FAQs

I often get asked questions like “what’s the best work out to lose weight?” “which exercises will give me abs?” “does this or this burn more calories?” “What should I eat to lose weight?” and the list goes on. Now before I elaborate give me a moment to disclaimer myself- I understand wanting to have a healthy body and look good but we all have to agree there’s a point where it’s ridiculous.

· What’s the best work out to lose weight?- the work out you enjoy the most!

o Seriously, if you’re doing a work out you don’t enjoy chances are you probably won’t work as hard or stick to that routine for very long. That being said, there is some benefit to doing work outs that push you out of your comfort zone but over all I firmly believe that you can find a balance of doing what you enjoy and mixing it up with things you may not enjoy. It’s true that sometimes the things you resist the most can be the things you need the most, however, just because you don’t enjoy dancing doesn’t mean you go dance for 6 hours. There’s a difference between not personally enjoying something and not wanting to do something.

· Which exercises will give me abs?- who cares!

o I am still not sure why our society judges fitness based on abs and biceps. Who wrote that rule? Having visible abs doesn’t really have anything to do with your fitness but has more to do with your body fat, and for some people chasing visible abs will more often then not put them in the underweight category (especially for women!). Instead of chasing abs how about we chase health and see what happens.

· Which exercise burns the most calories?- again, who cares!

o Let’s go back to enjoying your fitness life. I personally cannot stand dance classes and the thought of burning X- amount of calories in a dance class will not make me more likely to go shake it. Bottom line, anything you do that is active is good for you. There are a lot more benefits to being active than burning calories, losing weight, or looking good. If you’re working out just to lose weight or burn so many calories you may want to reconsider your motives before you risk burning out. Over all being active reduces risk for a number of illnesses, improves your mood, among other things. Make it about more than just the scale and I think you’ll see dramatic results. Even if it’s just an extra smile it’s worth it!

· What should I eat to lose weight?-

o Ok, so we have the obvious what’s good for you and what isn’t. Obviously carrots are better than candy. But that doesn’t mean that you should go eat 16 pounds of carrots every single day. Give yourself a little leeway, find the difference between a diet and a lifestyle. If you go on a diet chances are once you reach your goal you revert to your old habits, or half way through you get sick of eating 16 tons of carrots and go back to what you were doing before. Neither of those sound pleasant to me, so let’s look at it a different way. Consider it a lifestyle, make changes that are maintainable for life. Doing this will increase your overall health so much more than any diet will. Did I mention it’s more maintainable? Give yourself some wiggle room, you don’t have to be strict on yourself all the time. Studies show that cheat days (allowing yourself that treat here and there) are actually good for you not to mention they keep you sane. I know there’s a lot of things floating around out there and I get a lot of questions asking if this type of diet is good or if this is better. Why do that to yourself? Just because paleo works for one person doesn’t mean it works for everyone. In a nutshell- do what works for you and do whats maintainable!

All in all- find work outs that you enjoy, push yourself out of your comfort zone but in a way you enjoy, know that everyone’s body is different and chasing extreme goals isn’t always healthy, lastly, eat well but eat in a way that is maintainable and enjoyable! Give it a shot, I think you’ll find yourself healthier and happier and if you don’t let me know and we can talk and I’m more than happy to help you figure it out!

five things I learned from being injured

Lately being injured seems to be my favorite pastime. Not to say that I enjoy it by any means but rather that it’s been happening more than I ever thought it would. The hard part is not being able to do what you want when you want and often you don’t realize how much you took for granted being able to do certain work outs or yoga poses or even just being able to walk around the house without pain. Of course I would never say that I want to be injured, however, I am actually grateful for the way my injuries have played out. Lets just say I’m making the best of it and learning from it.

 

Here are five things I learned from being injured:

 

1.Your body isn’t exempt

My first big injury happened three weeks from my first marathon. I had started lifting awhile before that and bumped my knee in the weight room. The next day I had a small bruise on my knee that didn’t seem to hurt much so I went out for my scheduled 10 miles. The day after that I noticed a dull ache in my knee but ignored it ran again anyway (I was young back then). Eventually it got so bad that I could hardly walk up the stairs. Needless to say I didn’t run that marathon.

When I started getting serious about running I started looking at different training guides but ended up tossing them all out the window because ‘easy days’ didn’t need to happen, because my body was somehow different and could defy the laws of human biology. Of course I will now be the first to tell you that everyone’s body is different and you should train in the way that is right for you but when it boils down to the basics remember that your body is not exempt from the basics of life. If you push it will shove back. Only I learned that the hard way.

 

2. Listen to your body- it’s usually right

It doesn’t matter what the person next to you is doing, what the instructor says, what your best friend’s mile times are- if you don’t listen to your body you’ll probably wind up hurt. People like to go by ‘no pain, no gain’ and really that’s just silly. When things are painful that’s usually a sign that you’ve gone to far and need to back off. If you tune into your body and truly listen to what it needs I guarantee you’ll get alot better results and feel alot better than if you push through pain. I used to mentally struggle with modifying or slowing down when I was sore or hurting because I worried what other people would think and for whatever reason thought it made me less or a runner/yogi. I became frustrated when an injury forced me to tone things down or skip a work out because for whatever reason I thought I should just be able to go out all the time no matter what. Turns out it doesn’t work like that and these last years I’ve gotten more out of listening to my body and giving it what it needed than I did from pushing through soreness and pain. Be kind to your body and it will be kind to you.

 

3. Rest is almost more important than your work outs

I can’t stress this enough. Taking time off of any sort of fitness routine is ridiculously hard. Especially when that rest time happens when you feel it shouldn’t. For the longest time I struggled with taking extended periods of time off for injuries. Honestly, I still struggle with this but find peace of mind in knowing that it’s for the best. There’s no sense in pushing your body when it’s not ready to be pushed. Most of the time pushing when your hurt or ridiculously sore will just make matters worse. It’s better to take a day off than be injured for years to come.

 

4. Never judge anyone based on what they can or cannot do

I used to get really hung up on this when I was younger. It wasn’t really so much a competitive thing but more that I somehow thought I was elite and above the standard. Over the years I learned that you can never judge the person next to you simply because you have no idea what they’re feeling, what they’ve been through, or how they got where they are. Or course someone who has only been practicing yoga for a year may not be able to take the same poses as someone who has been practicing for 8 years. It would be really silly to expect a brand new yogi to perfectly chaturanga during their first class. More importantly, just because someone has been practicing for a long time doesn’t mean they need to go all out every practice.  Never judge the person next to you (and never judge yourself) for doing something differently because chances are there’s probably a good reason that they’re modifying or amplifying.

 

5. Never let goals or ability define your worth

I used to think that I had to run a marathon to be a ‘real runner’ and be able to do the most ridiculous poses to be a ‘real yoga teacher’. In the past I used to judge people based on this- and thought that they did the same to me. Having all that taken from me, being forced to modify my practice, shorten my runs, slow my pace- forced me to take a step back and get out of my head. It showed me that running x amount of miles at x pace everyday doesn’t make you a runner. In the same way holding a crazy pose or being able to do this or that in yoga doesn’t make you any better or worse than the person next to you.

I used to get self conscious about modifying my yoga practice in front of people because I had it in my head that I was supposed to be this amazing yoga teacher and worried people wouldn’t respect me if I didn’t go all out every practice. The thing is if people are going to judge you based on whether or not you ran a 5k at a certain pace, completed a marathon without walking, or did a certain pose during your practice, let them judge, because what they think is none of your business and honestly those aren’t the kind of fitness people you want to be hanging out with anyway. Doing this or that doesn’t make you any more or less of a person and it certainly does not define your worth. Do what makes you happy not what makes others think your good at something.

 

As a bonus, being injured has also taught me about what other people go through with injuries and how to help people heal and prevent injuries in their own fitness life. Being injured is never fun and I don’t recommend it, but in the event you do find yourself injured remember there’s alot you can take away from it. When I was on the Cross Country team my coach imparted these words of wisdom, “treat each run like it’s the last you’ll ever have.” Don’t take your health for granted- you’ll only kick yourself for it when you don’t have it. Remember that abilities don’t define worth- only you know what’s going on with your body and it’s up to you to act accordingly and take care of yourself.

Just because the tag says small doesn’t make you small

Lately I’ve been noticing an obsession with people trying to fit into the smallest possible size. Sometimes it’s like trying to watch people stuff sausages into casings- except that they’re people trying to stuff themselves into the wrong size clothing. This seems to be even more of a trending topic after the whole Lululemon fat thigh comment.

But why? Why do we judge our self-worth based on the size the tag declares we are? So, she wears a size small that must mean that she’s fit and skinny right? or how about she wears a large so she must be a blimp! Wrong and wrong again. People are all shaped differently, some people are tall, some people are short, some people have a butt, some people don’t. This all effects what size looks and fits the best. People set thier fitness goals based on size- they think “my goal is a size 00 that way I’ll be small and no one will ever think I’m fat”. Great- but also unreasonable. I know personally, no matter how much weight I could possibly lose my body shape could never fit into close that other people wear- at least not in a healthy way. My bones and muscle just aren’t made that way.

My friends and I often joke that we need to make a line of fitness clothes made for fitness people. Often times clothes that fit our legs and butts look like a subway commercial in the waist area. Having to buy larger sizes to fit the muscle I have on my lower body used to make me feel like I was too large. I always felt I needed to be a size extra small in order to be that tiny perfect fitness person image that I felt I needed to mold myself into. But the truth of the matter is- if a size medium or dare I say large looks better on me than why would I want to squeeze myself into a smaller size that isn’t flattering at all just in hopes that in case someone looks at the tag they think I’m tiny.

Point of the matter: just because the tag says small doesn’t make you small, but just because the tag says large doesn’t make you large either.

Thoughts on mindfulness

mind·ful·ness

noun

  1. the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
  2. a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.

Mindfulness is a powerful thing. Simply being aware of yourself and those around you changes everything on and off your mat. Being aware of how you’re feeling, how your body reacts, your strength and weaknesses, all benefit your practice more than you’d think.

The first definition, ‘the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something’, can be easily applied to yoga and almost any work out. Being aware of yourself is one of the most important aspects. Body awareness is something that is extremely important on your mat. If you aren’t aware of your body injuries can quickly pile up. You shouldn’t have to look in a mirror to know your form is right, you should just be able to feel, to even close your eyes. In another sense, being aware of your body and knowing when to push and when to back off is also another huge way to prevent injury. Many injuries could easily be avoided had people listened to what thier bodies were saying. So what if you have to take an extra child’s pose. No one’s going to kick you out of the yoga studio for listening to your body or for modifying or amplifying a pose. Yoga is not about being perfect. It’s about being in the moment and just listening to your body.

The second definition states, ‘a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.’ While essentially the same this adds a little more depth. Being present in the moment, focusing on what’s important in that moment is again another way to prevent injury and to really tune in with your body. While you’re on your mat just be on your mat. You don’t need to be thinking about homework, what happened last night, making your grocery list, just be on your mat. I promise time won’t go any faster if you keep checking the clock. Your instructor is fully aware of the time and I promise they will end the class on time. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of thoughts and that’s ok. You can acknowledge your thoughts without reacting to them

Take time to be mindful of yourself. To be present in the moment. Take time just to breathe. Be in sync with your body and your practice will do more than just improve.

Bringing balance to your balance

Balance is a huge part of everyday life. From putting your shoes on to things as simple as walking or running. Our balance and equilibrium are what helps us stay up right and know where our relationship with gravity is. Your balance is controlled mainly through your eyes and ears which brings us to an interesting point.

It seems most of the time we balance focusing with our eyes. In any class, from 4th grade P.E. to yesterday’s yoga class you have probably heard someone talk about using your gaze to steady your balance. They usually tell you to find a non-moving point and focus on it. This essentially gives you a visual point of reference to sort of judge if your falling over. The only problem is what if we rely too much on our vision to stay upright?

As we get older our vision and the systems in our ears can deteriorate. This can leave you off balance to say the least. If you’ve only relied on vision for balance and your vision deteriorates, well you get the picture.

Part of yoga is bringing balance back to the body, this includes bringing balance to your balance. If your finding your at a point where balancing postures are no longer a challenge find a way to give yourself a new challenge. There are a million different poses to challenge your balance in, try a variety, give yourself new poses to work on.  Maybe you push yourself to the point where your about to fall out of the pose. Or maybe you change your gaze. Remember closing your eyes or looking up is one of the simplest ways to make a familiar pose more challenging. Whatever it is, keep challenging yourself to keep improving your balance, you never know when it may come in handy.

Yoga Etiquette: walking out

It happens from time to time, a yogi realizes the class is over their head, not the right fit for today, is struggling with some sort of pain or medical issue, or any other reason. Once in awhile your bound to be in the position as teacher or student where someone leaves during class, or maybe, your the one that’s leaving. Lets talk etiquette of walking out of a class.

  • As a teacher: You can’t let this phase you. Remember you don’t know how that person is feeling. They maybe experiencing pain or a number of factors that could put them at risk if they stayed. Very rarely have I heard of a student leaving because they thought the teacher was ‘doing a bad job’, and if that is the case, remember that it’s one person’s opinion and the rest of your students are probably as happy as a clam. Bottom line here, someone is bound to walk our of a class at some point in your career, you can’t let it ruin the rest of your class or even your future classes. If it’s really weighing on you you could maybe even consider talking to the student if you see them again.
  • As another student: Don’t let it ruin your practice. Sometimes other people leaving can disturb out mental state. But, just like meditation, you can acknowledge it and then move on. Don’t dwell on what you think might be wrong with the person or whether or not you think it’s rude. Instead just move on and keep breathing.
  • As the walk out: I understand that there are times where you feel you have to leave a class. Your reasoning might be different than mine, but remember your the only one that knows exactly how your feeling. If for some reason you feel you need to leave do it quietly and respectfully as to not disturb your fellow yogis. If your worried about offending the teacher you could always quietly say a word or two or contact them later. As much as sometimes I end up in my own world on the mat, in the case of leaving, just remember that there are other people in the room as well.

What do you think?

it’s up to you

Saturday morning an old teammate of mine came back from practice in a wheel chair. A single misstep resulting in a fractured foot. I’ve had my own share of injuries over the years but I can’t imagine how devastating it must have been to have such an injury at the start of the season.

This girl has worked hard not only during the last weeks of two-a-day training sessions but was also beyond dedicated to her training this summer. Yet, even after having her season come to a halt after putting so much into her sport I have not seen her cry or complain. Of course the situation isn’t ideal, but it seems she is taking it in stride, which I have found inspiring.

All this got me thinking about attitudes and how you determine how you feel or react. It’s not rocket science by any means, if you choose to be negative about something or course you’re going to be crabby. Same goes for if you choose to make the best of a situation, sure it might not be ideal, but in the end it’s what you make of it. This girl could choose to mope, cry, and over all just be miserable; but she hasn’t. Sometimes it takes alot of courage to take life as it comes. She is an inspiration and I have no doubt that she will come back stronger than ever.

Whether you say you can’t or you can, you’re usually right. You make your path and decide what you make of things, sure you can’t control everything in life, but you control what you make of it. It’s up to you.

Peanut butter oat balls

When I was a kid my mom used to make ‘horse plops’, basically a mess of peanut butter, chocolate, and oatmeal- not so healthy for you. Recently, my friend, Emily, made these peanut butter oat balls that brought me back to my childhood but in a much healthier way.  This quick snack is perfect to satisfy your sweet tooth and is actually pretty healthy. They literally take 5 minutes to make. I might be addicted, check it out and try it out.

Here’s what to do:

Combine

  • 1 1/2 cups oats1/2 cup ground flax or oat bran
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter

Form into balls and store in the fridge. I like to use Peanut butter Co. white or dark chocolate peanut butter for flavor but you can also flavor using coco powder. For more detail on the nutrition check out the link below.

With oat bran: http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=2561766

With ground flax: http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=2559792

How does that make you feel?

‘It’s not about how you look, it’s about how you feel.’ A sentence we’ve heard dozens of times in yoga and fitness classes, but what does it really mean? Some may take it as a body acceptance feel good on the inside versus the outside statement but let’s look at it in a different light.

Say you walked into the woods, would you expect every tree to look the same? Probably not, I mean that’d just be silly right? Would you walk into the woods and demand every tree to look the same? Of course not, how stupid would you look yelling at a pine tree to change its branches to look like a birch tree. So, why would you do the same thing in a yoga class?

Everyone is built unique and differently. On the outside we all resemble roughly the same human shape, yet like trees, we all have our own slightly different build. Sure, birch trees can look the same on the outside but their branches may be placed at different angles or heights, the same thing goes for our bones.

Your flexibility may vary slightly based on your physical activity but when it boils down to it you’re only as flexible as your joints allow. Some people have more space in their joints than others and some people have less. I am one of those freaky people that has a lot of room to bend, does that make me a better yogi than people with less room to bend? Not at all! I may have to bend further to feel good in a pose but as long as a pose feels good don’t think you need to push further than your body allows.

We need to get it out of our heads that to doing yoga ‘right’ means looking like yoga journal. Just because you don’t look the same as the person next to you doesn’t mean you are any better or worse at yoga. By listening to our bodies and respecting their limitations I guarantee that our bodies will be healthier and happier in the long run. There’s a good reason why the majority of yoga studios don’t have mirrors- it’s because it’s not about how you look, it’s about how you feel; and it might sound cheesy but it’s one of the most powerful statements I can think of. Don’t go to yoga to look good, go because it makes you feel good.

The thing about feet.

Most stretching routines focus on the major areas of the body- the legs, arms, maybe the chest and back. But how often do you consciously stretch your feet? Maybe you flex your toes when you take your shoes off but most of the time it seems we neglect actually stretching our feet. Somewhat silly considering we wear shoes almost constantly and the feet are one of the first place you see arthritis.

Few Reasons to Give Your Feet a Quick Stretch:

  • Keeping your feet healthy will help ensure a life time of shock-absorption, springy step, and stability.
  • The majority of westerners have lost control and flexibility in their feet due to constantly wearing shoes which restrict motion and can cause atrophy in your feet. Working on stretch and strength will help restore what is lost leaving you less likely to injure yourself.
  • Stretching will help restore your feet to their natural position. Perhaps you know someone with hammer toe which develops from wearing shoes to tight in the toe. Wearing shoes will eventually cause your feet to shift to new positions. Often this can cause a chain reaction up your body. Some hip problems can come from tightness in your feet.
  • Healthy spacing between the toes can help you avoid foot fungus such as athlete’s foot as well as prevent calluses and other injuries from rubbing.

Ways to stretch

  • Wiggle your toes! Spread them apart. If you can’t do so using foot power use your fingers to spread your toes.
  • Sit back and relax. Kneel on the floor tucking your toes underneath. Hold this for 1-3 minutes finding a deep stretch on the bottom of your foot.
  • Tennis ball. My favorite way to get rid of foot tightness is by gently rolling a tennis ball under the entire foot.
  • Bend your toes back. Either with your hands or against the floor or wall. Bend your toes in all direction releasing any tightness.

There are 26 bones, 33 joints, and hundreds of ligaments and tendons in your feet. If you think about it feet play a huge role in everyday life. Remember walking around barefoot or doing barefoot yoga is a great way to improve and maintain healthy foot function.