Do you have the Courage to Do Less? (part 2)

In part 1, we talked about how our culture celebrates work and activity and can be almost hostile, it seems, to rest and renewal. ESPECIALLY in the fitness industry! Which is really quite counterproductive as evidenced by my own story. 🙂 So how do we stay fit while moving away from the ‘go hard or go home’ mindset? How do we find balance?

To maintain a powerful pulse in our lives, we must learn how to rhythmically spend and renew energy. *

The reason I loved The Power of Full Engagement so much is because the point  of the book is that rest allows us to stop going through the motions and more fully engage in life, whether that be in business, fitness, or relationships. The author’s point is stated simply in this question: “If you could wake up tomorrow with significantly more positive focused energy to invest at work and with your family, how significantly would that change your life for the better?”.

Prioritizing rest is prioritizing your work, your loved ones, your health, your quality of life. http://fleurdelissalon.net/pma/ That is why rest is so important.  follow url That is why I believe rest should be just as much of a priority as work.

rest pic

So with that being said, here are few things I have learned to implement that have really helped me Do Less and therefore, find more balance:

1) Managing energy, not time

Allow me to start with a story. My first real job was cleaning hotel rooms. Since I’m not a morning person, I figured I would just workout after work. Only problem with this was that I was on my feet, vacuuming, scrubbing, picking up after random people, and making beds the entire day. So when I did actually get a workout in, it wasn’t a very productive one. So I tried working out before work. As much as I hated getting up earlier than I absolutely had to, this ensured that I had plenty of energy and got a good workout in. Plus it turns out I actually had more energy throughout the work day as well!

Many of us have a story like this, right? We put together our schedule, looking for where we can fit this or that in, without any concern as to the energy it will take to accomplish it. This is why so many people struggle to get to the gym regularly. Sure, most of us have plenty of time to workout after work, but without the energy to do it it doesn’t really matter how much time you have!

 Energy, not time, is our most precious resource. *

Take some time to learn yourself. Figure out when you are the most energetic and productive. Schedule the most important things you want to get done during those times. Then let the rest be what it is. Learning to manage your energy can be tricky. You have to let go of the “superman/superwoman” mentality, BUT I think you will also be surprised how much you get done.

where can i buy orlistat 120mg 2) Actively disengaging

Going right along with scheduling your priorities around your most productive time, we also have to allow for down time.

It’s been shown that people produce a higher quantity and quality of work in shorter bursts (90-120 minutes) followed by a time of deliberate rest or actively disengaging (even if it is just 5-10 minutes). Actively disengaging means deliberately shifting your attention from achievement to restoration. Your body needs this whether it be for a project, a workout, or a conversation. You can’t give your full attention to everything without any breaks and then expect to keep up the same amount of focus all day long.

Running yourself ragged day after day, beating yourself up about the things you didn’t get done, that’s no way to live. Plus, it’s completely unsustainable, meaning eventually something will give out.

Schedule specific times for rest and rejuvenation.

Set up clear boundaries between work and home. Learning to actively disengage enables you to be productive at work, then go home and be all there for your loved ones.

3) Learning when to rest and when to go hard

Yes, in order to reach most goals, especially in the gym, you will have to push past perceived limitations and learn how to deal with discomfort.  But there also needs to be a balance between too little and too much! (For more specifics on what that looks like in the gym, go here.)

Back in the day, when I was still running myself ragged in the gym, I would often make some of my best gains after coming back from vacation. It’s embarrassing that I never put it together back then. No one can go at 100% intensity all of the time. We have to back off and give our bodies rest so that we can come back stronger and with more intensity.

Nearly every elite athlete we have worked with over the years has to come to us with performance problems that could be traced to an imbalance between the expenditure and the recovery of energy.*

Sometimes you just need to take it easy, back off on the weight a bit, and focus on the basics. Sometimes you need to take the day off and just go for a long walk instead. As you learn to listen to your body, you will also learn when it’s feeling good and can be pushed harder.

When in balance, people tend to experience:

  • Fewer injuries
  • Better hormone balance
  • Lower stress levels
  • Less anxiety
  • Higher productivity
  • Deeper relationships
  • More happiness and contentment

Dan John, a world renowned fitness expert and strength coach, was talking about training when he said, “you have to have the courage to do less.”

It is a little scary, isn’t it? But the benefits above are the things that lead to higher consistency, which in turn leads to fat loss and a healthier mindset & lifestyle!

The challenge is finding that balance for yourself. It might not be easy, but it is definitely worth it.

What do you think? Do you have a hard time believing more rest could actually help instead of hinder your progress? What tools do you use in order to unsure you’re getting enough rest? Leave a comment over on the Beth Burns Fitness facebook page and let me know! 🙂

*All quotes from: The Power of Full Engagement by Loehr and Schwartz. I highly recommend.

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Do you have the Courage to Do Less? (Part 1)

We live in a world that celebrates work and activity, ignores renewal and recovery, and fails to recognize that both are necessary for sustained high performance.*

The other day, I was giving my marathon-running friend a hard time because she was complaining about how hard it is to taper off her running in preparation for an upcoming race. My other friend then commented on how funny it is that I’m the fitness person and yet here I am, encouraging her to enjoy it, to sit on the couch and relax a little more! But this is what most of us think, right? That fitness-junkies and personal trainers are all about this:

 

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For the most part, it’s true. In fact, health and fitness isn’t the only realm in which we hold to this ridiculous type of mindset. This was my own mindset for a long time….

I used to feel guilty about relaxing. I lived on as little sleep as possible, which usually meant 4-6 hours for me. I thought walking, or anything else that didn’t feel challenging, was a waste of time. I thought, along with most Americans,  that there was a certain nobility in being busy all the time. To the point where I was even embarrassed if I didn’t have a list of stuff I’d done over the weekend. I pretty much lived in a constant state of anxiety.

I’m not trying to be dramatic. I’ve never had anxiety attacks or needed medication. It was more of an inner struggle, but unfortunately it still caused a whole host of issues for me. My hormones got completely out of whack and I got sick easily. I never listened to my body so my joints ached and I dealt with a lot of injuries. Then, my body just literally started forcing me to rest more. I couldn’t read or watch movies without falling asleep. My progress, both in and out of the gym, plateaued. When I got sick, it took a lot longer for me to recover than it should have. I was a bit of a hot mess. 🙂

So why I am sharing these experiences with you? Because quite honestly, I’ve had enough of it and I want this kind of mentality gone. We’ve got enough imbalance, stress, and guilt to deal with.

Being fit is not about who can do the most or go the longest or endure the most pain. Ignoring pain signals, working out when you’re really sick or already exhausted, making yourself vomit or super sore on a regular basis… these things are not healthy. The all-or-nothing attitude is what leads to burnout, injury, or not even beginning in the first place!

When I started prioritizing rest and allowing myself to rest more, what do you know, I actually became less anxious and more productive! It was like a weight was lifted off of my chest (which probably seems counter-intuitive: most of us seem to think that if we’re resting more, we will be getting less done).

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Let’s get away from go hard or go home, perfection or nothing! True health is not found in the person who needs the least amount of rest, but in the person who has found the perfect balance of work to rest. As Dan John puts it: You have to have the courage to do less.

Do you?

~

Next time, we’ll go over some practical ideas for what this looks like so stay tuned for Part 2! But for now I’ll leave you with this one final quote:

“The busier we are, the more important we seem to ourselves and, we imagine, to others. To be unavailable to our friends and family, to be unable to find time for the sunset (or even to know the sun has set at all), to whiz through our obligations without time for a mindful breath, this has become the model of a successful life. (W. Muller)

We have lost connection to the simple but profound message of the Twenty-third Psalm: “He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” *

 

*All quotes from: The Power of Full Engagement by Loehr and Schwartz. I highly recommend. 😉

 

How creating a website relates to the fitness lifestyle

“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his step.”  ~Proverbs 16:9

So way back in April, I decided it was time to redo my website in order to make it a better representation of who I am and what I’m all about. Not only was that a tall order in and of itself, but I also decided to make it myself… from scratch…. using a completely different and much more intense system than my first website. And thus began the journey toward making this current website that you are now FINALLY on. 🙂 Turns out that creation and change are a similar process. The great part is that my mistakes are your gain! Ha ha, eh. My hope is that by sharing some of what I went through with you guys, it will a) help you to see that you’re not alone and everybody goes through these struggles in some area of their lives, and b) help you change your mindset & not make the same mistakes in your own fitness journey! So here goes…

Have faith. Everything going wrong doesn’t necessarily mean anything…

do not be defeated

I mentioned on Facebook that last Tuesday I had a bit of a meltdown. OK, it was a full on MAJOR meltdown. I was so close to being done with the website, but there were a bunch of little things that just would not go right! I ended up SO frustrated that I literally wanted to walk away. I told Joel that maybe this was just a sign that it’s not meant to be and I should just stick with my old website. Now I was in the throws of an emotional breakdown, but seriously, what a silly way to think. When have you ever heard that you should only do something if it’s always easy and smooth sailing? Even with the best laid plans, vacations, weddings, businesses & fitness programs still run into problems.

The fitness journey is certainly the same way. I used to be stuck in this cycle where I would be really perfect with my eating until I had a couple of bad days. That’s when I would just chuck the rest of the week, eat however I wanted, and start over next the Monday. The problem with this is that I never learned anything that way! And then I’d wonder why I never made any progress!

*The only way to make progress is to stop starting over, and the only way to stop that is to stop quitting. Before you ever start something, consciously clear your mind of any picture perfect scenarios. This is life! There will be bumps in the road – a bad meal, a bad day, or even a couple of bad days – and you will slip up. The only way to improve and move forward is by allowing yourself to go through those tough situations, learning how to work through them, and not giving up!

“The best way out is always through.”   ~Robert Frost

Be patient

Creating a brand new website, building a new business, or getting the physique you want, takes time. I know. I don’t like it either, but it’s the truth. Be very careful not to set unrealistic goals. Remember that even the realistic goals often don’t go as planned. Be ready to be patient and persistent.

Ditch the one track mind

I admit there were a couple of days I went a little overboard with the website. In the name of powering through, I ignored my coach and my husband as I literally sat in front of the computer the ENTIRE day (except for the occasional quick run downstairs for food). By the end of those days, my vision was blurry and I was so fried I had absolutely nothing left for anything or anyone else and I still couldn’t stop thinking about finishing the website.

Looking back on last Tuesday’s meltdown, I realize now that the one track mind did me little favors and was actually a major cause of it. Two things to consider when working towards a specific goal:

#1. It’s been shown that people produce a higher quantity and quality of work when they deliberately take time to rest and recover. In The Power of Full Engagement they say it’s not just resting, but actively disengaging from work and deliberately shifting your attention from achievement to restoration. Your body works the same way. You can’t continuously break it down, never give it any rest or recovery, and then expect to keep making gains. Running it into the ground day after day rarely achieves the goal, is itself unsustainable, and is certainly no way to live. Set up specific times for rest and rejuvenation. Take leisure walks. Get enough sleep. Learn when to push and when to back off. These things are just as important as the work part, if not more so!

#2. The one track mind is a gateway to the mindset that if you could just have this one thing then everything would be better, perfect, easier, etc. We all know that’s not true, but this is such a sneaky little thought that creeps in without us even noticing. Time away and actively disengaging from the project or goal at hand allows for reality and perspective to take hold. There’s more to life than your waist measurement or how you look in a swimsuit. Your life won’t be perfect and all your problems will not be solved by attaining the perfect body.

Now I’m not saying that there aren’t appropriate times to dig in and power through. What I am saying is that whether you’re creating or changing, this stuff takes time. Be careful when determining timelines!! Added stress and pressure never help anything so relax a little! Your life is not on hold until you get there. Your life is happening right now. Don’t let the one goal so consume you that you miss all the other victories you’ve already achieved and all the other important things in your life.

And if you really want something, stop starting over. Keep going. Through the days where it feel like you’re soaring and the days where it feels like you’re trudging through the mud. You will get there….but it’s still not the end-all be-all. 😉

“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”    -Michael Jordan

6 Ways to Stop Cravings from Owning You

Admittedly, I’ve had my ups and downs with cravings. I’ve had times where they weren’t much of an issue and then I’ve had times where I got lazy and fell back into old habits. When I first started working from home, I really struggled with them. I would crave stuff when I was procrastinating or when I couldn’t figure something out and I wanted to quit. I’ve struggled with the nightly sugar cravings. I’ve felt like they were so strong I simply could not resist. So honestly, this is still a practice for me as well.

I know they have a purpose. It’s one of the ways your body communicates with your brain on how it’s feeling and can be a window into deeper issues such as hormonal imbalance or vitamin deficiency. However, the body also doesn’t like change and will resist it just because it has become accustomed to a certain way of eating. So sometimes cravings can feel very real, but are more about your body being conditioned to intake a certain amount of food or a certain kind of food at a certain time of day (i.e. sugar in the evenings.). Either way, they often just feel like another obstacle on the journey to healthier eating habits and especially fat loss. So how do we deal with them?

First, it’s important to learn how to decipher if they are a physical or mental craving.  When you first start paying attention to this, it can be hard to distinguish which is which. Physical cravings are the actual feelings of hunger or low energy levels. Mental cravings are what Joel and I like to call mouth hunger. That’s when your mouth is craving the taste of something even though your stomach is not hungry. Mental cravings can also show up when your mind is drained and feeling like it needs a break.

Of course, you can make sure you’re drinking enough water and give yourself a cut-off time in the evening. I actually use both of those, but I wanted to give you a couple you might not have heard of yet. Some of the newer things that are really working for me.

Keep in mind, I put them in categories but some of these work for both mental and physical cravings….

Physical Cravings

*First and foremost, make sure you’re eating and drinking enough!!

For most of us, breakfast and lunch tend to be our healthier meals because we’re more mentally fresh and awake. Make sure you are eating enough here! Because as the day goes on and we use up our limited amount of willpower, we grow more mentally and physically tired. So if you’re ravenous by the time dinner rolls around, you’re either not eating enough or at least, not enough of a certain food group.

–Always have healthy snacks available to take the edge off. I like to keep a protein bar in my purse. Some other great options are a handful of nuts, veggies with a little bit of hummus, rolled lunch meat and cheese, or fruit.

— Get enough protein. Protein helps keep you full. About a palm size for women (that’s about 20-30 grams) and 2 of those for men at each meal.

*Buffer foods.

This was introduced to me by my coach, Jill Coleman. These are foods that won’t help or hurt your goals, but they take the edge off. Things like dark chocolate, wine, or nut butters are great at this…as long as they’re eaten in moderation. My personal summertime favorites are watermelon and frozen dark chocolate-covered bananas.

SO. GOOD.

SO. GOOD.

*A little bonus one: Mint. Mint is actually a natural appetite suppressant and can be very helpful in dealing with cravings. Mint tea, sugar-free mint gum, or brushing your teeth have all been shown to help!

Mental Cravings

*Distract yourself! Often times, our minds are just bored and/or tired and are looking for something to do. Usually this occurs while we’re sitting in front of the tv, so the best thing to do is get up! Go for a walk, take a bath, read a book, or just go to bed.

I’m always amazed at quickly my cravings fade when I get outside with some fresh air. It’s like my head clears and everything snaps back into focus. I realize I really am fine and I really don’t need that sweet.

*Give into it…but just a little.

This is something I’ve started practicing more recently. If you’re really craving something, allow yourself a small handful. Really enjoy and savor each bite and then be done with it. That’s it. I know this might sound silly but it works for 2 really good reasons:

1) It allows for nothing to be off limits. What can I say, we always want what we can’t have! It’s actually been proven that when something is off limits you will crave it even more. This makes it so nothing is off limits, but gives us practice in how to control our cravings. This helps us avoid going all in and feeling pretty good about it….until afterwards that is. 🙂

 

 

2) It builds up your willpower. Willpower is like a muscle. It has to be consistently worked to get stronger. It may not feel like it at first, but it will get stronger. As you build it up, you’ll start seeing it as a challenge. Can I eat just 1 french fry? Can I be good with 3 bites of ice cream?

How nice would it be to able to really enjoy one small dessert and then just be done with it?!? No more waging a mental war in your head over if you should or should not have more.

Practicing mindfulness

Ultimately, to conquer cravings there needs to be a mindset change. Sometimes you have to be willing to sit with it and work through the uncomfortableness. Don’t let food and cravings own you, especially the mental ones. Remember that just because you’re craving something doesn’t mean you have to act on it. With some patience and practice, most cravings really will lessen and go away.

This doesn’t mean you have to white-knuckle your way through it. Try some of these out and see which ones work best for you. Make small changes and make them easy enough that you know you can do it. Add in someone to hold you accountable. Know that you will probably not do it perfectly, but that ain’t no thang…

defeat-212x300

 

13 Lessons I Learned In My 20s

It’s funny because the other day my brother called with an assignment from his health class. He didn’t tell me what it was about until after he had asked me the required questions, but it turns out it was a survey on exercise addiction. I’m happy to report that according to the survey I am NOT addicted. We laughed about the questions and then hung up. But it hit me that if he had given me that survey 7-8 years ago my answers would have been different. I was addicted back then.

Back then, I would get extremely upset if I didn’t get my workout in. I never listened to my body. I worked out as hard as I could every time and it would often determine my mood depending on how well it went. Sure I was small, but I didn’t have a period, I would get close to blacking out every time I stood up, and my hormones were completely out of whack. My nutrition was either really disciplined or balls-out cheats because I didn’t have the self-control to stop. On top of all that, I had very little self-esteem or confidence.

Fast forward to the present. I turned 30 this past Sunday. Then yesterday I went on a bit of a rant about moderation and balance. That and the above story are actually what inspired this little post on 13 important things I’ve learned in the last 10 years. Some of it is about health and fitness, some of it is funny, and a lot of it is about mindset. Oh, and if you missed the rant on facebook, no worries. I put it in here too because I think it’s just that important. So here they are, in particular order….

By the way, one thing about me: I LOVE quotes. So just be prepared cuz they be all over this thang!

1) Sometimes ya gotta preach rather than listen.

One of the things we’ve learned about the human brain is that the human brain believes what you say to yourself more than what anyone else says to you. ~Eric Cobb

Pretty crazy right? But I bet if most of you really think about it, it would ring true in your life. I also heard recently about a study that showed that upwards of 80% of most people’s thought life is negative. Unfortunately this was very true for me. I used to be so harsh; I never allowed myself a win. I focused on all the imperfections and the areas that needed improvement. I really beat myself down. My low self-esteem had nothing to do with my support group. My parents never made me feel anything but loved and supported. I never really experienced any bullying in school. It took me a long to realize what a powerful effect my own thoughts had on me.

**So start now my friends. Learn to preach to yourself rather than listen to yourself.

2) Learn to take a compliment!!

I don’t even want to admit how many years this took me to learn. I can still see the puzzled look on my mom’s face and the frustrated look on Joel’s after they would try to pay me a compliment. I always had a snarky remark or a reason I didn’t deserve the compliment.

*Needless to say, on those occasions when someone else wants to “preach” to you by paying you a compliment, TAKE IT.  Say thank you and shut up! Otherwise, people just might stop complimenting you altogether and believe me, that’s worse.

3) If you want something from your spouse, ask for it.

I know this might sound crazy, but my husband is not a mind reader and neither is yours. 🙂 And the sooner you can learn to stop playing mind games and just be honest and open with each other, the better. Instead of stewing cuz the hubby isn’t helping clean up dinner, just ask him to help. What’s the worst that could happen? 🙂

4) Get over yourself and realize that nobody’s got it figured out.

I’ve spent many years feeling very paralyzed by fear. Mostly fear of failure, especially failing in front of others. I never really knew why I was so afraid of it. Until I saw this quote the other day and was humbled to realize how well it put it into words…

It is pride’s hunger for perfection that paralyzes a heart in fear. ~Ann Voskamp

The only way I moved past the fear was by getting over myself and realizing that nobody’s got it all figured out!  I couldn’t let that stop me from trying anymore. Which leads me to this…..

5) There are worse things than failing.

“Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.” I don’t know who said that first, but I find it to be the only way to look at it.  Sometimes it bums me out how long I sat on the sidelines because I was afraid to fail. But even that I believe was for a reason. We learn and grow the most in times of trial. Luckily, I finally woke up to the fact that I was a lot more miserable not trying at all.

what if you fly

*You will fail. You will have trials.  You will fall down. But that is how we learn to fly.

6) Never wax your own bikini area. Just….Don’t.

I think that pretty much covers it. Yep.

7) Get enough sleep!!

Seriously, I don’t know what it is about today’s culture that we think running on as little amounts of sleep as possible is somehow commendable. Remember me mentioning that my hormones were all jacked up? Yeah, turns out all I needed was a good 8 hours of sleep each night. The benefits of sleep are far-reaching and really quite amazing. (I go into a little more detail over here if you’re interested.)

learn to love it people

learn to love it people

Ain’t no shame in needing sleep, so please, give your body the rest it needs and deserves.
 

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil;
  for he gives to his beloved sleep.  ~Psalm 127: 2

8) Being lean is NOT everything.

I really do love working out. I love feeling AND looking fit and strong. I’d be lying if I said otherwise. But is it everything? Absolutely not. My life is not exercise or a number on a scale or how hot I look in a swimsuit.

My life is my husband, my family, my friends, my dogs, and above all else, my faith. And if I were to tighten down on my nutrition and get super ripped and lean, I’d still be me.

*All I’m saying is be very careful of putting anything up on a pedestal and thinking that you will be happy if you could just have that one thing.

9) Sustainability is everything.

Moderation: the process of lessening or eliminating extremes; doing nothing in excess.

I get why people roll their eyes when they hear the term “moderation”. We either think it’s not “hardcore” enough OR we’ve decided that we are just the “all-or-nothing”-type personality. I personally used to put myself in the latter group. It took me a long time to realize that that mindset was exactly what kept me from really making progress. Let me explain…

As humans, I don’t think we’re very good at finding balance. The current culture doesn’t help, but our work/rest and self-discipline/grace ratios are so far out of whack. We try one extreme until we can’t bear it any longer then we swing all the way over to the other side. Deprive, binge, deprive, binge, and so on. But the thing is we are HUMAN. And while most of us would laugh if someone asked if we thought we were perfect, what we say with that all-or-nothing attitude is: I will be perfect or I won’t even bother to try! When I say it like that it sounds ridiculous, right?! But that’s what we do!

How do you think you’d feel if you started letting go of those impossible standards and thinking of it in terms of improvement instead of perfection? For me personally, I actually started making progress and ya know what else? I started enjoying it! So how about it?

Let’s work to improve our body instead of punish it. Let’s work on the discipline to say no sometimes, but also on giving ourselves the grace to mess up, to not eat perfect all the time, to figure it out as we go! Because the thing is, all-or-nothing always ends up back at nothing.

So if what everybody says is true, my metabolism will go to complete pot this year. But honestly, I’m not worried. Partly because worrying does nothing to help the situation, but also because I know I will figure it out.

10) Stop Comparing.

comparison*I know I’ve talked about this before, but I think it’s worth repeating. Comparison is you telling God that He did it wrong. And if you insist on it, it will suck all the joy out of life. The fact of the matter is comparison is a game you will never win, seeing as you will never be anyone but you, so why bother?

11) DIY projects are rarely as easy as pinterest makes them look and never as easy as HGTV makes them look!

nailed it

*Story. Of. My. Life…not even joking.

12) The little things add up.

It’s the little things, done day in and day out, that make up your life and who you are. Stop trying to find the ace in the hole. Work hard. Try to move forward in some way every day and leave the rest up to God.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. ~Proverbs 16:9

13) Don’t be anxious

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  ~Matthew 6:27

I know, easier said than done. But God has gotten us this far and He will bring us home. What a blessing He gives to us by promising that He’s got all of our tomorrows so that we can simply focus on today. Let go of that anxiety and worry. Don’t let the things you want cause you to forget the many things you have.

So there it is folks. I hope you enjoyed it cuz I enjoyed writing it. So far, I’m feeling pretty good about no longer being a 20-something…. 🙂

yep

yep  😉

 

 

4 Ways to Make Change Easier

Let’s just admit this right now, change is hard. It’s rarely convenient and sometimes it really just sucks. In the health and fitness realm, nutrition is by far one of the hardest things for most of us to change. I know this from experience….

When I got into fitness in college, I was still eating whatever I wanted. I figured that if I trained hard enough I could compensate for eating whatever I wanted. So I put all my effort in at the gym in order to “earn” my food and I could throw down with the best of them…..(OK, maybe not quite like Joey. 🙂 )

This actually worked for a while, but it eventually started catching up with me. My body wasn’t where I wanted it to be and more importantly, I didn’t feel very good because my body just simply couldn’t handle all the crap anymore.

My first few attempts at changing didn’t last long. I thought if I was going to be a trainer I had to eat the perfect diet, but I just didn’t seem to have it in me. I beat myself up and figured I could never help people if I had no self control or discipline myself.  I felt helpless, being torn between not wanting my life to be consumed with food prep and never being able to eat sweets or eat out but I also was fed up with feeling bloated and like food controlled me.  So how did a food-lover like myself finally find some success?

Here’s where I finally started…..

Pick something…pick anything!

I know you’ve heard me say this before, but I don’t care. 🙂 Pick one thing to work on. I know, I know, that takes too long. We want results and we want them now. The problem with that is we have years and years of certain eating habits built into us. So just like you didn’t get out of shape overnight, it’s going to take some time to build up new habits to replace the old ones.

Here’s the thing: I want you to think about how long you’ve been trying to change the way you eat. Now go back to the first time you tried to change your eating habits and think about how far you’d be if you had started with a habit, worked at it until it was set, and then built on that.

It’s sounds so reasonable, but it’s hard to drown out this culture of quick fixes and instant gratification. We look at the 30 lbs in 30 days diet and think, “I could do just about anything for 30 days!” The problem comes 30 days after that, when we are either right back where we started (or heavier) or we have developed a binge/deprive cycle because that’s the only way we know how to stick with the program.

faddiets

The time is gonna pass either way. In a year, you could be right where you are now or you could commit to those small habits, build on them as you get better and better, and have 12 to 24 new habits that have you looking and feeling better. Dare I say, that almost sounds enjoyable. 😉

Make it easier

Life has got enough ups and downs and challenges as it is and willpower is exhaustible. There will always be an excuse. If you want to make a lasting change, you have to make it easy enough that you know for certain you can do it no matter what life throws at you.. These little changes might not feel like you’re doing enough, but trust me, you are. Willpower is like a muscle, the more consistently you train it the bigger and stronger it becomes. As you continue, these things will become habits that you don’t even have to think about!

So back to making it easier. Most of us eat (or at least prepare) the majority of our meals at home. So maybe that’s where you start. Find healthy new recipes, plan out the grocery list, and stock your fridge and pantry as necessary. Don’t worry about eating out or what you’re going to do at friends’ houses, just focus on what you eat at home.

If that feels like too much, make your focus smaller. Ask yourself, what can I change?

Can you start trying out a healthier dinner option a few times a week? Can you hard boil a batch of eggs and have them peeled and ready as an easy way to add more protein to your breakfast?  Can you change out your sandwich at lunch for a salad, wrap, or a bun-less burger? Can you replace the late night sweet with a protein shake or a piece of fruit? Can you skip the second helping?

The key here is to not let yourself get bogged down by crossing bridges you may never get to. Zero in on the target until you can easily hit it every time. Then simply move on to the next. You just might be surprised how little it takes to see change sometimes.

Forget the rules and learn what works for you

It’s actually been scientifically proven that when we are told we can’t have something, our desire for that thing increases. So what if, instead of a list of “good” and “bad” foods, no food was off limits.  What if we dropped the guilt and stopped beating ourselves up every time we slip up? This was big for me. When I stopped putting all sorts of foods on the “bad” list, I stopped binging on sweets and my ability to feel in control skyrocketed. However I ask myself these few questions first…

-Is this gonna help or hurt my goals?

-Am I gonna feel better or worse after I’ve eaten this? (body, not mindset, wise. Remember: no guilt!)

-Is this something I really want and how often do I get a chance to have this?

-Is it worth it?

Over time, you’ll learn what foods are worth it and which ones aren’t….for you. No it’s not easy at first, but it become easier as your body starts to look and feel better, your preferences start to change, and you build up your will power.

habits

Focus on  ADDING

Instead of focusing on all the things you “shouldn’t” have, start focusing on what you can add into your diet to make it better. The more protein you add into each meal the less room there will be for other things. The more healthy recipes you start add to the menu, the less room there is for other less healthy recipes. The water you drink, the less cravings and less soda you’ll have room for.

How about adding some intermediary foods? These are the foods that bring you down off the ledge. These are foods that make you feel like you’re indulging without derailing your goals. They keep you sane and satiated but also help build up that will power. Liiiiike wine, avocados, nut butters, or chocolate. Because what is life without a little chocolate?!

There are also some cool websites out there, like this one, that offer tons of great ways to substitute flour with protein powder and make delectable baked goods like this:

It's a 4th of July flag cake! Can you believe June's almost over?! Seriously how is that possible?!......ahem, anyways back to my post

It’s a 4th of July flag cake! Can you believe June’s almost over?! Seriously how is that possible?!……ahem, anyways back to my post

See, what I’m really trying to do here is get you to look at nutrition from a different mindset. A much healthier mindset.  Fat loss is a process, but it can be a positive one! It doesn’t have to involve crazy deprivation/binge cycles or you just white knuckling your way through it. You won’t always do it perfectly, but if you persist I promise it will be worth it! No more searching and confusion, no more money down the drain on another fad diet, no more yo-yo dieting that leaves you feeling worse than before, no more guilt and self-loathing; just YOU knowing what works for YOU. So don’t be afraid to start small. Don’t roll your eyes at it either. Like most change, there’s never a perfect time for it. Ya just gotta start.

 

So You Wanna Look Like A Superhero…

As some of you may know, I love a good comic book film. Recently I went to see the new Captain America movie. (Which was AWESOME, by the way.)  But I got to thinking: Nowadays, I often get clients who have goals centered around wanting to look like a certain movie star. I think it’s safe to say that most of us struggle to not compare ourselves to them, but it’s hard, right?! We see them everywhere we go!

cap america

But before you start using them as your standard, here are a couple things to keep in mind about actors:

1) They have serious motivation! Imagine yourself, scantily clad, up on a massive big screen, being seen by millions of people. Now that is some serious motivation.

2) They know months ahead of time when they are going to have to film even a 5 second shot in less clothing. So they have motivation and a specific timeline. They know exactly how long they have to get into tip top shape and they can be really strict because there is an end in sight. Notice all the articles titled: “How so-and-so slimmed down for the role of ____”?  This would imply that they don’t always look like that. And this problem is not limited to actresses anymore. When was the last time you saw a shirtless actor without a six pack?  The only difference is that most men will admit they don’t look like that all the time.

**Since we’re on the superhero theme, Henry Cavill said he did intense workouts and was on a super strict eating plan for 9 months – all for a 10-second shot without his shirt on. (Well, that and to pack on some muscle to be Superman.) When asked if he still looked like that, he laughed and said, “Of course not”.

3) It’s their job and they get paid well to do it. So they have both the resources and the access to trainers, nutritionists, chefs, nannies, and personal assistants if they so choose. ‘Ya know, all those things that make getting in shape that much easier.

4) They have a whole team of experts making them look their best. From clothing, hair, and makeup to  perfect lighting and photo & digital editing. In a recent interview, Chris Evans talked about how they shot him at certain angles to make him look bigger than he really is and how people are surprised by how small he is when they meet him in real life. When people started gushing over Eva Mendes post-baby body, she said: “We’re helped in those situations. I want women at home to know, you’re lit, you’re angled. So yes, it was a few months after the baby [was born], but with a lot of help.”

To further my point, take 20 seconds to read this article: Keepin’ It Real.

Now, I’m not trying to diminish the fact that these people still have to do the work. And many of them work to stay healthy whether or not they’re shooting a movie. But are these really the people we are comparing ourselves to?!

My point is not to cut all media out of our lives (that would be impossible… and kinda sad) or that it’s bad, but that we are responsible for the thoughts that go through our head. We need to start recognizing those creeping thoughts that sneak in while we’re watching that movie or looking through this magazine. We are inundated with these images of the perfect body everywhere we look. They look happy and fit and beautiful and often, without even realizing it, we start thinking that it’s the norm and the way we need to look in order to be beautiful and accepted and happy with our body.

So how do we fight it???

First, forget perfection. It’s just an illusion anyways. It’s estimated that 95-98% of women have cellulite and that 5% of women naturally possess the body type portrayed by the American media. So that perfect body, the one with no dimples and perfectly smooth skin with just the right amount of muscle tone and curves in all the right places, is simply not a reality for at least 95% of us. (You better believe that includes most actresses!) I think it’s time we wipe the slate clean and realize that health and beauty come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors.

funny

Shout out to all my “porcelain” friends out there! 😉

Keep perspective. That other 5% might not have to work as hard for their body, but they still got problems!! I know I’ve been guilty of this before. I get so focused on wanting to look a certain way, I start falling into the trap of thinking that a “perfect” body is THE end all be all. We start thinking we would be happier, more content, more beautiful, and that it would fix all of our self-esteem and relationship issues. Outer beauty does not equal happiness. If Hollywood isn’t the perfect example of this, then I don’t know what is.

Stop Comparing. Comparing yourself to others – whether it be it your friends, your coworker, or Jennifer Garner – is a battle you will never win. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, things that come very naturally to us and things that are constantly a struggle, things we love about our life, body, etc., and things we wish we could change.  But “comparison is the thief of joy,” as Theodore Roosevelt once said. It eats away at you. It never allows for contentment. And it can absolutely ruin one of the most treasured things we have in this world: relationships. Learn how to be happy for each others’ strengths and accept that they might not be yours.

I know all of this is easier said than done. One of my favorite things is a really good movie or TV show, so I still have to fight these thoughts too. But it starts with changing your mindset. Remember: your friends, your family, your spouse, they don’t love you because of your looks.

*At some point, good has to be good enough! Stop wasting time dwelling on the things you can’t change and start making a conscious effort to appreciate and be thankful for all the things you do have. Set aside a few minutes each day to think about or write down 3 things you’re thankful for. It’s actually been proven to make you a more thankful person.

It is not wrong to have goals. It is not wrong to want to change and improve yourself. (Otherwise, I’m really shooting my career in the foot right now. 😉 ) But how about we give ourselves a little grace. Rid yourself of the expectation of perfection. Start learning how to love yourself as you are right now and let’s show the world what real, fit women (and men!) look like!!

For more on this, check out:

Magic Mike stars talking about getting into shape

For more on how the stars DO get into kick butt shape, check out So You wanna look like a super hero (part 2)!

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Just in case you haven’t already seen it, here’s another example for you….