’s Weight Loss Coach Stephanie Mansour and Jenny Milkowski of Fox 32.

how to do a wide-leg squat stephanie mansour

As a weight loss coach for women, I often help my private weight loss coaching clients select the best exercises for the fastest results. Squats are one of my favorite exercises because once you add them to your routine, you’ll be pleased with how quickly you start to notice improved muscle tone.

Squats are one of the best workouts women can do to tone the inner thighs and booty. But if you do squats, you’ll also enjoy many other benefits. Doing squats promotes balance and overall conditioning. Plus, squat exercises help to flatten your abs and develop muscles throughout your body so you can burn more fat and calories efficiently.

While many people often assume squats can be destructive to the knees, if done properly, squats can actually strengthen connective tissue in the knee area and improve knee stability. So be sure to warm up and follow the instructions in this video.

I teamed up with my favorite workout partner, media personality Jenny Milkowski, to demonstrate How To Do Wide-Leg Squats to Tone Your Inner Thighs and Booty. Watch the video below.

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.

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.