Personal Development

Grateful Plateful

When your heart is full of gratitude, there’s room for little else. On Sunday I sat down with a giant piece of paper and some giant colored pencils to make a gratitude wheel. I went around and around writing many things for which I am grateful. I thought if I did this everyday for the week, how could I even have room to think about anything else, and wouldn’t that be a great way to walk into the Thanksgiving holiday?

One can’t help but see the plate parallel as it relates to Thanksgiving dinner. Whatever you choose to fill your plate with, will leave room for little else. I know you all will manage those choices in the way that best supports your goals, so this post is about more than veggies and stuffing. This is really an invitation to fill your own grateful plateful. I have about 100 different headings on mine so far, one of which is community. One of my local communities is Hybrid Fitness, and I’ll share the little side plate here.

When I think about Hybrid Fitness I have a lot of gratitude. I’m grateful for Hunter and the team of trainers who introduced me to barbells and kettlebells and showed me how strong I am and how to move my body in new ways. I’m grateful for the friends I’ve made and all the support that we give each other. I’m grateful for all the lovely comments and messages you all send me after you read my posts or after a great workout together. I’m grateful for learning how to be accountable to my friends and helping them be accountable to others so ultimately we can all be accountable to ourselves. I’m grateful to have found Hybrid Fitness at a time on my journey that was really critical to creating a path to a healthier me.

This is my grateful plateful. May your plate also be so full of all the things for which you are grateful that there is room for little else. Happy Thanksgiving.


I Can Do It, but Should I?

“Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.“

I use this quote in many areas of my life from designing in the studio, to cooking in the kitchen; from parking my car, to navigating on a trail; from planting in my garden, to choosing my exercise. I see a trend whenever I get really involved in something, that I want to do more, get complex, take the challenge: it must be a natural tendency to push past the boundary and excel. But is there more benefit when you go past that arbitrary line? For example, when cooking, we’ve all done it, you take a simple three-ingredient recipe and add a little more of this, and throw in a little of that, and suddenly you put the black beans in with the broccoli and the dish is ruined. Of course you CAN put spinach in the apple pie, but SHOULD you? Of course you CAN parallel park the car on the hill in the ice, but should you? Do you see where this is headed?

When it comes to different movements at the gym, 10 out of 10 times I can do them. I can often do them well, and I can often go up in weight each time I do them. But I now always ask myself, “should I?” I thought about this going into this month’s new workouts, coming off a successful four weeks of progressions. We get to a point where we are hitting personal records, or lifting heavy in a familiar movement, and then we set up to start at square one, or close to it, with a new movement. It is very tempting to pick up a 20# dumbbell for an overhead press on the first rep because we were just doing curls with 20# and the weight is so familiar. So yes, I can do that, but wait, should I?

Of course there is a trainer in the room and in a perfect world they are able to see everyone’s range of motion, mobility, and ability, but in reality, some of this is so subtle, that we really have to also self-assess. And only we can answer the question “should” for ourselves. Time and again I’m told I CAN do it, and I love when a trainer believes in me, but the next question I am responsible for is– should I?

The overhead press is one of the tricky movements in strength training. It is tricky because it is relatively simple, but our range of motion does not naturally lend itself to this rotation of our shoulders. We might have built-in limitations because of our individual habits or anatomy. To avoid greater limitations later, it is critical to be smart about shoulder exercises now. A good way to assess if you are ready for overhead presses is to simply lift your arms overhead with your palms facing each other while standing against a wall. Are you able to keep your head above your shoulders, or does your neck push out forward? And does your spine stay straight or do you curve at your lumbar away from the wall? If either of these happens, you have just answered the “should I” part of the question and you should ask your trainer for help with regressions and tips for better thoracic mobility and stretches for your lats. Overhead press limitation is not a life sentence. There are lots of stretches and mobility exercises for shoulders and lats that you can do to improve your technique (and your posture), and it’s worth it for long-term shoulder health.

It appears there’s a fine line between can and should, and it appears that even if you can do something you have to be sure the benefit for you outweighs the risk. In the case of the parked car, I can parallel park on the icy hill, but it might slide, or the car in front of me might slide. Will I be just as well off if I find a spot on the next block out of the ice and off the hill? I still get the benefit of parking, but I don’t have the risk of damage later.

For maximum benefit, the exercise must mimic the natural range of motion of the working muscle. So if your body has a different range of motion than the person next to you, or demonstrating a movement, your range of benefit is also going to differ.  In addition, for maximum benefit, you must be doing the movements correctly. As Hunter points out in the previous post, form should not be compromised for speed or quantity. Even if you can do 100 push-ups, should you? Is your form correct for all 100? Does the repetition feel safe for your joints? Take all of this into consideration when you next ask, “Just because I can, does this mean I should?”

Motivational Personal Development

Focus on Form Before You go Fast

As a fitness coach, I always preach mastering form before you go faster in an exercise.

Having proper form requires you to give each repetition everything you have.

All of your focus and energy is given to a single movement. Eventually, perfect form will become a habit.

Form starts to fail when you go too fast. Too often, the trigger to breaking form starts with the idea that going fast will get more done and get you better results.

Unfortunately, getting more done and being effective are not the same thing.

If your form does breaks down, you can get injured which could set you back for months.

If you practice perfect form and it becomes a habit, you are able to get steady results and not have to stop due to injuries.

WE HAVE ALL GONE TOO FAST, myself included.

And this doesn’t just apply to exercise. It applies to our relationships and our jobs.

We think that crossing more off of the to do list means success. But if we half ass all of those things, we have already broken form.

And if we break form, its only a matter of time before we get hurt.

When was the last time…

You were at the dinner table with your spouse or bf/gf but were on the phone whole time.

How many times can you do that before they start to think you don’t care as much as you used to?

When was the last time..

You did the bare minimum to make your boss content but you didn’t go the extra mile to benefit the customer.

When will the next person come along that goes above and beyond and takes your position?

When was the last time..

You became too busy in the endless tasks of being a business owner and stopped doing what you are best at, helping people fix their problems.

The quality of your service will drop and people will find a better solution.

I have done every one of these things. But, if we can catch our faulty form, we can correct it and avoid injury.

We can correct our form by slowing down. Take one task at a time, and give it your all.

You may not get as many things done, but the ones you do will have a MASSIVE effect.

Lead with your heart, not your head.

Let’s all aim to be a better husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, employee, coach, business owner, and friend today.

Have a kickass Friday…

Nutrition Personal Development

Change! Eat for the Season

Change. It’s the obvious topic of conversation this time of year. We get a little nostalgic, reflective, and there’s a certain romance to the falling leaves and the amber hued palate of autumn. Many of us are resistant to it. We grumble at the disruption of routine or we dread the uncertainty, while others thrive on the excitement and challenges of new experiences. Love it or dread it, change happens. With the dramatic fall colors, it’s hard not to talk about the unavoidable and gorgeous change in landscape. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t love our fall colors. When I’m faced with any change I try to look for the gilded leaves in the landscape.

One thing that also changes with the season is our nutrition. There are many subtle cues that can be heard. Can you identify different cravings or sleep patterns recently? Have your activity levels altered and therefore your micro and macro nutrients needs are different? As we spend fewer hours in natural daylight during these shorter days, our bodies are deprived of vitamin D, which for some of us might cause fatigue. This is a worthwhile cue to heed. Take inventory of these cues and see how best to support these needs.

Change makes its way to the dinner table in more ways than just conversation. One thing I get excited about is the menu change this time of year. There is an abundance of root vegetables at the market, and there are good reasons to embrace them. Squash, rutabaga, parsnips, sweet potatoes, turnips, etc. Give them a second glance and consider these benefits:

Reasons to eat for the season:

1. Flavor – fruits and veggies that are freshly picked have more flavor. A recent harvest yields a plate full of scrumptious bites, as opposed to bland off season options.

2. Nutrition – plants deliver some of the vital nutrients during the final stages of ripening. Don’t short change your dinner and your body with items that were picked two weeks ago and have been packed in a crate for shipping. Choosing fooods that are in season locally when you can, insures a more nutrient dense choice.

3. Economics – foods that are in season are abundant. It is simply a matter of supply and demand. One precious peach shipped off season from far away is going to command a higher price.

4. Variety – cooking and eating seasonally gives you an opportunity to try new recipes, supporting your body with a variety of nutrients.

5. Seasonal needs – our bodies have different needs at different times. Summer fruit helps hydrate us. Spring greens help heal and detox us. And who doesn’t love a ruby red grapefruit in February to ward off the seasonal cold with a blast of vitamin C?

So, stop and listen to your nutrition cues as we transition through the seasons. Your body is likely telling you it is time for change.

Coincidentally, as I write this I am literally flying over the Rocky Mountains. I recall the thrill and terror of leaving everything I knew to move to these amazing hills more than 20 years ago and the thrill and terror of leaving them when I moved to Maine. Those were two of the biggest changes in my life. As with any change, big or small, I listened to the cues and hints to know what my body needed to support it. More rest? Different exercise? Other foods? This time of year, make a healthy batch of potato leek soup, embrace the change, and enjoy the gilded leaves of a different landscape.