Why Comparisons Are Counterproductive

Flowers

Denise Harris

7.31.19

 

We’ve all been there. Scrolling through our social media feeds, liking this photo and that one. Adorable baby, cute cat, funny video, and bam! That person with the body you envy! The comparisons begin rushing through your mind in waves of “I wish I had,” “if I could just,” and “it must be so easy for them.” Here’s where we must stop. Comparing ourselves to others is counterproductive and can lead to the development of an unhealthy self-perspective. Seeing ourselves in negative or unrealistic ways only sabotages our hard work in the gym and prevents us from taking pride in the progress we experience or the goals we reach. Here’s why:

 

Our Comparisons Often Miss the Process

You’ve heard it before: “Trust the process.” That is key. When we look at others for comparison, we’re often looking at finished products without seeing what work the person may have done (or had done) to get where they are. We don’t know their lives, their motivations, their discipline or their challenges. With all of those variables, we have no sound point of reference and the picture we see is incomplete. Therefore, we can’t possibly make fair judgment of a person’s progress nor can we liken their journey to our own. We can, however, almost always assume there was a plan followed and action taken. Focusing our attention there helps us to think more practically and, potentially, learn about how a person’s training, nutrition, or mindset may be useful.

Our Comparisons are Often Unrealistic

Anything that lives undergoes change, our bodies included. And every body is different, yours included. We must keep this in mind when we look at others in relation to ourselves. More importantly, we must bear this truth in mind when we self-compare. If you’re starting a new fitness journey after a period of minimal or no physical activity, it can be easy to think about where your strength and endurance levels “used” to be. But doing so can be paralyzing and detrimental to your current progress. Remember, our bodies naturally age and evolve over time so, technically, they won’t ever be the same as before. And that’s okay! Start where you are, not where you were. That’s the healthiest approach to measuring meaningful progress. Instead of thinking, “I used to be stronger” or “I’ve really fallen off the wagon,” try, “I am strong and working to be stronger” or “everyone starts at a different level and where I’m starting is just fine.”

Our Comparisons Blind Us to the Value of Our Unique Journeys

You are the only you in the world. Read that again. Your journey will never be exactly the same as another’s. It’s important that we learn to embrace our struggles, our triumphs, and all of the experiences in between. Not only do they shape our individual fitness journeys, they ultimately shape our lives. Each time we set a goal, we exhibit self-confidence. When we consistently do the work to reach that goal, we demonstrate our dedication and perseverance. And every time we achieve a goal, we prove to ourselves that we’re must stronger than we knew. Focusing on another person’s journey as a point of comparative reference prevents you from recognizing and celebrating your own growth. Instead, choose to own your story and find joy in every bit of progress you make. It feels so much better!

Being Honest With Yourself Before Setting New Year Resolutions

Jessica Chandler
January 6, 2019
With a new year comes new goals. You see the quote, “New Year, New You” year after year! Although this may seem like a great outlook on your life ahead, this single quote is also why so many feel like they have failed themselves by the time that same year comes to an end, which recycled into feeling like they need to start the process over and over. Don’t get me wrong, New Year resolutions can changes lives. The important key is being honest with yourself while setting these goals you want to accomplish. Reality is there is no reason you need to be a completely different YOU by the end of the year. For one you have to love yourself along the journey and honestly that is just too much pressure to put on one person.
Your goals, especially when fitness related, should take some deep thinking with yourself before they are set. You have to take into consideration your lifestyle, schedule, what type of support system you have and more importantly you know yourself best so you must consider what you know you are or are not willing and able to do. Although the best intentions are behind those huge goals you set, once you realize they may not become accomplished, a cycle starts. You may begin to feel like a “failure”, like you should “start again another day”, or maybe you should just “give up” all together because of course there’s always next year right! I’m here to tell you there is a way to avoid this type of mindset all together. First step in achieving your fitness resolutions would be making YOURSELF a priority this year. When you start putting effort into yourself, you will find yourself making less EXCUSES.
Also, instead of saying, “I will lose _ amount of weight this year,” pick out or go purchase your goals jeans/dress. Hang this where you can see it daily and use this as a way to measure your progress. I promise you, especially when beginning weight lifting, it is pointless to measure all your progress by the scale. Set goals such as having more energy, building more muscle mass, start running, do more cardio, lift more weights, etc. Your long term goals do not have to have a certain number attached to them. In fact, I wouldn’t suggest it all. Example: a person who sets a new goal to start running will feel more accomplished and continue with it even if they only run 1-2 days a week VS. a person who sets a goal of running 4-5 days per week and because of life they don’t reach that goal.
The goals set at the beginning of a new year can make or break your thought process for the entire year. Being honest with yourself and creating realistic goals to accomplish will aid in a goal accomplished year!

beginner classes

Don’t Neglect the Stretch

Denise Harris

December 17, 2018

Stretching is an important part of any workout plan, but it’s also the part most of us skip. We generate the energy to show up at the gym, power through our workouts, and carry on with the checklists of our days. Finding the extra time and motivation to add stretching to that routine can be a challenge. Maybe you’d like to, but don’t know where to start. Why should you stretch? When should you stretch? What stretches should you do? To help you answer some of those questions, I’ve compiled a quick guide for anyone looking to add flexibility gains to their fitness goals.

 

Why Should You Stretch? Because the Benefits are Worth It

Stretching maximizes your fitness goals and helps to improve your overall health and wellness. When we perform flexibility-enhancing movements, we also assist our bodies in their natural recovery processes. Some of the benefits of stretching include:

  • Improved range of motion or enhanced flexibility
  • Increased blood flow to muscles
  • Improved muscular balance
  • Reduced soreness
  • Reduced risk of injury
  • Improved posture
  • Improved breathing
  • Enhanced quality of sleep
  • Improved physical performance

 

When Should You Stretch? Before & After

There are benefits to pre- and post-workout stretching; however, research shows that dynamic stretching is best before you train while static stretching is best done afterward.[1] Incorporating dynamic (moving) stretches into your warmup can help your joints and muscles prepare for movement during the workout, especially if that workout includes heavy lifting or plyometrics. Try the following moves for an effective warmup. Complete 5-10 repetitions of each, balancing your work on each leg or arm. Remember to keep your movements slow and controlled.

Dynamic Stretch Warmup:

  • Hip Hinges
  • Leg Swings
  • Rear Lunges
  • Side Lunges
  • Inchworms
  • Cat-Cow Stretches
  • Arm Swings (with full shoulder rotation)

After a workout, our muscles are usually tight and shortened from contracting. This is an ideal time to practice a form of self-myofascial release (SMR) popularly known as foam rolling. When our muscles are in a short and tense state, they lack healthy blood flow and its circulation of nutrients. They are also unable to adequately remove waste products that lead to muscle soreness. Foam rolling helps to relax the muscles, massaging away tension in the nerves and connective tissue. Great for post-workout or rest day recovery, foam rolling is also an effective precursor to static (holding) stretching. Here are some benefits of foam rolling:

  • Loosens tight muscles
  • Releases tension in trigger points and muscle knots
  • Eases muscle soreness
  • Corrects muscle imbalance
  • Increases range of motion
  • Helps to prevent injury

Static stretches are important for developing and maintaining flexibility. Best done after a workout when your body and muscles are warm, these are the moves most of us envision when we think about stretching. Deep lunges, butterfly stretches, quad stretches ring any bells? These moves require us to hold our weight in a position of suspension or across various planes of the body. It’s important to a take a slow and controlled approach to static stretching, gradually deepening in a stretch over time.

 

What Stretches Should You Do? Give these a try!

  • Lat Roll: Move the roller under lats, up and down, forward and back. Switch sides and repeat.
  • Wrist Extension and Flexion: Extend left arm straight out at chest height. Push the palm forward and finger tips upward. Hold the finger tips with the right hand. Switch wrists and repeat. Next, extend left arm straight out at chest height. This time, turn the fingertips toward the ground. Switch wrists and repeat.
  • Glutes Roll: Roll the body forward and back, hitting all parts of the glutes.
  • Upper Back Roll: Roll up and down, upper- to mid-back, until muscles relax.
  • Hip Flexors Roll: Place roller under hip flexors and roll up and down from hip to mid-thigh.
  • Hamstrings Roll: Use bodyweight to roll out hamstrings from knees to butt, including the inner and outer areas. Do both sides.
  • Neck Stretch: Tilt head to one side and allow it to fall with gravity. Rest hand on forehead but do not apply pressure. Repeat on opposite side.
  • 90-90 Stretch: Create 90° angles with legs, one in front and one in back. Trying to keep the knee in contact with the ground, walk the hands away from the body, stretching forward. Switch legs and repeat.

[Demonstration picture goes here online]

How Often Should I Stretch? Regularly

Aim to stretch or foam roll 10 – 20 minutes 3 – 5 times each week. Spend about 1 minute on each move, roughly 30 seconds per side. Spend more time on areas that are very tight or sore.

 

Tips:

  • The best foam roller for you is based on your pain tolerance level and muscle tightness or soreness. Soft rollers are great for beginners, firmer rollers are ideal for intermediate levels, and ridged rollers are best for advanced athletes.
  • As a beginner, aim for a 7 out of 10 on your pain scale. As you become more advanced, you can raise that to an 8. You should not perform foam rolling at a 10.
  • Discomfort from foam rolling shouldn’t last longer than 30 minutes following a rolling session. You should feel limber and loose.
  • Focus on form and control rather than speed and repetitions.
  • Stay hydrated. One part of recovery is a release of waste produced during our workouts. Good hydration will assist your body in expelling toxins and repairing damaged muscle tissue.

 

Stretching at New Start Fitness

Catch a Stretch Workshop with me to learn more about active recovery and stretching exercises. Check out the schedule here.

 

  • Stretch & Be Well! –

Post Workout Stretches & Foam Rolling

 

[1] https://blog.myfitnesspal.com/do-you-really-need-to-stretch/

Good Carbs vs Bad Carbs

Kim Day

December 8, 2018

Good Carbs vs. Bad Carbs

Carbs. Carbs. CARBS! They’re everywhere this time of year. We crave them. We try to resist them. We obsess over them. But for good reason. There’s a WIDE range of opinions on carbohydrates. Some promote them as healthy, while others shun them. So are carbs good or bad? Short answer: Both.

Our bodies need carbohydrates. Trust me. I went on a NO carb diet one semester in college and it was NOT pretty. (Ask me in person if you want a funny story!) Carbs give us energy…GOOD (complex) carbs do. Bad (simple) carbs make us crash and crave more…and gain weight. So what’s the difference?

Good, complex carbs chemical structure and fibers require our bodies to work harder to digest, and energy is released over a longer period of time. For the most part, good carbs are in their “natural” state, or very close to it. Think whole grains, beans, vegetables, fruits. Complex carbs have a low Glycemic Index (GI), producing a gradual rise in your blood sugar, helping you feel fuller longer.

Bad, simple carbs are the opposite: generally processed, so they’ve been stripped of their natural ingredients and fiber. Simple carbs are smaller molecules of sugar digested quickly into our bodies, which leads to a faster “crash”. Ever feel extremely tired AND hungry not long after eating potato chips and a soda…or other various simple carbs? Simple carbs are high Glycemic Index, causing a rapid fluctuation in your blood sugar…known as the crash. White breads, pasta, cereal, granola bars, juices, sodas, desserts…you know what the bad carbs are.

I found this chart pretty helpful, if you’re a visual person like myself – https://drczys.com/:

Carb

The bottom line: Carbs are not bad for you. Carbohydrates — both complex and simple ones — are part of a healthy diet. Don’t get so caught up in macros and crunching numbers that you make yourself crazy. Just be sensible about the carbs you choose AND the time of day you choose them. I personally try to limit my carbs after lunch, but I make sure to get my complex intake at lunch…otherwise I’m really craving carbs for dinner. And if I’m heading to a get-together where I know there’s only going to be crap food, (every holiday party this month!) I’ll chow down on a quick salad at home before I head out the door…I’m way less tempted by the time I arrive. It’s not rocket science, but it takes discipline: skip the low-nutrient foods, consider the levels of sugar and fiber, and focus on healthy whole grains, fruits, and veggies to get the energy your body needs every day. And at your next holiday party, ask yourself: Is this Christmas cookie REALLY going to make me feel better? My answer: No, but this glass of wine will! 😉 Find your balance!

 

Staying Focused When Holiday Season Approaches

Brooks Dean

November 25, 2018

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One holiday is down and another is fast approaching.  With the holiday season comes kid’s school parties, work parties, friend’s parties, holiday treats, temptation every time your turn around.  Here are a few things you can do to stay focused and on track during this hectic season.

  • Make sure you have SMART goals
    • Specific- who, what, when, where
    • Measureable- how many pounds, how much weight on the bar, what size dumbbells
    • Achievable- is this something you can do
    • Realistic- don’t expect to lose 30 pounds in 30 days
    • Time Bound- have a time frame
  • Put those goals in writing and put them where you can see them
    • Put them on your bathroom mirror, the dashboard of your car, WHEREVER they will be in your face and remind you of what you are working for.
  • Get organized
    • Meal prepping is vital to help stay on track.
    • Plan ahead when eating out. Check out their menu online and see what the healthier option is.
    • Prepare for each day the night before. Pack lunches and snacks so you can grab and go.
  • TRACK YOUR FOOD
    • I can’t stress how important this is. It is CRUCIAL to staying on track.
  • Accountability Partner
    • Find someone who has a similar schedule or attends the same classes. Check in with one another when the other misses class.  It is easier to commit to coming to class when someone else is expecting you to be there.
  • Celebrate the small victories
    • You lost 2 lbs this week, pat yourself on the back. You took the steps at work and didn’t get as winded, kudos to you.
  • Schedule your workouts for the week
    • Log on to Mindbody weekly and schedule your classes. Don’t cancel on yourself.  You wouldn’t cancel your hair appointment, and working out feels just as good. J

 

We all fall off track and have a bad day.  Don’t let it define the week, jump right back in and keep going.

Benefits of Yoga for your WHOLE body: How BUTI can help

 

Cammie Lawton

September 29, 2018

While focusing on burning calories and elevating exercise, we can often forget the importance of active recovery, stretching and overall health. Yoga provides not just an opportunity for you to actively recover and stretch; it provides the opportunity for body, mind, and spirit to be strengthened and challenged at the same time.

yoga benefits

Yoga originated in the East as a way to connect the mind and the body. This practice of connecting our body and physical being to our mental and emotional being brings many more benefits than just flexibility. It transforms your WHOLE body.

 

Physical Benefits:

Yoga provides the physical body:

 

  • Lower Blood Pressure
  • Improved Cardiac health
  • Increased respiratory capacity
  • Relief from chronic pain
  • Improved balance and athletic ability
  • Muscle tone and strength
  • Protection from injury

 

Mental and Emotional Benefits:

 

Yoga not only transforms our physical bodies, but also improves our mental and emotional stamina and well-being. Practicing yoga consistently (even just once a week) provides:

 

  • Improved brain/body connection
  • Increased clarity and calmness
  • Sharpness in concentration
  • Stamina and determination
  • Reduction of chronic stress patterns
  • Release of emotional tension in the body

 

So you think, “These benefits sound great, but I want to burn calories and feel like I have worked out.” This is where my own personal journey brought me into the practice of Buti Yoga, my soulmate workout. For years I spent so much time running, doing home workout programs, and even some basic yoga videos on youtube, but always felt like something was missing. While these workout practices helped me maintain my health, I never looked forward to working out. It always felt like something I “should” do. Then, I found Buti. I immediately recognized the physical benefits of the cardio tribal dance and plyometrics, but the stretching and release the yoga provided was my missing piece. The more I practiced the more I realized not only was my physical body changing–I lost 2 pant sizes and increased my muscle tone/definition–but my mentality towards myself and my life was shifting. Once I started practicing Buti Yoga, I found my confidence, voice, and learned how to love and appreciate others for exactly who they are. Through this practice, I have found the best, deepest friendships and a tribe that believes we ALL can lead and we ALL can love ourselves NOW. So if you are looking for a challenging workout that will burn calories: Buti serves that purpose. On average, I burn between 300-400 calories per workout. However, if you give it a chance, Buti Yoga can provide you so much more than just a calorie burn–it can transform your WHOLE body. You never know how much you can learn to love yourself and find a tribe that will support and cheer you on. Join me and sweat with intention!

 

 

You Work Hard. But Do You Know How to Rest?

You Work Hard. But Do You Know How to Rest?

Denise Harris

September 18, 2018

When you’re committed to your fitness goals and determined to change your health for the better, it’s easy to adopt a “go hard” mindset. That mindset gets us to the gym, pushes us through challenging workouts, and helps us make healthy food choices. However, that mindset doesn’t really help us with one of the most important elements of healthy living—rest. While it can be hard to take a day off or choose a recovery activity over an intense workout, it’s important that we do. Rest is key to reaping all of the benefits we work to achieve. When we exercise, we’re not only expending energy. We can cause damage to muscle and bone tissue, electrolyte and glycogen depletion, and changes in hormone levels. Our bodies need rest to recover from these changes so that we can grow stronger, build endurance, and go at it again. When we don’t rest enough, we force our bodies to work harder to perform well. Extended periods of minimal rest can sabotage our fitness goals, lead to injury, and negatively impact our mood.

Still, for those of us who like to go hard in our fitness lives, it can be a little tricky to figure out how much rest our bodies need, and what we can do to help our bodies recover. Check out the tips below for a quick guide on how to build rest and recovery into your workout plan.

Base Your Rest on Your Workout Schedule

While one or two rest days per week is a good rule of thumb, the right amount of rest will vary by person and by training intensity. For example, if you perform high intensity workouts 4 days each week for more than 60 minutes, your body may need a rest day in between each day of work. However, there are times when you may need to be flexible. If you’re feeling more stressed or fatigued than usual and have a tough workout planned, it may be a good idea to take an extra rest day or choose an activity of lower intensity. Always listen to your body.

Get Adequate Sleep

Our bodies repair most when we are at total rest. This is why sleep is crucial to achieving any fitness goal. It’s also a key factor in maintaining physical, mental, and emotional health. During sleep, our metabolic system goes to work, our energy levels are restored, and our muscles grow stronger. The average adult age 18 or older needs 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night. While this range may fluctuate based on age and various life changes, you should strive to get, at least, 7 hours of sleep every day.[1] When we deprive our bodies of sleep, we undermine our hard work. Exercise can actually help us sleep by creating more adenosine—the chemical that makes us feel sleepy—in the brain. Embrace that feeling and get more sleep.

Recover Actively

Passive or total rest days are important. But so are activities that allow you to assist your body in recovery. Active recovery can be defined as any exercise that is less intense or easier than your regular routine. For example, a marathon runner may go for an easy jog or take a yoga class to work on flexibility 2 days a week. Cross-training is also a good option for active recovery. If weightlifting is your thing, try adding a Pilates class after your heavy days for continued strength building with less resistance and focused flexibility training. Other creative ways to stay active while recovering include foam rolling, easy hiking, and swimming. For balance, try completing one session of active recovery for every hard workout you do.

Active Recovery at New Start Fitness

We’ve got you covered! Take a Buti Yoga class with Cammie Lawton or a Beginner Mat Pilates class with Denise Harris. Check out the schedule here.

[1] For more information about sleep recommendations, visit https://www.sleepfoundation.org/

Denise