Tips for choosing a sports bra that fits

Disclaimer: The following is a sponsored post. Classic Shapewear compensated me for sharing my thoughts about what to wear under workout clothes. The pseudo-scientific poll results and tongue-in-‘cheek’ comments are entirely my own ;-)

Next to sweaty machines, dirty change rooms and grunting men, the number one complaint women have about exercising is undergarments that get in the way of a good workout.

Last week, I asked my Facebook community to share their biggest exercise undergarment pet peeves:

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Their five main exercise undergarment concerns?

  • Comfort; they want their workout bras to be comfortable enough to wear all day, without constricting underwires or straps and bands that ‘dig in’ (as someone who teaches a class, then runs off to train clients, grocery shop and pick up kids from school, all without showering or changing clothes, I completely agree with this).
  • Compression; compressive enough to keep ‘the girls’ from bouncing during cardio and the glutes looking tight (long after the dead lift muscle pump has worn off), all while remaining comfortable and without generating ‘uni-boob’.
  • Coverage; bras need to be high enough both in front, to avoid ‘show and tell’ during bent-over exercises and spinning class (as a former spin instructor, I can attest to the ‘eye full’ that well-endowed, front row participants proffer during hovers and forward-leaning drills) and under the arms (nobody likes ‘side boobage’). Cups need to be thick enough to hide cold-temperature induced ‘head lights’.
  • Creep-resistant; workout underwear needs to stay put. ‘Whale-tail’ and ‘creeping crotch’ get in the way of a good workout (note that regardless of the undergarments you choose to sport, there may still be the odd ‘creep’ that finds you irresistible ;-) ).
  • Cost; although we all know that ‘you get what you pay for’, spending a ton of money on an article of clothing that nobody ever sees (outside of the locker room, that is) is tough for many. Finding a well-fitting, reasonably-priced workout bra with a long lifespan is akin to winning the lottery.
  • Cute; just because they’re covered up doesn’t mean women don’t want to feel pretty and confident and sexy in their sports bras and thongs!

Choosing a sports bra that fits

The relative importance of the above five issues depended, in part, on the respondent’s ‘endowedness’. No surprise, bigger-breasted women cared most about compression and coverage, while those of us with a ‘little less to cover’ wanted things to be cute and comfortable.

Given the variability in women’s individuals needs and the wide range of exercise bras and panties available, I thought I’d share a list of tips for choosing a sports bra that fits both your body and workout type.

Tips for choosing a sports bra that fits:

Small cup sizes and/or low impact workouts: Compression bras can work well for women with A or B cups, in particular when participating in low impact exercise activities, including yoga, weight training and indoor cycling. The higher the impact, the more likely you’ll need to switch to a full-encapsulation model (each breast rests in a separate ‘cup’). Strap thickness is primarily based on comfort. The less the straps have to support and the lower the impact, the thinner they can be.

Medium cup sizes and/or moderate impact workouts: Women with C cups may need to choose bras with individual cups, regardless of the intensity of their workout. Most women in this size range make two mistakes when it comes to purchasing a sports bra; they choose a cup size that’s too small and a band that’s too loose. Together, these contribute to excessive bounce and ‘spillage’. For a better fit, try going up a cup size and down an inch or two in the band. If you can pull the band out more than an inch from your chest, it’s still too big.

Large cup sizes and/or high intensity workouts: If you’re a D or larger and plan on performing squat jumps and burpees without giving your fellow gym-goers a show (or knocking yourself out…), full-encapsulation sports bras are your friends. Choose a wider strap to help distribute the weight of ‘your girls’ and a model that has a clasp in back. Clasps allow you to tighten the strap, giving you an individualized fit and better control.

You can find a wide range of sports bras, workout panties and exercise clothes that fit a wide range of body types and sizes at Classic Shapewear’s online store.

Do you have any funny workout undergarment stories to share?

A favourite brand that fits perfectly with your body type?

Please leave me a comment below about your experience with ‘floppy female parts’ and exercise!

Disclosure: I have an Affiliate Marketing relationship with the sponsor of this post. When you click on one of the above links and make a purchase from their website, I receive a small referral fee. Thanks for the cup of coffee ;-)

Not your usual New Year’s Resolution post | fitness goals with soul

This is not your usual New Year’s Resolution post (and not just because it’s the third week of January…). No resolutions will be made. Nor will there be any mention of S.M.A.R.T. goals.

In my experience, most resolutions and fitness goals tend to be superficial, guided by ’needs’, ‘musts’ and ‘shoulds’ (“I need to lose 20 pounds”) rather than a true understanding of what will really make a difference in the goal-setter’s life and how they’ll feel when they finally achieve them (“I’ll feel strong and self-confident and know that I can tackle any problem life throws at me”).

I call this ‘finding your why’ (and have written an e-book that just might help you find yours; download your free copy here) and encourage my clients to dig a little deeper and uncover theirs when setting new fitness goals and intentions.

Recently, I attended an all-day workshop based on Danielle Laporte’s best-selling book, The Desire Map: A guide to Creating Goals with Soul.

 

The book is based on her experience helping life-coaching clients and entrepreneurs find clarity around the question “how do I want to feel in my life?”.

She argues that what we’re all really striving for is more ‘good’ feelings and that knowing how you want to feel is the most powerful way to achieve your life goals and dreams. Sure, resolutions and goals and intentions are fine, but marry them to the feelings you’d like to experience and the sky’s’ the limit.

You’re not chasing the goal, you’re chasing a feeling you hope reaching the goal will give you ~ Danielle Laporte

The book outlines a series of exercises designed to help the reader ‘get clear’ on those feelings they want to experience (their ‘Core Desired Feelings’) in five areas of their life, one of which is Body & Wellness (and includes things like fitness, food, rest and relaxation, mental health and movement). Part of the process is winnowing the list of CDF’s down to just three (three! I started with a list of 20!) and exploring what one might do (i.e., create an action plan) to experience more of those feelings on a daily basis.

I could write a novel about the workshop I attended and how I came up with my three Core Desired Feelings. But because this is a fitness website and most of you won’t stick around for more than about 800 words ;-) I’ll limit this post to sharing my ‘feeling words’ with you, explaining how they’re relevant to my fitness goals and talking a bit about how I intend to get more of those feelings in 2015.

WARNING: The following is a bit more ‘touchy-feely’ than most of the posts on this site. Tread lightly :-)

Appreciation: Working in this fitness industry, it’s easy to get sucked into comparing yourself with others. There will always be people who can run faster, lift heavier, do more pushups and look better in a bathing suit than I do. I need to practice appreciating my current level of fitness. Allowing myself to feel good about what’s going well, rather than focussing on what still needs work. That doesn’t mean being complacent and ‘settling’. It just means “meeting myself where I’m at”.

Connection: While it may sound strange given that I work in a social fitness environment (and that I’m always encouraging others to ‘find their tribe’), I don’t have a fitness tribe of my own. When I exercise with friends, I’m the ‘trainer’. When I participate in other instructors’ group fitness classes, I’m a colleague. When I exercise on my own, I’m trainer/friend/colleague/gym staff. I want to feel like I’m part of a group. People who are all looking to inspire, motivate and support one another to achieve more. I experienced this sense of connection and community several years ago when I trained at another facility. I’m looking into going back.

Ease: While fitness is already a habit for me, there are still some road blocks preventing me from making the process simple and automatic. This year I’m looking for ‘ease’. Not to be confused with ‘easy’, ease is all about reducing the activation energy required to make things happen. That means working on a program that’s designed specifically for me, perhaps by another trainer at the facility I mentioned above (personal trainers need personal trainers too). It also means creating a workout schedule for myself that’s impervious to my clients’ requests for extra sessions or changes in their training times.

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We created a ‘Core Desired Feelings’ memento by choosing one charm to represent each of our stated Core Desired Feelings.

 

And because the best way to get more of the feelings you want is to create those feelings in others, I’ll also be focusing on mirroring Appreciation, Connection and Ease;

  • Although feel very appreciative of my clients and class participants, I need to verbalize that appreciation more by letting them know that I value their energy, enthusiasm, perseverance and presence in my life.
  • I want to create more of a feeling of connection in my group fitness peeps by ensuring that everybody feels welcome in my classes. I’m going to focus on learning new participants’ names and expanding my circle of focus within the class to include participants I don’t already know well (Krys and Linda, that means you’ll be off the hook…).
  • Creating a feeling of ease for others by providing simple and clear cut instructions and meeting my clients where they are, not where I think they should be.
Now it’s your turn.

I challenge you to identify 2 or 3 feelings around fitness and health that you’d like to experience more of in 2015.

What will you do to get them? How might they help you achieve the goals and resolutions you’ve set for yourself?

Disclaimer: I have an Affiliate Marketing relationship with Amazon.com. That means that if you click on the text link below the image of the book “The Desire Map” and feel compelled to purchase your own copy (which I highly recommend, Affiliate Relationship or not), I’ll receive a small fee. It’s very small and doesn’t affect your purchase price at all. Thanks for your support!

Exercise for women over 40 | three key strength moves

With age comes wisdom, confidence and beauty (or so we’d like to think…)

exercise for women over 40

Wisdom, confidence and beauty; we’ve got it in spades!

For many women, the 40’s are a magical decade. Our confidence increases. We care less what the neighbours think. We have our own sense of personal style. And we’re more than happy to speak our minds (sometimes too loudly, according to our children…).

While we may be more comfortable in our own skin, often times that skin doesn’t look or feel the way we wish it did.

Seemingly overnight we find that the workouts that kept us fit and energized in our 20’s and 30’s no longer have the same effect. That our bodies take longer to recover from the dietary indulgences of vacation. That keeping up with our kids (and perhaps grandkids) is more exhausting than it used to be. And while the spirit is willing, our joints just can’t handle those ‘balls-to-the-wall’ high intensity moves during each and every workout (hello injuries and the resultant unplanned breaks from exercise…).

What’s a 40+ ‘girl’ to do? Why exercise smarter, not harder.

Include the following three exercises in your thrice-weekly strength workouts to feel and look better, without having to give up the occasional glass of wine or slice of cheesecake!

Three exercises every woman over 40 should be doing (and why)

1. Hip hinges

Hip bridges, hip thrusts and dead lifts are your body’s best friends. They strengthen your largest muscle groups (the hamstrings and gluteals) without the knee pain many experience when squatting and lunging. Strong glutes and hamstrings can improve your posture, reduce lower back, hip and knee pain, and even reduce that stubborn middle-of-the-body ‘menopot’.

exercise for women over 40

Setting up for a barbell dead lift

Even better? Because muscle burns more calories at rest than fat does, increasing lower body muscle mass via hip hinge movements can accelerate fat loss and help keep it off. Try single leg versions of the above exercises to further challenge your balance; another key component of fitness that tends to decline with age.

2. Push-ups

Looking to increase your upper body strength, tighten your core and tame that back-of-the-arm wobble? Drop and give me 10. When performed properly, a push-up does more than just work the chest. It’s a whole body exercise that requires the coordinated efforts of your arms, shoulders, chest, abdominals, back (both upper and lower), gluteals, hamstrings and calves.

exercise for women over 40

Push-ups from knees (top) and toes (bottom)

Try varying your hand placement (narrow, wide, staggered) and angle of incline (hands on the wall, hands on a bench, toes on a bench) to increase the dimensionality of the exercise. Concentrate on maintaining perfect plank alignment (flat back, tight belly and bum) and increasing the depth to which you can drop before adding more reps. Muscle range of motion shrinks as we get older; don’t hasten it by doing only half the exercise ;-)

3. Rows

Combine hours of sitting with excessive front of the body loading (I mean boobs, which, by the way, are a load that gets closer to the floor as we age…). Throw in a past pregnancy or three. And mix with a whole lot of mid-life stress. The perfect recipe for rounded shoulders and forward leaning posture.

Strengthening the upper back is key to standing tall and resisting the effects of gravity. Upright rows, bent-over rows, cable and pulley rows, plank rows; all are great exercises for offsetting our body’s increasing tendency to pitch forward as we age.

exercise for women over 40

Single arm bent-over row

Concentrate on maintaining a flat back (chest out, shoulders back and down), an engaged core (think “tighten your corset”) and a long neck (draw your shoulders down and away from your ears) as you pull the weights towards your body and squeeze your shoulder blades together in the middle of your back.

Putting it all together

Regardless of which variation of the three movements you decide on, aim for 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions of each. Choose a weight (or modification) that challenges you, while allowing you to just complete each set without compromising your form.

Throw in 10 to 15 minutes of cardio intervals (machines are fine, but body weight calisthenics like jumping jacks, jump squats, fast feet on the stairs and burpees can be done just about anywhere) and finish with a slow, static stretch. (Try the stretches in this post >> Essential stretches for mid-life exercisers)

Then get out of the gym and get on with the rest of your day. It’s gonna be awesome!

Do you have a favourite exercise for women over 40 that didn’t make my list?

What is it and how has it benefited you?

The science of creating new health and fitness habits

hab∙it; n. 1. actions that are triggered automatically in response to contextual cues that have been associated with their performance; 2. an established disposition of the mind or character; 3. customary manner or practice

Behavioural change is hard.

So hard, in fact, that there’s an entire sub-discipline of psychology devoted to studying how best to develop new habits (as well as eventually ridding ourselves of the old).

What those studies tell us, in a nutshell, is that we’re doing it all wrong. Making grandiose resolutions, setting unattainable goals and generally, adopting an ‘all or nothing’ mindset. A mindset that ultimately leads to yo-yo dieting and empty February gyms.

If you’re looking to increase the odds of making those new health and fitness habits ‘stick’ try the following:

 

new health and fitness habits

1. Choose a single, small habit to adopt. Practice it daily until it’s no longer a chore. This might take a week. It might take a month. Commit 100% to it’s practice. Remind yourself that you can do anything for a week or two. Once you’ve mastered it, choose another single, small habit to adopt. The trick is to retain the first habit while cultivating the second. And so on.

2. Associate that habit with contextual cues. Do it at the same time of day. Or in the same place. Use something to trigger it’s occurrence. For example, set your workout clothes out the night before. Put them on as soon as you get up. The clothes are your contextual reminder to head to the gym.

3. Reward yourself immediately. Humans are driven by positive rewards. The more immediate the reward, the stronger its effect on the likelihood that you’ll repeat the behaviour. Note that this doesn’t mean you need to buy yourself a pair of Fluevogs every time you successfully hit the gym.  Try creating a ‘star’ chart. Once you’ve earned 10 stars, treat yourself to something special; a book, a manicure, movie night with a friend. Just make sure the reward doesn’t undermine the new habit; i.e. a piece of chocolate cake isn’t a great reward for successfully eating 5 servings of fruit and vegetables ;-)

4. Regularly reflect on your progress and adjust your approach, if necessary. For example, if eating 8 servings of fruits and vegetables a day is the habit you’re trying to create, yet after a week or two of practice you only ever manage to eat 5, change your target habit to what you’re capable of repeatedly doing. Chances are those 5 servings are significantly greater than the 1-2 you were eating before. And once you’ve mastered this simplified version of the habit you’ll be ready to tackle the habit in its entirely.

5. Share your practice with others. Tell people what you’re intending to do and why. Enlist their support. Find an accountability tribe (in real life or online) and check in daily. Research shows keeping behavioural change a secret significantly reduces the likelihood of the new health and fitness habit ‘sticking’, thereby accounting for the popularity and success rates of group weight loss programs and exercise classes.

These are the exact same approaches I share with my personal training clients and the foundation of an all new online group training program I’m excited to share with you.

 

Introducing  ‘8-Week Healthy Habits Bootcamp’

 

A two-month program to help you start (or get back to) daily exercise and adopt a handful of new health and fitness habits.

Included in the course are:

  • 8 weeks of workouts, nutrition tips and mindset challenges
  • Twice-weekly coaching emails to inspire, challenge and educate
  • Membership in a private Facebook forum for motivation, accountability and support
  • Access to a members-only exercise library containing demonstrations of all exercises and exercise modifications
  • Unlimited e-support via Facebook (for queries of interest to the group) and e-mail (for questions of a more personal nature)
  • Workouts are individually customizable, with exercise modifications appropriate for beginners, advanced-beginners and intermediate exercisers and for both gym-goers and home-exercisers alike (note that I don’t provide custom programs for participants, but instead, teach you how to choose the appropriate level of each exercise for your goals, fitness level and abilities)
  • Optional one-on-one fitness coaching via e-mail, Skype or telephone (for added accountability, additional exercise modifications and video critique of form; not included in the cost of the course)

Click here for more details about the program, a link to the registration form and A’s to all of your Q’s.

 

Are there any particular new health and fitness habits you’re looking to adopt in 2015?

My favourite posts of 2014

This year, I’m doing something I don’t normally do over the Christmas holidays.

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No, not Christmas baking. That’s definitely a NORMAL Christmas-time activity at my house!

I’m taking a two-week hiatus from training clients, teaching classes, designing programs and creating new blog content. Two-weeks to recharge and relax and recover from a super busy and fulfilling fall.

I want to take a moment and thank you for visiting and commenting and sharing my content. It may sound cliche, but it really does make me happy when you tell me I’ve written something that inspires and motivates and educates you.

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My SUPER HAPPY face!

Since they’ll be no new blog posts until January the 6th, I leave you with my favourite posts of 2014. Regardless of whether you’re a new reader or a long-time supporter of this site, you’re sure to find something worth reading (or re-reading) below.

Something in the list tickle your fancy? Use the ‘sharing’ buttons at the bottom of the post to email, Tweet or share on social media with your own friends and followers.

Because I’m incapable of completely unplugging ;-), we can still stay in touch over the holidays via Facebook and Instagram. Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season and a joy-filled New Year!

Fitknitchick’s favourite posts of 2014

  1. Tips for getting through the January gym rush (arm yourself with coping strategies now)
  2. Four benefits of Turkish Getups (I’m still working on these; tough little buggers that they are)
  3. Tips for preventing workout-related injuries (2014 has been an injury-free year for me, in part, because I’ve started taking my own advice…)
  4. Easy ways to add balance training to your workouts (as we get older, balance training becomes even more important)
  5. Five steps to a successful ‘pantry’ raid (perfect for helping you clean out the fridge and re-stock after the holidays)
  6. Tips for breaking through strength training plateaus (even though you’re probably not plateauing at anything right now, other than Christmas baking, Pin this one for future reference; it’s a great post)
  7. Make your own meal plan: benefits of a boring diet (I crave boredom in my diet by the end of holidays and vacations…)
  8. Kettlebell training for beginners (did you get a kettlebell for Christmas? There are lots of tips to using them correctly in this post)
  9. Three all-or-nothing healthy mindsets debunked (treating fitness and food in a black and white manner is many of our downfalls…)
  10. Five reasons quick fixes don’t work (they really don’t and you KNOW this already)

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Is your favourite 2014 fitknitchick.com post on the above list?

If not, leave me a comment below telling me which of the 75+ posts I wrote this year resonated most with you (and why)!

Fitness clothes that inspire and motivate | EleVenbyVenus

If you’re a regular to this site, you’ll know that I don’t partner with brands very often.

In addition to not wanting to dilute your reading pleasure with too many ads and sponsored posts ( ;-) ), I just haven’t found very many brands whose mission statements resonate with my own (and that I love enough to happily spend my money on…)

A brand who celebrates women, in all their various sizes, shapes and colours, regardless of whether they’re an athlete, weekend warrior or yogi.

A brand who encourages and empowers us to push past doubts and limitations, not just in sport, but in all aspects of our lives.

A brand whose ambassadors are energetic, compassionate, up-lifting and joy-filled women, many of whom I’m happy to call friends.

A brand who creates refreshingly unique workout clothing that not only functions well during exercise, but makes you feel strong and feminine to boot.

Can you guess which brand I’m talking about? (Hint, I’ve been contributing essays to her blog for about six months now…).

That’s right. I’m now an Ambassador for EleVenbyVenus!

In the words of Venus Williams herself…

EleVenManifesto

 

In addition to working with a fantastic team of fellow Ambassadors (go #teamEleVenByVenus) and having the opportunity to provide feedback on the clothing line, I also get to share something with you.

A discount code.

So you can sample the outfits I’ve been sharing on Instagram for yourself!

Below are four of my current faves; all from her newest collection. Don’t you just love the lavender? And the ruching on the tank tops? So pretty!

Save 10% by adding my special discount code Team11TamaraG  in the coupon code box during checkout. (This discount applies to all new, full-price items; but there are lots of great pieces on sale too, with free shipping on orders over $50).

 

PicMonkey Collage

I’d love to know which pieces excite you! (Note the plural here; so much to love)

And take a moment to share why YOU’RE an ‘EleVen’ too.

 

Disclosure: As part of my Ambassadorship, I also receive a small commission on all purchases made via my site. I consider this a win-win situation; you get great clothes at a discounted price and I get thanked for referring you.

What’s the best workout when I’m short on time? | Ask a personal trainer

I get asked a lot of questions about exercise and nutrition.

Questions from my clients, group fitness participants, blog readers and social media followers. Sometimes these questions are of a personal nature and I reply privately. Other times, they’re queries that many of you may also be interested in hearing the answers to.

AskATrainer

Introducing a new, occasional feature on the blog: “Ask a Personal Trainer”.

(** And note, that names have been changed to protect those who don’t want to be ‘outed’ publicly ;-) )

What’s the best workout when I’m short on time? Ask a Personal Trainer
Dear Fitknitchick,
Let me start by saying that I love the free workouts you share on Facebook, YouTube and your blog. I think I’ve tried most of them by now and appreciate the work you’ve done in making them challenging, interesting and not too complicated (I’m not very coordinated…). My absolute favourite is your Whole Body Bosu Circuit Workout. Thanks!

However, sometimes I don’t have time to do the entire workout. My life is super hectic right now with a husband who travels for work, a part-time job of my own, a sick mother who needs my attention and two school age children whose activities take up much of our weekday evenings.

My question to you: if I only have time to do part of a workout, should I cut back on sets and repetitions or only do half of the exercises? Which one is better for my goal of reducing body fat and getting toned muscles? I should add that I can find fifteen minutes of time for exercise almost every day, but realistically can only fit a one hour workout in on Saturday (when my girls are at dance for the entire morning).

Thanks for taking the time to respond (and please keep those workouts coming!),

Anna**

****************************************

Dear Anna**,

And thank you for taking the time to ask a fantastic question! You’re certainly not alone in having limited time to exercise. Major kudos for being consistent with your ‘daily 15’; it’s precisely that consistency that will help you reach your fat loss-muscle building goals!

The most important thing you can do when your workout time is limited is prioritize your exercises. Ensure that the exercises you’re doing are the ones most likely to help you reach your goals.

In your case, I’d suggest choosing compound movements over single joint isolation exercises. That is, make sure you’re getting your squats, dead lifts, pushups and rows done before you consider adding a bicep curl or tricep extension to your workout. Not only will the big movements work more muscle groups, they’ll also burn more calories than the isolation exercises will. Plus, biceps and triceps will get a workout anyways; they help with rows and pushups, respectively!

Since you work out almost every day, I’d consider splitting your workouts up by body part. Concentrate on chest and back on day one (think pushups, chin ups, pull ups and rows), legs and glutes on day two (squat, lunge, dead lift and hip thrust) and arms and core on the third day of your workout week (shoulder press, planks and core rotation).

Then repeat the three workout days so that you’re getting two workouts per body part split each week. You should see good growth with this type of training program, particularly if you’re lifting to near fatigue and progressing your workouts from week to week by increasing the difficulty of the exercise or upping the load you’re lifting.

If you find you’re super pressed for time, choose two or three exercises per workout and aim to perform 2 to 3 sets of 8-10 good form reps of each. Super- or tri-setting them (performing one set of each exercise, back to back, before repeating the mini circuit) will save you the traditional minute between sets, getting you through your workout even faster.

And don’t forget to save a few minutes for stretching at the end. Often, when we’re short of exercise time, stretching is the first thing we drop from our routine. Even 3-4 minutes of post-working stretching is enough to help flush out lactic acid and reduce delayed onset muscle soreness.

Let me know if this helps!

Tamara

Have a fitness or nutrition question that needs answering?

Chances are if something’s puzzling you, it’s also puzzling somebody else. Drop me a note in the box below and you may just be featured on the next edition of ‘ Ask a Personal Trainer’.

 

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Prepare to succeed | Tips for overcoming your inner saboteur

When it comes to starting and sticking with a new exercise program, nobody undermines our efforts better than we, ourselves, do.

The most common stumbling block to developing new fitness habits isn’t time or money or access to a gym or clean workout clothes (don’t laugh, I’ve heard this one more than a few times).

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It’s that little voice in our head that tells us “it’s okay to miss a workout” because we’re “tired” or “don’t have time to fuel properly” or “already exercised enough this week” or “can’t find any other time to have coffee with Sally”.

No matter how excited you are to get started with a new program, it’s inevitable that you’ll eventually tire of it and start to look for excuses not to exercise. It’s human nature. We love things when they’re shiny and novel. Not so much once the bloom is off the rose.

The difference between people who successfully push through the excuses and under-mining self-talk and those who don’t?

They expect the excuses to happen and plan for how they’ll deal with it when their inner saboteur inevitably shows up.

Tips for overcoming your inner saboteur:
  • bullet-proof your excuses. Know yourself well enough to draw up a list of the excuses you’ll be most likely to use. Draft a response for each excuse. Remind yourself of your ‘why'; the reason you started down this path in the first place. (Not sure what your ‘why’ is? Scroll down to the bottom of this post and grab a copy of my free e-book “5 Steps to Exercise Happiness”. The first step is finding your ‘why’.)
  • adopt a ‘just 10-minutes’ attitude. Tell yourself that when it comes to exercise, something is always better than nothing. Commit to 10 minutes. If, at the end of that time, you really are too tired to continue (or Sally texts you wondering why you’re late for coffee…), finish up and commend yourself for what you did, rather than berating yourself for what you didn’t. Oh, and if that 10 minutes was exactly what you needed to get  jazzed about working out, continue on. Sometimes all you need is a little movement to overcome that activation threshold.
  • create rules around exercise. Decide what your ‘bare minimum’ exercise week looks like. Create rules to maintain this routine. My two exercise rules? “Always work out on Monday” (for me, missing a Monday paves the way for a less-than-stellar workout week) and “Never take more than 2 days in a row off” (I find it incredibly difficult to come back to the gym after 3 days off).
  • enlist an accountability partner. Have a friend or family member who’d be happy to give you a swift kick in the pants from time to time? I know I do ;-). Enlist their help by giving them your workout schedule for the week and asking them to send you a quick text or email when you’re supposed to be heading out the door. Even better? Get them to commit to exercising with you. Promise to support and encourage each other to follow through with the plan, even on days when one of you isn’t feeling it.
  • hire a personal trainer. In addition to teaching you proper exercise form, creating a program that’s individualized for you and progressing that program at appropriate intervals, your trainer won’t allow you to succumb to your inner saboteur. Just knowing that she’s waiting for you at the gym is often enough to overcome the excuses in your head. (And if they’re still hanging around when you arrive for your workout, she’ll be happy to assign a few burpees to help banish them…)

tips to overcome your Inner Saboteur

What excuses does your inner saboteur tempt you with?

Tell me your favourite way to give that negative voice ‘what for’!

Why I don’t want to survive the holidays

The holiday season is upon us.

surviving the holidays

For me, this is what the holidays are truly about.

Every time I turn on the computer I see articles and posts and Tweets about ‘surviving’ it.

Surviving the stress. Surviving the food. Surviving the ‘busy’. Surviving with our waistlines and pocketbooks and sanity intact.

While most of these writers mean well (and are full of tips to help you stay on track with your regular fitness and nutrition plan), I can’t help but feeling sad each time I see the word SURVIVE.

survive the holidays

My ‘sad’ face

To me, ‘surviving’ means barely keeping my head above water. Doing the have-to’s not the want-to’s. Looking to the future in the hopes that it’ll soon be over. A mindset of endurance rather than abundance.

I don’t want to just survive the holidays. I want to embrace them and enjoy the time spent with family and friends. I want to slow down and be more present.

I want to sample the food and drink that only makes an appearance this time of the year. I want to celebrate and sing and dance without worry and guilt and shame.

And without the need to make New Years Resolutions around fitness and food.

I don’t want to survive the holidays. I want to THRIVE through the holidays.

For me, thriving means:

  • sticking to my regular exercise schedule; exercise helps control appetite and stress and often results in better food choices for the remainder of the day. When I exercise, my body releases a flood of endorphins that make me feel happy and at peace with the world.
  • allowing myself to sample seasonal food and drink without guilt and recrimination; reminding myself that wine and sweet treats are available year-round reduces the need to over-indulge during the holiday season. Remember that it’s not the choices you make between Thanksgiving and New Years that make you gain weight, but the habits your adopt between New Years and Thanksgiving… The key word here is ‘sample’!
  • making sleep a priority; with late night parties and social events increasing in frequency it’s easy to let sleep slide. Yet maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is instrumental in keeping mid-life pounds at bay via its effect on your body’s production of stress hormone. Leaving the party early allows me to always enjoy the morning after.
  • not accepting every invitation I receive; there’s nothing worse than attending a social gathering out of a sense of obligation. Going because you feel like you have to not because you want to. For me, limiting my “yes’s” during the holidays ensures that when I do go out my friends and family get to spend time with ‘happy and engaged’ me. And when I’m happy and engaged, I tend to spend a lot less time near the food and drinks table ;-)
I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for ‘thriving’ during the holiday season!