The priest at our church has asked at least two or three times in the last 6 months how many people are still keeping up with their New Year's resolutions. My husband always chuckles and shakes his head as he sees my hand go up.
I'm proud of the fact that I set a goal and go for it, but don't for a minute think that it gets easier or that I don't have my own doubts and fears. I do! I just refuse to look back on my life and say, "I wish I had...."
I came really close this past month to not seeing my New Year's resolution through. I had completed all the triathlons on my race schedule and had one last one to go. I was nervous about it. It started with a 1000meter swim and while I had completed that easily in the pool, doing it in the ocean, well that was another story. I hate putting my face in the ocean. The smell of seaweed, the taste of salt water hitting my face by a roque wave. Inhaling salt water and gasping for air. And lets not mention the creatures that live in the ocean! Ugh! Nightmares!
As the date of the triathlon neared, I still hadn't registered. Oh, I had a list of excuses: a sore throat, sick kids, couldn't get down there, etc. But honestly, if I really faced facts, I was simply scared.
So what changed? A conversation I had with my oldest changed everything. She had just completed a 50M freestyle race for her swim meet. During which, she had touched the wall, rather than doing a flip turn, something she had done last season and had practiced for the last six weeks. When I asked her about it, she said she was scared she'd miss the wall or hit her head. My response, "Don't not do it because you're scared. Try! You'll be surprised by how much you can accomplish!"
Like a wave, my words smacked me in the head. Duh! How can you say that to your daughter, to your clients, and not practice the same? Did I want to be one of those trainers who said one thing and did the other? I remember exactly where I was standing on the pool deck when those questions flooded my thoughts. And more importantly, I remember the reply, "You dummy! You're letting fear hold you back. Go sign up. Go try. You'll surprise yourself. And do you really want to give up this close to your goal. You're better than that. Sure it might be hard, but that's the point. Everytime you overcome your own fears you get stronger leaving behind fewer things fear will hold you back from. Now go do this!"
I signed up for the race that week and was surprised by how easy and enjoyable the swim and triathlon was last week. Why had I been so afraid? Why had I almost let my fears hold me back? I actually laughed to myself during the swim as I was enjoying myself so much and I was doing it!
So that's my wish. To my daughters, to my clients, to my family, to my friends.....our fears are there. They're real and they can hold us back if we let them. But the choice is ours. Do we want to look back at a life of possibility or a life of adventure? Do we want to talk about all the things we "could" have done or all the things we did? Do we want to tell our children what to do or give them an example, letting them know we know how they feel?
Fear is a very real emotion. But courage, joy, excitement and achievement are so much more empowering! So go for it! Set those goals, those New Years resolutions. You may not know how you'll achieve them, but I promise you the support is out there. You'll find a way. Reach for it! Go for it! Your best life is yours to live!
Its November. The month of Thanksgiving and I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s posts on Facebook stating what they’re thankful for that day. Its wonderful to see all the blessing bestowed upon friends and family.
I keep waiting to see one post though. One specific post. The post from a woman that says she’s thankful for her body. Not the supermodel, super skinny, perfectly lifted booty, six pack abs body thankful. But the thankful for strong legs that carried me across a busy parking lot while carrying a cranky toddler. The one that says, “I’m thankful for toned arms that are big enough to hug all my children at the same time so they know they’re all loved.” The one that says, “I’m thankful for a strong, powerful, beautiful body that has helped me to cross finish lines, dance at weddings and swim in the ocean.”
As women we often talk negatively about our bodies. What body part we wish was smaller, more toned, would disappear, was _______(insert your own desire). We often don’t celebrate all the incredible things our bodies do on a daily basis.
There is nothing wrong with wanting something to be better. That’s an incredible goal, desire and achievement to want and work toward something you want to change. The difference lies in not needing to put down your current body to do so.
I hear it every day from clients. Heck, I do it to myself each time I look in the mirror. The image looking back at us, whether we’re a size 4 or 24 is the same. One we’re often dissatisfied with and notice all of its imperfections.
I remember telling my mom, who had suggested I before a personal trainer well before I knew I would choose this profession, was that I wasn’t sure it was healthy for me to be so focused on the body. That it would lead to a compulsion for body perfection. I’m proud to confess the opposite is true. Its made me love the human body and especially a woman’s body that much more.
You see when I see my clients I see, strong bodies who are capable of so much. I see hips that carry small children. I see abdominals that have changed with motherhood, but have brought loving, kind children into this world. I see bodies of all shapes that move with grace and poise. I see incredible women who are kind, giving, beautiful, powerful, strong, loving and courageous.
It pains me when I give them a compliment and I get a reply of “ya, but if….” While that may be true, please know that you are beautiful right now. And you should celebrate that incredibly capable body and all it can accomplish right now!
Our children and daughters, especially our daughters, are watching and more importantly, listening to what we do and say concerning our bodies. They will learn to love or hate their body based on our actions and our words. Teach them to love their body, no matter its size or shape, for what it is capable of doing. For that is the best gift we can give them.
So I’ll continue to look at all the gratitude posts on Facebook for that one post. The one posted by a woman who is thankful for the incredible body she has been given and can see its power today. Will that woman be you?
I've wanted to write this blog post for a few months now. The theme has been ruminating in my head, but the words have escaped me. Till today that is.
So, let me put this bluntly, its time for us girls to start lifting each other up! If we want to succeed as women, as mothers, as wives, as daughters, in achieving our goals, in living our most fantastic lives imaginable, if we want our children, our daughters to succeed, then we need to start supporting each other.
Now obviously women supporting women happens often. We help watch each other's children. Meet up for coffee and a chat. Reach out with a phone call. We share struggles, challenges and successes. I see great examples of support every day at my Mommy Recess classes! And its encouraging, but I challenge you, are you doing all that you can to support the women in your life? Do you want the best for them, as you would hope they do for you?
It is tough to go through this life alone. It is tough to go after any goal, but especially a fitness, exercise, weight loss goal without the support of family and friends. Its one of the key issues I cover with my clients when they set goals for themselves. What is their support system? Who will they lean on? Who can then call on when they don't want to go for a workout or to offer them words of wisdom when a fudgy, chocolatey brownie is calling their name?
Often our spouses are there to support us and that is great! But as women, we're social and we turn to our social network to provide support, encouragement, and to lift our spirits. Often times we find those women who are there to do that. But sometimes, and far too often, we're not.
Think about it. Have you ever put down the thin, younger girl at the gym? Maybe not out loud, but in your thoughts. What about encouraged a friend who you know is trying to lose weight to eat a few french fries? Or talked negatively about someone else's success and achievements?
Those seemingly small acts, hurt. And often the woman hurt isn't going to say anything to you. But she may cry behind closed doors or driving home. Words often hurt more than deeds. That old saying of "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.", isn't really true. Words leave wounds, deeper than that of any deed. Things that cut us down. Making us feel inadequate, unworthy, unwanted, etc. Even if they are not said directly to the person they are said about. They influence how we feel and act toward that person. Words have power.
When all we want as women, is to be accepted. You don't have to want the same goals, but just encourage that friend, that neighbor, that stranger at the park to go after theirs. Your support and encouragement may be what they need that day, that moment, to push through.
You see its natural to be afraid of change. Its natural to want to surround yourself with people around you who are like you. To be jealous of others success and achievement. But how much better would things be if we supported each other? How much more could we achieve if we wanted to the best for those around us? Even if it meant facing our own fears. Even if it meant acknowledging that we have changes we need to accept and make to reach our goals. Even if it meant understanding that someone else making changes and achieving their goals is not a reflection of us. Afterall isn't that one of the purposes of life? To face our own shortcomings and therefore grow into the people God has meant for us to be.
Most dreams are not achieved alone. Olympic and professional athletes have coaches. Business leaders have mentors. Look to those you most admire. Often they have people surrounding them who are providing feedback and support.
Achieving a goal, any goal, is a difficult road to walk. As women we are incredible supports and our sisterly bond can lift and provide incredible change. Think Susan B. Anthony and the push for women's right to vote. Or Susan G. Koman and the push for women's cancer research. Katherine Switzer, the first female Boston marathon finisher, who proved that women can compete in long distance races. There are tons of examples of the power of what women can achieve when we bond together and support each other.
And here's the kicker, we all do better when we support each other. The woman being supported is more likely to achieve her goals and faster. And the woman doing the supported is uplifted that she helped another and encouraged to succeed at her own goals.
Its easy to get caught up in our own pettiness, that we put down the vibrancy of someone else. But there is no need. We can all shine as strong, confident, independant women. And through that, we can achieve so much!
So what woman in your life are you going to support today? How can you help them achieve their goals?
Forgiveness. We often think of forgiveness as the act of forgiving someone else who we feel has wronged us or asking for forgiveness from someone who feels we've wronged them. But what about the act of forgiving ourselves?
Halloween just ended. Thanksgiving and Christmas are fast approaching. There will be holiday parties, long to do lists, family gatherings and all of it has food. Cookies, candies, pies, cakes, sweets of all kinds and lots of rich foods reserved for such holidays. The average American will gain 5lbs between the months of November and December. 5lbs they'll make a New Years resolution to lose. But what if we could stop that from occuring, yet still enjoy our holidays?
Every year around this time I hear women beat themselves up for eating their children's Halloween candy, indulging in too much food or drink at a party, saying "yes" to something they know they should have said "no" to. But what does that get you?
For most of us women its just another thing to feel guilty over, another place where we think we've failed ourselves, another thing to stress and worry over, another reason to beat ourselves up over. And what does that get us?
We certainly don't feel better about ourselves. In fact we feel worse! Further from our goals, a failure, a loser. Making ourselves feel bad doesn't change what happened. It doesn't stop the food from entering our mouths or take away the calories from the foods we've already eaten. In fact, for many of us, it causes us to eat MORE!!! We self medicate with "feel good" foods. Leading us to continue on with the self-hate pattern. But what if we practiced forgiveness?
What if we forgave ourselves for over doing it? What if we forgave ourselves for eating or drinking to much? What if we forgave ourselves for our own mistakes, our own weaknesses, our own imperfections, our own moments of giving in? For they are just that! They don't make us who we are! And we're certainly able to forgive others for such "crimes"! So why not ourselves?
What if you did forgive yourself? Recognize that it was just one event. One cookie. One drink. One meal. Or even if it wasn't and it was a whole day, week, month, year of poor decisions! Beating yourself up about it won't change that it happened. It happened! But forgiving yourself allows you to move on. To put it in the past and see the possibilities of a different future. It allows you to examine the event, the decision and see why you made it. And in that examination, that why, you'll find the opportunity to make a different decision the next time.
You see forgiving yourself allows you to free yourself from the emotion. You're not bad, poor, weak, or a failure. It was just a poor MOMENT, a poor DECISION, and one you can learn from. Why did you make it? Were you bored? Were you overly hungry? Were you influenced by people around you? Were you stressed? Were you scared, lonely, intimidated? Then ask yourself how you would have liked to have handled the situation. What could you have done differently? What could you have said? Play it out in your mind the ideal way you would have handled it. Then next time, you'll know and do differently.
The holidays, our family, our lives, they're meant to be enjoyed. Just as you would forgive others their mistakes and imperfections, do the same for yourself! Not only will you be slimmer for it, but happier too!
Judgement. As personal trainers we're not supposed to judge our clients. We're supposed to be open minded as our clients tell us what brought them to us, what got them to their current weight and how we can help them live a healthier life. There are classes, trainings and certifications that cover this topic helping us to ask questions and listen to the client, rather than judging them.
Yet, I hear it all the time. The other day it was a conversation about looking in people's grocery carts. Judging them as good or bad parents based on the food choices in the cart that they were feeding to their family. And regardless of whether you thought the entire discussion was silly, a waste of time or that you recognized your own judgement of others by what they're wearing, acting, buying etc, you were still judging and making an opinion based on that judgement.
One of the biggest reasons people stall in meeting their exercise, weight loss, health goals is that they become concerned with what other people will say about them. That the people at the gym will look down on them for being so overweight and just walking on the treadmill. That others will think them uncoordinated as they don't know all the steps to a group fitness class. That friends or family will laugh when they decline a piece of cake or say no to a drink because you want to feel good for that early morning workout.
We've all been there. Feeling like we're on the outskirts of what everyone else is doing because we're trying to make positive changes in our lives. Feeling judged for trying to live our healthiest lives. Its not the greatest of feelings.
You know the saying 'Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me." Not really true is it? Words can and do hurt and so does the judgement we feel or we place on others. We know we should rise above it, not care what others say. But we do. We all want to feel accepted, that others support our decisions and opinions. Its why we surround ourselves with people who act and think like us. Its why as a personal trainer, I encourage my clients to workout in a group or participate in activities that will support their new healthy endeavors.
Its impossible to never judge other people. But you can control your actions. Afterall, its how you act on that judgement that matters. Support those around you that are making healthy lifestyle changes. Ask how you can help. When you see a new person at the gym or someone who is overweight, offer them a smile, say hi, be welcoming. They're trying to get on that healthy bandwagon just like you. When you see the mom or dad at the grocery store with what you think is "crap" in their cart, know that they're doing the best they can with the knowledge they have. At one point you probably had the same "crap" in your cart.
Judging others doesn't get anyone anywhere. It hurts the person being judged, keeping them further from their goals. And it hurts you, by making you feel rightous, and keeping you from seeing where you can make improvements. No exercise program or nutrition program is perfect. There are always things to learn and what we learn is always changing (Are eggs healthy or bad and full of cholesterol!?). Be supportive, ask questions, keep learning and encourage those around you to live their healthiest lives. What incredible things we can achieve if we leave the judgement behind and support each others goals!!!!
Ever wonder why most group instructors or trainers end classes or sessions with deep breathing?
No, we're not finding ways to waste those last few minutes! Well, ok, sometimes.
We're usually doing one of two things or both:
- Trying to elicit a stress release response
- Teaching you HOW to breathe
Now the first you probably understand. Afterall, the stress relief benefits of yoga and meditation, both forms use structured breathing patterns, have been well studied and documented for years. Its one of the reasons they're used in anger management classes, corporate settings, and even for those confronting debilitating and life threatening disease. Deep breathing helps you to relax, pause and gather your thoughts so you don't act out or allow you to feel what you're going through recognize it for what it is, not MORE than what it is, and let it go, come up with a plan or continue on. Makes you want to seek out a yoga class, right?
The second, you may find silly. Afterall, we were all born knowing how to breathe right? Of course, or we'd all be dead! But are you really breathing?
Most Americans don't use all their lung capacity to breathe. Our rushed lifestyle, also has us rushing to breathe. So we only use the upper lung lobes to take a full breathe. The problem this elicits is a decreased oxygenation of our blood and muscles. Why is this important? Well, breathing, oxygen, is what keeps us alive?!
Don't believe me, think about your day. As the day progresses, do you find yourself getting sleepier, less productive, more easily distracted? Most of us refer to this as our 3pm slump. Its when a lot of us turn to coffee, chocolate, carbs or some sugary treat, as a pick-me-up. Trouble is, those things will only leave you more tired once the initial rush passes. But WHY do you feel so tired at late afternoon? Sure you're busy, may have had interupted sleep due to a cranky or sick child, or have been poorly fueling our bodies. But you also may be breathing shallower as the day goes on.
As the day progresses, the stress, things that NEED to get done, rushing from here to there, meetings, etc also build up. And although we may be handling it all well, our bodies feel the stress and rush we're under and we breathe shallower. Think about it, when was the last time you took a deep breath? I'm sure you're thinking about it now as I write this. But before you were thinking about it were you really breathing?
A deep breath should cause our belly button to go in and out, our shoulders should lift and fall slightly, it should be slow and controlled. The more oxygen we get to our muscles and into our blood, the more effective we can be in all we do and the more alert.
Give it a try. Yes! Right now!
Place your hands over your belly button.
Relax your shoulders and close your eyes.
Breathe in for a count of 3-5 and breathe out for the same count.
Feel your belly button and shoulders slowly rise and fall.
Don't rush the breath, just slowly inhale and exhale.
Do this for 5 breathes or 2 minutes.
Notice how you feel. Is your mind clearer? Do you feel less tired? Are you ready to tackle the next task?
Deep breathing has many health implications and can serve to help you reduce stress, increase alertness, improve posture, stimulate digestion and toxin release, relieve pain, sleep better, lower blood pressure, improve circulation and make you feel better, happier, more capable.
So next time you feel tired, stressed, overly angry or emotional, frustrated or are just really busy, pause and take a few deep breathes. You'll find you're more able to tackle the situation at hand, more energized and healthier!!!
Its been a long day. You're tired, frustrated and just want to forget about the day or week you had. The last thing you're thinking about are your health, weight and fitness goals. As a matter of fact a cold beer, glass of wine, a slice of cake, a tub of ice cream, a plate of french fries, anything fried or covered in cheese, sounds really good right now. After all, you DESERVE it right! After the day or week you've had, right?
But do you really DESERVE it?
Sure those things will taste great and there's a reason you reach for them. They're comfort foods. They immediately send off those happy endorphins that make you "feel" relaxed, due to the emotional response you have to them.
Then reality sets in, as you stare at the empty fry plate, the grease coagulating on the plate, the empty ice cream tub, the hang over the next morning, or the bloated, overly full, heavy feeling you get from eating foods that have little nutritional value and just sit in your gut. "What have I done?"
You were human. You thought that after a bad day or bad week, that you DESERVED to "treat" yourself. But were you really treating yourself or were you just beating up your body some more? Thing is, you didn't know better. Its what you've always done when encountering a bad day or what most people you know when having a bad day. There's a reason we say TGIF, "I need a drink." or "Its 5 o'clock somewhere." Food = comfort and after a long, stressful day or week, we seek comfort and most of us can find it in food.
We do it in good times too. Celebrations after races = cake or something involved. A tough workout accomplished = 500+ calorie smoothie from the juice bar. Completed all your workouts that week and ate well = a "cheat" day or meal.
The thing is, our bodies don't "DESERVE" it. Lets be honest, that's just what we tell ourselves to justify the guilty pleasure.
What our body really DESERVES is good, real food free of artificial colors, preservatives, saturated fats, sugars, GMOs, antibiotics and hormones.
What our body really DESERVES is to move, to be used to its fullest capabilities, to be challenged.
You can get the same endorphin release from a heart pumping, challenging workout as you can from eating your "comfort" food. That same endorphin release can happen over laughes with friends at a movie or game night. Those endorphins can help release the stress of a hard day or week, through prayer, connections with family, participation in your community and being of service to others.
Thing is food, comfort food, is a real big draw and its easy to turn to when times are tough, when we feel down, alone, beat up or scared. But you can break the habit, because do you really "DESERVE" it, or do you just want it? Will it really help you feel better or reach your goals or will it only add to the guilt, loneliness and failure you may already be feeling?
So before you indulge in that "DESERVED" drink, sweet treat or cheat meal, think of what you could do that your body really deserves and that would make you feel equally as good without the guilt. Then next time, when you think you "DESERVE" that ........., do the alternative you've planned out. Afterall, a few laughs with friends or a group sports activity can feel equally great and up lifting!
I always love the start of school, and not just because my kids go back to school now and life returns to some semblence of normal. (What exactly is "normal" anyway?!) But just like the new year, its the opportunity to start again. A clean slate. A new notebook without a single page written upon. The possibilities of what the year will unfold.
As my children start school one week from today, YAY!!!, we've started to discuss what they think this year will hold for them. What will they learn? Which teacher will they get? What subjects will be their favorites? What activities do they want to participate in? When you think about it, we're asking them questions so they can formulate their goal. What do they want to achieve this year?
Its the same thing we should be asking ourselves. If you have school age children, the start of the school year is the perfect opportunity for you to evaluate your own goals.
"Ya, ya, ya, I hear ya."
"Set a goal. Ok."
"Know where I'm going. Gotcha."
But no, that's not it at all. Why do most people fail to achieve their goals? Why are most New Year's Resolutions broken in the first 6 weeks of the year? Why do most exercise and diet plans fail? Its not because people don't have a goal. Its not because they don't know where they want to get to. And its not because they're not talented enough, have enough willpower, have the knowledge, have the support, have the money, insert your excuse here. Its because they don't really believe its possible.
Most people have failed at their goal before. Most people have been told that dieting doesn't work, that they're not good enough, that it can't be done, etc. And after being told that enough, you start to believe it, especially if you've failed at your goal before.
Now, other people don't come right out and tell you that you won't achieve your goal. They'll cover it up with humor, "Ya, let me know how that works out for you!" They'll slyly sabotage your efforts, "One cupcake won't kill you." They list the difficulties of how it can't be done. "Oh, I tried that and it was hard! You'll never get a job where...." But is this the truth, or is that their own fear speaking.
Change is hard, even if its not them who is doing the changing. And setting a goal, means you're willing to change your behaviors, change your beliefs to reach that goal. So setting the goal is the easy part, but changing the belief that you can actually ACHIEVE that goal is where the work begins, and where achieving that goal finally becomes a reality.
So here's what you're going to do:
- Set a goal. Any goal. But make it something that is meaningful to you. Don't think about how you're going to achieve it. Just write it down.
- Think about your goal. Close your eyes and visualize what you look like when you achieve your goal. Where are you? What are you wearing? Who are you talking to? What time of year is it? How do you feel?
- Write a letter to yourself. Write it in the first person. Write it from the future, dated the date you'd like to achieve your goal by and write it as though you've achieved your goal and you want to let your present self know what lies in store for them.
- Now post that letter where you can read it daily.
Here's what will happen. You'll start to believe it can happen. And you'll start to make the changes necessary to make it happen. You'll have the strength, courage and motivation to take the steps you need to take to make that goal a reality. Other people won't be able to sway you or convince you other wise, because you've already seen the outcome, you've written it, you've felt it. And you want it to happen!
A Harvard study I read recently looked at a graduating class and asked them what they wanted to achieve after graduation. 90% were unsure of what they wanted to achieve aside from success. 8% had a goal in their mind of what they wanted to achieve. 2% had a goal in their mind and had it written down on paper or a vision board. The 90% went on to be successful and have good jobs. (They were Harvard grads afterall!) The 8% went on to be successful, have good jobs and were making 5 times what the other 90% were making. The remaining 2% were at the top of their fields, having achieved their goals and much more and were making over 10 times what the rest of their graduating class were. The only difference, they were crystal clear about what they were going to achieve. They didn't have all the details figured out, but they knew they would be a success and no one could convince them otherwise! Sure they had setbacks at times, we all do, but they had seen their success, and so they found their path to making it happen.
And you can do the same.
So as the new school year starts, buy yourself a new notebook or bulletin board and dream up your goal. Think about it, Visualize it and Write it down! Then watch how your actions, behaviors and attitude start to change to allign you to reaching your goal.
Want some extra motivation, share your goal with me in the comments below, my Facebook group: www.facebook.com/BeYourBestPersonalTraining or on email: firstname.lastname@example.org and find additional support to help you reach your goals! Because it is POSSIBLE!
I often find it funny when my clients give me the double take because I've told them to take a "rest" day. Or when my Mommy Recess clients, give a big exhale of relief at the end of class when I tell them to take a moment for themselves and just breathe.
Taking time in your day, your week, your workout routine to rest, relax and recharge is just as equally as important to your health as your exercise and healthy eating plan. Its those rest days that allow you to repair all the damage to your body from stress and intense exercise that you've done all week. Sleep is part of your body's daily "rest", repair and recharge cycle. Studies have shown that the average adult, needs 7-9 hours of sleep daily (Are you getting enough?!) to adequately repair from the stress and damage of the day. Your body, brain, organs, hormones and muscles need to repair, rest, so you can start the next day at your optimum.
Ask any mom with a newborn about the effects of sleep deprivation and they can provide you with a list a mile long: trouble concentrating, increased hunger, irritablility, mood swings, increased cravings, decreased balance, decreased motivation, increased fight or flight reactions, weight gain, etc. And all these things are supported by science. Your body needs to rest to work at its best.
Not only do you need to rest, but you need to find activities that help your body, mind and soul recharge. You know those things you could do for hours. Those things where when you're doing them, you suddenly look up at the clock and hours have passed. Those things that make you smile, inside and out. That just feel GOOD!
Those activities recharge your body. They give your mind a rest, as you can just "do" them. And they're different for everyone. For some its a hike or a vinyasa yoga session. For others its reading a good book or painting. The list of possibilites is endless. They are as different as the individuals who do them. But the key is that they are done for the pure enjoyment of doing them. There is no desired outcome, no specific need to do them. They are the activities that fill your heart, spirit and soul with joy.
There are far to many "to dos" on our plates each day. Things that we begrudgingly "have" to do. There are far too few moments of pure joy in our lives, but that shouldn't be. During those rest days, that time taken to repair your body, take time then to also recharge your soul. Chat with a girlfriend, go to Sunday services, sing like no one is watching, lose yourself in a movie and pjs. Take time, schedule time, to recharge, body and soul, finding joy in an activity you love.
You'll come back able to tackle your week, your work, your exercise and nutrition goals. That same relaxation response you get from taking a vacation, except this is a weekly mini-vacation! You'll be a better mom, wife, co-worker and a healthier person. Resting and recharging has been shown to lower your blood pressure, disease risk, hormone levels, heart rate, decrease depression, and many more things. Its not a luxury, it is essential to your well rounded health.
So, if you need to, take it as a homework assignment from your trainer. (My clients love it when I give them homework!) :) Each week take a day to rest, to find an activity that recharges your body and soul. You have your trainer's permission.
I'd love to hear from you! What activities do you do for pure enjoyment? What do you do that fills your heart and soul with joy, recharging you for the days ahead? How do you spend your rest day?
There comes a point as mothers that our children are competing in sports. Often times we act solely as chauffer and cheerleader. Ushering them to practice and games. Making sure they have their required gear and physicals. We sit on the sidelines taking pictures and cheering them on.
But there is also a point, when our children want to start participating in sports we currently participate in or that we used to participate in. Its only natural afterall. We love or once loved a certain sport. They see that and want to participate in something that makes you happy. And with that comes new challenges. Challenges that were not seen by previous generations of women. Afterall, lets be honest here, women competing in sports through high school and college and even at the professional level is a relatively new thing. Yes, there were those few sports, cheerleading being one, that were female dominant, but most women didn't go to college and continue to participate in sports like they do now. We now have scholarships and NCAA rulings, all female races and professional teams made up all of women. There may even be the first professional NFL female referree shortly (she's on the short list for the 2013/2014 season and is currently helping the Lions with their pre-season camp). So navigating the role of mother, competitor and potentially coach is a new challenge mothers of today face.
I'm very fortunate to have had the honor of competing with a lot of "family" teams in the races I compete in. Father and son, father and daughter, mother and daughter and it always seems to be a joyous event. They all get to share time together, training and competing. Having recently completed my first triathlon with my oldest daughter, it was great to see her out on the course and to cheer her on as we passed each other. But there are also challenges to that. What role will you take in their development in their sport?
We've seen father's take a role in their child's sport development as coach. Tiger Woods and the Williams sisters being two that come readily to mind. We've seen mothers search out the best coaches for their children. Michael Phelps' mom and Gabby Douglas' mom come to mind. But where will you stand? What will your role be as your child competes in sports? Mom the Cheerleader? Mom the Coach? or Mom the Competitor?
I recently had the honor to watch a friend, who has raced for years with his son, get surpassed by his son's talent. The son is now beating his father at races. It was a wonderful moment and one that both cherished and I'm sure discussed for days! I'm also sure it was one they prepared for. Training together, cheering each other on, pushing each other to be better. Now granted, the child is a high school athlete, so you can do that. I would not recommend such fierce competition with a younger child. And both genuinely wanted each other to succeed. To be their best competitor. They shared knowledge and training. They encouraged and pushed each other to be better than they could be alone. And there was no discouraging or trash talk. Just two athletes competing to be the best they could be. A father and son team, though competing as individuals.
I also recently spoke with a friend about the role she's taking in helping to coach her daughter with gymnastics and swimming. We discussed how difficult it can be to coach your own child. You're always together. There is no rest or break. And as parents, we often think we know how hard we can push our children. We expect more of them than others would. We test their limits, their patience, their behavior and are embarrassed, especially if we're coaching them with a group, when they don't do as we think they should. Its all normal. They are our children afterall and we do know them better than most coaches, but that doesn't always mean we're the best coach for our child.
Some parent/child teams excel. There is an additional level of trust and communication that exists between the pair. There is a desire to do what is best for each other, no matter the outcome (this can serve as a positive and a negative). The fact that so much time is spent together, creates a lasting bond and memories that are priceless.
Then there is the opposite. When the parent wants the child to participate in the sport more than the child does. When the parent thinks the child is capable of something that is currently beyond their skill level and pushes them harder and faster than they should. When the pressure of meeting the parent's expectations is too much for the child. When there is fear that by failing, losing or giving up that the child will no longer be loved. Those things can break a parent/child bond for years and take a lot to rebuild.
Then there is the sideline parent we discussed above. Not the parents we read about in the headlines who put down the other team, cause fights with other parents, coaches, referrees and even children. But the parent, the mom, who just wants to watch their child enjoy the journey, enjoy the sport, enjoy learning a new skill. The parent who cheers their child on win or lose and encourages them to give their best. The parent who pushes their child to success, gives them the tools they need and then sets them off to succeed on their own. The parent who support is essential to the child's development in that sport and they can see that, while taking that back seat position and smiling as their child goes on to success.
Its a fine line and difficult one, especially as mothers. I find there is a lot of mothers guilt that lies in anything we do for our children, good and bad. I know I do not want to be my child's coach. I'll leave that job to her coaches. Of course I'll always help her, provide advice, guidance, but I'll leave the skill development to others.
As I've recently had the opportunity to compete in a race with my oldest daughter, I dreamed of the times to come. The times when training runs, rides and swims are equally matched. When we're pushing each other to succeed and laughing when the other pulls ahead. When I too, like my friend, can pass the torch to her. When she is the one waiting at the finish line for me to finish as she had come out ahead, the winner of our private competition, one with bigger bragging right than the medal or ribbon received from the race. I know in all of that that I will cherish most, my role as her mom. For if we can both stand at the finish, like we did this past week, and support each other through it all, pushing each other to be our own idividual best competitor, than I will have done something right. Bonded with her over memories and experiences no one else can know, except two athletes, two competitors, a mother and a daughter. I can't wait!!!