Category: Fitness

The Sweet Spot

When I was younger…in my 20’s (I swear that was just yesterday), I was so obsessive about my fitness that I would be a bear if I didn’t get my minimum number of workouts in per week and it had to be for a minimum amount of time as well. It’s as though I thought my body would puff up in one day if I missed a workout. I struggled hard with body image and weight in childhood & adolescence. It’s amazing how wide that pendulum swing can be. It took several years to settle. Thank you, God, that it did.The journey has been interesting and eye opening, however.

A few years ago I went to see a holistic doctor after struggling with my energy level and being confused by it. After all, health and fitness is my thing…I thought I was doing everything right. My diet was spot on, my exercise was spot on…what the heck? To my surprise, the doctor sat down in the office and started asking me about my life starting back in childhood. I was very impressed by this, given that I was in the midst of earning my masters degree in Health Psychology and really learning how tangled the web is that connects our physical, mental/emotional and spiritual selves. What a concept that a doctor would ask me about my mental/emotional health from childhood on. I had never had a doctor spend time fully listening to me about surface level issues let alone asking me all this stuff. This is when I first learned about Adrenal Fatigue.

Truly the man scared me. He talked about what chronic stress can do to a body and there I was thinking I was not part of that population. I have never smoked, drinking has amounted to one or two glasses of wine a few times a week (hello antioxidants). I never eat fast food. I exercise 5+ days a week. I have awesome friends and a solid network and my faith is integral to me. What’s the problem? What stress? If there’s any there I know how to deal with it…or did I? I was a single mom, working and earning my masters degree at the same time. Sleep was something I did not do much of.

So really, what does all of this mean? Since that appointment I have done a lot of research on Adrenal Fatigue and it has made a lot of sense looking back. I realize this has been something I’ve struggled with for years. Now, I know when I am dipping back into it. In fact, this past year has been the worst ever (you’d think a girl would learn, right?). I had so much transition in my life, a lot of it actually good, but change nonetheless, that my body just decided it had had enough. My energy levels plummeted, my immune system took a nose dive, my sleep suffered horribly…

What do you do when you hit bottom?

You breathe. You pray. You rest. You take care of your body by not overworking it.

This stuff is NOT easy for me! Thankfully I found PiYo a few years back and started teaching. It has been such a Godsend for my body. The strength and balance I get without the hard impact has been amazing. However, I stopped teaching classes at night for now. That was a huge step for me toward simplifying my life. I didn’t like leaving a dinner time and coming back when it was pretty much bedtime 3 times a week. Plus it made it hard for my body to settle down at night. I gave up running for several months to let my body heal as well. Running is such a love of mine, but it can also be so hard on the body. I’m back at it and thankfully it feels good again!

I have been practicing the art of saying “no” as well. Seriously not easy for me! And I say “practicing” because I have a ways to go yet. But, it’s amazing how freeing it feels to protect your little world by saying that. When I say no to something that doesn’t fit my own schedule or goals or that of my family, I am saying yes to the direction I am really trying to go in and I am saying yes to my family. That part feels amazing.

So now, I am enjoying exercise on my own terms rather than having it dictate me and how I feel about myself. I am being more purposeful in decisions I make and making sure they line up with what I want life to look like for my family and myself. I am embracing “no” as something that can can be such a gift. It’s always an adventure, life is. I love that I am operating less on caffeine and autopilot and more from intention. It’s kind of nice.

If you are caught up in the constant going, always busy, saying yes to everything cycle….I encourage you to sit back and breathe. Then pick something today to say no too and say yes to something better.

Becoming You

Tonight was an emotional night for me. It was an end and a beginning all wrapped up in one. 2.5 years ago I started my journey as a fitness instructor. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was in high school and was navigating my body image, my identity and my path in life. I fought with all of these things hard as I struggled with some pretty deep family issues. But that’s when I landed softly in God’s hands and realized, struggle I might…but He’s got me.

Life sure did not turn into a field of flowers after that, nor do I ever expect it too. But, I found purpose. I found purpose in the struggle, I found hope, I found grace, and I started to find my strength and my voice.

It might sound silly that being a fitness instructor is tied up with all of this, but it’s amazing how intensely true it is. Although I dreamed, early in my adulthood, of being an instructor, life took me in many different directions until recently. After I earned my masters in Health Psychology I naturally went for a certification in Health Coaching and also finally decided the time was right to dive in and get certified as a group exercise instructor.

I’ll never forget my first class! OH man was I nervous. It was Turbo Kick. I remember teaching and then at the end turning around and telling the class, “that was my first class EVER!” Um…I’m sure they knew that. HAhaha! Lord. Thank you for grace!

I struggled and learned and grew and stretched and was challenged and I got certified in several other formats in the meantime. PiYo was where things changed though. I fell IN LOVE. I joke all the time that I don’t have the attention span for Yoga. Well, there’s a lot of truth to that! PiYo brought something to me that was different and more me and yet challenged me to do things I hadn’t done before. I always walk away from class feeling STRONG, HEALTHY and just plain AWESOME! There’s no better way to say it. Awesome. From the inside out.

Well, along the way these people were coming and challenging themselves and experiencing these things with me and for themselves. Can I just say it is the COOLEST thing ever to watch someone come in, struggle, feel overwhelmed and COME BACK and do it again because they felt that, as much as it may have been “too much”, it was also some how SO good for them?! Then to watch that person improve and get stronger and then fall in love with it just like I did? Amazing.

Tonight I received a message from Jenny who has been coming to my class for a couple of months. She put into a message my why. It means more to me that someone would share this with me than I can even express. But really…it says it all and what a confirmation that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing as I taught my very last PiYo class at the Y and venture out on my own…

” Hey Jessica, I found you!! I just wanted to share some things as you begin your next journey! As someone who has always struggled with weight, poor food choices, and body image I feel like I found myself in your class with your teaching! You have a true gift of encouragement and make it seem easy that everyone and anyone is able to achieve even the smallest goals and of dream! I want to personally thank you! Having never heard of PiYo before your class I found something that works for me! But honestly the thing that kept me going was when I first heard Oceans and heard that you were a Christian! It is so encouraging to me to be in a class like that and not feel spiritual heaviness and the need to leave! I come into your classes and feel alive! Like I can breath fresh air. But that is because of what you carry! You are so genuine and I have felt very blessed these past 2 months to learn from you! While it is so sad to see you go, it’s so encouraging to see you chasing your dreams! Praying that God meets you in your new adventures and you feel the support you need! Hope this isn’t the end but only the beginning of learning from you! Hope this doesn’t come across as weird but rather encouraging. Thank you for being you and doing all you do! My husband is sick of hearing me talk about Piyo!! Thanks again, Stay blessed, Jenny

*Big sigh* I messaged Jenny back and tried to eloquently tell her just what it meant to me that she shared that…but I’m not sure I could express it exactly. This is why I do what I do. Truly.

That God would give me this awesome thing to do and share with people is an incredible thing to me. That I would come full circle and be able to be on this journey with others is a gift. So. Off I go and I am thrilled, a little scared but beyond excited to see how things unfold. I’ve had affirmation after affirmation that I am doing the right thing. These messages from God just have been continually showering down on me. So much so that it’s almost a tangible feeling. For those of you who have been a part of this chapter…thank you! And for those who will continue on with me…I am so excited for more!

So, what’s the moral of the story? Be you. Find your strength. Challenge yourself. And always know that God’s got you <3 I love you, PiYo Peeps!!

Where Do I Start???

Is this you?? Have you been wanting to lose weight, get in shape, have more energy, be a good example to your kids, just FEEL BETTER, but you don’t know where to start? OR you start and can’t seem to keep going? OR you just feel OVERWHELMED?

Here are 5 simple tips to help get you going!

    One of the biggest issues I notice with people is that they want to wait until circumstances are perfect in order to start getting healthier. “I’ll wait until after the holidays” “I need to get through this busy time” “I need to wait until I have extra money to buy healthy food” “Maybe when…”START NOW! You are either procrastinating and really not willing to change things yet OR you’re over complicating it! Life is never going to present the perfect scenario for this stuff.You just have to want it bad enough.
    If you jump into this trying to start exercising 5 days a week (when you haven’t been like….at all), totally overturning your diet, cutting out all sugar, saying no to alcohol (bye-bye nightly glass of wine), waking up early, drinking only water, blah blah blah… your head spinning yet? This is what I see people do ALL. THE. TIME. And it makes me a little crazy. Maybe a lot crazy.Don’t do it! Pick one or two things and go from there. AND don’t pick monumental things!! Think LESS.
    Think BALANCE.
    Think BABY STEPS.
    Think LIFESTYLE CHANGE (not “diet”…notice that’s a four letter word?? Just sayin’”
    I think most of us get this one, but, we still don’t always build it into our plan very well. Accountability could mean you check in with someone every day, or it could mean you’re actually doing it with someone! The best kind of accountability is when it is a “doing it together” kinda thing. It makes it FUN! You can relate to each other and have a mutual “YOU CAN DO IT!” thing goin’ on.Have you ever noticed that when you are pulling someone else up who is struggling, you get inspired and motivated yourself? Same with teaching. When you teach someone something you have to be a step ahead to be able to show them what you know. So that makes you dig in a little deeper.
    Seriously people. Change is hard. BE PROUD! Make a chart of short and long-term goals AND rewards for those goals! Don’t skip this part! You need to recognize the small and big steps toward progress that you make. And remember, BIG CHANGE OCCURS FROM LOTS OF LITTLE CHANGE.
    lost 5 pounds, buy a new book, get a mini-massge
    exercised all 5 days you said you would, buy a new nail polish
    drank water instead of soda all week, spend the $ you would’ve spent on soda on a fitness
    magazine or clean eating magazine that inspires you
    reached your goal weight, go on a little mini-trip, get a new exercise outfit, new running shoes…Get the idea?? IMPORTANT: Please, please, please do NOT reward yourself with FOOD!! Talk about a slippery slope! Be kind to yourself, take care of yourself. Reward yourself in ways that keep you on your healthy path <3
    This is another biggie! (Maybe they all are…hmmm….) If I take something out of my life, I need to purposefully replace it with something, otherwise I will subconsciously replace it with something that is NOT beneficial.Extreme example, but I had a guy in my office recently who used to be a drug addict and now he binges on soda and crap food. No big surprise there. Junk food and sugar really hit that happy spot in our brains. Like REALLY. No wonder America is the way it is in terms of health. Ok…let me stop before I really get going on that one. ;-)Here’s the GOOD NEWS: exercise also hits that happy spot in our brains! Like REALLY 🙂 I know it sucks a little at first…but you keep your head up, hold onto your accountability peeps, keep inspiration around you all the time and FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT!! One day, you will stop and realize: “I FEEL AMAZING”! Then you’ll be hooked. Trust me. It’s worth it, my friend.

If you are on a journey and trying to change habits in your life I would LOVE to hear from you!!! I want to know if you have tips to share, what’s worked, what hasn’t?

I CONSTANTLY have groups going on and YOU would be welcome to join anytime! Just send me a message and I’ll let you know what’s currently going on and you can team up with us 🙂 Better together is a true thing.

I hope you are all having an amazing weekend and get to take a minute to refuel and recharge <3

Well…it’s 2016! What are you making room for this year?

I’m not a resolution girl. I find that I am continually creating new goals throughout the year. However, I think reflecting is something we all do at the New Year, even if we don’t do so purposely. It just happens. It’s natural, as we close one chapter, to sort of evaluate as we enter into a fresh year. That’s how it feels to me, anyway!

Do you ever step back, though, and realize you’ve been stuck on the same goal, perhaps not just this past year, but year after year after year?

Something that kind of smacked me in the face the other day (in a good way) was the idea that I have fallen in love with certain habits in my life and they aren’t hard anymore. I love them so much they have become second nature. I love identifying myself as a fit healthy person and I LOVE how I feel when I pursue things in my life that are in line with those ideals.

I know this stuff doesn’t happen overnight…trust me! What we can do right now though, is shift our perspectives. Rather than dreading letting go of something or dreading the work we know it will take…let’s focus on what we are gaining, what we are making room for in our lives.

Letting go of crappy food in my life makes room for the energizing, health promoting food that will make me feel GOOD. Letting go of laziness and putting forth even 30 minutes of my time every day to move my body will make room for feeling strong and vibrant. Letting go of time wasters in my life will make room for more purposeful things that will bring me closer to my goals, my dreams… letting go of a relationship that is going in the wrong direction or steering me away from what I value in my life might be hard…but as I pry my little fingers off things like this, I will actually have room for something good, that is in line with where I really want my life to go.

See where I’m going with this? It applies to everything; work, worrying, sleep, comfort zones, etc…

I challenge you, as we start #1 of 365 days in 2016, to get in touch with the feeling you are chasing when you make a goal. Hold onto that feeling and run towards it! Don’t think about the cozy things you leave behind (that aren’t helping you move forward anyway….be real about that), or the pain of any effort you might have to put forth…think about how dang AMAZING you will feel as you get closer to embracing that goal and of all the little amazing things that will happen along the way because you are moving in the right direction!

Happy New Year, my friends! I pray God’s abundant love around you every single second of every single day as you step out in faith this year and go for your dreams!

Christmas “stuff”

Wellllll. There goes Christmas and in a week we will be saying goodbye to 2014. I know we say it all the time…but, really…what happened to the year?!

The holiday season always makes us kind of take inventory of our lives, doesn’t it? This time of year brings joy and pain and struggle and closeness; creates memories as well as brings up hard ones. It’s a chaotic whirlwind that ends up in a pile of wrapping paper and ribbon in an unbelievable short amount of time. So much effort is put into creating this big show…this production that we hope impresses our loved ones, our neighbors, our coworkers. Some of us are really interested in it and some of us just go through the motions. The lights, the movies, the cookies and candy….so much. I really always love Christmas Eve and taking time out to go to church to quiet all of that and refocus on the reason for all the buzz. Today, we went on a hike and I felt like that was part 2 of that “refocusing”.

All of this is such a great metaphor for life. Constantly busy trying to GET more and BE more. We are professionals at being distracted. I mean…we’re good. This afternoon I went and watched the movie, “Wild” based off the book by Cheryl Strayed about her Pacific Crest Trail hike; but really, about her life. Have you seen it? More importantly…did you read it? We can sit here and debate the stupidness of some of her decisions regarding her hike; but I’m more interested in the “about her life” piece.

Here is a lady who physically removed herself from the “chaos of it all” and was able to, thankfully, set herself back on a good path after experiencing heartbreaking loss. She was able to get out there and be alone with her struggle to just stay alive and take care of her physical needs. It cut away all the excess struggles we often times create for ourselves. Granted, it’s sort of fairy-tale land for most of us to even consider “dropping” life for a few months to do something like that. Perhaps we can purpose to create lives that are just a little bit more mindful in the day-to-day stuff, though?

I don’t know. Sometimes I just don’t think I have “that” in me. Being more mindful. What does that look like? Have you ever seen the movie “Eat, Pray, Love”? Remember when she is…wherever she was, at a retreat perhaps…and she was trying to mediate in that room full of people. She was trying so hard and just so awkward about it. It seemed as though 20 minutes had passed with the way her mind raced from thing to thing. Then, she looks up just as the clock ticks over one minute. It had been one WHOLE minute that she had been sitting there “meditating”. Well, I’m that girl. I don’t like to force myself to be still. I don’t like it. I don’t think that’s a bad thing either. What I have discovered about myself is that I get centered and grounded through active things. Running and hiking and just being outside in general do that for me. Really working hard and sweating takes me to a different place physically and my mind and emotions follow suit. Writing is another form of that for me, but a good hard run is my absolute favorite.

So now that we’ve gone down that tangent…we’re going to go down the whole tangent of exercise and fitness in general. I mean, this is a health and fitness blog after all. 🙂 The bottom line when I am working with clients or participants in a class, is that I want to help them get to this “mindful space”. I truly believe that struggle with weight and health in general stems directly from our crazy relationship with distraction. It is a symptom of it. This is one HUGE reason it is so. darn. hard. to lose weight! It really is about changing mindset and lifestyle. FOOD IS OUR DRUG. It is. Watching “Wild” tonight made that realization surface for me once again as I watched her sabotage her life with drugs, sex, bad relationships. We use food and no one can say a darn thing about it…because “everybody’s doin’ it” AND we need food to survive. Dang that’s a hard one.

So to wrap it all up (excuse thebad pun), I challenge you each to think about this whole “mindfulness” thing. What works for you? How can you be more mindful in your life? Is there excess that needs trimming (I’m not taking about pant size…well, that too) that is unnecessary distraction? A worse crime than picking up another cookie, downing another soda and adding to your overflowing calorie allotment for the day, is the heart and mind numbing effect that takes place because of it. Think about that one for a few.

I truly hope you all had a lovely Christmas!

Getting the most out of your exercise! Are you working hard enough to make a difference??

Had this little conversation the other night at the gym with a couple…he LOVES exercise and she…tolerates it. Ha! A lot of people really want the benefits of exercise, but are not interested in things like…sweat. :-O In our little chat sesh, this couple and I were talking about being sore the day after (or two days after) a good workout. Her argument was that people will not want to continue with an exercise program if it makes them sore.

This made me stop and ponder the whole idea.

The truth is that “sore” is just part of the whole deal. I happen to love being sore because it’s a good indication that I worked my booty off (perhaps somewhat literally?!)! For those new to exercise programs, I would suggest easing into it so that the next day reminders as you try to lift yourself out of your chair, aren’t too much of a deterrent. HOWEVER…be careful not to stay in this “safe zone”! If you want real progress…work has got to be done! And, truth be told, you WILL feel it.

This leads me to the graphic about target heart rate above. While I think it’s excellent that people just move more in general, too many people do far too little and get nowhere with results. Knowing your target heart rate and then making sure you hit it and STAY there for at least 30 minutes is a great way to know you are getting your body in a zone that will burn fat and help you lose weight. This used to be a big deal in the exercise world…I remember stopping mid-class and the instructor would have us check our heart rates. I don’t even notice these charts anymore at gyms…do you??

You could do the formula…220 – your age…OR look at the bottom of the graphic, find your age range and then move up to the heart rate range you want to be at. I recommend staying between “moderate” and “hard” to really turn up your furnace and burn fat. For example: since I’m close to 40 *gasp*, my target heart rate should be between 126-144. So…how do we do this?

First of all, you need to allow your heart rate to reach its target before you check it. I always exercise for about 5 minutes to warm up and really get my heart pumping before I ever check my heart rate. When it’s time, I just use my pointer and middle finger to find the pulse on my neck or the inside of my wrist and count for six seconds then just add a zero to get your current heart rate. You will want to keep it there for 30 minutes minimum. This little video will walk you through assessing whether or not you are at your target:

***IMPORTANT*** Everyone’s target heart rate will look different in terms of how hard they have to work to hit it! One person might JUST be starting out and have a lower fitness level, so walking alone without much speed will really spike their heart rate. Someone who is a regular runner will likely not be able to reach their target heart rate even with speed walking. Each person is different and this is one reason why its important to check your heart rate. I should look out at my class while I’m teaching and see people working at all different levels because each person is coming from a different fitness level.

I’ll wrap it up with this:
I heard someone say today that “WORK WORKS”. Yes, it does! When I workout and I’m sore…I know I worked. When I take my heart rate and make sure I am in my target heart rate range…I know I’m working. If you want to see results, do the work. These are just ways to measure your output to ensure you are putting forth the appropriate amount of effort!

Hope you all are having a fabulous week!!

Love and blessings!

The faith conundrum

Well. How to start a post like this… My faith is huge to me…HUGE. It drives my health and fitness. Running or hiking are two of my favorite ways to connect with God. By myself, sometimes with music, sometimes not. Out in the elements, whether that’s heat, snow, rain, wind…I LOVE those times. I crave those times. That’s when my head and heart get clear.

There’s more, though.

One of the biggest messages I “get” from the Christian perspective is that people think focusing on themselves is selfish. I say “get” because it’s something I observe more than something people say out loud. I think focusing on your fitness and nutrition is categorized as vanity. Selfisness.

What’s the truth here? Sure, I agree 110% that one can easily go to an extreme and become shallow and motivated by purely appearance and attention, etc. What I see more often, however, is faith being used as an excuse NOT to seek a healthy lifestyle. We don’t want to be perceived as being focused on worldly things. We fear what people will say about us. Really, what I think we really fear is work! Honestly…this excuse to not be caught up in ourselves is something to hide behind.

Now, take a minute to think of what we are doing when we are ignoring our health. Food can be a very intense drug for some. It can be worse than drugs or alcohol in terms of the grip it can have on our hearts and spirits. We worship it. We love it so much we dream about it, obsess about it, can’t say no to it. It is the centerpiece to most of our gatherings and times of fellowship. We are “fellowshipping” ourselves into an early grave.

Food tends to help us numb out. It becomes a buffer between us and people and us and God. If you don’t see this, try getting together with people and NOT eating. Try fasting and spending some time praying. Give up your evening ice cream and spend some quiet time instead. Woah. That’s boring. What’s the point? The point is…food is a huge distraction.

What I suggest is balance. Balance can be pretty hard to figure out when you’re used to….well…not having balance. Having normal portions and exercising regularly…you would be surprised how much serenity that brings to your life. Having just enough and allowing your soul to breathe…it’s kind of nice. NOT hiding behind desserts, but really connecting with people. Amazing. Feeling strong and healthy and better able to be there for others. Wow. Why would any of this not be a good thing?

I really challenge you to think deeply about your excuses for not taking the steps to create strong and good habits in your health and fitness. Be real about who you want to be, who you think God wants you to be and what that means in terms of your health and fitness. I would LOVE to hear from you and know what it is you came up with….even if you disagree with me!

Remember…YOU are entirely up to YOU!

Love and blessings…

Exercise tips: how to stick with it!

So you’ve decided you’re going to commit to an exercise program. It might be a new running or walking program, a class you’ll be attending, an at home program, etc. You’re feeling pumped up and excited to get going and start feeling healthy and strong. You know this time will be the time you stick with it! Why is it that so many of us know this exact scenario and the same feelings that it drums up…but we are also very familiar with the disappointment that goes with it because we never seem to follow through? Ugh. Well, having been there, but also having experienced what it’s like to really do the whole thing…I have a few tips that have helped me and I hope help you!

  • Schedule it
    Plan out how many days a week you will be working out and then put it on your calendar! This is an appointment that you have with yourself. If you scheduled to meet with a personal trainer, or go to the dentist, or even meet up with a friend for coffee, you’d make sure to be there, right? This needs to hold no less importance. If you put it on your calendar you will see it as having significance and will be more likely to do it.
  • Use the buddy system
    I don’t mean you have to workout with someone…although that’s a great idea! What I mean is find an accountability partner. Whether you and your partner are doing something similar or different…doesn’t matter. Just tell them your plan for the week and then check in with each other as the week goes on.
  • Reward yourself for goals met
    DO NOT USE FOOD for a reward! Ideas: a new book, a new workout top, new running shoes for a big goal met, a mani or pedi, a massage… you should have some smaller things for short term goals and some bigger rewards for those bigger, long term goals that are reached. Celebrate your accomplishments!! It will help you realize how far you’ve come!
  • Write down your goals
    You should have weekly, short term goals and then longer term goals WRITTEN DOWN!! It’s easy to get side tracked and lose momentum when we aren’t specific.
  • Saturate yourself with motivation
    This might be using pinterest, connecting with health & fitness enthusiasts on social media, subscribing to a health and fitness magazine (good short term goal reward right there!), sharing your journey with friends who are also on a health and fitness journey, listen to health and fitness podcasts…the ideas are endless!!

I could go on and on but the main idea here is that you are taking this seriously. The more you keep this commitment at the forefront of your mind and life, the more likely you are to stick with it. And how worth it all the hard work is!!!!!