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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

10 Tips

I was reading this great list from Metabolic Effects, 64 Tips To Stay on a Healthy Lifestyle.
It got me to thinking about what my list might look like. 64 was a huge number so I just went with 10. 

So here are 10 tips we all can use to jump start something good!

1. Eat a breakfast that consists mostly of protein and a little bit of carbs and some healthy fat. If we have a heavy workout scheduled for the morning, add a little more carbs. 

2. Drink water! Try to drop as much of the sweet and artificial drinks as possible and just drink plain ol' H2O. (Sweet drinks can trigger cravings for sweet food and we all know about artificial sweeteners.)

3. Slow your roll! What is the hurry? Your body wasn't built in a day, so slow down and be patient with your fitness goals. 

4. Consistency is a great goal! Just keep plugging away. Being consistent over the long haul will translate to changes. I promise! 

5. Surround yourself with positivity. If you commiserate with folks that are negative Nellys, it will have an effect on you. Stack the cards in your favor when possible and take a chance that the positivity will rub off on you rather than the negativity. Here is a good article from Zen Habits that addresses this as well.

6. Be kind to yourself. As best as we can, stop the negative self talk. This one may take a long long time to grasp, but it is well worth the effort. Once you start to be your own cheerleader, you are the winner!

7.  Weights are our best friends. It is a straight up lie that women cannot and/or should not lift heavy weights. We will not get bulky and we will not hurt our lady parts. However you may discover a whole new level of awesome. 

8. Set down and make a plan. Start small and add to the plan every week or two. What's the quote, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." True story!

9. If it doesn't work, throw it out! If you are following someones plan and it doesn't work for you after 3 or 4 weeks, get rid of it or tweak it. Give it a fair honest-to-goodness try, but don't stick with something that may not be right for you. We are all different and you have to find your formula to success. 

10. Enjoy life now! Stop waiting until that magical nonexistent day when you are perfect and everyone around you is perfect and all the stars are alined to do those things you want to do. Perfection will never come this side of Heaven. It is a fairy tale. Live today while you have it and squeeze every bit of goodness out of it you can. You'll be surprised how your life can change when you stop waiting and start doing. 

So there we have it. Just a few of the things that I think can really help in changing many aspects of our lives not just fitness. We are more awesome than we know.

What kind of change could we enact if we just believed we could in the first place?

So what are some things that might be on your list?


Monday, August 19, 2013

Short and Sweet

Back in the day, like 1 year ago, I use to think that I had to burn the midnight oil on the treadmill to see weight loss results. I would walk forever or I would punish myself with running even when it made me feel bad. I just had that mindset from year after year of hearing about cardio, cardio cardio! 

But luckily a shift is occurring. In the last year or so, fitness for women has begun to shift from cardio only to strength training and strength/cardio combination workouts. We may have Crossfit to thank for this shift. Who or whatever, I say a big "THANK YOU!"

I fell into these type of workouts earlier this year while working a strength training plan. The workouts were mostly weight lifting with 10 minute high intensity workout finishers at the end. Loved it! They were hard but over quickly so I never got to dreading them like those long treadmill sessions. Also they were interesting. You couple or triple or whatever combination you like, different exercises and reps. The combinations are endless. And the potential benefits from these type of finishers is amazing. Done correctly, they have potential to spike your metabolism and burn extra calories for many hours afterwards. Do these finishers alone 3-4 times a week and you will be well on your way to a new level of fitness.

So how do you know if you are doing these workouts most effectively:

1. Out of breath - If you can carry on a conversation, you're not working hard enough. If you can answer the phone and pretend you aren't breathing hard, you're not working hard enough. You want to be good and breathless.
2. Sweat - These workouts should trigger a lot of sweat. Even after you stop, your metabolism will be racing and you will continue to sweat for a good amount of time. You will be HOT in more ways than one my dear!

The first few times you try these types of workouts it may be difficult to push that hard and that's ok. It does take some getting use to and any movement is good except for sloppy form. Do these workouts with the best form you can. When you notice your form is slipping, then slow down or stop and walk in place until you can pick up where you left off with good form. I've noticed that if I keep a journal of my workouts,   when I go to repeat a workout I can gauge my increase in fitness by the number of rounds or reps completed.

These workouts are not for everyone. They are very intense, so if that worries you, then modify. Slow them down. Do 2 or 3 rounds and time yourself to see how long three rounds take you. Keep track and repeat and try to make the next workout just a little faster. Nothing is set in stone, so play with the formula until you find what works for your situation.

A workout does not have to be hours long to be beneficial. So in that vain, today's workout is short but not so sweet. Take as long as you need to complete but try to do them as quickly as possible. If one round is easy, then make it two to five rounds long.

Post your time in the comments if you would like to share. 

For Time
20 push-ups
20 crunches
20 squats
20 jumping jacks
20 lunges

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Let's Talk Mobility

(Little shaky and a little muffled! Sue me! The camera guy works for free.)

How flexible are you? Do you have normal range of motion in all your joints? Does it really even matter?

I think it does. After two spinal fusions, one in my neck and a double in my lower back, I was left with decreased mobility. This decrease in mobility puts me at greater risk of disc herniation above and below the fusions. It's also caused me to hold myself in a different way putting extra strain on my hips and shoulders and probably every other major joint in my body. 

Yoga has allowed me to regain a great deal of flexibility. It took a good 4-5 months before I started to see an increase in my hip flexibility. I've also gotten some neck mobility back with such moves as the "Plow". 

However, yoga hasn't solved all the problems. I also do extra mobility exercises in an effort to strengthen and soften up fussy muscles, tendons and ligaments. 

I use therabands, foam rollers, tennis balls, and broom handles to stretch, mash and twist my body into submission. You Tube has been invaluable in finding stretches for my problem areas. I've also begun to implement a few gymnasty moves like handstands to help in this area.

As we age things get fixed in place and we compromise our movements a lot of times unknowingly out of habit and pain avoidance. Actively working on mobility will help in that aging fight as well as make us more able to fight off injury and soreness.

A site to check out: This site is run by Kelly Starrett who wrote Becoming a Supple Leopard. Great info and super easy to follow. 

What is your favorite mobility exercise or what area of mobility do you need to work on?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

So Why All The Handstands?

(Biltmore Mansion, disregard the sweat marks. It was HOT! But look close. I made that lady smile.)

Let's just say I totally get what a mid-life crisis is all about. Except on the positive side, I think of it more like a mid-life awakening. 

When we're younger the world is open to us. New possibilities and adventures are around every corner. We dream and see positive things in our future. We live in a state of blissful naivete. But as we mature, we set our path and along that path we get knocked around a bit. Sometimes we get knocked around a lot and we shut down the variables in our life so we can control the knocks a little better. We get in a routine and we set down a pattern and that becomes our law. 

Time speeds up and before we know it we're knocking on whatever age milestone you want to pick, 30,40,50 and our personal life is a little flat or lacking. Somewhere along the road we started thinking, "I just can't," or "I'm too old for that, " or "what will people think." The funny thing is, these thoughts are all illusions. 

Yes life may be more complicated for us due to family, finances and commitments. But those things do not stop the possibilities. Those things do not control your ability to dream. Those things do not remove adventure from your grasp. 

When I hit 40, I started thinking, "Wow, if I feel this bad now, what is it going to be like when I get to 50 or 60!" That was a super scary thought. I started to resign to the thought that I would never be able to live a fit life and do active stuff. I started to tell myself that exercise was done for me because it made me hurt so bad. I started to say to myself, "You're old and you should start acting your age."

But luckily my curious nature got the best of me again. I truthfully asked myself if I had tried everything to see if I could find the right combination of things to help me feel better. Of course the answer was no. I started reading and decided to radically change my diet first. I picked one thing and stuck with it long enough to test results both my perception and inflammatory markers in my blood work. When very little positive results happened, I swung the other direction with my diet and stuck with it again long enough to test results. That is when I started to feel things happen. I started to see those little things as victories. Instead of saying look how long this is taking or look at how far you have to go, I started seeing possibilities. 

And the rest is history! You see, the possibilities, dreams and adventures were always there waiting. I had just not seen them until I started to acknowledge the victories. Those little victories gave me a foothold. 

So, why all the handstands? Because I can! Because I'm 41 and people my age aren't suppose to do crazy things like that. Because I was afraid. Because I'm stubborn. Because I'm a fighter. Because my body works better now. Because it's fun. Because it reminds me of how far I have come.

Because I hope it makes you think, "Maybe I can reach my goals too!"

1. What is limiting you and how can you work around it?
2. What actions can you take today to move closer to your goals?
3. Have you even defined your goals?
4. Are you giving yourself the small victories?