The Benefits of NOT focusing on Fat Loss

I am taking a big risk with my upcoming holiday program (which will be available to you Tomorrow!!). It’s not a challenge, or some kind of crazy cleanse or detox, in fact it’s not even a fat loss program! If you’re thinking, “what else would does a personal trainer even offer?!”, then allow me to explain….

If I were to ask you right now how long you’ve been unhappy with your body and therefore trying to change/improve it, what would you tell me? In my experience, most people will give me a number in years as to how long they’ve been at it. Most women start struggling with their body image in high school, if not sooner. Most men start struggling in their mid-20s or so. That’s a long time, right?

So what if I suggested that you stop focusing on fat loss? In fact, what if I highly recommended it? Would you even consider it? Or would you just laugh it off thinkin’ “that Beth girl is funny….or crazy.” (I’m not denying either. 😉 )

Most of us spend years and years with fat loss being our one and only health or fitness goal. I know I did. Until one day when I just felt so…over it all. I was at a point where it felt like something needed to change, so I thought, what if I just took a month off? What if I just took one month and focused on something- ANYTHING – other than losing fat?

Well, I did it. I lived to tell the tale. There were even a number of things I gained from the experience- big things, in fact. So big, that I actually decided to put together a program where fat loss is not the main focus! Here are a few things I took away from it….

1) Big Picture Perspective

For the first time in a reeeeally long time, I decided to just set aside this ideal image I had in my mind. Turns out, I was so one-track mind about what I thought I should look like as a trainer that I had developed some pretty serious tunnel vision.  Being so focused in not only took up a TON of physical and mental energy, but I had gotten to the point where all I could see were the flaws.

Changing my focus allowed me to zoom out the lens, which helped me to look outside myself and see the bigger picture. Big picture perspective is being reminded that there’s so more to life than the perfect body and so much more to YOU than some love handles and cellulite!

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2) Learning to trust yourself

“Self-trust is showing up in your life with your likes, dislikes, preferences, desires, wants, needs, hopes, dreams, lines in the sand, insecurities on full display and letting the chips fall where they may in terms of other people’s responses and reactions and acceptance (or not).” ~Jill Coleman

Taking a step back from a goal you’ve had for a long time is always scary. You wonder what the heck you’re gonna do and if it’s the right move. But you start to realize that just because you don’t have it all figured out right now doesn’t mean you can’t do it. You simply figure it out as you go and correct course along the way. It’s a process but learning to go with your instincts and trust yourself is huge in so many areas of life….weight loss is no exception.

For me, I learned to trust myself, but even more so I was able to work hard, do my best, and then surrender the results to God.

3) Self-reflection

When I stopped focusing on all the outside things that needed improvement, I was able to look a little deeper within myself. I was able to see how the constant pressure I put on myself created an anxiety and fear that I didn’t even really realize was there. Once I knew it was there, I was able to start working through it.

4) Enjoyment & Balance

Most of us already know that the body doesn’t operate at it’s best when it’s under a lot of stress. Maybe it’s because of my job or maybe it’s just that I’m impatient, but there was always this urgency to fix every imperfection and to do it NOW.  Taking a break from that mindset and timeline felt like a weight had been lifted. It was such a relief. With the weight lifted, I was able to just enjoy and find a balance I hadn’t been able to achieve before.

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In the end, it was a big turning point for me in my mindset, my business, and my nutrition (which, like so many, has also been one of my biggest struggles). There’s just something about allowing yourself a little breathing room to relax into the process – it’s huge. So yes, I’m saying…

Sometimes it’s also OK to not focus on fat loss. It doesn’t have to be forever. You can always go back. But if you’ve been focusing on it for a long time and not getting where you want to be, then something’s not right.

Sometimes it’s OK to not focus on improvement or progress, but to just be. To  slow down, breathe, and be Present.

As for my program, no it’s not a challenge, a cleanse, a detox, or a fat loss program per say. I took a step back and saw 2 big issues:

1) Many people have been trying to lose weight for a long time with little to no success.
2) The holidays seemed like an especially hard time to try to lose weight seeing as most of us struggle to just maintain.

I want to help take some of the stress out of it, to have some fun and enjoy the holidays while starting on the foundational tools that will help you to hit the ground running in January…..with hopefully a new mindset and perspective and all the tools in place to achieve whatever goal you want!

***For anyone interested in some hands-on training, nutrition, and mindset advice geared toward helping you navigate the holiday season, click below all the details…

 

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. That is why rest is so important.  That is why I believe rest should be just as much of a priority as work.

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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.

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…

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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  😉

 

 

No Pain, More Gain??

I discovered early on that I was never going to be the trainer that ran my people into the ground on day one. Actually I don’t really care to ever do that. Why? Well first, I want them to come back!! For heaven’s sake, if you can’t walk for the next 3 days, you sure as heck aren’t going to be working out. Then when you do come back, we have to start back at zero and this is just inefficient.  Secondly, because ultimately I care more about what’s best for you than what you think is best for you.

See, most of us have come to think that we have to run ourselves into the ground and go at 110% intensity all the time or we aren’t doing anything. I used to think the same way.

And why wouldn’t we? Known for its incredibly brutal workouts, Crossfit is all the rage these days. We watch the Biggest Loser and see these morbidly obese folks getting run into the ground… and losing weight. We see motivational phrases like, “no pain, no gain” and go hard or go home plastered all over the fitness world. So we pump ourselves up, hit the gym for the first time in 5 (or 10) years, run ourselves into the ground, are sore for a week, maybe try it again next week, get the same results, and we quit.

No wonder I get people all the time saying: “I wish I didn’t, but I just honestly hate exercise.”

Well friends, I come bearing great news: that “no pain, no gain” mentality is a load of shiz. The idea that you have to be sore after every workout or you didn’t accomplish anything?

Dwight-Schrute-False

What’s that you say?!?!? The fact is, if you’re working out at 110% every time, your productivity will stall or even digress because your body has not been given enough time to recover. Sure, some people can handle it for longer than others, but in the end the results will always be the same.

Now before I go any further, I would like to clarify that I am not saying that soreness or training at high intensity is always bad. On the contrary, I am saying you will get better results from high intensity work when you allow for proper recovery in between! SO, how do we make sure we are getting the most out of our workouts?

Gauging pain vs. discomfort

If you are just starting to workout, it probably won’t take much before you start feeling some discomfort. This discomfort is caused by exertion. Exertion usually takes the form of burning muscles or labored breathing or other things along that line. At first this is a very uncomfortable feeling. However, the longer you go the less uncomfortable it will become. Pain, on the other hand, should not be a regular part of your workouts. Pain usually presents itself in the form of sharp, stabbing, or pinching in the joints or muscles. Pain is your body telling you something is wrong. I do not believe pain should be pushed through.

Soreness

Soreness is inevitable from time to time, but it doesn’t mean your workout was better than when you didn’t get sore. And it shouldn’t be your goal. Here’s what you need to know about soreness.

Beginners, you will probably get sore. It’s hard to introduce your body to something new and not experience at least a little of this. However if you are sore for more than 3 days, you went too hard.  If you are sore on a regular basis, you need to back off. Ideally when you do get sore, it’s not extreme and it only lasts a day or two.

If you’re never sore and you’re not seeing improvements, you could probably stand to push yourself a little harder. If you’re never sore but you are improving-congratulations, you’ve found your sweet spot!!

This will be different for everybody.

Listening to your body

A good program or trainer will have progression built into your workouts. However, you are the only one who can gauge how your body is feeling.

-Are you new to the program? Don’t be afraid to ease yourself into it. Focus on form!

-Are you stressed out? Or just coming back from sickness or an injury? These workouts should be about getting your body re-acclimated or maintenance. This is when I would say you’re better off going too easy than too hard.

-Did you get a great night’s sleep? Are you feeling awake and energized? Been managing your stress well? Are the weights starting to feel easy? Now would be a good time to push harder. See if you can lift a little heavier or go for another set.

So I hope these tips help. A few final thoughts…

*This is gonna sound crazy, but exercise should leave you feeling refreshed and energized! For men, this usually means learning to leave some in the tank! You will get so much more out of your workouts when you don’t go to failure every set and focus more on your form. (It isn’t sexy but it will bring about some sexy muscles.) Women, learn to enjoy the temporary feeling of exertion and not fear it. You have no idea just how strong and capable you really are!

*Seriously, stop pushing through pain! Learn from my mistakes! Being active will inevitably lead to aches and pains here and there. When they come along, you might be surprised how quickly they resolve themselves if you just give the area of pain a rest for a day or two! (And no, that does not mean giving your knee a rest AFTER you finish 2 more sets of lunges!) Don’t be like the black knight….

** No matter how hard you push your body, you will not become fit in a week or a month. Fitness should be about consistent, enjoyable movement. There are so many amazing things to be done and seen but you need to be able to move to experience them. Don’t waste it in the gym running yourself into the ground until your body or your will gives out. 😉

 

***Interested in Colorado Springs kettlebell classes? Check out my in-home training studio, Springs Kettlebells!*