Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Scale: Not Worth It's Weight

The last time I knew what I weighed was November of 2011. 

For about eight months prior to, I, embarrassingly enough, let myself become completely consumed by the number on the scale. This is ridiculous, because I don’t even know what I ultimately hoped it would say. I just knew that I wanted it to be lower, and then lower, and still lower again. 

I would wake up in a fantastic mood, leap out of bed, and stroll into the bathroom feeling like a million bucks. I'd hop on the scale, and then promptly become furious at whatever number popped up, and proceed to completely lose my marbles. 

FYI: declaring an unsubstantiated Defcon One emergency at 6am is a really effective way to ensure an awful day, and it also makes people scared of you. 

The Official Break-Up

This insane behavior repeated itself for a few months until I finally recognized it for what it was - extremely self-destructive, obsessive, and unhealthy. Something had to go, and it was either going to be my sanity - what was left of it, anyways - or the scale. 
I chose the latter. 

In November of 2011, I tossed the scale into the garbage with gusto, flipped it the bird for good measure, and promised myself to stop acting like a lunatic. 

Part of me was relieved that I was finally free from the mind-controlling aspect of a piddly, insignificant number, but the other part of me was concerned that I needed the scale. How will I know what I weigh?

A couple of weeks later was when the lightbulb turned on that would end up permanently altering the course of my thinking:

Who the hell cares what I weigh? 

Do my friends care what I weigh? My loved ones? The people at the DMV? 
No, no, and no. 

People that love you care about two things: your health, and happiness, neither of which should require a scale to tell you, so why do so many of us put so much emphasis, day in and day out, on what is ultimately an insignificant number? 

The Scale Only Tells You the Weight of Your Body.

The number that comes up on the scale means exactly one thing, and one thing only: how much your body weighs at that particular moment in time. That is it. 

It doesn't tell you about your sleep quality, stress levels, health markers, muscle mass, nutrition, how your lifts are going, you're happiness, or anything else that actually matters. 

So, basically, it's nearly pointless. 

A woman could weigh a relatively low number on the scale - let’s say 125 pounds - yet be sedentary, lethargic, unhealthy, and carry a higher than normal amount of body fat

On the flip side of this, a woman could weigh 180 pounds, be a weight-smashing machine with glowing health and self-confidence, bouncing off the walls with energy, and carry a lower than normal amount of body fat

I can certainly tell you which one I'd rather be, higher number on the scale be damned. 

You can take two women, at the same height and weight, but with different body compositions, and even though the scale reads the same for both of them, their physiques will look very different. 

Your friend so-and-so looks smokin' hot at 145 pounds? Awesome! However, that 145 pounds will look differently on you, depending on how much muscle you have, and where your body stores it's fat. 

Let’s take a look at how the same person at the same weight can look very different based on different points in their lives. 

To help me demonstrate this, I have a few pics of myself, and my friends Kelsea and Molly, who have given me their blessing to share their photos and details with you: 

185 pounds on the left.

Nine years later, more muscle, tons of strength gains, significantly lower body fat
and 183.5 pounds on the right. 
1.5 pound swing, yet a world of difference! 

138 pounds on the left in 2011.

In 2014 on the right, also at 138 pounds, 
significantly more muscle (hello, arms!), lower body fat, 
and some insanely strong lifts.

On the left, 158 pounds, and mother-effin' cardio queen, before I started powerlifting.

158 pounds on the right 3 years later, 
with much more muscle, significantly less body fat, 
some beefy squat, bench, and deadlift numbers, and brand new quads. 

We don't talk about that tattoo. We just don't. 

All three of us have inarguably made some pretty impressive progress over the years, but if we were basing things off of the scale alone, it'd show that we haven't done much of anything except for maintained, which couldn't be further from the truth.

She QUIT... all because of the scale. 

I have a good friend that has given me her permission to share her story with you. 

My friend was battling some big issues. Over the years she had developed some bad eating habits, gained a substantial amount of weight, and because of that was suffering from low energy, health problems, low sex drive, and terrible self-confidence. 

After reading one of my posts, she embarked on the Whole30, and she was absolutely killing it. She text me often to let me know how well it was going. After the two week mark, her cravings had nearly subsided, and she went so far as to say it was actually very simple to stay the course. She reported more energy, a boost in confidence, and couldn't stop saying how excited and optimistic she felt! Woohoo!

About three weeks in, she weighed herself, even though the Whole30 specifically forbids stepping on a scale (and soon you'll see why). 

She had only lost a few pounds, and she was crushed. Even though she had been feeling fantastic, and had made absolutely sweeping changes to her nutrition, eating habits, and was setting herself up for a lifetime of better health, she was discouraged beyond belief because of a number, and she quit
It was heartbreaking. 

All of the potential good that could have come from this, gone, because of the stupid mother-fudging scale. 

The Arrival Fallacy

Once I weigh ____, I’ll finally love myself. 

We believe that once we arrive at a specific destination, it will bring us abundant joy and happiness. This is the trickery of what is called the Arrival Fallacy. 

Sure, reaching a goal feels good, and improving your body composition will inevitably help your self-confidence to some degree, but your self-love won’t be flipped on like a light switch just because you hit a certain number on the scale. 

Striving relentlessly towards a specific digit gives us tunnel vision, and we convince ourselves that we can't be happy with our body until we get to that point. 
Additionally, we become so out of tune with how our body actually feels, that we lose sight of all of the things that are going well, because we become so dependent on the scale to tell us whether things are "good" or "bad". 

There is so much more to improvement that has nothing to do with the scale, or even with measurements, for that matter.

Since I stopped tracking the scale, and really, anything else other than the weight I slap onto the barbell, I have become more in tune with my body than I ever have been. Eliminating the stress of tracking my weight and checking my bodyfat percentage has freed up ample energy and precious brain space to enable me to pay significantly more attention to what is going on inside my body, and what it's trying to tell me. 

The following are some examples of making progress in health and fitness, that are unrelated (to a degree) to the number on the scale: 

  • Eating more nutrient dense foods, and less junk food. 
  • Learning to listen to hunger cues, rather than appetite.
  • Sleeping better. 
  • Becoming stronger, or faster, or whatever you're working on for performance.
  • Higher sex drive.
  • Clearer skin.
  • Better digestion. 
  • More energy. 
  • Improved cognition. 
  • Walking up a flight of stairs without gasping for air. 

One of my nutrition clients made this, and gave me her permission to share it:

In 10 weeks, lost 2.4% body fat, gained strength, improved health, and made noticeable physique changes,
yet the silly scale only reflects 2.5lb lost.

The Bottom Line

Stepping on the scale can be a much-needed wake-up call for some. Seeing things in a stark black-and-white perspective can be necessary in order to jumpstart change for some people, and I recognize the value of it in those situations. 

The scale is also a necessary tool for competitors that are working towards a certain weight class. 

Where the scale gets problematic is when you are letting it make or break your days, or when you are determining all of your progress or self-worth by the number that shows up. 

Let's redirect our focus to things that really matter! 
Work towards health, happiness, and performance; not an irrelevant number on the scale. 
Remember, there is so much more to progress than that number

I have gone 2.5 years without seeing my weight - and I mean not one single time - and what do you know? I'm happier, healthier, stronger, and more confident than I've ever been. 

A good friend of mine said something to me about two years ago, and it has echoed in my head ever since: 

“Nothing is more beautiful than radiant health and happiness.” 

Now, who wants to bring their scales to my house and have a scale burning bonfire?!

Has the scale been helpful or a hindrance to you? 
Could you go a few years without weighing yourself at all? 
There are no wrong answers! 
Let's chat below! 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

You Can't Be Good at Yoga, and Other Things You Should Know Before Starting Your Practice

There is No Such Thing as Being Good at Yoga

“But... but... that girl can do a handstand! And she can put her foot behind her head! And that guy? He tied his leg into a knot and then did an arm balance on it! They are so good at yoga!”

I have news for you, my soon-to-be-blissed-out friend. There is no such thing as being good at yoga. 

I am going to repeat that line for emphasis, because it is crucial:

There is no such thing as being good at yoga. 

That woman and man mentioned above may be flexible, strong, and have excellent body awareness that could be attributed to the mental fortitude that is developed through a consistent yoga practice, but you can’t excel at yoga. You just can’t. 

Yoga is being present in the moment, focusing on your breath, and moving your body in a manner that serves you at that very moment. 

It’s not a certain pose, and nobody wins. Sorry, Bikram. 

Know now that your practice will be different each day. Sometimes you'll need something vigorous, and you'll slip deeply into every delicious pose, all while breathly deeply and feeling weightless, never wanting it to end. 

Other days you may be crunchy, your body uncooperative, checking the clock every other minute, and you'll have the attention span of a fruit fly. On days like this, it's important to focus on your breath, slow down, and do whatever feels good for your body, which does not include trying to finagle yourself into a complicated new pose just because the girl next to you is. 

Speaking of that super flexy chick on the mat next to you... 

The Dirty Three-Lettered Word: Ego

The overwhelming majority of injuries that occur from yoga are when people let their ego take the reins. Trying to match your neighbor pose for pose will get you nowhere, except for hurt and discouraged. 

Feeling sensation and a bit of discomfort in your hamstrings during a deep forward fold is one thing, but experiencing pain is another entirely, and you are just begging to get hurt. If your hamstrings - or any other muscle - feel like they are going to snap, then guess what? They probably will, and I doubt I need to tell you how miserable a torn muscle is. 

If you can not breathe deeply and smile in a pose, you need to ease up. That is the rule. 

What if I’m Not Flexible? 

Many people aren’t. 

Yoga is not about flexibility. Yes, done frequently it will enhance your mobility (and strength and stability), but being bendy is not the premise on which yoga was built, nor is it important. Yes, we want you to be able to move well to improve your quality of life, but that has nothing to do with the ability to wrap your leg around your head. 

The poses (also referred to as asana) are only one of the eight branches of yoga. The postures in yoga are simply to serve as a moving meditation.

Something For Every BODY 

There are a ton of different styles of yoga. Ranging from classes that are centered around luxurious relaxation, to practices that will leave you drenched in sweat, there is absolutely something for everybody.  

You'll want to find a class that matches up with your level, personality style, and what your body needs at the moment, in order to make your experience enjoyable and get the most out of it. 

Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Restorative, Iyengar, Anusara, Kripalu, Jivamukti, Forrest - the list of yoga styles go on and on. I’m going to touch on a few that you are likely see on a yoga schedule at your local studio, in hopes of helping you find something that will suit you, or inspiring you to try something new!  

Flow, or No Flow? 

Onzie Criss Cross bra top in Citron, and Capri Pant in Cali Palms
If you want something with a lot of movement, look for a vinyasa class.

Vinyasa is simply an umbrella term for any free-style yoga class that moves with and follows your breath. 

It’s safe to assume that it will start with sun salutations to build heat, move to standing postures, balance poses, possible inversions (optional), seated and/or lying poses, and then finish with Savasana, which is about 5 - 10 minutes of heavenly relaxation and meditation. 

The following are a few examples of vinyasa style yoga practices, and what makes them a bit different.  

Anusara: heavy emphasis on alignment, with the central theme being “Attitude, Alignment, Action”. 

Forrest: starts with rigorous core work, and utilizes very long holds in the poses to stir emotion and breath. Did I mention the long holds? 

Iyengar: use of blocks and straps, long holds in the poses, less postures overall, and a lot of instruction with heavy emphasis on alignment. A very meticulous practice. If you want all of the details on exactly where your body should be during a practice (which is great for some, maddening for others), then this may be a good choice for you. 

Ashtanga: a set series of poses divided into six different levels, all laced together by performing vinyasas. This practice is very physically challenging, and needs to be done on a day that you do not strength train. 
Ashtanga is a personal favorite of mine. If you want a tough, athletic practice, you will enjoy this class. If you aren’t familiar with the series, you will want to ask if this is a led class, or a mysore class. If it’s led, an instructor will guide you through the postures. If it’s a mysore class, you are expected to come in and do the series on your own, and the instructor is there only to assist students should they need it. 

Power Yoga, Power vinyasa, or Power Flow: faster moving, athletic vinyasa classes that will be physically rigorous, build more heat, and call for more strength poses.

Bring It Down

If you want something a bit more mellow to unwind, look to classes such as:

Restorative yoga: uses bolsters and blankets to comfortably prop you into passive poses where you will relax anywhere from 3 - 5 minutes at a time. Treat yourself to this class. It’s delicious and rejuvenating. 

Viniyoga: a therapeutic practice that is good for people recovering from injuries. 

Soft Flow, Slow Flow, or Light Flow: likely a toned down version of a vinyasa practice using slow, thoughtful movement. 

When in doubt, just ask! Call up the studio, tell them a bit about yourself, what you are looking for, and ask for their recommendations. They should be happy to help!

Onzie Capri Pants in Cali Palms

Working Yoga Into Your Weight Smashing Schedule 

If you strength train consistently, you can work in any of the less aggressive classes listed above, or any low to moderate level vinyasa class on the same day that you train, preferably after your strength sesh.  

Should you choose to take something more intense, like Ashtanga or a power flow, you may want to do that on a non-training day, at least until you see how your body feels, both during the yoga class, and the day after. 

When incorporating intelligently, yoga can be a fantastic complement to your weight training. Not only will it help with mobility and stability, but I have found that it has really improved my mental toughness, which has carried over nicely to my performance both in the gym, and in other physical activities. 

It's More Than a Mat

You want a good sticky mat. Trust me here. It is very tempting to grab a $14.00 mat from your local drugstore and think that will pass muster, but you will be slipping and sliding all over the damn place. Getting into downward facing dog and having your hands and feet slowwwwwwly slide away from you and having to re-adjust every 3 seconds is awful. 

Additionally, mats are sacred territory. While most studios will loan you one, get your own. Do you really want to rest your forehead on a spot where many other people’s bare, sweaty feet have been? Ew. Of course you don’t.  

Good mats are not cheap, but they are a wise investment and last a long time. My favorite mats are from Jade. I use the Jade Harmony Mat in 68". If you are six feet tall or taller, go for the 74" mat. 

Colonel Chompers doesn't let my pose affect his ego. He couldn't care less.

Fashion or Function? I Choose Both! 

I made an epic mistake once by wearing low-rise tights and a flowy tank to yoga. Each time I bent over (which, in vinyasa and ashtanga, is a lot), I’d have to hike my pants back up to hide my exposed buttcrack, while simultaneously attempting to pull my shirt down so my chest wasn’t exposed. Try doing that when you’re upside-down


Whatever you decide to wear to yoga should be tested out prior to leaving the house. Bend over. Get into a plank position. Lift your arms up over your head a few times. 
Do your clothes shift around, requiring adjustment? If so, change immediately, no matter how rad you look.  

Gentlemen, your super humongous t-shirt and XXXXL basketball shorts that hit you mid-calf aren't your best bet. Wear a shirt that doesn’t hinder the range of motion in your upper body, nor will it flip up over your head when you’re folded over. Wear shorts or pants that stay put on your waist, are comfortably lightweight, and allow you to bend your knees freely. 

Currently, some of my favorite yoga gear is from Onzie.  I recently had the opportunity to test-drive some of their stuff, and it’s so incredibly comfortable! The tights move with me like a second skin, and the entire outfit is breathable, light, and so ridiculously cute. Please check out their website: 

Your Yoga On-ramp Checklist 

  • Get into a yoga studio. You will typically get more individualized attention, and the instructors in a studio are required to have much more stringent certifications and teaching time. 
  • Choose the level and style of yoga that is appropriate for you, and use blocks and straps for assistance as needed.
  • Try a shorter class for your first time to get your bearings, like a lunchtime or happy hour class that is 45 - 60 minutes long. Both shorter and longer classes are highly beneficial; neither is superior. 
  • If you aren't able to do anything else in your yoga class, just be present and breathe. It's that simple. 
  • Pay no mind to what others are doing, and listen to your body. 
  • Try a few different styles, from different instructors. Remember that everybody has a unique teaching style, some of which you will vibe with, and others that you won't. Don't dismiss yoga because of one instructor or one style. 

If you just can’t get into a studio, I really love . There are a ton of different instructors, styles, levels, and durations to choose from to customize the kind of class you’d like. I recommend this over most yoga DVDs, because it gives you so many choices depending on how you and your body are feeling on that day. 
Additionally, it offers workshops and tutorials on specific poses that are fun to work on, but require more attention and instruction. 

Embarking on a yoga journey is exciting! Even if you choose to practice once a week, or every day, it will provide you with precious time to dig in deep, and see what is going on inside. We are always on the go or connected, and having the opportunity to sit with ourselves in silence and be present it something special. 

As my yoga mentor D'ana Baptiste of Centered City Yoga and InBody Academy reminds us, 

"Get out of your head, and into your body." 

What style of yoga most appeals to you?
Did I miss anything that you'd like to add for newbies that are looking to get started?
I'd love to hear from you below!

Onzie Capri Pant in Cali Palms

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Embrace YES: the Importance of New Experiences


It was the first word out of my mouth as a wee babe. Not mama, not dadda, but “no”, and according to my parents, it was a vehement, rather fervent style of no. When I said it, which apparently, was quite often, I meant it. 

For the next 30+ years, this word continued to be one of my favorites, and I eagerly barked it off to all sorts of things.

I said no to things that a person should, such as drugs, and most other shenanigans that typically only lead to problems, however I also said no to potentially good stuff, like healthy new experiences and opportunities. This was absolutely maddening to a few important people in my life who, over many years, frequently complained that I never wanted to try anything new. 

They were right. I didn’t. I was in a comfy little rut with my routines. 
Work. Gym. Home. Work. Gym. Home. Workgymhomeworkgymhome. Eventually it all started to blur together, and it began to bother me: I was boring myself. 

Embrace Yes

The shift began last year after I read “Mindset” by Carol Dweck, who writes about the importance of a growth mindset. This book really resonated with me, and I started to realize just how often I was holding myself back from things, because of fear. Stupid, silly, irrational fear! Fear of being bad at something, fear of looking stupid, or fear of simply the unknown. 

My epiphany smacked me across the face in fall of 2013: 

I need to embrace yes. 
That is what is missing from my life. 
So much more yes! 

If you follow me on Instagram, you have seen that I am positively oozing yes these days, ranging from the minutiae:

“Yes, I’d love to go grab frozen yogurt” even though it’s 10:30pm on a Tuesday, and that is not at all something I’d typically do,

to biggies:

“Of course I’ll go buy a motorcycle today!” 

“Why, yes, I’d love to take a super intensive yoga training that will end up spanning the length of the entire year.” 

to things that I truly never imagined myself doing

“Yes, I’d love to take Pole Dancing classes five days a week for a couple of months!”

“Absolutely, dancing around a yoga studio in Nashville with a bunch of women while chanting ‘Sat Nam’ sounds positively groovy!” 

“Sure, learning Jiu Jitsu is a great idea!” 

And that is just the beginning. 

I am addicted to yes. 

I can’t stop. It’s almost become a personal challenge to me to see what things I can say yes to that I wouldn’t have a couple of years ago. 

Don’t misunderstand me; this is not about saying yes until my schedule is packed full and I’m exhausted and miserable. No, no, no. 

This is about busting out of the boundaries of the confined, boring, suffocating little box I had inadvertently stuffed myself into over the years. It’s about saying yes to things that will give me the opportunity for new experiences, or getting to know different people. 

Saying Yes Makes Me Feel Juiced

I am an ardent believer that new experiences nourish our soul. Monotony is killing us softly, and draining us both energetically and creatively. Many people I know do the exact same thing, day in, and day out, and it reads all over their faces: boredom

How many times have you enthusiastically asked somebody, “So, what’s new?” and their response is, “Oh, you know, same old crap.” accompanied by an eyeball roll that screams ‘my life is a snore’. 

Who wants a vanilla existence? Good grief, not I.  

Some routine is great. It’s comforting, familiar, and feels safe. I have a few daily regimens that I find deliciously cozy, and I’m not about to give them up. My morning coffee ritual, for example. Every morning I stumble out of bed, fetch my coffee, and make a beeline for the couch to snuggle under a blanket with the dogs while I stare mindlessly at pretty pictures on Instagram as I sip. It is what I do, and I enjoy it thoroughly. 

Where we get into trouble is when our life starts to look like a rendition of the movie “Groundhog Day”,  mindlessly plodding through our existence in auto-pilot, all while barely living. 

We desperately need new stimulation. Dazzling our senses with different things brings about different responses. New friends, sights, tastes, music, and movements elicit unique thoughts and feelings - things we may not have ever had the chance to think or feel before. 

The Worst That Could Happen

I was out to dinner with some of my raddest girlfriends in Salt Lake City a week ago, and the underlying theme regarding why we say no to things we really want to do seemed to be, But, what will people think?” 

My friends, let me assure you that there will always be some turkey out there that will think you are a dumb-dumb. Always


Who seriously cares? 

That person’s opinion of you and your choices mean diddly-squat in the grand scheme of your life. Zip. Zilch. Nadda. I will promise you that there are people that think I’m a total weirdo for some of the activities I choose to partake in (the outfits I wear, the food I eat, the way I laugh, etc etc), however that doesn’t stop me from doing what I love, and enjoying myself to the fullest. We can not let somebody's insignificant opinion steal our happiness.

There are also people that see me make a gigantic ass out of myself on the daily. I am always trying (and initially, failing at) new things in the gym or at the studio. A guy at the gym watched me, and snickered, as I fell onto my butt at least ten times in a row while I attempted an overhead Pistol squat a week ago all in the name of #InstaBattle2014 (which you can follow on Instagram). I couldn’t have cared less. How am I ever going to nail those suckers if I don’t practice? Laugh on, homey! 

Just yesterday I tried over and over to get into a new trick in Pole, and I seriously could barely hoist my ass six inches off of the ground before slamming it back onto the mat with an awkward thud. All of the other women in class could nail this move, and sure, I probably looked a little silly, but I’ve got to learn somehow! I just laughed, and kept working on it. That is all we can do! 

If somebody thinks you look like an idiot, what is the very, very, very worst thing that could happen? 

I’ll tell you: it’s that they’ll think you look like an idiot. 

That is the absolute worst case scenario. Nothing else will come of it! Can we live with somebody thinking we look a little silly? Uh, yes. Yes, we can. 


Saying no is easy. It’s simple to pass up opportunities and hide from it all, but that’s a cop-out. The experiences that have awarded me with the most growth just so happen to be the things that have made me a bit uncomfortable at first. (Okay, fine. Some things I've done recently have made me a lot uncomfortable.)

Interestingly enough, some of the things I’ve had the most trepidation about have turned into the most fun things for me - learning to ride a motorcycle, aerial silks, and Pole, for instance. 

Saying yes has shown me that my body is capable of all kinds of cool things, and I've met some amazing people, and made new friends! Triple whammy! 

The Size of Your Yes

Not all yeses have to be huge. I have been getting a ton of texts and emails lately from people that start out with, "Okay, I'm going to embrace yes, and" the things have ranged from finally trying a yoga or Pole class, testing out a new recipe, and pulling the trigger on a Hawaii vacation. 

It doesn't have to be a huge yes. The opportunity to say yes presents itself in many ways throughout the course of our day. Test the water with a little yes to something you'd normally say no to. 

"Hey, do you want to…"  Yes. Yes, I do. 

YES to rock concerts on work nights, dance classes, impromptu road trips, and decadent chocolate cake!
Yes to racing Go-Karts, a new workout, taking up martial arts, opening the good bottle of wine, and wearing the most killer lingerie!

Yes to trying new things, having new experiences, and meeting new people!

What can you say yes to that would stretch you a bit? 
I know there is something you’ve been dying to do, but have been holding yourself back from it. 

Now is the time!

I want to see and hear all about your yes. Use the hashtag #embraceYES on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, and tell me the juicy details! 
Or comment below and let's chat - I always love to hear from you!

“You just say ‘yes’ and life molds itself around you!” - from the book, “The Art of Being Unmistakable” 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Move Your Body: Why You Need Non-Exercise Movement

We’ve all read those magazine articles that say things like, “Take the stairs. Park further away. Take breaks from your desk and walk around the office.” We giggle and roll our eyes because, Hi. We deadlift. At the gym. 

We do not need these piddly little movements. 

I mean, do you even lift? 

All of the focus these days is put on smashing weights, HIIT, throwing barbells over our heads, and going harder, faster, and longer. Don’t get me wrong - those things are fantastic in the proper dosages at the right time, however there is this whole other amazing aspect to health and fitness that is rarely mentioned.

NEPA: an acronym in the world o’ fitness that stands for Non-Exercise Physical Activity. 

NEPA is sort of like training’s geeky, forsaken step-child. It's just as important as any other component of a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle, but it totally gets neglected. 

So, what activities are considered NEPA? 

Walking, bowling, taking the stairs, dancing, gardening, vacuuming, moving, grooving... you get the jist. Basically any type of movement that isn’t your workout. 

Elite exercisers such as myself used to think that NEPA was for wussies. “If I’m going to move my body, I’m going to absolutely kill it”, was my supremely immature stance, taking the wildly-popular-but-totally-non-sensical ‘all or nothing’ approach. 

What a dumb-dumb. 

Now I’m older and (slightly) wiser, and I have come to not only appreciate easier, playful movement, but I seek it out, always making sure to block off time each day to move my bod in a non-exercise related manner.

You May be More Sedentary Than You Think

Yes, you may train 3 - 5 times per week, but what is happening during all of the remaining time when you aren’t training? Most people, including consistent trainees, are much more sedentary than they think they are. 

When you go to fill out a questionnaire at the doctor’s office, and it inquires about your activity level, most of us regular gym-goers are hasty to check the “very active” box. However, truth be told, if you train for 90 minutes, four days per week, and then sit on your rump for the rest of your waking hours, you are probably “slightly active” at very best. 

Everybody nowadays is glued to either their computer, their smartphone, and/or their desk during the daytime, and their couch at night, which means that moving our body has taken the backseat. For 8+ hours per day, we stare like zombies at illuminated screens while our hamstrings and hip flexors tighten up, our glutes develop amnesia, and our breathing shallows. 
Sound familiar? Yeah, for me, too, and that is not how our body is meant to be!

What Can We Do?

Move yo' body. 

One of the physical goals I’ve made for 2014 is to move my body more, in a non-exercise manner. When I’m locked onto my computer (which is most of the time during business hours Monday through Friday), I get up every 30 minutes or so to do something - regular things for me include taking walks, handstand (or other yoga pose) practice, letting the dogs out and throwing the ball for them, putting on some music and getting my groove on, or power cleaning some area of house. 

Prevent the Lazies 

Habits are formed from repetitive behavior, and it’s all too easy to get into the rut (especially during the colder months) of being lazy. The more you choose to lay on the couch, the more you will want to only ever lay on the couch. On the flip side of this, the more you do things and choose to move your body, the easier and more natural that will become. 

Go indoor rock-climbing, to the trampoline park, walk your kids or your dogs, ride your bike, shovel the snow and then do your neighbor’s driveway, or take a walk and listen to some music; it doesn't really matter what you choose to do, just make a concerted effort to move more every day. It’s important! If you aren’t able to get to the gym or to exercise regularly, this goes double for you!

Additionally, NEPA is good for the mind and soul. We can only hammer away at the same stuff on the computer for so long before our brain starts to turn to mush. We need to stand up, get the blood flowing, and refresh ourselves with a change of scenery in order to function at our best. Just a few 10 minute breaks for activity can make a huge difference!

How much? 

The recommendation of getting in 10,000 steps per day is fairly common, and I feel is a reasonable thing to shoot for, on your days off from the gym at the very least. If you are unsure of how many steps you are getting in daily, think about investing in a pedometer or a FitBit. I have the FitBit Flex, and I love it for tracking my daily steps. 

I'll tell you a little secret: the first couple of days that I wore my FitBit, I barely logged 4,000 steps - and that included trips to the gym! Now, not a day has gone by that I haven't surpassed 10,000 steps - some days before noon! I have more energy, and feel happier - probably because I've been incentivized to get outside, and to move my body more often. I'm  purposely parking much farther than necessary at the gym, the studio, and the grocery store just to ensure more walking.

Move more, because 

you can
it feels good.
it aids in recovery. 
it's good for you.
it clears your mind. 
it teaches us not to be lazy. 

Do you put an emphasis on getting in plenty of daily non-exercise activity? If so, what kinds of things are you doing? Let me know in the comments below! 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Future You: Post-Holidays

Future You: Post-Holidays

With the holidays just around the corner, we are in that ten week window where festivities abound, starting with copious amounts of left-over Halloween candy and then letting it rip right up until we are nursing our New Year’s hangover with pizza and a little hair of the dog. 

The plus side: this season is fun, festive, and chock full of friends, family and togetherness. 

The downside: it is also a time period where health, fitness, and pretty abs go to die.

Regardless of what holidays you choose to celebrate, there is no debating that... 

‘Tis the Season for Temptation 

Alcohol consumption skyrockets (guilty as charged), the shopping and hustle-bustle  causes missed training sessions, and candy or homemade goodies are perched on every table and counter from your office on in to the mall. 

The End of the Year Eff-its

You know exactly what I’m talking about. The insidious end-of-the-year thought process that gets the best of... well, even the best of us. Maybe it sets in on Halloween during that crazy costume party, or maybe you manage to hold out until Thanksgiving before finally relenting and giving the official declaration:

“Eh, screw it. I’ll just start again in January.” 

POW! As soon as the thought has had a chance to fully manifest in your mind, zero cares are given as you plow through pecan pies and gallons of spiked egg nog with reckless abandon. 

“So I’ll gain a couple of pounds. Big deal. I’ll just work it off in the new year.”

Hold up. It may not be that simple. 

Beware the Sugar Dragon (he is a ruthless bastard.)

The perils of allowing yourself too many indulgences ventures far beyond the quest for a hotter bod. Anybody that has been on an extended vacation where they have had daily (or hourly when I’m in Vegas. Oops?) cocktails, along with a bunch of sweets and treats can attest to how hard it is to get back to a healthier diet once they get home. 

Sure, it’ll feel good to detox a bit for the first 2-3 days, but then it’s common to find yourself reeling from cravings due to your stimulating the Sugar Dragon. (You can read all about the Sugar Dragon and his sneaky ways in, “It Starts With Food”)

Simply put, sugar is addictive. The more we eat, the more we want, which means the more we eat, and then the more we want, ad infinitum. It’s a vicious, addictive cycle, and while there are plenty of decadent foods around during the holidays, desserts are the most prevalent. Cookies, pies, and candy - oh my! All it takes is a few weeks of substantial extra sugar and you’ve got yourself an addictive new habit that is hard as hell to break. 

Habit Formation 

Habits - particularly really naughty/delicious ones - can be exceptionally difficult to overcome. Our brain actually etches a big juicy neural pathway for things that we do repeatedly which makes it easier for us to do them over and over again. (Of course the same holds true for healthy habits that we create, but these are often more challenging and take significantly more motivation, effort, and will-power.)

The point here being why create unhealthy eating habits that are going to be tough as a hell to conquer come January? 

Make it Count

I don’t expect anybody to go through the holidays without eating a few sinfully delicious things - unless that is your thing, of course, and if so, carry on. Personally, I save most of my indulging for alcohol, and yes, I realize this post makes it sound as though I have a problem. I assure you that I do not (and yes, I’m aware that denial is the first sign).  

The Deliciousness Scale of 1 - 10

Ranking foods on a deliciousness scale of 1 - 10 is helpful. If anything is less than an 8, ditch it posthaste. 
You’ll also notice that foods typically get less scrumptious the more of it that you eat. While the first bites of a rich chocolate cake may totally be a 10, you’ll notice that it gradually slinks down the scale the more you eat. Because of this, it’s important to ask yourself just how good this treat is every bite or so. 

Equally as important, remember that you do not have to finish whatever you are eating. A bite or two is completely acceptable. Do not feel compelled to finish it. 
Taste it, savor it, enjoy it to the fullest .... but then get on with it. 

Whatever you eat, make it count. Just because your co-worker brought in some store-bought, cardboard-esque sugar cookies covered in red and green sprinkles does not mean that you must eat them. Gross. Hold off and wait for your grandma’s famous apple pie that she makes every year just because it’s your favorite. That is worth it.

Future You

It's perfectly acceptable to splurge on a few things, and to let our strict training schedules take a backseat to make way for time with loved ones. What we don't want to do is cause regression that will make us miserable in a month or two. 

Your actions today directly impact your tomorrow. Be kind to future you.  

I plan on blazing into 2014 with an even stronger, healthier, and happier bod and mindset; one that is not bogged down with extra bodyfat, bad habits, sugar cravings from hell, and low energy. 

I’d love your company. Join me? 

What is your strategy for enjoying the holidays without causing making yourself miserable come January?
 Let me know in the comments below!