Where did I (and my motivation) go??

Where did I (and my motivation) go??

First off, HI EVERYONE!! It has been a while and I sure have missed you! I hope you all are doing well and life is good! So where did I go and why am I back now you ask? Well, the long and short of it is, I got super uninspired, felt like I was not contributing anything worthwhile to you all, gave up on myself, and stopped writing. That is the most honest way I can say it.

Why am I back? Well because I am not a quitter!!

My site turned 5 years old last week and I got that nice little email from WordPress congratulating me on my anniversary. When I saw that email come in, I took it as a sign. I had been thinking about starting to write again over the last couple of weeks anyway, so I figured the universe was trying to tell me to just do it and as I am a big believer in listening to the universe, here I am again!

In thinking about what I wanted to write about for my first post back, I decided I should explore what happened to make me stop writing in the first place. As I was reminiscing about the last year or so of my life the one thing that really stuck out to me was how unmotivated I had become. This lack of motivation was not specific to writing unfortunately but extended to just about every part of my life including my workouts, my mountain biking, my job, schooling, relationships, etc. You name it, I haven’t been giving it my all in any area. Not even close.

So what happened to make my motivation wane exactly? To be honest, I am not exactly sure. I don’t think it was one thing or event that happened but more of a feeling that built up over months that I just wasn’t getting anywhere despite my best efforts. In essence, I began feeling like I was spinning my wheels and not making any forward progress. I started to doubt myself. Doubt my decisions. Doubt the value I was bringing to the people in my world including you all.

So what has changed recently to make me want to jump back into life? I really just decided that I didn’t want to be the kind of person who quit when things got hard. I have never been someone who doubted my own abilities or worth. I know I am capable. I know I am a hard worker. I know I can accomplish just about anything I set my mind to so basically, it was time to get off my butt and be that person again!

People become unmotivated for a variety of reasons. Like me, sometimes you just get uninspired. Other times maybe a lack of self-esteem plays a role. Mental illnesses like depression and anxiety can absolutely also cause us to become unmotivated. Whatever the reason behind it, there are a few ways I think we can combat it and get back on whatever path we may have stepped off. First and maybe most importantly:

Remember why you started!

I started this blog because I wanted to help people. I wanted to make getting healthier and happier something everyone and anyone could do no matter what their current situation. I wanted to share the pitfalls of my own health and wellness journey so that I might be able to spare someone out there the same trial and error I went through so they could get to the good stuff quicker. I never stopped wanting all those things out of this space, I just started feeling like I wasn’t really accomplishing it with the posts I was offering. I felt like I wasn’t telling you all anything you probably didn’t already know despite all of your kind comments and words of encouragement that I would receive every single time I posted a new blog article. This would be a great time to stop and say thank you, thank you thank you by the way for all of those kind words! They meant and still mean the world to me and they are a big reason I wanted to start writing here again!

So in thinking about starting to write again, other than wanting to reconnect with all of you, my motivation reignited when I realized that no two stories are the same. No one is me and if telling you all about my specific journey as it continues to unfold helps just one person out there feel like they are not alone or helps them to keep going when they may want to quit, then it is all worth it. This same logic can be applied if you start feeling blah about your workouts. Remember why you started. Remember your desire to live a healthier life. Remember the passion you had when you did that first workout after making the decision to do something to improve your physical and mental wellbeing. Hold on to that feeling. Keep it present in your thoughts and carry it with you, especially on those days when you have absolutely no desire to get off the couch and get that workout in. Remember your “why”, no matter what the situation, and hold yourself accountable to the person you were when you made that promise to yourself to go out and get it!

Stop being your own worst enemy!

Chances are you are wayyyyy harder on yourself than anyone else is. I know this is the case for me big time. My motivation waned greatly when I started doubting myself and second-guessing a lot of the decisions I had been making. I began feeling like I was making decisions that were not moving me forward in life but instead of forging ahead and continuing at least to try to make more positive changes, I basically froze and stopped doing anything at all. Recently I started realizing that making no decisions and continuing to stay where I was in life was making me feel worse than at least trying to do something to improve my situation. I started thinking about how I could learn from my mistakes instead of letting them paralyze me.

I also started talking to myself in a more positive and affirming tone instead of beating myself up for feeling like I wasn’t doing enough or the right things. The danger in always talking to yourself critically is oftentimes you translate that talk into behavior. If you start to believe you aren’t good enough or capable enough you may stop even trying. You might miss opportunities that present themselves either because you aren’t out there looking for them or you don’t pursue them when they do arise because you think you won’t be successful. Listen guys, you miss 100% of the chances you don’t take so why not put yourself out there and at least see what happens? I bet more often than not, you are successful and you may even surprise yourself with what you are able to accomplish. My main takeaway here is to go easy on yourself. Life is not always easy. Give yourself some credit, be your own bff and biggest cheerleader, and watch as you start to not only survive but really thrive!

Set some ATTAINABLE goals.

Start off slow when you are getting back into the swing of things. Sit down and really think about where you want to put your energy and how you are going to go about getting to where you want to be. Then write down some goals that have realistic timeframes attached based on what you decided you want to pursue. Keep that list where you can see it on a daily basis and use it to keep yourself on track and focused as you get back into whatever it was you had let fall by the wayside. For me, I have set a goal to write for a least 30 minutes every single day to start off with. I also decided to re-do the very first workout program that got me hooked on lifting weights in the first place, LIIFT 4. I am actually on the final week of the program, Week 6, and that spark that had dwindled a bit about weight training is definitely back! I not only feel stronger but can see my muscles coming back which has reignited that desire to keep lifting on a regular basis and getting those gains.

Goals help us stay focused and give us something to shoot for. They can also build back our confidence and help improve our self-esteem if we find ourselves, like I did, doubting our abilities. I also find that if I consciously decide I am going to do something and then write it down I am much more likely to follow through and complete the task. As silly as it may sound, I absolutely love the feeling of being able to cross something off my to-do/goal list at the end of the day. And like I said, start small. If all you were able to do today was get up and make your bed then celebrate that win for the day and tomorrow maybe try to do one more thing that makes you feel accomplished. The most important thing is you have a plan that is specific and attainable and that you work that plan to its conclusion. Then you can make a bigger and better plan and so on and so forth. Before you know it you are back in the saddle and once again able to conquer the world!

Allow yourself to take a break!

It’s ok to step away for a while if you need to. Sometimes you need that time away to reflect, to recharge, to realign yourself with your goals and aspirations. There is absolutely nothing wrong with hitting the pause button. Just be careful that you don’t pause for too long. That is when a break becomes quitting. I was dangerously close to the quilting side of things before I pulled myself back and realized I had worked too hard on both this blog and my health to let anything or anyone permanently derail me. That being said, having taken the time away only reaffirmed for me that I was investing my time in places that were worth it and made me happy. I love writing. I always have. I love interacting with all of you. I love working out. I love lifting weights. I love riding my bike. I just needed to hit the pause button for a short time I guess to realize all of this.

Taking breaks, whether we are taking short breaks during the day, or longer periods of time away from something, helps us destress, refocus, and can even increase our energy and ultimately our productivity. I know another problem I have is going a million miles an hour for as long as I can and then suddenly burning out. I definitely had a case of burnout with some parts of my life over the last year so another important lesson I have learned is that I don’t need to accomplish everything all at once. I can go at a more steady, even pace, take breaks when I need to, and ultimately finish things that I have started in a more timely manner with my mental and physical health still intact. Everything doesn’t need to happen all at once, overnight. Allow yourself grace periods to reset every once and a while and chances are you will return and be even more productive than you were when you stepped away.

Ok ok enough about me! What have you guys been up to over the last couple of months?? Drop some comments below and let’s catch up! Also, if there is anything in particular you would like to see more of on this site I always appreciate your feedback!

xoxoxo – Beth

Advertisement
Stop being afraid to fail!

Stop being afraid to fail!

We all fail. Sometimes we fail big, something we fail small but inevitably we all fail at something at some point in our lives. Off the top of my head, right now, I can think of several things I have failed at over the years. Relationships, friendships, exams, even jobs, just to name a few….

The older I have gotten, though, the more I realize that while the word “failure” tends to have a negative connotation, I have learned so much from each of my own failures that that maybe failing isn’t so bad after all. While usually, at least initially, it kinda well sucks to fail at something, if you really stop to think about your own failures, haven’t you learned something pretty significant from each of those experiences? 

Maybe you just learn not to do that same thing again. Maybe you learn it is worth another shot but maybe not in the same manner you tried before. Maybe you learn what to look for and/or what to avoid the next time a particular situation comes around. Maybe you just learn that something isn’t right for you.  

Whatever it may be, I am hard-pressed to think of a time that I failed at something that I didn’t become a least a little bit wiser and more in tune with myself because of it. So, what else can failure teach us? For starters:

Failure Can Clarify Our Path

I wholeheartedly agree with the old saying, “When one door closes another one opens”. Failing at one thing can signal to us that maybe that thing we thought we wanted so badly wasn’t actually meant for us but perhaps there is something better waiting right around the corner. Sometimes you can put everything single thing you have into something or someone and in the end, it still doesn’t work out like you had hoped it would. Is it a tough pill to swallow? ABSOLUTELY! Do you sometimes feel dejected and even bewildered by the way the situation turned out? OF COURSE! Can you still learn a lot from enduring this kind of failure? SO MUCH!

This is a case where I believe life is telling you to reassess where you are putting your energy. It is saying, “hey great effort over there but look over here now!” Take all that glorious drive, ambition, and desire, and let’s put it somewhere that is better suited for you. This is also a great lesson on how to pivot instead of throwing in the towel. Just because one thing didn’t work out for, you doesn’t mean the next thing won’t. Don’t let one failure stop you from getting out there and finding what truly deserves your time and energy.  

Failure Can Reveal Our Strength

When we fail at something in life and then must deal with the repercussions of that failure, we are often forced to call upon that inner strength we all possess just to sometimes make it through and live to fight another day. But we do just that, don’t we? We fight. And in that fight, if we really stop to think about it, our true strength can sometimes be revealed. Even if we don’t know we are fighting and evolving and getting stronger, that is exactly what is happening behind the scenes.  

That realization very often is the exact thing we need to punch forward and either try, try again, or as I mentioned above, pivot and try something that might be better suited for us. And in those moments when the failure is fresh and the feelings of disappointment are raw, remember one thing, you have survived every single thing life has thrown at you up until this point, including all the really hard, sad, and trying things. You are strong. Probably so much stronger than you even realize so just get back up and continue to fight the good fight no matter how long it takes.

Failure Can Force Us Out of Comfort Zone…

If you really stop to think about it, what is so great about being in your comfort zone? Nothing grows there. Nothing new happens there. And while yes, it is comfortable, would you rather find yourself in the same place, day after day, month after month, year after year, or at least try, maybe fail, but try again to reach for your goals? For me staying stagnant is much worse than facing my fear of failure and at least being able to tell myself I made an attempt to better my situation.  

Real, true growth, can only honestly happen when we get uncomfortable after all. Even just practicing taking a few steps out of your comfort zone can teach you amazingly useful lessons on how to adapt, and deal with change, which is of course inevitable in life. If we fail trying something new, great, there are probably a million other ways to approach that problem or situation. Keep trying until you find the one that works.  

If you keep failing at something because you are doing it the same way over and over again, take a step back, realize what you have been doing isn’t working and force yourself out of that comfort zone and into a new way of thinking. I guarantee that getting out of that rut you might be in will spark new creativity, maybe reenergize your fight, ignite a possibly stalled motivation and maybe even see you accomplishing that goal or achieving that next step in life that you have been striving for.

Failure Makes Us Tough

Let’s face it….life can be hard. While there are so many wonderful and beautiful things all around us that we will experience in a lifetime, we also all go through periods that aren’t all sunshine and roses. One of the most important tools that failure can arm us with is toughness. Mental toughness, emotional toughness, and even physical toughness can all be gained by trying and failing and picking ourselves back up when it really counts. Failure can force us to pick ourselves up from the lowest point, dust ourselves off and get back on that proverbial horse after being bucked off one too many times. It can teach us that while success may not be immediate it will come if you just keep on trying different ways of getting there.  

It can also make us take an honest look at ourselves, take stock of the decisions we have been making, and recognize if we are the ones holding ourselves back. Being brutally honest with ourselves is seldom easy but failing enough times unavoidably leads to having to have those tough conversations where you admit to yourself that what you have been doing isn’t working. Taking responsibility for our own actions and failures isn’t easy but it builds character, resilience and in the end a much more transparent and sincere awareness of who we are and what we are capable of.  

Failing is never fun. In fact, sometimes it is downright painful. Did you ever try to climb a really tall tree when you were a kid and then took an unfortunate tumble when the top branches weren’t as sturdy as you might have thought? Yeah, OW! Have you ever trusted the wrong person and then ended up with a severely bruised if not broken heart? Yeah, that one really hurts! But in both those scenarios hopefully, you learned something which helped you in the future stay a little safer toughened you up for the next go of it. Failing teaches all kinds of really important and useful life lessons if we really stop to think about it. So let’s try to change the narrative a little bit on how we view it. Embrace the suck of it just a bit, keep your head held high, and learn the lesson that life is trying to teach you. I bet you will come out the other side a little happier, more self-aware, and even more bad a$$ than you went in!

xoxoxo,

Beth

Acceptance

Acceptance

This month is all about acceptance. Accepting other people the way they are. Accepting there is no right or wrong way to live your life. Accepting that it is ok to have different opinions, different beliefs, different lifestyles and still all be able to peacefully cohabitate on this big round spinning rock we call home.  

All too often, though, I think we forget to accept ourselves. I know I am especially hard on myself. I am very critical if I don’t live up to my own standards. I set the bar very high for myself time and time again and just the mere thought that I may not achieve one of my goals or I might fail at something I set my mind to is enough to keep me up at night. And forget about it if someone else criticizes me. I tend to dwell on those perceived slights far longer than I should.  

Most recently I had what I can only call a failure in my personal life. This event brought up feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and even a little bit of sadness because I had invested so much time and effort into something that turned out not to be for me. Probably the most painful part of this particular failure though was not the failure itself but the reasons that were pointed out as to why it occurred. Parts of my personality were criticized and while there is always far more to a story than what is spoken on the surface, the experience prompted me to really think about how I can accept who I am today but make changes to be better tomorrow.

That being said, we all have flaws. Some I think we are born with, like my overly active Type A personality and some I think we pick up along the way. Life is full of ups and downs and sometimes the things we go through change us. If we are lucky, we go through something and come out the other side a stronger, better version of ourselves. But sometimes we go through things that leave us with scars. These very often are scars other people can’t see. And sometimes they are even scars that we ourselves can’t see or fully understand until much further down the road. These scars can then manifest themselves as personality flaws, especially to others who are looking at us from the outside.

What I realized after this past failure, is you never really know why someone is the way they are. Even sometimes the closest people to you don’t know why you think and act the way you do in certain situations. Even if someone knows your history, your stories, your triumphs and struggles, without having actually walked in your shoes it is oftentimes hard to fully comprehend the ramifications of those events. What to the outside world might seem like a character defect, might actually be a scar that is much more deeply rooted than what just appears to be a shortcoming in one’s personality.  

While I strongly encourage everyone, myself included, to continuously do some type of self-reflection on a regular basis, the first step in my opinion to becoming better human beings is to accept ourselves the way we are right now at this very moment. I am not saying there is no room for growth and meaningful change, but in order to bring about that change, you need to understand and accept where you are currently.  

So how do we begin to unconditionally accept ourselves, move forward, and bring about the change we may be needing to live a happier, healthier life? Here are a few things I think need to happen to get that ball rolling:

Be brutally honest with yourself.

Ask yourself, “What is holding you back from the person you want to be?” “What are the things you are in control of that you can directly influence to take your life in the right direction?” “What may have happened to you in that past that is dictating your current and future path in life?” You cannot lie to yourself about the state you are in now and expect to find yourself in a better one tomorrow. The first step to real self-acceptance is to take an honest inventory of everything that makes you you, the good and the bad alike. As much as sometimes it is easier not to deal with the bad, that stuff isn’t going away without a bit of work. Put the time into exploring all sides of yourself so you have a true understanding of what is working for your currently and where there might be room for improvement.

Be patient and kind to yourself along the way.  

While you are definitely going to encounter people in life that will criticize you and maybe even put you down, I think it is human nature to be your own worst critic. Chances are, when the dust settles, you judge yourself way more harshly than the rest of the world judges you. Keep this in mind and be very thoughtful about the way you speak to yourself. Try changing the verbiage from “I hate this about myself” to “that is something I would like to improve upon”. Just the same way we are told to be kind to others, being kind to ourselves is of utmost importance when on a journey of self-acceptance and ultimate growth.  Also keep in mind that it most likely it took years of life happening to you to make you the way you are today. Be kind and patient with yourself in trying unravel and possibly undo some of that experience and possible hurt. It may not happen quickly or easily but with the right amount of effort it will happen.

Admit when you are wrong.  

This is such a hard one to do sometimes but such a critical step to acceptance and change. Change is usually uncomfortable. We almost always have to through some period of discomfort before we get to the good stuff and there are very few things in life more uncomfortable than admitting when we are wrong. It seems like it is human nature to immediately blame someone or something else first when a failure occurs. After all, it is much easier to be critical of another person than it is of ourselves. Being critical of ourselves requires us to accept we aren’t in fact perfect individuals and that there may be things we need to work on to avoid failing again. But isn’t that the goal? To stop failing? Admit mistakes. Take the time to really think about why they may have happened and then finally learn from them and move on as an improved, better version of yourself. 

Learn forgiveness.  

Learning to forgive others when they hurt you by pointing out your flaws is just as important as is forgiving yourself for having them in the first place. We are all human.  Wonderfully, imperfect humans. Not one of us is without shortcomings or our own unique stories about how those shortcomings came about. In my experience, oftentimes when people point out your flaws it is really as a defense against dealing with their own. Keeping that in mind, forgive those people, focus on your own journey, and if you stumble or fail a few times, forgive yourself enough to get right back up and try again. Carrying around animosity and resentment whether it be directed at others or yourself is a sure-fire way to prevent positive change from occurring.  

Take control of your life.  

It is yours after all. No one else’s. At the end of the day, you are solely responsible for your own happiness, growth, and success. Be gentle enough with yourself to accept where you are currently and what may have gotten you there but firm enough with yourself to bring about the change that will get you where you want to be. Nobody is going to do this work for you and if you need to be your own cheerleader along the way, cheer your little heart out. Not everyone will understand the journey you are on or support you as you navigate it and that is ok. Decide what is best for you and your life, make the appropriate changes, and the right people will find you in the end.  

The bottom line here is you cannot hate yourself and become a better version of yourself at the same time. Let me repeat that, you cannot hate yourself and become a better version of yourself at the same time. Things happen. People happen. Life happens. And because we do not live in a bubble all those things affect and shape who we have become today. I truly do not believe that we can punish ourselves into a better place. The same kindness we should extend to other people because we never know what battles they may have fought or are currently fighting is the kindness we need to extend to ourselves before we can make improvements in our own lives. Besides that, I would be willing to bet there is so much good in you that whatever you want to change is only a small fragment of what makes you, you. So, take some time, focus on what you can do to improve the parts of you that you feel might need some work, and then go show the world what an incredible little human being you are because you were willing to put in the effort. 

xoxoxo,

Beth

Taking back some control….

Taking back some control….

Right now more than ever, we may be struggling with feeling like we are out of control.  At least where I live, we have been under stay-at-home orders for a while now.  I haven’t been able to see my family, friends or my co-workers for almost 6 weeks. I am working from home, eating at home, spending my weekends at home, remaining six feet away from most other humans, and even limiting how much I am going out to the few places we can still go like grocery stores just to minimize any risk.  Most of the time, honestly though, I am pretty ok.  I am staying plenty busy with work throughout the week and on the weekends, I have really tried to be productive by cleaning, organizing and fixing up my house, studying for my upcoming exam and of course I am staying consistent with my workouts and nutrition.  But I have had moments where the isolation does gets to me.  There are times it just seems too quiet around here and almost like the walls are closing in.  In those moments, I quickly remind myself that while I can’t control everything that is happening around me, I still do have the power to control a whole heck of a lot.

So today I wanted to share some of things I focus on when the uncertainty of these times and maybe a little claustrophobia starts to creep.  I make a conscious effort to shift my focus from dwelling on what I don’t have the power to dictate to what I do, such as:

My attitude

I can decide to be positive or negative. I remind myself this too shall pass and life will get back to normal.  Dwelling on all the things we can’t do right now doesn’t make anything better.  I am busy making plans for when we are able to roam around freely again which gives me positive goals to focus on and steps to take right now to achieve those goals. I made a pact with myself when this all started that I was going to remain positive, focused, and driven.  Having a positive mindset allows my energy levels and confidence to stay highly, helps me to be more productive at work and makes me an easier and more pleasant person to deal with in all of my relationships…besides being negative in my opinion can just be flat out draining! SMILE you guys, the world needs as much positivity and joy as we can radiate right now!

My physical health

I decide every single day to move my body. I either do my home workouts, go for a long walk with my pups or a run in my neighborhood, or a combo of all the above. Staying healthy has never been more important you guys. Help your immune system out and try to be active for at least 30 minutes a day (for more info on helping out our immune systems, check out my recent post, “Staying Healthy…How can we help our immune systems right now?” If you can get outside, even better! Get some steps in, your heart rate up and as a bonus get a healthy dose of Vitamin D while you are at it!  Not only is this so important for your physical well-being, but I find the positive effects it has on my mental well-being might be even more valuable right now! Just the change of scenery alone does wonders for my frame of mind each day!

What I eat

I have made a conscious decision to stock my fridge, freezer and pantry with 90% healthy food and 10% treat food. I find if I set myself up for success by limiting how much junk food I have access to I am far more successful in meeting my nutritional goals.  Plus, I continue to make it a point to have my daily Superfood Shake which again goes a long was in supporting my immune system and filing in all those nutritional holes I might be otherwise lacking in my every day diet. One of the silver linings to this time at home is I have been exploring a lot of new recipes (I am working on getting the good ones them up on this site shortly!) and have really been enjoying the process of cooking.  I am exploring yummy new ways to cook with some of my favorite healthy ingredients, like the lasagna I made with cauliflower yesterday,  and as a bonus I am finding cooking to be a really great stress-relieving activity for me and something that brings a really nice sense of calm into my life right now.  I would call that a WIN WIN!

My effort levels

This could be effort that I am putting into taking care of myself, or effort I am putting into my job, my relationships, or a many number of other things.  What is important to focus on is knowing I have complete control over how much of my energy I am delegating and to what I am putting it into.  I am a firm believer that life gives you back what you give it.  If you give it 100% you will see amazing results.  If you give it less, you really can’t be disappointed when you get less back.  I am continuing to focus my efforts as much as possible on bettering myself during this time so again when we come out the other side, I am stronger and in a better place than when we went into it.

My mental health

While I know we can’t always control how our brains react to things, there are ways I can try to promote a healthy mental state. I have been making it a point to practice at least 15-20 minutes of yoga or Pilates each day which has really been helping me to slow down my mind and stay present in the moment more.  I also know when I start to feel overwhelmed or anxiety creeping in it is a good time to pickup the phone and talk to a family member or friend.  Getting outside each day for about an hour has also done wonders to keep my head clear and in a good place. Besides, it always makes me happy and puts an actual smile on my face to see how much my dogs are loving our new, longer daily walks!

How often I practice self-care 

Supporting my mental health also means indulging in some self care every so often. I have made it a point to take a much-needed Epsom salt bath at least once a week these days which does wonders not only to relax me but also to help my sore muscles recover after the workouts I am subjecting them to.  I also have been de-cluttering and organizing my house a lot which may sound weird for a self-care practice but has made me feel a ton better about my surroundings and also happy that I am using my time productively. Self-care isn’t selfish you guys.  You need to take care of yourself before you can even begin to think about taking care of others.  That old saying really is true, you cannot pour from an empty cup!

How thankful I am

I remind myself constantly about how thankful I am for things like my health and the health of my friends and family, but I also make it a point to tell other people that I am thankful for them. I usually am pretty good with “Please” and “Thanks You’s” but I am particularly aware of some of the sacrifices people are making right now to keep things going for us.  I am talking about the store clerks, delivery drivers and especially the healthcare workers who are going above and beyond right now and are on the front lines of this pandemic.  I am trying to say an extra loud THANK YOU to all these people when I do interact with them as their sacrifice is not lost on me at all.

My breath 

My anxiety has improved dramatically over the last two years since I committed to staying on top of my fitness and nutrition, but it is only natural that in the crazy times we are living through right now anxiety levels would be slightly more elevated than normal. I have really come to rely on controlling my breath when anxiety starts to creep in these days. As soon as I feel even a little twinge of being overwhelmed, I make a conscious effort to stop what I am doing and take a few deep, cleansing breaths.  Almost instantly, I feel much calmer and more centered.  Breathe in, breathe out and focus on just being in the moment until your mind calms down.

What I put my time into

I made a very deliberate decision that while I was spending so much time at home, I would seriously limit screen time. While I am normally not a big TV watcher, I knew with the extra time on my hands it would be easy to fall into a bad habit of turning it on and losing hours of my life in front of it.  Instead I made up my mind to put my energy into doing things that would get me close to my goals once this whole thing is over.  I am studying, writing, reading even doing puzzles instead of watching TV and of course staying as physically active as possible.

What I do if at first I don’t succeed

Failure is part of life you all. No one is perfect and honestly it would be a little boring if we were.  I fail constantly. I failed a million times before I found a workout program that clicked for me. I failed a bunch of times trying to find a healthy relationship with food.  I have failed in my inner-personal relationships, at work, in school but my mindset has really grown to accept these failures as learning experiences. If I can come out the other side of a failure having grown as a person, it really isn’t a failure at all.  Now I put my all into everything I attempt and if I succeed great, if I don’t, I learn.  Just fail forward you guys, don’t beat yourselves up too much and keep on trucking towards whatever goal you have in sight!

Who and what influences me 

Unfortunately not everyone is going to be your cheerleader. I have definitely come across people since I have started on my health and fitness journey that just don’t understand what I’m doing or why I am doing it. They haven’t necessarily been working against me, just not exactly for me.  These are the people I try to encourage to join me in some fashion, either in doing a virtual workout with me or trying one of my healthy recipes that have become a staple of my meal plan or even by giving them a packet of my superfood shake to try for themselves.  If they don’t bite, I smile, tell them I am always here if they change their minds and go about chasing after my own goals.  After all, I am not doing this for anyone else.  This journey is about me and for me.  I hope to be able to inspire others along the way but I don’t take it personally if I can’t reach everyone!

How open I am to learning

A big part of growing up, is learning that you really never stop learning. Over the past couple years especially, I have been so open to learning as much as I can about as many things as I can, and I have been loving every second of it!  I don’t know about you all, but as a teenager and really well into my twenties…ok ok, maybe even my 30’s, I was pretty convinced I had everything all figured out.  I was going to do things my way no matter how many people, facts, or signs life was giving me telling me I was wrong. But since I humbled myself enough about two years ago to realize I needed to do a ton of research to figure out how to best live a healthy lifestyle, I have fallen back in love with learning and take every opportunity I can to expand my mind.  One of the mantras I now live by is, never stop learning!

How often I ask for and accept help 

We all need it sometimes. And there is no shame in that at all.  This was also another hard lesson I had to learn probably because I am too stubborn for my own good most of the time and like to be able to do everything myself, but that is just not real life.  Whether it’s that we just need some emotional support, someone to talk to, a helping hand with a work problem, or a relationship issue, or something more tangible like help moving or changing a tire, there is no shame in being a little vulnerable every now and then.  Instead of seeing this as a sign of weakness like many of us for some reason might, we should see this as the incredible sign of strength that it is.  Be open to both giving and receiving help and I bet you will find fulfillment in both!

One other thing I am controlling these days is how much I watch/listen to the news.  I find it to be pretty negative if not down right scary a lot of the time so I choose to tune most of it out because I know if there is something major I need to find out a friend or family member will let me know what’s going on anyway.  Along with limiting exposure to potentially alarming information and the things I already listed above, there are a ton of other things I can also control such as how neat my home is, how many times I call my family and friends to check in on them, how honest I am with myself and others, how many times a day I smile 😊, how I am spending my money, how open and non-judgmental I am, and that’s just to name a few!  Things happen you guys. We can’t always avoid bad situations or prevent negative events from occurring but where our control lies is in how we react to these things.  Do we give negative feelings, emotions, events and even people our time and energy, or do we shift our focus to either learning from these negative sources and growing because of them or ignoring them altogether and finding instead something positive to focus on.  Take control where you can, use it to improve your own life and keep looking and moving forward…after all that is this the direction life is taking us so lets make it the best, happiest and most fulfilling ride possible!

Keep staying healthy and safe you guys!!

Xoxoxo,

Beth

Guest Post! via – www.LamboBacktoSnow.com Handling Injuries as an Elite Athlete

Guest Post! via – www.LamboBacktoSnow.com Handling Injuries as an Elite Athlete

Hi y’all!  I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce a new friend of mine, Adam Lambert, who is a pretty kick-ass professional snowboarder.  While I love to snowboard I am pretty terrible at it, like it’s a minor miracle if I can keep myself upright for more than a few feet, so I have a ton of respect for people like Adam who have the skills to compete at the level that he is. 

Unfortunately, recently he was sidelined with a pretty gnarly injury that he will describe below but he is using his setback to try to help other people, athletes and non-athletes, cope if and when they find themselves dealing with their own injuries.  Even if you are like me and just enjoy working out but are nowhere near professional athlete status, injuries can and do happen.  At the beginning of my own journey, I was making mistakes with my form and pushing my body too far when it was telling me to let up and I ended up injuring my wrist.  Luckily it was only a minor tear and I was able to get back to training within about 4 weeks but knowing how to recover and who to turn to for help when injuries do happen is a very important topic that I am super excited to have Adam share with us below. 

Take a look at his article below and please go follow his entire journey on his blog: 

www.LamboBacktoSnow.com 

Handling Injuries as an Elite Athlete

Let me start off by introducing myself. My name is Adam “Lambo” Lambert, I am a 22-year-old Snowboardcross World Cup Athlete. I have been in the top 10 in the world for around 3 years now and I competed in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games.

My career so far has been short and relatively successful, receiving 2 podium finishes and with most SBX athletes competing well into their early 30s I definitely have plenty of opportunities ahead of me. This year however an unlucky fall in the early stages of the 2019/2020 winter season has left me with a ruptured ACL and a whole lot of time to share my story and the secrets of a recovering athlete. Hopefully I can give you a taste of what I am about here today.

Athlete Support Networks

As an elite athlete there are certain areas of care, I am given to access that are expensive to use or outright unnecessary for the average person. Most of these specialized staff are needed for me as an elite athlete however a good portion of their advice can be found in abundance online. Below I have gone through a portion of those services and their importance to myself as well as their importance to non-athletes in similar situations.

  • Physiotherapy: The most important person on this list is definitely going to be your physiotherapist. It is their responsibility to oversee your recovery and prescribe rehabilitation strategies and judge your progress to give you the best chance at success. As an athlete I get near unlimited access to physiotherapists to ensure I can recover as efficiently and completely as possible. However, for an average person, once a week is sufficient in most cases.
  • Dietitians: Dietitians are one of the commonly overlooked support staff when you’re thinking about rehab and recovery. They can also be one of the most important. Having the right diet can make a significant difference in the quality of your recovery as well as affecting the time it may take to recover. Although important, getting yourself a personal dietitian is by no means a necessity, much of the information I get from my team is readily accessible online.
  • Psychologists: As an athlete I have full time access to Sports Psychologists to help keep me motivated day to day. Anyone who has been injured in the past will know that it can be incredibly hard to push through the early stages of any injury especially when it feels like nothing is making a significant difference. A sports psychologist is definitely a useful tool for someone like me but can easily be replaced by close friends and family pushing you to get out and do that extra session. The small things all add up in the long run.
  • Strength and Conditioning Coaches: Last but certainly not least is strength and conditioning coaches. These can be a local Personal Trainers or specialized rehab coaches, and their role is to keep things exciting for you as an individual. Keeping yourself motivated, engaged and most importantly dedicated to your recovery is what these people specialize in, a good strength and conditioning coach will work closely with your physiotherapist and prescribe the best possible program for you to recover well and recover fast.

All of these specialist support staff have a role to play in the successful recovery of an elite athlete. As I am writing this I have only just come out of surgery and am in the very early stages of my rehabilitation strategy. With this in mind, my main points of contacts at the moment are with my physio, dietitian and sports psych. Strength and conditioning will be a priority once I am able to get back to walking and moving around in a semi normal fashion.

My Recovery Journey

In this section I thought I would take you all through the protocols that I will be going through to ensure my recovery is as effective as possible. I will be heavily monitored over the next 6 months and my progress will be closely tracked by professionals in several fields. However, I will do my best to explain technical terms and any machines/equipment I will be using along the way as well and hopefully, be able to give you a good idea of how intense injury recoveries are when your career is potentially on the line.

The ACL Reconstruction Journey

Day 1, The Injury, whilst competing in the second World Cup of the season in Italy I was unfortunate enough to make a mistake which resulted in me coming up short on a large jump, this caused my ACL to rupture. The next day I was already back into a rehab/prehab plan with my onsite physiotherapist working on movement and strength. The most important part of this stage of the injury is making sure there is as little muscle atrophy as physically possible.

After a few weeks of light movement and activation exercises I was back into the gym working properly. Doing low rep high weight exercises such as squats, lunges and dead-lifts trying to build up my leg muscles pre-surgery. I was in the gym 6 days a week 2 times per day for 3 weeks in the lead up to surgery.

I am currently in post op week 1, which is 90% rest, relaxation and reducing swelling through icing and activation exercises (clenching muscles). I am lucky enough to have a machine called a Game Ready Ice Machine. The game ready ice machine pumps ice cold water through a full-length leg sleeve whilst applying pressure to push the fluid out of the joints.

After this initial period, I will be seeing my physio 3-4 times per week to stretch the new ACL graft and work towards full range of movement. The most important part of the first month is ensuring you can get full flexion and extension. I will also be using a machine called a Compex, which is an electro stimulation machine. This machine will assist in my ability to limit muscle atrophy by activating the muscles in my leg with electronic pulses.

Month 1 will be coming to an end by the time I get to full movement. At this time, I will be riding a stationary bike 3-4 times per day to keep everything working and moving in the right direction. On top of being back in the gym full time. Mostly for upper body work but also getting into some light single leg strengthening exercises to begin building the muscles in my bad leg.

months 2-4 will be full time training, once again in the gym 6 times a week 1-2 times per day with focus on protecting the new ACL graft and building up the muscles in the affected leg. By the 3-month period I should have full movement in the affected leg and will be able to get back into a somewhat normal day to day routine, whilst still waiting for the graft to reach maximum strength.

Months 4-6 will be full time normal training. The graft is not yet strong enough to partake in high impact sports until the 6-month mark, but I will be working in the gym as if I am fully able bodied and ready to get back to sport. This includes running, jumping, heavy weight lifting and high intensity cardio sessions 2 times per day, 6 days per week.

In Summary

As an elite athlete, the support I need to help me succeed in my rehab and recovery is more readily available than it is for most. However, that does not mean that you as an individual can’t take certain points from my experiences and help push yourself towards a more robust rehabilitation plan.

My recovery will be my full-time job for the next 6 months. Unfortunately this is not an option for 99% of people, however if you are interested in following along for more tips and tricks as well as updates on my injury over the next 6 months, my blog www.LamboBacktoSnow.com will have posts up daily, giving you a chance to check out some of the inside knowledge that is usually reserved for elites athletes and the people who work for them.

Let us know in the comments below, are you suffering from an injury or struggling through the rehabilitation process? Share your story with us and perhaps we can help make your recovery just that little bit easier!

Many thanks to Adam and we all wish you a speedy recovery!!

xoxoxo,

Beth 

What’s holding you back??

What’s holding you back??

We have roughly 90 days left in this year you guys.  Better yet, we have roughly 90 days left in this decade!!!  Let that sink in for a minute.  We are in the home stretch of this entire decade!  Can’t think of a better time to check in with ourselves and assess how we are we doing with those resolutions we set ten months ago.  So how are you all doing?  Are you happy with your progress? Are you where you thought you would be at this point in the year?  Have you met or are you on track to meeting your goals for 2019?  If you honestly ask yourself these questions and you are happy and on track then yay great and congrats!  If you ask yourself these questions and you are not so thrilled about your progress or maybe didn’t even really get started but still want to, it isn’t too late!  It’s never too late!

So this post is for all my cyber-friends out there who find themselves where I was almost two years ago. Towards the end of 2017 I knew I had let myself down.  I wasn’t working out.  I wasn’t eating properly.  My physical and mental health & well-being were pretty close to the level of dumpster fires.  I knew I needed to make changes and make them like yesterday but I just wasn’t sure I was capable.  For me it was a combination of feeling like I didn’t have enough time, not wanting to spend the money on a gym membership I may or may not end up using and just feeling like the task ahead of me was too daunting to even know where to begin.   Another big part of my hesitation at the time was the bad experiences I had in the past with both attempting and quickly failing at sustaining a healthier lifestyle, not to mention utterly hating the process along the way to that inevitable failure.

The reasons (aka excuses) I had back then are probably very similar to the excuses a lot of people out there have who also find themselves knowing they should make an effort to live a healthier lifestyle but are not really sure they are willing or able to do so.  I am here today to tell you, JUST DO IT!  Stop thinking about it, stop putting it off and just commit!  It was by far one of the best decisions I have ever made for myself and one I would make again in a heartbeat much, much sooner if I had a magical time machine at my disposal.  So today I wanted to breakdown some of the most frequently heard excuses people have for not getting healthy and how I myself got over them and just started to do the damn thing!  Let’s start with the ever popular….”I just don’t have the time”…

Time

This was a big one for me in the beginning as I am sure it is for a lot of folks. I actually think the “I don’t have the time” excuse is probably the one I most frequently hear from people when discussing what is holding them back from achieving their health and fitness goals.  Look, I know we are all super busy like all the time, day in and day out but you can’t tell me you don’t have 30 minutes somewhere in your day to be a little more active.  Do you find 30 minutes in your day to watch that TV show you are currently obsessed with?  Or do you find yourself spending 30 minutes at some point in the day scrolling through countless social media posts to make sure you don’t miss out on something happening in someone else’s life?    Be honest with me now….and more importantly with yourself!

When I started on my own journey to get healthier I was commuting two hours each way to my day job and then working 3 nights a week at a second job just to pay my bills and put a little away to buy my first house.  So when I decided I was fed up with myself and made the decision to get healthier I sat down and thought long and hard about how to make it work.  My solution was to commit to using my lunch hour to get my 30 minutes in.  Maybe for you, you can spare an extra 30 minutes in the morning to workout before your get you day started or find time in the evenings where you watch one less show before going to bed and instead take a walk around your neighborhood.  I started my own journey at a point in my life when I was exhausted all the time, stressed out, overworked and really didn’t think I had it in me to incorporate one more obligation/activity into my schedule but I also knew that I desperately needed to get more active and I was never going to get less busy.  The point is the time is there guys, just take a serious, honest look at how you are spending your waking hours and make a few minor adjustments.  You and your health are so so worth it!  And you can always DVR that show and binge on it over the weekend!  😊

Money 

This is probably the second most commonly given reason I hear from people when they are explaining what is holding them back.  Like I mentioned above, money back then for me was tight as it is for so many of us.  I researched joining a few different gyms but the thought of adding an extra bill to my monthly expenditures was enough to make me break out in a cold sweat, not to mention the initiation fees that I just couldn’t afford at the time.  So like the time constraint issue, I sat down with myself and came up with a plan.  For me what worked at the time was taking advantage of the many walking paths around my office when the weather was nice in combination with using the free gym we have at our disposal where I work.  These two options were very helpful to me when I was getting started and then about 6 months in I found the workout programs I use now which cost only $99 for the entire year and give me access to over 700+ workouts I can stream from anywhere at anytime.  This option was also appealing to me because I travel a lot for work so I can just pop open my laptop in my hotel room and get a workout in even while I am traveling.

I also had to be really honest with myself about where I was spending the money I did have. I realized I was basically throwing money away with my twice daily trips to Starbucks and countless doctors bills I had racked up from not taking care of myself for so long.   I sat down and calculated how much money I was spending on things that weren’t really necessary and realized if I just made some minor adjustments, I would have plenty to spare on the really important things in life like my health!  I started making my own coffee at home, packing my own lunches instead of eating out every day (which also helped my waist line) and before I knew it I was actually able to put money into savings every month.  And as the months went by and my health vastly improved the trips to the doctor and expensive prescription all but ceased. You guys, if you think getting healthy is expensive, trust me when I tell you it is far more expensive to be sick!

Don’t know how or where to start?

The main reason I started this blog is I wanted to try to help other people out there skip right on over some of the mistakes I made in the beginning of my own journey and see results faster and in a more efficient manner than I had. While I had all the motivation and the best of intentions once I committed to my own journey,  I didn’t do a whole lot of research into the best ways to go about it.  I dove right back into thinking endless cardio workouts would be the answer to all my health and weight issues and proceeded to very quickly get bored and disillusioned when I wasn’t seeing results like I expected to.  About six months into my journey I knew I needed to make a change so I started doing some research on-line. I read blogs like this one. I researched different methods of working out.  I followed personal trainers on their social media pages for ideas and inspiration. And what I quickly found out that was that I needed to incorporate strength training into my routine.  I started hitting the weights and while I very rapidly fell in love with lifting I also very quickly injured myself because I didn’t know anything about form or the proper way to go about it.  Again, this is where the workout programs I currently use came in which showed me proper form, the best ways to structure a weight-training routine and taught me the most effective moves to achieve my goals.

There are plenty of resources out there to help with this process.  Just do a little research and find what works for you, not only for your body but what will keep you engaged and motivated, aka not bored!  Whether it be consulting a nutritionist, scheduling a few sessions with a personal trainer, trying different types of workouts, or finding a workout program like I did that pretty much takes all the guess work out of getting in shape, there are a lot of options out there to help you get educated and chose the right plan for you.  Just make sure you do some research before just jumping in.  Also a really good idea (like I have mentioned in previous posts) is to get a physical from your doctor before you start any exercise program!!

Don’t think you can do it?  Stay committed? Have the motivation?

If you are thinking about failing before you even start, you might have already sealed your fate. I am a firm believer that whatever you believe will happen.  If you believe you will fail, most likely you will fail.  If you believe you will succeed, you already have!  You have to find what motivates you. And that is different for everyone.  But at the end of the day, motivation comes from within you.  No matter how much a trainer, or a friend or family member or even me tells you how important it is to get fit and live a healthy lifestyle, you have to want it for yourself.  Start by setting small, very attainable goals and build on them slowly but surely.  Maybe find an accountability partner or a workout buddy that can hold you to your workouts. If you need one I am always here!

Very early on in my journey I signed myself up (and dragged along a few very reluctant friends) for a couple of 5k races and mud runs. That gave me clear goals to work for and also a deadline to meet so I had to keep up on my training in order to be prepared.  I also right from the start took pictures of myself every single time I completed a workout.  For me, being able to see the results start to happen with before and after pictures was hugely motivating for me.  I still do this to this day and the pictures I have now compared to when I first started working out and eating better are staggering!  I love seeing how my hard work has paid off and I am only motivated more me to keep reaching for even bigger and better body goals when I see the progress I have made.  Maybe for you what works is telling yourself if you workout consistently for a month straight you will buy yourself a new pair of fancy workouts shoes or those jeans you have been eyeing that will probably fit better than ever now!  Whatever it is, whatever motivates you put some thought into it, formulate a plan and get working towards it.  The sooner and more consistently you put one foot in front of the other the more quickly you will start seeing results and reaching your goals!

Whatever is holding you back, whether it be one of the reasons above, a few of the reasons above or something else entirely,  it is time to really sit down with yourself and find a way to, well, to get out of your own way!  There is no more important project to work on then yourself  and while I am not going to tell you is that it will always be easy or super enjoyable I will tell you that it will be more than worth it!  YOU are more than worth it!  You deserve to live the happiest, healthiest and most enjoyable life you can but you have to want it badly enough for yourself that you continue to show up even when you don’t want to.  There will be days it won’t be easy.  There will be days that you just don’t feel like it.  There will be days when it will be a struggle to find the time but do not wait to place value on your health only after you have gotten sick or neglected it so much you have no choice but to pay attention to it.  Take your health and well being into your own hands now and make yourself the priority.  And hey, just like me, you may even fall in love with the process along the way!

Happy Friday y’all…have a great weekend!

Xoxoxo,

Beth

P.S. – PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE take a second to take my poll down below.  I want to make this blog what you guys want it to be!  Thank you again for all the support…it means the world to me! 😊

Zzzzzz….

Zzzzzz….

I love to sleep y’all!  And the older I get the more I realize how much a good night’s sleep can cure.  But sleep and I haven’t always been the best of friends.  For years I struggled with bouts of insomnia. There would be months on end where I would only be able to get a few hours of sleep a night.  First it was I couldn’t fall asleep.  Then I would fall asleep but wake up like a gazillion times during the night.  Ugh, there are very few things more frustrating than laying in bed and staring at the ceiling for hours and hours just wishing you could fall asleep.  But these days my insomnia is a thing of the past (**knocking on wood**).  Like just about everything else in my life, my sleep has improved dramatically since I started taking better care of myself.  I generally fall asleep very quickly now, I rarely wake up in the middle of the night anymore and I usually get the solid 7ish or so hours a night that I need to not feel like a walking zombie the following day.  Sleep is sometimes a part of your health and fitness journey that gets overlooked or not given a high enough priority,  so I wanted to talk a little bit about it today because it really is so, so important to your over all well-being! Let’s start with the basics:

How much sleep exactly do we need?

Well like most things’ health and fitness related, the exact number varies from person to person.  Some people can function with less, some need more but generally adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep per night.  Adults in this case are healthy individuals between the ages of 18-64.  See below for a full breakdown of sleep needs by age:

Sleep Chart

Why is it so important for good health?

So, so many reasons you guys!  I mean we all know how much better we feel, how much more alert and energetic we are after a good night sleep but that is only the tip of the iceberg when talking about how beneficial good quality sleep is for us.   Below are some of the major impacts sleep has on our bodies:

  • Cardiovascular Health: Lack of good quality sleep has been shown to raise blood pressure which puts you at risk for things like heart attacks, heart disease and strokes.  Even otherwise healthy people who do not smoke and aren’t overweight are more at risk for cardiovascular issues if they aren’t getting enough sleep. The more sleep you get the more rest you give your heart muscles and blood vessels, both of whom work hard for you day in and day out!
  • Reduces Inflammation: This is a big one for me because I suffer from Ulcerative Colitis so getting enough sleep to make sure my UC stays in remission is key.  Sleep deprivation has been linked to an increase in both inflammation and cell damage which can cause, exacerbate and/or prolong a lot of really undesirable diseases such as IBS, Crohns, UC , diabetes and even some cancers.
  • Reduces Stress & Anxiety: Getting a good night’s sleep is a great mood booster don’t ya think!  Getting the proper amount each night has been shown to ward off things like depression and anxiety disorders.  An interesting way this happens is while you sleep your brain is actually processing your emotions which in turn trains you to react the right way when you are awake.  This training helps ward off the blues and just makes us easier, happier, more well-adjusted humans to be around. 😊
  • Improves Concentration, Attention Span and in turn Productivity: We all know how tough it is to get through even the most routine of tasks when we haven’t slept well or enough but there is actual science as to why.  The more sleep we get the more able we are to not only intake but store new information, aka. learn new things!  Just as our brains are processing our emotions while we sleep, so too are they processing all the things we learned during the day.  The more sleep, the more knowledge is processed, stored and in turn available for use long-term, practical use.
  • Helps promote healthy weight and muscle building: While we are sleeping our bodies are hard at work repairing themselves. Sleep gives us the chance to basically reap the rewards of all the hard work we are putting in during the day with our fitness routines by giving our muscles a chance to repair and rebuild themselves bigger and stronger than they previously were.  Sleep also fights away the hormone cortisol which is largely responsible for how much water we retain as well as our fat burning ability.   I feel like I also have to throw in here that the more rested we are the better quality our workouts are gonna be in the first place which obviously leads to more calories burned and better overall results!

Tips for Better Sleep:

So now that we know how important sleep is to so many difference aspects of our health, how can we help ourselves get the sleep we so desperately need?  Well here are a few tips I have come across which have really helped me!

  • Unplug! – Studies have shown that staring at your phone or computer screen right before bed can actually trick your brain into being more alert due to being triggered by the bright lights coming off the screen. It in essence wakes up your brain instead of allowing it to wind down in preparation for sleep mode.  You want to cut out screen time at least 30 minutes before you go to bed.  One thing I have started to do is read for about 30-60 minute before bedtime.  It’s a double win for me because one of my goals was to read more/watch less this year and reading tends to make me tired anyway so I end up falling asleep quicker!
  • Along with putting electronic devices down, don’t watch TV in your bed – You want to condition your brain to think of the bed and bedroom as a place for sleep and that’s it.  Your bed shouldn’t be a place for entertainment (I mean, at least not like movie watching/Netflix binging entertainment if you get my drift).  It should be a place your brain associates with sleep and that’s it.
  • Limit caffeine to morning/early afternoon One of the big things I did about a year ago to help with my sleeping issues was I stopped drinking caffeinated beverages after about noon.  I was religiously having a second and even third coffee of the day way past 2pm and I think it was contributing to me not being able to fall asleep come nighttime. You also want to limit nicotine usages before bed and even alcohol intake as well.  While alcohol is a depressant it has actually been shown to contribute to restless and poor-quality sleep later in the night.  You might pass out quickly after one, two or five drinks but trust me you are not getting good, solid sleep!
  • Stick to a regular schedule as much as possible That is go to bed at the same time every night and get up in the morning at the same when at all possible.  The more regular your sleep cycle is the more conditioned your brain and body will become to falling asleep at a regular time and getting up hopefully 7-9 hours later hopefully fully recharged.  For me, I even make it a point to wake up generally at the same time on the weekends as I do during the week so that I can maintain a consistent sleep schedule.  It makes getting up on Monday that much easier (well as easy as it can be to get up on a Monday!).
  • Take a hot shower/bath right before bed This is another tip I started implementing on a regular basis that has really helped me fall asleep much quicker.  When you take a hot shower/bath right before bed you are raising your body temperature.  With your temperature being raised, your brain thinks you are getting ready to slow down and basically hibernate for the night.  Plus it saves me time in the morning as well so I can sleep just a little bit later!

The moral of this story (post) is that sleep is an integral part of achieving and maintaining good health.  So often I think people don’t prioritize it enough when it comes to losing weight and getting fit.  A huge recommendation of mine is if you are doing all the other things right, watching what you are eating, working out consistently, but still not losing weight, is to examine you sleep patterns.  With so many benefits far beyond just feeling refreshed and well-rested, sleep is not something to skimp on.  Everything from your heart health, to preforming better at work, to fighting off the common cold, to battling life-threatening diseases can be made better if you are consistently getting those 7-9 hours of sleep a night. So put down your phones, make your bedrooms a sleep sanctuary and get in your zzzz’s each and every night!  Your body and mind will both thank you!!

Also, if you guys don’t mind taking a quick sec and taking the survey below, I would really love to get your feedback on what you would like to see more of on this site.  Your opinions is super important to me and I would love to hear from you!  Thank you!!!

Xoxoxo,

Beth

 

The secret to losing weight and getting healthy is…

The secret to losing weight and getting healthy is…

JUST STAND UP!  Ok, I just heard you roll your eyes but stay with me here!! The good news is losing weight and getting healthy isn’t all that complicated.  You really just need to burn more calories than you are taking in and make sure that you are taking in calories that nourish your body and help it to thrive.  The not so good news, you have to do this like a lot.  Not just once a year around January 1st. Not for a few weeks before your beach vacation rolls around.  Not when the latest fad diet comes out and you go all in for like a month.  Your results will depend on what you do the majority of the time, day in and day out, consistently. Period.  End of story. This goes for both working out and eating healthy.

But before we can become consistent with either of those two things we just have to start.  And to stand up and take that first step I really recommend you have a solid reason to do so or a “why”.  My “why” was I found myself ten pounds heavier than I had been ever in my life about two years ago.  I was uncomfortable in my own skin.  I was chronically sick with sinus infections, colds, flus, you name it.  I was missing work. I was eating like crap, hardly ever working out and I think most debilitating of all was my anxiety was through the roof.  I went from having maybe a few panic attacks a year to having a few every single week!!  My “why” started out with just wanting to lose the weight but it very quickly morphed into wanting to be as strong and healthy physically and mentally as possible.

So why is the “why” so important?  Because without it the motivation to stick to our guns and go after our goals when the struggle gets really real isn’t there.  As much as I have grown to love working out and eating right, I still struggle on some days to find the motivation to do so.  Sometimes I would much rather sit on the couch and binge on Friends reruns than pick up those weights and press play. And for sure there are a lot of days I would much rather eat that extra-large sundae with all the toppings instead of my small cup of plain fro-yo.  On days when my motivation is pretty low I always think back to my “why”. I think about the person I was two years ago. How crappy I felt all the time.  How out of control of my own life I felt.  How I wasn’t happy with myself at all.  It really was a dark period in my life and these days when working out and/or eating right is the last thing I want to do all I have to do is think back to how I felt two years ago and my butt gets right off the couch and in motion because I don’t ever want to be that person again!

No matter what your “why” is once you have found it the first step to achieving your goals is simply to just stand up.  Decide. Commit. Don’t look back!  If you are at home, get up off the couch and move around for 30 minutes.  Take a walk, clean your room, bust out some crunches while you are watching you favorite TV show.  If you are at work, same thing.  Take a 30-minute walk at lunch time.  Get up and stretch every hour. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.  Just start moving!  Being active for even just 30 minutes a day can do wonders for your health! For instance, 30 minutes of heart-rate raising activity can:

  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Help shed some pounds
  • Ease stress and anxiety
  • Improve cardiovascular health
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Boost your immune system

Just to name a few benefits!  So what are some other ways to get off to a good start when you have made that all important decision to get healthy?  Well a few ways I recommend are:

  • Get a baseline physical: It is important to get clearance from your doctor before you really dive into an exercise program just to make sure everything is in good working order. You want to make sure you are healthy enough to start putting extra stress on your body for one and your doctor may even be able to guide you in terms of what exercise might be right to meet your fitness/health goals.  I also recommend getting your labs done to make sure you are hitting the mark nutritionally and getting all the vitamins and minerals you need through your current diet.  For example, in my case my last physical showed my cholesterol was borderline high so I have made some efforts to change my diet in order to naturally lower it.  Fingers crossed it works!
  • Focus on whole foods: The basic idea behind eating more “whole foods” is that you are eating more natural foods instead of pre-packaged, processed foods. Examples of whole foods include fruits, veggies, nuts, fish, poultry and eggs.  Examples of not-so-healthy foods to stay away from are chips, cookies, snack mixes, white breads, basically anything that comes in a convenient, ready-to-eat package.  Usually processed foods are very nutrient poor, have a lot of added salt and/or sugar and just often contain artificial ingredients that aren’t doing our bodies any good.  On the flip side, whole or non-processed foods are usually full of nutrients, are heart-healthy and can even reduce the risk of some diseases.  Start by switching out a few of those pre-packaged snack foods you keep around for when that afternoon craving hits for better choices like apples and peanut butter or carrots and hummus.
  • Up that water intake: I am such a huge proponent of drinking enough water you guys!  I even wrote a whole separate post (Drink up! H20 that is!) on it if you want more details but in the meantime making a conscious effort to up your water intake is a great way to start getting healthy. Water does so many important things for our bodies including improving brain function, upping energy levels and even boosting our immune system.  Plus, a tall glass of water before meals can fill us up a bit so we don’t eat quite as much.  Start by replacing a sugary soft-drink, iced tea or fruit juice with a glass of water once or twice a day.  Also, I find it helpful to keep track of how many glasses I have had a day to make sure I am hitting the mark  Trust me, the more water you drink the healthier you will feel and be!!
  •  Find what works for you: Find something that appeals to you when you are just starting out, whether it be a quick walk around your neighborhood, a short hike at the local park, a Pilates or yoga class or maybe go swim a few laps at your local pool.  Choosing something that you enjoy doing will only increase the likelihood of you sticking with it and in turn hitting your goals.  Physical activity in just about any form has so many benefits and there is no reason you can’t make it fun as well!  I also personally believe that mixing up your workouts and trying new ways of being active goes a long way in helping you stick to your goals.  One of the reasons I think I have been successful thus far in my own journey is that I found a program that includes over 700+ different workouts that I can do from just about anywhere. I am never bored and can find a workout to fit whatever mood I am in that day. As they say, the only bad workout is one that you didn’t do! 

So find your “why”, stand your newly determined butt up and take that first step towards a more active, healthy future!  Make small changes in the beginning that will ultimately become the foundation for your new lifestyle moving forward.  Don’t beat yourself up over setbacks.  Remember to celebrate your successes and on those especially challenging days where you can’t find your motivation anywhere, think back to your “why” and remember why you started in the first place.  You’ve got this and if ever you need that extra kick in the butt you know where to find me!!

Also guys if you want to take a minute and check out my poll below…I would love to get your feedback on what you would like to see more of on this site!  Your opinion is so important to me and I want to make sure I am putting stuff up that you find helpful!!

Thanks so much and happy Monday y’all…let’s make this a great week!!

Xoxoxo,

Beth

Who me? A Runner?

Who me? A Runner?

In the wise words of Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”.  In this case the times are when I am running and indeed they are both the best and worst times of my week.  Ok that may be a little dramatic as it is not really the worst of times but running for me is definitely both extremely challenging and very rewarding all at the same time.   I want to quit about a half dozen times before I even start, but then I get going and the love affair is back on!  I have had this sort of tumultuous relationship with running for as long as I can remember but the start of it definitely dates back to my time on my high school cross country team.    I am not sure what even possessed me to join the team but I subjected myself to two seasons of ten plus mile practices every day of the week until I ended up with a gnarly case of shin splints at the end of my second year and decided to hang up my Nikes.

I think part of my motivation way back in those days and even today is that I have always wanted to be able to say, “I am a runner!”. You know, those people who wake up at the ass crack of dawn to get their easy breezy eight miles in before work and run races every Saturday morning just to continue to challenge themselves even on the weekends.  Alas, I have not yet become that person but I have started to make the attempt again and this time I am happy to report it is going much better than it has previously.  I have dabbled in trying to become a runner many times over the years since my “glory days” of the cross-country team but with each attempt came pretty quick failure.  It always seems like such a cool thing to do and the people in my life who are true runners even make it seem so easy but when you get down to it running (at least for me) can be just plain hard.

In this most recent attempt to transform myself into one of those enviable runner-types I think I realized something that may just be the key to actually allowing me to stick with it this time.  I realized that the truly difficult part of running is convincing your mind that you can do it.   While of course there is a physical element to being able to run any prolonged distance, it is really your mind you have to convince not to give up when your body starts telling you it is uncomfortable.  Our bodies are really amazingly durable machines and can withstand quite a bit of stress when asked to, our minds, however, are a bit more temperamental.  As soon as they sense any bit of pain, strain or fatigue they have the tendency to say….” Hey there chick, stop what you are doing because it is making me feel a tad but unpleasant”.

This revelation came to me about a month into my most recent attempt at running when I was on the treadmill and hit the two-mile mark.  This is where I would normally throw in the towel due to those unpleasant sensations starting to manifest themselves.  By unpleasant sensations I mean you know the burning lungs, leg soreness and that really painful side cramping.  I typically would start to experience one or all of these things and immediately reach for the cool down button thinking my body was telling me it was time to stop.  This particular day for whatever reason I decided to try to push myself through the pain and I kept right on running.  Low and behold I made it 2 more miles for a total of 4 miles before I actually had to stop, due to needing to get ready and go to work.  I was shocked!  I hadn’t run four miles in years and I did it more easily than I would have even thought possible!  Don’t get me wrong, it was challenging as it is every time I set out for a run, but my body yet again surprised me and I was able to achieve something I hadn’t thought I was capable of up until that point.

Now to be fair, I had been working out consistently for about a year and a half at this point so it wasn’t like I was in terrible shape but I certainly hadn’t been running or really doing any amount of cardio at all on a regular basis.  I had been mostly doing strength training and HIIT workouts (following the at-home workout programs I still swear by) with only a smidgen of cardio mixed in, usually in the form of 30 minutes on the elliptical every so often when the mood struck.  So to make it four miles not only gave me a gigantic confidence boost but also renewed my interest in transforming myself into a runner. Since that morning I have been consistently running about 3 or so days a week and have been progressively increasing my speed and distance slowly but surely.  This coming weekend is my next actual 5k race and then I am eyeing another 4-5 races before the season is over.

So why run anyway?  Well I am glad you asked! 😊  As dramatic as I was being earlier in this post about how hard it is for me, running is an amazing workout that can really do wonders for your mind and body.  Below are some of the top reasons I continue to lace up my running shoes and get those miles under my belt as well a few suggestions for when you are just starting out:

How to (safely) get started:

  • Make sure you invest in good running shoes: You guys this is so important to being successful not only when first starting out but even if you’re a seasoned runner. You want to get shoes that are specific to running because they are designed to cushion your foot (midsole and arch support is key), make your feet feel lighter as you run, they will help you avoid blisters and other running related injuries, and can even improve your overall performance.  My go-to’s are usually Asics or New Balance.  It’s always a good idea to get fitted as well to make sure you are getting shoes that work with your feet.  Happy Feet = Happy Run!
  • Start Gradually!! – If you are attempting your very first run or your first run in like a gazillion years don’t go out and expect to make it ten miles right off the bat. Much like with any other sport you have to give your body time to adjust and condition itself to the new stress you are putting it under.  I started with a mile, then made it to two and after hovering right around the two-mile mark for several weeks eventually was able to start upping my mileage to between 3-5 on any given day. Easing into a new running routine is key to avoiding injury, sticking with your goals and avoiding the too much too soon scenario which almost always leads to burnout and you throwing in the towel prematurely.  A great tool to help you structure your running program is a Couch to 5k plan.  You can find a variety of these programs online which help you to map out exactly what distances to run each day to safely increase your running stamina.  Also, great if one of your goals is to actually run a 5K!
  • Incorporate Strength Training: I think this is one of the reasons I have (so far) been more successful in my attempt at being a runner this time around.  I was consistently strength training for over a year before I began running again so my legs were stronger, my core was stronger, and I was in overall better shape than I had been at the start of any previous attempts.  Despite the sometimes thought that running and strength training are mutually exclusive, strength training can greatly increase your running performance in my opinion.  If your muscles are stronger you can run longer distances before getting fatigued and your chances of getting injured go way down. So hit those weights, preferably on days you don’t run, and experience the benefits of cross-training for both your body goals as well as your running goals.
  • Listen to your body: I know I have said this a million times, but your body will really tell you what it needs and when it needs it.  A great way to make sure you are not over-taxing your body when you are just starting a running routine is to run one day and then take the next off.  This rest day from running might be a good opportunity to hit those weights I was just talking about as well as give your body time to recover from the run you did the day before.  Also a good idea when first starting out to use a combo of walking and running during your workouts.  Run for a few minutes, walk for a few minutes until you build up your stamina and can run for longer duration’s.  Again, the main thing here is to listen to your body and act accordingly.  If you are sore, take a day off.  If you start cramping mid-way through a run, walk for a few minutes.  Just give your body time to do its thing and it will allow you to push it further in the long run (no pun intended).

Why Run?

  • Amazing for Cardiovascular Health – This one seems pretty obvious but besides being a great way to strengthen your heart, running also does wonders for your lung function, can help lower cholesterol, gives your immune system a boost and of course can even help you lose weight! What else can you ask for in one exercise?!
  • Great Stress Reliever – Ever heard of the Runners High? Oh man, it’s a real thing and let me tell you it’s pretty glorious when it kicks in.  This phenomenon is brought to you by those great little endorphins your brain produces after you have been doing some moderate exercise for a sustained amount of time.  Usually about 25-30 minutes into my run I start to experience the feeling that I could run forever, that I don’t have a care in the world and that I just feel like a million bucks.  The release of endorphins while running has also been shown to be an effective way to treat/manage things like depression and anxiety…especially when running outside!
  • Confidence Booster – Along with the stress relieving benefits of running, it can also make you feel good in a different sort of way…it can make you proud of yourself! I think for me this is one of the biggest appeals of running.  Because it has always been such a challenge for me, when I complete a run, I just feel like I really accomplished something.  Running is far harder for me than weight training or any other kind of cardio so when I successfully meet one of my running goals, I am that much prouder of myself and eager to do it again or meet an even loftier goal.
  • Hey it’s free! – You can literally run just about anywhere!  Throw on some shoes, open your front door and go!  There is no real cost to running other than those all-important shoes it is wise to invest in, but again you can pretty much do it anywhere anytime.  It’s a great way to explore a new place, easy to do if you are away on vacation and getting fresh air everyday does wonders for not only your mind but also has been shown to lower blood pressure, raise your self-esteem, and burns a bunch of calories all at the same time!

So who’s ready to go for a run??  With all the benefits that you can reap even just running one or two days a week (lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, ward off stroke and arthritis, even potentially prevent some cancers, not to mention shed some weight) why not give it a shot?!  I’m a few months into my own attempt at becoming that runner I have always aspired to be so stay tuned to see how that goes! I think I have a real shot at it this time and seeing as how by body has surprised me countless times since I have started on this health and fitness journey I am feeling pretty confident I can meet this goal as well!   Wish me luck on my upcoming 5k this weekend and if anyone out there has any tips at how to improve as a runner or what has worked for you I would love to hear it!

Xoxoxo.

Beth

Don’t forget to rest!

Don’t forget to rest!

This is really an open letter to myself because I am at a point in my own fitness journey where it is harder for me to take rest days than it is for me to get up and workout!! That may sound weird.  Heck it sounds weird for me to even say, but it’s true! I have to force myself to take a day off because I truly enjoy working out and being active so much now that it’s tough for me to stop even for just one day.  This topic came to mind because last week I took a mini-vacay to Florida and I actually had anxiety before I left about the prospect of being out of my workout routine for a whole week.

Logically of course I know that a few days off isn’t going to undue all the hard work I have put in but there was definitely a small, irrational part of me that was a bit worried about losing ground and momentum.  Fortunately, I can stream my workouts from anywhere so knowing I could get my sweat on if I wanted to eased my mind greatly.  And as it turned out, I did get a few workouts in from my AirBnB living room, and a couple really great early morning beach runs and ocean swims in, and once I was on those sandy beaches I was able to more fully embrace vacation-mode and take a few guilt-free days totally off.

Now while I have gotten to the point where I don’t like to take a day off from working out, the same does NOT go for the eating part of this whole get and stay healthy equation. I thoroughly enjoy my cheat meals and not only plan at least one good one a week but absolutely look forward to it every single time.  For me eating healthy is much more challenging than working out.  That may because I get my workout in each day in about 30-45 minutes and can check that box as complete.  But making smart food choices is an everyday, all day long endeavor which for me is much more challenging.  I do try to eat healthy about 80% of the time so that 20% where I allow myself to indulge is pretty close to heavily.  Any day where tacos, pizza and ice cream are on the menu is a day to look forward to in my opinion!

Ok back to rest days…got a little sidetracked there thinking about all that yummy cheat day food!  Despite my desire these days to keep pushing myself to meet my every evolving fitness goals, rest days are not only necessary but essential to a smart and effective workout plan. The following is a little bit how, why and when you should be incorporating them into your own routine:

How often should you take a rest day?

So the answer is, it depends.  Of course, right?!  Nothing is really that cut and dry when it comes to health and fitness.  There are so many variables that can be taken into consideration when trying to answer this question such as the type of training you are doing, how long have you been doing it and just generally your body type and fitness level.  But a few fundamental guidelines can be followed when thinking about how often you should be resting.  It is recommended that when you are just starting out on a new fitness regimen you rest after two days of training.  So workout for two days in a row then take that third day off.  It is especially important when you are starting a new sport, activity or workout program that you give your body adequate time to adjust to the new stressors it is enduring.

Once you are a little more seasoned and have been doing the routine, program or sport for a while you can reduce your rest days to about once or twice a week.  You have at this point given your body time to acclimate which has seriously reduced the risk of injury caused by the “too much, too soon” scenario.  Again, these are just guidelines.  If you have been at it for a while, had a particularly grueling couple workouts in a row, or are just extra sore for whatever reason you may want to up your down time.  This isn’t a perfect science you guys and to me honestly the most important thing you can do here is listen to your body. It will tell you in no uncertain terms that it needs a break.  Mine sure does!   I have gotten into this routine where I push myself pretty good all week and by the weekend my body says “ENOUGH!”.  My rest days have become either Saturday and/or Sunday because I generally am good and sore by then as well as feeling the fatigue from going 100 miles an hour Monday through Friday.

As much as I sometimes don’t really want to take the break, there is one giant upside I have found to putting down those weights and taking it easy for a day or two and that is that how good that first workout is after a rest day. Your muscles are fresh, your mind is re-engaged and you tend to just get a kick ass workout in.  That’s actually what gets me through those rest days to tell you the truth!  I picture the workout I will get to do the next day and how good it will feel and I know resting is making that possible.  Again, yes I know how crazy that may sound that I have to “get through” rest days but that is seriously how I feel most of the time! Ok, on to the next rest day topic…

What constitutes a rest day?

So there are two different kinds of rest, active rest and then well, just straight up total rest.  Active rest means you are still moving, maybe getting that heart rate up just a tad and burning a few calories in the process. What you are NOT doing is hitting the gym or picking up weights or doing any other type of exercise that is going to be high-impact, heart-pounding or super taxing to your body. Some good examples of how you can actively rest are:

  • Walking
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Light swim
  • Hiking

The other kind, total rest days, are just that.  You are really and truly just resting your body all day.  I find that I use a combination of both types of rest days depending on the week and what program I am following.  Some weeks I am so spent I really just stop all activity for a day, maybe two.  I take a couch day as I like to call it.  Again, usually these happen on Saturday or Sunday after a long week and I just allow myself to be totally lazy and take a break from any and all activity.  When I say I allow myself, usually my body demands it of me and I really have no choice but to listen.  I am either really sore from the weeks workouts or my energy is at about a zero and I just feel like I need to recharge for a good solid day.

Deloading:

There is also a third option when talking about the overall idea of resting and that is to incorporate what is called a deloading period into your workout schedule.  A deloading period is basically a time you build into your long-term workout schedule to give your body a bit of a breather.  It generally takes the form of one of the following three ways:

  • Shorter Workouts
  • Less Intense Workouts
  • A complete change in the type of workouts you are doing

For instance, if you have been hitting the weights hard for weeks on end, day in and day out, you may want to lighten up how much you are lifting and/or only workout say 3 days instead of 5.  Another option is to switch from weight training to something like swimming or biking to really give your muscles, tendons and joints good solid time to heal. Usually these deload periods last a week and are recommended to be incorporated every 8 weeks into your fitness routine if you are a more recreational weight trainer like I am.  If you are a really serious lifter or performance athlete, it more beneficial to incorporate these deloading weeks every 4 or so weeks.  Unlike straight rest days or active rest days, during this deloading period you can still workout, keep that momentum going and heart rate up, but it is an opportunity to give your body a little break intensity-wise that it most likely really needs.

Importance of rest days:

So we all know that taking a rest day is vital for muscle recovery.  Pushing yourself too hard, too many days in a row will undoubtedly lead to burnout and most likely an injury of some sort.  After all, our muscles actually tear when we are training so if we don’t stop to let them repair and rebuild themselves overuse injuries are sure to happen.  Along with preventing injury, a few other vital reasons rest days are so important are:

  • The rest gives your immune system a break – Yep as good as working out is for you, anytime you are putting a strain on your body your immune system has to work a little harder to keep up with the repairs. Letting your body properly rest allows your immune system to do its work by repairing your muscles in time for you to tax them all over again.
  • You avoid not only physical burnout, but also mental burnout – I know for me I have encountered the situation where I have gone too hard for too long and started to get bored with the whole process. As soon as I take a day off my interest in staying on track is always renewed.  I am refocused, re-motivated and reengaged in my journey which is crucial for success to in order to stop that cycle of starting and quitting health and fitness routines over and over again.
  • Avoid developing Overtraining Syndrome – Just like the name implies, Overtraining Syndrome occurs when you just do too much too often in the exercise department with insufficient rest periods in between. Signs you are in danger of developing this syndrome are your workouts are not producing new and improved results, or worse yet you are losing those gains you have worked so hard for, you may not be sleeping well, your appetite is starting to dwindle, you may even be losing weight, you could be getting sick more frequently and are sore more often than not.  And those are just some of the possible symptoms!  Needless to say, this is not something you want to develop and can easily be avoided by properly resting every so often.

I gotta be honest you guys, while I knew that rest days were important, after taking the time to really think about why and then putting it all down here on this post I am even more determined to make sure I am incorporating them responsibly into my own workout schedule.   Rest days are just as crucial to meeting your health and fitness goals as actual training days are.  Treating your rest days just like you would a scheduled workout is a great way to approach the whole thing, especially if you are anything like me and like to plan, plan and then plan some more!   So thanks everyone if you read this post and I hope it was helpful to you as well! 😊

xoxoxo,

Beth 

P.S. – See below for some pics from my recent Florida trip…have you all gone anywhere fun this summer?  Let me know!