Set a Post-Season Goal and Stay Active This Winter

Finding your motivation to stay active during the winter is no easy task. Between the small window of daylight hours, cold temperatures, and post holiday humdrums, getting yourself off your cozy couch takes more effort than it does in the more temperate months.

Enter the Post-Season Goal.

Setting a fitness goal for the spring can be just the commitment you need to hold yourself accountable through the dark cold days to come. Here are some ideas:

Sign up for a Race

Whether you’re a seasoned runner signing up for a marathon, or a walker looking to complete a 5K, putting money down and having a race on your calendar will get you into an “I’m in training” mindset.

I’ve done this twice; a January marathon (in Baton Rogue, I’m not too crazy!), and a late April half. Of course there were days I didn’t want to head out for a long run in cold temps, or speedwork on the treadmill, but my very next thought was that if I slacked now, that race was going to suuuuck!

I suggest making this enough of a stretch goal that you’ll have to train, otherwise you’ll convince yourself you’ll be OK if you blow off your training. You don’t need to gun for a best time or longest distance, but have a goal that makes you work for it.

Set a Physique Goal

Typically I discourage my clients from focusing too much on weight, but pairing it with another form of measurement, like inches, can be a way to keep yourself mindful of what you put in your body and how you move your body these next couple months.

Another strategy is to take photos of yourself – from the front and side – in either a bathing suit or underwear (no one has to see these but you!) at the start of winter and set a date to retake photos in March. A lot of times we don’t see the number on the scale change, but we can see physical changes (measurements will show these as well).

Whether you’re looking to maintain or lose, photos and inches will tell you how you did, even if you’re the only one looking at the results.

Commit to a Physical Challenge

You can challenge yourself or others, but either way I suggest making it public to at least one other person. A solo challenge typically requires a person to have a higher level of self-accountability, but often telling someone else or making it public on Facebook is all they need! Here are some ideas:

  • Increase the amount of push-ups or burpees you can do in a minute (set a reach goal number).
  • Be able to hold a plank or wall sit XX seconds longer.
  • Get a workout in XX days a week.
  • Workout for XX minutes a day.
  • Try 2 new fitness classes each month.

Or you can join or create a challenge among friends/family/coworkers:

  • Who can lose the most inches (ratio).
  • As a team, how many minutes of exercise can you hit a week.
  • How many days can everyone on your team exceed their step goal.
  • Who can set a personal fitness goal that week (run a mile faster or further, do more pushups, go over their step goal, etc.).

Challenges – solo or group – are will get your competitive side in action and your focus on something larger than simply staying active. Plus, they’re fun! Come up with a prize for each challenge you do with a group (doesn’t have to be expensive, it could even be bragging rights or a silly trophy), or a reward for yourself if you meet your solo challenge. Keep the rewards food-free like a massage or new headphones or workout clothes.

Above all, keep in mind the main goal is to keep moving. I hope some of these ideas inspire some fun into your fitness, and help mix things up this winter!

Which one will you try?

 

 

Holiday Baking with Essential Oils

Cooking is a fun way to use your essential oils, and holiday cookies are a delicious way to do just that. I love to bake, and the holidays are the perfect excuse to bake up a storm! I have my recipes I use every year, and am starting to experiment with incorporating essential oils into them, also finding new recipes created with essential oils in mind.

Here are some recipes to try this baking season that include essential oils!

(Adapted from doterra.com)

(From doterra.com)

(From doterra.com)

(From ohboyorganic.com)

These cookies are perfect for cookie swaps, gifts, or for your own home!

For more information on essential oils – from how to use them to how to get them in your home – check out my Essential Oils page here!

 

Holiday Party Survival Guide

Thanksgiving through New Years is the most party packed time for the majority of us, and what starts off as enthusiastic “Yes!” RSVPs can quickly become a chorus of “Oh no!” as you see your healthy habits fall off a cliff.

You feel stuck between wanting to enjoy your holiday season and all the parties and social events that accompany it, and keeping on track for your goals by sticking with every healthy habit you’ve built.

While it’s certainly easier said than done, this post is a practical guide to finding that sweet middle ground of having your (fruit)cake and eating it, too!

Be Selective With Your RSVPs

It starts off innocent enough, your BFF’s White Elephant party, your spouses office holiday happy hour, but it’s easy for your social calendar to fill up with shindigs you simply aren’t enthused about. You want to be in the holiday spirit and say yes to every invite, but keep in mind you don’t have to.

  • When you get an invite that you’re not insanely excited about, give it at least a full day before you respond.
  • Weigh the importance of making an appearance against allowing yourself the evening off.
  • Listen to your gut. Will you regret not going or regret the time spent away from your family and me-time?

Eat Like Any Other Day

It tends to be people’s instinct to restrict their calories and eat super healthy (i.e. bland and boring) the day of a holiday party in hopes of offsetting the surplus of calories and indulgences they’re sure to have later.

This tactic backfires time and time again yet we never learn! You’ll arrive to the party famished and end up eating more than you would if you ate reasonably throughout your day, and on top of that you won’t truly enjoy those choices since you aren’t savoring them, rather stuffing them into your face.

You’re also making the food the focus of the event, which isn’t why you’re there in the first place. When you’ve spent the day obsessing over what you’re eating or not eating and what you’ll eat at the party, you build up the expectation of the food and go crazy when you arrive eating anything and everything because you “deserve it”.

Be sure to eat a fueling breakfast with lots of protein and healthy fats, like:

  • Peanut butter oatmeal (not instant oatmeal but homemade like this)
  • Low-fat yogurt parfait with fruit and nuts
  • Whole grain English muffin with avocado or peanut butter and honey (savory or sweet!)
  • Scrambled eggs with ricotta cheese mixed in

It’s also a great idea to have a small snack an hour before the party so you arrive with fuel in the tank and don’t feel the need to beeline for the buffet. Here are my favorite bars for on the go!

Dress the Part

This strategy is more mental than the others, but can be just as effective. Wear something that makes you feel confident and positive about your body. It doesn’t have to be form fitting, the important thing is that it makes you feel good about yourself.

Feeling comfortable and confident in your body instantly makes you hold yourself with better posture and treat it better with what you put in it. Think about when you feel down on yourself how much quicker you reach for comfort foods, but when you feel positive about your body you don’t rely on a carb and sugar quick fix.

Eat What you Love

No matter what type of party you go to – happy hour, catered dinner, or pot luck; work, friends, or family – there’s going to be a variety of food, much of which likely isn’t part of your regular diet. Some dishes you only see at parties, and others only make a seasonal appearance.

Either way, finding the balance between enjoying yourself and keeping your nutrition in check, is taking a moment to determine what’s worth it. Filling your plate with a little of every single thing may seem like a good plan (and it’s easy to do that when you’re loading your plate while chatting), but I find a better approach is getting a little more of the items you’re really looking forward to, and ignoring the rest.

For example, at Thanksgiving I most look forward to my grandma’s sweet potato casserole and stuffing. I get a good size serving of those dishes, but skip over the regular mashed potatoes, gravy, and rice because I’m just not excited about them. I have mashed potatoes year round and I only like rice incorporated into dishes so I’m not going to waste plate or stomach space on them.

My point is, be thoughtful and picky about what you indulge in. Make it worth it and savor every bite! You won’t regret having your aunt’s famous chocolate peppermint bark, but you just may regret stuffing yourself with chips and store brand cheese dip.

Pick a Party to Indulge

When you have multiple events close together, think about which one you want to give yourself permission to indulge in and treat the others with more caution.

For example, you may have your close friends’ gift exchange that you look forward to every year, and your office holiday party that is a midday potluck in the conference room. Instead of having drinks and more sweets than usual at both, reign it in at the office party and give yourself some more wiggle room at the party you’re truly excited about.

Just like the food choices, make more room on your social plate for the anticipated parties, and let the mediocre functions take a backseat. This way you can fully enjoy yourself at the ones you’re looking forward to without having additional less-than-ideal food choices add up.

Be Merry and Mindful

Lastly, keep in mind why you’re at the party. It’s not the food and drink, it’s the people and the season. Go in with the mindset of enjoying the company of those you don’t see frequently, or those you don’t get to casually hang out with often.

Make conversation and connection your focus instead of hanging out by the food and obsessing over what you should/shouldn’t eat. When you shift your attention from the food and drink aspect to the ambiance of the party, you’ll enjoy yourself more and end up eating more intuitively.

 

Essential Oil DIY Gift Ideas

It’s suddenly December, when the waves of gift shopping panic starts building in even the most organized people. It’s great when the perfect gift presents itself, but too often you’re left with no idea what to get someone, or a last minute get together leaves you rummaging through your closets in search of something to wrap up. No fun!

While homemade gifts may have you picturing a lopsided paperweight, there are some awesome DIY gift ideas using essential oils that people will actually use, and take minimal time and money to create. Here are my favorites!

Body scrub

I make these for raffle prizes all the time. It’s super easy, I always have ingredients on hand, and by picking a cute jar and ribbon it will make a great gift. All you need is sugar, carrier oil –  I always have fractionated coconut oil on hand, but avocado, jojoba, or grape see oil are all options – and your choice of essential oils.

  1. Depending on the size jar you use, you’ll use a different amount of carrier oil and sugar, but the ratio should be about 3:1 sugar to oil.
  2. Mix in the jar, stirring until combined. You can always add more sugar or oil to adjust the consistency to your liking.
  3. Add 10-20 drops of essential oils, either using one single oil or a mix of a few, totaling up to 20 drops. Stir to combine and close the jar.

You can decorate it as much as you like, with pretty labels (I like these), ribbons, etc. If you want to round out the gift, pair it with washcloth gloves or a candle for a spa experience!

Here are some essential oil combination ideas:

Pick me up – Lemon and Peppermint
Exfoliation – Wild Orange, Grapefruit, Bergamot
Relaxation – Lavender and Roman Chamomile
Holiday – Clove, White Fir, Ginger

Dryer balls

Using dryer balls is already a step in creating a more green home. Why? They take the place of fabric softeners that are not only pricey but full of chemicals. They reduce drying time because they help lift and separate the clothes making for better airflow, which results in less need for ironing and the amount of lint on your clothes. So many wins!

All you’ll need for this project is a skein of 100% wool yarn and your choice of essential oils. No knitting skills required!

  1. You’ll start by tightly wrapping the yarn about 10-15 times around a couple of fingers, closer to the tips than the knuckle.
  2. Slip it off your fingers and wrap the yarn around the middle another 10 times.
  3. Tightly wrap the yarn at every angle, wrapping 5-10 times before switching angles, until it’s the size you like, between a tennis ball and softball.
  4. Cut the yarn, weaving the end through several layers of yarn. I like to give these in sets of 3.
  5. Stuff the wool balls into pantyhose or a sock. Wash with other clothes or by themselves in hot water and dry using the hottest setting. You want to no longer see individual layers of yarn, they should be forming a felt like layer melding together. Dry again and again if need be.
  6. Add your oils! Use about 5 drops per ball, many people like Lavender or Wild Orange for a fresh scent.

Since they will want to reapply oils every few washes, I like to give a small bottle of essential oil along with this. You can either give a new bottle or fill a smaller dram to gift.

Room spray

Once you start using natural fragrances to enhance the smell of your home, you’ll scoff at Febreze, Glade, and the like! Synthetic scents just can’t compare with the aroma of pure essential oils, and you’ll benefit physically and emotionally from the properties derived from the oils. This gift is insanely simply to make, too!

  1. Take a 12-16oz dark glass spray bottle (like these) and mix distilled water or witch hazel with your oils.
  2. First add your essential oils of choice, totaling 30 drops.
  3. Fill the rest of the bottle with distilled water or witch hazel and shake.

Fancy it up with a nice label and ribbon!

Massage oil

Another super easy gift to whip up quick and easily. Essential oils lend themselves perfectly to massage, often used in chiropractic care and massage therapy, so giving the gift of an at-home massage is welcome especially during the stress of the holiday season.

  1. Much like the room spray, use an 8-12oz dark glass spray bottle, this time mixing a carrier oil with your essential oils of choice.
  2. First add your essential oils, totaling 15-30 drops depending on the size of your bottle and preference.
  3. Fill the rest of the bottle with a carrier oil; fractionated coconut, jojoba, almond, avocado, etc.

This is an easy one to dress up with a label and ribbon, and you can even include spa socks or a cute eye mask to complete the massage theme.

Here are some essential oil combination ideas:
Peppermint and Eucalyptus
Lavender and Geranium or Bergamot
Cypress and Frankincense

Neck wrap

The winter is when I most feel that strain in my neck from scrunching up because of the cold weather, although if you’re at a computer most of the day or are carting around a car seat, the feeling of neck tension is year round! This nifty gift of an essential oil scented rice filled wrap can be heated up and placed around the shoulders to relieve tension and relax the body.

This gift takes a little more skill but there are a few options depending on how crafty you want to get.

Zero sewing skills:

  1. Get a tube sock – not an old plain one, go to Target and get a cute design! – and pour about 3 cups uncooked rice into it.
  2. Tie a knot in the top of the sock.
  3. Add a few (3-5) drops of your choice of essential oils to the outside of the sock.
  4. To use: heat in microwave for 2 minutes and place on neck.

Some sewing skills:

  1. Get flannel fabric of choice and cut two 8″X20″ pieces.
  2. Place patterned sides together and pin along edges.
  3. With patterned sides together, sew ¼” seam all the way around the fabric leaving a three-inch opening on a short end and turn right sides out.
  4. Divide the length of the fabric into four equal sections and mark with a fabric marker.
  5. Loosely fill the first quarter with two cups of rice or flax seeds.
  6. Sew on marked line. Repeat until all four sections are filled.
  7. Sew opening closed.
  8. Just like the sock, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil(s) to the fabric.

Just like the dryer balls, I like to give a small bottle of essential oil along with this. You can either give a new bottle or fill a smaller dram to gift.

Happy gifting!

Essential Oils

Since I first started using essential oils I was interested in how they could help with the fun monthly side effects of being a woman. From cramps to the emotional roller coaster, I read which oils would help me feel my best.

Here are the big names in essential oils when it comes to PMS relief.

Clary Sage

When anyone complains of anything related to their period I immediately think; Clary Sage. Use of the Clary Sage flower for natural medicinal uses dates back to the ancient Greeks! This oils promotes emotional balance with hormone like components that help balance estrogen prodiction, clams anxiety and is great for soothing menstrual cramps.

How to use:
Diffuse or apply over heart or bottoms of feet to promote emotional balance and calm anxiety. Mix with coconut oil or another carrier oil and rub over abdomen or take internally to relieve cramp discomfort.

Lavender

Lavender helps encourage blood flow which can help with headaches and cramps that come with PMS. It helps calm feelings of stress and depression that often accompany your flow

How to use:
Diffusing throughout the house, especially at night to help you sleep, is a great way to calm stress. Rubbing on the nape of your neck and temples helps relieve tension and headaches.

Ylang Ylang

Derived from the star shaped flower and pronounced EE-lang EE-lang, this oil is known for it’s sedative properties that can help calm your mind and your body. It’s antispasmodic qualities help calm cramps and it’s also been proven to help lower blood pressure.

How to use:
Dilute with a carrier oil and rub on the bottom of your feet, or take internally to promote hormone balance. Inhale from palms or diffuse to help ease anxiety.

Roman Chamomile

Chamomile is practically synonymous with calm. This sweetly floral oil soothes the systems of the body, relaxing your mind and self. It’s anti-inflammatory properties help soothe sore muscles helping reduce cramps.

How to use:
Dilute with a carrier oil like coconut and gently rub onto abdomen or add a few drops to a warm bath along with lavender to feel both the emotional and physical benefits.

Geranium

Geranium’s sweet rose scent aides in emotional balance, relaxing the mind and body. It helps balance hormones and reduce symptoms of PMS even boosting the appearance of clear and healthy skin (period acne be gone!).

How to use it:
Massage with a carrier oil over abdomen to reduce cramps and aches or place one drop under the tongue to help with hormone balance. Diffuse aromatically for a calming effect or rub one drop over the heart.

Other dōTERRA products perfect for your period:

dōTERRA has more to help you with your PMS ailments than just oils!

ClaryCalm

ClaryCalm is an original dōTERRA blend of essential oils, and gives a calm soothing effect during your cycle. This topical blend is already mixed with a carrier oil so you can apply on the go and provides a cooling effect to the skin and help balance emotions. Rub onto your abdomen for a calming massage or any area of the skin for a cooling effect when hormones are wacky.

Phytoestrogen Essential Complex

This complex comes in veggie cap form and is geared for women from early teens through menopause. The Phytoestrogen Essential Complex is a “blend of standardized plant phytoestrogens that support hormone balance gently and naturally. It also includes concentrated flax seed lignans to promote healthy metabolism.” (doterra.com) Regularly taking this blend will help balance hormones and minimize emotional mood swings and uncomfortable effects of PMS.

 

Making it Official

I mainly keep my blog posts focused on information and actionable tips around wellness, and while I use examples from my life and speak from real experiences, this isn’t a lifestyle blog that features my life at the forefront (although you can just assume I’m cross stitching while watching Law & Order at any given time).

With that said, I have big changes on the horizon that have a big impact on my definition of wellness, that I don’t want to tiptoe around anymore.

I’m pregnant!
Our little boy is due February 3rd, 2018.

For those who follow this blog, you may remember past posts I’ve talked about our experience trying to get pregnant and how it took some lifestyle changes. I wrote about when my exercise was altered after not getting my period, about my experience with acupuncture, and more recently about my complete mindset shift with fitness.

All of these alterations came together with a successful IVF transfer in May, and after my internal roller coaster of worry through the first trimester, we started telling family and friends in person, and finally on Facebook at 26 weeks. I’m now in my third trimester and February is suddenly right around the corner.

With my last few posts I started to feel I was ignoring the big changes going on in my life and wanted to openly share them as they continue to surprise me with how I think about wellness.

Plus, come February I simply don’t know what my blogging schedule will look like! I do expect many more changes in perspectives and priorities, and look forward to writing about them as they come.

Simply Well Coaching is focused on helping women make small healthy changes to get big results that last. In the past year and a half I have made my own healthy changes and learned so much about holistic health and fertility along the way.

This inspired me to help women do the same. I am currently enrolled in the Integrative Women’s Health Institute’s Optimal Fertility program so I can do just that!

I am truly excited about focusing on women wanting to naturally optimize their fertility and transition into a holistically healthy pregnancy!

So that’s a little glimpse into 2018 and all the new experiences it will hold! Are there any changes on your horizon? Please share!

 

Items I Don’t Use Anymore

When I made my first purchase from dōTERRA, I had the same initial thought I hear from others, “these oils are kind of expensive!” Since I knew the quality of the oils I was buying and had an idea of the proven health benefits they offered, I felt it was money well spent and ordered my Home Essentials enrollment kit.

That was over a year ago and I now take full advantage of the LRP program, placing an order each month for the oils and products I use regularly, and reaping product rewards as I go.

Why? Because there are a lot of things I no longer buy since incorporating oils into my routine. Not only does this make my home healthier, I’m going to the store less, meaning I’m spending less on personal and home care items especially when you factor in the free products I receive through buying each month.

There are a lot of things I no longer buy since incorporating oils into my routine. Click To Tweet

Here are a few things I’ve stopped picking up at the store and the oils I’ve replaced them with:

Neosporin

I always had a small tube of Neosporin in my medicine cabinet and applied readily to any cut I suffered. Once it really sunk in that our skin is our biggest organ, I started eliminating products that had mineral oil and petroleum as they actually act as a barrier, not allowing the skin to breathe.

Typically if I’m using Neosporin, I’m putting a bandaid over it even though you want the wound to breathe as much as it can. Using a natural remedy eliminates the chemicals and extra barrier making your wounds heal quicker and healthier.

What I use instead:
I have a tiny 2ml vial of coconut oil with 1 drop each of Frankincense, Melaleuca, and Lavender that I rub onto any cut and if needed, place a bandaid over it. These oils provide antibacterial benefits along with cleansing and rejuvenating properties to the skin.

All-Purpose Counter Top Cleaner:

I love to cook and my kitchen countertops show it since I’m constantly wiping down the kitchen counter and island. The thing is, I don’t want a ton of chemicals all over my kitchen where I prepare food! Sure, there are organic cleaners, but it is way cheaper and easier to make my own which is what I’ve been doing for at least the last 6 months.

What I use instead:
In a 16oz glass spray bottle, I’ve mixed 1:1 water and distilled white vinegar with the following drops of oil: 15 Melaleuca, 15 Lemon, and 10 On Guard. I’m killing bacteria and purifying the air all while inhaling an uplifting scent that is beneficial to my body.

Mildew Shower Spray

We have a glass door stand-up shower and months ago as I was standing in it spritzing my Walgreens bought mildew spray I realized I’m just inhaling all of the chemicals in a closed space. Ew! I like to use a squeegee to get standing water off the shower walls, then spray a mildew spray to keep the shower clean as long as possible without having to deep clean. Now, I use my oils instead of who knows what that was in the bottle I bought.

What I use instead:
Similar to the countertop spray, I use a glass spray bottle with half water and half distilled white vinegar. Then I add 15 drops of Lemon, 10 Melaleuca, and 10 Peppermint. I quickly spritz the walls after my shower and let it sit.

Body scrub

I wasn’t buying body scrubs nearly as much as the household cleaning products, but I do like a nice at-home spa treatment and got them as gifts. The thing I didn’t like about buying mass produced scrubs is the fragrances used in the majority of them are synthetic or if they use essential oils, you don’t know how they are sourced or what’s actually in them.

What I use instead:
I first made my own body scrub as a raffle prize for an essential oils class and was embarrassed at how easy it was! Then mad about how much I had spent on one jar from a boutique store…
All I do is take a jar (like a squat  mason jar), combine 1/2C coconut oil with 1 to 1-1/2C regular or brown sugar depending how thick and the color I want, and add in my oils. I change it up depending on the occasion and time of year but the last one I made was with Lemon and Lavender, giving it purifying and rejuvenating properties.

Bug Spray

Living in Chicago I luckily do not encounter mosquitos nearly as often as when I lived in Kentucky, however going to the lake in Georgia over the summer was a whole other story. Spraying DEET-centric bug spray all over me is not something I want to do, so I make my own.

What I use instead: 
In a 4oz glass spray bottle, I mix equal parts water and either witch hazel or vodka with 10 drops TerraShield and 8 drops each Cedarwood, Eucalyptus, Lemon, and Arborvitae.

Air Freshener

This includes room sprays and plugins and I’ve even cut down on the candles we use. There are a ton of chemicals, some containing upwards of 100 most of which are synthetic (womensvoices.org). Not something I want my family deeply breathing in and not how I want my house to smell!

What I use instead:
My Petal diffuser! This diffuser came with my Home Essentials kit and I bought a second one not long after. I love combining scents to fit my mood and the atmosphere I want to create in my home. In the mornings I like to use Motivate with an extra drop of Wild Orange, and in the afternoons I often use Peppermint and Lemon for an afternoon pick-me-up. Now that it’s fall I’m using lots of Clove, Cinnamon Bark, Ginger, and Wild Orange in delicious fall blends.

The great thing about using oils is that even when you use them in everyday items like the ones listed above, you still go through them slowly. There are 250 drops in one 15mL bottle and since they are pure essential oils – no fillers in dōTERRA bottles! – they are potent enough that you only need a few drops even for a large bottle.

Each oil I use has healthy benefits for my body and zero negative side-effects Click To Tweet

Mainly, though, I like the natural aspect. I like knowing what’s in what I’m cleaning with and that each oil I use has healthy benefits for my body and zero negative side-effects. Plus, they arrive to my house each month without me going anywhere. Win-win-win!

If you are at all interested in getting dōTERRA essential oils into your home, now is the time! Seriously, the November promotion is a full 20% off the following enrollment kits:

Email me at Samantha@simplywellcoaching.com to take advantage of this enrollment special!

For more information on essential oils – from how to use them to how to get them in your home – check out my Essential Oils page here!

 

You Don’t Always Have to Do Better

We learn from an early age to always push for more, always be better than you were yesterday, always give your all. I agree with this notion, to an extent, but if we aren’t careful this inertia we create can bring us down.

This year I joined a networking group called Women Belong where each meeting kicks off with a quote that we discuss. This week the quote sparked a wonderful discussion which led to this post.

In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.

Many of us touched on gracefully letting go, I brought up letting go of my tight grip on my fitness, but what stuck with me in the end was what living gently means.

How can living gently get you even further than pushing constantly?

In Fitness…

The mentality you hear in the gyms, in bootcamp class, and see plastered throughout Instagram is certainly not gentle. The idea enforced is going all out, never giving up, pushing yourself, being better than yesterday. I agree, to improve your fitness you have to challenge yourself, but what isn’t touted in gyms or bragged about on social media is the other half of the equation; recovery.

Doing gentle walks, yoga, low impact, slow strength training, or complete rest days, allow your body to recover better, and prevent injury through cross training. Intense exercise is a stress on your body, and the appropriate amount is positive, allowing you to grow stronger, however too much causes overtraining and a decline in fitness.

Listening to what your body needs when it comes to exercise is living gently. I used to push, push, push. If I planned on an hour run or a strength training session, I did it unless I was physically injured, and even then I’d at least try to see what I could do. This new mentality has made me tune into what my body needs that day, instead of what I feel I should be doing.

Last month I traveled to visit my cousin and stayed for 10 days with her and her new twins. My flight back to Chicago was to get in around 1:30pm so I figured I could get an at home strength training session in since I hadn’t done any since I was gone.

Between the walk through Atlanta’s huge airport, taking the orange to the blue line once in Chicago and remembering once on the train with my 51 pound suitcase (thanks for not charging me, guy at Southwest baggage check!) that my stop only has stairs, lugging it up to my 3rd floor apartment then walking to the grocery, it was nearly 6pm and I was exhausted.

My body was not going to be receptive to strength training, but what it did need was yoga. I did about 30 minutes on my own and it felt wonderful! Having the “push yourself always!” mindset didn’t serve me that day. The next day, after a full night’s sleep, I did my strength training and looked forward to it, able to challenge my body and not drain it.

In Nutrition…

Doing better in the gym looks different than doing better with your eating habits, but the idea of living gently still applies. When people incorporate healthier habits – trading in fries for side salads, ditching white bread and pasta for whole grain, cooking at home instead of ordering out, etc. – they feel great, as they should, about the choices they’re making. The part where it can pull them back is when they feel guilt over making not-so-healthy choices.

Maybe you cook at home during the week, but have one of those insane back-to-back-all-over-town kind of days and dinner is take-out. Looking at your life as a whole, this is no big deal, but with an always-do-better mindset you feel like you somehow failed or cheated.

The stress from feeling guilty, like you didn’t do enough, is unhealthy, causing your digestion to slow and digestive metabolism to weaken (psychologyofeating.com). Expecting to do better everyday, then have the inevitable slip in your diet, can cause you to either throw in the towel and order take-out the next night, or become super strict the next day.

Always pushing yourself to do better with what you eat can be a slippery slope that leads to cutting out whole food groups, deeming food “good” or”bad”, and whittling away the number of calories you allow yourself (if cutting from 2,000 to 1,800 a day is good than 1,600 a day must be better).

Living gently in nutrition, much like in fitness, involves listening to what your body needs. This isn’t a, “my body needs another piece of cake!”, rather a, “my stomach is growling, I need more calories”, or, “I’m crashing after my workouts, maybe I need more protein.” Listening to our hunger cues and letting them have more say in how we feed ourselves is pulling back from regimented diets. By doing this you’ll be surprised by how your body thanks you by trusting you’ll give it what it needs, and the results you’re looking for will follow!

In Your Personal Life…

We love to say yes. Yes to helping a friend move, Yes to hosting a gathering, Yes to your kids’ fundraiser, Yes to heading up a volunteer committee. It feels good in the moment, then you look at your week and realize there is zero time for you.

I’m guilty of this for sure! I have gotten better over the last year or so, but it’s taken effort. We want to be helpful and there’s a lot we honestly would love to take on, however piling more and more on our plates spreads us thin, we can’t be everywhere at once and certainly cannot execute how we’d like to when there’s simply too much.

Instead of “re-upping” to things you do every year- hosting the annual fundraiser for your church, manning the table at your kids’ school bake sale, heading a committee where you volunteer – consider how pulling back can benefit both you and these commitments.

Saying No doesn’t mean you aren’t involved anymore, rather it gives you new opportunities to work what’s important into your life in a way that empowers you instead of draining you.

Quick example: My passion organization is Back on My Feet. I started volunteering with them by running with the team closest to me 1-2 times every week. When I moved and started a job that had earlier hours I tried to make it work but simply couldn’t with the timing and logistics. This organization is still highly important to me so I joined their Fundracing Committee which is focused around the Chicago Marathon. We meet once a month from late spring to early fall and anything else I do for the committee is not much time, but it’s up to me when which works for my schedule. I’m still involved, and I am able to easily commit this time instead of jamming it into my days.

Pulling back from all you say Yes to allows you to excel in what you do say Yes to. Plus, it opens up the opportunity you released to someone else and you never know how it could positively impact that person’s life.

How can you pull back this week to propel forward?

 

Tabata Strength Circuits

All you need for this total body strength workout is an interval timer. If you don’t have one on your phone, I recommend the Interval Timer. Set your High intervals for 20 seconds, your Low intervals for 10 seconds, your sets to 8, and repeat 5 times. I recommend 30-60 seconds cool down between rounds.

Want more cardio workouts that take less than 30 minutes? Check out my Strongher in :30 e-book and get fit at home!