Category Archives: Self-Care

Changing Seasons

I took a VERY long hiatus from blogging.  Life became downright crazy for me and something had to give—so blogging took the back burner which afforded me the opportunity to focus on other areas of my life that desperately needed attention.  I’ve had some dark days lately.  Days that felt like no matter what I did or how hard I tried, progress seemed impossible; in many ways I felt like my legs had been cut from beneath me.  It became evident that I did not have the time or energy to do all that I would typically accomplish. I needed to be still.

For some during seasons of high stress it can be easy to delve into the tasks at hand, as they provide a distraction from feeling overwhelmed or out of control.  For others, doing even the most medial task feels like conquering a mountain because there is so much to process and work though.  Either scenario is an extreme that does not allow for optimal healing and processing.  There are days when we need to slow down, feel what we are feeling, process those feelings and work through them and then there are days when we need to acknowledge the feelings, but keep moving forward.  It truly is a balance.

If you are struggling to figure out how to walk through stressful situations in your life try asking yourself: “What is best for me today; is it best to be still; is it best for me to get up and do something; what do I really need today?” Being mindful of what you need will help you get there.

BS

Today I was reminded that there are times when we have to call our own BS.  I have had countless conversations with clients about using the BS detector to help keep them honest.  I am not talking about yelling BS out loud, although that could be necessary at times.  We all have moments where we have thought “that thought didn’t just happen”, “don’t feel that way” or “just ignore that feeling”.  The reality is, when we ‘ignore’ feelings and thoughts they don’t just magically go away; they hide out and then they come back…kind of like the monster under your bed as a kid.  You could tell yourself the monster wasn’t there over and over again, but until you checked or screamed for a parent to come check, you were consumed with the monster.

So sometimes you have to say “bull s*#@” —this IS what I am feeling or this IS what I am thinking, so what do I need to do about it??? Soaking it up, really paying attention to it and then taking care of it is the only way to change that particular response.  For example, if you think “I am fat today” and you know that this could very easily become an unhealthy line of thinking, then just ignoring that thought will only invite more thoughts.  Instead you can provide evidence for or against the thought (how is this true, or how is this not true), provide an alternative or balanced (rational) thought (just because I didn’t work out today doesn’t make me fat) and utilize a coping skill (bubble bath, journal, listen to music, or go for a run).  This gives yourself the opportunity to gain some control over the thought and ultimately gives you the reality check that we all need from time to time.

What BS do you need to start calling on yourself? I always loved that card game….

WODing Sick?

It is not always necessary to skip a WOD when you are feeling under the weather, but knowing when to rest and when to WOD can be a bit tricky.  Here is something to consider when you are wanting to get in a WOD.  What are your symptoms?

Give it a try (above your neck):
Runny nose
Sneezing
Scratchy throat only
Headache

Get some rest (below your neck):
Fever
Dry cough
Sore muscles (fatigue)
Vomiting
Diarhrea
Chest congestion
Upset Stomach

A couple of other things you might want to consider would be your level of hydration and nutrition.  If you haven’t been properly nourished for several days, jumping straight into working out may cause more stress on your body than doing you any actual good. Really we get back to this idea of “listening to your body”.  There might be times when you give it a try (decide to WOD) and then realize that working out is a bad idea.  For exammple, I had a stomach bug over the weekend and thought I would give working out a go this morning.  Not too long after getting started I was feeling incredibly fatigued and decided it was best to throw in the towel.  There are not black and  white rules for all of this…clearly Michael Jordan proved in 1997 that you can do great things athletically even when you have the flu, BUT we will consider this an exception to the rule!

Excesses and Deficits

Sometimes when we think of our health and well being we need to break it down into something simple.  Today let’s talk about healthy deficits and excesses.

Deficits – NOT ENOUGH—pretty simple, huh? What are key functional, behavioral or even mental habits that are missing from your lifestyle?? Are you getting enough protein, water, exercise, rest, sleep?  Maybe there is not enough positive.  So ask yourself this question: what are things that are clearly missing that I could focus on to improve my overall health?

Excesses- TOO MUCH—this could be too much of a good thing or too much of a bad thing.  What are some components of your lifestyle that are hindering you from making progress?? How much alcohol are you drinking, caffeine, sugar, how much time do you spend worrying each day?? How full is your schedule? Do you have down time each day to re-charge?  Ask yourself to identify the excess!

Now go and change all these things and life will be perfect! Okay, okay…that is terrible advice. Pick one thing you feel greatly impacts your life at this moment and set a goal around making a positive change. Add more of the not enough or cut down the too much! Now go make a healthy choice today!

Pain Vs. Injury

Anytime we are exercising and pushing our bodies, there will be some kind of “pain” – muscles tight, burning, fatigue and even failure. But how do you tell the difference between good pain that’s the result of a great workout vs. pain that could be signaling an injury? Those who have participated in sports their whole lives probably have a general understanding that most workouts don’t “feel good” and you just have to push through the suck.  If you are new to the world of working out or haven’t in a long time, it is important to understand and know the difference.  “Listening to your body” may  make you think that you should never move off the couch and even for an experienced athlete it may not always be clear what your body is telling you.

Soreness or pain is a normal response to muscle exertion and often occurs after working out at high intensities. Muscle soreness is a typically a generalized pain that is felt in areas of your body. Just because your muscles may be tender to touch or it feels cruddy moving (like sitting on the toilet after a bazillion squats) does not mean that there is an injury—this could just be a result of working that particular group of muscles.

The general “burn” or pain that is common while exercising is typically symmetrical.  For instance, if you are doing a bazillion (it is my word for the day) lunges then you should feel the burn in both (right and left) quads, hamstrings and glutes! If you are experiencing pain on only one side of your body, then you may need to take a closer look at what is going on, or at least ask your coach for an opinion.

Most of the time you are going to feel the burn in your muscles however, if you ever feel like something is happening in a joint or bone, then you should take a look at what is going on in that particular area. If you all of the sudden have limited range of motion that is not due to muscle fatigue and you are experiencing pain, then absolutely stop what you are doing, talk to your coach and modify the workout as needed. Swelling is definitely something to note (and I’m not talking about muscle pump), if you notice swelling (especially when accompanied with pain) then stop and ask your coach for assistance.

Huffing and puffing?? Yep, that is just part of it!  Obviously if you have certain conditions (like asthma) that could affect this ability, take precaution as needed.  Seriously, if you are working hard then it is going to be difficult to breathe!

There are so many phrases out there like “No pain, no gain” or “pain is weakness leaving the body” and as long as we understand the definition of “pain” in these particular sayings, then absolutely they ring true.  Push through the pain and get to work!

Get Your Read On:
Lift Big Eat Big
Breaking Muscle
Clear Lake CrossFit
NY Times

Beliefs

I have been working on a post about pain vs. injury and was hoping to finish it up this morning.  That is SO not happening today!

Instead I will provide this little tidbit:

“You feel the way you think; you think the way you believe.  Beliefs are the primary source of your attitudes, reactions, feelings and behavior…your beliefs often determine the score of your life. You have no beliefs in your heart that you did not put there, either of your own volition or by inheritance from your family or by absorbing them from your culture.” Dr. Gary Smalley

What do you believe? How do these beliefs impact your life?

Fight or Flight

Think about your strongest memory of heart-pounding, belly-twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified?  How did you respond?  Could you have responded differently?

Fight or flight mode is a term used to describe our body and brain’s innate response to “dangerous” situations.  When acute stressors occurs our body releases hormones that stimulate our adrenal glands, which is how we get an “adrenaline rush”.  Typical symptoms include heart rate increases, changes in blood pressure and increased breathing. All of these physical responses and many others you might experience are intended to help you survive a dangerous situation by preparing you to either run for your life or fight for your life. It is a primal response that can allow for an opportunity to do things that we may not be able to do otherwise. This is why you may hear a story of a woman being able to move a car or something crazy when her child is in harms way…all thanks to the limbic system.

If for some reason you feel that your body is jumping into a fight or flight response unnecessarily then you may want to ask yourself a few questions like the following: What is going on with me?  What about this situation makes me feel uncomfortable?  What evidence is there to support such a strong response?  What do I need to do to take care of this uncomfortable emotion?

Over-Training

Many may criticize inadequate or inappropriate training, but it is easy to gloss over over-training like it is just part of the process when it comes to fitness.  If you are not giving your body enough time to rest, you are not going to be much stronger or faster.  You may see a blip on the radar, or even a PR and then the inevitable crash will occur.  Our bodies can only handle so much and each person’s body is different.

For most people the 2 days on 1 day off or 3 days on 1 day off model works tremendously.  This allows your body to work at maximal capacities, then recover and do it all over again.  We have been told since grade school that you should exercise at least 30 minutes a day, every day and so the connotation of a rest day becomes under-training.  The beauty of CrossFit is that you can get in more work, at a great intensity, over the spread of less days, than someone who just runs a couple of miles everyday.  Intensity is important in training, but for most trainees, working out 6 days a week, for an hour, at a high intensity could lead to diminishing capacities versus actual gains.  I feel like so many people look at the Rich Fronings out there and say “he never takes a rest day, so I should workout every day.” Let me be clear about a few of things: 1. Rich Froning’s job is to workout. 2. He did not just wake up one morning and decide to train all day every day—he worked up to the load he currently sustains. 3. You need to consider your fitness goals–if you are trying to make it to the Games, then you may have to put in extra work, but the average athlete should see adequate gains and improvements working out 5 days a week.

A good gym (like the one I go to) will have “deload weeks” programmed in, so the members are given adequate time to recover.  Being able to trust the programming at your CrossFit box is incredibly important, but it is equally important to not sabotage the scientific programming laid out for you by adding too much extra work into your routine.  Talk to your coaches about extra work to ensure you are getting the most out of your time.

Listening to your body is important, but some of us do a terrible job of listening.  We think we “feel” fine and then crash hard the next day because we have done too much in a short amount of time.  It could take your body a little extra time to “feel” the work you have put in…and by then you may be on day 4 in a row.  Be smart about your training, be smart about your rest. Your body will thank you and you will see gains!

Good Reads:
Things that Impair Workouts
Listening to your Body
Recovery Time

Holiday Survival

The holidays are approaching at Lightning McQueen speed, which means most people are incredibly busy, attending parties, family get-togethersw and consuming A LOT of food.  One of the most challenging things that an individual can face during the holiday season is trying to maintain healthy habits when life is anything but routine.  When life is crazy, routine could be the one thing that keeps the wheels turning or it could be as lost as a needle in a haystack.  You may be thinking this is a bit preemptive, but if they are already selling Christmas decorations I figure it’s time to write a blog post on the holiday season!

Helpful Tips
Self-Care – First things first. When things get crazy, stress tends to creep up better than a ninja in a dark room and we can easily find ourselves getting off track.  Be intentional with your self-care.  If you know certain weeks are going to be super busy or stressful, block off down time.  Literally put it on the calendar if you have to!
Exercise – Anytime we are busy it is easy to say, there just isn’t enough time to exercise…the holidays are no different.  Get moving! Make exercise a priority.  It doesn’t have to be your typical gym routine, go for a bike ride with your kids, get creative, but don’t become a holiday couch (sweet) potato!
Sleep – When we are exhausted we tend to make poorer choices….just think about it….when you are really tired do you slave in the kitchen over dinner or does the drive-thru down the street tend to win the battle??? Get adequate sleep.  It will help you stay well, foster better decision making and keep you sane!
Food – If you know that you are going to a party where the food is going to be more in the “I can’t eat that” category than the “this is clean” category, bring your own grub.  If that would be rude (obviously this would not be appropriate in every social situation, please use your brain) then eat right before you go and have an “emergency” snack in your bag or purse that you can discretely consume if the temptation of your grandfather’s pecan pie becomes more than you can bare (or is that just me??).
Plan – Always have a plan.  Make some rules or set a few goals.  Limiting your sweets, alcohol or just knowing the “okays vs the no ways” can be helpful.
Quantity – The other QC (quantity control)….you can eat as much meat and veggies as you want (quality is important..however I will save that topic for a later post). But if you cheat, watch those portions….in other words don’t let that one piece of pecan pie turn into 10 (what?? I really do like pecan pie! It is a little piece of heaven…)
Listen – If your body is having aversive reactions to food that you usually don’t eat, listen up! Let your body guide the process.  Believe me; you will be grateful you did later…especially if you have to detox!
NO – You can always politely decline.  Practice in the mirror if you must, but be prepared to say “no thank you.”
Alcohol – Party, party, party…and at many parties there is alcohol…I would personally use the rule of “don’t drink anymore than normal.” —if that rule won’t work for you, then give yourself a limit and don’t let a late night celebration turn into a regretful morning!
Enjoy – Last, but certainly not least, enjoy your time! Don’t be so stringent that you feel like a Scrooge….make a plan that works, one that you can feel good about and will allow you to enjoy the season!

How do you survive the holidays? Share your tips and Merry Thursday!

Water, Hydration and Dehydration

Just thought I would give you the 411 on H2O today. So here it is!

FACTS:

  • 780 million people lack access to an improved water source; approximately one in nine people. (WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation 2012).
  • 3% of the Earth’s water is fresh.
  • A gallon of water weighs 8.34 pounds.
  • Only 1% of the Earth’s water is available for drinking.
  • In Africa alone, people spend 40 billion hours every year walking for water.
  • We lose a pint or more of water each day by simply breathing (according to a study done in the northeast)…and I bet that is not all you have done today, which means you should be drinking a whole lot of water!!

 

SIGNS OF DEHYDRATION (according to WebMD):

  • Dry mouth
  • The eyes stop making tears
  • Sweating may stop
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Heart palpitations
  • Lightheadedness (especially when standing)
  • Weakness
  • Decreased urine output

 

A FEW GOOD READS:
Hydration Myths
Healthy Living Facts
Charity Water