Blogs

LISTEN to your body!

Most people think that the hardest part about reaching your fitness goals is making it to the gym. For some that may be true, but personally, I have a hard time listening to my body when I should NOT go to the gym. I love working out; it’s a great escape for my brain from everything else I have going on, and as silly as it sounds, it’s my “me time.” I try not to think about work, the dogs, what’s for dinner, the dishes that are in the sink, how dirty my car is, nothing. I feel great and can manage my thoughts better afterwards. The hard part for me is to remember more isn’t always better, and although I know this, I still have a hard time putting it into practice.

I recently went to visit my family for the Fourth of July. They live in a small town and my dad organizes the fireworks show there. That means that we help get the fireworks moved, built, wired, taken down, and moved back again. Now add that to my normal lifting schedule, sleeping on a different mattress, and bookend it with 6 hour drives. As I write this out, it would only make sense to take a day or two off, or maybe have a light week. Guess what I did the day I got back? Deadlifts… or I tried. They felt awful, I was tired, and the weight was super heavy. I left feeling annoyed and like I should have stayed home. Luckily, I stopped before I hurt myself,  but I should have let my body recover more, and gone back when I was ready and crushed it.

I could have listened to my body saying that it was tired when it was more challenging than normal to get up off of the ground after playing with the dogs. I could have listened when I felt my whole body giving on lazy vibes taking forever to get ready. I could have listened when I was more focused on the annoying people at the gym than on my own warm up. I could have, but I didn’t, even though I know better. I am not worried anymore that I will lose results if I don’t go, and I know that recovery is immensely important, and yet I still made this mistake. But, instead of going back again today to make up for my poor workout- I took a rest day!

              Instead of pushing my body even harder when it is so clearly telling me to rest, I chose to do some light mobility work, organize a bunch of files I have been neglecting, work on my business and write to all of you wonderful peeps. I am sharing my story because we all need reminders, even if this is just to myself. I need to make time for my body to recover. I need to make time for my brain to recover and find other ways to manage my stress. You need to listen to your body when it comes to a workout. It is okay to take rest days. It is okay to need time away from the gym. You will not “fall off the wagon” for missing one day, and you will be better prepared for your next workout when you allow proper recovery.

              Our bodies are amazing and we should treat them as such! What do you guys do to help keep balance with the gym?

Positive > Negative

It’s very easy to have a negative mindset, sometimes without even realizing it. If we are constantly telling ourselves these small, negative statements, eventually it adds up. ‘Oh, my left leg is my weaker leg because it’s injured from high school.’ (*A statement I have actually said/thought for years.) Instead of saying that your left leg isn’t good enough and staying attached to an injury that happened ten years ago, try saying “non- dominant” instead of weak. You WERE injured, but you’re not now. Your brain controls your body, right? If you’re always telling your brain that “I’m injured,” your body will act as if it is. If you tell yourself that it’s getting stronger, you will start to notice new things that you can do.

I hear people all the time say that they just want to “tone” but they don’t want to get “too big.” My first instinct for a long time was to roll my eyes… and then I remember that I definitely have said those statements before. Now I know how to dig a little deeper with the client and say “tone means muscle tone, so we can help build some muscle so they show more.” Or “how big is too big? Professional bodybuilders?” And I can explain that it will never accidentally happen, and it’s actually really hard to get “big.”

Things to think about when you talk about the gym:

Muscle > Bulky.

Non dominant > Weak.

I get to workout > I have to workout.

Progress > Failure.

I firmly believe that the effort you put in mentally will determine if you are successful or not. As you work on these positive thoughts, don’t get discouraged if you have a hard time changing. You may not be good at them YET, but try to keep working on it, and the positivity will just feed off itself. Eventually, you may even be “annoyingly positive” like I claim to be! (Trust me, it’s great!!)

I’d love to hear more examples of how you have used the power of positivity to help accomplish your goals!

Vanity

The gym has had and always will have the vanity aspect. I am not saying that it’s wrong for wanting to look a certain way, I am only bringing light to how it can cause harm if you don’t have the right “why” behind it.

I used to workout only because I wanted to look a certain way- think of all the Instagram models and celebrity trainers six packs, zero fat, and somehow always smiling while they eat salads. I used to be a slave to the mirror and was never nice to myself. I always wanted to “become fit” instead of accepting that I already was my own version, I just needed some strength and muscle to be healthy. I would work out for two to three hours a day, plus an hour of cardio, obsessively meal prep, and guess what? I still wasn’t happy with how I looked, and I was not healthy at all! I would get sick often, I ended up having multiple severe injuries from activities outside of the gym, and my digestion was unable to function properly. My hormones got out of whack, my brain was in a constant state of fog (except for the belittling thoughts I used to tell myself all hours of the day,) but I needed to look that way. And why?! So other people might notice I have abs? How? I would never wear anything to show that, and don’t really like attention in general. Since I am stubborn, it took years of all of the red flags and major events to finally sink in, and unfortunately it took me years to fix everything I had done to my body, even though my brain was ready to be better. I am no longer willing to sacrifice my health or life just so I have no fat on my arms and stomach (fun fact: spot reduction isn’t a thing.) I am no longer willing to alienate relationships by obsessing over how I look. I like how I look- strong, happy, and healthy.

Life has too much potential to worry about what others think of your body. You have cellulite? I guarantee nobody notices or cares. You used to weigh #130 in high school and now you’re closer to #180, most people won’t know or care how much you weigh. The people that add value to your life will not care about appearance, but will care about you and keeping you around as long as possible. They will care that you can go out to eat with them, or go on kayaking adventures sometimes! Why miss out on things you enjoy because you fear what others think of your physical appearance? I am definitely guilty of this, even now. There are certain clothes in my closet that I second guess wearing because I don’t have a “6 pack,” and all trainers should, right? No. Some do, some don’t, and that’s great for them either way.

Be as vain as you want, but try to have balance. I work my shoulders often because I want them bigger, but I am not willing to sacrifice neck pain or migraines from overworking them. Find your balance, and make sure that it’s what YOU want. Think about why you want to look that way. Is it for you? Is it for someone else? Is it because a magazine said it’s “in” to look a certain way. Next time you start to think about someone else’s looks, good or bad, first think about why you care? Maybe think about what they want in life, and how their body allows them to do that. We should all just try to be our best selves and live our best lives. Let’s support others in doing so as well, and sometimes that even if means just keeping your mouth shut. Even compliments on physical appearance can lead to negative thoughts for some. It’s not a fault that we have been conditioned to value physical appearance, but let’s add some compliments and value to function as well. I’ll have a blog soon about different ways to compliment someone if you notice them changing- spoiler- comment on what they can do now instead of how they look. 😉

Thanks for reading, now go out and O.W.N. your day!

-Shea

What Body Positive means to me

Sometimes I hesitate to post things in fear that they will be misconstrued. Pretty much anything can offend someone now, and that’s just the time we live in. We also live in a time where people like me have a platform to explain and possibly educate others on certain topics; or at least spark some thoughts and provide a different perspective; or maybe even validate what someone has been feeling already.

I am a “body positive” advocate and that is how I train my clients, women AND men. When that term first started coming out, it made me gag a little. It drove me nuts that people were “perpetuating obesity” as a healthy way of life. But then I thought about what it meant to me, and maybe that’s what some others thought as well. Maybe we didn’t have to let it get hijacked by those who wanted excuses to not put in effort to take care of their body.

I don’t believe there is a certain “look” of health. We set goals based off of what my clients want to do in life. I don’t think that bodyweight is the determining factor of someone’s overall health. I also believe that healthy individuals value their amazing bodies, and want to maintain or improve them so they can be the best version of themselves.

To me, it does not mean that you are morbidly obese with Type II diabetes and high blood pressure, but that you are healthy and should “rock it.” It is not my place to tell you what you need to do, but in my opinion if you are body positive, that means you appreciate your body. If you appreciate your body, you will take care of it the best you possibly can. That means practicing some sort of exercise in our sedentary lives. (I’m a huge fan of weight lifting for everyone, literally everyone, and that doesn’t mean competitive bodybuilding or powerlifting, but we’ll touch on that another time.) That means thinking about the things you put in and on your body. That means actually being proactive about ensuring your body stays healthy, not just saying “eff it, this is how I am and you have to like it and say that I am attractive, health risks and all!”

To me, body positive means valuing the things your body is capable of, not comparing it to *insert anybody who isn’t you.* It doesn’t matter how much you weigh, but it matters that you overcame your fear of the gym, and now are doing deadlifts! It doesn’t matter if you have a size 27 inch waist, but it matters that you have built the strength you need to take the kayaking trip you have been planning for years! It doesn’t matter if you are “heavier” than some chart says you should be, but it matters that you put in the effort to make smart decisions when it comes to what foods and activities your body needs.

Look at the amazing things that you are able to do because of your body. Walking, running, standing up, carrying groceries, going on hikes, playing sports, etc. Body positive means feeding the machine that gets you through life, both literally and metaphorically. Be kind to yourself. If you are nervous that someone is going to notice something on your body you don’t like, ask yourself: “Why would I care what they think?” “Why would I give that other person any power over how I view myself?” This is your O.W.N. journey, and you control the outcome.

If you have thoughts or would like to share what body positive means to you, please send it via Facebook or email: shealeonardpt@gmail.com! Let’s have people hear your story too!

Gym Dread

Sometimes we allow others to influence our feelings. This can happen anywhere in life; while getting groceries, while shopping for clothes, going to the gym, anywhere. That one person who is in a permanent state of “bad mood.” It can turn you off to the whole idea of the place you encountered them at, and make you dread going there.

I grew up playing sports, but weight lifting and the gym setting was sort of intimidating to me. I assumed that everyone was going to be watching everything I did and criticizing it. All of those people who knew what they were doing would see me, and instantly know I was new and doing stuff wrong. One example: I used to do squats without squeezing my glutes because I was worried people would see me clenching my butt. No joke, I intentionally did a movement wrong in fear that someone would see me do it right. What if they were mean to me because I am new and not as strong as them? Not a thing. Years later, I now realize how silly and unrealistic my fears were. Who cares what others think of me in the gym?! I wasn’t doing it for them, but I still built up dread in my mind that they felt I didn’t belong there.

Now I know that most people there are focusing on what THEY are doing, rather than others around them. I started out by being intimidated by others, and now I may even be perceived as intimidating (until you meet me and realize I am super nice and just love working out.) I have muscle, I wear a baseball cap low, have several visible tattoos, and I lift heavy.

Remebering how I started has shaped who I am now. If I notice someone looking at me or we make eye contact, I smile or nod. I am not saying that every time someone looks at you at the gym you need to smile. You do you, but I chose to smile to let them know I am happy they are there. My mission is to open their minds to the idea that maybe we don’t have anything else in common, but we have the gym, and that is pretty awesome.

Be kind to each other, and stick with it, even if it is a little scary at first. Stay focused on why you started and try not to compare yourself to others. If you’re finding yourself dreading the gym, maybe look into a workout buddy or personal trainer (another blog coming soon on finding the good ones.) They can help ease you into the workouts, build confidence, and keep you accountable. Plus, trainers are kind of like your gym bodyguards. They will make sure you get what you need to done. You don’t have to worry about other people intimidating you because they will keep you grounded and focused, instead of building up dread around things that aren’t true.

On the rare occasion someone is rude to you in the gym, that is absolutely their problem and has nothing to do with you. I have found that “killing them with kindness” truly does work, and try to brush it off and know that you belong there as much as anyone!

When the sunshine calls

It’s hard to keep up with any routine, let alone one that keeps you inside during the summer. This is especially true in the PNW, am I right? We enjoy our sunshine and want to be in it as much as possible.

It’s fun to have more daylight and be able to spend time outside with friends, but you have worked too hard on your health routine to give up now.  Think about incorporating a few of these ideas to keep you on track with your health and fitness goals.

-Indoors killing your summer vibes- Instead of going to the gym to do your conditioning, why not take it outside? If you normally run on the treadmill, try going for a run in your neighborhood. If you normally take the bus to work, try to ride a bike part of the way. The best part- YOU are the resistance and speed so adjust as needed to fit your goals.

-Playgrounds and parks aren’t just for kids- If you have access to a park with stairs, try creating a workout on there. Step ups, Single leg drop downs, Push ups, Bear Crawl, Toe Taps, etc. Don’t even get me started if you have a resistance band; you can do a total body workout with those!

-The buddy system- Before you guys celebrate “Taco Tuesday,” make a date with your activity of choice. Not because tacos are “bad,” (they are most definitely not bad!) Do it because you care about your body, and as wonderful as tacos are, you shouldn’t turn your back on your goals for them. Balance is key and it helps to have an accountability buddy!

-Modify frequency- If you used to go to the gym 4 days a week, try to keep 2 days in the gym for full body days. That way you at least get a little bit of everything and can keep up with your routine.

If you know that you won’t do any of these on your own, there are options for you. You could try a group class just to keep something in your schedule and still have community. Some even have outdoor classes! Groups not your thing? Try reaching out to a fitness professional in your area for private sessions. Accountability is hard and it’s okay to need help with it!

Enjoy the sunshine Peeps!

-Shea