No Longer Barefoot in Vermont!

This is just a quick post to say I’m not dead, I haven’t stopped working out, I’m not eating crap, I’ve just….moved! In November my partner and I moved to Carlisle, MA. My massage and yoga practice reopened in December and business has been BOOMING!! You can now find me above Mountain Strength Crossfit in Winchester, MA (see my site for more details).

While I miss my beloved Green Mountain State, one of the really nice things about being back in MA is the accessibility. I’ve discovered a wonderful inspiring yoga studio, Serenity Yoga, and have been taking classes from Olivia and Nina. My partner and I have a membership to Central Rock Gym in Watertown and have been climbing 2-3 times per week. And every day still starts with a smoothie. ūüôā

So things are GOOD and I hope to be writing again here more regularly. That said, look out for a possible name change because my bare feet are now on MA soil. BarefootinMA perhaps?

I hope all your health journeys are taking you in a good direction, and if not today is a good day to get back on the horse. ūüėČ

Yoga, Workouts and Injury

If you’re reading fitness blogs, or even just Facebook, you’ve probably come across the controversy of “Crossfit’s Dirty Little Secret“. ¬†It was very disconcerting to me to read about a woman who ended up with¬†Rhabdomyolysis¬†due to pushing herself too far in her Crossfit workouts. ¬†The thing that really upset me though is that this is NOT a Crossfit thing, injury, of all types, during exercise is not at all new but it’s also not being handled with the gravity that it deserves. ¬†

The issue here is two-fold. ¬†For one, trainer “certification” comes in a variety of colors and may involve years of study, or a day spent reading a 20 page pdf online and taking an open-book quiz. ¬†I personally feel that anyone working professionally as a trainer needs a firm education in anatomy, physiology and kinesiology, along with proper training of the type of exercise one is going to train in. ¬†The problem is that “proper” has no standards. ¬†So how do we know when we’re getting a good education as a trainer? ¬†

First off, I’d want to know that the exercise feels comfortable in my own body and that I fully understand my own body mechanics while doing the exercises. ¬†This means that it could take time to digest the material. ¬†For example, I only became a yoga instructor after practicing yoga for many years before seeking teacher certification. ¬†That might be overkill for some, but I’d bet that if you take a weekend certification class in yoga and you’ve never practiced before you probably don’t fully understand the body mechanics of each pose. ¬†Since yoga is complex let’s take a simpler example, kettlebell certification. ¬†This is one I’m seeing a lot and as a lover of kettlebells I have to say I’m concerned when I see that you can get certified in a weekend and go from never having touched a kettlebell before to teaching a class on it in two days.

Once you understand the exercise fully in your own body, then the big challenge is knowing how to adapt it for others. ¬†Not all bodies are created equal and while you might be able to do 60 double KB swings, your brand-new-to-working-out client is probably not up to that challenge. ¬†Not only do you have to adjust reps to fitness level, but you have to know how to adapt the exercise to different body mechanics. ¬†For example, someone with scoliosis may not be able to get into that perfect Vinyasa Triangle pose that you’re pushing her into, perhaps a modified triangle or a triangle from another style of yoga would be more fitting. ¬†Help your clients reach their goals by respecting their bodies for where they are and then safely coaching them further.

Which brings me to my next point…respect your OWN body. ¬†I love pushing myself but I listen to my body and know my limits. ¬†This is a very hard skill to learn and I’m still not perfect at it but when I get stuck I try to ask myself, “Why do I workout?” ¬†I workout because I love my body, I love feeling healthy, strong and full of energy. ¬†While being sore after a workout is OK on a small scale, if it hurts to lift a glass of water the next day or walk to my mailbox then I’m achieving the opposite of my goals. ¬†To take a couple quotes from¬†‚ÄúHow to Not Fucking Kill Your Clients‚ÄĚ (a great, albeit brash, response to the Crossfit scare-tactic article above), “Are 400 push-ups going to help your clients reach the general fitness, and overall well-being they crave?” ¬†Ask yourself that, will bashing on one relatively small group of muscles over and over again actually help you with your fitness goals? ¬†If your goals are to end up in the hospital then sure. ūüėČ

Now to end this rant with a more personal story. ¬†I have been researching Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) trainings in my area. ¬†Now RYT is not a high standard, per-say, it just means that teachers go through the Yoga Alliance, which doesn’t make them good or bad, but I wanted to see what was in my area as I continue my own training. ¬†I started attending classes at a popular Vinyasa studio, thinking I would enroll in the teacher’s training course. ¬†I found her classes to be VERY strict. ¬†Vinyasa to her means that poses are done in a very specific way, and she went around the room manually adjusting people into these identical positions. ¬†

On the plus side, I loved that I really sweat in her classes and you can tell by how full the room is that other people love this too. ¬†On the downside, I noticed after taking her classes for over a month that I was developing injuries in my back and my wrists. ¬†Her style of teaching was hurting me, and I hadn’t been listening enough to my body. ¬†Since I still had paid classes on my card, I started going to courses at her studio offered by other teachers. ¬†Many of them were trained by her so the form of the classes was basically the same, but I noticed some of the teachers allowed more flexibility, or at least didn’t push me into positions. ¬†I still wondered though if I was missing something. ¬†I doubted what my body was telling me and thought that maybe I just wasn’t up to par. ¬†That’s when I went to a co-taught class and beforehand I listened to the two teachers discussing pains in their bodies. ¬†They mentioned that the studio’s owner, the teacher I originally mentioned, had pushed one of them into a deep twist that she wasn’t ready for. ¬†The other chimed in to say she does that all the time to her and she has to actually say “I’m not doing deep twists today.” ¬†

I respect that especially with yoga there are many styles and some are very strict to honor the lineage of their style. ¬†But I have to question the benefits of those practices if they’re injuring their students. ¬†Can we still honor those strict styles while honoring the bodies of our students? ¬†Can we learn to listen to them and be more aware? ¬†If not, I’m afraid I’ll keep getting exercise-related injury clients in my massage practice. ¬†My biggest advice to trainers out there is to take continuing education and challenge yourself to learn more, put yourselves in your clients shoes and adapt exercises for their fitness level. ¬†To others like me who love those good hard workouts, trust your body to tell you when you’ve had enough. ¬†If you’re in pain, don’t push it because you risk doing serious harm to your body or at least setting yourself back.

And with that, two quickie workouts.  The first is a low-cardio strength and stretching workout that I did after four days of pretty intense cardio.  The second is a nice shortie to get your pulse up without taking a lot of time out of the day.

9/3/13 – Strength and Stretching
  1. Pushups x 10
  2. Child’s Pose ~45 sec.
  3. Pyramid Bicep forward and reverse curls (12 reps @ low weight, 10 reps @ medium weight, 8 reps @ high weight, 10 reps @ medium weight, 12 reps at low weight; I used 8, 10 + 15lb weights, if you’re starting out I recommend 2, 5 and 8lb weights)
  4. Child’s Pose¬†~45 sec.
  5. Pyramid Triceps (same reps as pyramid biceps but using only one weight and doing seated overhead triceps extension and dumbbell skull crushers)
  6. Child’s Pose¬†~45 sec.
  7. Side-Crunch L x 10
  8. Side-Crunch R x 10
  9. Full sit-up x 10
  10. Bridge or wheel ~45 sec.
  11. Savasana 3-10 mins.
 
9/11/13 Р Intervals (3 Rounds, 45 sec activity 15 sec rest)
  1. KB Swings
  2. KB Snatch R
  3. KB Snatch L
  4. Box Jumps
  5. Weighted Sit-Ups

Quickie Coconut Milk

This labor day weekend has found me in the kitchen cooking up a storm and in the yoga studio getting my @$$ kicked while completing the pre-req hours for a yoga teacher training that I’m hoping to begin in January. ¬†So I’ve been sore and well-fed. ūüôā

I recently placed an order from Amazon for a Nut Milk Bag¬†and it arrived on Saturday!¬† This morning, after a brutal ZGYM workout, I made coconut milk from scratch and it came out amazing!! ¬†If you’re like me and have been shelling out too much money on Silk or So-Delicious coconut milk, filled with preservatives and often cane sugar, give this a try. ¬†With a Vitamix or high-powered blender it takes less than 10 minutes and is a perfect consistency.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Unsweetened Coconut Flake
  • 1.5 cups Warm Water (not hot, warm from the tap or filtered that’s warmed up is fine)
  • Optional: 1/4 tsp. Vanilla
  • Optional: 1/2 tsp. Honey, or sweetener of your choice

Directions:

  1. Add 1 cup of the warm water to the coconut flake and blend in a Vitamix or high-powered blender and blend on HIGH for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Over a pitcher or bowl pour the contents into a nut milk bag and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.  Note: the milk will be HOT after being blended that long, I squeezed with a towel over my hand.
  3. Add remaining pulp back into blender and add the last 1/2 cup of warn water.  Blend on HIGH another 1-2 minutes.
  4. Once again, pour the contents through the nut milk bag and squeeze the milk out into your pitcher or bowl.
  5. If you want to sweeten or flavor the milk, put the milk back into the blender, add the vanilla and honey (or whatever flavors and sweeteners you’d like) and blend on 8 for ~20-30 seconds. ¬†
  6. Yeilds ~3 cups.  Recipe can easily be doubled.

Just like with the almond milk, I was impressed by how easy this is and how great the results are. ¬†I also greatly appreciate the control I get over the final product. ¬†I like to use a slightly sweetened vanilla milk in my morning smoothies, but I’ve found it’s impossible to find a vanilla coconut milk at the grocery store that doesn’t either contain cane sugar (which I’m allergic to) or artificial sweeteners. ¬†Also, even when I purchase unsweetened coconut milk it has stabilizers and preservatives. ¬†This way I get the freshest product possible catered to my own tastes.

Now, what to do with the remaining coconut pulp? ūüėČ

 

Recipe-A-Rama

Since coming back from the Lomilomi retreat, I’ve been trying to cook more vegetarian meals for dinner. ¬†My goal is eating vegetarian 3-4 times per week. ¬†This is challenging since I really enjoy getting a lot of protein and don’t enjoy the gassiness from most legumes but I’m giving it a go. ¬†Since I’m also dairy-free, most of my veg meals are vegan, though I do use ghee or eggs in some of my dishes. ¬†It is not my intent to become vegetarian or vegan, both due to how my system does well with meat and that I have access to local meats from small farms that I trust. ¬†BUT, the American diet has definitely become a meat-fest and I think I’ll both be healthier and will eat more sustainably for our planet if don’t eat meat in every meal and eat it in smaller portions when I do.

Last night I was particularly pleased with the concoction I made up. ¬†I bought some great organic veggies at Sweet Pea¬†in Waitsfield, VT, which included tomatillos, a veggie I’ve had in Mexican dishes but hadn’t really cooked with. ¬†I decided to see if they worked in a Coconut Curry, and holy crap I think tomatillos might be a perfect pairing for Indian food. ¬†I can’t wait to try them in my bhindi masala once my okra is ready to pick! ¬†This is an easy recipe with a lot of warmth and a good mix of tart and sweet.

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Tomatillo Coconut Curry

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil (or oil of your choice)
  • 2 Tbsp. flax seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. mustard seed
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5-7 sliced baby bella mushrooms (or 3 portobello mushrooms)
  • 6-7 tomatillos, sliced thin
  • 1 handful of snap peas
  • 3/4 cup chopped broccoli
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1.5 tsp. garam masala
  • 1 Tbsp. red curry powder
  • 1 tsp. tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • dash of cardamom powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: toasted coconut flake (throw some coconut flake under the broiler or in the toaster oven for just a few minutes, watch it, it burns fast!)

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the flax and mustard seeds, once they are starting to pop add the chopped onion and cook for just a minute or two.
  3. Before the onions are translucent, add the mushrooms (this is if you like your mushrooms well done, like I do, otherwise wait until the onions are translucent).
  4. Cook mushrooms to desired doneness, then add tomatillos, garlic and all spices. ¬†Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until tomatillos have softened and there’s some juice in the pan.
  5. Add snap peas and broccoli, cook another 1-2 minutes, stirring often.
  6. Add coconut milk and stir well.  Bring to a boil over medium heat while stirring, then reduce heat to low.  Adjust spices as desired.  Simmer covered on low 5-7 minutes or until veggies have softened a bit but snap peas still have some crunch to them.
  7. Serve over rice or quinoa, optionally top with coconut flake.  Enjoy!

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This morning I finally tried making almond milk from scratch.  It was not only incredibly creamy and delicious, but it was also SUPER easy!

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cup raw almonds, soaked 8-12 hours and rinsed (optional: remove skins by pinching then after they’ve soaked*)
  • 6 cups filtered water
  • Optional: 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Optional: 1 Tbsp. honey (or sweetener of your choice, or 3-4 large dates)
  1. Toss all ingredients in a Vitamix or high-powered blender. ¬†Blend on high for two-minutes (if you’re not using a Vitamix you may need to blend longer and also may need to strain the final result for optimum creaminess). ¬†
  2. Enjoy!  

Now, wasn’t that easy? ¬†Why have I been buying pre-made almond milk with preservatives and cane sugar?! ¬†Well, now I know. ūüėČ ¬†I also have to brag and say that I’ve found many store-bought brands are watery and either too sweet or flavorless. ¬†This was a nice mild nuttiness, very rich and creamy, and for me it was just the right sweetness. ¬†

Next up, making my own coconut milk! ¬†Now that I know how easy it is, the sky’s the limit!

WTF Workout?!

August has been a pretty crazy month for me, but while my blog entries cooled down, my workouts continued to fire up! ¬†I’ve been traveling a lot, which means my routine has needed to shift to accommodate my locale. ¬†

The first adventure was a five day intensive Lomilomi retreat. ¬†Lomilomi is a style of Hawaiian massage that I’ve been studying for about two years now. ¬†This was my third class and it was incredibly inspiring. ¬†I knew that I would be in a calorie-friendly environment, as our meals were all vegetarian, mostly made from ingredients found right on the land we stayed at. ¬†Speaking of the land, I already knew about Dreaming Mountain in Johnson, VT, but now that I’ve spent four nights there I’m absolutely in love with it! ¬†I had done a mini-cleanse before the trip, so I had already cut out alcohol, red meat and was strict to my food allergies diet (generally no sugar, dairy, gluten, corn, coffee and a slew of other random things). ¬†This meant that I didn’t feel the need to do my really intense workouts on the retreat. ¬†Instead, I did yoga daily, a martial arts dance that’s part of the Lomi training, and, of course, I was giving and receiving massage daily. ¬†I ended up dropping 5lbs just from living a healthy stress-free active life for a week!

The next adventure was much more challenging. ¬†My company recently opened up a new store in Key West, FL. ¬†It was my job to head down there to set up all the infrastructure. ¬†This meant taking three planes each way to a hot, sweaty tourist playground, working five 12 hour+ days in a row and attempting to stick to my diet and exercise. ¬†The first thing I learned is that the sun rises LATE in Key West, after 7am. ¬†So to keep up my workouts I had to just deal with getting up in an unfamiliar place in the dark. ¬†I did a combination of creating my own workouts in the hotel’s (really spectacular) gym and yoga on the beach. ¬†I should have recorded what I did in the gym but I didn’t think to. ¬†It was nice varying between being in the gym and being on the beach. ¬†I really didn’t get much time at all to enjoy the island so at least doing yoga under the stars, next to the ocean, and then slowly watching the sun rise through my vinyasas was pretty spectacular. ¬†I’ll admit diet was much more of a challenge there, and I made myself outright sick once or twice, but you gotta live too, right?

It’s nice to be back home and back to a more normal routine. ¬†Though, it seems my yoga is going to be ramping up as I’m trying to hit the minimum pre-req hours for a yoga teacher-training I’m hoping to start in January. ¬†I only just found the program and they require 35 hours in their studio before I can enroll. ¬†Since I live an hour away this is a challenge, but I’ve been wanting to get my yoga certification for years now and it’s a teacher I really like. ¬†Wish me luck!

So, today’s workout was really unusual for me. ¬†It’s a little bit of everything. ¬†I started out doing someone else’s workout (some of you may recognize the first few items) and then decided I wanted it to be more dynamic. ¬†This was LONG. ¬†My arms were shaking at the end and I was dripping with sweat. ¬†I feel it’s a good mix of cardio and strength training, though the cardio portion never really ends. ¬†Check it out:

8/27/13 – For Time (My Time = 24:50)
  1. 1 Min High Knees
  2. 1 Min Sprint
  3. 1 Min Low-Jacks
  4. 30 Weighted Burpees (I used 5lbs)
  5. 30 Knee Tucks
  6. 30 Side-Lunge w/ Floor Touch
  7. 30 Plank Side-To-Side Jumps
  8. 10 Prisoner Getups
  9. 10 Weighted Sit-Ups (I used 15lbs first 5 and then 10lbs last five)
  10. 10 Push-Ups
  11. 20 Knee Tucks
  12. 20 Side-Lunge w/ Floor Touch
  13. 10 Side Crunches, Right
  14. 10 Side Crunches, Left
  15. 12-10-8-10-12 Pyramid Tricep Kickbacks in Lunge Position (I used 8lbs, 10lbs, 15lbs)
  16. 12-10-8-10-12 Pyramid Bicep curls (I used 8lbs, 10lbs, 15lbs)
  17. 10 Weighted Lunge Twists, 5 Each Side (I used 10 lbs)

After that, I needed some protein and amino acids!! ¬†Cut to today’s smoothie!

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This beauty contains pomegranate juice, coconut milk, spinach, flax seeds, fresh local blueberries, frozen mangoes, and a half-serving of vegan protein powder (Fat Flush). ¬†I’ve honestly moved away from using protein powders in my morning smoothie because I feel adding flax or chia seeds plus spinach gives me enough protein without making me bloat. ¬†But, today I really killed my upper body so it seems right to add in the protein and help rebuild my muscle tissue. ¬†

I also am on a daily gut repair formula from my Naturopath which includes l-glutamine. ¬†While new research is always coming out, there’s a lot out there showing a direct correlation between¬†l-glutamine and muscle recovery. ¬†It’s recommended post-workout, along with protein and carbs (1:4). ¬†We always hear protein protein protein after workouts, but that’s one time when I think it’s important to have carbs to help with the recovery. ¬†Frankly, I do think there’s such thing as too much protein. ¬†I’m definitely trying to build my muscles, but that doesn’t mean I need to eat 10 eggs and a bucket of protein powder in one day.

What post-workout drinks/meals/supplements work for you?

Sweat and Smoothies

 
 
 
Well it may have been too long since the last time I wrote, but the workouts haven’t stopped and neither has the healthy eating! ¬†My original workouts are starting to really kick my ass. ¬†Exhibit A:Image
This was after today’s workout, which is the last one on the list here. ¬†It’s the first time I’ve done box jumps and now I understand the fuss. ¬†They feel to me like burpees did before I did the 90 Day Burpee Challenge. ¬†Great way to get your heart rate UP! ¬†I found that following them up with snatches and the kettlebell renegade row was really brutal. It made pull-ups a relief, which is saying a lot. ¬†So without further ado here is my backlog of original workouts to share. ¬†Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom for a delicious smoothie recipe. ūüôā
 
7/6/13
Buy-In: 10 Burpees
 
45 sec activity/15 sec rest/3 rounds
  1. KB Snatch-Reverse Lunge R
  2. KB Snatch-Reverse Lunge L
  3. Double KB step-ups
  4. Elevated Plank Pushup/Knee Tuck
  5. Ab roller
  6. Weighted Sit-Ups

Buy-Out: 10 Burpees

 
7/12/13
45 sec activity/15 sec rest/2 rounds
  1. KB Swings
  2. KB Clean R
  3. KB Clean L
  4. KB Reverse Lunge
  5. Weighted Lunge Twists
  6. KB Renegade Row
  7. Reverse Crunch
  8. Side-Plank Toe Touch
  9. Front plank
  10. Pull-ups
7/16/13
45 sec activity/15 sec rest/3 rounds
  1. 6 Turkish Getups (3 each side)
  2. KB Single-leg Deadlift R
  3. KB Single-leg Deadlift R
  4. Ab Roller
  5. Weighted Ab Twists
  6. Pilates Hundreds
  7. Plank w/ Knee Tuck
7/18/13
45 sec activity/15 sec rest/2 rounds
  1. KB Swings
  2. Thruster R
  3. Thruster L
  4. KB Bent-Over Row
  5. Weighted Lunge-Twist
  6. Plank->Side Planks
  7. Dive Bombers
  8. Pilates Sit-Ups
  9. Bicycle w/ out-and-in-arms
  10. Pull-ups
8/2/13 – Time Challenge, 3 Rounds (My Time: 18:45)
  1. Box jumps x 20
  2. KB Snatch R x 10
  3. KB Snatch L x 10
  4. KB Renegade Row x 10
  5. Lunge Twist R x 5
  6. Lunge Twist L x 5
  7. Pull ups x 3-10 depending on your fitness level

And now for something completely different delicious…

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Raspberry Mint Smoothie

I’m on a mint kick right now and have really enjoyed adding it to my smoothies. ¬†It’s great for digestion and adds a nice refreshing kick to the smoothie. ¬†I’ve also learned that many fresh herbs go well in smoothies and have lately enjoyed cilantro and basil; can’t wait to find more good combinations!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 tbsp flax seeds (or try using sprouted flax or chia seeds!)
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 2-3 sprigs of mint
  • 1/2 package frozen raspberries

Mix that up in your blender until smooth and you will have a sucka-punch of flavor to your face!

Speaking of sprouted flax and chia seeds, that’s been my latest experiment and I’m pretty happy with the results:

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That is chia on the left and flax on the right. ¬†It took only a week to go from seed to overflowing sprouts that were pushing the top of the container off. ¬†They added a really nice fresh flavor to my smoothies and some wonderful nutrients. ¬†The one thing I haven’t been able to find out is if sprouted flax and chia are more or less nutritious than the raw seeds. ¬†If anyone has info on that I’d love to see it!

Keep healthy!

Workouts, Strawberries and a Positive Body Image

Another week, another workout!  Yesterday I had the day off for the US Independence Day.  In preparation of a few extra drinks I crafted a high-intensity full-body workout.  I was really happy with this one and felt it was pretty well-balanced.  It was also the first time I tried doing double kettlebell step-ups and I was surprised how much the 50lbs slowed me down.  It was a great exercise for legs, abs and balance; probably my favorite and the hardest of the whole workout.  Want to give it a try?

7/4/13 –¬†Set interval timer to 3 rounds 45 sec activity, 15 sec rest. ¬†I used 25lb kettlebells and a 20lb free-weight for the ab twists.

  Buy-In: 1 min high knees
  1. Sumo Jumps
  2. Double KB step-ups
  3. KB Lunge-Row
  4. Kneeling Ab Wheel Rollout
  5. Pull-Ups
  6. Weighted Seated Ab Twists 
  7. Hanging leg-lifts
  Buy-Out: 1 min high knees
 
After that brutal workout (especially in the 90¬ļF weather we were having) I was ready for a reward. ¬†I found this¬†amazing recipe for vegan, gluten free, grain free strawberry icebox pie. ¬†I grabbed two pints of local strawberries and gave it a go! ¬†I added some raw chocolate to the crust but other than that I used the recipe as written, it is so delicious! ¬†And so healthy! ¬†You have to try it:
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I was really inspired by this blog post from¬†Marianne at myomytv.com. ¬†As someone who follows both her and Zuzka’s workouts it was interesting to see both in the same forum. ¬†I didn’t agree with all of Marianne’s points but I absolutely loved her sentiments about improving our bodies:
 
What do you LOVE? While achieving your strength goals, focus on what you love, not what you want to fix.”
 
THIS. ¬†Thisthisthis. ¬†I’ve mentioned before that I gained respect for exercise late in life, while attending school for Massage Therapy. ¬†I spent my childhood trying to feign illnesses to get out of gym class, and saying “I only run if someone’s chasing me.” ¬†
 
While I dabbled in sports in school, overall I had a very negative view of them. ¬†When I look at the reason for that it really came down to my values not seeming to fit in with the values being thrown on my in gym and on teams. ¬†For one thing, I never understood why people get so brutally invested in sporting events. ¬†I’m all for having fun and rooting for a team, but I can’t connect with the devastation feel when “my” team doesn’t win and how even when a team does win the reaction can be expressed by¬†rioting. ¬†I also don’t understand the amount of corruption in sports with athletes drugging themselves up, dramatically altering their diets to either gain or lose weight, and the perpetuated idea that if you don’t win you’re worthless. ¬†There seems to be a lot of shaming and negative reinforcement in our athletic fields. ¬†I could write a whole entry on this but this is not what’s really goading me right now. ¬†This is about body image.
 
The other issue that really bothers me in the athletic arena is the idea that people should exercise to lose weight, gain muscle, look like that trainer they’ve been ogling over, and basically that they have to change their body to fit some universal image of what “in shape” looks like. ¬†Now let me say right now, I’m not dissing the idea of exercising to lose weight or gain muscle, but I don’t think it should be the predominant driving factor. ¬†I believe that if we all took a more positive approach to diet and exercise as lifestyle choices that there would be higher success rates.
 
I work out and eat right because I love how it makes me feel. ¬†I love the increase in energy. ¬†I love feeling strong and flexible. ¬†I love seeing my body change in ways I didn’t know it could. ¬†It’s also AWESOME that weight loss and more muscle mass comes along with that but if I looked at those two as the defining factors of what makes me fit then I’d always be disappointed.
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Zuzka is gorgeous. ¬†But, if my goal was to look like Zuzka, I would be fighting an uphill battle that I can’t win. I heard a story on VPR recently that discussed a research study done with about 100 women. ¬†They were asked to record their daily diet in a notebook. ¬†Half were given a notebook with a slender woman on the cover and on each page, the other half were given a notebook with just a tape-measure on the cover and each page. ¬†The women given the notebook with the tape-measure lost weight on average. ¬†The women with the notebook with the slender woman GAINED weight on average. ¬†The group conducting the research study said that the women who gained weight just gave up when they realized they could never look like the slender woman. ¬†It actually caused them to over-eat. ¬†Body-shaming does not work.
 
I will never look like Zuzka. ¬†I frankly don’t have the bone structure for it, let alone the genetics to get my body fat percentage that low without working out 5-6 hours per day. ¬†And you know what? ¬†That’s totally ok!! ¬†I look like ME and the more I work out the more I get to discover how my body feels when it’s strong. ¬†I get to explore what¬†I look like when I’m in shape and I get to push my own limits to see what I can physically do. ¬†
 
The line that I’m sure all of you have heard before is Love Your Body. ¬†That’s really it. ¬†If you love your body then you’re going to want to keep it in shape. ¬†You’re going to want to exercise. ¬†You’re going to want to eat right. ¬†LOVE YOUR BODY. ¬†No one else will ever look just like you. ¬†You have the privilege of exploring what your body can do when it’s well taken care of.
 
We all have an inner critic and I know it can be really hard to see past that. ¬†But remember you have a choice. ¬†It doesn’t¬†have to be hard. ¬†It can be really easy. ¬†And it’s a choice you can continue to make. ¬†Did you decide to have a Philly cheesesteak and now you feel like crap? ¬†That’s ok, you can make a different choice tomorrow. ¬†Did you skip your workout for a day? ¬†A week? ¬†A month? ¬†THAT’S OK, because you can choose to work out RIGHT NOW. ūüėČ ¬†
 
Just do me a favor and don’t let your main motivation to be out of shame. ¬†If you work you for YOU there’s a good chance You WILL lose weight and you WILL gain muscle but the bigger point is feeling good in your own skin and letting the pride that you take in yourself be your motivator. ¬†If you truly want to get out of the cycle of working out for a few months and then giving up for the next six months then you need to get past the “90-Day Challenges” and the quick-fix instant-gratification crash courses and really think about the positive effects eating well and exercising have on your body. ¬†Love your body and you won’t have to think about short-term goals, you will find yourself in a healthy long-lasting fitness routine not because society is telling you that’s what you should want, but because that’s what YOU want.