Category Archives: Conventional Wisdom – How I hate you
So I’ve done a few posts over at Redefining Strength, which I think are pretty helpful….
In case you didn’t see them (and in case they will help you since I know they answered a number of questions I’ve received recently), I’ve posted them below!
This first post “10 Hanging Core Exercises” is because I get asked for “ab exercises” all the time and honestly crunches really give you very little bang for your buck.
Hanging core exercises on the other hand work on your grip strength, lat strength and core strength. They can help you work toward all sorts of exercises such as pull ups, L-sits and front levers.
They are a compound movement and have some functional benefit…unlike crunches.
For 10 of the Hanging Core Exercises I use most often, check these out!
And while we are discussing core strength, I think it is important that we cover BACK PAIN. One of the best tools to alleviate back, hip, neck and shoulder pain is the PEANUT.
The Peanut is a cheap, homemade tool made out of athletic tape and tennis balls. Here are instructions on how to make and use the Peanut to alleviate your pain! (Can I also just say…It isn’t freaking easy to use spray paint!?!)
And the last two posts I want to point out are on Rotational Exercises and the Dip.
The 10 Rotational Exercises post came up because all too often people are only training in one plane of motion…And then they wonder why they get injured lifting something in everyday life. It is because in everyday life we lift awkward crap in every plane of motion. And if we want to remain injury free, our workouts need to reflect that. (Plus…still on my whole “strengthen your core thing” rotational exercises are great core moves!)
And the Dip post is for all of you women out there asking me how to get sexy arms for tank top, strapless dress and bikini season. The Dip can be a great compound movement to strengthen and tone your entire upper body. Don’t waste your time with isolated movements like the tricep extension! Work numerous muscles at once. And if you are already doing push ups, the Dip is a great vertical push exercise to include in your routines!
And if you can’t do a full dip, the post has some great ways to regress the movement!
It can be very hard to hold yourself back when you feel like you could do more….when you have done more before.
But just because you CAN do something, just because you’ve even done it in the past, doesn’t mean your body is ready to handle it right now.
For instance, I was gym-less for about a month and, on top of that, I’d been focusing on breathing squats and upping my weights with that. I hadn’t done any type of deadlift but supplemental single leg deadlifts for numerous months.
While I’d been working on leg and glute strength, I hadn’t done any conventional deadlifts for a very long time.
So yesterday when I decided to do conventional barbell deadlifts for the first time in many months, I knew I had to take my time and start with less weight than I wanted.
Even when the weight felt easy, I knew I had to take things slowly.
Because while my muscles may have been strong enough and I had even lifted double the weight I was using for double the reps, it really won’t benefit me to just drastic increase the weight after not having done much weight or even that specific movement for a few months.
My body needed time to readjust to the movement. (Plus what would be the point of making myself so sore I threw off my other workouts that week and then couldn’t go harder the next week?!?)
And I considered all of this and chose to use lighter weight even though I’d been doing heavy lifts so my connective tissue was prepared to handle heavy loads.
I took it slow. Because there is no point to push too far too fast.
So just imagine if you hadn’t ever lifted before and you jumped straight into heavy weight.
While your muscles may be able to lift the weight, your body, your connective tissues, may not be ready to handle the load.
And pushing too far too fast will only lead to injury.
So why not take it slow and be able to build up with no setbacks!?!
Is being able to think you are gnarly cause you lifted a ton on your first attempt really worth it?
Or is it more worth it to remain injury free and end up being able to lift even heavier weights in the long run?
I think lifting more weight in the long run and remaining injury free is worth the wait. I think it is worth taking things slowly and not giving into pride.
But maybe that is just me…..
Next time you feel the urge to do more, think about why you really want to do more.
Is it because of pride? Is it because you don’t feel tired enough right then and there and have to “feel” like you did enough?
Is it because you are more focused on being sore than on progression?
Because the thing is…Small incremental changes over time will lead to bigger and better LASTING RESULTS.
Do you find you struggle with being patient and taking things slow?
I think all too often we think that to eat well means to CUT OUT foods.
And this attitude is what causes many people to never want to make dietary changes.
And I don’t blame them!
Who wants to think that eating well means cutting out tons of calories or the foods they love?
But eating well isn’t about cutting out…It can actually be about adding in, making swaps and FINDING BALANCE.
The focus on CUTTING OUT is what gets us into trouble. It is what makes us feel deprived. It is what makes us not want to stick to our program. It even can hinder us from getting the results we want.
This focus on cutting out is what makes people think that eating well means suffering.
It leads people to never want to commit to a lifestyle change because eating well is too difficult and doesn’t even get them the results they want.
Sometimes this belief that eating well is just about cutting out leads to people cutting out too much.
For instance, while cutting calories is necessary if your goal is weight loss, there is such a thing as cutting out too many calories. Cutting out too many calories can slow your metabolism and stall your weight loss.
Sometimes by actually ADDING IN higher calorie days, especially on days when you are more active, you can keep your metabolism running strong.
Also, sometimes by ADDING IN those foods you love on a cheat day or in moderation a couple of times a week can keep you on track. They can keep you moving forward toward your goals.
Sometimes if you don’t add in any indulgences, you feel deprived and those feelings of deprivation may lead to an all out binge that will completely derail your progress.
Basically what all this means is that if you restrict yourself too much, if you cut out too much, you are going to stall, and maybe even derail, your progress.
Also people think that with eating well they have to cut out all of the food they love and that just isn’t true!
Ever heard the quote “Strive for progress NOT perfection?”
Well that is exactly what you need to do. It’s all about the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of the time you eat what your body needs, 20% you indulge in what your mind wants!
Start making small changes, don’t just cut out everything at once.
Those foods that you love, that you feel you can’t live without, SHOULD NOT be the first foods you remove from your diet.
And on top of that, you aren’t simply cutting out foods, you are swapping them for healthier variations.
If you enjoy french fries, you don’t have to cut them out completely! Either you can choose to indulge in them as part of your 20% OR you can find a HEALTHIER VARIATION.
For instance, you could BAKE fries in your oven!
If you don’t find ways that you can ENJOY eating well, you aren’t going to stick with the lifestyle change.
AKA YOU CAN’T SIMPLY CUT THINGS OUT!
You need to find BALANCE with eating well and indulging. You need to find HEALTHY SWAPS for those foods you love the most.
And you need to make slow steady changes so that each change becomes habit before you start working on something else.
Eating well doesn’t have to feel like punishment and it most definitely isn’t only about cutting things out!
It’s super hard to remain motivated and confident when you aren’t getting results as quickly as you would like AND you haven’t yet come close to your final goal. It’s hard to remain motivated when life is stressful.
Yet we rarely, if ever, PLAN how we will keep ourselves going when times get tough.
For instance, if you know May is a busy and stressful month at work, while not plan you diet and exercise program around that?
Why not realize that it will be impossible, or at least add way more stress, if you maintain the same program you’ve been on during that month?
Why not cut yourself some slack so that you don’t end up suffering a setback during that month EVEN if it means potentially slower progress?
Why not MODIFY your program so that it is EASIER during that month instead of trying to force a program that you won’t be able to maintain and will lead to binges?
Honestly there is no reason WHY NOT!
We can’t always force the same dedication to our goals. Sometimes we need to ease up a bit and give ourselves a break.
And if we PLAN to give ourselves breaks, we are way more likely to stick to our program overall and keep moving forward even if at a slower pace.
When you know life is going to get busy, plan your diet and exercise program around that.
Make meal prep easier. Or find some healthy dining out options. Your diet may not be as perfect as you usually like but it will be way better than flying by the seat of your pants when you are totally stressed out and hungry!
When you know you’ll be working long hours and all you’ll want to do afterwards is go home and skip your workout, why not plan in some shorter workouts?
Draft up a few quick workouts that will at least keep you active. Heck even make them home workouts so that you don’t have to make an extra trip to the gym when all you want to do is go home.
No these workouts may not keep you moving forward as quickly as you would like. And the modified program may not even be as perfectly tailored to help you reach your goals.
But it is still movement. It is still SOMETHING.
And SOMETHING is always better than NOTHING.
And even if you design workouts that have nothing to do with reaching your goal of a 300lbs squat, they will at least still keep you healthy and active and in the habit of working out.
They will keep your body moving and help you MAINTAIN most of the progress you’ve made.
Whereas if you just end up skipping workouts altogether because you are busy, stressed out and didn’t plan ahead, you will probably lose some of your progress and may end up getting injured because you try to jump right back in after not being consistent.
Sometimes you need to focus, not on moving forward, but MAINTAINING what you currently have as you take care of other areas of your life. And then once things are settled, you can get back to moving forward.
Life is about balance. Sometimes you can be focused on your health and fitness goals and other times they may have to take a backseat. But they NEVER have to be forgotten.
When you know things are going to get stressful, do you figure out a way to balance life with your health and fitness goals?
Do you PLAN AHEAD for stressful times?
Do you ADJUST your program to fit your life?
Yesterday I posted an article to Redefining Strength about life lessons you’ll learn from a healthy lifestyle.
I thought this was important to post because I see people every day learning more about themselves through exercise.
And the things they learn about themselves in the gym make them more confident and empowered in everyday life.
For the full article, click here.
Today, however, I just want to touch more on number 3:
“You learn to balance living in the moment with staying dedicated to long-term goals.”
You’ve probably all seen those fitspo that say:
While often the fitspos are being used to say not to cheat on your diet and eat out of stress, there is a good message underneath.
Sometimes you have to ignore immediate desires to achieve your long-term goals. Sometimes you can’t just indulge in every baked good people bring in to work. Sometimes you have to workout even when you are tired and stressed (and it will actually make you feel better in the long run!)
Sometimes you have to do a little work on your day off.
Sometimes you have to think long-term even when it is easy to be short-sighted.
HOWEVER, you can’t become so obsessed with your long-term goals that you don’t live life.
There has to be a balance between thinking long-term and getting to be spontaneous and indulge.
If you constantly restrict yourself and never get to be spontaneous, you probably won’t be able to stick to your program long enough to truly reach your long-term goals. Restriction and deprivation end up leading to binges (be them food binges or simply slacking on work and being a blob binges).
Too much long-term thinking and farsightedness can actually be a bad thing. Because you can’t put off immediate desires forever. And if you try to, most likely you will end up binging worse and falling off your program when a little indulgence could have kept you on track.
So cut yourself some slack every once in a while. Live in the moment.
You need little breaks from your goals – be them health and fitness goals or work goals.
Find a way to balance your goals with enjoying life!
Often when I do health and fitness workshops, I get asked a lot of specific questions, like questions about what I consider to be very specific details of a healthy lifestyle.
Like what’s the best post workout snack?
I always answer these questions; however, I also state, “Really this shouldn’t be your first worry. Your main focus should be on getting your overall diet and exercise program into line.”
Many people get caught up in the details. It’s almost as if they want to make things more complicated so they don’t have to do them.
Or maybe it is just that they are searching for some secret and eating WHOLE NATURAL FOODS just doesn’t sound revolutionary enough.
But whatever it is, most people seem to want to MICROMANAGE their diet and exercise programs before they’ve even gotten the big stuff in line.
I’m sorry, but it just doesn’t work that way.
There is no use pouring over the details and worrying about what leafy green is better (kale or spinach) if you are still eating crap 80% of the time.
Get the basis of your diet (or exercise) program under control THEN worry about the details.
Eat whole natural foods.
It doesn’t have to be complicated! You don’t have to worry about all the details!
Focus on the big pieces and once those are in place then have FUN WITH THE DETAILS!
Here are some great articles to help you start fixing the BIG problems first:
- 10 BASIC Healthy Eating Guidelines
- Laying the foundation for a great exercise routine – Create a PROGRESSION!
- It all starts with the Mind-Body Connection
- My secrets to a healthy diet
For those of you on my email list, you’ve probably already realized that I love glute training since EVERY email this month has been about butt exercises and butt workouts!
So why am I so obsessed with glute training?
I had a client tell me the other day that they went to a healthy eating presentation that said food is either a medicine or a toxin.
I care to disagree.
Food is not medicine in the way we think of medicine.
Eating well doesn’t “cure” anything, at least not in the traditional way we think of medicine curing something.
It will help our body heal and prevent disease but it doesn’t just simply counter-act the crap we put into our bodies.
Often people think they have to make drastic changes all at once to get results.
But SMALL CHANGES ARE KEY!
Especially when it comes to diet.
I’ve had a lot of people say to me recently that they don’t like being hungry – and losing weight requires you to be hungry like all the time.
I care to disagree.
Drastic calorie cuts will cause you to feel hungry. But losing weight and getting healthy isn’t just about calories in vs. calories out.
Honestly, you can feel hungry eating 1,000 too many calories if you aren’t eating the RIGHT types of calories.
And truly you shouldn’t feel miserable while eating well. Eating well CAN and SHOULD be enjoyable.
Here are 5 changes you need to make that don’t involve cutting calories:
1. Cut out processed crap, but don’t cut out the meals you love. Slowly rid your kitchen of processed and pre-made foods. That doesn’t mean you can’t still occasionally indulge in mac and cheese…It just means you will be better off having homemade mac and cheese then something pre-made with a ton of preservatives. Make adjustments to those recipes you enjoy! Love mexican pizza? Try it on a cauliflower crust. Create huge results by just home making those meals you love!
2. Focus on meats and veggies, but they can TASTE GOOD. Eating healthy doesn’t mean cutting out flavor. While you want to focus your diet on meat and veggies that doesn’t have to mean plain chicken breast and steamed broccoli. Use some full fat cheese. Make sauces and dressing. There are tons of healthy ways to make your meals flavorful. I love adding guacamole and salsa to salads as dressings. I use tamari and sesame oil to make stir fries. I pack meals with flavor without adding any crap! Just avoid any pre-made seasonings and sauces that add in preservatives, vegetable oil or other crap.
3. Satisfy cravings. Cravings come in lots of different forms. And if you don’t satisfy them, you are going to end up giving up on your diet and binging because you feel to restricted. Satisfying your cravings also doesn’t have to mean eating badly. Craving something sweet? Eat a piece of fruit or some dark chocolate. Here is one of my favorite sweet, salty and fatty healthy treats – Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Macadamia Nut Bark. Craving something savory? What about some veggies in a homemade dip? Or some salted nuts (heck even coat them in some other seasonings). Or some kale chips. There are tons of ways to satisfy your cravings without eating badly. And sometimes maybe you do have a specific burrito craving and need the real thing. Then get it and get right back on track. Not feeling restricted is key to sticking with your diet in the long run! It isn’t being perfect one day, it is about the big picture.
4. Plan and choose recipes that you enjoy. Often I think we just slap together healthy things without worrying about how they taste. And, at first, that works because we are motivated. But after a while, we stop wanting to eat the boring, bland meals. We start to miss comfort foods. That is why it is important to make meals that you enjoy! Choose recipes that mimic or remind you of those foods you love. No they won’t be exactly the same, but they will taste good and keep you going even when your initial motivation wears off. Plus, it can be fun to find new creative ways to use healthy ingredients. I love the challenge of trying to use the same few ingredients in different ways!
5. Eat the things you love in moderation. Don’t be afraid to cheat. Often when we do cheat we make ourselves feel so guilty about it that we don’t even enjoy it (and sometimes we even make ourselves feel so bad that we start binging instead of getting back on track). Take time to enjoy those foods you love. Just exercise moderation and/or make healthier swaps whenever possible. But don’t completely restrict yourself!
Notice one thing with all five tips…All of these changes focus on continuing to enjoy your food. Dieting shouldn’t make you feel like you are suffering or missing out. You should be able to enjoy eating well!
For more tips to help you eat well, check out these Healthy Eating Guidelines.
I get lots of questions about fruit. Should you eat it? How much should you eat? When should you eat it?
The Food Pyramid tells us that fruit is essential…more essential even then meat and beans.
While fruits do have vitamins and minerals and many have antioxidants that are good for you, fruits are all carbs….
So essential to your diet?…Honestly, not really.
Vegetables can really give you the exact same nutrients you will find in fruits.
For instance, we always turn to oranges or orange juice for Vitamin C. But bell peppers actually have MORE Vitamin C than oranges do.
HOWEVER, fruit is delicious and nutritious so can be included in moderation.
Here are my guidelines for including fruit in your diet.
- Eat seasonally and locally. Eat fruits that are in season and local. When fruits are in season, they are going to be at their peak…aka pack in the most nutrients. And when they are local, you are also get them the freshest.
- Eat organic if thin-skinned. If your fruits have a thin skin that you don’t peel off or can be easily penetrated by pesticides, buy them organic. Or from a farmer’s market since most of the stands there carry local produce even if they can’t afford to pay for the label.
- Treat it as a treat and snack. Fruit is sweet and higher in carbs. Use it as a sweet treat to curb cravings. It can also be a decent snack especially when paired with a fat to help hold you over so that you don’t just get hungry a few minutes later. Try an apple and almond butter…Or a banana and almond butter…YUM!
- Don’t make fruit the basis of the meal or treat it as an “unlimited” food. I personally try to avoid smoothies for breakfast unless mixed with fats and protein. Alone fruit won’t keep you feeling full for very long, which can cause people to consume more calories than they actually need. And again…It has lots of carbs and those add up quickly, which makes it a food you can’t just eat as much as you want of….unlike vegetables…and even protein. It is hard to eat “too much” protein or vegetables. It isn’t hard to eat too much fruit.
- Make lower carb fruit the fruit you consume most often. Just like proteins, vegetables and carbs in general are not created equal, neither are fruits. There are some fruits that should be included more often than others. Tropical fruits, for instance, should be included only every so often. While berries can be eaten more often. They are lower in carbs and are super nutrient-dense with lots of antioxidants. Choose your fruits wisely. As with all foods you consume, you want to get the most bang for your buck possible!
- Eat fruit on carb days. Fruits are great for carb days. They are healthy and nutrient-dense. Cycle your fruit consumption just like you cycle your carbs.
- Fruits and fruit juices are not the same thing. Consume fruit in its natural state. Juices with anything added, even if they say all-natural, contain way more sugar and crap. And it is way easier to consume way too much fruit when it is in liquid form. Avoid juices as much as possible.
The fruits I indulge in most often are berries and apples. They are my favorite…especially apples and almond butter.
What fruits do you include in your diet?