This is a guest post from Legacy Life Fitness client, Erica Martin
In terms of practically everything except weight, “gaining” is considered to be a positive event! Someone who’s exclaiming “I’ve gained experience!” is excited to be growing professionally, while someone who has lost their job feels like they’re missing out on that same experience.
Gaining is good. And here’s everything I’ve gained (so far) in 2018:
I gained my love for being a mom. This past February, I gave myself permission to start taking antidepressants. After my son was born in 2013, my bright personality was dimmed by hereditary depression and anxiety which I thought I was capable of managing. Throughout 2017 I felt entirely detached for my family and knew I needed to make a change for all of us to thrive. Seeing a professional and asking for medication allowed me to love being a mom!
I gained a new business. On June 1, I launched my very own web development and illustration business, Pixel Jam Digital. This was a terrifying step to take in my career, especially since I was forming my own LLC, hiring outside professionals, and representing my (very) small business in the Columbia Chamber of Commerce - but I did it!
I gained new friends. Becoming an entrepreneur has opened up new connections and allowed me to form new friendships. From work colleagues to clients, I’ve gotten to know some really cool people!
I gained strength. I thoroughly enjoy lifting heavy weights, but the barbell bench press has continued to be my weakest lift. With Bryce’s help, I was finally able to break my own personal record (PR) and press over 100 pounds!
I gained perspective… and a new car. In mid-September, my son and I were in a car accident, made worse because I was at fault. Sadness developed into embarrassment, which snowballed into shame. It took me one full month to gain perspective on the situation, realizing the situation could have been much worse, and I purchased a new car which, I’ll admit, I like even better than the last!
Oh, and I gained 25 pounds. In the hustle-and-bustle of everything else going on, I temporarily let go of my focused nutrition mindset. While this amount of weight is not ideal for my petite 5’2” frame, I’ll admit it’s helped me gain a better relationship with my body, grow stronger fingernails, thicker hair and get more sleep each night. I may have given in more than I intended, but I’m not giving up on my health or my wellness.
2018 has been a busy year. While most of my gains have been celebrated, they have also contributed their fair share of stress. With the support from my family, friends, medication, exercise, and a positive attitude I have been able to keep moving forward - and that’s what health and wellness should be about.
Here’s to gaining and building our legacies this year!
They’re coming: the holidays!
Touted to be the most wonderful time of the year, yet we often end up dreading the rush and stress it brings. Plus, with all the extra food-related celebrations we attend, it’s no wonder some of us gain an annoying 5-10 pounds by the time the clock strikes midnight on the New Year!
Instead of waiting for the major magazines to publish “5 Healthy Holiday Eating Strategies” for you to read an hour before Thanksgiving dinner, shift your mindset to developing those healthy eating strategies now before the holidays hit!
Now, the go-to here would be eggs and bacon, but there are so many more options available! Try replacing your milky cereal or breakfast bar with veggies and protein, like pan-seared broccoli, spinach, eggs topped with nutritional yeast. Or, egg “muffins” filled with peppers, mushrooms and sprinkled with cheese.
This savory breakfast will likely keep your hunger at bay a little longer. Plus, this ensures you get at least two large servings of veggies - setting you up for success for the rest of the day.
Yes, this one gets repeated a lot, because most of us still don’t drink enough water throughout our day. Plus, cooler weather tricks us into thinking we aren’t thirsty and we end up drinking much less than we need. There are so many overlooked benefits of drinking water regularly we don’t think about. Plus with flu season on the way in, we could all use a boost to our immune systems!
In addition to improving your mood, your skin complexion, your energy levels… drinking more water will help flush out the built-up toxins in your body after events when you opt to drink a little more than you normally would.
It’s so easy to get caught up in thinking about weight loss instead of health gains when trying to improve nutrition and exercise. The number of the scale doesn’t provide the full context of how your body is feeling and operating on a daily basis. Keep moving and following your body’s natural queues of what makes you feel good, versus what slows you down or causes aches. While it’s easier said than done, try focusing on the way you’re feeling rather than your weight.
Focus on positive thoughts and enjoying the journey. Be kind to yourself and try not to beat yourself up. We all have bad days and setbacks but don’t let one bad day or even one overindulgence derail your whole mentality and game plan.
When it comes to the celebration itself, enjoy! Take a bite (or two, or five) of your grandmother’s apple pie because you know how hard she worked to make the crust from scratch. Eat your child’s homemade holiday cookies - baked with a lot of love of course - so you can witness the gigantic smile on their face guilt-free. It doesn’t need to be an all-or-nothing affair; you can enjoy the foods you want to in celebration with your friends and family without overindulging.
Take it one step, one holiday at a time!
It’s the end of your planned strength routine, the blood is pumping and your muscles are toast, but you’re going to crank out one more movement before calling it quits. You pick up a pair of dumbbells, pleasantly surprised at how you feel holding them, set your shoulders back and start alternating curls. “10… 11… 12! Phew!” You feel proud of yourself for cranking out four extra reps this week compared to last week then peek in the mirror to see a tidbit of bicep popping. Except you also notice how the person next to you is curling twice as much weight. Instead of continuing to feel elated about your strong arms, you’re disappointed they’re not as strong as your peer two benches over.
Almost everyone gets into this comparison trap and shifts their focus towards what they have yet to accomplish, instead of the successful progress they’ve made so far. You’re not alone in this feeling of frustration.
Everyone (and yes, everyone) goes through a rough patch from time to time. Maybe you’re trying to make a fitness comeback after experiencing an injury, illness or other setback.
Even that certain fitness influencer on Instagram you follow daily, or the front-row superstar in your favorite class at the gym, who always appear to be on top of their game… Well, they aren’t. Online fitness and business coach Neghar Fonooni wrote an article dedicated to what it meant trying to get Photo Shoot Ready, and how she, “dieted hardcore in preparation, often times going to bed hungry and avoiding all social interaction” to maintain that physique. Now she can look back at those same images and think, “during that time, my body looked like this completely as a result of my lifestyle—strict training, strict dieting, and lots of energy spent on my body.”
Insider also published an article on The Dark Side of Instagram: When fitness culture goes wrong to highlight the negative effects seemingly harmless posts can have on our own self worth. The popularity of “fitspiration” on social media (#fitspo) may have good intentions, but can increase a person’s dissatisfaction in how they perceive themself. A 2017 study, The Impact of Different Forms of #fitspiration Imagery on Body Image, Mood, and Self-Objectification among Young Women, found “body satisfaction decreased and negative mood increased over time following exposure to the fitspiration images..”
The media you consume does not measure your value. Neither does your relationship with gravity, nor the weight of your dumbbells.
Being able to appreciate your what your body can do takes time and practice. Know that you will feel better about yourself on some days compared to others, and that this mindset will still shift from time-to-time. Just like any other goal, appreciation is something you can continuously work towards and improve upon.
Easier said than done, right?! Here are a few tips to help you develop the self-esteem, confidence and body positivity to show more appreciation for what you’re already capable of:
Loving your body all the time can be exhausting, just like it’s exhausting to hate your body. You may fall on either side of the spectrum on any given day, but giving yourself permission to accept your limitations and embrace your capabilities can be truly freeing. You may never be the next great social media fitness star, but you are an empowered and capable individual who can and will achieve great things for yourself. Embrace the fact you are trying, being consistent, and working towards your goals - not anyone chasing someone else’s dream.
Image credit: Hotpants Quotes! post pertaining to body acceptance and inspiration.
There was a recent question posted in a fitness-focused Facebook Group, “Momma guilt squad.... am I a terrible mother if I leave my kiddo an extra hour at daycare so I can workout? Or do you mommas have any advice for how you get it done?”
How do you think this community replied? With kindness and support. One mom simply stated, “Not a bad mom AT ALL. You need to take care of you.” While another shared the same compassion with the added suggestion, “If you continue feeling guilty though, maybe you can workout from home during nap?”
“Mom guilt” isn’t necessarily a new term, but it’s become an all-too common emotion as millennial moms feel guilty for even having the desire to take time for themselves, while also juggling their family’s needs and career. This guilt can build over time, especially during the early years, and lead to this group of women devaluing their role and their worth. So, let’s be clear:
You are an amazing mother!
Caring for yourself shows appreciation for what your body can do, whether it’s through exercise or slowing down to relax... for once. Your children will learn the importance of self-care through your actions, so it’s important to inspire them, as well as other moms around you, to feel proud of who they are without the mom guilt. If you wouldn’t want them to feel guilty for needing time to themselves, then neither should you.
Here are a few stories from our Legacy Moms who also aspire to be the best “fit mom,” minus the guilt, proving it is possible to feel motivated to get that workout in and still have fun with your kiddos.
I can remember my mom's health struggles through her fad diets (because it was the 80s). Fortunately, I now think of being healthy as eating right and working out. I I love how my sons have come to appreciate health through my dedication to exercise every week, so they understand what’s considered to be a “healthy” lifestyle. Plus, the boys love to feel my muscles after my workouts! Our youngest son hits them as we pretend they're made of steel. - Nancy
For several years I cycled through the feelings of guilt as I chose to go to the gym for some uninterrupted “me time” on Saturday mornings. I started waking up earlier and earlier so it wouldn’t interfere with what I thought should be mandatory family time, until I was waking up at 5 o’clock… on a weekend. Then one Saturday last summer, my gym hosted an open house, so I opted to bring my (at the time) 3-year-old son along, not knowing how he’d respond. Well, he freakin’ loved it! I had wasted a lot of time incorrectly assuming how he would feel, but over the past year it has become a part of our Saturday routine. We wake up at a normal hour, eat breakfast together, go “play” at the gym, then come home to have lunch and refuel our bodies after our hard work! - Erica
Working out makes me a better person and, more importantly, a better mother. Since I’m a single mother helping steer my teenage daughter in the right direction, working out is like therapy for me because it keeps me sane! - Norma
So, here is a special shout-out and, “Happy Mother’s Day!” to everyone who has accepted the role of motherhood in some form or fashion! Hopefully you can look forward to celebrating this day by slowing down to take time for yourself, guilt-free.
Every once in awhile we’re able to successfully find the balance between fitness and life, but it’s also realistic to know things won’t always go as planned. (Okay, maybe like 50/50.) One of the biggest struggles which can derail our good intentions is, well, life. You may have scheduled your workout and planned a full routine at the gym, but then “life happens” and you get stuck at work for an extra 30 minutes, school calls to let you know your child is sick and needs to be picked up ASAP, or you have to run an unanticipated errand - which always takes five times longer than expected.
What do you do?
You could skip your workout all together. No one would fault you for having to rearrange your schedule at the last second. Then you could just go home, sit down and recoup from your busy day... ?
Or, you could shift your mindset from disappointment to opportunity and try one of these three circuit-style workouts. They require very little (or zero!) equipment, minimal space, and can be completed in 20 minutes or less depending on how many rounds you preform!
Each of these circuits was specifically designed to engage multiple muscle groups and get your heart rate pumping for a bigger calorie burn. You could either stick with your own bodyweight for each, or utilize either dumbbells or resistance bands if available. Try completing 8-12 repetitions of each move, proceed directly into the next move without resting until you’ve completed all three movements, then rest for 60-90 seconds between rounds. Start at performing three rounds of whichever circuit you choose, adding on until you’re able to complete five. (Then hit the shower because you’ll definitely get sweaty!)
The most important thing is you try. Try getting something in and don’t skip the workout, even if it’s not the workout you originally wanted to do. Try not to use “life” as an excuse to keep you from following through with your fitness goals.
Most of us struggle with trying to balance family, work and fitness in our daily routines. All-to-often we put our family’s needs above taking care of our own personal health because we feel they deserve it. (Spoiler alert: you do, too!) And at other times, we feel the need to prioritize work and customer relationships because that’s just part of life. This tricky juggling act can make it easy to drop the ball on health and fitness by letting those demands take priority over our personal needs.
Fortunately, it is possible to find the right balance to making your wellness a priority with these three tips!
If I haven’t scheduled something out on my calendar, then it just doesn’t happen. This same concept can be used to schedule your workouts on your calendar - just like any other appointment - and is one of the best ways to make sure you have the time available to get it done. Not only does this strategy keep you from scheduling another event at the same time as your workout, it also reminds you of your upcoming break from the stresses of everyday life.
Put it into action: Try adding your personal workout time on your calendar for one full week and don’t let anything take its place! If you find this proposed schedule does not work for you and your family without having to make sacrifices, then try a different schedule the following week.
So much of how we treat our health and wellness is based on the perception of what self-care looks like. If you find you’re having to force yourself to set time aside to workout, only to trudge through a grueling routine you despise… while glancing at the clock every 30-seconds to see if it’s over yet, then let’s change that mindset. Having a positive attitude towards your health is essential for enjoying what you’re doing, knowing why you’re doing it and sticking with it over the long-term. Do you find an hour of going beast mode and sweating-it-out under heavy weights invigorating? Or would you prefer to attend a yoga class to calm your mind and soothe your soul? The more you view your workouts as something which enhances the overall quality of your life, the more likely you are to stick with it.
Put it into action: Find a workout which makes you feel good about yourself once you’re done, and gives you something to look forward to. And if you haven’t found your ideal workout yet, try something new to get a feel for the movement first! Many gyms offer free or discounted trials before you join as a member which would give you the opportunity to try a class.
Lots of people shy away from making workouts a priority because they don’t feel like they know what they are doing or don’t have a plan. Having a plan ahead of time is important so you won’t waste time thinking about what you should do once you’re at the gym, or feel frustrated and end up not working out - at all. A few solutions to remedy this are to have a simple routine plan in mind to follow, join a group class, or hire a personal trainer to teach and motivate you.
Let’s be realistic and admit sometimes Plan A doesn’t work out. Maybe you arrived at the gym a little later than usual only to find every free weight and weight machine is occupied, your favorite group instructor has a sub, or your personal trainer is sick and had to cancel. It’s OK to move onto your Plan B which will take the guesswork, hesitation and possible avoidance out of your workout!
Put it into action: If you’re using a calendar to schedule your workouts (see Tip #1!) try adding notes about the specific routine you anticipate performing, along with quality substitutes in case you don’t have full access to equipment, or your best gym buddy can’t join you.
Finding that balance takes time and practice, but if you’re having trouble making your health and fitness a priority then start small and try these three tips to help get you started and keep you going. Remember that building a long-term, successful workout routine into your overall lifestyle doesn’t happen overnight, so just take it one day, one choice and one moment at a time!