8-minute AB workout you can do at home

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No time, no problem. You don’t need hours on end simply to make yourself better.

I put together a 8 minute AB routine you can do at home without any equipment. This is no promise for flat abs or a sculpted waist, but if you complete this workout a couple times a week for a month you will definitely notice your strength improve, and that is a major bonus for back health, posture, and your daily living. You will perhaps notice some abdominal tone as well.

Use these on days you don’t workout or as a warm-up to your typical workout.

Beginner:

Use these two exercises: Dead bugs and the side plank with leg lift.

Set a timer for 8 minute and perform 10 deadbugs (each movement counts as one) and 10 side plank leg lifts on each side. Repeat for 8 minutes.

Intermediate:

Use all three exercises.

Set a timer for 8 minutes and complete 10 reps of each exercise until the time is up.

Advanced:

Complete each exercise for a minute for 2 rounds.

1 minute plank row

1 minute side plank with leg lift side 1

1 minute side plank with leg lift side 2

Deadbug

Repeat.

Video links below.

** For women in late pregnancy or early postpartum skip the plank row as it is not an optimal choice.

 

Set yourself up in a push up position with hands underneath the shoulders or slightly forward. The more narrow your feet are, the more challenging it will be. The wider your feet are the more support you will have. Squeeze your glutes for support.

Alternate bending one arm off the ground, pulling your elbow back by your waist, trying to keep the hips stable. Lower back down and alternate sides.

 

Start in a side plank as show with the elbow underneath the shoulder. Stack the hips and extend the top leg out. Lift the leg as high as you can maintain the side plank, pause, lower back down. This is surprisingly challenging.

 

Laying on your back with the arms reaching up and legs in table top find the neutral position of the spine, the natural curve of the low back. Extend your opposite arm, opposite leg (maintaining neutral) and then return to the starting position and alternate sides. This seems simple but should feel very challenging.

Keep all movements slow and controlled.

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Diastasis Recti: What Every Pregnant Woman Needs to Know


I met up with a fellow trainer friend a couple months back who was sporting a similar looking baby bump at the time. Of course we caught up on all things baby and fitness, including the lack of information about not only exercise during pregnancy, but the even single mention of Diastasis Recti (DA) or health of the pelvic floor from health practitioners.

Both of us delivered healthy babes but couldn’t believe we make it almost 40 weeks without even a handout?

I was told to exercise most days of the week, not to lift more than 10 pounds, and at every appointment was asked how many days a week I was exercising and for how long. That’s it.

Post baby I was told I could resume normal activity and do lots of abdominal work. Seems innocent enough but read on to learn why this advice just doesn’t cut it.

What is Diastasis Recti and why should I care?

Diastasis Recti (DR) is likely to occur in almost all women during pregnancy.

The connective tissue (linea alba) that runs down the midline of your tummy (think between the 6 pack muscles, the rectus abdominis) from the sternum to the pubic bone holding your abs together becomes stretched as baby grows. This can cause separation between the abdominals leading to instability in the midsection.

While this is natural and very common it can be made worse with poor posture, poor exercise selection and poor movement during pregnancy and after.

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Photo Cred: DLVR Maternity

What exercises can make it worse?

As your belly grows and once baby is born it is best to avoid exercises such as front planks, push-ups, sit-ups, crunches, leg raises.

Avoid using heavy weight that forces you to hold your breath.

These exercises put unnecessary stress on the abdomen and can put the belly in a bulging position, contributing even more to DA and pelvic floor dysfunction.

But how do I strengthen my core?

There are far more effective and safe ways to strengthen the core than sit-ups and crunches. Pregnant women do not need direct abdominal work as it is not the only way to create stability throughout the midsection.

Choose dead bugs (as long as you can lay on your back) and modified side planks.

Focus on the glutes as they are as much a part of the core as the abs, with exercises like hip thrusts off the bench and side lying clams.

Use unilateral upper and lower body exercises like standing one arms cable rows, single arm shoulder presses, single arm incline bench presses. Use exercises like trx rows, inclined rows on the smiths machine with the body is proper alignment and breath patterns.

Avoid any back bending exercises or exercises like pull ups that can overstretch the midsection.

Focus on the pelvic floor connection and the breath.

Kegels are often recommend to keep the pelvic floor strong but a more effective way goes beyond just clenching the pelvic region repeatedly. It is a controlled engagement that matches a specific breath pattern.  Your pelvic floor should relax on your inhale and lift on your exhale. This is a gentle movement that should not be used at full force.

When applied to an exercise such as a squat lets say, inhale on the way down, engage your pelvic floor and exhale on the way up.

This breath and movement pattern is important for keeping a strong pelvic floor during and after pregnancy.

Diastasis and pelvic floor dysfunction are often associated with incontinence, back or pelvic pain, hernias and prolapse.

Aesthetically it can look or feel like a poochy tummy.

What else should I avoid during pregnancy?

Be cautious of when you might do sit up like moments in your everyday routine. Getting out of bed, sitting up of the ground, etc.

Always be conscious of rolling on to your side first and then using your upper body to press yourself up.

This creates unnecessary pressure on the tummy and the pelvic floor.

I have attached several additional resources below.

How to check for DA from Jessie Mundell.

Healing DA postpartum. 

 The Diaphragm and Our Internal Pressure System

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Improve your squat with these quick tips


If you are not squatting in the gym you are definitely doing some form of it throughout the day whether picking something up or getting out of a chair, making it uber important for everyday functionality.

Before you decide to add any type of load to your squats I recommend checking out these quick tips to fix common issues that people have when squatting. I use these when I simply want to go back to basics to check form.

The squat is a fantastic lower body exercise and works almost all the muscles in your lower body with the primary focus being the quadriceps and also your gluteal muscles and hamstrings. There is also a lot of core work (abdominals and low back) to help keep you stabilized.

There are many variations from a front squat to a back squat and you can use different pieces of equipment from barbells to kettle bells and dumbbells to change the emphasis of the muscles being worked.

First remember the basic squatting guidelines. Stand with your feet shoulder distance apart, toes may turn out slightly. Think about how you would sit down in a chair. You wouldn’t just sit straight down. You would shift your hips back as your torso leans forward slightly (not in a bad posture way). Think of pressing your knees out. Once you hit your bottom depth, return back to the top.

The typical breathing pattern for a squat is inhale on the way down and exhale on the way up. 

Check out these tips.

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Elevate your heels if your toes lift when you squat. If your heels come off the ground in a squat you should not be adding any additional weight until you have corrected this problem. Make sure you’re hips are shifting back and your torso leans forward slightly rather than squatting straight down.

Heels lifting is usually a lack of ankle mobility. If you find that your heels are coming off the ground when you squat put a 5 lbs plate underneath each heel. This will help you perform the movement correctly and allow for greater depth as you sit down into it.

Put a band around your knees if they cave inward when you squat. If you find your knees are caving inward this is often a sign of weak gluteal muscles. Always think of pushing your knees out, especially when you are at the bottom of your squat and returning back to the top.

A great way to monitor this is by putting a mini band above your knees and maintaining tension in the band during the entire squatting pattern. If you lose the tension your glutes are not doing their job.

Use a box or bench to gauge depth if you find your range of motion is limited. Often people are unable to perform the full depth of a squat because of tightness in the hip flexors, hamstrings, low back, and or ankles. It can also be caused by weak glutes. 

A good way to gauge your depth is to use a box or bench in the gym to squat down toward. Start seated to make sure the bench is in the proper place with all your squatting cues. Stand up and then sit back down to the bench, pause, and return to the top.

You can incorporate hip and hamstring stretches in your routine as well as more specific glute exercises like deadlifts and bridges.

I hope these tips have helped. Give them a try and let me know how they go.

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4 Exercises for New Moms

In the early weeks of motherhood the last thing we are thinking about is exercise but the demands of baby caring do take a toll on the body.

From breastfeeding, to baby carrying, to lack of movement, aches and pains can start to emerge before we realize it.

While sleep, baby, food, and relationships take priority I put together a few simple exercises that I implemented a few weeks after delivering my baby girl with strength and function of the body in mind.

If you had complications during birth you may want to wait longer to ensure that the body has had time to recover from labor and delivery.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, you already have a lot going on, but if you can incorporate even just a few of these a week it will make a difference in how you feel. Plus you deserve to do something good for yourself, even if it is a few minutes here and there.

** Don’t mind my dog. She just likes to be close to me. 🙂

 

Hip Flexor Stretch

Start in the half kneeling position as shown. Lengthen the opposite arm overhead without arching the upper back. Lean ever so slightly towards the front leg side as you feel the stretch in the opposite hip.

Repeat 3 times total and switch sides.

 

Pec Stretch

Start on your side, with hips stacked and your bottom arm supporting your head with your hand. Open the top arm so you rotate the chest towards the ceiling. It is important to keep the hips stacked and not let the hips roll open with the arm. You will feel a greater stretch in the chest.

Clams

Start with the hips stacked and bottom arm supporting the head. Tilt the top hip forward slightly. Keeping the feet connected take an inhale, engage your pelvic floor, exhale and open the top leg without rolling the hips back. You should feel your glutes working. Repeat 10 times on each side.

Heel Slides

Lie on your back with knees bent in a neutral spine. Inhale and on your exhale engage your pelvic floor and extend one leg out so it hovers over the ground, inhale to return. Repeat on the opposite side. Do 10 reps total.

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5 reasons fitness is more than just about how you look

Fitness walks a fine line between exercising for health and exercising for appearance. And that is fine, as I don’t feel either one is either wrong or right. In fact, I exercise for both!

But I know sometimes it doesn’t always feel so balanced. Sometimes I think we feel a deep need to use exercise as a control mechanism because we feel if we look a certain way it will validate our worthiness to be accepted by others.

We feel as if we just control what we eat, how we workout, and follow a rigid schedule we will be ok. And every time we start fresh, we feel *this* is the time it will be different. If we reach a certain look then we will be more confident/accepted/worthy.

From my personal experience I found that the more I exercised the less things changed.

Well a few things changed.

I got hungrier and more cravings.

I felt exhausted and stressed all the time.

I felt weak, unworthy and frustrated.

And I wondered why everyone else seemed to have it together and here I was silently and miserably stressing over every minute of exercise and every bite of food.

I needed to be smaller. I needed to be fitter. I needed to have more definition in my muscles.

It is an interesting concept to consider though, the more we focus on fitness, exercise, and working out as a way strictly to get smaller, leaner, more toned, or more accepted, the less successful we will be.

Behind every aesthetic goal, there is a reasoning that goes much deeper and has greater meaning.

The reason behind the goal is more than just about how you look.

 

Success comes in so many different shapes and forms and can mean one thing to one person and something to something else. Behind every goal there is a “why.”  There is a reason we want to fit into our jeans better, have a flatter stomach, lose weight and get stronger.

There is a reason we want to add another plate to the squat rack, run that marathon, or learn that new skill.  When you reach one of your goals it is not because you reached it, it is because of what it represents. It is not so much you reach the goal itself but the feeling of accomplishment. Emotion drives action.

Even if your goal is to get in the best shape of your life, note the “why” behind it.

If you want to lose 30 lbs just because you think you should to be healthier, you may not be as motivated as you would if you define the why in it entirety.  I want to lose 30 lbs to be able to keep up with my kids when we play and to be able to move better on a day to day basis.

I want to lift heavier weight because when I am stronger I feel more confident and what I am more confident I am more productive/successful in life.

Breakdown your why.

When you achieve something you never have before, you open the door to so many other things.

 

Testing our physical capabilities is highly underrated in terms of motivation. And accomplishing a physical challenge fuels the need for one of greatest needs outside survival. Growth. Progress. The need to improve in some area of our lives.

The first time I did a full pull up, I was in shock. I never had done one before and I really did not ever think I would. I would hang on the bar and try to pull and barely get half way up.

But after months of practice I was able to do one. I took a chin up grip on the bar, still not convinced in my head, and just started pulling. And I kept pulling all the way over the bar.

I couldn’t believe I just did a pull up! If I just did one, could I do 2?

If I can do pull ups, what else can I do in life?

 Being strong and moving well are crucial to our everyday function.

 

I am a huge advocate of weight lifting and strength training, but I get that not everyone shares that enthusiasm.  While other forms of activity can help you get healthier increase muscle there is no better complete method than lifting weights, IMO.

Being strong and moving well are critical to our everyday functioning. Whether you are gardening in your backyard, picking your child up, carrying in groceries, you want to be strong, able and independent.

I know this sounds boring, unexciting and not nearly as sexy as other aesthetic benefits but when you focus on your own why and what your body is capable of you will find your own sense of power and self-worth that goes beyond having what is deemed as the perfect body.

Weight training can also improve mobility, endurance, and boost our metabolism all in one session. If you are limited on time, choose weight training.

Competency builds confidence.

 

Sometimes it is tough to get started. Even as a trainer, if I go try a workout at a new gym, I get intimidated. It is a new space, with new people. What if I don’t know their protocols or how to use a new machine?  

But you know what? Learning new things only builds confidence.

And the great thing is, the cycle will repeat itself. When you try new things or make progress on something, that confidence boost allows encourages you to take on your next sets of challenges  and learning  (competency) that goes with it.

 I don’t care if it is trying a new workout class, wearing an outfit your normally wouldn’t or striking up a conversation with a stranger. Try something new.

It becomes part of your life and tribe.

 

Have you ever heard the quote that you are the most like the 5 people you spend the most time with? Think about the people you surround yourself with and if they embody and encourage the kind of values, priorities, and kind of life you want to live.

Find people who are interested in being fit and healthy.  This type of accountability and encouragement is essential. Your tribe holds you accountable. Your tribe keeps things important to you in the forefront of your mind. Your tribe essentially resembles and reflects you. I feel way more powerful, enthusiastic and engaged in life when I am surround by people like this.

The bottom line is that life is so much more about the way we look. Fitness and health IS crucial and important to our emotional and physical well-being but it’s outcomes do not define who we are or if we are worthy.

It is never too late to start your journey or redirect it to the path you desire.

Again don’t forget about the 16to16 challenge. Snag your spot here!

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The Hunger Games

There seems to be a lot of confusion when it comes to hunger. Is it good or bad? Do you need to be hungry to lose weight? How do you know if you are truly hungry when it comes to eating or if you are just eating out of emotions like boredom and loneliness?

I use to be scared to be hungry. I didn’t want to risk having to feel hungry for a second, because it was uncomfortable and made me nervous that I would eat everything in sight once I did come across food.

I didn’t trust myself to make good decisions because I was in a state of scarcity, and had this underlying fear that there wouldn’t be enough food in enough time to satisfy me. Even worse what if I didn’t have control?

I also hear the opposite from many of my clients too. Hunger feels like a success. The hungrier you are, the more “successful” you are with attempts to feel like you are losing or maintaining weight. Again a control issue. Because if you can control not eating and being hungry, in your head it makes sense, that you are on the path of reaching your goals.

Let me set the record straight.

Day to day hunger is neither good or bad, wrong or right, it just is. It can take some time to get use to what being hungry truly means and I will explore that further. But first I want you to consider this.

How much you deprive yourself today is a direct reflection of how much you will indulge in the future. You may be able to restrict yourself for a day, a week, or even a month but if it is not a sustainable way of eating, it will leave to deprivation, which will lead to overindulgence.

I remember a few sporadic Saturdays over the past few years in which I wouldn’t eat until around lunch time. I am a total breakfast person but would get lost in a project and simply put off eating. My mind would play these games with me and I would feel strong and accomplished by not eating, telling myself I did good for not having to eat breakfast right away.

What do you know, I would eat my breakfast at noon and then be ravenous all day long and end up eating more than I normally would if I had just eaten my breakfast upon waking like normal (different for everyone of course). Because I was depriving myself in the morning I would inevitably end up overeating for the rest of the day.

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Can I trust myself that I will not always have to eat every last bite?

What is hunger? And how is it different from a craving?

Hunger is that gnawing in the pit of your stomach, when your stomach is growling. You may even potentially feel light headed or weak. Usually it is when you haven’t eaten in hours and isn’t just a need for a certain type of food. It is a genuine need for fuel.

A craving is typically a want for a certain kind of food or texture like something salty, sweet or crunchy.

Hunger is not a victory or something to fear.

Just because you are hungry does not mean you are on the path to success with changing your body. Hunger does not indicate victory. Being hungry throughout the day is normal and something that we should allow ourselves to feel.

I often hear people say that breakfast makes them feel hungrier but just remember it is normal for our bodies to be hungry throughout the day. It is also ok to eat throughout the day too. However, if not eating all day is your strategy and you are not really getting the results you are seeking, consider a new way.

I think one of the main problems is we get caught up in the fear of being out of control. We fear that if we eat consistently throughout the day we will overeat and fall off track. We are also afraid to experience hunger because of the same reason. Lack of control of eating everything in sight when we do eat. The solution lies in self trust.

Turn to self-trust.

I talk about self trust a lot and I ask you to take a moment to ask if you trust yourself. It seems like a silly question because the immediate response is almost always that of course we do.

Our actions though will tell us if we really do. Not eating when we are starving is a sign of not trusting ourselves when it comes to food, just as not allowing ourselves to be hungry is a sign of a lack of self trust. Either way we are hung up on control on what will happen “if” instead of just letting in play out.

Get comfortable with what you are feeling.

If you normally fear hunger, allow yourself to experience it from time to time. Practice it in a “safe” place. Intentionally let yourself get hungry and have a planned snack or meal and practice eating until you are 90% full. In other words you feel like you could still have a bite or two.

Or if you typically feel hunger is a victory allow yourself to eat small meals throughout the day, again practicing the 90% full rule. See what play outs.

Practice and do it over and over again and let the outcomes unfold as they will. You may overeat at one point, you may feel like you lack control at other times but practice with relentless commitment until you feel control start to release its tight grasp.

If whatever you are doing IS working, then great, keep at it. But if you are trying the same thing over and over again and not getting anywhere, it is a sure sign that it is time to try a new way.

Trust that there is a new way and then go do it.

 

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Is “Just Eat Mindfully” really helpful advice?


If I am guessing correctly the following advice may cause you to roll your eyes or maybe just feel very annoying.

Just eat mindfully.

Eat intuitively.

Take a deep breath before you meal.

Chew your food bites 15 times before swallowing.

I get it though. In between chasing kids around the house, at your desk for lunch during a stressful day at work, or on the go grabbing food wherever you can, this advice just doesn’t cut it.

Though this advice is not made up out of thin air and often IS given with good intention.

Improving mindfulness in general has shown to have a positive impact on helping control impulse, improve willpower, and is beneficial in trying to make positive habit change.

The book The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal says, “Neuroscientists have discovered that when you ask the brain to mediate, it gets better not just at meditating, but at a wide range of self-control skills, including attention, focus, stress management, impulse control and self awareness.”

Expert nutrition company Precision Nutrition sites the benefits of slow eating.

“The benefits of slow eating include better digestion, better hydration, easier weight loss or maintenance, and greater satisfaction with our meals. Meanwhile, eating quickly leads to poor digestion, increased weight gain, and lower satisfaction. The message is clear: Slow down your eating and enjoy improved health and well-being.

When you eat slowly, you digest better. You lose or maintain weight more easily. Yet you also feel more satisfied with each meal.”

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All these methods have merit, and I don’t doubt that they are effective, but the more important question is:

How can you make it work for you, given your circumstances.

Just yesterday I inhaled a bowl of pasta the second I put my newborn down for a nap. So much for mindful eating.

So instead of going to extremes and stressing yourself out with counting bites of food or thinking about it just a little too hard, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  • If you have to eat fast, wait before going back for seconds or eating more. It might not be ideal but giving yourself some time after a meal is the next best alternative to eating slower.
  • Practice when you can. If you do find an opportunity to eat slow, practice. Take a bite and wait a few minutes. Whether you are eating a banana, a protein bar, or a cookie, or dinner see how slow you can consume the food.
  • Simply be aware of how fast you eat without forcing yourself to change. Awareness is a huge step and often underrated when it comes to creating new habits. Note how fast you eat and when. Note how it makes you feel. Don’t try to change it all at once. Once you identify a pattern it will be in the forefront of your mind and then you can decide how important the change is to you.
  • Start small. Try to eat the first few bites of your meal slowly. Then the next time try to eat half your meal slowly. So what if you devour the rest of your meal, you are making small improvements and they will add up.

I hope you feel this is practical advice you can implement into your life. Advice only works if you can apply it and often implementing is most of the battle.

To think that we can overhaul our whole life and deeply ingrained habits in one sitting is unrealistic and often takes us one step forward and then three steps back. Take well intended advice and break it down into ways that work for you and don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.

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How to motivate yourself to workout when you are not motivated

With my free consistency workout challenge (details below) just around the corner I want to share something with you.

The idea of motivation is an interesting one and I use to rely on it to try to achieve all my fitness and health goals. If I could just set a goal, have a workout partner, or have an event to work towards then I would get my workouts in more consistently and be super motivated.

Motivation would usually come full force the first couple weeks but inevitably dwindle as days passed. It was almost like I was more motivated to start the plan than actually follow through.

Then the guilt would follow.

 Why couldn’t I just have the discipline to stay on track?

Why couldn’t I just workout 6 days a week like I promised myself?

Why isn’t this time different?

And eating is a whole other issue. Why couldn’t I say no to that cookie or just be strict with my diet like I intended?

I would then respond by trying to up my game by restricting even more and being even more disciplined. Eventually the motivation would fall off yet again.

The thing with motivation is it comes full circle and ebbs and flows hindering our best efforts to stay consistent and put in the work long enough to actually get results.

It begs the question: Does the answer then lie in being motivated all the time?

Not so much. Successful people put in the work whether they feel like it or not, whether it is convenient or not.  What if we didn’t feel motivated to take care of our children or go to work? 

The reality is we will not always feel motivated to workout or make healthy choices. We will be faced with times we are tired, unmotivated, and just not care. Sometimes it is ok to take a step back and miss a workout or two, or a week or two, but in the big picture having motivation is not going to be a reliable source to stick with it.

I can give you some tips to lay out your clothes the night before or keep your end goal in mind but really it is a mindset shift. It comes in a feeling of simply just being motivated.  So today here are a few things to consider to curb the “I’m just not motivated” way of thinking.

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Not motivated? Don’t believe everything you think and do the work anyways.

You do not have to commit to perfection but you do have to commit to hard work.

 

Working out and getting healthier/fitter/stronger is not about perfection. And it can feel quite overwhelming to feel like you have to do everything right and nothing wrong just to make improvements.

That is simply not the case.

Trying to follow rigid diets and workout plans create a false sense of security that if we do everything right we will get the desired outcomes, but that is not always how it works.

Instead of seeking perfection cultivate a relentless commitment to yourself, to your desire to improve and change. It is not about doing everything perfect, it is about doing something consistent. 

Don’t believe everything you think.

 

Giving up, telling yourself you just don’t have what it takes to be healthier, or saying that you have tried before and it just doesn’t work is interesting from a psychological standpoint in a sense that it provides comfort.

When you a have a fixed view of what you think you are able to do, you convince yourself you don’t really have to try because you tell yourself it just doesn’t work. And you believe it.

I get this because it feels painful. It doesn’t feel good to try, try, and try again and feel like nothing ever works. It feels good to blame age, stress, other people, time schedules and even lack of motivation, as to why we are unable to reach our goals.

Believing that you have the abilities, desire and want to make change, is just as important as taking action itself. I never met a successful person in any area of life who said that they just kinda wanted something and it all worked out. Have passion, have desire and have an unwavering belief that you will be successful.

Change your habits because of the love you have for your body, not the hate you have for it.

 

You do not have to hate your way to success. You hear me say this ALL the time but often do you really practice this idea.

Even if you are dissatisfied with your current habits or body, you can still accept yourself without accepting the situation. You can still be content without being satisfied.

Challenges and struggles never feel easy. Changing habits does not feel easy. But that is how we grow. That is how we learn. That is how we change.

A strong, successful mindset grows in the process, learning and improving, not just in the ultimate outcome.  Have an active part in your life and your success.

My FREE workout challenge, 16 to 16 starts November 25th, the day after Thanksgiving, with the idea to commit 16 workouts to yourself between turkey day and the end of 2016.

You don’t need the new year to be motivated when you can start now. Sign up here: http://bit.ly/16to16fitcamp

All the details arrive in the first email and workouts arrive in your inbox the Wednesday the night before Thanksgiving or you can do your own workouts. Join the fun here!

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Why Your Exercise Routine Isn’t Working For You (+ What To Do Instead) – Fit Pros Reveal Their Solutions

Not all exercise programs are created equal and with the loads of conflicting information out there it can be difficult to sort through which ones deliver the best results WHILE keeping our sanity (because yes that is important too).

With so many women continuing to struggle, falling in and out of different programs, or staying stuck in ones that just don’t deliver what they are looking for, I decided to turn to fellow fit pros for their solutions.

With the combined experience of training hundreds of clients first hand I asked them to share the most common exercise mistakes they see women make, and what to do instead.

Not just in the short term, but in the long run, in creating an exercise routine that gets results and is enjoyable enough to sustain.

Jill Coleman, Owner at JillFit Physiques

www.jillfit.com 

img_0400So many women feel chained to cardio machines or feel like they need to be at the gym for a minimum of an hour to see results. And when they don’t see results within weeks of exercising regularly, they immediately think the answer is to do more.

For body change, intensity is the tool, not duration. So if your goal is to gain muscle and/or lose fat, time at the gym isn’t as important as intensity. And by nature, intense workouts need to be shorter to reduce the “pacing” effect.

Cardio is great for general mood enhancement and burning some calories, but will have little effect on the *look* of the body. For women who want to look more fit, doing a whole bunch of cardio is a huge mistake. It’s a waste of time.

A weight-training centric routine, short, intense and using heavier weights than feel comfortable is the goal. That, and oh, just be consistent for the next year 😉 A body isn’t made in days, weeks or even months!

Crista Jordan, Women’s Strength and Conditioning Coach at Elevate Athletics. 

http://www.elevatebendathletics.com

img_0397One of the things I see  women struggle with the most is expecting instant results and not getting them. We have to remember our bodies take time to change. You might have a 4 week plateau where NOTHING happens. What!? Why is the scale not changing? Why are my glutes not growing!? We live in such  a quick fix society, instant satisfaction or else! Women need to give themselves grace, have patience, and know that these things will come, and it’s not always going to be easy.

Sometimes we put in all our effort and don’t always constantly succeed. Bodies change in months, and they also change in years. But what is this really about? Is it really about the end goal? On the surface it may be about finally reaching that goal weight or having those “perfect” legs but ultimately it is about the journey.

I guess you could say this is a lesson in shifting your mindset. This is about changing life long habits, this is about taking care of you. This is about creating healthy, consistent habits that last a lifetime. Because I guarantee if you have some picture in your head of what you want to look like or some “perfect” weight to obtain and you reach it, that won’t promise you happiness with yourself and who you are.

You won’t get there in a month, or even a year. Love the process, no quick fixes, do it for more than the end goal. THIS is so much more than that!

Michelle Rycroft , Owner at Ripped By Rycroft

http://rippedbyrycroft.com

img_0399It’s interesting when you talk to women about their exercise routine and what they feel they have to do in order to reach their goals.  Two things that repeatedly come up in conversation is that they feel like they have to be in the gym for hours and do nothing but cardio in order to “lose weight”.  Thankfully there is a better way to accomplish their goals.

For women, the best way to approach exercise is to find an exercise routine that provides the most bang for their buck in the least amount of time.  My solution to this is to use full body strength training routines 3-4 times per week.  These routines can be designed as quick 20 minute or less metabolic circuits or traditional strength training programs. 

The benefit of strength training over cardio is that it increases our metabolism naturally and allows our bodies to be more efficient at reducing body fat in less time.  So if you’re looking for that hourglass figure, you need to hit the heavy weights ladies.

Blaire Rummel, Co-Owner at NWB

http://www.northwestbod.com/img_0398

If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Everyone would be sporting a magazine cover worthy body, no one would need a personal trainer, and there would be no need for diets or specialized nutrition plans.

Each body is different and responds to various techniques; another body type might reap the benefits of a methodology that doesn’t quite work for you. It’s frustrating at times because there isn’t one “size that fits all” when it comes to making changes to your body.

Fortunately it’s a lot more productive when we can learn about the common training mistakes we might be making in the gym versus what approach to take in order to necessitate change. 

One of the main set backs I see is obsessing and overtraining.

Believe it or not, it’s an actual destructive training mistake you might be making if you are doing too much training. Getting carried away with too much cardio and training sessions can wreak havoc on your musculature and break down your body instead of building lean muscle. Focus on quality over quantity for optimal changes.

Another mistake I see is, falling for fads.

With the barrage of social media images of various athletes and gym-goers using the “latest and greatest” equipment to work out with, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype and follow along without question. Unfortunately not all these fads turn into trends and most are about as temporary as a New Year’s resolution.  Always do your research and question if a certain piece of equipment or training methodology is right for you.

Adele Jones (that’s me), Owner of The Fit Life

www.adele-jones.com

img_0401The most common mistakes I see women make are:

Overdoing the cardio and exercise in general.

It is very logical to think that the more exercise you do, the better results you will get. I see women working out for hours on end (usually with cardio), trying to burn more calories thinking that is the answer to their solution. It almost feels like an exercise badge of honor, the more I do the more successful and worthy  I will be.

This typically does not work for two reasons. One, women ignore strength training and strip their precious muscle tissue. When you do hours of cardio your body will adapt and become less efficient at doing the same thing.  Lean muscle from weight training helps your body burn calories more efficiently throughout the day and improves your quality of life by keeping you strong and functional.

Two, how realistic is it to try to sustain a routine that requires you to workout hours a day. I always encourage women to find a program that fits their lifestyle, that delivers the best results in the least amount of time.

A great way to go about this is using a priority method. If you only have two, 30-40 minute slots to workout a week, choose a weight based training session that uses heavy enough weight to challenge your muscles to fatigue by the end of that set.  Going back and forth between exercises with a challenging weight can often have the effect of short cardio like bursts.

If you have an additional 30 minute time slot add training session. If you have another had a short 20 minute interval circuit. If you have another do whatever you damn well please. Dance, yoga, hike, swim. For specific results, it is about prioritizing the most effective type of exercise, not just doing more.

Thank you to all my contributors for their insight and expertise. Be sure to check out their sites to learn more about these fabulous ladies and soak up all the great knowledge they have to share. I will share their Instagram accounts on my feed so be sure to check it out here.

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Interview with Fit Pro Brianna Battles on Pre and Post Natal Fitness

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“Pregnancy is temporary. Postpartum is forever.” Strength and Conditioning Coach Brianna Battles

There is so much poor health and fitness information out these days that when I come across really important information and resources I can’t help but share it and that is exactly what led me to this interview.

Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing fellow fitness professional Brianna Battles, a certified strength and conditioning coach, who immersed herself in the pre and post natal fitness world after her own experience training uninformed during pregnancy and a difficult postpartum recovery that left her feeling like something just wasn’t right.

As a trainer myself I have become more educated over the last couple years about what training looks like during pregnancy for a safe and healthy delivery and recovery postpartum.

Though I hadn’t quite experienced it myself, not only the lack of information,  but what is left unsaid even in my 9th month of pregnancy.

Why aren’t we providing women with better information on exercise and training during and after pregnancy?

I turned to Brianna to share her perspective and expertise. You can access the interview below.

The interview covers why common fitness advice is often misguided, such as:

“Just keep doing what you have always been doing.”

“Don’t lift more than 10 lbs.”

“You can return to full normal activity 6 weeks postpartum once cleared by a doctor.”

It also includes what is often being left unsaid, such as:

Diastasis Recti and how your exercise selection could make it worse and affect you post baby.

Seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist postpartum before returning to exercise.

Easing back into your workout routine even if it takes a year or two.

Access audio interview here.

I have also included several links below about where to find Brianna
and additional resources to help keep you informed.

Diastasis Recti Blog by Brianna
www.everyday-battles.com
Fit Pro’s Course for those who work with  pregnant and postpartum athletes at all levels. Access here.
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