I love the off-season. That part of my training where I don't have an event planned for awhile. I get to look back over my last season (not a good one as I was plaqued with an injury!), look at what I learned, make the neccessary tweaks (more speed work, more time spent in the pool, more drills, less endurance runs, train certain muscle groups vs. others, etc) and plan for next season. I always get a bit giddy! The hope, opportunity and challenge the next season will hold!!! I'm reinvigorated to start.
But I also look forward to a couple weeks of rest. Just like a lazy Sunday or sleeping in after a long week, your exercise routine needs a change. I turn the intensity down. I do a lot more stretching, yoga, pilates and stability work. I get an extra massage or two! :) And I choose activities for pure enjoyment versus the event I'm training to compete in next.
Not only does my body get a rest, but so does my mind. I don't have to think about these exercises. I can just enjoy them. I can focus on the environment around me, rather than how far or hard I've run or biked.
And the holidays are always a perfect time for me to take this rest period. My personal and professional to-do-lists overflow with things that need my time or attention. Its nice to be able to relax in my training. I still eat well and get in a good workout, but I get to shift my focus a bit to other things.
Soon enough my training will pick back up and hopefully I'll be cleared by the physical therapist to get back to running (fingers crossed!). And when that time comes my mind and body will be ready for the next challenge. So take your "rest" period. Its just as important for your psychological, emotional and physical states as any other part of your training program!
My husband and I attended the USMC Birthday Ball this past weekend. The USMC Ball is always a special event. Women spend weeks preparing, getting a special dress, shoes, jewelry, their hair done, make-up and the men spend extra care on preparing their uniforms. Most of my clients who are Marine Corps spouses name the USMC Ball as an event they're training to lose weight for and look fit in their ball gown.
At the ball, with everyone looking their best, you hear women talk about all the preparations they did to get ready. Some fasted all day to avoid bloating or to lose the last few pounds. Some did 100 sit-ups and 100 push-ups to be toned where their dress showed off their best assests. Some were on liquid diets. Some had cut out all types of foods from their diets. Some were exercising for hours on end. Everyone seemed to have a technique for being "Ball" ready.
Then as cocktails flowed, the bread basket was passed around, the main course served and the Marine Corps birthday cake cut, you'd see these same women, who had just worked so hard to be at their best, throw it all out the window. Now, I'm just like all of you. An over-worked, over-scheduled mom trying to live my best, healthiest life and I too love, LOVE, a good party! I love looking and feeling my best. So rather than waste calories and time on looking good for one night, or catered food that has sat under warming light for far to long and a generic sheet cake, I'd rather eat and workout for a lifetime of looking and feeling good.
So as the holidays roll around and your special events calendar gets over-scheduled begin with a plan in mind.
Fad diets, fasting and eliminating food groups, may help you to look good for one event, but at what cost. Most people over eat after fasting. I don't know of a single person who has tried a "fad" diet, lost the weight and kept it off for a lifetime. Most of the time, the results are short lived. And you end up feeling worse about yourself once you gain the weight back. And eliminating food groups, that never works. Not only do you end up depriving yourself of neccesary nutritients for brain, cell and bone health, but you also end up desiring the same foods your trying to eliminate!
Instead, evaluate your diet. Keep a food log. A well-published and accepted trial of people who have lost more than 20% of their body weight and kept it off for over 5 years, indicates that a food log was one of three things that helps them to lose the weight and keep it off. You're able to see where problem areas arise. Are you eatting too much sugar? Do you eat too much at the end of the night? Do you skip meals? Are you eatting too few veggies? Plus, writing it down keeps you accountable.
Also, go with a plan in mind for those events. Don't waste your calories on something that doesn't taste fabulous! At events like those, no one cares if you leave something on your plate or if you choose not to eat the sheet cake. Eat well during the day, so you're not starving when you get there. And drink water or a low calorie beverage, cranberry juice with tonic or club soda and a twist of lime is a great option, between glasses of alcohol or wine. It tastes great and still looks like a festive drink!
Why would you punish your body with extra exercise or extra reps for a short term gain? Exercising should make you feel good, increasing your oxygen load, making you stronger. The addage of more is better, doesn't always hold up when it comes to exercise. Sometimes it just makes you more sore, compromises your form and puts you at additional risk of injury. If you're looking for an increase in calorie burn, up your weight or increase your intensity! You can burn additional calories in a shorter amount of time and use that extra time for some much needed pampering, relaxing or girl time!
The key is to enjoy your special events that are coming up. Eat and exercise for long term change. Enjoy the life you're living. A positive attitude, a smile, and a woman who exudes confidence in who she is always looks good no matter what her size or what she's wearing!
It's that time of year again...Halloween! Little goblins will soon be visiting my door asking for treats. And I can't wait!
You see, Halloween brings back the joy of childhood for me. Thinking I was really the costumed creature I was made up to be. (Although I think I'll forget about the year I was a grape. Long story and poor choice by our classroom teacher for a themed class costume of fruit! Thanks Aunty!). And let's not forget, the candy! I still remember the house that gave out full size candy bars! Halloween was always full of a little bit of candy, mystery and mischief.
Now as an adult, a personal trainer and mom, I'm supposed to forget some of those joys. View Halloween candy as evil. Banish it from the house and vow not to eat it.
Soon the lists of good vs. bad candy will come out. Who really wants raisenettes, when what they really want is a Reese's peanut butter cup!
Does that ever really work? Denying myself a craving usually only makes me want it more! And part of the joy living is enjoying the food I'm eating.
Now that doesn't mean sitting down to eat that whole bag of snickers you just brought home, but there are other ways you can enjoy Halloween, it's candy and magic, besides substituting this candy for that one. (Although that does work for some people.)
Some of my clients enjoy the thrill of the hunt. The trick or treating. Seeing friends all dressed up and their children and then coming home to see the "loot" they got. I used to love dumping out all my Halloween candy and putting the "best" pieces aside. (Mainly so my father wouldn't steal them! Love you dad!). You can do the same now. Let your children or just yourself choose your favorites. Then just hold onto those and throw out the rest or donate them to a cause. The USO often collects candy for distribution to the troops overseas. Everyone knows there are those candies you'll never eat and those you'll eat just because they're there. Why not get rid of them right away and just eat the ones you know you'll savor and enjoy?
I have other clients who buy just one bag of their favorite candy. (My husband does this.). Then eats one a night. Often, because its there and you've given yourself permission to have just one, rather than "forbidding" it, you don't even need one every day, but can go a few days and really savor the treat.
Other clients set a goal. If they exercise that day for so many minutes or at such an intensity, they can have one treat. If not, then they can't. It gives them the incentive to push a little harder or longer than they normally would have.
The overall objective is that you can enjoy Halloween with all its mystery, mischief and candy and not blow your fitness, healthy living or weight loss goals. Enjoy the holiday! Enjoy the treats of the holiday! A little planning will help you do that and reach your goals!!!
I remember those first 4 exercises my physical therapist gave me to strengthen my adductors, glutes and deal with a hip fall during my running stride. No resistance, just working against gravity. I almost chuckled out loud. "I'm a personal trainer, triathlete, runner. I regularly perform all kinds of different strengthening exercises. These will be a piece of cake!" Boy was I wrong!
I couldn't perform even 10 hip raises without wincing and needing to stop. All I was doing was standing on a step, dropping my foot over the edge and pulling up through my hip to raise my leg back up. It was such a simple movement and I was having such difficulty performing it! "How could I have such poor strength in my hip? How could I have missed such a weakness? Oh, how this hurt!"
Here I am 4 months later and I can now perform 3 sets of 30 repetitions of the hip raise without batting an eye. We've progressed to exercises of greater difficulty. As I add in these new exercises and struggle to maintain my form, pushing for each rep, I'm reminded of that first attempt at hip raises. I know that with practice, I'll get stronger, better. At some point I'll look at those new exercises and think they too are easy.
We all have exercises or habits that we struggle with. We wonder how we'll get better, when will it get easier. You've got to keep at it. You've got to practice, daily sometimes, to get better. Sometimes its a struggle. Sometimes you wonder if it will work. That's why its good to know where you started. Knowing that I couldn't perform a single set of hip raises without stopping when I started and now being able to do 3 sets of 30, keeps me going with these new exercises I find challenging. At some point I'll look back at them and find them easy too.
I didn't think I'd still be here, recovering from an injury 6 months later. Having sat out an entire triathlon season. Not having run in 6 months. But here I am. Not much I can do about the past, but learn from it. Take stock in my progress. And prepare for next season. My new goal....to be able to start running December 1st. I'm working daily on my new and old exercises to strengthen my injury. Progress is being made and I'm hopeful that come December 1st, you'll see me out there running again with a smile!
My physical therapist told me this past week that I should start getting twice a month massages to help in the treatment of my pes anserine bursitis. My first thought..."Yay! I can't wait to tell my husband that for medical reasons I "need" to get that massage and he has to watch the kids!" My second thought...."Ouch!"
A sports massage is meant to help alleviate the stress and tension which builds up in the body's soft tissues. Where minor injuries and lesions occur, due to overexertion and/or overuse, massage can break them down quickly and effectively. Sports massage can help prevent those niggling injuries that so often get in the way of performance and achievement, whether a person is an athlete or a once a week jogger. While you'll get the benefits of stress relief, when working on areas that have been injured, a bit of pain can be involved.
Many athletes use weekly massage to reduce heart rate and blood pressure, increase blood circulation and lymph flow, reduce muscle tension, improve flexibility, and relieve pain. Each sport and athletic event uses muscle groups in a different way. Sports Massage can include pre-event, post-event and maintenance techniques that promote greater athletic endurance and performance, lessen chances of injury and reduce recovery time.
I was hoping my massage would do just that, improve my flexibility, reduce tension and improve my area of injury. I must say, my massage felt great! I was certainly more relaxed after and felt as though my muscles were more pliable than when we started. Today, I'm a bit sore. How much that is from the massage vs. the workout I completed yesterday, is hard to tell. I'm trying to reserve judgement after a few more massages to see how my body reacts.
I'm hopeful that between the ongoing physical therapy and massages, that I'll be back to running by December 1st!
What would you do if your daughter told you she was ugly? Or if your best friend told you she was dumb? Or even if someone you just met told you that they couldn't participate in a certain sport because they weren't strong or competent enough? You'd probably tell them how wrong they were and go on to list the reasons why they were beautiful, smart or strong. You'd try to lift their spirits, their self-confidence and tell them how incredible they are just being them. So then why do we tell these lies to ourselves?
I know you've been there. Staring at your reflection in the mirror wishing for someone else's arms, legs, abs, buns. Criticizing the body staring back at you. Or maybe, you're crying behind closed doors over something someone else said about how dumb your idea is or how you could never do "xyz". And you wonder if maybe, just maybe, they're right.
If you wouldn't let your daughter, your best friend or even perfect strangers think that terribly of themselves, why would you let yourself think those things about YOU?! The world, TV and magazines, are so quick to knock you down and make you feel inadequate. Choose not to let it be that way! Celebrate the strong, smart, beautiful, kind, loving woman you are and celebrate those women and girls around you who are that way!
Truth is your mind is incredibly powerful. It can make you think, believe and act on the most incredible things. You've heard the stories before of the mom who changes things at her child's school because things were not "right". Or the woman who presses for legislative change because she knows she's just as talented and smart as her peers. Or the woman who couldn’t lose the weight for years and now competes in triathlons or fitness competitions. By repeating positive or negative statements about ourselves, over time, we start to believe them as truths.
Think about the woman who walks into a party or store and immediately exudes self-confidence. We all know of someone like that. They stand tall, facing the world head on. They’re comfortable in their bodies, speak intelligently, and seem capable of achieving anything. Do you really think they’re like that ALL the time?! Of course not! They have their moments of doubt, of self-judgment. They see flaws in themselves. The difference, they don’t dwell on them. They decide, they make the choice, to celebrate the beauty, intelligence and strength they see in themselves. Sometimes it’s harder to see than other times, but that doesn’t mean its not there! They press on. They tell themselves they can do it! Then they chart a path forward, sometimes a different path, with difficult choices. They refuse to let anyone else, or worse themselves, hold them back from being the beautiful, strong, smart woman God made them to be!
I saw a woman running this week with arms and shoulders that were toned and defined. I wanted to roll down my window and yell to her, “You go girl!” I wish I had. I also saw another woman swimming laps with the most perfect freestyle, breaststroke and butterfly that I’ve seen in a long time. She cut through the water with such ease. I couldn’t help but stand back and marvel at how easy she made swimming look. I made it a point to tell her what a great swimmer she was afterward. How just watching her swim, made me elevate my swim. I could have chosen to wish after the bodies and technique these women had. I could have degraded my body for not looking like theirs or told myself that I’d never be able to swim with such skill. Instead, I chose to celebrate the effort those women put into what they did, thank them for inspiring me to put more effort into my workouts and toward becoming a better swimmer.
My favorite quote from the movie The Help is when the maid is talking to the little girl she had been looking after and she tells her to repeat after her “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” It was such a telling moment. That little girl didn’t understand what she was repeating. But the maid did. She knew that if that little girl told herself those things over and over, even if she didn’t believe it or someone else told her something different, with time, she would act and carry herself as though they were true, eventually making them so.
My hope, for all my clients and especially for my daughters, is that they would look at the reflection they see in the mirror and tell themselves, “I am strong. I am smart. I am beautiful.” And then eventually that they would believe it!
I didn't want to go. I was tired. The kids were cranky. I had so many things to get done. My knee had been bothering me again and I was frustrated with my rehab progress. I knew I had a long workout planned for the day and honestly, I just didn't want to do it!
But I also knew I'd feel guilty about not getting it in all day if I didn't at least try. So I broke it up into segments. I completed my strength training before the girls got up. Then I did my physical therapy exercises for my knee while the girls ate their breakfast. I threw my stuff for the pool into my bag as I headed out the door. But to be honest, I didn't think I'd make it there. The excuses were already lining up in my head "The attendent didn't show up to open the pool. I had other things to do. I ran late with a client and couldn't make it to the pool." But the day went as scheduled! I pulled into the pool parking lot and still didn't want to be there. But heck, I was there, I might as well get it in. So I made it into a game. I threw out the workout I had planned. I came up with a game. Swim a mile...any way I could....any stroke I wanted,...breaking it up into as many consecutive laps as I chose. No set plan. I had so much fun! It was a great swim! I wasn't worried about times or drills, I just swam a mile. At the end (40minutes later), I was smiling and happy that I had gotten it in! I finished off the day with some yoga and foam roller while the girls napped to round out the workout.
While it wasn't a stellar day, I was proud of having broken through all the excuses and getting in my workout. I didn't feel guilty at the end of the day that I hadn't gotten it in. Because even if I had skipped it, I still would have been tired, the kids still would have been cranky and I would still have to many things to accomplish in one day on my to-do list! Those things wouldn't have changed even if I had missed my workout. But this way, even chopped up the way it was, I got in my whole workout.
The lesson learned, break it up, change it up. We have such hard, fast rules about what we have to do for our workouts. But that doesn't always work with our schedules or our moods. Sometimes you have to change things up. I've done this in the past when training for marathons. Broken my milage up into more manageable segments. The thought of going out for a 2+ hour run could be enough to send you back to the couch! So I'd tell myself, I was just going to run for half an hour or to a certain landmark. Most of the time, I was enjoying myself so much (the day, the scenery, feeling great!), that I kept running for the whole workout and was thrilled with that I had done it afterward.
When I find that my motivation for my workouts is waning, I change it up. I may add in a challenging exercise, sports drill, try a new class, or make it a game. Completing a workout, especially when I've struggled with "wanting" to do it, is motivating. You strengthen your resolve, your self-motivation, your ability to find inner-strength for your next workout. You also have past experiences to draw upon when you don't want to complete that next workout. The little voice that tells you that you'll feel good once you get it done, because you did the last time.
I know I'll draw upon that little voice the next time my motivation to workout starts to drop. I'll change things up. Compete against myself. Challenge myself to go just a little while. I'll try something new. Before I know it that workout will be in the history books and I'll be smiling through my day, knowing I achieved something.
Vacation....White, sandy beaches. Snow skiing. Family. Friends. Free time. Ice cream. Desserts. Fruity drinks with little umbrellas. Exotic, foreign locals. Everyone has their own idea of what makes up vacation bliss. It usually always includes lots of good eats, dessert, drinks and free schedules. Which also usually means that your exercise and healthy eating habits go out the window! But, does it have to be that way?
You work so hard during your workouts and then making healthy food choices year round to supply you with the energy needed to power through your day, a vacation doesn’t have to mean forgetting all of that or depriving yourself of some much needed frivolity. But it does mean making some healthy choices and choosing where you’ll indulge.
When it comes to exercise, why not explore the different options your vacation location offers. It may be a morning/evening walk on the beach (walking in the sand really tones those legs and buns!), skiing, mountain bike riding, a new exercise class, surfing, etc. Check out the options your location offers. Many local gyms and even hotel gyms these days, offer group classes that you can checkout. Try a new activity. Not only will you discover new muscles you haven’t used in a while, but you’ll also engage your mind, thus lowering your stress level (hey, vacations are all about relaxing right!) and maybe even discover a hidden talent! Look into ways you can work some exercise into your vacation before you leave. You can always bring some bands or a jump rope with you to get in a quick interval or circuit workout in your hotel room or anywhere!!! Exercising during your vacation will not only keep you looking and feeling good, but when you do splurge on those local food delicacies, you won’t feel so guilty.
So go ahead and eat those foods you’ve been looking forward to eating. Enjoy an ice cream sundae with your children, a lobster roll in Maine, paella in Spain, etc. One meal, one dessert, one drink, doesn’t mean that your whole day is ruined with poor food choices. Make sure that your next meal gets you right back on track. Eat your fruits and veggies, lean proteins and drink plenty of water. Think of your day like a passing grade. If you’re eating right 80-90% of the time, you’re a B – A student, easily passing the grade! Rather than beating yourself up over the splurge, enjoy it! You don’t eat that way all the time. Besides, the moment you say, “No, I won’t eat any more….”, you know you’ll only want it more, setting yourself up for failure. Rather, give yourself permission to eat those local, vacation delicacies. You may even find, that by giving yourself permission to eat them, you don’t feel the need to eat ALL of it!
This summer, my family and I went home to visit family in the states for 6 weeks. We enjoyed ice cream sundaes at the Music Man ice cream shop in Lavallette, NJ (a local favorite), a clam boil in MA with my family, linquica pizza (a Portuguese favorite), fish and chips (a new England must have) and drinks with the family as we all got caught up. I made sure to keep up with my daily workouts, incorporating beach walks, swims and circuit style workouts to keep things interesting and to enjoy the beauty of MA and NJ.
In the end, I lost 3 pounds, enjoyed my vacation and came back thrilled to get back to my old routine.
Enjoy your vacation!!! You’ve worked hard for it! Making balanced choices regarding exercise and food will help you keep your healthy lifestyle on track without feeling deprived!