Archive for Lifestyle

Why I talk about eating so damn much.

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Confession:  I am a very reluctant eating habit/nutrition coach.

 

I really don’t naturally love the topic of nutrition—it doesn’t get me fired up, and it took me a really long time to accept the role of nutrition in my personal fitness.

 

Like, a LONG time.

 

 

I was a very stubborn horse that had to be dragged to the water, and had to be dying of thirst before I would drink.

 

But, at a certain point (and I remember that pivotal moment—it’s what I call my ‘tiramisu epiphany,’ and you can read about it here: The Tiramisu Epiphany), I realized that I could not make any weight loss/fat loss progress without making some dietary changes.

 

 

That doesn’t mean it happened overnight!

 

 

My ‘tiramisu epiphany’ was in March of 2006.  Which means that my personal journey to eating better and in a sustainable way (that causes me little life stress, but still gives me the health and results I desire) started over 10 years ago.

 

 

Did it take some time? 

Sure! 

Was the time it took worth it?

ABSOLUTELY.

 

 

There was no major diet overhaul; I simply surrendered the illusion that I could ‘work off what I ate’ and started to pay more attention to what, when, how, and how much I was eating a little bit more. 

 

I made the changes I could tolerate slowly, and began a process of self-education that definitely accelerated once I started working with a personal trainer who provided me with better resources with which to help myself.

 

So I honestly don’t LOVE the subject of nutrition like some people do (which is why they are diet experts with all those credentials behind their names!), but I understand how necessary balanced nutrition is, and the giant role it plays in how we feel, the energy we have, and in weight loss, fat loss, and overall athletic performance.

 

I don’t love nutrition, BUT I do love my clients. 

 

 

And I love to help others have less stress, more fitness success, and more confidence and independence in their own lives, so talking about nutrition, eating habits, and eating strategies has become a ‘necessary evil’ of sorts.

 

 

It’s important for me to share what I’ve learned, through formal education as well as professional experience and personal practice, because it just might help a client, friend or reader like you to shorten the ‘eating habit learning curve. ‘

 

 

Sharing this information might just help you or someone you know to stop depending on the next diet for the solution—from engaging in stressful, restrictive, all-or-nothing approaches, and to make the needed small changes in daily practices that will yield the results we’re looking for.

 

 

And that’s HUGE in my book.

 

 

After I surrendered the illusion that I could ‘outrun my fork,’ so to speak, I also had to learn and come to terms with the fact that my eating habits/patterns were shaped by:  a) the messages I told myself, b) unconscious tendencies, c) compulsive behaviors, d) the urge to self-soothe.

 

 

 

Funny that NONE of those things has anything to do with macros or calories, right?

 

 

The biggest realization I’ve had about the subject of nutrition is this:  Lasting results only come from conscious eating habit change, which can only happen when we first change how we THINK.

 

So really, when we talk about eating habits, we’re really talking about thinking habits—our thought patterns and beliefs, aka: our mindset.

 

I talk so damn much about eating because I loathe people getting all hung up on the idea of the ‘perfect diet’ or that they NEED to go on another kind of diet, or, conversely the belief that they’re helpless in creating lasting change in their own lives, that they’re powerless over how they eat.

 

 

Why do I loathe diets

Because diets breed helplessness and take away from ownership of our behaviors. 

 

 

 

They put the solution outside of ourselves, in someone else’s hands, when the real solution can only be found by doing the ‘inside job’ of changing how we think so we can change how we act.

 

So when I talk about eating, I’m really talking about thinking—about our attitudes about food, helpful or unhelpful beliefs about our selves. 

I’m talking about improving awareness of our self-talk (e.g.:  I always, I never, I just can’t help myself, nothing works for me, I’m just an ‘X’ addict, I’m a stress-eater, I’m an emotional eater—any of these sound familiar to you??), so that we can change our truth, and therefore make it possible to choose differently and make more progress with our nutrition.

 

 

I talk about awareness and attitudes because they create the possibility for ownership—taking full responsibility for all our own food choices, the chance to be ‘the captain of our own ship.’

 

 

Yes, we all come to the table, so to speak, with a certain set of genetics, a certain family food history, and whatever adult eating patterns we’ve developed so far.

 

But these pieces of the puzzle don’t dictate our future—only our consistent choices do that.  Only our consistent CHOICES.  We are in charge of our choices, especially when we take the time and make the effort to become aware of our self-talk, food history and current patterns of behavior.

 

 

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In the end, I talk about eating so damn much because it has such a huge impact on our lives, and I talk about mindset and mindfulness around eating because this is what dictates our relative success or limitations.

As Mahatma Gandhi said,
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.” 

 

 

When we are mindful, we are fully in charge of our choices; we can choose to change our minds about ourselves and food, and that’s when we can REALLY start changing and making those lasting, impactful nutrition choices.

 

 

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xo,

Kate

TTT: UNround those Shoulders!

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Trainer Tip Tuesday: Tips for Un-Rounding Those Shoulders

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For me, in both my personal and professional experience, posture is a combination of elements: genetics/anatomy, areas of relative muscle tightness, areas of relative muscle weakness, and a whole ‘lotta habitual sitting/standing/moving patterns.

 

 

When these things get added up over the years, the result is often some kind of uncomfortable or unhelpful posture.

 

 

The way I go about addressing posture issues, both personally and professionally, is therefore focused in these three areas:

 

 

  • stretching chronically tight areas that contribute to postural discomfort issues, strengthening weaker areas that contribute to postural improvements,
  • and putting a TON of emphasis on paying attention to and actively improving on existing postural habits.

 

 

 

Stretch.

Strengthen.

Mindful Posture and Movement Work.

 

 

 

First, Let’s Talk Stretching/Mobilizing

Areas that tend to be tight, especially in the women I work with, are: the front of the shoulder/chest area and the upper traps (area just under the neck).

 

 

 

We tend to hold much of our tension in our upper backs and this often causes a ‘turtle-like’ neck shrinking posture where the shoulders creep up towards the ears.

 

 

Add in chronic forward-facing, forward-reaching activities (e.g.: desk jobs, driving, time on computers and other devices, holding kids, nursing babies) and you get a tighter, forward head, shoulder-rounded posture over time.   And if you were a girl who developed breasts early or have had large breasts much of your life, then it’s pretty likely you’ve developed a forward-shoulder posture as a means of downplaying their size/avoiding unwanted attention. That’s tough!

 

 

 

So to first deal with these common tightnesses and postural tendencies, we can do the following stretches and mobility drills to get relief—over time, and with consistent practice, of course!

 

 

 

Stretch:

Doorway Stretch

 

Arms behind the back stretch

 

SFG Neck Mobility Series

 

GS Mobility Series*

 

Chin Tuck

 

Supine Overhead Reaches

 

Wall Slides, Floor Slides

 

Table ‘L’ Stretches

 

Extended Arm Doorway ‘hang’ stretches

 

Dislocates

 

Thoracic Twists

 

Thoracic Bridges

 

Downward Facing Dog (plus plank dynamic movement)

 

 

Next, let’s work on getting stronger in the places that will help the most!

Areas that tend to be weaker and not get the time and TLC they deserve are: the muscles in the backs of our necks, the muscles that control and guide the shoulder blades, the muscles we sit on much of the time, all of the trunk muscles (not just those 6-pack muscles, lol), and the paraspinal muscles.

 

 

 

When we spend so much time in forward-facing work postures, we need to spend extra time working on all of those ‘back half of the body’ muscles (aka: your posterior chain).

 

 

 

To do this effectively, we need to work on strengthening our middle and low traps, scapular stabilizers, all of our trunk (aka: core) muscles, our glutes and our spinal erectors and stabilizers.

 

 

 

Exercises we can do regularly—both at home AND in the gym—to help ourselves out are:

 

Strengthen:

Scapular Packing

 

Side Planks

 

Bird Dogs

 

Rowing: seated band, one arm, TRX, ring rows

 

Band Pull-Aparts

 

‘Cheerleaders’

 

Kettlebell swings

 

Kettlebell Deadlifts

 

Farmer’s Carries

 

Half Kneeling presses, band chops

 

Half-Kneeling Pallof Presses

 

Scapular pull-ups

 

Turkish Get Ups

 

Kettlebell Arm Bars

 

Hollow Holds (ground, bar)

 

 

 

 

And then comes the element that will make the MOST difference for us: Mindful Posture Practice.

 

 

 

The good news? You can do this ALL the time, no matter where you are, how old or young you are, or how fit or out-of-shape you might be.

 

 

 

The bad news? It’ll take lots of mental and physical effort for a while until these postures normalize (aka: become a new habit and feel like your ‘new normal’).

 

 

 

The other good news? You’ll immediately look taller, more confident, and potentially slimmer. You’ll feel better AND you’ll get better (and more pain-free) results in the gym, too.

 

 

 

So the time and effort you put into changing you sitting, standing, and moveing posture will be well worth it because the payoffs are both huge and lasting.

 

 

 

Mindful Posture Practice Tips: Think about…

 

  • Stacking ribs over pelvis “Make the Canister”

 

  • Bracing abs

 

  • Squeezing the glutes

 

  • Keeping the chin back and the next long

 

  • Pulling the shoulders out of the ears

 

  • ‘Packing’ the shoulder blades—pulling them down and in

 

 

 

 

 

Even if you’ve had some posture issues most of your adult life, it doesn’t mean you can’t make improvements that make a big and lasting difference in how you look, move and feel each day.

 

 

 

All that you need to do is make sure that you stretch what needs to be stretched, double-down on strengthening the muscles that will help you most, and stay mindful/pay attention to your head, shoulder and spinal positions until better posture becomes your ‘new normal.’

 

 

 

If I can do it, so can you! Take heart, believe in what’s possible, and get busy doing the work on the regular—the results will come.

What do you do when you F— it all up?

 What do you do when you F- it all up?

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You had the best of intentions. 

You were off to a great start.

You’d made so much progress.

You’d gotten so much stronger.

The workouts were easier.

The pants fit better.

Things were really starting to fall into place…and then.

And then something knocked you off-course or for a loop.
A vacation.
An illness in the family.
A super stressful event or period of time.
And then…you find yourself struggling again, feeling like a failure, feeling shame you ‘couldn’t hack it,’  that you let yourself down, or family or friends down….
It happens!!
To even the best of us.  From time to time, we all struggle.
Some life event impacts our routine, disrupts our ‘normal,’ causes resistance, or throws us back into old coping mechanisms.
Sometimes this means we stop working out—or working out as much.  Sometimes this means we stray too far and too long from our better, more healthful eating patterns.  Sometimes this means we burn the candle at both ends, leaving ourselves a fried mess unable to cope—or using unhealthy or unhelpful coping mechanisms.
  And we feel bad—because we KNOW better, right?!?
Again—it happens.  What matters more, what matters the MOST, really, is what we do next.
So we F’d it up again.  Well, done is done.  We can either wallow in it, tell ourselves how weak and pathetic and stupid we are, thinking that berating ourselves will lead us to ‘behaving’ again, or….Or.
Or we can do a few of these things:
1.  Acknowledge our F-Up. 
Name it, own it, then leave it behind us.  Done is done, and no good comes from beating the proverbial dead horse; clinging to our ‘failings’ actually prevents us from growing and changing.  Move on!
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2.  Look for the Lesson.
As much as we might hate it, there’s always a lesson in those hard moments and times, or an opportunity for personal growth.I’ve learned over time, through dealing with and recovering from numerous injuries and health issues over the years, that there’s always something that can be learned out of an illness or injury.
Sometimes that means learning to literally DO things differently—in the gym or at home.It can mean learning how much eating well impacts how we feel or makes or breaks our health.
Sometimes it means reevaluating our lifestyle, and cutting out the things that really aren’t working FOR us, even if those changes are unpopular.
Sometimes it means checking our ego at the door—either the ego that’s prompting us to do things that aren’t good for our bodies because we think we can or should or have something to prove, or the ego that screams at us: “I want what I want and I want it right NOW and I deserve it right NOW,” like an angry toddler would.
Whatever knocked you off-track, hung you up, derailed your efforts, or sidelined you (temporarily), there IS a lesson in there.
Look for it, ask the hard questions:
  • What did I do to get myself here?
  • What do I need to do to get myself OUT of here?
  • And what can I do to avoid doing this again??
3.  Take action—NOW.
It doesn’t have to be huge or perfect, it just needs to be action.
  • Start by eating a veggie at your next meal or snack.
  • Get up and go for a walk.
  • Do a few squats or push ups.
  • Read an article or book that helps you ‘grit it up’ a bit more.
  • Listen to a podcast that inspires you.
  • Call someone who supports you (not an enabler, but someone who loves you and will help you take the next step forward).

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DO NOT TEXT OR EMAIL OR SEND ANY KIND OF ELECTRONIC MESSAGE—CALL THEM.  You know, in real time, just like the good ole days 😉
4.  Use the Lesson(s) to make a new plan. 
  • What did you learn from this experience? 
  • Where did you ‘fall down’ or where did things go sideways on you?
  • What can you do to be derailed LESS by this same kind of situation, should it happen again?
  • What can you do to avoid the same, or a similar, pitfall?
  • What resources do you need?
  • What kind of planning do you need to do?
  • And how are you going to go forward, from right where you’re at, right now?
5.  Just get moving.  Keep moving.  Find a mantra or create a mantra, and put that puppy all over the place.
Mantras can add to our grit, shore up our commitment to a goal or project–even when it’s not going well; mantras can help refocus us when we feel like we’re on the ropes. They can create positive energy, and keep us focused on moving forwards and doing our best.
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And if you don’t have one yet, maybe finding a short, meaningful and memorable saying is just the thing you need to help keep you motivated, focused and positive!
As Mahatma Gandhi said,
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
And remember this, above all else:
“Failure is not in the falling down, but the staying down.”
~ Unknown
If you’re not sure where to start, your fitness or nutrition have been lagging, let’s chat!
We can get on the phone, or email or FaceTime or Skype, etc, and start working out a plan to get you heading in a better direction again.  20 minute ‘Recharge’ chats are totally complementary 🙂
You can reach me at kate@reallifefitbykate.com
And if you’ve fallen off the workout ‘horse,’ try climbing back on with this simple ladder workout you can do pretty much anywhere!  https://youtu.be/BZF91zEUBZU
Keep your head up and keep moving forward!
Kate

 

4 Reasons you NEED to work out (that have nothing to do with weight loss)

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Confession:  I really hate the whole ‘exercising to lose weight’ thing.  It’s, well, kind of boring.  And it’s also not long-term inspiring.

 

 

I get it, though—in the beginning the vast majority of us (who weren’t athletes in our youth) probably started exercising, aka: ‘working out,’ to lose weight.  I know I did!

 

 

 

When I first started working out and lifting weights with a structured plan in a for-real gym, it was between the my junior and senior years in college.  I wanted to look more like the other girls I knew, to be more slim and ‘toned.’  That was it.  That was my big motivation to exercise—just to be, well, skinnier.

 

 

 

 

To my surprise, a magic thing happened in the first 3 months of following this structured plan—I fell in love with the process.  Or, more accurately, I fell in love with lifting weights and more in love with running.  The time spent on cardio machines trying to ‘burn off the fat’ I could have done without (literally, it turns out—but that’s another story).

 

 

 

 

Since then, I’ve been up and down the scale a few times, been on dedicated plans and gone through phases where I’ve been completely off-plan, but for the past 10 years, I’ve been dead consistent.

 

 

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Yes, weight loss was often initially a motivating factor, but it’s not what’s brought me back to the gym, or gotten me out on the road, or busting out my loop bands at home week after week.

 

 

 

What’s kept me moving consistently through lifestyle changes, pregnancies, illnesses, surgeries and other adversities are the following 4 reasons.  These reasons are also why I’m wholeheartedly dedicated to getting other people just like you to start exercising, exercise more regularly, and keep exercising for life.

 

 

 

  1.  Exercising just plain makes us feel better.

 

 

 

I’m sure you’ve seen a tank, t-shirt or meme somewhere at one point that said, “You’re just one workout away from a good mood.”  Well, it’s not just some gym addict’s cute little slogan—it’s actually, physically true.

 

 

 

Exercise—physical movement in general—does put us in a better mood.  Our bodies are hard-wired to move, from the most primitive parts of our brains.   It started out as a survival mechanism, because we needed to find or hunt food to survive, so our brains were wired to create biochemical systems by which we could get food more easily.  Meaning, our brains were wired to give our bodies what they need to move, chemically and hormonally, so that the body could get the fuel the brain needed to survive.

 

 

What this means for us now:  our brains have created system by which we feel better and have ‘happy’ chemicals and hormones released when we move and exercise.

 

 

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Just this one benefit alone has kept me working out consistently—even, and especially, on the days I DIDN’T feel like working out AT ALL.  I know I will feel better afterwards, so it’s always worth putting in the 10 to 60 minutes of effort that day.

 

 

 

Like today.  I didn’t really want to workout.   Having a glass of wine and kicking up my feet sounded way better!  BUT I knew I would feel better afterwards…so I worked out.  Then I felt better—not like ‘over-the-moon’ estatic, but in a calmer, happier state of mind.

 

 

 

Those workout efforts don’t need to be intense to work for us:  it can be as simple as taking a walk outdoors for 5-10 minutes, or getting down on the floor and doing some planking, or glute bridging for 5-10 minutes.  Even the shorter workouts give us those ‘feel better’ benefits.

 

 

 

We just have to move a bit to get that ‘feel better’ side effect.

 

 

 

2. Exercise increases brain activity and improves academic performance.

 

 

 

Thank you, evolution!  Because of the way our brains are wired, after we’ve exercised, our thinking abilities become enhanced.  Due to the chemicals released in the brain and the effects on the learning and memory centers of the brain, we are primed to be able to think more clearly, creatively and quickly after exercising.

 

 

 

I know after I’ve worked out—especially after workouts that combined something that elevated my heart rate and required some skill to do (movements where I had to concentrate on balance or direction)—I feel my ‘smartest,’ and solving problems, writing programs, and communicating with others just ‘flows.’

 

 

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Other times, when I haven’t moved for much of the day, thinking through a complex idea, or understanding what I’m reading, or even giving my kids good reasons why they should or shouldn’t be doing something just feels HARD.  It’s like having cotton in my brain.

 

But if I move a little—take the dog for a walk, or crank out a few squats or push ups or lunges, the mental fog lifts and I’m able to get things done way more easily.

 

 

 

 

Who doesn’t love being able to do more in less time with less mental struggle?

 

 

 

3.  Exercise helps us manage our stress (and minimize distress).

 

 

 

To build muscle, we have to stress it—in a reasonable amount.  This then promotes a repairing response by the body, where the muscle tissue  is rebuilt to be stronger when allowed adequate time to recover without more stress.  Too much stress, and we create sprains and strains.  Too little stress, no muscle growth.

 

 

 

Same with our brains and our neural plasticity!  With regular, but appropriate stress—the kind we apply to our bodies through exercise,  we condition our brain and nervous system to handle stress better and to recover better from episodes of stress.  Over time, we also improve our threshold for stress, too—it takes more stress to provoke a stress reaction, and our bodies learn how to recover more quickly instead of staying in that stressed condition.

 

 

 

“The great thing about exercise is that it fires up the recovery process in our muscles and neurons.  It leaves our bodies and minds stronger and more resilient, better able to handle future challenges, to think on our feet and adapt more easily.”

 

 

John H. Ratey, Spark: The revolutionary new science of exercise and the mind

 

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Bottom line:  regular exercise improves our ability to deal with stress and raises our stress threshold (it takes more to stress us out than it used to!).

 

 

4.  Exercising adds to our ‘I can do this’-ness

 

 

 

Let’s face it, life is full of things we can’t change, that we wish were different, and we can often feel blown about by life’s circumstances.  And while we may not have control over what happens at work, or in our family, or amongst our friends, or where the army moves us, we can control one thing:  our choices.

 

 

 

When we choose to exercise, especially consistently, we choose to help ourselves feel better, think better and manage stress better.  We prove to ourselves, one choice at a time, one workout at a time, that we can do this.

 

 

 

Through consistently choosing to move our bodies, to do our PT/rehabilitative exercises, or go for runs, or show up to class, or go lift some weights, or take a walk, or get down on the floor and do some ab and glute work, we choose to take a little control over our own destiny—to influence the outcome a bit in our own favor.

 

 

 

When we keep ‘showing up and doing the work’ day after day, week after week, we prove something to ourselves; we prove that we can do this.  We prove that we have the ability to withstand, to overcome, to get better ‘in spite of’ our circumstances.  The more we choose to get up and move (even when we really don’t feel like it!), the more we prove that we are strong, resilient, capable people who choose to do good things for ourselves and grow in our strengths and abilities instead of shrink in the face of challenge.

 

 

“The more we do, the more we CAN do.”

 

 

 

We just have to get started DOING!

 

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If you’re in need of a little extra ‘nudge’ to get moving consistently, want more real-life-doable and effective workout ideas, and are looking for a supportive community to help get you on track and keep you there, check out the Elevate with Kate FB community!

 

 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/elevatewithkate/

 

 

“Get Strong, Be Strong, Stay Strong.”

 

 

Our Mission: To create a supportive community of women who raise each other up as we actively pursue becoming our best selves, both in and out of the gym.

 

 

We are a community of women who strive to better our health, as well as our physical and mental fitness, with the goal of living fulfilling and satisfying lives.

 

Come check it out!  https://www.facebook.com/groups/elevatewithkate/

#beyourbestyou

 

Your body is not your opponent; it’s your partner for life

Your body is not your enemy nor your opponent. It is your partner for life.

 

If you’ve been struggling with your body–your weight, your musculature, your shape, your size, your speed, your strength, your endurance, your appearance–it’s likely that you’ve adopted a position or attitude of being at war with your body.

 

You might feel like it’s resisting you, or holding you back, or even betraying you.

“If you knew who you truly were, you would be in awe.”
~Dr. Libby Weaver, Ph.D.

 

This quote comes from a TED talk by Dr. Libby Weaver, whose Ph. D. is in Nutritional Biochemistry, was describing how the body looks when it’s mapped out by it’s systems and biochemicals.

 

When we’re trying to lose weight, or get fitter, or lift heavier, or run faster, or just plain feel better and it’s just plain hard, or the results aren’t showing up the way we want them to, it can be discouraging and frustrating.

 

It’s easy to get a little fixated on how our bodies aren’t ‘right’ yet, or doing what they’re ‘supposed’ to be doing–and to forget how amazing our human bodies really are.

 

“When you the human body mapped out, you see the absolute miracle that we are,” she says. “Miraculous.”

 

Last week, I tweaked my back doing something light and simple in the gym.  It scared the bejeebers out of me–mostly because I couldn’t sit, stand or bend over normally for three days.

 

Moments like that remind me how amazing our bodies really are–and how our bodies shouldn’t be taken for granted.

 

The week before, I was complaining that my endurance wasn’t up to par, that I couldn’t lift as much lately, that I couldn’t keep up with the other people in class.  They were getting stronger, and I was ‘stalling out.’

 

Then, when just moving around the house became challenging, I realized I needed to focus more on taking care of the amazing vehicle I travel this life inside of instead of getting upset because it wasn’t ‘behaving the way I thought she* should.’  *(I call my body a she, not an it, because we’re partners in life, and she deserves respect.)

 

I had to be reminded not to take my body for granted, or resent her in any way, but to care for it better, to appreciate the health and mobility I have, and to just give my amazing body more rest so it could feel better and repair better, because she and I are going to be partners for a long time.  And we have alot of cool stuff left to do!

 

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What would happen if, instead of feeling like your body is the opponent to be conquered or subdued, you looked at it as your partner for life?

 

  • How would that change your the way you eat?
  • How would that change the way you move, or exercise?
  • How would that change the way you perceived your body?
  • Would you be more grateful, more gentle with yourself?
  • Would you be more likely to care for, rather than punish or abuse, your body?
  • Would your motivation to take better care of your body improve?

 

 

If you’ve been at war with your body, maybe it’s time to take a different perspective–to see it as an asset, a gift, and the one true partner you will always have, through thick and thin.

 

 

Maybe embracing your body’s gifts, its strengths, its natural tendencies and its needs is the first step to creating the changes we seek, the physique we desire, the strong, satisfying and fulfilled lifestyle we week to lead.

 

 

Today I encourage you to look at your body through an appreciative lens and name 3 things that are amazing about your body. You don’t have to post them here, just recognize and name them (out loud) for yourself.

 

 

Just as it can with our gratitude practices, adopting a daily body appreciation practice will create a more positive mindset and experience of the world.

 

When we are actively recognizing and appreciating all the incredible things our bodies do and are capable of, it becomes a whole lot harder (and less meaningful) to criticize the ways in which it’s ‘flawed.’

 

More gratitude, more happy feelings about our bodies. More happy feelings about our bodies, more happy hormones…which leads to better results…it’s a gorgeous self-reinforcing cycle 🙂

 

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#beyourbestyou
#bodypositive

5 Motivation Fixes that LAST (and how the 2008 Olympics changed my life)

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It was August 2008.

 

I was sitting on my couch, nursing my just turned 2-month-old baby, watching the story about Dara Torres on NBC’s coverage of the Summer Olympics. I always loved watching the Olympics—I have for as long as I can remember, but I was transfixed by Dara Torres’ story.

 

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I remembered Dara from another Olympics much earlier in my life, her face familiar, but she wasn’t someone that I’d paid much attention to in the 1984, 1988, 1992 or even the 2000 Olympic games.

 

That changed in 2008, when sitting in my thoroughly postpartum body, living life as a SAHM and support staff for my husband as he made his way through helicopter flight school at Fort Rucker, I bore witness to Dara daring to compete again in the Olympics at age 42, after taking time off from swimming competitively and having a 15-month old child herself.

 

4 weeks

 

Her story inspired me. I didn’t really understand the rigors of her training, or her need for an extended warm up plus soft tissue massage (by means of two small, trained male masseuses walking on the backs of her legs and working on all her other limbs–completely fascinating!), but I recognized her drive, that she had to want it more and work harder than her younger counterparts. I recognized that she was still—at her ripe old age of 42—capable of incredible accomplishments.

 

Dara inspired me to think that more was possible; it wasn’t ‘over’ because I was 34, or had two small children, or lived in rural Alabama, or was married to the Army and its whims.

 

I started to believe that if I was willing to have heart, to put the work in, I could build a strong body capable of incredible things, too. Maybe not the body or the accomplishments of an Olympian, but that I, too, could reach more of my own human and athletic potential.

 

Dara Torres’ 2008 Olympic story and performance were heady and so motivating, even as I sat, hormonal, tired, my body soft, stretched out of shape and thoroughly postpartum, on my living rom couch.

 

The thing is, motivation is often a fleeting thing.

 

That fire that burns so hot at first when we start a new project, dedicate ourselves to a new run plan, choose a special event or occasion to prepare for, or that new diet, can be dampened pretty quickly by the rigors and demands of just plain old daily living.

 

Sleepless nights, long days filled with sometimes tedious, but necessary to-do’s, caring for the emotional and physical needs of others, navigating the tricky waters of the workplace—these can all knock the best of us off-track. And they have!!

 

Which is why, at 34, after rehabilitating my back for a year before having baby #2, and witnessing Dara Torres’ Olympic experience, I cut a picture of her from the local paper and kept it in my fitness journal, where I recorded my workouts and post-partum strength progress, so I could see it regularly.

 

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Over the years, when I felt ‘old,’ or discouraged, or felt like throwing in the towel, or that maybe what I was doing (focusing on fitness) wasn’t that important after all, I’d look at that photo and keep trying.

 

It’s one of the techniques I’ve learned/cultivated to create lasting motivation in the face of struggle, injury, failure, feeling disheartened, or having obstacles thrown in my way—because real life offers plenty of these things!

 

At these times, it would be super easy to just throw our hands in the air and say ‘I give up until after this passes/until life calms down/until summer’s over/ until after the holidays, until January 1….’  BUT fostering a sense of purpose instead of relying on feeling ‘motivated’ can keep us positive and proactive instead of hopeless and overwhelmed.

 

There are five key things I do to create and maintain my ‘motivation’:

 

  1. Identify my deepest PURPOSE(S).

I put them into words, write them down, and reflect on them often.

 

  1. Get real with my schedule every week.

I identify when and where I will be getting in my workouts (I ‘sharpie’ these into my schedule), and then create my Plan B’s for those days in case my best laid plans go awry (thank you Army for teaching me this skill!)

 

  1. Keep motivational, inspirational and purpose-oriented quotes around the house where I can see them in the morning and evening.

 

These are words that have deep meaning for me, that resonate with my current challenges that redirect my thinking to the positive even when I’m feeling frustrated or unsure. They are up on my medicine cabinet, on my fridge and above my computer—kind of hard to avoid them! That’s where my photo of Dara Torres hangs out these days, too.

 

  1. I seek out a community of like-minded people—people who can relate to where I’m at in life, to the goals I’m pursuing, who are experiencing some of the same feelings and challenges as I am.

Community support—in the form of running buddies, fellow trainers, people who attend the same classes, and experts I can learn from all contribute to keeping me on track and moving me in a forward, positive direction.

 

  1. I learn a new skill.

Losing 5 pounds or looking better in a bathing suit lost their allure for me a few years ago—what was initially ‘motivating’ no longer held meaning for me.

 

Over time, I’ve discovered that learning a new skill, a new sport, a new technique or a new training approach keeps it fresh for me.

 

Learning and acquiring new skills is exciting, and mastery of a skill is fulfilling and confidence-boosting.  Plus, it’s easy to see the fruits of your labor and harder to get bored!

 

“In every great act, there is a challenge. In every challenge, there is a reward. In every reward lies the product of our efforts. In every effort lies new beauty to be born.”

 

~ Mohammed Onotu

 

If you’ve been struggling with motivation, then give these 5 tips a try!

 

Identify your deeper/deepest PURPOSE for exercising/working out/eating better.

Search your soul a bit.  Sit quietly with your feelings.  Ruminate while you commute….Then write it all down.  Don’t edit yourself, don’t judge, just write it down.  Solidify that purpose in your mind and deep in your gut.

 

Get real with your schedule.

Map out where your time must be spent throughout the week, then map out where you WILL spend your time acting on your purpose (exercising).  ‘Sharpie’ it in.  Then make your backup plans.  Bend if you must, but don’t break.  Find a way to make something work.

 

Find and post quotes where you can see them easily morning and night, and maybe even in places you’ll see them throughout the day—in your office, in your car, in your wallet….

 

These are those galvanizing reminders of your PURPOSE for exercising.  They should be strong, positive and purpose reinforcing.  A couple of fun apps you can use to make your own

 

Find a workout buddy, walking partner, running buddy or just an accountability buddy.

 

  • Find a fitness class or group you really enjoy where the other participants are right up your alley.  Check out other gyms if yours isn’t cutting it.
  • Start a neighborhood exercise ‘tribe’ if you don’t belong to/have access to a gym.
  • Hire an online coach/trainer for guidance, support and accountability.
  • Take part in an online fitness community with like-minded people.
  • Do whatever works best for YOU but find that support, because social support is a great predictor of long-term adherence, even for the most independent of us 😉

 

Try something NEW.

A new class at the gym, a new piece of equipment (kettlebells, TRX, and sandbags can add some spice into any strength training regimen), set a new goal.

 

Try paddle-boarding or indoor rock climbing, join a community sports team or running group, take kickboxing or karate or tae Kwan do—take on a new challenge which forces you to engage your body and mind in the process of acquiring that new skill, so that the aim isn’t so much to reshape your body as to just get better at something (your body will respond, no worries!).

 

“If  you can learn to motivate yourself, you can always tap into an abundance of energy that will drive you to the success you dream of.”

 

~ Rachael Bermingham

 

 

Now I’m the one who’s 42, and it’s my turn to inspire others to believe, with drive, hard work and a positive focus, that great things are possible for them, too.

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Want to be a part of a group that will keep you positive, motivated, and purposeful?  

Check out the Elevate with Kate FB group!  

Here’s who we are, and what our community is all about:
Our Motto:  “Get Strong, Be Strong, Stay Strong.”
Our Mission:  To create a supportive community of women who raise each other up as we actively pursue becoming our best selves, both in and out of the gym.
What you can expect every week:
Daily thematic posts which include inspiration/motivation, training tips, recipe sharing, weekly customized workouts, and more.
What you can get out of participating:
  • Connection with other like-minded women
  • Support from a group of strong, motivated and positive women
  • The chance to ask any nutrition or fitness question you want/need and get a straightforward, no gimmicks answer
  • Recipe and nutrition resources
  • Free, done-for-you workouts
  • And much more!
We are dedicated to fostering positivity, grit, personal grace, personal growth, believing in ourselves, and helping other women believe in themselves, too.
We might be spread all over the globe, but we don’t need to feel alone!

Click here to check out Elevate with Kate FB

 

#getstrongbestrongstaystrong
Always keep your head up, and keep striving for better!
Kate

{TTT} Batteries low, but no time for a nap? Try this trick!

Trainer Tip Tuesday!

 

Today’s Tip:  Don’t have time for a full-blown nap but need a little calling time-out?

 

Try the ‘legs up the wall’ pose 🙂

 

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How to do it:  Scootch your buns right up against the wall so that your body forms a 90-degree angle and your legs are totally straightened, and directly over your hips.

 

 

Put a pillow under your head, as needed, to be comfortable and keep your neck/spine in a more neutral position.

 

 

Put your arms out to the sides, palms facing up OR place one hand on your ribs and the other on your belly to focus on deep belly breathing. (You want the hand on your belly to elevate before the hand on your ribs–sometimes this takes practice!)

 

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Set a timer, close your eyes and…just breathe.

 

 

Doing this for as little as one minute has benefits, and I usually opt for 5 -10 minute sessions if a power nap is out of the question but I need to recharge the batteries a bit!

 

 

Hope you find this one helpful, too!

 

#legsupthewall

#personalgrace

 

{Move More Monday}

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{Move More Monday}

 

 

Here’s a fun one to add to your warm up or joint prep: Inchworms with a reach and a row.

 
You get some shoulder movement, hip hingeing, hamstring activation, and lots of core stabilization to get the body ready to work–it’s one of the warm up drills we’ve been using in class as prep work for our daily perfect push up practice.
 
This inchworm variation can be a great ‘just get a little less stiff’ exercise or as another part of a core training progression by adding reps to the reaches and rows.
 
Lots of ways to make this move work for you–give it a shot and let me know what you think!
 
#MoveMoreMonday

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!

 

Fast, Tasty, and full of Protein: Blender Protein Pancakes

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Fast, tasty, simple, budget-friendly and full of protein, Blender Protein Pancakes are one of my very favorite breakfasts…and snacks, too, if I’m being honest!

 

 

Here’s how to make a batch (or two–you know how I love double-batch cooking):

 

 

Ingredients

1 cup cottage cheese (check labels for additives, extra sodium or sugars)

1 cup old fashioned oats

6 egg whites OR 5 whole eggs (depends on your needs)

 

 

Directions

Put ingredients in blender; blend on low for 30 seconds. Turn speed up to medium and blend for approximately one minute until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed.

 

 

(If your blender is on the fritz, you can also easily use a hand mixer…which I had to do last year!)

 

 

Cook over medium-low heat, use cooking oil/fat of your choice (I often use a small teaspoon of coconut oil).

 

 

I also make a berry ‘syrup’ to go over the top by microwaving frozen berries (add some pure maple syrup, organic honey, or stevia if you want to sweeten it up), or top them with some apple butter or fresh fruit.

 

 

*You can add in cinnamon, vanilla extract, etc. to change up the flavor

 

 

Sweet or savory, these easy to grab-and-go pancakes can be a really helpful addition to your kitchen, too.

 

Enjoy the ‘planned-overs’ all week long!

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