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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fitness Favorites

I was recently asked what my absolute must-haves are when it comes to working out – what items I can absolutely not live without when it comes to exercising.

WATER

Water

This girl needs to stay hydrated.  I usually go through a couple of bottles of water when I’m at the gym.  I’m constantly guzzling because I’m sweating so much (it’s super hot at my gym) and I’m always trying to quench my thirst and dry mouth.  I try not to drink too much at once to avoid stomach aches, but when I’m at the gym I’m usually there for a while and going all out and water is definitely a game changer.

COOL AIR

Fan

via Daily Mail

I cannot stand being hot when I am exercising.  I find that if I am overheating I am not crushing my workouts and just feel gross.  I tend to run hot when I exercise, so I like to ensure that I am being cooled down efficiently.  So, in addition to replenishing my water intake, I also like to ensure that I can keep cool – either with multiple fans, open windows, or air conditioning.  If I’m at the gym then I usually hog the oscillating fan(s) and also make sure the overhead fans are so (I’m nagging for air conditioning).  If I’m working out at home I usually have the windows open or the AC on (if it’s summertime).  And if I’m teaching a class I take advantage of what’s available (inside = fans or AC / outside = shade and hopefully a slight breeze).

MUSIC

iPod

I 100% need my iPod when I’m working out, especially if I’m running.  The right song can keep me going.  (My song of choice for my run lately has been Anyway You Want It by Journey.)  When I ran my first 10k a few years ago I ran along to Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen on repeat.  It kept my perfect pace.  If I’m strength training I will put on a random play list and let the iPod work its magic.

HAIR GEAR

hair ties

This includes hair ties, headbands, hats, and bobby pins.  I have naturally curly hair and a whole heckuva lot of it and it is constantly in my face.  It is my second biggest peeve when I’m working out – right behind being hot.  I can’t stand little fly-away hairs in my face so I try to make sure I have what’s necessary to keeping my Wookie-do out of my eyes.

FITBIT

FitBit

I totally had buyer’s remorse when I first purchased my FitBit, but now I am addicted to it.  I love being able to track my steps, my distances, and my heart rate when I’m working out.  I picked up the HR Charge specifically to keep track of my heart rate. Since I have a heart condition, I figured it would be interesting to track the pattern and BPM and anything else that would correlate.  I also love the step challenges – within a group or simply on my own.  I am very aware of how active I am throughout each day and honestly make more of an effort to get up and move – especially if I have been sedentary for too long.

APPs

Aaptiv

I’m really not an app-y person when it comes to my exercise routine.  I’m fairly rogue that way.  I’ve downloaded apps in the past and rarely utilized them.  But one great new app I’ve reviewed is Aaptiv.  Aaptiv is an on-demand audio fitness app that combines the guidance of a trainer with the perfect playlist.  If you are considering a fitness app as part of your routine, you should definitely check out Aaptiv.

Aside from proper footwear and a good sports bra, that about does it for my list of workout must-haves.  What are some of your favorites?

~FB

My Saturday Morning Workout

Lately, I have been killing it at the gym and in my classes.  I have been expanding my horizons and trying all sorts of different exercises and techniques and really working on improving my form and overall fitness level.  I have totally upped the ante.

I’m a huge fan and supporter of body-weight exercises.  In fact, it’s what my boot camp classes are based on.  No equipment.  100% body weight.  My family fitness classes are similar, but often we will bring out some equipment to keep the younger participants keen (although, let me just say that the kids are LOVING this program, and if you don’t think your kids would be interested in fitness and exercises, try working out with them!).  In my family fitness classes I have used jump ropes, hula hoops, and a few balls.  And aside from gliders (which are TOTALLY body-weight exercises) that’s the only equipment I’ve ever used in any of my classes.

My gym workouts and my at-home workouts, however, are an entirely different story. I try and utilize as much equipment as I can at the gym – things I can’t use at home, like the rowing machine, the Smith machine (be still my beating heart), heavier weights, even a Bosu ball (for burpees – again, a body-weight exercise).

Until recently, a lot of my home workouts were body-weight based: doing some of my boot camp classes, or videos like any of the Insanity series, P90-X, Jillian Michaels, etc.  But since I got my dream boxing bag for Christmas, I’ve been using that a lot as part of my home exercise, and often incorporating weight-lifting, and running the stairs into the routine.

Today was a gorgeous day in Nova Scotia; it has been sunny and warm and it truly feels like the start of an early spring (we’re gearing up for some snow tomorrow though.  Bummer.), so I took advantage of the sunshine this morning and moved part of my workout outside – coming back inside for other parts of the workout that I wasn’t able to access in the fresh air.

A few years ago I found a bombdiggity weighted jump rope at a local store.  I loved it so much that I went back and bought the remaining ropes.  Seriously.  I have a small stock, just in case.  I also bought one for my boyfriend so that we can both take advantage of the awesomeness.

weighted-jump-rope

For my warm up I brought the rope outside and skipped away.  It was so wonderful to be able to warm up outside.

Oustide jump rope

This was basically me this morning. (via Yahoo)

Once warmed up I moved back inside so that I could do a boxing workout.  I boxed my butt off to some upbeat music, while doing burpees and squats in between.

boxingbag

Just call me Rocky Balboa

I also took advantage of my resistance bands and my newest obsession, my suspension training system.

Squat Row

Resistance bands are really just as good as weights – and certainly more mobile. (via Google)

I did a bunch of variations using the resistance bands – from squat rows to bicep curls to overhead extensions.  I did it all.

I took my suspension training system outside and channeled my inner Candace and inner Norman and performed different variations of exercises, such as: mountain climbers, chest press and fly, to the full body row (below), planks with a leg extension.

Suspension Candace

Candace Cameron Bure (and Kira Stokes) via Instragram

Norman Reedus Suspension

Norman Reedus via Men’s Fitness

I did circuits of all of these exercises, moving from inside to outside and enjoying every bit of it.

You don’t need a lot of money or a gym membership or even a lot of equipment to get in shape.  If you’re not into body-weight training – or want to move outside that realm for some of your workouts, invest in a few small pieces of fitness gear: resistance bands usually run between $10 and $30, smaller weights can be purchased fairly cheap at places like Canadian Tire and Walmart, weighted jump ropes can be picked up pretty much anywhere, including some discount and dollar stores.  Suspension Training Systems can be pricey.  Mine was an investment that I decided to go ahead with since I can use it personally and for my clients and, well, because #obsessed.  My boxing bag was a Christmas gift and something I’ve been wanting for many years.  It too was an investment (gifted to me), but you don’t necessarily need a boxing bag to enjoy a boxing workout.  There’s nothing wrong with shadow boxing or cardio boxing <- those will definitely get your heart pumping.

And all of the above (minus an actual boxing bag) are mobile items.  So you can move your workouts outside, or pack your gear when you’re vacationing, or even take with you to a friend’s house so that you can exercise together.

The ultimate goal would be to take advantage of both body-weight training and inexpensive workout gear.

~FB

Safe Running

I just returned from a spectacular vacation in Florida with my family.  We had beautiful weather, days full of activities (hello Disney!), and tons (and tons and tons) walking/hiking.  In fact, we walked, on average, about 15 kilometers each day.  My FitBit loved it.

In addition to all the walking and activities, I, of course, had to venture out for a few runs.

My first trip running while in Florida happened around 9 pm.  We’d returned to our hotel from a very long day but I felt like I needed something more.  Plus, it was just so gorgeous that I couldn’t wait to slip on my sneakers and get trekking.

I left my hotel room and headed out on a paved trail around the lake adjacent our resort property.  A few minutes into my run I realized I may be a bit insane (or paranoid).  Here I was in a different country, in the evening, by myself, on a path surrounded by trees and a lake (with signs warning to watch out for alligators and snakes, mind you).  I swiftly turned myself around and headed right back to the resort.

Instead of putting myself at risk of danger, injury, psychopaths, or death by alligator, I decided to stay right on the resort, making my way up the stairs to the top floor of each hotel, running around that floor, back down the stairs to the next floor, and continuing  that cycle until I was finished the bottom floor.  Then I would move on to the next hotel.  It turned out to be a really great run/workout!  And there were security cameras and people everywhere – including kids (it was a family resort), so I felt safe the entire time.  I don’t know if I would do the same thing at other hotels, perhaps if the atmosphere was the same.

Anyway, when I returned the other day from this vacation and saw that November is National Running Safety Month AND that the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series recently made a stop in Las Vegas, I figured it perfectly coincided with my vacation runs.  In addition, Vegas.com will be posting tips on their site on how runners can stay safe while running in Vegas (and, pretty much anywhere you happen to be).

With all that being said, here are my tips for safe running while in Vegas (or just on vacation):

las-vegas

visit Vegas.com  🙂

Tip #1 – ANNOUNCE YOUR RUN

Okay, so you don’t have to hop onto the loud speaker or anything, but ALWAYS let someone know where you’re going.  Even if you’re traveling alone be certain to tell someone what you’re up to.  You can advise the hotel staff that you’re heading out  for a run on your own and your ETA will be 45 minutes.  Or you can phone or Facebook a friend/family member advising that you’re at whatever hotel, heading out for a run at whatever time, expecting to be however long, and you will touch base upon your return.  (I actually do this all the time when I’m heading out for a run by myself – either from work or from home, or from wherever.  Even if I’m taking my phone, I still let people know I’m heading out.)

Tip #2 – RUN WITH A BUDDY

Obviously, running with a friend or in a group would be ideal when it comes to safety, especially when you’re away from home (like in Vegas, baby!), but that’s not always an option.  As noted above, some people travel alone….and then sometimes you’re traveling with people who have no desire to run with you (been there!).  But, if you are fortunate enough to be on vacation with someone else – who happens to also run – definitely take advantage of it and get out for a buddy/group run.  There is safety in numbers.

Tip #3 – TAKE YOUR PHONE

Cell phones are a basic staple for most people these days, so bringing yours on your run isn’t a bad idea.  Not only can you listen to your playlist while your feet are hitting the pavement, you can “check in” to places when you pass by them.  I’ll be completely honest – I’ve never checked in anywhere and am not completely sure how it works, but it’s worth looking into if you’re venturing out on your own.  This will leave a trail of breadcrumbs on social media of where you’ve been.

Tip #4 – MAP OUT A ROUTE

map-my-run

Usually for narcissists….this time for safety. 😉

Normally, I’m not a fan of mapping out a route.  Maybe it’s because most of the people I know who map out a route simply do it so they can post it to social media and wait for accolades.  It drives me nuts!  Fitness should be for you – NOT for how much applause you can get from posting about it.  But, in this case, when it’s for safety purposes then it wouldn’t be a bad idea to map out a route for your run when you’re out of town (and, I mean, if you’re taking your phone anyway….).  Especially, if you’re heading down the Vegas strip.  I still wouldn’t venture down any blind alleys or anything, but if you’re making your route public to those back home then you should be able to relax a teensy bit more when you’re heading out.  It’s still not a bad idea to touch base when you’re safely back in your hotel room.

Tip #5 – STAY HYDRATED

hydrated

We think of this one as a no-brainer – water is important.  I usually drink several liters a day.  But, let me tell you that while I was in Florida, I did not drink as much water as I normally do, or what’s required.  I was a little dehydrated on this trip.  It happens.  We’re out of town, we get busy, we’re having fun…the idea of drinking more water often leaves us.  Therefore, we have to become more aware and alert of how much water we’re drinking, especially if we’re going to be running in the Vegas heat.

Tip #6 -UTILIZE THE FITNESS ROOM

hotel-fitness-room

I love a good hotel fitness room!

I almost always check out the fitness room in any hotel I stay in.  Working out is important to me and my fitness routine and health need not suffer just because I’m away from home or on vacation.  Especially when I’m training for races, I do not want to get out of my running routine.  And, to be perfectly honest, I don’t always want to hit the streets for my runs. That’s when the hotel fitness room can be a game changer.  Jumping on the treadmill and hitting the incline can often be the way to go. Get it over with and move on to the fun stuff.  Aside from running, there are other ways to stay fit and in training mode in the fitness room (strength training, stability training, other cardio machines).  Step out of place and change it up once or twice.  In addition to the fitness room, you can make up a program (or YouTube one) in the privacy of your hotel room – or,  you can do like I did in Florida and race around the floors of the hotel.  Of course, when I did it I was going around the outside perimeter of the resort blocks, but, if you’re quiet enough you might be able to get away with running in the halls of your hotel.  Look into some awesome Vegas hotel deals here!

Tip #7 -STAY ALERT

We often let our guard down, especially if we’re relaxed, or exercising, or having fun or on vacation – especially in a place like Las Vegas – so we have to work harder at being alert.  It’s the same as with what I mentioned about staying hydrated….we simply forget or become so consumed with what we’re doing that we don’t think about it.  So, for your safety, think about it….THINK ABOUT YOUR SAFETY!  Stay alert, check your surroundings, be safe.

~Fit Bitch

Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

I finished my CanFitPro certification course this past weekend.  Whoo hoo!  It was an overwhelming couple of weeks with tons and tons of information to take in (bioenergetics, biomechanics, etc.) and I have tons and tons of studying and prepping to do before I complete my exams.  Thankfully I have about 5 weeks before the written exam and then from there I have to schedule the practical.  Fortunately, I had a friend who’s taken the course and is already training (she’s the person responsible for me going for this!) so I’m able to shadow with her and ask questions.  And my gym and class buddy has “volunteered” to be my guinea pig so I’m able to work with her the way I would work with a true life client.  And it’s helping.

This past weekend, during the course, we spent a good amount of time in the gym and getting to know new equipment.   I’ve always been intimidated by some of the equipment in my gym but since I got back from the course I’ve been broadening my horizons and it’s empowering.

One of the big attractions in the course gym, that all the guys and gals were going gaga for, was the Smith Machine.  And guess what?  We have one of those at my gym!  I was so excited to brag about this piece of equipment and get back to my gym to really work with it (I’d tried it once or twice before; it’s still very new to my gym) and I love it.  I’ve been increasing my weights over the last year but this machine I think will really help me build my upper body strength – especially since I’m still dealing with this stupid back injury, this machine should be great in keeping me from preventing more injury (let’s all knock on wood just in case).

If you’re not familiar with the Smith Machine you can check out the Wikipedia page here and the photo below.

Smith Machine

Smith Machine

The really great thing about the Smith Machine is that it has these little jagged teeth where you can sit or rest the weights on AND where you can lock the safety on each side so if you’re doing lifts and lose your balance the weights will only fall to the safety.  Or, if you drop the bar completely, it falls right into the next set of teeth.  I am really looking forward to getting more use out of this piece of equipment.

I’ve also started using other pieces more and plan to continue with them.  If you are like me and don’t feel great outside out of your comfort zone, try taking tiny steps and take full advantage of new equipment (or equipment new to you).  It’ll be worth it in the end.

Cheers.