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!*

I am in really great shape!

Penny testimonial

I started taking Beth’s kettlebell class a year ago, just before I found out I was pregnant with my second baby. I have always been a runner and ran through my first pregnancy, but was unable to keep running through my second. Kettlebells were great for me during that time because I was able to stay in good cardio shape while strengthening my body in a way that was low impact. Since my baby was born I have been excited to see how kettlebells have helped me get back into shape and lose weight so quickly. For the first time in my life, I feel like I am in really great shape overall because kettlebells are a regular part of my fitness routine!

~Penny

 

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

I look forward to class each week!

 

jes testimonial

“After the birth of my fourth child in less than five years I decided that since the baby factory was closed it was time to try to get the body I had always wanted. After procrastinating and wondering if there was really anyone who could help my post baby bod I finally broke down and decided to just try out Beth’s kettlebell class. She was so good about making sure she didn’t throw too much at me all at once and really took the time to make sure my horrible knees and shoulders didn’t get injured. It’s the most intense, fun and rewarding workout I’ve ever had and I’m completely hooked and in love with kettlebells! I dropped 20 pounds in 3 months! And a year and a half later, I’m 36 lbs lighter, 21 inches smaller, and down 4 dress sizes! I’m back into my “skinny” clothes and they are fitting better than before, and I feel great!!! Hard work really does pay off! I look forward to the class each week because I can see the great results of such a hard workout (and my husband loves the results too!). Beth, you’re amazing!”

~ Justine

 

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

Lean, toned, and one wicked hot body to show!

michele testimonial

*Note from Beth: When Michele first came to me, she asked for two things: to improve her strength and muscle tone and to not make her do anything that looked stupid. My first thought was, “Yay! A woman who’s not afraid of lifting!”. My second thought was, “What is she going to think about kettlebells?”

For anyone who has not tried kettlebells, they are not the most natural feeling exercises at first, but they are so much fun once you get it down and awesome for improving strength and tone. So I held off on using them with her until we had worked together for a while and I felt I had gained her trust. Then I introduced her to kettlebells and what do you know… she was a natural! Michele quickly came to love working with the bells and she is one of my faithful followers who encouraged me to start my own business.

It has been a blessing to have her as a client and now here she is: lean, toned, and one wicked hot body to show for all her hard work!

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

Vday Partner Workout

Honestly I’m perfectly content working out by myself most of the time. However, it is more fun to workout with someone and I think most people prefer it. So in the interest of Valentine’s Day, I present to you: a partner workout. It’s a quick one too, so you can get your metabolism ready for the delectable grub you plan to enjoy mindfully later tonight, right?. 😉 So grab someone you love and give this spicy number a try!

me & my bestie makin' our workout fun

me & my bestie makin’ our workout fun

It’s called I Go, You Go. The idea is one person works while the other one rests and vice versa. So there should always be someone gettin’ their move on!

Warm Up:

14 Hip Bridges

14 Walking Lunges

14 Plank Handshakes (Position yourself head to head in starting pushup position. Alternate shaking hands.)

30 Jumping Jacks (cuuuz 14 jumping jacks is like, nothing.)

Workout:

*For a couple of the exercises I gave a kettlebell option and a body weight option. PLUS, there are 2 ways to do this next part, so it’s kinda like a choose your own adventure. I know, fun, right?!

  1. Set the timer for 15 minutes. The 1st person goes until they cry “mercy”, at which point they tag out and the 2nd person goes. Rotate through the exercises circuit style until 15 minutes is up!
  2. Each person does as many reps as they can until, as a team, you reach 100 reps of each exercise. You can switch back and forth as many times as you need to get to 100.

Goblet Squat or Prisoner Squat (as fast and as low as you can go)

Pushups

Alternating Lunge Jumps

Mountain climbers (1 rep is when both knees have hit the chest)

Double KB Swing or Burpees

*A couple things to keep in mind: Any time there is no set rep range, only go as long as you can with good form. And if you don’t want to feel completely trashed at the end, don’t go to failure on your first set…or ever for that matter. Oh yeah, and have fun!!

**If you’re looking for something extra at the end, two words: plank competition. Always.

partner wo

Two of my favorite things: my hubs and kettlebell swings

Helpful Tips from One Sugar Addict to Another

When I asked my clients the other day what their biggest struggle is when it came to their health, I grimaced at the resounding reply of SUGAR. How am I supposed to talk about this when I have my own sweet tooth that often feels out of control?!?! Then it hit me: maybe this makes me MORE qualified to talk about it because I understand it. Oh boy, do I understand it. If most of you are thinking, ‘Oh sure she “struggles with sugar,”’ this past holiday season I took down almost an entire double batch (I think Joel may have had a few) of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies in about 2 weeks’ time.

Seriously, this is how I feel about food that doesn’t contain sugar…..

friends-funny

So I’d say I’m qualified to talk on this subject, no?

Now that I’ve established that, the question is: how do we break the hold that sugar has over so many of us? I’ve tried a lot of things, but here’s what works for me….

Start small

One of the best ways to make a change is to pick 1 habit you want to change and focus all of your energy on that one habit for 2-4 weeks. Write it down. I write my goal in my calendar and track it there. (I can’t be the only one who gets a high from checking stuff off, right?!) Make it realistic and make it easy…. so easy, in fact, that you have no doubt you can do it!

For example, I knew I needed to start dealing with my sugar habit. So I started small. My goal was to have only 4 sweet treats a week. I figured that’s still the majority of days per week that I get to have my precious… ack! Sorry, a sweet treat. That first week I stuck to the number, but I went all out when I could have it. I’m talking Dairy Queen Blizzards, multiple graham crackers dipped in copious amounts of peanut butter and dark chocolate, and I honestly can’t remember the others but you get the idea. Did I beat myself up about it? Nope. Cuz I had stuck to my goal. However, I also knew that this kind of behavior wasn’t ultimately going to get me where I wanted to be, so I made slight changes each week that inched me more toward that ultimate objective. The next week I was still allowed 4, but one of those sweets could only be 2 squares of dark chocolate. Of course, if you really struggle to make your goal on the first week then there’s no need to up the ante the next week.

Some of you might be thinking this sounds too hard while others might find it too easy – the point is to choose something that feels attainable for you while still moving you in the right direction. If you’re like me and you can literally hear the chocolate calling to you over the sound of the TV, I’ve found this to be one of the easiest ways to start. If you’re the all-or-nothing type, I give you this little factoid: according to Leo Babauta, author of The Power of Less, when only one habit is adopted per month, success rates can be as high as 80%. However, when we get too ambitious and attempt to adopt even just 2 habits simultaneously, the success rates drop to below 20% for either habit! Wow….yowza….

Most of us have taken years to build our bad habits, so don’t expect to change them overnight. Don’t be afraid to relax into it and set yourself up for success!

Mind over matter

In my experience, the process of habit change is made drastically more difficult if you don’t figure out the Why. Why am I so attached to sugar?? One of the things I started to realize (as my head cleared and the sugar shakes subsided) is how much I associated sugar with happiness. I was so emotionally attached to sugar that I would often think that this or that party would not be fun if I couldn’t eat dessert. No matter that these parties were often filled with some of my most favorite people in the world, good conversation, fun games, and laughter. That realization hit me like a bomb. What a ridiculous way to think!! Sugar has no power to actually give us the satisfaction that we crave…ever. While I knew that in my head, my heart (and stomach) had decided otherwise.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love food. I believe we were made to enjoy food or else God wouldn’t have given food its flavor or us our taste buds! “There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil.” But the two had become so connected in my head that I could no longer separate them.

To combat this, I would decide ahead of time that at the next party I would not splurge even though I still had some cheats left. And you know what I found? At the end of the night, I was still alive. Not only that, but I was mentally freed up to engage with and really enjoy all of the many other blessings I was surrounded by. How liberating to be at a party and not spend half of the time mentally waging war over ‘to eat or not to eat’! I still thoroughly enjoyed myself. Plus, my stomach felt a lot better the next morning!

I’m not saying you need to do this every time, but try it every once in a while. You might be surprised by how easy it is when you know going in that indulging is just not an option.

Diversion

Often times – when I find myself craving something sweet – I’ve learned that if I take the time to listen to my body I tend to realize that I am not actually hungry at all. The hubs and I have coined the term “mouth hungry”, meaning that my stomach feels satisfied but my mouth is still craving. This most often happens to me at night, when I have mentally relaxed and am watching TV or hanging out with friends. Most trainers would tell you to turn off the TV and go to bed or go for a walk. Well, here it is: I like my stories! And I live in Colorado, so it’s too fargin’ cold to go for a walk right now! What I can do is see it for what it is: a mental craving. I make the decision right then and there to stop letting these thoughts take over and focus instead on the show. If I’m at a party, I focus fully on the people and the conversation. Usually, once I let go and focus my attention elsewhere, I start enjoying the show or company more and the craving passes.

friends 2

If, however, the craving is really strong, I will also find ways to distract my mouth. First, I make sure that I am drinking enough water. It’s amazing how easily a craving can be dealt with by a glass of water. After that, gum is one of my go-to’s while Joel likes tea. We also love oranges and berries, but I try to save those for the times when I’m actually still hungry.

(One caveat: I do actually love going for late night walks in the summer time. And there are plenty of times where I would say that if you’re not watching something that’s good on the ol’ tele, turn it off and pick up a good book or hit the sack. These are just what things that work for me, but again, you have to find what diversions work for you.)

Create Accountability

Find someone who will hold you accountable. My husband does this for me. Spouses are great for this because they are usually around you the most, but I will caution you that this can backfire. You have to find that person that will be persistent and know the right thing to say at the right time – whoever it may be. Otherwise, the next thing you know, you’re both headed to Dairy Queen because someone feels bad telling the other person ‘No’ OR you’re in a fight because you’re sure he just called you a cow. Those examples were just off the top of my head…. never actually happened to me before. 😉

Another option would be to get a friend that you check in with every night, even if it’s just over text. The power of accountability can be awesome when you find the right accountability partner. It just takes a little trial and error sometimes.

Plan Ahead

Here’s that whole moderation thing again. If I know I’m going to have a dessert, I try to eat a meal higher in protein and lower in carbs and I stop eating before I normally would. Because nothing is very enjoyable when you’re eating it on an already full stomach. Believe me, I know. During the holidays, I try to eat really clean at home so I can splurge and enjoy a few extra treats at parties and get-togethers. As with so many things in health and fitness and LIFE, it’s all about balance.

ENJOY IT

Last but not least, when you do finally partake in whatever deliciousness you choose, don’t waste the calories on something you could do without. Make it something you really really love. Then savor every dang bite. You’ll be amazed at how much less you will want when you take the time to really taste your food. Then be done with it. You won’t gain 5 pounds from one dessert. You won’t have thrown away all that you’ve worked for. (You just might even benefit every once in a while from giving in to that sugar craving.) So enjoy it and then move on. End of story.

I hope these tips are helpful to you. My ultimate goal is not to never eat sugar again, but to be free of the unrealistic expectations I have placed on this particular food group. I’m not there yet, but it is getting easier. Even though the physical cravings have subsided for the most part, I have easier weeks and harder ones. But I refuse to be controlled by it.

Unfortunately the all-or-nothing mindset seems to almost always leave people frustrated and back at nothing. Sure moderation isn’t sexy and it takes commitment and discipline, but with it comes freedom. I love this quote from A.J. Heschel: “Self respect is the fruit of discipline; the sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself.” Nothing in this world worth having is easy to attain – and that applies to our nutrition as much as to our fitness, our jobs, our relationships, or anything truly important in life.

I love this little guy!

I love this little guy!

Have some tricks or tips of your own? I’d love to hear them, so please share below!

The one resolution every woman should make

strength blog

While this post really applies to both genders, women in particular seem to have a really hard time with this one. It’s called strength training… or resistance training, weight training, lifting… they all pretty much mean the same thing. Now for those of you who just cringe at the mere thought of adding strength training to your workout, I get it. I really do. Most of us couldn’t care less about how much we can squat or bench press and the last thing we want is to not fit into our clothes because we’ve gained muscle! We want to be fit, but still feminine. So how about we make a deal: I promise to not post any pictures of super ripped women with sayings like “Strong Is the New Skinny” written under them, and you’ll promise to keep reading… all the way… to the end. 😉

As I said in my last post, for a long time we thought longer, low-intensity cardio was the answer. Step classes, aerobics, hours on the treadmill in the “fat-burning zone” were all supposed to, well, BURN FAT. Come to find out the human body is a little too smart for that. When you are exclusively focused on simply burning a bunch of fat each day, fat will become a primary energy source that your body will try to store. Your body does this so that it will have all the fat it thinks it needs ready for tomorrow when you hop on the treadmill for another hour. I’m not saying cardio is all bad, but I am saying that if your primary goal is the lean and toned look, then you will not find a better option than strength training.

So without further ado, I give you the top 5 reasons why you should be strength training:

1) Lifting will not make you big and bulky, but it will make you firmer, leaner, and more fit. Afraid you’re going to look like a man? Compared to men, women have 10 to 30 times less of the hormones that cause muscle growth. Now go ask a couple of your guy friends how easy it is for them to gain muscle.  Most men have a hard time adding muscle without supplements. And the women that look like men are most definitely using something to enhance their hormonal makeup. What strength training will do for you, though, is increase your metabolism, burn fat, and hopefully replace it with a little muscle!! Trust me friends, muscle is your friend. That “toned” look you’re always talking about, the jiggle-free arms and thighs, the lifted booty, the definition in the shoulders or abs…. that’s all muscle.

2) It will make you stronger. Like I said above, I get that you might not care about how much you can squat. But if you think about the amount of energy and strength that is required of you on a typical day…hoisting kids, carrying loads of laundry up and down a couple flights of stairs, getting groceries in and out of the car, chasing after the dog, unloading the dishwasher (those stacks of plates get heavy), cleaning floors and windows, stairs at work, stairs at home,…..wouldn’t it be nice to know your body can handle it? To not feel winded running up the stairs? To not have to wait for your husband to get home to move that heavy box back upstairs? To not have to worry about constant low back pain? While running keeps you in one plane of motion the whole time, strength training will strengthen your body in all planes of motion. It will not just help with daily activities, but will also improve your athletic endeavors, your energy, your mood, AND decrease your risk of injuries. Looking great is nice and all, but feeling great is life changing.  

3) It never gets boring. Here are just a few possibilities that you can use while strength training: your own body weight, barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, medicine balls, sand bags, suspension trainers, sliders… the list goes on and on, but you get the point. All of these techniques are each a little different, too, so when you do happen to get bored or find yourself no longer enjoying one, try another! Better yet, combine a couple of your favorites. Also, there are all kinds of ways to group exercises together in super sets, circuits, ladders, pyramids, and timed sets… just to name a few.  The possibilities are endless and it’s a great way to keep both your body guessing and your mind stimulated.


4) Lifting will decrease your risk of disease.
Strength training has been shown to increase bone density therefore decrease the risk of osteoporosis. I don’t know about you guys, but when I need to roundhouse kick a burglar out of my front door, I’d prefer all my bones to stay intact and inside my skin… just sayin’. Weight training can also improve cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure – which lowers the risk of heart disease. Cardiovascular, you say?! YES. Lifting has also been shown to improve the way the body processes sugar, which can decrease the risk of adult-onset diabetes. I have no clever remark for that one. Diabetes just sucks.

5) It will give you the highest payoff for your time and energy. Last but not least, one of the most important things with exercise and nutrition is finding something that is sustainable. Most of us don’t have 2-3 hours a day to spend working out (which, might I add, is how much most actors & actresses invest when prepping for a movie or bathing suit scene.)  The great thing about strength training is that it doesn’t take a lot. If you’re lifting heavy enough (5 pound dumbbells do not count), a maximum of 20 to 45 minutes, 2 to 3 times a week is all it should take to see and feel the changes.

Seriously, this little one likes to copy her mama during workouts. She weighs a whopping 33 pounds and even she uses a 4 pound kettlebell!

Seriously, this little one likes to copy her mama during workouts. She weighs a whopping 33 pounds and even she uses a 4 pound kettlebell!

So there you have it. Now I will add one caveat. If you are over the age of say, 25, you can do all the strength training (or cardio) in the world, but chances are you won’t see the results you want if you are not watching what you eat. Good nutrition is essential to any good fitness program. But that’s another post for another time. My hope for you readers is that you will understand more clearly why strength training is so beneficial & important for your body and why you don’t need to be afraid of it. The way I see it, with so many good reasons to strength train, why wouldn’t you???