November 17, 2018

Be a Beginner…Again by Nicole Bryan

In a workout slump? One of the best ways to increase motivation is to try a new activity. For many, merely the thought of being the new kid in class conjures up uncomfortable feelings and images of being lost or not performing correctly. However, as adults, we are in charge of how we can approach a new activity with confidence, humility and yes, even a sense of humor.

If you’ve been in the fitness world for a while, you may have forgotten what it feels like to be a beginner. Consider it! You may even find a new sport, workout or physical activity to love. If you’ve been thinking of trying a new exercise, make TODAY the day you become a beginner, yet again. Go ahead, get comfortable with being uncomfortable. I dare you!

Here’s how to make being a beginner a little less scary:

Talk to friends. Actually, talk to everyone and anyone you know who has participated in the activity you are considering. As them what they like and don’t like about the activity. Ask them what location, instructor, gear and technique they recommend. Also, ask what initial fitness capabilities are required.

Google it. Let’s face it, we’re no longer in a not-knowing age of technology. Simply do a search online. Play connect-the-dots with the information you find, and see where it leads you.

Request a guest pass. If you’re unsure if you’ll like the activity, save some money up front by asking for a guest pass. Many facilities and even instructors allow a first-visit-free opportunity. You’ll never know if there are discounts or free trials available unless you ask!

Try and try again. Instead of discounting the new activity right off the bat after a unpleasant experience, give it at least three attempts on three different days. Sometimes it’s a matter of finding a the right fit of location, instructor personality or class participants.

Learning takes time! You didn’t just walk on to the tennis court the first time and score an ace, so why would you expect to instantly master the skills needed during your first try? Learning is half the fun after all! Cut yourself a break, and remind yourself that learning a new activity takes time.

Is Obstacle Course Racing for you? By Jennifer Austin

Should you consider an Obstacle Course Race?

Pick up just about any race calendar or fitness magazine and you’re sure to read about the latest craze of obstacle course racing. And for good reason, they are challenging, inspiring, and so much fun!

Here’s why you should consider adding an obstacle course race to your fitness schedule:

Total body workout. The multi-dimensional format for races consists of running from obstacle to obstacle. Shorter course races of three to five miles usually include 10+ obstacles which challenge upper body strength, lower body strength, muscle endurance, balance, flexibility and agility. Your approach heading into a race should be, be prepared for anything!

Prep requires cross-training. Instead of focusing on only one activity like training for a marathon, obstacle courses force training in many disciples and athletics. Crossing ladders, swinging across rings, climbing walls, pulling ropes, carrying sandbags all require unique training. Limited only by your imagination.

Super charged motivation. You’ll be racing with 500+ of your new best friends…or new rivals! Many mid-pack racers find they are encouraged by fellow competitors and push harder than they would (or thought they could) otherwise. For many races, the tone is supportive and motivating. Many racers are competing for the first time and accomplishing tasks they never dreamed possible.

Builds life confidence. Whether racing for the podium or for the finish line. During a race you will undoubtedly be faced with a task you never thought you could accomplish. You’ll have to control your mental focus, negotiate your approach, practice positive self-talk, push through physical discomfort, battle fatigue…and you WILL! Through mastering this discipline, you’ll build confidence in your ability to conquer fears, master anxiety and uncertainty. The feeling you’re left with, empowerment! This empowerment will transfer into all areas of your life because you’ll know you’re able to accomplish whatever you set your mind to accomplish.

The element of PLAY! Running, jumping, hopping, crawling, swinging, balancing, throwing are all included in the obstacles you’ll encounter. You’ll feel like a kid again on the playground at school! Not all exercise has to be structured to count toward fitness. Not all reps have to be counted and quantified. You’ll have one approach, GO!

Learning from your Kids by Jennifer Austin

School is out! Look no further than your children to gain inspiration how to enjoy living active. Add a little “recess” into your exercise and fitness program. Here’s what kids can teach US about having fun during physical activity:

Running as fast as you can feels great! Running wildly is fun. Rather than focusing on tensing this muscle and relaxing that muscle, stride length and time splits, etc, just run! Leave your watch at home and go. Adjust your stride by how your muscles feel. When you’re tired slow down, if you have a burst of energy, run faster. Keep it simple.

Abandoning structure is fun! Structured workouts do have a place in living healthy, but so do impromptu workouts. Bring the play back into your fitness. Adopt an anything-goes attitude with your exercise. Try a crab walk contest across the living room floor with your toddler, play tag with your dog in the backyard or see who can bring in the groceries from the car the fastest, do an impromptu set of walking lunges down your hallway. No rules, anything goes. Workout clothing and set exercise location are not always required to gain healthy living benefits.

There’s always room for one more player. There’s always room for a fellow-exerciser. Meeting others with the common interest of living healthy is a great way to find a new activity or training buddy. All exercisers have a common goal of improving health. Instead of allowing ego to interfere, it’s more fun to embrace them than to resent or feel threatened by a new player.

Get excited! Ever watch kids getting ready for recess? The teacher barely has time to open the door before the children are darting outside, practically climbing over one another to reach the school yard first. What excites you about your fitness? Find something! Crank up your favorite tunes, invite friends, try a different location, bring along your dog. If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t do it long-term.

Making up the rules as you go makes fitness fun. Diverting from your usual walking route to check out a house under construction provides extra interest and motivation. Deciding last minute to walk to lunch, instead of driving allows sunlight to boost your energy and mood. A simple walking the dog can become an interval training workout. Create a game you can play while at the park or beach with friends. Make up a scoring system, start a round-robin tournament, set up goal-posts using sticks or picnic tables. Before you know it, everyone will be chiming in to determine the game rules. Creativity with your healthy living adds spontaneity, go with it; be open to where it leads you!

Shouting, laughing and singing as you’re active is invigorating! Exercise doesn’t always have to be so serious. Having a sense of humor makes it more enjoyable…for everyone. Smiling is okay!

Full body moves are way more interesting. Climbing on a jungle-gym requires both arms, both legs and core muscles. Swinging requires arms holding on while kicking legs to create momentum. Playing handball against the backboard requires bending arms and legs, rotating our torso, running to retrieve the ball. Pulling on the ropes and bars means all of our muscles have to work together. Full body moves like Squat/Press and Lunge/Bicep Curl are great go-to total body exercises.

Exercise opportunities are everywhere. Bending, twisting, hopping, bouncing, twirling. Ever notice how a group of kids simply cannot sit still? As adults, we tend to only sit still. Stop it! Standing in line? Do heel and toe raises. Stuck in traffic? Pinch your shoulder blades together and pull your belly button in for 30 second intervals. Waiting for an appointment? Walk around the building.

Kids can teach us lots about adding the fun back into our fitness. Embrace your healthy living efforts as the one time during your day in which you can, have permission to, are able to…relax, enjoy yourself and have some fun moving, twisting, shouting, laughing, dancing, smiling, singing, running, climbing!

Family Biking Fun by Jennifer Austin

Consider riding bikes for fun as a family. Pick up a bike map at your local bike shop, sit around the kitchen table together and plan a route for a group pedal.

Safety is paramount when riding with little ones. Helmets are a must for all riders. Teach kids these principles so they became safe riders:

Kids in the middle. Riding with one adult in front and one adult behind is a way to make sure everyone stays safe and with the group.

Buddy-up. The buddy system still exists because it works. For big groups, each rider should choose another to keep an eye on.

Focus forward. Reminding kids to focus their eyes forward at all times will insure they see obstacles in the road such as acorns, bumps in the road, tree branches and the like.

Shout it out. When riding with others, communicating about upcoming obstacles or changing direction is nice habit to put in place. For example, simply pointing at the ground as you’re riding by a hazard on the bike path will alert those behind you to something in the road they should be aware of.

Keep it steady. Riding at an even pace adds fitness benefits, but more importantly allows those around you to anticipate your moves. Darting in and out of traffic or speeding up and then randomly stopping creates a hazard to those around or behind you.

Yield to cars. Just because a cyclist legally has the right of way, doesn’t mean the driver sees them. Always assuming the driver does not see you, is a great rule. When in doubt, simply teach your kids to pull to the side of the road, stop and wait for the car, other cyclist, pedestrian, etc to pass.

Rules of the road apply to cyclists too. Cyclists should obey all road rules just as they are required as in a car. For example, teach kids to stop at stop signs, stop for red lights and pedestrians, ride on the correct side of the road, ride in the bike lane single file, and signal to motorists their course (right turn, left turn, etc.)

Pass on the left only. Slower riders should always ride on the right side of the bike path or road, allowing other riders to pass you on the left.

Be seen. Insist every rider wear visible clothing. Choose bright colors, reflectors or even a flashing light that attaches to the seat post is a great idea to insure visibility to cars, other riders and pedestrians.

Ride for fun and boost fitness for the whole family. No mileage or speed requirements. Stop and smell the flowers or check out an interesting sight along the way. Pack a lunch or snacks and sit and relax at your destination for awhile. Just go!

Running your first race? Be in-the-know with these tips. By Nicole Bryan

So you’ve decided to toe the line and participate in your first running race. Congratulations! While distance and training required varies from race to race, there are a few tried and true race habits to get you to the finish line health and happy.

Respect your taper. Your goal is to arrive at the starting line recovered from training, refreshed and ready to RUN! Avoid the urge to log last minute miles. Fitness is cumulative and adding unplanned long miles will sabotage your training efforts. Watch a funny movie, kick back with friends, read a book or take a nap.

Follow predicted weather. Let’s face it, we’re no longer in a not-knowing world! Know the forecast for race day, including temps, wind and humidity. Each of these can change how your body handles your race. There’s nothing worse than shivering your way through a race or overheating due to lack of planning.

Read the athlete information, and then read it again. Athlete instructions are emailed for a purpose! You should know parking details, the starting area lay-out, where aid stations and restrooms are located, as well as the post-race reunion area. Doing so will decrease stress and energy wasted race morning.

Lay out your clothing and supplies the night before. Place all race items on the bathroom counter. You’ll have an easy visual of your gear to save time. Again, no wasting energy or distracting your mental focus.

Stick with foods used during training. A little planning goes a long way to insuring good energy and avoiding stomach distress race morning. Eat what you usually eat the night before long runs and eat what you usually eat the morning of long runs. When in doubt, pack food from home. Nothing new on race day!

Avoid Winter Weight Gain by Gen Preece

Make this Winter your healthiest and happiest yet with these easy tips on staying trim:
When the days get shorter and the weather colder, it’s no wonder we crave hot ‘comforting’ heavier foods to warm us up. Light refreshing summery salads just aren’t enough and can even leave us feeling cold!

Learn from last year
Think about what you did this time last year and how you felt. Did you over-indulge to the point of needing a new wardrobe? Or did you have a plan? We often reflect during significant times of the year, so trying to learn from past behaviour can only lead to a better outcome.

Understanding why
The underlying reason behind these food cravings is that we were once preparing to hibernate. Dense foods kept us alive through harsh winters, while food sources were scarce. Although on cold winter mornings, many of us wish we were still hibernating (getting dressed under the covers anyone?) this leads to the next point:

Our choices
Start by reading food labels. It is not just about avoiding the usual culprits (refined sugar, wheat, dairy, chemicals…) but having alternatives ready in their place. For example, winter vegetables roasted in coconut oil are an amazing alternative to white potatoes or dishes with heavy sauces. Check out my favourite easy winter soup also. The more your body gets used to receiving nutrient-dense foods, the less it craves unhealthy stuff! A lack of raw fibrous vegetables can cause feelings of lethargy, congestion and even depression. I therefore recommend a mixed salad before your hot dinner. This will also aid digestion and stop you feeling bloated. Keep up your fibre throughout the winter

Warm yourself healthily
Using warming spices is a great way to heat up, as well as encourage your body to burn fat. A few of my favourite ingredients are Turmeric, Cinnamon, Cayenne Pepper and Curry powder. I also add Ginger to my green smoothie and drink at room temperature.

Morning Warm Lemon Water
If you’re a tea drinker, warm lemon water cleanses your liver and perks you up in the morning, without the post-caffeine crash. Warmed unsweetened almond milk with cinnamon is a delicious alternative to lattes. You could even add a teaspoon of raw cacao for a healthy hot chocolate!

So listen to your body and enjoy your seasonal adaptations!

Gen Preece
FASTER Personal Training Southampton
http://www.ptgen.co.uk

Find your Athlete by Nicole Bryan

Find the Athlete in YOU

When watching athletic events on television, ever wonder how the competitors deal with the stress, pressure and energy of it all? Athletes work day in and day out, not only on physical strengths, but just as important to their performance is their mental strengths. There is a certain mindset and perspective that leads athletes to greatness. Some people adopt a fearful or anxious reactive perspective. For example, what if something bad happens? What if it rains on the day of my marathon? Successful athletes adopt a perspective that focuses forward. For example, what do I need to keep moving forward; water, calories, etc.

Successful athletes are very efficient about getting their needs met. Instead of focusing on how bad muscles are feeling or tired they are at for example, mile 20 of a marathon, successful athletes focus on what they need to get through the next time, match or game. Focusing forward also empowers the successful athlete to keep at it. What’s your perspective?

Keep moving forward. Don’t over think, over analyze, dwell on what was or could have been. Simply keep it moving forward. One step, mile, lap at a time.

Talk nice. Positive self talk goes a long way when things get tough. Have a mantra in place which you repeat over and over again during training or workouts to use as your go to during an event. For example “I am strong and steady.”

Find your zen. Relaxing into your sport or event will allow your mind, and in turn your body to ease tension to simply take the next step forward. Take in the scenery or try to empty your mind and focus only on the athlete in front of you.

Don’t fight the uncomfortable-ness. The purpose of having a goal is to force us to stretch. There will be uncomfortable times, there will be doubt, and there will be challenging times. Accept it and move on.

Train hard, and visualize harder. No doubt that if we don’t put in the time to log miles or hours on our hobby or sport that we physically will be unable to achieve our goal. However, setting aside specific time to sit in silence and visualize completing our goal will provide direction for our mind. Picture every detail of your goal and do it daily.

Be prepared for the good, the bad, and the ugly. Most times a single event will have many emotions tied to it. And most likely we’ll experience a wide array of all of them. Have a plan how to break the mental pattern of negativity and doubt. For example, singing your favorite song in your head, remembering a special someone or simply blanking your mind and focusing on an object around you. Choose anything that will break the mental self-sabotaging pattern.

Performing or reaching a goal like an athlete means thinking and acting like an athlete. Don’t settle for less.