Injury prevention & recovery is a large part of what we do at Level Up Strength Society. So, naturally, we get a lot of questions about it. And you might wonder, is it really possible to prevent injury? Of course, the answer is no, not entirely, but you CAN greatly reduce the chance of injury through proper training programming.
Most of you will know someone who’s injured themselves while working out, whether is a running, cycling or joining a group workout class. Modalities such as group strength training like Cross Fit & high intensity bootcamps are notorious for this – for leaving people more battered and injured than when they came in.
Why is this?
Well, if we go back to the basics of human anatomy and adaptation, the research & experience shows us that…
the body takes time to adapt to the stresses we put on it
our bodies respond best to progressive overload of intensity, volume & load
rest is the time when our bodies recover
So, what does this mean in layman’s terms, in reality. Well, it means that…
going from no exercise to intense exercise is too large of a shift in what our body is used to and leads to less long-term gain because you rob your body of the adaptation period
there is an increased risk for injury because the tendons & ligaments have not been able to adapt to the stress you’re demanding of them
you’re robbed of the neural connection with your muscles that takes time to develop, meaning you’ll spend more time in high risk of injuring yourself because of bad form or technique
So, what’s the best way to train to prevent injury?
My story of strength training, bodybuilding and recovery.
Strength training has given me physical & mental confidence and taught me how to transfer focus of my worth as a human from how I looked to who I was on the inside. I’ve learned mental toughness, the value of commitment and discipline, especially when it came to my health. I will absolutely go so far as to say strength training saved my mental & physical health as I was headed down a bad path, albeit slowly, but now I see the signs clear as day.
For most of my life I’ve viewed exercise and food as a tool to look a certain way. I fed in to the cultural ideas we’re bombarded with, women are meant to be thin, that clothes only look good on you when you look a certain way, and that that’s what men want. As a younger kid, I was active, did acrobatics for a few years and you could find me outside climbing tress & fences most days. But come puberty I put on some weight and started to feed in to that negative self talk and some lovely middle school peer review. I remember one kid calling me a beached whale (even though in reality I was probably only 5-10 lbs heavy).
High school could have been a disaster for me, but I ended up at a boarding school and had very little time to worry about what I looked like. But, I just picked back up where I started when I came home & went to college.
I started eating less to lose weight, dabbled in some fat burners and exercise here & there, mostly cardio like running & aerobics classes. Anyone else relate to this??
Fast forward to my first job out of college & I was thin, but not healthy. I’d gotten into running, ran a half marathon, found I loved spin classes (which, I still do btw). Even though I was thin, I was still frustrated with how I looked! I wanted that toned look, to look lean but solid. To not have loose skin & visible “fat.” I wanted to look like a “fitness” model. But I kept trying to achieve that with very restrictive eating & cardio!
During that time I’d pick up magazines & started getting into tracking my food. But it wasn’t enough. So, I went to my doctor and she did a metabolism test on me, some machine that I breathed into for a few minutes while I sat there.
And the results came back saying that my resting metabolism was 1100 calories! I remember feeling so devastated that day. My friend had invited me out to dinner with friends & I went but didn’t eat anything but chips & salsa. What I thought at the time was that I was doomed to only eat 1100 calories for the rest of my life or I’d gain weight.
I feel so sorry for myself thinking back now at how defeated I felt. If I’d only known what I know now, that my metabolism was low because I wasn’t fueling my body properly and I’d forced my metabolism to adapt to a lower caloric intake!
And this is one of my goals for all of my clients and for my business at Level Up Strength Society – to help people get out of or never even learn those disordered eating habits, to teach them how to never look at food as the enemy, help them find a balanced & sustainable nutrition habit that fuels and nourishes their body.
So there I was eating barely anything, and I met Alberto. I started strength training with him, but for the most part my goals were still based on how I looked. Slowly I started to learn how to value performance goals, I learned to crave getting stronger and being able to do more. I mastered squats, deadlifts, presses, pull-ups…
The transference of value to action and not physicality was truly transformational!
I realized that I’d always has a more muscular build and that I should just embrace it! That I had the potential to really transform my body to be strong and capable and that I could train to accomplish so may physical feats!
After my son was born, I decided to train harder, to focus on muscle building & getting my calories up as high as I could! And it worked. I packed on muscle, got stronger and truly transformed my body. I decided to compete in bodybuilding competitions and did well!
Unfortunately, at the time, I still didn’t know enough about health. I was working a full time sales job, traveling a lot, training a lot and had an 18mo at home. A bout of food poisoning & sinus issues put me over the edge and I fell hard into digestive problems and adrenal fatigue.
It took me 2 years to get through the digestive problems & I still haven’t entirely healed my adrenal system. But I’ve learned so much through this process and is why at Level Up we have a Functional Diagnostic Nutritionist on our team who can help our clients with these more complex internal health issues that, honestly, more of us struggle with than want to admit.
It wasn’t necessarily that I was training hard that I ended up with adrenal fatigue, but the hard lesson I had to learn was that once I was there, regardless of what got me there, was that I had to focus on healing for my body. Training hard, doing HIIT, and all those things people think are “good exercise” would not benefit me. I had to learn how to spend less time in my sympathetic nervous system, your fight or flight system. I had to learn to tap into my parasympathetic system – rest & digest. This would allow my body to absorb maximal nutrients from my food and give my adrenal system a break from what I’d put it through.
So, did I stop lifting weights? No. I took a break for 2-3 months, did light full body work when I felt okay, but I truly gave myself a break. And I didn’t lose all of my muscle or my strength. I didn’t gain a ton of weight. I just healed. Then I worked slowly back into training and have learned to listen to my body more. If a workout or workout schedule leaves me exhausted it’s too much for my body at the time.
Another lesson I learned during this time is that when your internal health is not optimal, it will be near impossible to lose body fat or reach an optimal body composition. You’ve got to fix what’s going on inside first! Believe me, I tried all the tricks that worked for me in the past to lose fat & nothing worked until my body had healed. Working or dieting harder DID NOT WORK.
In the end, I’ve learned that my overall health and longevity is more important than sticking with some arbitrary training schedule just because I think I should be able to train as hard as so & so on Instagram.
I’ve learned that I want to be able to function well and stay strong but that if Icontinue to ignore my body’s cues I will end up with more internal health issues like autoimmune disorders, thyroid disfunction, gut disbyosis…and that’s not worth it!
This is exactly why we don’t coach transformations, we don’t push people to just attain some physical, aesthetic goal while ignoring what their body is telling them. We don’t coach people to sacrifice their health for the sake of fat loss.
Now, everyone is different & some people have more capacity for stress than others, but the coaches out there who just give everyone a cookie cutter plan that not only shreds them physically but internally, are doing their clients a disservice in the long run.
It’s why I cringe when I see people doing challenges like 75 hard and similar things. They’re pushing their body so hard and, sure, they may see results, maybe even for a year or two, but at some point the stress will take its toll. They will burn out in some way. And that’s when they come to us.
I’d love to catch those people before they burn out like I did, because that recovery can take time and be hard.
You can have a fit, capable body that looks great and performs optimally. Just because someone you see on IG has great abs, it does not mean they are healthy or their joints are pain free!
This is why at Level Up Strength Society, we teach people how to train their body for health & longevity, not aesthetics, to train to reduce pain & improve function, not to beat up their body for not looking they way it “should” or exercise just because they want desperately to lose weight.
I’d love to hear your story if you can relate to this journey!
Minimizes pain and risk of injury by relieving muscular imbalances (as long as properly programmed)
Prevents or minimizes the muscle loss that naturally occurs as we age
Helps to strengthen bones & minimize bone density loss through aging
Let’s dig into each of these one-by-one:
Improves physical (and mental) confidence. The ability to lift things around the house, pick up your kids without throwing out your back & running around with your dog without tweaking your knee are all great everyday examples of the benefits of strength training for your body & mind. Cardiovascular exercises strengthen your heart and lungs, but especially longer distance or timed cardio can actually decrease muscle mass (can be catabolic), so strength training is a must even if you do these activities.
Builds joint stability & health. A properly designed strength training program will take you through multiple varieties of unilateral (one sided) exercises and forms that will engage typically underactive muscles to build up strength around the joints, specifically your knees, hips and shoulders, which is where most people end up having problems. In addition, a good program should include a variety of back strengthening exercises. Check out our app-based workout programs at https://www.pdxstrengthsociety.com/programs.
Minimizes pain and risk of injury by relieving muscular imbalances. For example, there are several muscles that are around your knees. Imagine these all like rubber bands going around a central point. If one muscle or one side of the bands around that sphere is pulling on the central point to a greater degree, that central point will start to be off-center. Then when you bend your knee, that central point (or knee joint) will not track properly! This is why it’s actually even more important that people who run or cycle perform strength training to balance out their musculature as the repetitive motion of their sport can exacerbate the imbalance. But, even for the everyday person, an imbalance can lead to injury down the road. That’s how someone blows out his achilles just walking down a step. Excessive tightness & weakness around that area led to a weakened state & made them more prone to injury. Our Bulletproof Athlete 6 mo training program is great for this goal. Check it out here: https://www.pdxstrengthsociety.com/challenges/bullet-proof-athlete.
Prevents or minimizes the muscle loss that naturally occurs as we age. After around 30 research shows that our muscle mass starts to decrease. This is because our body becomes less efficient at utilizing the protein that we eat to rebuild our muscles. Therefore, there is a loss over time. Strength training can absolutely minimize this or even reverse it depending on how much time & effort you put in. Plus, the earlier you start strength training the better!
Helps to strengthen bones & minimize bone density loss through aging. Similar to muscle loss with age, bone loss occurs with age, and it’s more prevalent in women, so strength training for women is even more essential.
Now that we’ve established the benefits, ladies, you might be thinking…
“I don’t want to get all bulky! I see all these instagram fitness women who get all bulky and I don’t want to look like that.”
There’s a lot of science behind this, but to keep it simple & short. As a woman, you don’t have the proper hormone levels & balance to build that much muscle, unless you dedicate yourself to hours in the gym nearly every day. The times when I’ve put on the most muscle have been when I trained for 90 min 6 days/week. To get the benefits of strength training you only need to train for 180 min/week and can split that however you like.
So, get in the gym, stop worrying about getting bulky & start strength training!
Another common roadblock is staying consistent, as that’s what is going to reap the most benefits over time. Here are my favorite tips for creating a solid habit:
Stack the new habit with an old. For example, if you wake up in the morning & have a routine to journal or read, or maybe you go on a short walk after lunch … add a 10 min strength routine to that. Over time you can lengthen the strength portion and once it’s an established habit moving it to a different time is easier. If you already go to a gym & do cardio, start adding a short strength routine to your existing habit. In the end, find a routine you already do without thinking and add the new habit to that!
Start small. If you’ve never done strength training start off with a home bodyweight routine. If you’ve done some strength training, but not consistently, work on getting consistent first, not worrying about how much time you spend. Get to the gym or do a home routine 4 times a week and keep it short and fun so it’s not daunting.
Now that you have some tools to create the habit, it’s time to get started! It you’re a beginner & don’t know where to start, below are my tips for getting started off right.
Work with a coach to make sure you understand where you have imbalances & weaknesses and to insure you’re doing the exercises with proper form.
Have a plan that you follow. It helps to keep you on track, consistent & if it’s a good program will build in progressive overload so you can build a solid foundation & get results without risking injury.
If you’re already exercising, but just not doing strength training, or you’re doing strength training but struggling with pain, injury or lacking results…grab one of our training programs to fix imbalances & get you the results you want! Grab them at https://www.pdxstrengthsociety.com/programs.
Maybe you’re a runner & your knees are bothering you. Or you’re rocking some deadlifts & you feel a twinge in your hamstring. Personally, my most recent injury was doing a kettlebell windmill. I was bending down and heard a loud pop! At first there was no pain but then my inner thigh area seized up & I was on the floor. Ugh, what a bummer!
But, what I see most people do & I’ve done so myself in the past is just completely stop. Stop doing anything. Stop lifting weights, stop running, cycling…whatever it is that you do. And this is the worst thing that you can do!
Not only does stopping your activity put an end to a habit you’ve maybe worked hard to build, but you will also lose the progress you’ve worked hard for and miss out on the opportunity to improve!
Think about it this way, injury is almost always a product of some sort of weakness, faulty movement pattern, muscular imbalance or technique fault. That means, that just like in a growth mindset, failure or a mistake, or in this case injury, is just an opportunity to learn and improve.
Circling back to my adductor injury. What did I do, then? Something that affects the hip can sometimes be hard to work around, but I did. And how did I do that?
1 – I made note of movements that irritated the area and avoided those or did them within a range of motion that didn’t cause pain. For example, deadlifts hurt, but only when I got near the floor, so I did them elevated.
2 – I talked with a professional – a sports-specific chiropractor to be exact – and she advised that it sounded like a ligament or tendon strain and those types of tissues responded best to strengthening, not stretching, so I avoided stretching and focused on exercises to strengthen the adductors like adductor glute bridges, copenhagen planks, and side lying leg raises.
3 – I gave it time, but also continued to test what felt good & what didn’t and made sure not to push too hard on those movements that hurt. But, I also continued to progress in lifts and areas that were not affected.
In the end, I didn’t lose any progress, really. And I believe that I’ve improved and learned from that experience. I have made sure to stretch & roll my adductors more, as I have noted that they get tight and this, most likely, contributed to by injury.
So, if you’re experiencing knee pain when you run, consider why? Is there something in your gait that is putting extra tension on your knees. Have you neglected strength training which has led to your hips being weak, thus putting all the brunt of the running gait on your knees?
Maybe you’re a cyclist and you are having trouble with excessive hip soreness, which is holding you back from improving your performance. Have you worked on specific hip strengthening or are you just hoping that riding more will solve the problem?
Remember, your body gives you clues as to what’s not working well. Take the hint. Don’t give up & always find a way to work around and improve!
I’m just going to come right out and say it, belly fat has always been my trouble spot. Even when I competed, I remember feeling like my belly fat was the last thing to go.
Over the years, I’ve tried many different things. Reducing calories, running a half marathon, getting heavy into spin, cleanses, pills…the list goes on. I remember in my mid 20s going to a doctor & doing a breath “metabolism test.” It showed my resting metabolism was 1100 calories, so I thought the only way I could lose fat was to eat 1100 calories a day. What a mistake! All I did was eat processed, low calorie foods and lower my metabolism even more. And I felt fatigued to boot! But, at the time, I didn’t know any better.
Maybe you can relate to this. I hear similar mindsets & stories from women all the time. They’re scared to death of eating too much, think that because something is high calorie that it’s bad, regardless of it’s nutritional value. Little do they know that they’re just circling down this spiral of making their metabolism work by thinking & living like this.
So, what’s the real answer to this stubborn fat that we can’t seem to lose?
It’s learning to work WITH our bodies, to work smarter. Now I know better & I want to make sure you do, too!
I’m sure you’ve heard from one or more traditional medical provider or even nutritionist that you just need to eat less and burn more calories to lose fat?
The problem with that phrase & mentality, while being technically true in a black & white world, is that it doesn’t take into account the lifestyle & internal factors that can weigh heavily on the effect of eating less & burning more calories.
It can be the exact opposite of beneficial – it can be detrimental to our health.
After being hit with some major digestive & adrenal issues a few years ago, I really dug into nutritional science & asked a million questions of my Functional Medicine practitioner. And now, I’m so grateful that we’ve added Frankie Leigh of Radiate Wellness to our Level Up Strength Society team! See more about how we work with Frankie to bring our clients more insightful & effective nutritional recommendations HERE.
So, what does it mean to work smarter?
Well, Frankie & I teamed up to dig into this. And listening is better than reading, right? So, catch the webinar replay here! https://youtu.be/w0mVCzQCYvY.
In a nutshell, if you’re stressed out most of the time, not regulating blood sugar well & your adrenals are not functioning optimally, stubborn fat, particularly belly fat, will be an issue for you.
I truly hope that you find some great nuggets of wisdom in this talk & some small actions that you can take to improve your body composition through lifestyle & nutrition upgrades. I hope that you choose to move away from the “working harder is better” mentality & learn to nourish your body rather than deprive it.
Personally, I’ve seen great results from lifestyle changes, improving sleep quality, circadian fasting & helping my body to be more fat adapted.
Just like diet trends come & go, fitness trends come & go. One day we’ve got P90X, another we’ve got Barre Sculpt or some such. Each claims to be the secret to the body (and often, happiness) that we seek. But, is there really any magic exercise protocol and is there really any magic body type that will fix everything? That will make you feel 100% happy with yourself? That will give you the body you want?
And here’s why. The best exercise program is the one that you feel motivated to do, that you want to do and consider fun. That is the program that you will stay consistent with and, thus, get the best results from. We have several that you can choose from based on your goals https://www.pdxstrengthsociety.com/programs.
However, the best results come from an external & internal approach. Your best results & your neighbor’s best results could be totally different, but why? Our bodies are complicated. Past diet history, genetics, environmental effects and even things like food poisoning can affect our internal health more than we know.
The unfortunate catch to an all-physical approach to fitness is that sometimes you can be doing all the right things – eating well, getting good rest & recovery, taking care of yourself mentally, getting exercise daily, but your body and the results you’re getting don’t match up with the effort you’re putting in! It’s frustrating as heck!
Something we do for clients that feel stuck like this is have them work with our nutritionist who guides them through a metabolic assessment test & analysis. For more about that test, visit https://www.pdxstrengthsociety.com/private-sessions. For example, one recent client was doing all those right things and had plateaued in her results. After taking the metabolic assessment, she found that she had problems metabolizing fats and had some gut overgrowth of certain yeast & fungi that absolutely lead to inflammation, hormone imbalance & block fat loss. Once she resolves these internal issues, her results will continue to come, but, my point is, you can’t control all variables from the outside.
On top of this just an external & internal approach is not enough.
From personal experience & from many in fitness that I know, creating happiness with our lives & bodies no matter how we look is the true key. It’s not that you shouldn’t care how you look, but basing our goals, value & happiness on how we look is a trap. As I’ve seen over the years that no matter how my body looks, my insides stay the same. I still have the same insecurities, the same perfectionism negative self-talk, the same feeling that it’s not enough.
What I’ve found that we have to add another criteria to the “best exercise program is the one that you feel motivated to do, that you want to do and consider fun” to keep mental health in check & that’s to have goals that are not aesthetics-, or looks-based.
Basically, the key to add to that program that keeps you coming back is to have strength or performance goals.
I’ve gotten more myself & seen better results physically with clients when we focus on strength and/or performance. I hope this inspires you to ditch the 6 pack ab goals & embrace some strength & performance goals!
Everyone wants to know “what’s the right way to eat,” and there is really no good answer for that. Sorry!! What and how you eat are dependent on your history, genetics, and, like we’ll talk about in this article, your goal.
And I’ll state a disclaimer here – this is not a “how to lost 30 lbs in 30 days” in an unhealthy way so if that’s what you’re looking for, look elsewhere. But, if you’re looking for a sustainable yet effective approach to nutrition then keep reading ;).
FIRST you have to choose your goal. I know that sounds basic, but most people do it wrong. It has to be specific & not conflicting. As a trainer, I hear so many people say they want to get stronger, have better endurance and lose fat. Those are actually conflicting goals and while you can work on all of them at once it will be a long & most likely frustrating process. Believe me, I’ve been there.
When I first started lifting, I had been on a “get smaller and skinnier” kick for a few years. I got into running, ran a half marathon, started doing spin and eating 1,100 calories every day. Obviously not a healthy place to be. Once I started lifting, I fell in love with feeling strong but it took a while for my goals to catch up and for me to stop being stuck on being “skinny”. Eventually, I learned more about nutrition, periodization and learned that if you focus on one goal at a time, strength/performance for a cycle, fat loss for another cycle, health for another, that you will make better progress than if you try to do them all at once!
You might be thinking…how long does a cycle last? At the least, 12 weeks, maybe a few more depending on where you are in fitness experience & diet history.
Okay, so back to the goals. You pick one – health/fitness, strength/performance, or fat loss/body composition. You got yours?
If you’re not sure which one to pick, here are some things to think about…
1 – Are you new to strength training or exercising? I suggest starting with strength/performance. You may want to lose fat as well, but it’ll be much easier & you’ll help prevent injury by focusing on strength/performance first for a cycle.
2 – Do you have a history of yo-yo dieting and significant caloric restriction or over-exercising? Focus on strength/performance if you later want to make significant body composition changes, or focus on health/fitness if you want to get your hormones and blood work looking good.
3 – If you’re a seasoned lifter (1+ years under your belt) and you haven’t done a fat loss phase yet or in a while, then go for it!
Now, how to customize….
FIRST – you must already know your calorie levels & macronutrient breakdown. From here, here’s how you adjust based on your goals.
If your goal is health/fitness, which is essentially maintenance of current weight & body composition, then your breakdown of macronutrients should be about even.
If your goal is strength/performance, it’s time to put body composition on the back burner for a bit and eat to fuel your body. Here’s where you’ll be adding calories; start with 150 extra calories/day. Typically these will be carbohydrates, assuming your protein is already in a good place, at the least 1g/lb of bodyweight. If you’re not putting on as much muscle as you like or seeing performance gains, after a month or so you can continue to add more calories.
If your goal is fat loss/body composition, it’s time to get in to a slight deficit. Start by taking away 150 calories/day, typically from a mix of fat and carbohydrate. As you progress through this cycle, you can continue to adjust down until you reach the desired goal.
Once you’ve committed a cycle, 12 weeks or more, to one of these phases, you can cycle into another. Maybe you feel pretty beat up after your fat loss phase? Head into a health/fitness phase for some rest & recovery. After that, you can hit a strength/performance cycle after your body has recuperated.
As we’ve learned in business & life, multitasking doesn’t work. Same goes for health, fitness & body composition. Focus is the name of the game.
Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.
James Clear, Atomic Habits
10 years ago, I had no idea what macros or food prepping were, thought being healthy was doing cardio and being “skinny.” Since then, I’ve learned to squat, bench & deadlift, become a certified personal trainer, transformed my body and competed in bodybuilding, but none of those are the most transformative skills I’ve learned.
The most important skill I’ve learned is how to create new habits.
If I didn’t have the habit of working out, getting good rest & recovery, food prepping, drinking water, stretching, thinking about food as fuel…all of the buzz things you hear in the health space, then I would never have accomplished what I have.
But, I didn’t go from 0 to 60 overnight. I didn’t wake up one day and decided that I was going to start lifting weights 5 times a week, counting macros and researching how to improve my gains. It started from small, simple actions that turned in to a habit, and that habit then became easy enough to level up or build upon and it snowballed from there.
I think about habit building like building a brick wall. You have to lay each brick in sequence to get a wall. You can’t just throw them all together and expect it to hold, right?
If you’ve ever read the book The Slight Edge, Jeff Olson describes this well – your small daily actions have a compound effect on your tomorrow. So, how do we create daily habits that will lead where we want tomorrow?
The process of habit creation has been well-documented. You want to get stronger, look fit, have some definition and be able to climb a mountain, right? Well, do get those results you have to start strength training. But, maybe you always blow off the gym. How do you get past this roadblock? You want the result, but that doesn’t seem to be enough to motivate you.
Part of the trick is knowing yourself, what gets you out of bed and stepping into the gym. Like in the picture below, what is the cue & reward that will work for you? For some, it’s having a food reward of some sort after the gym. I’ve had clients who have set mini-rewards based on mina-goals, like when I get to a certain weight or when I get to the gym 3 times/week for 2 months I’ll buy myself something special. Others use timelines like a looming beach vacay or wedding as the motivator.
Find what works for you. If you’re not sure, keep trying new things. At some point, you’ll find your reward. Then, after a while you no longer need the reward because the habit has created results that then replace that reward. And voila! You have yourself a habit.
Two more tips I have for habit building are…
Focus on one thing at a time. If you make your goal very broad like losing weight or getting in shape, you will not have a specific enough goal to work towards. Break the goal in to the different habits that are required to get there and then tackle each habit one at a time.
Practice detachment. This may seem out of left field, but hear me out! Yes, you care about your goals, but when we take things to personally and get emotional we have a greater chance of giving up. Say you mess up one day and don’t do a habit you’ve been working on. Instead of beating yourself up, look at what happened – why did it happen, how can you improve? Take it as feedback that you use to readjust.
It’s time to go crush those goals and get off the sidelines!
Being a parent can be tough. Rewarding, of course, but with so many people & things vying for your attention, maybe you find it hard to fit in fitness. It may take some trial & error, but with these tips & a bit of persistence, you can absolutely stay fit, get stronger and healthier while balancing family life.
TIP #1 Consistency trumps perfection.
This is true for your diet & your training. When you maintain a restrictive mindset with these things, you’ll stop enjoying doing them & inevitably fall off the wagon. Try following an 80/20 rule! Most of the time or most of what you eat is a clean diet, unprocessed foods, veggies, etc…, but 20% of the time you allow yourself something that you know you will crave later. Whether it’s a few crackers with your healthy meat & veggie soup or a bite of chocolate with your morning coffee, allow yourself the things you know you crave consistently. Some people prefer a whole meal of those things (you may hear people refer to “cheat meals,” but I don’t like that mentality. I like to incorporate those “treats” into most days in very small amounts not whole meals.
With fitness & training this means that you don’t have to spend 2 hours in a gym to make progress. You can totally make great progress if you commit to just 30-60 minutes 3-5 times/week! Of course you should be training according to your goals, but a well-rounded fitness habit should include strength training & cardiovascular work (which doesn’t have to be running or biking btw). You can workout in a gym or at home & make progress. You may need to adapt to working out at home, but that’s doable! If you need accountability & help with training plans for home, we’ve got you covered – check out our online coaching group – The Strength Society for accountability, coaching & our training plans for at home (and the gym of course).
#2 Set REAL goals, not just aesthetics (looks) goals.
Over & over we see people set just aesthetics goals and whether they reach them or not they get burnt out and end up feeling unmotivated and listless. Typically they can’t maintain the routine they’ve followed to reach the goal & just end up back where they started. Have you been there? This is why you see people take up competitions and challenges because they lack REAL goals that create discipline and keep you motivated. Goals like…
moving with less pain
feeling more energized
being able to smash 10 pull ups
or squat 1.5x their bodyweight
or hike up a steep hill without getting out of breath
setting a good example for their kids
being able to run a mile nonstop without training for it…
The list goes on & is specific to you. But once you stop focusing on the scale weight, how jiggly your belly is, how flabby your arms may be or whatever it is that we know bugs you, you’ll really start to create a fit LIFESTYLE instead of a temporary habit!! And that’s where you start to see true, long-lasting results.
THIS internal motivation is the true key to long term results and fitness as you change your mindset, you start really enjoying moving your body and challenging it to perform better! This internal motivation creates the mindset that makes habit building, discipline easier.
#3 Set your priorities but also be flexible.
Once you’ve truly dug into Tip #2, you’ll see your priorities clearer. What’s more important? Sleeping in 30 more minutes or getting up for a morning walk or workout? That’ll be an easy question to answer & easier to stick to when you are doing it for YOU, not for how society has convinced you you should look!
And at the end of the day, there will be times in your life when that extra 30 minutes is sleep is truly needed more than a workout. Or when there are family needs that take precedence. These are times when you should be kind to yourself, try to be as consistent as you can & focus on the things you enjoy about moving your body, not hitting performance goals or staying super rigid in your plan.
I get it! With baby #2 coming very soon, I’ll be there…focused on recovery, sleep and self care, but also mindful to keep moving my body & eating well most of the time because I know I feel better when I do.
It’s all about the long game, not short term thinking.
Need accountability and a great program to follow? Check out our app-based 6 mo training programs OR our online coaching group!
Have you ever said “I travel too much to stay healthy” or “I’m too busy to go to the gym”?
I know I have and I’ve felt that way before. It hurts to hear it sometimes, but we all have the same number of hours and minutes in the day. It’s how we prioritize them that makes all the difference.
For years, up until recently, I was in sales and had a HUGE territory. Think traveling to 50 different customers and conferences in 13 states and 4 Canadian provinces at least twice a year. I was busy, to say the least. Plus, I have a 4.5 year old, so my time is definitely at a premium.
When I set my goals on competition in bodybuilding, however, I was still traveling and working, and had a 2 year old at the time. Still, I didn’t back out because I “didn’t have time,” I re-prioritized my life so that I had time to do everything I needed to be ready for those competitions! And I rocked it, placing top in my class every time.
What I want to share with you is how you can fit healthy habits into your already busy life. Remember, you climb a mountain one step at a time, so take these first steps to get in to these small habits, and once they’re ingrained you can tackle bigger goals!
Over my years of travel and fitness, what I like to call #travelingbeastmode on IG, I’ve learned that there are 3 keys to putting my health first even when I have a million other things going on.
You probably know the saying, if you don’t plan, you plan too fail, right? Map out exactly when you will workout, and what you will do. Don’t count on yourself to make up a workout in the morning when you’re half asleep. Set the intensity of the workout, too, because you know when the time comes you’ll want to just do a chill workout when you should have amped it up! If you need help with workout planning, you can visit my site for pre-made workouts or personalized workouts for home or the gym – http://www.pdxstrengthsociety.com
Be strategic in your eating. Inevitably, if you have lunch or dinner meetings, you may not have control over where you go and the food options there. You also may feel that you have to indulge in alcohol or dessert (I will talk another time about changing your mindset here) especially at dinner meetings. Plus, if you’re traveling, you never know what food will be available at the airport. What I recommend is playing around with strategies like having just a protein shake or some oats with protein in the morning after your workout and skipping any snacks in between meals. This way you are leaving a reserve of calories for later when you know they’ll be higher. If you have a rest day, you could even fast for the morning until lunch. The point here is to save your calories for those times when you know you will have more.
Another key to staying on track is to travel with snacks. I always travel with things like protein bars (I like #one bars), protein packets (my favorite is chocolate from #Arbonne – I make it into a pudding my adding less water), stevia sweetener, nuts, beef jerky, and Stevia-sweetened chocolate from Lily’s.
3. WORKOUT EARLY
I have found this to be nonnegotiable when I travel. Travel and meetings just take the energy right out of me, so if I don’t make it happen in the morning, 95% of the time, it won’t happen. We all know schedules change, new items come up; it’s inevitable. I am not necessarily a morning person and I don’t feel like my workouts are fantastic when I do them in the morning, but doing them at all is better than nothing.
Another tactic, if you can’t get a workout in the morning, is to increase your caloric expenditure by taking a 10 minute walk every once in a while, at least 3 times in the day. If you’re at a conference, just stroll around the building or walk outside if it’s nice. Nothing will implode if you’re not there for 10-15 minutes.
Remember, it’s all up to you. And if you need any help with what to do in your workouts or how to organize your nutrition, I am happy to help. You can contact me on Instagram @earhartholistichealth or through my website www.pdxstrengthsociety.com.