Wednesday, March 30, 2016

So Much More Than Beauty

I dearly wish I had grown up this way:
The things is, in terms of importance, being physically attractive lagged WAY behind being funny, smart, hard-working, brave, creative, and about a thousand other qualities in my book. I actually regarded “beautiful” as a pretty lousy compliment, almost a back-handed insult. It seemed to me that you would only compliment someone’s appearance if they didn’t have many inner riches, and my mother was clearly bursting at the seams with inner riches. I could have complimented my mom all day, and “beautiful” never would have come up. There were simply too many other, more important, things to compliment.

This entire post is an incredible tribute to a mother who raised her daughter to believe beauty was unimportant.

Please read it, especially if you are a parent, most especially if you have a daughter. Teach her that everything else about HER is much more vital than her outer shell.

Monday, March 28, 2016

How to Love Your Big Legs (or Booty, or Stomach, or Whatever)

I have always had people become extremely uncomfortable with the size of my legs and derriere.  This led to me having somewhat of a complex about them. I would dream of having smaller legs that people would stop looking at. I’d look in the mirror and cry that they were so B I G!
Sound familiar? Read how my girl Holea got over that nonsense.

I'm on the same path. Not there yet, not every day, but I'm certain it's the rightest path.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Celebrity =/= Expert

This is an open letter which slams Tracy Anderson to the floor.

But please, read it and hold in your mind any other celebrity fitness trainer you pay attention to. They might have a similar letter coming their way.

Money makes people say stupid, stupid shit.

Fame makes the rest of us believe it.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Habit Support

This post discusses a key thing to keep in mind when setting yourself up for habit success, particularly with new habits:

Once you hear it, the idea sounds ridiculously simple. It's a matter of accepting that your motivation will occasionally plummet, and that that's okay. If you can predict the obstacles you'll face during those times, you can help your future lazy self to be healthier and more successful.

How To Stick With Good Habits

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Sleep: My Preciousssss

Whole9 lists Nutrition as the most important factor to health, and Sleep as second.

As a sensitive person who has documented this shit out of the effects of both of these, I can tell you they are 100% correct.

Sleep has become my number one priority over work, friends, family, my financials, running, TV, even my beloved lifting.

Without enough quality sleep, I fall apart, and QUICKLY. It first leads to impatience & crankiness & guilt for being that way. It then leads to poor workout performance in addition to under-recovering from workouts, which leads to injury. Allathat leads right down the narrow dark alley to depression.

Now, you might not be a Sensitive Sally like I am, quick to feel all of these effects. You might think your 6-7, occasionally 8 hours is more than enough; you're getting shit done, even if some days you're crazy tired and inhaling caffeine like it's the elixir of life.

But here's the question: do you want to get by, or do you want to feel #totesamazing?

Why not see if you can get to the latter - what have you got to lose, besides perhaps some reality TV time?

From someone who knows, consider this: if you were to make a commitment to spending 4 weeks optimizing your sleep, I truly predict you will start to feel like Superhero Sally.

Set yourself up for true success by following the few specific, simple tips in each of these posts (these are like a 10-minute read, just do it): 

Try it, and tell me about it in a month. 

I look forward to seeing your new cape.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Empathy: Double-Edged Sword

This article is about parenting, but as a highly empathic person, this rings true for all areas of life.

As their children’s depressive symptoms increased, so did empathetic parents’ inflammatory markers. The findings were consistent with previous research showing that caregivers of people with chronic illness develop chronic inflammation and elevated stress hormones over time.
Why is this? Empathy requires us to push our own feelings aside to focus on someone else’s, an effort linked to increased stress and higher inflammation. Empathetic parents may also be more willing to sacrifice their own health for their children’s sake, forgoing things like sleep, exercise, and other activities that could mitigate the stress of caregiving.

It's a nice reminder to attend to your own health first.

Monday, March 14, 2016

More Talk on Comparisons

Some may be able to successfully use comparisons to motivate, incentivize, create some ass-kicking achievements.

Some may not:

And sometimes you may be in one camp, sometimes in the other.

The key is to recognize your mindset at this moment, and go forth intelligently.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Let's Bulk. Or Not. Whatever.

Lifting heavy weights may or may not make you bulky; as in almost all things, it depends entirely on your body type.

Regardless of your body's propensity, I hope that reading this article is likely to make you want to lift weights for the sheer awesomeness of it:

I can tell you that I used to look at a friend's defined, larger arms and think they were unfeminine...but once I started lifting, I began to be jealous of her arms.

I can now celebrate my own big arms, my wide lats, my ski-jump traps.

Yet despite such celebration, I actually don't give a rat's ass whether my muscles are big or small - because the size is simply a visual representation of my strength, which is my most precious possession.

I care primarily that my muscles are strong, and they can look however my genes will make them look.

That freedom from appearance-driven results has been a paradigm shift for women who have discovered heavy lifting may or may not lead to bulk muscles, but definitely leads to confidence, pride, strength, and health.

Join us!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Seek Health, Receive Broken Bone

One woman's search for health results in an eating disorder, an exercise disorder, and a broken leg.

My fellow overachievers and perfectionists, this is our future if we don't get perspective:

We must exercise with intelligence, we must eat enough to fuel our lives, and we must put leanness in a lower category than our long-term health.


Zero arguments allowed.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Resilience: The Game-Changer

This is something I know to be true: I am not resilient. I do not bounce back. I do not brush things off. I do not move on quickly.

I've always wished I could, because my way is fairly miserable.

This post tells me that maybe we can learn resilience.
Human beings are capable of worry and rumination: we can take a minor thing, blow it up in our heads, run through it over and over, and drive ourselves crazy until we feel like that minor thing is the biggest thing that ever happened. In a sense, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Frame adversity as a challenge, and you become more flexible and able to deal with it, move on, learn from it, and grow. Focus on it, frame it as a threat, and a potentially traumatic event becomes an enduring problem; you become more inflexible, and more likely to be negatively affected.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

High Achievers & Exercise: A Dangerous Combo

Stefani drops some knowledge bombs again:

I used to overexercise, big time. Two-a-days were common: a run at lunch, then lifting weights with a friend after work. Maybe even a long marathon training run on Saturday morning, followed by a date in the weight room.

It was fun, and it felt good. I was never at the level of those who talk about 6-hour days of group fitness plus their OWN workout, no, but it was quite a lot.

For a while, it was fine; I felt great, I dropped fat, I was having the time of my LIFE feeling and looking so good.

Until I wasn't.

Slowly I fell backward, until I reached a point where I was constantly tired and incapable of completing my marathon training runs, diagnosably depressed, and stuck in a loooong cycle of restriction & binge-eating.

The above post by Stefani aptly describes the physical mess I made for myself, and it's been a long road to recovery.

Now, during my busy work season (six 10-hour workdays), getting in three sessions of lifting per week is perfectly possible, but anything beyond that feels like effort I can't produce. Sometimes I log a running date with friends & my dogs, but it's only for the social aspect; the run itself is not something I crave.

Yet I often feel like it's not enough, I should be doing more, why can't I squeeze in something on my off days?

Because I can't.

I mean, sure, on paper, in theory, I have room for a workout; just pop down to my own basement and play with a kettlebell or bike for a while or do some yoga...but most days, I have no room in my BRAIN when I finally get home from a draining day, 12 hours after I left.

And I have to tell myself regularly: that's okay.

Once spring arrives, and tax season ends, and my brain calms down again, my running will ramp up without reducing my lifting, and I will be capable of 6 days of [smart] exercise per week. But in the meantime, I'm just plain not, unless I want to smash into a brick wall of exhaustion and depression again. (Spoiler alert: I don't.)

This is what I've had to learn: I am driven to do more, better, farther, heavier, always, at any cost, because I'm an Achiever with a capital A. But despite my brain's desires, my body will usually not be able to pay the cost of those achievements, so I have to scale back to less. But the result of backing off is a capable, resilient body; one that feels good and still lets me do MOST of what I want.

I'm still learning, and my capability changes, sometimes unexpectedly. But one of the key things I've learned is that mental stress changes my capacity dramatically.

Wherever you are on the exercise spectrum, you have mental stress (job, finances, spouse, kids, bad hair days), and that has much the same effect on your body as a hard workout (though without the strengthened muscles, sadly), and you need to take that into account when deciding how much more physical stress to add in the form of exercise.

Sure, many people aren't doing anything at all, but those people probably aren't reading this. You are probably closer to the end of doing too much. Even if you think it doesn't apply: if you feel like what you do isn't enough, really EXAMINE that idea.

Enough for what? For who? We often judge ourselves harshly by comparing to the topmost achievers. But what they're doing is irrelevant.

What are your goals, honestly & truly, right now, during this season of your life?

Regularly beating yourself to a sore pulp feels good, it floods you with endorphins, and it feels like you're really accomplishing something when your muscles ache and your joints creak as you crawl out of bed...but few of us have goals demanding that level of exercise. Harsh workouts are on the opposite end of the spectrum from the goal of lifelong health.

Exercise should be enjoyable and provide you with strength and energy and stress release. If that isn't what it's doing for you, you need to make a change, and it's a lot easier to do it before you are FORCED to do it by a body battling back at you.

Find your capacity for awesome, and then celebrate your achievements with the world. (Hint: "the world" includes you.)