Is Doing More, Better? The Success Trap.

As you might know I recently started grad school for clinical psychology. I made the decision last Fall and started dialing down my business duties with BCSF slowly until by the time December rolled around, I was finished with my biz duties and just teaching classes, which was the goal.

Basically, I’d pared down my schedule and the semester didn’t start until January 25th. Which in the end, meant I had several work weeks where after training between 10 and 18 hours of clients, I was left with a wee bit of spare time on my hands.

This is not a state of being that I have much experience with as an adult. The last time I had this much freedom in my day was when I moved to San Francisco 12 years ago and was looking for jobs. At the time of my departure, I’d been running BCSF for nearly 10 years. To say this was a new reality is undoubtedly an understatement.

I’m not someone that gets bored easily. My house is filled with books and magazines. I have plenty of ways to watch movies. I like to workout and have a home gym in my garage! I have a dog that loves to hit the dog park. I love to cook and experiment in the kitchen!

books

And I knew that I should value this time, this precious break between running an entire company and starting grad school. This punctuation in time that I’d probably look back on fondly and with jealousy once the midterms and papers were in full swing.

Yet, when I went to take a nap one day, I felt guilty. Like I should be doing something. I questioned whether I was being a productive member of society. I wondered whether a truly successful adult can justify taking a nap every day.

Wait, whaaaat? I immediately had a little chat with myself, because as someone that promotes self-care like no one’s business, I was a little frustrated that I was feeling this way. It made me confront the topic:  Is doing more better? Is busier better? Is having a fully stacked schedule, better?

I know in my heart of hearts that the answer is, no.

Why do we feel this way, though? Well, it’s my opinion (and research has shown this, too) that we equate success with being busy.

yosemiiiiiiittteee

But here’s why it’s bad for us to perpetuate this myth on a practical level:

Cortisol Levels

You’ve likely heard that cortisol is the “stress” hormone. Which it is. It’s attached to our fight or flight response and would be the first thing to rise up should a lion come bounding your way. It’s super useful for that kind of fight, but in our modern times we our stressors are different. It’s the to-do list, the crazy boss, ensuring our kids are getting the best. So many of us have elevated cortisol levels which is bad because it also eats away at some of our feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine. Translation? If you’re highly stressed all the time, the chances that you are happy also, are not so good.

Focus:  Multitasking is bad for our brains. 

Doing too many things at once is something that many of us pride ourselves on. I know I’ve been there! Ohhh, I can do this and that and that other thing. But we’re not going to do them as well, typically, and it trains our brains to work in a way that is well, a bit mindless.

flowers

Here’s the thing:  life is meant for enjoying and not scraping by. We can’t escape our lives. We can’t eschew our responsibilities — I mean, is your boss going to really care about your cortisol levels when they ask you to cover for your colleague’s vacation? Probably not. But here are a few things you can do, even when you’re busier than you think you can handle:

  1. Practice Mindfulness. This is the one thing that researchers (even one of my new professors talked about this already in my neuro class!) The thing is, is that you can do this almost anytime, anywhere, because in reality it’s simply a way to slow down. To appreciate what is going on around you, to appreciate the sensations of what you’re doing in the moment — such as taking time to feel the bristles against your teeth when you are brushing, thinking about each swipe as you wash dishes, etc.
  2. Turn Down The Noise. When I’m feeling especially antsy and I am driving somewhere, I turn off the radio. Seriously. It helps! And when I’m reading, I try to turn off everything around me because I find I absorb things more — and as a grad student, I’m guessing I’ll be doing this more often.
  3. Laugh! If I’m feeling stressed and want to chill out, I put on Netflix and immediately head to Parks & Recreation. If I can’t do that, I head to Instagram and scroll through my favorite funny meme accounts. It’s simple, but helps.
  4. Mediate. It goes without saying, but just to say it anyway:  mediation is a kind of mindfulness.
  5. Exercise. ‘Nuff said? Okay, just in case you needed more evidence:  “…enriched environments and exercise have been shown to lead to increased density of synpatic connections, and especially to an increased number of neurons and actual volume of the hippocampus a region important for learning and memory.” Translation:  exercise leads to new pathways being built in your brain. This is good for you. And while intense exercise does lead to cortisol being released — because exercise is an inherent “stress” on the body, in the longterm exercise will help regulate cortisol in your body. There is something to be said in this regard, though, for not having all your exercise sessions be 100% balls to the walls, to take rest days and to consider adding some cardio and yoga to your routine if you are struggling with stress.

The moral of this story is that taking care of yourself is important. And sometimes taking care of yourself means saying no to doing more. It means taking some time every day to be you.

And as pampered, privileged and first-world as it sounds, the catch is, is that it actually helps you function better, keeps not only your body healthy, but your brain, too. And I’m gonna bet, you’ll actually do your jobs better when your feeling at the top of your game.

 

Is Exercise a Punishment?

This summer I went on a date with a very normal San Francisco guy. He worked in tech and really was hoping to make the leap to his own start-up — so yes, he really was that typical of SF. As we talked he bottom-lined me and asked: “So, tell me, could you actually date someone that doesn’t workout?”. I truthfully answered that I don’t need a partner to be as enthusiastic as I am about kettlebells and perfect squat form. If anything, it’s nice to have someone at home that wants to talk about something other than workouts since it’s pretty much what I think about 40+ hours a week. And I’ve dated men that were competitive with me when it came to fitness knowledge and application – to say that was frustrating would be a vast understatement.

 

The tech guy went on to tell me that he had a personal trainer a few years back and was in the best shape of his life due to the grueling workouts he went through. But he was no longer interested in working out, pretty much ever again. Not sure if he was joking or simply trying to get a rise out of me and always willing to give someone a chance, we texted throughout the following week to set up another date. At one point he sent me a message complaining about walking up Potrero Hill to his apartment at the top. I tried to make a joke to really suss out how serious he was about this and to nudge him with the idea that going uphill is something I enjoy a lot. But his heels were dug in: this was something he clearly felt was worthy of a complaint. At this point, I was certain that we wouldn’t be a good match.  To have the health and ability to be able to do this sort of thing is a true gift that not everyone has.

view potrero hill

Because to me, exercise is actually self-care. Movement is something we need to do to take care of our bodies to live healthfully and happy for the entirety of our lives. It is a gift we are endowed with to do things like hike up Potrero Hill or Macchu Pichu, but, it is also something akin to brushing our teeth, flossing, doing our laundry, going to the doctor for regular check-ups and so on and so forth. That is to say, it’s necessary, not optional. As with any commitment, sometimes we may enjoy it, sometimes we may not. But it is never something that should be a punishment. And if you don’t enjoy the way you are exercising, change it. If your needs change due to illness, injury or disability – change it, don’t give up, just know that sometimes in life you will have to adjust the way you workout. Women have babies, people get hurt, we get older. It happens and we simply need to adapt.
Continue reading “Is Exercise a Punishment?”

Is Your House on Fire?

A few weeks ago I was at my dog park and it was later at night, around 9pm. I’d had a long day and felt my pup deserved an off-leash romp, even if that meant going in the dark. I didn’t expect anyone to be there, but an older woman was there with her two rascals. We started talking and before long I learned that as a young adult she had been a nun. It made sense, actually, she definitely had the demeanor of someone that had listened a lot in her life. The kind of listening were the words don’t matter so much as the space between the words.

Before you know it, she was telling me a story of someone she knew that was getting a divorce. She said that it seemed clear that the marriage had been over many years before, but that her “house wasn’t on fire yet” but that recently it had gone down quickly, all the way to the ground.

This concept of a house needing to be on fire before someone is motivated to truly change really struck me.

In terms of health and wellness many people don’t change until their house is on fire. They wait until their cholesterol is so high that it requires medication. They wait until they can’t climb a flight of stairs without losing their breath. They wait until the 5 pounds of holiday season weight has become 20 the next July.

And this makes sense. Life is busy, complicated and sometimes just getting by feels like you are winning at life. Treading water is better than drowning. I heard that and I feel that, too.

But we all know that it doesn’t have to be this way. Is there an area of your life that feels like that? Are you barely keeping your head above? Let’s focus on that and let’s try to change before your ship is totally sunk. Let’s stop before your fire begins — it’s so much easier to re-decorate a house than it is to re-build it, right?

If your area is fitness and healthy eating and you are just keeping your head above water right now, let’s do these three things this week to ensure we catch you before your house is engulfed in flames:

1. Focus on ADDING in one healthy eating behavior. That could be eating one huge salad a day with a lean protein. That’s it. Don’t change anything else in your diet, just ADD this salad.

2. Add in a high-intensity-interval training session to your workout week. Don’t change anything else you’re doing workout-wise. Just ADD this in. This can be some sprint repeats, hill sprint repeats and anything Tabata-style, like intervals on a spin bike. Shoot for a 20-minute session. Yes, that’s it!

3.  Spend one hour a week doing a relaxing self-care focused thing for yourself. This could be a leisure walk, a yoga class or podcast, or meditation — you can break it up into 10 minutes 6 – 7 days a week, too. 

Commit to this House on Fire Challenge for one week and tell me how it goes! If you need ideas on some high-intensity workouts to try, just ask!

kettlbell

Dear Jillian Michaels : The Size of My Jeans Doesn’t Matter to Me.

For the last year or so I’ve listened to Jillian Michael’s weekly podcast. She is by many accounts a derisive figure in the fitness community. I would say that most coaches that I generally associate myself with would be inclined to dislike her and most kettlebell coaches really dislike her or maybe just strongly disagree with her techniques. Even though I was skeptical too, for some reason I decided to listen to one of her podcasts awhile back and I actually kind of appreciated the mindset conversations she does on them, so I continued to tune in many weeks. So, I’m saying this all to be clear from the start:  I went into this podcast very much liking Jillian Michaels.

But something really caught me off-guard in her podcast from July 14, 2014, titled “Fat Shaming”, when Michaels was talking about the fat acceptance movement. To be fair, I believe this is an incredibly complicated topic/movement that I am not sure I would ever be able or want to tackle, frankly.

As Michael’s went on to talk about this movement, she was saying that you need to love yourself at all body weights (agree), but that being able to have healthy biometrics (cholesterol, blood pressure, etc.) should always be your baseline measure of health. Great, I’m down with that — it is undoubtedly a challenge to have healthy biometrics when you’re obese, so I see where she is going with that and then…she went on to say that “I’ve seen many healthy girls in…size 8s, maaaaybe size 10s. I don’t generally see it in 12s. 14s. Don’t see that. Have yet to see that.” And my jaw was on the ground!

Because, here I am. A fitness trainer. Someone that helps literally hundreds of people get their workout in every day (about 25 of my own students daily, the rest throughout my company). And I’m, no joke, wearing a size 10 jean as I’m listening to her. Which means that I may or may not be healthy according to Jillian Michael’s standards?!

Let’s be clear:  I’m not overweight. My blood pressure is typically in the “athlete” range. I have healthy cholesterol numbers. My body composition is also in the athletic/fit range. I recently had an annual exam and my doctor commented on how “lean” I was (which for this exam, unfortunately made her job more difficult, #irony). I can both squat and deadlift more than my bodyweight and then some. I teach 9 bootcamp classes a week. I recently have been working on Turkish Get-Ups and get a kick out of using a 16KG (35-ish pounds) kettlebell for these. I say none of this to brag — and, frankly, I am still striving to improve on many of my lifts and areas of fitness. But what these are, are facts and effects of a lifestyle that I choose a long time ago. One that I love, I might add and one that is about WAY more than what size of jeans I fit into on a given day.

And yet, Jillian Michaels thinks that I should at least be a size 8 to prove that I’m healthy. I mean, is this real life? Are these things fitness “experts” should be using as a metric for being healthy?

belfie me

(Embarrassingly, yes, I recently took a #belfie. But at least now you all know what my butt looks like. And that is a butt that will likely never fit in a size 8 pair of jeans.)

Let’s start with the obvious flaw in this metric:  clothing companies have wildly different sizing standards. You don’t need to try hard to figure this out:  every time I order clothing online, a sizing guide inevitably pops up. Because they all have different sizing standards. And clothing brands know and get this. So is Jillian suggesting that I let Gap and JCrew decide if I’m healthy? Because that is what we are doing if we’re using clothing size as a healthy metric.  The bottom line is that even if you don’t like the rest of what I have to say, I think we can all agree that a clothing size is a very arbitrary measure to use for health.

I’m quite confident that your average American woman has a range of sizes in her closet even if her weight has stayed constant in the past 5 years, since most of us buy different brands and even brands are known to change their own sizing standards. I know in my case that besides those size 10 jeans I was wearing the other day, I also have some 12 jeans in my closet right now. I also have small tops, medium tops, size 8 pants, medium-sized pants — I even have a pair of size 14 shorts. THE HORROR! How could I possibly think I was healthy while wearing a pair of shorts with a number 14 on the tag?!

I’m 5’11 and weigh 165 pounds, give or take.

selfie outfit

 (size 12 crop pants, medium top)

I’m not overweight. And yet, I have a pair of size 14 shorts. Yup, there, I said it! The world knows my awful dirty, little secret. Should I be ashamed, Jillian? Should I crash diet so that I can fit into a “healthier” size 8 short?

My best friend is also 5’11, but she is a long-distance runner and is less muscular than myself. Even at 150 pounds, squeezing her hips into a size 8 pair of jeans would prove challenging and you’d likely consider this woman a beanpole.

 lindseywedding(she’s on the far right)

 

Another close friend is 6’2 and was a competitive Division I rower in college. The girl is gorgeous and athletic.  If you met her, I doubt you would consider her unhealthy or overweight…you might actually think she’s a badass and possibly wonder if she plays for the WNBA. It is laughable to think wearing a size 8 jean is a metric she should have to worry about.

rachelle

A trainer with a large online following, Molly Galbraith is gorgeous and basically my body twin at 5’10 and in the same weight range as me, 165 pounds-ish per her recent posts.

mollygalbraith

Do you think Molly is unhealthy? Do you think Molly wears a size 8 jeans? Um, no and no.

I decided to Google a few known tall celebrities and Venus Williams sprung to mind. She’s both athletic and tall and at 6’1 is reported to be between 159 and 165 pounds. I highly doubt she wears anything less than a size 10 jean.

venus williams

But….look at her. Do you think she cares about fitting into a particular size of jeans while she is winning matches? I doubt it. Do you think she frets that her butt is too big? Maybe. I mean, all women have their body image battles, right? But do I think that Venus Williams loses sleep over the state of her cardiovascular health? I would guess, a resounding:  no.

I would actually bet that Venus has her jeans tailored for her, since she spent years building her legs on the tennis court and those of us with legit leg muscles have a really tough time squeezing our glutes and quads into smaller jeans, even if our waists are smaller. Sidebar:  this is actually a known problem among lifters, which has caused some people looking to profit from this niche market, such as Barbell Denim that raised $735,000 for start-up costs on Kickstarter this spring.

You might be asking yourself:  why does this matter? Of course, we don’t need a trainer to tell us what size jeans to wear, Cat, DUH! Well, here’s why it matters:  as I was growing up, I didn’t really have many people to “measure” myself against to know if I was normal or not. I was taller than both my mom and sisters by a 3 – 6 inch margin. I didn’t know that wearing size 10 jeans was okay — especially for someone of my height. I remember being at the DMV for the first time and feeling so weird for having to say that my weight was in the 160s. As far as I knew, “women” were supposed to weigh in the 130s or so. I can only imagine if I had heard something like what Jillian Michaels said in her podcast when I was 16.

What if when I was 16, I had had CONFIRMATION from a celebrity expert that a size 10 was unhealthy? I likely would have been devastated and ashamed, even though I was actually normal and healthy. This is why what we say matters. And especially why someone that is a public figure, like Jillian Michaels, should be especially mindful of what metrics she is throwing around. Because young women are looking to us to understand their place in the world. They are looking up to us and they need to understand that yes, they are okay and that yes, we don’t value them simply for the size of jeans they wear.

How did I come around to realizing that I was indeed healthy just as I was and decide to not place value on the tag inside my jeans?

 

1. I talked to other women. I asked them about these things. I realized that these women (some of the above) were healthy and gorgeous. If THEY wore size 10 pants, it was probably okay that I did too.
2. I found exercise that I loved. That I couldn’t do without. And in turn learned to love my body more for what it could do, rather than what other people thought of it.
3. I worked on my posture. Being a tall girl that was unsure of herself growing up, my posture was the pits. I still catch myself rolling in the shoulders from time to time, but the key is that I catch myself now and correct it. Hearing this TED talk about power poses has really solidified to me how important this is. It’s okay to take up space in the world — and you’ll probably like yourself more when you do!
4. I make an effort to buy clothes that FIT me well and flatter my figure. DESPITE the size on the tag. We all have our disadvantages and advantages when it comes to fashion. Own ’em and move on.

5. I’d be remiss to not address that working in the fitness industry has made me so keenly aware of the messages we send each other about body image. I believe it has caused me to delve into these issues far more deeply than I ever would have, had I not been a part of it. It made me consider if encouraging people to get shredded for bikini season was something I wanted to be a part of — spoiler alert, it’s not. It made me realize that words matter and that ultimately, if I didn’t walk to the walk, I would never be able to help the clients I work with in the ways that matter to me most:  to get and/or keep them healthy, to make sure they know how amazing they are, to help them be stronger, faster and ready to take on the physical and emotional challenges of everyday life.

I suppose if I were able to surgically alter my hip bones to be slighter narrower and stopped exercising in the hope that my glutes could possibly atrophy (though realistically, muscles wouldn’t do this easily), I could fit into smaller jeans. Right? I mean, that sounds reasonable doesn’t it Jillian?

It couldn’t possibly be that if I went to such drastic measures that, in fact  it would be a sign of some serious self-loathing and disordered thinking would it Jillian?

Folks, please. We don’t need anyone, not Jillian Michaels, not your co-worker, not a sales clerk in a clothing store, not the folks at the Gap that work on sizing, our mother, our best friend or strangers on the internet telling us what size jeans we need to wear to be healthy. Spoiler alert:  your jeans size tell you nothing about your biometrics. So, please, please, please talk to your doctor about whether you’re healthy or not. Get blood work done if it’s been awhile. If you don’t like your doctor, find a new one.

And Jillian? Please find a better metric to help the public determine whether we’re healthy or not. Because frankly, I don’t give a damn what size my jeans are. And neither should you.

Coaching & Training: On Motivation and Critique

Lately I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be a trainer or coach. In our current landscape it is an evolving role and there is so much to say about it all. And I’m not the only one that thinks so. I’ve read probably 8 or 10 write-ups in the last 3 months alone! It has given me enough ideas for at least four posts, but I’m starting here today.

A few months ago  I came across an article that caught my attention, gave me pause and I really wanted to write a response to it because I just had SO MUCH TO SAY. I think it only represents a small part of the fitness industry and I want to show you a broader spectrum. I want to show that there are a lot of ways to do this and a lot of ways to think about teaching group fitness that are, in my opinion, more beneficial to the people we serve.

The way my company teaches is different than group fitness in a gym, which is what I feel that this article is geared towards. Mostly I have the same people showing up day in and day out, only adding new people when a new session begins. And our groups are typically less than 12 participants. So yes, it’s a very different environment — one which I prefer! But that doesn’t mean that your standard gym classes aren’t good and can’t be better. They are and they can be!
Continue reading “Coaching & Training: On Motivation and Critique”

My Week in Workouts

Today, I’m sharing a weeks worth of my workouts for a few reasons:

1. Being a fitness “pro” I often get asked about how much I workout. Like, OMG, you must workout ALL the time. Not true by any means! I appreciate days off just as much as anyone — maybe even more so, since not thinking about exercise is frankly, super duper healthy for my brain at times. The idea of becoming a one-dimensional fitness person scares me…so not appealing!

2. This particular week of workouts might seem sort of random — and it is. I didn’t plan in advance to go biking — it was simply what I felt like doing. After all, I’m not training for an event…right now I’m simply training to live a healthy and happy life.  And let me tell you, this week of workouts made me really happy! This week is sort of a classic “me” week in terms of the randomness coupled with challenging myself. This is what makes it share-worthy in my opinion, because it’s exactly what I want to shoot for each week, but it doesn’t always happen:

fun + challenging + breathless + a balance of hitting all fitness areas + working on a skill + rest days = a perfect workout week. 

Sunday 3/30/14

workout:  15 mile bike-ride on the Bay Trail. Ride took just under 60-minutes.

Monday 3/31/14

workout: 60-minute session with my coach, TGU, KB swings, cleans, presses, front squats, oh my. In particular, we worked on my power clean + clean technique. It’s a toughie for me, but I left knowing I’m heading in the right direction.

self-care: 60-minute yoga with my favorite yoga teacher

Tuesday 4/1/14

self-care:  rest day. I took the dog on a long walk, got my 10K steps in for the day!

Wednesday 4/2/14

workout:  Today I ran with all 3 of my bootcamp classes. Do I “count” this as a workout? yes. because it clocked in at well over 5 miles. Was I focused on my own running and caring about my splits? Not at all. Was I loving every minute of the fact that I get to do this? Without a doubt. In total this meant I was “working out” for about…45 minutes?

Thursday 4/3/14

workout:  I did a “homework” workout from my coach. kettlebell swings, TGUs, other strength moves. This only took about 35-minutes.

Friday 4/4/14

workout:  did a strength session in my garage:  back squats, reverse burpees, weighted sit-ups, TGUs and maybe a few other things in there too. I played around in the garage for a good 45 minutes.

Saturday 4/5/14

self-care:  Long dog walk! And then, lots of foam rolling/mobility with some clients. I did tinker around on my spin bike for a little bit, but was mostly just doing so to play around with my cycling shoe fit.

All in all, that accounts to 5 days where I worked out, 2 where I rested and plenty of other self-care items. For me, that is a really, really good balanced week!

“Counting” workouts

If I had a dollar for every time a client or friend asked me if something “counted” as a workout, I would definitely have a few extra hundred bucks in the bank. And just this week I read a fitness piece by someone that I truly like and respect. In the program, there was a guideline for not counting certain types of movement as your exercise for the week. I get the point of this:  you want your clients to actually do the workouts you write for them. You want them to achieve the results you’ve promised them and that won’t happen if they don’t do the workouts. I truly understand this perspective.

But the idea of not counting things like soccer games or hilly weekend hikes as part of your weekly exercise? To me, that’s the wrong tone to set. Because to me that sounds like we’re telling people that what they are already doing isn’t good enough. And that’s just not my style. Because for those people that are doing that kind of stuff? Keep going, buddy! I don’t want them to stop. I want my workouts to complement their life as it is, I don’t want them to prioritize a workout over a hike. There. I said it. My workouts are a piece of the puzzle to make those things more fun, so you are stronger and have more endurance, not replace something you already enjoy.

As for those times when we ask someone this question of, “does this count?”, it’s because we feel the need to have validation, right? I get it, we want to know that it counts, damnit!? But here is the truth:  no one is keeping track…no one except you! Trust me, whatever your beliefs are, there is no God of fitness keeping hash marks of your workouts.

You might be saying to yourself:  what the hell kind of trainer says this kind of stuff? The kind of trainer that doesn’t believe in using shame tactics, that’s who. Because putting pressure on yourself to measure up to some arbitrary measure is a really awful way to feel. Trust me when I say that the only people that need to worry about whether a workout “counts” are competitive athletes (that likely do have a coach keeping track) or perhaps those that have a very specific goal in mind, like completing an Ironman. If those don’t apply to you, shouldn’t your goal simply to be healthy and happy? Shouldn’t your workouts simply be a complement to your busy life and not be yet another thing that makes you feel bad yourself? There are many battles to fight in life. This isn’t one of them.

If you moved into a new house this weekend and lifted boxes for 48-hours, you better believe I would validate the hell out of you and understand if you didn’t fit in a run or trip to the gym. Not because I want you to be lazy, but I don’t believe in creating an exercise obsession either. Yes, there is always “time” to fit in a workout. Hell, I’ve used this logic with clients and on myself. There are times when it is worth it:  like the time I did Tabata sprints in a hotel parking lot at 7am in 25-degree weather with my dog before spending 9-hours in the car. But is actually  necessary to kill yourself to get up at 5:30 to fit in a workout on already very active day, e.g. moving? It’s definitely a question that is worth asking yourself.

tabata and stella

(Stella wasn’t super stoked about the sprints being so early…but she warmed up quickly!)

So if you find yourself asking someone else if something “counts” as a workout, step aside and ask yourself a few things:

1. Does whatever you’re doing meet your goals? (If you don’t know what your goals are, this question doesn’t even apply to you because your goal is then to simply be healthy and happy.)

2. Are you moving?

3. Are you sweating?

4. Does it make you happy?

If you can answer at least 3 of those things, then yes, here I am to say that it “counts” as a workout.

It’s okay to want validation. Particularly if you are paying for a trainer, whose advise and expertise is what you are looking and paying for. But let’s ask ourself why we are asking this kind of question:  is it because you’re actually looking for a technique, exercise-science based opinion? I.e. can I count this as my “arms” day, etc. Or is it because you want someone to tell that what you did was good enough? If it’s the latter, then let’s go back to our checklist above. Because I am here to tell you that you are good enough. You don’t need someone else to tell you that. Trust me…you are good enough!

My Manifesto

Hello out there! Welcome to my little piece of the internet. Here, you’ll find some historical posts from previous blogs I’ve had so you can get to me know me a little bit. But this post? This is my first post hereTo learn a little bit more about me, please click here. But for now, here is my manifesto. This is a big part of my WHY. As in, why I am here, taking up space on the internet. I hope you come back for more!

But, for now, let me take a minute to tell you how I really feel:  I don’t believe in fitness dogma. I don’t believe that if you ONLY do pilates that your life will be saved, or that if you lift heavy weights the keys to the universe will suddenly be given to you, the heavens will open up and Mark Rippetoe will appear, giving you a slight nod of approval. I wholeheartedly believe that many things have their place in the fitness world. They each serve a purpose. They speak to some people, they literally save peoples lives. But, not everything speaks to everyone and that’s okay. Because the best workout is the one you enjoy doing…but also the one that gives you the results you seek. 

One thing I have struggled with for years in the fitness industry, is the pressure to adhere to one school of thought. You either are a heavy lift proponent or you’re not. You’re a yogi or you’re not. You’re a runner or you’re not. It’s black or white:  if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. Right?

For me, in terms of fitness modalities, that’s wrong.

Because I stand for a lot of things. I like to lift heavy weights…some days. Some days I want to take my dog for a run and stop to smell the roses along the way. Some days I want to spint up that damn hill three times, the last one faster than the first. Most days I want to just do some HIIT in my garage. And on some days, I want nothing more than to down-dog my heart out, sprinkled with some nice long pigeon poses.

But mostly, I stand for consistency. For doing SOMETHING. Because what matters, to me, is that I’m moving. And I’m moving often. I’m varying my routine. There is definitely a method to my madness:  I’m getting my heart rate up. I’m doing strength work. I’m working on mobility. And each week I’m thinking about what muscles I’m using in all the different things I’m doing…and adjust accordingly. I’m thinking about how my body feels on a daily basis. I am not going to go for a run on a day that my foot is aching. I’m simply not going to take that risk. I don’t think training through injury is anything to be proud of — why do we need to repeat this, oh yeah…we are humans and I believe that there is too much chatter out there about meeting your goals at all costs.

But let’s not confuse what I’m saying for being lazy. For giving yourself the easy way out. What I’m taking about is being mindful about your training.  And being mindful does not mean that I’m not working hard. Remember, there is a method to the madness. And the method includes lots of sweating, being hyper aware of my body, external circumstances and the ability to amass more fitness clothes than street clothes in the dirty laundry every single damn week.

The bottom line? Anyone that tells you they have a magical program is wrong. Not because the programs are bad nor effective, but basically because no program is magic. Unless that program was designed just for you, or has room in the program built into it for modifications that work for you. You’re a super unique snowflake and so am I. Yes, I mean that slightly tongue in check, but not 100% so. Because, honestly the magic is not in the program; the magic is inside of you.

Let’s figure out your unique program together. Please follow along with me and on April 30th, I’ll be launching my first Just Like Recess program. It will be a custom program tailored to you. Yup, just for you. For reals. Please follow along for more info on the program, for free workouts and more of my thoughts on fitness, health, mental well-being and more.We’re going to exercise like we mean it. We’re going to live life like we mean it. Join me.

IDEA Convention 2013: An Ode to Inspiration and Commitment

This past weekend I was in a fitness wonderland. We did push-ups, squats and burpees many times over and over…and over and over.



welcometoidea

If you’ve ever been a client of a trainer and felt that you wanted a bit of retribution for all the pain they inflict on you:  well, you missed it, but I saw your retribution this weekend! All over the conference, I saw trainers that were sore, tired and flopping around like dead fish on a beach all because they were working their butts off so hard, all weekend. And they were doing it all in the name of learning, trying to become better at their craft, their profession, for you, their client.

This was inspiring to me.

Most of my sessions were inspiring, also. I learned a few tips and tricks from a pilates session on how to perfect form in these very subtle movements that will make your inner thighs sore for days. I learned about meditation and how these principles can be applied to training and also how to simply apply it in my life to make me a better and more grounded trainer. I learned some new partner based exercises and circuits to make my classes that much more fun and engaging. I learned about BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) and about the immense power that exercise has on the brain (we grow neurons! we create new dendritic branching! we get…smarter!)*. And I learned some awesome techniques on rolling from the Trigger Point Performance folks that my calves are supremely grateful for and has me inspired to start teaching stretching/rolling workshops! (TBD)

inspireceremony

And I won two Inspiration medals. Man, that felt…good. They give one out in most of the sessions at the discretion of the presenter (this also enters you in a drawing for some big prizes at the end of the conference, I didn’t win any of those). I won the first medal in my second session of the conference. It was a rowing session (IndoRow) and Jay Blahnik gave it to me! Pretty rad. And then, Jay gave me another one in my very last session of the conference that was a huge session on games (very, very BootCamp relevant)! I have no idea what I did to get the second one — the rowing one made sense because I’m very competitive with rowing in particular and was feeling on fire during that session trying to pump up my team and all, but not so sure about the second one. But, whatever it was that made him notice me, I am grateful and felt very honored. It really made my day/week/conference. Thanks Jay!

inspiremedal

I had been wishy-washy about whether or not I should attend IDEA this year. I went in 2012 and felt just okay about it all, but that was likely due to being distracted by some stuff going in my personal life. This year, I took the opportunity to attend and fully embraced it. I attended every session with gusto, with my notepad in hand, and ready to learn.

And isn’t funny how when you fully commit to something how much better it makes the experience? Isn’t it funny how you get just that much more out of it?

Hmmm….I wonder what I could compare that to? 😉

Maybe sort of like committing to your workouts? Hmmm? Yes, my friends, when you show up with a commitment to your workout, to yourself, you just might find that it translates to a better experience and workout. Try it. Make this coming week a commitment week and see how it goes!

*I wrote a little more in-depth about my brain session, here.

The SF Marathon

We had a volunteer station at The SF Marathon yesterday. I woke up at 5am on a Sunday. I brought bagels and yogurt for our volunteers.

I brought t-shirts and goodie bags.

I brought this sign:

I left tired.

But energized.

I left with less stuff to carry, but feeling very full.

These are the kind of experiences where you get to see who most people truly are:  kind, generous, encouraging, fun. And those are just the adjectives I have to describe the people that volunteered for us. The people running the race? The word inspiring seems trite, but that’s what I have.

And then I went out to brunch, had a mimosa and I fell asleep with 2 of my favorite pups surrounding me and I had the best nap ever.