Last week during a coaching session, a client told me, "If I measured my success solely on this past week, I'd feel discouraged. But since we're shifting focus to making lifestyle changes, I feel successful. Overall, I've made a lot of improvements."
That statement alone was a big win for the week.
So often we get hard on ourselves when we slip up or 'fail', or can't follow a plan perfectly. We commit to a diet plan, or at least we vow to start to be more mindful of our eating. Yet, despite our best intensions, we slip up.
For many of us, a single 'slip up' is a catalyst for complete derailment. Instead of getting back on track, we let things go. We start feeling guilty, deciding to no longer care at all (letting a single stress donut escalate to an all night binge), or ditching the plan altogether, feeling like a failure, losing hope of ever being successful. We may punish ourselves by overeating or vowing to pay penance with extra minutes of cardio training the next day.
Eat. Fail. Berate. Repent. Repeat. The yo-yo, on-again-off-again rollercoaster ride continues.
Sound familiar? If this sounds like you, you're not alone. The problem isn't that you 'fail', the problem lies in the way you view slip-ups. Here are three ways to shift your lens on 'failure':
Expect slip ups. They're going to happen. You are human. For some reason, when it comes to diet, we have this need to be perfect. Perhaps it's because we don't have full control over any other part of our life, so we want to have control over our eating habits. Or we think we should be able to stick to a diet plan, and if we don't, we are fundamentally flawed.
So, when we do make a mistake, it becomes a really big deal. We think that if we can't be perfect, what's the point in trying at all.
In every other situation in life, we don't expect that we're going to 'get it' right away, or sometimes ever at all. Imagine if you expected to golf a perfect round every time you go out and play? Or imagine if you expected to play the piano perfectly after the first few lessons!
Look at healthy eating as a practice, just like everything else in life. Aim to make progress; don't aim for perfection. Slip-ups will have a lot less power if you look at eating this way.
See 'failures' as an opportunity to learn more about yourself so that you can improve. Last week I spoke at a conference in Alberta. Before and after my talk, I spent my time interacting with people in the audience as well as the other speakers. After the talk, I went out for drinks and dinner, and then immediately to another person's house. That's when my own eating habits fell off the rails. There were snacks, drinks, and despite not being hungry, or really even enjoying the food, I let myself go with no breaks.
In the past, I would have felt guilty and like a failure, then I would spend an hour or so creating a new neat and perfect diet plan that I could start the next day. But this time was different.
First, it was one night- and definitely not worth getting worked up over. And secondly, I took the opportunity to learn from the situation.
I'm an introverted person, and spending an entire day without any time on my own to regroup and recharge is exhausting. I used the food to zone out. Next time, I can arm myself with what I really needed: a break.
You cannot actually fail unless you choose to fail. And that means choosing to stop trying altogether. Everything else is simply learning another way that doesn't work.Shift your focus to long-term measures of success, which allow for a lot more wiggle room. Ups and downs are a natural part of the process, but when you zoom out to the big picture, you'll see that the curve trends upward, as long as you keep trying.
This article is by health & fitness coach Tanja Shaw, ascendfitnesscoaching.com
Good posture doesn’t just look nice. It’s an important ingredient of overall health. Proper skeletal alignment places the least amount of pressure on your joints, thus slowing and preventing degenerative processes. This means less pain! However, there is more. EVERY one of your body’s systems works better when you stand upright. Digestion is more efficient. Heart, vessels, and lungs can deliver oxygen and nutrients to all tissues more effectively. Endocrine glands work better, which means improved hormone-related functions, such as mood, growth, sexual function, and more. The lymphatic system can do its job, heightening your immunity against illness. All this means that good posture is connected to disease prevention and management. Standing properly is a simple, proactive approach to being well.
Research has also shown that good posture is related to improved mood, energy, confidence, and success.
Finding good posture is not difficult, but it takes practice. Here's how to find it. This seems like a long list, but with practice you'll soon have it down to 10 seconds or less…
Spread your toes. Find three points of a triangle on the bottom of each foot: big toe ball, pinky toe ball, and centre of your heel. Press these three points into the ground, distributing your weight equally between each foot.
Lift your arches. Carry this lifting action all the way up the inside of your legs toward your groin. Your legs are straight but ensure you have a slight bend in your knees. It is important to keep your knees soft at all times.
Slightly rotate your thighbones inward, careful not to let your arches drop. This will create a sense of width across the back of your pelvis.
Gently compress your abdomen by drawing your navel toward your spine. Lift your lower back ribs up and away from your kidneys.
Roll your shoulders back a few times, settling them down away from your ears and in line with your hips. Slightly draw both shoulder blades toward the spine, engagement mid-back musculature to open your chest and shoulders.
Lift the base of your skull upward to elongate the back of your neck, as if you have a string attached to the top of your head pulling upward. From a side view, your ears, shoulders, hips and ankles are stacked atop one another.
Relax the muscles of your forehead and jaw. Breath naturally and easily. Inhalation flows into exhalation. Exhalation flows into inhalation, no holding at the top or bottom of the breath cycle.
There, you've done it. The first step to good posture and all its benefits is simply awareness. This all applies to seated posture as well, but instead you work from your sit bones (bony protrusions at the bottom of your pelvis) upward. When you find yourself in a slouched position, take 10 seconds to fix it. Notice how much better good posture feels and congratulate yourself for taking a small but important step forward toward whole-body health.
Here's a challenge for you. For one entire day take inventory on the amount of calories you drink. Not eat, but drink.
Staggering, isn't it?
Sugar-filled lattes, sodas, and other yummy beverages are sabotaging our efforts of keeping a healthy body weight. Of course your body needs some sugar for energy, but unnecessary sugar gets stored as body fat for a rainy day.
Water is the answer. Eight refreshing glasses per day of zero calories, zero fat.
There are three ways that drinking water throughout each day greatly facilitates your weight loss and maintenance efforts.
1. Water is a natural appetite suppressant.
Two glasses of water before a meal takes up room in your stomach and prevents overeating. Research confirms this common sense approach to weight loss. Pre-meal water drinkers consume less calories at each meal and lose more weight overall than their non-water-drinking counterparts. Save your money the next time you are looking for next latest weight loss agent. Water is simple, inexpensive, and effective.
2. Water diverts unnecessary snacking.
Our brain often confuses sensations of thirst and hunger. If you think you are feeling hungry, there is a strong possibility that you are actually thirsty instead. Before you reach for the Oreo bag or last night's turkey and gravy, enjoy a glass of water instead. Then have another class. This is not to say you should replace eating with drinking water. If you are still hungry after your two glasses of water, it is definitely mealtime. No Oreos or leftover gravy, however. Make healthy eating choices.
3. Water has an important role in fat metabolism.
The third and most physiologically interesting way that water helps with weight loss is its role in fat metabolism. Here's how it works. Your liver is actively involved in transforming stored body fat into fuel. If you don't drink enough water, your kidneys get stressed and need help from the liver. If your liver is busy helping the kidneys, it plays a lesser role in fat metabolism. Therefore, more fat will be stored instead of being used for energy.
Oodles of chemical reactions happen throughout your body 24/7, and water is required for every reaction. You need plenty of water every day for all your body systems to work efficiently, and this is important if you are trying to lose, gain, or maintain your weight. Skip the sugar in your next latte, or better yet, switch to herbal tea. Stay hydrated with water and let your calorie consumption come primarily from solid food.
This is a article from Fit Facts (American Council on Exercise). In fact, ACE has an entire library of credible, helpful articles here.
5 Common Fitness Saboteurs and How to Defeat Them
Ever have those days when you feel like the universe is conspiring to keep you from reaching your fitness goals? Even the most committed fitness enthusiasts face challenges to staying active. Sometimes we sabotage ourselves. Other times, life interferes with our exercise plans.
Check out this list of common fitness saboteurs and learn how to combat them with practical strategies that really work:
When you’re up against a work deadline or the kids are sick, you may feel you can’t handle one more thing, including exercise. But taking time out to go for a brisk walk or workout is one of the best things you can do during times of intense stress. Exercise helps alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression and helps boost your mood, enabling you to cope with whatever you’re facing. Even a short workout is better than nothing.
2. Unrealistic Expectations
Novice exercisers get frustrated when they expect big results too soon after starting a fitness program. Because they haven’t lost a huge amount of weight or developed six-pack abs after only a week or two of exercise, they throw in the towel. To avoid this mistake, set realistic goals and practice extreme patience. You can’t undo 10 years of a sedentary lifestyle in a week of walking. If you stick with a regimen, your body will respond to exercise. It takes at least six weeks of regular exercise and sometimes more for physiological changes to kick in.
It’s called the training effect. You’ll know it’s happening when your workouts start feeling easier; when you can tolerate longer, harder exercise sessions; and when you can do housework, yardwork, or climb stairs with less effort.
Demanding daily workouts without scheduled rest won’t help you reach your goals faster. Instead, it’ll undermine your progress. Overtraining occurs when the exercise load is excessive related to the amount of time allowed for recovery. Overtaxing the body’s systems leads to decreased performance. A day or two off from vigorous exercise each week is recommended for rest and recovery. This can be done through a combination of scheduling rest days into your fitness plan and alternating hard and easy workouts. For example, cross-training, swapping out a few runs for swimming or bicycling, is another effective way to avoid overtraining, but scheduled recovery days are still recommended.
4. The Unexpected
You were going to walk after work, but now you’ve been asked to work late. Or perhaps you planned to swim, but then you find out that the pool is closed for maintenance. Life happens, and you can either throw up your hands and say, “forget it,” or accept it and roll with it. Resilience is your ability to bounce back quickly from life’s surprises and setbacks. This can be improved with practice. Strategies include practicing good self-care, such as eating right, sleeping well, and exercising regularly, along with cultivating good relationships, practicing optimism, taking decisive action, etc. As you become more resilient, you’re less likely to ditch your workout when something comes up. Instead, you’ll be able to quickly modify your plans and move forward.
5. Negative Self-Talk
“I’m so lazy, I’ll never be fit;” “I didn’t even exercise once this week;” “I’m such a loser.” Would you talk to a friend or loved one this way? Listening to negative self-talk isn’t motivating, so what’s the point? Negative self-talk only destroys your confidence and motivation to the point where you can’t visualize success. But you don’t have to put up with it. The next time you recognize a critical thought, stop it and replace it with a positive thought, like this: “I’m so proud of myself for walking at lunch time today. It took a lot of effort, but I did it.” Behaviour change is hard. Give yourself some credit for every step you take toward your fitness goals. Practice intentionally giving yourself positive feedback and watch your motivation soar.
Here's a treat for you! This is the very first moveBALL™ Signature workout created... four years ago! Give it a try, with this video and downloadable poster. It will take you only 30 minutes, and is a heart-pumping, muscle-pumping good time!
Beets are an important food for overall health. They are rich in vitamin C, fibre, and minerals such as potassium and manganese. Many people avoid beets because of their strong taste and colour, but they are easy to sneak into your smoothies, stews, and soups. You can use shredded raw beets, pureed cooked beets, or beet crystals available at most health food stores. In the fall, I cook and puree my beets, then freeze in ice cube trays to use throughout the year. One cube is about 1 tbsp beet puree.
Blend thoroughly and enjoy!
Eating in relation to exercise can be really complicated… and it can also be really simple.
Let’s simplify it. What and when you eat is important, because it affects your workout performance and recovery. If you’re a series athlete, you’ll want the guidance of a sports nutrition expert. Non-serious athletes, your goal is to simply be well fueled and hydrated.
Before Your Workout
Regardless of what time of day you exercise, it’s good to have a healthy meal about three to four hours prior. This meal should be rich in carbohydrates and protein. For example, whole grain pasta with tomato sauce and cooked chicken. Avoid fatty foods, because they will tie up your digestive resources and slow you down.
Then have a healthy, light snack about an hour prior to your workout, such as apple slices with peanut butter.
Smoothies are a portable, easy-to-digest choice for an early morning workout, since your last meal was the evening prior. For example, a smoothie of frozen mango, almond milk, and a tablespoon of hemp hearts will give you the energy that you need as you head to your 6 a.m. bootcamp or spin class.
After Your Workout
Be sure to eat within an hour after you exercise, because this is when your muscles most readily replenish their glycogen stores. If you don’t eat within this timeframe, you’ll likely be ravishingly hungry later and make poor food choices. Remember, extra calories that your body does not require get stored as fat.
This post-workout snack or meal should again be rich in carbohydrates and protein. For example, Greek yogurt and granola. If you exercise later in the evening, have just a light snack before you go to bed.
Hydration with plain water is important before, during, and after your workout. It’s not a great idea to guzzle a litre of water right before you begin to exercise, but instead ensure you drink water throughout the day. This way, thirst will be a non-issue once your workout begins. Because you lose water as sweat, this needs to be replaced post-workout.
The toughest part of a workout isn’t what you might think. It’s not when every muscle is on fire, or when you’re gasping for air. It’s not when your heart feels like it is going to pound right out of your chest. (Your mind thinks these parts are icky, but your body actually savors them. Read on.)
The toughest part of any workout is… simply showing up. Arriving. Clocking in. Dropping anchor. Aligning your stars so the workout actually occurs in the first place. Your hard work begins before the workout. Here are three things you can do to turn your good intentions into an actual exercise session.
1. Prioritize. Harder than it sounds, because it means you’ll need to dig into the roots of your value system. “I don’t have time,” actually means, “I don’t value this as much as I value other things.” It’s a fact that daily exercise saves your life and causes you to live longer. It’s a fact that exercise makes you happier, smarter, and more physically attractive. Exercise increases your strength, stamina, and overall energy. It combats stress and shields against many diseases. Not exercising can give you the opposite of these benefits, so it’s worth knuckling down and take inventory on your values.
2. Troubleshoot. Acknowledge barriers and excuses and put on your thinking cap to overcome them.
3. Put your shoes on no matter what. Even if you’re full of lazy bones and questionable effort, lace up anyway. Justify that any workout is better than nothing. But then, guaranteed, endorphins will take over and drive you forward. Turn your doubting mind off and let your body guide you instead. You’ll soon find that fiery muscles, gasping lungs, and a pounding heart are the best part of your day. And you’ll finish, energized for the day and looking forward to tomorrow's workout.
Registration is open for the 2017 Spring Group moveBALL™ Challenge! All the info can be found here.
Since the beginning of the modern fitness boom four decades ago, our workouts have been neatly packaged into 60 minutes. The only reason for this exact length of time is because it looks nice on paper. Everything on our daily timetable is an hour, and workouts slide right in amongst meetings, dentist appointments, and kids' soccer practices. It's not because 60 minutes is a good length of time for an exercise session. In fact, shorter workouts are better for burning calories, strengthening muscles, and overall morale.
At the end of a regular hour-long workout, ask yourself, "Could I have worked harder for less time?" Try upping the intensity a few notches and exercise for 45 minutes instead. At 45 minutes you want to be thinking, "Whew, glad that's over. Couldn't do another minute." But watch out... increased intensity and ripping-muscles-to-shreds are not the same thing. Your workouts should be appropriately difficult.
Traditional, steady-state workouts - brisk walking, jogging, cycling, etc. - can go on for hours. On an exertion scale of 1 to 10, you hang out at a moderately intense 6, maybe 7. This is okay, certainly better than the sofa. It's definitely the entry point for those new to exercise. The health benefits of all physical activity are worth every minute of time invested. However, interval training is your means to shorter workouts and an amplified fitness level. And who couldn't use a few extra minutes in the day? An interval is an effortful bout of perhaps 20-60 seconds where you attain a perceived exertion of 9 or 10. It feels yucky (to put it nicely), but you hang in there because it's quick.
Here's the science behind it all. Each person is made up of approximately 50% slow twitch and 50% fast twitch muscle fibres. Some people might have more of one or the other, but on average it's 50/50. Right now as you're reading this article, even if you're reading it on a stationary recumbent bike, your slow twitch fibres are meeting all of your steady-state muscle contraction needs. Fast twitch fibres, built for powerful, explosive movements, take over only when slow twitch fibres can't do the job. Let's say you're reading this article in your basement, and the phone rings. You're expecting a very important phone call. The handset of the phone is at the top story of your house. You immediately bound up two flights of stairs and answer with a breathless, "Hello?" You've just tapped into your fast twitch muscle fibres.
Without intervals, you only ever employ 50% of your body's potential, regardless if your workout is 60 minutes or 120 minutes. Translation, fitness level plateau, decreased results, sunken motivation, and cancelled gym membership. Take note: You can't shorten your workout time and keep the same pace you always have. Appropriate intensity is key. It's a zone, and the zone is different for everyone. The zone changes as your fitness level changes. 'Effective' is the lower zone criterion. Was your workout worth lacing up for? Was it challenging enough to elicit results? 'Safe' and 'Successful' are the upper zone criteria. If you push too hard, you could get discouraged or, worse, injured. Both too little or too much are counterproductive.
Here's the plan. Get out of the low-motivation 60-minute rut. Have shorter, more intense, invigorating workouts most days of the week. And when you're not exercising, stay active. Walk to your meeting, or better yet, forget the meeting and get into nature. Ride your bike to the dentist and your child's soccer practice. Keep your phone handset on the second level of your stairs, ready for an explosive burst of leg muscle power at any time.