Archive for November 28, 2015

5 Ways I Stay Permanently Motivated–and YOU can, too!

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We are entering that crazy, time-speeds-up/there’s so much to do part of the year.  

Events around every corner, presents to be found/purchased/mailed, fewer hours of daylight…it’s enough to mess with the most focused of us!
Interruptions and extra tasks can suck the wind out of our ‘motivation.’  Which is exactly why I say that we don’t really need motivation–because that’s a fleeting feeling, we need PURPOSE.

With an impending household move in the next two weeks, holiday preparations to be made, extra holiday events for each of the kids, and a bunch of doctor’s appointments, vet appointments, my life is a story of total disruption.

 

It would be super easy to just throw my hands in the air and say ‘I give up until January 1,’  BUT over time I’ve fostered a sense of purpose instead of relying on feeling ‘motivated,’ and  it’s this sense of purpose (aka: motivation) that keeps me positive and proactive about my health and fitness 🙂

 

There are five key things I do to maintain my ‘motivation.’  

If you’re in a hurry, you can scroll right down to the list 🙂 

If you’re in the mood for a little story, then start reading here!

 

Although I dabbled in strength training and fitness in my 20’s, it didn’t ‘take’ completely until later.

 

I worked with a personal trainer to learn how to strength train in the first place, because I was clueless, and I saw some remarkable changes in just a few months.  Combined with playing (co-rec) soccer, lifting weights three times a week helped me lose 10 pounds and sculpted muscle I didn’t know I had.

 

Then I graduated from college.

The sudden lifestyle change completely unsettled me;  the uncertainty of that time in my life, combined with the feeling of going it alone knocked me off every workout routine I had and stimulated an emotional eating response.  The result was a significant body change in the opposite direction!

 

Eventually, I became frustrated with feeling soft and stuck, and I hired another trainer.

 

Katherine changed how I looked at my body.

 

While I definitely trained to look better so I could feel better (because that’s how my mind worked then!), Katherine was the first person to introduce the mind-body-spirit balance concept to me.

 

It was her supposition that when one part of your life is way off-kilter, the others suffer as well.  You can’t try to ‘fix’ one aspect of what I now call the ‘Human Trifecta’ without addressing the other parts.

 

I ‘got’ it, but wasn’t emotionally mature enough at the time to really deal with it.

Fast forward several years, two jobs, marriage, an overseas move, a deployment, another overseas move, a new baby, years of yo-yo dieting and inconsistent and ineffective exercising, and finally a devastating injury to where it all started to change.

 

 

In 2006, when my daughter was just 11 months old and I was just starting to ‘get back in shape’ by doing fitness dvd’s at home,  I went riding with a friend who owned barrel racers.

 

Having seen me ride a few times before, she thought I could handle her mare.

 

Unfortunately, the mare was cranky and disagreed, and she darted out of the safety of the sand ring, across the hardened red clay furrows of the Louisiana fields, at Mach 5 in true barrel racer style.

 

Not wanting to wanting to break my neck should she trip and fall, I ditched and landed on my right side, causing tons of soft tissue damage/trauma to my right hip, lumbar spine/both SI joints/pelvis as well as two broken ribs.

 

After the initial recovery, I was faced with a choice:  work hard and do what it took to recover or be in pain or on pain meds for the foreseeable future.

I chose to learn what I needed to do to get better.

 

I started working with a physical therapist, and after a few weeks of that I hired a personal trainer.  This time around, I was motivated to change and invested in learning so that I could rebuild my body.

 

I became acquainted with basic human anatomy and muscle groups, and learned different exercises to strengthen the various muscle groups effectively.

 

I started to run again, in one minute increments, until I could run one mile without pain or stopping.  I started reading fitness magazines, Oxygen in particular at the time, and added to my base knowledge.

 

 

I took OWNERSHIP of my body, of my fate, of my future.

It was the first time I found a deep purpose for working out and running. 

Without consistent strength training, core training and running, my SI joints would cause me pain.

 

With consistency, though, my back was pain-free, even through my second pregnancy.  My purpose was to stay healthy, mobile and pain-free so that I could take care of my kids and family and live a full, uninhibited life.

 

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39 weeks pregnant with baby #2

There is power in that purpose.  

 

Purpose is what keeps you going, what keeps you working out, long after the initial ‘motivation’ has passed.  And routine is what cements it into your life.

Making exercise routine in my life, consistent activities on consistent days—to the very best of my ability, is how I stay ‘motivated.’

 

“Motivation gets you going and habit gets you there.”

~ Zig Ziglar

 

Initially motivated by the desire to look better in college, then reinforced by the desire—no, need—to stay healthy and pain-free, I have ‘cemented’ fitness/exercise into my life through these routines.

 

The Top 5 Ways I Maintain Lasting ‘Motivation’

 

1. Identify my deepest PURPOSE(S).

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

 

2. 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!)

 

3. 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!

 

4. 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.

 

5. 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 to one aspect of my fitness regimen keeps it fresh for me.

Learning and acquiring new skills is exciting, and mastery of a skill is fulfilling and confidence-boosting.  Plus, it helps me be a better trainer for others!

It’s win-win, and it’s also a long-term objective that will never expire or be extinguished, because there will always be new science, new skills to learn, new tools to use, new training interests to pursue.

 

“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 😉

 

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My new ‘tribe’ of like-minded people where I get to learn new skills, too.

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

 

Try out a tip today!  Maybe take one of these quotes and slap it up somewhere it will stare you right in the face and remind you of what YOUR purpose for moving forward is 🙂

Talk to you soon,

Kate

How I f-ed up over the holidays…and how I won’t anymore.

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 Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving.

 

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It’s that day of the year that induces hand-wringing by some (“There’s so much good food and I can’t/shouldn’t eat some/all/any of it!”), enthusiastic and expectant hand-rubbing by others (“Oh yeah, it’s that day to eat whatever I want, ALL DAY LONG.  Bring it on!!”), and just a whole lot of headache for others.

 

 

Thanksgiving also marks the beginning of the holiday season for those of us in the U.S., and  it also often marks a departure from our otherwise normal and balanced eating habits.  

 

“It’s the Holidays!,” you’ll hear people say, “Treat YoSelf,” or “I’ll just have a little this time,” or “I can only get this once a year!” or “C’mon, you can splurge a little, it’s (insert name of holiday gathering, meal or event here).”

 

Growing up, it was normal to me to have tons of special holiday foods around–fudge from Gramma, cookies from everyone, spice breads, fruit cake (but let’s be honest, I didn’t eat THAT), and a ton of other ‘only get them once a year’ treats.

 

Holiday meals were rich and heavy.  It was the norm to fill your plate, stop for a moment after you’d eaten everything on it, then refill on your favorites.  You weren’t done until you were STUFFED.  Then maybe you came back later in the day for more, or pie.

 

It’s probably not a huge shock that I wasn’t a super lean kid, and that in my teens and 20s I continued to put on weight over the holidays.  So I’m pretty familiar with the Holiday Weight Gain phenomena!

 

Then I ‘got fit’ and became a personal trainer.  Which meant I leaned out quite a bit, and was responsible for maintaining a physique worthy of being a trainer.  My abs were my ‘claim to fame,’ lol, so staying fairly lean was a priority.

 

 

Except….except I fell into a certain mindset fallacy that happens to lots of us–the ‘post-diet’ fallacy.

 

You know the one, the “Now that I’m skinny I can eat whatever I want” fallacy.  

 

The one that causes so many post-diet weight gain rebounds–the one that pretty much keeps the diet and supplement industries in business!!!

 

 

Yep, I’d leaned out, ‘gotten abs,’ knew what I was doing, knew all kinds of ‘fat-burning workout tricks,’ and just generally felt invincible because I’d established a maintainable level of exercise: nutrition.

 

 

Enter: The Holidays.

Enter:  Arrogance.

Enter: Complete detachment from realistic thinking and behaviors.

 

For the first 3 years I was a trainer, I engaged in the same pattern of behavior, starting right up on Thanksgiving.

 

Before Thanksgiving, I maintained my normal eating and exercise habits, right up until that Thanksgiving Dinner–no extra treats, no big breaks from normal routines in the kitchen or gym.

 

But then…then my old “It’s the holidays!!” mentality would kick in–only it was a little worse than when I was a teen or 20-something.  Worse, actually, because I felt ‘skinny,’ which amounted to License to EAT.

 

Does anyone else hear me there???

 

I had a big case of ‘I’m ‘X’ size/weight/body fat percentage, so I can eat whatever I want’ thinking.

 

Which worked out great for me…for about 3 weeks.  Then I would start ‘wearing what I was eating,’ because for me it takes about 3 weeks for me to feel/notice weight gain.  Um, oops.

 

 

Only then I’d be full into Christmas season with all its extra events (parties, dinners, Christmas Markets), so I’d just say “Well, I’ll take care of it after Christmas.  It’s the HOLIDAYS after all, it’s not like I’m going to diet until New Year’s!”

 

 

Then New Year’s would come and go, and I’d be uncomfortable with my body and feeling shame about my dietary and body composition backslide.

 

On top of that, it would take me a good 8-12 weeks of hard work and structured eating just to get back to where I’d started on Thanksgiving Day!

 

Oh my goodness, how many of us have been there?!?

 

 

Finally, I just got sick of the whole pattern, so I spent some time examining what I’d done in past years: the thought patterns involved, typical pitfalls, and unhelpful behaviors that were at work.

 

Because before we can do better, we have to know better.  Understanding where my behavior comes from helps me know better to do better!

 

Here’s what I’m doing to avoid any ridiculous holiday-related mindset fallacies or weight changes–things that might just help you ‘stay in the middle’ for the next few weeks, too 🙂

 

–> Changing my mind:  Trading out the old thoughts for new ones.

 

There will be no more “I’m ___ size,” or “I worked out so hard this week, so I can eat whatever I want” thinking.

 

My new mantra:  “I’m staying in the middle, so I can stay in the middle.”

 

–> Dealing with stress more proactively.

 

Stress has provoked some pretty strong emotional eating and drinking reactions in the past, so I recognize that I need to head the feelings of ‘dis-stress’ off at the pass.

 

This means I’ll be writing in my gratitude journal daily, taking short ‘time outs’ when I need them, and using Brendon Burchard’s Productivity Planner to keep my priorities straight.  If it’s not a priority, it’s not getting stressed over!

 

If you’re curious, you can get your own copy at:  http://www.highperformanceacademy.com/HPA-1pageproductivity.pdf

And the YouTube video that expands on the principle: How Millionaires Schedule Their Day

 

 

–> Practicing mindfulness techniques, especially around food.

 

I’m committed to continuing to recognize and monitor my hunger cues, cravings, thirst and satiation (feeling satisfied and full) as I’ve been doing ALL YEAR LONG.  Just because “It’s the Holidays!” doesn’t mean I have a ‘License to EAT,” LOL.

 

I’m also committed to recognizing when I’m tired, and respecting my need to chill, sleep more, lighten up on the workouts, or take a walk instead of self-medicating with caffeine, more food or drinks.

 

–> Planning my Indulgences.

 

Using a practice I call “Planned Indulgences,” I’ve found a method for enjoying treat foods on my own terms.

 

Basically, I know all-or-nothing approaches to treats and treat foods–especially your favorites!–leads to a ‘restrict and binge’ behavior when willpower gets low or your attention isn’t as focused on what you’re eating.

 

As in, when you get ‘caught up in the moment’ at the end of the day or at a special event.

 

Plus, when you spend so much time and energy fixating on what ‘you can’t have,’ you’re taking energy away from noticing all the other amazing things going on around you, which means less enjoyment of the season or special events.  And isn’t the whole point to enjoy ourselves–to be relaxed and appreciative of the specialness of the season?

 

  • So when I look at my schedule for the week, I identify any special events going on.
  • I choose what treats I’ll be enjoying that week–keeping the number reasonable.
  • I set an expectation for myself, and then all I have to do is follow through and enjoy my planned indulgence.
  • No fixating, no stress, no guilt, just enjoyment of the treat AND, moreover, then occasion!

scheduling for the win!

 

–> Practice my ‘Minimum Effective Dose’ approach to eating rich and/or holiday foods.

 

When it comes to taking drugs/medications, the general opinion is to use the smallest amount to get the effect you seek.

Meaning, if 200mg of Ibuprofen alleviates your pain, there’s no need to take 600mg.  You’re always looking to use the ‘minimum effective dose.’

 

Same goes for treat foods!

 

While I definitely use my Planned Indulgence method to have some of the tasty stuff, I also implement my Minimum Effective Dose (MED) approach to enjoying those treat foods.

 

Meaning, why eat a half a pie when a single piece will satisfy the desire to indulge?

 

It’s overkill, it causes tummy ache, and all too often a sense of regret or even shame.  In other words, it’s so not worth it.

 

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Figure out what your MEDs are for your favorite treat foods (which requires being mindful when eating and some ‘guess and testing’), and you’ll be on your way to enjoying the treat foods you like best in a way that’s agreeable with both your palate and ‘staying in the middle.’

 

–> Remembering, and reminding myself, what the true nature and purpose of the holidays and their celebrations are really all about.

 

It can be easy to get caught up in the ‘enjoy holiday foods’ part of the season, and some of us can really get fixated on those foods as being the center of an event.  Understandable, since the turkey dinner with all the fixings is what Thanksgiving features as it’s main event!

 

For a really nice change of family Thanksgiving traditions, check out:

http://www.thethanksgivingreader.com/links/TheThanksgivingReader.pdf

http://www.thethanksgivingreader.com/links/TheThanksgivingReader.pdf

Rather than fixate on ‘getting my fix’ of that certain food, I’m focusing on what I’ll really treasure and remember about each holiday and festivity:  the sights, the sounds, the smells, the PEOPLE.

 

I’ll be stopping to take it all in, to make memories, to take pictures, give hugs, be in the moment.

 

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We don’t get any guarantees about where we’ll be or who’ll still be with us next year, so it’s worth taking that moment in and appreciating all we DO have in the here and now.

 

 

By reflecting on past motivations, mindsets and choices, I’m able to create a new, more agreeable experience for my present–and you can , too.

 

If how you’ve navigated the holiday food waters hasn’t been agreeable with you in the past, try a few of my tips:

  • Trade out the old thought pattern for new, helpful ones
  • Deal with stress more proactively
  • Practice mindfulness techniques, especially around food.
  • Plan your indulgences
  • Remember your treat food MEDs
  • Remember the true essence of the holidays

 

And stay in the middle to stay in the middle–happily.

 

 

To get more tips, mindset tweaks, and done-for-you workouts to keep you ‘in the middle’ and happy, sign up for my weekly email newsletter here:
http://bit.ly/HealthyHappyHolidayYou
A new tip, technique and workout goes out every Friday!

 

#healthyhappyholidayyou

 

 

Trainer Tip Tuesday: Keep The Butt Tight–in BOTH directions

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It’s Trainer Tip Tuesday!

Today’s tip comes from a lesson I’ve recently had the opportunity to revisit as both a trainer and a ‘trainee’: Keep the tension in the butt in BOTH directions.

 

 

 

 

What does THAT mean, you might ask??

 

 

 

It means that to make exercises such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, push ups, planks, glute bridges and hip bridges (plus a mess of other exercises) MORE effective and even safer for our hips and backs, we need to keep our glutes/po-po’s/butts squeezed tight when we’re lifting AND lowering.

 

 

 

It’s super common, especially when we’re either just starting out OR when we’re tired and not fully focused on what we’re doing, to squeeze the glutes in one direction of the movement and totally let them go slack, or ‘on vacation’ as I say with clients, in the other direction.

 

 

Example: The glute bridging movement.

 

 

Usually, we think of squeezing the glutes to raise the hips off the floor, but then ‘drop’ the tension on the way back down, and pretty much just melt back into the floor before regrouping the squeeze in our butts for the next rep.

 

 

BUT, yes pun intended, what’s WAY more effective–and nicer to our spines–is to KEEP the squeeze in the butt on the lowering part of the exercise, so that when our pelvis meets the floor again it ‘kisses’ the floor rather than smushing back into it with basically no muscle control.

 

Another example: The squat.

 

 

We are totally used to having to use our glutes to stand up, but many of us forget to keep it tight on the way down. Know what pays when we ‘drop’ into a squat? Our low backs. And if you add a significant load to that (eg: heavy barbell), bad things can happen–beyond simple failure to move the weight.

 

 

 

BUT, yes pun intended again!, if you lower slowly with tons of squeezing (tension) in your glutes, you’re more likely to have a really nice and successful squat and much less likely to jack yourself up.

 

A third example: The push up.

 

 

What?? An ‘upper body’ exercise?? Yep. One of the best ways to stabilize your spine and execute a solid push up is to, you got it: squeeze the glutes. HARD–as in as tight as you can. It’ll spare your back and make your push ups that much easier. REALLY!

 

 

Try it all out for yourself! See how exercises/movements feel when you’re just going through the motions with muscles ‘hanging out on vacation’ (as in WAY too relaxed) vs. how it feels when you really put some focus on keeping the glutes tight in BOTH directions.

 

 

It’s a simple change that can make your workouts more effective, safer, and that much more interesting–because when you’re concentrating hard on how much you can feel you butt working, you don’t have time to be bored!

 

 

So remember to keep it TIGHT in both directions to get the most bang for your buck 🙂

Trainer Tip Tuesday: be YOUR best you–at any size

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It’s Trainer Tip Tuesday, and this one is both close to my heart and one of the core values of Real Life Fit by Kate:

Be YOUR best you.

 

 

There are so many ideas, thoughts and opinions about what our ‘best’ should be, and sometimes all that noise is hard to shut out!

 

But really, at the end of the day, WE have to define for ourselves what OUR best sounds, looks, moves and feels like.

 

I was so inspired and moved by my cousin Lisa’s words today, which demonstrate this belief in action so well:

 

“Today I am thankful that I am strong. I have an auto immune disease that is debilitating sometimes, but….I am strong. I have a job where I lift heavy patients who can’t move much sometimes, and I can do it easily. I can run! I am good at it! I’m not a super fast runner, but I can do it. I find a pace that I can maintain, and I can run forever. That’s my goal, not speed. I’m not stick-thin, I have muscles and am thankful for my dads genes. I am strong and grateful for it!”

 

 

We live in a culture where skinny and super lean are touted as ‘fit’ and the ideal version of the female form.

 

I call bullshit.

 

 

I say it’s up to each and every one of us to decide and define what OUR best version of ourselves is–in terms of skills, abilities, size, shape, strength, and our quality of character.

 

There is no wrong way to have a body

Which is why I say often, and hashtag even more frequently:  Be YOUR best you.

 

Spend time finding out what you want, what makes you tick, what you value most, and how YOU want to be in this world–then make your actions, your fitness, nutrition and personal choices align with that best version of you.

 

Anything else is just cheating yourself.

 

And you deserve to live a full and meaningful life.

 

#beyourbestyou

Trainer Tip Thursday: Which shoes do I wear when I lift??

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It’s the special Trainer Tip THURSDAY edition 🙂

This week, by request, the topic is how to choose which shoes for which athletic endeavors and fitness activities.

 

The question I got was:
“I’ve been realizing that shoe choices are not just important for running, but possibly for lifting as well. Could you do a Trainer Tip Tuesday in the future about how to figure out what to look for/what is important in the shoes you wear for lifting? So far I just wear cross trainers which has proven not the best choice but lifting shoes confuse me right now. “

 

Such a great question, and an important one, too! So, I’ll give a long answer and a short answer. If you’re interested in the ‘whys’ of the situation, keep reading; if you just want the shoe recommendations, skip to the bottom 🙂

 

Many of us do know that we need certain kinds of running shoes depending on our running gait, mileage, our weight, our age, the kind of surface we run on (trail vs. street), and whether we overpronate (foot rolls inward) or supinate (foot rolls outward).

 

I always recommend going to a running store for a video or at least visual assessment of your running gait so you are better able to choose the shoe that fits your needs best. I can’t even tell you how much pain I caused myself and money I wasted guessing which shoe would work before I started going to running stores to tap into their expertise. And runners LOVE to talk about running, so the salespeople are usually really passionate about helping you find the right shoe. Bonus: once you find the right shoe, you can order it online (maybe even for a discount) from then on!

 

But the weightlifting shoe issue isn’t one that’s as well known in general fitness circles. So here goes!

 

I lifted weights, and even did aerobics classes, in running shoes for YEARS.

 

It wasn’t until after I’d had my PT certification for about 9 months and really started to get into the mechanics of movement patterns that I realized my running shoes weren’t the best choice for lifting.

 

The trouble with running shoes is a) they usually have a larger heel lift, b) the soles are thick and often highly cushioned and c) don’t necessarily fit the foot snugly.

 

a) Having a heel lift, where the heel is significantly higher than the ball of the foot, changes the standing posture.

 

It unevenly distributes the weight on the foot to the front of the foot, and shifts the position (the tilt) of the pelvis forward. This can both lend to a more pronounced curve, or ‘sway’ in the low back, and it also puts more of the work of standing into the quads/front of the leg.

 

*Check it out: stand up without shoes and feel what muscles are active when your feet are flat on the floor. Now lift your heels up off the floor slightly: What did you feel change?*

 

b and c) For most ground-based exercises, being perched more on your toe is not a great way to perform these exercises. It puts a little too much work on the front half of the body, and takes some away from the back half–which is usually the half we need to train a little harder!

 

Lungeing is less stable, deadlifting is harder (on the spine), standing overhead exercises require greater knee and pelvis position changes to avoid adverse pressure on the low back, and the landing aspect of lateral movements and jumping activities is MUCH less stable.

 

The exception? Squatting. Squatting is one of those exercises where having a heel lift *sometimes* helps, or is advantageous. This is where those special ‘lifting’ shoes come in.

 

The mechanics of the squat require that there is flexion (bending) happening in three main joints: the ankle, knee and hip. When someone is really stiff in their ankles (often from very tight soleus or gastroc muscles/facsia), they are not able to bend enough in their ankles to allow the knees to travel forwards enough to allow their hip to then lower into a full squat position.

 

The lack of ankle mobility translates into having a harder time achieving optimal depth (parallel and below), which often translates into someone compensating for their inability to move the knee more forward/sink into the squat by rounding in their lower back to sink their hips lower….which is a story that will never end well, especially when higher weights are being used.

 

So many people, especially those who are more into lifting heavy or powerlifting, will opt to use lifting shoes to give them a heel lift while also giving them a flat sole with lots of ground contact.

 

BUT not everyone who lifts heavy NEEDS to have them! Some people do, some people like wearing ‘the right gear,’ and some people think it gives them an advantage. **BTW, I made sure to double-check my assertions with a local powerlifting champion and trainer, Rob Powell of CrossFit Ansbach, because while I understand the mechanics, I’m not a powerlifter and it’s always best to ask a seasoned pro when you need specific and expert advice**

 

Bottom line on the lifting shoes recommendations:

 

*Try to get shoes that have a flatter sole and less cushion. Many people who are hardcore lifters wear low-top Converse 🙂

*Make sure the shoe has enough arch support, if you have super high arches, but not too much extra padding inside.

*Try to get shoes that are ‘zero drop’ or only have a small drop, like 4mm. (Drop refers to the amount of height change between the heel and ball of foot)

*Make sure the width of the shoe is a good fit for your foot. Too wide means sliding around and can cause further foot discomfort/issues–trust me on this one!

*If you’re lifting and doing HIIT or Metabolic Conditioning in the same workouts, make sure the soles have enough flexibility and just enough cushion to make movements such as sprinting, jump squats, box hops and any other impact activities comfortable.

 

 

My preference (so far) are the New Balance Minimus shoes. They come in multiple widths, aren’t outrageously expensive, have just enough cushion and either 4mm or zero mm drop.

 

They’ve been a fantastic shoe for heavy lifting and for conditioning workouts of all kinds, AND my last pair lasted me two years (no cushion means not needing to replace them as often as running shoes!).
http://www.newbalance.com/womens-running/shoes/

 

Other people who train at CrossFit Ansbach wear INOV8 and love them, some the Reebok line of ‘CrossFit’ or lifting shoes (trendy or a great fit? No answer there), as well as just the classic Converse, or just lift barefoot.

 

http://www.inov-8.com/New/Global/Product-View-Footwear-Fitness-BareXF-210-W-Green-Blue-Yellow.asp?L=26&A=&GFemale

 

http://www.reebok.com/us/reebok-crossfit-sprint-2.0-sbl/V66191.html

 

Merrell also makes some great minimalist shoes that might fit the bill, too.

 

http://www.merrell.com/US/en/bare-access-arc-3/16983W.html?dwvar_16983W_color=J06302#cgid=women-footwear-shoes&prefn1=bestFor&prefv1=Running&start=1

 

And my very last recommendations:

 

–>Go a try a bunch of them on. Walk around in them, so squats in them, do side lunges in them. See how they move and feel!

 

–>Look for people who are built and train like you at the gym, and ask them about their shoes (I did that when I wanted to know more about the Inov 8 shoes!).

 

–>Make sure that whatever you choose meets YOUR particular training wants and physical needs.

 

And, PLEASE, don’t do deadlifts in running shoes or shoes with big heel lifts–that means you, soldiers at lunchtime wearing your uniform boots!!!