Category Archives: Conventional Wisdom – How I hate you

It All Starts With The Mind-Body Connection

Want to run faster? Be more agile? Have better coordination? Be stronger?

Then you need to simplify things and work on your mind-body connection.

Balance work, agility ladder and drills, core sequencing exercises, activation exercises…These all need to be done so that you have control over your body and can activate the correct muscles when needed.

Speed, agility, quickness, coordination and frankly even strength don’t just simply come from lifting more or moving faster.

They come from your mind and body being able to communicate more quickly, which comes from everything being in balance.

Hmmm….maybe all those isometric workouts and moves I’ve been posting have even more benefit than simply recovery.

Many of those isometric moves work on your balance. And they correct imbalances as well.

Single Leg Deadlift Hold

Don’t think this requires a lot of balance and a great mind-body connection? HA!

If you have an injury, the communication between that area of your body and your mind has probably been interrupted. And depending on how good your recovery is, the injury may cause or have caused pain and problems higher up or lower down on your, meaning you may have many areas that aren’t connecting as well with your brain as you should.

Isometric moves work on repairing and correcting those imbalances. They work on mobility. They build stability in the muscles. They make sure the correct muscles are activated.

Isometric moves improve your mind-body connection. They make you focus and THINK about the muscles that should be activated.

Here is a great Isometric Workout to reduce pain and start working on your mind-body connection. It is a basic full body workout to correct many of those imbalances we have from sitting all day.

But isometric moves won’t do it alone. You must also do agility drills.

Many people think agility drills are just for athletes, but they are just as important for the average person especially as we age.

The agility ladder is a great tool, especially for us all to work on our coordination. HOWEVER, often people try to go as fast as possible without focusing on form.

If you want to get the most out of the agility ladder, you need to focus first on getting the move down and THEN on going as fast as possible. And you also need to mix it up. You need to go forward and backward. You need to go sideways and work each side.

Pay attention to which side feels more coordinated and don’t let your dominate side always lead!

Here are a few agility ladder drills to get you started. (I’ll be posting a video soon with my favorites.)

But the agility ladder isn’t the only agility drill you can do. You can set up cones or even use a few basic playing cards and set up points you shuffle, sprint, back pedal and carioca to (or any other locomotion move you want). Move quickly and make the distances super short so it is more about being quick and changing directions than getting up to speed.

Reaction drills are also great to improve the speed at which your mind and body communicate. Instead of using cones, have a friend tell you to shuffle to the left. Then whenever they want they can tell you to sprint forward then shuffle to the right. They can mix it up so you never know what is coming.

They can also do the drill with you and make you “shadow” them. LOVE shadow drills. They make you really focus and have to react.

You can also improve your coordination to get stronger, faster and fitter by doing core sequencing moves. These are moves that get the muscles of your core to work together as they should.

The Turkish Get Up, or its modified variation the Baby Get Up, is a great exercise to get your core to work together.

Turkish get up

Here is a great workout to teach you the Turkish Get Up and help you strengthen each part of the lift.

What are you doing to improve your coordination and your mind-body connection? Simply lifting heavier weights and/or running faster aren’t going to be enough!

Thanksgiving – To Indulge Or Not To Indulge…INDULGE

I’m a firm believer in practicing what I preach.

And one thing I believe in is “cheat days/meals” (or whatever you choose to call them).

A day, a meal, to indulge and simply enjoying any foods I want, in any quantities I want.

I especially believe in doing this over the holidays.

BAHA!

While I believe that all too often our social gatherings are centered around food, there are certain holidays where food is part of the tradition and where food is a big part of what truly makes the day special.

So if food is a big part of what makes the day special, why miss out? Why deprive yourself of that once-a-year-meal if it is truly meaningful to you and you really enjoy it?

Because you are trying to be healthy? Because you are trying to lose weight?

There are over 300 other days a year you can worry about that.

Thanksgiving is not the time to start.

But today…This week…BEFORE Thanksgiving…This is a good time to worry about eating well.

Eat clean in preparation.

Eat extra clean so that the day or two of indulgence doesn’t truly have any affect on your progress. Eat extra clean so you feel ready to fully relax and indulge. Eat extra clean to strengthen your resolve to return to your healthy lifestyle after the day or two of enjoyment.

And then on Thanksgiving, STOP WORRYING. One day, even two days, won’t really matter.

Health is a LIFESTYLE! It is about eating well and living well a majority of the time, not every single day.

A couple of days of bad eating won’t matter especially if you eat well before and return to eating well right after.

Actually especially if you return to eating well right after.

So instead of depriving yourself of the Thanksgiving meal you love just don’t indulge for days or even weeks right after or before.

Days like Thanksgiving don’t cause you to gain weight.

Not getting right back on track is what adds up and causes us to truly gain weight.

So if you are searching for tips to help you diet on Thanksgiving or eat clean at holiday parties, you won’t find them here.

Nope…I say eat those stupid holiday cookies at the holiday party.

Just don’t eat them for days and weeks before and/or after the celebration.

If you want to be healthy over the holidays, start eating well today.

Then forget about your healthy lifestyle on Thanksgiving IF you will feel deprived if you don’t indulge. Because deprivation causes way more problems than one day of bad eating.

For me Thanksgiving isn’t a day to diet. Eat well before. Eat well after.

But on Thanksgiving…ENJOY!

Do you do the eat clean “sandwich” aka eat clean before, indulge and eat clean after? Or do you search for tips to help you eat well even on Thanksgiving?

Reaching Your Goals: Consistency Creates Habits

July16

I often talk about being patient with yourself and not expecting perfection. I often talk about not worrying if life occasionally gets in the way and you “slip up.” I often talk about how you need to indulge and recharge every once in a while.

But there is also a flip side to all that.

While achieving your goals isn’t about being perfect day in and day out, you do have to be CONSISTENT.

The more consistently you work toward your goals day in and day out, the quicker you are going to reach them.

Often clients will get frustrated when they feel like they’ve been “good” yet they aren’t seeing great results.

Most of the time when they break things down though, they realize that “yes…they have been good, but not good for a long enough stretch in a row.”

Not “good” consistently.

I’ve often mentioned the 80/20 rule…80 percent of the time you do the things you should while 20 percent of the time you indulge in those not so healthy treats.

Eighty percent of the time is pretty darn consistent. Honestly, it’s more consistent than most people are . Twenty percent adds up very quickly.

80/20 doesn’t mean you can be good one week and then the next week slip back into old habits. It doesn’t mean you can be basically good during the week and then do whatever you please on the weekend. It doesn’t mean you can just excuse every little slip up!

80/20 really means consistently doing the right thing. It means creating habits that lead to change. And habits honestly take about 21 days to create.

That means for 21 days you have to follow the lifestyle that you truly want if you want it to create results and ingrain habits. It means you have to be consistent to adhering to the lifestyle you want.

I mentioned a bit ago that there are points where you will find you NEED to adhere more strictly to a diet and exercise program. That you shouldn’t feel like you are restricting yourself all of the time, but that there are times where it is ok to be super clean.

And one of those times is when you are trying to ingrain the habits.

I tell clients all the time that the hardest part is reaching their goal, not maintaining it.

Because once the habits are truly instilled, you won’t have to think twice about living the lifestyle you want. You won’t constantly be draining your self-control tank to eat clean and workout consistently.

So I would like to present a challenge….

Set aside 3 weeks right now. Don’t wait for the New Year to lose weight or have to worry about dieting over the holidays.

Take three weeks right now and be consistent in your healthy lifestyle. Take 3 weeks to do the right thing day in and day out.

Be strict for three weeks, ingrain those habits and realize just how much easier it is to get results when you are CONSISTENT!

Dedicating 21 days is really all it takes. Just three weeks to make a HUGE change.

Start next year off right….Create those habits NOW!

When Healthy Living Becomes Obsession

In clients I deal with two very different issues almost every day –

1. The people who can’t get started and make excuses as to why they can’t create a healthy lifestyle.

OR

2. The people who become OBSESSED with eating well and working out every day to the point that they almost can’t take a day off.

And trust me, neither is really HEALTHY.

When I say OBSESSED, I’m talking about mentally and physically overtraining. I’m talking about never giving yourself a break and doing as much as you possibly can every single day with no break.

I’m talking about training way too often for way too long because you feel like you NEED to do a certain amount each day.

I’m talking about never letting yourself indulge in a treat and/or restricting your calories as low as possible to force weight loss.

I’m talking about the MORE IS MORE ATTITUDE when as I’ve stated numerous times recently MORE IS ACTUALLY LESS.

Yes, it can be good for periods to do MORE, but those periods should all have an expiration date and be used to KICKSTART your program or break a plateau.

You simply shouldn’t workout every day.

RECOVERY IS WHEN YOU REBUILD! Days off are KEY TO GETTING RESULTS.

When you don’t take days off, you are basically hindering yourself from getting the results that you should be getting from your workouts.

And two a days?!?!

While as I said, I can see using them for a few weeks to create big changes, they shouldn’t be used in the long run!

Exercise breaks down our body. We only regrow stronger with more muscle and lean body mass if our body has the change to RECOVER.

So while going hard for a few days, a few weeks, can be a great push in the right direction, YOU CAN’T MAINTAIN IT!

Going that hard leads ultimately to you falling off your program – either due to injury or due to the fact that you’ve created something that is truly unmanageable long-term.

Same goes for obsessing over eating cleanly.

I won’t go into a whole rant here, as I already have numerous times recently, but IF YOU RESTRICT YOUR CALORIES TOO MUCH YOU WILL COMPLETELY STALL YOUR WEIGHT LOSS!

Not to mention you will PREVENT LEAN MASS GAINS! Aka…all those workouts will be for nothing because you aren’t fueling them properly.

Plus, most people can’t eat 100% clean day in and day out without it eventually leading to a complete, uncontrolled binge, which in turn leads to them giving up on their healthy eating program all together. We just don’t have that much self-control especially with all the other life stressors we have to deal with each day.

Just think about how much self-control you are expending by trying to go so intense and PERFECT your diet and exercise program. Self-control isn’t infinite. And trying to control ever last detail is STRESSFUL!

Think about how much you STRESS over not missing a workout. Over eating cleanly even when there is no healthy food around.

STRESS can negatively impact our progress. It can negatively impact our healthy. Heck if you are trying to lose weight, STRESS can prevent you from getting the results you are working so hard for!

Geez…Cut yourself some slack, people!

I know many of you don’t want to believe it, but LESS IS MORE. Working out every day and eating 100% clean really aren’t going to get you greater results.

Actually they may get you WORSE RESULTS.

So stop obsessing.

Don’t stress over miss workouts.

Don’t stress over a treat.

STOP OBSESSING and try ENJOYING.

Seriously, stop bragging about how you workout EVERY DAY. Or do two-a-days. Stop bragging about how you don’t eat ANYTHING BAD EVER.

There is no pride in being stupid and wasting your time!

Trust me…I want people to get results and if I’m saying there is such a thing as too much…THERE IS!

Fitting Your Macros – QUALITY MATTERS

Often when I start someone on the road to a healthy diet, I give them macronutrient guidelines. Like keep your protein, carbs and fat at so and so a level.

I usually also discuss with them carb cycling and that they want to try to make the mainstays of their diet protein and vegetables.

I then let them go on their way.

I don’t want to create too many rules or develop too many restrictive guidelines because that just leads to people giving up (aka cheating and then not recording what they eat).

So I give them these very basic guidelines (hit these macronutrient intake numbers and focus on eating whole natural foods) and send them on their way for the first few weeks.

What I find most interesting is what many people have been coming back with…And not only what they come back with but also their surprise and frustration at WHY they aren’t losing weight.

It is very interesting to see that most people ignore the WHOLE NATURAL FOODS part and get super caught up in simply hitting the numbers.

Actually they use the numbers as an excuse to eat bad…”Well I’m still under calories for the day so I can have these Oreos.” Or “I’m under my carbs for the day so this burrito with this huge flour tortilla is fine.”

UHM…NO.

I know If It Fits Your Macros has become a very popular diet program, and while I think it is a great program with a ton of benefits, I do believe that QUALITY MATTERS when it comes to food.

If you ask a person right now if carbs from these two things are equal, they will say no. Yet then why do so many people excuse their crappy carbs because their calorie intake is low or their macronutrient numbers are good? QUALITY MATTERS!

I mean carbs from fruit and carbs from a flour tortilla might all add up under your macronutrients as CARBS, but their nutritional breakdown is far from the same.

Even ground beef has a very different nutritional breakdown if it is Grass-fed or grain-fed.

I mean just think about GMO vs. non-GMO corn! One is way better for you than the other!

And I firmly believe that the more chemicals, the more processed CRAP we put in our bodies, the less efficiently they run.

So while macros create great guidelines, and I firmly believe in keeping your daily basic intake of carbs to under 150 grams (and even under 100 grams if you are really trying to lose weight), I do believe that not all carbs are created equal. Not all fat, all protein is created equal.

As I’m saying this, I know many of you are also shaking your heads in agreement. You know there are bad fats. You know that sugars are bad for you.

Yet you are the ones that eat prepackaged burger patties or only eat pre-made meals from the grocery store and expect great results just because you are fitting your macros!

All those ingredients that you can’t pronounce on those labels are BAD FOR YOU! That prepackaged salad with that prepackaged balsamic and the ingredients to preserve it isn’t going to be the same as a homemade salad.

Yes it might be BETTER than going out and getting a burger and fries made in vegetable oil, but that doesn’t mean it’s GOOD.

Better doesn’t equal good. Yes, better is better, but just being better isn’t always enough.

It is like saying, “Well I did half my homework due for class today. That is better than last time when I only did a quarter of my homework for class.”

Yea doing half is BETTER but it still isn’t good! It still isn’t going to get you that great grade!

Anyway…That is my rant.

All of this, diet and exercise and reaching your fitness goals, all comes down to one thing – Whether or not we make excuses for ourselves.

I mean come on…We all KNOW basically what we have to do to lose weight and be healthy. We all KNOW we should eat whole natural foods.

Yet we all find ways to make excuses for why we can’t do that. Or why what we are doing should work even though we are skipping the most basic principle to healthy living.

We all make excuses for ourselves and it has got to stop if we want results.

QUALITY MATTERS.

Heck be it quality of food or quality of exercise, QUALITY MATTERS if we want to be healthy.

So stop making excuses. Stop making things more difficult on yourself.

If you want results, QUALITY MATTERS!

The Benefits of Walking

People often act like WALKING isn’t really that great. They act like it sort of doesn’t count.

benefits of walking

But walking is an important part of any healthy lifestyle.

Actually I think walking is often overlooked as an essential part of being healthy because of our belief that we have to do MORE to be healthy or lose weight.

But as I’ve repeated almost every day recently, “More isn’t always better. Sometimes LESS is actually MORE.”

In a society where we are constantly told to do MORE when it comes to a healthy lifestyle – diet more, workout more – could the push to do MORE actually be causing us to get worse results?

I think the answer is a big, “YES!”

I mean think about it. You are told to eat fewer calories. To cut out more foods. To DIET MORE.

But sometimes doing more, cutting out more, when it comes to diet can actually hinder your results.

Just this week I talked about the importance of fueling your activity level – about eating more and dieting when your body needs it. Restricting too much can hinder your results just as much as doing nothing can. Again…More isn’t always better.

Same goes for working out.

Overtraining isn’t some myth. It is actually easier to overtrain than you would even think. And more people than you would expect are actually training too much!

Exercise is meant to improve health, aid in fat and weight loss and reduce injury, aches and pain, and fatigue…Yet when you do too much, you do exactly the opposite!

So often you read about how you have to exercise more. Or you see your weight loss progress stall and instantly think you need to put in more hours at the gym. Or up your intensity.

TOO MUCH CAN HAVE NEGATIVE EFFECTS!

Often we find it easier to do more than to reassess and try something simpler. I find a lot of clients need to feel a certain way after their workout to feel like they “worked.” They need to be out of breath. Or feel like they are going to puke. Or have sweated a certain amount to feel like the did ENOUGH.

But that attitude is exactly what gets people into trouble. That attitude is what makes people ignore some of the best diet and exercise programs and activities out there for them!

That attitude is what causes people to end up struggling a lot more to become healthier, fitter, stronger, and leaner than they need to.

And one of those activities that is often overlooked as an essential part of a healthy lifestyle is WALKING!

Many people skip walking in favor of activities like running that burn more calories and help them FEEL like they’ve gotten a workout.

They skip walking because they don’t realize how much bang for their buck they really get with walking. All they consider is calories in vs. calories out or working out as hard or as much as they can.

But walking is a great exercise and an important part of a healthy lifestyle and even a weight loss program.

Instead of keeping it simple, people do two-hour workouts. They include 15 different exercises and do 100s of reps. They take themselves to the max every single workout.

But if you break your muscles down every day, you aren’t going to reap the benefits of your workouts! Workouts break your body down so you can become stronger. But doing MORE breaking down, if you don’t take enough time to rebuild, is really just wasted effort.

And rest is when you REBUILD.

Your body can’t go at 100% every single day. You can’t lift heavy or run hard every day. Your body needs workouts of varied intensities. Your body NEEDS easy days.

Walking can be a great lower intensity activity you can use as active recovery. It can be a great way to MENTALLY and PHYSICALLY recover!

And we’ve all heard that if we move more, we will be healthier.

This doesn’t mean going and doing longer workouts. And it doesn’t mean doing hours of intense cardio.

Guess what is a great way to move more though!?!

Walking! It allows us to move more without wearing our bodies down and overtraining!

Walking is one of those activities that we see as “less bang for our buck.” But it is truly one of those exercises where LESS IS MORE.

Yea…maybe you don’t get the same calorie burn as an hour of intense exercise. But walking means less stress. It means better sleep. It can enhance your move. It can help you fight against disease. It allows your body to recover and rebuild. It can mean a lot of great health benefits not only because of the activity, but also because you can be relaxed and social with it while even soaking up some sun!

And all of these things lead to better health. All of these things mean that you will get MORE out of the time you do spend doing higher intensity workouts.

Walking is often overlooked as EXERCISE but trust me, it is the one exercise that EVERYONE needs to be doing no matter their age or fitness level.

Right now too many people suffer from the attitude that MORE IS BETTER – more restriction, more intense, longer workouts.

But if you want great results, LESS IS MORE.

Do you go for walks? Maybe you should go out this weekend and soak up some sun!

Calorie and Carb Cycling – What does your body NEED?

I got into an interesting discussion last night with clients about diet and what they SHOULD be eating every day. Women especially seem to get very obsessed with restricting their calories when they are trying to lose weight.

My simple answer when they asked me what they should be eating and how many calories they needed was:

Your body’s needs change daily. 

calorie cycling

Different meals for different days.

They of course rolled their eyes at me and shook their heads because they knew I loved giving that very vague answer.

Some days you are super active and require more fuel while other days you aren’t as active and don’t need as much. Some days you are super hungry while other days you aren’t.

Yet so many people restrict their calories (and their carbs) to the exact same level each and every day.

And that maybe why they aren’t getting the results they want.

You need to fuel your body’s needs. And those needs aren’t the same day-to-day.

If you do an intense workout, YOU ARE GOING TO NEED TO EAT MORE. If you deprive yourself of food when your body needs it, you are going to hinder your progress – be it weight loss or strength gains.

Just like if you eat too much on days when you aren’t active you are going to hinder your progress.

Eat when you are HUNGRY.

People are often shocked when I say this, but…IF YOU AREN’T HUNGRY DON’T EAT! And if you are…THEN EAT!

There is really no most important meal or the day. If you aren’t hungry for breakfast, then don’t eat it!

And if you are hungry at 10 p.m., EAT!

You aren’t going to get fat just because you ate after a certain time of night. If your body needs the fuel, it will use it no matter when you eat. It isn’t like your metabolism decides to just shut off because it is 8 p.m.

Your body is pretty good at telling you what it needs.

You just need to learn how to listen because most people don’t really pay attention. They mistake boredom for hunger or even thirst for a need for food. They can also get caught up in thinking they need to eat every few hours or their metabolism will just shut off so they force down food even when their body isn’t really asking for it.

So how do you learn to listen to your body? How do you know when to cycle your calories and carbs?

HOW TO LISTEN TO YOUR BODY:

Think before you eat. It’s really that simple. For example….If you just ate like an hour ago (and it was a filling healthy lunch) and you are sitting at your computer doing some boring work and are struck by a desire to just eat, ask yourself, “Am I hungry or am I bored?” I’m guessing more often than you know, your answer will be BORED. Maybe try drinking some water before you dive in. Dehydration is also another common trigger of “hunger pangs.” And so is stress. Think before you eat.

While I know many people may be shocked by what I will say next….Fasting can be a great way to get in tune with your body. I’m not suggesting you start starving yourself, but occasional intermittent fasts can be a great way to realize how often you eat for reasons unrelated to hunger. I found I became way more in tune with my body when I did intermittent fasting.

I no longer NEED to eat at certain times. And some days I don’t eat till late in the afternoon while other days I need to eat something the second I get up.

The point is though that I can RESPOND to my body’s NEEDS. I don’t just have to eat because I’m conditioned to mentally want something at a certain time of day.

Another great way to get in tune with your body is to keep track of your diet, activity level, emotions and lifestyle.

I know this sounds super annoying, but it can be super helpful if you are really struggling to make a healthy lifestyle stick. There are going to be common trends. Emotions may trigger eating binges. Or you may find out that on certain days when you were more active and ate more carbs you had better results than on days when you worked out intensely yet forced yourself to continue to restrict your carb intake.

Tracking reveals patterns so that we aren’t just guessing at what is going on. Guessing generally leads to frustration and failure.

WHEN/HOW TO CARB AND CALORIE CYCLE:

To put it simply as I stated above – eat when you are hungry and listen to what your body craves.

If you don’t workout, your body won’t need the carbs and calories that it does on days when you do workout. And more intense workouts, especially cardio workouts that really deplete your glycogen stores, are going to require more carbs and more calories.

Respond to your activity level and what your body is craving. (And just because your body is craving carbs doesn’t mean you have to give in and go eat a bunch of crap. There are lots of ways to do a carb re-feed without eating unhealthily.)

Plan days of low carb (around 50 grams) for days when you don’t workout or workout lightly. If you have a super hard intense workout, don’t be afraid to up your carbs to even 200-300 grams. Keep the carbs healthy, but fuel the workout.

While you don’t want your carbs to be up at 200g every day (because if you need that many every day you are probably OVERTRAINING), having a few days where you do get up over 150g is ok and even go.

Also, play around with carb timing. Have some carb refeed days and then have some days where maybe you just have carbs AFTER your workout when your body will quickly grab them up to rebuild.

Generally I break down my diet into three days.

Low day – Around 50 grams of carbs, high fat, high protein.

Medium day – Around 100-120 grams of carbs, medium/low-fat, high protein

High day – Around 200-300 grams of carbs, low-fat, medium protein

This basic plan works for me and I always feel energized.

But there are lots of ways to carb cycle – you can do whole day refeeds or just specific meal refeeds after your workouts.

I must say that there are times where I fast, workout and then basically just have carbs after my workouts and that is my refeed for the day.

The point is to listen to your body and not be stuck believing that the only way to get results is to restrict your diet completely.

While low carb can be a great way to kick-start your diet and may even have help you have great success, you may just find that carb and calorie cycling is what you need to get over that last little hurdle. Sometimes a little more can be better when it comes to weight or fat loss.

And while I have no problems running a half marathon fasted and after a week of low carb, you may just find that your body requires MORE carbs to fuel your activity level and help you reach the strength and performance gains you desire.

Listen to your body and don’t be afraid to eat more calories or carbs especially when your body is asking for them! You may just find your goals are easy to reach when you aren’t so militant about restriction.

How To Stay Young – Learn to do a new activity!

I firmly believe that age is just a number and that at any age you can feel great and be in shape – You can be a BEAST at any age.

I don’t think getting older has to mean feeling crappier, being less coordinated and suffering from illness and injury.

I think the key to staying young is to always keep learning. And that doesn’t necessarily mean reading text books or taking educational classes.

I think some of the most beneficial LEARNING we can do is the learning of new physical skills. And I don’t think learning new physical skills is just important because of all of the health benefits of exercise (which by the way…are quite numerous).

Learning how to do a new activity not only makes our body stronger….not only helps keep our mind young and agile….not only improves our coordination….not only improves our mind-body connection…

NOT ONLY!?!

Shoot learning a new activity KEEPS US YOUNG!

Kevin took a chance and gave battling ropes his all...And soon he was up on the wall for completing 10 minutes straight!

Kevin took a chance and gave battling ropes his all…And soon he was up on the wall for completing 10 minutes straight!

It gives us control not only over our body but also over our mind.

I think about every time I’ve learned a new skill – Olympic lifting, Powerlifting, Kettlebell Sport…Heck even boxing…actually, especially boxing….

Every time I’ve learned a new skill, I’ve learned to control my body in a new way.

Part of that physical control and strength that I feel, part of that feeling of being better in tune with my body, has to do with a better mind-body connection. And for that matter, more confidence!

That mind-body connection, that confidence in my ability, keeps me active. But not only does it keep me active, it keeps me MOVING WELL.

MOVING WELL, FEELING GOOD, is truly how we define youth.

Doing some work and learning some new skills!

Doing some work and learning some new skills!

And the craziest thing is that we tend to STOP LEARNING new skills as we age.

We become more set in our ways and tend to stick to our routines and our comfort zones.

When we really should almost be putting ourselves out there to learn MORE as we age because it keeps us young.

So you know how you really wanted to try Zumba at the gym? You know how you really wanted to try powerlifting, kettlebells or boxing?

You know how you were afraid you would be clumsy or bad or uncoordinated and slow?

Well sure. Most of us are awkward when we first try to learn a new skill. BUT only through learning a new skill can we create a better mind-body connection so that we are MORE COORDINATED.

Age is just a number and you really can teach an old dog new tricks.

And the best part is, the more that “old dog” learns, the younger that “old dog” will really feel!

So stop thinking your age is holding you back.

Let yourself try a new activity and learn a new skill. It may just be what you need to feel younger and move better just like the Man Bicep Mom!

Showing off the man bicep!

Showing off the man bicep!

P.S. If you are looking for some extra glute activation exercises, check out this new Redefining Strength post!

Cardio At Home

It’s kind of interesting, but I hear all the time that people can’t really do cardio at home.

They have this idea that they either have to go outside and run or have some sort of cardio equipment (like a treadmill or bike) at home to be able to do cardio, especially aerobic endurance, longer duration cardio (jogging).

But that isn’t the case.

There are plenty of ways to get in cardio at home without any equipment. And you don’t just have to do short, intense intervals to make these exercises work. You can work on your aerobic endurance as well!

cardio exercise

Well this is my idea of cardio! It does make the point that you don’t need a treadmill to do your cardio!

Here are 5 great Indoor Cardio Options that you can do at home:

1. Towel Taz – One of my favorite ways to do cardio at home because EVERYONE can do it and feel challenged by it. And you don’t need any equipment or really any space to do it!

This move is great to use to do intervals of 30 seconds or longer. If you do 2 minute intervals with shorter rest, you can really build your aerobic endurance.

Cardio at home

To do the towel taz, take a bath or beach towel. Hold one corner of the towel in each hand. Move side to side and all around quickly, shaking the towel up and down and forward and back. Your movements should be quick.

2. Plyometrics – Commonly known as jump training. While plyometric training is better for shorter intervals, it is still a great cardio option.

Jump squats, split squat jumps, skater hops…There are a ton of options that allow you to work your legs from every angle.

skater hops

Skater Hops

But what if you are older and/or your knees won’t allow you to jump quickly and explosively off the ground? Plyometric training can be regressed.

For example: With the squat jump, you can start with a quick bodyweight squat. Then you can progress that and do a squat and come up to your toes at the top of the squat instead of exploding off the ground. Next you will just do a very very little jump off the ground, pausing after every rep. Then you will try to get higher and more explosive off the ground, still pausing or going more slowly between reps. Finally you will be as explosive and quick as possible with the jump squat.

Also, plyometric training is about training muscles to be explosive. It isn’t restricted to lower body exercises. Plyo push ups, bobcats, medicine ball throws are all examples of upper body plyos.

Actually bobcats are full body and a great way to develop a mind-body connection.

To do a bobcat, start in the crawling position on your hands and toes. The first level of this move is to just bend your elbows and drop your knees to the ground quickly and explosively. Your goal is to make sure your upper body and lower body move TOGETHER as quickly as possible. Once you start to get everything to move together, you are going to explode off the ground. Go slowly at first, focusing on everything leaving the ground and hitting the ground together. So explode up off your hands and toes and then land on your hands and toes at the same time, staying in that crawling position. As you get more comfortable, start to move as quickly as possible.

This move is super tough. It is hard to get your upper body and lower body to move together quickly!

So this is actually a video that Aaron did. This only shows a little bit of the bobcat while used in knife fighting but it will give you an idea since pictures don’t really cut it. (And actually knife fighting is another option if you have a partner.  Just be careful you don’t get to into it if you are in a confined space!)

3. Crawling – Not all cardio has to be done from your feet. Crawling is a great way to get your heart rate up and it can be done as sprints or as longer, slower, endurance cardio. You can do bear crawls or gorilla crawls or even crab walks. There are a ton of different ways to crawl! Crawling is great too because it really is fully body and you don’t need much space to do it. As long as you can take a couple of steps forward and back or even just move in a circle, you are all set!

how to bear crawl

I mean shoot…you can even crawl like an alligator! Talk about tough on the core and upper body

4. Metabolic Circuit Training – If you do exercises quickly with little or no weight and little to no rest, your heart rate is going to go up.

I mentioned the other day in my Squat Variations post that you could do 5 minutes of bodyweight squats. Trust me, that definitely gets your heart rate up.

You can also do different intervals. Tabata intervals of 20 seconds on/10 seconds off can be great as long as you pick exercises that challenge you within 20 seconds.

For example, while you can use the bodyweight squat when working for 5 minutes, you may want to use a squat jump if only working for 10 seconds.

Metabolic circuits can really use any exercise.

That’s right…Any exercise can be CARDIO. Push ups when done quickly definitely get your heart rate up. Not to mention they kill your upper body!

You can easily choose exercise options that fit the space you have and your current fitness level and turn them into a great cardio circuit. Remember the key here is to move quickly not use the heaviest weight possible.

5. Cone Drills – Cone drills are a great way to improve your mind-body connection AND get your heart rate up.

And you really don’ need much room to do them…or even need cones for that matter. You can use books, pieces of paper, underwear….Really anything to just mark off the spots. Obviously, if you do have a bit more room, it is easier to set them up.

They can be great to do at a park as well!

You can do quick side shuffles to cones. You can go back and forth for time. The shuffles don’t have to be long. Two or three shuffles each way is really all you need!

You can do star drills or even four point drills. Actually there is one four point drill I love to use from my tennis days.

Set up four “cones” in a diamond. Start in the center. Sprint forward to the cone in front of you. Then go back to center. Back pedal to the cone behind you and then come back to center. Side shuffle to one side cone and then go to the other.

agility drill

Hopefully this gives you a picture of what I’m talking about.

You can mix up exactly what direction you go. Try to not just follow the same pattern, but make your movements quick to each cone. Just remember to go back to the center after going out to each cone.

Cone drills are one of my favorite forms of cardio because they really do improve that mind-body connection which is so key for not only athletic performance but also proper functioning in EVERY DAY LIFE!

So there you have it. Five cardio options you can do at home no matter your fitness level. And the best part is – THEY REQUIRE NO EQUIPMENT!

What is your favorite way to do cardio?

To Strong Women Everywhere

strong women

Yes…I do realize it is funky punctuation.

I think most women are way stronger than they give themselves credit for.

I think we are taught from a very young age, intentionally or unintentionally, to be very humble, to be almost shy or even ashamed of our strength and abilities. We are almost taught to keep our strength to ourselves.

Far too often I hear females brush off compliments and downplay their abilities (sometimes they even completely deny them).

But we need to embrace our strength – we need to acknowledge our awesomeness!

It’s funny, but I really started thinking about all of this when one of my male clients said to me, “You are freaking awesome!” after we were discussing some sort of feat of strength.

Instead of blushing and denying it, I said, “I know, right!?!” (I was partially joking, but at the same time, I was PROUD of what I had accomplished).

And guess what? He didn’t roll his eyes or think I was cocky or conceited. He actually laughed and start to say to the client next to him, “Notice how she didn’t….”

I then interrupted him and said, “Didn’t deny it?”

He laughed again and said, “Yea!”

And I said, “Well I’m proud!”

And he said, “You should be!”

YOU SHOULD BE!

Ok…I’m not suggesting that we walk around saying, “I know!” when someone gives us a compliment. I’m just saying that we should start believing in ourselves and in our abilities.

We should start being proud of our STRENGTH.

Because, guess what!?! IT IS OK TO BE PROUD AND STRONG!

And right now you may be thinking, “Well I’m strong and I don’t have to go around bragging about it to be proud of it.”

Uhm well for one, I’m not suggesting your brag. And two, are you really proud of it if you can’t accept a compliment?

Are you really proud if you have to downplay your abilities?

Are you really proud if you are apologizing and excusing your strength?

Personally, I don’t think so.

Because how much can you truly BELIEVE in yourself if you keep telling yourself and other people you really aren’t that wonderful and strong?

We do start to believe what we tell ourselves and others. Our minds do hear the words coming out of our mouths. And our mind can be tricked into believing the lies….

I’ve seen a change over the years as I’ve gone from excusing and downplaying my strength, my abilities, to embracing them and maybe even, in some people’s eyes, bragging about them.

Heck, if saying “Yes. I am indeed strong” is bragging….GUILTY AS CHARGED….And very proud of it.

My point is that when I stopped denying and downplaying, I started to become even stronger because my mind wasn’t ever hearing that I wasn’t strong enough.

So take a second right now and think about it.

Are you truly proud of your strength?

How often do you recognize and appreciate your abilities when someone gives you a compliment? Or do you generally downplay what you’ve accomplished?

P.S. This post is dedicated to all of you wonderful women that inspire me every day with your strength inside and out of the gym!

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