Author Archives: fitwithadele

How to transition eating from diet to lifestyle

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Have you tried a diet before? I have. Quite a few actually.

Atkins for maybe 3 days. I was miserable and hungry and instantly knew it was ridiculous.

A detox. Made it only a day. Same result, same feelings.

The Slim Fast diet. Actually made it 2 weeks on this one, mostly because I did like the chocolate shakes.  I freaked out one night and wondered what I would eat ongoing if I didn’t buy the shakes. Again realized it was ridiculous.

The Clean Eating diet. This one seemed rather innocent actually, like most whole food meal plans. I was eating quality amounts of foods, often throughout the day. My hunger felt in control and my energy good enough. Then I realized I was scared to use ketchup, eat dessert other than my Sunday night treat meal, and was in pure agony trying to make food decisions at social gathering and at dinners away from home.

I know diets don’t work long term. Our country is screaming loud and clear that diets don’t work by  our health epidemic and food obsession and search for the one plan that will actually work. I have chats with friends and clients who know diets don’t work and then the next week I see their Whole30 post on Instagram. Sigh.

Diets don’t work long term but we try to do them anyways.

Here is the thing. It doesn’t really matter what anyone else says. If you feel a diet can help control your eating, benefit your health, or improve your life in some way, you are going to try it and experience it for yourself until you make up your mind. Which is fine. No judgements because everyone is entitled to their own experience.

Here is where I can help.

Today’s post is going to cover how to transition yourself off a diet so you can actually apply what you learned from it (because you probably did learn something even if it was that it didn’t work), continue to get results, and trust yourself around food without a meal plan, without a food list.

I am not a doctor. I am not a registered dietician. I have knowledge and certifications in nutrition and results but I am not here to diagnose anything or tell you what to eat, in what amounts, at what times.

I am here to share concepts and tools that can benefit you by relinquishing the need to be on a diet, on a meal plan, in control all the time.

The ideal end results? A lifestyle that is less obsessed around food, dieting, and quick fixes, a mindset that is in for the long haul, and a body that follows.

Here are 3 “food for thought” insights to help get you outta the diet mindset and into a lifelong way of eating, chocolate and wine included.

Food matters, habits matter more.

It matters that you eat quality foods in appropriate portions but this advice alone will not help you long term. It matters, but habits matter more.

Habits are not bad but they are tricky.They somehow emerge without your permission and develop without your knowledge.

Habits can be good because once they become automatic they require you to think less. The brain likes effortless. The key is to adopt habits that serve your life, your goals and desires.

Snacking at night is a habit. Even though you may not want to be doing it, it feels very easy for the brain and will take a lot of effort to break.

Playing with your dog or kids before bed instead of snacking is also a habit. It too can feel effortless and resisting that fridge will not feel quite so draining.

When you think of habits you want to change, think of ways you can improve them first. Be better before strict. You do not have to resort to changing everything.

If you constantly forget to eat breakfast could you just start by grabbing a yogurt on your way out the door instead of trying to make a full breakfast?

If night time snacking is your enemy could you allow yourself to have a banana and peanut butter or an egg and 1 piece of toast or something along those lines that feels satisfying?

It may seem like a lot but if you are going to snack your way until bedtime these 200 extra calories will be a huge improvement.

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Expose yourself to the food you fear.

Diets always have rules. There are always restrictions. There are always tools that keep us tracking something. Eat this, not that. Eat only 40% of calories from carbs. Count your calories and don’t go over. Count your calories to match your activity level.

I don’t think tracking is bad but I don’t think it is something that most can fit effortlessly into their lifestyle, or would want to fit into their lifestyle. In any sense this can become an obsession. There was a time when people didn’t think quite as much about what they ate and were much healthier and happier.

So instead of analyzing what you should and shouldn’t eat all the time, I challenge you to this.

Expose yourself to the food you fear. Are you scared that you will eat the entire pizza instead of just 2 slices? Are you unable to keep ice cream in the house because it will only last a day? Do you eat all the chips and salsa before your dinner arrives?

Chips and salsa use to be my kryptonite and I use to eat them all! I would get so upset with myself that I banned chips and salsa from my life not allowing myself to have even 1.

One day at a Mexican restaurant I wondered in my head if I was really going to never eat chips and salsa again and how depressing that felt based on my simple fear of no control. So I allowed myself a 3 chip rule, and whenever exposed would allow myself 3 chips but not a single one more. I did this for years. Now I can happily be presented with them and not only control  myself but not count either.

I eat knowing that a few will satisfy me and leave me feeling good physically (no bloating and being stuffed) and good emotionally ( not regret, guilt, or self shaming).

Give it a try. A piece of chocolate a day. A glass of wine mid week when you think you should only save a bottle for the weekend. Your favorite snack that you always go overboard on.

Set an initial number to follow and then see how it plays out over time. You may overindulge the first few times but don’t give up. Keep practicing until that food no longer has control over you.

Delay gratification.

The term delay discounting is a term and concept I learned from one of my favorite books on self control, The Willpower Instinct, by Kelly McGonigal, which states that the longer you have to wait for a reward (in this case food) the less it means to you.

Future food rewards don’t seem to mean as much to us humans as having the food right this very moment. Neuroscientists have actually studied this concept and when we put a delay on food our brain treats it like a future reward not immediate gratification. To put it simply it means less to us.

You can implement this starting this very moment. Whether it is avoiding donuts in the office or you are headed to the fridge after dinner: try waiting 10 minutes before you eat what you want.

Create some distance and remove yourself from the kitchen, the office, or cover up that candy jar calling your name. Once your 10 minutes are up stop trying to resist and see if you still want what is calling your name.

Or could you perhaps delay that another 20 minutes? Or all day?

Sometimes you may choose to indulge and that is ok but sometimes you may realize that your desires were more about having something instantly than having anything at all.

 

Listen, I get the temptations with diets. They fill us with hope. It feels like this time will be different. This will be the time when all your food struggles dissipate and you can finally have the food freedom and body you are seeking. You can envision the person you want to be come and set yourself up with very high expectations.

Committing to a diet makes us feel good before anything is even done and is often the most rewarding part of the process. I truly believe they can teach us what works or doesn’t work for our bodies but only you can learn through your experience.

If you do use a diet just to get motivated, have some control and direction remember the following:

Habits matter more than food rules and lists. Focus on habit change as much as you focus on eating healthier otherwise your old pattern will show up down the road guaranteed.

Exposure yourself to the food you fear so you are not spending your life in a constant battle with it. It’s fine to resist bread for a week but are you really going to avoid it forever?

Delay your desired food to test yourself to see if you really want it. This is a great tip you can apply anywhere.

As always would love to hear your thoughts.

 

why being a former athlete can get you caught in the fitness struggle

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I would never change my athletic experience for the world. Being an athlete taught me I could do hard things. It built my confidence. It taught me how to persevere and push myself when I thought I was at my limits. It gave me memories outside the gym like pushing each on shopping carts through Target on road trips, halloween college parties, and team bonding. It taught me about support and friendship.

With all the amazing experiences that come with being a former athlete, I think it unintentionally sets up some of us for struggle in adulthood in regards to health and fitness. We learn how to train, but only for competition. We are good at practicing but best with a coach and others by our side. We know how to push ourselves but think that is the only way.

When I transitioned my fitness routine into adulthood, a workout was not deemed worthy, in my opinion, unless I was gasping for air. I turned to running because that was the only thing that would work my lungs as hard as practice and games. Running was not fun for me though and it actually made my cravings and hunger levels shoot through the roof. I wasn’t motivated, my workouts were half assed and I was not getting the results I was seeking.

When I finally found CrossFit I was thrilled. It was fun and I could lift heavy weights, do my olympic lifts and climb ropes and it kind of felt like play, plus I could hardly breathe during my workouts so it felt like the perfect fit. Except some of the workouts were only 7 minutes. Or sometimes the workouts were so intense I could not recover.

I would be on for two weeks off for one and repeat it over and over again. I had a couple mental blocks that had to do with time spent and intensity of a workout.

Here is what I now know.

You don’t have to go hard or go home or spend hours in the gym.

I know that is what your coach use to tell you. I know that is how you use to train. I get it. I did it to. It took me years but ultimately what I had to learn was self trust. That running myself into the ground was not the only way to get results and the only way I could prove it to myself was to stop doing the very workouts that were keeping me struggling.

That were keeping me not recovering, not motivated, and not feeling my best. More is not better and I know that inner athlete may be screaming against you but you are no longer training to have to sustain your endurance for game time. Your game time is in a sense, life. While I totally get wanting to push yourself, you can still find that challenge in your workouts and it does not have to come in full exhaustion mode.

Plus you don’t have two hours a day to train any more anyways. That was your job back then and if you keep trying to mimic a workout that you did when you had more time, energy and focus you will feel defeated. That was then. This is now.

Find workouts that build a strong foundation, with some type of resistance training, and choose exercise and movement that you enjoy and make you feel good.

Find a coach, workout buddy, or someway to keep you accountable.

You may feel a little lonely, lost and without a plan. I get it. I did too. It is tough to go from having support and motivation from teammates to having to not only decide what you are going to do in your workout, but actually do it, with a little intensity to top it off. I didn’t know what it was like to workout alone. I had “workout partners” my whole life. Playing sport was never really exercise anyways. It was practice. It was training. It was environment in which I was guided and supported by someone else.

In lifelong fitness you don’t always have that so find something or someone to be accountable too. Find a personal trainer, a supportive community, an online trainer, a friend or workout partner and then create a plan.

Actually write down what you will do in advance. I take this for granted because this is what I do for a living on a daily basis. I write workout programs for people so they can show up and not have to think about it. If you are looking for a way to conserve your will power and increase the likelihood of actually doing a workout, write it down, go the gym, and follow it. You will expend less mental energy thinking about it and be able to save that energy to put it into action.

Check your nutrition.

Every summer I would go home overdo the food intake a little bit but not be so worried because I knew after “hell week” I would be right back in my usual shape. I was also 20. While I have always been conscience of my food choices, I was hungry! I needed fuel. Whether that was pizza, sandwiches, endless Gatorade, power bars or bananas, fuel was my friend. I was more concerned with energy and performance than the extra carbs  I might be consuming.

Things are different now.  Life feels stressful, our days are full, and often energy is low. We are moving less and exercising less ( can’t really compare to 3 hour practices) so we don’t need as much to support our expenditures. We simply cannot continue to eat the same way and expect that our body will not gain weight/fat. It is true, when you workout more, you need to eat more. When you workout less, you need to eat less.

Cut yourself some slack for not measuring up to your younger years but keep the following in mind.

Eat to match your actual activity levels, not what you wish they were.

Workout for what your schedule allows, not what you think it should be.

Move in a way that feels good, not in a way that brings you down. 

Treat yourself like the athlete you currently are, not the athlete you use to be.

It is not the same but you will always have that inner athlete within you.

I have just a couple spots left for 1-1 online coaching so if you are looking to fall in love with exercise and yourself again and get strong from the inside out, be sure to fill out this form and we can about what the best path for you is.

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.

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 movement 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

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.

8 musings I apply to my workouts to stay consistent

 

My exercise philosophy has evolved and changed over the years and I think that is important for all of us to recognize where and how fitness plays a role depending on the season of our lives.

Lets face it. Health is important. Movement is important. Fitness is important. We all know this but many of us fail to prioritize it consistently.

I spent my childhood playing in the backyard, hiking in the mountains during the summer, and watching my parents play sports year round. It was carefree and natural.

That transitioned into sports of my own including volleyball, basketball, soccer, and softball which led to volleyball in my college years. Physical activity never was really thought about as something “I had to do” I just did it.

My 4 years of college volleyball were more structured with practice, track workouts, weight lifting sessions, and games. It was intense. It was competitive. I was pushed to my limits.

In all these years I have two amazing take aways. I enjoy moving and being active. I am capable and strong more than I sometimes believe, mentally and physically.

While this belief has stayed the same, I have had several different shifts over the years in the way I think about working out and exercise.

I spent my post college years gym going, doing yoga, and going for long runs, working out almost every day of the week and my days revolved around eating healthy and all things fitness.

I became Pilates Instructor and enjoyed the benefits of a new method of exercise. I added that into my routine. I became a personal trainer and shared my love of weight lifting with others.

I spent a year doing a Masters swim program to improve my swimming technique.

I joined a CrossFit gym and loved doing fun things like rope climbs and getting back to Olympic lifts.

I pushed and pushed my body physically, loved it at times, hated it at times, and then it (my body)  broke down on me in 2013 when I was going through a stressful time in my life.

I spent a year with daily back pain and had to scale back on my workouts and everything I loved doing. This is where some of my major mindset shifts started to happen around exercise, fitness, and working out.

I always had a “more is better” philosophy with exercise. After all, as an athlete, you workout all day everyday, you push your body to extremes, you train more, you do more. This is all good and well in competition years but doesn’t transition so well in everyday life.

The good news is you can still train hard, get results, and a take a less is more approach if you apply it correctly. So with that, here are some lessons I have learned and mindset shifts I have had that have allowed me to fit exercise seamlessly into my life without zapping my energy or taking up my time.

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2013 self, I am so proud of you. Your mind was so much stronger than your body and that is what got you through.

 

You don’t have to run yourself into the ground to get a good workout.

All this go hard or go home, no excuses, no rest days, must leave a workout collapsed on the ground nonsense is actually a huge set back for many. The idea that a workout is only effective if you are gasping for air or can’t move after is a huge limiting factor in our overworked, exhausted, can’t find time lives.

Sure you can train hard but an effective workout for me now a days is more about getting it done than intensity or length. I find that too much of either doesn’t mesh well with the demands being busy and tired.

Motivation is not something you have, it is something you create.

If motivation was my sole drive in working out, I would not work out half as much. I can’t say I am always super motivated and inspired to workout. In fact on most days I am not.

Motivation is usually inspired by action and action is simply starting and completing the workout. I feel more motivated and inspired towards the end and after a workout than before or starting. It is not always about being motivated it is about just doing the work whether you want to or not.

I can do hard stuff.

Being strong is being capable. Emotionally and physically. I can get through hard stuff in my workout and in life.  Physically. Can I finish this 17 mile hike? Can I get this serve over the net at game point in a championship match? Can I deadlift 220 off the ground. Can I do a pull up? Yes, yes I can.

Emotionally. Can I speak in front of this big group of people? Can I survive a divorce? Am I cut out to be a mom? Yes, yes I can, and yes I am.

Fitness is not linear and neither is life.

I use to think if I did a,b, and c, I would get x,y, and z. The pursuit of health and fitness (and life)  is not always this straight, predictable line. It comes with obstacles, setbacks, and challenges. More so it is about how you deal with obstacles and if you let them break you, or if you let them make you.

Let good enough be good enough.

The unsatisfied mind feels like a gift and a curse to me at the same time. It keeps me striving for more, motivating me to do better and make progress and improve.

Yet it leaves me feeling that good enough is just not good enough and that I need to do more, that I need to be more. I have learned that it is ok to be content but not satisfied. That I give my best, let that be good enough, while striving to improve and not get caught up in the relentless, unachievable pursuit of perfection.

Skipping rest and recovery reverses my progress.

One of the greatest lessons I have learned is that if I just let myself recover, I will come back stronger. AND I will stay more consistent. I would rather take more rest days off regularly than going hard for weeks and going home for weeks. Rest and recovery is now something I prioritize  as much as anything else.

Use comparison for inspiration not competition.

There will always be someone considered stronger, smarter, leaner, prettier and more successful. Instead of letting feelings of envy, shame or frustration get you down turn to what others are doing to be inspired and then go back to be the best at what you are doing.

Pretty much a “You girl girl,” of sorts and then back to focusing on yourself.

I am more than a body. I am more than my workouts.

Working out takes up a good focus of my life. It is a daily habit that I enjoy in one sense or another. But it is not all of me. The way my body looks is not all of me.  And just like I learned when I was out of commission, in so much back pain, there is more to life than working out.

BUT you better believe I will make it a part of my life as much as I can, as long as I can, because the benefits go beyond aesthetics and how much weight you can lift or how far you can run. They are lessons and tools we can use forever.

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.

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.