What Makes A Good Workout?

I’ll start by answering that question with another question- what is your goal?

That is my answer for several questions that I get asked on a frequent basis. To me it seems like that would be a logical response, but often I’m met with a look of confusion.

As a trainer I would define a “good workout” as one that left you feeling better then when you started, one that helped you get one step closer to your goals, and one that pushed you out of your comfort zone without making you it’s bitch. Let’s break that down shall we?

“A workout that leaves you feeling better then when you started”
This doesn’t mean that you weren’t challenged or pushed. What it does mean is that when you finished you had a sense of accomplishment and were able to walk out of the gym being happy you showed up.
Movement should be making you feel better, not worse. Discomfort is part of the deal, especially for newbies. PAIN is not, and it shouldn’t be celebrated.

“A workout that helps you get one step closer to your goals.”
Those (your goals) should be clearly defined from the get-go. Are you working out to lose body fat? To build more muscle? To run your first 5k or Spartan or Triathalon? Are you returning to exercise after major surgery or childbirth and you’ve just been cleared by your doctor? Do you want to be able to chase your toddler or take your kids on a family hike? Do you want to stave off health issues that have plagued your parents or other members of your family?
Working out doesn’t have to be purely aesthetic. To be honest you’re likely to have more success if that isn’t your only driving factor. But also having a why and setting up goals along the way will also set you up for the long term.. Movement and exercise aren’t just short term solutions. They are lifetime choices that can and will set you up for a better quality of life, or a not-so-good one. That choice is yours to make.
When you show up to wherever you get a little movement in ask yourself- is what I’m doing today going to get me closer to where I want to be? If the answer is “No” then I’d suggest asking yourself why you are doing whatever it is that you are doing in the first place.

“A workout that pushed you out of your comfort zone without making you it’s bitch”.
So this goes hand in hand with the first point, and I mention it again to say that if you feel like you have been through the ringer every single time you go to the gym perhaps you need to do a bit of reflection.
As an athlete I love a hard workout.
As a mom, business owner, trainer and person that needs their body to function in order to make a living I don’t dig them all the time.
As a woman there are times during the month that all I can do is show up and be gentle. If this is the first time you are hearing this, here’s a secret- our bodies are cyclical in nature. We feel that way on purpose, and if you are tuned into it, listening to your body will be the biggest gift you can give yourself.

Resistance training, weightlifting, boot camp, whatever it is you enjoy doing is meant to be challenging. That is what allows progress to happen. Soreness is part of the game as well. When muscles are worked in ways that they aren’t used to, they become sore as a result. But if you finish your workout and have zero energy to take on the rest of your day, or if you are so sore when you’re done that moving through your normal day-to-day is a challenge, I’d encourage you to ask yourself WHY you’re doing it. What are you gaining by feeling that way all the time? If that is the only measure you have to feel like your workout was successful, I’d encourage you to really give that some thought. If you are surrounded by people that think the same way, I ask you what other positive attributes are they contributing to your health and wellness?
I used to wear this mentality as a badge of honor, I thought I wasn’t doing nearly enough if I wasn’t miserable until my next workout. That was all fine and good, until it wasn’t. Until injuries overtook soreness. Until my ability to be a mom became more challenging because I couldn’t move. Until my body loudly stated that it had “ENOUGH”.

Listening to our bodies can be a humbling experience. For many of us we were conditioned from a fairly young age to just get after it, no matter what. What if instead we gave ourselves the grace and courage to instead do things that make us feel good and also help us to move better and live better in the long run? Engaging in workouts that help us as opposed to hurt us is one way to do that.

Ask yourself next time you’re ready to hit the gym- is this workout going to make me better or not? Then proceed accordingly.

~S

Thoughts from a frustrated fitness professional/ A little personal history.

Working in the fitness industry is a rather polarizing endeavor. I’ve written about this a bit before, but lately I’ve found I’m having a hard time just “being ok” with it. I’ve said before I’m not for everyone. I’m cool with it.

Women are one of the most highly advertised to demographics, and while we are making strides in the body-positivity area the same shit still sells and it makes me REALLY ANGRY. Like Hulk-Smash level shit.

But for just a little history, I’d like to level with anyone reading this why I feel the way I do. See, I myself have a L O N G history with my body and my feelings about it. Put your seat-belt on, this will take a second.

I made it through middle school fairly unscathed. Once puberty hit my hips showed up and I have since carried quite a bit of my curve through my butt and legs. It just was what it was. I have also always been an athlete of some kind, so muscle and being able to be fairly consistent with my weight was fine.

In high school I experienced some devastating firsts that began to mold a not-so-great relationship with my body.

  1. I got cut from athletics for the first time in my life. First from basketball, then from volleyball. I was devastated. Completely crushed. For the first time I wasn’t an active particiapant, and I used food and a general lack of motivation to move very little.
  2. It was the first time my parents (who were completely well-intentioned so I thank them for that) suggested that watching what I eat become a priority. My mom helped me the best way she knew how packing my lunch and for a while it did help and some of the weight I’d put on came off.
  3. I started dating someone that would ultimately be emotionally abusive and that would take its toll. I ended up in the hospital for exhaustion, dehydration, consuming less then 1000 calories a day while in-season for a Varsity sport I loved, and then there was this guy that made me feel like I was special and at the same time like I would never be enough.

Eventually it all culminated, and for all 4 years of high school my weight went up and it went down. It changed based on whether I was in-season, post-season or preseason. I’ll also interject here that we did not lift weights during pre-season/ off-season. We didn’t want to be “bulky” so everything was body-weight, tubing and cardio based until we could get into the cages and begin batting practice.

Strength training already had a negative connotation after freshman PE class when my best friend and I both were able to bench our body-weight in class and the boys called us “Beasts”. Male fragile ego at 14-15 years old. (Insert vomit emoji here)

Also, I LOVED entertainment news. I was all about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I wanted Britney Spear’s abs, and Blue Crush was my favorite movie for sure.

What no one told me about any of it was that I wasn’t built like that. I was not going to look like any of those girls, ever. But man is that what I wanted. Lots of cardio, minimal lifting, watch what I eat (to a point of starving then binge, then feel guilty then repeat). For years.

When I went away to college on a softball scholarship, I was introduced to the weight room, for a minute. It was expected but I don’t remember us actually doing it with any consistency. We shared the weight room with all the male athletes (IE the football and basketball team) it was gross and many of them were pigs so I don’t think any of us were in a big rush to run up there. Also, even then I had never been properly instructed on how to lift. I had no idea of mechanics or what I actually should be doing. We just loaded up the bar and gave it a shot. (Ugh, facepalm)
Also, in this delightful four years, I was introduced to BEER. I may have been a Div. II Collegiate Athlete but I was also a sorority girl and I could put it down with the best of them. That did NOT help me, especially my freshman year, but you live and learn.

Once I graduated I walked away from anything organized for a while. We had free gym memberships with our apartment so I’d dabble here and there but I was never able to be consistent. Cardio was what I knew and I’d try to do something here and there. I had a consult with a personal trainer and she gave me a very generic workout and told me to consume less then 100g of sugar per day. That was it.

One night my husband and I were watching a movie and the guys on screen were throwing kettlebells around in the “pump-you-up” training montage. I looked at NN and said “I want to do that.” He shook his head as he does and said “Ok babe”. But less then a month later we were both in our first class.

Meeting Dave (and his business partner at the time) changed my life. I was introduced to someone that actually gave a shit about how I moved. He helped me fix my squat (something I didn’t realize needed fixed), he showed me that load was important and that cardio or other measures of “a good workout” weren’t necessarily that great. He gave me so much from the beginning, and while it would take almost 3 more years before I would start coaching myself I was hooked.

DUring this time I also got pregnant with my first child. This is another post for another day, but I will say that pregnancy was a whole new struggle for me with body image. It’s something that should be talked about, but I felt so much shame that I didn’t know what to do. Postpartum, dear Lord that will be several future posts. But back to the actual story…

I was introduced to a community of professionals that took their job seriously. Yes, there are always polarizing opinions, and I had to learn some things the hard way. But at the roots, I’d had a long-standing viewpoint of my body that was driven by shame and by this ideal that I would never achieve. At 24 that began to change and I’ve spent the last 12 years trying to encourage a different dialog.

What I preach is wholly what I practice, and if I’m being honest it isn’t sexy or glamorous.

I don’t have a six-pack, I’m not a size 4, and I still hate long cycle cardio.

I move everyday. Even when all that looks like is walking. Some days that is all I’ve got in me. AND THAT’S OK. Other days I swing kettlebells (because I freaking love it) or I move weights around. I’ve started hitting up a Crossfit class a couple times a week. My relationship with that has been a moving target for years, but at the moment I’m in a good place with it.

I try to eat foods that come from the outside of the grocery store. Bread and pasta are delicious but they don’t agree with me and while I have always loved cereal and ice cream both make me feel like absolute shit. I very much have to weigh the pros and cons of consumption. I also love cheesecake. It is a non-negotiable in my life. The trick is not eating the whole damn thing, but instead a slice here and there.

I share all of this because it is a small example of what works FOR ME. It has taken me years to get a handle on it, and I am constantly tweeking and experimenting.

That mentality and approach is how I approach my clients as well. We establish goals, and then we reverse engineer how to get to them. It is a long road, if you’re being honest with yourself it is a lifetime decision. What you choose in your 30’s and 40’s will have an impact in your 60’s and 70’s. It’s never too late to start, but the sooner you do the better for YOU it will ultimately be.

I will continue to be annoyed and often angered by the bullshit I see people putting out about “30lbs in 30 days”, Detox Teas, Magic Wraps, and all the cardio. And while I sometimes feel like a broken record I will continue to educate, support, encourage, and hopefully inspire other women, especially Moms to find what works for them and allows them to live the life they DESIRE to live.

Thanks for reading Awesome Humans

~S

Welcome 2020

It’s finally here!

Did anyone else feel like the last couple months of the year simultaneously flew by and also never wanted to end? I’m not one to wish time away but holy hell, it’s been a crazy couple months.

Anyway, new year, new decade. Lot’s to look forward to while also just being another day in the life.

I personally am excited about my plans of what’s going down in 2020, at least for ALA. If I’m being honest, I think that’s why this last quarter has been so antsy for me. Several of the things I’ve been waiting to be able to start moving forward on have been in purgatory. But now I can finally share what’s on the horizon.

B!RTHF!T classes to be offered in the Lone Tree, Parker, South Denver Suburbs. I have been waiting to be able to officially coach the curriculum and that is now a GO. Stay tuned for class dates and times for Prenatal Fitness Foundations, The Post Partum Series and Post Partum Breath and Flow. I am passionate about getting this information out to as many moms as possible, it is a game changer in all the best ways possible.

Online Coaching with my program The Mom First Project. This has been in the works for years and it is finally in a space where I am ready to scream about it and welcome women into a community that I have wanted to create. I got sick of wishing, so I decided to make it myself and put it out there for others. Lots more to come on this in February and March.

Lastly, I’m looking forward to having a kettlebell group again. It will be on Monday & Wednesday evenings in Lone Tree. My first love in fitness has always been kettlebells. It’s where I started, and when I get the privilege of watching someone I coached throw a bell around with confidence and great form it’s like a proud mom and her child. I see so much bad kettlebell form and hear so many disappointing stories that when I have to opportunity to influence positive change I jump on it.

So those are the big ones, at least for now. 2020 is just beginning and there is SO MUCH opportunity out there I’m giddy as hell just thinking about it.

More soon Awesome Humans

S

Seasonal Fitness

Working in the fitness arena, there can be incredible singularly focused and dogmatic approaches to working out. Some people believe in one method only, and THAT is what you must do. I had some of those beliefs when I initially started this journey, and for me it had more to do with not knowing any better. Time and experience are marvelous teachers.

I’ve now been coaching others (90% women) for about 7 years, and I’ve been on my own path to figuring out what the hell works best for ME since I was in my 20’s.

In this time frame I quit playing softball, graduated from college, got married, had two kids, moved across the country, and experienced mountain-high Highs to 10,000 Leagues Under the Sea Lows. To say that how I approach working out has changed might be the understatement of the decade.

Working out, like the seasons, is a very cyclical thing for me. On a large scale as well as on a daily basis. And while that may not be the case for everyone, I’m willing to bet that this may resonate with a few of you.

I love to lift heavy. I love high intensity. I love pushing myself to do better in my current workout then I did in the last. That’s the athlete in me. She may have “retired” from her sport in her early 20’s but she never went away.

My challenge these days is that working out that way often puts me on the sidelines for extended periods of time. I am still trying to learn my limits and there are times when I don’t throttle enough. It sucks.

I have had to learn to actually listen to what my body is telling me. That some days, walking and my functional progressions is all I’ve got in me. Some days it’s following an online Mat Pilates or Yoga Flow (or getting my butt into a class). Some days it’s going to Bootcamp or Cycle so that I can be pushed by someone else. Other days it’s picking up a kettlebell and seeing what feels good.

I don’t have a set routine. I also don’t have anything that I am specifically training for at the moment. My fitness goals are to feel good, to walk over 10k steps a day, and to be able to take on any activity at will (hiking, playing at the park, doing a mud run, epic failing at a Ninja Course, etc)

As a trainer, I’m not “motivated” all the time. Maybe some people don’t want to admit that, but I have no issues being transparent about it. I recognize that movement and food play a huge role in how I feel every day, so it keeps me traveling on a preferred path. But to say I’m all in 100% of the time would be me blowing smoke strait up your ass.

So what is that I want for you to take away from spending a few minutes reading this post? It’s that I want you to think about where YOU are right now. What season are you in? What are your goals as it pertains to fitness? WHY are those your goals? HOW do they feel to you? Once you can answer those honestly, then think about what it looks like to put that in action.

If you need someone to talk it through with, lets set up a consultation. The link is below and in my Instagram Link Tree. I’m not here to sell you on hiring me (though it is an option). I want to encourage you to have an open and honest conversation with yourself about your fitness, exercise, and how you treat your body.

Let’s Chat!

We as women are seasonal and cyclical creatures. Embrace that, and know that there is nothing wrong with you if being “hardcore” all the time about fitness isn’t your jam. Exercise and fitness should be about loving your body, not hating it. What does it look like to approach this aspect of your life from a positive angle as opposed to a from a negative view???

A New Found Sense of Freedom (and the feelings that go with it)

Today is a milestone day in my world, a milestone that I have been anxiously awaiting for the past 2.5 years. Both of my children are in school all day. I dropped them off at 8:20, and I don’t have to go get them until 3:30. I am not paying tuition or a sitter. It is amazing.

Drop off!

So what am I doing? I’m writing. I’m spending time on what I want Actively Living Awesome to be (and mapping out the HOW). I’m meeting with my work-wife and exploring what some future opportunities look like. I’m listening to one of my favorite Podcasts (about setting boundaries, how appropriate). I am enjoying the fact that my house is quiet.

I’m also hoping that my kids are having a good day.

This particular subject is one that can get people fired up pretty quickly, so I’m going to lay out my reality and then move right along. My husband works full time and has a great job. When we made our life-changing move five years ago part of the decision we made was for me to finally pursue my own endeavors as opposed to going back into a corporate 9-5. By making that choice, part of it meant that I would be home at least half the time. And for most of the past five years that has been the case. There has always been the option for me to go back to work for someone else (which I did for a minute and it wasn’t a good fit), but when it comes down to it, this was the path that worked best for us. It has not been without it’s challenges, but it’s what we decided to do.

As a mother (and this is all humans that have the title of “Mom” whether in a traditional sense or not) there is this external expectation to be all of the fucking things, all of the fucking time. In no particular order: be a good mom, be a good partner, volunteer, keep up the house, bring home a contributing wage, stay fit (or look the part), keep up with laundry and groceries, make time for self care, take care of you, take care of everyone else, the list never ends.

So as I sit here at my counter, on my computer, listening to my little dog snore in the sunlight, I feel really good about where I am right now. I am showing up for me, in ways that elevate my vibration, and I am not sorry for any of them. Does it make me selfish? Maybe. Do I care? Nope. Am I thinking about my kids? Yes, a little bit. Is there any guilt? Again, Nope.

But I wonder, how many moms do feel guilty? How many have had the sole “job” of Mom for many years and now find themselves with a quiet house? How many don’t necessarily have a business or mission to pour themselves into now that they have the time? How many have things they want to start or pick back up but don’t know where to begin?

It doesn’t make you a “Bad Mom” to welcome this new chapter. It doesn’t mean you don’t love your kids because for the first time in years you can sit down and not immediately have to get up for someone else. It doesn’t mean you are selfish because you want to do something you enjoy, for YOU and not for the enjoyment of someone else.

If any of this resonates for you, let me know. I know there are plenty of us out there trying to take care of ourselves and everyone else, battling through all the emotions along the way.

Chat again soon Awesome Humans

~S

Over half way to 2020

Just typing that title made me a little queezy, I can’t believe we are already in July.

About a week ago my husband and I were siting on our newly finished patio, doing a play back of the weekend, when I went a little bigger and started replaying the past 3 months. I say that I don’t know where time went, but the reality is I know exactly where it went and fuck did it just blow right by.

In all fairness I knew that if I made it through March, April was going to take off, and I would wake up on December 31st and be delightfully surprised. However, when you are in the moment everything just seems to fly by faster then you ever give yourself time to prepare for.

April sent my to Columbus, Ohio to become a B!rthF!t Coach. I made the choice at the beginning of 2019 to go ALL IN on B!RthF!t (more on that in a later post) so Coach’s Training was step one. Bonus I got to briefly stay in C-Bus with some of my favorite humans, but that weekend is what made the ball start rolling.

In May I spent a week in Austin, listening to people that are smarter then I will ever dream of being, making some rad new friends, eating lots of tacos, and staying in a REALLY shitty motel. At least, that was the first part of my trip. I completed DNS Exercise 1 as another part of my B!rthF!t puzzle, and was given a glimpse at what I could be doing to already make what I get to do for a living better.

The back half of my Austin trip landed me at the B!rthF!T Summit. I don’t have the space in this post to go into everything that made the weekend life-changing, but let me tell you I drank the Kool-Aid and enjoyed every damn minute of it. I made connections with some of the most incredible people, I heard stories and passion from people just like me out there doing some Queen Shit work in their everyday. These people not once made me feel like I didn’t belong, and they reminded me again why I was called and then chose to bet all my cards on B!rthF!t and what it’s all about.

June was nuts with personal things, and now I have July to try and find peace while I also enjoy the summer that finally decided to show up in Denver. I’m still working at my normal place of employment, but in my vision my days there are limited as I look towards what I want to build in the future.

Coming up in the next couple months:

I am co-teaching a class with my Business Bestie to high school-aged girls beginning next week. I am beside myself to be able to share with these young ladies information I WISH I would have had access to when I was in high school. Obviously hindsight plays a role, but the power we are looking to give them will only help them navigate their lives both in and out of the gym for the better.

I tentatively have a new “home” to begin seeing clients. With this new space, my passion to train women, especially those in all fazes of the Motherhood transition moves to the forefront. I am currently putting together ideas and collaborations to offer the women of the South Denver Suburbs. As women, and especially as mamas we have SO MUCH on our plates all the time. It has taken me five YEARS to surrender to the fact that I need a community. I cant do to alone, and quite frankly I don’t want to. So I open my arms to the other women that feel that way too. We’re going to workout, laugh, get weird, and realize that we all have more in common then we thought. It’s going to be awesome so I hope you’ll come along.

I have exactly 5 months left make all the things I set out to do this year happen. Not sure if I’ll get around to all of it, but best believe I’ll nail the things that count.

Stay Tuned Awesome Humans

S

The Simplification Shift

I’ve been fighting this for what feels like an eternity. To me, it meant that I couldn’t be myself if I chose this path. It felt restrictive, and yucky, and cliche. It meant that I had to fit into a cookie-cutter of what someone else dictated. Why? I have no idea, but that is what I thought. Until recently. Until about 3 months ago. Until I realized that DUH what I have been doing for 35-fucking-years clearly hasn’t worked in all the ways I had hoped, so maybe it was time for me to make a shift. Hmm, weird.

So I did. I chose to start making things simple. Some of them I thought would bore me to tears; they haven’t. Not yet any way. In fact, the small changes I have already made are proving to be intelligent and beneficial decisions on my part.

So, what do I mean by a “Simplification Shift”? I mean cutting out all of the shit in your life that you think you need, so you can make room for the things that are going to help you change your life for the better. It sounds super intimidating, I know. That’s why the other half to this is to also only dismantle a small number of things and then figure out exactly how to rework them into your life so that it makes more sense, not makes you more stressed out.

This all seems so vague, but instead of word vomiting all of it at once I’m going to break out the Simplification Shift throughout the month of February. Each week I’ll explore an area of life that can be simplified, or rather suggestions for you to do so. If I’ve learned nothing else on my own journey it’s that there is no one size fits all answer to ANYTHING. What works for me may not work for you. But, if something that has worked for me ignites something in you that you can use to better your situation, then I’ll call that a win for both of us.

Also, disclaimer before we dive in; while this may have shades of “minimalism” attached to it, that is NOT what this is about. I have also not been watching any of the Marie Kondo docu-series on Netflix so I won’t be using the phrase “sparks joy”. This is about self assessment, exploration, and action. On your terms, to get you one step closer to living your awesome. That’s it. It’s not fancy, it’s not flashy, but that’s the point. We put all this pressure on ourselves to be All The Things, ALL THE TIME. Aren’t you tired? I am. I’d rather focus what little energy I have left after all the other parts of my life take their share on what’s most important to me. If this sounds like you, stay tuned. There is so much more goodness to come!

S

Can I get a connection?

Is anyone else singing that damn One Republic song now? Do yourself a favor and make that song an Erectile Dysfunction advertisement by changing the word “Connection” to a word that starts with “E”

I’ll wait…

Now that you’re done laughing and have that song permanently ruined for you, the reason for this post is to talk about a word that seems to keep coming up for me in all areas of my life. That word is CONNECTION.

I have entered a time in my life in which I crave making deep and meaningful connections with people. I want to hear other people’s stories, I want to learn more about them, and I don’t want superficial experiences.

By nature I’m more of an introvert (in case you care to know) I’d rather hang out at home with my husband, kids, and dog then go out. I am overwhelmed by large crowds, tight spaces, and close contact with people I don’t know. I will share parts of myself with you with ease, but others it may take years for me to let you in because I just don’t know that I can trust you to that level. You can see how this need for deeper connection could be problematic.

All day long I exchange energy with my clients and the people that I have to interact with; from friendly patrons at the gym to the moms at preschool drop off. On the days that I work I am depleted of emotion and energy by the time I get home. It is a shitty situation for my kids those couple nights, but I pride myself in giving that part of myself whole-heartedly to my clients.

What I began to notice when we returned from vacation this year, was that we lacked connections with people outside of our 4 walls. We had just spent 2 weeks bouncing around and visiting with friends in the Midwest (from Indiana to Michigan, Ohio, to Arkansas) and I came home with a full heart. This was in June.

From June to November, we have hung out with people less times then I can count on one hand. By “hanging out” I mean engaging with intention with other people besides direct members of our family. Even writing that out loud is pitiful. The “we” is my husband and I as a couple. I engage with people everyday, but in the past few months I have mindfully and intentionally put myself in situations that are outside of my comfort zone yet a place to create conversation and connection with others.

As I embrace the transition of being a general population personal trainer and Jill-of-all trades to a Woman, Mother and Coach that serves women on their motherhood journeys specifically, I find that connection is more important to me then it ever has been before.

It’s easy for someone that has maybe a handful of people even reading this to say, but I don’t care if I only touch the life of one or two people. If it means that I have a connection and a deeper then just the surface experience with those individuals then what I set out to do has been successful.
As I go back to singing my new version of “Connection” I’m taking on today as the person that I know I want to present to the world. A person that seeks connection with others, hears their stories, maybe shares some of her own, and allows for something greater then just a surface level experience take place.
Until next time Awesome Humans

S