They're listening. The little ones who whine that they want a snack, need help going potty, want you to pick them up...put them down....The little ones whos tears can break your heart and smiles lift you to the moon. They're listening...to every word you say.
Have you ever listened to a group of women talking over lunch? Guaranteed someone will make a comment about their weight or that they don't like how their hips, stomach, buns, arms, etc look. How they need to lose weight, tone up, exercise more, eat less, eat better, drink more water, drink less alcohol, etc. The list of complaints goes on. I don't think I've ever over heard a group of women saying how proud they are of their weight, their abs, their arms or legs. There is always a self criticism.
Thing is, our little ones are listening. They hear our criticisms. They hear our unhappiness with our bodies. And they repeat the process.
Our little ones want to be just like us, their moms. The people who they turn to for comfort, to kiss their boo-boos, to dry their tears, to lift them up to see over the crowd, to cheer them on, to help them navigate the world around them. We are their cheerleaders, their nurses, their drivers, their comfortgivers, their chefs, their safe place to fall. We are their teachers.
So teach them to love themselves. To find wonder and thanks in what their body can accomplish. How can you best do this? Speak of yourself the same way. Don't criticise your body. Celebrate what it can do!
"Did you see how many push-ups mommy just did?! Boy am I strong!" Because you are strong!
"Isn't it great that mommy can run and play with you at the park? Mommy's really healthy." And you are!
"This looks really good or this looks really yummy." Celebrate the positives and forget the negatives! What you focus on you give power to. So focus on the positives. Your children will too!
WE have the ability to shape how our children will see themselves and how we see ourselves. Not the media, not TV, not a photograph or advertising. We do! We mothers do!
Speak kindly of yourself, of your body or the changes you're making and your children will too. Its not about ignoring the things you'd like to work on. We all, everyone one of us, has things we'd like to change about our body image, but we can CHOOSE to focus on the positive. Our strength, our health, the efforts we're currently putting in, etc.
Your children are listening....and learning from YOU! Teach them how wonderful, powerful, strong, healthy their bodies are by doing the same for yourself!
I love it when my clients try something new. When they set a goal and go for it! Their excitement and enthusiasm is equal to that of a drug. It makes me want to set a loftier goal and go after it.
Often, like a honeymoon, that enthusiasm wanes. The long hours of training. The time and monetary investment. The early mornings or denied nights out so you can achieve your goal. They can take their tole. Its hard to do without or deny pleasures for a goal that seems so far off.
It great to reach for the stars and to set lofty goals for ourselves. But I have found that it is better to set smaller goals that are stepping stones to the larger goal. Afterall, if you want to swim, you first have to get into the water.
For example, if your goal is to run a marathon, but you havent run in years, start first with running a 5K. A 5K can be achieve with a 4-6 week running program, running 3 days a week for 30-45 minutes. Crossing the finish line will keep your enthusiasm going toward running a marathon. Vs. marathon training which take 12-20weeks, 6-10hours and 5-6 days of training each week.
As you find the training and reaching the smaller goals getting easier, you'll find yourself getting closer to your bigger goal. You'll be able to see the opportunities toward achieving your goals vs. the obstacles.
No big goal was ever achieved overnight. I'm reminded of this story: "I failed miserably at my first business. It was a complete and utter failure. On my second attempt, I failed. It was a terrible failure, but I could salvage something. On my third attempt, I built a business, but it was barely successful. On my forth attempt, I built a business that was good and I later sold, knowing I could do better. On my fifth attempt, I founded Paypal."
Each step, no matter a success or a failure, got him closer to his goal. You can do the same.
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!!!