One Day at a Time

When I chose the name Actively Living Awesome for my business, the phrase “One day at a time” went with it. Somehow it has always just fit.

Fitness and wellness are things that I am passionate about, they are an integral part of my personal value system. But this has never been just about me.
ALA was created to share my experiences, my mistakes, what I’ve found works and what I’ve found to be bullshit with others looking to live their most awesome life.

In order to get there we have to approach it One Day at a Time.

With everything going on in the world right now, and getting through this pandemic everyone has found the life that they live turned upside down. Myself included.

I’ll be the first to say that I hate this new normal. I hate that I can’t see my clients in-person. I hate that we are all stuck at home. I hate that other people not using their brains leads to empty grocery stores. I hate that people are losing their jobs and many people are scrambling to figure out how to make ends meet. I hate that there is going to be some massive long-term fallout from this whole experience.

But I hate living in that mindset more then I hate the time we find ourselves in. I have a choice, and for me that choice is One Day at a Time.

Some days will be great days for everyone in my house. Others are going to suck the life right out of me and I’m going to be glad when they are over. But I’ll continue to approach them One Day at a Time.

This won’t be the most Awesome chapter in my life, that I am confident in saying. But it will be a time of immense growth and patience. It will force me to keep showing up, for myself and for those that I am privileged to work with. It will force me to travel inward (a scary place for many of us) and question what I believe and how I want to come out of all of this.

Already these past 2 weeks have shown me how much I can live without and how much time and money I spend on things that are nice but definitely not necessary.

It has reminded me that a shower can absolutely change the outlook on your day, and that too much time with phone in hand or eyes on a screen makes you feel lazy and slothy while craving the connection and instant gratification at the same time.

It has made me appreciate walks around the block by myself and laying on the patio in the sunshine more then I ever thought possible.

It has reiterated that books are usually better then movies/ screen adaptations, and when you have the time you might as well enjoy the longer, more detailed version.

It has forced me to be patient when I want to scream, to laugh when I might otherwise cry, and to give more hugs to my kids then I would have ever guessed I had in me.

This time we’re in, this adventure we are on will lend itself as a lesson and one day we will look back and say “Remember that time….” But until then, I’m going to continue my quest to Awesome, even in this less then optimal setting One Day at a Time.

Are you in?

~S

These are my thoughts, not yours (or maybe some of them are yours too).

This past week has been nothing short of overwhelming, and while I am optimistic that it will in fact be a short-lived experience that doesn’t mean it isn’t a whole hell of a lot to take in.

If you have followed me for any length of time (or if you know me personally) then you know that it takes quite a bit to get a rise out of me. I do rant, but I honestly don’t care about much of anything enough to really allow outside factors have any control.

I love engaging with people and getting to know their stories and I love sharing my own with people that allow me to do so. On the flip side I need quiet and space that is my own to recharge and reflect. Especially after I have interacted with others all day long.

Social media is a tool for me to engage and share my passion for fitness, wellness, and working with moms trying to do those things and more while raising kids. It has also become a place that steals my energy and makes me want to disengage completely. It makes me anxious, and feel like a hamster running tirelessly in a wheel. It makes my skin crawl, and I don’t like it.

Maybe it’s just me (I don’t think it is) but completely shutting off social isn’t the answer either. Not when I am in a growth stage of my business. What it does mean is that I need to be REAL intentional about the content I consume and how much time I spend on each social platform.

And I’m going to go out on a limb and say maybe that isn’t a bad idea for anyone else either.

Many of us are now home with our kids for 2-3 weeks. Instead of burying our noses in our phones (which I am guilty of too) why not limit the screen time? Let’s be real, how many of us REALLY need the connection to our phones we’ve become so dependent on? Even having an online business, I don’t need to spend the amount of time that I do on my phone. It makes me feel like shit, and it’s setting an example of valuing a stupid box more then I value the actual connection with another person.

So, over the next couple weeks here is a list of things I’m going to do while waiting out the social distancing protocol.

  1. Limit my phone screen time to 2 hours a day. Yes this sounds like quite a bit, and honestly I’d like to cut that in half. I need to figure out how much time it will take me to post and record and all the batching required for my social content. Once that is done, I’m out.
  2. Spend at least 30 minutes outside. Pending no epic snowstorms or super crazy wind, I have no excuse not to be able to do this. Sunshine and vitamin D are good for us, so is fresh air. Taking a walk always grounds and resets me, and I’ll have ample opportunity in the coming weeks.
  3. Read for at least an hour a day. I’m currently working on The Beautiful for pleasure reading, and Money, A Love Story for personal development. Both are really enjoyable so this one shouldn’t be too hard to implement.
  4. Lots of at home meals. We live this way more often then we don’t, and as long as some of the chaos in the grocery stores settles down this won’t be hard. Family dinners are something that I look forward to, and since we won’t be running all over for practices, and my in-person training schedule is thinned for the coming weeks I’m looking forward to more meals with my three favorite humans.
  5. Time dedicated to things I never seem to have time to do. This one could be a stretch but I’m going to go with now not having an excuse to get certain avoided tasks done because I can’t leave and go do other things. I’ll see how it goes, but might as well make the most of the time I have.
  6. Breathing Breaks. I’ll be exercising, but I’ll also be taking time to breathe. I do it often, but I don’t do it enough. More intentional breathing, less consumption of garbage that clogs brainwaves. I’m thinking maybe this quarantine isn’t such a bad thing after all.

I think this whole thing is going to blow over by the beginning of April, and hopefully life will begin to have a semblance of normalcy back. If not, we’ll do what we need to do and in the meantime I can be optimistic.

Until next time Awesome Humans!
~S

Women & Weights- Part 2

In part one of this series we discussed why strength training was beneficial (If you missed that post click here)

Now lets talk about how to get started on your own personal strength training journey.

If strength training is completely new to you, then an ideal first step is going to be finding a coach or trainer to work with. Preferably in person, but this day in age online is also a solid option. One-on-one coaching will give you the most concentrated attention to detail, and you don’t have to do it forever. Long enough to get a solid foundation, twice a week for 12 weeks is the shortest time I’d recommend.

I’m going to take this opportunity to call out something that makes me just an angry as women being told not to strength train, and that’s people actually getting hurt working with a trainer. Accidents happen, but stupid shit also happens when people don’t pay attention or have an agenda that has nothing to do with you and your goals.
Here are a couple things you might not know if you are new to a gym setting.

Not all trainers/ coaches are created equal.
The barrier to entry in the fitness industry is pretty low, and in the online space it’s even lower. Credentials are an important thing to inquire about and even then some of those are better then others.
I am partial to NSCA, ACSM, and NASM when it comes to the “governing bodies” that oversee personal training and strength training. I can attest to the fact that in order to pass those tests you have to have a decent knowledge of how the body works. Also, most people that have a degree in exercise science or the like have at least one of those designations under their belts. Is it the end all be all? No, but it is a solid place to start.
If the trainer you are interested in doesn’t have a certification (which they may not), ask them about their experience. What do they do for continued education? How do they stay current on information? See if you can speak to one of their current clients. Look into it as deeply as you need to in order to feel good about the decision.

Trainers in “Big” gyms work on commission.
That doesn’t mean they don’t know what they are doing. There are many trainers in big-box gyms all over the country helping change people’s lives. But it can mean they are really good at sales and telling you that you need something significantly more then you actually do because they need to hit their numbers for the month. Sorry not sorry, I hate pushy slimy sales which is why I have never worked in a gym like that. I’m not going to tell you something you don’t need, the time in the gym is about YOU, not me, and that’s how it should be.

If the trainer you get set up with does more talking about themselves then listening to you, mark that a red flag.
As I said above, training a client is about their needs and goals, not what the trainer has accomplished as a trainer or athlete. You are hiring this person to teach you a new skill, something that can be dangerous if not advised in an intentional manner. If you don’t feel heard in that first meeting, it’s acceptable to ask for someone else.

There should be some kind of movement assessment and paperwork before you actually begin lifting anything.
Even elite level athletes have basic movement patterns they need to revisit, and a pattern that isn’t ideal needs to be addressed before a movement is loaded. Injuries happen when people get over zealous. In most facilities you will have to fill out some fairly extensive paperwork about your health (past and present). It is equally as important for you to disclose all information as it is for your coach to collect it. Injuries that may seem inconsequential to you, could be a piece of the puzzle that we need to know in order to plan accordingly.

You can fire your trainer/ coach at any time.
The only bad part here might be how much money you are out, but if at any time you are unhappy or just not jiving with your trainer you can cut the cord. As a trainer myself I hope if you didn’t feel like you were getting what you paid for that you would speak up. We are adults here, so conversation is a two-way street. But if even after you converse, you don’t feel heard #girlbye.

My point is discussing all of this is not to discourage you from getting started, quite the opposite really. If I had to sum it up in one sentence it would be this- make sure the person you are working with is someone you feel better being around. Your trainer or coach should be assisting you towards your goals, and overall it should be an interaction that adds value to your life, not sucks the life out of you.

If hiring a coach is not in your budget, there are many other options out there to get you started. Fitness apps abound, and there are some great coaches out there that put educational and helpful content out on their social media, blogs and websites. The internet can also be a black hole of less then optimal information so proceed with caution.
Besides my own content (found here and here) below are other resources I send people to when they ask about various topics and would like to do some reading on their own.

  1. Strong First
  2. Girls Gone Strong
  3. B!RTHF!T
  4. Ben Bruno Training
  5. Coach Karen Smith

To wrap this up, if you are new to strength training, one of the best things you can do for yourself is hire a coach or trainer to get you started. Having their eyes on you to watch for things you are likely not aware of, as well as use consented tactile cuing are attributes that you cannot get from going the journey on your own. Find someone you like and feel can help you to reach the goals you have for yourself.

If I resonate with you, then let’s connect. You can reach me me by leaving me a comment below, DMing me on social media, emailing me at sara@activelylivingawesome.com or you can apply for my coaching program here.

The third and final installment of this series will be things you should know about strength training to get the most out of your workouts. Have a great week!

~S

Women and Weights- Part 1.

Once upon a time women were told that they shouldn’t lift weights because it would make them look like men and thus be undesirable. They wouldn’t want to be bulky, and they could get hurt. More “feminine” exercise was encouraged and anything that looked like “strength” training was il-advised.

Aren’t you glad we don’t live in that world anymore?? Oh wait…

It’s not as bad as it used to be, and with the rise in popularity of things like StrongFirst, CrossFit, The Titan Games, Girls Gone Strong, B!RTHF!T, and social media, strength training for women is getting some great press.

There are still those out there that preach that women shouldn’t lift more then 2lbs (which is laughable if you carry a purse or have children) but somehow that rhetoric still sells.

There are many reasons why women should incorporate strength training into their health and wellness routine, and this is what I want to chat about today. General aesthetics won’t be mentioned, so while that may be a motivating factor to get started I promise that by the end of this you’ll have more information at your disposal.

Before I dive in I want to be clear on a couple things-
The information presented is done so from time spent reading research/ journals and data collected by humans much smarter then I, as well as my own journey in the world of strength training both personally and professionally.
My goal in how this is written is for those that don’t want to read super complex data, but want the information in an easy to understand manner. I am happy to share any and all of my sources if you are interested in reading more. But for the sake of the scroll-averse I’m going to make this as easy to digest as possible.

4 Compelling Reasons You Should Be Strength Training:

More muscle= More efficient body at rest.

The more muscle mass you have, the more efficient your body is at rest. A pound of fat burns 1-2 calories per hour while a pound of muscle burns up to 6 calories per hour. (1) I’m not a mathematician, but I like those odds.
The quality of calories consumed cannot be dismissed, you cannot out-exercise a bad diet. But for those that say they do cardio so they can eat… strength training is a better long-term investment.

Women begin to see a decrease in muscle mass at age 40.

For women, we begin to lose lean muscle mass at 40. To put that into perspective, that means you will lose 50% of your lean muscle mass by the time you turn 80. The magic number “40” doesn’t mean you can’t start strength training at any time, it simply means the earlier you start the more muscle mass you will start with when inevitable aging begins.

Weight training improves bone health.

This one requires me to get a little more science-y, but bear with me. Strength training stimulates osteoblast activity which are the cells that promote bone growth (3).
It is estimated that 80% of the 10 million people that live with osteoperosis are women, and that 50% of women over age 50 will break a bone because of osteoperosis.
If that isn’t terrifying, a woman’s risk of breaking a hip is equal to her combined risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer. (4)
YIKES!!!
Bottom Line, strength training makes your bones stronger so you don’t break them as easily especially as you age.

Being strong makes life easier.

Aside from being the Boss woman that can carry 25 grocery bags in one trip while also holding a baby carrier, when we are strong we simply FEEL more capable. It pisses me off when I can’t get the damn pickle jar open and I have to ask my husband. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does I get real annoyed. The fact that you can do more for yourself doesn’t mean you don’t need a man (unless that’s your jam, whatever floats your boat) but it will make your life easier and more convenient.
Another example I like to use is being able to play with your kids at the playground. Lifting them up and tossing them around, hanging from the monkey bars and jumping off a moving swing. You become a more active participant when you are focusing on what you can do and instead of what you can’t. Strength training helps you do all the things.

The journey to strength training can be intimidating, which is why many women choose not to pursue it at all. That is why for the month of March on my Instagram and Facebook pages I will be going over the “Big 4” movements that are the foundations of strength training.

I’ll also be following this post up with one that talks about how to get started on your strength training journey. Stay Tuned!

~S

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2980962/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4066461/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2811354
  4. https://www.nof.org/preventing-fractures/general-facts/what-women-need-to-know/