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!

 

Running with the Rosary

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“The ROSARY is the book of the blind, where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever known; it is the book of the simple, which initiates them into mysteries and knowledge more satisfying than the education of other men; it is the book of the aged, whose eyes close upon the shadow of this world, and open on the substance of the next. The power of the Rosary is beyond description.” Archbishop Fulton Sheen (Way to Inner Peace)

As some of you may already know, I’m a Personal Trainer and overall obsessed gym rat. Recently, I’ve been trying to find a way to blend my favorite things together – my faith AND my love of fitness. There are others out there with this same problem goal and I’m always in awe to see people and companies who have blended this successfully.

Some examples:

What Would Jesus Deadlift? They are all over social media, especially Instagram where followers take pictures of themselves in WWJD gear. (Of course, I’ve bought a two shirts myself as soon as I discovered them). From their website:

Have you ever finished your set and thought, What Would Jesus Deadlift? Wear this comfortable shirt at the gym to motivate you and those around you while you workout to meditate on what Jesus lifted. That weight on that cross was all of our sins, yours and mine. Just as Jesus picked up that cross, you can pick up that weight!

Our Vision: We are not here to just sell shirts and become rich. We are here to help send a message with this design. God has called us to challenge others to put some thought to “What Would Jesus Deadlift?” What does that mean? How does that relate to my fitness lifestyle? My spiritual journey? Am I taking what Jesus did on that cross for granted?

Think about it. Make others do the same.

Our Mission: We are here to give back. With every purchase you make, we make a local impact here in Fresno, CA as we reach out to others by giving them a free t-shirt, help with food, talking and ministering to others on “What Would Jesus Deadlift”. We hope you can be part of it!

PrayFit MinistriesThe mission of PrayFit Ministries is to help the collective church with humble, bodily stewardship, and to help those in the health & fitness industry toward a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

In The PrayFit Diet, NYT best selling author Jimmy Peña shows us how faith is the most powerful tool we have to conquer all of life’s obstacles, and that includes our health. More importantly, God wants you to be at your best, physically and spiritually. By combining perfectly proportioned meals with Biblically based motivation, The PrayFit Diet will give you all the tools you need to live a life that will both inspire you and honor the Lord.


So what about me?  I don’t have a clothing line…I’m not a best selling author….I’m not a professional figure competitor with a large following.

How can I use my faith to promote a healthy life and help others do the same?

I discovered one small way this morning during my long run.

I’m training for a marathon in October and I was scheduled to run 8 miles today. I started out listening to music from iPhone which I normally do to keep me motivated. To run in complete silence is definitely do-able but not ideal when you have a run longer than a couple miles.

Today, it was about 80 degrees during my run which means I probably felt like it was around 85-90 degrees. To say this was challenging would be an understatement.

After 3 miles in this time, I decided to try something different. I stopped the music and started my Rosary App. (Yes there’s a Rosary app, there’s an app for everything isn’t there?)

The app is pretty simple; it has simple graphics and an audio (voice) that goes through the entire rosary. You choose which “Mystery” you’d like to pray and just hit “play.”

I grabbed my Mom’s rosary that she had with her for the final years of her life while she fought lymphoma. It was a perfect way to pray a rosary because, as you can see from the picture, it fits right around your thumb!

I made it from mile 3 to mile 7 praying through the Luminous Mysteries as well as the Sorrowful Mysteries. Each Mystery takes about 25 minutes to pray through so for me, given how slow of a runner I am, that equated 2 miles.

The Pros:

I was actually able to meditate and pray without getting distracted too much. Anyone who knows their rosary knows getting distracted while reciting the same prayer over and over again is a common occurrence. But I think because I was actively moving (running, in this case) I was surprisingly able to stay focused.

The time it took to get through this sweaty run went by very quickly. While most of the time, listening to music DOES kinda get the blood flowing and the legs moving, it still seems like it takes FOREVER for me to complete my miles. This time, I felt motivated by the words being prayed. Kind of like a chant? Whatever it was, it helped pass the time.

The Cons:

Due to the heat and the fact that I didn’t have a water belt on me, I was SUPER thirsty. This was increased due to the fact that I was trying to SAY the Rosary out loud along with the app. Of course, even though I’m not that fast of a runner, I still couldn’t quite get the words out. So it was more of a breathless whisper instead of speaking out loud. But even just this whisper caused me to feel like I constantly needed water. I took a few walk breaks but I attempted to time them when I finished a decade which I found to be kind of a good “break.”

I think Running with the Rosary has some potential. But, I would probably be hesitant to promote it as the BEST way to pray it. I think any super Catholic would suggest that you should really be still and silent or at least in a chapel to pray the rosary “best.” But, for those who say they are too busy to pray or too busy to say a rosary, why not just say one Hail Mary while you’re running? And then if you feel like you can do more, add a few more. Then you might add more until you’ve said a whole decade.  My personal feeling is that as long as you show Mary her proper reverence and can get in a few rosaries while running, I think she would say, “Run with me! Just don’t run FROM me!” 🙂


 

For those who have no idea how to pray the rosary, or how to stay focused when distractions come up I have a few good resources listed here.

From: Understanding the Rosary – A Wake Up Call by Kat Franchino

Tiny Cheat Sheet: Rosary Edition

  • The word rosary itself is Latin and translates along the lines of “a garland of roses.” The story goes that St. Dominic developed the Rosary sometime between the 12th and 15th centuries after having a vision of the Virgin Mary, but prayer beads and cords were used way before St. Dominic’s vision.
  • The Rosary is divided into decades, with each decade starting with a mystery. A mystery is a short reading that focuses on an aspect of Jesus or Mary’s life, with the word mystery meaning “a truth of the faith.” Still a little baffled by that translation of mystery. There are three traditional mysteries (Joyful, Sorrow and Glorious mysteries), as well as the Luminous mysteries, added by Pope John Paul II in 2002. When praying a decade of the Rosary (the Our Father, 10 Hail Marys, Glory Be and the Fatima prayer), Catholics meditate on that decade’s mystery.
  • The Rosary is said for a variety of reasons. We say it because of our devotion to Mary who intercedes on our behalf. Saying it gives us an opportunity to meditate on key moments in Jesus’ life. The Rosary also helps us become more intentional and thoughtful in our prayers.

From: The Beginner’s Guide to the Rosary

Offering Intentions

Practically everyone who prays the Rosary “offers” the Rosary to God and Our Lady for an intention. Some people offer particular intentions before each decade. You can ask God to grant you a favor, heal a sick person, or convert a sinner. Some people offer the same intention every day–sometimes for years on end–especially when asking the Father for the conversion of a particular person. Intentions are as varied as the people who pray.

Ask for big and small gifts. Be bold! In this sense, the Rosary is an exchange of gifts between friends.

It is widely known that Our Lady answers seemingly impossible intentions to those who are first beginning to pray the Rosary. This is her way of drawing you closer to Her and to Jesus. If you are praying your first Rosary, or returning to the Rosary after years of not talking to Our Lady, ask for something big, spectacular, “impossible.” She’ll often surprise you.

 

 

 

When The Fire Dies Out, Find a New Campsite

So it’s 13 weeks until my next figure competition and I am completely unmotivated to do anything about it.

Workout-wise, I’m doing well. No big problems there.

Diet-wise? That’s another story.

I’m not quite sure where the motivation and energy and fire went, but it is long gone and I can’t seem to get it back. I tried logging my food, thinking the accountability of my clients and random friends on My Fitness Pal checking in might help. It has helped a bit, but I’m still not all in.

I’ve tried going to my favorite fitness competitor’s websites and checking out their progress pics. That sorta worked but it didn’t seem to illicit any feelings of “YEAH!!! LET’S DO THIS!”

I’ve tried reading my old blog posts from when I first trained two years ago. Nostalgia, right? Eh…I just ended up critiquing my writing style in some of them. 😉

I’ve tried to pinpoint exactly why I cannot seem to take this goal seriously like I did the first time.  I came to a few conclusions as to why this time around I am not as enthused about it:

  • This isn’t the first time. Now that I know what to expect, I’m not EXCITED as much as I’m DREADING it because I’m thinking of all the negative aspects of competing instead of the positive ones.
  • I’m.busier than before. I have several social events coming up in the next two months including a wedding across the country, a week long retreat in Pennsylvania, and a class reunion in less than a month.  I want to look forward to attending and instead I’m  sitting here thinking “How can I fit a cooler on to a plane?” and “I wonder if I can fit in a workout before the rehearsal dinner?”
  • I’m distracted. I’ve been reading a lot of books on religion and Catholic doctrine and Christianity and although I’ve ALWAYS known that there is more to life than 6pack abs, I can’t seem to find a balance between living the “fit life” and exercising my mind as well. Granted I’m reading other books too but I also want to travel and hang out with my family and friends and sometimes I think training prevents me from doing this.
  • My family won’t be able to attend the show. I will have a large audience of friends in support of me there at the show but as soon as I found out the majority of my immediate family couldn’t make it, I  felt like maybe this wasn’t meant to be. It’s super important to me that they be there and if they aren’t, I won’t take it as seriously as I should.

I’ve talked to my trainer/friend/co-worker Chris about this the other day and we agreed that if I am not into this, let’s not push it. BUT, this doesn’t get me off the hook. He suggested I find something that DOES spark that fire in me that I could shoot for. In other words, as the title of this post suggests, FIND a NEW goal because this competition just ain’t cutting it.

So, with that said, I discussed the possibility of sticking to the plan of training and attempting to diet and just training to look great for summer! The wedding that I’m in takes place in mid-July. I went to try on the dress and order it today. I tried on a size 6 and although it fit, it was a tad snug. So, there’s my motivation!

I’m not about to SQUEEZE into a dress in the sweltering July heat for my friends wedding and look like I barely fit into this dress. Granted, no one looks at the bridesmaids at weddings, all eyes will be on her. 🙂 But, it’s motivating me to take things more seriously.

And, the best part is, if by some chance I happen to look pretty good and feel pretty good at the wedding, there will still be a month left to prep for the competition, if I choose to do it.

If not, I will take my own advice and book a photo shoot, the one that I wanted to do LAST summer but didn’t because I got lazy and didn’t want to diet. Hmm….I’m sensing a pattern with myself.

Either way, I have found new motivation: July 18th is the wedding for my friend. Progress pics will be taken next week.

Let’s Do This!!

Just a Taste…

Ahh sorry, this post has nothing to do with food as the title so blatantly suggests.  I know, I know, I just continue to disappoint.

No, when I say “Just a Taste” I mean getting a taste of Personal Training. One of my very intelligent clients (hello Lisa!) suggested that just one complimentary consultation and workout is sometimes not enough to get someone to truly appreciate the benefits of having a personal trainer.

They need a little more..just a taste…right?

I tended to agree with Lisa. After all, training is a big investment for most people. Some might say it’s a luxury to have a Personal Trainer. Although I wouldn’t like to classify myself as being something only luxurious or lucky or well-to-do people have, I suppose it’s true that I’m not exactly cheap. I wouldn’t WANT to be seen as cheap!

When I think of cheap in terms of fat loss or nutrition, I think of Slim Fast or Raspberry Ketones or those body wraps. Ya know, garbage. And I am most definitely not garbage. At least I don’t think I am. I might smell like garbage sometimes when I don’t shower right after a workout. But I swear that’s only for a couple hours and it’s only when I know I’m not going anywhere in public afterwards.

I digress…

So in an effort to promote this taste of me (ew, please don’t taste me) I’m offering a Try Me Before You Buy Me type of promo.

Alas, it’s only for people who train with me in person so sorry to my online friends. However, as I have mentioned previously, I offer a variety of affordable packages for Online Training that you can read about here if you’d like to still train with me virtually.

So for my Cleveland friends, here’s a little deal for the month of January for newbies: Buy 2 Sessions get 1 FREE! 

A 3-bie if you will. Three-bie. Like Freebie, get it?

So if you’d like to purchase this awesome deal, click this link and then click the link in there where it says “Buy Now.”  (Sorry I’m not savvy enough to put the HTML code in here directly.  Deal with it.)

So 3 sessions PLUS you still get a complimentary consultation so technically, it’s like 4 sessions for the price of 2.  Like a Four-bie.  4-bie. Okay no, that wordplay doesn’t work so well, does it?

Anyways, if you’re still not convinced that training with me would be a totally life changing experience, just read some nifty reviews about me on Thumbtack or Trainerize. And of course, if you want more information, I’m always available via email at FromFitToFigure@gmail.com, I’m all over Twitter and Facebook. And YouTube.

I am everywhere.

You cannot escape me.

See you in 2015, slim!

 

The Top 9 Pieces of Equipment for the Home Gym

Got a basement? Or a garage? Or some space that you want to fill with cool stuff?  If you want to look buff by Christmas you’re probably dreaming. But, if you want to get fit for life, you’ll need more than just a mat and a ball. Get with the times and get a few good pieces of equipment. Here are my top picks:

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1. Sandbag – My most favorite piece of equipment, ever. I purchased one a few years ago and what’s so awesome is that you can choose how heavy you want to make it. You purchase the bag, but you get the sand from a home improvement store. Of course, if you’re handy, you can just make your own bag I guess. There are tons of exercises you can do with this and it MIGHT be a good idea to get two so you can have a super heavy one and a lighter one for different exercises.

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2. Suspension Trainer – (also known as TRX) – TRX is the original creator of this mechanism and plenty of people have gotten on board, especially athletes like Drew Brees and a bunch of Mixed Martial Arts competitors. What’s so special about it? It uses your own bodyweight as resistance and you can manipulate every exercise to make it easier or more challenging. The foot cradles double as handles and plus…it just LOOKS badass when you’re training with it. The most advantageous part of it for you is that it’s extremely easy to use (takes about 10 seconds to hang it from a beam in your house or a doorway. Not to mention it’s lightweight and portable, which makes it perfect for people who travel and want to use it in their hotel rooms.

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3. Pull up Bar / Dip Stand – I bought this ages ago and continue to use it. I put these in one category although they are two different things. The pull up bar is easily installed in a doorway. The dip stand doubles as a pull up bar but moreso as a body row (pictured). You can also use the dip stand to do some hanging leg raises.  Although it’s not as portable as I would like, nothing beats a pull up as one of the most challenging upper body moves and you can get a great workout on these two.

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4. Stability Ball – I consider these the grandfather of all exercise equipment. Because probably everyone and your grandpa has one. Or knows someone who does. The reason? Stabilization is something everyone must work on. Plus, it’s completely versatile. You can sit on it, you can toss it, you can lean on it, you can lift it, you can lay on it. Just make sure you keep it pumped up air because once these things lose their air, they become UNstable.

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5. Kettlebell – It might look strange but it’s more than just a weird looking weight. This thing can be used to do anything a dumbbell can do but because of the handle, you can do more. You can swing it as I demonstrate here. You can raise it. You can hold it up and lower your body down to the ground. All kinds of torturous things! 🙂

 

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6. Medicine Ball – This is a ball that has weight. So as the stability ball is large and full of air, the medicine ball is small and full of…something. Sand? Whatever it is, it works like a charm, especially the ones with handles. Some of them are anti-bounce balls meaning they are used for more power moves. Others that are of the weight specified can be use to press, pull, twist, raise, and bounce for a variety of exercises.

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7. Powerblocks – I admit I have yet to purchase these but they are on my Christmas list. Why? I know they look strange but that multicolored block is the answer to just one set of weights that every home gym needs. In case you haven’t noticed, dumbbells are usually priced by the pound. So you can spend quite a bit of money on just one set of 5, 10, 12, and 15lb weights. Well, how about getting just two? That’s the magic behind the Poweblock. It’s an adjustable “block.” I also just noticed they make barbells and kettlebells. My Christmas list just got real big…

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8. Bosu Ball – This flying saucer, crazy blue half ball looking thing is awesome. It’s called a BOSU ball because BOth Sides are Utilized. You can balance on the blue side or the black side. You can put your hands on either side, your feet on either side, you can stand on it, sit on it, jump on it, lift it up, twist it across, anything and everything.

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9. A Timer and a Tracker – Not what you’d expect out of all this equipment on this list right? But when you workout you need a way to track and log your workouts. You could also use a really good timer when doing timed metabolic workouts. I recommend anything FREE because I’m cheap so I use the timer called Tabata Stopwatch Pro – Interval Timer. It allows you to choose different sounds for when you need to start and stop your exercises. This way, you’re not constantly looking at a clock or your watch or iPhone. As for logging your workouts, you can just use a document and save it online but I prefer the old fashioned pen and paper. I use a logbook I found on Amazon.com but you can just use a good old steno notebook. It doesn’t get much simpler than that!

 

I hope you find this list useful for building your own home gym. Keep this Wish List handy for the holidays and birthdays or after you reach a certain goal, perhaps you purchase a new piece of equipment for yourself!

 

 

 

The Anti-New Years Resolution

I’m officially sick and tired of the “New Year New You!” mantra plastered over Fitness and Health Magazines every January.   Gyms and health clubs are guilty of these slogans and promotions too.  You walk into any gym for that matter in the month of December and January and there are specials and deals going on usually meant to entice that vulnerable gym newbie who wants to accomplish the usual for the new  year:  lose weight.

This time I’m going to do it.  This time I won’t give up and I won’t give in and I’ll diet and I’ll workout everyday and I won’t stop.

But every year, usually in mid February, they do stop.  They slack off .  They don’t have support at home.  They get caught up at work.  They stop coming to the gym. They fall off the wagon.  They give up and they feel like they failed.

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This vicious cycle creates a sort of animosity I have noticed among the frequent gym freaks patrons.  Comments are made, looks are exchanged and gestures are made.  Granted of course, not everyone does this.  I am generalizing here.  But speaking from the standpoint of a trainer, I can assure you there are people out there who really look down on those people coming to the gym for the first time and treat them like the plague.  I have witnessed this juvenile behavior from adults more times than I care to remember.

This time around, how about we make a resolution to leave the NYE’ers (New Years Resolutioners, yeah I just made up that word) alone and let them be.  No approach.  No pouncing.  Just letting people do their own thing with no judgement.

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For those looking to lose weight, you can start January 1st but why set yourself up for failure?  I had repeatedly told my consultations “I highly recommend you start out really slow with this long term goal” in the beginning of January.  They wanted no part of that.  They wanted results and they wanted them quickly.  I’ve heard from many people “Oh no, I’m going to come here everyday for this entire month.  Otherwise I won’t come at all!” 

Pretty sure you can guess what happened.  They came in for about a week straight and then POOF! they were gone.  What a waste of time, money and effort.

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If you have tried to lose weight every January unsuccessfully, then perhaps a new approach is needed.  My best advice is baby steps.  Break it out into phases.  And don’t call it a resolution.  That word itself carries with it such a stigma of “Ugh, not THIS time of year again!”   Just call it what it is:  a goal.

Ask yourself:  Have you ever MET anyone who actually stuck to their Resolution? I mean really stuck with it?  Maybe I’m in the minority but I have found people stick with their goals when they start them when the TIME is right, and usually, it’s not January 1st.  Start when the time is right for you.  Don’t let any of these magazines, tv shows, (ahem Biggest Loser), co-workers, family, friends, social media..tell you that “The Time to start is January 1st!! ”

No, the time to do it is when YOU decide.  When YOU are in a good place mentally and financially (yes its going to be an investment) to do it YOUR way.

Oh and in case you were wondering, the best month to make your new years resolution? August.  According BusinessWeek.com here http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-12-25/how-to-keep-new-years-resolutions-make-them-in-august

Mini Update on Me, because, lets just admit this is all about me:  Currently awaiting my new meal plan since it’s been almost a month since hiring my Coach.

The “Lose 5bls between Thanksgiving and January 3rd” bet I have going with my friend Craig is in the bag.  That’s $20 is as good as mine since I’ve actually lost 7lbs.

Aiming to lose 1 more by the 3rd since I hate odd numbers.

Probably one more post coming before the end of 2012.

-Michelle