Resolution Alternative

The new year has never felt like a big deal to me.. 

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s exciting that we all made another trip around the sun. I also think it’s cool that we get to start our revolution all over again. & sure, I love writing the wrong year for a few months- it adds much needed confusion to my day.

But I don’t quite understand why it’s the time people decide their whole lives are going to change. We change everyday. We’re creatures of habit, but we’re also creatures of adaptation. If something isn’t working for us we generally have the power to do something about it. Maybe we can’t always change a situation completely, but we have more control than we give ourselves credit for. 

That’s why I decided to do something a little different this year. I’m writing down a few goals I want to achieve for each month of 2016. Getting all of my aspirations out of my head & onto paper will make them real- I’ll be more accountable. I set aside pages of a notebook where I’ve been writing out the things I hope to accomplish. Some I’ve already determined, others will come as I live & learn. Either way, I have a clear (sometimes not so clear) vision of where I want to go.  

I think direction is important regardless of the where we are in the year- beginning, middle, end, somewhere in an alternative concept of time, wherever. This direction can be especially helpful when there’s a feeling of ‘starting fresh’ or a ‘new beginning’…such as a new year. Write down your goals. If writing isn’t your thing, make a vision board of your goals for the year. Maybe even make a board for each month…sort of like a calendar of goals. WOW THAT IS A REALLY GOOD IDEA!! I think I’m going to take my own advice on this one… I’m going to make a Calendar of Goals 2016. I’ll keep you posted on how that’s going. 

In the meantime, & in between time, stay blessed fam. Keep a vision of yourself succeeding & accomplishing great things dancing in your head. Put that vision on some paper. Start doing- I believe in you ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy New Year!!

~peace & all good~

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Start Your New Year’s Resolution NOW

The new year is a crazy time. The world of fitness & health gets more frustrating than usual- filled with people jumping into new fitness routines, people who vowed to make this year their year

We’re all guilty of this ‘new year, new me’ mindset. We start making promises to ourselves to change all of the things we didn’t like about the previous year. We tell ourselves this year will be different- we’ll get in shape, we’ll run that marathon, we’ll finally try those healthy recipes that have been bookmarked for months..

Why do we need the number at the end of today’s date to change to allow ourselves to be better? What is the purpose of waiting? Maybe it helps us put off our own health without feeling guilty, because ‘once January comes around things will be different’…’the new year is when I’ll get serious about working out’. 

Here’s my advice to you (& myself): START NOW!!!

Start researching. There’s a wealth of information for anyone new to the world of fitness & health & wellness. Here are some of my favorite user-friendly places to search:

  • BodyBuilding.com Sooooo many free workout plans, informative articles, exercise how-tos, & even supplements! This is literally how I built my lifting knowledge-base. 
  • Fitness Blender I just discovered these guys. Their YouTube channel has a plethora of at-home workouts that range from interval cardio to weight training.
  • Bad Yogi Official Erin Motz is a seasoned yogi who totally gets that most people who do yoga are not experts… She has lots of free classes that make you feel good about your imperfect practice ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s going to take some time before you find a fitness regime you really enjoy. It’s going to take even more time before your hard work is gratified with visible results.

Experiment with different types of exercise. Figure out the different things you’d like to try now.

Make small changes each day so you don’t shock your system & give up when it gets too difficult too fast. 

Get a jump start on your 2016 goals!! Have fun, try new things, & never give up on yourself! 

I hope you all have a wonderfully funky final week of 2015. 

~peace & all good~

#YogisWhoLift

So it’s Monday night, 

I’m in bed because work in less than 8 hours,

& I’m deciding getting this post out of my brain & into the screen of my iPod is v important. 

#priorities (or bad decision-making, perspective is everything I guess)

This post is really important to me because it’s the result of what life’s been throwing at me recently. A while back I started practicing yoga via YouTube; admittedly, half the things I thought were yoga I have come to learn actually aren’t… So I was loosely practicing yoga. I started because I was going through things that made me question who I am. I mean really question who I am. I was losing faith in my core values that I had worked so hard to discover. I didn’t know how to disconnect from my anxiety. I was losing a battle to negativity, & I was losing pretty fast. I needed to do something. 

That something was yoga. 

Backpedal a few years & you’ve got the time when I started lifting weights. It was a similar situation, but my anxiety this time was coming from body image issuezzz. I was trying to learn how to be healthy & fit.. I decided to try a 4 week weight training program. I loved it, saw results, & have grown into my own style of lifting since then.. 

  
Yoga has literally changed every aspect of my life…I know it sounds cliche but it’s true. What I’m realising now is how much it’s impacted my lifting. There’s a lot to gain from a body-mind-soul approach to fitness.

Mental Strength: In my experience, exercise of any kind is more of a mental battle than a physical one. My body can ingest some food or caffeine & be easily tricked into feeling ready for my workout. My mind, however, takes more effort. Practicing yoga has srsly transformed the way my brain thinks about me. I don’t have as hard of a time getting through self-doubt, or convincing myself that I am worth that hour and a half in the weight room, or that it’s okay if I’m not lifting as much weight as other people. I’m totally cool with feeling awkward at the gym, & that feels like a really big accomplishment.

Knowing My Limits: No ego lifting! I am able to recognise when I’ve done enough. I can feel in my body & mind when I shouldn’t go further. Being in touch with my body has allowed me to get to this point. Yea I’ll try something & fail with flying colors, but I’m not trying something I know I cannot do with the fullest effort. If I’m not there, I’m not there- simple as that.

  
Form: Along with being connected to my body, yoga has helped me stay in touch with what feels right & what doesn’t. This has helped immensely with form! I don’t overthink my body positioning because I know I’ll feel it if I’m doing something wrong. Increased flexibility from practicing yoga has also improved my range of motion…aka more effective lifting & less chance of injury ๐Ÿ™‚

Breathing: Breath is 100% connected to form. Yoga has taught me how to control my breath. Knowing how to control my breath helps me bring more oxygen to my muscles. More oxygen means more endurance…..& more blood flow for a sweet pump. ~swole~

Appreciation: I would vote that this as the most powerful benefit I’ve experienced from my yoga practice. I don’t measure progress by how I look anymore… If I can do a single extra rep I feel accomplished. If I work through my own self doubt, I feel accomplished. If I try to lift a new weight but fail, I know there was a time when I couldn’t even do the basic lift itself. I enjoy the smaller steps in my journey. I’m way less critical of myself. I don’t obsess over skipping a day at the gym, because I recognise the importance of taking care of my body.  I’m thankful for myself & all that I’ve been through.

So there ya have it- my personal experience as what appears to be two conflicting identities. Before my own journey I never really pictured lifting weights to have any connection to yoga. Zen meatheads? Um…..???? But as it turns out, the health of your body & mind are extremely connected. The love my yoga practice has shown to my physical exercise is the most clear example of this connection. 

I hope yall enjoyed this little exploration of my journey to mind-body-soul health!!

~peace & all good~

My Problem with Cookie Cutter Fitnessย 

I’m sitting here thinking about what I’m going to eat later & what I’m going to do at the gym.. What clean gym clothes do I even have? Will I be able to convince myself to run today? As I’m contemplating these highly important things, images of what to avoid pop into my head. Why? In order to be fit I can’t eat cookies, but I can try to shove myself into a preconceived box of health similar to the box these forbidden cookies come in??!1?1 ~ugh~

Okay, this might seem like a strange angle to take when looking at exercise… But since starting this blog & my loosely defined ‘fitstagram’ I’ve been realizing the influence of the outside world on my own health choices. 

For instance- I was looking at a weight loss magazine in my house & it suggested to ‘invite your coworkers to do wall push ups with you in your office’. Now that would be strange. My co-workers would probably be like ‘haha okay, or we could just go for a drink….u crazy millennial’. The magazine also gave ideas for office workouts like leg lifts, chair crunches, etc. I mean…it could just suggest to move your body throughout the day, but……

Which brings me to my point: why are we so caught up in these cookie-cutter ideas of what ‘good’ exercise looks like? Exercise can be anything you enjoy that gets your body in motion. It doesn’t need to be exactly 5.3 hours of cardio a week, with 3.6 hours of weight training, plus 17.24 hours of yoga, minus 30 minutes of cardio for every salad you eat, minus 20 minutes of weight training for every pound you lose. Health is not a math problem!!! Feeling good should be the determinative factor in our decisions regarding exercise. 

This is not to say you shouldn’t include both cardio & weight training (& yoga!!) in a balanced exercise routine.. I’m in love with weight lifting & dread cardio, but I’ve found movements I enjoy that get my heart goin. I roller blade more than I run, I do jumping lunges more than I pedal an elliptical, I dance like a wild woman more than I ride a bike… I’m still achieving the main goal (incorporating cardiovascular exercise), but I’m doing it in a way I like. 

If you aren’t a fan of weight training, YouTube has a plethora of strength building workout videos you can browse. Not saying all online workout videos are created equal- but I’m sure there is something you can find that is worthwhile ๐Ÿ™‚ 

I think it’s really important to give attention to the fact that we shouldn’t do things because we think we have to. Do things because you want to. Step out of the box, or better yet- jump on & around the box! This will definitely make for a happier, healthier, more empowered you!!

Get out there & move!

~peace & all good~

How-to: Safe Squats

Squatting is an exercise that, if done right, can do amazing things for your body. It can increase your muscle strength relatively quickly, get your heart in shape (aka it is cardio-based), & increase your body’s fat burning skills to keep ya hungry. Squats are perfect for any fitness goal…. I may be slightly biased because I love squats, but not really because full body exercises (like squats) are thebomb.com. 

Squatting is primarily a leg/booty exercise, but there’s much more to it!

Quads: The general motion of a squat requires your quads to control your knee extension. The upward motion means these muscles push your body back to the start position.

Hamstrings: Your hamstrings help your quads with hip extension while doing squats. The stronger/more flexible your hamstrings are, the deeper you can get in your squat! More work is required from the hamstrings when you’re able to lower your upper thigh below parallel to the floor. 

Core: You rely significantly on your core muscles (front & back) while performing this exercise. Using your core muscles to keep your upper body in a stable position throughout the up & down motions strengthens your back & abdomen. It’s also superb for your posture!

Upper Back/Shoulders: These muscle groups are utilized more when weight is added. However, with or without weights, your back & shoulders are engaged when you perform a squat. That means they’re working & getting stronger with every rep!

When you’re getting started, the most important thing is squatting safely. I chose this exercise as my first how-to because personally I did them wrong for quite some time…I had poor form, which I currently feel in my knees if my squats get sloppy. Hopefully you can avoid that because it’s not much fun. Squats are also one of three ~power lifts~ that utilize most of your body & help you gain strength. 

Here is a little visual of how to properly squat. No fancy editing or backdrops, just a girl & her squats ๐Ÿ™‚ 

I did this without weights (body weight squats) so you can see where my legs are going in relation to my ankles/toes, my back positioning, & basically just unobstructed form.

****I do not attempt to be visually appealing while working out, nor do I claim to be visually appealing****

Start Position: Place your feet shoulder-width apart (or wider if that feels better). If your hips/hamstrings are tight, you may want to turn your feet out slightly. Keep your back in a neutral upright position with your chest open.   

 
  

End Position: You want your upper thighs to be parallel (or close to parallel) with the floor. Your knees should be in line with your ankles, not going beyond your toes. 

 

After one squat, your backside will grow to never-before-seen proportions!!!! WOW, just ONE squat!?!1?!1? 

  
YES! ONE squat! *plus the leg of a friend to create optical illusion of size*

So, there you have it- a fool proof guide to squats! (jk) But adding squats to your regular exercise routine is definitely a good starting point for building strength & power. You’ll find that there are infinite variations, all working your muscles in slightly different ways. Have fun with your workouts, get creative! 

Always remember to practice safe squats ๐Ÿ˜‰