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.

 

3 fat loss strategies that are so simple even your dog can do them

I know it’s been a while since my last post, but I’m back and super excited about this post. I think these things are super awesome and offer big returns on little investment. Who doesn’t love that?!

When it comes to fat loss, 99% of the time we talk about fitness and nutrition. But there are other strategies that aren’t talked about as much, but can absolutely help (or hinder) your progress.  And the most exciting part??  They are simple. So simple in fact that your dog could do any one of them. How’s that for simple?!

So I’m just gonna get right to it. Three simple things you can be doing to increase fat loss…..

1. Drink more water.

water

I know I’ve gone over this before, but seriously, there’s a reason doctors and fitness experts have been saying it for years….because it works.

Here are just a few ways being hydrated will help you lose fat….

*Your hunger cues will decrease and will be much more accurate. Because most of us don’t drink enough, our bodies have become accustomed to getting water through food. So instead of feeling thirsty, our body sends us hunger signals when we are dehydrated. Next time you’re hungry when you think you shouldn’t be, try drinking a big glass of water and giving it 10-15 minutes. If you’re still hungry after that, then maybe it’s time to have a snack.

*Your metabolism will be faster. The process of burning calories requires an adequate supply of water in order to function efficiently; dehydration slows down the fat-burning process.

*Water lubricates your joints and helps your muscles contract more efficiently, therefore your workouts will be more productive.

*Add a little lemon and it helps your liver flush out toxins in your body.

…so drink up! A good measurable goal is to drink at least half your body weight in ounces every day. (example: 150 lb person would need 75 ounces a day.) However you can also just start with a big glass in the morning to give yourself a good head start and then start carrying around a water bottle and try to sip on it throughout the day.

2. Walk 30 to 60 minutes a day.

We have dogs, so this is a bit easier for us because we have 2 little accountability partners that sit there and stare at us until we walk them.

dog pic

I mean…come on

The thing is, in this age of gyms and fancy equipment and Crossfit, I think we tend to overlook anything that seems too easy. Because of that, walking has become one of the most underrated exercises. Let me just list some of the benefits of walking…

*First of all, the more you move throughout the day the better. Always.

*It’s a great low impact exercise that is completely free and you can do it anywhere.

*It’s been shown to decrease your risk of heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and certain forms of cancer.

*It gets you outside which has been shown to improve mental health and stress levels, which in turn improves energy and productivity. Plus, it gets you your daily dose of vitamin D. That’s like 5 benefits right there!

*When combined with strength training, it creates an awesome fat-burning effect!

Walking is a magical exercise because it regulates your hormonal stress response in a positive way. Walking lowers stress hormones, sensitizes insulin, and ensures a constant steady release of the metabolic messengers….Walking should not be seen as exercise but rather as a necessity. ~ The Metabolic Effect Diet

I walk shorter on the days that I lift or do intervals and longer on the days that I don’t. It’s not always easy. I often find myself  fighting it because I feel like I have more important things to do. Sometimes that means I cut the walk short, and often times getting out the door is the hardest part. But once I’m out, I end up going the whole time because it’s so enjoyable.

3. Get 8 to 9 hours of good quality sleep.

I used to be that person that bragged about being able to run on 4 to 6 hours of sleep. Looking back, it was a stupid thing to brag about, because, first of all, who really cares,  and besides that, I was doing way more damage than good to my body. I have struggled for years with hormonal imbalances. Not so coincidentally, those imbalances started about half way through college – which is also when I started sleeping a lot less.

God tells us He gives us sleep because he loves us. (Psalm 127:1-2) I’ve always assumed it simply meant that He was being nice by giving us a “forced break”, if you will.  While that’s true, I’ve learned recently that there’s a lot more to it than just a forced rest time. Why is it that we feel so much better and refreshed when we get a good night’s sleep??  God set up sleep to do a whole host of amazing things in our bodies. Instead of listing all the scientific specifics (say that 5 times fast), let’s just say that sleep is like hitting a big honking reset button each day. Not just physically, but mentally, emotionally, hormonally, and metabolically.

The thing is you have to get good quality sleep and enough of it. This was hard for me at first because I had to change up my schedule a little but I’m finding the benefits to far outweigh the costs. (And that’s why we have the ability to record our shows, right?!? So I don’t have to worry about watching them right away!)

When you do, God made sleep to be “the ultimate anti-aging, muscle-building, fat-burning, and mood-enhancing process the body has available to it”. (The Metabolic Effect Diet)

No wonder, then, when she was asked recently in People mag what her number one beauty secret was, Jennifer Aniston said getting enough sleep and drinking plenty of water.

jennifer-aniston-fat-loss

I think we can all agree that these things are simple, but not always easy.  That is why I gave you measurable goals for each. But remember, make them easy enough to implement so that you know you will and then commit to it.

I don’t know if you noticed this, but the really cool thing about all of these strategies is that they do much more than just burn fat. They regulate hormones and help manage stress, which have been shown to make people happier, healthier, and thinner. I’m not giving you these things to add stress, but rather because I believe these things will enhance your life! So if you need to change around your schedule a bit or record that TV show and watch it later, isn’t that worth it?

So You Wanna Look Like A Superhero… (part 2)

In part 1, I talked about why it’s unrealistic and detrimental to your body and mind to compare yourself to anyone or expect perfection, but what can we take away from our actor friends? The obvi answer is that while they might not look like the perfected version we see on screen or in pics, they do still have to get into good enough shape to look fit!  So what’s their secret?! The answers might surprise you….

When asked what she did to get in shape for Black Widow, Scarlett Johannson’s typical reply is, “I workout like a dude.”

To help Anne Hathaway build muscle and learn to ‘move and react like a cat,’ Anne’s trainer put her through ‘grueling’ routines of squats, lunges, strength training, kettlebells, and intensive circuit training, including ‘box jumps, pull-ups and handstand push-ups.’

Jennifer Garner was known for getting up early to get an hour of full body circuit training in before shooting began.

Jessica Biel’s trainer puts her through circuited weight training and they end with high intensity cardio work, like sprints.

superhero women

So let me break down for you what all of these ladies do to get into awesome shape.

They Strength Train.

You’ll notice, in the picture above, they all look great. That’s 4 different body types that all did strength training and none of them look “bulky”. Whether it’s body weight exercises or with weight, all of these ladies are doing one variation or another of the same big movements:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Pushes (push ups, bench press)
  • Pulls (rows, pull ups)
  • Core work (planks)
  • Hinge movements (deadlifts, swings)

I’m gonna give you a trainer secret right here. Take a look at any athlete, actor, model, trainer, or fitness enthusiast’s workout and you’ll usually see a common thread woven through all their workouts. It’s these movements above and it’s because they work.

lifting

Jennifer & Jessica- lifting weights

Sure there’s always accessory stuff as well. Sometimes to zero in on specific areas, sometimes to keep it fresh and keep the body guessing. But the above exercises are the foundation. Get really good at them and you’ll be well on your way to a stronger, leaner, fitter version of yourself.

They Include High Intensity, Explosive Cardio.

Kettlebells, running sprints, metabolic circuits, these are all versions of high intensity, explosive interval training. Interval training is simply alternating between high and low intensity exercises. The idea is to jack up your heart rate with super higher intensity moves (like sprints, swings, or box jumps) for a shorter period of time, then you alternate between rest and really high intensity work. This is the ideal cardio to rev up your metabolism and fat burning potential.

This type of training is a great substitute for long slow cardio. Even though it’s more intense, it’s been shown that more people stick to it because it takes less time and is more effective in burning fat while keeping muscle tone and improving heart health.

Jessica Biel running sprints

Jessica Biel running sprints

 

They Do Full Body Circuits.

Splitting up the muscle groups and working a different one each day is a body building tactic. Since most actresses and women are just looking to get stronger and more toned, full body circuits is the more efficient way to train. Circuits usually consist of 4 to 10 exercises that you do back to back. Each exercise works a different body part and you move quickly from one exercise to the next with little rest.

The reason most trainers use this is because it’s an ideal way to get the heart rate up and improve strength and muscle tone all in a small amount of time. Again this has major fat burning potential by taxing the whole body and the cardiovascular system at the same time.

They Kept Their Nutrition In Check.

Rarely do you hear an actress talk about getting in shape without mentioning a strict nutrition plan. None of these ladies would have gotten the same results without watching what they ate. Now this goes back to what I was saying in part 1 about having a specific end goal. It is always easier to be really strict with your nutrition when there is an end in sight. (When you hear most actresses talk about it, it would seem they eat pretty healthy on a regular basis but they go really strict when preparing for a movie.)

The point is, if you want to look and feel fit, you must take a look at (and most likely change) your eating habits. Start by keeping a food journal. Nowadays that is much easier with all the apps out there like Calorie King or My Fitness Pal. Sure it’s still kind of inconvenient, but you don’t have to do it forever and it will help raise your awareness so that you can start figuring what needs to change. Most women will realize they are eating too many fats or carbohydrates and not nearly enough protein. But try it out for yourself and see!

In short, for best results your workouts should prioritize full body strength training. Shorten your cardio sessions but bump up the intensity. Start that food journal! And if you feel completely lost or feel like you’ve tried these things without any success, hire an expert and do what they tell you to do. (Trainers are another thing the Hollywood types have in common. ;))

There’s still no quick fix, even for the rich and famous. (OK, no natural quick fix.) But if you’re willing to work at it, you can look and feel amazing! Most importantly remember: Start small. Focus on one habit at a time and make it so easy you can’t fail!

Just another example of actresses lifting some legit heavy weights and not getting big or bulky. (Skip to 1:10-2:05 for the good part.)

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)!

~~~~

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

5 Exercises That (Don’t Seem Like Much But) Will Rock Your Core

I can’t remember the last time I had a client come in who didn’t mention wanting to tone up their midsection and having some low back issues. So I’m going to give you some great new exercises that will work the abs, obliques, AND low back. I even included a client favorite and some good plank variations. How’s that for some core awesomeness?!

Now I don’t actually have myself or my clients do a ton of ab work because they get a lot of it just from using free weights, especially kettlebells, and full body movements. So don’t overdo it. The planks can be done for time, while the others can be done for time or reps. I used a kettlebell, but a dumbbell will work just as well.

However, before I get into it I want to be clear. These exercises will strengthen and tone up the muscles of your core. They will help give you definition, but they will not burn off the fat that sits on top of them. That my friends comes from the way you eat.  🙂 I’m not trying to discourage you, but I want you to know what you can honestly expect from this stuff instead of leaving you frustrated and wondering what’s wrong with you.

But I won’t leave you hanging! You can expect more blogs about nutrition and mindset and all those goodies that will help you get where you want to be…but for now, it’s exercise time! Since these exercises are much easier to demonstrate than explain I put together a quick video for you. Below the video I give more details on the how-to’s and what to focus on!

So without further ado, 5 exercises that will strengthen and tone your core muscles and help with low back pain as well….it took everything in me not to include a dance break. 😉

Song: Pennybags by Tyler Ward (feat. Derek Ward)

Pullover Crunch

The crunch is really quite overrated and not all that great for you, so this is one of the only crunch variations I do. It just so happens to also be a client favorite, so I figured I had to include it! Lay on back with knees bent and a weight above your head. Simultaneously pull the weight over your head and bring your knees to your elbows. Lower slowly.

*Tuck your pelvis and keep the low back pushed against ground for the duration of the exercise. Training this will do wonders for your low back and pelvic floor!

Progression: Straighten your legs on the way down and don’t let them rest on the ground. (You should only do this if you can keep your low back on the ground the entire time!!)

The Body Saw

In a plank position: Keeping your body as straight as possible, rock back and forth on the balls of your feet.

*Focus on not dropping your hips!

Progression: Do this with your feet on sliders. Yowza.

Side to Side Plank

In pushup position, bring right hand over and touch left hand, return to pushup position. Then bring left hand to right hand and return. Alternate back and forth.

*Resist twisting your body as you move from side to side. Try to hold a firm plank position.

Progression: Instead of just side to side, create a half circle by keeping your feet in place and walking your hands to the left 4 or 5 times. Return, then continue walking your hands to the right 4 or 5 times. Return.

Farmer Walks

If you don’t have loaded carries in your workout you should add them right now because they’re a great core exercise! It’s pretty straightforward really. Pick up a heavy weight in one or both hands and walk. If you can’t figure that out, theeeeen I can’t help you. 😉

*Keep a nice long spine. (Think tall. he he.)

Progression: Waiter Walk – Walk with weight overhead. Your elbow should be locked out.

1/2 Turkish Get Up

-Lay on your back with left arm straight out, a weight overhead in your right hand, and right knee bent so that your right foot is planted out to the side.

-First you want to roll to your side and up onto your elbow by simultaneously punching the weight up towards the ceiling, driving your left elbow into the ground, and using your foot to drive your  hips onto the left side . IT IS NOT A SIT UP. This should bring you up to your side and onto your elbow. From there, press your hand into the ground and crunch up to a sitting position.

-With your left hand and right foot firmly planted, squeeze your butt and push hips up toward the ceiling as far as you can. Hold for a second.

-Return to sitting position, then use abs to lower down slowly, back to lying position.

*Start with a really light weight or no weight at all, just to get the movement down. Keep your eyes on the weight the whole time! (If you’re still not quite sure you’re getting it, grab a weight and follow along with the video.)

Now go give these puppies a try! Enjoy!

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

Ain’t No Swing

I talked in my last post about why I love kettlebells and all the reasons they are beneficial for you. This naturally leads me into the topic of the most famous kettlebell exercise: the swing. Reason being is it also happens to be one of the most misunderstood and incorrectly done exercises, which leads many people to believe the swing is dangerous. OK, sure. When done incorrectly it can be harmful. That is fitness. Any exercise can be that.

When you put a weight over your head and there is always the possibility of dropping it on your face. When you do any exercise with poor form or too much weight OR play a sport, there is always the possibility of injury.

That is why a good trainer will harp on your form until its perfect! And then continue to make sure it stays that way.

OK, back to the swing. There is good reason that it is so commonly done incorrectly. It is not like most exercises. In fact, it goes against most of the fundamental rules of weight lifting. That is: lower the weight slowly, keep your chest up, and slow down. Because of that, the swing is also pretty counter-intuitive. In fact, if you don’t feel pretty darn awkward when you’re first learning you’re probably doing it wrong.

So to get started, I would like you to watch this quick, uuh, educational video. And no I’m not joking. I got this brilliant idea from the lovely Jen Sinkler and there really is a point to it… 😉

SO, the 2 main factors in the kettlebell swing:

1.First you’re going to bend….but not at the knees, at the hips. It is not a squat. Just like Elle so beautifully demonstrated :), you’re going to bend forward, sticking your butt out and dropping your chest toward the floor; much more akin to a deadlift than a squat. As the bell falls, don’t resist it. Let the bell pull your upper body down. This is not one of those times when you should be “lowering it slowly”.

2.Then SNAP!… also called a hip thrust or “popping” your hips; it’s all the same idea. You’re going to snap your hips by squeezing your butt and driving your hips forward quickly and powerfully. You’re literally going to drive the kettlebell up and out with your hips. So don’t hold back!! This is what gets the bell to pop up. Remember what I said above. If you don’t feel awkward, you ain’t doing it right!

*Here are a few helpful tips to remember:

  1. Relax your arms. This is not a shoulder exercise. But if I relax my arms, how do I get the bell to swing up?!?!?!? That’s what the hip snap is for! The only part of the arm that should be working is your forearms from gripping the bell. That’s it.
  2. The handle of the bell should never drop below your knees! Most people want to drop it really low because they think they should be squatting, but the swing is a glute and hamstring exercise so you should mainly be feeling it in your butt and the back of your thighs.
  3. Keep your back straight fool!! Even all the ladies in the video had nice straight backs! So stick that chest out, keep it out, and your back will look the same. Ain’t nobody got time for that! 😉 (But seriously, I love you guys and don’t want you to get hurt. So keep that back nice and straight and let your glutes and hams do the heavy lifting.)

These things are all much easier to see and understand in person. Since that’s not possible, I did the next best thing…

I really do hope this clears some things up for you guys and helps you go from ain’t no swing to ain’t no thing! Good luck!

**As a little bonus, if you still aren’t sure you’re doing it right or it hurts your back, take a video of yourself swinging. Send me the video at info@fuelsocofitness.com or on my facebook and I will personally watch it and give you the tips you need to fix it!

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