The natural hormone of endorphins can reduce your pain and increase your happiness after just one workout. Check it out!
Most clients who come to see me are hoping to ultimately lose weight. Yet once that goal has been discussed, the deeper longing rises up, and what bubbles to the surface is a hunger for more energy and confidence.
Saturday, May 7th at 8am, I am hosting a Restoring Strength hike at Marshall Mesa Trail in Boulder (I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed that the weather will be nice and the trail will be less muddy!) to energize your body with a little technique you can do every day, and to help you revive your “Fun Flair for Self-Care”. The hike is about 3 miles, and I’ll be there with snacks and beverages to boost your self-care love while you get to walk some amazing Colorado ground with other inspiring women. Don’t miss the fun.
After 9 years in private practice as a personal trainer, and over 17 years working in health and wellness… I can tell you that it takes strength to get stronger.
Weight loss isn’t easy for many people who lead busy lives and who are dealing with hormonal issues. And isn’t that most of us?
What I see time and time again, is that the dividing factor between those who gain the energy they need to keep pursuing the habits that lead to weight loss, and those who give up, is the strength and resolve a person has to stick with their intentions.
So what’s the secret formula for keeping your mental strength and resolve?
3 Simple Beliefs:
- A belief that you are capable of doing what is required.
- A belief that you are worthy of a positive outcome.
- A belief that the energy you create will be used to generate something good.
Inside of each of us is a well spring of child-like energy that stems from times before we held limiting beliefs.
Children don’t often care about the outcome, they care about having fun.
They get curious about how much they can lift at once.
They dance around because they feel like it.
They sprint to entice you to a game of chase (because that’s a really fun way to feel loved).
So where can you find the spark of child-like energy to get you going and to resource when you need a little fuel to keep going?
It’s actually really really simple. We just make it hard because we’re adults.
No matter how tired or un-motivated you are, to cure the blah's in your movement get curious about what feels like play to you.
Balance on one foot, Strike a funny pose and hold it; See how far you can jump; dance around to a silly song. The endorphins from the smiles and laughter alone will be worth the effort!
And if you are in need of some consistent energy to get the get-up-and-go desire for play, check out my "Consistent Energy to Strengthen Your Body" Video Series to learn how to rise up and move.
Your body is an incredible gift that will sustain you through all of life's trials. And many of us hardly consider what is best for our body and health. Your body is more than capable of supporting many of your greatest dreams if you consistently treat it with love, respect, nourishing foods, rest, and movement.
Doesn’t the sun beating on your skin feel so good this time of year? If you are like me, you have caught a serious itch to move more and more with the longer days and awesome weather (even if it snows every now and then still!).
With increased activity and motivation, there’s an expectation that our efforts would lead to some degree of weight loss. We use the scale as our judge and referee, expecting it to tell us if we are OK or if we are doing a good job. When the scale doesn’t move, we painfully and harshly beat ourselves up and follow the thought pattern that everything we are doing isn’t working and that something in us is broken.
With the coming and going of 3 kids’ birthdays and a weekend of crazy tummy illness, I’ve felt a decent dose of anxiety over the past week.
What have you had going on that’s made your feel like life is out of control?
These days, it doesn’t take much, right?
If you are working out and doing any sort of involvement in life at what tends to be an accepted pace then you are likely asking questions about how to avoid burnout.
In the lifting world, well-known strength and conditioning researchers Charles Poliquin and Ian King popularized the concept of increasing time under tension during reps to increase the demand and build strength. Simply put, the recommendation was to increase the time it took to do the eccentric (or lowering) part of an exercise, pause 1-2 seconds at the transition, and potentially lengthen the concentric (or contracting phase) of the movement.
A "trapeze moment" is a choice we make to let go of what we are hanging on to in order to have the metaphorical open hands to grab onto the opportunities we want. It takes making decisions based on where we want to be, not on where we are right now. And it can feel very risky since we don’t always have certainty that what we aim to grab on to will be there if we let go.
When was the last time you faced a big choice where you put all your faith into the promise of what would happen rather than the pain of letting go and staying the same?
Having been a long-distance runner for nearly all of my life, it has surprised me how little respect cardio gets these days. Trust me, I love my cardio...but there are some downsides to cardio that can't be avoided. While it has always been a great stress reliever in many ways in my life, research also shows that is creates lots of oxidative stress (which makes us age faster) and can be tough on the joints. And I wouldn't want to forget that it also tends to be less effective as a fat loss tool for most of us than lifting weights. Why weights?
Ever since I started working in gyms as a freshman in college, I've been chasing the dream of helping women find confidence in who they are by accessing strength in their bodies. Sometimes all it takes is a little encouragement to get up and moving and eating better, but most of the time, it is much more complicated than that. Women have these things called hormones that tend to be way more out of whack when weight loss and energy are hard to come by.
"Brain scans of the broken-hearted found similarities between romantic rejection and cocaine craving"- Stony Brook University
Breaking up is hard to do, but the worst of it is that we have no idea just how hard it is on our bodies to go through a falling out with our loved ones. Similar to cocaine, our closest relationships stimulate key pleasure centers within the brain and causes extremely heightened euphoria- something we crave when that relationship suffers.
My question is, what if your core relationship with yourself
or your own body is broken?
Let me explain,
After staring into the beautiful eyes of my little Clara for the last 2 months, it’s like love at first site. Yet after having her in the womb and now out I have had to reconnect with my own body. I've had to do some emotional and physical relationship 101 work to feel reconnected to my body, my worth, my beauty, and my physical needs.
And I know I am not alone. If you have ever given birth or are one of the nearly 133 million Americans with chronic illness you know what it is like to feel like you have been "dumped" by your body.
Nearly all of us experience some form of a break-up with our own bodies at certain points in our lives. Rather than loving our body and appreciating it for showing up every day we rant about how we would rather be more thin, more energetic, more toned, more healthy, less hormonal or less ill.Can I hear an Amen?
Taking care of our bodies and our health is the same as tending to our most sacred relationships. Except, when you neglect your body, the one who suffers the most is YOU.
Breaking up with your body, even in small ways, is terrible for your health.
Take this Body Break-Up Assessment to learn more about how you may be sabotaging your health.Trust me, there is a way to regain hope and love for your health and reclaim your body-love.
Stay tuned for my next post as give you the tools to mend your Bad Body Break-up and start feeling whole again.
12 days ago I delivered a healthy 8lb 5oz little miracle we named Clara Joyce Irlbeck. Having delivered twins almost 3 three years ago to the day, lots of people were telling me how this one would be a "piece of cake" and how much easier it will be raising a singleton. I want to believe them, I really do. However, when my kids started getting a barking cough and fever the day we came home from the hospital, I knew we were in for a whole new experience in dividing our time between a new precious baby, our adorable two 3 year olds and...oh yes, managing to notice my spouse too. I find myself hanging on to bits of advice like, "spending even 10 minutes of one on one dedicated time with your three year olds will be adequate in the beginning". Now that I am in the midst of nursing a newborn, I can see how that is almost all the time I have!
We all have our own daily distractions. Those things that keep us from tending to our needs, that pull us from doing the things we keep re-adding to our to do list, and that make us feel small because there is "never enough time to get it all done".
I am a recovering perfectionist. I am haunted by the belief that who I am and what I do is never good enough. But when faced with adding a third child on top of my dreams to build up confidence in others by empowering and strengthening their bodies...I will admit I am anxious about how much it seems there is to do in so little time.
What I am learning, is there is SO much to be said for doing less to gain more. From your relationships to your workouts, this mantra is where I believe we all need to start to begin finding our freedom and confidence again.
I've summed up my secrets to how to make less more here:
1) Get out of the way. In giving other people more responsibility in my life I have realized the beauty of collaboration. Not only does it empower others, it allows you to reap the reward of bestowing purpose to others. During my maternity leave, I have referred clients to trusted trainers who have turned out to be an amazing fit. In my own need to be seen and find value, I had to let go of needing clients who needed me and instead trust that there are many other people who are capable of stepping up.
2) Forget expectations. When I find myself being pulled down the rabbit hole of postpartum blues, I remind myself that there is no play book for my life, or anyone else's for that matter. Every day we get to create our own expectations and vision for what we will allow and what we will embrace in our lives which adds to the enjoyment and mystery of being truly present in the moment. And yes, my kids are watching entirely too much Thomas the Train right now...but in the end, my sanity is saved and they are happy little guys.
3) Nap more. There is a plethora of research showing that even in our sleep deprived world, taking a nap of 10-30 minutes can boost our brains, improve our mood and feelings, and is good for our heart, blood pressure, stress levels, and surprisingly, even weight management. Even if you tend to run on too little sleep, taking a quick nap will boost your energy and brain power more than caffeine!
4) Power pump. This applies in so many ways in my life right now. Pumping out work should be like pumping out milk for a new mom. A quick lesson...the more a new mom's breasts are stimulated to produce milk, the more milk they will produce. It is better for a baby, or pump, to have short frequent sessions than long stretches of nursing/pumping and then no stimulation. We tend to believe that they harder and longer we work, the better output we will create. Nope. Crank out as much as you can in as little time as possible, then take a break. Breathe. Stretch. Get some water. Your mind and body will thank you.
5) Apply the minimum effective dose (MED) principle. Tim Ferris popularized this priniciple in his book, the 4-hour body. The MED is the smallest dose that will produce the desired outcome and anything BEYOND the MED is wasteful, and could even be a detriment to the body. For example, water will boil at 100deg C at standard air pressure. Turning up the heat beyond that won't make water "more boiled", it just wastes heat. The same is true for our bodies. You don't need to do crazy workouts 6 days per week to accomplish incredible results. You do, however, need to focus on getting a total body challenge that includes a variety of intensities to stimulate strength gains and fat loss or improved metabolism. That's why hiring a trainer is so great...we can help you find your MED! And here is a great example of how MED works.
6) Practice Being. My biggest take home and ah-ha from maternity leave so far is this: challenge yourself to just be. As I look into little Clara's eyes, all I can think is how beautiful and amazing she is- simply for existing.
You are the same. You are a beautiful gift to this world beyond what you look like in the mirror, beyond what your resume or your checking account says, beyond any diagnosis or past trauma. Take 5 minutes and let go of all need to be more than just the living and breathing YOU.
No need to do more. Just sit back and let your less be your most.
Are you one of those people who at various points in your life dreaded working out?
There are so many things in all of our full lives that we feel like we should do, that often times doing something that sounds hard...like exercise, just doesn't sound too appealing at all. Self care actually takes work. Something most of our ancestors only dreamed of having the time to think about since they were too busy finding food, cooking, canning, washing by hand, and doing lots of manual labor. How is it that in our modern age, when we have so many more conveniences to give us the time to take care of ourselves, we so easily ignore our body's basic needs?
The obvious answer is that we have so many more awesome choices of things to do (ha!) ...but I'll bet most of you feel like you "just need more will-power" or "better self-discipline". And to be honest, there actually is some truth to this.
When we make a choice to workout when we don't want to, we are actually strengthening a very specific part of our brain. And over time, the more we repeat the choice to deny our immediate gratification to delay our desire to avoid working out, the more content we feel overall with our lives.
The area of our brain that wants what it wants when it wants is the limbic system. The limbic system is a set of primitive brain structures located on top of our brainstem that drive our emotions and motivations related to survival. These include fear, anger, and emotions related to procreation, hunger, and safety. As a mother of twin toddlers, I can tell you this area of getting what one wants is VERY strongly engrained in our DNA. (bless their little hearts).
The area of our brain that can respond to our desires with rational thinking that is less fear based and more based on long-term gains is our pre-frontal cortex. This is the area that will allow us to say NO to ourselves when we would rather stay on the couch than get out of our comfort and go for a jog. It is the "adult" thinking place that tells us to do what is right, just, good, and best for our health and the health of others.
The BEST news is that the more you use your pre-frontal cortex to say "no" to your inner toddler, the more you will create synapses that make it easier and more automatic to do things that once felt super hard to motivate yourself to do.
When I first became a runner, I dreaded workouts and long distance days. But over time, as I learned to move (literally) past my fears and my initial dread, I found that it became easier and easier to ignore that little groaning inside of me that begged be to stay home in front of the TV. It didn't happen overnight, but over the course of months and years, I now can say that it's easier to find contentedness in any circumstance because I have repeatedly practiced saying "no" to my immediate gratification.
"What you want and what you need aren't always the same. Be willing to delay short-term gratification for long-term greatness" -Mandy Hale
I challenge you to step outside your box a little this week and to do something you don't really want to do to see what progress you can make toward YOUR long-term greatness. Give yourself a chance to say NO to your excuses and self-sabotage. Because, by the way, you are worth it, and you really are capable!
Brain Fog. Overwhelm. Clouding of Consciousness. Pregnant brain. Mommy brain. It doesn't matter what you call it, clouded thinking seems to effect us all. And on a daily basis. I can attest that post-twins and during this pregnancy (can you believe I, Nicole, am due in just 8 short weeks!?) I often feel like it's a miracle I can remember anything at all. I am guessing you can relate. Because our world is throwing new information, and a lot of it, at us constantly. There is work pressure, parenting pressure, illnesses that creep up all around us, taking care of those around us, making time for ourselves (phew), and so much more. It's no wonder our thoughts are often jumbled. Distraction abounds, so it's no wonder we crave focus, clarity, and peace of mind. Wouldn't it be nice to always remember where we put our keys or the phone when we need it!?
This time of year we are inundated with the idea that it's "time to lose weight". Quite frankly, that feels like a lot of pressure, and honestly- we don't have that much control over weight loss because weight loss is only an outcome...not a behavior. So what would it mean to focus on getting more movement because of how it makes us feel, think, and engage on a daily basis rather than some number on a scale?
Your workout is worth so much more than simply giving you an extra calorie burn in your body.
Exercise is good for your brain! Science shows that complicated activities like playing tennis or taking a dance class, or even trying a new activity provide the biggest brain boost by increasing the level of growth factors in the brain, helping you make new connections and brain cells. "You're challenging your brain even more when you have to think about coordination," explains Ratey, Harvard Med School and author of “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain”. He adds, "Like muscles, you have to stress your brain cells to get them to grow". Putting stress on your brain by stimulating your thinking while you workout has the added benefit of increasing blood flow to the brain too.
A recent study published in the Archives of Neurology suggests that a simple daily walk or jog could lower the risk of Alzheimer's (disease which causes severe memory loss over time)—or blunt its impact once it has begun.
We don’t fully know how or why activity improves memory and brain function, but here are a couple of fun facts about what we do know:
- Brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is released with activity to protect the brain from emotional disorders and repairs damage from stress and depression. (Repair stress? I am IN)
- In 2000, Dutch researchers found that inactive men who were genetically prone to Alzheimer's were four times more likely to develop the disease than those who carried the trait but exercised regularly. (Exercise can reduce risk for dementia and Alsheimer's- yay!)
And here is the best part...
“Even 10 minutes of activity can change your brain” - John Ratay
What will you do today to boost your brain by engaging your body?!
Try something new, or up the challenge in your next workout by adding some balance exercises or doing a few more complicated moves. Not only will your fun factor go up, but your memory will get moving up too!
Are you feeling rushed with shopping, partying, packaging, baking, cooking, planning, and...oh yeah, keeping up with your "normal" life?
- Wrapping gifts for an hour burns 120 calories, and
- Shopping while pushing a full cart of presents can burn a little over 100 calories in just 3 minutes.
Imagine! But here's a little secret. These little blips of movement add up to more than you think- and I will testify that one of the primary reasons Erica and I can stay in the shape that we do is because we have lots of little bouts of lifting, moving, carrying, stretching, and rushing in our days. It's the perk of being in fitness, yes, but you can create this for yourself too. All it takes is a little creativity.
A study completed in 2000 showed that subjects who stood and fidgeted burned 81% more calories than those who stood still, and those who sat and fidgeted burned about 50% more than those who sat motionless. Ah-ha.
Here's our top 6 list for Creative Fitness Fit-Ins for the Holidays...
- Stand, talk with your hands and act out your stories at parties and family events. You might need a cocktail to get this one rolling, but your family will surely be entertained.
- For every present you wrap or open, stop and do one burpee or jumping jack (or better yet, have the person who gave you your gift give you a new challenge for every gift!)
- Purposely take the stairs as many times as possible per day. Even if it means you commit to using only the bathroom on whatever floor you happen to not be on. (Oh, and commit to drinking a full glass of water every time someone says "Thank you". I am banking on the idea that you have grateful families and friends).
- Speaking of the bathroom, do 50 squats after every time you visit the loo...you are all alone in the room (is my guess) and there's no one to judge anyway. A 135 pound person who does 50 squats in 2.5 minutes can burn about 22 calories. May not seem like much, but considering how many times in a week you visit the bathroom, this could really add up!
- Help with clean up in every way possible. Do the dishes, take out the trash, help the kids set up their new toys and them put them away, make a "giveaway" box for the things that must go to make room for your new stuff.
- And finally, if you are willing to get really creative, grab the kids- or just be willing to get a little silly, and learn this kid friendly dance (includes tutorial)...don't worry- you don't have to do it perfectly, just get up and dance!
Above all- move. It matters.
P.S. We are partnering with a phenomenal nutrition coach to lead a 21 day Health Transformation support group for January. Stay tuned for more info!!
There's nothing wrong with your body. Really. No matter what you are struggling with, and no matter what you feel- your body is not the enemy...or your slave. It is a beautiful gift. When starting out my professional path toward health and wellness, I was coming out of a dark period of my life. I had worked my body to the bone with running and restricted eating, I had a long history of burning the candle at both ends trying to do as much as humanly possible to prove myself every day, and although I loved running and focusing my health, I felt completely out of balance.
Have you ever done something you really believed was "right" in order to be healthy, happy, and whole, but were left exhausted, burnt out, and frustrated with the lack of joy in your life?
Because that was me.
Despite all the data out there today about how various versions of diet and exercise will solve all your life's problems, it became very clear to me as I started this journey that I wanted to help guide people to authentically partner with their bodies. Too often people are "should-ing" themselves right out of feeding their souls and their overall health because they are neglecting to listen to what they actually need and then actually taking action on it.
When Erica and I started working together, what I admired most about her (and still do) was that she was choosing to listen to her body, to find ways to love it and listen to it more, and to evolve without waivering on one thing: that she is worth it.
And here is the thing I want you to consider today:
Your body can make you happy.
Exercise isn't just something that's nice to do, or that will ultimately make you look better. Exercise is a drug. Once your heart rate elevates and your body starts moving, a series of chemical responses in the brain occur that lead to short and long term benefits. It's called the "Happiness Effect".
Here's the tip...stop beating yourself up for all that you are or are not doing to move and exercise and start doing little things that leave you feeling happier because you did them. Especially if you are feeling stuck in a rut with your energy, weight, or joy.
As Albert Einstein said..."Nothing happens until something moves."
The American medical dictionary defines illness as:
- High blood pressure
- Weight gain
Secondly, while some moms can recover their brain function over time, many moms find they have a hard time with mental focus and memory after having kids. There are a finite number of things that the brain can focus on at once, and when we begin multi-tasking work, paying the bills, cooking dinner, thinking about a friend, and nurturing a screaming toddler, our brain can go into overload. When the priority is your baby or kid, lots of other things become forgotten or fuzzy.
Finally, it's not a joke that hormones surge during pregnancy and often have a hard time re-balancing once we hit our groove in motherhood. The most common hormonal imbalances that can linger and wreak havoc on energy and metabolism are Estrogen Dominance, Hypothryroidism, and Adrenal Fatigue. All of these hormone imbalances can lead to depression, anxiety, and once again...fatigue!
So here me now. If you are a mom or your know a mom...no matter how old her children may be, if she is still battling fatigue, erratic emotions, and hormone hell, it is time to give her some grace and gently suggest that it is OK for her to get help and take time to heal! One of the biggest ways to elevate mood is with consistent movement. Sunshine, sleep, and support can also go a long way, so reach out and get the help you need to start feeling more like you again.
My mother in law raised 8 children on little to no money and with very little support. When we go to visit Iowa, it's a wonderful time to unplug and relax a little as the world seems to keep spinning vehemently around us. This last trip, she said something that will stick with me forever...
"I was busy once too".
As I raise my own children (now 2 and a half...eek!!) and consider how time means nothing to them, and how they drift through each day running and jumping and exploring, I am reminded of what she said. Life is much more calm at the beginning and the end. And there is so much of our story to be LIVED in between. I like what Socrates said: "Beware the barrenness of a busy life."
I, for one, am very aware at how much the pace of my life can drag me down. I'll bet you feel it too. So how can we use the latest research to make the most of the time we spend focusing on our health so we have more energy and time for the things that make our lives rich and meaningful?
Here's two new tips:
1) Have a little something to eat an hour or two before your workout.
2) Go by feel for your rest days and instead of hanging on the couch, choose some active recovery.
Want more of the juicy details on these tips for how and why? Well, a recent study in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that people who were on a treadmill for 36 minutes, who ate breakfast beforehand, burned fat at a significantly higher rate for as long as 24 hours compared with those who ate post-workout, even though both groups consumed the same total calories per day. Also, a recent report in the Strength and Conditioning Journal proved you won't be able to go as intensely or burn as many calories, and you'll also lose more muscle if you workout without pre-fueling. What's the best thing to eat pre-workout? Try these 150 calorie or so ideas: A banana with about a half to whole tablespoon of peanut or almond butter or a half a cup of yogurt with a quarter cup of granola.
Finally, rest really is important. Our muscles re-build, we replenish our energy reserves, build bone mass, and restore connective tissue during our rest days. A recent study out of Brazil showed that beginners who completed four sets of 10 reps of bicep curls needed over 3 days of rest to recover. When you overwork a muscle that is not fully recovered you could be compromising your results and risk injuring yourself. However, it is still important to keep moving even on recovery days. Choose something low key like lower intensity walking, cycling, swimming or a dance class. Research from the National Cancer Institute discovered that even for those who work up a sweat on a regular basis, the longer they sit around, the higher their risk for an earlier death. Plus, the added bonus is you will burn more calories and elevate your mood. What better way to make the most of our "busy" lives!
If you had to count your friends, and I mean really really good friends, who would they be, and what number would you reach? What makes a person a best friend? My guess is, it's one of those people who is always there for you when you need them, they are able to empathize and say or do just the right thing you need, and they are totally accepting of you no matter what you do or say. You can depend on them. You can also tell them exactly what is on your mind, and even (sometimes) get away with being demanding or neglectful. Well, you may not have thought of your body in this way, but dear ones...your body is truly the closest friend you will ever have. The first time I really got this was when I was putting my twin boys to bed. I tucked them in and kissed their cheeks and told them how much I loved them. I thought to myself, "No one could know or love you more than I do right now"...and suddenly it occurred to me that they already have someone who actually knows them better than I do. Their twin brother. They started life side by side, they sleep side by side, they share every single meal together. It occurred to me then how sad it is that the rest of the "singletons" like me don't have this.
Ah, but we do. We have our flesh and blood. Our hearts and minds. Our spirit and souls that are with us every where we go. But all of that is encapsulated into this miracle we carry with us from embryo to death- Our Bodies.
Now consider this: How are you treating the very best friend you will ever have in the world? And how do you feel it is treating you? Who's fault is it?
While the body does have some say in what it can demand and voice, it is ultimately a servant to our wishes. And as our servant it's primary mission is to help us stay alive. It takes effort to thrive, doesn't it?
That effort can either be from a place of pushing, punishing, and prodding, or it can be from a place of self-compassion, love, and respect.
You ultimately have a finite number of days to get to know your closest friend. What will you do to love, nourish, enjoy, and free your body up to join you in the greatest possible life you could imagine?