Monthly Archives: November 2016

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.

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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.

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. 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 exhausted, frustrated, and the validation I had in myself lessened.

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.

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 taking care of themselves and prioritize health.  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.

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.

 

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.

How to motivate yourself to workout when you are not motivated

Today I am going to talk about motivation and how it plays a part in your workouts.

I use to use “being motivated” as the prime means to getting my workouts done. 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.

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!