Fear

I think I have briefly touched on this subject before while quoting Elanor Roosevelt, but I don’t think I have yet to approach it in this manner.
eleanor-roosevelt_imageLately, I have been taking a lot of steps towards positive change in my life, however for the past little while it seemed spread out you know with time for everything to sink in. Now all of a sudden I am feeling like all of these small steps have come to a front and “it” is all happening now. This isn’t a bad thing, it is just a thing and if anything it is good. However, like most people although I can verbalize that I am excited for positive change, when it starts to happen it can be overwhelming, intimidating and frightening.

fear  Collage

Sometimes when I start to feel intimidated like this I look for inspirational or motivational words on the internet.  During this search I have found multiple motivational images about missed opportunities and fear and I always seem to have the same reaction and unfortunately it isn’t “hell ya I have this covered”.  I then look to my support system hoping that they will say something that takes away my fear, and I am then surrounded with such positivity and encouragement that I end up stopping dead in my tracks and thinking  “what the hell is your problem?

And here we are now, stuck on this question of “what the hell is your problem?” This is generally where I start blaming fear because blaming my lack of confidence on fear is, dare I say it, easier. After this wonderful cycle of blame I still end up in the same place I started, with a big bucket of fear and wondering what to do with it. So I have been thinking, writing it out, weighing it out and thinking some more. How do I get back on track? How do I stop being so freaked out by potential failure or success? (yes both are equally terrifying to me for some reason). At the end of all this thinking and writing things out I have landed on the conclusion that I really have no idea what to do but I developed some guidelines that I am hoping will help me to find my answer.

Guidelines to get myself over this fear hump:

1. Stop telling myself to “suck it up” – starting an internal dialogue with something that self-threatening doesn’t solve anything, other than to give air to the fire.  It only serves to stir up more negative emotions, and doesn’t help to hop you over the fence to a more positive stream of thought.

2. Explore the fear but don’t let it guide my actions – It is healthy to explore what is scaring you, why it is and what are some triggers.   Knowing these things can help you understand why you react the way you do and my hope is that from knowing this I will be able to move forward and better address these fears in the future.

3. Take Action – I believe I have mentioned this before, but when I feel overwhelmed my first instinct is to do nothing, dig in, hide out, and just get cozy on the couch, normally followed by a hefty serving of over eating. So I figure doing the opposite will help me to get out of “ruts” and overcome or manage fears.  This guideline will take a lot of work, and a lot of willpower but in the end I know it will be beneficial.

4. Be positive – Writing this one down makes me roll my eyes a bit only because it seems so obvious.  But when you are stressing out or stuck in your fear looking for the positive and believing the positive often feels next to impossible.

a6aaa6612fcad8dc00787ad84672cc2aI am hoping that these four guidelines will help me get out of this “you just turned 30, went back to school and are trying to start a new career” freakout funk and allow me to start putting my energy into a more productive place like school work, nutrition, relationships, physical activities, continuing my education, and being productive.

Do you have any tips or tricks that you do when you are feeling particularly overwhelmed by small or huge life style changes?

Happy Thursday…wow totally thought it was Wednesday!

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Birthdays and Getting Old

I love birthdays. I love the opportunity to spoil a friend or family member just because they are alive. Sure you can do that any day of their life but to get to celebrate the day they came into being and started living their lives is just so special to me.   Generally speaking I not 100% a fan of my own birthday but other people’s birthdays let me tell you I can definitely get behind that!

This year is a little different. I am ending another decade and unlike 20 this one feels like a bit of a bigger deal.  Sure 20 was a big deal I was no longer a teen and I was officially in my adult years, but let’s be honest I was still a teen for at least a couple years after that birthday. I didn’t have any major responsibilities other than showing up to work on time and getting those essays in on their due dates. Aside from that life was pretty easy.  Now there are all kinds of payments; mortgage, insurance, school, utilities, blah blah blah right?  Although I do think back every now and again about how easy life was before I turned into an “adult” I would seriously never go back.20140306-075901.jpgWhy wouldn’t I ever go back?  Well because my 20s were fun however there was so much learning and development, I mean I wouldn’t trade it for the world but why on earth would you ever want to do all of that again? Figuring out who I was, learning to be 100% responsible for myself, and trying to figure out what my life was going to be (still figuring that one out by the by) .  Aside from all that “have to do stuff” my 20s were fun, I met so many amazing people, many of whom are still in my life, but all the caring about what other people thought, gawd no thanks.  Not that I have become some sort of heartless beast just that I have learnt to “do me” and be unapologetic for who I am and what my beliefs are, that being said I have also become a lot more tolerant of others and their view points.

Besides me turning into a pretty different person than I was as a teen or in my early 20s I am not 100% how I am feeling about turning the big three-oh.  There are moments where I think “bah it is just a number” and then there are other moments that I stop and think “oh gawd I have to be a real adult now”.   All I know right now is I am excited for my birthday party and celebrations with my loved ones.  In the mean time I am going to mediate away my neurotic impulses to freak out and just enjoy the last 2 days of my 20s.

But enough about me getting older.  Here is a fun little quick sweat it out to keep you moving during this never ending winter.

birthday melt downHow was it for you when you hit a milestone birthday? Were you excited? Freaked out? Indifferent?

Happy Thursday!

Perils of Not Stretching

I am sure you have heard it time and time again, I know I have, “be sure to stretch”.    But why is it so important?  What is it that stretching does for us that is so important? and is it really that big of a deal if I don’t stretch like everyone is telling me to?

Well in short yes.  Stretching is super important, and this isn’t the yoga teacher in me coming at you with this throw down of truth.  It is the injury prone body of someone that loves to move pleading you to stretch.  Besides the fact that as we age our mobility is restricted by our flexibility more and more, and increased flexibility will leave you less prone to chronic injury, falling and other things that would be awful for our poor aging bodies, there are some right now benefits to stretching we should all know about and be excited for.

The effects of not stretching aren’t going to happen over night, however there is always that possibility.   If you don’t stretch after going from the gym, upping your cardio, increasing your weights and getting totally ripped you will be fine for a while.  Then it will happen, what I call the “tightness” will set in and it won’t be pleasant.  Maybe you are thinking “I go to yoga once a week” or “only guys don’t stretch because all the care about is muscle mass” well unfortunately this isn’t the case for either of these statements.

Firstly, I know a ton of guys who stretch their faces off, who attend regular yoga classes and who are all around concerned about their physical fitness.  Secondly, one yoga class a week is a great start but with all the sitting, walking, running, weight training, and movement our human bodies do a single day of stretching just won’t cut it. Yoga once a week is kind of like eating nothing but pizza all week and then sitting down with a salad every Friday to lose weight, things probably won’t balance out.

Before we get into all the wonderful benefits to stretching let’s address what I would consider the number one peril of not stretching which is lack of mobility. Lack of mobility is basically the worst thing ever (well maybe not ever but it is pretty awful) and not only for the athletically inclined.  Having a limited range of movement affects your every day life from playing with your kids to walking the dog, shoveling, watching TV or lacing up your shoes.  Being limited in the way that you can move and live your life is a serious restriction and unfortunately it is not like a fine wine, it does not get better with age.

What is lack of mobility?  It is a wide range of things (hence it being the #1 peril) it be anything from not being able to touch your toes, struggling to lift your arms above your head, rotational movement without pain, achy knees, a sore back, and the list could literally go on for days.  Who would want to be a part of any of this right? Enter stretching.

What is so great about stretching? I mean besides it helping you to avoid all the awful things I just mentioned there is a plethora of positive benefits, one of my favorites is it’s calming effects on the mind.   Sure while you’re doing some foam rolling you don’t feel so calm and centered but think back to when you did a neck stretch or stretched out your back to relieve a pinch, that felt pretty good didn’t it? and I be you felt pretty mellow after you released the stretch maybe even a little satisfied perhaps. So why wouldn’t you want this feeling all the time?

Stretching can also help you to avoid or lesson that muscle soreness most of us feel after a heavy weight day, a long run or a challenging swim.   Stretching encourages blood flow and sends some much needed nutrients to your hard working muscles to help them repair after a hard day’s work, just like you need to fuel after a workout your muscles do too. So feed your muscles with some stretching.

benefits to stretching.jpgWhile stretching is giving you a mental break, feeding your muscles and increasing your range of motion, it is also helping you become more flexible.  Just like you can’t get strong without working at it most of us can’t wake up and just be flexible it is something you have to work at.  I am not saying we should all be able to wrap our legs around our shoulders and look like pretzels, but I do believe that we should all be able to effortlessly touch our toes, lift our arms above our heads, and take our bras off without spinning the clasp to the front.  All of these things might seem silly and meaningless when you are in your teens, 20s, 30s, and probably 40s but as we age our flexibility naturally decreases so getting a head start on exercising our flexibility in our teens, 20s and 30s will only benefit us in the long run.

Now that you are all super excited to go out and buy a foam roller and start stretching for 15-30minutes a day I will quickly touch on what I think is important in the world of stretching.

  1. stretching.jpgI don’t stretch before I workout, I warm up. You don’t want to go into a stretch with stone cold muscles, much like you don’t want to start a workout without warming up.  Before a workout I will use dynamic stretching and once my workout is complete I will use static stretches because my muscles are heated and ready to stretch.
  2. When stretching I focus on the muscles I used that day, i.e. leg day I stretch my legs, back day I focus on my back, etc..
  3. YOGA! I know some of you might be thinking yoga is for hippies and people who don’t wear deodorant (honestly that was my opinion when I first tried it and now I am a yoga teacher) but that’s just not true.  There are so many different types, styles, and paces of yoga I am positive you can find something that will feel good for you and fit into your life.   I try to go three or more times a week, but if you are just starting try it out once a week I am sure you will fall in love.
  4. Don’t look for pain.  Sometimes stretching can get intense and down right uncomfortable (especially if it has been a while) but you shouldn’t be in pain. If it is burning or you are about to burst out into tears back off, you want to stretch not rip your muscles.
  5. Get to know your body. If you have some type of chronic injury (ex: bad knees) don’t go full force into something that might agitate your injury and if you are ever unsure of what to do approach a professional.  Personal trainers, physio therapists, massage therapists, doctors and chiropractors are great sources of information and will likely have some pointers on how to keep you safe.

Now that you have learnt all about stretching see how you can plan it into your regular workout routine. Or feel free to share how you have managed to work it into your health and fitness plan.

Happy Thursday everyone!

Weekend Round Up

This weekend started off a bit rough with some work frustrations at the end of the week, but it really turned around. I had Friday off so I took that opportunity to lay low a little bit until my husband was done work (the lucky guy gets summer hours). Once he got home we decided to run some errands, like getting me some new (much needed running shoes) and buying some groceries so we could eat that day.

But back to my running shoes! They are completely amazing. I run in a supportive shoe for my pronation and because of this I normally get jammed with some pretty heinous looking shoes. But not this time. This time they are beautiful and bright pink! Thank you shoe industry for finally a supportive shoe with a bit more kick. Not only are they pretty but they also feel like running on clouds, what can I say I am in love.

new shoes

Saturday started off early with 8am gym session with my trainer to go over my new program for the month. I am starting build this month and couldn’t be more excited for it. The beginning of a phase is always so fun because that is when you can feel your body responding the most to the new exercises and it is this “burn” that gets me so excited to give it my all and dive in.

After my gym session I made my way over to finally test out the monkey bars. It was wet out which really challenged my grip, and I totally failed at getting a picture of it. So I will go and try it out again when it is dryer outside and get someone to snap a picture of me as proof. But besides it being slippery my arms didn’t feel like they were getting pulled out of their sockets as much as I had assumed they would so a bit win!

Later on Saturday evening I got to thinking about how much my body has changed since I became serious about strength training and having been introduced to functional training and then I thought “I wonder if I have back muscles?” Excited to find out I got my husband to take a picture of me “flexing” and to my surprise I am definitely developing some back muscles. After taking the picture I really wished I had taken a before so that I could have compared the difference. Now if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you will have already seen this picture but I figured I am pretty proud of it so I would share it here as well.

back musclesjpg

I guess this just goes to show you that hard work really does pay off, so if you are starting, in the middle of or struggling in your health and fitness routine, just remember that it will all pay off in the end so keep up your forward momentum. This picture has definitely motivated me to keep going and to continue to make new goals for myself.

Sunday was an awesome day. It started off early because I find it impossible to sleep in, and my cats generally help to keep it that way. But I was up and getting my meal prep for the weeks started by cooking up some turkey and sweet potatoes for my lunches. Then I met up with my running buddy for a nice 8km run under the, finally, blue sky and before we headed on over to the farmer’s market for some groceries. Sunday was a pretty perfect day, that I rounded off with some gardening and bonding with my neighbours while setting up an agreement for a plant exchange.

All in all the weekend was pretty incredible which makes it a bit easier knowing that the majority of my week will be spent sitting in a cubical.

I hope you all had amazing weekends! Happy Monday!

Get Run Ready

Seeing that I have once again caught the running bug I thought it would be useful to do a little post about getting started. A lot of people who are just starting to run think that cardio stamina is pretty much the only important aspects of running and well this just isn’t true. Running is really an all of body kind of experience, I mean yes your legs (knees and hips included) are taking the brunt of the exercise but for a happy healthy run whole body strength is important.

I started running at a pretty young age participating in track competitions, cross country and just getting out on trails with my Dad on weekends. As a kid I never really thought of running as anything other than a fun time with friends and my Dad. However the more I ran the more weird pains started to occur. I was maybe 12 or 13 when my knees really just gave out, I was a bit on the chubbier side as a kid around that age and I am sure the additional weight didn’t help, but it also didn’t help that I hadn’t done any strength training, I mean really though why would I have running was just fun, I was never serious about it.

It took me until University for me to really start to attempt to run again, and I kept coming into the same issues, I would be fine for a couple of months and the second I upped my millage my knees would start raging out. So after years of trying to figure out what the heck was going on later I was informed it was due to some weak glute and core muscles. I also had some pretty intense pronation going on, which needed to be fixed with orthotics and strength work.

Back to why not only your legs are important to running. Let’s just think of it all logically for a second, you run standing up because there is no such thing as horizontal running.

If you are upright your body then needs to engage your core, legs, and upper body. Now I am not saying that you need to have a six pack to start running or selling tickets to the “gun show” but the stronger your upper body, core and legs are the easier running becomes and the less likely you will be to incur injuries.

Although you don’t have to turn yourself into some type of muscle machine I am suggesting that by incorporating some strength training into your regular fitness routine you will begin to see some pretty great improvements, in your running form, aches and pains, speed, and endurance. I personally have recently had the privilege of finding out the endless benefits of strength training and the biggest benefit for me by far is that I am able to run relatively pain free now.

Seeing how Gingersneezes is starting up a run club I thought it might be fun to start putting out some workouts that will help us all to strengthen our muscles and get ready from some Spring and Summer running. The series I am making will be smaller focused workouts that are created to be put at the end of a cardio routine (elliptical, a run, biking, rowing anything). You can of course do these workouts on their own, but they are only 15-30minutes long, and because you are working out your muscles it is very important that you warm up first, even if you just do a couple minutes of jumping jacks or skipping rope make sure you feel warm before going into the workouts.

So the first in this, let’s call it a, series was posted a couple weeks ago. It was an ab workoutthat will not disappoint. My goal is to come out with one a week so you all have enough mini workouts to circulate through during the week. So for this week please enjoy this killer leg workout.

Depending on your fitness level the above leg workout should be done 2-3 times. I hope you enjoy it, let me know what you think in the comments below.
I hope everyone is having a great hump day!

Are you looking for any particular type of workout? Where would you like to build up some strength?

Late Day Weekend Round-Up

Oh my goodness the day got away with me, and I totally blanked on getting this post put up for everyone.  Then I came and sat down to tell everyone of my extremely exciting adventures this weekend I realized that it happened. I finally had a slow mellow and kind of relaxing weekend! It is all pretty exciting.

I started the weekend off with my regular trip over to Epic fitness for a training session with Alannah, it was the last day of our Strength phase and it was totally crushed! I set a new record at the gym for the flat back bench press with dumbbells, and it feel pretty great.  My arms and shoulders were definitely raging out the next day but it was the kind of hurt that makes you feel like you did a good job.  So the record was 40lbs in each hand for 7 reps and I ended up with 10 reps putting me just that tiny bit in the lead, and blowing my mind.  To think just 4 months ago I was working out with 5-10lbs weights thinking how could I ever lift them over my head for 3 sets of 10, and here I am pumping out 10 reps with 40s.   I think that is my absolute favourite thing about weight training, it is actual tangible progress and it happens on such a regular basis that it is truly difficult to become unmotivated about it.

To catch up on a promise from over a month ago now, here is my before Build and Strength phase picture of my arms AND my afters finally.  There is a slight bit more definition and as my rational mind had been telling me at the time there is no extra arm bulk up.  Actually the measurements for my arms has pretty much come in at the same thing since I started training, I guess they can’t get any smaller and they don’t want to get any bigger.
gunsCollagearms januaryI apologize for the quality of the photos, I was basically taking selfies of my arms and well that can get a little difficult after 10 minutes of flexing for a picture.  I find that you can see the biggest difference in my shoulders, they are more defined, not bigger just “sharper” for lack of a better word.  But there you have it folks, I was eating loads of protein because of all the weight training I was doing, and I was lifting HEAVY and I didn’t bulk up.  I think as a woman if you want to bulk up like that you have to take some pretty serious steps and really seriously watch what you eat. Just staying on the path of clean eating and healthy living won’t make you bulk up like the Hulk, although you will feel like the Hulk with your new found strength.

After my training my weekend was pretty relaxing attended a CPR and AED course Saturday and then did some studying Sunday for my final exam before I become a certified Nutrition and Wellness Specialist, my exam is tomorrow so here is hoping it goes well.

In a nutshell that was the weekend.  I hope everyone had a great weekend and enjoyed the glorious temperatures of only -16 (that is 3.2F for my American friends), and nope that wasn’t sarcasim with temperatures like -46 (-50.2F) today was like living in the tropics, if the tropics had snow.

Anyways, I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend, and a great Monday seeing how it is almost over. 

It’s Time to get Strong

It is that time again; time to get into the next phase of my training.  This phase is called “Strength” and let me tell you, after only two days I couldn’t imagine anything but strength coming from this. I have come to expect the first day or two of a new phase to be fairly challenging or at least to be hyper aware of different for my muscles groups, but this phase to date is a whole other ball park. So far nothing has compared to this phase, I mean it has all been challenging but boy is this a tough one so far.

This phase is focused on heavier weights (how that is possible is beyond me, they were already ridiculously heavy), and lower reps.  I mentioned in my last phase that I had been concerned about working to my failure point, not because I was worried I would hurt myself, but because I was afraid it would be a complete motivation crusher. After completing the Build phase I can say that working to a failure point wasn’t demotivational but it was definitely frustrating, mainly because of my personality and me being a bit hard headed at times. Seeing how in this phase we are working towards the same “failure point” Alannah and I had a quick talk about managing my expectations in an attempt to curtail my frustrations. Well so far with the weights being so much heavier (even though I am still transitioning into this phase – which means they will get heavier, oh goodness!) I have yet to feel frustration with only hitting 4-7 reps, I have so far been relieved to put the weight down or pass it off to Alannah.

With a new phase comes new moves, one of which is the weighted split squat and the dreaded recline pull is back. The split squat was new to me, so in case it is new to some of you here is a holiday-ed up photo of what it looks like.  Only difference I wouldn’t be wearing a hat and my weights would be a touch heavier than hers.

Split-Squat

I definitely love the change in routine and increase in weights because it is always so much fun to find out what your body is made of, how far you can safely push it and to discover the barriers you had original placed on yourself.

So far through all this training I have had a chance to start looking at myself from the inside out.  It has been almost like little positive switches have been turning on while negative switches have been turning off.  There is a lot less doubt in my physical abilities (I think squatting with over 100lbs on your back will encourage that) and with this change I am starting to remove self imposed mental limitations.

What obstacles have you been able to overcome lately?  What keeps you motivated to make it to the next level?

Happy Tuesday everyone!