What’s the best…

As a professional fitness mentor, one of the most popular questions I ever hear is: “What’s the best… (fill in the blank)”. The top of this list includes things like:  What’s the best exercise for abs, legs, cardio, toning, or what’s the best thing to eat for breakfast, snack, lunch, etc. Everyone seems to want to know what’s the best thing they can do for their health.

Although I think it can be a great question, I feel like I’m usually asked from a short-cut mentality. As in, if it’s the best, then I’ll just do that one thing and get all the results I want right?!? Ummmmmm, not so much. Sorry.

In the pursuit of health, I personally don’t think anything can be titled “the best”. There’s definitely a scale of better and worse, but even that will depend on multiple factors. Things like: your goals, your timeframe, where you’re starting from, your age, gender, etc. The thought of claiming anything as the best in a one-size-fits-all approach scares me.

The funny part however, is that so much of the fitness industry is based on this concept. There’s a million Ab-Rollers (see video), ellipticals, suspension systems, DVD workouts, iPhone Apps and specialty fitness classes out there that claim to be the best. I’d easily argue that most, if not all, will be able to get you some pretty sweet results too. However, in the long run it’s not going to remain effective. It’s not going to continue being the best.

One of my usual responses to “the best” question is to give a food example. Let’s say for a moment that brocoli is THE BEST FOOD IN THE WORLD. Even if it were true, do you think you’d do well if that was the only food you ever ate? Not a chance. Your body is more complex than that.

Even though there may not a best exercise or best food, I do still encourage you to aim for one “best” in particular. I encourage you to strive for being in the best shape of your life. As far as we know, we only get one life, and your body is the one thing that will be with you throughout the entire thing. Why not make it awesome?

What are some of the top things you’ve found to help you get success? What’s near “the best” on your lists?

Run, Jane, Run

The Jane Experiment continues…

Oh my Atlanta!

Help!

This week I received my first week of workouts to do from Chad and boy, oh boy did I learn a lot!

When I first read my workouts I immediately emailed Chad: “I don’t run.”

And its actually quite true, I don’t think I’ve gone for a run since track in High School! I’ve been choosing to do other cardio like dance, skipping, walking up hill, or jumping on a trampoline. Anything to avoid running.

For several reasons; I believe it’s hard on my old dance injuries, it’s boring, and I think its really frickin’ hard!

Well Chad, being the encouraging trainer he is, was like “Can you just try it, once?”

Oh fine.

So Wednesday evening I hit the treadmill, because I haven’t figured out a better way to track distance yet. Timing myself and measuring along the way!

The set I had to do might not be that hard for some people, you know for people who climb the Grouse Grind everyday for 30 days or run half marathons and beat their time by 9 minutes.  THOSE people would probably scoff at what little running put me into a tizzy!

I start, timing myself to run 1K. Well, while running my inner monologue goes rampant.

This was kind of along the lines of what my thought process was while running:
Ok, I can do this.
Envision the swimsuit.
Ow. Why Chad Why!
I wish I was doing Shavasana right now…
Breath, breath.
Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.
Ok, doing to die, must slow down.
Why is the time going so slowly, its going to take forever to finish this 1K, ok speed up again.
It’s just a body feeling, its just a feeling.
Run, Jane, run! See Jane run!
Why is this taking so long?

Ahhh, rest…
And then repeat, continue and do it again, and again.

In the rest time I took notes on how my body was feeling. Paying attention and being in tune with my body is something I wish I made more time everyday.

As much as the running was hard, painful, sweaty and made my face turn as red as my hair, there was a strange sense of accomplishment to finishing it as well. As I walked the 4 minutes home from the gym, very slowly, I actually felt kind of jazzed and proud of myself. I almost felt that exhilarating high people try to tell me that they get from running. I’m not sure I’m quite ready to think of marathons, but I would like to run more. Learn about it. Shocking I know. And now that I’ve said that, I suppose I actually have to do it…

It’s inspiring to push through the pain and get to the good feeling part.

The one thing Chad hasn’t implemented yet is an eating plan so for the moment I’m documenting everything I eat, with pictures in Evernote food. I feel like a tourist. But knowing that I have to share these pictures and details with someone does make a slight impression on what I eat…

Thursday I did another workout from Chad. Squats and push-ups and crunches galore!

Lessons learned:
-Take a day off between workouts.
-My hip flexor and my massage ball are now best friends.
-Doing yoga moves in the shower is genius and I need to patent ‘Shower Yoga’ and share it with the world.
-I really like to be comfortable. And not feeling ‘comfortable’ can highly affect my energy, mood, and speed at which I operate. Interesting to notice.

I only managed to do 2/3 of the workouts thus far for this week, scheduling in time to sweat is even part of the obstacle.

But I’m taking each day as it comes, trying to challenge myself but also care for myself. Feel compassion for my body and what it can do. Because scolding it for not being in better shape is like yelling at a 2 year old for not knowing how to drive. And I just realized I’ve been doing that for the better part of my 24 years of life. Not so nice.

I hope it gets to be a little less painful, but just difficult enough to keep me on my toes! In the meantime I will be having lots of hot baths. Bath Yoga… humm the possibilities…

Be inspired!

Xox
Jane

 

The Challenge: a coach’s view

If you haven’t already seen it, last week Jane posted her first article on this blog. It will be a weekly chronicle of her experience of working with me and persuing her fitness goals. We originally got together to discuss an exchange of her helping me with my social media and me helping her with her fitness goals. During the meeting, I challenged her to an idea, if she was willing, to have her share her experience with the world!

From my standpoint of being an ‘Online Fitness Mentor’ it’s really tough at times to explain how my process works to prospective clients. It’s a pretty new concept to most people and one that many haven’t yet experienced. I figure this experiment will give some people the opportunity to experience online coaching vicariously through Jane.

Full disclosure: Yes, Jane is working for me and helping me with social media and reaching out to the world. I found that I just didn’t have time to be consistent with it, and needed to hire someone for help. However, for this challenge, she has been given full freedom to write whatever she wants in her posts. It will not be edited in any way because I want people to see the entire process through her eyes.

Is it going to be tough for her? Definitely. Is she going to want to quit? Most likely. Will she have good days and bad days? Days with huge progress and days with minor set backs? I can guarantee it. Will she also get support through the whole thing? 100%

My job as her coach is to see when she’s struggling and help her through that. Being online, I will help her find her own strength, and not just pull her along for the ride. I’ll try and expand my view of ‘dragging services’ in a later post.

I’m very excited for this process. I’m confident that jane will be able to express an honesty that not everyone can. I know that I’m looking forward to her post each week and really hope you are too!

The ‘Fitness Challenge’ and the challenging of getting to know myself.

I done it. I’ve started, it’s happening. I’m actually about to work on a health/fitness challenge with a Coach? Seriously?

It all started with a Questionnaire….

Well, actually it started with a conversation about Twitter, and it turned into my good friend Chad, of Anthrophysique, explaining to me about his company and his training process. And then we started to chat about me, my issues, and my goals. And it was clear from there: I’m a fascinating mess!

I’m a person who has tried many ways, methods or styles of working out, several fad diets and who loves a good juice cleanse. So it’s quite natural that my relationship with my body and food is rather convoluted.

I began explaining to Chad that I wanted to feel healthy, be loving towards my body, and be kind in the way I treated it. I would also like to be less concerned about what I ‘perceive’ people think of me. And to know, understand, and embrace my body.

So much of ‘me’ seems wrapped up in “If I lost 10lbs I’d be happy!” “If only I was that thin!” or “if that skirt just fit, everything would work out!”

Logically I know this isn’t true, but I still FEEL it sometimes.

Chad suggested I work with him, as client and a bit of ‘test subject’ I would measure, track results, be open to feedback and share my vulnerability to the world via guest blogging.

First thought: Sounds fun! 2nd thoughts: How much vulnerability? When you say measure you mean like just looking in the mirror every now and then, right? 

Wrong! Hard core, detailed measurement. Apparently this is how you can see growth and change or something… blah. 

So in order to see where I am, and therefore build where I want to go, I had to take pictures… in a swim suit! Something I pretty much avoid unless I’ve been on a 10 day liquid diet and then, only in flattering light. So my brain went: AHHHHHH! 

Then came the measurements; just some things I totally prefer not to look at, and to ignore, most of the time. Way safer and more comfortable right? Gulp. 

Even more ‘stuff’ came up with the Questionnaire…..

I’m mentioning it because honestly it was bloody scary to ask myself some of these questions. (I‘m an expert at ignoring uncomfortable feelings, and pretending to be happy about it, and then eating.) 

Questions such as “Describe the ‘current you’? Umm, kinda freaking out! Umm me? I’m fine! Like not thin as I’d like to be, but ya, fine. I mean I guess it would be nice to be fitter, or something right? …. 

OK Honestly? Slow, groggy, frumpy, nervous about my body and the way I look, flab where I want ab, rolls where I don’t want them, kinda weak-ish, stiff joints. Oh, and I have weird, hateful, and confusing relationships with food.

Now when it gets to questions like “Describe the ‘perfect you” and “How will your life be different?” I’m all over that! Imagining myself in cute bikinis, slinky dresses and maybe even a boudoir photo shoot! I visualize the body I used to have when I was a dancer and didn’t have a love/hate relationship with Ruffles Potato Chips.

I also really want to inspire people to be healthy, and to not feel like they have to hate it. I mean I’d like to learn that, wouldn’t you? But in my head I’m going… is this possible? What if I want to eat Nachos at The Foundation, or Frozen Yogurt? 

I really just want to feel excited about my health, not treat it like it’s a chore.

Motivation also comes up. If you’re like me and you grew up reading Vogue, that is some golden material, or the fact that it’s the middle of June and it is rumoured that we may have a bikini season in Vancouver, eventually.

Or possibly, its warm (ish) out and wearing black to ‘look thin’ is becoming not so fun.

For me it is all of the above; the value of beauty and clothing, enjoying one’s self etc. But also health and my relationship with ME. I’m the one person I’m going to spend my life with, and I want work on loving, and getting to know me.

Which, for those of you know me, know that I already work on a lot, either in Acting class or with books, workshops etc. But at the moment, when I look in the mirror; I still butt heads with myself. I become this judgemental, non-loving person who I don’t want to be.

Compassion for others, I believe, must come from compassion for ones’ self.

I want to learn how to take care of myself with compassion and have a body that I’m proud of: consistently.

I’m sick of Yo-yo ing and as I said to Chad, there has to be a better way!

Then came the goal setting, like baby steps and plans for the next year, 6, 3, and 1 months. It gives you a nice road map to dream of! And also a presence in the back of your mind when you want to veg out with nothing along the lines of a vegetable in sight.

Those little goals are a check in point, a point of accountability. A little hand holding, a little pushing. And that’s exactly what I need, to take the right steps forward.

So, to challenge myself to do what I say I want, I’m going to be sharing my journey with all of you. Asking for your feedback, and bringing in results each week will be my way of being accountable to you and myself. I will also be sharing what is really going on with me as I try to make change; what’s holding me back, or guiding me forward. Because as much as I know I want to lose 20-25lbs, I also want to become friends with myself and my body and there is an emotional journey that I’m embarking on too.

It may be fitness challenge, but it’s a love building challenge too.

I hope you’ll join me, set your own fitness challenges, join the one by Chad on  Evernote, or just laugh while I try to do push ups.

Looking forward to the blood, sweat and tears as I face all my fears!

More to come, every Friday!

Jane
xoxo

2nd Evernote Fitness Challenge

On Monday, Evernote announced our 2nd Fitness Challenge. These challenges are a 30 day effort to focus on a Fitness and or Nutritional Challenge. It is meant to be fairly basic so that the majority of people can participate. The basic details are:

For this challenge, you’ll have the option of choosing one or both of the challenges below:

Get outside for at least 15 minutes per day. You have to spend these 15+ minutes doing something active — smoke breaks and sun bathing at the beach don’t count. You have lots of options: walk, jog, ride your bike, play a pickup game with friends at the park.
Eat only vegetables for carbs. To get that leaner body, you’ll want to reduce your carb calories. For the next 30 days, you’ll cut out processed grains and fruits. Got questions? Find Chad on the Facebook event page, our Lifestyle forum, and on Twitter.

Check out the Evernote Blog for even more fun details and join us in this challenge! Also, join us at the end of the 30 days for our Twitter party. Let everyone know you’ll be participating by tweeting:

I’m participating in the @anthrophysique + @evernotelife Fitness Challenge and Twitter party on Tues, July 24th. Join us! #evernotelife

Working with Physio

I’ve been training people for many years now and I’ve dealt with a lot of injury rehabilitation. Working in partnership with Physiotherapists is common when it comes to injuries and the two together can be very beneficial. I currently have a client in this boat trying to fix an old injury. She is doing her training with me but also seeing a physiotherapist a couple of days a month.

If you’ve ever been in this situation, it’s important to make sure your trainer and physio communicate so they can work together. In a very general sense, trainers will work on the bigger muscles and larger movement patterns while physio’s will work on the smaller muscles and movements. Yes, it’s all in the same body, but if you don’t get the two working together, they can actually cause more harm than good.

Constantly working larger movement patterns without concern for the finner ones can lead to further problems and compensation. Instead of fixing the issue, you end up just working around it or building over it. It’s the short cut way to dealing with injuries and never works out in the end. Communication between the physiotherapist and trainer is the key to a successful recovery.

Working together allows everyone to be on the same page and have the sessions compliment rather than oppose each other. It also allows you to fix the problem and build up new strength at the same time. Bottom line, if you’re in a rehabilitation phase, make sure your trainer is working with your Physio to optimize your success.

I can’t help the extremes

I was having a great meeting with a company the other day and a question came up about how I help certain individuals. They recognized that there was a limitation to online coaching and that it doesn’t provide enough motivation that some people need. Some people need a trainer with them while they work out to really push them to work hard. This is very true, but it leads to what I call a dependancy relationship.

Beyond the relationship that personal training creates with most of it’s clients, there are certain people in this world that I just can’t help. They are the extremes, and they’ll be in any industry. The key is to recognize them, and not waste your efforts on thinking you can help them. Also, the good news is that they usually know for themselves if they are an extreme case. This can actually be a great quality to have, because then you know who you are and who you’re not.

On one end of the fitness spectrum is the fully dedicated. This is the person that gets up at 5 or 6am every day and does something active. They’ll go to a gym, yoga, personal training, crossfit, the pool or a run. It doesn’t really matter what they do, but they’re gonna do something. Even if their workout partner or trainer doesn’t show up, they’ll just do some push ups on a park bench or go for a run. Rain or shine, nothing stops this extremem case!

The other end of the spectrum is the fully content. This is the person that is totally cool with their body, their health, their activity level and the fact that they aren’t interested in doing much about it. They love life, eat what they wan’t, and just don’t like any type of exercise. It just doesn’t make a difference to them one way or another. They may try a class here or there or even hire a trainer, but in the long run, it’s just not something they’re interested in.

The reality is, these people are what they are and they will continue to be that way no matter what. As mentioned above, they may hire a trainer here and there, and in those cases I can help them short-term, but I’m not going to put efforts into chasing them down and showing them ‘the way’. When it comes to the extremes, I just can’t help.

Do you know where you are an extreme? What areas of your life are you 100% rain or shine and what areas are you just not interested?

How do you log results?

Measurement and logging is sometimes a tricky thing with my clients. The first question is always “What do I measure?”. This is followed by others: How do I measure it, How often do I measure, and How do I actually log it?

This last question is what I want to look at today. How do you log your measurements and/or what tools do you use? Some people like spreadsheets and make charts, others have piles and piles of tiny scraps of paper, and some create journals. You can get journals from book stores, creating your own or order custom ones like Sports Journals.

Being an online company, I like to stay digital and paperless as often as possible. I utilize Evernote to share programs with my clients and they can log their results right in the shared note. It keeps everything in one place and can be easily referenced through the search feature.

However, I’m always looking for new tools and options. I wanted to send it out to the world and see what types of tools you use to log your activity and workouts. Are you paper or paperless? Is it computer based on mobile based? What is the main reason you use what you do? I’d love to hear your feedback so please share in the comments.

Nutritional Inflammation

I read a great article the other day written by a heart surgeon about chronic inflammation in our bodies. Dr. Lundell states that chronic inflammation comes from “the overload of simple, highly processed carbohydrates (sugar, flour and all the products made from them) and the excess consumption of omega-6 vegetable oils like soybean, corn and sunflower that are found in many processed foods.”

It appears that the low fat diet we’ve been pushed all these years is actually harming us rather than helping us.

What I like most in the article is his descriptive terms for visualizing the damage created by inflammatory foods. He writes “Take a moment to visualize rubbing a stiff brush repeatedly over soft skin until it becomes quite red and nearly bleeding and you kept this up several times a day, every day for five years. If you could tolerate this painful brushing, you would have a bleeding, swollen infected area that became worse with each repeated injury.” This is what these foods do inside our body.

I always try and inform my clients that it’s not only the ‘fattening’ effect of food that matters, but that many of the foods we eat are physically damaging to the lining of our digestive track. This leads to inflammation in our body and eventually autoimmune diseases if we continue to consume these damaging foods. However, sometimes we need to hear it from our doctor before we do anything, so here is what Dr. Lundell suggests:

“What you can do is choose whole foods your grandmother served and not those your mom turned to as grocery store aisles filled with manufactured foods. By eliminating inflammatory foods and adding essential nutrients from fresh unprocessed food, you will reverse years of damage in your arteries and throughout your body from consuming the typical American diet.”

What’s your experience with nutritional inflammation? Post thoughts in comments.

 

Fitbit trial update

In my original post about my Fitbit trial I had intended to have an update well before this time. As I often say to my clients, sometimes “life just happens” and a couple weeks turns into a couple months. It seems easy at times to get off track and distracted by other things but real success comes from getting back on track as soon as you can. Here I am!

The good news about 3 months of data is that I have a bigger picture view of my use of the Fitbit. In the first few weeks I started off strong and had the Fitbit with me everywhere I went. It came to work, play and sleep and logged everything along the way. I synced it to the web interface and enjoyed checking the results. I even linked my account with some friends and got to see their progress compared to mine. It peaked a desire to compete with them and made it pretty fun. Other motivation came from the emails announcing my achievements!

However, I did experience a downturn in that motivation. I forgot it in my jeans a couple times, missed some sleep logs and had a couple freak outs thinking I had washed it. Thankfully I didn’t, but missing some of the data allowed me to lose a little interest. That might just be my behaviour, but a couple friends reported similar findings. The initial excitement also wore down for them a little but they still continued to use the Fitbit fairly regularily.

The main downside for me was in relation to my goals. I personally wanted to gain 10 pounds and it seemed like the Fitbit had a challenge figuring that out. When I would update my weight every other day or so, it couldn’t compute how far I was from my goal. It just kept updating my starting weight and leaving 100% to my goal. I’m not sure if that actually de-motivated me or if it was just annoying for me.

The positive towards my goal was that I didn’t want to take too many steps per day. I am a very active person and 10,000+ steps per day is very easy for me to achieve. It’s also what keeps my metabolism high and difficult for me to gain weight. By knowing how far I was going each day, I used that information to be more efficient in my work and actually decrease steps per day. I didn’t just start sitting on the couch all day, I just re-assessed how I move all day. The weight I want to gain is lean muscle mass, not just body weight. If that were the case I could just sit around all day and eat more junk. Sorry, not going to happen!

My overall view is that I actually quite like this little device. It’s size makes it easily portable because you forget it’s with you. (It also creates scares of washing machine deaths though). It logs a good amount of data for activity and the online program also allows you to track food and calories. It can also log your sleep activity which is definitely my favorite feature. For the average person, I think it can be a great tool to keep you aware of your activity and remind you to be ative when you’re not.

I’d love to hear what you’ve experience if you have a Fitbit or similar device. Please post feedback in comments.

Accountability

ac·count·a·bil·i·ty -noun:
1. a willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions
2. the state of being accountable, liable, or answerable.

Over that last few weeks, I’ve been working with my clients to help redefine what we do together. I’ve realized that as a coach I don’t want to just give people workouts and nutrition advice that they follow blindly. I want my clients to have a good understanding of why they want to make positive changes in their lives so that they’ll stick with it.

For my clients the goal is never just to workout. That’s just the means to the end. The goal is some physical state that we desire to be at. We want something, and we’ve potentially tried many times to get it, but for some reason we still don’t have it. That’s why I work with my clients.

What we have come up with is that they are hiring me to help hold them accountable to their goals. The reason we don’t achieve the goals on our own is because when times get tough, sometimes it’s easier to just back down. We may even justify why we didn’t really want it in the first place or that what we’ve done so far is ‘good enough’. By hiring me, I help hold my clients accountable to their goals. You’re not just doing it because I said so, you’re doing it because YOU said so and I’m here to remind you.

My goal is to first be the accountability you need when times are the toughest and you face the most resistance. My second goal to help you develop your own strength and your own accountability so that eventually you won’t need me to support you. Eventually you’ll get to the point where if you say you’re going to do something, you’ll do it. By that time I just hope you still see the value in my expertise and you’ll want me around for my great programs 😉

It’s tough be accountable to yourself and your goals sometimes. I encourage you to find someone who will help you push yourself to the finish line even when it feels so far away. Find someone to help keep you accountable to your goals.

This may seem like an out-of-place picture at first, but this is a father and son crossing the finish line together. The son pulled his hamstring during the race and collapsed to the ground. His father pushed past security guards to go on the track and help his son. He supported him the rest of the race and help him reach his goal of crossing the finish line. You can watch the video here.