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Unconventional health and fitness tips to help you stress less

Take everything you think you know about diet and exercise and ignore it for just a moment. Can you do that?

Forget about calories. Forget about diets. Forget about trends. Forget about good and bad foods. Forget about healthy fats and lean proteins. Forget about the best method of exercise to get results that you read about yesterday. Or how many minutes you need to work. Or what exercises are supposedly the best for a flat stomach. Erase it all for just a moment.

What if you could just take a moment here to start with a clean slate, a fresh start? No matter what choices you have been making with food, no matter if you have or have not been getting your workouts in, you can always start fresh, right here, right now. Not tomorrow or when you are less busy, but now.

Old habits are rooted deep within us. And in order to break those habits we have to relearn ways of eating, exercising, and most importantly thinking about these components all together.

Regained weight, failed attempts at goals, binging on your last meal, missed workouts, messing up yet again, are all self perceived failures that are actually your own unique collection of lessons and information that you can pull and learn from.

The key is you have to change something, anything. Yet as humans we are kind of funny. We tend to fall into old habits and do the same thing over and over and expect the outcome to be different.

In the eating and exercise world it looks like this.

Trying a super strict diet. Falling off plan. Not caring. Eating whatever, whenever. Get fed up with body and choices. Try a strict diet again.

Thinking you have to do more and more with exercise and workout everyday only to fall off the wagon, take a break for weeks or months and then start again trying to do more and more exercise.

Researching more and more information about diet plans and exercise but never actually doing them.

Losing and gaining the same 10 plus pounds over and over again.

Feeling gross about our food choices, then just eating more pizza.

Feeling gross about our bodies and how they feel but never doing anything about it.

Talking about all the weight you need to lose but never following through.

These are all invaluable lessons (in disguise because we learn what doesn’t work) but we will never learn if we never have the courage to step outside what we are currently doing, and do something different.

But where do we start? How do we do something different when the same crappy eating and exercise tactics are pushed in our face day in and day out?

Today I want to share with you my favorite pieces of unconventional advice that I hope will broaden your perspective around eating and exercise and help you break the cycle you are currently in, if you are feeling stuck, feeling unmotivated or feel like you have tried everything.

Expose yourself to the food you fear.

Or the food that you think you shouldn’t eat. Think about it. What happens when I tell you not to think about a purple giraffe?

You think about a purple giraffe. What happens when you tell yourself to not eat chocolate? You probably think about eating chocolate.

This isn’t just some odd coincidence, there is actually a term for it in psychology called The Ironic Rebound which essentially says that the more you push away a though, the more likely you are to think about.

Alternatively, giving yourself permission to think a certain thought, or think about a certain food, reduces your chances of acting on it.

This is part of the many reasons of why diets are so ineffective from a psychological standpoint. When we forbid or remove certain foods from our diets, chances are we crave and want them more.

So the solution I propose is to allow yourself to be exposed to the off limit foods you have set for yourself. Things like bacon, butter, chocolate, bread, etc. There is a caveat though and that is portion control.

Allow yourself to have a small piece of something, lets say a peanut butter cup or a piece of bacon, and practice. Practice like you would other skills in life and practice again even if you end up overeating one day.

I use to forbid chocolate (my favorite indulgence) and now I eat 1-2 pieces a day and never overdo it. And when the holidays come around with all the pretty candies I could care less. I actually turned down chocolate the other day when it years past I wouldn’t have been able to say no because I had felt so deprived from it.

Do something and do something you like (or tolerate).

For exercise there are certain methods that will deliver better results than others and if you ask me, weight lifting is your golden ticket above everything else. Any person who crosses my path with exercise questions will get the run down of the benefits of resistance training.

I am a firm believer, however, that if you can’t dig deep into your soul to find a way to enjoy it, you won’t stick with it. If you hate all movement find something you can tolerate a few times a week. Doing something is better than doing nothing. Getting off you bum and being active whether dancing, walking, swimming, yoga, even gardening is moving and moving is better than sitting.

If you enjoy it and you feel happy and healthy with your body, keep doing it. If not explore other options.

Don’t count (minutes, macros, calories).

What if you went through a day and didn’t count anything? The time you worked out. The calories you ate. The macronutrients you consumed. Sure it works for some people, but again, the point of this whole post, if what you are doing is not working, try something different.

I had a new client ask me if a half hour session was even worth it. I told her that 30 minutes of pushing yourself is better than 120 minutes of not. Counting the time on the clock does not always indicate a better workout.

Speaking of counting. Counting calories is necessarily accurate is not always that accurate.

Precision Nutrition shares some great insight on an article I will link here about why. Calories on food labels are averages not exacts and can often be higher or lower. We don’t always absorb all calories the same. The calorie load can be change by how you cook your food. We all absorb calories differently. And honestly, we are not all so great with portion size. Whenever I measure out a cup of pasta it makes me sad and I usually add a little bit more and call it a freebie in my head.

Identify your biggest struggle.

Again, erase all the rules about food and start by identifying your biggest challenge. What gets in the way of doing what you know you need to do?

Do you skip meals during the day and overeat at night? Focus on starting your day with breakfast and having go to snacks during the day.

Is it hard for you to get up in the morning for your workout because of your Netflix marathon the night before? Limit yourself to one episode.

Do you make poor choices at home because you stock your cupboards with foods that don’t make you feel great? Make a grocery list of healthy choices.

Focus on that one set back alone before changing everything all at once. Once you have conquered that challenge you can then move on to your next obstacle.

You don’t need to try to do everything perfectly, just a couple things really well.

This is not your normal advice but I hope it has give you a greater perspective than the diets, rules, and cookie cutter advice you get everyday.

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easy snacks for busy moms on the go

My first 3 months of motherhood taught me one thing about food. You never know when you will have a chance to eat or for how long.

I vividly remember one morning a few weeks in when I put the babe down for her nap and practically sprinted to the kitchen and started grabbing things out of the fridge and cupboard to put together a meal. I was starving and had no idea how long she would say asleep.

I inhaled my meal that I put together in minutes and she stayed asleep for another two hours. Ha! But it could have been one of her 15 minute cat naps, you just don’t know.

I have become even fonder of snacking than I was before but if I don’t play the snack game right I will end up snacking for hours on end, a few crackers here, a few raisins there, and never really feel the least bit satisfied.

With that I put together a few of my favorites snacks that are so easy and convenient that you don’t even have to think about anything, you just grab and go.

Yogurt.

My two favorites are Siggi’s yogurt and Fage 2%. Both are higher in protein to help keep you full and satisfied. Top with granola (Purely Elizabeth is my fav), chopped apples or berries, shaved chocolate or whatever sounds good to you.

 

Protein Bars.

The whole food foodies and clean eaters are angrily reading this right now about to say that protein bars are not healthy and are glorified candy bars. Maybe some of them but the idea with protein bars is that they are super convenient. If you are looking to add more protein to your diet and you like the way they taste then these are a great option for you.

 

Protein snack packs and such.

I have not eaten a snack pack since 5th grade but recently I am loving this quick and easy done for you option. These are from Costco and could practically be a meal but have apples, sunflower butter, cheese, and hard boiled eggs. Other varieties have grapes and apples, pretzels and cheese, veggies, and hummus and pita chips.

 

Meat and Cheese plate.

This one you actually have to open some containers, unless you put them in baggies in advance. Here I have a piece of salami, a couple slices of garlic chicken breast from the deli, and some cheese. Crackers are a good addition too to round out this filling snack.

Banana and nut butter.

A good old banana and peanut butter or in this case almond butter in an on-the-go packet. Some carbs to give you an energy boost and some fat to sustain it.


Lastly one that you actually have to prepare but will be so happy you did.

Egg veggies muffins.

  • 5 eggs
  • ¼ cup of egg whites
  • ⅓ cup of broccoli
  • 4 mini sweet bell peppers
  • ¼ cup of onion
  • 2 tbsp of feta cheese
  • 1 tsp of garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp of smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Pulse the veggies in a food processor (or chop finely if you don’t have one).

In another bowl whisk the egg and egg whites together.

Line your muffin tin with muffin liners, spray with a non stick spray and fill cups about ¾ full.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

Freeze extra if you can’t use them all at once.

How I returned to exercise 0-5 months post baby

Daily walks from 10-40 minutes were my go-to during pregnancy and after.

Returning to exercise postpartum is more than just about getting clearance from your doctor and returning to your normal routine. It is more than just about dropping the baby weight, more than just kegals, and more than the general advice to just strengthen your core.

If I had been pregnant even just 3 years ago I would have felt the need to push my body more during and after pregnancy but I have learned so much in the past couple years and want to share some important guidelines and how I returned to exercise 0-5 months postpartum.

I do understand that many pregnant women want to “get their pre baby body back” and lose the “baby weight” and I don’t discount those goals and desires but there is a lot more to consider that your body will thank you for in the long run.

Regaining function of the body is one of the most overlooked aspects when moms return to exercise and that starts with strengthening pelvic floor and your core muscles. Core muscles referring not only to the abominals but the diaphragm, pelvic floor, and glutes. All these muscles help support the spine and pelvis and help stabilize the body.

If you are not so concerned with returning to fitness within the first few months after baby is born that is totally fine too but I do recommend including some alignment and breathing exercises in your daily routine to help regain stability and function of the pelvic floor and core. 

Even if you are past 6 months postpartum and have not returned to fitness simply start from the beginning. Don’t skip steps, evaluate your body and how it responds to increased activity, and have some patience and compassion for yourself.

The first week postpartum I started with 2 exercises.

Alignment and Breathing.

Alignment.

You can think of alignment as posture and this will be extremely important especially with all the hours you spend baby carrying, picking up and putting down, and baby gear loading and unloading.

Feet hip distance apart (think hip bones not the width your hips).

Stack the ribs over the hips so your are not flaring the ribcage out or tucking them down either.

Think of a string on your bum that you gently pull to “un tuck” your bum. Imagine your pelvis is a cup of tea. If you are holding it in front of you, you don’t want the tea to spill out the backside. You want to tilt the pelvis (cup of tea) forward just slightly to untuck the bum.

I know it is hard as a mom when you have so many things to think about during the day but try to check in with your alignment/posture occasionally to ensure you are keeping form (picking up baby, holding baby, picking something up off the ground). Even if you check in 1 time per day that is 150 times over the course of 5 months which is definitely better than 0.

Breathing and pelvic floor connection.

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 teaching the pelvic floor to engage and release with the breath not in isolation.

Your pelvic floor should relax on your inhale and your ribcage should gently expand. On your exhale you should feel your ribcage relax and feel your pelvic floor lift. This is a gentle movement that should not be used at full force.

I didn’t put any pressure to myself but just practiced breathing in my aligned position throughout the day whenever I thought of it when I was nursing or picking things up off the ground.

3 weeks postpartum.

In the beginning I cannot emphasize rest to recover enough. During this time I started to add in exercises like heel slides, clams, bridges, air squats, light upper body resistance band work incorporating the pelvic floor work, alignment and breathing. These exercise were done in 1-2 sets a day on days I could fit them in.

1 to 3 months postpartum.

At this time I started low intensity resistance/strength workouts and walking a few times a week on days I had more sleep. More being 5-6 hours of combined sleep. 

I kept the sessions under 30 minutes and again paid attention to alignment, breathing, pelvic floor engagement, and how my body felt during and after exercise. I rested a lot during my workouts and took 2-3 days off in between strength workouts. On days I had horrendous quality of sleep I did not workout.

A note on getting clearance from your doctor. This is not necessarily the time to return full force to exercise. Do check-ins with how your body feels during exercise, after, the day after, etc as the weeks go by before you bump up the frequency or intensity.

4-5 months postpartum.

I have recently added different lifts back into my strength workouts like assisted pull-ups, deadlifts and front squat with lighter weight. I still keep up my walking and really don’t do any cardio.

Note on returning to cardio. Be cautious with higher impact activities like running especially if you have any issue like leaking, pain, etc.

No matter what anyone says, even a doctor, these don’t have to be the new normal. Seek help and remember that the seemingly slow path will me more effective in the long run than trying to do too much too soon.

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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 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.

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.

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.

 

Why your exercise routine isn’t working for you (and what to do instead)

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I had a client ask me, after our half hour ish session: So are you sure I don’t need to do a full hour of weights? Like the only determining factor was the 60 minute mark on the clock.

I assured her that the goal was not strictly the time but the effectiveness and focus of the workout. The next day she texted how incredibility sore she was and surprised by how much she got out of a workout in less time.

I too admit that it took me several years to get use to the idea of not counting the minutes. Growing up an athlete my workout schedules were hours. Sometimes double days. Sometimes practice and weights in the same day. And when the real world of adult fitness came I didn’t consider my workout a real one unless it was 60-90 minutes and I was breathing hard the entire time.

I remember when did CrossFit a few years back. I immediately loved the intensity of the workouts but with the workouts ranging 7-20 minutes with a few longer ones thrown in, I found myself doing extra sets of exercises just to make up the time different.

Within the past few years I have found a happier, middle ground. I don’t count time. I don’t feel the need to run myself into the ground every single workout. Just because a workout makes me breathe hard does not indicate a better workout or predict better results. I don’t workout more simply to burn more calories.

But it is hard. It is hard to relinquish old notions and what we think we should do. I see many clients who feel if they can’t give an hour, they might as well do nothing. Then I see others who go at maximal effort every days for a couple weeks only to get injured, sick or lose motivation, only to take weeks off at a time.

So today let’s talk about 3 common mistakes that many people make when it comes to exercise  and what to do about it.

You think more is better.

Alwyn Cosgrove coined a system called the Hierarchy of Fat Loss that I want to share with you in regards to working out.

Essentially he says that when time is a limiting factor you need to prioritize what *type* workout you will do that will most benefit your metabolism and preserve or promote muscle mass.

Our resting metabolic rate (RMR) uses the majority of our calories throughout the day. Even if you workout for two hours, there are still 22 others to account for and the amount of muscle you have on your body will help determine if your metabolic rate is higher during that time. This is weight training plain and simple. If you have 30-40 minutes 3 times a week to workout choose weight training.

If you have additional time you add interval type training which can also burn more calories and elevate the metabolism post workout.

IF you have additional time after that during the week that is where you can add steady state cardio like jogging, dance class, walking, cycling or hiking. I consider this bonus work and always choose something I enjoy.

You are not honest about your workout nutrition. 

I use to think I could outwork poor nutrition. Not even poor nutrition, just eating as much as I wanted, when I wanted.  Or skipping means after or before my workouts just to “burn more fat.”

 I quickly learned I could train as much as I wanted but if my diet was not in check, neither would results.

Plus I would get caught in this eat more, exercise to burn more cycle that repeated itself time and time again, only to leave me in a regretful, guilty mess.

Workout nutrition prior to and after exercise and throughout the day is crucial to support the movement and activity you are doing. There is so much talk of certain supplements, when to eat, what to eat that I know it can get confusing.

I even talk to clients and friends who say they don’t like to eat post workout because they feel it negates all their hard work or people who try to resist food all day thinking that the more hungry they, the more effective it is.

But your body needs fuel, it needs recovery, and it needs nutrients.

Use carbs and protein post workout to help refuel your bodies energy stores and repair your bodies muscles.

Check your intake of nutrients by what kinds of foods you are taking in during the day. Are you getting enough through fruits and vegetables? Do you have a balance of protein, carbs and healthy fats?

Be honest about your portion intake. Are you paying attention to whether you are truly hungry or if you are eating out of emotion and stress?

Proper nutrition in correlation to solid workouts and recovery is highly overlooked by many but highly important. Without this focus there is a great chance you can become sick, injured, lose energy or motivation because your body is not properly fueled and/or recovered.  I put together a super simple, easy to follow workout nutrition guide that you can snag here.

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Post Workout “milkshake.”

You want results and you want them now.

Get your mind right. Patience and consistency.

The less perfect you can be, the more consistent you can be and this is actually a really great thing. Even writing this, it is a great reminder that I don’t have to do everything perfectly, I just have to do a few things really well.

We get so caught up in perfection, doing enough, and getting results quickly that we overlook the importance of actually developing lasting habits, of focusing on methods that are sustainable and really getting to know what works for your body, metabolism, lifestyle and preferences.

Trying to do it all takes A LOT of mental energy, mental energy that we don’t have. We have jobs, families, kids, relationships, and a life to be enjoyed outside of eating and exercise.

Eating and exercising perfectly is an illusion. So is getting lasting results after a few weeks or months of hard work. If you are in it for the long haul it doesn’t matter how quickly you get results, it matters more that you have the patience to put in the work time and time again. You don’t have to do everything well, just a few things.

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Is liking yourself a rebellious act?

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In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.” Caroline Caldwell

I’m a rebel. A rebel in training that is.

I hope that you will join me as one too.

You see, I am a rebel in self-love. Not against self-love itself but against the idea that change is the only avenue to liking yourself. Against the idea that women’s bodies should look a certain way. Against the idea the outcome of what we do matters more than how we got there.

We are blasted with information on a daily basis about what exercises keep the thigh gap, what routine gets flat abs and how to lose 5 lbs by the weekend.

We live in a world that plays on women’s insecurities, self doubts and fears and profits off of it in fact, by the millions, only to keep at it coming at us with no end in sight. But does me pointing this help really even help the matter?

A couple years back a colleague of mine posted a question on Facebook about what viewers thought of the way bodies were portrayed on covers of magazines, in movies and in the media. I commented that I didn’t like it and it was a false portrayal of what women’s bodies look like in really life. She then challenged me in a friendly way, “But does it matter if you are secure with yourself?” Bam! No it doesn’t.

Could it be that the answer lies in a little bit of rebellion of actually liking yourself?

 

Of being more focused on the daily process of improving then the end result of getting more lean or shredded?

Could it be building self care into your daily habits?

Could it be spending time with people you love, exercising because you love your body not because you hate it, or eating healthier to support the thing you want to do in life.

Could it be empowering each other to self love and acceptance instead of supporting the attention of a society that  “profits on our self doubt.”

Listen, I really wish I could say I love everything about myself 100% of the time no matter what is going around me but that’s just not the case or the point really. I don’t always love my body. I don’t always love my choices. I don’t always love the way I look.  But I strive to be ok with me. I put up the fight to be ok with being myself.

“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”  e.e. Cummings

 

This is not a cop out. It is ok to accept yourself without accepting your current condition. You can still practice self-love, acceptance and enjoy the people and world around you. You don’t have to sit on the sidelines of your own life and wait until that one day when you will finally have the ideal body or life and finally be happy.

Have the courage to show up wholeheartedly and unapologetically without letting others take away all the unique qualities about who you are and what you have to offer. When you can embrace who you are and let go of who you think you are suppose to be you can truly begin to lead an authentic life.

“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” Anna Quindlen

 

Most of us just want to live our true authentic life. We want to step outside each day as we are and be real. We don’t want to play the games of trying to fit a mold and scramble desperately like we have it all together all the time.

We don’t want to reveal our self perceived weaknesses, inadequacies and failures because we don’t feel like it earns the acceptance and approval we are striving for.

It’s taken many years but you could say I don’t let trying to be perfect run my life. I don’t let society try to run myself and dictate what mold I should fit or what is beautiful or sexy.  Trying to be perfect at all costs is not really about trying to be your best and do your best, it is about associating those things with worth and well-being. It is about trying to do everything right so we can avoid struggle and judgement.

Your health is insanely important but the way your body looks as a outcome is not so much. I get it though. We all want to feel good in our skin, feel confident, like getting dressed because we feel proud of the way we look but learn to get addicted to and excited about the process of it all, not the outcomes.

So what is the antidote to trying to obtain perfection all the time. Self compassion. Self-acceptance. Self-love.

Perfectionist talk comes out in phrases like I can never do anything right, I am so fat, look at these belly rolls and cellulite, I am embarrassed and ashamed of how I look, I am not worthy, I will be worthy when I am different.

The opposite comes out in phrases like I am striving to be healthier, I can do this for myself, my body is important but the way it looks does not define me, I can love and embrace myself even while I am working toward change.

When it comes down to it you are doing the best you can. It is not an excuse but damn life gets crazy sometimes and you are just trying to do your best to navigate your way through it all.

Take care of your body but you are more than a body. 

If you have been looking for permission for self-love consider this permission granted.

I have the privilege of working with some amazing women in the fitness industry who focus on, encourage, and support this insanely, crazy idea of actually liking yourself. We are rebelling big time and hope you will join in with the #selfloverebellion.

Starting this week we are posting on all social media outlets on ways we are showing self love for ourselves which just may be against what society wants us to do. They want us to be doubtful and fearful, and yes make a profit.

We know better and won’t give into their schemes. We will rebel by embracing ourselves (different for everyone) and show the world what we each uniquely have to offer. Show us your quotes, quirks, exercise and foods you love, and why you have no reason to be doubtful or fearful. #selfloverebellion

how to deadlift when you are scared of the bar

When it comes to training clients I pretty much want to help teach your mom how to deadlift.

While I know there are plenty of go getters out there who walk right up to the bar, throw on some weight and get after it, I know there are plenty who will never set foot in the weight room, let alone walk up to that big scary platform and load up the bar. Nor does anyone have to do that to get some type of results from weight training.

While I am guilty of posting my deadlift max’s on Instagram and Facebook I still try to convey to others that you don’t have to train for maximal strength to get results.  You can find results, accomplishment, functionality, body change, and improved health in basic exercises.

Maybe you are reading todays post and feel intimated or overwhelmed walking into the weight room or maybe you know someone who feels this way and this article can help. I am going to teach you a basic deadlift variation you can use with a dumbbell as you build up enough confidence to make it to the bar. Because you will.

For weight room newbies: After reading this article, at your next workout, walk straight to the dumbbell rack pick up a heavier than normal dumbbell and find a open space in the weight room to get your awesomeness on.

If you are performing it close to the dumbbell rack be sure you have adequate space around you and that you are far enough away from the rack so you don’t get in the way of other gym goers (little weight room etiquette for ya).

What it is: 

A deadlift is an exercise that builds strength in the lower body and back and mimics picking something up off of the floor most often used with a barbell. You can also use a kettle bell or dumbbell to focus on form, get comfortable with the movement or to add in to a routine when you want to do higher repetitions. 

Why should I even deadlift:  

Because you want to be strong at life. Think picking up boxes, children, groceries and heavy rocks. It works the glutes, core and backside of the body and is uber functional. Plus you feel like a badass and everyone needs a little bit of that in their life.

Using a dumbbell mimics a traditional deadlift without feeling so scary and intimidating with the platform, the bar, and those big weights.

Everyone starts somewhere with exercises and everyone needs to take a step back from time to time to work on form.

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Pull your shoulders down, hips back, and keep the chest lifted.

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Tighten everything in the body and lift the chest and butt at the same time by pushing the hips forward.

How-to get it right:

This exercise has tons of variations to choose from.  You can use this version with dumbbells or kettle bells and work your way to the bar when you feel comfortable.

  •  Choose a heavy dumbbell. If you are scared to ever grab the 30, 40, or 50 lb dumbbell, this is the exercise for it. Focus on form and don’t rush the movement.
  • Place the dumbbell vertical on the floor and stand over it, the DB slightly in front of you, with you feet approximately should distance apart.
  • Bend over with a slight bend in the knees, back flat, gripping the top part of the dumbbell like shown in the picture.
  • Pull your shoulders down, hips back and lift the chest so you can look at an imaginary superman logo on your chest at all times without straining the neck back.
  • Tighten everything in the body and lift the chest and butt at the same time by pushing the hips forward.
  • Control the movement back down and and repeat.

All this is fancy, detailed talk for pick up the dumbbell from the floor with good posture, keep the midsection tight.


Common Mistakes to look out for:

  • Squatting the DB. The torso is not as upright as a squat.
  • Butt lifting before the chest. Butt and chest lift at the same time
  • Not using your butt. Squeeze your butt at the top of the movement.
  • Rounding the back. Try to keep the back flat with a neutral spine (the natural curve of the low back).

Please share this article to timid gym goers everywhere to more help build more confident and skilled people in the weight room!