Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Just Breathe...

Do you ever notice yourself holding your breath? I do all the time, on myself sometimes, but mostly with clients as I am teaching them a new exercise. Babies do it, kids do it, adults do it. We all hold our breath at times. Sometimes when you are scared, or nervous, or stressed is a big one. Through the years, I have learned how to breathe properly, in exercise and in daily life, and it is so important to your health and well-being. Learn how to just breathe...

I saw this on TV last night as I watched my first episode of 'Dancing With The Stars'. I know, I got sucked in, finally. I have never seen one episode of this show, but, and my 80's, I mean 70's friends will understand, I watched to see Donny. Nuff said. Anyway, there were a few couples that talked about breathing and how important it was and then when they danced, it was obvious the ones that were holding their breath or having problems breathing. They were stiff as boards and so nervous. I remember being like this. My husband would look at me and ask me why my shoulders were around my ears. Stress!

Breathing is so very important to your body, not only to keep your lungs strong, but to really help your body function in a healthy way. If you really notice your breathing during the day, and this is hard to do because we all take it for granted, you may find that you hold your breath sometimes too. So start breathing. Deep breathing. When you say deep breathing to most people, they blow out through their noses. Try this...

Get in a comfortable position, seated or standing. Relax your arms and shoulders and neck.

For a count of 6, breathe in through your nose. Slowly.

For a count of 6, hold your breath.

For a count of 12, blow out of your mouth, keep blowing for the full 12 seconds if you can.

Repeat several times.

See the difference between just blowing out your nose? Deep breathing, using your abdominals, really using your lungs, really relaxing your body. Do this when you are stressed, or tired but can't sleep. Or nervous about something. It's something small that we can all do to improve our health and those around us. Just breathe...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

It's Not a Pill or Drink That's Going to Do It!

I got my daily call today. Another new product came out and the company wants my opinion. Maybe if it's good, I can recommend to my clients. And this one is natural, so it must be good.

STOP! Stop right there!

It's a pill. It's a drink. It's a potion, a magic potion that's going to take away any unwanted fat, stress and flabby muscles. It's a miracle! NOT!

Sometimes I am nice to the caller, sometimes I am not too nice. Sometimes I listen, sometimes I don't and hang up. And then there are the times where I turn the tables and preach to the poor salesperson about how I don't believe in pills and potions and that it start with the inside - it is the emotional self-discovery that is going to make a change, not a pill or drink. Of course, I go into much more detail then and lose them about 1/2 way through. And then they don't call me anymore :)

The American society is so focused on PILLS! You don't feel good, you take a pill. You don't look good, you take a pill. You can't sleep, you take a pill. You want to improve your health, you take a pill. Pills, pills, pills. And drinks. Energy drinks, new water, flavored water, healthy water. All to make you feel better, to help you lose the weight and change your life. Huh?

But does it?

I can think of two instances in my life where I realized the importance of not taking pills.

1 - More than 8 years ago during my obese, struggling to lose weight, desparate stages, I went to a reputable vitamin store and bought a "Fat Burning" pill. Guaranteed to help me lose the weight. I went home and tried it. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't function. I was high as a kite. But this is what I needed to lose the weight, right? So I took it back to the reputable vitamin store and the nice lady behind the counter told me after I told her I was having heart palpitations "Maybe you should just take 1/2 a pill". Huh? Oh duh, yeah, that will work. I got my refund and didn't go back.

2 - During my contest in 2001, I was working with a Coach who recommended I try a "Fat Burning" pill, a good one, just to help my efforts. At this point, I was already on the way to good health by changing my workout and nutrition habits, but I was in a contest and wanted the best results. Same thing happened to my body, couldn't sleep, high as a kite. "Don't take it" he said, just get rid of it. Some people can take it, some cannot. You are one of those people that can't take it. Don't worry about it. I still had good results in the contest.

If I could give you one newsflash that will change your life, it's this: "It's not a pill or drink that going to do it for you - It's YOU!"

You have to change your workout routine.
You have to eat right.
You have to be responsible for your choices.
You can change your body.

And you can do it without a pill or drink.

If these products worked so well, then why isn't everyone fit and healthy? They don't work, that's why.

Now, are there cases where a pill is necessary? Absolutely. There are times when your hormones are off, or you are not feeling well from infection and you need to take a pill to get better. But the fat burning, stress reducing miracle pill is not it.

It's YOU! Stop giving the pills a chance and start giving YOU a chance. I know you can do it and I'm here to help if you need me.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda

"I should do this", "I should do that"

Major pet peeve as a fitness professional. Fitness is about education. Making progress is about putting that education to use in your life. Some people get educated, but they don't apply it in their life. They just keep saying the "shoulda's". This can last for weeks, it can last for months, it can last for years.

I've been in this category as well. For eight years, I was in this category. I researched and read more about fitness and health than anyone I know, but I never applied it to my life. I just kept struggling and saying the "shoulda's". I hate that.

Because the "shoulda's":

• Make you feel like a failure before you even start.
• Tell your mind that even if you do make some progress, you will not make much.
• Allow you to keep making excuses for not applying what you know to your life.
• Keep you in this place of "comfort" where it is too hard to make changes.

"I know I should eat healthy, but it's too expensive"
"I should not drink Diet Coke, but I just do"
"I should workout"
"I should go to the doctor"

"Should" is another bad word in my vocabulary now, along with "fat" and "ugly". So how do you get out of the "shoulda's"?

You start making change. You take it one day at a time, one hour at a time if you have to. You make a list of what you want to do. Make it a positive list. Don't write down things that may be negative, like "I can't have any sugar" or "I have to lose weight"...write down positive goals, like "I want to improve my health" and "I want to be in a healthy weight for my age and height".

You just start making changes. Small changes. And you do it every day. Are you going to fall off the wagon? Yes, but you just get back up and start again.

Please, in the name of fitness, remove the phrase "I Should" from your speech and replace it with "I Will" today. Shoulda, coulda, woulda.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I'm No Jillian

The Biggest Loser new season debut was this week and yes, I have gotten lots of questions from clients about what I thought. I do not watch a lot of tv, but I did start watching this program a few seasons back because many of my clients did and I wanted to answer their questions. I got sucked into it. Like most things, there is good and there is bad.

Good would be the participants and hearing their stories and seeing how you can relate in some way to what they are saying or going through. Of course, I love to see the before and afters like everyone else.

Bad because of bad training and unrealistic weight losses and contests and game play. And this is from a competitive person. Duh. I think I won one of those contests about 8 years ago. When someone loses 28 lbs in a week and my client sits in front of me with a 8 lb loss over a month and thinks that's bad, that's what disturbs me.

I don't dislike Jillian, I'm just no Jillian, to the dismay of my husband. She's beautiful. She's tone. In some ways, she is a good trainer when she talks about getting inside to find out what the real block is to losing weight, or when she talks about the nutritional component to weight loss and how important it is. But, just in case you were wondering, here is why I'm no Jillian...

• I never swear at my clients.
• I do not use the 'F' word when speaking to my clients to motivate them. A funny story about that, my son knows we do not use the 'F' word around here, but the 'F' word to him is 'Fat'. He knows I don't like that word, so he replaces it with a proper term like 'Obese'.
• I do not grab my clients by their shirts and drag them around. I don't push them or shove them.
• When I see signs of struggle or overuse in a client, I help them stop, get their heart rate back down into a safe zone.
• My clients do not spend a week in the hospital after our first workout. No really, they don't.
• I do not scream in my client's faces or make them cry.
• I do not ask my clients to squat while I stand on their quads.
And finally...
• I do not make my clients carry me on their back while they work out.

But the results! It must work, right? Remember that these people are taken out of their life, they are put in a ranch where their job is to lose weight. They work out several times a day for hours. All of their food and drink is prepared for them, no sodas or junk food. I would love it if I could stop every client from eating soda and junk food, but my clients live in the real world. I have to teach them how to resist it and how to make healthy choices.

And it is a show. They need drama to keep interested viewers. They need to go to the extremes and make people mad or sad. This week's show was a real tear jerker with the stories. The lady whose family was killed was amazing, I don't know how she gets up every day. And they must love Jillian because they all hug her at the end, right? Duh! They're afraid she's going to kill them! And what is the percentage of participants that keep the weight off? The real story? I don't know.

I just know that I want more for my clients. I want more than reaching a goal once and then fading into oblivion. I want them to live healthy lives and live out their dreams. Don't get me wrong, there are a few very successful people from the show. I love Ali! She is my girl! She is one of few though. She has a great attitude, has kept the weight off and is a very good example to those around her.

I just know I'm no Jillian...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sometimes you need to listen

God gave us two ears to listen and one mouth to speak, but I am stubburn and I forget sometimes. Sometimes you need to listen.

I have 3 weeks left to train for my upcoming triathlon. Last week, they closed all Gwinnett County pools for the week, so I was left without a place to do swim training. But I have an awesome friend LT who invited me to swim train with her at her pool. I agreed and told her to take it easy on me. She is all of 90 lbs and all muscle. I was a little worried, but I knew I had to workout. It started out well, we warmed up with 400, she passed me twice. Okay, now I'm a little more worried. Then we did 50's on a clock, as fast as we could. She wanted to do 10. I think I did 3. Ugh. I know something has been missing from my training. I get in my groove and go for distance, when I know I need to practice speed. But it's different when you have someone pushing you and telling you what to do. But I did what she said. I shut up and listened. She did do the Escape to Alcrtraz triathlon, so she knows what she's talking about.

I need to listen. And I was glad I did. I came away from the workout knowing exactly what I need to do for the next 3 weeks and a feeling that I was going to improve drastically my swim time.

Then, there's the bike. Steve got a bike. Oh dear. Big time listening now. Steve is a type-A, former bodybuilder umpire who likes to tell everyone what to do. Except me. Well, he tells me, I just don't listen. So we started biking together. Ugh. The first couple of times, he spent yelling at me and I spent blocking him out. We went on a group ride with my bike friends and he still acted like a jerk. But then I knew one of my goals was to improve my bike time and maybe he could help me. I started listening. I was not shifting properly. I was coasting. I wasn't using my biggest gear. The list goes on and on. Then just like the swimming, I started getting better and I realized this is exactly what I needed to do. Each ride we take, I get better and faster. I shut up and listened.

I feel I am a compassionate trainer and I feel I listen to my clients, but maybe I should listen more and talk less. In the span of two weeks, my bike and swim are on the way to getting way better, because I listened. What else can get better if I listen better? I'm going to try and see.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Oops I did it again...

Is the weight loss battle neverending? Why can't I control my cravings? My sister asks me this as we dine on lunch the other day and like a little girl in a Catholic confessional, I start to confess. Ugh. Will it ever end?

Over the years, I have been proud of my accomplishments and proud of my ability to keep the weight off and stay fit and healthy. I have been the same size since 2001, good, huh? I need to focus on the good, and not the bad.

The good is I ran a 10K race on Monday and did really good. I have run this particular 10K for the past two years - the Labor Day Classic, going from Cumberland Mall to Whitewater. It is supposed to be one of the country's hardest because of the hills. Here's my time for the past ones...

2007 - 1:07:17 [yes, I know, I told you I am a slow runner]
2008 - 1:05:58 [I was so proud of improving my time last year]
2009 - 1:01:00

Now talk about proud. I can do a 10K under an hour, just not this one yet. But improved my time by almost 5 minutes! Awesome! I was extremely happy and went for my celebratory dinner - bison burger at Ted's and ice cream at Cold Stone's. The ice cream is a treat, I usually limit ice cream to once a month if any because of my previous addiction to ice cream and chocolate and esp. chocolate ice cream. So all is well, until the hubby brings home more ice cream. More chocolate ice cream. The first night I had a little bit. The next night I didn't have any. The next day I happened to open the freezer and it was still there and I couldn't resist, I had some. Hours later, in the peace of my home, no kids or hubby around, I ate the rest of the container. Just like I used to 8 years ago. UGH! Is this weight loss battle neverending? Why can't I control my cravings?

It was overwhelming. The feelings of guilt and self-punishment. Here I am, making a PR on this race, feeling really good about upcoming triathlon in October, everything's going good, and here I am, eating bowls full of chocolate ice cream. ??? So as my sister is asking me these questions, I tell her what I tell my clients and then I start to listen to what I am saying:

Get over it. You made a mistake. It's done. Can't go back. Go forward from this time on and do good. Don't over-analyze but see why it happened and avoid those situations again. Don't overexercise to compensate. Drink plenty of water and just continue on your healthy plan.

Sigh....breathe deep...okay, I'm just going to get over it. I made a mistake. I'm going to continue on.

Anyone out there ever do this? I know this happens to my clients because I sit with them when they confess to me. I hate it. I should know better. I do know better. All I can do is go forward from this time on and do good. So onward I go...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My First 5K Memories

I remember my first 5K. It was in April 2002. During 2001, I had lost about 50 lbs. During 2002, I started running. It started out because I wanted to lose the last 10 lbs. I wasn't doing enough cardio and realized as I got fitter and fitter, that it became easier. I am a runner at heart, and that's where it ends unfortunately. My heart.

I love running. I love the feeling of running. I love how I feel after I run. Running is in my heart, if only my body would agree now. I'm a slow runner. In my mind, I run very fast :) but in reality, I run slow. This wouldn't be so bad if I wasn't so competitive. So I started out slow back in 2002. I would go out once a week to a local park and walk on their marked trail. I started out walking 1 mile and worked my way up to 2 miles, then 3. Then, I slowly started running. First time, 1/4 of a mile, then 1/2 mile, then 1 mile, week after week. This took months. Eventually I got to the point where I was running the whole time and not walking. One day I went to the park and there was a 5K race going on. I decided to run anyway, just staying out of everyone's way. A guy asked me why I wasn't running the race and I told him I just came to run 3 miles. Well, duh, that's how long the race was. Really? I could run that far?

Let me just say, when you are overweight or used to being overweight for a long time, running a race, a 5K, seems out of reach and impossible. All of a sudden a light went on and it came to me. I could run! When I started 2002, I had specific weight goals to get me to my final goal. My prize for meeting that goal was to run my first 5K. I was so excited and motivated. I wanted to run! And I did. It was in Marietta, an hour away. My sister and I drove together and my parents came. My husband stayed home with the kids because I'm sure he thought this was a fleeting thing. The last song I heard on the radio was "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor. This song stayed in my mind the entire race, over and over.

The race is a blur, I just remember telling myself over and over, you can do it, you can do it, just don't stop. I didn't stop. I ran slowly, but I didn't stop. I don't even remember my time, I did for years, but now I don't! I finished and that was what I remembered. I remembered seeing my sister and parents and crying that I had actually done it. An overweight, middle-aged woman had just run her first 5K. And that's when it started. I kept running. I love running!

Over the years, I have kept running and I still love it. I still run slow. Everything is right with the world when I run. It is my therapy after years of using food as a pill. I don't take pills anymore, I run. I don't shove things under the carpet anymore, I run. I don't hate, I love and I run.

I am starting a new program this Fall that I am very excited about. I am training a group of women who have never run a 5K to run. We will meet once or twice a week and I am going to teach them how to run. I am going to teach them how to love their bodies, whether they are at their goals or not, and I am going to teach them how to love running. If you know of anyone who would benefit from this program, please visit my website to get more info - www.startwiththeinside.com. The program is called "Run for the Health of It". You don't have to know how to run, you'll learn like I did. And I hope I can help someone who needs help like I did. That's my true goal!