Recently I was speaking with a young author friend of mine who posed this pertinent question that I think a lot of body positive activists actually struggle with: I've seen a lot of talk of embracing your curves, but often this rhetoric is paired with statements like exercise "manipulates your natural body." Where do we draw the line between acknowledging the public health crisis and obesity epidemic, and encouraging people to be comfortable in their own skin?
This was a tricky question for me to answer. While I did answer the question, I'm going to present a more succinct version of my thoughts here.
As someone trying her hardest to make even a tiny difference in the fitness industry's desire to sell sex appeal over health, my aim is to trumpet my message loud and clear that how exercise makes you feel is more important than how it makes you look. I don't want to train the person who comes to me wanting a bikini body. I want to train the person who knows lack of exercise is contributing to her high cholesterol or whose weight gain is causing excessive strain on his knees or the person who knows exercise could give her more energy or even the person who knows that his struggles with weight will cause issues later down the line. Those are the people I want. And I want these people to then spread the message that exercise has made a difference in their lives because it makes them feel better!
It's absolutely an uphill battle. After all, I have seen what trainers and gyms promote, and it's more often sex appeal than anything else. Unfortunately, promoting a gym as a way to regain your health is a less appealing sale than promoting a gym as a way to shed fat and get ripped abs. Yet, if we keep continuing this cycle of "sex sells" within the fitness industry, we'll never see an improvement over how we should approach health.
This is where the Health At Every Size movement comes in. According to the 5th edition of the American Council on Exercise Personal Trainer Manual, "two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese" (2014). Yet, despite this sobering statistic, we are not seeing a decrease in the obesity epidemic. Thus, HAES aims to promote a shift in focus to weight-neutral outcomes so that health is not being associated with weight loss. In fact, "randomized controlled clinical trials indicate a HAES approach is associated with statistically and clinically relevant improvements in physiological measures (e.g., blood pressure and blood lipids), health behaviors (e.g. eating and activity habits and dietary quality), and psychological outcomes (e.g., self-esteem and body image), and HAES achieves these health outcomes more successfully than weight-loss treatment and without the contraindications associated with a weight focus" (2014). We then need to put an overall focus on improving health behaviors, such as eating better and getting more physical activity in most days of the week.
Yet, it is going to take an entire industry shift to change people's views on weight loss. Many people assume that those who struggle with their weight are either lazy, lack motivation, or just don't care. It is rarely this simple. If so, I don't believe we'd have the obesity epidemic we have now if all it took was a sprinkle of motivation. Not to mention there are plenty of clinically obese people working hard at my gym. Rather, there are a variety of intrinsic and extrinsic factors that affect people's abilities to both gain and lose weight. And we also have to admit that most people who struggle with weight do so because they're consuming more than they're burning. Very few people struggle with weight as a result of a condition or even a medication. This is why HAES is so important. HAES recognizes the myriad of factors surrounding someone's desire or lack thereof to lose weight. After all, self-loathing is not conducive for weight loss. These people may lack motivation because they have no one to support them. They may have the motivation, but they are unsure of where to start or even intimidated by the gym. Even eating healthy these days is not simple since there is so much conflicting information out there, the quality information often being drowned out by misinformation.
There is a certain amount of tough love that must be implemented, however. Whether we like to admit it or not, the way we feel about ourselves, about our appearances, is inextricably linked with who we are. We all want to feel good about ourselves. We all want to look in the mirror and believe we look fantastic. What we often don't want to admit, however, is when we have a problem. This holds true for myself when I was in denial about how grossly thin I was getting when I was in the throes of my eating disorder. It took realizing that I'd never be satisfied with my weight to understand the gravity of my situation.
There are people out there who are in denial about their weight issues and only seem to do anything about it when it is arguably too late. In my experience, most people who seek personal trainers to lose weight do so because their weight is causing them health problems that could have been prevented had they understood they had a problem to begin with. Healthy results in a doctor's office do not mean that problems will not eventually arise within people who are obese. We needn't ignore the litany of scientific research with copious amounts of findings about what obesity causes.
Of course, I recognize that whenever the issue of obesity is brought up online, especially as it relates to body image, you have people spouting off scientific evidence that masquerades as concern for the obese person's health. Take Tess Holliday, for example. Body positive activists shower her with admiration over her ability to love herself, while critics couch their criticism with concern for her health. The body positive activists then lash back with information that Holliday claims she received a clean bill of health from her doctor. The critics then fight back by claiming her weight will eventually cause her problems.
It is this tug-of-war that keeps us from having a sincere discussion about obesity. And we desperately need to have one. We need to be able to recognize that obesity does indeed cause problems without being considered body shamers. We also need to realize that you have to be able to first love yourself before any changes can be made in your life. To truly love yourself also means recognizing that how you treat yourself today will impact who you are and how you are in the future.
Obesity is such a sensitive issue because it is a condition tied in with our appearances. It is also a sensitive issue due to the public's perception that obese individuals are slovenly. People want simple answers for why other people behave the way they do. Even so, we need to be willing to understand that when it comes to something as complex as obesity, the "why" will never, ever be simple. Instead of immediately judging obese individuals and trying to answer the "why" for them, we need to take the time to understand just how complex of an issue this is. Then I think we can have a civil discussion about obesity and body image.
You've probably heard of the adage "no pain, no gain," an adage that may refer to the discomfort you experience during a workout; however, pain is your body's way of telling you that something is wrong. If you persist with this pain with the belief that your body will simply toughen up, you risk seriously harming yourself. Take me, for example. When I began ballet, I allowed myself to dance through the pain--and I ended up paying dearly for it later.
I developed Os Trigonum Syndrome when I began picking up both my frequency and intensity of pointe classes. Os Trigonum is an accessory bone at the back of the ankle. When you point your foot, this little bone gets crushed between your ankle and heel. It can be as painful as a toothache when it flares. It was painful to stand on for long periods of time. I just kept pushing through it, believing that maybe it was a muscle knot or it was part of my fibromyalgia. Big mistake. I eventually had to get off pointe for almost half a year. The surgery was a gift. Healing from it was nothing compared to the pain when I had it.
Now I'm suffering through a hip impingement, a mechanical injury I sustained when I first began ballet, but one I ignored and kept pushing through. The pain was easily bearable when I was at my first school, but when I transferred to a more advanced one, that's when the pain kicked itself into overdrive. I received physical therapy for it and got rid of middle splits. The PT definitely helped to strengthen that area and lessened the pain, but now it's back in full force. I'm assuming squats with a barbell, deadlifts, and the occasional ballet class are to blame. I'm in physical therapy again for it, this time receiving more intensive treatment--think deep tissue massages.
I say all of this to let you know that you should NEVER exercise through pain. If you feel even a little twinge, stop. That little twinge can develop into something more later on, like my hip issue did. And if you allow it to develop into something and keep working through that pain, you could end up needing surgery or even some sort of joint replacement.
As a trainer, I ensure my clients stop when they feel pain. I also try to minimize the amount of delayed onset muscle soreness they may experience the next day. My job as a trainer is not to leave my clients dying at the end of their workouts. It's to leave them feeling accomplished and capable, that it is absolutely possible to reach all of their fitness goals. Not being sore the next day also doesn't necessarily mean you didn't work hard enough. I don't get as sore as I used to because my body has adapted to much of what I do now; however, I know I'm making progress because I'm able to increase the repetitions, the sets, or even the amount of weight I use the next time I do a particular workout. I do not use pain or lack of as a basis for how hard I worked. Subsequently, you shouldn't either.
As a therapeutic exercise specialist, one of my specialties is to be able to design workout programs to help pain sufferers exercise without pain. This is a particular area I enjoy because, as a pain sufferer myself, I know how frustrating it can be trying to find a way to meet your fitness goals without exacerbating any existing pain conditions.
I have one client who had issues with their ankle and had no clue how to work out without hurting it. I managed to structure a workout routine that allowed them to exercise without pain while strengthening the ankle, which then let them eventually do squats and lunges without ankle pain the next day. I also have another client with serious back and knee issues who kept injuring themselves every time they worked out on their own. I managed to give them a routine that left them a little sore the next day, but there was no pain.
It is absolutely possible to engage in a fitness program that can sometimes have the happy side effect of decreasing pain you otherwise normally feel. While many fibromyalgia suffers are not so fortunate, exercise has immensely helped with the unbearable pain levels I used to experience. Now I rarely have any flares.
Exercising without pain may mean having to give up your favorite exercises. For example, I can't do weighted squats...at all. I can't do heavy deadlifts. When I do squats without resistance, I can't go down to parallel. Forget going heavy on the leg press machine. I don't even like the leg curl or leg extension machines; while I can't go heavy on these machines either, I use them now to target the quads and hamstrings that deadlifts and weighted squats used to take care of. Spin class also helps to keep up the strength in my legs since it's gentle on my hip. While leg day is no longer something I look forward to, simply because I can't challenge myself as much as I used to, I understand that the modifications I've made are absolutely necessary so that I HOPEFULLY don't find myself needing a hip replacement in the future.
When it comes to exercise, never push yourself to do more than you're currently capable of. That's how you get injured, sometimes severely.
I recently finished creating a meal plan for a body builder client of mine simply looking to make sure they're eating enough from day-to-day. This client normally doesn't eat as much as they're supposed to, so a structured meal plan was in order, along with a list of substitutes, just in case they're not in the mood for whatever's listed on the plan that day.
In any case, I myself don't follow a meal plan. I simply eat when I'm hungry, stop when I'm full. So for some people, meal plans are too restrictive. For others, however, they're necessary, especially for those who don't know how to eat well, are eating too much, or are not eating enough.
I'm going to give you some tips on how to structure your own meal plan if you're the type who needs one. Keep in mind that it is outside of my scope of practice to create a meal plan for treatment purposes, such as someone needing a plan for diabetes. My meal planning services are simply for lifestyle purposes.
Good evening, Supernovas! I was hoping to get this post out last Friday, but that was wishful thinking considering that was the day my guy and I were moving into a townhome. Now that we're a little bit settled, I can commence my work.
This evening's interview is with Alyssa of Blissful Lyss, another survivor of an eating disorder. Enjoy!
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Why are you majoring in psychology? What got you into healthy living? In middle school, I always thought I wanted to go into business because my dad majored in that in college and works as an insurance agent. However, my struggles with an eating disorder, body image, and depression led me to want to go into a field where I can help others struggling with the same thing. I love to talk about these issues and voice my own struggles, because I truly feel we need to raise awareness to mental illnesses as they are rapidly growing nowadays. I will never consider myself a “healthy” eater. My past with food and being incredibly fixated on health brought me nothing but sadness. I love to eat nourishing, wholesome foods and trips to whole foods, juice bars, and big acai bowls or quinoa burgers put the biggest smile on my face but so do bagels, ice cream cones, and chocolate. I think the “healthy” label puts far too much pressure on individuals to maintain that label, so I will never put it on myself. Instead, I have learned to find an identity in other things: my growing relationship with God, yoga, the relationships I have with others, and feeling like I am connected to and a part of nature.
2. Tell us all about your blog. On my blog, I talk about my life, share some yummy eats, and discuss my struggles with disordered eating and raise awareness to issues such as body image and excessively exercising. I love to write about these topics or make YouTube videos too. My blog is a great way for me to put my thoughts somewhere, and I am so thankful for it and the blogging community!
3. What made you get into blogging? I always used to read blogs when I was in high school, especially my junior and senior years when I just got out of treatment. I would follow Robyn’s from the Real Life RD and she inspired me to find more freedom in food and exercise. After everything I went through, I wanted to be able to help others and show them that there is a light to difficult times in life. This all encouraged me to make the jump to start my own blog!
4. I see you struggled with an eating disorder. Tell readers a little bit about that. My struggle with anorexia was one of the hardest things I went through in life. My eating disorder developed when I was around 13. I will never forget learning about calories in health class that year and being forced to record what we ate and how many calories we consumed that day. Being a gymnast, the pressures to look a certain way took a toll on my self-esteem. I never thought a quest to eat healthier would lead to a full-blown eating disorder, but no one thinks that when they first make that decision to shred a few pounds. I struggled with orthorexic tendencies, exercise addiction, laxative abuse, and restriction. Residential treatment saved my life, and I was also in other treatment programs after that. I am thankful for these struggles in life, because without them, I really wouldn’t have stumbled across my strength.
5. Tell readers your interest in mental health. On top of an eating disorder, I also struggled with depression and anxiety. I feel like the eating disorder and these battles with mental health all went hand in hand. When I was 16, I had several bouts of suicidal thoughts. I have had challenges with anxiety and panic attacks, and I want to be able to help people enduring these difficulties in life too. I believe that many are quietly struggling, but I want to instill in people that hope that there IS a light at the end of the tunnel with all these struggles.
6. What else would you like readers to know about you? Hmmm… some other things about me- I love music: Florence and the Machine, John Mayer, Dave Matthews Band, Of Monsters and Men, Hozier, and George Ezra are some of my favorites. Some of my favorite foods include nut butter, ice cream, sweet potatoes, avocados, and cereal. I love coffee, nature walks, my dog named Daisy, my family, and friends. I go to a small college in Massachusetts and will be a sophomore this fall. I love deep talks with people too! And I am always down to have a good laugh :)
You will need a pair of dumbbells, preferably of varying weights. Make sure you're using a weight that will bring your muscles to fatigue within 8 reps. Warm-up and cool-down not included.
I feel the need to write this post because I don't think people truly understand just how fantastic exercise can be for one's energy levels. I see people on my Facebook feed alone willing to spend over a hundred dollars a month on some supplement that promises energy--it's cheaper than a cup of coffee!--among a myriad of other things. But exercise is free! And with that extra money you didn't spend on a supplement, you can buy whole, nutritious foods, which can also contribute to one's energy levels.
In an article titled "Exercise as a Cure for Fatigue and to Boost Energy Levels," Marion Webb writes that "researchers at the University of Georgia found that sedentary, otherwise healthy adults who engaged in as little as 20 minutes of low-to-moderate aerobic exercise, three days a week for six consecutive weeks, reported feeling less fatigued and more energized." Low-to-moderate exercise can include a brisk walk. That's all! Everyone has 20 minutes to spare for this fantastic energy booster. (Now if you're otherwise unhealthy, such as those struggling with chronic fatigue syndrome, please consult a doctor.)
According to Webb, the reason exercise is able to increase energy levels is due to enhanced blood flow, thus facilitating the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to muscle tissue, thereby increasing energy output through the creation of more ATP (adenosine triphosate). The body then becomes a more efficient energy-producing machine; it just naturally adapts to imposed demands.
As a fibromyalgia sufferer, I do recall a time amidst a flare-up of this illness that I did have difficulties with my energy levels. Depression didn't make things easier, but at the time, I was doing less than 4 hours of ballet a week. However, I noticed that when I started doing ballet for about 7 hours a week, my flares died down, and I got my energy levels back. This isn't necessarily going to be the case for every fibromyalgia sufferer--or chronic illness sufferer in general. In fact, being able to exercise as much as I did is a privilege among fibro sufferers. What this does mean, however, is that it wouldn't hurt to increase the duration of your exercise if you're a generally healthy adult who suffers from fatigue not related to a medical condition. Of course, expending more energy during exercise doesn't necessarily mean feeling more energized. It's just what I had to do in order to combat the fatigue of fibromyalgia. Low-intensity exercise is generally enough to boost one's energy levels.
Even so, jumping into a regular exercise program is a process. There are certain steps you can take to work up to a satisfactory amount of exercise per week.
I can honestly say that working at a gym is one of the best jobs I've ever had, even back when I was selling memberships before I became a trainer. There are so many benefits to working at one, benefits that you'd be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. I even enjoy my floor shifts (which are minimal), where I choose to spend most of my time cleaning since that in itself is meditative. I also spend those shifts doing my best to meet new people while catching up with ones I already know. I think anyone who's just starting out--particularly teens--could benefit from working at a gym.
Supernovas, I am so excited to welcome Marina D. on my blog. She's the fabulous owner of A Dancer's Live-It, an awesome healthy living blog. Like me, she's a dancer as well, so I thought she'd be the perfect fit for my blog.
First, here's a little bit about her:
My name is Marina and I am the 21-year-old dancer, college student, health/wellness enthusiast, and self-diagnosed oatmeal and baking addict. I am currently majoring in Dance Performance and minoring in Public Health at a university and will graduate in the Spring of 2017. After graduation, I hope to be able to perform with a contemporary/modern dance company and am highly considering becoming a Certified Health Coach or some type of fitness instructor or personal trainer. This past year I finally recovered from an eating disorder/exercise addiction and love to help others with their struggles in that area. I have no problems talking about it because I want to make sure it NEVER happens to anyone else.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. What type of dance do you do? What are you studying in college? What got you into healthy living?
I’ve been dancing since I was 4 years old, and I started with ballet, as most young dancers do. I did that for about 4 years before I discovered the world of modern dance, jazz, and lyrical. I was hooked! I love the expressivity that modern gave me. I also dabble in hip hop, contemporary, improvisation, pointe, and African dance. In college, my program focuses mostly on modern dance and improvisation, but we also had to take African for a semester and ballet for 2 years. I ended up taking it for more than two years because it’s such awesome training.
My journey to healthier living went into full swing during my senior year of high school, as I knew I had auditions for colleges coming up. Knowing that I would be in for some rigorous days, it was so important to be fueling my dancing body properly. It’s not that I was out of shape or anything, I was just tired of not seeing results from all the hard work of dance. I wasn’t happy with my eating habits. While I still ate pretty healthy foods of course, I wasn’t really thinking about portion controls, snacking, or processed foods/sugars. I felt sluggish and I knew I had to whip myself into shape. I used to run sparingly, but then I started running almost every day along with dancing and I immediately saw a change in my mood and health. I started by making smarter food choices, eating about 5 smaller portioned meals a day, (rather than 3 huge ones), and I also stopped eating meat, except for seafood. All in all, I ended up losing about 12 pounds freshman year at college. But this ended up turning into a big problem…see my “What’s A Live-It?” page for more details.
2. Tell us all about your blog. What does "live-it" mean?
The “live-it” is a term my Mom actually came up with when we were driving in the car one day. She said, “when you think about it, why do they call it a ‘diet’? It sounds too harsh, people shouldn’t have to die to try and be healthier. It should be called a live-it because it’s a lifestyle change!” That phrase always stuck with me and I thought it fit well with the message I try to send on my blog. Being healthy doesn’t mean having to “die” or restrict the foods we love, it’s a lifestyle change that’s all about balance and listening to our bodies! To sum that up, my blog, A Dancer’s Live-It, is a place where I can show you that being healthy isn’t about going on a DIEt. In order to truly appreciate the benefits of health, you have to change your lifestyle, so therefore LIVEit.
3. Why did you start blogging? What do you love about it?
I stumbled upon the blog world in 2013 when I started reading one of my favorite lifestyle blogs, Peanut Butter Fingers. I loved being able to get a glimpse into someone’s life and read about all of their quirks, likes, dislikes, and favorite foods to eat. I thought, ‘well maybe I could do that too!’ When I started blogging, however, I started it as a way to help my recovery journey from orthorexia because I wanted others to NEVER go through what I did. I thought I would try it out for a little while, maybe get a few readers, and then I’d be done. Nope! It’s honestly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I love being able to connect with others and hear about their stories too. I had no idea how huge the blogging world is, yet we’re so closely knit and supportive. I’m overwhelmed at the amount of kindness I’ve gotten through emails, comments, and Facebook communities. I also love that it can be a career if I wanted it to be, but I’m not sure that I could ever be a full-time blogger.
4. How do you decide your blog topics? What is your favorite topic to write about?
This has been a struggle for me up until this past year because I hadn’t truly found “my voice” yet. I’d look and see what others were writing about and see the amount of feedback they got on that topic and I would try to write about that too. It went okay for a while, but I still felt like something was missing from my blog. This year I finally realized that I should be writing about what matters most to me: recovery from eating disorders and helping others with aspects of their physical and mental health. My favorite topics to write about include elements of self-love, positive body image, and intuitive eating/listening to our bodies.
5. Besides dancing, what other activities do you do for exercise?
I used to be a runner, but I don’t do that anymore. I wrote a post called “Dear Running…” that talks about what running was doing to me and why I finally stopped. Now I enjoy “quick and dirty” workouts! Workouts that involve pure bodyweight, HIIT workouts, or training with weights are what make me the happiest. I also love Vinyasa yoga, Pilates, and I’ve taken several Barre classes before. Honestly, my workouts are anywhere between 22-30 minutes a day, 5-6 days a week. That’s all my body needs!
6. What else do you want readers to know?
I was born and raised in a suburb of Buffalo, NY and I am a very proud Buffalonian. I have so much “Buffalove”, as we call it. You won’t find good chicken wings anywhere else! Go ahead, try and argue with me. I’m also 100% Italian (because both sides of my family are) and I’m very proud of that too. Let me feed you food! I traveled to Italy in 2014 with my family and it was incredible. I’m a lover of classic movies, traveling, “I Love Lucy”, “The Golden Girls”, “The Office”, Michael Jackson, and anything seafood. Ice cream is my favorite form of dessert and anything with strawberries and/or dark chocolate. My Dad got me into amusement parks when I was little and I’ll go on any ride you throw at me! Rollercoasters, spinning rides, you name it! I have one brother who is 5 years older than me and he is KILLING IT in the music world. Seriously though, he’s a freelance jazz pianist/composer and he’s a prodigy. My dream is to be able to dance professionally as well as help work to help others with their body image/health. One more thing…no matter how bleak or dark things may look in your life at a given moment in time, always remember that “this too shall pass.”
Here's your weekly boot camp workout, which can be done at home. Add equipment as needed. Enjoy, and tell me what you think in the comments!
I feel like deviating a little bit from what's normally on my blog so that way anyone who reads it and this post can know more about me at a deeper level than what can be currently found. Basically, I'm going to style this as if someone were interviewing me.
Fearless and Fabulous: 10 Powerful Strategies for Getting Anything You Want in Life by Cara Alwill Leyba is the kind of manifesto needed for women too fearful to take chances that will better their lives. With stories from other women, Cara manages to provide plenty of examples of women overcoming their fears and making their lives work for them, just as they imagined. This book is the perfect mantra to remind yourself every day to be fearless and fabulous.
While I'd argue this entire book could have been crammed into a single blog post, having a book like this on hand with passages highlighted and notes written in the margins is helpful for the women out there who need it. I was able to filch this book at a time when she was giving away all of her books for free--so I stocked up on all of her works. As a struggling entrepreneur myself, I needed this reminder to remain fearless. I needed this reminder that I'm struggling for a reason, and that everyone struggles in the beginning.
Getting clients isn't easy. When I was first hired on as a trainer, I was hoping to have a full book of clients within a few weeks. Nothing is ever that easy, but Cara reminded me that I chose this route for my own personal satisfaction because I know getting a traditional 9-5 will not make me feel fulfilled.
So even if you're already out there being fearless and trying to be fabulous, sometimes you need a book like this to tell you to keep being fearless, to continuously step out of your comfort zone and do things that scare you or make you otherwise nervous. This book simply reminded me of moments when I forced myself out of that zone.
I'm an ambivert by nature, someone who is both introverted and extroverted, depending on the situation. I love social situations, but I don't know how to put myself out there. I want people to know who I am, but I'm always hesitant about approaching people myself. I have no issues with talking someone's ear off if they talk to me first. Otherwise, I'm more of a smile-hello-how-are-you person and leave it at that.
Reading this book has made me yearn to do so much more than simply sit back and wait and hope for my client book to fill itself.
On my first floor shift at the YMCA, I had a goal of introducing myself to 5-10 people. I managed to introduce myself to 10 people. It was a lot of work. It took being fearless. Even so, I had to continually remind myself that I wasn't out on the floor to sell training to anyone. Selling isn't required at this particular YMCA. Prior to the YMCA, I had been in sales for almost four years. All of my interactions with people were to always get something, which is probably why I get nervous about introducing myself to people. Sales was never in me. I always have this nagging feeling that people are questioning my motives when I approach them, tell them my name, and let them know I'm one of the new trainers.
What's interesting is that meeting 10 brand new people didn't result in anything negative. They were all very positive toward me. In fact, one woman said she wasn't used to people talking to her during her workout. Yet, she was just sitting on the bench press, I sensed she was approachable, and I took that opportunity. I've learned a little bit about her as a result, like she used to bench press 100 lbs., but because of a dreadful shoulder injury, and resulting surgery, she's had to really cut back to just 60 lbs. Despite her frustration, she's in the gym almost about every day. I hope to bench press 100 lbs. one day soon, and I hope to keep being as active as she is at her age. I even let her know that I admire her.
Sure, these 10 people may never become my clients. That isn't the point. The point of that little exercise was to force myself out of my comfort zone and get myself known around the gym as an expert, someone members can come to if they have questions. In short, I want to eventually get myself so known around the gym that people understand I'm an expert in my field--and no one questions it.
Now I'm trying to gather the courage to introduce myself to people in group classes since floor shifts are sparse for trainers. This in itself is challenging for reasons I have yet to discover. I've done three so far: full-body strength training, yoga, and a cycling class. In all three, I've been relatively silent, though I did let everyone in the yoga class know I was one of the new trainers--only because the teacher asked if there was anyone new. Tomorrow I plan to do a step cardio HIIT class. Maybe I'll gather the courage then to introduce myself to a few people. Who knows? Regardless, I'll have to eventually force myself out of my box again to make things happen.
I'm learning that life is at its richest when you're scared and you learn to overcome your fears. It sounds silly, but I was with my mom shopping at Sam's a week or two ago, and she noticed an elderly woman unloading her cart by herself. She brought up the idea that perhaps I should ask her if she needed help. My mom then offered to ask herself. However, I decided to go on ahead and ask the woman myself. She declined, though she thought the offer sweet and gave me a hug.
This doesn't sound like a risk. In fact, this is just common courtesy. But when you wonder if she would take it as an insult if you asked her to help her, you kind of realize it is another means of eradicating irrational fears when you nonetheless offer your help.
It's doing little things like this, every single day that can put you on your way to being both fearless and fabulous.
There is so much more I want to do beyond the walls of the gym. I want to go to the mall and meet new people. I want to do more things around Augusta to meet more people. I want to get to a point where stepping outside of my box is more natural than remaining in it. This is going to take an intense amount of work. Doing so will give me the life that I want.
Are you fearful at the moment? How do you plan to change that? What are some moments where you've been fearless? I'd love to hear your stories in the comments!
When I don't feel like making anything from scratch or want something other than fruits and veggies, I have favorite brands of food that I love to go to for a quick breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, whatever. I chose these food brands because either they use whole ingredients that aren't a mile long, they just taste irresistibly delicious, or they contain an insane amount of different types of foods. A lot of these brands are also very friendly toward the wide amount of diets people consume, whether it's a vegan diet, a gluten-free diet, or even a dairy-free diet.
Now the brands I'm showcasing don't all contain healthful foods. However, as long as you're mostly eating well and exercising and getting purposeful movement in your day, including any of these in your diet will not harm you unless you have an illness or food intolerance.
Stocked with cereals, granola bars, poptarts, granola cereal, and even waffles, this little breakfast brand offers an abundance of food choices for those who want easily read ingredients. Now there are plenty of added sugars to go around (not an ungodly amount) within their brand, but I can't resist their Sunrise Crunchy Vanilla or their Coconut Chia Granola. I'll even occasionally treat myself to their Frosted Cherry Pomegranate Toaster Pastries--but as a snack. As long as you're not cramming sugar down your throat throughout the day, having the occasional sugary cereal won't do you any harm. Their Sunrise Crunch Vanilla contains about 6g of sugar per serving, which is pretty good considering it is a sweetened cereal.
Back to Nature is a brand that contains cereal, cookies, crackers, granola, soups, nuts, and juices. I enjoy their nuts, crackers, soups, and granola--especially their Stoneground Wheat Crackers. I love to eat these crackers with cheese, but they are also delicious all by themselves. Their Fudge Mint cookies are also amazing, a perfect replacement for Thin Mints when it isn't Girl Scout cookies season.
I can rave all day about these Whenever Bars, especially my most-loved flavor, Oat Chocolate Chip Coconut. To be honest, I wasn't expecting much when I decided to give these bars a chance, but, oh, was I horribly wrong! These are the perfect blend of chocolate and coconut with a smooth, chewy texture. Don't let the wheat-free, gluten-free, and non-dairy throw you off. Most people assume products devoid of these ingredients are lackluster, but you could easily over-indulge on these if you don't keep your eating habits in check. Now I've only been able to find them at my grocery store on the military base, but you might be able to find these at places like Whole Foods or Earth Fare or Trader Joe's.
I love this brand primarily for its mac & cheese, mostly because they actually use real cheese. For those of us too lazy to make it from scratch, Annie's has plenty of its cheesy pasta. It also has soups, snacks, yogurt, cereals, frozen foods, baking products, and dressings. I do plan to try more of their products, but I can tell you that this is a brand to go to if you need foods already prepared for you--just stick it in the microwave, set the time, and press start. (There's also no high-fructose corn syrup in their Cheesy Ravioli!)
These are the only fig bars I will eat anymore. Nature's Bakery contains a ton of different snack foods, their fig bars being their only product I've had so far. Yet, these treats have a variety of flavors to try. These are thick, chewy, and not too sweet but tempting enough that you'd want more than one pack. I actually had to fight with my fiance to keep him from eating so much.
I don't care that Pepsi owns this brand. These fruit smoothies and juices are delicious with a myriad of flavors to suit anyone's desires at the moment. They even have fruit smoothies packed with vitamins and minerals. I love to enjoy one either before or after a workout since they contain rapidly digesting carbohydrates, which are perfect for those glycogen stores in the body. You don't want to entirely replace your whole-fruit intake with one of these juices--and diabetics need to be careful--but these juices are perfect for those of us on-the-go.
This is an amazing brand for those who want to have a guilt-free night of binging on ice cream. Despite what is depicted here, Arctic Zero ice cream does have products with 150 calories PER PINT! This means you can eat the entire thing and only consume 150 calories. Now these ice creams do not pack the sweetness you've come to expect from ice cream, but their flavors are nonetheless delicious and satisfying--and, again, guilt-free. My favorite flavor so far is Cake Batter. This brand of ice cream is pricey, but being able to eat the whole thing without feeling horrible after is invaluable.
What are some of your favorite food brands? Let me know in the comments!
ACE Certified Personal Trainer, NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, nutrition coach, young adult author, moody ballerina.
I help people perform without pain.
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The views expressed on this blog are entirely my own. Any advice I offer is not to be taken as medical advice. If you think you have contraindications to exercise, please see your physician before implementing any sample workout plans I present on this blog.
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