Ladies: Stop This Now

Ok, Ladies.

Raise your hand if:

You only wear your most flattering leggings to work out in public (because the shame! You might have cellulite that someone can see).

You don’t wear leggings for workouts at all, and it’s not a comfort thing, you just don’t think you can “pull them off” (Spoiler alert: you can).

You come up with something negative about yourself to counter just about every compliment you receive, especially from other females. 

You start important conversations with “this may be a dumb idea but”…

You can’t go outside without your “face”. (Eyebrows, false eyelashes, full contouring, what have you). And not because you feel beautiful wearing it, but because you’re terrified of what you look like without it. (Spoiler alert: you look great.)

You feel badly about yourself on a regular basis because of something physical.

You look in the mirror to mentally pick apart your self perceived flaws, not to celebrate yourself.

You use workouts as a punishment for food, not food as fuel for workouts.

Looking back on this list, I think it’s safe to say that there are many, many women out there who can check off multiple things on this list. And unfortunately, this is not an all inclusive list of the ways that women knock themselves down daily. And for some, these are daily occurrences, more the norm than the exception. So the question here is:

Why?

Why do we feel that we are offending the world if they see our cellulite? Why do we feel the need to mentally preface our ideas and comments in the work world? Why do we think that we are not worthy of public visibility without a full face of makeup? And why oh why do we punish our bodies with workouts and mentally tear ourselves to shreds just because we are not “picture perfect”?

To be totally transparent here, this post came about because I almost didn’t post a workout video in my Moms Empowered Facebook community the other day because the leggings I was wearing in the video are less than flattering, especially on camera. A place that I preach is a safe space, an uplifting place, an EMPOWERING space for myself and other moms, and I felt that I wasn’t worthy of posting my video. Why? Because thighs, that’s why. And I’m slightly ashamed to admit it. But the thing is, no matter how much we work on our self worth when it comes to aesthetics, for many of us there will always be that nagging voice in the back of our head that pushes us to hide these videos, cover up those thighs, dress in all black just to hide the imperfections.

The key, though, is not to necessarily learn how to shut that voice off completely, but to be able to reason with it. For me, I had to come back to the video after a few days and re-view it with new eyes. I had to remind myself of what I preach to others — of progress, not perfection, and re-shape the way that I saw myself in that video. We’re all working towards something, and I’m certainly no exception. I’m not perfect, not by a long shot.

But that practice of rehashing your thoughts is one that can help a lot of us through these negativity practices that we have so deeply ingrained in ourselves. Stop avoiding clothes (especially workout clothes) just because you think other people might not find them the most flattering on you.  Stop putting on make up because you think that other people need to see you that way. Stop looking in the mirror with preconceived notions of perfection and then berating yourself when you don’t measure up.

Just stop.

Make a plan, revisit the way that you think about these things, and set small action steps to change the way you are treating yourself.

Pledge to go just one day at work without negatively prefacing any of your ideas. Promise yourself for just ONE DAY that for every compliment you receive, you will simply smile and say “thank you” (and on the inside, you can jump for joy and shout HELL YES!! because you have worked hard for those arms, darn it!). And you know what? It might be really uncomfortable. The urge to demean compliments about ourselves is so ingrained, it can become physically uncomfortable to accept (and maybe even celebrate) a compliment at it’s face value. But to embrace that discomfort is to begin to see your own worth, and that is one of the most valuable things we can offer ourselves.

It can become physically uncomfortable to accept a compliment at face value. But to embrace that discomfort is to begin to see your own worth, and that is one of the most valuable things

Do a grocery run without your full face of makeup. And while you’re there, smile at people, walk with your shoulders back, and act like you’re the mother-effing queen of that grocery store. You don’t need contouring or eye liner to make you worthy of being out in public.

Stick some positive post-it notes to your mirror, so that for every negative thought that creeps into your head, a positive or uplifting message will be shouting right back at you.

These things are just small steps, but they could be the small steps that add up to a few of you feeling a little bit more worthy, a little bit more confident, and a little bit more kick ass (because you are, all of you are.) And what I’m not saying is that we all need to burn our bras, stop shaving our legs and go make up free forever. I do love some good eyeliner, I’ll tell ya! And when something makes you feel good about yourself, it’s a wonderful thing. But the thing that does need to go is that negative mind set.

The only thing you need to remember is that you are enough just the way you are. And if you want to be better in your own eyes, then by all means, do what makes you feel good. But do it for you, not for them.

 

I Can Tell You What To Do, But You Don’t Want To Hear It.

If you are having trouble with your weight, with your nutrition, with your motivation, I can tell you what to do.

I can tell you how to fix all of it.

But you don’t want to hear it. (And you shouldn’t!)

I can certainly tell you what foods you should or shouldn’t eat, what exercises you need to be doing, and what activities that you need to fulfill yourself, but that doesn’t mean that I should.

But wait a minute, as a health coach, doesn’t that pretty much go against my entire being? Isn’t that what I’m here for — to tell you what to do to magically make things better?

I think this is the biggest misconception about working with coaches, and about change in lifestyle in general. It is not up to me to create these changes for you, it is up to us to work together to create the change that you want, and do it in the way that is best for you. (Note I didn’t say easiest.) You see, change must come from within you. It can not, and should not, come from someone on the outside giving you a list of “musts”, and “shouldn’ts” and “nevers”.

When we think start to think about change, we sometimes come to the conclusion that someone else has all of the answers, and that there must be some easy way out there to end up where you want to be. Truthfully, when it comes to health and wellness, there is no one set list of answers that will get everyone to their goals. Sure, there are some general guidelines that are usually a good idea to follow (limit fast food, move regularly), but even those have spectrums and variables and wiggle room depending on each situation.

And I can tell you from experience, that yes, I can tell you what to do, what to eat, and exactly how much to exercise, and you might think that you want to hear it, but you don’t. If you’re looking for a change from your current health or nutrition status, that change is only sustainable if it comes from reasons that are within you, working towards goals that also come from within you. This is especially important to realize, and extremely difficult to comprehend, if you’re one of the many women who has been stuck on the same weight-loss/self-loathing/roller-coaster for the past X amount of years. I see and hear of so many women who try the same things over and over again, jumping from one set of answers to the next, only to continuously end up in the same place they have been. Why is that? What is stopping them (you?) from making changes and creating the progress that you want?

These are the answers that I can help you with. As a health coach, I am here to help you to delve deeper into how to make this work. Let’s leave the must’s, never’s, and shouldn’t’s behind, and create a new narrative. One that helps you to make the changes that you’ve been looking for, the changes that will provide you with true, sustainable change, and the strategies to keep it up on your own.

With all of this being said, if you find yourself in the presence of a trainer or coach who thinks that they have all of the answers to your future health, take what they say with a grain of salt. Yes, personal trainers often write programs, and in that case, we are “telling” you what to do. But your coach should not tell you that the only way to your goals is by eating paleo, by doing olympic lifts if they make you uncomfortable, or by running a marathon. And they shouldn’t tell you NOT to do these things either. What they should do is listen, work to find a strategy that will work for you, help you to find your specific “why’s”, and help you to find the “what” that will help you to get there.

Be You, Only Better

So often I hear women say things along the lines of “I wish I had her thighs” or “God, what I wouldn’t give for her cheekbones” or “If I could only trade my ____ for her ____ I’d be so much happier”. It’s the unfortunate norm for women to want what other women have, in terms of appearance. It’s not unusual for women to base their fitness goals on having someone else’s legs/butt/thighs/arms/abs, etc.  But the truth is, you will never, and I mean NEVER have her legs/butt/thighs/arms/abs, etc. Your body is your body, and you can’t change that.

You can’t change your genetics, you can’t suddenly become “long and lean”, and you certainly can’t have someone else’s body part, unless you’re part of some groundbreaking body part transplant breakthrough. And I’m not trying to be ridiculous or superfluous, but this want, this need to have someone else’s something is far more detrimental than it seems on the surface.

If you are constantly wanting something that is, in fact, impossible to achieve, you will constantly be disappointed in your outcome. And constantly being disappointed when you are putting so much hard work in (workouts, nutrition, self care, etc.) can be draining at best and downright self sabotaging at worst. Putting so much effort into something that you can’t attain (her abs), is no doubt eventually going to lead you down a path that ends at abandoning your goal. The workouts stop, the nutrition goes out the window, and now “her abs” seem farther away than ever. So you say forget it.

Until you find a new “something” that you want, and the cycle starts all over again. This doesn’t sound like the most efficient way to reach your goals, does it?

So what’s the answer here? It’s not necessarily the admiration of other people’s “somethings” that is the problem, it is the coveting. You can admire someone’s abs and the hard work it took to get them, but to want them for yourself is where this goes all wrong.

If a fit person inspires you, try to turn it into something that you can actually use to your advantage. What are the steps that you need to take to attain the aesthetic that you want? What do you need to change in order to be happy with the body that you’re in? But before you answer these questions, make sure that what you’re dreaming of is realistic and is something that you actually want. Do you truly want six pack abs? Because for most of us, that requires extreme dedication to nutrition and macros (and I’m talking weighing food, counting grams, etc. This goes way beyond just “eating right”), and also very specific types of training that may in fact be too rigorous for your body to handle. And this is for life — not just for six weeks or whenever your beach vacation is coming up. When put that way, those six pack abs don’t really seem worth it to me. If it’s still worth it to you? Go for it — make a plan, and stick with it. But do it to become a better* version of you, not someone else.

*And by better, by no means am I implying that six pack abs make anyone “better”. But if that is your goal and the you that you strive to be, than that is your better version of you.

More importantly, we can take this way beyond just body parts. The mindset behind working toward attainable and realistic goals is much more forgiving and rewarding than the one that is always chasing the impossible. While the latter can lead to frustration, hopelessness, and abandoning goals all together, the former can lead to real progress in self empowerment, let alone aesthetics.

Forget her. Be you, only better.

It is beyond powerful to realize that you can do something, instead of always thinking that you can’t. It’s an incredible motivator for most people to see small steps of progress, rather than always chasing that one thing that you can’t quite get to. Chasing “her abs” will get you nowhere, since you can’t change your genetics and you certainly can’t have her DNA.  But making a plan for how you can get yourself to a place, both physically and mentally, where you appreciate what you see in the mirror is worth striving for.

Forget someone else, be YOU. And if you want to (and we should all want to), be a better version of you. Your body is beautiful, and you can get to a place where you see that too, and truly believe it. It takes hard work, dedication, and realistic goals, but you can get there. You can look in the mirror and see abs that are yours, thighs that are yours, arms that are yours, and be proud of all of it because you put in the work to make yourself better. Not to have what someone else has, but to love and appreciate what you have. Doesn’t this sound more satisfying than chasing someone else’s “whatever” and never quite getting it?

Forget her. Just be you, but better.

 

Workout Wednesday: Beginner and Intermediate Sandbag Workouts

One of the great things about being able to work out at home is that I have the flexibility to work out when it fits my schedule, not having to worry about getting to a class on time or being in the weight room after work when everyone and their mother is in there. I love to be at the gym in the weight room, but that’s not always possible these days. Because of our home gym, I can squeeze a workout in during Isabelle’s nap time or later in the evening, and not have that crazy mom guilt about taking time away from her either.  But while working out at home is convenient, it can be repetitive and monotonous if I let it, especially since I only have a certain amount of equipment.

That’s why I’m always so excited to add some new equipment to our home gym.  I’ve had several people ask me over the years about the “must have” fitness equipment if you’re going to be working out at home. And the true answer is that it’s different for everyone. Whatever is going to get you motivated to move is what is right for you — but there are a few things that I prefer over others due to their versatility and ability to be used for full body workouts, not just one singular muscle group.

And that’s exactly what I’m posting about today! I was recently contacted by Rep Fitness, a fitness equipment company out of Colorado, who asked me if I was interested in trying out some of their equipment. I didn’t hesitate to say yes, and after looking through their available equipment I was excited to see that I could try out a sand bag, which would be a great addition to our workout arsenal. Already having (and loving) battling ropes, rings, and kettle bells, I thought this would be one more thing that I could get a little bit creative with.

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I spent the last week playing around with it during my workouts, figuring out exactly what I wanted to share with you all today. And the truth is, the sand bag is so versatile that I’m giving you not one but two(!) workouts — one for beginners, and one for those at the intermediate or advanced level. The key thing to remember here is that what makes the sandbag great is not even the piece of equipment itself, but what it forces you to do. Because the weight is dynamic (the sand and bag will shift during movement), you have to pay a lot more attention to form and core stability throughout every single exercise. For those who tend to get a little lazy when working out at home and just “go through the motions”, the sandbag won’t really let you do that. It takes focus and constant adjusting due to the movement of the weight.

Are you sold yet? If you have a sandbag available to you at home or at your gym, give one of these workouts a try! New equipment can be indimidating, but with a little practice, focus, and confidence, the sand bag can become a permanent fixture in your workout routine. And if you don’t have one available to you, consider heading over to Rep Fitness to pick one out for yourself. I went with the classic black, but you could also style it up with a red or camo print bag!

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What I love about this particular bag, compared to others I’ve used, is that it feels solid in my hands, even with 50 lb of sand in it. The handles are comfortable to hold, and the construction of the bag is comfortable to use — when slinging these things around any rough edges or seams can be irritating. But this bag is smooth and solid. And to top off the versatility of this piece, you can fill it anywhere between 25-75 lb. I used both sleeves and put about 25 lb of sand in both, so that I can easily take one out and have a 25 lb bag or a 50 lb bag, depending on the exercises I’m doing that day (or during that particular set).

First, the beginner workout:

Sandbag Strength

Sumo Squat

Sumo Squat

Front Loaded Get Ups

Front Loaded Get Ups

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Back Loaded Lunges

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Farmers Carry

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Dead Bugs

*Notes:

For each exercise: Give a lot of focus to your core. Maintain a strong core throughout each and every exercise, paying special attention to movement of the bag. These exercises should be done with one sand sleeve in place (25 lb or less), until you master the movements and weight.

Front Loaded Get Ups: You will start in a high kneeling position. While maintaining a strong core, step forward to standing with your back leg, squeezing glutes at the top and making sure not to arch back or lean forward. Slowly return to starting position, then switch legs once in original high kneeling position.

Farmers Carry: Again maintaining a strong core, hold sand bag at your side with an extended straight arm. Be sure to keep your shoulder from creeping up on that side, and also be careful not to lean towards or away from weight. Walk steadily for 20 yards, placing bag on the ground. Turn around, picking up bag with the other hand, and return to starting point.

Dead Bugs: Begin with both legs in the air, and sandbag held straight up overhead. Slowly lower one leg to the ground, keeping a strong core and your low back pressed flush to the ground. Return leg to top, and lower opposite leg. These should be very slow and controlled.

 

Intermediate Workout:

Sandbag Strength (1)

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Front Squat

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Single Leg RDLs

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Overhead Press

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Lunge With Twist

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Plank Pull Throughs

*Notes:

A/B Exercises: These are supersets, to be performed with one set of each, back to back, until you’ve completed 3 sets of each.

The weight: For this workout, the goal is to use the heavier sandbag for exercises 1A, 1B, and 2, and then remove one of the sand sleeves to have a lower weight for 3-4. For me, this was 50 lb and then 25 lb.

Plank Pull Throughs: Try to keep your body in as straight of a line as possible from head to toes. Try not to shift your hips or arch your back too much, especially while manipulating the bag. My hips are a bit too high in the photo.

OHP: Overhead Press. I played around with these a little bit, because it’s tough to get a good firm hold for overhead movements with the bag. I found it best for me to use the handles that are parallel to the length of the bag, holding it so that the weight is supported on my knuckles (see picture).

Do you have access to a sandbag? Give one of these a try and let me know how it goes! Or head on over to Rep Fitness and pick one out for yourself. You won’t regret it. And don’t forget to smile!

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Disclaimer: I was provided with a sandbag in compensation for this post. All opinions are my own. 

Speaking Out and Standing Up

I’m going in a different direction today. And I know I’ve been quiet on here lately, but this is the most public voice I have, so I feel it’s important to use it. I also acknowledge that this is  not a political or current events blog, and I don’t tend to write too much outside of the areas of health, fitness, and wellness. But there are some things that I need to say, and there is no other time to say it than now. I also understand that there are many out there who warn against getting too political or one sided on a blog such as this, for fear that you may alienate and lose readers. Well, honestly, if I lose readers for speaking out against Trump/White Supremacy/Nazis/Racism/EtcEtcEtc, then those are most definitely not quite the target readership I had in the first place. So, bye.

I’m not writing today to tell you how scared I am or how I’ve been affected by the horrible things that have been happening lately, because the truth is, my life has not been turned upside down. I haven’t lost loved ones, I haven’t been living in fear, I haven’t had to protect my family from hatred and bigotry. Because I am the lucky, the privileged. I am the middle class white female who doesn’t have to be worried about being turned away from an establishment because of the color of my skin, or something I wear on my head, or the way my facial features are shaped. I blend in. I can just live my life these days. I don’t have to do anything.

But the truth is, the days of just blending in, shielding my eyes, and moving along have long come to an end. We have reached a time in our society where blending in almost means supporting the other side. Where turning a blind eye is as bad as perpetrating the hate. There is no more room to ignore or to watch from the sidelines as people are being unfairly persecuted and discriminated against, and literally being driven over by psychopathic Nazi’s (that’s not something we ever thought we’d say in modern times now, is it?).

And I’m not pretending, nor do I believe that I can be some sort of white knight that saves the day. I’m simply stating here, publicly, that I know it’s my duty to recognize bigotry, speak out against it, and support those who are discriminated against. I’m not 100% sure how to do this in a way that makes a difference, but I think it has to start with listening, listening, and more listening. Listening to people of color who tell me what it is I should be doing or not doing. Listening to those who have not had a voice for too long, and letting them know that their voice is heard here. Speaking out when I’m able, and not only teaching my daughter about tolerance and acceptance, but teaching her about speaking out against hatred and intolerance. Teaching her through example, so that one day when she’s old enough, she can continue to fight these battles and stand up for those who need it.

I want her to see me listening when necessary and acting out when it’s called for. I want her to see racial differences and accept them rather than ignoring them and being “color blind”. I want her to understand that these disparities do exist and that she is, in fact, lucky just because of the color of her skin. I want her to understand that although she may be lucky, she is not better than or superior to anyone else due to that same reason.

So I’m listening. I’m watching and I’m learning, and I’m pledging to do what I can, when I can. I promise to set a good example for my daughter and show her that ignorance is not “bliss”, it only makes things worse. We can not ignore racial issues, we cannot live in our little white bubble, pretending that everyone loves each other. We will stand up to hate, to intolerance, to racial slurs and jokes. We will offer a shoulder to our LGBTQ peers and a hand to our muslim neighbors. We will not sit down and be quiet, we will not tolerate a president or so-called leader who essentially glorifies the persecution of others.

So I’m listening. Tell me what to do, and what to read, and who to speak to and who to speak out against. And I know that these words are just that: only words. But words can be powerful, and they may be the only power I have right now. This is a declaration, a promise to stop “doing nothing”, to start trying to be the ally that I’ve always thought that I was. 

The ironic thing here is that I’ve been sitting on this blog post for a while now. I first wrote it almost 3 weeks ago, but I haven’t been able to figure out how to close it. It wasn’t until just now that I realized that not posting is just adding to my silence, to the very thing that I’m trying to speak up against. And besides, how exactly do you conclude a post on this topic? How do you wrap it up with a neat little bow and a perfect finishing paragraph? I can’t.

So here it is, unfinished. Maybe someday I’ll be able to come back to this and wrap it up neatly, but until then, I’ll use my voice, with or without a catchy concluding paragraph.

My Very Unscientific Reason Why Running May Not Help You To Lose Weight

I went for a run the other day. A beautiful, sunny, solo run at a moderate pace. I ran 3.75 miles, which is neither long nor short, but a perfect middle distance for me right now.  It was a gorgeous morning, with just enough shade to be refreshing and the slightest breeze to cool without providing a vicious headwind.

But do you know how I felt for several hours after that run? Tired. Sluggish. And most of all– hungry. Ravenous even. And this is not the first time this has happened, nor will it be the last. No matter the distance or pace, whenever I run, I feel famished for the rest of the day.  Now, there’s no doubt that this is partly because I’m not an avid runner. I only run one or two times per week unless I’m training for a race. My body is much more used to and efficient with weight training than it is for running, so the shift in activity is like a shock to my muscles and my metabolism every time.

But the thing is, I know I’m not alone. I have heard countless people say that they are famished after a run, especially after long runs when training for a race. Many people go into training hoping to shed a few pounds, not realizing the level of hunger they’re about to experience, which may stop any weight loss dead in it’s tracks. You see, it’s ridiculously easy to “out eat” your run. Yes, even long runs. Calories go in a lot faster and easier than they burn, and you could easily eat more than you burned with a quick peanut butter bagel following a 5k.

My run yesterday wasn’t that long. It was hilly, and I’m out of running shape so it was difficult, but to refuel after a 35 minute run doesn’t require a whole lot of food. How much food I felt like eating though, is a completely different story. I probably could have eaten continuously all day long and still felt dissatisfied. And that, my friends, iswhere many people get into trouble if they are using running as their main weight loss tool.

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Many people take up running with the primary goal to lose weight. But is it the right strategy?

Unless you’re an experienced or higher level runner, it tends to make people very, very hungry. And we fall into a trap of believing that we always need some sort of recovery meal following a run, which is not necessarily always true. Say you go out for a 3 mile jog and burn 300 calories. You may very well feel famished after that effort, and consume 500 calories in a post run smoothie without even giving it a second thought. Or even if the post-run starvation doesn’t hit you, you could easily eat a little bit extra here and there throughout the day, not really keeping track because hey, youran!  You deserve it, right?

Now I’m not all about counting calories or being extremely strict with macros, but the truth is that if you are trying to lose weight, being conscious of calories in vs. calories out is extremely important.

I’m not citing any studies here, I’m not showing you any research about running making people feel hungrier. I’m just talking about  my own experience and accounts I’ve heard from others, because sometimes anecdotal evidence is good enough for a conversation, which is all this really is.

But whether you experience this when you run or not, it seems like many people do. And because of that, many people find their weight loss goals sabotaged by their “recovery” from all of their hard work. So what do you do if you’re famished after a run? Hydrate first, recover smartly (be aware of how many calories are in that shake you’re downing), and do everything you can to help your body move more efficiently when you are running. Keep your muscles strong through strength training, and cross train when your body is telling you that a run is just too much.

And most importantly, if your workout is leaving you feeling this way all the time, it might be time for some tweaking. You shouldn’t feel broken down or overly sore after every workout, and it certainly shouldn’t be the goal or benchmark to determine a good vs. poor workout session. Move in ways that make your body feel better and energized, not sluggish and hangry.  Personally, the only time that weight lifting makes me feel a little broken down is when I do a max effort lift. Normal lifting days leave me feeling energized, strong, and ready for more, and that is precisely why I love it so much. Find something that makes your body feel better, not worse, and weight loss (if that’s your goal) might happen a whole lot easier.

Now all of this being said, I’m still going to go running once or twice per week. Because despite the extreme hunger, I do enjoy it and I value it as part of my fitness routine. So I’m not saying that you shouldn’t run, or that cardio is the devil, or that you’re wrong if running is what you love. All I’m saying is that when it comes to weight loss, running can be very misleading, and it’s very much worth it to be mindful of how you feel and what your body really needs. Running is not the magical weight loss cure that many hope for, and this is a huge reason why. But when you’re conscious of this, it becomes a whole lot easier to make a few changes to your routine that may help you reach your exercise goals and your weight loss goals all at the same time. Train smart, eat smarter!

Find Your Space

Two weeks ago, I worked out in a weight room with other humans for the first time since the end of my pregnancy. I’ve been working out at home, and granted, we do have a pretty great set up in our basement with a barbell, plates, a squat rack, plenty of kettle bells, and other equipment. And I’m certainly not poo-poo-ing on that, because I know how lucky I am to have such a great and comprehensive set up in my own home. But I had forgotten what it was like to be with others. I had forgotten what it felt like to lift alongside other people, To feed off of motivation and to push myself just that much further just because someone might be watching.

When you workout by yourself, it’s so easy to stop. It’s so easy to drop a set, to take a little more rest in between sets or exercises than is actually necessary. And I don’t know about you, but I tend to fall into patterns of doing the same thing over and over again when I’m working out on my own. For some reason, I find it harder to make progress when I’m by myself, no matter what equipment I have access to.

With my life right now, I can’t make it to the gym every day though. I’d be lucky if I get there once per week if I’m being honest, and I’m ok with that. But now that I’ve had a taste of the gym weight room again, I’ve gotten that little push I needed. Even if most of my workouts are at home, I know that I have that space to escape to when I get the chance. The chance to be around others and feel their motivation seeping into my workout, and maybe even for me to provide that motivation to someone else.

A week after that first visit to the gym, I went back. And even though all I did was a short kettlebell circuit, which I could have just as easily done at home, I loved being there. I felt rejuvenated afterward, as if I had just done some earth shattering new workout. It’s not about going there and moving huge weights or doing overly complicated workouts. It’s about feeling empowered, in my element, and energized. It’s about seeing other strong women lifting in the weight room along side me and watching others work hard to realize their goals.

What’s important here though is that I know that’s what best for me and what fuels my passion in the weight room. For someone else, solitude might be what pushes them forward, without the self consciousness or lack of confidence that a gym setting can bring. The message here is to find your space. There are so many things in life that can wreak havoc on our motivation or our progress, but if you find your “happy place” for working out, you’ll be more likely to stick with it in the long run.

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Where do you find your fitness inspiration? In the weight room? On the trail? On top of a mountain? 

If you hate running solo, but that’s all you do because that’s all you know, you may be missing out on someplace else that will spark you forward into more progress or new adventures that you don’t even know are out there. Or maybe you don’t so much “hate” running solo, but you’re just feeling bored, in a rut, or otherwise stuck. Try a new space to give you a little extra push, and you may be surprised at the spark you can find! Maybe a spin studio will give you the bump in motivation you need — they do usually have killer playlists and infectiously high energy, after all!

Find your space, and even if you can’t visit it often, know that it’s there for when you truly need a little extra push. Maybe it’s an outdoor bootcamp group workout, maybe it’s a yoga studio, maybe it’s a local running group or club. There are so many options out there to dig you out of a rut that you may fall into, and along with many of these options come opportunities to meet like minded people and fall in love with your fitness routine all over again.

And bonus time if you’re in Boston: If you’re in the Jamaica Plain/Roslindale area, check out my bootcamp class, Rondeau Group  Fitness on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Or if you’re downtown and looking for somewhere new to freshen up your routine, check out the Seaport Sweat series. I haven’t been because it’s not convenient to my location, but my friends Athena and Monique each teach sessions for that series so you know you’ll get a good sweat in! And lastly, although there are many many options around, The Street at Chestnut Hill offers tons of fun and free programming throughout the summer, including yoga and other amazing outdoor workouts.

Readers: What’s your “happy place” when working out? How do you get out of a fitness rut? What’s a new fitness studio/group/class you’ve tried lately?