The Gift Of: Fitness

I finally blended my blogs together into one – this one, that you’re reading right now.

Welcome, oh ye few.

Most people who follow me here actually know me from “real life” but I still have quite a few fellow bloggers that never met me in person that might be wondering just what in the heck is going on with me. I mean, to change my website from From Fit To Figure to The Joyful Celibate with absolutely no warning is a little strange. Well, good news is, I answer most of this question in the “About” page right up there at the top of the screen.

Before I go on with my post today, just so everyone is aware, despite the name change, my fitness posts are all still available here and searchable. So if you’re looking for something regarding meal planning or workouts I’ve done or diet tips I’ve written about, simply search!

My website for online coaching will also remain linked here and above. And I’m still available by email at fromfittofigure@gmail.com.

As for today’s post, I thought I’d debut my new site with what I believe to be one of my gifts: Getting people in shape for life.

First of all, I did not start my own personal training business thinking I’d be “set for life” financially. On the contrary, I knew this would be a huge pay cut from working in a health club or gym. In fact, shortly before starting my biz, I was trying to find ways to detach from material objects, and money was the first to go! And the service I wanted to provide never changed – I wanted to help people. But I wanted to do it on my own terms, such as:

  • I could be picky about who I would train: I wouldn’t have to sit in front of people and try to “sell” them on something they had no interest in, as this was common at the gyms where I worked. The members usually wanted a tour of the place and be on their way. They were not about to pay extra for training, especially if they were already investing over $100 a month on a membership they could barely afford. I really wanted to train people that actually meshed well with my personality and training style.
  • I could charge a rate based on the client’s budget without de-valuing my services and without the pressure of hitting a monthly goal: Finally, no more pressure from my boss as to how much money I was bringing in this month. No more dialing for dollars in a last ditch attempt to hit a goal. Yes, goals are necessary, especially in sales. But that was it: I didn’t want to be in sales! I wanted to be content with the amount that I had in the bank. (Hint: I am.)
  • I could be honest and direct with clients without worrying about toeing the company line: The biggest need for fitness professionals, I have found, has been addressing the behavior and mental aspect of dieting. But many gyms, celebrity trainers and coaches come out with fancy heart rate monitors or apps or quick fixes just to make money and promote themselves, ignoring the underlying issues of their clients. If we are to be taken seriously, trainers should be willing to say, “Not all diets work for all people. The best diet is the one that you can adhere to without feeling restricted and still see results. So let’s figure out what that looks like for you.”
  • I could make my own schedule, allowing plenty of time to focus on the most important people in my life: It should go without saying by now, that God, my family and my faith are my priority. And when you have a flexible schedule and do what you love, and you detach from material things (this was key for me, personally) you start to see life differently. I started to look for more chances to be a gift to others. Sidenote: Being single really turned this from an opportunity, into a priority for me.

While the blog served its purpose for a long time, I am finding the passion to write about health and fitness growing a little stale. I still need to promote myself, but I would like to do it mainly through referrals and word of mouth. So this meant for me (because this might not be the best idea for others) no more progress pictures on display, no more Facebook or Instagram and no more YouTube videos. These were becoming distractions and a hindrance to more than anything else.

So there you have it. That’s what I aim to do with this blog: To show how I can be a gift to others. And not just with fitness. That was just the teaser for you. There will be more posts about how I plan to do this. Because we all have gifts.

And when readers find themselves here, I also hope to show them how THEY can be a gift to serve others as well.

I plan to provide the gift of fitness and health to my clients as long as I am able.

Think on it: Who do you know that needs the gift of health? You don’t have to be a fitness guru or dietitian to provide this gift to someone. Keep it simple. How about the gift of mental health (relaxing day at a spa; renting a movie at home and staying in); spiritual health (giving someone a book that helped you grow in your spirituality; taking someone to daily mass that normally can’t make it); physical health (a fitness DVD to do at home; making someone a healthy meal who can’t afford it), etc. Endless possibilities!

 

Voices of Reason

A super short post tonight to kick off 2016. Hope you all like it!

While having lunch with a friend of mine, she remarked, “Michelle, I hear your voice in my head every time I think about my diet. You said something that has stuck with me over the years: It’s not all about cardio and exercising all the time. Your diet matters more.”

I was telling her this while I was training for my bodybuilding competition. It’s something I have told clients repeatedly and most of them listen to me. But some still don’t believe me.

While exercise and working out is important for overall general health, it’s not the end all be all. What is most important is what we are feeding our bodies. What do we consider our fuel?

What do we shop for at the grocery store and put in our cart as the “best” we can do for ourselves and our families?

What do we consider a “once a year indulgence” and is it really worth it?

It’s interesting that my friend hears my voice in her head. Because I hear voices in my head (it’s healthy, I swear) from people in my past that have said similar things that have stuck with me.  A few that I think are worth sharing:

  • “Don’t focus on the number, (your weight, the weight on the bar, number of days, number of weeks you’ve been trying this) focus on the task at hand and conquer THAT.”
  • “If there’s a food or snack that you know isn’t all that healthy, why do you keep buying it?” (and if you say it’s for your kids, why isn’t their health as important as yours?)
  • “Not every occasion/get together/event is a reason to EAT something.”
  • “Start working out before you have a chance to talk yourself out of it.”
  • “If you’re tempted to eat that garbage food, think about how you felt the last time you ate it.” (Garbage in…garbage out)
  • “You’re not supposed to feel guilty if you screw up. Guilt is for criminals. You just made a poor choice. Choose wisely next time.”

And the most important voice…

“Sleep trumps all. So get plenty!”

 

 

 

The “R” Word

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I have come to strongly dislike the word “Resolution.”

And because it’s soon to be a new year, I know I’ll be hearing a lot of it.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to have GOALS. But that’s just it, I like the “G” word better than the “R” word.

Resolution makes me automatically think of the New Year. And the New Year is a HORRIBLE time to make a Resolution. They (someone smarter than me) said the best time to make a Resolution is in August. Why? No idea. But apparently, people are more successful when they make them in the middle of the year rather than the beginning.

With that in mind, about a month ago I told my trainer that I wanted to deadlift 200lbs.

Recently, he recorded me lifting 145lbs for several reps you can watch here. (Afterwards, I lifted 165lbs but they were only mediocre so we never posted them.)

And then on Christmas Eve, my trainer suggested we should try and “work on those deadlifts.”  At first I was all about going home to get ready for some Christmas Eve food…but then I remembered if I was going to hit this goal of 200lbs, I kinda needed to work at it. 🙂

The picture above is me before hitting 185lbs, a new PR for me! I’m very excited about one day hitting 200lbs. And there WILL be video proof of this when it happens.

I’m also aware that not everyone has strength training goals in mind when they join a gym or begin a new year and new plan to “get in shape.” I respect the fact that people get motivated at the thought of a “new body” in the new year. But I’m so used to seeing people get their hopes up only to fail because of their lack of planning (see below for specifics).

I’m more about being happy with the body you have and making reasonable changes to it, not in order to have a NEW body (because you’re body is aging and getting older everyday, it’s never going to be NEW) but in order to enjoy the one you HAVE!  It’s not about what it LOOKS like, it’s about how it FUNCTIONS.


 

Back to that dreaded “R” word:

EVERY time I hear it I cringe. It brings back memories of working at gyms, speaking with new members about their New Years Resolutions. Always the same speech, every time.

Client: “Yeah I thought since it’s the new year I would try and lose weight…again.”

Me: “Again? Have you been successful in the past?”

Client: “Yes, but as soon as I lost the weight I thought I could eat the way I used to and went back to my old bad habits.” (Didn’t have a maintenance plan)

or

Client: “Yes, but I lost the motivation as soon as my life got busy with other things.”  (Didn’t prioritize their health)

or

Client: “I worked out a lot and even trained for a race but never really lost any weight. I don’t know why!” (Didn’t learn any good eating habits)

or

Client: “I lost a ton of weight! I stopped eating carbs and I worked out 5 days a week! But the holiday ruined me and I ate all the foods I shouldn’t have and now I’m back up in weight. I guess the only way I can lose weight is to restrict myself.” (Took part in a diet that was not feasible or conducive to real life)

So here’s some quick advice for you to carry you into 2016:

  • Identify your MAIN issue and make a plan to WORK on it – Is it TIME? Is it MEAL PLANNING? Is it COOKING? Is it LACK OF KNOWLEDGE?  Is it LOGISTICS? The good news is that there’s a solution to all of these.
  • Ask yourself what you have done in the past that worked and if this is something you CAN and DESIRE to do again?
  • If you have NEVER been successful at reaching your health and fitness goals, ask yourself why? I think many times we don’t like to admit our failures but we have to in order to learn from them, right?
  • What was the barrier? Was it budget? Figure out what you CAN afford. Was it lack of support? There’s ALWAYS someone out there willing to support you, many times it’s a total stranger or even just the person behind the desk at the gym. But I promise you someone out there is supporting you and cheering you on! Was it just plain old procrastination or laziness? Set up some rules for yourself. I wrote about this recently on the faith blog that might be helpful.

Start off 2016 in the same way you’re ending 2015:

Hopeful, not dismayed.

Positive, not discouraged.

Eager, not afraid.

I hope this new year brings about change in you that’s positive, that’s exciting and continues on for years to come!

 

 

The “No Time To Workout” Workout

Ever since I started my blog, I asked people, “What could I write about that you’d ACTUALLY READ and follow?” The majority of my friends responded with the same answer: A quick workout I can do anytime, especially if I don’t have time to workout.

Well, that’s kind of an oxymoron isn’t it? But fine, you want a quick workout. Preferably one that won’t make you sweat that you can do at home or at your office.

I’m not exactly sure this workout exists. But I’ve been thinking:

If I had literally no time to workout but just enough time to do something, what would I do?

The best answer I’ve come up with is an isolation move – You hold a position for period of time that challenges your whole body. Most people would say – “I bet she’s going to say a Plank.”

You’d be close. But no.

I suggest holding a push up – MID-WAY.

This is the best image I could find. The middle image is what we are shooting for here.

 

This is challenging for anyone, no matter your fitness level.

You can do it in your office clothes. In your office.

You can do it anytime.

You don’t need any equipment except a floor.

You could modify it by using your desk/counter top.

Voila!

So the challenge is to hold it for as long as you can.

OR, a better way, is to hold it for 10 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds. Hold it again for 10 seconds or longer. Rest for 10 seconds. Then hold it for as long as possible. Done.

You’re engaging the entire body because you have to tuck your hips, squeeze your glutes, your quads, bring your navel to the spine, squeeze your shoulder blades, aim your chest to the floor and bend the arms. That’s total body right there folks!

Now get pushin!

I mean, holdin!

 

4 Moves To Become a Morning Person

Ugh, Monday. What’s worse than Monday? Sunday night. Sunday evenings have always been the absolute worst for me for as long as I could remember. Back when I was a child, I would have the worst anxiety on Sunday nights. Pretty sure this caused me my insomnia that I had for decades.

But now? I LOVE Mondays. Not only that, but now I’m a morning person!

How does a night owl with anxiety become a Monday loving early morning riser?  Train for a marathon!  Okay, so that’s extreme. But honestly, that’s how the early mornings started for me. But for those that can’t just decide one day to train for a race, you can start an Early Morning Routine.

For most people, the mere ACT of getting up early IS their early morning routine. For those that have mastered turning off the snooze button, your next step is to MOVE. Out of the bed is preferable. For those who are super lazy, I suppose you can stay in your bed and do these moves but…yeah, you should probably roll onto the floor for these.

  1. Iron Cross
    If you can’t straighten your leg in the first picture, try bending one (or BOTH!) as pictured here.

    2. Glute/Hip Bridge

    Squeeze the glutes together at the top of the movement; hold it for a few seconds before lowering down.

    3. Bird Dog

    Alternate opposite arm and leg. The challenge is to keep the head, shoulders, back and hips all in alignment. Very challenging, especially first thing in the morning.

    4. “Sneaky” 30 Second Plank

    Rest for 10 Seconds; then Hold a Plank for 10 Seconds. Repeat 2 more times. Adds up to 30 seconds. Clever, eh?

    There you go. A simple Monday morning (or any morning) “Just Move” routine anyone can do by just rolling out of bed. There’s no mention of reps except for this last move because you can do as many or as little as you want. Enjoy!

 

Your Body Tells a Story

A wise person once said:

You Don’t Have a Body. You Are a Body.

If I AM a body and it is not something I have, then why or how could I possibly consider changing it?

I think too often we focus on the negatives of our bodies. “We hate our own bodiliness,” was also a statement I’ve been hearing these past few months.

I can’t help but agree.  I talk to people on both ends of the spectrum when it comes to what to do with “this body.”

Either:

We hate our body and we do everything possible to hide it, to lie about it, to use it, and abuse it in an effort to make it appear acceptable, perhaps even attractive according to outside influences or societal standards. This becomes an obsession to the point that we become envious of anyone who has the body that we desire so much. This also could lead to despair as we try over and over to attain this “perfect body” with little to show for it. We don’t value our bodies at all and think ourselves unworthy.

Or:

We love our body so much that we become vain to the point of over exposure. We boast and brag and show off and become completely obsessed with maintaining this “perfect” physique. A narcissistic attitude takes over. We believe our body is something to be worshiped by those who hate their own bodies. We don’t understand how some people just don’t “get with it” and aren’t in love with fitness and health like we are.

But perhaps the overwhelming majority are those in the middle:

These folks have a love/hate relationship with their body. They struggle just like everyone else with maintaining their weight but they don’t obsess over it. They “watch” their diet but they don’t write down what they eat and they most certainly don’t count calories. They like what they see in the mirror but they don’t love it. There’s always room for improvement but they probably only get to the gym once or twice a month.

 

If there’s one thing all of these people have in common, it’s that they see their bodies as Objects. Things. Possessions.

But what if you looked at your body as a way to tell a story. How?

Simple: How you live your life through your body tells your story.

You can either tell a good, honest story, or a story of lies and deception.

Some examples:

I’m a smoker and I go to my doctor for a checkup. The doctor tells me that I’m showing all the signs of lung cancer and that I had better cut back or quit on the smoking if I want to live longer. Meanwhile, let’s pretend this is the 50’s and he lights up a cigarette after telling me this. That would be lying with his body.

Or:

I go to a used car salesmen to try and find a good deal. He sells me this great looking car, I take it for a test drive, the price is right and I drive off the lot but not before he shakes my hand and tells me I made a great decision. Meanwhile, he goes back to his desk and laughs to himself because he knows he just sold me a lemon. By shaking my hand and sincerely telling me I made a great purchase, he lied with is body, as well as his words.

Or:

In the gym, let’s say I take some video demonstrating an exercise or I take a few pictures to put up on my website. When someone asks me how I manage to be so strong or in such great shape, I tell them “Hard work!” but in the meantime, I’m taking some performance enhancing drugs or steroids. I would be lying with my body.

So how do we use our body to tell the truth?

I think the most obvious example, for me personally, is posting my progress pictures. (I know I’m in need of posting updated ones). But you’ll always notice I never even add so much as a filter to the pictures. I let it all hang out, I don’t do any re-touching. I merely admit that I get a spray tan to cover up some minor “flaws” that I’m honest about.

Other ways we tell lies and how to tell the truth:

You see someone at the gym using a piece of equipment completely incorrectly to the point that they are probably going to injure themselves or someone else. Lying with our bodies would be to say nothing and walk away knowing full well we know how to help them. (I am guilty of this).  Telling the truth would obviously going over and explaining what to do to that person so they won’t hurt themselves again.

(I avoid confrontation because I’m intimidated by people sometimes. If I took my own advice, I would see that I don’t need to be afraid to let someone know they are using their bodies to HARM or cause an injury.)

Or:

We see some good looking person at the gym and we want to show off a little bit. So we grab a set of heavier dumbbells (Men do this ALL the time, I am convinced) and lift just a little heavier than we normally do. We know we cannot and shouldn’t be lifting this heavy but we really want to catch someone’s attention. That’s lying with your body. Even if you manage to get a few reps out, you’re deceiving others by making it appear that you are stronger than you are.  Don’t be a hero Johnny. Stick to your usual weights.

With diet and food this is much easier to slip up and lie. How?

Let’s say you’re on a diet. Let’s say you actually signed up for sessions with a personal trainer. And let’s say you know that since your trainer/friends can’t see you every minute of the day, you take it upon yourself to sneak a few “cheats” in here and there. After all, no one will know! But you made a commitment to be true to yourself. To be true to your body and try to stick to this diet or this workout plan. And you know full well that “cheating,” even once in a while, is going to make your trainer look bad, it’s going to make you feel worse and it’s and not going to help your health. This is one of the more common “lies” we tell with our bodies. When asked, “Did you indulge this weekend at all?” and we answer, “Of course not! I was “good!” we lie right to our own faces/trainer/people who care about us and want us to succeed.  When it comes time to step on the scale, you can’t act surprised when it’s not where it should be.

 

Start to think of your body as more than just this “thing” you have to deal with and work at and drag around. It’s who you are.

You are telling a story every minute of the day with your body.

What kind of story are you telling and what would you want people to remember about it?

 

 

Becoming a Fit Family

I originally wrote this post for Rox Star Fitness. Hope you enjoy!

Is there just one person in the family that dedicates a lot of time to working out and dieting? It’s important to emphasize health and fitness all year round with all members of the family, not just one or the one that “needs to the most help.” You want to be a fit family, not just a solo fit member of an unhealthy family. Here are some tips on how to get everyone in shape so you all appreciate being a FIT FAMILY

Make every minute count:

A 15 minute walk around the block while dinner is warming up/getting ready (especially now in the summer time when there’s no homework) is a good way to get some quick work in. It’s something everyone can do and it doesn’t take a whole lot of time so there will be minimal complaining.

– Limit electronic device time and increase “hands-free” time. When it’s time to sit down as a family, the phones get turned off. Spend that time doing something active or at least talking and nix the texting for awhile. It’s amazing what you can get accomplished when there isn’t a computer or a tablet or a phone nearby.

– I know many families who belong to their local rec center. Although you may go there together as a family, many branch off and do their own thing which works really well. Mom goes to the gym, Dad plays basketball, the kids are swimming. This way you all get to do what you want at the same time.

Get them involved:

– Take progress pics – as a family. This could be as simple as your standard family photo done every year but you could take iPhone photo’s every month. This is a good lesson to the young teens (especially young girls) that the scale is not a good indicator of progress. Although they might be so little and young that they won’t see immediate changes, it could be a cool experiment to see how different they change every few months.

– When trying new recipes, have the family give their feedback and mark it down as something you would make again if everyone loved it. If it got more thumbs down than thumbs up, toss that one out or adjust some flavoring and to prepare it so all palates will be pleased.

– I’m a huge fan of bringing your kids with you to the grocery store. Of course, some kids like to just run up and down the aisles asking for everything they see on TV. But if they’re a little older, they might want to help out and tell you what THEY like to eat. Who knows, they might surprise you by saying they like to eat their veggies. If you’re concerned they’ll just beg for you to buy them the junk, adhere to the basic “perimeter only” rule, and you won’t even tempt them by walking down those aisles.

– Read the labels/ingredients together if you do get something that comes in a box so they can learn what you’re looking for and WHY you won’t be buying them certain snacks. “If we can’t pronounce it, we don’t buy it.” Or “See this has food coloring in it, we don’t want to eat that!”

Extra Curricular Activity:

– When one child has a game or somewhere to be, try not to SIT and watch but find some place to stand and watch or walk around if you can. Sometimes this isn’t possible but it helps if you already have a sedentary job, to put a limit on sitting the rest of the day.

– In addition, when you’re sitting, you’re more prone to EAT and snack in between meals, sometimes on things that aren’t so good for you. And if kids see this behavior, they might copy it. So set a good example for them!

Be on the same page:

Many people fail at diets and staying or maintaining their weight that they’ve worked so hard to lose once they feel they can just “go back to normal.” Your spouse or kids might be influencing this behavior as well, indirectly. They might say, “You’re at your goal so just relax and eat (insert favorite snack here).” But that might be a trigger for you. And chances are, no, you can’t just go back to normal because normal may have been sugar loaded, fat laden, carb heavy foods that made you unhealthy to begin with. Make sure everyone is on board with staying healthy because if just one family member isn’t all about it, it can derail you right off the health boat and before you know it, you’re back to square one again.

– Have healthy snacks prepared for the kids (and yes even the spouse) to take with them to school/work. Explain WHY it’s a healthy snack (it has fiber, it has little sugar, it’s a good source of protein, etc) so they know why this snack was chosen as opposed to something else.

– Carve out time to play and have fun, as a family. Pick one time once a day (or even once a week if it’s just too busy) to say “This is a time when we ALL have to do something active.” Call it Family Time, or Fun Time, or something. Make it an appointment you would never miss and put it in the calendar. Choose something you all would like to do – play a game outdoors or indoors, do some yardwork, get in the pool, go to the park, anything. As long as you’re doing it as a family, it’s a great time to bond as well as stay healthy.

These might seem simple and easy tips but believe it or not, families that stay in shape are rare these days. Everyone is busy with their own schedules and plans so sometimes it’s hard to be together often enough to develop this habit. Try it out, stick with it, be consistent and track your progress of your new FIT FAMILY!