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So You Haven’t Worked out in a Year.

25 Feb

I have not made exercise a part of my life in well over a year.  Every time I begin to think about which workout to pick, I do a mental down-spiral into a cesspool of despair about how far I have fallen.  You know, back when I was so good at working out.  

When I won THIRD PLACE at the Ft. Leavenworth Veteran’s Memorial WOD.  Boom!

I am at zero.  Maybe even below zero.  Never been lower than this. (Something something two babies in two years something something five kids is hard something something homeschooling something moving from Hawaii to England excuses excuses). 

I don’t have a workout plan to follow or to share with you.  (However, up in our Fitness menu you will find a nice long list of “PRIME workouts” to choose from.  They are all awesome, we did these in a large group class a few years ago in NY.)  I do want to share some highlights that have helped me feel excited to dust off my lifting gloves, get back out there, and even anticipate the sweet pain that is coming as I begin training again.

How did I get back on the horse?  One word.  Fundamentals. 


Step One.
Get a Box. 

Recognize that I want two things: physical fitness –AND– a hot body.  It’s imperative to see these 2 desires as 2 ends with 2 DIFFERENT means.

Go ahead and adopt the mindset that exercise and weight loss are not related.  It’s like I was born hardwired for thinking that exercise makes me lean.  

When you place the burden of weight-loss onto the shoulders of an exercise program, you are already falling behind.  Any earnest upfront motivation will drain away because it is too hard, it’s going to take too long.  A handful of workouts every week can’t make you instagrammably instalean.  

There was a time in my 20’s when training for a half marathon caused me to lose bunch of inches.  I attribute it to a few things, but those inches came back.  The body adapts.  All that intense exercise made me legit hungry and it took about 3.5 seconds to undo the calorie burn from a really good run.  

Running five miles is the exact same thing as eating a donut and a half.  Not eating 1.5 donuts is the same as running five miles.  That’s why I stopped running.  It’s dumb to do it for weightloss.

A clean, dialed-in diet will improve your physique in a matter of weeks.  I am hoping to teach my kiddos this lesson, (in an age appropriate manner) so that they don’t have to relearn this in their 20s or 30s after years of wrong thinking.

Don’t attribute exercise with weight loss.
Dr. Susan Peirce Thompson in Bright Line Eating goes into this concept with complete scientific research.  Read that book!


Now that we have drawn clear lines in the dirt, let’s go over step two.

Focus on what exercise will do for you. 

Memorize the following, or post it somewhere:

Cardio-Respiratory Endurance.
Strength.
Stamina.
Flexibility.
Power.
Speed.
Capacity.
Agility.
Balance.
Accuracy.
(NB: Again, weight loss is not one of these components)

We had to memorize these in the CF level-one course, and it was one of their koolaid shots I happily chugged.  I’ve listed the definitions of these terms for you at the bottom of this post.  But those 10 words stand alone.  Yes!!  I want those things!!  

Good news.  One four-minute tabata pushup session instantly hits the body with all ten of those components. 

The ship hasn’t sailed.  You might have been off for a while, but it’s parked right here.  Get back on it and get a dose of those ten for yourself.  Right now.  


Step Three. 

Think Positive.

Stop telling everyone who will listen that I am not currently where I used to be.  

Some time in the past, I had a larger, quantifiable measure of those ten components of fitness. It’s intimidating and disheartening.  I am stretching my arms way back into the past, crying out, “I used to be better!!  I am alone in a sea of despair about lost time and look at those chicks over there who are wodding at 39 weeks pregnant and I’m gonna order a “has-been” shirt for myself right this minute.”

Turn around, face forward.  Turn eyes and heart back toward that list of ten.  I want those!  I need all ten of those for multiple reasons!  –to take part in life as actively as possible.  –to enjoy sport and recreation.  –to be able to move heavy things around.  –to do everything in my personal power to maintain/improve my body’s capacity to operate at its peak.  (Its peak.  Not that instachick I keep seeing.  Unfollow.)

 

Take the has-been t-shirt out of the shopping cart.
Also go ahead peel off the “I used to be cool” bumper sticker off the back of the 07 Odyssey.


Four:

Form.

A 15-month hiatus forced me to rework my form from the ground up.  It has been refreshing in a lot of ways (after taking a couple hundred humble pills) to work out slow, study the movements again, and practice good form.  

This is one of the foundations of the CrossFit** method: form is paramount.  Once you have established consistent good form, build upon that foundation with speed and load.

Form.
Then consistency.
Then speed and load.

Rolling it all the way back to the beginning renewed my interest in this hobby.  I’ve been using the pipe or the naked bar to train.  I am actually stoked to re-hone my form…bring it back to what it should be.  After a couple of years of working out like crazy, my form absolutely backslid.  I was getting by with some pretty bad habits.  I don’t think I would have carved out time to fix it.  

The one good thing about losing overall fitness was that the bad habits got lost along with it.  Now, I because I am slower + using a lighter load, I can truly focus on consistent ideal form that I formerly overlooked.  I can’t wait to have amazing new push-ups, proper foot stance, a properly aligned core, fix my early arm pull, use the hook grip every time, reset my lazy running form.  All of it.

A break can be a good thing. 


Five: 

A little actually does go a long way.  

This is something I can attest to because of my age.  I have seen that it does not take hours upon hours of training to make quick improvements in one skill or another.  It is surprising to see how much headway you can make in a short amount of time.

 The couch to 5k program is the perfect example of this… and it applies to every skill in the book.  Can’t knock out ten pushups in a row right now?  I bet you can do 4 sets of three.  Knock those 12 out, and go again tomorrow.  If you want to do pull-ups, you gotta do pull-ups.  😉

Do a little bit a couple of times, you will be able to do more the next time. 

Has this been true for you?  Comment below!


Six.

Know YOUR why. 

I talked about this in the recent clean eating post, and it applies here. 

Part of getting over the mental mountain of a major restart is to clarify your why.  In this endless onslaught of fitspiration (ahem, marketers trying to make money off of you) it’s harder than ever to keep your head down.  The products, the before and afters, the programs, the plans, the PR’s, the results, the finishing times.  It all throws me off my own course. 

I have to be calculated and deliberate about keeping my goals in my direct line of sight.
You can’t have all the goals, and that doesn’t make you a weak person.

I’ll be vulnerable and let you in on the goals for this mom of five living in a relatively isolated situation.

1.  Look good in my clothes–the clothes I already own.  That is completely raw and honest of me.  If I am not entering into any lifting competitions, then do I need or want to work on a double-body-weight back squat?  No…but I sure as heck want to ensure I can keep my guns out if the sun’s out.

lifelong wodnas

2.  WODdates with the man.  Nothing gives more butterflies than grabbing the hubs, sneaking away to our gym, and having a go with Pukie the clown.  Same workout at the same time, It’s GREAT.   It’s exhilarating for me.  It builds solidarity, it’s a shared passion, and we accomplish something productive together.  My goal is to get my fitness levels back up for our WODdates to be back on.

3.  Eventually: return to finishing WODs at rx.

So that’s me.  But whatever it is you are hoping to accomplish, define it.  Goals can change from season to season.  


Seven:

Internalize the difference between a goal and a desire

Goals are attainable, measurable, quantifiable.  You set them, create a plan of attack, and reach them.  Desires are different: aspirations, wishes, longings.

Goals are achievable–they are blocks you can check off.  Desires are arrows aimed at targets.  We can do everything to set up perfect conditions for the arrow to hit that bullseye, but we have to keep our fingers crossed that a rogue gust of wind doesn’t knock it off course.  A desire cannot be a condition that defines my success. 

Fitness goals vs. desires kind of merge into a murky gray-zone… because injury, malady, timing and circumstances can throw things sideways.  So it’s wise to guard your fitness-heart.  How much power am I giving those desires in my life?  It helps to identify what’s in my power to accomplish, versus what I can only cross my fingers for.

Use the power of a strong desire to propel you into doing what it takes to meet the goal you have in mind. Then can begin working on the plan to successfully accomplish the goals.

Good luck!


So, while I am not going to win a third place medal any time this year, it feels fab knowing that each opportunity of exercise is another productive step forward.  It is one of the few things in my day that can’t be undone.  That feeling is the best.

Have you had a long hiatus from exercise?  Do you have any other tips that has helped you get into the right mindset for a solid restart?  Please share in the comments!!

Thanks for reading,
Leigh


Revisit the definitions of the 10 Crossfit General Physical Skills:

 **CrossFit disclaimer: I am using the CrossFit terminology and verbiage because that is the organization that taught me most what I know.  CrossFit lit a fire in me, gave me a dose of motivation for exercise/fitness so large.  I have been impacted for life because of what they have taught and shared.  I have to (and want to) give them the credit for every bit of insight I have gleaned from them.  However, if the word “CrossFit” causes you to recoil…if you have a bad taste in your mouth about it…if you have a preferred/better method for physical fitness, then you’re still good.  Just stay on your favorite method/program you love the most. 

It really only matters to keep moving and enjoy it.


If you don’t like CrossFit, then this will be hugely validating.

Also, this.  

 


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5 Tips to Maintain a Clean-Eating Mindset

9 Feb

My hubby entertains me from time to time with a very special talent he has developed.  He does bodycomp transformation before-and-after selfies in a mirror.  30 seconds apart.  A slight shift from slightly slumping to meticulous flexing while breath holding, and his entire torso can look months apart in leanness.  

I begged for permission to share pictorial proof for all you loyal readers.
One, for the purpose of illustration.
And two, that we all begin to flood the internet with our own same day before-and-afters.
He agreed.  

This dadbod works for me 🙂

I love it.

Needless to say, When I see a before-and-after on social media, I am rather suspect.  Look closely.  Did the camera really show something different…did they actually radically alter their lifestyle?

I think this kind of thing can throw people off their game, make people feel like giving up, or assume that it’s all too hard.  


pin this! 🙂

A great side-by-side selfie should not be the endstate of your eating program.  The goal is cruising in clean-eating autopilot.  You can do it!

But it’s so easy to overthink the whole thing.
With all this said, let’s discuss five ways to keep your mind in the game.


1.  Know *YOUR* Why

Why is not a result. Why is not, “I am going to eat 100% paleo this year” -or-  “I am going to lose ten pounds.” -or- “I am going to shock the internet with my before-and-after selfie.”

Why is a purpose:

  • I am empowered in knowing that I can partner with food to promote my total wellness. (Nothing I am ingesting will exacerbate health maladies).
  • I have seen what years of bad habits can do to me and/or my loved ones
  • I want my bodyskin to become paperthin, in order to scratch fitness modeling off my bucket list*

My why is
1. Mental health
2. Insulin/hypoglycemia issues (read: hanger.)
3. Setting a good example for the 5 sets of eyes on me.  Constantly. 

Keep YOUR WHY at the forefront of your mind.   

 


2. Re-Read

Re-read the original sources that point you to the best nutrition.

Not little quips off of Pinterest, but get back into the good stuff:  The Primal Blueprint, Mark’s Daily Apple, It Starts with Food, The Paleo Solution,  Bright Line Eating.  If you read those 4-5 years ago, re-read.  (Or read for the first time!)  You will gain inspiration all over again, and perhaps you will even see things in there you did not catch on the first go-around.  


3.  Don’t do work twice when you can do it once.  

Double batch every time you cook.  If you are not able to eat twice from whatever you have cooked, you are not winning. 

You are thinking, gosh this is so much food prep already, now I have to double it?  Yes.  Heck, you might as well do it 4x and have your Mondays taken care of for the month.  Remember, the freezer is your pantry.  The moment it feels like too much work is the moment you call for pizza.  Nothing takes the wind out of your sails faster than having one more thing to do.  

Nick Shaw is over there at Renaissance Periodization making A MILLION DOLLARS merely convincing all his minions to multiply food prep times seven.  So, double, triple, quadruple if you have to.  It’s worth it.  

Bonus: you will always have a bench stock of healthy freezer meals to deliver to someone in need.  That is one of the best ways to be the light in someone’s day!


4.  Stick to the old reliables. 

Re-creating the wheel every week makes clean eating a chore.  Stick to a solid rotation of delicious food.  Pick 7-10 of your favorite clean meals, and just make those…over and over.  When I was growing up we had spaghetti every Monday.  I thought it was awesome.  Here are my reliables on the rotation all the time:

Clean Spaghetti (with zoodles or spaghetti squash)
Fresh Roast Chicken  (make two while you’re at it)
Butter Chicken (perfect freezer meal)

Marinated Flank Steak (freeze a second batch raw in ziplock, thaw then throw on grill)
Kofte Kebab Meatballs
Seasoned Fish or other Meat + 2 veggies

6 meals right there, and there are usually leftovers for night number 7.  Pick your 6.

I have been doing a lot more work over on Pinterest in an effort to pick up momentum for this blog.  I am totally baffled by the amount of content over there.  It’s dizzying, and gives me recipe FOMO.

Don’t make more of cooking than it needs to be.  Get into a niche and cruise.


5.  Draw your own HFO chart.

Simply put, there are foods that you will not want to eliminate from your diet.

I want to re-introduce you to one of the original Melissa Hartwig inspographics.  I can’t remember if this is in the book.  It was on her blog ten years ago.**  I’m not promoting this kind of language, but it is not my brainchild.  

HFO Scale

 
To further explain:
 
The healthiest foods are low on the F-off scale. (Example: Salmon is very healthy. I love salmon, and concur with your analysis and therefore eat lots of salmon.)
  
Foods that I am told are not SO healthy, but I think are healthy enough on occasion, are closer to the F-off zone. (Example: On occasion, despite all the arguments against legumes, I will tell you to F-off and eat the damn peanut butter. These occasions are not common, but they do occur.)
  
Foods that should be eliminated from my diet completely because they are nowhere near healthy, but which I have determined are mandatory for me having an enjoyable existence for the next 50 years, are EXTREMELY high on the F-off scale. These foods include iced coffees, Grey Goose dirty martinis and anything covered in maple syrup.  You gotta live right? (Source: AMRAP Fitness, I think it *might* have been lifted from Melissa’s early writings, so I will credit them both.)
 
My list is cheese, dark chocolate and half & half (Had a complete and total meltdown in the grocery when I found out it doesn’t exist in the UK).  Allowing these three foods back into my diet liberated me to keep it clean everywhere else.

I will go a step further and even submit that an HFO Chart could possibly look different every month.  Or even every week.

Keep two or three things on the f-off list in order to stay sane.


Don’t let anything throw you off course. 

  • Know YOUR why
  • Read original sources
  • Work smarter not harder
  • Stick to a reliable meal rotation
  • Draw your F-off scale

Also, stop stressing over the before-and-after selfies.

Do you have any other tips that help you keep your mind over the matter?  Please share with us, I would love to discuss in the comments!

Have a great weekend,
Leigh


*If your why is to become a fitness model, then yeah.  A paleo diet will not be the path for you.  It’s too calorically dense.  You instead need to become a chemist in order to account for every molecule that crosses your lips.  Different plan altogether.

**(Her blog was hilarious and *brilliant* and the precursor to her awesome books.  I have asked her people over at Whole30 if I can have a special invite to the old blog, but they didn’t respond. )


Please share, and pin for us:

cleanmindset1

Getting my body back vs. Getting enough gym-time

8 Nov

I love me some pregnancy and newborns.

But the three year game of pregnancy redlight-greenlight has trashed my fitness and body image.  Since the miscarriage of 2013, I  have had two more children.  I avoided super-high intensity training while pregnant, opting to keep it simple: walking, a few body weight movements and trying to eat sensibly.  But truthfully, my fitness is at zero, maybe even below zero.  I don’t really ever remember a time I’ve been at zero…I have never gone this long without devoting myself to physical activity and regular gym-time.

Here I am now.  Five kids.  Homeschooling.  Hubby working hours that nearly break us both.  House to manage, dinner to make.  Gym-time is pretty much at the bottom of my list of daily priorities.  Why?  Because even though the real me

(Pause.  The “REAL ME” is now a completely notional figure because I will never be the “real me” again…age is getting its way with me, kids are steadily increasing in needs, speed of life is red-lining.  Sounds like its time to renovate who the “REAL ME” is.)  

As I was saying.  The real-me would rather be having gym-time two hours a day, five days a week.  Actual-me is needed by kids and friends and husband (<–not in that order!).  My people.  They need me.  These relationships will suffer if I put gym-time above them.  

Missing out on the hallowed time in the gym/box/garage, causes a nagging grudge to form and grow.  It’s my favorite way to cash in my me-time.  I keep slipping into false thinking that hours of gym-time is the only way to “get my body back.”  

My internal dialogue keeps screaming YOU WILL NEVER REGAIN YOUR FITNESS!!  (Why does our internal dialogue lie so much?  I was born with a voice in my head that absolutely hates me.)  

Anyway, I have to answer it back with two things.
1.  Getting lean takes nothing more than an intuitive diet.
2.  Having zero gym-time doesn’t mean I can’t exercise.  

Every iteration of exercise (even as short as 4 minutes!)  is a deposit in my strength account.  Diet is what controls body comp.  Gym-time is not part of this formula.  What a mindsaver.  Diet and exercise have two different objectives and let’s not get them mixed up.
Diet is for leaning me out.
Exercise is for the 10 foundations of fitness.

I will eat for energy.
I will lift to be strong enough to help people move stuff.

I will eat to enjoy the experience of food. 
I will run so that I can play anything with my kids and grandchildren.

I will eat responsibly so that I look my best in formal dresses.  (Dang it anyway that I have to wear these dresses so often!!)
I will WOD with my man, because it’s our favorite way to spend our free time together.

I will eat if my stomach growls.
I will exercise because the endorphins are such a welcome respite.

I will not eat if I am not hungry.
I will do push-ups and pull-ups because it is the fastest way to tone my arms.  

I will eat to keep my mood in check. (NO HANGER!)
I will do sit-ups because my abs would like to permanently hang out at the 5-months pregnant position.

I will eat without hang ups about timing, amounts, or macros
I will jump rope to rehab my pelvic floor.  (Sorry dudes, this is what happens when your uterus is basically a clown car.)

clown-car-clipart-1

So even though gym-time is at an all-time low, my stress about it is also pretty much gone.  I train when I can, and I am getting incrementally physically stronger.  Eating mindfully will bring about the body comp changes I need to see.

I am mentally weary from chasing empty obsessions…and assigning impossible expectations on things that are circumstance-dependent, like getting enough gym-time.  Food is fuel.  Exercise is physical strength.  Period.

Faith and healthy relationships empower.  Faith and relationships award us with heart satiety.

Am I the only one who has been stuck in the wrong mindset in this area?  It only took me until I was 36 and 11 years into motherhood to be at peace about it.  

Thanks for reading,
Leigh

 

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