I feel ________ (squishy, chunky, etc.)

“I FEEL CHUNKY.”

I have heard this from several people in my life recently. Some are just saying it as a statement with no negative intent, and some are saying it because it’s making them doubt themselves or feel sad. I just want to tell them they aren’t and it wouldn’t matter if they did gain weight, but I don’t want to make anyone’s feelings less valid. I understand that bodies change, and sometimes we don’t love what they do… but maybe we should focus more on why things are happening instead of just getting upset that it did happen. I’m a health positive advocate, meaning I care about overall health, first and foremost, and do not base that off of weight.

What is the worst thing if you did gain a little weight? Are you still you? Are you any less of a person because of a fluctuation? Is your overall health still good (lungs, heart, brain?) If a little “squish” is the worst thing happening to you right now, I’d say that you’re doing pretty well. I know it may seem like a bad thing, but it may not be! Maybe your body is trying to protect you or tell you something?! Try to give yourself some grace right now. Use this time to heal, to listen to your body, and to take care of yourself.

I understand that we all may feel certain ways about our bodies, and that sometimes we can’t help but feel we are being judged for how we look. We may feel uncomfortable sometimes and have things we don’t like, and I know I definitely have times where I don’t love how I look and feel. BUT I know there is a balance that we can all find, and it’s different for everyone. I have done so much work to heal my body after torturing it for years. It’s taken a lot of work with a lot of support, but I have been able to learn what my body is telling me a lot of the time. We can teach ourselves to listen to our bodies and if we pay attention, we can address things that need to be and accept and embrace our individual selves.

So, I feel squishy and watery, why?! It could be something salty I ate. It could be hormones that are out of sorts a little and trying to adjust themselves. It could be that I have been having a glass of wine or beer that my body is not used to. It’s not the end of the world, and after you do a little work to see what’s going on, you can address how you feel mentally and physically.

If you don’t like what I just said, that’s fine, but here is some science-based info on what may be happening right now if you are feeling squishier than you’d like:

Water retention, which can have several causes. A lot of us are not drinking the same amount of water compared to a few months ago. We are all in a heightened stress state right now, whether you feel it or not, and that means there is probably a little more stress hormone (cortisol) running through your body. Due to stress or just the changes that have happened we may be drinking more coffee and/or alcohol. These changes can all be part of what is causing this feeling, and here are a few possible explanations, and some tips on how to adjust them (if you want to.)

Dehydration- Did you know that if you drink more water, you retain less? It’s a biological response to hold water when it is scarce. Your body decides to hold onto water when you’re dehydrated because it’s not sure when you will get more, and it is vital for survival. Not sure if you’re dehydrated? Look at your pee. It should be a pale-yellow color, and if it’s darker, work on increasing water intake slowly each day. (You can do it all at once if you don’t trust me, but you will pee constantly and have a real bad time.) Keep a water bottle nearby, and check in with yourself throughout the day to see how much you’re drinking. (P.S. I realized how little water I have had today as I was writing this. Even if you know something, that doesn’t mean you always are perfect at it. Be kind to yourself and do what you can.)

Stress- What does cortisol and stress have to do with how I look and feel? A. LOT. When your body is stressed and cortisol levels increase, that causes a spike in the hormone that controls water balance in the body, known as the anti-diuretic hormone or ADH. Prolonged stress can also lead to other issues such as Adrenal Fatigue (but I am not qualified to diagnose/treat any of these. I know people though, so please ask if you think this may be a problem for you.) What can you do to help with stress? Meditate. There are a ton of free apps out there if you are like me and have a hard time doing self-guided meditation (I use one called Stop, Breathe, Think.) You could try to minimize unnecessary stressors in life, like reading article after article of negative information. Stay informed, but pay attention to body language, and if you start to realize your shoulders are migrating towards your ears, maybe that’s enough for the day.

Alcohol and caffeine- These are both psychoactive substances, meaning they affect your brain, which is why we take them. Alcohol slows things down and caffeine speeds things up… can you see where this is headed? It’s VERY easy to have a drink with dinner, go to bed, and wake up tired. Then you have some coffee because you’re tired. Then you are super awake since you pounded coffee all day and now you just need something to relax. If this sounds like you, please know I am not judging at all. I have done the same thing at points in my life, and it’s a challenging habit to start breaking, but totally doable. Start by cutting the daily amount down by either limiting each serving, or cutting down on frequency.

Sleep- Everyone knows we need it, but it’s still a challenge for a lot of us. A lot of times our sleep is disrupted due to the three things we already discussed: dehydration, stress, and psychoactive substances like coffee and alcohol.  You’re dehydrated so you’re thirsty. You drink a bunch of water before bed, and now you have to pee several times in the night. You’re stressed out and can’t shut your brain off. Then you stress out about only getting 7, 6, 5, hours of sleep and it takes even longer (or maybe that is just me.) You can’t sleep because you have coffee too late, and now you want a nightcap. You fall asleep, but alcohol decreases the time of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep which is where your body gets to recover. Then you wake up tired and have some coffee. Your sleep is super important, and by working on improving habits listed above, you can hopefully improve your sleep habits. This will in turn help with stress and allow you to feel better throughout the day. You may not need as much coffee to feel alive. You may not feel as stressed throughout the day because you had a nice deep sleep the night before.

I hope this has been helpful, and has given you some things to think about. Regardless if this is the cause of your “squishy” feeling or not, improving these areas is only going to help benefit your overall health. You can only control so much in life, and you get to choose to do something about it, or just talk about it. One is a positive and the other is a neutral, at best… you decide what you want to do, and if you want help, I am always here for you.

 

O.W.N. your body. O.W.N. your strength. O.W.N. your life!

X- Shea

  P.S. Jack Jack is always a little chunky, and he loves life. Be like Jack Jack (loving life no matter what.)

Photo credit: dirtiedogphotography.com (Marika is the best! Check it out and if you’re in Seattle, she can capture your furry, scaly, or hairy loved ones and all of their personality!)

 

 

“Stuff Happens”

 

We all know the other version of that phrase, but I am trying to be professional right now. Sometimes in life, stuff happen. Challenges that you are faced with, and you get to decide how to respond. It can be as simple as someone taking a parking spot you were going for. You can’t control that someone took the spot you wanted, but you CAN control how you move forward, or IF you move forward. Are you going to let that make you angry and ruin your day? Maybe. Are you going to be mildly annoyed, park a little further away, and go on about your day? It just depends on you and your emotional awareness at the time.

I bring this up because I recently dislocated my right shoulder… for the fifth time. I have had consistent knee injuries the past 10 years (ACL tears, meniscus tears, dislocations, bone bruises, ect.,) have dislocated both shoulders 3-5 times each, A/C separation on my left shoulder, SLAP tear on my left shoulder, sprained ankles, broken toes, and honestly I could go on. A lot, right? Some of these injuries were absolutely my fault, meaning: something felt weird, my stupid “athlete mentality” told me to push through it, and boom, something is not as it should be. Some of them, including this most recent one, just shouldn’t have happened, but it did.

Now I am faced with 2-6 weeks in a sling on my dominant arm (and a super sore neck,) modifying everything I have been working on in the gym, training 4-12 people daily, and everything taking twice as long. When I put it like that, it sounds depressing and sad. But, I am not depressed or sad. I am grateful that it wasn’t my knee again. I have accept that it happened, and as much as it sucks, I refuse to let it ruin my day (or the next 14-42 days.) I do slightly feel like I have let my clients down in some way, but I am so fortunate to have amazing clients/friends, that have all honestly made me feel better. Not one of them has related my injuries with my ability to coach and support them reaching their goals. Each person that I interact with has shown compassion, has been willing to help even though I am stubborn and don’t like needing help. All of my people *see previous post on finding your people* inspired me to stay positive, and to keep taking care of myself so I can hopefully avoid this in the future, or be better prepared to deal with it.

I say “hopefully” because no matter how much “injury prevention” you do, sometimes “stuff happens.” This shouldn’t have happened since I have been strengthening my shoulders for several years, but it did. It shouldn’t have happened considering that I can do several other, more challenging, actions and not get injured, but it did. It shouldn’t have happened because I see people with the worst movement patterns and too much load come out completely unscathed, but it did. I could get upset that I have been dealing with injuries pretty consistently most of my life. I could get upset and think about how “great I could be, if only…,”  and I could be annoyed having to hear everyone’s input on how I shouldn’t do certain things and should probably stop working out (no joke,) but I am not. Stuff happens! I will work on rehabbing this one while continuing to do my best to prevent future ones. I will allow everyone to tell me their opinions because I know that behind their words is thoughtfulness and care, even if that is not how it comes across at first. When it comes down to it, I know my body, and I know what I need to do.

The reason I am writing this is not for sympathy, it is to remind you that sometimes things happen. Sometimes, life throws you curveballs. Sometimes things don’t go your way, and you have the choice to make on how you deal with it. I chose to not let this injury make me upset and dwell.  I allowed myself time to process that it occurred, be sad for a little bit, and pull it together to set up a plan to recover and go on about life. I have been applying my annoyingly positive attitude to this, taken a look at all of the wonderful people that I interact with and support me, and decided that I am going to use it to become better than I was before.

What stuff has happened in your life that you wish you handled differently? OR what challenging situation are you proud of your response?

P.S. No, the pull ups in the photo are not how I injured my shoulder. That was from my workout prior to the injury. 😉

It’s Baking Season, Wha Whaaaa?!

Warning: It’s a long one!

It’s the best time of year! No, not Fall/Autumn, although I won’t argue with that, but no. It’s baking season. The time of year where you can bake homemade goods to your heart’s content, and not overheat your whole house!

If you have met me, you know that I really enjoy baking, and have been doing so for over 20 years. It started with my Grandma Leonard when I was around 5 or 6. She always made pies and would let me help by “crimping” the crust (shaping it to look pretty/ sealing the top and bottom crusts together.) From there, she taught me how to make the crust from scratch, and her tricks for kneading the dough just enough to make it super flaky. I would make some gross creations as a kid (all edible, just odd combinations and a chance of raw cookie dough as a “crust,”) but it taught me patience and provided an outlet for creativity. Now, it is one of my favorite ways to “disconnect” and take time for myself.

I love baking for the same reason I love lifting weights- it’s amazing what you can do/create, it involves failure which provides opportunities to get better, and it brings people together.  It’s a way that I can show that I genuinely care, and it comes from the heart. I have tried new ways to make things have more nutritional value (less added sugars, possibly some protein,) but not seem like the recipe is altered at all. I have modified recipes for food allergies, and I have definitely made some “protein brownies” that the texture and taste of a dry sponge. It’s all exciting and once a bake is complete, I feel a sense of accomplishment, just like after a lift.

I know what you’re thinking- having your trainer talk to you about baked goods can be conflicting right?

My opinion: I have mentioned “balance” several time before, and this is a perfect example. Some people have an “impending doom” feeling around this time of year because of all of the delicious baked goods and desserts that will be readily available and seemingly irresistible. I hear what they’re saying, BUT… you need to be able to live your life, and that life might include a homemade pie or some cookies here and there, and that is OKAY! I like talking to my clients about this stuff because it provides a platform to educate them about how to have balance in their life. I can hopefully encourage them to trust themselves when making food decisions, and educate them on how their bodies process what they put into it. It is important that they have established that inner trust and do not need to feel restricted or have “guilt” around certain foods.

The three main arguments I hear are usually: 1) So you tell your clients to eat pie all the time?! 2) That’s dumb, aren’t you a trainer, is that just job security? 3) Isn’t that just giving them an excuse to eat crappy food and never get better?

My answers to those: I can’t make a decision for anyone, but I can help make sure they are knowledgeable about how their body works and what happens when they eat different things. I make sure they know that it is okay to have some pie as long as they are listening to their bodies, and paying attention how things make them feel. If they need to eat a whole pie and feel sick to their stomach to learn, guess what, they learned and hopefully now they are self aware enough to not do that again- NOT because I told them, but because they now know how THEY feel.

Encouraging them to make their own decisions is why I have job security. We are in a time that it’s easy to get caught up in the “no pain, no gain,” “Low calorie ice cream so you can eat the whole thing,” “food guilt,” nonsense, and I have definitely taken part of that myself.  This is why I coach people through their workouts, and let THEM control what they eat. I am happy to give advice or my opinion on foods, but I do not dicatate what they can/can’t eat, and I refuse to cause the endless cycle of restricting> binging> guilt> restricting> and so on!

And on that note, favorite pies to make:

Savory- Chicken Pot Pie

Sweet- Chocolate Cream Pie (to eat), Marionberry Pie (to make)

Live your lives and revel in the season of baking!! What is your favorite thing to bake, or something that you have always wanted to try?