Did you know that how you USE or MOVE your body can actually change your physiology?
This little bunny was having a really hard time coming out of her shell, notice how her arms are drawn inward and protect her core.
Once read this great book by Amy Cuddy and I want to tell you a little bit more about her research.
As you probably know, your body language speaks volumes. Body language allows us to read other people and to be read by them. It's a big part of how we decide what and how we feel towards them; whether we like or dislike someone or find a situation is safe or threatening, fun or boring, and so on.
But did you know that when you, or that guy at the office, make your body big (expanded as opposed to contracted postures) it is actually chemically boosting your self confidence?
Improved Body Posture/Movement -> Positive Chemical Release -> Physiological Reactions -> Thought Patterns Change -> Actions are Modified -> Results are Awesome
When you sit down, do you cross your legs and lean into yourself? This would be a contracted pose and while cozy, it's better for hibernation than a board meeting.
Alternatively, do you leave your core wide open, arms and legs long, for all to see? This style of posture is making your body appear larger, and when done 'socially appropriately' it is perfect for the confidence boost you need to bring up that tough conversation and stay assertive.
The even cooler part about all of this is not only do you look more self-assured and confident to others, you also give yourself that boost of belief due to chemical and hormonal shifts in your own brain! Win win! You look competitive, you act competitive, and you get the job done.
When you make your body larger, by stretching or running or stand in front of the mirror like super woman, you are changing your physiology!!! You are changing the chemicals being released in your brain and even your hormones shift within your body! In turn, those changes make you feel, then ACT more assertive, in control, and as a force to be reckoned with.
A common time for me, and many of my friends and clients to feel depressed, alone, sullen, and sad is when we are new mothers. OR new again mothers. Now, yes, there are TONS of things going on inside our bodies and all that. But think about how a new mother spends SO much of her time. We curl up in bed, on the cozy chair, or under the fuzzy blanket on the sofa and nurse that baby to their tummy's content. We almost curl entirely AROUND the baby, as if it's a football during the Super Bowl and our ability to form a human shield around it HOURS a a day is our one true job in this world. There is no safer place for that baby but mamma's brain NEEDs a break from the maternal fetal position. We NEED to open our bodies up and get the happy chemicals flowing so we can battle the hard and negative sides of post partum life. This is one tool out of many to help stave off post partum depression, open up and move your body mamma. Your feelings will change, your thoughts will follow, and we will all smile again!
See that smile brighten as she literally OPENS UP!?!
There are so many practical applications for using our body and posture to help us manage a given situation, here are a few examples:
-You are getting ready for a big meeting, presentation, interview in front of people you feel the need to impress. Exercising or even just standing like a starfish or Super Woman for a few minutes will help give you the physiological boost you need BEFORE even entering the room.
-You want to work up the courage to ask someone out on a date.
-You're ready to ask for help on a tough project, to stop a negative behavior, or anything else that has been weighing on your mind.
-You are gearing up at the starting line of a race or getting ready for another competition.
-You are ready to take a stand for yourself and tell someone, 'enough is enough!' and you won't tolerate their mean or abusive behavior anymore.
-You're having a less than perfect day and you just simply need a little pick me up!
Making your body large is a way of using your beautiful body and your body sure does like that! It loves the blood flow because that means oxygen and food for the brain, muscles, and all the other parts. The chemical changes help your body and mind connect with each other and ideas come, self-confidence gets a boost, and sure, even your achey back can get eased.
So, the next time you want to focus and step into your power, get large girl! Also be sure to check out the Going Goddess program. It's a self paced but fully coached program that will help you tap into all your power!
You have the POWER to be your most POWERFUL self. Will you choose to embrace it?!
When we enter the holiday season we are entering a whole new way of life.
We are expected to be able to navigate it with grace and glee, but let's be honest here, it's not always like that!
How many times have you walked into a room over the holiday season and been less than thrilled to have Great Aunt Betty exclaim her surprise over something your body does or doesn't have?
Or perhaps you get to the snack or dessert table and your mother snugs up against you to whisper that you might not need that on your plate....?
Well I have FIVE tips/ideas/tools for you to get started with not only surviving the hardships of the holidays, but THRIVING though them!
1.) Find a system or supportive group NOW. Not in a week from now, not after Thanksgiving had wreaked it's havoc with the delights of Pecan Pie, but now. Find it, get comfortable with it.
2.) Repeat after me, "I am worthy of love and respect at all times." And I mean AT ALL TIMES!!! So, no negative self talk. Bolster yourself up with learning and cultivating this belief, which is TRUTH.
3.) Allow yourself the indulgences you look forward to all year long. Be mindful in your consumption and don't beat yourself up or tear yourself down for it. See #2
4.) When you are confronted with a situation or temptation that feels overwhelming;
*Visit the pros and Cons
*Choose what feels right for you with confidence
5.) Learn to manage the stress with a few well placed deep breaths. For our Yogis out there, we call this Pranayama, and it is an incredibly powerful practice!
The Holiday Season Is To Celebrate, Find Love And Compassion In All The Right Places! It Starts With You Loving You For the Wonderful You That You Are.
When you're ready to take it to the next level, I will see you in our Going Goddess group!
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Ugh okay. Let me start by saying that posting this is making me feel more than a little bit queasy. Not only because I’m trying to embrace my femininity and feel beautiful (which I often don’t feel allowed to do) but also because I’m showing what lies beneath. Ha. Literally. I can’t even explain in this one little blurb, all the feelings I have and why they are there.
But whatever. This is me. This is post baby #3 at about 3.5 months. And the reason I’m swallowing down bile to be this vulnerable is because I’ve seen a few trainers in my life who take a pretty hard line on weight loss after pregnancy and I think it’s... mean.
Now, I’m not saying they aren’t incredible women with lots of wisdom to share. But I AM saying that we are not ALL capable or dare I say willing to find our six packs four months after having a baby. I haven’t seen mine in about 7 years!!! I still consider myself to be in pretty good shape though. I can still teach all of my group fitness and yoga classes, exercise with my PT clients, and take care of my kids without being physically burnt out or in pain. THOSE are also pretty amazing accomplishments in my book!
If I may say so myself! (And yes, I may. So may you!)
I’m not saying don’t work hard. I’m not saying don’t have challenging and gratifying goals that I do, in fact sometimes reach! I’m not saying won’t shed the pounds at some point. Because I believe I will and it will feel GLORIOUS.
I am saying: we are not all built the same. Just because one woman looks barely pregnant at 7 months and I look like I’m carrying twins, doesn’t mean I didn’t work hard enough. Just because another woman had a baby and looks like a beach volleyball player before her kiddo can eat solids and my 6 year old is still asking me, “is there another baby in there?” Doesn’t make me a failure.
Do the work. Set the goals. Love your beautiful, incredible, strong body, and thank it for all it does. Thank it by nourishing it with good foods and moving it in all the ways that feel good and productive.
Don’t let a comparison to someone else trick you into thinking you should look or feel or be different than you are just because they look or are that way.
Only YOU can know when it’s the right time to dig in, power up, & get going.
And remember, all bodies are different!!!
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We will come together daily for inspiration, calming yoga, and heart pumping workouts. If you are tired of being tired and achy; if you want to feel strong and powerful; this is the program for you.
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When sleep becomes elusive, things tend to go downhill fast and it can feel like your world is beginning to spin out of control.
Sleep is vital, it helps us to produce and balance our hormones, allows us to better focus during the day, aids us in managing our tempers, writes what we learned in a day down as memories we can recall, heals and builds our muscles, and so much more. Without it, we cannot survive and certainly we will not thrive.
The real bummer can be that once we start the slippery slope into lackluster sleep, it often becomes a cycle that feeds itself; can't fall asleep because you feel anxious? Well, not sleeping will make you feel more of that and so the cycle is set.
So, what can we do to break these cycles we get into and get a good nights sleep?
I'm glad you asked, here are my go-to's:
-Meditate. If you don't know how to meditate or it seems to scary just take a few moments throughout the day to take 3-5 slow, intentional deep breaths. If you are down with trying meditation but don't have your own practice, google it! There are so many fantastic guided meditations and apps these days you're sure to find one you like.
-Hydrate, not not right before bed!!!! Drink your water earlier in the day and take the time to learn your body's rhythms. If you find you need to skip a glass of water because it's too close to bedtime try getting it in earlier in the evening to avoid those nocturnal callings.
-Use calming essential oils. I love Petigrain, Serenity, or Lavender in my diffuser before bed. They are calming and soothing, which is just what I need to quiet my mind and any anxious feelings I may have carried with me through the day.
-Take a warm bath or shower before bed. Having the heat warm your body before crawling into bed is so soothing and relaxing. If your a bath person you can add your favorite essential oils to epsom salt and then sprinkle it in for triple the relaxation as the Magnesium in the salts are actually gentle muscle relaxers!
-In the morning, to set your day up right, rub Balance blend or Cedarwood on your feet to get grounded and settled. You'll be amazed at how well you'll feel starting off your day with your feet on the ground and your head out of the clouds!
-Exercise!!!! Last but clearly not least, get your body moving. Every. Day. You don't have to do a knock down, drag out workout every single day but you should be moving every day. A walk, a bike ride, a run, a fitness class, yoga, anything to keep your blood flowing, your daytime energy up, and to give your body a release that will help you sink into the pillow each night.
Leave me your questions below or send me a message!
As I move through my own personal process of healing, growing, and learning. I see so many things so much more clearly than I did 2 or 3 or 10 years ago.
We struggle, we struggle SO HARD. Maybe it's health related or exercise related, maybe it's weight related, maybe it's relationships or even finances. But no matter what it is, it's a struggle and the struggle is real. No, seriously, it is. It affects our biochemistry, it affects our DNA, it can even affect our unborn babies! Crazy isn't it?
But what I want to say to you, the point that I want to get across is not only that your struggles are real and valid, but more importantly is non-judgement of the person in that struggle. In Yoga we would refer to this as practicing Ahimsa or non-violence.
Non-Violence you say? Yes, non-violence, the practice of showing compassion, courage, balance, self love, and equanimity.
Because whether you are the one in struggle or it is someone somewhere else, near or far, the best thing we can do for ourselves and them is to show non-violence/judgement of their situation and recognize that; when we were in our struggle, we were the same as they are now in their struggle. And on the flip side, if we were to be in THEIR circumstances with the tools that they have, we would most likely act and react the same to their circumstances were they ours.
We are one, we are common to each other as beings. The struggles are felt by all and they are all real. I encourage you to gaze deeply and recognize yourselves within others. You might just find that a part of you lives within a part of her, while a part of her lives within a part of you.
A few days ago I was in my car, driving down a street I've driven down a thousand times. So, needless to say I was on autopilot and my brain was freed up to think about some things that have been swirling around for a while.
In my work and as a woman I am constantly privy to body image conversations. Sometimes they are with clients, sometimes they are with friends, sometimes they are in my head or laments to my husband. Always they are about not being able to attain some idea that came along at some point in time to the the vocalizers mind.
The conversations are tender and raw and scary and sad. They reflect our perceived failure to look and therefore feel a certain way. "I'll be happy when I lose 10lbs." "I will meet the man of my dreams when I can get rid of this cellulite." "If only everyone wasn't staring at the crows feet around my eyes."
But since when are these things we are lamenting inherently BAD??? Since when is not meeting the exact standard of a weight watcher's calculation your failure? Since when are laugh lines around your eyes a sign of failure? Since when does a completely natural part of your body like cellulite instigate shame in your heart?
Why are we no encouraged to embrace the movement of our body, not just through space but through time?! Why are we not encouraged to look at ourselves in the mirror in order to get to know the body standing in front of us? And what if we did? What if we stood before ourselves with eyes and heart wide open so that we could really see and get to know the bodies that house our wounded souls?
What do you think it would feel like to take the time to observe your body, its changes through the days and the years, how it feels and what makes it feel good or sick, what it is capable of accomplishing when your mind is fully supportive of your body. What would it feel like to look at yourself in the mirror and acknowledge that it is the only body in the world that is like this. And this body is perfect the way it is, the only thing you need to do to make it the most amazing body ever, is to nourish it, accept it for being uniquely yours and to love the hell out of it.
So, I am not a nutritionist or a dietician. Heck, I don't even focus on nutrition for weight loss in most cases. I don't count calories or disect my every meal for the proper concentrations of micro and macronutrients. Sure as I eat a grapefruit every day of winter I help my clients food journal and make sure they are not calorie/nutrient deficient, food is incredibly important! I just don't subscribe to any one thing. Mostly for my sanity.
But here is something I just came across and I feel that it needs some hashing out.
I recently tested out a new app on my phone that is stellar at motivation, behavioral change facilitation, health coaching, engagement, calorie and step tracking but there were a few things that were red flags for me. These issues are not only found on this app, I see them in other point system weight loss programs as well, some of which I have zero doubt you've heard of or maybe tried.
The potential problems I came up against:
When calculating my Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), the amount of energy (calories) we need in a day to sustain life (AKA lounging around in bed all day), I came up with a number that was higher than the system put me on. Ok, that was a mouth full. In other words my calorie intake was set at 1200 cal but according to my calculations the minimum I needed to be in bed all day is actually closer to 1400 calories/day.
Why does this matter? Well, for one, our bodies need to have a certain amount of intake to function properly, that includes functioning in the fat metabolism department so we can lose weight. Second, I'm a pretty active person and much of my weight comes from muscle, not just an oversupply of fat. Muscle requires more calories than fat does so there's a potential that I'm even further in the negative.
My major concern with this is that (particularly as a woman) my body might go into "starvation mode" rather than actually burn the fat like I wanted it to. So, setting calories too low can really backfire on you. Not to mention, since the focus was on calories not on macronutrients, there's no telling if my calorie reduction left any major gaps in my diet; which would also send signals to my body that things are off and send it into a tissy to get it back on track again.
I feel the need to get into this because there are a lot of programs out there that put a really heavy focus on calories or points and for the most part they are great, there are some key situations where they can really trip you up.
For instance, another client of mine was telling me about how bananas were "0" points on the program she was using, which sure makes it seem like they don't have many calories right? So, maybe you could eat a couple in a day or simply not give them a thought. But the average banana is about 105 calories and a lot of that is sugar and if you're honing in on other low point but high calorie foods, you could be spinning your wheels big time and mentally that can do a serious number on your psyche.
So, the moral of the story is make sure you eat ENOUGH food to sustain your daily activities in a healthy way. You can still have a significant daily calorie reduction and be above your BMR. And secondly, be mindful of the healthy foods that might be sneaking in the calories you were trying to leave out. If you are using a point system check on the foods you gravitate towards from time to time just to be sure you are on the right track, or have a buddy, health coach, personal trainer, program mentor double check your work.
Eat lots of colors and enjoy!
So today I am going to talk about the Immune System! What on earth does it have to do with exercise though?
Well, as it turns out, a whole lot. The immune system likes to sit at a sort of baseline level. As we move through our days and weeks and are exposed to different things it fights to maintain it's steady balance to remain at your personal baseline.
When you add in exercise into your day you actually DEPRESS the immune system.
*Wait. What???? Why is this stuff being pushed on us all over the place if it depresses my immune system?!*
Don't despair!!!! When we exercise regularly we actually BOOST the baseline of our immune system!!! The trick is to keep it consistent. Working out every other day may be a good sweet spot for you to keep your immune system steady and working on beefing itself up. Similar to cardiovascular endurance and muscular strength training. Consistency is key.
Below is a super simplified, non-scientifically numbered graph. It's meant to give a simplified big picture so you can see what I'm talking about visually.
-Follow the Medium orange line at the bottom to see what happens when you work out once in a while. You drop deep below your baseline and it takes a long time for the immune system to pick back up again.
-Follow the dark orange line to see what baseline is like when you don't exercise and just maintain a similar day to day without any notable exertion.
-Follow the lighter line that starts above baseline to see how your immune system re-regulates to stay above the "normal" or previous baseline. This is where you want to be. Bounce back is faster and you keep your immune system stronger than your non-exercise baseline every day!
Here is a cool article with some more fun images for you.
If you'd like to read a nice review of literature looking at the body's immune response to exercise this one may be of interest to you. They also get into the question of exercise intensity and the immune response. Their findings seem to suggest that high intensity exercise is very beneficial and quite protective!
Moral of the story? Make exercise a regular and consistent part of your lifestyle.
Consistency. There is a word capable of striking fear into even the bravest of people! Or is that just me..?
Well, assuming I’m not alone, let’s just go ahead and validate those feelings. The thought of being consistent in something day in and day out feels really daunting sometimes. I hear you, I’m with you, I completely understand, and I want to run away too.
So, what can we do? Well, first let’s reflect on things we’ve done in the past and observe our actions, reactions, and feelings *WITHOUT JUDGEMENT*. I know that last bit is really really hard but if you allow yourself for observe with our judgement there is no end to the wonderful possibilities and changes coming your way. This, I promise you.
Next up, identify some behaviors you already are consistent in!!! “Wait, what? You think I’m already a consistent person?” Well, yes. Yes, I do.
1- Do you brush your teeth and hair every day?
2- Do you get dressed every day? (unless you have a newborn, then move along to the next one... seriously no need to liver here.)
3- Do you eat when you are hungry/at meal times each day?
4- Do you greet people when you see them in the morning, at work, in the checkout line? (Side note, if you don’t, no worries but I highly recommend you do. It has an uncanny ability to brighten everyone’s day!)
Ok, you get the point right? There are plenty of things we do every day and I probably missed some of the most obvious ones here. But you can add them to the comments!!!
So, now we have reflected, observed, and had the “Ohhhhh, that’s true.... I am a consistent human...” moment. Where can we expand and grow and add in more healthy things consistently?
Here are some pointers and ideas:
-Baby steps. Yup, babies learn a little at a time and they keep at the tiniest things until they master them. (They also take breaks when they are tired, just saying, we can learn a lot from babies...)
-Pick one thing for today or this week that you want to focus on. Maybe you have a list of 50, but for today, pick one.
-Work on one maybe two things a week, with gentle and attainable goals. Then each week reflect back on how you did, how you feel, and what you think might serve you best going into the next week.
-Find some accountability. Maybe you can hold yourself accountable. Maybe you journal to aid in that effort. Maybe you ask a friend to check in with you or start a buddy system. Maybe none of that works for you and you decide to hire a health coach/personal trainer.
-Whatever you decide, make sure it feels right for you!
I cannot say it enough, rest, is important. Rest is where the magic really happens. Rest is where our body does the work. Rest is our regulator, our memory, maker, and our mood modulator. Rest is where we grow and rest is not optional.
When we are talking about rest in relation to exercise there are a few things that may or may not pop up in your mind. For one thing we rest between intervals, sets, exercises. This allows us to catch our breath, our blood to flow without quite so much constriction, our waste to be removed from the working muscles, etc.
Then there are our rest days. These are the days when we take a load off and hang out. The day we don't go for our morning run or meet our bestie for HOT HIIT (Yes, that is a thing, as if High Intensity Intervals weren't enough already, now you can do them in the comfort of a hot studio. Needless to say I'm very interested to try it!). Rest days are in place to allow your body and mind to heal. Heal? Yes, heal. Because when we workout we are creating tiny little microfractures and micro-tears to our bone and muscle. No, there's no need to be alarmed, it's just the way the system works and when we give our bodies proper fuel and rest it heals even stronger than it was before. It's really pretty cool!
Rest, specifically sleep, is also incredibly important. When we sleep our bodies are literally put on the charger and all the ins and outs of our every system are restocked and restored. Trying to lose weight? Well, you had better get your sleep because that's the time when the hormone Leptin is produced and Leptin my friends is responsible for regulating hunger and therefore, how much we eat. I don't know about you but when I am over tired I could eat a house and Leptin isn't alone, there are a whole bunch of other proteins and hormones that all work together to manage how our bodies respond to food, exercise, etc. If you'd like to read a brainy article about Leptin: here you go!
Now, we have an honorable mention, mood. When we are not well rested we are more likely to be a bit more moody than usual. This can throw off our desire to stick to our plans, be pleasant to our fellow exercisers, and cause fights in the family. I've personally sabotaged more than a few workout sessions with my sleep deprived bad mood picking fights with my husband. So, don't skip rest days and don't skip sleep! Currently I'm reading about some really interesting findings on how lack of sleep makes us more susceptible to certain disease states and it's no joke!
How can we help you rest today? Well, here are a few of my go-tos:
-Diffuse Lavender, Serenity, or Petitgrain Essential Oils
-Eat a well balanced diet during the day with lots of fresh water
-Exercise! Of course ;-)
-Meditation, Prayer, Sacred Quiet Time. Here's a nice piece on WHY Meditation works.
-Want some ideas as to what to do on your rest days to help prepare you for your next workout? Here are 9, but I bet you can come up with some pretty fantastic ones of your own, do share in the comments!
I am an Exercise Physiologist and mother of two lovely ladies. I love teaching my community about health and wellness and I love helping likeminded people implement natural solutions into their everyday lives.