A Spicy Perspective

Super Healthy You

I’d like to share something a little off-topic today… about fitness.

No, I’m not a personal trainer, nor a nutritionist. I’m just a mid-thirties mom who cares greatly about health and feeling good in my clothes.

I am also not one of those girls with superior athletic genes and legs up to her eyeballs. I’m 5 foot 4, and have a low-average metabolism and very curvaceous genes. (And sometimes jeans.)

And I love to eat.

I mean I really LOVE to eat. I’m pretty sure, more than normal. Ethnic food. Comfort food. Sweets. I love it all.

I do however feel like I have a lot to share about health and fitness based on years of research and personal experimentation.

If there is a health book, I’ve read it.

If there is a fitness program, I’ve “pumped” it.

If there is a diet plan, I’ve tried it.

Always curious about the latest fitness-science update, I’ve done it all. Seriously, you probably couldn’t name one book/workout routine/diet plan my husband and I have not put to the test.

A very small sampling of the fitness paraphernalia we own.

Of all the programs I’ve done in the last twenty years, here are some principles that I feel are tried-and-true. Things you can count on to lose weight, stay trim and feel healthy.

Plus you can apply them to whatever diet and fitness plan you want. This is not a system. I’ve simply put together 6 principles that work.

Whenever I stray from these principles, I gain weight. Whenever I stick to them, I lose weight. Period.

Here we go…


1. YOU MUST SET REASONABLE AND SPECIFIC GOALS. Unrealistic goals like losing 50 pounds in the next two months only leads to an eating disorder or heartbreak. Vague goals get you nowhere.

Decide what is reasonable and write out a plan to get there. Then find a way to track it. Use good ol’ paper and pencil, a spread sheet or try a fitness app for tracking your progress.

Tracking creates accountability. Accountability = results.

2. EAT CLEAN 90-95% OF THE TIME and allow for splurges the other 5-10 percent. Whatever your diet:  high protein, low carb, dairy free, vegetarian, vegan, whole grain, gluten free, you name it. EAT CLEAN.

Clean means a whole lots of veggies, and very little (or no) processed foods.

Steer clear of white processed foods and sugar, and eat only:  lean protein, legumes, grains, fruit, low fat dairy and TONS of veggies 90-95% of the time. The other 5-10% of the time you can splurge. (You have to find the right percentage for you. Certain people can splurge a little more than others and still lose weight.)

Out of approximately 35 meals and snacks a week, somewhere between 2-4 of them can be really naughty.

Some people like to spread out their splurges. For me, it’s much easier to control myself, if I save them up for one glorious cheat day.

3. LEARN PORTION CONTROL. Even if you eat clean all the time, you can still overeat. You may not gain weight, but you certainly won’t lose it. We Americans are notorious for over eating. Our restaurant portions are huge, and if we happen to get served a properly sized portion, we feel like we’re getting ripped off.

A few years back I got braces on my teeth. I did not change my diet at all, yet having braces made me lose weight.

Why? Because apparently I ate too much.

I didn’t think I ate to much. I thought I watched my portion sizes. But when my teeth were sore, I ate less and I ate slower.  And low-and-behold was able to loss the weight from my second child that I couldn’t previously shed.

After a week or two of smaller portions, my appetite adjusted and they seemed normal.

Smaller portions mean smaller waste line. Click Here for tips to help with portion control.

4. WORKOUT LIKE YOU MEAN IT. Set time aside for regular workouts, and don’t pussyfoot around.

Half-way workouts get half-way results.

To get REAL results, you can’t just take a casual walk or prance around on the elliptical machine for 15 minutes.

You Must Sweat.




Hack and Spit, if you need to.

Your face should be RED when you’re finished.

A rule of thumb: If you feel like you are going to vomit when your workout is over, you’ve done good.

Don’t worry about what you look like while you workout; this is the time to focus on making your body do what you want it to do. I promise you will look cute later.

It’s too easy to find an “important reason” why you can’t fit your workout in today. It’s too easy to start a hard workout and give up 10 minutes in, saying “At least I did something.

Always up the anti. Your mind will whine and complain, but your willpower MUST win. Drowned out the negative thoughts so you can reach your goals.

When I run, instead of allowing myself to start  thinking I’ve done enough, I always set mini goals along the way. “I’m going to power past that big tree. Now I’m going to blow past that stop sign… and now that lamppost way up there.”

You empower yourself in major way, when you refuse to allow excuses. You change your mindset from a place of settling to a place of success.

5. CHANGE YOUR WORKOUT ROUTINE EVERY 6-9 WEEKS. This might be the most important thing.

After a certain amount of time, our bodies get in a rut with our workout routine. We want to continue doing the same workout, in hopes the results will magically reappear. However, your body grows accustom to your current workout program and hits a plateau. Meaning stagnant results.

If you are a runner, and used to see huge results but now you don’t, stop running for a while. Find another workout routine that challenges you. If you’ve been doing circuit training and no longer see results, become a runner… Or biker, or P90Xer, or weightlifter, or cross-country skier, etc.

It’s great to have options in the back of your mind. That way, the moment you stop seeing results in your current workout plan,  you can make a change and shock your body back into weight loss mode.

P.S. You can always go back to your favorites after a few cycles. Just be aware that subconsciously, they are probably your favorites because they don’t challenge you as much. Usually the workout you love-to-hate, has the biggest impact on your body. Sad, but true.

6. DRINK LOADS OF WATER and not a lot of anything else. Make it a goal to drink a gallon of water a day.

Water not only keeps you hydrated after hard workouts, it flushes your body, reducing toxins and bloating. Water also helps keep your tummy full so you don’t overeat.

Get yourself a big jug to carry around as your constant water reminder. I have one I fill up twice a day. When I have it with me, I always take in more than enough water. When I forget it, I feel dehydrated and puffy by the end of the day.

If your body tends to retain water. Try these detox waters to help flush your system.

Dandelion Tea Detox Water

Spicy Lemon Detox Water

Grapefruit Detox Water


I’ll say it again, I don’t always do these things.

Sometimes I get lazy. I tell myself life it too hard, stressful, and fast pace to focus on my health. I tell myself I deserve a break.

Then I don’t push hard in my workouts. I make excuse and have more splurge meals than I should.  I’m not attentive to my health.

Inevitably, I gain weight and feel lethargic–making it even harder to get motivated again.

But I promise you, when I or anyone else I know, does these six things consistently, they see and feel physical change. And feeling the change is the best part of all!

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24 comments on “Super Healthy You”

  1. Good advice. I suppose my workouts are not hard enough, I always stop before I get to exhaustion. However, for me, being older means I have to be careful of injury. I keep having back, foot, knee, shoulder issues that make it harder. I know there are “older” folks who can still work out like crazy but I am finding I am not one of them :-( Perhaps, focusing more on portion control and consistent workouts.This struggle is really getting to me!

  2. These are good tried and true tips. As a personal trainer I can back you up on that! Adapting recipes so they feel like cheating can help a lot. Take your favorite recipe and see how you can cut the fat and make it more ‘clean’ like you said. Much easier to stick to eating healthier that way :)

  3. great tips! I’ve started up a new routine and hope to stick with it :)

  4. Great tips Sommer! I need to mix up my workout routine.

  5. I feel like you are in my head Sommer…we have lots in common! I’m always reading about latests diet & fitness anything, fitness & nutrition is part of my everyday too…and for same reasons as you. I love to eat, eat clean, but I eat a lot! Portions are not my forte, so weight tends to be an uncomfortable issue for me. Whenever I track (whether it be weight watchers or now my fitness pal) I’m so surprised at how easy it is to drop a few pounds (and gain it back!!) – for me the key is portion control & tracking.
    Also it can get so easy to get complacent with exercise, so good to change it up! I love this post!!

  6. I love, love, love this post! Any chance you are joining us for the RFR5K challenge?! You’d be such an inspiration to others! To me!

  7. Such a great post!!! I love all of these tips — especially hydrating. A simple, obvious one, but the thing I so often forget. :)

  8. Inspirational post!

  9. Awesome tips and perspective – thanks for helping to spread the good word :) I love hearing more about this side of you!

  10. great advice Sommer, I think portion control is the biggest part of my problem, as well as a lot of other people. The more we enjoy food the more we eat…sigh

  11. Pingback: Shape Up! – Week 25 | Geek Alabama

  12. Great post! I have a couple lbs I am trying to lose but I think I am at that point where I need to change the workout. :)

  13. great tips! I’m looking forward (and dreading lol) the day I can really give it my all again. Soon enough!

  14. Those are all fabulous tips, I need to work on the whole not setting unreasonable goals! I tend to get ahead of myself sometimes and expect too much too soon.

  15. This is a great post. Although I doubt you have many postmenopausal readers like myselft, it holds true, ESPECIALLY the part about not just going to the gym (Curves in my case) and lolygaggin’ around chatting with your friends. Curves, for example, offers a VERY good workout, BUT YOU HAVE TO DO IT HARD. Every other day I do a workout at home with treadmill, free weights and bands, ball, etc. It makes a difference. If I ONLY do Curves (and I do it hard),then change up and do a workout at home, I can definitely tell the difference. I can no longer run because of foot issues, so that’s out. And let me tell you younger women, menopause will kick your blankety blank in terms of metabolism! Sheesh! LOL! Best wishes everyone; stay healthy!… Grannie Lynn

  16. What a WONDERFUL post. Everyone, no matter age, status, needs to take responsibility for our own health. It’s not about weight– that is only the sub-product of a healthy lifestyle — it’s about quality of life as our age spans are extended.
    Thanks for the great post.

  17. Thanks for the tips!!! Great post!!! My face looks like a tomato when I get home from the gym :)

  18. You are 100% right!! Last year I was in the best shape of my life! I ate pretty dam good, and worked out 6 days a week! This year I gained only 5 lbs., eat even better then ever, but not working out killed me. Without the major workouts, my body turned to flab, it’s amazing how fast it sneaks up on you!! I love all of your pointers that you give, everything is right on! I have the same experience as you, but the only issue I have is gtting off my butt to work out!! I took a month off and now I can’t get back to it! It’s so hard and I am full of excuses! Thanks for this post!!!

  19. I love this post! I can’t stress enough how important I think it is to eat clean…a great diet makes you feel amazing and boosts your energy…I also find that when I fall off the clean train, my body is not at all happy…goes to show that when you grow accustomed to eating healthful foods, your body knows what it wants. Portion control is a little something I could work on ;) Thanks for a fun post!

  20. These are great tips, Sommer! It’s so important to have specific and realistic (measurable) goals – otherwise we just set ourselves up for failure. I also agree with your tip about clean eating and drinking lots of water! I eat dessert every day (for taste testing purposes, of course :) ) but I balance that out with lean protein, whole grains, and lots of fruits and veggies throughout the day. And when it comes to baking, I’m constantly looking for ways to cut back on sugar and fat.

  21. definitely great tips – and i’d say that eating “unclean” is just as important too…for sanity! i mean obviously it needs to be reigned in, but having something to look forward to is HUGE. and what you said about working out…yeah, you really have to WORK OUT. it doesn’t do a lot if all you do is the bare minimum!

  22. These are some great tips. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to measure out my portions, but I do eat “clean” 90-95% of the time. Now I just need to hit the gym a bit more and I think I’ll be all set.

  23. Great tips…like you MUST sweat!! =)