Monday, August 29, 2016

How to Fuel Your Brain With Energy

What is your fitness philosophy?

In other words: why do you train and exercise? What is it that you hope to achieve by being physically active?

Many of us train because we want to look better. Some of us train because we want to be healthier and stave off disease. Others train because they want to perform better at a particular sport or activity they enjoy.

But I have a different reason for training: I train because I want to change the way I feel and because I want to change my mindset. And this is also one of the driving factors behind my diet choices.


One of the biggest limiting factors in most of our lives – one of the things that most prevents us from achieving all that we want to achieve – is tiredness. You wake up in the morning and instead of leaping out of bed filled with enthusiasm, you instead struggle to drag yourself up and to actually start being productive. Then you get home and instead of doing something fun, interesting or productive, you instead just crash on the sofa and watch day time TV. Sound familiar?

Everything you do is less enjoyable when you’re tired. All of your decisions are worse. All of your challenges are harder. And I’m not talking about physical tiredness – I’m talking about mental tiredness. And that’s what you can actually fix with the right training program and diet, unbeknownst to many.

How to Increase Brain Energy

So how can you increase energy in your brain? One method is to increase the strength of your heart. If you do this, then you’ll be able to pump more blood, oxygen and nutrients to your brain, thus allowing it to perform more optimally. How do we do this? With steady state cardio This means the kind of cardiovascular exercise that involves long durations of exercise. A good example is running a few miles twice a week, which can help to enlarge the left ventricle in your heart. This also reduces stress by helping you to lower your resting heart rate and thus produce less cortisol.

Also important is to increase the efficiency of mitochondria. These are the parts of the cells that turn glucose into usable energy and the more you have and better they function, the less tired you will feel. You can increase these with a combination of HIIT training and foods/supplements that are known to support them such as CoQ10, PQQ, l-carnitine and others.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Crossfit Training

Crossfit training is classified as functional training and is an excellent total body workout. While you may have seen lots of men participating in this type of exercise, it is actually a fantastic workout for women! 

The basics of the Crossfit training program remain the same for everyone regardless of your sex or age. It is the way you perform the program that changes.

For anyone just starting with Crossfit you must take the time to familiarize yourself with the basics. This includes learning how to perform the required exercises.  These exercises involve learning how to do a sit up, push up and squat correctly. You will also need to learn how to do a deadlift, a shoulder press and pull ups.

Of course all of these basic moves will take time to learn. By repeating these moves daily you should be ready to take your first Crossfit class within a month. Take more time if necessary! There is no rush and it is extremely important to learn the moves correctly, this way you will derive more benefit once you start daily classes.

A Crossfit training program targets your entire body. You will develop more strength, power, agility, and balance along with a better cardiovascular and respiratory system. 

Depending on your fitness level you can start with a 3 day routine with a day of rest. Your other option is to work out for 5 days and then take 2 days off. Do whichever you feel more comfortable with.

You can visit the Crossfit website and get a Workout of the Day that lists the exercises you need to do. Each exercise will target a certain area and many people enjoy following this more structured routine. 

If you prefer you can make up your own Crossfit training program and incorporate exercises that you like. You must remember to include exercises that target all areas of your body. This should include some type of endurance and stamina building activities.  The whole object of Crossfit is to workout fast and hard, performing exercises with as few breaks as possible. 

Training should include sit ups, pushups, lifting dumbbells or kettlebells as well as weight exercises like bicep curls and chest presses.

Crossfit/Crossfit Style Routines

Here are some crossfit or crossfit style workouts by fellow fitness bloggers.

MOD WOD Workout by Sarah Jane Parker

Alphabet Workout by Sarah Waninger

Snatch Workout by Julia Hickman

Remember Crossfit is used by members of the armed forces, police department and fire departments. So there must be something to this method of training.  Anyone can easily participate in Crossfit by modifying exercises as necessary. Just don’t try to do too much too soon as you don’t want to injure yourself!

Monday, August 22, 2016

How to Find the Drive and Determination to Work Out Every Day

Working out is something that many of us feel we should do more of – whether that means jogging, lifting weights or training for some kind of sporting event. The hope is that by training, we’ll be able to build more muscle and burn more fat, which in turn will give us the physique that we’re looking for.

Thus we go about creating these elaborate training programs, filled with multiple workouts throughout the week. We combine this with some kind of diet that involves eating a very small number of calories and we generally just force ourselves to live in discomfort for days and months to reach our goals.

Except come day two, we will often already have abandoned that goal. Why? Because it’s just too intense to stick at and we were too ambitious. If you’re already tired and you’re inactive most evenings as a result, how do you intend to add 5 hours of training to your current routine? And how do you intend to do all that while also factoring in 30 minutes of travel, washing and cool down after each session? Or when taking into account a calorie deficit giving you less energy than you would normally have?

Be Realistic

The first problem with this type of training and thus the first thing you need to fix, is your ambition. It’s great to be realistic of course – but not at the extent of being realistic. There’s only so much you can expect your body to accomplish in a given week and your energy (not just your time) is finite. Instead of starting with five one hour workouts, who about starting with three half hour ones? And find other ways to make it easier too; such as training from home.

Focus on the Vision

What’s also important is that you focus on the vision and you focus on ‘dream’. Why is it that you want to work out? What are you hoping to achieve? What would it feel like to have that body you’ve always wanted? To feel confident and energetic?

It’s too easy to miss that connection between our dream and the steps we have to take to get there. So to make sure that you’re driven in the right direction, really focus on that dream and what it can deliver you. Really imagine what it will feel like to accomplish your goals and use this to drive you!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Crossfit Equipment

 ***This post contains affiliate links.***

Purchasing Crossfit equipment can be much less inexpensive than buying a new treadmill or elliptical machine. While you do need multiple pieces of equipment, each one is not that expensive. 

A good quality exercise mat will be a great investment for doing many of the Crossfit exercises. These exercises include sit ups and push ups along with other floor exercises. 

For performing squats you can use a large medicine ball or an exercise ball. The ball is placed behind your back on a wall and helps you to balance and keep your posture while squatting.  

A large exercise ball could also be used for push ups and sit ups and is a little gentler on your back, especially for beginners.  For pull ups a good quality pull up bar is recommended. 

Another mainstay piece of equipment will be your kettlebells. These are similar in weight to dumbbells but allow you to perform different movements and exercises. A common exercise performed is the kettlebell swing, where the kettlebell is held in between your legs with straight arms. The swing involves taking the kettlebell straight up and over your head and then back to the starting position.  This is an excellent exercise that will raise your body temperature and increase your heart rate!

A sturdy box frame is another requirement and is used for jumping up onto.  This box ideally has various heights allowing you to jump up higher as your fitness level increases. 

Jump ropes along with heavier ropes are other pieces of Crossfit equipment that can be added to your inventory. 

Of course you don’t have to run out and purchase all of this equipment at once. You can start off with the basics and add more as your progress. It is best to make sure that you enjoy the idea of Crossfit training first! You don’t want to purchase lots of equipment only to have it sit in the corner and collect dust. 

You will need a good sized area of your home to set up your Crossfit gym. Make sure that you have plenty of room and height to perform the exercises. You will be jumping rope and jumping onto a high box, so a low ceiling in your basement might be an issue.

For the pull up bar ensure that you can place it in between a sturdy door frame. One that offers lots of support, you don’t want to run the risk of having the bar come down on top of you. Another option is to purchase a ceiling mounted bar.

If you are a complete beginner then we would recommend that you start off by buying a good exercise mat and some kettlebells and maybe a jump rope. This equipment is enough to get you started and will provide you with a great workout.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Takeaways from FitBloggin'

My story is a little different from others' I've read.  This was my first conference as an attendee but not from working all or part of one.  I've volunteered for various large scale events like the 2001 World Police and Fire Games as the Language Services Coordinator (that was a disaster and chaos rolled up in one for me on top of being pregnant).  For my event management certificate I helped to organize and run the 2005 P.L.A.N.T.S. conference for the Indiana Nursery and Landscape Association.

I started out Thursday night literally dragging Benny to the Registration & Reception at Scotty's Brewhouse.  He was such a Grumpy Gus about the whole situation we only stayed an hour.  The room we were in was a little small for the crowd but since people were coming and going it worked out OK.


Friday and Saturday morning I got up at my normal weekday time (6 AM) to get dressed and finish stuffing my bag to last me the whole day.  I ordered an Uber, but apparently selected the wrong one as a huge SUV came to pick me up Friday.  Oh well, it's was cheaper and less of a hassle than parking downtown!

Although I often have yogurt as my breakfast I was surprised to find that was the only option.  Those doing the workouts need WAY more protein and good carbs than that would offer.  Because of that I was glad that I opted out of doing the workouts on Friday.  (I'd switched my current Thursday rest day with Friday to allow me to chill.)

First up was the workout with Valerie Waters and her Valslides (writing that makes me think of Jem and the Holograms for some reason LOL).  I'd never watched an entire workout before but that hour went by fast!  I think having something like the Valsides would make it much easier to do exercises like mountain climbers (which I suck at).

Lisa said that we as a wellness community need to defy the stereotypes of what it means to be fit. As an example you see a plus size instructor is leading a workout do you bail questioning what you could possibly learn from someone so big? You just missed the chance to gain knowledge and experience from someone who lost half their weight or more. She has had an incredible journey and is stronger and healthier than ever; she just can't wait to help everyone she comes in contact with!

Like myself Lisa also recommends piecing different strategies together to find your path. There is no one size fits all method to healthy living. It's trial and error until you find what works for your body, and even then there will be further tweaks along the way.

Some other takeaways from Lisa
  • It's never too late to change.
  • Think about what's happening along the way, how to get there, and enjoy the journey.
  • It's our goal to move our audiences to improve their lives.
  • You can't inspire others unless you're inspired.

The panel of Dawn, Martinus, and Tyler discussed different ways for our messages to be powerful, tailored to our audiences, and motivating. No matter what we're talking about we must remain authentic to our selves.  In doing this it ensures the message we're writing about is consistent with our personal lives.

Some other takeaways from the panel:
  • Sharing your story, not leaving out the struggles, makes you more human to your audience.
  • Always have a clear call to action and a goal for how you want your audience to feel or respond to your message. (Martinus wants people to cry!) Never forget the way you make them feel.
  • You must understand your audience and their level of knowledge on the topic.
  • Living a healthy lifestyle is a "you change"; you must value yourself to make the change.

Sworkit is an app that you can customize your workout. (There's a free and a paid version as well as one for kids.)  You select what type of workout you want to do and how long you have to do it.  BOOM, now you have a workout no matter where you are!  This app is one that gives you a heads up of the next exercise so you can see whether or not it's something you can do at this stage of your journey.  I like these types of advance notices.

My plan was to head down to Food Truck Friday afterwards (since I've never gone) but after I stopped at the ATM I decided to grab Qdoba to go.  On the way there I got myself turned around (since I'm used to approaching the area from the east side instead of the west).  It was good to get some quiet solitude over lunch.

I took so many notes from Dr. Pamela that I could probably have her talk as a post unto itself! There are physiological, emotional, and mental factors contributing to the baggage we all carry. The top physiological factors are insulin and leptin resistance, adrenal insufficiency, excess toxicity, imbalanced reproductive hormones, malabsorption and/or food allergies, and under treated or untreated thyroid imbalances.

Emotional baggage effects all aspects of life because emotions are carried by all cells. Nobody is 100% together! Isn't that great to hear?

Emotional wounds live in the unconscious mind. The subconscious remembers everything at a cellular level. It's goal is to protect us.

There are several indicators that emotional baggage is preventing you from progressing in your journey. Examples include:

  • Bad habits that you can't get rid of
  • Doing what's right but not seeing progress
  • Destroying your own success so others stop celebrating with you
  • Believe you'll reach your goals but it won't last
  • Lose and regain weight repeatedly
  • Recognizing your tendency to destroy the good in your life but don't know how to change
There are also barriers we put up blocking success.
  • Not identifying your WHY for this journey
  • Setting unrealistic goals
  • No reward system for when you reach your goals
  • No true plan for your path
  • The belief that the goal is the end
  • The belief that positive changes don't last
Dr. Pamela also noted that impersonal why's weren't really good. You need to go deeper than just because the doctor so. Yes, it'll get him off your back but what does reaching your goal REALLY mean to you?

It stunk that Southwest prevented Elizabeth from making it to Indy but we still made the most of it!  The Zephyr crew set up a Skype call so that she could still speak with us.  Elizabeth did a great job even though she couldn't see us!

Did you sign up for your social media accounts without reading the terms and conditions - your contract with the network? I know I do; it's just too much to go through! There's probably so much stuff I'm doing wrong or missing out on but I can't bring myself to read them.

Everything we create is copyrighted. How it can be used by the other party is spelled out in the contract.

  • Right to make copies, sell copies, or sell all rights to the creation.
  • Right to make derivatives of the work - i.e. tweeting highlights
  • Right to public performance of the art
If you are under a work for hire contract YOU DO NOT OWN WHAT YOU CREATE! Everything produced belongs to the other party. I'm not sure how this would be a beneficial contract to entertain.

At the evening reception I tried two of Oliver Winery's Orchard Stand wines - mango and strawberry.  Now, I don't care for beer (it's too sour) and wine is just MEH but these two had great flavor!  I enjoyed mango a bit more than the strawberry.  Now to convince Benny to get this instead of champagne for NYE!

Once the day was over Benny and Austin picked me up a few blocks away and we headed home for a quiet evening (I still cooked dinner).

I'd tried the Jaybird Reign activity band we got but it ceased functioning. They sent me another one but it too died. Austin told me he wanted new earbuds so I agreed to swap the band for a pair. I'm currently awaiting the exchange instructions.


I woke up not feeling too well but took some meds and pulled up my big girl panties to make it through the day.

The Saturday morning session with Life Time Fitness was my only workout of the weekend.  They really had us kicking and punching up a storm the first half!  I kept having to run back for some water.  The second half was strength training, partly with the resistance band above.  This band made things uber tough!

These discussions were pretty similar. David and Angela did great jobs leading the groups!

Some takeaways:
  • We aren't broken, our environment is.
  • We were designed for feast or famine. There's an overabundance of food so as a society we feast too much.
  • When you find yourself talking down about you put a loved one in front of your mind. Ask yourself if you'd say those things to your loved one.
A group of us headed over to Café Patachou for lunch. I'd never eaten there before. I almost panicked looking at the menu - all those egg dishes and I'm not a fan! In the end it was a toss up between the salmon bagel and the spinach salad. I ate the salad less strawberries.

This was my first time seeing Zumba, more than little clips. Margo and Nellie took turns leading the crowd through a fantastic set of moves. With my lack of coordination I'd probably would have been running into everyone!

Kristin has been through a lot but through adversity she has evolved into something bigger. During her talk she told us about how she got into a great working relationship with Deepak Chopra. I too wouldn't have believed that it was real.


  • Imagine success and ignite possibilities.
  • Let go of the things you can't control.
  • Liquidity - be flexible and don't be fixated on one idea.
  • Unbounded Potential - be in touch with your core being, your pure self.
  • Moment - be present, making yourself available for that golden opportunity.
  • Illuminate - become the light that attracts what you need.
  • Nurture - practice self care to avoid burnout.
  • Align - examine what success looks like and train you thoughts to stay aligned.
  • Transparency is the portal to abundance. Be truthful with yourself. What's restricting your truth? Allow yourself to be vulnerable.
  • Evolve - become a student of life. Just because someone is popular doesn't mean they'll impact you the most. We don't evolve because we're afraid to ask.
We can't be the change until we change ourselves!

Steve led a lively talk on adjusting your mindset to achieve your goals. By this time I was hoping the second dose of meds would kick in but it never happened. I think I may have missed a lot of what he had to say because of that.

Some takeaways:

  • Saying "I can't" gives away your power.
  • Major Manipulators - perfectionism, shame, guilt, anxiety, financial stress, jobs, fulfillment, grief, situational avoidance, pattern paralysis, body image, people pleasing, performance, low self-esteem, hormonal imbalance, poor guy health, fatigue
  • Small micro changes lead to lasting goals.
  • Be accountable for goal behaviors instead of outcomes.
  • Realize what you've done right on your journey instead of focusing on getting it ALL right.

FitBloggin' wrapped up with Brooke's session on being in check with our emotional health, focusing on the areas of contentment, good relationships, self appreciation, and stress management.


  • Find satisfaction in the moment, accepting the way things are. Be present.
  • Practice mindfulness and awareness without judgement. Find a sense of balance.
  • Take responsibility for your emotions.
  • When you find yourself going negative, recognize it and redirect to something uplifting.
Good Relationships
  • You're the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. (I find this scary with all the drama at work!)
  • Reflect kindness.
  • Boundaries are essential.
  • You have to put in the work to make things work.
  • In communicating, mirror (summarize) what they say, validate that what is said makes sense (even if it only makes sense to them), empathize with them by guessing their emotions, and eliminate "but" and replace it with "and".
  • Best of all, have fun and laugh!
Self Appreciation
  • Support yourself and know who you are.
  • Know your strengths. Focus on them instead of your weaknesses.
  • Know your personality.
  • Know your thoughts.
  • Know your values.
Stress Management
  • Worrying is a waste of time and energy. QUIT IT!
  • Practice physical energy habits such as deep breathing, eating food for fuel, staying hydrated, exercising, and sleeping.
  • Practice emotional energy habits such as crying, smiling, having a support team, laughing, meditating, being mindful, adult coloring, scheduling priorities, and complete silence (think sensory deprivation chamber).

Did you notice any recurring themes between the speakers?

Where will FitBloggin' be next year? I'm hoping that they decide on another Midwestern city, maybe Columbus, Ohio. That way I can crash with family the weekend.

Monday, August 15, 2016

How to Change Your Mindset and Turn Lions Into Kittens

It is not just our bodies that are a result of evolution. Likewise, it is also our minds and our psychology that have been shaped by the world that we evolved in and that is where a lot of our most unusual behaviors come from.

When we were evolving, we were in far more dangerous scenarios than we were now and we could never afford to take risks. Only the psychological traits that made us most likely to survive were passed on from one person to another and that means that they’re the only ones that matter.
This is why we are risk averse by nature and it is also – unfortunately – why we spend a lot of our time experiencing chronic stress.

The Danger of Ambiguity

Imagine that you were in the wild, looking at the silhouette of some kind of animal sitting on the horizon. You don’t know if that silhouette is of a lion or some kind of kitten… what do you do?
The most pertinent solution in order to survive is to assume the worst. Assume it’s a lion and either freeze or run. The people who take chances would be the most likely to get eaten and thus not pass on their personality traits!

But the problem is that we don’t see lions any more. This is not the biggest threat to your life right now. Instead, the biggest stressors are things like debt, illness, relationship problems and career issues. These are the threats we face that are the stand-ins for the lions and that we now must try and overcome if we’re going to be successful in life.

And unfortunately, we still have that tendency to assume the worst!

It’s All About Perspective

But here’s the thing: it’s actually all about perspective and it’s all about mindset when it comes to our reaction to threats. If we think it’s a kitten, then we will be able to remain cool, calm and happy even if it is a metaphorical lion.

In other words, it pays for us to reassess our situations and to take control of our anxiety and our stress. When we can do that, then we can remove the chronic anxiety that makes us perform worse and feel worse.

How do you turn your situations into kittens? Simple: you assess exactly why you’re afraid and whether or not there really is a good reason for you to be. Likewise, you can look at contingency plans and coping mechanisms. Remember: it’s all just perspective. Change your mindset and you change the reality!