All tagged workout

Is Your Workout "Working?"

Is your workout "working?"

A client came to me once saying that her workout didn't "work." She twisted her hair around her fingers, obviously nervous to say so.

"I love the feeling I'm getting during our sessions & in my own gym time," she said. "I feel stronger. I push myself harder, and I love feeling accomplished. I can lift more weight. I'm having fun. But it's just not...working."

Of course, because I am a fan of questions more than most other things, I asked what she meant.

What Do Your Workouts Show You?

Exploring the limits of our physical bodies pushes them a bit further out every time, but, more than that, the act of discovering our edges introduces us to our deepest truths. Fitness has shown me that I'm more intelligent than I've been in the past, that I'm more durable than I've believed myself to be, and that I'm more powerful than I've thought myself.

There's nothing like looking at a workout and thinking, "dang, can I do that?" rather than, "oh, I could never do that." It's a subtle shift that oozes its way into our minds over time, and, once it takes place, there's no going back. It seeps through our lives, starting in the gym, and moving out until its grubby fingerprints are all over our walls.

When we're in a spot where all we can think about is what's directly in front of us, the stories we tell ourselves become irrelevant. We're focused on the task at hand and what parts of ourselves need to show up to get it done, excuses be damned.

And it's magic.

3 Clicks, 3 Workouts Done For You

Not every season in life contains record numbers of pounds (whether that's lost or lifted on the bar). The *real* progress lies in showing up, even when we don't feel like it (or feel like we can't).

When we show up for ourselves, we're operating from a place of abundance. We're communicating to our bodies and our brains (often, if you're anything like me, in spite of the narrative that feels loud AF in these times saying we shouldn't) that our goals are worthy, and that we're here to move the needle, because there's enough time for us. There's enough energy for us. There's enough space for us. We don't have to fight for it; we create it.

Self-talk matters, but I often have another voice that defeats it. The only way I've found to really get what I want to get through, through is to take action and actually *do* something.

SO, here are 3 workouts you can complete in less time than it takes for round 2 of driving to soccer practice, because you had to turn around since your kid to forget his shinguards.

You're the architect of your life (FREE workout enclosed!). 👊❤

We are the architects of our lives. We get to construct what we want, every single moment of every single day. We don’t have to give our power away, believing that happiness comes when we get the perfect partner, the perfect job, the perfect home, or the perfect body. We can choose happy – we can choose to be grateful, to be joyful, to be loving – and shift the space in which we find ourselves, even if not a single circumstance has changed. The fascinating part of the Law of Attraction/the Secret/whatever you’d like to call it, is when we act as if we already have what we want, we begin to take the actions that lead us to our end goals, believing that we’re worthy of receiving them (spoiler: you are.).

So, that dream job? Dream life? Dream body? You got it, dude.

Happy 4th of July (and THANK YOU for ONE YEAR)!

This is entirely self-indulgent of me, but I also wanted to take a quick second, on the one-year anniversary of #StrongBySteph, to thank all of you who have been here, whether you've been A1 since Day 1 or just recently joined in on the fun. 52 emails about hacking nutrition, living in gratitude, learning to lift, and letting ourselves take up (and increase!) our space in the world have been quite the ride. And we're only going up! 

I'm so thankful to have you as online friends, IRL friends, colleagues, lifting buddies, Instagram supporters, Facebook commenters (and trolls, because, hey, me too. Love you.), fellow pizza enthusiasts, sauce slatherers, puppy people, and everything in between. I began this project as an outlet, creating space in the fitness industry in which we could discuss more than how many reps we should do or how many grams of carbs are safe to eat, and it's turned into more than I imagined. A simple "thank you" could never be enough, but that's what I've got.

I Don't Know if We'll Have Enough Time (we do...for Bed, Bath, & Beyond, and for Muscles).

Adding a strict strength or hypertrophy program to the chaos here can seem daunting, especially if we’re not in the habit of ascribing to a program that requires us to spend time in the gym regularly (or if we are and just don’t do it…been there, done that, about 38098 times.). Not all of our goals are to get super huge or totally shredded. Many of us want a few simple things: to look a little better (naked or otherwise), to feel a lot better, to prevent injuries, and to make life easier on ourselves.

We can *totally* accomplish this goal in less time than you’d think.

[#WonderWomanLoading] 8w Program!

I’m honored to be a part of your journey to create a bigger, more fulfilled, more honest life. The day I decided to step into my purpose not as a shrinking violet, but as a loud, muscular, direct (nasty? ;) ) woman was the day my life changed forever. I went from wondering how I could keep everyone happy to making sure I was happy and adding value from my overflow, from maintaining a job where I wasn’t appreciated or effective to designing my work and my life, and from doing hours of cardio on the elliptical that made me want to gouge my eyes out with a rusty butter knife to lifting heavy things and finding empowerment in the hard stuff.

This is available to all of us, so time to get steppin'.

Happy New Year!

In line with our recent chats about making workouts more efficient by upping the weights and cutting down on the time (because the best results don't come from the smartest workout on paper, but from the workouts we actually do consistently), I came up with a 2017-themed metcon (!!).

Your Eating + Exercise Shouldn’t Make you Miserable.

These types of workouts help regulate our hunger, energy, and cravings, making it easier for us to comply with better nutrition that matches our training rather than some arbitrary diet. We become more in tune with our bodies, so we aren’t adhering to a plan so much as replenishing our nutrient stores and serving ourselves.

Enter: metabolic conditioning. If you’re involved in the fitness blog world at all (you are, by virtue of receiving this newsletter. ;) ), you’ve probably come across the term “metcon”…short for metabolic conditioning. A metcon circuit is a series of compound movements done back to back with little to no rest in between. Each workout should last 20-40m (really!). There are TONS of super intricate circuits out there, if you Google, but the trick here is not to overcomplicate it. What we’re going for is quick, to the point, easy to transition between exercises, working our full body with multi-joint movements, ideally in multiple planes of motion.

Translation: don’t spend a lot of time doing it; rest when you need to, but not for very long; perform a wide variety of movements that use more than one part of your body at a time.

The key here is to push HARD, since it’s short duration (think, “you can do anything for 10s,” if you’ve seen The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt). 

Carbs are not the Devil, and Other Things Lifters Should Know About Nutrition

: I’m not big on calorie counting, mostly because it leads to being obsessed, and that’s what we’re trying to avoid. I do, however, support calorie counting for a week or so if you’ve never done it, just to get an idea of what a certain amount of calories actually looks like. From there, we can gauge how full we feel on a certain (approximate) number of calories, manipulate/redistribute where those calories are coming from to support our fullness and energy, and not have to actually count much in the future. How can we know where to go if we don’t know where we are?

Anyway, back to the carb point: cutting calories at random, especially from one particular molecule (especially carbs, because our brains run on glucose, the building block of carbs), can actually lead to the exact thing we’re trying to avoid: fat storage and a slower metabolism. Carbs are necessary not just for our brains to work properly, but they also give us energy, so if you’re about to head into the gym to lift something heavy and you don’t want to pass out, maybe include something with carbs in it earlier in the day (or the night before, if you’re an early morning exerciser and completely worthless after 2p like me). 

In the context of lifting (and life, but more so if we’re lifting most days of the week), we also need a fair amount of protein and fat. Protein is the building block of muscle, and that’s the goal here, isn’t it? To lift stuff, increase the amount of stuff we can lift, and also look like we do that? Studies on how much protein, exactly, vary, but a safe place to start is 0.8-1.2g protein per 1kg of body weight. That usually keeps us in a range that will support our activity but not have us going hog-wild and way over our calorie targets.

Fat is also key…mostly for satiety (our perception of fullness between meals). And for the delicious factor. Limiting fat is a good idea – mostly because it has 9 calories per gram, where carbs and protein have 4 – but eliminating (or close to it) fat isn’t, because it does serve quite a few purposes in our bodies, as a source of energy, a support for certain essential vitamins to be absorbed (A, D, E, and K), and a structural component of our cell membranes. In an effort to not go waaaay over my ideal amount of food for the day, I’d rather put half an avocado on a salad than be hungry an hour after said salad and eat M&Ms. Priorities.

I Lift Things Up, and Put Them Down (and I Hate to Jog). Here's Why.

Aside from wanting to look like I spent all those hours in the gym (aka have physical proof that I don’t just talk about it – I AM about it), I prefer resistance training for a ton of other reasons. Weightlifting increases the size and strength of our muscles, certainly, but it also improves our balance, stability, agility, confidence, self-efficacy (the belief in our abilities to complete a specific task), and has an anti-aging effect.

Free weights give us a more comprehensive training effect: we recruit not just the muscle we’re targeting (e.g., not just our chest when we bench press), but also the stabilization muscles involved in the joint structure. We’re holding a free-floating (heavy) weight, which requires our joints to be stable in order to bear the load without dropping it on our faces (e.g., our shoulders, triceps, lats, traps, and rhomboids, plus their associated connective tissues, are active when we bench press, so that we can lower the bar to our chest before pressing it back up). Using more muscles strengthens the surrounding connective tissues (our joints are able to bear greater pressure in everyday life = less likelihood of injury) and burns more calories (because more muscles are working).

Anti-Resolution, Anti-F It Holiday Thoughts (AKA, Navigate the Middle)

ESPECIALLY throughout this season, where many people stress over food (from its preparation to accommodating diet preferences to feeling like we “shouldn’t” eat something), finding what works can seem overwhelming, but it’s simple: what keeps us full but not uncomfortably stuffed, what energizes us, what helps us meet our calorie needs, what keeps our cravings under control, what brings us joy…which, I’ve found, is almost never what someone else tells me should.

Also important to remember is that exercise is not punishment.

It’s tempting to want to “work off” an indulgent season, especially given all the #fitfam fotos of girls in their underwear doing “fasted cardio” at like, 3 in the morning (what are you training to be, Batman? Who works out at that time?). Not to shame them or anything, because if that’s what you want, then, by all means, go for it. This is the perfect opportunity, however, to recognize a few things flawed with fitness trends.

“Working off” an indulgent season is a rocky mindset and one that we will never catch up to, since it’s impossible to be perfect with nutrition and workouts all the time. In my experience, a better way to think about our fitness is by remembering that we (usually) don’t need to tell toddlers to run around and play; they just do it, because it’s fun to move around and wiggle and run with our friends. Finding a form of movement that brings us this joy and that allows us to get in touch with our bodies (and spirits!) will serve us far longer than whatever is trending.