Facing Fear With Movement

So, I’ve been listening to uninhibited women leadership online conference with Ashley Burnett this week and the topic today was about fear. I found it interesting to discuss fear and struggle to know what I am truly afraid of. I spend a lot of time working with people who are afraid, I talk about it most days for multiple hours per day, and here I am not sure how to label my own. As I thought about it, I came up with a movement flow to help you get to the essence of your fear … in case you are like me and find it’s a bit of an enigma for you, slippery, and hard to fully see. You know it’s there, but you just can’t make it out clearly.

Many are afraid of living the life they could, afraid of giving up a label like being depressed, anxious, female, male, successful, a failure – you name it people are often afraid to give up an identity, even if it’s one they don’t like. That identity has protected you in groups, helped you define who you are and who you are not, and maybe guided your path for a long time. Well, what if you could step off that path and become something else. Something more in line with who you want to be today. Would you do it? Would you be able to let go? Dive into the practices that can help you become your highest self, your personal best dream – would you do them?

climbing the stairs

It’s often difficult to really know what you are afraid to give up. The bottom line is who would you be if you weren’t afraid. This question offers you the glimpse into what you might be afraid of. Here is an exercise set to help you cut through the mental chatter and just focus on what’s holding you back. Movement always helps me see more clearly and decrease the mental chatter that clouds me.

Step One:

Complete an easy warm up or use this set in the middle of your regular workout.

Step Two:

Get a Tabata Timer – this is very helpful and there are a number of free apps that will help you do this (and other interval workouts). If you don’t want to get one a simple kitchen timer can work, your watch, or phone. You need to do 20sec exercise intervals with 10sec rest intervals – 8x.

Step Three:

Start by picking your mantra. This could be a question – what am I afraid of? What’s holding me back? etc. or a statement – Fear. Let Go. – you get the picture. Find a phrase that works for you and visualize it – maybe it’s a picture, maybe a set of words, etc. You want to truly feel it deep within you.

Step Four:

Begin a jumping squat tabata. With the help of your timer, you begin your jumping squat set for 20 sec, rest 10sec, 8x. Total of 4min. Tabata’s are hard, just know that. If you have to take a break, try to keep the movement going, even if you take out the jump or begin to alternate legs, etc. You want to be completing the full movement at the end of the set.

As you complete the tabata focus on your mantra or visualization. See what arises. There is nothing to do, nothing to fix. We just want to see what remains when it gets really hard to focus. Often this is the essence of the thing we can let go of, we fear, we want to transform. Sometimes we even transform it in the tabata. I’ve seen clients start with “I am not good enough” to yelling “I’m fuckin’ rocking it” with conviction by the end of just one 4 minute round.

Step Five:

Repeat Steps 3 & 4, this time with the thing you want to gain or embrace in your life. Again, take a few moments to breathe, see your goal clearly in your head, and find the right set of word(s) to represent what it is you really want.

Then begin another tabata – any exercise will work.

I often like to superset pushups, lunges, low rows, squats, high rows, jumping lunges/split lunge, plank hold. This order will get you a full body workout in about 40 min with 2-3 min in between each tabata for meditative work and visualization preparation. Finish with whatever core/abdominal work you are focusing on and a full body stretch. If you complete all the steps you’ll have an hour worth of movement with a meditation and self-growth focus. It’s not an easy workout, but one that will help you distill your thoughts into what you want next, see where you want to go, and help you feel confident enough in your own abilities to actually complete and live the practices you’ll need to reach your goals.

Have fun finding your FEAR!

 

*Please remember that exercise is physical and in the event you have a medical condition or other reason to be concerned about completing hard/intense exercise or movement that you check with your doctor.

 

How to Leave the Stuck Feeling Behind!

What do you do when you feel stuck? Most of us, spin. We spin our wheels, gossip, complain, and continue to create situations and stories that keep us looping over and over whatever it is that has us feeling stuck. Then we give up … Or become resentful and angry. What if we could get ourselves out of that stuck feeling without blowing up our lives? Would you be willing to put the work into a simple, yet difficult strategy? Could you take an honest look at yourself and see where you are creating this problem?

When you can take an honest look at yourself it helps create a calmer sense of being. It might be hard, and will offer you an opportunity to find your center. Your personal center, not the one that others want you to have … the one you want. In addition, looking at yourself offers an opportunity to see what solutions you can provide and where you might want to let go.

So let’s say you feel stuck at work. You feel unheard, not valued, or taken advantage of. You could complain to co-workers, skip details on projects, or undermine your boss. In each case you are looking at external factors to deal with internal feelings. I will address the external parts in a moment, for now look at your own process. If you are feeling unheard, what can you do to change how you have been approaching the conversation? Can you change the way you word your requests? Is your tone or body language in need of updating? By looking inside we see where we can take our power back. We have options for how we’d like to engage in the world. From this place even if we aren’t successful, we are operating with authenticity and can feel proud of our part in the interaction.

If you don’t feel valued, how would you know you were being valued? Many of us have a particular style or need for recognition and we expect everyone else to know it…AND we don’t want to tell them. Some of us were brought up believing that if someone really loves and cares for us, they should know what we want and need. Telling them those internal thoughts actually feels like nobody cares. Well, the truth is … No one can read your mind. Plus we each enjoy different styles. It might be that my co-worker keeps trying to give me praise and due to our different styles I don’t even notice the recognition. So by looking inward you are able to determine “how would I best understand praise and recognition”? Sometimes this is all you need. Once we get to this step many of us actually start seeing all the praise that’s been there all along and we can begin to bask in it. If we aren’t seeing it, maybe we need to ask for what we want and need? Many of us struggle to ask for these items, because it is scary – what if no one responds? – well if you are feeling under valued, you are already here, might as well ask. Something different might happen.

Now if you are feeling taken advantage of, look at how you might be contributing to your own sense of being put upon. For instance, do you offer to take care of others’ work load? Do you step up to get things done, yet never expect or ask for others to take care of their end of the bargain? Do you have trouble saying no or asking for extensions on deadlines? Do you do extra work because if you don’t do it who will? These are the things that may keep you stuck in your own problem. Take a look at each situation and ask yourself what your role is? Ask “how can I do this differently?” Or “where can I ask for help?” Or say “my role here is _______”. If you are doing more than your role, look at why. How could you “give back” the parts that aren’t yours to carry? There are lots of ways to determine how to change your behaviors. When you “martyr” by taking everything on (to help, so others feel cared for, because you can, so it gets done, etc) you actually disempower others and create a re-occurring pattern where you’ll be the one expected to pick up the slack. All people want to contribute to something. Allow others space and time to do so in their own way and everyone gets to shine … and relax.

Now, I know some of you have been biting your tongue a saying, “it’s not me” and in some cases it isn’t you. You are only responsible for your half of any relationship. If you take an honest look at yourself you should be able to see what you can control, how you can change your thoughts, and what items you can drop or do differently. If you get through that process honestly you may note that the other person or the environment is too powerful. At this point you have a choice to continue doing the best you can given the circumstances or let go of this relationship, job, etc. It will be important that you take space and time to come to this conclusion. When you change your behaviors give others some time to catch up. In addition, walking away from a situation when feeling strong emotion is not usually successful. Make sure you are objective and feeling logical as you make those decisions. Not only will you be able to say you made the best choice for you, you’ll also have time to consider your options and put other plans in place.

Strength & Gardening

How many of you have gone into the garden full of hopes and dreams, excitement and desire only to come out with a sore back and tight hamstrings? A day in the garden doesn’t have to result in miserable pain when you take a few pre and post gardening steps. 

First, gardening actually requires quite a bit of flexibility and strength. We have to reach and twist and lunge and haul. So don’t ignore the importance of overall strength training.  Regular strength training helps ensure

that we’ll have enough core strength to reach for and pull those weeks while on our hands and knees. This move is actually a complicated move involving multiple muscles, joints, and our balance systems. Many folks would decline doing this move on their living room floor however don’t think twice about it in the garden only to wonder why it seems so difficult. Part of that is the mental component. It’s part of gardening so we don’t think it should be so hard, it’s what we’ve (or watched others) have done and it’s how we complete this task.

Second, don’t underestimate a good pre and post gardening stretch. Doing the activities in the garden may not feel like work to us – we love the smells, feel of the soil, the sense of accomplishment, etc. And … our body has worked out so treat it with a good post garden stretch session. It may even deserve a warm shower and good rub of lotion across those muscles. A regular flexibility program can help here, too. Stretch all the major muscles groups by going to the point of tension and holding. Take 3-5 long deep breaths and slowly release them as you melt into the stretch gently.

Lastly, be mindful. Enjoy the feel of the dirt, the hard work, the wonderful fruits as they excite your tastebuds when you get to eat them or your eyes as you gaze upon the brilliant colors your efforts have given.

Honor Our Troops With A BootCamp Workout

For those who’ve been in the military you know that not only are soldiers brave but they are tough! Part of their job is physically pushing their bodies to the limit. Here’s some ideas on how you can mimic boot camp in your workouts. Many military fitness moves are based on body weight. So try push-ups, pull ups, and squats for full body work with your body weight. All these exercises have many variations and can be overloaded with external weight (dumbbells, bars, rubber tubing) if needed.

Add intensity to your moves. We call this work plyometrics. Plyometrics are moves designed to increase power and speed. Take your basic squat and add a jump. As you reach the bottom of the movement you spring back up and off the floor, landing only to begin again. Adding power can be done to most movements. All it takes is adding explosive movements to your routine. Sprints, jumps, hops, etc will all add intensity to your workout.

Think about compound movements – soldiers have to do a lot of moving. They overload with external weight which doesn’t come off (think packs, belts, boots) when they have to run, jump, climb, squat, etc. Moving isn’t all straightforward work. Many of our regular activities require us to twist, bend, and move laterally (side to side) as well as up, down, reaching and more. Try adding some compound movements into your workout. Compound movements are those that may combine two or three different movements – a squat with a kick and rotation, a lunge with balance work included, or pushups with a squat jump (daisy pickers) included.

Here’s a link to a boot camp workout from about.com
Here’s a link to freeworkoutsguide.com
Disclaimer – I didn’t check out all these listings but they have quite a variety to choose from.

Changing Seasons – Changing Workouts

Most find it easier to get into routines when fall comes.  Fall is a transitional time.  This is a perfect time to re-evaluate your goals and renew your commitment to yourself.  If your schedule becomes busier during the fall and winter how will you continue to reach your daily, weekly, and monthly fitness goals? How have you been doing? Here are some ideas to get you motivated to workout during our darker days.

With good planning you can make it through this transitional period with no bumps and no missed workouts. Think about your options. As the weather turns colder many find it hard to continue outdoor workouts. Where will you go? Who will you go with? What do you like to do? For some its actually changing a workout format. Maybe you don’t like walking on treadmill, but are not getting out of your warm bed to walk in the snow. What will you do to keep moving?

There are so many options it can seem overwhelming. First, what lifestyle changes do you need to make? Do you need more time, different hours, or more variety? These questions are important to ask yourself before you have the chance to talk yourself out of exercise because it is too dark, too cold, and too boring. Will you need to make different parking or transportation accommodations? What about safety issues? Clothing, especially shoes? How about motivation and mood considerations? Many find they are not as motivated, even depressed during darker days.

Our last step is to decide our workout types and places. As a rule if you want to lose weight concentrate on cardiovascular work. If you are looking for more tone strength comes first. You will need a combination of both to make this change happen. Will you be working out at home or is there a Fitness Center near by, outside or inside, there are many options. Research the best for you in your community.

Now is the time to begin your fitness planning for winter. Fall is a great time to take advantage of routines and plan your healthy activities each day. You’ve made the most important decision to get regular exercise and now you’ve done the toughest part…deciding what you really want and where your dedication will take place. If you move everyday you will get there!

What is Functional Training

Ready to take your workout to a new level?  You’ve been building workouts you can do anywhere, now add an unstable surface and you’ve got functional training!  What is functional training? Well, functional training mimics activities you do in your daily life.  If the reason you avoid working out is because you think its rather boring to sit on a machine, lift weight ten times, rest as you stare off into space, lift again, and repeat on the next machine, I have news for you.  Functional training is fun, practical, applicable to your daily activities, develops your core strength so you have a stronger base to deliver power from, and a strong core helps keep you more injury free.

Think about what movement you would like to become better at. Is it playing with your children or grandchildren? What about a specific sport or skill in sport? Golf season is right around the corner. How about the ability to lift items out of your refrigerator without fear or moving from your couch to the bathroom? All of these items can be made better using functional training techniques.

We know that to get better at something we need to practice. Your mother was right when she made you sit at the piano for hours. You have to practice in order to create better neuromuscular efficiency. Basically put, the more you practice the better your brain gets at sending the signal to the muscle, “this is how I want you to move”. The more that pathway is repeated the more efficient you will be at the movement.

If you are trying get better at or to avoid injury during a movement or sport you must practice that particular movement. So I don’t know about you, but I know I don’t walk around doing crunch type movements all day, so why do a million during a workout? If I wanted to effectively train my abs I would look to more core aligned movements, which produce more power through strength development of the entire core. This would allow me to do the things I need to everyday. I have small children, I need to rotate, lift, move quickly in odd directions, and lift 30lbs of squirmy people at any given time. I do not need all my ab strength to allow me to crunch forward.

Try adding some functional training to your workout this week see what happens. First, pick a movement you would like to become better at. Start practicing that movement with no weight, then maybe with light weight, and finally on one foot. Next, begin creating an unstable surface with your basic strength training routine. Try lifting the heel of one foot while performing your lifts to create the unstable surface. If this is comfortable try to lift the whole foot off the ground for a one-legged more unstable surface. In yoga we concentrate heavily on foundation, or what is in contact with the floor during our movements. The same rule applies here, the smaller the foundation, the harder the core will work to stabilize you, therefore the more strong the core will become at adapting to slight movements of the body when put under stress (strength training), and the more you need to concentrate on alignment and proper form, keeping your mind more engaged. It is important, as always, to discuss your workouts with your health care provider and to make sure you are working within your own boundaries. Do not attempt to perform an exercise with bad form. You are better to do something small with good form rather than big with bad form.

Begin functional training and watch your abilities soar. You’ll become better adapted at moving in the patterns you do all day long. Maybe even make the greatest ESPN shot of the game ever recorded … No guarantees, though. Happy Training!

References:

Muscle That Matters – Paul Scott

The Functional Training Craze – Jesse Cannone

BodyBuilding.com

Planning Home Workouts

Have you begun to move your workouts indoors?  I know this has been the theme lately, but it is important you plan for seasons if you are going to be sucmcessful this year.

Many clients are able to workout at home, but are unsure of where to start. They buy some hand weights, maybe a video, and if they are really brave go for the infomercial special, which is often later used as a clothes rack. How can you avoid adding to your dust collection?  In a word – planning.

It is much easier for most to create an effective strength training routine at home. It can be done on a limited budget, and can be accomplished in a short amount of time. Here are the things to consider when purchasing strength training equipment for home. First, what is your goal? Are you trying to build mass or lose weight? Are you trying to maintain? Is this equipment just for emergency use on those days where getting to the gym is not possible, or is this going to be your only source of strength training? These answers will direct your purchases. If you are looking for emergency use equipment, you can get by with little or no equipment depending on your program. This is where a professional can be very handy. A good personal trainer will help you design your program around your environment and make sure you are able to meet your goals. What a great Christmas present idea, one or two sessions can keep you focused. If you have equipment handy you will have no reason to miss a workout, however if you are using your home equipment just for emergency days you’ll want to make sure you have a good plan of action on non-emergency ones because you may not have enough to be effective over a long period of time.

Are you looking to do the majority of strength training at home? This can be a wonderful way to incorporate fitness into your life. It is a great way to role model healthy living for your children, and make fitness a family priority. Although, my children do not get to use my weights, they do workout with me using the same movements and many they create as they hop from step to step, mimic me, and learn about their own bodies. They are excited and interested in movement and habits formed early have a better chance of hanging on. Remember, the biggest factor in childhood obesity is parents. Help your children fight obesity – its never too late to start.

If you decide to strength train at home consider your current level of strength. How much can you easily lift now? Again, your goals are going to be important because they will dictate the progression of exercise, which will dictate how many weights you’ll need and how heavy they should be. What kind of space will you be able to dedicate to your workouts? Do you have room for a bench or ball? Do you have storage for different sized dumbbells? Will you dig equipment out of a closet or from under a bed to actually complete a workout? This is the big question! Will you do the workout? Once you know the answer to these questions you can begin to create space and build your equipment choices for your complete home strength workout.

As you begin to contemplate your goals for health look closely at your choices. There are many options for your fitness. You just have to be willing to move!

Exercises for Good Health

We can’t avoid messages about better heath however many people are asking what are exercises for good health? Just being told to exercise can lead to uncertainty about how to become more healthy and eventually lead back to less-healthy habits out of shear frustration.

Consider your goals when deciding what your best choices regarding exercises for good health are. Do you want to run longer, walk further, lose weight, or gain mass? These big picture questions about your future health will direct you toward right exercises for your good health.

The five basic components of exercise should be a focused on in any fitness routine: cardiovascular, strength, endurance, body composition, and flexibility. How much you’ll focus in one area verses another will depend on your goals, fitness level, and time you have to devote.

In a nut shell, cardiovascular exercise works large muscles groups, strengthens our heart and lungs, and is done over a period of time, say 20-60 minutes. Muscle strength and endurance creates muscles strong enough to accomplish desired tasks (strength) over a period of time (endurance). Body composition is a ratio between fat and lean mass and will change according to your fitness. Flexibility training is a fancy name for stretching, but is very important because it keeps our muscles moving through full range of motion ready to respond to tasks we ask of them – lifting grocery bags, catching us as we slip on ice, running to first base, hugging your kids, lifting your best one rep max ever, the list goes on. (See older blog posts for more specifics on the 5 components of fitness)

In the end the best exercises for good health are those you will do!

Train for Your Game – Softball Workouts.

Smell the summer air, what goes great with summer? Softball! No matter what your summer sport, it is better to train prior to your game to maximize your strength, endurance, and skills.
Softball, like golf draws much of its power from rotational force. As you swing the bat your core strength determines how powerful you hit the ball. Once the ball is in flight, your body must use explosive speed to get you on base, ok, for some we wouldn’t put explosive and speed in the same sentence, but that is the idea.

Any softball workout program is enhanced by basic strength training.When we begin training we need to develop conditioning strength before beginning more specific activity. Once you’ve cleared your plans with your health care provider, start with basic strength training. Choose one to two exercises per muscle group and lift weight heavy enough to fatigue your muscles in eight to ten repetitions. Once you’ve built a base of strength you can begin adding activities specific to softball.

Core is important in this sport. All your power comes from your middle. You want to train these muscle groups in tri-planar movement, with overload. Translation: Move in many different directions and use something to add weight to your movement. It is important to have significant strength through the core before you add external weight, which is why you want base strength. Try using something to create an unstable surface to work from. For example: Using your bat begin with both feet flat on the floor, legs a little further than hip distance apart, knees bent. Begin gently swinging your bat side to side to warm up rotational muscles Next, try the same movement on a BOSU ball (a piece of equipment used for training on an unstable surface.), Finally, take the same movement and add weight to the bat. Notice the difference between the different movements. What happens to the abdominal muscles when asked to work on an unstable surface? Remember, you must be able to maintain good form. Once you can no longer maintain good form you know you’ve reach your limit and you must begin to build strength and endurance in those muscle groups before going further into the movement pattern.

To train the core in multi-planar movement get creative. What types of movement mimics the skills you will need during your game? Begin with these movements and then build on them. Try doing the movements on one foot or while shifting your weight from side to side. Keep the abdominals tight to protect your back and notice how these muscle groups work together. Think of ways to engage these muscle groups as a unit to effectively build your power.

Most of us not only need to hit the ball but we need to be able to get on base. Running the bases takes explosive speed. We go from standing still to moving quickly and then we stop as quickly as we started. This type of movement requires some training to keep injury at bay. Once, again a baseline of strength is necessary before tackling too much, and talk with your health care professional before beginning any exercise program. Set up a sprint course during your workout. Begin by walking for one to two minutes, warm-up and move with purpose; get your heart rate going, then all out run for thirty to forty-five seconds, recover while walking and then repeat. Parking lots are good for sprint courses; find a parking lot with empty slots and use the lines as your markers. You can develop different workouts to keep you interested. It is also important to cross train. Using other types of cardiovascular workouts (i.e. Different cardio machines, movements, or workout formats) use the sprint model to challenge your explosive speed. Cross training will keep you from over-training and you’ll be less likely to get injured or develop your speed without balance to your body.

Flexibility is incredibly important in this sport. If you work to develop strength without training flexibility you’ll end up with increased strength, but limited movement patterns due to limited range of motion. This sets you up for injury and you will not maximize your new strength or skills.

When training for softball this summer, think about the movements you do during your game, then mimic those during your workouts while adding challenge, by increasing your speed or weight while performing the movement. After developing your base strength through general strength training, pay extra attention to your core and get creative with movements in many directions, on unstable surfaces,followed with stretching after every workout. Swing batter, batter, Swing!

Learning To Balance

Balance is something many of us take for granted. Think about how you balance. Has anything ever taken away your balance? An injury or loss of hearing, sight, or a case of vertigo? Have you tried incorporating balance into your fitness training and noticed how much your core engages? Balance can be a great way to begin adding functional activity into your daily life.

Balance is learned. Many of us don’t remember learning because we were little when we learned to walk. If we can learn it, we can unlearn it, so we must keep doing it to keep our balance strong. Balance is done not only with the body, but the eyes and ears. If we lose a sense, we will have to adjust how we balance.
Start noticing when do you need to hold onto the railings, walls, things around you? Begin trying to hold on less. If you already have great balance begin incorporating unstable surfaces into your workouts, such as the BOSU, balance discs, and foam rollers.

Balance can be incorporated into many different movements, but my favorite way to teach balance is to have people brush their teeth while standing on one leg. Your body will adapt very quickly, as this is more a nervous system adaptation. Once you’ve got it on one leg move to your other. You may find you balance easier on one leg than the other. Each of us has a dominant side so it is normal to feel as though you are better at balancing or using one side or the other. By practicing balance on both sides of the body you are creating freedom to move.

More freedom in movement will translate into moving more, and you’ll be feeling great about your body’s ability to move. Once again, your body – absolutely amazing!