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!
To say that I'm frustrated by how slow I seem to be recovering from this injury is an understatement. I haven't run in 6 weeks and I haven't had a hard bike ride in over two weeks. I've consistently gone to PT and still my recovery seems to be slow. I can still feel the pull of my adductors as they cross the knee. I still have pain at the pes anserine. Although the pain has disipated when I perform squats or lunges, I can still feel it when I walk at times or when applying pressure along the insertion points of the adductors.
I'm anxious to get back to training at full speed and am wondering how much longer till I can compete again. Not only is my body taking a hit, but my pysche as well now. Workouts are not as much fun as I'm always on the lookout for any pulling through my knee and I can't give an all out effort. I feel like a caged tiger or a racehorse in the corral. I want to get out there and run, but my body says no...not yet!
At first I looked at this period of rest as a opportunity to rebuild mid-season. Now that its taking longer than I thought it would (or think it should!), I'm just angry and frustrated. I keep wondering why the PT doesn't seem to be working. Is there something else wrong? Is this the end of running and triathlon for me? Why do I feel great some days and struggle with the pain and pulling others?
Honestly, I don't like the possible answers to any of these questions. I've spent all of my adult life competing in road races, duathlons and triathlons. To think that this injury could side-line that for an extended period or possibly forever, is a reality I'm not willing to face. I'm not sure I know who I am as a person without the competition. Who I am without running, where I think through lifes challenges and explore possibilities, coming back with a new perspective on things. Who I am without the rush of cycling, feeling the wind and excitement of going fast and taking risks. A lot of "who" I am is wrapped up in training and competing. I've never thought of myself as someone who exercises, but as an athlete who trains. I now wonder where that person is as I recover from this injury.
This is not the first injury I've suffered, nor will it be my last (endurance athletes experience their share of injuries over a lifetime and I've had few in comparison so far), but it certainly is the most challenging. I have a new appreciation for those suffering long-term injuries or diseases that alter their lifestyles. So much of who we are is wrapped up in what we do. Injuries and diagnosis are not just a physical challenge, but a psychological one as well. They test our spirit as well as our bodies.
I have good days and bad days depending on the pain. I continue to believe that this is just a temporary set back. An opportunity to learn more about the function of the body, new rehabilitation techniques and how to psychologically deal with setbacks. In the end, hopefully, this will make me a better person and a better trainer. Afterall, some good has to come out of this injury!!!!
Do you have a bucket list? You know, a list of things you want to complete during your lifetime.
A friend was just posting on Facebook about having completed one of his bucket list items. He was celebrating a birthday and was updating his bucket list. It was inspiring to see all the things he had achieved and to learn about the things he still wanted to accomplish.
I've kept my own bucket list for years now. It includes items that are both professional and personal. I try to review it once a year and map out which ones I'd like to work toward achieving in the next year. It's thrilling to check items off. Especially ones I've had to work long and hard toward. Things I once thought were not possible, now are with the proper planning and training.
In reading my friends list, I got to thinking about how his act of sharing his goals enabled me to cheer him on in his pursuit. How much richer his life was because he was involved in it, rather than just letting each day pass him by.
Think about it. We love to see others achieve things they've worked toward. It's why the finish line of a race is so exciting. The looks of exhaustion, excitement and joy as participants cross the finish line are priceless. Especially in endurance races like ironman triathlons or marathons where participants have put in long hours of training. We want to see them succeed. No matter how they finish, they've achieved a goal many others have not. Their personal win encourages us to reach for our own goals.
I've never shared my bucket list with anyone except my husband. Maybe out of fear (see an earlier blog about that from a few months ago!). Fear that others will laugh at my goals or tell me how unachievable they are (by the way...this only spurs me on to prove you wrong!) or how I'll respond to others if I don't achieve them. But as my friend showed me by sharing his list, I also lose out by not getting all the support friends and family can provide along the journey. Most people want to see you succeed. They want to cheer you on and see you cross your own personal finish line. It's the reason most people lose weight best and keep it off the longest when they have a support system or group in place to help when their own personal motivation is lacking.
Life is a team sport! And the finish line is that much more enjoyable when friends and family are there celebrating your success with you. Its the journey of achieving things you once only dreamed of accomplishing. And allowing that success to take you on a new adventure.
Ask my friend. The numberous posts he received on Facebook were all positive, encouraging and supportive. I can't wait to hear about his latest achievements and what he's ticking off next on his bucket list. And if I can help in anyway, I'll be there!
What's on your bucket list? Don't let fear hold you back, trust that friends and family will be at the finish line to cheer you on. Dream Big! Then revel in the achievement of that dream when you check it off your bucket list.
So here goes! Here's MY current bucket list:
1. Complete an ironman triathlon
2. Complete the Hawaii Ironman
3. Run a mudrun
4. Compete in an adventure race
5. Go spelunking
6. Ice skate at rockafella center
7. Take piano lessons
8. Take a martial arts class
9. Take ballroom classes with Jim
10. Visit all 7 continents (5 down!)
12. Go to a vacation spa with ggod girlfriends
13. Go on a sailboat cruise
14. Own a waterfront home
16. Play paintball
17. Ride in a hot air balloon
Which to tick off next?!