Things to be grateful for and some other stuff….

Today I posted a LIVE video on Facebook regarding foods and dieting. I dislike diets and what they teach us. We are not meant to eat to stringent rules and strange combinations because we are all unique and our bodies and systems run differently to anyone else’s. If you missed the video, you can check it out HERE.

If you need help with your own nutrition and are interested in some help, you can set up a free nutritional strategy session with me HERE.

Today’s post is dedicated to those special people in our lives. I was so honored to spend my elder son’s 20th birthday last night with him, his girlfriend, my daughter and her boyfriend and my youngest son and my husband. We had an enjoyable dinner and celebration and it made me feel so humbled by these simple moments and blessings in our lives.

Another grateful moment is today. I have had a cyst-like bump on my scalp for at least a few years now. (I know, I’m a procrastinator!) My doctor assured me it wasn’t anything to be concerned about as it was more than likely a cyst or fat deposit. hmmmm…here I am fighting fat all my life and the possibility that a FAT ball was attached to my scalp is a little ironic, don’t you think?

So anyway, my husband went with me to the medical center and I really didn’t know what to expect but just wanted the darned thing gone already. (Nobody really knew I’ve had it as I had become a pro at styling my hair to hide the ugly bump) I remember reading information about these issues on google and seeing videos on YouTube that assured me I wasn’t alone in dealing with this thing. I was a bit astounded to see that some people took it upon themselves to “drain” it at home on their own because they didn’t want to deal with the doctor’s office…say what? I can’t imagine doing something so ridiculous on your own without knowledge or experience. Have I reached your “ick” threshold yet? 😀

When the doctor first took a look at the bump, he said, “Wow! That’s big!” (not alarming at all when your doctor says that…lol) He seemed pretty relaxed about it and told me that I’d be stitched up after he removed it and I’d experience pain for a day or two. It was a basic office procedure as I was set up on a reclining dental-patient type chair and given numbing shots all around the bump. (I definitely felt those needle pokes!) The procedure itself took about an hour since it was clear once he cut through the skin that it was a fat deposit and would need to be cut out.

Yay…not really.

If you don’t like procedure details, you might want to skip this paragraph…. (You’ve been warned!) I heard the clipping sound of him cutting around the base of the bump and it sounded oddly like scissors cutting through hair. (none of my hair was harmed in this procedure, thank you very much doc!) I then felt him trying to pry the fat ball out of my scalp. There wasn’t any pain but the pressure and the pulling was a bit uncomfortable! He had to keep cutting around it and under it and it was a bit unnerving. Apparently, a cyst could be drained but these fat deposits are connected to tissue and it takes a bit more time and attention.

Not to mention the discomfort!

After it was all said and done, they cauterized and stitched my scalp up and then he asks me, “Kathy, do you want to see it?” Now, I’m usually not too good with looking at anything that makes me nauseous or lightheaded and this would seem to rank pretty high up in those areas. (I went out cold when I had blood drawn in order to get a marriage license with my then soon-to-be-husband before we married; when Ben told me to “check out your blood! it’s cool!” but it wasn’t cool because I looked at the vial that was pooling with MY BLOOD and then promptly passed out) This case seemed different though; I was interested in seeing what this blob looked like as it has been a part of my scalp for a long time now and I was so excited to have it gone. He held it up and it looked like a jelly ball roll of gross. That’s about as descriptive as I can be. 🙂

They told me I needed to go home and wash my hair and I felt a bit tender on my scalp but pretty good to say the least. I felt pretty good and figured it would be a cinch to recover from. My hubby told me to rest up and he proceeded to wait on me hands and foot and made me lunch and tea. (seriously? Tea? he’s the best!) After lunch, I took a pain pill and laid down and fell asleep.

That’s when the pain started…

I woke up and with my head piercing in pain from the incision site. It was ridiculous at how much pain there was but of course, there was my hubby giving me an ice pack, more pain medicine and running to get anything I needed. He made dinner  (meatloaf, rice and salad) and I’ve been laying in bed ever since trying to keep the pain at a minimum and still act like I’m not feeling sorry for myself. 😉

I know that I’ll be better in a day or two and so thankful to have a family that I can appreciate and a hubby that gives back as much as I need. Today’s post is dedicated to the ones we love and appreciate in our lives and for all of the amazing blessings that surround each of us in our daily lives….

Now, to get these stitches out and get on with this!!!

 

 

Recovery; What is it GOOD for?

Recovering takes work. Whether you are recovering from a hard workout, a surgery, an accident or race, an illness, etc – it’s usually something we view as a passive process. Almost like a non-event. Right? I have heard from so many clients who desire to workout 7 days of the week to their maximum capacity refuse to accept this concept. So I would like to break it down so you can understand why it is so crucial to work on your recovery periods. Stop assuming that this process is something that simply takes care of itself with time.

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The recovery phase starts as soon as the physical task ends. It doesn’t start 60 minutes later, later that night or in the morning when you roll out of bed. It begins while you still have sweat pouring down your face – and this is something I’ve been known to repeat when I was teaching group exercise classes and I’d see people who thought the “workout” was over, sneaking out of class.

The cool down and stretch is the beginning of your recovery period; do NOT skip this!

I’d repeat this so often and still see those who weren’t buying it anyway. I know how to recover because I had to recover. When I trained for my fitness competition, when I trained and ran my first full marathon, and when I’ve completed intense training plans in order to reach goals, I’d find my body ragged and in need of more than just some rest and time. I suffered through some adrenal fatigue, I’ve dealt with injuries, pains, and lack of desire to move my body any longer (which is weird for me because I am a high intensity loving junky – but you don’t have to be like I am in order to need recovery)

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Let’s understand what “RECOVERY” means: The very first step to having a better recovery is to simply understand what this means. Much like your car’s engine, the human body is constantly producing waste products from functions such as contracting muscles, absorbing external forces, digesting foods and cooling itself down. When our body’s are subject to higher activities with higher intensity levels; higher temperatures; longer durations, it produces higher levels of waste. (bet you didn’t know that!) This means that the body is always working to rid itself of these toxins, such as lactic acid, damaged blood cells, urea (within our urine) salts and elements of inflammation.

The next important part of the recovery period is the support of healthy, oxygen-rich blood into the body parts that have worked hard during the activity, or workouts. Carrying away the toxins (bad) and bringing in more blood, oxygen, sugar (good) is the simple process that we can visualize during our recovery. The bad stuff (toxins) are removed from the body by systems that include our skin, sweat, urine, lungs, rectum and even open wounds. The good stuff, like nutrients, fluids and oxygen are then delivered to the working muscles, the brain and the organs by the digestive, circulatory and respiratory systems. It’s like we have our own personal worker bees buzzing around inside our bodies doing damage control after we pummel ourselves with life, stress and workouts.

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Let’s talk about the right way to recover:

The recovery phase benefits that impacts our bodies can be broken down into several areas….

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1. Injury Prevention

In order to allow our body’s systems to work together effectively before the next tough workout, etc, our body must first restore key body abilities and functions. It’s important to regain this balance before we place additional demands and stress in order to prevent injuries. Pay attention to these:

  • muscle flexibility
  • joint range of motion
  • blood sugar levels
  • tendon flexibility
  • spine mobility
  • hand grip strength
  • bodily hydration levels
  • mental concentration

2. Better Performance
Most of us view recovery as “getting over” the tough workout and “getting back to normal”, right? Well that’s wrong! The truth is that vigorous workouts or challenges are more about creating an investment into higher performance. By changing how we think about recovery phases, we can speed up our recovery and allow ourselves to both overcome the challenge that’s passed and to perform better and stronger with higher levels of energy and balance to our body and minds in the future.

3. Badass Levels of Confidence

Imagine you are an amazing athlete (which you are) with a perfect recovery plan (which you may need some work on, most of us do). You’re enjoying the results of preventing injuries and better performance (score!). Would you be confident as you move into your next workout? Would you have more energy and fire to take on new and seemingly “scary” exercise challenges? I think you’re saying that you would and you may even be saying, “BOOOYAH”

What it takes to recover effectively:

1. Hydrate. This is something that’s quite easy to do and yet most of my clients admit skipping more often than they should. Did you know that your body is made up of 60% water – not sodas, not protein drinks, not energy drinks and not even Shakeology! 🙂 I repeat: 60 % WATER!! This means that at least 60% of our consumption must be pure water. It’s important to not that replacing lost fluids with water (and salt, electrolytes and calories) as soon as freaking possible after a workout is our top priority! (check out HYDRATE, I love it!)

2. Heat reduction.  When we exercise in a hot environment, it’s crucial to cool the body’s core (chest = heart, lungs and organs) so we stay alive. Getting cool water to our heads, getting out of direct sunlight, enjoying some cool air or a cool breeze and drinking cold drinks will all help to cool our elevated body core temperature. I know it’s what we want to do because being overheated feels miserably hot…but it’s important to also understand what to do and why we do it.

3. Getting rid of the waste (not what you think).  Getting your legs elevated, as well as some easy knee, ankle and toe motions in a cool environment will help to increase your body’s natural ability to get rid of the toxins in the muscles of your legs and hips. Do you even?

4. Refuel and replenish with nutrition.  Did you know that the 30-minute window after a hard workout is the best time to get in a high-carb (yum!) and low-protein snack? This helps the body restore muscle glycogen and blood sugar levels. Don’t miss this window!!!

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5. Restore muscle balance. It’s important to rebalance the chemicals, fluids, nutrients, sugars and flexibility within our bodies in order to help our muscles regain their functions. If not, this is when muscle contractions can occur because of complicated nerve and chemical reactions within these muscles.

6. Get some shut-eye (sleep). When we are busier than usual, one of the first areas to skimp on is sleep. But did you know that sleep affects every single cell inside of your body? Yes, every one of them! That’s a LOT of cells being affected. Sleep is the easiest, cheapest and yet, most important, part of your recovery. You’ll need at least 90 minutes to slow your brain and body down before your earlier bedtime. Stop using your smart phones, any and all electronics and loud music in this time frame in order to prepare your mind to embrace deeper sleep. A cool room with no light should be part of your nightly sleep pattern to master this critical step in your recovery plan.

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So, how can we recover properly?

Make recovery non-negotiable.

Make sure to plan your recovery into your daily routine just like tying your shoes before you jump into your workout or putting on your seatbelt before heading out onto the road. Don’t wait for soreness or pain to be your reminder to do so.

Examples:

  1. Morning stretch with coffee
  2. Arriving at morning workout with an ice pack and ace wrap in cooler for the drive to work
  3. Ride your bike to/from gym workouts
  4. Stretch for 3 songs after every workout

Don’t underestimate the power of the right foods and drinks.

Your body works freaking hard for you so it totally deserves to get the energy it needs from the best sources that are available: whole foods and not processed and man-made crap! Choose dark colored veggies, fruits, fresh, fish/chicken/beef and water are all perfect sources to replenish your body during it’s recovery phases. I like to use RECOVER and SHAKEOLOGY to help my body recover and run at it’s best.

Examples:

  • Post-workout berry/kale/veggie shakes or my shakeology 🙂
  • Fish and veggies dinners 3x/week
  • Drink 3 bottles of water before lunch at work every day

Do more of what made you sore.

The day after a very hard workout is the perfect time to do a similar “Mini-Me” workout. Most people shy away from doing this because they assume it’s too soon and too uncomfortable. But when did “comfortable” help us achieve new levels of success? Just make it a small workout though, and not the same exact workout you did the day before. For example, the total workload, weight, intensity, or distance should be no more than 10% of the previous day’s brutal workout. Does that make you feel better now? 🙂 The goal here is to get the muscles and joints to repeat the motions of the tough workout. This helps to restore healthy joint range of motion and muscle mobility while also helps to restore normal blood flow into the sore and fatigued muscles.

Example:

The day after your grueling workout:

  • Barefoot walk half a mile on level grass or sand while drinking water
  • Run ½ mile on level grass or sand with running shoes
  • 2 burpees + sideshuffle 20 yards each way
  • 5 air squats
  • 2 pullups
  • Walk backwards 40 yards
  • Aggressive roller on legs, lats and back for 10 mins
  • Full-body stretch and an easy bike or swim for 10-30 minutes

Start sooner.

The sooner you start your recovery, the quicker you will make a full recovery. Don’t wait until after the soreness sets in to start because this will only delay the total recovery period. (and I don’t like to wait! LOL) Practice doing some “old school” style cool downs while the blood flow is still higher and the body is working hard to remove those high levels of toxins lingering in your muscles, blood and tissues.

Examples:

  • After every workout: 15-30 minutes of non-running cardio
  • Roller and stretch within 15 minutes after a workout
  • Have a pre-made recovery carbohydrate-heavy drink waiting for you after every workout (Shakeology and Recover are my go-to’s)

Listen to your inner warrior—your body.

Our body has a natural and awesome ability to know what it needs to feel better and to heal itself. It always needs some TLC, so give it some. ❤ Sometimes it may be tough love that isn’t as comfortable or as fun but if it helps your body to do it’s job quicker and with less effort, you will be happier long term. Examples: If you’re sore, ice your muscles. If you’re feeling tight, then stretch! If you find yourself feeling like your legs feel dead or you have zero energy stores then cancel your run and do a yoga routine or intense stretch with some core work and schedule in a massage. 

Ice is your BFF.

Forget the ridiculous saying: 72 hours after an injury, switch to heat. It’s a lie because it only applies to a small percentage of injuries for high-level athletes. Injury Management rule of thumb:

If a body part is warm, red or swollen, ICE it.

Ice is an athlete’s best friend because it reduces pain and decreases inflammation.  Use an ice pack or bag for 15 minutes MAX.

 

Here are some more examples:

  1. Sitting in a cold shower, cold mountain stream or ice bath is a great way to use ice to reduce body inflammation, pain and—let’s be honest—toughen your mind.
  2. Using 1-minute ice/1-minute heat/repeat 3-6 times contrast therapy is an easy way to decrease swelling for a chronic injury that is not red or warm.
  3. For acute and chronic injuries, ice should be applied to the site of the injury.

Embrace massage, rollers, yoga and stretching…PUH-LEEZE~

I use a hard roller every night before I go to bed and as soon as I wake up in the morning. Too many people skip this and the effects add up sooner or later and I’d rather you not suffer the pains from something as simple as this step. As you age, flexibility and mobility become a higher priority. The use of rollers, massage, yoga, flexibility exercises, Pilates, and stretching is crucial for keeping your muscles pliable and your joints limber.

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Examples:

  1. Roller on legs and shoulders every morning and night
  2. Regularly scheduled massages
  3. Easy stretching with deep breathing should be comfortable and relaxing. If it’s painful, you’re being too aggressive and, therefore, not effective.

Changing the way you think about recovery. This is the first step to embrace the benefits of mastering these critical recovery skills. Learn more by educating yourself, listening to your body, ask others for recovery tips, learn from your mistakes and put your recovery plan in place by planning it out like your workout. This will ensure you continue to handle yesterdays’ workout challenges and be ready to take on today’s.

Sleep more to lose weight?

How many hours per night are you currently sleeping? Like, really, legit “sleeping” and not just laying down with thoughts racing or waking up every few hours and falling back to sleep. It’s such a critical part of our success in life, health and more – that it just needs to be said…so I am going to share some really important info that I’ve learned today.

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Energy is something we all need and crave. We hope to find it in our coffee cups, our energy drinks, stimulants and more; and while these do help for a while…they also bring you down hard…like crashing down hard! 

And that is just not fun to experience.

The first thing we need to understand about energy is that we aren’t meant to be running at full speed ahead all of the time. This type of thinking is what I have previously fought with (as a natural type”A” personality who likes to run and not stop until I crash and want to hide from the world) and had to readjust after years of breaking myself down again and again. We cannot maintain the constant “full out” energy speed and expect to live a healthy and fulfilling life. We need to respect the natural ebb and flow of our energy levels; and our family and friends will love us more for it! 😉

So let’s talk about the most important aspect of the downtime; sleep. 

If you sleep more, you will achieve more. Sounds kind of crazy at first, right? Ya, I know but honestly it is totally on point! Our bodies require enough shut-eye every night in order to function at it’s best and to recharge after the busyness of each day. Do you know what else sleep is responsible for? Let me just tell you 😉

It helps in immune functioning, metabolism (just try to reach your goals and not sleep…it ain’t gonna happen!), memory, learning and many other vital bodily functions. Sleep is when our bodies work on repairing, healing, resting and growing. If we don’t get enough sleep, we are gradually wearing ourselves down and our ability to succeed in any way. Are you game to give it a go now?

Let’s start by finding out what is actually considered enough sleep. There is a huge difference in the amount of sleep you can get by on (something I hear many people say, “I only need 4 hours and I’m good to go”…) and the amount you actually need to function at your best. For 97% of us (6% of people have a gene that allows them to get enough rest on just 6 hours a night but this is very very very rare), we need more than just six hours of sleep per night. I know, I used to think, “I’m fine to get less sleep because I can still wake up and get everything done”, but I started to see and feel the effects of the lack of rest and decided I was tired of feeling tired. Better sleep and more sleep allows our bodies to function at higher levels of performance. And who doesn’t want to perform at higher levels, right??? You’ll not only work better and faster but you’ll also have a better attitude towards your daily tasks too.

 

The personal amount of rest for each of us differs but the research shows that the average adult requires at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night to restore the energy it takes to handle the daily demands of life. How can we find out if we are getting the amount that our bodies need? The best way is to evaluate how you feel as you go about your days. If you’re getting enough sleep, you’ll feel energetic and alert all day long, from the moment you wake up in the morning until your regular bedtime hour. If you’re not, you’ll start to reach for that caffeine or sugar mid-morning or mid-afternoon…sometimes both.

So what happens if you don’t get enough sleep? Let’s cover some common issues that most people will suffer;

difficulty concentrating, difficulty thinking clearly, forgetting things or not being able to remember. You might also notice that your ineffectiveness or inefficiencies at home or at work; and may blame these missteps on your busy schedule. The more sleep that you miss, the more pronounced these symptoms become over time.

Kind of scary, right?

Not getting enough sleep also makes us more moody and cranky and less able to deal with daily stresses. Personalities are affected and we can become more cranky and less patient (ever snap at your kids our spouse like I was doing and feel awful later?) Most people will not enjoy being around you as often due to becoming a difficult and crabby person. I know, I have been there. We tend to cut back on sleep in order to fit in more “things” in our lives. We are always running against deadlines, and our schedules are packed with more to-do’s than there are hours in the day. Unfortunately, lack of sleep also wears down our immunity and is responsible for more illnesses, viruses and diseases when these “cracks” in our systems allow us to be attacked by offenders that can be fought off when we are well rested.

 

So what happens when we do get enough sleep? We are happier people, we are much more fun to be around and our minds and bodies are repaired and functioning at higher levels. Think about how we drag when we are tired. Then think about how we feel when we are fully rested and can take on the day with vigor and enthusiasm. It’s actually something that attracts others to us. Happy, positive energy is something you cannot buy and is not easily attained when over-tired. Getting enough sleep helps us to live longer, to be more creative, to attain and achieve a healthy weight more easily, to feel less stressed and to help us avoid mistakes and accidents. If you are interested in diving deeper into this subject, check out “Sleep Smarter: 21 Proven Tips to Sleep Your Way to a Better Body, Better Health and Bigger Success” ~ by Shawn Stevenson.

Will you be adding more sleep time now that you know?

Help for Binge Eaters

6 Tips To Stop Compulsive Eating

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 1.15.15 PM Are you prone to food cravings, binges and eating your way through emotional stresses? I have always felt as if there was no hope for me when my body went into “binge mode”. I tried everything and anything that I could find to offset these binges. I tried willpower; I used foods that wouldn’t hurt my goals, such as vegetables and fruits; I drank water, tea and coffee; I would walk away from the kitchen; I would research the reasons why this was happening and never really found the solution that worked.

It’s important to first understand the difference between compulsive overeating and other eating disorders. Compulsive overeaters don’t attempt to make up or “punish” themselves for their bingeing with actions such as purging, fasting, diet pills or laxatives. Compulsive overeating typically leads to weight gain and obesity. Keep in mind that not everyone who is obese is also a compulsive overeater. People who appear to be of normal or average weight can also be affected by these behaviors. 

This included ME! I found it quite upsetting when others would downplay the fact that I was working on finding a solution to this issue; since being just 30 lbs or so above my “ideal weight” wasn’t proof enough to anyone that I was actually dealing with this.  Let’s begin with a few tips on how to prevent a binge; or emotional attack before it hits.

 

  • Avoid temptation. You’re much more likely to overeat if you have junk food, desserts and unhealthy snacks in the house. (pretty shocking, right? lol) But many of us tend to use excuses as to why we “need” these foods in the home. I used to use my family as an excuse; “they NEED these items. I don’t want them to suffer because of my issues”, etc. But why on earth should they even be eating unhealthy items either? Just because they didn’t go into full-force binge mode at any given moment, didn’t mean that they required junk foods on a regular basis. No, this was my sad attempt to keep these comfort foods close at hand because I felt uneasy to put an end to the episodes. To keep temptation at bay, don’t keep the food within easy access. The best way to do that is not to purchase unhealthy food in the first place. duh dot com.
  • Stop “dieting”.  Having a “diet” mentality or severely restricting your food intake can increase hunger and feelings of deprivation. I know that the fact that I would cut out food groups, or meals in general, kept my body in the “all or nothing” phase and thus, would lead to another binge-fest because my body simply needed and craved more calories. Instead of being ultra strict with your food, focus on eating in moderation. Find nutritious foods that you enjoy . Try to eat more small meals throughout the day as well to keep hunger at bay. And the more dense nutrition you put into your body on a daily basis, the LESS it craves anything that isn’t on your meal plan. Check out Shakeology for this fact alone.
  • Start Exercising. Exercise is a natural way to boost your mood and can help put a stop to emotional eating. Not only does exercise help you lose weight and improve your health… it can also help reduce depression and reduce stress. It’s our HAPPY pill, in simpler terms, with no dangerous side effects!
  • Decrease stress. Learn how to cope with stress in other ways that don’t involve food. This one is a doozy but such an important tip to take seriously. I know, easier said than done… but keep in mind, compulsive overeating has little to do with hunger. People often eat when they are not hungry or use food to fill an emotional need that they cannot cope with in other ways. So the next time you find yourself standing in front of the open refrigerator or pantry and staring into the abyss of foods thinking, I’m hungry for something; shut the door and go sit down to figure out what you are really hungry for. Love? Attention? Friendship? Relaxation? A hug? Whatever it is, it has nothing to do with food. If you don’t know what you want to eat, it usually leads to an emotional need or some help in releasing a stressful time.
  • Rome wasn’t built in a day. Don’t try to change your relationship with food overnight. Try setting small goals and give yourself some positive feedback. If you tell yourself, “I need to add more fish and veggies to my diet,” it will be much better than saying, “I need to stop eating so much crap.” Think positive! =)
  • No one is perfect, be kind to yourself. We all make mistakes, we all struggle sometimes… it’s nothing to be ashamed of. If you are suffering from compulsive overeating and you feel like it is getting out of control, you should really seek professional help to stop the unhealthy, weight-gaining, self destructive behavior. You’re not alone. There are plenty of wonderful resources for those with eating disorders… don’t be afraid to reach out ❤

When all is said and done, do your best and forget the rest. (Tony Horton of P90X) Simply put, if you make a mistake or fall into a binge along the way, chalk it up to figuring out how you could have handled it differently and make that attempt the next time around. Stop blaming yourself and just start enjoying your life…and your foods! 🙂

Are You Struggling Today?

It’s amazing to me when I hear people assume that if you don’t complain or talk about your struggles; that you must no have any.

BULL!!! 

Our struggles are our stories!!! Embrace them and learn to grow from them.  That is your message to the world around you.

In keeping with today’s topic; I will share some of mine…

I am a very happily married woman of almost 20 years to my amazing hubby.  Do you think that it’s been bliss ever since the day we said, “I Do”???

FAR FROM IT!!!

…and to those of you who are, or have been married know that it would have been a complete lie for me to say otherwise.

We started out as your average “happy” young couple with dreams of a family life, successes, growing in our faith and many blessings.

While I can’t say we aren’t enjoying all of these today, it sure has not been “easy” in any respect.

Which reminds me of a joke my son told us this summer;

“Why did the washing machine stop working?…. Somebody threw the towel in…”

=D =D =D

We all have struggles and if we stick with what needs to be done consistently; we can work our ways through them and come out stronger than ever. This doesn’t mean it’s a great idea to complain to everyone around you or share all over social media about your issues…

Because there is such a thing as an “unfollow” button and that will get pressed if you make complaining a habit. Instead, act as though everything is going great and your reality will become so. You have more power over your progress and success than you know.

My point is that although life has had it’s share of ups and downs for us, we never gave up. We kept refocusing on helping each other and moving forward in the best way we could understand at the time. There is no fairy tale life. There is no perfection for anyone. I know we will continue to have our struggles but without them, we wouldn’t be as happy and as strong as we are today. My hubby is my best friend and I know he has my back just as much as I do, his.

But you have to get a little bit (sometimes, a LOT) uncomfortable before you feel proud of where you’ve come from…

Let’s focus in on the happy parts of today!

Do You Plan Your “Rest Days”?

Rest days.  We’ve heard of them before as they help our bodies repair from the workouts we are doing.

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My question for you today; do you take regular rest days?

No, I’m not talking about a “scheduled in” rest day, like doing yoga or doing a lighter form of activity like long walks.

I’m referring to a day complete with NO planned activity of any kind!! Does this mean you can’t do normal activities that come about; like pulling weeds in your garden, jumping on the trampoline with your kids or fitting in some errands and chores that need to be done?

Of course not!! Do what you need to do but refrain from scheduling a workout or stretch day.  Take the whole darned day off and feel doggone proud of it!

For crying out loud, this is the easy part of your routine!  Isn’t is complete craziness that we once may not have worked out one bit and felt guilty about that fact; and once you become more active (and some of us are more “active” than we should be. OCD, much?), then resting becomes a new “guilty” feeling.

But it shouldn’t be.  It does sound easy (and it really is easy); but it is often neglected.  I hear so many of my clients and friends who fall behind in a program and fit in missed workouts on their rest days.  This only truly counts as a “rest” day (the actual “missed” day) if you did NO physical activity that day. (not for instance, if you decided to take a run or a group exercise class for fun and blew off your normal plan.  This is def NOT a rest day!)   Did you know that rest days are just as important as your workout days?

Yes, you read that correctly!  Here are some reasons why:

The body becomes stronger or fitter by being exposed to stresses.  Once this happens, the body then needs time to repair from those stresses (workouts; training) , which means rest.  The rest days also help to prevent injuries.

Beginners:  If you are new to exercise, it’s important to ease into your program slowly so that your body can adapt.  For example, try to exercise on two consecutive days and then rest completely on the third day.  If you continue to push yourself and skip the rest days, your body will begin to fatigue and you’ll find your energy lagging completely.  

Also, if you are a beginner or even take on a new routine or exercise, you may feel soreness and tightness in the areas worked.  This is the body adapting to the new moves and workouts.  You may experience the following: severe muscle soreness, muscle stiffness, decrease in strength, decrease in skill levels.  This is referred to as “DOMS”; or “delayed onset muscle soreness.  This can take up to 12 hours after your workout to materialize but can last up to a week or more.  There are strategies to help recover in the best ways possible but I won’t go too far off topic today 😉  Good news is that the more you repeat those activities, the less likely you will feel DOMS (or at least not as much as before).

Advanced:  Those of you who are more experienced in fitness and even those who train for events; resting and recovering are equally as important to your body.  There is a term called “Progressive Overload” and is laid out for you here:

• Training is designed progressively to overload body systems and fuel stores
• If the training stress is insufficient to overload the body’s capabilities, no adaptations will occur.
• If the workload is too great (progressed too quickly/performed too often without adequate rest), then fatigue follows and subsequent performance will be reduced.
• Work alone is not enough to produce the best results; you need time to adapt to training stress.
• To encourage adaptation to training, it is important to plan recovery activities that reduce residual fatigue. 
• The sooner you recover from fatigue, and the fresher you are when you undertake a training session, the better the chance of improving.

Plan your training carefully, include rest days where you let you’re body recover from the stress and begin to adapt to the training. Try thinking ahead to the race/event date, plan different sessions for each week. Maybe do a couple of weeks of more intensive and hard sessions, but follow that with an ‘easy week’ where you’re body can adapt to all the hard training you’ve been doing. Periodization…? (excerpt taken from “Fitness Friends” UK)

So, how do we utilize the rest in the best possible way?  We don’t want to interfere with the hard work we are doing in our exercise programs, so it’s critical to follow the following rest strategies as frequently as you follow your workout programs.

*Sleep.  Do you sleep at least 8 solid hours each night?  If not, find ways to add more sleep to your schedule.  In our societies, as lives become increasingly more busy, we neglect sleep in lieu of finding extra time for more activities.  Stop doing this.  Active rest is a good practice to adopt too.  Read, meditate or listen to soothing music can do wonders for your stress levels.

*Hydrating and Nutrition.   It is most important to replace fluids after exercise and to replenish energy stores by eating the right foods at the right time.

*Cool downs and Stretch.  Do you recover and cool down following your workout; or do you just stop and leave?  I find that too many of my clients have fessed up to dropping the cool down and stretches after their workouts; for time issues.  They felt that this wasn’t as critical to their bodies changes as the actual workouts.  Wrong!!  Think for a moment of all the tightening in your muscles from the contractions made through exercise and how will those same muscles lengthen again and not be at risk of injury?  YES!! Stretching is the right answer!!

*Massages.  I admit, this is my absolute favorite luxury that makes me feel better and my body work more effectively after?  It warms and stretches soft tissue, increases flexibility, removes microtrauma/knots/adhesions, increases blood flow, enhances the oxygen and nutrient delivery to fatigued muscles and helps to improve mood and enhance relaxation.

*Cold baths.  This, I admit, I have never attempted.  I’ve heard horror stories regarding the practice but also how helpful and amazing it helps afterward.  I trained for my first ever full marathon this past year and would have been a good candidate for this practice at that time.  But I was too scared.  The idea is to plunge your body (cuz you can’t move into it slowly!) into a bath of icy cold water and this will cause the blood vessels to constrict and help remove lactic acids.  Once you get out of the bath, (the only part I actually would look forward to here) the capillaries dilate and the “new” blood flows back into the muscles. This brings oxygen to help the new cells function.

There you have it.  Rest days are non-negotiable and should be planned into each and every week you are working out.  I like to coincide my rest days on my Sundays; as they are family and days spent together.  You can choose any day of the week but don’t skip it ever ever ever!!