My Top 5 Wellness Favorites

wellness

I was asked recently about favorite personal wellness tips and as I’ve been reflecting on my regular routine, I’ve been able to narrow them down.  Here are my top five favorites:

1.

Exercise and nutrition/clean eating.  Obviously I have a passion for fitness and good basic nutrition.  They have become such a huge part of my life that it is more than apparent that they would be number one on my list.  And, since I believe fitness and nutrition go hand-in-hand, I have joined them as top rank.  I am a huge lover of cardio, but for the past 8 months, I have been completely obsessed with my strength training and have been focusing most of my gym time on that.  I would encourage everyone to add a strength training routine to their regular fitness regime.  I’m also a cheerleader for clean eating and following the Whole 30 program.  I am not a clean eater 100% (I literally just ate a handful of salted caramel chocolate chips), but I often try to stay away from processed and junk and fast foods as much as possible.  In fact, I am gearing up for a Whole 30 in a few weeks.  I also love starting my day off with some form of exercise.  It used to be a crazy Insanity workout or other form of cardio, then it was yogo, and this summer it has been early morning walks.  I am so in love with my early morning walks for a few reasons but the biggest one is the solitude in the mornings.  It’s usually just me out there and I love the stillness and the quiet and the fresh air in my face.  I also love the little feeling of accomplishment in the mornings and the walks have been giving me that.

2.

Water.  Lotsa water.  I love water.  It’s my favorite drink.  In fact, aside from a morning coffee or the occasional glass of wine, it’s the only thing I drink.  And I drink a lot of it. Water is essential in every day life – you can read here a past post on why water is important.  I love water and I constantly have a glass of it on the go, whether I’m at work or working out, I try to continuously guzzle.

3.

Sleep.  Sleep is right up there with water – it’s essential.  And it’s a big part of how I’m going to function.  I hate not getting enough sleep.  About 5 years ago I had a bad bought of insomnia for months on end and it was terrible.  I was barely functioning.  I was a walking zombie.  I’ve written two posts previously on sleep and I stand by my word (you can read them here and here) and there’s also plenty of research being done by companies, like Elysium Health , on the science behind sleep—you can learn more about their findings on cellular health and NAD+ and their connection to sleep here .  I love sleep.  I try to get as much as I can but it doesn’t always work for me.  A good night would have been sleeping 7 hours but most nights, according to my FitBit, see me sleeping anywhere from 5 to 6 hours.  Eventually, when I’m exhausted enough, I’ll manage a good 7 or 8 hours, but I will always strive.

4.

Me Time.  It’s really important – no, make that crucial – that every person take some “me time”.  Although my morning walks and other workouts can often be accounted for as me time, I like to find time during the day just for me.  Time far away from chaos and hustle and bustle and social media.  This me time is usually my reading (or writing) time.  I am an avid reader and become completely enthralled in my books.  And I look forward to curling up under the summer sun or before bed to leave where I am and, instead, get lost in the words of my book.  I urge everyone to take 20 minutes (at least) each day to themselves.

Sparkles

5.

Quality Social Time.  I am a social being.  In fact, my nickname has always been social butterfly.  Just as it’s important to take me time, it’s also important to have social time with other people.  I love spending time with my family and my friends and my co-workers and my workout buddies.  Getting out and enjoying the company of others (and allowing them to enjoy your company) is very important to maintaining good mental health.  And mental and emotional health are just as important as physical health.  Having fun or having a good cry (if required) are important to keeping us healthy and balanced.  And this means getting social in person – not hopping onto Facebook to chat.  Your mind, body, and soul need you to interact with other human beings.  So, whether you go to a fitness class or a Bible study or book club or just get together with your friends or family, ensure that you do it.  Often.

mind-body-soul_design

So, that’s it.  Those are my personal top 5 (I’m sure there are more) favorite wellness tips to living a healthy life.  What are yours?

~FB

 

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Begin (Confessions)

I saw this post in my Facebook feed this today and knew I had to write something about it.

Beginner

…Because this is truth.

We all have to start somewhere.  We are all beginners.  We will not know our full abilities until we try.

When I first began my fitness journey I could not do a full three minutes on my elliptical.  In fact, I found it so hard that I gave up.  I was winded and sweaty (I still sweat like I’m burning in Hell) and, frankly, I was embarrassed that a mere three minutes of cardio nearly killed me and I gave up!

I had bought that elliptical on a whim of trying wanting to be healthy (read: skinny) and I failed.  And, apparently, at that time I was okay with failure.  But then one day, that one particular day, I made a decision and my life changed – forever and for the best.  I swear to God, that elliptical saved my life.  I saw this with all seriousness and certainty.  I was on a path that was destroying me.  My self-esteem was shot, my mental health was in the toilet, and I was overweight to a degree that I should never have let happen.

And I jumped on my elliptical and had my first real workout.

And, although I swore I would never publicly show this photo – I realized, “well shoot!  This was me!  This is what I looked like!”  So, here goes:

Side by side

Left: Before / Right: After 

Yep!  The pic on the left with the scratched out face and the really, really badly blonde hair is me.

And you know what’s sad?  I I don’t even recognize that person on the left and I’m ashamed that I allowed myself to treat my body that way. After A Lot of hard work, dedication, and discipline, the pic on the right reflects closer to where I am today. But each day I grow in my fitness. I’m so much stronger and adventurous in my exercising. And I look forward to challenging myself daily.

Once I started exercising regularly and eating healthier, I started feeling better on the inside too.  I know not everyone gets this or agrees. But this is 100% true for me. Exercise helped bring me out of a 10 year depression. It helped with my self-esteem and confidence.  There are days when I still struggle with these but overall, I’ve become a different person.  (Give it a chance….you might be shocked to find that exercise can help you too.)

Mood changer

When I look back to those years ago and hopping on my elliptical and failing miserably at my first attempt of working out, I almost feel glad,  Because I was doing it for the wrong reason.  As I said above, I wanted to start exercising to get thin, not to have a better life.  And it wasn’t until I decided to change my life that my life changed.  That’s when I really began.

So, don’t be afraid to begin.  Even if it means you’re starting over or beginning again.  It’s when you’re really ready that you will make the effort.  As you know, my mantra for years has been “If you’re not willing to do the work, you’re not ready to lose the weight.” (Thank you Shaun T!)  Again, #Truth!

So, don’t be afraid.  Go ahead and begin.  And if you have to, begin again.

~FB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burnout

burnout0A while back I wrote a piece on my over-training syndrome and addiction to exercise and how it attributed to weight gain and other health issues (including adrenal fatigue).  Once I realized had confirmation that my glutenous exercising was taking a toll on my health, I pulled back the reigns somewhat and began to let go of my addiction.  Although still maintaining a fairly strict exercise regime, I let go of the idea that I absolutely needed to work out every single day and became more lax.  And I think cardio was killing me.

This past year, as you may have read, I have changed up my fitness goals and have been concentrating on strength training and lifting, spending most of my gym time in the weight room and venturing into territory that, though I have always maintained some strength training, has been on the up-and-up with me.  Power lifting and such has become somewhat of a (new) passion and I’m really excited about it and look forward to the days I can get to the gym.  Which, of late, seems to be more and more frequently.  With classes at least three times per week, I have been making efforts to hit the gym the other 3 to 4 days each week.  The other day someone referred to me as a “gym Nazi”.

On top of classes and gym time, the last few months I’ve gotten more and more into hiking – mostly on weekends or sometimes on the off-days from working out.  And I have been walking every day on my lunch break for the full hour, and several days before work for anywhere between 20 to 40 minutes.

This week, I had some pretty insane workouts – including lifting the highest amount of weight I’d ever lifted (impressing even myself), and Thursday I totally overdid it.  Like, completely.  I did two major walks – 40 minutes before work and an hour at lunch and in the evening I did my regular Thursday night gym routine, spending nearly two and a half hours in the gym, and ending the evening with a Zumba class.  (Thursday is my favorite night of the week!)

Lift Exhaustion

Although during my exercised-fueled endorphin rush I felt awesome and energetic and like I could take on the world, by late Thursday evening I was zonked and actually nodded off on my couch.  I never fall asleep on my couch.

Friday morning I awoke with not a lick of energy.  I was literally physically exhausted and drained.  The entire day I felt like I got hit by a truck.  A big-ass truck!  I was barely functioning at work and felt like no amount of caffeine would be able to help me.  I was relieved when the work day ended.

Out of Order

This is how I felt Friday…keep knocking…there’s no one home.

However, I am a moron determined and decided that I still wanted to ensure I got another workout in, since it was cold and raining on Friday and I barely got a walk in (short one in the morning and shorter one in the afternoon – resulting in very wet pant-legs) and I headed to the gym once again.  It’s really all I could think about Friday and I really was happy to get there.  I spent way too long there Friday night working out (about an hour and 40 minutes), lifting and finishing with a little cardio.  I felt like I could conquer the world and could keep going but, sometimes I have to say “enough’s enough”.

Although I ventured back to the gym yesterday for what turned out to be a great workout with a buddy, I felt like I didn’t or couldn’t put all I had into my workout.  And although I slept wayyyy too long Friday night into Saturday, I was still very tired and needed to push myself.

I made the decision to definitely take today off.  Even though I was invited to participate in a fun-run for Apple Blossom festivities, I was happy when the invitee texted to say that she was declining as well.  Thank goodness.

I have spent most of today and last night recovering from last week and I am determined  to not let myself get to that point again.  The point of physical exhaustion and burnout.  I don’t think I’ve ever really experienced exercise burnout before.  It’s definitely different than the over-training syndrome and adrenal fatigue I experienced a few years ago.  I’ve also decided this week to opt out of any FitBit challenges that I’ve been invited to as I feel like I’ve been too competitive lately and that has been fueling me a little more than it should.  I am not Monica Geller.

And, let’s face it, I know better.  I wasn’t trying to get to this point on purpose.  Exhaustion is NOT a status symbol.  I know the effects of over-training and risks exhaustion can pose. Up until the end of this past week I wasn’t feeling the effects of my workouts.  And perhaps this is a one time occurrence, but I will be more careful as I go into a new week.  I will not attempt more than I can handle.  My body is my temple and as such, I shall treat it like one and show it more respect.

~FB

Stonger

This last session of my boot camp classes I was super stoked to finally have a guy register.  I’ve been wanting to ‘enlist’ a boy for a while but I’ve come to realize that most guys aren’t really into group fitness (I also don’t think they realize how tough my classes actually are), so I was excited to have my first male participant.

His name is Luke and he said his wife registered him in order to get him in gear to join the military and get ready for his basic training.

Luke came to the classes and admitted to us that he wasn’t big on exercise, although he’d been doing some P90X videos.  He did great.  I don’t know what he initially thought of my class before his first day but I’m certain that he came, he saw, he participated, he was impressed.

In mid-September Luke got his call – he’d be heading off to basic training on October 10.  He finished up what classes he could and then he was gone.

Last week I got a message from Luke:  “I passed the military fitness test! Thanks for helping with that.”

I was so happy for him.  I don’t think Luke believed that he could do it.  But he did.  Way to go!

Easier~Fit Bitch

Extreme Squat and Wall Sit Challenge

Well folks, summer is pretty much over – at least summer vacation time is over.  And with that and the start of September just a day away I figured it was a good time to post a new fitness challenge for the new month.

And since jeans season is back (I refuse to wear pants (other than to work out) throughout the warmth of spring until the end of summer/start of fall – for at least 3 full months I am either in a skirt or a dress) I thought a good butt and leg workout would be fun and fitting.

I struggled with which Challenge I wanted to post – the Extreme Squat Challenge or the Wall Sit Challenge.  Because I love both.  And because I love both I said, “FB, you should post both.”  And that’s what I’m going to do.

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and

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These are two great exercises that will work your butt and legs.  Squats are so good for you because you’re engaging your entire body (ankles, core, calves, thighs, butt, arms, neck) and it will definitely get your cardio up.  And the wall sit can help you strengthen your legs, thighs, and even your back.

Two important things to remember when you’re doing either of these exercises are to keep your chest lifted* and to not let your knees come too far over your ankles.  Performing these exercises wrong can lead to injury.

(*Keep your chest lifted means don’t round your shoulders or hump forward (don’t slouch!).  Your chest should be at the angle as if you were standing normally, keeping your neck aligned – as if you’re looking forward (which is a good move, especially for beginners).  When you squat your upper body should stay as normal in form as possible while your knees bend and your booty goes back.)

This guy is my hero! via

This guy is my hero!
via

Keep in mind that the above squat challenge is the Extreme Squat Challenge and may be a little too intense for beginners.  If you want to do both challenges but don’t think you can handle the Extreme you have two options:  1) you could cut the Extreme in half (so, on Day 1 instead of 250 squats you would do 125 squats) or, if you still think that’s too much you could 2) try the original Squat Challenge I posted a while back.  My suggestion, if you’re just starting out with a workout program (or have knee issues) is to go with the original Squat Challenge.  After 30 days if you’re comfortable with the squats and feeling like a superhero then you could continue with the Extreme Challenge (it picks up at 250 which is where the original ends).

As always, these exercises can be done on their own or as part of fitness program/routine.

Good luck, have fun, and be careful.

~Fit Bitch

REDBOOK’S Strong Sexy 21-Day Challenge

I just came across this 21-day challenge by Redbook.  This is a great little challenge for new exercisers (and for those wanting to add to their current workouts).

This beginner workout is great because it incorporates both cardio and strength, and works different muscle groups. Basically, how it works is you do one exercise on Day 1.  On Day 2 you do the exercises from Day 1 and Day 2.  On Day 3 you do the exercises from Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3….so that when you finally get to Day 21 you’re doing 21 different exercises.

Via Redbook

Via Redbook

Definitely check out the website here and watch the video.  Familiarize yourself with the exercises so that you can keep your form in check.

What’s also really great about this workout is that you can virtually do it anywhere – that includes while you’re watching TV (take advantage of those commercial breaks, folks!).

Everyone has to start somewhere and this little workout is very basic.  I’m not going to say it’s easy because there may be some difficulty, especially for beginner exercisers.

If you have any difficulty with a particular exercise and feel like it’s too much for you right off or that it may cause you injury (ie. burpees) you can either omit that exercise and sub in something else – like crunches for instance, or extra jumping jacks – or if you think you’d like to try burpees but don’t feel like your body is strong enough yet you can rearrange some of the exercises – make Day 6 your day for hip bridges and make Day 20 your day to try the burpee.

Whatever you choose to do will be right for you.

Good luck and have fun!

~Fit Bitch

Laughter – The Best ~Ab~ Medicine

Abs = laughter

Is there anything better than laughing so hard your stomach hurts?

I love my workouts but this is how I feel one hundred percent!

I’m fortunate enough to have, honestly, the most incredible friends: my work mates, my besties, my boyfriend, my family.  I believe that laughter can keep us young and healthy, and I’m fortunate enough to spend most of my days with people who like to laugh.  In fact, my lunch breaks are almost always spent with one of my best friends and we laugh non-stop.  I’ve said to her before “Do you think people see us walking thru Town and are jealous at how much fun we are having?”  I mean, honestly, we are laughing nearly continuously.

Last year we were in a shop during our lunch break and having a bust-a-gut moment and a guy kept staring at us and grinning.  Eventually he approached us and told us he wished he could spend his afternoon with us; that we seemed to be having a very good time.  I thought that was great – especially coming from a complete stranger.

Laughter is infectious.  It’s good for the mind, body, and soul.  Laughter is good for your heart, and it’s good for relieving stress, and for healing a sad or bad mood.  And it’s an excellent way to burn a few extra calories.

I’ve gotten into the habit of laughing at everything (myself included)…it’s so much easier to turn a bad moment into a good one.  I’ve even started laughing out loud at the T.V.  I mean, if it’s funny…why not?

Try not to take things too seriously (if you don’t have to).  Enjoy yourself, enjoy life and it’s moments.  And laugh with the ones you love.

Some benefits of laughing: Laughing is wonderful way to get in a little cardio.  And I think laughter is beautiful and adds to our beauty.  People who laugh a lot are healthier – physically, mentally, and emotionally  Laughter is attractive and infectious (go ahead and brighten someone’s day).  Also:

  • Laughter relaxes the whole body.  A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
  • Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
  • Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
  • Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems
    • Boosts immunity
    • Lowers stress hormones
    • Decreases pain
    • Relaxes your muscles
    • Prevents heart disease

~Fit Bitch

A Workout Recap

I’m gonna brag here for a minute….I have honestly had a great week of workouts!

Monday night I taught my boot camp class.  It was the first class of the new sessions and a few new peeps were present so I wanted to keep it interesting for the regulars and just the right intensity for the newbies.  It was fan-friggin’-tastic!!  We all worked up a great sweat and felt exhilarated when the class was over.

That right there is important to me…I always want to feel exhilarated when my workouts are completed.  I want to feel good and accomplished; not like I’ve just finished a very menial task.

In fact, I had several notes after the class and the following day from a few of the boot camp participants thanking me for a great workout and that they felt great and were happy to be back.

The rest of the week’s workouts were spectacular – Wednesday night I worked out at home and I changed it up a bit – trying a combo of new workouts, Thursday night I hit the gym for a much-needed run, followed by a superb strength workout (by myself and then with my client), then I followed that up with a Zumba class.  I finished the night off with a yoga class and it.felt.so.good!

Last night it was a bit stormy here in Nova Scotia so I came home again and worked out here.  I did one round of one of my boot camp sessions and kicked it in the ass!!  It feels so good to do that kind of craziness!

I’m taking today off because my calf muscles are a little stiff and sore (likely from my run the other night) and I’m heading out for a massage shortly.  I really think I deserve that today.

Thank goodness for rest day!

via Yahoo

via Yahoo

~Fit Bitch

Chocolate Recovery

Yesterday was my first day to myself and to relax in weeks.  I stayed home all day. I avoided the hustle and bustle of sale shoppers and basically vegged out all day on my couch.  Okay, okay, I did do a cardio yoga workout and had a visit from my parents, but aside from that I vegged out on my couch for most of the day.

After a while I got pretty bored – I’m not used to having this much down time – and I ate.  I ate a lot of chocolate.  I mean, not hordes of it but more chocolate than I usually would eat.

ahhh....chocolate heaven

ahhh….chocolate heaven

I inherited my chocoholism from my dad….there are times when I can go weeks or months without a piece, but then there are times when I’m rooting through the cupboards hoping for a stash.

And with Christmas just a few days behind us the chocolate is bountiful.  So today I’ve sworn myself off chocolate.  I have a healthy balanced lunch packed for the work day, a yummy, mouth-watering berry smoothie waiting to be guzzled this morning, and after teaching boot camp class tonight I’ll find something replenishing for a late dinner.

See…I am human and I like to indulge.  It’s fine to indulge.  As long as our indulgences don’t happen every day or all day long.  I’m more than happy to live a little.  It’s going to make me work harder tonight and eat healthier today.

~Fit Bitch

Buti-licious Yoga

Tonight I tried my first Buti Yoga™ session.

I’d seen it advertised just a few days ago and it piqued my interest so I decided to give it a whirl.  And….

….At first I really hated it.  But after a few more minutes I got into it and really enjoyed it.  Like, liked it.  Enough to do it again.  And maybe again and again.

So what is it?

Buti Yoga™, a movement practice that fuses power yoga, tribal dance and plyometrics into a high-intensity workout that transforms the body from the inside out. We train the core using the Spiral Structure technique created by Founder Bizzie Gold that transforms the way the body looks and performs almost instantly.  (http://butiyoga.com/)

Buti Yoga™ via Yahoo

Buti Yoga™
via Yahoo

Buti™ is different from your regular yoga practices.  It’s energizing and it’s cardio-yoga. It incorporates your practice’s poses with some booty-popping, core-engaging cardio and plyo.

After I got over my hatred of stepping outside my yoga comfort zone I really got into this workout.  I could feel my core muscles working (along with the rest of ’em) and by the middle end of the workout my heart rate was up and I was sweating and I was happy with the level of intensity.

I’m looking forward to participating in this again (the sooner, the better!) and I encourage you to try it too – men, don’t be shy!

Have fun!

~Fit Bitch