Healthy Mind, Healthy Body

Inside/Out Strong. 267-341-7216. mindbodylmft@gmail.com

Hot Weather Training – How to Keep Your Cool During Warm Workouts

Oh Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun... Please don't ruin my run!

Oh Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun… Please don’t ruin my run!

You know, back when I was training the Walt Disney World Marathon in November and December, I would think to myself: WHY did you pick a WINTER marathon to train for?! If ONLY it was warm out! Suited up head-to-toe in my running tights, beanies, and warmth-trapping jackets, I’d trudge along Kelly Drive in the chill of 15 degrees and wonder what it may feel like to train in the comforts of summer. Is this an instance of “be careful what you wish for”? Because summer training, so far, has proven quite the challenge.

That being said, I’ve had the chance to brush on some warm-weather tips that are helpful not only for us crazy distance runners, but for safe summer exercise, in general. There are numerous complications that can occur when heat takes its toll including but not limited to: dehydration, heat cramps, heat rash, heat exhaustion, and (at its worst) heat stroke.

I have a few tried & true tips that have saved my life during these heatwaves (and no, I’m not being dramatic.. without following these guidelines, my body could be in serious trouble!):

1.) Train early (when possible) and late (when safe): I used to think 5:15 was an ungodly hour to arise in the morning, but since many of my clients like to get a workout in before rushing off to work, I have the benefit of being awake early, therefore being able to train before the temperature rises. It goes without saying that morning and late evening (if there is a cool down at night) are the best times, temperature wise, to put in work. Be safe, though. If you have to train after dark, use your best judgement and run somewhere populated and safe. Being down in Philly, I’ve been on Kelly Drive as late as 9:00 PM and felt totally safe (and had the company of numerous other exercisers).

2.) Wear loose, light clothing: There really IS something behind those “moisture-wicking” clothes you see so often in the stores. Cotton, while comfy, gets heavier when wet. Choose light, comfortable clothing that breathes and moves easily. Think of your clothing like air vents for your body heat. They need to be open to get the air where it needs to go!

3.) Listen to your body. Rest/stretch when you need to: If you’re anything like me, I get all in my head when I run. There’s a little Jillian Michaels in there yelling “IS THAT ALL YOU GOT? YOU’RE NOT TIRED! DON’T BE WEAK!!!” Well, Jillian, I hate to yell back at you (and would be fearful to do so in real life) but on warm days you need to KNOCK IT OFF! If you need to stop and take a drink, take a drink. If you need to walk for a few feet/miles, do so. 100 degree days are not made for PRs. Save your intensity for a time your body doesn’t have to combat heat!

4.) HYDRATE HYDRATE HYDRATE! (And when you think you’re hydrated, check your pee, and hydrate more just to be safe…) I’m going to defer to this link http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/hydrationandfluid/a/ProperHydration.htm for the major guidelines behind fluid intake, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to abide by “Moisture is the Essence of Wetness” (thanks, Zoolander) when exercising in the heat. Frequent peeing (albeit annoying) is good. Stick to good ol’ fashioned water (sports drinks come in handier when you’re exercising 60 minutes+) and monitor fluid loss by weighing yourself (guidelines in the aforementioned link). Dehydration is a NASTY thing to have to deal with and can really mess with your body.

I hope this helped provide some easy-to-follow tips for warm weather exercise. Summer, although hot, is also a BEAUTIFUL time to be out and about. So, stay smart about it, and happy hot weather workouts, everyone! 🙂

 

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The Next Chapter

I apologize for the lack of posts in the past two months, readers. Things have been a bit hectic as I’ve transitioned from full-time CGRC employee to self-employed personal trainer & private practitioner! I’m happy to say, however, that “Healthy Mind, Healthy Body” has received a lot of support as it’s begun it’s growth (including nominations for Be Well Philly’s “Health Hero” Award!: https://www.facebook.com/BeWellPhilly?v=app_194975693850063 ) and I’m looking forward to all the news clients out there to be helped!

I’d like to take a moment to recognize, however, the agency that helped shape me as a clinician and is majorly responsible for the development of my therapeutic skills. I spent a wonderful four years at Child Guidance Resource Center (cgrc.org) and cannot say enough about the director, supervisors, and fellow therapists involved in my program, “Family First”. I was fortunate enough to meet and work with some amazing families and see what I believe to be real healing of emotional and relational concerns in parents & their children. I highly recommended reaching out to CGRC at 484-454-8700 to learn more about services or to schedule an intake if you feel you or your family could benefit from therapeutic services.

The idea I took away most from my work, and something I will continue to pull from as I treat and train individuals from here on out, is that we operate from within a system (and in that sense are never alone). What do I mean by that? Our environments – family, school, work, relationships, etc. – have an important influence on the way we behave and think every day. This is important to consider when beginning a personal training program just as much as it is when one enters therapy. I have come across people who feel “unhealthy” largely due to environmental reasons (from something as simple as what’s served at school lunch, to something as serious as emotional abuse) and it’s amazing how change is created once people are able to take action and ownership in regards to their environment (such as removing oneself from an abusive situation, or choosing to pack a healthy lunch). This is the very concept I use in my training – YOU have the ability to manipulate and change your world – the way you think, feel, and act. With the right supports and the right intervention, growth is possible.

I am so excited for what my next chapter with “Healthy Mind, Healthy Body” will bring. I know that my family/child therapy work is a huge part of the knowledge I bring to the table as a trainer, and look forward to continuing to hone my skills in this new endeavor! In sum, YAY CGRC!!! 🙂

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Happy Mother’s Day!

070Happy Mother’s Day!

Today, of course, is the perfect day to raise a toast to the leading ladies of our lives: those we call “mom”. (That’s my mom in the picture above on our recent trip to Disney for my first marathon!).

So today is short and sweet: Let’s talk about how mom’s help us be our best!

I’ve come to notice in my practice that often times, mothers can be taken for granted. They work hard both inside the home & out, and more often than not, family stress gets displaced on to momma dearest. What do I mean by that? Kid has a bad day at school, comes home, and snaps at Mom for not having the right snack prepared. Kid isn’t truly mad at mom, right? But she’s a safe place to throw his displaced angst. Why? Because kid knows that if he snaps at Mom, she’ll still love him. She’ll still tuck him into bed at night and read a story. Mom is predictable, steady, and safe. Kid can’t go to school and freak out on the peers who teased him, right? But he can vent and be stressed to mom. This makes mom’s job VERY HARD because she has to spend each day being the ‘family rock’ so-to-speak. I’m hopeful all the mom’s out there reading this can relate!

Let’s rest assured in something, though, that I’ve also come to find in my practice. Despite Kid getting mad and snapping at mom, there’s one thing that’s certain: He trusts and loves Mom. In a weird, twisted way, kid being able to displace stress to Mom is kind of healthy because he’s saying “I can trust that you’ll be okay with this and love me for me, even in my ugly moments”. I think that’s pretty cool, and often times something parents have trouble seeing among the behaviors or seemingly unhealthy emotions. It means Mom is doing something RIGHT!

Kid isn’t hiding in his room, kid isn’t turning to negative peers… Nope, kid is just having a rough day, and trusting you with his feelings. So, thank you Mom, for always being there, loving us at our ugliest, and providing us with the safety and assurance that a Mom can. A message to all the moms out there: you are so important in your families, so thank you for putting up with all our displaced stressors and continuing to rock as the ‘family rock’!

I love ya, Mom! 🙂

Happy Mom’s Day, everyone!

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When The Blues Seem Hard to Beat….

Moment of honest transparency, readers… I’ve been pretty stressed out the past two weeks (Yes, even us therapists sometimes get disregulated, at times!) You know what I noticed in the midst of all that stress? I just COULDN’T do right by myself. I felt lousy at most things I did, and even on happy, good days, was able to pick out a flaw or two. That whole “you are your own worst critic” feeling was just so loud that it was hard to receive any positive feedback or “don’t be so hard on yourself”-s. Not to mention, I found myself easily prone to irritability, fatigue, crying, and seeking comfort in foods you’d never catch me eating on a good day.

And you know what? I’m not alone. One of the biggest trends I see in my clients is attempts at self-sabotage: “It’s my fault I ended up like this” or “I’ll never be able to do that” are common themes. Remember my post on the importance of support in fitness success? (here) Well, sometimes even the loudest cheerleaders don’t help you make the play (…hopefully that makes sense, sports fans). And when that happens, we have to look inward to pull ourselves back up. That’s usually much easier said than done.

I didn’t write the book on the power of positive thinking (actually, this guy did), but, I came up with some things I’ve noticed have really helped:

1.) Exercise! (No surprise there). Usually, when we get stressed, our motivation to run, jump, and lift things goes right out the door. But even just a peaceful walk outside can do wonders (if you prefer that to slamming heavy barbells around like I do). The scientific reason behind this is that exercise produces serotonin, the neurotransmitter in our brain that makes us feel happy. Exercise clears the mental cobwebs out of our heads because during exercise our minds are focusing on the movements as opposed to what’s the matter. Without it, I think I’d be a lot worse off.

2.) Friends, family, and LAUGHTER: Another thing people tend to do when over-stressed is isolate, isolate, isolate. (Insert image of me here wagging my finger back and forth). Again, I’m guilty of this at times, myself. But it’s so important than when things get tough that you seek out the people in your life who make you feel good (and hey, truly good friends recognize that you’ve become a hermit and will do whatever they can to pull you out, anyways!) I’m really blessed to have a wonderful group of friends and family that keep me laughing every day. Getting all science-y, again, there have been studies that the act of laughter actually releases that happy-transmitter serotonin, just like exercise. Maybe they should start putting treadmills in comedy clubs??

3.) Healthy, quality food!: Just because you’re sad doesn’t mean you need to down a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. This is not a Bridget Jones chick-flick movie. (In fact, don’t watch chick flick movies when you’re feeling negatively, at all) In all seriousness, though, a lot of those yummy, comfort foods are loaded with chemicals that end up giving us a “false food high” only to have us crash and burn later. I’ve watched youth clients actually get increasingly agitated when their diets consisted of soft drinks, fried foods, candy, or chips. So please, remember that just because your brain is sad, your body doesn’t need to get sad, too.

4.) A little faith: (Ah, my Mom would be so proud of me putting this in here!). Something that I often share with clients that I forget to abide by myself is that we are never given anything we can’t handle. So, have a little faith, in whatever sense faith means to you, that things will be okay and you’re tough enough to ride out the storm. April showers turn to may flowers, sunshine after the rain… all that good stuff. Just know that you’ll be okay. And, when you don’t feel like things will go okay, do me a favor and think back to the items listed above: Go for a long run to a friend’s house and eat a salad… you’ll feel better in no time 🙂

Happy thinking, everyone!

 

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Paleo: Why I Eat Like a Caveman

Told you I would revisit this Paleo diet thing in a later post! 🙂 (and, as a disclaimer, I am by no means a dietitian or nutritionist, but would like to use this post to educate readers about some possible healthy food choices and how helpful it could be!)

Sorry for the hiatus, folks. I am launching my new private practice in the upcoming months and it’s kept me QUITE busy! So busy, in fact, that I’ve been more easily persuaded to chew on convenience food in all my rushing around (Hello, pizza, my old friend…) as opposed to my 75% paleo diet.

The result? Increased belly aches, waking up in the middle of the night feeling g-r-o-s-s, irritability, and a sense of ‘blah’ in my workouts (not very scientific, I know, but that’s the reality). This is probably because those convenience, comfort foods are loaded with things I haven’t been digesting on a daily basis – sugar, grains, and dairy.

So, what is Paleo, and why should you care? If you have five minutes, take a second to watch this YouTube video:

 

If you don’t have five minutes (perhaps just 2-3 to read this post) I’ll sum it up for you:

Grass fed meats, free range chickens, wild fish, eggs, veggies, berries, nuts, seeds, coconut or almond oil instead of EVOO/Canola (basically, coconut or nut-based products as a replacement for a lot of things from flour to milk)

NO dairy, legumes, sugars, high salts, grains (Essentially, every middle aisle in the grocery store is skipped when I shop).

Why are the above items stated “bad”? I eat low-fat yogurt all the time, Caitlin! I thought my whole grain Cheerios were great for me! I did, too, and please don’t get me wrong – there are many people out there who eat healthy diets including grains or dairy and look/feel great. But humans, at the dawn of time, did not have Cheerios, nor were our bodies designed to digest it. For the millions of years man has been on earth, we’ve only been farming grains for about 10,000 of that. So, the Paleo diet emphasizes that we eat foods MADE for our bodies to work with. For athletes, especially, this tends to have great results, because we are giving our bodies the healthiest, cleanest fuel to burn through.

When I started eating Paleo, I didn’t even intend to loose weight. I did, because I was, essentially, “inflamed”. Dairy has hormones in it that tend to cause our digestive track a struggle when it’s processed. Grains, too, have inflammatory side-effects, and are broken down differently then, say, a strawberry. After eating a 75% Paleo diet for over a year(Yes, I still enjoy pizza and ice cream from time-to-time, and that is entirely OKAY!), my cholesterol levels have shot down, I sleep better, I perform better in workouts, AND, as stated above, my body says “YUCK!!” when I eat too much sugar (signaling that it’s time to fuel it properly again!).

I, again, must emphasize that I support healthy eating in a way that works with your body and makes you happy (that’s most important). I ate a traditionally healthy diet for most of my life and still found myself with a clean bill of health at my yearly check-ups. But, I’m sold on this Paleo thing, as are many of the people in my life who have jumped on the caveman train and found themselves feeling stronger than ever. If you’d like more information or resources, please feel free to contact me. A great book that I own is called “Practical Paleo” (found on amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Practical-Paleo-Customized-Whole-Foods-Lifestyle/dp/1936608758/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1367194895&sr=8-2&keywords=paleo+cookbook )  that not only has great recipes, but a has a user-friendly description of the Paleo diet and science behind it.

Happy reading and eating, everyone!

 

 

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For Boston

So, I grew up in a Boston suburb, and I’m a runner. A marathon runner. Meaning, I can’t keep quiet about how tragic today feels with the events that took place at the Boston Marathon.

I want to use this post to share how my heart aches for the lives lost and people injured today. The Boston Marathon is one of the oldest around, and it’s an event that brings a sense of community, pride, and togetherness to the city of Boston (heck, the state of Massachusetts) every year. The feat of running a marathon is challenging in itself, and I can’t help but think about how at the times of the explosion, the people nearing the finish included many who anticipated that crossing the line was the only obstacle left. There were most likely first time runners, those running for charity, runners with their own triumphant stories about difficult training runs, and adversity felt along the way. Of course, there were hundreds of loved ones ready to cheer on their athletes, as well. Nobody could have imagined this.

While this event brings immense sadness with it, and many of us are still in a funk, disbelief, or upset around it, there is something I am confident in: It takes perseverance to run a marathon. And you know what? Runners aren’t easily broken. So to everyone affected by today’s tragedy, my thoughts and prayers are with you tonight. Stay strong, Boston.

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“Healthy Mind, Healthy Body” Takes Flight!

531784_10151519259371358_1687074196_n(Insert lots of exclamation points here!!!) 

Today’s post is short & sweet, but a lot of exciting things are kicking off, folks! For the past month, I’ve been immersing myself more into the personal training world and have been really energized by what I’ve seen. The quote I posted above really spoke to me. I love being a therapist, because I can be the person who believes in somebody, even in a person’s darkest hour. Now that I’ve practiced personal training, I’m noticing that’s entirely what I love about working people out, too – pushing clients through those out-of-breath, can’t-go-on, don’t-know-if-I-can moments. When I first decided to combine physical & mental health, I had no idea how that would “look” – I only knew I saw connections every day between people’s physical & mental health and wanted to take action.

Well, what started as an idea is now slowly becoming a reality as I officially launch “Healthy Mind, Healthy Body: Healing From Head to Toe” – the business! Based on clients I’ve worked with (in both facets), here’s what I’m planning to offer:

1.) Personal training from a strength-based approach. Working with your already existing talents (everybody’s got them!), you set goals related to your physical health with the help of your trainer (moi). This could be anything from “I want a killer bikini body” to “I just want to walk a mile without loosing my breath”. As we work together, we identify any blocks, challenges, or patterns that have kept you from obtaining these goals in the past. Think of any episode you’ve seen of “The Biggest Loser” where people have that “A-ha” moment about their unhealthy pasts… but without the in-your-face yelling of Jillian Michaels, (unless you like that) AND, you know, not reality TV….

2.) A specialized program for youth that focuses on healthy lifestyle awareness, self-esteem, and puts the fun back in fitness. I love working with tweens/teens! Youth today are over-saturated with media-based ideas of what “health” is AND have to contend with social media & peers to boot. Yikes. From personal training programming to mentorship, my vision for Healthy Mind, Healthy Body is to help our young members of society recognize that good body image does not come from MTV, nor do you have to ball like Kobe to be an athletic success. If a child is struggling with weight, self-esteem, or other various emotional issues, I’d like to use personal training to help clients gain confidence around feeling strong – inside and out! (Oh, and parents get to join in, too!)

I’d love some reader feedback on these programming ideas – if you can relate, if I’m missing a population, even if you just like it! Very excited for this all to take flight, and I again invite people to e-mail mindbodylmft@gmail.com for referrals or further information!  

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Spring Ahead: Warmer Weather Means Motivation to Move!

Has anyone else noticed more of a “spring” in their step over the past week or two!? I’ve made it to not only one but THREE 6 AM workouts, have that “I should go for a run” feeling, and when I do go for a run… there seems to be a lot more people out on Kelly Drive… and they all seem, well, happy! There’s no denying it – we’re bikini season bound; And while that may strike fear in the hearts of some, there is no time like spring to find that motivation that’s been hibernating all winter!

Remember my previous post about running the “mental marathon“? Nothing kills your motivation more than looking outside your window, and it’s dark, and gray, and 28 degrees… and you HAVE to run 17 miles for training (talking about finding some mental strength!). Well, folks, it’s warm, sunny, bird chirp-y, and people have come out of their caves to embrace spring! What I’m getting at is – it’s time to stop making excuses about your health. In fact, getting outside in that sunshine may not only help you burn calories, but cheer up, to boot.

Often times in the winter, we experience more gloom than usual. Coupled with this, we also tend to have less motivation to be active. Enter: Seasonal Affective Disorder. Characterized by typical symptoms found in major depressive disorder (persistent feelings of sadness, loss of interest, irritability, sadisolation, etc.), S.A.D. comes around in the fall and zaps you of that full-of-life feeling you had all summer long. People who suffer from S.A.D. often feel as sense of “heaviness” that deletes their bodies of any energy to go outside, let alone enjoy a gym session. Why is this? In the winter, decreased light ends up depleting our serotonin transmitters. Serotonin is a chemical in your brain that makes you feel like this: 🙂 Too little of it, and you’re 😦 :-/ or even >:-|!!

But hey, guess what helps pump up our serotonin? That’s right… EXERCISE!! In fact, one of the best ways to ward winter blues away is to get yourself active. People who suffer from S.A.D. often say that the beginning of spring is the hardest time to get moving, given how dormant they’ve been all winter. The good news is, springtime gives us the perfect conditions to facilitate fitness.

 

That being said, fitness can come in many forms. Here are some ideas to jump start your path to happiness this spring:

1.) Attempt to get up early before work and talk a walk in the morning. Not only does this clear your head for the day, but your body will thank you all day long for getting moving so early (hello metabolism boost!)

2.) Skip that play date with the kids at Chuck-E-Cheese for a day at a local park. Pack a picnic lunch, organize a family game of tag, or lead your kids in a playground obstacle course. Oh, did I mention parks are free?!

3.) You will find that numerous gyms and fitness companies offer discounted or free classes in the spring. For example, Core Fit, located in the Art Museum neighborhood of Philly, gives new participants a free trial class for their fun yet challenging boot camp (great for any fitness level): Check them out on my resources page!

4.) If you’re coupled up, talk with your partner about doing a 30 day challenge of some sort (diet, weight loss, exercise). Having somebody to hold you accountable can be a great motivator (and, I’m a huge believer that couples who work out together strengthen their bond!) If you want a “fun” one, try the 100 burpee challenge 🙂 (1 burpee day 1, 2 burpees day 2, 3 burpees day 3, etc. etc. until you get to 100, taking note of how fast you can do them on days 25, 50, 75, and 100…)

So, that being said, I encourage you all to get out there and begin to enjoy this delightful weather we’re having. Walk, jog, ride a bike, hey – even spring shopping can be a workout! I often find that seeing other people out and about is sometimes enough to make me think, “Hmmm… maybe this TV show can wait”.

Happy Spring, everyone!

 

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Comfort Eating: When Food Goes From Yum to Glum

Fat-Bastard“I eat because I’m unhappy… I’m happy because I eat. It’s a vicious cycle!” says the lovable character from the Austin Powers movies. Hey, just like with most of these posts, I can relate to the challenge. It’s been a very rough day, I come home, look in my fridge, and I see a delicious batch of kale. Except I’m stressed out, and it’s not kale I want: it’s a large cheese pizza. And maybe a milkshake. And who could pass up those french fries…. Mmmmmm. I gotta say, as I eat, I feel pretty good. Thoughts run through my head like, “You deserve this” and “Eh, you’ll work it off on your run tomorrow”. Except…

What if EVERY day was a rough day, and what if every time I experienced stress, I continued to trade kale for pizza? (And for those of you thinking “what in the world is ‘kale’?!”, it’s a type of leafy green that I often make into ‘kale chip’ form to sub for potato chips like this: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/baked-kale-chips/). But in all seriousness – this is a problem for many people. Food goes from being a form of nourishment to an emotional band-aid, and it can become an out-of-control issue if left unaddressed.

cookies

Don’t be fooled! These aren’t the key to happiness!

“Emotional eating” or “comfort eating”  is the use of food to ‘stomach’ (no pun intended) otherwise difficult emotions. If you’ve ever grabbed a pint of ice cream while feeling depressed, or even downed a bag of potato chips while experiencing boredom, then you’ve been a part of this. The problem with comfort eating is that once the food is consumed, the difficult emotions remain. There’s an online resource from healthguide.org, a free online resource for numerous mental health questions from which I found this simple questionnaire to better understanding if you fall into the “emotional eater” category:

Are you an emotional eater?

  • Do you eat more when you’re feeling stressed?
  • Do you eat when you’re not hungry or when you’re full?
  • Do you eat to feel better (to calm and soothe yourself when you’re sad, mad, bored, anxious, etc.)?
  • Do you reward yourself with food?
  • Do you regularly eat until you’ve stuffed yourself?
  • Does food make you feel safe? Do you feel like food is a friend?
  • Do you feel powerless or out of control around food?

If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, it may be time to take a look at your relationship with food. Often times, we “triangle” something into our lives – a person, a thing, a place even – to avoid dealing with the real issue. For example, a husband and wife are dealing with stress in their relationship, but maybe one spends long hours at the office and “traingles” work into the marriage because, of course, working longer hours is less painful than facing marital distress. The same phenomenon happens with food.

If you feel that comfort eating is an issue for you, take a moment to consider what happens right before you pick up that fork. Am I bored? Am I disappointed with myself? Am I feeling blue? I encourage you, too, to consider this key question: What are you avoiding by eating? Is this a product of a relationship, lifestyle, career, or emotional stressor?

If you feel comfort eating has gotten out of hand for you, there are resources available to support you in finding healthier patterns of coping (such as:. http://www.networktherapy.com/directory/find_therapist.asp). Just like I’ve stated in my other posts, I encourage all my clients to consider how negative coping skills, such as emotional eating, is a part of overall unhealthy behavioral or interactional patterns. Being able to identify the problem is the first step to your solution (as my old co-therapist used to say “Like G.I. Joe, knowing is half the battle!”), so if you’ve recognized this as a struggle for yourself, you are already on your way. I encourage readers who identify with this post to reach out to me for any additional guidance, support, or resources.

Getting back to that cheese pizza… also remember that we ALL have bad days sometimes. Not to mention, food is great! We SHOULD enjoy it and not be slaves to diets (in my opinion, at least) So, hey, enjoy that birthday cake at a friend’s celebration, and go ahead and eat that extra happy cookie every now and again! Part of a healthy lifestyle is knowing that small indulgences actually help us feel happier in the long run!

Until next time, folks…. Happy Eating!

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Turning “I can’t” into “I did!”: The Power of Positive Thought and Support in Fitness Success

480446_10151481772458950_52293864_nI was recently inspired when I saw this picture on the NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) Facebook page and felt it was appropriate for this week’s blog post. Part of the work I do daily – both with personal training and mental health clients – involves helping people recognize their potential, ability, confidence, and competence. Far too often we turn to that nagging voice inside our head that says “you never will” or “this is too hard”. One of the biggest challenges people have with overcoming adversity (whether physical or mental) is falling back into a web of negativity. I’ve experienced this, too, during numerous training runs, Crossfit workouts, and even personally stressful moments, so I’m no stranger.

That being said, I feel there are two important ingredients to overcoming the negative psyche. One, is to identify and intervene on what thought or behavioral patterns keep you stuck there. The second factor is to not solely rely on yourself: Identify those in your life who will motivate and support you to reach your goals, and reach out to them when you get stuck. This person could be a coach, parent, friend, partner/mate… whoever. I’ve found that the clients who have gained the most from their work with me were those who found themselves able to turn to others in times of distress, ambivalence, or uncertainty.

That being said, let’s talk about Crossfit and how this all relates in a segment I’d like to call: “The Coaches, the Community, and the New Crossfit-er”

I know when people hear “Crossfit” a LOT of various things come to mind: “those people are nuts”, “you are going to get injured”, “you are in a cult”, “um, are you trying to be good at exercise…?” Maybe I just stumbled across the right home base for my Crossfit-ing… but I’ve had an entirely opposite experience. I’m a member at Crossfit Conshohocken, a gym built from the ground up by owner and coach Jay Ross and his wife, Lori. When I first started, I had never heard of crossfit, let alone picked up a barbell or a kettlebell. I had never experienced trying to get through a difficult workout or group class at a gym with people cheering things like “You’ve got three more reps in you!” or “You’ve got this!” It was a bit daunting at first, and as I watched people power through these challenging workouts, those pesky thoughts came to mind: “I don’t think I could ever do this”.

Well, it’s been over a year now, and not only have I become stronger, fitter, and healthier because of Crossfit, but I’ve been amazed by how the coaching staff and community at CF Conshy creates an environment of support and motivation as we tackle the daily workouts or “WODS” (workout of the day). Relating back to my second ingredient in overcoming one’s negative psyche, the coaches and members of CF Conshy work together to put a positive spin on fitness. My fellow athletes know I am struggling to get an unassisted pull-up, so when those show up in workouts, you can best bet they know when to cheer me on. When I see fatigue and defeat on the faces of my friends in those last minutes of a WOD, I know they need to hear my voice say, “You can do it!”langanclean

Head coaches Jay Ross and Nick Tini take the time to get to know each member and identify where the “positive push” needs to occur. Struggling with a rope climb? Jay recognizes where you seem to be stuck and instead of yelling like a drill sargent to “get the hell up there!” encourages you to recognize where you are strong, and play off that. “Put in your best effort, and we’ll get you stronger from there” is a common theme. Frustrated as hell you can’t get that annoying “double under”? Nick relates that he’s been there, too, and helps you bring your focus back just when you feel like slamming that jump rope through the wall behind you. You can be sure the next time you are faced with these challenges, the coaches voices ring loud over the booming workout music: “You can do this! Nice work, Caitlin!”

Eventually, with time, the words of your supporters become your own internal thoughts. You realize that others see something in you that you may not see in yourself – after all, we’re often our own worst critics. This is why when I work with families, couples, or even individuals, I strive to help people recognize the patterns of negativity we get tangled in – whether it’s how we communicate with each other, or how negative thoughts fuel our actions. It’s amazing what happens when a child who thinks he’s doomed to be the “bad kid” hears his mother say “I’m proud of you”, or when a family recognizes that years of conflict have derailed what used to be healthy, happy functioning. I’ve seen personal training clients have the same look on their face I did when I walked into CF Conshy that day: “Wow, you will never catch me doing that!”…. But I did, and they will, and soon enough, that nagging, negative voice becomes quieter, and we recognize that even our small successes are a step at intervention from old, unhealthy patterns of being.

Take a moment and consider the areas of thought you struggle with, as well. Why is it so hard for me to think, “I can!”? Who in my life believes “You can, and you will!”?  I’d like to take a second to promote Crossfit Conshohocken and Crossfit Fort Washington (same ownership) and encourage everyone to try a class, especially if you’ve struggled with adherence to fitness in the past (for whatever reason!) I can’t put a price on how my experience here has changed my physical and mental strength for the better. And hey, you can best bet if I’m there at your first WOD, I will be yelling “You’ve got this!” all the way ’til that buzzer beeps “time”.

Happy Crossfitting, and until next time….

http://cfconshy.com/

http://cffortwash.com/

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