Fitness apps – tracking your sleep

This past weekend I had one of the best sleeps I’ve had in a very long time!

I went to bed at 2am and woke up at 10:30 am. Nothing in between, just a solid 8.5 hour sleep with some vivid dreams. It was great and I felt rested.

While laying in bed for a little while longer I did what we all do and played on my phone for a bit. One item of playing was a notification from the S Health application on my phone. I’ve been using it a little bit for tracking water intake, caffeine intake and sometimes take my pulse. A pretty cool app.

About a week or so ago I saw that the app could track sleep so I figured I’d check that out too. You can put in a goal of when you want to go to sleep and when you want to wake up.

During the week my sleep is pretty regular so I put my bedtime as midnight and my wake time as 6:20. So, each day during the week I crushed it. I was getting badges and awards all over the place because I consistently went to bed at that time, give or take and hour, and got up at 6:20 every day.

This time however, was Saturday. I wasn’t working so there was no alarm set. I went to bed later and got up later.

As I said, it was one of the best sleeps I’ve had in a long time. When I entered my data however I got this:

Screenshot_2015-10-24-13-42-20

It was considered a “poor” sleep because I didn’t got to bed nor get up at the times listed in my goal.

Maybe there is a way to have a separate weekend goal but I’ve only been using this feature for a few days and didn’t really dig into all the options.

Either way, I still have the same issue of: how can the app really know how good my sleep is? All week I’ve been reaching awards by the apps standards yet still feeling tired. However, when I sleep well and finally feel good, my sleep gets rated poor.

This is my point for the whole article.

I really appreciate apps and technology and what they’ve been doing for our lives. Just the other week actually I had an incredible experience of Facebook notifying me and my friends our “safety status” because we were in the affected area of hurricane Patricia. However, I still have a hard time getting on board with most apps because of how limited they are.

For something like sleep, and any other health variable as far as I’m concerned, there are many factors that will affect the quality. Basing everything on when you go to sleep and when you get up really doesn’t tell you much. It’s kinda like saying I’m unhealthy because I weigh 200lbs or because my BMI is over 27. One metric can’t give me that conclusion.

When you’re only looking at one small piece, you’ll never understand the whole puzzle.

So Galaxy S Health sleep app, and fitness apps everywhere, thanks for being a fun toy that allows my inner nerd to feel incredibly special while quantifying my life, but I don’t think you’ll ever truly know how well I slept last night. Thanks but no thanks.

~ Chad

Healthy Snacks for Busy Kids (and Parents!!)

 

photo: www.superhealthykids.com

Calling all mamas, papas, aunties, uncles, big brothers and sisters!

School is OFFICIALLY back in session, which means that routines are back into full force and time saving tips are in high demand!! The most loving thing that you can do for your little one (and yourself as a role model) is to properly fuel their growing bodies and brains with high quality nutrition!  Now I know that this is a lot easier said than done, as our little munchkins can be picky little eaters at times and of course time is at a premium. Here are my top picks for kid-taste-bud-tested and adult-time-sensitive-approved:
1. PUMPKIN AND CINNAMON SPICED APPLES:  This snack tastes just like apple pie, without all the added WHOA sugars and WHOA pastry!  Learn more about Go and Whoa Sugars here!
How To: Slice and chop an apple into bite-size pieces, sprinkle with pumpkin spice, and cinnamon to your liking, stir the apples around, option to warm them up in the microwave for 30 seconds or in a pot over medium heat on the stove.
2. CRUNCHY ROASTED CHICKPEAS:  Chickpeas are an excellent source of fibre and protein that will curb sugar cravings and keep your little athletes satisfied until dinner time!  This does require a little prep time and use of the oven.
How To: Check out this awesome recipe!
Roasted Chickpeas

3. PB AND BANANA ROLL-UPS: Bananas are an excellent source of energizing and mood boosting B vitamins, and natural peanut butter provides protein.  Just make sure there are no added sugars or oils in the nut butter.  For a nut free alternative I love pumpkin seed or sunflower seed butter.

How To: Spread peanut or almond butter onto a whole wheat or rice tortilla, place a banana on one end, roll it up, and slice it into bite size pieces!  Option to warm it up to soften the tortilla.

4. FROZEN FRUIT KABOBS:  These are super refreshing after a sweaty dance, tennis, or running activity!  The healthy GO Sugars in fruit replace the energy used up in the activity!  Have the kids make their own after school kabobs the night before or after school!

How To:  Cut your fruit into bite-size pieces (bananas, strawberries, grapes, peaches, and or pineapple), with a wooden skewer arrange them in a fun pattern, place then skewers on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and place in the freezer for at least 2 hours.  Option to drizzle chocolate sauce or yogurt over the skewers for an extra treat!  Store leftovers in a sealed Ziploc for another day! 

photo: www.creativeandhealthyfunfood.com

5. ANTS-ON-A- CEDAR- LOG:  Switch it up from using classic celery by subbing a sweet orange pepper as the ‘log’.

How To: Slice an orange pepper into think strips, spread on some peanut butter, and let the kids place the ants along their own logs! 

6. TOAST WITH AVOCADO AND BOILED EGGS:  If you have more than one child, have them draw faces or their initials or names on ‘their’ hard boiled eggs so there’s no confusion at snack time!

How To: Hard boil your eggs. Toast 1 or 2 pieces of wholegrain toast.  While toast is cooking slice an avocado into thin slices, and cut 1 or 2 boiled eggs into 4 slices.  Layer the avocado and egg on the toast and sprinkle with sea salt.

photo: www.heathersdish.com

7. HUMMUS AND VEGGIES:   Have a big container of chopped up veggies that they can chose their own from!  Challenge them to make a fun design with their veggies!

How To: Chop your veggies as a family in the evening or on Sunday.  Ask your kids to pick their own veggies at the grocery store.  If buying store bought hummus, look out for a lot of added ingredients like oils and ‘flavours’.  Choose one that has 6 ingredients or less. Making your own could be as easy as blending chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, sea salt, and a little water in a food processor.

Happy Snacking!!!

Until next time,

Jen

 

How well can you really know somebody with online coaching?

Online coaching

Last weekend I got to spend a few days in San Diego, California. What was supposed to be just a weekend turned into a 5 day trip. There’s worse things in life right?!? 😀

As a quick weekend trip I didn’t make a lot of plans other than exploring the city. When my trip got extended, the first thing I thought of was: Who do I know in this area that I can visit? One of the first people that popped to mind was my friend Tahirih.
First, a bit of background:
I first met Tahirih about 2 years ago, I was looking for new coaches and we connected about doing online coaching. She started working with me offering Online Yoga Coaching. Now, 2 years ago Online Fitness Coaching was still a pretty new concept and people didn’t really “get it” – online yoga coaching was an even bigger stretch for people to take.
Long story short, Tahirih moved on from online yoga coaching to exciting new things with her nutritional education and career. We stopped working together but remained connected online and through the social medias.
Back to the present:
I called up Tahirih and asked what she was up to for the weekend and if she wanted to hang out. Finally, we were going to meet in person! I’ve had this experience a few times with online coaching clients but this was the first time I’d be meeting one of my non-local online coaches in person.
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Thanks to the interwebs we’ve Skyped a ton and follow each other on Facebook and Instagram so it didn’t exactly feel like a ‘first meeting’. It’s like we had known each other for years… because we have!
I write this because online friendships, relationships and business interactions are so much more common these days and I like that it’s less of a scary thing. When I started to work online, people I had a hard time understanding online coaching and how it could possibly work. I now have a ton of clients and coaches that I’ve never met in person, but I am still able to know about them and their lives like they are dear friends.
Gone (I hope) are the days where people feel you can’t really connect/work with someone online, because in my experience that’s completely un-true. The internet, social media and technology is bringing the world closer together and it’s incredible what we are able to achieve!
~ Chad

I’m too sore to workout, I need a rest day!

too sore to workout

This is one of the most common and one of my favourite self-prescriptions I hear:

“I’m too sore to workout, I need a rest day”

If you workout consistently, soreness is part of your life. And if you workout inconsistently, soreness is inevitable every time you “restart” your training. Even if you sit at a desk all day soreness is likely part of your life too.

So what do you do about it?

Rest day? Ice bath? Salts?

Most people rest. “I’m sore so I need to let my body recover and rest. I belive this mindset stems from a common doctor response: “if it hurts don’t do it”.

But what if that’s not the best option?

When it comes to exercise, typically it’s the opposite that’s true. If your muscles are sore from a workout, most of the time using and challenging those muscles again will help reduce the soreness.

When it comes to lifestyle soreness, like sitting at a desk all day, the same prescription can be true. Exercising, strengthening and stretching the sore areas/muscles will do a lot to reduce the soreness.

However, if the soreness is extreme due to muscle fibre damage, which is often the case in a “first workout back”, then rest and repair is needed otherwise you can create further damage.

When you have soreness and tightness that has built up over time, recovery and/or reversing the soreness also takes time. And in my experience more time than most people want to invest. I’m talking both time in the sense of days, weeks and even months to recover and also time in the sense of amount spent per day working on active recovery.

too sore to workout
Stand desk stretch and worksesh

No matter the reason, you’ve put a lot of time and effort into creating the soreness so you’re going to need to put time and effort into reversing the soreness too. Also, it can often get worse before it gets better. Recovery is usually a marathon, not a sprint. Plan for the long run and experience the benefits.

Next I’ll talk about maintenance!

~ Chad

The Art Of Running By Feel

Running should be simple – you put one foot in front of the other and go for it, then why is it so hard sometimes?

Today I will take you through a decision I made in college that changed the course of my running career – and how you can apply the lesson to your training today!

I was at an impasse, cross country season of my senior year had just finished and I was burnt out – school was killing me, I hadn’t pr’d in two years and I was working as hard as ever. So what did I do? I took my time off like I do every season hoping it would help me reset… it didn’t and I resumed training and resumed going through the motions.

Until one day I just so happened to forget to bring my watch with me to the trail, so I ran without it – and I actually didn’t feel miserable.

Woah! – could it be that simple?

So I kept running without a watch all week – feeling naked- until it was time for my weekly tempo, could I run that by feel too?

Yes, yes I could – I set out on my run taking it easy until I felt loose and went for it. I know what tempo pace should feel like, comfortably hard, but it had never felt that way to me when I was running my prescribed pace. That run felt different, I went ‘comfortably hard’ and didn’t worry about what pace I was hitting. Was it slower than usual? probably but I was enjoying myself more and my workouts had me feeling better than ever.

Throughout track season I was running the best workouts of my life without any of my usual blow-ups, then I went on to pr at every distance on top of finally breaking university records in the 3000m and 1500m.

The usual anxieties of always having a pace to run had left and I was feeling more confident on a daily basis.

Running by feel will take work, I had been running for 9 years when I decided to go for it! For more experienced runners like myself feel free to go for it, but for newbies and those who aren’t familiar with their paces here is a simple workout you can try!

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Step Fartlek

The purpose of the step fartlek is to be able to run at a harder pace while counting your steps instead of time, this is a nice short workout that will show you what you can do without having to constantly look at your watch.

10 on – 10 off – 20 on – 20 off – 30 on – 30 off – 40 on – 40 off – 50 on – 50 off – 60 on – 60 off – 70 on – 70 off – 80 on – 80 off – 90 on – 90 off – 100 on – 100 off – and back down the ladder.

Go out and give running ‘naked’ a try and tell us how it feels – sound off in the comments or tweet us @Anthrophysique

 

Your Mountain is waiting! What’s standing in the way of YOUR motivation?

A few months ago, I was in a downward spiral of self-doubt and felt like I wanted to just give up. I went for a run to try to shake it off, but the grip it had on me was too strong this time. I had a potent case of the “I’m not good enough’s, I’m not smart enough’s, the who do I think I am’s, and the what will they think’s”. Self-doubt and worry have been something that I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember. And at times I still do. I catch myself choosing the safe route for fear of what ‘might’ happen, or assuming that someone else is more deserving, can do it better than me, or that everyone is judging me. I have a habit of shutting down when this happens, but this time I chose to reach out instead.

So on the corner of the street, all sweaty from my run, tears streaming down my face; I called my twin brother Justin. Because I know he can always make me laugh. After I shared my fears, my doubts, and shed a few more tears, I paused and it was his turn to talk.

This is what he said:

 

At first I was impressed…. When did he become so good at rhyming??? And then I realized that he was reciting my favourite childhood poem. I had given this very book to my nephew for his birthday a few months prior. I even read it to him (with tears streaming down my face) the night before I left Toronto to fly home to Vancouver. And now, it came full circle. My brother was reading it to me. As a grown adult.

Something clicked for me that day. Of course, I’ve had my ups and downs since this poem hit me right in the heart. But I KNOW that I AM destined for big things; I’m here for a bigger purpose; and if it’s meant to be, it’s up to ME!

I am far too smart to be the only thing standing in my way – and the same goes for all of YOU reading this. We all have so so so so much love, passion, knowledge, energy, excitement, sass, adventure, courage, and unique gifts to share with the world. Don’t let fear or the excuse of lack of support stand in your way – ask for it, and be willing to receive it.  Yes silencing negative self-talk and limiting beliefs takes time, and definitely a lot of consistency, but the first step is deciding that you’re worth that time. YOU ARE. WE ALL ARE. What ever it is you’re telling yourself that you can’t do or that you don’t deserve. Stop it. Stop it, right now. Don’t deprive the world of your gift, or wait any longer to make that positive change in your life. TAKE THAT FIRST STEP, no matter how small it may seem.  It’s in the right direction.

Because TODAY is YOUR day and YOUR Mountain is waiting!

Do you have something holding you back? Comment below with your NEXT FIRST STEP!

 

Until next time,

Simply Love Yourself, Eat Real Food, and Move Your Body.

Nutrition Coach Jen

Training for an event to help you reach your goals

Mudderella?……Mudderella…..MUDDERELLA!!

Working as a personal trainer for many years, I encouraged individuals to train towards an event. It gave a tangible goal to work towards and one that was achievable.  It gave many people a direction for their training.

Coming off of a 6 week recovery from surgery – which I might add is awful – I needed a new goal…so what did I decided to do? Mudderella!  Having done many different style of events (from running 10k up to 1/2 marathons, adventure challenges, triathalons, cycling events) I felt I needed a new challenge.

I had never done a get-down-and-dirty obstacle course event so I looked into Mudderella.

SOOOOOO, what would training for this type of event look like?

Run lots of hills – EEEEK!

Crawl around in a push-up postition – AAAHH!

downinmud
Photo from shebuyscars.com

Climb over walls – ya okay I could probably manage that

Mudderella-teamwork-660x440
Photo from self.com

PIGGY BACK A FRIEND UPHILL – are you for real?!? This is definitely going to be a challenge!

mudderella
Photo from fitbottomedgirls.com

I decided to do it!

Mudderella Whistler, I will see you on September 26th with my group of 15+ ladies and we will take you down!! We WILL be READY and we WILL take on the mud and finish this race with smiles on our faces!! Follow my journey of training through this blog!

Anyone else want to join us?! Training is just getting started and if we can do it, so can you – drop me an email and let’s get started!!

~ Leslie, Online Fitness Coach

Think barefoot running is just a fad? Results are starting to prove otherwise.

barefoot running

Have you heard of the barefoot running movement?

Perhaps you’ve seen those silly “toe shoes” and laughed at the people wearing them.

They aren’t the most fashionable thing, I’ll admit, but if you wear them fashion is the least of your concerns.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a fan of being barefoot and have quite a few pairs of “barefoot” or “minimalist” shoes. In fact, I’m hardly a fan of socks and if you ask my wife she’ll tell you how many I leave in random places around the house. I’ve never really liked socks and I’ve been using minimalist shoes for about 8 years, ever since I learned about the Vibram Five Fingers.

For me, the reason I value being barefoot so much is because that’s how our body is naturally designed. My usual comment to people asking about it is: “no one is born with shoes on”.

AnthroPhysique is all about creating the body you were born to have. You were born barefoot and hundreds of thousands of years of evolution has created a pretty amazing structure we call a foot. Barefoot running isn’t just a trend, it’s what we’ve done for thousands and thousands of years.

My argument agains shoes is: how can something that was designed a few decades ago compete with thousands of years of evolutionary necessity?

I’m bringing this up now because I recently read an article that peaked my interest: Two year long case study demonstrating an increase in arch height from running in minimalist shoes.

What stood out the most for me were the pictures below. The changes in this person’s feet are incredible and noticeable by anyone, even with an untrained eye. The results are anecdotal and happened over the course of 2 years. From the study:

“To see the true effects of what happens to our foot by removing the external support from a traditional motion control running shoe, it takes time. Years actually. I would like to share an example of a runner who had abandoned her rigid orthotics and motion control ASICS running shoes and began wearing minimalist shoes.”

barefoot running

The client went from having “flat feet, a valgus position of the calcaneus (the heel bone angles inward when observing from behind), and a valgus knee deformity (knock knees). Her symptoms consisted of knee pain as well as frequent lower back pain. She was wearing custom rigid orthotics which were implemented to realign her arch and heel bone.”

They took approximately 3 months to transition the client into barefoot shoes and barefoot running. It then took 2 years training in them to get these results. As the author mentioned, it takes time!

The results, as you can see, are incredible and don’t need much explaining. Overall, the muscles of the foot got stronger which lead to: increasing the heel arch, realigning the foot and realigning the heel bone. This leads to a stronger foundation for the body and likely meant a reduction in their knee and lower back pain.

If these results and images are enough to make you consider the idea of barefoot running, here are a few things to consider:
If fashion is your primary concern, this isn’t for you
TRANSITION into the new shoes over the course of weeks or months otherwise you can expect cramps and injury
Results take time, don’t expect to notice a difference immediately
Bottom line, I don’t believe we’re designed to be wearing shoes. Although there are benefits of protection from the elements, there aren’t many benefits for the structure of your foot. Just ask an engineer about “arch support” and they’ll probably laugh at you.

Have you tried barefoot running? Post thoughts and comments below.

Vibram FiveFingers Lawsuit – where is the fault?

Vibram FiveFingers

Have you heard about Vibram FiveFingers?

They are those funky toes shoes that you may have seen people wearing on the street or at the gym. Unfortunately, they now have a lawsuit out against them.

Vibram FiveFingers
Me and my Vibram FiveFingers circa 2009

The funny part for me is that I had planned to have a post about barefoot running and the “barefoot movement” on this blog yesterday. I wrote it a week ago because it was in my plan of blog posts I wanted to do. Funny enough, as soon as I finished the draft, I found an article about a Lawsuit against the Vibram FiveFinger shoes.

There are now plenty of articles online highlighting the lawsuit settlement and even bashing the shoe makers for “crimes against fashion and humanity”. Check out these articles from FittishNBC News, and Vox.

The good news, in my opinion, is that you can also find some articles taking the other side of the argument. A writer at The Atlantic doesn’t want a refund, and apparently a survey says 70 percent of FiveFingers owners will keep toe shoes despite lawsuit.

I’ll add my opinions and non-scientific evidence about barefoot lifestyles next week. For now I’d like your opinion.

What do you think?

Where do you think the is the fault and who is to blame?

My Evernote Post-it Board

Evernote Post-it board

Last year in September I went to the 3rd annual Evernote conference (EC3). At their conferences they highlight new features, exciting plans for the future of Evernote and new integrations/partnerships. As an Ambassador it’s always a fun event.

One of the highlights for most of the ambassadors this past year was the partnership Evernote made with Post-it Notes. What they had done is come up with a great way to capture your post-it note scribblings into Evernote.

I’m going to make the assumption that you already know about Post-it Notes. You’ve likely used them for ideas, grocery lists, phone messages and all sorts of other memory jogging reasons. We all love them so of course and integration with Evernote makes them even better.

At the conference, Post-it notes gave everyone in attendance a package of coloured post-its as well as a larger format version that’s 12 inches wide!

I personally love this larger format version because it allows me to brainstorm. Instead of just jotting down and idea or something I want to remember, it now serves as a vision board or platform for my brainstorming process. I use a combination of the smaller notes and larger ones to create a large vision board on my office wall.

Evernote Post-it board

Here I have everything from individual ideas that need a home to bigger ideas like personal goals, business plan, service offerings and a high level view of my calendar for monthly marketing.

By having everything on one wall, I can take a few minutes each day to visually review everything I’m working on. It helps keep me focused on projects and sideline ideas that I can work on down the road.

As the image below indicates, I know I’m not the only one who does this. I found this office window on a walk one day.

What do you use for your vision board? Do you have a method of keeping all your task and responsibilities organized?

Evernote Post-it Board1

My So Called Unplugged Sunday

Since the beginning of this year, one of my new years resolutions was to have an Unplugged Sunday. “Unplugged” is the word I originally chose, but I’m not fully satisfied with it. The goal isn’t just about unplugging from technology, as is often understood when using that term, but more about unplugging from work and the hustle/bustle of the week. It’s more about re-connecting with me and my values.

My nutritionist Jennifer Northrup called it Sacred Sunday which I also like but I’m not sure if that fully fits either.

I want to find a better term…

A good friend of mine Bec Spink (@MissB_2), who is also and Evernote Ambassador gave me a link to an interesting article called The Pointlessness of Unplugging.

The article raises some interesting points about “how quickly the digital age turned into the age of technological anxiety, with our beloved devices becoming something to fear, not enjoy”. It talks about how we need to disconnect from our devices to reconnect with the real world. To reconnect with people. Yet, much of the time spent online IS to connect with other people.

I agree with many of the points because I’m not using it to escape some form of anxiety. I don’t feel like a slave to my technology and feel I have pretty good habits with it. Sure, I’m connected at all times, but it doesn’t stress me out.

Again, for me unplugged Sunday was never about a complete disconnect from technology. To be honest, this article was drafted on a Sunday because that’s when I was thinking about what this meant to me.

Here is what this Sunday looked like for me:

Today I slept in, grabbed a coffee then took the dog for a walk with my wife. We came home, made brunch then I spent over 2 hours soaking up the sun on my balcony while catching up on reading articles that caught my attention during the week. I read them in Evernote on my Galaxy Note 3 smartphone. After that I cleaned, did laundry then watched a hockey game on TV. Finally, we went out for dinner before our weekly grocery shop and now I’m writing this article.

Overall, it was definitely NOT unplugged. However, I did make a solid effort to avoid work emails, texts and todo’s. Working from home I tend to be a workaholic and that’s why I want to spend 1 day of the week not working. I spend the one day on me. Sure as the weather gets better I want to spend more of the day outside, but overall I want to spend the day doing things I love to do.

Now the point of this post was to come up with a better term for my day. Maybe something like: No Work Sunday, Personal Sunday, whatever-the-f@¢k-I-want-to-do Sunday or maybe even Selfish Sunday.

What do you think? Do you take a special day for yourself? What do you call it? Comment below.

Motivation – Where do you get it?

Motivation is defined simply as: the reason to act.

Seems pretty basic right? If I have motivation, I have a reason to act. If I’m lacking motivation, I don’t have a reason to act and therefore I don’t.

So how does that play out in real life and the world of fitness?

I’ve been spending more time on Twitter lately and it’s been a very interesting experience. I like doing searches to see what kind of things people are saying about fitness, health, nutrition and motivation.

If you do a search for “need motivation” for example, you’ll see people posting every 10 minutes or less on average. Now, this isn’t fitness only, but it still relates.

If you start doing searches about needing a personal trainer, it seems one of the top reasons anyone wants a personal trainer is because they’re lacking their own motivation and need someone to motivate them.

Some examples:

Motivation 1 Motivation 2 Motivation 3 Motivation 4 Motivation 5

What these are essentially saying is: I don’t have my own reason to act so I want you to give me one.

I see a major problem with this kind of thinking: The motivation is NOT IN YOUR HANDS. In this scenario, the motivation would be in the personal trainers hands. THEY would hold the stick, not you.

If they’re the ones holding the stick and pushing your forward, how are you ever going to build your own motivation? For the rare person, they do build their own motivation, but for most they don’t.

Now this doesn’t mean personal training is bad, that’s not what I’m saying. What I’m trying to express is that if you feel you need motivation, getting someone else to push you isn’t going to work in the long run.

What you need instead is to develop your own motivation.

Yes, it’s that simple!

… In theory.

Ever heard someone say: “that’s easier said than done”? Ya, it fits here too.

Building your own motivation can be hard and can take a while. Some days it will be high, others it will be low. Some weeks will be awesome, some will suck. It’s the nature of learning anything, there’s ups and downs.

So the big question should be: How do I build my own motivation?

I know for sure that there isn’t some magical equation that will work for everyone (sorry), but I think there is a guideline we can follow.

Here are 5 steps to building your own motivation:

  1. Vision – create a strong vision of your goal and where you want to end up. Make a vision board, change your screen saver or post pictures around the house. Having a clear vision of your goal will help inspire you on low motivation days.
  2. Belief – build the belief that you can. Start slow and start small. Small wins over a few weeks does wonders for self confidence and believing you can succeed.
  3. Consistency – following through on your goal is huge. Now this is normally where people feel they need the motivation to do this step, but this step can be how you build motivation. Even on the days you don’t want to, follow through with your plan. (this is where it’s very important to start small)
  4. Reminders – review your vision and goals daily. You’ll need constant reminders to stay focused and not lose sight of what you’re trying to build.
  5. Expect setbacks – failures, road blocks, set backs and struggle are all part of growth. It’s literally impossible to have growth without them. So stop pretending you’ll be perfect and be okay with the fact that you will have setbacks on your journey.

The final thing I’ll say about building motivation is that it’s often best to reach out to others for support. Even the best of us can use a hand here and there.

Support in my mind is someone who will keep you accountable to your own goals. Someone who can support you to build your own motivation, not be the motivation for you.

I hope this gives some insight into motivation, how we perceive it and where I personally think it should come from. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please comment below.

Chad

Yoga is Breathing

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If you can breathe, then yoga is for you. Yes, that does mean absolutely everyone. Avoiding yoga by saying it’s not your thing or you tried it once is like saying that you’ve tried food and it just didn’t work out for you so you’ve decided not to eat. Yoga is merely connecting to your breathe and your body wholeheartedly. Every single day. Every single minute. Every single moment. In a simple seated twist or in a challenging backbend. And, yes, that is not a ‘mere’ feat. And how you get to that place will be different for everyone. The magic of yoga asanas (the physical postures) is that they are designed to take you to this place of connection. To unlock the mystery of what is holding you back. To release the pent up emotions. The ones that are much more subtle then the overt twins of anger and anxiety that can usually be fended off by a good, long run. Emotions like shame, self-doubt, and contempt. No wonder you avoid a yoga practice. It can feel super icky. And it’s not the hurts-so-good burn of lactic acid build-up during a spin class. This is down-and-dirty, how-can-I-ever-look-someone-in-the-eye-again, kind-of hurt. But then you stay with it, you don’t avoid it, you breathe through it, and suddenly you’ve moved into a different pose/place/time and all is effortless. You feel light and powerful and grateful.

0153_130502_SalmonberryYoga is not balancing on one arm while touching your toes to the top of your head. Yoga is not sitting in lotus for hours without moving a muscle. Yoga is not folding your sweaty self in half in a heated room. And, yet, if that is the yoga that works for you, then it is. Yoga is about viciously carving out time for yourself to work on yourself outside of the physical plane. It is the time you take to connect your body, mind, and spirit. The practice you do in order to sit with yourself and your breath in silence without wanting to bolt from the situation. Without wanting your current reality to be different. Yoga works on you energetically, emotionally, and spiritually. If you don’t buy that, it doesn’t mean that yoga is not for you, it only means you haven’t done enough yoga. You haven’t fully surrendered to the possibilities, to the potentiality of really doing yoga. This is a phenomenon that you can feel. It very visibly shows up in your life through the radical as well as the minute changes that occur once you commit to your practice.

I used to run a lot. I still do. Just not as much. Running felt wonderful and cathartic and, for awhile afterwards, I was at peace. But it was never sustainable. Quite easily I would find myself jolted out of the flow and into reactive mode. Practicing more asanas, more often, allowed me to finally sit in mediation and sustain the peace. For days and  even weeks. I’m still working on longer stretches of peaceful bliss and I always will be.

Opening to Curiosity – Yoga

DSC00299My journey into a daily, at-home, yoga practice has been long and varied with fits and starts and shifting focus. But all of it has been progress and a continual building on itself even if it didn’t appear that way at the time. Maybe to someone other than myself, it looks like a bunch of detours and u-turns but I’m just following the light that bubbles up inside of me when I practice – when I sit in meditation, when I kick up into a handstand, when I surrender to a forward bend. Sometimes yoga feels like a struggle both physically and emotionally – but within any struggle there comes that moment of light, that burst of relief from the tension, a softening of the pushing and striving.

Practicing yoga makes you curious. You start to tap into and uncover parts of yourself that you didn’t know were there which then stimulates an interest and yearning to keep exploring and finding things outside yourself that encourage these ‘new’ parts of you. Sometimes you uncover light, sometimes you uncover dark. Either way, if you stay open and curious, it will lead you to miraculous places.

new yoga studioYou can start with any of the eight limbs of yoga or you can start with the most obvious, accessible, and least subtle. The asana or posture practice. This is beginning of being curious. The physical poses make you move your body in ways that are counter to it’s habits and challenge you to hang in there mentally. This physical opening, or energetic release, of the parts of your body – your hips, upper back, hamstrings, shoulders – that are tight or locked down allows something new to rush in. A curiosity about your mind, a curiosity about your dominant emotions, a curiosity about the effect of food on your body and mood, a curiosity about inherent beauty in nature, a curiosity about that neighbor whom you never bothered to speak to, a curiosity about… These peaks of interest lead you to take a painting workshop or stock your pantry with new foods or pick up a different book or talk to the local artist who lives down the block or read old journals or ask your grandmother about her childhood or take that road trip or apply for that job or take that belly dancing class or walk into that meet-up group.

The light will catch your attention anyway it can and by following our curiosity and consistently stimulating our innate knowing leads to a flowering of the heart and the realization that life can be, and, actually, is always, joyful.

Stretching & Mindfulness

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Reclining Hero Pose (Supta Virasana)

Every athlete, exerciser, active person, and couch potato can benefit from stretching and most of us stretch daily whether intentional or not. Oftentimes daily stretching becomes habitual and thoughtless. We may not be getting the maximum benefit from from this important routine if we continually tune-out. I believe incorporating some yogic principles and even yoga asanas (or postures) into your stretching routine will maximize the physical and mental benefits of stretching.

First, start with being more mindful while doing your current stretching routine. Take those standard stretches you do every day and play with doing them in silence (no music) and with your eyes closed. Instead of counting the seconds you are holding the stretch, instead focus on your breath. See how slowly you take an in-breath and an out-breath and then practice equalizing the duration of each in-breath and out-breath (count during this portion, if needed). This often has the effect of taking you out of your mind and more fully into your body which can lead to deepening the stretch.

Second, bring even more mindfulness to your stretching by taking your attention to the parts of your body that are resisting the stretch. For instance, visualize your breath reaching into your hamstrings while you are in a forward bend. Over time you will actually feel a release of tension in the body part in which you are directing your thoughts and breath. You will actually be able to feel your body let you in. Notice which muscle groups contract and which lengthen for each stretch.

Third, instead of just stretching one muscle group at a time, you can choose a yoga posture that stretches the particular muscle group you are focusing on and so much more. For example, Revolved Triangle will stretch the hips, hamstrings, and IT band while also opening up the back, shoulders, waist, and arms.

Why use this opportunity to practice mindfulness? Bringing more attention and awareness into your body can only be good for your workouts (as well as your mental health!). Mindfulness practices have been shown to slow heart rate, reduce stress, anxiety, and tension, bring clarity and creativity, and foster compassion for both ourselves and others. Bringing mindfulness to the mundane, such as stretching or dishwashing or commuting, is the perfect practice for being able to use mindfulness at times when the stakes are higher such as intimate relationships, work projects, or health issues.