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Project Push-Pull Week 3: Hang Tight to Pull More!

What do we need to be able to do in order to do pull ups at all???

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We need to be able to hang from a bar, and control our entire bodyweight while doing so.

 

 

 

So step one, assuming you’ve got healthy shoulders, is to learn to hang from the bar for longer and longer periods of time consistently throughout the week.

 

 

We need to be able to hang on to the bar period if we’re going to have any hope of pulling ourselves up, and this means we need some serious grip strength.  Grip strength is one of those ‘unsexy’ factors that all those fitness magazines and dvd workouts fail to mention!  But it’s absolutely essential to any kind of pulling at all.

 

 

To begin to build your functional grip strength, you need to hang on to heavy things for period of time longer than are, well, comfortable.  You have to progressively challenge your limits to get stronger over time, and this means doing a couple of things:

 

–performing hanging drills

 

–performing grip-challenging exercises (such as deadlifts and Farmer’s Carries)

 

 

There are tons of variations of hanging drills you can use to strengthen your grip AND get you a little more aware of your whole body, because to do a good pull-up, we need to be able to tighten up all over at the same time.

 

 

Being able to tighten all our muscles, together, at the same time, on command, is a learned skill for most of us–and this means it’s a skill we need to practice!

 

 

Some hanging drills you can start to do anywhere there’s a bar to hang from are:

 

Dead Hang (with an overhand, ‘pull up’ grip)

 

 

Dead Hang (with an underhand, ‘chin up’ grip)

 

Dead Hang (with a neutral grip where palms face each other–as when you do them on monkey bars)

 

Hanging Bent Knee Raises (a kind of curl up)

 

Scapular Pull-Ups (where you practice the ‘first pull’ from around your ‘armpit’ muscles)

 

 

Hollow Holds on the Bar (Progressing to Beat Swings–where you push your body away from the bar, while keeping the ‘banana’ hollow hold position, using your lat muscles)

 

Heavy Farmer’s Carries

 

But the word ‘hanging’ can imply a passive action–there’s no such thing in an effective pull up!

 

While you are on the bar, your job is to:

 

–pull your armpits down slightly (to activate your back muscles)

–try to bring your ribs closer to your hips (activate your ab muscles)

–squeeze your butt tight and make a ‘scared doggy butt’ (tighten up your glutes and tilt your pelvis posteriorly

 

…and then…HOLD.

 

 

Hold for as long as you can!  Time it with a stopwatch or by counting your breaths; the goal is to increase your hang time each week.

 

Remember, all the plank work you’ve been doing as you’ve been working on your push ups is going to come in super handy when you’re learning how to tighten up your whole body during these hang exercises.

 

 

Here are a few plank variations you can start incorporating into your daily or weekly workouts:

 

Prone Weight Shifts (also good for building up wrist mobility and strength)

 

Tall Planks with Alternating Limb Extensions

Shoulder Tap Planks (aka: Pledge Planks)

 

 

Plank Punches

 

 

Plank Ups (definitely the most advanced variation here)

 

 

Keep it all tight, all the time!  It’s the difference between trying to carry a flailing toddler, a toddler who’s completely passed out, and a 5-foot length of 2×4.

 

 

The tighter your body is all over (like a 2×4 piece of lumber) the easier it will be to eventually pull and move.  Trust me from all my personal experience, the tighter you can get, the better you can pull and the more you can pull!

 

 

Trying to do pull ups with a swinging body is a huge exercise in wasted energy and frustration, so always aim to be more like a 2×4 and less like a flailing toddler, lol 😉

 

So there you have it–lots of grip strengthening, body-tightening, skill- and confidence-building drills to get you started on the road to doing some amazing pull-ups!

 

Not sure where to start, how often to do these, or have any other questions?

Fire me an email–I’d love to give you a little (complimentary) coaching 🙂

You can reach me at kate@reallifefitbykate.com

 

 

And don’t forget to check out my FB page (Real Life Fit by Kate) for more articles and updates about pull up and push up training and success for everyone!

 

 

Getting more ladies doing pull-ups is my passion!!

 

Happy Pulling!

 

This is the year! Get it!

This is the year! Get it!

 

So there I was, eating a salad….

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So there I was, sitting in the Ansbach Altstadt, enjoying a salad while my kids and dad enjoyed their cake.

 

 

 

The funny part is that I voluntarily chose the salad over the cake—really! No, I’m not crazy…and it wasn’t out of guilt or the need to ‘be good,’ either.

 

 

 

I just really wanted a salad, and I really needed some protein. I worked out at 7 am, then taught at 9:30, and just hadn’t had much to eat all morning, so the thought of something sugary and fatty wasn’t the least bit appealing.

 

 

 

Weird, right?!? I have this perfect chance to eat any slice of cake I want, and I choose a salad???

 

 

 

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Once upon a time, I would have had a major case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)—as in, “If I don’t eat it now I won’t have the chance again for who knows how long,” but these days, thanks to my my *learned* approach to eating sustainably, it’s a normal kind of choice.

 

 

 

A few years ago, I got sick of feeling that inner struggle every time we went to the bakery—the usual “Should I? Or shouldn’t I?” inner argument over whether I should buy a pastry or slice of cake, and if I’d ‘earned it’ with my exercise that day or week, or if having that treat would knock me ‘off-plan.’ I also got tired of the compulsive “I’m at a birthday party, I’d better eat cake now or I’ll have to wait until the next one” behavior that had become a kind of norm.

 

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So rather than continue to have this struggle several days a week, I decided that I’d make one day a week my ‘treat day,’ and my practice of Planned Indulgences was born.

 

 

 

The gist is that once a week, I gave myself permission to walk into the bakery and choose any treat I wanted—absolutely guilt-free. Best strategy ever.

 

Designating one day a week (Fridays at the time) for a planned indulgence has taken all the ‘do I/don’t I’ struggle away from eating treats, I was completely in charge of my eating and choices, and I got to savor something REALLY tasty on the regular without wringing my hands over it or feeling guilty.

 

 

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Over time, Planned Indulgences (PI) has evolved a bit along with some other strategies/practices into what has become my current approach to sustainable eating.

 

 

 

My approach, which I call ‘Real Life Eating,’ includes using strategies and practices that make it easier for me to listen to my body, eat well, enjoy the treats I want while staying ‘in the middle,’ aka: a sustainable size and body composition.

 

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My current (June 2016) physique–all while on my own Livable Diet

Real Life Eating (RLE) is also the approach I use with clients—especially those who have yo-yo dieted over the years, who aren’t sure how or where to start, and often have lost confidence in their abilities to make good choices around food.

 

 

 

For the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing with you each of the main steps in my RLE (aka: Livable Diet) approach, one step at a time, so that you can start implementing these tools in your real life, too!

 

 

 

Because life is too short to always struggle with food and eating choices, and diets and deprivation don’t work—we need solid and actionable strategies that meet the needs of our own unique bodies and real lives to be long-term successful.

 

 

You can get these actionable tips, plus cheat sheets, here:  http://bit.ly/LivableDiet10Steps

 

 

Over the next 10 weeks, I’ll be sharing my 10 steps for ditching the diet mentality for good and creating your own flexible, adaptable and permanently effective ‘Livable Diet.’

 

 

Each Thursday, I’ll be sending out a single step in the process, with actionable tips and even a cheat sheet to help you start on the path to diet freedom and creating your own adaptable, sustainable, effective Livable Diet.

 

 

FYI: there is ZERO obligation to do anything or purchase anything—it’s purely for educational purposes and I just wanted to make sure you had to opportunity to take part and start tuning up your diet and eating habits RIGHT NOW.

 

 

Sign up here to get my ’10 Steps to a Livable Diet’ email series delivered to you:

http://bit.ly/LivableDiet10Steps

 

 

#TheLivableDiet

#TheNourishedMind

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trainer Tip Tuesday: Not sure where to start? Try at the beginning

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Today’s Tip: When you need to make changes, but don’t know where to start, start at the beginning–of your day, that is!

 

 

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Many of the challenges and pitfalls we encounter later in the day with willpower, nutrition, positive thinking/frustration, or exercise can be alleviated–and sometimes totally avoided–by tweaking one behavior, action or procedure you have in the mornings.

 

 

Recently, I was talking with one of my clients about how we can start to tune up her diet by making one impactful change at a time, rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater and implementing a totally new eating plan (aka: making her follow an arbitrary diet).

 

 

We talked about when in the day she feels her willpower and judgment fade the most, and it was in the evenings after working all day and going to the gym right afterwards.

 

 

By the time she got home, it was game on/insert food here QUICK!!

 

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Which made total sense after we took a look at her food journals from the week before! See, they come in pretty handy 🙂 

 

 

 

It turned out, she was eating very little for breakfast, surviving on coffee until 1 pm, then having whatever she could easily grab for lunch, then white-knuckling through the rest of the afternoon, her class and the drive home.

 

 

So we started at the beginning! Instead of trying to address late-day willpower and cravings issues, we decided to implement one change–to eat a nourishing breakfast.

 

 

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After she did this for a week, the afternoon issues basically solved themselves AND she felt so much better all morning long and started investing in a more nutritious, but easy to grab, lunch, too.

 

 

One simple change at the beginning of the day impacted the next 10-12 hours.

 

 

So if you need to make changes, but don’t know where to start, look at the beginning of your day for possible solutions.

 

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Look at your morning patterns, and think about what’s helpful or unhelpful about your actions.

 

 

Keep your changes simple, test drive them for 7-14 days, and see how making those adjustments works for you!

 

 

Start small, stay consistent, stay tenacious.

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Never underestimate the power of consistent, incremental change.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

 

#TheNourishedMind
#smallwinsaddup

Log it to lose it! How food journaling gets you to your goals faster.

scheduling for the win!

Second only to scheduling and prioritizing—or where we are spending our ‘life capital,’ our nutrition is one of THE MOST influential aspects of our overall health and fitness.

 

 

 

What we eat determines how we feel:  how much energy we have, how well we perform when we exercise, and often how we feel about our bodies and ourselves.

 

 

Based on my own personal experiences, and my experiences as a personal trainer and health coach, the absolute best place to start is to a) get really honest with yourself about your current eating habits/patterns, then start making informed choices and changes.

 

 

We also have to accept a few truths to make forward progress with our weight, quality of nutrition and eating habits:

 

  • There is NO magic nutrition silver bullet solution.
  • There are no miracle fat loss or weight loss superfoods.
  • There are no magical macronutrient formulas.
  • Just because ‘X’ approach worked for our friend, sister, mother, cousin does not mean it will work for us (and who knows if it will work long-term for them).
  • Chances are, we really don’t have a very accurate idea of how much/how many calories we are consuming each day.

 

 

 

In order to get the results we want, we have to be willing to put in the effort of figuring out what our food intake really is at the moment.

 

 

We must have the patience and persistence to implement a variety of small changes, over time, to see what work for us and feels right for our bodies and lifestyles.

 

 

Truly, it’s this approach and process that’s helped me stay in maintenance mode for the past several years with low effort. High awareness, yes, but low overall effort.

 

 

So, how are YOU feeling these days?

  • Are you happy with where your fitness, diet and health are at?
  • Do you have good energy most days, or are you feeling not as great as you’d like?
  • Are your pants feeling snug?
  • Are you not seeing the results you’d expect to be seeing from the exercise/hard work you’re putting in?

 

 

If you’re feeling like you’d like your results to show up more, your waistline to tighten up, to have more energy and stamina throughout the day, then it’s time to (re)evaluate your food intake.

 

One of the best, most straightforward ways I know to (re)evaluate our current food intake/eating patterns is by using some kind of food journal or tracking tool. If you’re a fan of using techie tools/apps to track things, then you’ll want to check out MyFitnessPal’s tracker and/or LoseIt!’s tools.

 

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I’m partial to old-school handwritten tracking, and I’m especially fond of my own Favorite Food Journal (you can grab a downloadable copy with this link RLF Daily Food Journal 2016). I like that it’s easy to carry with you, jot down notes in the moment and really SEE the whole scope of each day’s intake easily (without scrolling, etc.)

 

 

 

Plus, most of us stare at screens enough throughout the day, and there’s something to be said about the act of writing that ‘sticks’ with our brains a bit more than simply scrolling and clicking 😉

 

Like I said, I’m a little bit old-school 😉

 

 

No, it’s not slick or sexy, and I’m not going to show you a 6-pack abs shot to entice you to use it, BUT using this food intake/eating patterns tracking tool is VERY effective.

 

WHY?

 

 

 

Because tracking your food/food journaling, especially in a way that also tracks your emotions, challenges and locations, reveals:

 

  • Scheduling deficiencies—the times of the day(s) when we have problems or issues.

 

  • Low willpower times of the day(s)—the times in the day(s) when we are most likely to make poorer decisions about what to eat or just eat too much of something.

 

  • If we are underfeeding ourselves—letting our blood sugar drop too far so that we feel poorly and/or make less helpful decisions about what to eat.

 

  • Imbalances in macronutrients or food groups–We might think we’re getting enough vegetables, or protein or not eating that many starchy carbs or sugary treats, but when we write things down we see the absolute evidence/data of what we are really consuming each day/week

 

  • Low meal satisfaction/unmet needs—those times when we ate something that seemed like it was healthy and/or should be filling, but it wasn’t and we went back sooner than is ideal to eat more or eat something else.

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When we review our data from our journaling, we can see ‘where the wheels come off,’ so to speak.

 

 

It becomes so much easier to objectively identify the patterns, triggers and tendencies that tend trip us up the most, and/or where we can make impactful improvements in our eating choices and patterns.

 

The ladies in The Nourished Mind program have gotten a ton of quality information from using their food journals (the same one as I’ve given you here RLF Daily Food Journal 2016).

 

 

The information they recorded has helped them see, without guilt or judgment, where they were most likely to make poorer decisions AND to be able to relate those decisions to a distinct cause. This in turn gave them the information they needed to come up with a strategy for dealing with those moments/triggers.

 

 

Honestly, most of the time a little more planning and scheduling gave them an easy solution for avoiding those pitfalls.

 

 

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BUT they wouldn’t have been able to identify what needed to be done to help themselves out if they hadn’t recorded several days in a row to objectively see what was really going on in their lives!

 

 

So while it’s a little tedious, food journaling can be one of your biggest allies in creating a healthier lifestyle, getting closer to your body composition or performance goals, and just generally feeling like you are more in charge of your circumstances and less blown about by life.

 

 

Food journaling puts you back in the driver’s seat!

 

 

Now, some people have a tough time using food journals because, well, they don’t like what they see, or are embarrassed about what they’re really eating or doing. It’s often pretty easy, especially for women, to attach feelings of shame and guilt to food and our eating habits.

 

 

Here’s what I have to say on the subject:

I can’t emphasize enough that all of the food journaling you do and behavior change exercises related to your food intake and eating habits is 100% Shame-Free.

 

Recently, I read a great quote from Josh Hillis in his book, Fat Loss Happens on Mondays, which can help shift an embarrassed-to-write-it-down mindset into a more pragmatic one:

 

“If you’re judging you food journal, you need to grow up.

 

Beating yourself up is the opposite of taking responsibility.

 

Taking responsibility with food is looking without emotion at actions that work or don’t work for your goals.”

 

 

What I encourage you to do, this week and from here on forward, is to approach food and your eating habits more objectively—like they are facts or pieces in the puzzle of your fitness, not ‘good or bad’ things.

 

 

Stay mindful about your attitude towards food—it could be the perspective shift that allows you to move forward more at peace with your nutrition habits and any needed changes.

 

The big picture goal in using your food journals in the weeks to come is this: to look at which actions are working for your goals and which ones aren’t.

 

 

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So if you haven’t started, or you’ve been feeling resistant to using the food journal, I hope this blog post has given you some reasons to reconsider and maybe a little motivation to start journaling tomorrow!

 

 

And…

 

 

**For the next 8 weeks, I’ll be sharing practical and actionable steps and strategies to get your diet back on track and start creating a more ‘Livable Diet’–learning to eat in a way that meets your needs and your wants without actually dieting.**

 

If you’re not already on my email newsletter list, you can sign up here:

 

==> http://bit.ly/RLFWeeklyFitTips

Don’t miss out on the real-life, reasonable, realistic steps you can take, too, to create your very own ‘Livable Diet!’

 

 

The small things ARE the big things.

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Occasions like Memorial Day always get me thinking about the topics of meaning and purpose—as in, I begin to ask myself, does what I’m doing right now have meaning?

 

 

Does it serve a greater purpose?

Am I living with gratitude for the gifts I have in this life?

Are my choices, words and behaviors in line with my big WHY?

 

 

 

In our sometimes messy, busy worlds of day-to-day living, it can seem like the small things take over our existence and the large things seem too far off to grasp or achieve.

 

 

 

But the small things are the large things–just in smaller doses.

 

 

 

What we do in the short run (as in each day) creates how we live, think, feel and experience things in the long run.

 

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That’s why little habits, small positive changes, paying attention to the details of how we eat, move and talk to ourselves (which truly shapes our actions) matter.

 

 

 

Because, over time, the small stuff turns into the big stuff.

 

 

Look for little improvements every day.

 

 

Choose well with the small stuff and the big stuff turns out better.

Never doubt the power of small, incremental changes over time.

 

 

“Add up the short runs, though, and you’re left with the long run. It’s going to be the long run a lot longer than the short run will last.”

~Seth Godin

 

http://www.positivelypositive.com/2016/05/28/the-short-run-and-the-long-run/

{Trainer Tip Tuesday} Full Disclosure: My Very Own, Time-Tested Personal Eating Strategies

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It’s Trainer Tip Tuesday!

 

 

Today’s Tip is more like a few tips rolled into an approach to eating.

 

 

I got this question from a reader recently:

 

“I am writing because I was wondering if you could tell me an example of what you eat in a day and timing of eating. I am like all of the examples you write…My body is not budging from being 5-10 lbs more than I want to be. I am trying the less is more (b/c I overeat with too much cardio) with strength and interval training, but I think it’s my food that is the issue. So…wondering what u eat when wanting to lose weight just to get a idea.”

 

 

 

It made me think about the fact that I talk about eating habits alot, and different approaches to eating, but I guess I haven’t said exactly how I eat most days–so I’m sharing the guidelines I use on a daily and weekly basis with you today.

 

 

 

AND I’ll be sharing how I tweak my eating when I want to lean out a bit.

 

 

FYI, I pretty much ignore the scale because it doesn’t give me much feedback about my body composition (muscle and fat percentages) and I rely on how my pants fit–especially around the waist as that’s where I see changes happen first, in either direction!

 

 

**Spoiler Alert: I don’t count calories. I don’t count macros. And I’m not perfect eater, by any means. BUT the way I approach eating is definitely sustainable, and I’ll share why 🙂

 

I try to eat a serving of some kind of protein at each meal/most snacks.

What that protein ends up being really depends on the day, what I’m in the mood for, how quickly I need it to digest (I avoid heavy stuff before workouts), and what we have available!

 

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Here are a few ways you can get more protein in your life, too:  http://reallifefitbykate.com/wordpress/?p=601

 

 

I really, really focus on veggies each day.

 

I don’t count many things in my daily diet, but I DO track the servings of veggies each day. I try to add them earlier in the day to get more of them, but if I haven’t had many by dinner, I tend to double down on my servings or eat a #BAS (big ass salad).

 

 

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My drinks are all low- or no-cal.

 

 

I put whole milk in my coffee, drink lots of water or ‘cold brew’ flavored teas, and maybe a glass of (dry) wine in the evening (on Fridays might be more than one, lol….)

 

I tend to save my starchy carbs (bread, pasta, rice, crackers) for around my workouts.

 

 

Currently I tend to work out in the evenings, so that means I have more carbs either for snack in the afternoon or at dinner. BUT I’ll also have oatmeal for breakfast sometimes–I just make sure it’s paired with some protein so it digests more slowly.

 

 

I plan in weekly indulgences.

 

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Knowing I can have a couple (2-3) treats per week keeps me from obsessing or overdoing it.

 

It’s funny how food can lose its power over us when we stop idolizing or demonizing it.

Here’s what I mean and how I do it: http://reallifefitbykate.com/wordpress/?p=499

 

 

I often eat a square or two of dark chocolate in the afternoon.

 

I know that two squares hits the spot, but won’t trigger a binge, so it’s a healthy practice for me. Balance and moderation, right?!?

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I pay attention to portion sizes and use my dishes to help guide my portions (more on that below).

 

I listen to my body carefully.

Sometimes it needs more, sometimes less, of food in general or of certain macronutrients. I stay flexible with my needs because every day is a little bit different!

 

 

AND here’s what I do when I want to lean out (usually after a vacation or holidays):

 

 

**Track my food intake using my favorite hard-copy food journal.

It helps me identify any unhelpful trends that might have crept into my diet, which in turn helps me know which one or two changes (tweaks) I can make to get the most impact.

 

 

You can grab a copy for yourself here:  RLF Daily Food Journal 2016

 

**Use smaller dishes–bowls and plates, in particular. There’s a very natural tendency to fill a dish to its limit, and often this limit is actually more than we really need to be satisfied.

 

 

I LOVE this little trick/tweak–no diet changes needed and it’s a very low-stress way to make a big impact on our intake.

 

 

 

**Pay extra attention to my starchy/processed carb intake–treats, breads, crackers, pasta, chocolate, potatoes, desserts, and even wine.

 

This goes back to tracking, too–sometimes we just don’t realize exactly how much we’ve been eating of these things and a little hard data can help us make small but impactful changes.

 

 

**Pay LOTS of attention to my stress level and my quality of sleep.

 

 

These can be pretty big triggers for wanting to eat more–especially starchy carbs/sweet things. It’s much easier to listen to my body’s true needs and make better food choices when I’m more well-rested.

 

 

And when I’m NOT well-rested, I’m at least aware that being less rested triggers certain cravings and I’m less likely to give in mindlessly. This is when my SNAP method comes in handy (you can read about it here: http://reallifefitbykate.com/wordpress/?p=1300)

 

 

 

The way I approach eating is in a very flexible, sustainable and customized manner that is guided by listening to my body’s (ever-changing) needs, eating things that are satisfying in both flavor and nutrition, and not getting too hung up on numbers, macros, or anyone else’s rules.

 

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No one knows our bodies better than we do, and when we spend the time listening to our bodies and finding out what we REALLY need we often come up with the best, most practical and sustainable eating patterns—ones no other diet’s rules can ever achieve.

 

 

 

And that’s powerful, life-changing stuff!

 

 

 

If you’re curious how you can get started creating your own sustainable diet, shoot me an email and we can chat about it in a complementary coaching call (on the phone, Skype, FaceTime or Google hangouts—whatever’s best for you).

 

 

You can reach me here: kate@reallifefitbykate.com

Looking forward to chatting with you, and don’t be afraid to go against the grain and make your own rules!

Stop struggling and make your workout work for you–here’s how.

Commercial Rubber Dumbbells

 

“…I was just changing out of my running shoes and into my lifting shoes (yes, I wear different shoes for different activities, lol) and they were loud. Very loud.

 

 

And it was all I could do to just change my shoes and not open my mouth–because I know that free advice is worth all you pay for it AND no one asked for my input.

 

It was still REALLY hard to shut up on this one.

 

One woman was complaining to the other that no matter what she did, her body just wouldn’t change.

 

  • That she had horrible genetics.
  • That she worked out TONS throughout the week–biking or spinning a few hours a week, running a bunch, then putting in long-duration efforts on the weekends–you’d think with all the calories she was burning, she’d lose more weight (her words)!
  • That she used to really follow a strict eating plan, but that after a while, she ‘just couldn’t hack it.’
  • That she was now considering adjusting her caloric intake, increasing it from 1200 calories because she wasn’t making any progress and she was starving all the time.

 

The one commiserated with the other. She just couldn’t, despite her best efforts, get her body to budge either….”

 

This was a real conversation I overheard in the locker room at the post gym in March of 2015 and wrote about in this blog post , but it’s a conversation I hear happening all the time: ‘I can’t get my weight/body fat to budge, so I’ll so more cardio’….OR ‘I’ve been doing so much cardio/so many classes/running so much and I STILL can’t lose weight/lose inches…’

 

Initially when we start working out, our bodies NEED that aerobic cardio base—and we need the gentle, repetitive movement that classically makes up cardio workouts (using the elliptical, going for jogs, riding the bike, using the stepmill) to help us condition our cardiovascular system AND help our muscles and connective tissues adapt to—get used to and handle well–the new workload.

 

This adaptation is important to respect: we can’t just hop off the couch and start doing HIIT or Insanity workouts suddenly without some kind of injury happening in the first couple of weeks; it’s just not how our bodies work, especially as we get into our 30s and above.

 

So longer, steady-state cardio is important and works well for us…at least in the beginning.

 

But after we’ve been doing the same kind of workouts for a while, workouts that use the same movement patterns without an increase in the workload (either speed or added resistance), our bodies get used to that amount of effort and they get more efficient.

 

And when the body gets more efficient, it means that it finds ways to do the same job with less effort—less effort translating to using fewer calories to do the same thing.

 

So we can spend the same amount of time on the elliptical or jog for 30 minutes and get fewer results after just a few months. Naturally, the instinct is to just make the workouts longer—if 30 minutes isn’t enough, then maybe 45…then maybe 60.  Then maybe 2 spin classes or step classes instead of just one…

 

 

What needs to change isn’t the length of the workout, but the intensity of the workout.

 

 

One of the greatest discoveries I ever made was the power of interval training, first through taking Coach Kitty’s (Katherine Kaufman) KUT class in Seattle way back in 2001, and then cementing the lesson while building my fitness and my body back up after baby #2 in 2008-2009.

 

 

When you’ve got two kids under 4, and only a limited amount of time to work out, you try to find the most economical ways to do it!

 

Enter: interval and circuit training.

 

 

First I used the 4:4 ratio, then as my fitness improved, I started using the 3:2 ratio and 2:1 ratio, which meant that I would work hard (what I like to call ‘huff and puff’) for the first # of minutes in the ratio, then recover at a slower pace for the second # in the ratio.

 

 

It was incredible how sweaty I got, how much faster the time went by, and how much leaner I got—in just a few weeks.

 

 

This effect was amplified when I added weights and some ‘sprint’ efforts in different workouts during the week, too!

 

 

Strength Training + (Cardio) Interval Training =

Best. Results. Ever.

 

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My current physique results–no flexing, no filters…and no makeup, lol!! Keepin’ it real….

 

 

In less time, with fewer aches and pains (repetitive cardio often yields repetitive aches and pains), and less impact on my overall appetite—because doing hours of cardio every week will make you HUNGRY.

 

 

This increase in appetite is not very helpful when your body is starting to burn fewer calories in those same hours of cardio workouts.

 

So how can you start to make your workouts, and cardio sessions, start working better for you—and spend less time at the gym, too??

 

 

 

By swapping out a couple of your current longer, steady-state cardio workouts or classes for interval training sessions. And by adding some short, intense strength training sessions or circuit training sessions to the mix, too.

 

 

 

==>If you’re still a newer exerciser or just getting back into exercising, starting with a 4:4 work: recover interval ratio will probably be best for you, and give your body time to adapt (2-4 weeks, generally). Because the work intervals are longer in the 4:4 than in the other intervals, the intensity will be lower—which means the impact is better controlled.

 

 

==>If you’re already pretty fit and looking to kick it up a notch, then you’ll want to try the 3:2 or 2:1 approach, which are a little more intense in nature—meaning more work in a shorter amount of time!

 

 

On a treadmill, a 3:2 approach might mean running at a fast pace for 3 minutes, then jogging for the next 2 OR it might mean walking up a really steep incline for 3 minutes, then reducing the incline for 2 (that’ll wake up the glutes—trust me!).

 

A 2:1 approach on the treadmill would be closer to a sprint effort—but not quite there. It usually means that you’ll run at a VERY fast pace for 2 minutes then jog for 1.

 

Repeat these intervals for 30 minutes, or whatever you have the time for, and cool down and stretch afterwards, and you have a sweet, short, EFFECTIVE workout under your belt.

 

 

 

One of the biggest perks of training intensely for shorter periods of time (as in 40 minutes or less per workout) is that it is so agreeable with our busy schedules and the demands of daily life.

 

 

 

 

These shorter, focused workouts keep us consistent with our workouts since they aren’t overwhelming.  They keep us feeling successful, and they lend to some pretty fantastic post-workout endorphin highs.

 

 

 

 

 

Intense effort workouts = the release of more happy hormones, which is why although some of my clients and class participants might not love how they feel during a sprint interval, HIIT session, or tough conditioning workout (because hard work is hard!), they are ALL smiles afterwards.

 

 

 

 

So if you’re someone who’s been struggling to get results doing long workouts, OR if you’re someone who’s turned off from going to the gym because it’s too time-consuming to get in a workout, then maybe it’s time to give interval and more intense circuit-style strength training a try.

 

I’m telling you, I’m getting the best results ever from shorter, more intense strength and cardio workouts—at 42 years old 🙂

 

 

Should I even do cardio???

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Should I even do cardio?

What kind of cardio is the best?

How much should I be doing? 

 

These are questions that are coming up more frequently these days!

 

Maybe it’s the welcome changes in weather, warmer temps, more daylight hours in each day, or the promise of shorts and summer clothing being right around the corner…whatever the motivating factor is, questions—and opinions–about cardio are popping up everywhere.

 

So what kind of cardio should people do? And how much of it?

 

 

 

My answer is: it depends. (Surprise!!)

 

The kind of cardio you (choose to) do, and how much of that cardio you choose to do depends on:

  • How much time you have
  • What your body’s unique needs are
  • What your personal fitness or physique goals are
  • What you ENJOY doing

 

 

 

Now I’ve been working out for over 20 YEARS, but only working out effectively for the past 9.

 

 

In that time, I’ve tried lots of different classes, training programs, used a ton of cardio machines, and planned and taught boot camps, circuit training classes, and HIIT classes.

 

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So I’ve been able to experience personally and witness, first-hand, the effects of different approaches to ‘doing cardio.’

 

 

The past year, in particular, has been super enlightening and really changed the way I work out AND the results I’ve gotten (which translates to better workouts and results for my clients, too!).

 

 

Here’s what happened…by way of a quick story.

 

At the beginning of April, I participated in the Big Windy 25 Memorial Run, held in honor of the Chinook crew and service members who perished in a crash in Afghanistan in April 2005. The run raises funds to support T.A.P.S.: Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors—an organization that supports the family members of fallen military service members. http://www.taps.org

 

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I’m telling you this because it was the first actual 5k I’d done in over 3 months, and I’m not sure I would have opted to run a 5k anytime soon if it hadn’t been for such a good cause.

 

 

 

Which is pretty funny, because I’ve been a long-time runner!

 

 

 

So what happened? Life happened, lol.

 

 

 

Actually, I phased out running last year after joining a CrossFit gym so I could participate in their kettlebell training program.

 

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For the first 4 months, I tried balancing 2-3 runs a week with 3 days of hard training, but it didn’t’ allow my body enough recovery time and I always felt achy, tired and sluggish.

 

 

 

My hormones didn’t respond favorably, either, and I wasn’t seeing the physique results one would expect from working out so much!

 

 

So I made the decision to stop running last summer and give my full attention and commitment to a 5-day kettlebell training program. And it was definitely the right decision!

 

 

I recovered better and faster, and I began to see dramatic improvements in my strength and endurance during my kettlebell, barbell and conditioning sessions.

 

 

The absolute icing on the cake??  My physique tightened up after resting more and working out less.

 

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Don’t’ get me wrong—there’s still been running involved in those workouts, but it’s been either an easy 400 meter warm up/cool down OR 100 to 200 meter sprints. And by sprints, I mean SPRINTS—all out efforts.

 

 

I’ll be honest—I was a little nervous about the prospect of running three miles—straight—with my husband, in a group of soldiers, since I hadn’t been running in a while. I was afraid I’d lost my running endurance and that I might embarrass myself.

 

 

But I was pleasantly surprised that my conditioning was more than adequate to run a strong 3 miles, and I was able to revisit that ‘meditative’ quality that running always offers me.

 

 

See, when I first started running, I ran to burn calories/lose weight.

 

 

Then, after I had kids, it was one of the most convenient ways to get some exercise (next to at-home dumbbell and bodyweight circuit training).

 

 

Plus, running truly saved my sanity and helped me calm strong fears and emotions for many years in a row, particularly during my husband’s deployments to Afghanistan.

 

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Those longer runs taught me endurance, to tolerate discomfort longer than I wanted. They helped me train my brain and gave me the chance to be alone with my thoughts. And that repetitive rhythm really is like meditation in motion!

 

 

Now sprinting makes my body happier than lots of longer runs each week.

 

 

Sprinting has caused me fewer repetitive use injuries, and I credit sprinting for reshaping my physique dramatically—my legs and glutes are shapelier, and my body has become much leaner all over.

 

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And, as I was reminded during that 5k, sprint workouts are just SO much more time-efficient!

 

 

 

That said, I’m going to find a way to work in a gentle run or two each week when it feels right, because yesterday’s run also reminded me how much I like the feeling of being in continuous motion—not because I need to burn more calories, lol.

 

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So once again, the kind of cardio you (choose to) do, and how much of that cardio you choose to do depends on:

  • How much time you have
  • What your body’s unique needs are
  • What your personal fitness or physique goals are
  • What you ENJOY doing

 

 

 

While the physique and performance effects of sprint workouts are both dramatic and pleasing to me, I wouldn’t continue to do them if I didn’t enjoy them.

 

 

The same goes for running: if I didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t do it.

 

 

My Bottom Line: I don’t ‘do cardio’ just for the sake of ‘doing cardio.’

 

And my recommendation to you:

Engage in workouts that are satisfying to you, constructive for your body, that work for your schedule, and supportive of your performance and physique goals.

 

If you’re not sure about what the right kind or amount of cardio is for you, then it might be helpful to answer a few questions:

What are your goals?

Do you have any injuries or inhibiting physical factors?

How much time do you have each day/week for workouts?

Do you like to exercise indoors or outdoors?

Do you enjoy cardio machines, or do you prefer classes?

Are you getting RESULTS from what you’re currently doing?

AND, most importantly, what do YOU like to do?

 

The way in which you answer these questions will help guide your choices about what kind of cardio to do (if any), how much, how long and how often.

 

And in case you’re looking for some new workout ideas, I send out time-saving workouts every Wednesday to my inner circle peeps, including some fun cardio training options.

 

If you’re not already on my email list, sign up here (and get a little bonus, too):  http://bit.ly/RLFWeeklyFitTips

 

 

Talk to you soon,

Kate

 

{Trainer Tip Tuesday} Be Like a Dandelion

Dandelion

 

If you’re in the military, you’re probably aware that April is the Month of the Military Child.  

 

 

 

If you’re not in the military or affiliated in some way with the military, you just learned something new!  

 

 

 

Throughout the month of April, different memes dedicated to military children circulate through social media, many of them featuring a dandelion.

 

 

 

 

 

The dandelion is the flower of the military child–and for good reason.  

Dandelions, among other things, are tenacious.  

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My tenacious dandelions.

 

 

 

 

Tenacious might actually be too gentle a word to describe them, actually!  Have you ever tried to rid your lawn or garden of dandelions?  

 

 

 

 

Each spring, it’s a war in my little backyard, and I hate to admit it, but the dandelions are slowly winning…because of their tenacity.

 

 

 

 

 

Dandelions just don’t quit.  

 

 

 

 

 

Despite the war I’m waging against them, I really admire dandelions.

 

 

 

 

 

They grow wherever they’re planted, they reach for the sun tirelessly, they spread what they have to offer prolifically, and they never stop trying to come back.

 

 

 

 

 

So what the heck does this have to do with fitness??  Only everything.

 

 

 

 

 

One of the challenges we often face where our fitness is concerned is not being tenacious enough when things aren’t easy.

 

 

 

 

A kid gets sick.  

 

 

We get sick.  

Our schedule changes.  

Work becomes more demanding.  

There’s a crisis in the family.  

We develop an injury.  

Our workout buddy moves away.  

WE move away.  

 

 

 

 

 

All of these events can happen, or have happened, at some point, and they can really knock us out of our workout habits and practices.

 

 

 

 

 

A short break becomes a longer break, and pretty soon we’re so far ‘off track,’ we don’t know how or feel we have the will to find our way to get back ‘on track.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is where being like a dandelion comes in.  

 

 

  

This is where developing and maintaining tenacity comes in.  

 

 

 

 

 

The main reason I created “Your Plan B Playbook’ (you can grab a copy by signing up here: Plan B Playbook) was to create a tool by which others could also develop and foster their own tenacity.

 

 

 

 

 

Being an Army spouse, now living overseas, has presented me over the years with a slew of challenges.

 

 

 

 

In the early years of being married to the Army, these challenges DID knock me off track–and that made me sad, angry, resentful, hopeless, and generally feeling like a failure.

 

 

 

 

I could not see a way out of my situation or any alternative by which to reach my health/fitness/weight loss goals.

 

 

 

 

Then I took a nasty fall from a friend’s cranky barrel racing horse.  Well, the fall wasn’t so bad–it was kind of a graceful dismount actually–but the landing messed me up.

 

 

 

 

I landed full PLF-style on my right side on some very hard Louisiana clay, causing trauma to my lumbar spine, both SI joints in my pelvis, and two broken ribs.

 

 

 

 

In the weeks and months after that accident, I had to decide whether I was going to live as an injured and inhibited person, or do what it took to get better, get stronger.

 

 

 

 

It took a year of physical therapy and diligent work with a personal trainer, but I did get better–and stronger and more resilient.  

 

 

 

 

 

And tenacious.  

 

 

 

 

 

Tenacity is defined as being ‘persistent in maintaining, adhering to, or seeking something valued or desired.’  

 

 

 

 

 

 

But how do we get or develop tenacity when we feel like we’re on the ropes?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over time, I’ve found three things that help develop and foster tenacity on the fitness front.

1. Have a backup plan (or multiple backup plans!) ready to go.  

 

 

 

Your Plan B Playbook’ was born out of a need to have a backup workout options ready to go for all those times where one of my kids was suddenly ill, my husband was deployed, or other life circumstances messed with my plan A workout.  

 

 

 

 

Knowing I had a plan b, c, d, e and even f ready to go alleviated a ton of stress and kept me consistent with my workouts.

 

 

 

 

 

Being able to workout despite unpleasant circumstances also helped me cultivate tenacity through self-confidence:  every time I got that workout in during a challenging time it made me more confident I was capable of continuing on and doing it again the next time things got challenging.

 

 

 

 

 

 ” The more I accomplish, the more I know I’m capable of accomplishing.”  ~ Tawny Lara

 

 

2. Be a part of a ‘tribe.’  

 

 

 

Being a part of something bigger than yourself can bolster your will and determination when you’d rather just skip a day or quit. 

 

 

 

 

Social media offers a way to find and connect with like-minded people who can serve as a support network or accountability group.

 

 

 

 

Recruiting friends on Facebook to be a part of an ‘exercise tribe’ with similar goals or lifestyles can be a great help–you’re there to both encourage others when they need it, and they’re there for you when you need a pep talk or a kick in the pants 🙂

 

 

 

 

Having a workout community can be the difference between ‘I give up’ and ‘I can do this.’

 

 

 

 

3.  Dedicate your workouts.

 

 

 

When you don’t feel like working out or going for a run, dedicate that sweat session to someone.

 

 

 

 

I started doing this in 2011, but only privately–as in my own head, not through any official organizations.  I often choose to dedicate that workout to either those who have passed or those who would love to get up and move, but can’t.

 

 

 

 

It changes I ‘have to workout’ into ‘I get to workout.’  

 

 

 

 

There are many different organizations where you can connect with a cause or an individual and dedicate your miles/sweat sessions to them, such as IRun4 .  Or you can create your own dedications and even wear them, such as with grace bands.

 

 

 

 

 

When you struggle to get out the door, or into your workout clothes or to the gym, take a moment and dedicate your workout to someone who can’t. It may change your ‘task’ into an experience of gratitude and appreciation.

 

 

 

 

 

Every year, as they consume more of my grass, I admire dandelions a little bit more.

 

 

 

 

And I strive to emulate them–to be tenacious, to grow where I’m planted, to seek the sunshine and stand tall, and to spread what I have to offer prolifically.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you’re struggling, or someone near to you is struggling, scrounge up that tenacity.

 

 

 

 

 

Be like a dandelion.  

 

 

 

 

Those things don’t quit.

 

 

Talk to you soon,

 

Kate

#BYBY2016

the ONE question we need to ask.

There is ONE question we need to ask ourselves.  ONE question that can make a huge difference in our choices, and therefore our results.

 

 

This is THE question we really need to ask anytime we want to make a big change or start something new, and I think it’s a question that many of us kind of skip over in the hurry to just do that next big new thing!

 

 

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I remember about 10 years ago I wanted to change my hair—specifically, I wanted to go red/auburn rather than the blond highlights I’d been sporting for the few years prior. So I did!

 

 

With the help of a quality hairdresser, we made me a redhead in the course of a couple of hours.

 

 

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Awesome, right?!? Hmmmmmm…it was awesome until most of the color had washed out of my hair in the first 10 days and I was scrambling to get the right shampoos and conditioners to make it last longer.

 

 

It was great until the third week when all of my gray hairs came sparkling out for all the world to see—and even at 31, I had lots of them.

 

 

 

By the fourth week, I realized there was no way I could reasonably maintain this hair color without a huge amount of energy and expense. So I went back to the more manageable blond (gray hair camouflaging!) highlights.

 

 

And then what….

 

 

 

There was the time I threw myself into training for a marathon in 6 months—except I wasn’t in shape AT ALL and ended up with a stress fracture 3 months in.

 

 

 

Seemed like a great idea in the beginning, when I was going to raise money for charity and lose 20 pounds of post-breakup weight gain!

 

 

 

And then what….

 

 

 

Then there was the time right after I’d gotten married, and my husband was stationed in Germany while I was still living in Seattle, finishing up the school year before (hopefully) moving to Germany with him, when I felt the need to ‘get skinny’ by exercising more and taking Hydroxycut. This was back when Hydroxycut was the full-ephedra variety—before people figured out this caused cardiac issues.

 

 

 

 

I lost some weight/leaned out a little, but not a ton since I wasn’t changing my diet—the pills were going to do the work for me!—but I gained a nasty temper, borderline anxiety attacks, a manic response to everything which added to my insecurities instead of making them go away.

 

 

 

 

Even so, I kept taking Hydroxycut for a while because it was a great pre-workout stimulant (insert face palm here), I didn’t think I looked good enough, and I was afraid of what would happen if I stopped taking it.

 

 

 

 

In each of those situations, and so many more, I just acted—took drastic action, in fact—without ever stopping to consider what would happen on the other side of that decision—And Then What??

 

 

 

 

It’s like when we go on a diet. We are all kinds of charged up to make a big change in our weight, our appearance and we just can’t wait to feel and look better! We throw ourselves in, full steam, and do what it takes until we finish the program or hit the right number on the scale.

 

 

 

What we so many times forget, or just neglect, to ask is: What happens AFTER I finish this diet/challenge/program?

 

 

 

 

We do the 21-Day Fix, investing the roughly $140 for the kit—because this is going to FIX things!

 

We lose weight and inches.

 

We get compliments.

 

We feel accomplished…And then what?

 

 

What happens the next 21 days?

 

 

 

Do you do another 21-day fix, or do you go back to your old habits and regain all you lost—including some confidence?

 

 

 

We decide we’re going to follow one of the Herbalife or Shakeology plans, complete with all the necessary products, for a month.

 

 

We lose weight—because we’re definitely taking in fewer calories and maybe getting the ‘help’ of some appetite suppressants.

 

 

But the plan isn’t sustainable. It doesn’t account for birthday parties, and social occasions, and it costs a small fortune that really isn’t in your monthly budget.

 

 

 

And then what?

 

 

 

Do we try to find a way to keep up with the cost of these products?

 

 

Do we just go back to our old habits? Do we turn to another, less expensive weight loss product to help us ‘keep it off?’

 

 

 

The one question to ask before we throw the baby out with the bathwater, before we spend a bunch of money on a weight loss kit, challenge, plan, pill, potion or program: AND THEN WHAT?

 

 

 

 

What will we do on the other side of that choice and effort?

 

 

What will we do when the challenge is over, or the diet has reached it’s desired effect?

 

 

If we take a pill, potion, prescription or supplement system, do we plan to take it FOREVER?

 

 

 

When we stop taking the product, and I seriously doubt any of us plan to take a weight loss supplement all the way into old age, WHAT HAPPENS THEN?

 

 

The biggest problem with all these diet and weight-loss programs, products and approaches is that they are simply designed to be temporary.

 

 

 

They were never built, or meant to last. They were created to provide a financially lucrative band-aid.

 

 

 

 

But what about when we start with small habit changes, like we’ve been talking about lately? When we are able to make roughly 26 of those small habit changes over the course of just one year, we can also ask And Then What?

 

 

 

Then we are on a successful, sustainable path towards maintaining a healthy weight and body composition, not to mention sparing our sanity and our pocketbooks.

 

 

 

We are in the process of finding the true-forever solution—the one that fits us best, adapts to our lifestyle, that we like and have ownership of, that’s what.

 

 

We know ourselves, we trust ourselves, we are in charge of ourselves—and it’s freaking awesome.

 

 

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THAT is something no diet, pill, potion, program or challenge will ever be able to give us.

 

#BYBY2016

#beyourbestyou

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