Archive for September 17, 2015

The T-Shirt said…

The T-Shirt read:

“I am practicing mindfulness, compassion, and loving kindness, so don’t piss me off.”

 

Who can relate?!? It’s easier to be in the flow when no one is pissing you off 😉

In all seriousness though, I’ve been actively invested in practicing compassion, kindness, and forgiveness towards others for the past year in particular.
(Side note–being kind does not mean taking shit.)

I try pretty hard every day to think kind thoughts or forgive crappy behavior. You never know what’s going on with another person–like with the shrill-voiced, snipey flight attendant on my flight into Asheville. I chalked it up to having a long day dealing with flight delays, half-working air conditioning on the plane, and random storms. Done, moving on.

The gorgeous thing about actively thinking kind, compassionate, forgiving thoughts about others? It’s helped me to be kinder, more compassionate and more forgiving towards myself–which allows me to grow with an open heart rather than hide and shrink in shame. Kind of a big deal.

Like when I slipped into ‘fangirl’ mode, rather than fitness business owner and coach mode, when I met someone I’ve admired in the biz who is super accomplished (Jen Sinkler, of Lift Weights Faster, which by the way is such an awesome program and resource).

I felt like such a schmuck afterwards, and it took a little bit to shake it off. But, like I did with the flight attendant, I just chalked it up to it being my first business rodeo and not having matured enough as a fit pro yet. No biggie, just something to learn from. Done, moving on.

Same thing when I make a poor food choice, or don’t show up with my best for a workout, or give in a little sooner than I need to when things are hard. I practice kindness, compassion, forgiveness and move on. Because being harsh with myself makes me want to shrink, not grow. And I’m in the business, personally and professionally, of growing greater and helping others do the same.

Kindness, compassion and forgiveness rock. Throw in a sprinkle of gratitude, and you have a formula for growing forward in greater peace.

What the heck is Thankful Thursday???

It’s Thankful Thursday! 

The day I’ve dedicated at Real Life Fit where we stop to express gratitude for the gifts we have in our lives.

 

It’s pretty easy to get caught up in ‘what’s wrong’ in our lives, in the stress and frustrations we all experience.

 

What helps hugely is pausing for a minute (or 5) to think about all those things in our lives that are good or going well–even if it’s as simple as saying: I have a roof over my head.

 

The less we take for granted, especially our health and the health of those we love, the happier we will be, the more at peace we will be, and the more forward progress we will make in our lives. Really! Practicing daily gratitude exercises has made a world of difference in my own life over the past year.

 

Give it a try if expressing gratitude hasn’t been a regular practice of yours! Just start with filling in the blank: “Today I am grateful for ____________.”

 

Today I am grateful for...

 

And if you want to, feel free to share here in the comments section! 🙂

Wishing you a more peaceful day, filled with gratitude and grace!

Workout Wednesday! Sept 16, 2015

It’s Workout Wednesday! 

This one is a workout I did while on vacation–the hotel only had cardio machines and a few ‘nautilus’ machines, so I opted to use my Bodybands to make this fun workout.

It’s a posterior-chain (backside of your body) focused workout, because after sitting in the car for so many hours, my backside needed some training!

To make the Straight-Arm Lat Press-Downs work, I threw a band over the frame of the (broken) Lat Pull-Down machine and looped it through itself. Worked like a charm! *I’ll post a demo of this move soon*

With a little creativity, you can get an awesome workout anywhere!It's Workout Wednesday!This week's fun is

The Ear-Plane Epiphany

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Exercise isn’t always about losing weight or getting leaner or ‘toning up,’ like I’ve said in other posts.

Sometimes exercise is about surviving plane rides.  Yep, you read that right:  exercise is about surviving plane rides.

When most of us start working out, particularly if we didn’t play sports as a kid, it’s generally because we want to lose weight, get in shape, get ready for a vacation or big trip or reunion or wedding.  In other words, we work out to look better.  And there’s nothing wrong with that!

It’s just that over time, our reasons for working out can evolve.  Sometimes working out becomes about growing a stronger mind or spirit—learning to endure emotional or mental discomfort through enduring exercise discomfort.

I know personally that distance running has served as a means by which I learned to better endure my husband’s deployments, particularly those phases during a deployment when everything went to shit:  the car broke down, appliances and plumbing failed, the kids got sick, the kids were ‘losing their minds’ and there was only me to hold it together/pick up the pieces.

Those parts of longer runs where things started to hurt, and I wanted relief, I wanted to quit, to escape the discomfort—but didn’t—I learned in those miles and moments that I could hang in there.

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Finishing out the Munich Half in 2014: That one was rough.

I learned I could find a place in my head where my determination was greater than my discomfort, and that I could ride it out:  the pain wouldn’t last forever.  I was tough enough to endure, with some grace even.

 

Those lessons have been invaluable over the years.

Lately I’ve been doing more conditioning/high intensity workouts where I’m asked to push to the brink of my capabilities and definitely past my comfort levels.  I think the longest one has been twelve minutes.  But that’s twelve minutes of constant, high-level exertion, where I am keenly aware of the passing of each minute, and I’m once again managing my own thoughts—fighting not to give up or retreat back into my comfort zone.

But even the shorter conditioning bouts, 3-4 minutes of sustained near-maximal effort, can be a real test of will, and I’ve had to learn how to maintain calm while exerting myself and enduring.  

 

This is the lesson that saved my bacon today.

Like I said at the beginning, sometimes exercise is about surviving plane rides.  

I’m a pretty seasoned traveller: I’ve been married to my husband, and therefore the US Army, for 13 years.  Our first duty station was in Darmstadt, Germany, so I became a world traveller while we were engaged and I still lived in Seattle.  We’ve lived in 4 different places since 2002 (we’re lucky we’ve moved so little, actually), and I’ve gotten good at flying all over the US and Europe, usually with two kids in tow.

When they were babies, I had to be really careful and conscious of the change in cabin pressure on take-off and landing, and I always made sure they had a bottle, or pacifier or gum as they got older.  It’s what us moms do!  I never had to worry about myself; the ear pressure thing was a non-issue for me.

Until today, that is!

I made a quick business trip (SO much fun to say that as a military spouse in particular) from where we live in Germany to Asheville, NC, and back again 4 days later.

This morning, the morning I was supposed to fly home, I woke up not just with a stuffy nose and a sore throat, but some serious pressure in my ears—at just a little above sea level.

This did not bode well for my trip.

Despite my best efforts at trying to clear the congestion (water, Sudafed, nose blowing), I just couldn’t get the pressure to release.  Take off wasn’t so awful, but our descent into Amsterdam???

Pure.  Extended. Hell.  

For the last 10 minutes of the flight, I stared at the flight tracker on the video console in the seat in front of me.  With every minute, the pressure grew worse and drinking water and swallowing constantly were no help.  By the last 4 minutes, I was bent over in my seat, pressing both ears closed as tightly as I could, praying my eardrums could take it without rupturing.

The urge to panic was growing as I contemplated all the horrible things that could happen to my ears and how it would mess up my health and my workouts and, and, and….

Then my experience enduring conditioning workouts, my practice in managing intense feelings and staying calm anyway kicked in.  I focused on breathing normally, continued to remind myself I could handle anything for 3 more minutes, no matter how painful, and that even if the worst happened, I would heal and be okay.

And I managed.

The pain was exquisite, the pressure unlike anything I’ve felt or experienced in my ears before, nothing helped besides practically pushing my fingers into my ears…but I managed.  Nothing ruptured, I didn’t cry (although I wanted to join in with the baby in the back of the plane!), and I stayed calm.  Exercise helped me survive the nastiest descent I’d ever experienced—calmly.

Sometimes exercising is about burning the calories or building the muscle.  Sometimes it’s about building endurance.  And sometimes it’s about learning to handle the ugly and unwanted feelings, physical and emotional, calmly….and even with a little grace.

The ONE true purpose of exercise.

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You’ve probably heard the saying ‘abs are made in the kitchen.’

Which is true. Well, mostly true.

 

It would be more accurate to say abs are revealed by what we do ‘in the kitchen,’ because it’s our daily nutritional practices that primarily influence our degree of leanness/ body fat percentage.  So, yes, diet IS very important to creating and sustaining any body composition.

But what about exercise?

 

I’ve given it a lot of thought lately–that yes, positive and sustainable daily nutritional practices help us influence our overall body fat %, but diet alone isn’t enough.

I say diet alone is not enough not just because we need exercise to build the abs waiting to be revealed by our efforts in the kitchen.  I say it because we need to build more than visible abs and a sculpted physique;  we need to build a strong and resilient body, mind and spirit.

And if abs are made in the kitchen, a strong spirit and confidence are made in the gym/out on the road.

I’m a movement junkie at this point.

 

I love to move, to challenge my muscles, to grow stronger through consistent efforts over time.  Not just because it feels good–and it does–but because it makes me feel vital and alive. 

Even more, rising up to meet a new strength or endurance challenge becomes about so much more than a simple feat of physical strength.

It tests my courage, too–my willingness to do difficult things, to dare to try things beyond my known abilities, to manage my fear when things are so hard they seem un-doable, then find I really can do them anyways.

Character is forged through physical effort and struggle.

Character is something that isn’t made in the kitchen; it can’t be made just by minding dietary practices and making healthier choices.

While those things are important and a critical part of a healthy lifestyle, they aren’t enough alone.  ‘I feel amazing–like I can take on anything!’ said no one ever who just chose a salad over fruit loops.

But someone who just PR’d their squat or deadlift, or did their first unassisted pull-up, or just completed any workout they once thought ‘undoable’?  Yeah, you’ll hear it from them.

There is satisfaction in making each good food choice, but it’s brief at best.

But finding that you are physically, mentally a spiritually capable of something really hard, something that you thought you could never do–that’s powerful.

That lasts.

That changes your character:

It changes how you carry yourself through life.

It changes how you perceive your world.

Fewer things are off-limits, that which you feel capable of doing/accomplishing/cabaple of increases.  Your ability to endure, persist and prevail increases.
This is why I am an advocate for moving more, for lifting weights–especially women!, and for doing hard and challenging things.

Building a slimmer you is only a small part of the fitness puzzle.

Building a strong body and resilient spirit is the bigger part.

Your abs may be ‘made in the kitchen,’ but your character is forged by iron.

When in doubt…persist.

I find in the beginning of so many of our fitness and lifestyle changes, we get excited about our new journey and have fresh, strong intentions.

 

We charge out the gate, determined to do what it takes to meet our goals, and we go strong…for about three weeks.

 

Then things start to get harder.

Our initial enthusiasm wanes, we get tired, we get sore, we get tired AND sore, and we don’t necessarily have many observable results to reassure us that we’re on the right track.

 

This is where your grit comes in.

This is where you have to go forward on faith, one foot in front of the other (literally and figuratively), and you just have to persist.

 

Losing steam isn’t a sign it’s ‘not meant to be,’ it’s the place where we grow–stronger, more determined, more resilient.

 

Lean into the struggle, believe in your efforts, structure your schedule and life to support your efforts, get a mantra (or 2 or 10!), get a support network and tap into them–whether it’s a friend, family member or online fitness community.

 

Persist, persist, persist.

The hard part is where you grow.

And it’s the part you will also be most proud of yourself, because you continued.

Trainer Tip Tuesday: Cueing the Pull Up!

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It’s Trainer Tip Tuesday!

This week’s tip is for the pull up–pretty much my favorite exercise ever.

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But it wasn’t always…not so long ago it seemed like something I’d never be able to do, but persistence pays off!

That and a using a few smart training tips and cues 🙂

 

These days, I’m working on being able to do more pull-ups and higher quality (chest to bar, not just chin over bar), even at the END of a tough workout.

 

I’ve struggled a bit until recently, when I heard the greatest cue (direction) from Susi, one of the trainers at CrossFit Ansbach.

“Pull the bar down to you.”

 

For the LONGEST time, I’ve been pulling my chest up to the bar–because that’s what I’d learned to do.

 

 

But pulling the bar down to me? That was new–and wicked effective.

One moment I was struggling to get a half-rep, the next my chest was practically touching the bar, and I hadn’t taken a break. Shoot!

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Sometimes all it takes to really ‘get’ an exercise is the right kind of cue.

Thing is, that’s often different for different people because we all communicate and think slightly differently than each other! (Wouldn’t want to make it easy or anything….:P)

 

Anyway, next time you’re getting under the bar to work on your pull-ups, think about the idea of ‘pulling the bar down to you,’ rather than pulling yourself up to the bar. It just might be the cue that works for you, too!

 

And let me know how it goes!