Mommies Matter Too- Lose the Mommy Guilt and Get Fit!

mom fitness boot camp  nashville tnFor many Moms, there is no greater feeling in the universe than finding purpose in being a Mom. We experience this every time we see our child’s sweet face asleep on a pillow, no matter how young or old they are.  Because of this feeling, we are driven to do everything we possibly can to help them succeed, sometimes to our own detriment.  Our emotional and physical needs become secondary to our children and, often times, everyone else.

But, this can be exhausting and unhealthy!  We then become stressed, depleted, and maybe even a little resentful.  Ironically this is not the person our family needs or wants. They benefit much more when we are happy and balanced, and this comes from recognizing our needs too. It is through us that our children learn healthy emotional and physical habits.

Living this way inadvertently teaches your child that complete self-sacrifice is the way to live. Do we really want them to learn to live like this? Taking time for you is vital. It’s not selfish or self-indulgent and there is always time for your needs too. You just have to MAKE it! Join an early morning class, get in an early morning or late evening run, steal an hour during lunch. There is no such thing as “no” time.

If you are finding it a challenge to break away from your normal routines and habits because of all your obligations, it’s time to put the Mommy Guilt aside. Focus on reorganizing parts of your life to fit some fitness into your life…… REGULARLY!

So this Mother’s Day, vow to celebrate yourself and recognize your worth.  Put yourself at the top of that priority list and take strides towards offering a more complete and happy person to your children. They deserve a healthier and happier you and you are worth it!

How has your healthier lifestyle influenced your children’s lives? Leave your comments below.

Vanessa Hampton, Niki G Boot Camp Instructor and Niki Gauthier

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Reward Yourself for Your Fitness Accomplishments, Just Not with Food!

Floating in paradise

Getting fit should be reward enough for all your hard work at your workouts and for eating healthy, clean food, but isn’t it nice to have a little something else to look forward to?

Often times we “reward” ourselves with food or high calorie drinks (like alcohol) when we have achieved something or think we have worked really hard. “I’ve earned this!” is what we think.

But rewarding ourselves with food can just put us right back where we started. The difference between food rewards and rewarding our selves with non-food items or experiences can be weight maintenance or weight loss! It could be the difference between feeling tired and sluggish to feeling ENERGIZED!

When we have weight loss goals and we are exercising with the purpose of losing bodyfat, “treat meals” are an important part of maintaining our sanity and sticking with the program but should be limited to only one a week.Believe it or not, after eating clean, nutritious food for FUEL instead of pleasure consistently, you can actually start losing some of your strong cravings and a little treat goes a long way. Don’t give up before you get to that point.

So, with that being said, let’s look at my Top 10 Ways To Reward Yourself with out food that don’t have to cost a lot!  I recommend having some type of measurable goal i.e number of workouts in a week/month, percentage of bodyfat lost, dress sizes lost etc. before giving yourself that little indulgence!

10. A new Book or Book Series (or DVD if you are not much of reader!)- Give yourself permission to lounge and relax

9. An afternoon off to yourself window shopping- Dream!

8. A little something beautiful for your office or home- It will always remind you of how far you’ve come in your fitness journey

7. A new outfit-something cute to show off your figure!

6. A new Swimsuit– hopefully in a small size this year!

5. New Exercise Clothes or running shoes- Feel even better stepping into your workout

4. Pedicure/Manicure- Pamper those tired feet. Pick a fun color for your nails!

3. Hire a Maid for the Day (if you don’t already have one)- Let someone else to the dirty work!

2. Full Body Massage– ‘nuff said 😉

1. A vacation (just not from healthy eating and exercises though!)

What’s your favorite way to reward yourself? Leave your comments below.


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Life Happens, But Don’t Quit Your Healthy Lifestyle!


Life happens. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s tragic or sometimes it’s exciting and all consuming. But, how you react, or should I say “respond” when life happens is extremely important if you want to move forward and be successful in your personal goals. Not only does life happen, but it doesn’t have a “pause” button. That’s why sticking to your  healthy habits and routines, no matter what, is so important

At our boot camp, you will probably hear us talk about habits and routines very often. That’s because they are essential for seeing improvement in your physique and fitness level. One of the founding principles of our program is setting an exercise schedule and sticking to it, not just dropping in whenever you feel like it (which is probably not often enough!) Think of your good habits and routines as the ultimate “auto-pilot” where you don’t have to talk yourself into a workout. You just show up at your fitness facility, hit the pavement or the play button on your favorite exercise video because that’s what you always do. Good habits will also keep you on “auto-pilot” when faced with food decisions. At a restaurant you dutifully step up to the challenge of finding a balance meal (fuel for you body) without the overabundance of calories usually served up those over-sized restaurant plates. The other “bad” food simply is not an option.

So when life happens and you fall out of the habit of exercise and quit being strong about your nutrition choices, you are creating  a situation for yourself that will make it even harder to get to your workouts and eat healthy down the road. You’ve quit and when you decide to start back up, you will find you have lost your “auto-pilot.” Not only that, you may find you can’t keep up with your old workout routine and your are now craving sugar (since you have been eating more of it lately) and you keep taking a detour off your nutrition plan. This can  lead to disappointment and discouragement and we know where that leads to… sitting in your “fat clothes” eating a pint of ice cream.

Not only have I seen it before, I’ve BEEN there before. So, I want to encourage you to charge forward when life hits you. Keep up your workouts and your healthy lifestyle. Again, it’s a lifestyle and it does have it’s rewards during good times and bad.

The only time you should take an extended break from exercise is if your doctor recommends it and even then you will need to be just as aware, if not more, of the food you are eating to stay healthy. Here are some common reasons for giving up or “taking a break” from fitness and why you shouldn’t go there:

I am going through a rough time, I am too depressed to workout. If you have recently lost someone or something important to you, take all the time you need to grieve, but also take some timeout for yourself. Have you ever finished an intense workout and feel so ALIVE and refreshed? Exercise is not only good for the body AND the mind. It helps us feel better all around and keeps us strong. The harder life feels to you, the MORE you need to prioritize some exercise for yourself. It could be just what pulls you out of your slump!

I’m too tired Exercise will help you feel better and sleep better! Even on days you don’t get enough sleep, exercise ENERGIZES you and pushes away exhaustion. But, if you are making a habit out of not getting enough sleep, you may need to evaluate your schedule  and plan for a more efficient day so you can  get in bed a little early to make time for exercise! Next time you feel “exhausted” at work, with your kids, or slumped over on the couch, go out for even just walk and you will see what I mean. Get in your exercise regularly get the proper nutrients into your body and you WILL sleep better.

I’m too stressed out. I have other things to worry about then myself. I know you have heard this before, but I really want you to think about it. How can you take care of ANYTHING else if you are not taking care of yourself? To be less stressed and take on each and every day with confidence, you will need to make yourself a priority by scheduling time for just yourself daily and plan ahead to be sure you have the necessary foods on hand to fuel your days. If you really want to help others or improve any situation in life, take care of yourself first!

I can’t afford my exercise program. Unless your program is with a private personal trainer (which admittedly is quite a luxury for most) chances are you CAN afford your program, you just don’t value it. It may be time to reevaluate what you get or don’t get out of it. Also, for most good exercise program, you get out of it what you put into it, so don’t be afraid to speak-up and talk to your instructor about your needs.   Your exercise program should provide you with a few things that are worth every penny

  1. Accountability– less expensive memberships and programs may not provide the structure to notice when you are not there and follow up with you when you should be.
  2.  Motivation/Support– Most programs are led by trainers who work to encourage you and include other participants like yourself for support. What  a perfectly simple way to surround yourself with healthy and fit people!
  3. Safety/Personalization– working with a knowledgeable professional in an exercise program ensures you will have a watchful eye on your form to keep you exercising safely and effectively and will provide you with the personalization you need for each exercise to get the most out of your workout.

If you really can’t afford to spend anything on your fitness,you still can’t give up! Cable services offer on-demand video so you could probably get a different workout every day for a year with all the options. Also, walking/running outside and body weighted exercises are free. There are easily millions of videos and articles on workouts online to give you ideas as well. Either way, don’t fall out of the habit!

When life hits you, good or bad, use these tips above to STAY in the habit of exercise.  You will get through it, especially with the foundation of your healthy lifestyle and will come out the other side an even stronger person.
By Niki Gauthier


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Trimming or Stuffing Your Figure this Holiday Season? Healthy Holiday Eating Tips

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Healthy Holiday Eating Tips to Help You Continue to Lose Weight

Considering that a traditional Thanksgiving Meal has more calories than some women should eat in an entire day, there are some tips I want you to follow to be sure that the only thing stuffed on Thanksgiving Day is the turkey and not YOU!  So, how do you avoid weight gain or at least maintain your figure during the Holidays? It really is simple math, but you have to be willing to look at the numbers……

The Unpalatable Reality

Let’s put things in perspective. Let’s say you are going to your family’s house for Thanksgiving Dinner and when you arrive you start with one glass of wine and a few tortilla chips and dip while you are visiting. Then you sit down to a modest portion (6oz) of white and dark turkey, half a cup each of stuffing, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole and on the side, a dinner roll. After dinner you top it off with a slice of apple pie. Sounds reasonable, not overdoing it, right? Well that one dinner alone comes to… wait for it….. 1760 calories! You would need to walk 17.6 miles at a good pace to burn off that meal! And that doesn’t even include everything else you ate that day. Since it only takes an extra 3500 calories than what your body burns to create a pound of body fat, you are already half way there in one day!

Chances are that if you stop there, eat well and exercise the week before and after, you won’t see much movement on the scale. However, if you slack off your workouts, indulge for days, eat lots of leftovers and comfort food, you could easily gain 3-5lbs of stored body fat, in just a week or two. This is fat that could prevent you from zipping up your jeans, fitting in your holiday dress and from looking and feeling your best this holiday season. Now when you finally get back to your workouts, you will be working on the new fat you gained not, the original goals you started with.

The Yummy Solutions

Follow my top six tips for keeping your shape and maybe even trimming up your figure from Thanksgiving Meal to New Years Eve parties…… and beyond!

1. Don’t go hungry. Never put yourself in a situation where you are 1) Starving and 2) have access to tons of high calorie foods. Take the edge off with some high fiber and/or moderate protein foods 30-60 minutes BEFORE the party or meal.

2. Exercise, and then do some more. Did you workout this morning? Great, now tonight, go for a walk, get active. On the weekend rake some leaves, clean out the garage and don’t be bum! The more calories your body burns the less likely you are to gain weight. I know, duh right? Well sometimes it’s good to be reminded that catching up on with your DVR is not helping to avoid the tummy bulge or saddlebags, unless of course you are doing it on the treadmill!

3. Save it. Is your Mom’s casserole to die for and the stuffing just ok? Why waste calories on the stuff (no pun intended) you don’t LOVE or things you can eat every other day of the week? Try a taste of everything you want, but save your calories for the good stuff without overindulging in them.

4. During big meals keep it balanced and stay in control. Serve your own plate and look at it in fourths. One fourth will include one serving of protein (lean meats), another fourth should be one serving of carbohydrates (a roll, potatoes, stuffing) and the last half of your plate can be 2-3 small servings veggies (green beans, salad, peas). Balancing carbs with protein and fiber will help regulate your blood sugar (which is key for weight management), keep you more satisfied and help avoid the bulge. Any extra servings are just calories begging to be stored as fat.

5. Drink lots of water. Sometimes that feeling of hunger is actually thirst. Stay hydrated throughout the day, every day, to avoid eating extra calories and to satisfy your body’s need for water.

6. Engage and interact with your friends and family at get-togethers more than you do with your glass, plate and fork. Focus on the REAL meaning of your holidays and traditions.

Remember you can’t undo months or even just weeks of hard work in only one meal. But, by adopting healthier habits that include healthy holiday meals you can earn your ticket to a great figure now and for the rest of your years. Cheers!

By Niki Gauthier



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Why Do you Gain Weight When You Start a New Exercise Program?

mad at scale

mad at scaleDid you start a new exercise program recently to lose weight, but the scale has gone UP instead of DOWN? Don’t be alarmed! Unless you are hitting the donut shop after all your workouts, this is nothing to worry about, in fact it’s normal! See, whenever you begin or completely change your workout program, your body will retain water. This weight gain is NOT fat and it’s not even muscle, at least not yet…

 The reason for the water retention is because your muscles begin to temporarily store more glycogen when you “shock” the body with exercise that your body is not used to. This extra glycogen will pull more water into your muscles. Glycogen is simply stored carbohydrates and carbohydrates are what your bodies needs to fuel your workouts. Like super fast weight loss (like from fasting or no-carb diets), this is only a temporary condition. As your body adapts to your increased need for carbohydrates, the water retention will decrease. 

Now if you have been at it for a while and you are still not losing weight (fat) it’s time to look at your overall program and what you are eating. If you have been keeping a diet and exercise journal, this will be easy. If not, ask yourself:

 “Have I been eating to lose or just maintain?”


 “Have I been getting enough exercise (usually 60-90 minutes 5-6 days a week) to lose weight and change my body?”

and another question and one of the biggest issues I find with people who workout but don’t see results…

“Am I working out intensely and burning the maximum amount of calories during my workout, instead of just going through the motions?.”

If you answered no, to any question, it’s time to focus on how you can start taking steps in the right direction: more consistency, longer and/or more intense calorie burning workouts, better eating habits, balanced nutrition etc.  Just contact me if you need that little nudge….

Niki G

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Target Heart Rate Zone is a Joke if You are Serious about Losing Weight

Target Heart Rate Zone

Have you ever heard that to lose weight you should stay in the “Target Heart Rate Zone?” This term may sound important and technical, but it’s actually a joke, especially if you are serious about losing weight.

Let me just start out by saying that while it may be safer for those just starting a workout program to start at a low intensity level, most people who are looking to change their body need a more intense exercise program. While some exercise is better than none, our bodies are amazing and you are probably capable of more than you think!

The idea behind the “Target Heart Rate Zone” is that since you use fat for energy at low intensities and primarily carbohydrates at higher intensities that you should not exercise at an intense level. Now think about this, do you really think intense exercise is bad for you and that  it won’t get you into incredible shape?  This is where the “Target Heart Rate Zone” becomes very deceptive because it’s actually the high intensity exercise that burns the MOST CALORIES! Isn’t that really the name of game? If you burn more calories, you burn more fat, period. It doesn’t matter the percentage. It’s the overall total calories burned that counts.

Carbohydrates are the preferred source of energy in the body. Why work against it? You might think, don’t I need to use fat as energy to burn fat? Nope. When you take into account the fact that high intensity exercise increases your overall metabolic rate much higher than low intensity training AFTER your workout and throughout the day, you would best make use of your exercise time doing high intensity training and burning more calories. That means that if you and your co-worker both worked out this morning and she walked for 30 minutes at a low intensity level and you ran for 30 minutes and kept the intensity level high, you would be more likely to burn more fat while you are both sitting at your desks that day. Guess who’s going to look better at the company Holiday Party this year?

So, remember this: the more calories you burn, the more fat your burn. Forget about percentages and fancy terms. Workout as hard as you can and as long as you can, eat to lose (don’t diet!!!) and you will see changes faster than you can find your calculator to figure out your “Target Heart Rate Zone.”

Additional Reading for You…..

What is the fat burning zone? Should I run more slowly to lose fat?

Busting the Great Myths of Fat Burning:

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Team Niki G Fitness Completes First 5K, The Race for the Cure in Brentwood, TN

race day
Team Niki G Fitness

Congratulations to Team Niki G Fitness! On Oct. 10th, after a 60 minute Boot Camp class, several of our Boot Campers loaded into one of my in-home client’s SUV and made our way  from Granny White Park to Maryland Farms to meet up with the rest of our team and run what for many of them would be their first 5k; The Race for the Cure!  The excitement they all shared at the finish line was incredible. After completing her first 5k in a little over 35 minutes, one Boot Camper came up to me and gave me a big hug saying “I ran the whole way, and it’s all because of you!” Actually, it’s because she started Boot Camp a couple of months ago, didn’t give up and stayed committed to her program. This is also the same Boot Camper who told me while running our warm up mile on her first day, “I don’t think I can do this.” Obviously, I showed her she could. Now here she is running her first 5k!

The entire team did wonderful! We all finished in about 35 minutes and which gave us plenty of time and chat and plan our next race… the Blvd Bolt on Thanskgiving Day. All I can say is stay tuned for the pictures next month because you are NOT going to want to miss them!!!

And remember, you can do ANYTHING, one step at a time!

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How to NOT Gain Weight This Holiday Season!

Fall is here and while it is very common to gain weight between now and Jan. 1st, you don’t have to! I want you to look and feel your best this Holiday Season, so here are the 5 most important things you can do to avoid fall and winter weight gain.

fall run1. Get out-even if the weather is bad you can walk at the mall or go to the gym, but don’t stay in the house and hibernate! Sitting around will cause your body to burn less calories, so if you eat the same as when you were busier you will gain weight!

2. Use portion and calorie control- a balance diet includes the occasional treat, but don’t go overboard. Counting calories may be tedious, but it’s one of the best ways to control your weight.

3. Exercise at least every other day. Regular exercise will rev up your metabolism making it more difficult for you to store fat.

4. Concentrate on lean protein, complex carbohydrates, fruits and veggies and low fat dairy. Stay away from processed foods, no matter how many calories they “save” you! (Same goes for fad diets and cleanses-strive to eat clean and healthy all the time!)

5. Keep your spirits up! Shorter and cooler days can bring on a case of the blues very easily. Since this can lead to “comfort eating” try bundling up and going for a walk instead. Bring a friend to talk to and brighten each others day!

While these tips will help you avoid weight gain, they can also help LOSE weight,  improve your overall health, energy and well being a gift you can only give yourself this Holiday Season!

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Holiday Food Hangover?


Hopefully over the holidays you didn’t overdo it. But, if you did, you might find yourself with a “food hangover” and feel bloated, sluggish and a little guilty. Here are 4 things you can do about it today.iStock_000008637723XSmall

1. Drink lots of water. It’s time rehydrate after all that extra food and alcohol with clean water. Use a little lemon it you want.  This will help your system do it’s job of cleansing your body and getting rid of the bloat, and even energizing you!

2. Get moving! An intense workout will not only burn extra calories but help you feel better about your body.

3. Eat to lose and don’t starve yourself! Fad diets, cleanses, and laxatives are not an effective way to lose weight. You’ll mostly just lose some water and you may not get the nutrients you need to support your active lifestyle. Stick to fresh natural foods and just enough calories to provide energy and let your body handle the rest.

4. Get over it. OK,  so you overindulged. Get over it and move on. Just because you splurged over the holidays does not give you an excuse to miss your workouts and blow your entire week with more bad food.

The important thing is that you get back to healthy eating and exercise as soon as possible. You can’t undo all your hard work in just a few days, but the sooner you put the leftovers away and get back to your workouts, the less likely you feel any effects from your holiday treats!

By Niki Gauthier


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4th of July Boot Camp

I have such an awesome, dedicated group of Boot Campers! I couldn’t stand taking a Saturday off, so I scheduled an extra workout (no charge) for my Boot Campers early on the 4th of July before picking up my oldest daughter from Summer Camp. This picture was taken after our hour long workout and they are STILL smiling!

4th of July Boot Camp
4th of July Boot Camp

My Boot Campers are so committed to their success that 8 of them, who were not out of town or had family plans, took me up on my offer and came out for the extra workout  at 6am. We ran over 2 miles on a trail behind the Brentwood YMCA and we stopped every 1/5 of mile or so for weight training exercises which were “Boot Campers choice!”

Way to go ladies!!!

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