Why I love mat classes

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My mat is my space, my oasis from the day. The time spent on my mat is for me – not my teacher or other people in the class. It’s my opportunity to see how my body is feeling and push it a little further.

Class can provide a range of emotions and it’s nice to find comfort on my mat. There are days I discover tightness in a new place. Sometimes class focuses on a part of my body I would rather forget about. On my mat, I’m safe to acknowledge these feelings and move forward.

Each day, I sneak in time to practice and I’m thankful it’s called practice. Some days go better than others and I may not be the most elite in class but through practice I can get closer to my goals.

Focusing on myself and my space on my mat helps me forget about what other people are doing. It doesn’t matter if someone else is taking an easier modification or a harder one. I am doing what is best for ME!

Some people find this ease and personal time on a bike, treadmill, swimming or on the open road. Take the time to find your oasis and practice on your own terms. YOU ARE WORTH IT!

 

Put down the guilt and pick up happiness

This is a great time of year to focus on YOU.  Many people want to change their lifestyle, but don’t know where to begin.  The only place to truly begin is noticing yourself and your habits.  A great way to keep track is to write down when you want to indulge and when you feel good.  Notice the time of day and any events during the day that triggered different emotions.

Tune into your body and notice how it feels when you are moving or sitting.  Are you hunching your shoulders towards your ears?  Do you sit up tall or slouch?  Try sitting up tall with your tummy engaged and your shoulders relaxed and see how you feel.  Check in a few times a day and notice how you are sitting and how you feel.

How do you feel after different meals?  Do you feel sluggish or energized?  Begin with drinking 4-8 glasses of water a day.  Perhaps, you will feel more energized and less sluggish.  Mix in some fruit and whole grains.  Notice if you feel different from days when you don’t.  Write down how you felt before and after different food decisions.

Try exercising and notice how it feels when you are done.  This can be anything from a walk, to a class or even a few exercises throughout the day.  Does it help energize you?  Do you feel a sense of accomplishment?  Write it down.

When you want to indulge or skip a workout – look back and read how each decision made you feel.  The more honest you are the better.  This is purely for you – no one is reading it so be honest with yourself.

Continue to transition from activities that lead to a guilty or blah feeling and do more activities that make you feel good.  Enjoy the victories along the way.  The goal is to feel good as often as possible.  This is a journey and it is nice to look back along the way and see how far you have come.

YOU ARE WORTH IT!!!

Small steps to a big leap

Motivation quote

Motivation quote (Photo credit: photosteve101)

This is a time of year when we are all a bit tired, the days are short and we spent a lot of energy over the holidays.   We have left our budgets and diets behind and feel a little guilty about it.  The beauty of a New Year is an opportunity to get back on track and embrace the longer days.

It is a time for new goals and hope.  We often begin the New Year with some vague ideas of where we want to be in the next year.  Instead of lusting after an idea, decide what exactly your goal is.  Is it to lift more weights or walk farther without being out of breath?  Perhaps it is keeping up with the kids or pets.

It is easier to achieve a goal when we have a specific marker.  Find something that you can measure.  Perhaps it is how long you can hold plank (this can be modified) or how many reps you can do at a certain weight.  Maybe it is the incline or speed on the treadmill.  Exercise provides many levels for us to reach and then move to the next one.

Take the time and determine where you are today.  Try plank or a long walk and write down your max.  Continue to practice each day (a minimum of three times a week) and write down your max at the end of the month.  Continue to check in monthly for the whole year and see how far you have come!

While we are focusing on one point, the rest will come.  As we become stronger, we may branch out to other classes and exercises.

It all begins with a small step and finding the time to keep it up all year.  Enjoy the journey and keep track of the small successes!

YOU ARE WORTH IT!!

The right fit for YOU

Are you thinking about joining a gym in the New Year?  Not all gyms are the same.  Here are a few things to look at when you are selecting the right place for you.

Are you comfortable?  This is the most important aspect of any fitness facility.  Go to look at the space during the times that you would be using the facility.  This will give you an idea of how crowded the classes or equipment is.  It will also show the general group of people going at the same time you will be going.

What do you want to do?  Are you looking for great Zumba classes or to run on the treadmill?  If you are looking for classes be sure to try the ones you are interested in.  All classes and instructors are not the same and you want to be sure that it’s a good fit.  If you are looking for cardio equipment and weights – be sure to try them at the time of day you will be using them.  Each gym has different brands and styles of equipment.  Be sure that you like the ones they have and that it won’t be too crowded.

How is the staff?  Are they nice and supportive?  Take the time to talk with the people at the desk and on the floor.  These people will be your cheerleaders on this adventure and you want to have a nice fit.

Do you like the other people?  You may want a hard-hitting gym or a more mellow atmosphere – you can find either you just have to look for it.

Are there other services you are looking for?  Many places offer personal training, small group training, massage and nutritionists.  Be sure to ask about these offerings and what fees are associated with each service.

Liking the space and the people will set you up for success.  Take the time in the beginning and enjoy the results all year long!  YOU ARE WORTH IT!!!

Take the numbers out of it!!

iphone 101We are followed around by numbers: the proper weight, caloric intake and the ideal jean size.  We don’t just work out but we track how many calories are burned with each different style of exercise.  Some people are numbers oriented and this works for them; but for many of us it is a bit overwhelming.

Personally, I don’t own a scale and I don’t count calories.  I buy pants that fit regardless of the number in the back.  Being a woman, the number attached to my size changes within the same brand and can be drastically different between brands.  The disparity between brands and styles renders the actual number meaningless, in my opinion.

Just as we know what is right and wrong, we know what we need to do to see changes.  Don’t think about the numbers.  Change is hard enough!  Find a class or form of exercise that you like.  That’s right – that you LIKE.  It might be the other people in class; it might be the instructor or the style.  Once you are on your way it is important to do the work.  You need to find the proverbial “burn” – this means don’t back off when you begin to sweat or when your muscles begin to shake.  This is where the change is found.

You know which foods aren’t good for you.  When looking at labels, the calories can be deceiving.  Rather than looking at the calories, begin to familiarize yourself with the nutritional value.  Begin to notice the amount of saturated fat and sodium – they also list the good aspects too; such as iron, potassium, vitamins A and C, etc.  It’s about changing your awareness from calories to nutrition.

Finally weight – you don’t need a rectangle on the floor to tell you if you have gained or lost weight.  Let’s face it, EVERYONE’S weight fluctuates depending on what you ate or drank the day before.  There is no need for the constant reminder.  You know if you over ate and you know if you are losing weight.  Often there is a period of time where fat is becoming muscle and the scale can be discouraging but your clothes are feeling loose.  Trust yourself – not a piece of machinery!

The key is to be accountable to yourself and not a series of numbers.  It is hard in the beginning – change is hard; but you are worth it!!

 

Open yourself to new possibilities!

One of the easiest ways to open yourself to new opportunities is to stop slouching. When you began slouching, it was for a specific reason. You intentionally protected your heart from others.

Now, it is a habit that your body has adjusted to. Your back muscles lengthen and your pectorals (chest) compress towards each other. This can cause a variety of issues in your neck, shoulders and back.

Luckily, the human body is amazing and you can learn to open your chest and welcome in others. It begins with being aware of your body and understanding that you don’t need to hide behind your shoulders.

Begin by sitting tall and let your shoulders drip away from your ears. Lift your shoulders up to your ears as you inhale and let them drop down as you exhale. Try this a few times and notice where they rest at the bottom.

Another way to relax your shoulders and open your chest is to lie down on your back (on a carpet, towel or mat) with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Begin to notice your back. Think about your whole spine resting on the floor. If it is uncomfortable in your lower back – place a rolled towel under the small of your back. Notice if both shoulder blades press equally into the ground. Allow yourself a few moments here – focusing on opening your chest.

While on the floor, place your hands behind your head and let the elbows fall towards the floor. With each exhale – let the elbows fall heavier to the floor. If this is too uncomfortable; you may place a pillow or cushion under you shoulder blades and allow your arms to be long by your side. Let the shoulders fall to the sides creating a slight curve in the chest. Be sure to support the head with the same pillow or another one if it isn’t big enough.

Take just a few minutes a day for yourself. As you become more comfortable here, you will be open to others and new possibilities 🙂

Remember – YOU ARE WORTH IT!!!

A Jar of Motivation

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We can all use a little encouragement! Taking a little time now, can set you up for success.

Begin by finding a jar and some paper.  Think of a reward for a month from now. It can be anything from shopping to an outing and write it down on a piece of paper.  Tape the reward to the bottom of a jar.

Find 30 things that motivate you.  Maybe it is a new clothing size or wanting to look different.  Write it down on a slip of paper.  Are there quotes that motivate you?  Perhaps something like, “don’t stop because it hurts – stop because you are done” or “if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you”.  Maybe a smiley face or a heart.  You can even cut images out of magazines.

Each day, take out a slip of motivation and take it with you.  When the workout is challenging or you’re having trouble getting to the gym – look at your piece of paper.  Repeat it to yourself and keep going!!!  When you have used all the slips – give yourself your reward.

YOU ARE WORTH IT!!!!!