2 Comments

Replacing My Mask

As I stood in my bathroom, looking into the mirror applying my make up for the third day in a row (one time a month is about my average), I was struck by a thought. Since my recent weight gain has settled in and I cannot seem to get the weight to drop for a multitude of reasons (some I can control, some I cannot), I feel an overpowering need to replace my “mask”.

Finishing the make-up application, I was so aware of my attempt to replace my “hot body” mask for a “great hair and mediocre make-up” mask. Since I can’t seem to wrap my head around consistently eating well, I decided I would fix something else. I’m not accepting anything- I’m just moving on.

Don’t get me wrong, moving on can be a healthy means of leaving old habits behind. And right now when I actually do something with my hair and put on make-up, I feel more beautiful and attractive. But let’s be honest, that’s not all that’s happening here.

I am unbelievably insecure about my looks. And not just my body but my face as well. My husband teases me because I always have my mouth open to make a silly face in every picture. I do it as a mask. I do it because I can laugh with people and never have to be laughed at. In my head, people will ridicule and laugh at me when I am not making a “pretty face”. Even worse, I feel like I look good but find out that someone else doesn’t think so. I’m an adult and logically know that most people don’t care what I look like in pictures, but my sensitive and previously damaged ego is more of a feeler than a thinker.

The worst part is that no one else can fix this issue for me. My husband, friends and family cannot tell me enough times how beautiful I am so that I will actually start believing it. Even if they could fix it for me, they would have to follow me around all day and night, every day and night saying, “You’re beautiful” every two minutes in order to thwart the bitch in my head. Even then, I am not sure she would stop because she can attack me when I least expect it and no one is looking.

There’s more to this change than just stopping the loud bitch in my head. I have been quieting her down increasingly more and more over the last year; the next step is to replace her. She doesn’t serve me any longer. She doesn’t protect me from others and their potential attacks. She hurts me, holds me back and reminds me of all of my fears and failures. But she’s not just wrong- something else is right!

There is beauty in me that’s skin deep, but there is also a beauty in me that radiates from the inside out and deserves the best I have to give. She deserves the best from the people around her, and shouldn’t put up with anything else. She selflessly and generously gives to the community of people around her because she cares. She is a precious diamond. Gosh that sounds cheesy and silly! (If you just read that diamond line, I worked hard to keep that in here. My less than romantic side is grossed out by it!)

As cheesy and silly as it sounds, it’s truth. It’s the most beautiful and freeing truth I have heard from myself in a long time. I am an extremely flawed and imperfect person, but I am a beautiful person. A beautiful person who wants heads to turn when others see me, and hearts to open when they spend time with me.

Why do so many of us believe they aren’t enough? That regardless of what we do, achieve, experience, and share we are inadequate? Adequate is different than perfect, and none of us are perfect, but we are certainly adequate in just about anything and better than adequate in many areas.

I don’t know what your bitch says to you, but here is the daily list of failures my loud bitch likes to lie to me about:

·         You’re a terrible mom- you are going to drive your kid to be an unproductive member of society who is a (fill in your choice of addiction)

·         Your husband is not being fulfilled because you’re not good enough, attractive enough, fun enough, etc.

·         You are not savvy enough to run a business

·         You will never achieve the business you envision

·         You failed at this before why wouldn’t you fail this time?

·         Your clients can’t lose weight if you can’t even maintain your own weight

·         You don’t have anything important to say, why do you talk so much?

·         You want to be a professional speaker? Have you heard yourself?

·         You’re so ugly! How did you ever think you were attractive?

·         You look so old, are you sure your birth certificate is right? (OK, that second part is my sense of humor right in this moment)

And the list goes on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on…

Most likely if you’re still reading this blog, you have a list too. Maybe the same, maybe different. Either way, you probably can feel every insult as if it was the familiar voice you hear.

Honestly, as I take a look at this list and absorb it- Stockholm’s Syndrome makes sense. Just like a kidnapper holds someone captive and the victim starts to identify with and defend the poor choices of the perpetrator, I listen to and defend the bitch in my head.  I have the freedom of choice every single day to listen to the loud bitch or not, yet often times, I choose to not only listen to but to defend her! That sounds crazy, but I do it. I believe she’s justified by memories; moments I recall when she says those things. They are snap shots in time, but I take them to be the entirety of my story.

Our rational brains can’t make sense of it, but we don’t operate from a logical place all that often. There’s a theory that says we make decisions only with our emotions. We think through things and make our pros and cons lists taking 3 days to make some big decisions, but the truth of the matter is the decision was still emotionally instilled. Maybe the greater emotion that took over while you waited 3 days was greater than the impulsive emotion, but often, our first emotional decision is our final decision.

I don’t know about you, but I want to change my emotional reactions. I want to say things out loud that are true. I want to not just drink my own kool-aid that I spout out to anyone who listens. I want to live it out as an example to others, make an impact on my community, and change the way we think and act as a culture.  

As always, thanks for reading our blogs. We welcome any feedback, comments and suggestions. We want to share material that you want to learn about or hear. Please comment on the blog or email fitness@infinitely-fit.com for any ideas or thoughts.

 

2 Comments

Comment

The Dirt Behind the Fairytale

It’s time to free myself of the fear of someone “finding out the truth”, so today I stop hiding behind my weight loss success story and divulge more dirt behind the fairytale. And in order to get the full effect of the present, you have to know the history of my journey...

Most of my teen and adult years prior to my significant weight loss journey, I weighed approximately 160-165 and wore a size twelve. I was probably a sophomore in high school when that weight settled onto my body staying put until I was thirty-one years old. On occasion those pounds would find extra friends to cuddle up with in my hip, thigh and butt areas pushing my weight higher and my pants tighter, eventually needing a size fourteen. I even spent time near 200 pounds (without being pregnant) and squeezed into a size fourteen, but I was honestly more of a size sixteen to eighteen.

The last few years, I have spent most of my energy struggling to maintain a healthy weight and not get obsessive and lose too much weight. I have over-trained my body and tried to recover from its effects while the fear of “getting fat” stalking me like a bad ex-boyfriend.

The pressure is immense in the health and wellness industry, but mostly from my own thoughts. My clients and the average Joe or Jane still think I look fit and healthy and some even desire to look “as good” as me. Day in and day out, I stress over every pound I have gained….and, trust me, pounds I have gained. This time around, it’s more than pounds, it’s inches and pants sizes too.

After a couple years of a highly stressful life kicking me around, I’m back up to my fighting weight range around 161-163 most days. My thighs jiggle more, my tummy is soft and pouchy, and “Baby got back!” On the bright side, I did start filling out some bras. With all the extra fluff and jiggle, no one has said a word to me. Obviously some people have noticed, but most politely say I still look great or really just haven’t noticed.

The reason they have yet to notice is that I may have gained weight and size, but I didn’t gain so much weight and size that I am back up to a size twelve. When I was ten to fifteen pounds lighter, I was wearing a size four, which I never dreamed was even possible! Now I wear a size six or eight depending on the cut and style of the clothing. So the weight has increased more than the size, especially when I consider my past of weighing the same and wearing two to three sizes larger clothing.

You’re probably waiting on me to get on with my point, so here it is…I am clearly a much healthier 162-ish than I ever was in my teens and twenties. My body isn’t completely unhealthy; I am just carrying some extra weight.

Without boring you with all the nitty gritty details, I have earned every pound gained. My life has been stressful, and I am a stress eater. I also need more socializing than the average person to keep my mind healthy, and my social life has wine involved at least 60% of the time. In addition to the stress eating, I was eating extra because I wasn’t sleeping. And when we don’t sleep, our hormones are off and we tend to think the sleepiness is hunger. So again, more eating.

Now here I am, feeling the pressure of looking the part as a trainer while holding true to my principles and values as a trainer and coach. I believe that people,including me, need to take time to lose weight by caring for their bodies when things have been out of whack.

I could choose to go on some restrictive diet losing ten pounds so I am comfortable with the number on the scale and the one stitched into my clothes.  There are ton of diets to choose from- paleo, vegan, low carb, cleanses, etc. But I know better and really believe my own advice. I believe it’s more important to live a balanced life caring for myself as a human being, not as a fitness model whose worth is found in others coveting my body. My obsessive trainer wants to diet and take extreme measures, but my true coach knows that will only make things worse.

This is probably the hardest form of getting comfortable in the uncomfortable I have yet to experience. I want to lose a few pounds, probably five to eight and I want to comfortably fit into a size six no matter where I shop. And I am going to slowly work towards those goals by first and foremost, RESTING!

It’s counterintuitive to my core, but I speak the truth. I need to be kind to my body by getting good sleep. And to get good sleep, I need to exercise a healthy amount and eat well (not perfectly), create clear boundaries at work and home, and spend time doing things I enjoy and are relaxing for me. As these habits become more regular again, the deeper rest will come and the next level of mental, physical and spiritual healing will be complete.

Sweet dreams!

 

Comment

This is B.I.G. BIG!

Comment

This is B.I.G. BIG!

As you can see above, Infinitely Fit is moving to a new studio in Carmel Mountain Ranch on March 14th! We can't wait to share the space and new equipment with our clients!

Opening my own studio and moving out of the garage is something I have hoped for and planned to do for about a year now. It had been a just a dream until an irresistible opportunity landed in my lap last week. 

In recent months, all the pieces I needed started to come together as we have been gaining a steady flow of new clients and started filling up our classes in our small garage studio. It couldn't be a more divinely orchestrated situation which seemed to happen almost overnight- out of no where.

The truth, however, couldn't be further from the truth. This opportunity and successful snapshot in time is a result of years of work, getting up everyday being willing to march on, try new things, and take risks even when it seemed pointless and a waste of time.

With all that has been happening, and so quickly, my glorious moment came unexpectedly wrapped in a package of opening my own studio. It was hard to believe that it is, in fact, a glorious moment- a picture of success! As I have been planning for success, I expected a success of this magnitude to be a monumental moment in time. I expected to "arrive" at success like it's a destination, and believed somehow all my hard work would be over, and it would be time to rest for a bit. Well, it's most definitely not a destination at which I've arrived because the hard work has increased rather than ceased. I am the same person as I was before this all happened, just with a bigger to-do list, more responsibility and less sleep.

This glorious moment is a success, and a BIG one, but it is not a destination. The beat marches on, and so will I or my moment of success is the beginning of my decline. And with that in mind, I have some classes to plan, some accounts to reconcile and some marketing to decide upon. But first, I think I'll take a moment to celebrate with my family because this is glorious!

Whether you stop in to say hi and check out our space or come to take our classes, we hope to see you soon!

Here's to a new chapter at Infinitely Fit! Cheers!

 

Comment

Comment

When to push...

Our last blog was all about the no pain, no gain mentality and how it can be physically and emotionally destructive. While pain is not an indicator of a good workout, there are times when it’s necessary to push yourself past comfortable limits to grow stronger, fitter and healthier.

I like to think of this concept as finding your training sweet spot or, as science would call it, the principal of progressive overload. This principal states that your workouts should be just a tiny bit more challenging than what you’re capable of so your body is forced to create adaptations (increase the size of muscle fibers, utilize fat for fuel, etc.).

Constantly overloading your system with high intensity exercise doesn’t allow sufficient time for these adaptations to occur. But never overloading your muscles and cardiovascular system doesn’t allow for the stimulus that produces these adaptations.

If this idea leaves you with a big question mark over when to push forward and when to pull back, welcome to the club.

Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules that apply to everyone as to how much, how hard or how often you should exercise to reap maximum benefits and avoid overtraining. Every body is different, with a different set of genes and experiences, and will respond to training differently. Beyond that, every person is different everyday.

I live in a world where I love things to be black or white. Healthy or unhealthy, beneficial or detrimental, good or bad. For years I tried to fit exercise into these categories, believing “intense exercise is best” and “light exercise and rest are a waste of time.”

Not only is that not true in a general sense (light exercise is awesome), it is different on any given day of the week. What works for my body today is not the same as yesterday. And it won’t be the same tomorrow, next week or next year.

While figuring out when to “go hard” and when to “go home” (or just ease back a little) is an individual learning process, there are a few easy tips that can help you find that sweet spot where you achieve maximum results and avoid overtraining.

Tips and Tricks:

  •  Intensity and duration are inversely related. High intensity exercise can be a great way to provoke physiological changes, but when done too much, it’s also a great way to overtrain. If the exercise you’re performing is of sufficiently high intensity, you actually can’t do it for a long time. So keep the high intensity stuff short but, you know… intense.
  • Follow hard days with easy days. To allow your body time to recover and reap the most benefit from highly intense or strenuous exercise sessions, follow with lighter days. Light is different from one person to another (I do not find a jog to be light exercise, but a highly trained runner would). Focus on exercise that leaves you feeling refreshed and energized, like yoga, walking, or gentle biking or running.
  • Keep it moving. Easy days are easy days, not off days. Finding some movement on the days that you don’t have strenuous workouts may help you recover and will help you stick to your exercise regimen.
  • Aim to honor and care for your body rather than fix it. When you care for someone, you want what’s best for them, regardless of whether it is what’s easiest. Sometimes what’s best is challenging and tough; sometimes it’s gentle and encouraging. If you approach your workouts from this perspective, you will be better able to understand what your body needs each day and better equipped to respond to those needs.

Learning when to push forward and when to pull back isn’t something that will happen overnight (Seriously, it’s taken me 5 years to come up with a reasonable sense of it). But it is a worthy endeavor in the pursuit of lifelong physical and mental health and happiness.

 

 

 

Comment

"No Pain, No Gain"

Comment

"No Pain, No Gain"

“Basically, no exercise is bad… but too much exercise is worse.”

We live in a society that glorifies extremes, evidenced by t-shirts proclaiming, “Sore Today, Strong Tomorrow” and Fitspo images of chiseled abs plastered behind the words, “Sweat is Fat Crying.”

While I’m a strong proponent of exercise providing immense physical and psychological benefits, when we dichotomize any behavior into all or nothing, good or bad categories, the virtue can easily become the vice. 

 

Comment

Train to fail

Comment

Train to fail

Let’s be honest, it’s not fun to fail. It reveals weaknesses. It exposes us in a place we probably already feel vulnerable. When we fear failure, we believe that if people see us fail, they will think less of us.

This year, #lean2016; I train to fail. I train to fail in my own fitness training and for others, I train to fail in life pushing the boundaries and every self-imposed limit I can find! 

Comment

"I've got to get my cool back!"

Comment

"I've got to get my cool back!"

The New Year did not kick star me or bring a new batch of motivation like the many resolution writing hard-chargers out there. It brought me in a little more zen and primed me for energy, but the energy itself is lacking. (I have Eddie Griffin in Undercover Brother in my head right now. “I have got to get my cool back.”)

Comment

Stress & Exercise

Comment

Stress & Exercise

In our fast paced, 21st century world stress is ubiquitous; everyone experiences it.

3,000 years ago, our ancestors dealt with stress, but the sources of their stress were very different than they are today. While being chased by a lion or having to run after your own dinner sounds pretty stressful, these were immediate stressors that were quickly resolved.

Once they were safe and their dinner was caught, our ancestors didn’t worry about impending deadlines, rush-hour traffic, mortgage payments or getting the kids to school on time. These stressors that you deal with every day are more chronic in nature – and they’re slowly causing your physical and mental health to deteriorate.

Physiological Response to Stress

Your body has a pretty incredible stress response. When you step out in front of a car your brain immediately receives a distress signal. It increases your heart rate, blood pressure and respiration. It tells your liver to dump glucose into your blood stream, causing blood sugar to skyrocket. It releases cortisol, the “gas” that keeps your stress response revving.

In the event of a lion chasing you, this response is incredibly adaptive. It allows you to mobilize your energy stores and react as efficiently as possible.

In the face of chronic stressors, this response becomes maladaptive and downright harmful. Chronically high rates of cortisol can have disastrous effects on your physical and mental health. 

Consequences of Long-Term Stress

Chronic stress is akin to your body believing that a lion is chasing after you all the time. Prolonged stress can wreak havoc on all of your body’s systems. Some of the effects include:

  • Cardiovascular complications

  • Psychological disorders including anxiety and depression

  • Digestive issues and headaches

  • Muscle tension and tightness

  • Weight gain

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Concentration and memory problems

When you’re feeling overburdened the last thing you want to do is add another activity to your to-do list. But exercise should be the one activity you make time to pencil in.

While exercise will take some time out of your day, it has clear stress-reduction benefits make it a no-brainer when battling chronic stress.

How Exercise Helps

There are a variety of ways exercise can be helpful in reducing stress levels. Specifically exercise:

Exercise can be a powerful, natural aid in the reduction of stress. However, a principle I’ve been working to better understand and practice is “your body cannot differentiate stressors.”

What does that mean?

Whether you’re cramming for a midterm, giving a presentation at work, running sprints at your local track or being chased by a lion, your body doesn’t know the difference and frankly, it doesn’t care.

This means that as much as exercise can help with stress, it can also hurt. In fact, long-term over exercise has symptoms very similar to chronic stress.

How to use Exercise to your Advantage

If exercise can improve and worsen stress, how do you ensure that you are exercising in a beneficial way? When you’re feeling burnt out, focus on these exercise tips to ensure your getting the most stress busting bang for your buck.

  • Low-moderate intensity. When stressed, you don’t want to exercise in a way that puts a ton of additional strain on your body. Include gentler forms of exercise like walking, jogging, yoga, and light cycling or strength training. Not sure what light to moderate means? Use the talk test. If you can still manage to hold a conversation you’re doing it right

  • Frequency>intensity or duration. The effects of an exercise session on stress are immediate. The more often you can incorporate exercise the more likely it is to have an accumulative effect on your overall stress levels

  • Include Deep breathing – Take deep, steady breaths at the beginning, end and periodically throughout your exercise sessions, focusing on the sensation of feeling your lungs expand and contract with air.

  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation This technique is best done at the end of a session (and can be done when not exercising) and includes contracting then releasing each major muscle, working from your head down.

  • Finish Strong. I’m not talking about eking out one more set of push-ups or stair sprints, here. I’m referring to finishing strong with your mind. End your session with a few deep breaths and a quick stretch. This is a great way to ensure you leave your exercise session feeling refreshed and relaxed, instead of more wound up.

While stress is an inevitable part of modern life, exercise can help reduce the havoc it wreaks on your body and mind. If you’ve been avoiding exercise because you feel you’re simply too busy, commit to including some of these practices 2-3 days a week. Incorporating physical activity will help you de-stress and improve your health, happiness and peace of mind.

Comment

LIES VS TRUTH

1 Comment

LIES VS TRUTH

After much lamenting over what to write, I realized that many of the things I am tired of or don’t want to do are because there is a possibility of a “should” being placed in front. We should exercise, we should eat well, we should be grateful, we should be disciplined, we should be diligent with money, we should be kind to ourselves and others. Again, like a teenager, I’m rebelling against all responsibility. It doesn’t matter right now that these are things I enjoy and have benefits. The rebellion is all in the should!

1 Comment

Intuitive Eating – What it is and How to do it

Comment

Intuitive Eating – What it is and How to do it

Intuitive eating is not complicated. However, because you’ve been so conditioned to tell yourself what you should and shouldn’t eat instead of actually listening to what your body is asking for, it will take time to get comfortable with.

There are a few basic principals of intuitive eating that, in time, will help you ditch the continuous cycle of dieting and binging. It will allow you to give up fighting the constant battle over what you should or should not put in your mouth. It will help you cultivate a happy and healthy body (and mind).

Comment

Healthy Eating 101

Comment

Healthy Eating 101

For those of you who watch what you eat, here's the final word on nutrition and health. It's a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional studies.

1. The Japanese eat very little fat
and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat
and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

3. The Chinese drink very little red wine
and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine
and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

5. The Germans drink a lot of beers and eat lots of fats
and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

CONCLUSION
Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.
 

If you’ve ever tried to keep up with current diet advice, you’re probably shaking your head and laughing right now. This joke illuminates how confusing it can be to understand nutrition and keep up with the current trends. One year, butter and anything with a gram of saturated fat will kill you. The next, you should be putting it in your morning cup of Joe.

And you definitely shouldn’t eat anything with gluten.

Or dairy.

Or sugar.

Or, flavor.

What is considered “healthy” is constantly changing and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to wade through all the pseudo-science and make informed decisions about what to put in your body.

While proper nutrition will vary from one individual to another and some foods truly do aggravate some individuals, there are basic tenets of healthy eating that will ensure that you’re on the right track to consuming the healthiest diet you can.  

To avoid an overly boring and detailed blog on nutrition I'm going to hit you with the basics that are essential to a sound diet (and by diet I mean the array of foods that you eat, not something promising that you'll drop 5 pounds in a week).

If you follow this advice, you won’t have to worry about next year’s hot new diet and can be content knowing that your eating plan is the healthiest for your body and your individual needs. 

Basic Guidelines for Creating a Healthy Diet
- Focus on what you CAN eat, not what you can't eat. Include fruits, vegetables, lean meats, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates. Focus more on nourishing your body by feeding it good things as opposed to restricting or cutting things out.

- Eat real food. 21-year-old Kelsey wouldn't have told you this but a piece of fruit and nuts are better than a protein bar. Yes, even a quest bar. If it swam in the ocean, crawled on the ground or grew out of it, it’s probably good to eat (barring individual dietary restrictions such as celiac disease or vegetarianism).

- Mostly plants. Mostly is a relative term. You don't have to eat a diet comprised of 99% plants but include as many as you can every day. A really easy way to cut down on eating other crap is to start by adding more fruits and veggies in. Throw spinach in your protein shake (or literally any dish). Add vegetable side dishes or salads to your meals or snacks.

When you include more plants, you’ll naturally have less room for other junk. If it grows from the ground consider it a plant - fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, seeds and nuts (yes, in my world this includes peanut butter)

- If you don't like it, don't eat it. Seriously. Ever find yourself eating egg whites and asparagus all day only to find that you binge on an entire quart of Rocky road at night? When you are on a diet that leaves you feeling deprived the end result is often overeating at the first sign of temptation.


- Eat stuff you do like. Sort of goes without saying after the last point. Eating should be an enjoyable experience; it's part of a healthy relationship with food. Try to find unprocessed, healthy foods that you enjoy. Don’t have any now? Experiment with healthy foods and check out recipes on sites like Greatist or Fannetastic Foods.  


- If you need to eat, eat. If you don't, don't. I hear you, easier said than done.  However, learning to listen to your body's internal hunger cues is ultimately the best long-term weight management strategy available. Chronic dieting can turn off these cues and make you overly focused on food. Learn to listen to your body and eat when and what it needs. This also includes listening for cues on when your body is done eating.  


- Focus on your food. Avoid distractions when you eat. How many times have you eaten while driving or engrossed in a scandalous Facebook post only to finish and not even recall eating at all? Just like exercise, eating is a health honoring practice. Give yourself time to fully engage in and enjoy your meals to fully appreciate the experience (this will help in the process of learning when you need to eat and when you don’t).


- Don't starve yourself. As a human being, this should seem intuitive. Bodies run on fuel, that fuel is food, not getting enough of that fuel makes your body run poorly, and can even contribute to long term weight gain. (More on that to come in a future post on dieting and intuitive eating)

- Give yourself some wiggle room. Dichotomizing foods into categories that are “good” or “bad” is a sure way to create an unhealthy relationship with food. By aiming to follow the advice above you can rest assured that most of your dietary choices will be health promoting. This way, when you do indulge in foods you would have once considered “bad” their effect on your overall diet and health will be minimal.

Healthy eating is a fluid experience and not defined by one super-healthy meal or one sugar-loaded dessert. By following these guidelines, you will find a diet that is healthy, sustainable and tailored to your individual needs.

Now go, eat and be merry!

By Kelsey Brown

 

 

* For further resources on intuitive eating check out www.intuitiveeating.com or Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole M.S., R.D. and Elyse Resch M.S., R.D., F.A.D.A.

 

 

Comment

You're worth more than leftovers....

Comment

You're worth more than leftovers....

I believe modeling good self-care is as important as engaging with our kids. We need to take care of our own needs so we’re not just giving our loved ones leftovers. It’s a hard concept to practice, but completely worth it for you and your loved ones.

Comment

1 Comment

Exercise to Fight Depression

By Kelsey Brown

It’s 6:00 am. Your alarm is blaring, beckoning you to begin your day. You roll over and hit the snooze button, unable to sleep but not yet ready to summon the strength to get out of bed. Your low back throbs and you hardly slept all night.     

You lie there, contemplating whether or not you should even get out of bed at all. You have a good job and a wonderful family and yet, you can’t figure out why you are so unhappy. So tired. So unsatisfied.

Depression is a debilitating disease affecting at least 6.7% of the U.S. population.

It is associated with low self-esteem, pervasive feelings of guilt and worthlessness and a loss of interest and pleasure. Depression, with its multiple contributing factors, can sneak up on you when your life is going horribly wrong or when it’s going perfectly well.

If you’ve ever experienced a bout of depression, you know how crushing the disease can be. It is as if your whole life, your every action, is being weighed down by a boulder that is built entirely of your own misery.  

Depression comes with other negative side effects such as physical pain, poor sleep, weight gain, social withdrawal and higher risks of substance abuse and chronic disease. Thus depression is cyclical and self-promoting; its symptoms serve to deepen the disease.  

So what does exercise have to do with this? We know that exercise is impactful in preventing and treating cardiovascular disease and Diabetes, but what can it do for depression?

As it turns out, quite a lot.

Research has found that individuals who report the lowest levels of activity have the highest levels of depression. Other research reveals that as societal levels of physical activity have decreased, rates of depression have gone up and multiple studies using exercise as a treatment for depression have shown promising results.

How Exercise Helps

There are a few key explanations for how exercise helps to prevent and reduce depression.

  • Exercise increases feel-good hormones called endorphins that may be low in people suffering from depression. This is the idea behind the famous “runners high.”

  • Exercise has been shown to boost self-esteem, something that is characteristically low in depression sufferers.

  • Exercise can improve sleep, which can help to break the cycle of depression.

  • Exercise can serve as a coping or distraction strategy.

  • Exercise can be a great way to allow for social interaction in individuals whose disease may limit this.

And the benefits of exercise exist independent of changes in fitness. That means you don’t have to lose 20 pounds or run a sub 7-minute mile to experience the mood-enhancing benefits.

However, there’s one little problem with this whole exercise to beat the blues idea...

When you’re depressed you don’t really want to get out of bed, let alone lace up your running shoes and hit the pavement.

How then, can you find ways to use exercise to help you overcome depression?

Practical Strategies for using Exercise to Beat Depression: 

  • Start small. Build exercise into your daily regimen slowly. 5-10 minutes at a time is a great starting point.  

  • Anything counts. You don’t have to run 5 miles or enroll at your nearest Cross Fit.  Any movement, be it walking, dancing, roller blading or even gardening will do. Focus on finding activities that you enjoy instead of forcing yourself to exercise in ways you think you should.

  • Frequency > intensity. Exercise that is comfortable and enjoyable is most likely to yield results. Low to moderate intensity exercise done daily is better than high intensity exercise done a few times a week (don’t discount walking – it has a ton of mental and physical health benefits)

  • Exercise with others. This is a great way to increase your social interaction and build feelings of camaraderie and support

  • Exercise the body and mind. Work mindfulness practices into your exercise sessions to reap maximum benefits. This can include deep breathing, and stretching. I love to finish my exercise sessions with a few minutes of deep breathing and checking in to see how my body feels.

  • Reflect. Exercise can be especially powerful in treating depression when you reflect on your experience and accomplishments after each exercise session. This can be done in your head or written down 

  • Combine with other forms of treatment. In many cases, exercise cannot act as a stand-alone treatment for depression. Consider combining exercise with CBT or antidepressant therapy. You can even look into alternative treatments such as vitamins and supplements or acupuncture.

There have been times in my own life where I struggled through periods of deep depression. Exercise was, and is, an integral part of my healing process.

Committing to taking action towards overcoming your pain can be a powerful strengthening process. Exercise is an excellent step that you can take today. It requires no money (beyond the cost of a pair of shoes) or resources and delivers immediate and cumulative benefits.  

If you’re struggling with depression, begin building small increments of exercise into your daily schedule (remember – walking counts!). This small habit, when repeated consistently, can have a profound effect on your happiness and quality of life.

 

1 Comment

2 Comments

Celebrate! Good Times! Come on! It's a celebration!

What was the last accomplishment you celebrated? I ask because I know, that in my own life, I have a hard time celebrating small accomplishments.

As I continue to bring awareness to my own thoughts and habits, I have taken notice of how unwilling I am to be content. I am regularly unkind and unforgiving to myself because I feel if I give an inch to contentment, I will become lazy and unmotivated forever. Why is that? Why do I believe feeling content or proud of a small accomplishment is somehow succumbing to the idea that I am settling for less than my best?

 

2 Comments

How to Build a Better Body (Image)

Comment

How to Build a Better Body (Image)

In a society obsessed with thinness and beauty, it can be difficult not to be hyper aware of your weight and beat yourself up over how you look. Whether you’re not skinny enough, pretty enough, tall enough or strong enough, there are a million reasons you can find to feel negatively about yourself. 

Negative body image is a real issue with real consequences. It is associated with feelings of shame, self-consciousness and anxiety about one’s body and oneself. Those with negative body image are at a greater risk for developing eating disorders, depression and low self-esteem. Possessing a negative body image is also linked to things like smoking, alcohol abuse, early onset of sexual activity and obesity.

While it is tempting to believe that fixing your body will fix your body image blues, a negative body image is a product of disordered thinking, not a disordered body.  

Comment

Comment

The Perfect peach

The other day I received my Farm Fresh to You CSA box, and there were these beautiful peaches in the box that were, sadly, not ready to eat. Since I live with a pre-teen boy who is almost my height, and a grown US Marine, I decided the only way I would have a chance of eating the peach on my terms was to hide it-- so that's exactly what I did.

I hid it in my refrigerator produce drawer under the Brussel sprouts for safekeeping. Every day or so I was checking its softness, and after 1 week, while the hubs was at work and the kiddo at school, I remembered that my perfectly colored and ripened peach was probably ready for consumption.

I pulled out the vibrant orange-reddish peach and set the stage with complete quiet and total focus on my eating experience. I bit into the peach. It was juicy but not the too messy kind of juicy, a little tart with a little sweet. DELICIOUS! Each bite I took notice of the freshness and how I wanted this experience to last forever and yet, my focus quickly shifted.

My thoughts of the phenomenal peach were overtaken with thoughts of my next perfect moment, my next fix to consume something equally delicious. How can I prolong this experience? I thought. Then, it hit me!

I am already so busy thinking about replicating this experience that I am no longer indulging in this experience. How can that be? Why I am not experiencing something I was so deeply and profoundly in tune to just seconds ago? Good question, right? I think so too! Unfortunately, I don't have a complete, scientific or even reasonable explanation with which to educate you, but I will tell you what I did:

ü  I refocused my mind to the moment

ü  I gave myself permission to eat more after I enjoyed the peach, but first I had to fully experience the moment and the delicious food

ü  I refocused my mind to the moment

ü  I thought about tasting notes as if I was tasting it for the first time or tasting a fine wine

ü  I refocused my mind to the moment (because now I was thinking about wine pairings)

ü  I came to the conclusion that I didn't want any other food in my mouth at that moment because then I wouldn't have the lingering taste of a perfectly balanced and fresh peach

It's amazing how helpful I have found giving myself permission. This time it allowed me to operate under the "there is enough" mentality rather than the scarcity mentality (like what happens when hiding a peach in my fridge). When I felt there was enough, it allowed me to appreciate what I was eating and the experience of eating, which led to a feeling of satisfaction and contentment I rarely indulge, which then led me to the conclusion that I didn't want something else so the peach taste could linger.

Please know that this awareness came after a couple of months of bringing awareness to what and how I eat. It has come at a time when I am rebelling against my "normal" eating routine and trying to redefine "normal". It came because I had already set the stage to enjoy the peach by not having other distractions. If I was eating this peach in my car running between clients, I would have never had this experience of awareness. Eating with awareness is a process for me. It is not something that comes naturally, but I believe every moment like the one with this peach, or the reflection of how my body felt after I ate a full bag of popcorn and box of movie candy is part of the process and the journey to be a little better and a little healthier by making healthier decisions more often (on average) in the future. 

By LJ Eastmead

Comment

Haven't learned my lesson...

Comment

Haven't learned my lesson...

Since I wrote my blog on perspective, I have had constant reminders about realigning my own perspective about my body, my opinions in general, and my sometimes my all too quick judgement of others....

Changing perspective in order to slow down and enjoy the process is not easy, but it is worth it. 

Comment

The Other 23

Comment

The Other 23

When people come to me for their initial assessments, we always discuss their fitness habits and goals. That of course, leads into a discussion about their nutrition habits- undoubtably the most uncomfortable aspect of personal health for people to share. After we work through the initial thought stream of why they came, we talk about the other 23 hours of their days. I ask questions like, but not limited to:

·         How do you sleep?

·         How long is your commute?

·         How many hours are you seated behind a desk?

·         Where do you eat your lunch?

These questions are thought provoking and educational because most don't fully think through the concept that the one hour they workout is just that- 1 hour. We have an additional 23 hours that make up the majority of our day, and we tend to forget about adding in healthy habits to those hours as well. We assume that if we workout and eat relatively well, we should have the healthy bodies we desire. Have you ever come to a point of making positive health changes in your life, remaining consistent in your diet and your exercise regime, yet you don't lose weight or you plateau quickly? If you're eating well, and exercising 6 days a week, why can't you lose weight? There are a multitude of reasons, but most assume they have a medical condition or they are under-training. Truthfully, those reasons make up maybe 10% of the situations. The rest of the people I see, need to add healthy habits in to the other 23 hours of their days. People resist this idea because it seems so simple, but it is the simple truth.

I am sharing this from a place of remembering what it's like to work hard and still struggle…This concept of the Other 23 is how I initially lost my weight, and it's how I keep it off. Back in September, I suffered a pretty bad concussion and whiplash playing goalie for a soccer game in my women's 30+ rec league. It was a fluke, and I paid dearly. From September 2014-April 2015, I slowed my workout routine from 6-7 days a week working out with 2 days steady state cardio, 2 days soccer, and 3-4 days HIIT (Yes- I had a little over train going on), to maybe 4 days a week of walking, weight lifting or yoga (each week varied on how often I did each activity). Recently, as a family, we decided to get UP Bands by Jawbone. I am so competitive that I have to exceed steps of anyone on my team daily. Keeping track of my steps, I realized something profound-- I am not practicing what I am preaching! I work from my home so I have 10 steps to get to the bathroom, 15 to get to my kitchen and 20 to my studio. I don't go anywhere that requires many steps, so if I want to practice what I preach, I need to be intentional about moving my body! Since getting the band, I get up and walk my dog a few times a day, make more excuses to park further way, and I even find time to walk to stores to pick up a handful of items instead of driving. Adding back in these healthy habits also stops me from snacking frequently and are helping my stress level. I use my walking time to listen to podcasts and sermons to widen my mind and maximize the return on time invested. On occasion, I even just take in the beauty of nature around me, which is just another form of meditation and appreciation. Being intentional in my Other 23 in a short 2 week period has decreased my bloating & my weight, improved my sleeping, improved my nutrition, and even gotten me excited about my workouts.

If you are one of those people out there not seeing results or seeing plateauing results, I encourage you to start implementing one new healthy habit into your Other 23 each week.  Here are a few to add in your day, and increase results, and increase your joy:

·         Drink (at a minimum) 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water daily

·         Get up and walk around/pace for 2-5 minutes every 30 minutes

·         Turn off all electronics 30min-1 hour before bed

·         Create a bed time routine to trigger the rest response in your body

·         Have a dance party with your kids to take a break from school work every afternoon

·         Stretch during commercial breaks

·         Read instead of watch TV

·         Take a walk after dinner (it may even stop you from having dessert)

Keep movin'!

LJ Eastmead

ACE Personal Trainer
AFAA Group Fitness Instructor

Comment

Comment

It's a Matter of Perspective

I am so blessed this week to be at the beach on a stay-cation with my family. The second half of the week it gets to be just me and the hubby- so blessed!! We are so happy to be here- no work, no timeline, just living and enjoying each other's company. We're not a perfect family, so don't think every minute is sheer perfection and agreement- it's just perfectly imperfect!

Yesterday, Hubs and I were working out at the pool. It was a body weight circuit that was pretty low key because Hubs is broken right now. While we were doing the circuit, my mind was wandering to how soft my body has gotten since I hurt myself playing soccer in September. Since that time, I don't play soccer often,  I don't run like I used to and I haven't replaced all that sprinting and running with any form of regularly performed cardio. Unfortunately, that's a recipe for some softness I haven't had in a while. I can get wrapped around an axle pretty easily over my body image, so after we were done with our circuits, I decided to do a few "targeting" exercises which I know full well don't actually target the fat. (Hey, I'm human. What can I say?!) Somehow those exercises were supposed to help me feel like I was doing something about my "situation". While I was performing some hip exercises to "target" my saddle bags, I was on all fours and looked down at my belly. This is what I saw.

All that loose skin hanging down coupled with the too-much-wine-belly was a little hard for me to look at. This is my reality for two reasons: 1-I love wine.  2-I did lose a significant amount of weight that left some loose skin. I have no need or desire to get a tummy tuck and no need to beat myself up over not being perfect. What I need is a realignment of perspective to perfectly imperfect.

What does that loose skin and fat, yes there's some fat in there too, say about LJ as a human being? Does it dictate my value as a woman, wife, mother or trainer? I tend to think so, but that's just not true. That loose skin tells some stories of a pretty courageous woman. That skin doesn't mean I'm courageous, but it is one of my "battle scars" in the fight to take care of my body. I can't show my boobs in all their glory on here, but those are pretty much all loose skin with no breast tissue to fill them out because of pregnancy and nursing and then losing weight. Those tell a story of a strong mother who "sacrificed" some of her more aesthetically pleasing body for the health of her child.

It's hard to keep this life in perspective when we have images of perfect bodies everywhere. On top of that, the people on this end of the story and camera are telling you- "You can have everything too! Just do XYZ." Reality is, what worked for me may not exactly work for you. There are general principles we all have to adhere to for our health, but there is no one size fits all approach and there is no magic pill. Your life, present and past, is different than mine. Your goals are yours and yours alone. Your motivation is unique to you. Come to any fitness professional and they will tell you a pretty similar routine of to-dos, but a good one will find out who you are, what goals you have, and what you want from those goals. Then he/she will guide you to what you need- whether it's him/her or not. Remember consistency and incremental increases are the keys to seeing results in all aspects of your health. Your successful journey is just around the corner- regardless of what your definition is for success. 

LJ Eastmead
ACE Certified PT
AFAA Primary Group Ex

Comment