For 9 days we were on our annual snowboarding/skiing vacation in Whitefish Montana visiting my brother and his family. If you follow my social media pages, you were getting play by plays of our days on the mountain learning a sport that's new to us and enjoying our progressions while commiserating about the falls. But that part of the vacation is not what I'm going to discuss here. Let's talk about all the other things that a vacation tends to bring, and how my husband Ronnie and I indulge while traveling, how it effects us and what it all can mean to you.
To understand what indulgence is and how we can be mindful of it, let's dive a little deeper into our world. We eat a diet that is high in healthy fat, moderate in protein and relatively low in carbs. We do not consume processed foods. We eat very little grains (the occasional rice and corn tortilla chip). We don't drink alcohol daily or even every week. We eat meat, veggies, fruits, nuts, eggs and some cheese... Oh, and coffee of course. Sounds limiting to most, but to us it's our way of life, it's what makes us feel our best in both body and brain, and I have become a whiz at coming up with creative dishes using these ingredients, so it doesn't feel like we are eating the same foods each week. On top of eating super healthy, we train/workout 6 days a week. We play tennis, golf, skateboarding etc that we do for fun. We get adequate sleep and with a little help from natural supplements, we recover from our workouts adequately.
Needless to say, our bodies run pretty well. We like the way we feel and we are happy people. Travel is one of the things that keeps us happy as it allows us to step away from our work and enjoy other cities, cultures and experiences. And with travel comes indulgences. And yes, we indulge...
Upon returning from our trip, I was not myself for a few days. My focus was off and my body didn't seem to want to work right until today (Thursday) in the gym. But it's ok. I'm not freaking out. I know exactly why I have been off and I know exactly how to fix it. You see, our diet is geared mainly toward maintaining optimal health of both body including brain health (focus, anti-anxiety etc). I am at risk of Parkinson's Disease as it runs in my family and learning how to eat for optimal brain health and to reduce systemic inflammation is something I've been studying and practicing for some time now. Even more so over the last 6-12 months.
On this trip, I consumed alcohol. More in a week than what I normally would have in 3 months time. I enjoyed it. It tasted good. I don't like to be drunk, but.. a buzz is nice.. My husband enjoyed his whiskey and having beers with my brother is a way of bonding and enjoying each others company. (No one in this scenario is drunk so if you're picturing some big party, that's not the scene lol).
Anyway, snowboarding is scary, and exhausting and a little cocktail at the end of the day or a glass of wine does help one wind down. On top of alcohol, I ate rice and chips that I normally would not and gluten free pasta. These are foods my body doesn't really like. They make me bit puffy (inflammation), make my brain foggy and tend to make me feel generally blah . Snowboarding most of the day, though, was a nice way to offset those indulgences. So other than some pretty gnarly bruises, and some days of iffy digestion, and a little water retention, my body feels generally fine post vacation. Nothing that getting right back on my regular routine won't fix on it's own. During this whole time, as we were indulging, we were completely aware of the indulgence and were able to partake without feelings of anxiety or guilt and we balanced the indulgences with healthy meals. We had a great time with our amazing family, ate yummy food and laughed a lot. It doesn't get better than that!
My brain, on the other hand is taking a little longer to recover. I have experienced some pretty noticeable brain fog this week. I will explore that topic in another blog post.
Mindful Indulgence, Defined
So WHAT is Mindful Indulgence, what does it mean to you and how can you put Mindful Indulgence into practice on your next trip.
Mindfulness is defined as "a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique."
Indulgence is defined as "the attitude of allowing yourself or someone else to have something enjoyable, or the act of having something enjoyable."
In a typical vacation scenario, indulgences are always present but mindfulness tends to go out the window, even with people who live relatively healthy lives. When there is no mindfulness present, one tends to go off the rails, consuming sugary, salty, chemical laden foods in excess, consuming alcohol in excess, and restricting water. This causes a sort of downward spiral in ones overall wellness that continues for sometime after returning to regular life. Add to that excess, a time zone change, causing sleep patterns to be disrupted, and what you have is a perfect recipe for an EPIC vacation that leaves you feeling sick, inflamed and does a number on the psyche, leaving one feeling down, guilty, sluggish and/or sick upon returning.
Before you read on, think for a minute what your regular life health practices are and compare that to what your typical vacation is like. Is there a HUGE difference? Probably. I'd like to offer you an alternative to the excess. A vacation that includes indulgences AND wellness practice. Achieving the the balance between the two so that you can have as much fun as you want, not feel deprived or like you're missing out AND stay on track with wellness practices so that getting back to your regular routine upon coming back home is relatively seemless.
So HOW does one practice Mindful Indulgence?
How do we "fix" any damage done to the body, brain and psyche caused by going off plan while on vacation?
Steps to Mindful Indulgence
1. Vacation starts before you leave. This can be a good thing and a negative thing. In the weeks or even months before our vacations, we feel excited as we have something to look forward to. We daydream about the sand between our toes, or mountain views. We long for the time to relax and unwind. These feelings are so good and can work for us in many ways. However, people tend to also stress before we leave for vacation over the many things that need to happen in our work and households before we leave. Who's taking care of things while we are gone? What sort of workload will we come back to? Many Americans tend to work more hours leading up to vacation and put in over time upon returning. This is counter-productive when it comes to stress-management and work-life balance, and I urge you to change your mind-set when it comes to this sort of stress. The work will get done. Everything will be fine.
Many people also tend to restrict food before a vacation. This is ok if you are restricting TYPES of foods, such as unhealthy processed foods. Eliminating these foods ongoing would be better than just doing so before a vacation as a means to dropping a couple pounds pre-vacation. Restricting calories below a certain level, however, is not something I recommend pre-trip. This restricting before hand can lead to even more excessive eating/drinking, and creates a negative cycle for months on end post vacation. Restricting calories below a certain point will be pointless in the long haul.
In the weeks before your vacation, keep it simple. Whole healthy foods in reasonable portions and staying hydrated will help you be more mindful of your vacation indulgences.
2. While you're on vacation, be mindful or aware of what your day of indulgences looks like. What foods and drinks will be on the menu that day? Have you decided sushi for dinner and the local ice creamery for dessert? Go for it! But have a breakfast of eggs and fruit and a salad with lots of greens, varied veggies and some protein with an olive oil/vinegar based salad dressing for lunch. Keep the other meals of the day simple and healthy. Stay hydrated! Is your evening going to end at the local beach bar? How fun! Enjoy! But, to prepare for your evening of alcohol, be sure to drink copious amounts of water during the day. If the day includes alcohols, I would urge you to skip the sugary desserts if you're consuming alcohol, as thats a double sugar whammy and double the inflammation. I'm an advocate for drinking in moderation and would urge you to avoid drinking to the point of drunkenness.
When it comes to exercise, this is a personal choice. If you train hard in regular life and just want a break for your body, a vacation is the perfect time to take that physical break. I personally prefer vacations where I'm moving working on the sports that I love. Beach walks are a great way to stay active without "working out". The beach is also a great place for a workout if you'd like to get a good sweat in each day. I've planned many beach workouts for both myself and clients over the years. Or maybe you're on a vacation in the mountains. Hiking, walking, and different active tours are a great way to get some movement in. Heading to the city for your trip? Tour the city on foot as much as possible! And for those who want to stay completely on their workout plan, you can research gyms and training/yoga studios in the area ahead of time. Most of these places allow temporary passes or drop in rates for classes. It could be a great way to meet a local who has the inside scoop on the best places to eat, drink and be merry!
The goal of mindfulness during your vacation is to check in with yourself throughout the day and ask yourself how your body/brain is feeling. When you wake up, is your mouth dry and do you have a headache from the night before? Hangovers are no fun, so pay attention to how you respond to alcohol consumption and make adjustments on amounts of alcohol daily, or take a day or two off from alcohol consumption. Are you bloated? Could be from food and alcohol from the day before. Make it a point to drink more water that day and get moving on a brisk walk to offset that bloat. Make the adjustments, scale back the excess for a day to offset the indulgences with healthy practices to balance it out.
3. Practice gratitude. Travel is a privilege. Breathe in those moments that make you laugh louder, love more and appreciate the different scenery and cultures. Stop for a moment and acknowledge how lucky you are to be there, with people you love and allow yourself the space to believe that you deserve the break from regular life. BREATHE THAT IN. Hold it in your chest. Love those moments. Do not allow yourself to feel guilty about taking time off of work. Work guilt can be a huge vacation ruiner. You deserve it. You work hard. Enjoy every moment. Take tons of pictures. Post them on social media. Breathe it all in and be in those moments where you know memories are being made that will last a lifetime.
Snowboarding in Whitefish had moments of frustration. Falling hurts. But, when laying there assessing a potential injury from a hard fall and opening my eyes to see the Great Northern Mountains and Glacier National Park and all it's beauty, how can I not feel a deep sense of gratitude? Gratitude goes a long way during travel and makes it so much more rich of an experience.
4. So, your vacation is over and now you're back to your regular life. Your mindfulness should still continue. How do you feel? Are you tired and jet lagged? Digestion off? Dealing with water retention? Having trouble focusing? Feeling sad that it's over and stressed over the work that piled up? These are all normal post-vacation symptoms. Ask yourself these questions. Take a deep breath and assess your post vacation state of body and mind. But be careful! This is not a time for judgement. It's merely a time to assess and use the feedback as data that can be applied to the coming weeks and even the next vacation.
Crossing time zones can do a number on your sleep cycle. The best way to over come jet-lag is to stay hydrated before during and after vacation and to get right back to your healthy eating plan upon return. Drink your water and eat your veggies! You may feel stressed over your body still being on another time zone when you have to get up early for work tomorrow. Accept that your sleep will be off for a few days, but don't stress over it. You will get back on your normal sleep schedule. You can speed up that process by getting right back on your wellness plan.
Additional Considerations and Strategy
Disrupted Digestion and water retention is common while on vacation and after. Some people have trouble "going" and some people find they are going to the bathroom too much. Again, water, water, water! And healthy whole foods as well as a quality pro-biotic that you should be taking daily anyway. Hopefully you took your healthy supplements with you on vacation, but chances are you didn't. Get back on that regimen and don't try to compensate by taking more than usual. Just go back to the regular plan and allow your body the time it takes to regulate again. Stressing over this will make everything worse and will drag out the process. Trust me!
Water retention during and post travel is quite common. You can avoid water retention by not restricting water. Maybe you don't like airplane bathrooms? So you don't drink water while on a plane. Stop that. Drink your water. Drink a lot of it and use the airplane bathroom like a big boy/girl.
Trouble with focus and feelings of sadness and guilt are common post vacation. This is where working on your mindset in addition to your health and wellness practices come in to play. These practices are all inter-connected. Feeling guilty is a choice. Reframe how you think about yourself and what you deserve. Chip away at those feelings of guilt for being away or guilt over indulging. Guilt is counter-productive and unnecessary. Whatever you indulged in is done. Forget it and move on with healthy patterns. Focus on all the fun you had.
You may find that focus and general "monkey brain" happens to post vacation. This is likely directly related to systemic inflammation induced by your diet, water restriction and alcohol consumption during vacation and stress. Don't fear. Getting right back to your healthy whole foods diet, drinking lots of water and cutting alcohol post trip will go a long way to getting your focus back, but it could take a few days to a couple weeks. Do not panic and don't try to over-compensate with calorie restriction and over exercising. Get right back on the normal plan and allow your body and your brain the time it needs to recover. Stressing over this will lead to extended inflammation. Go back to gratitude. Focus on the fun you had. Look at your pictures. Tell your friends/family about your adventures and stop beating yourself up!
I used to go off the rails on vacation and freak out over it afterward. Travel and wellness changed completely for me when I started practicing Mindful Indulgence. I now gain less weight or none at all on vacation and I travel a lot more. Instead of freaking out over post-vacation inflammation and brain fog, I am fascinated even more about how my environments effect my body and brain, and the incredible POWER I have to control my environment. Controlling our environment, whether on vacation or not relies on our ability to be mindful and aware.
Be mindful of your environment. Be aware of how changes in your plan effect your body and brain/psyche, but do NOT beat yourself up. Use it as data and apply that data to the days following and get right back on plan. Practice gratitude. Breathe in the moments of joy and hold on to them tightly. You deserve these moments!
Last but not least.... start planning your next vacation! Take them as often as you can! Go and live your life with as much fun and adventure as you possibly can! After all, the endgame to the wellness concept ultimately comes down to happiness.
And you deserve that.
You are what you think about.
What were your last 5 thoughts? Were you thinking about how much you hate your job, how cold it is, how tired you are? What does your social media page convey? Are your posts mainly complaints about being sick, annoyed, or rants about things that bother you?
I'm writing this from the point of view of someone who's a reformed "negative Nancy". Believe me when I say that changing your thoughts will change your life. I have lived both sides of this coin. I still get irritated, annoyed, outraged and anxious. Especially when things don't go my way. But what I don't do anymore is publicly announce the things that give me negative thoughts. I think it's ok to be in your feelings from time to time. Sometimes things happen that are out of our control that make us sad, mad or annoyed. And it's good to have trusted people to talk and vent to in order to get those thoughts out so we can move on. Moving on is the difference between whether you're a negative person or a positive person. The only way to move on is to intentionally replace positive thoughts with negative thoughts.
So, here's how it works. It's simple: Choose your thoughts. Simple, but not easy. In fact, it's about as easy as starting a new exercise plan or changing your eating habits. It requires you to re-wire your own brain for a new way of thinking and to do this, you're going to have to make a conscious effort to change your thoughts.
Here's a scenario. You get up in the morning and it's cold and you think to yourself "I hate the cold" ... your first thought is of something you hate. You pour your coffee and lament about having to workout because deliberate movement is still uncomfortable to you. You sip that coffee thinking of excuses to skip your workout. You either do the workout anyway, hating every second of it, thinking of all the to-do items on your list that day and go through the motions of the workout without really dialing in, or you skip it completely and feel guilty. You hop in the shower and stand there wishing you didn't have to go out in the cold to the job that you hate where you're underpaid and under-appreciated. You then sit at your desk all day wanting to scream at the co-worker who talks about her kids non-stop or at the guy who chews too loud and cringe when your boss asks you for something. You somehow make it through that day, and the whole way home, lament over having to deal with responsibilities like cooking and cleaning. You go through those motions, slap some sort of dinner on the table, watch a little TV and then fall into bed annoyed that you have to do that all again tomorrow. Sound familiar?
Listen. You have more control over your happiness than you give yourself credit for. And your control starts with your thoughts. It will feel inauthentic at first and everyone is different with different personalities so you may have to try a few different new thoughts before you find one that you can work with. So, let's change that scenario around. You wake up and it's cold. Before deciding that you hate the cold, remind yourself you can't control the weather so there's no point in dwelling on how much you hate the cold. Put on your favorite hoodie and slippers. Pour your coffee and enjoy a new ritual of starting your day with positivity. Look at photos that make you happy, read motivational articles or watch motivational videos (TED Talks is one of my favorite ways to get in a great mindset). List a few things on paper or in your head that you are grateful for. And if all of that fails, spend 5 minutes reading or watching something that will make you laugh. Laughing is a great way to get in a better mindset. During your workout, get dialed into your movements. Focus on why you are doing those movements and what you will gain from regular exercise, not on how uncomfortable it is.
While you're in the shower, be grateful for hot running water. While driving to work, instead of focusing on how under-appreciated you are, focus on your worth, your talents and brainstorm ideas for seeking out better opportunities. Schedule lunch with someone you trust who can help you move forward in your career or out of your career into a new path. On the way home, listen to your favorite music and sing out loud. Prepare a healthy meal for your family and reflect on how preparing that healthy meal comes from a place of love and provides nourishment and better health. Pat yourself on the back for providing healthy nourishment for your loved ones. Catch up on your favorite show and when you turn the TV off, instead of lamenting over all the things that went wrong that day, as you lay in bed let your last thoughts be a focus on the good. Then commit to repeating this again tomorrow, replacing negative thoughts and behaviors with new positive ones. Decide this is how you are going to live your life. Be in it for the long haul. Over time, you will develop new coping mechanisms, a new outlook and a way of life that yields positive results. Try this for one month. At the end of the month, if you've been truly committed to this, things will start to change.
Melanie Redd is owner of Power Glow Fitness and Personal Trainer who specializes in Building Strength of Body, Mindset Change and Weight loss. Studying the art of movement and applying healing and performance enhancing movement experience to her practice.
What is physical literacy? According to Physical Literacy for Life (Canada), "Physical competence refers to an individual’s ability to develop movement skills and patterns, and the capacity to experience a variety of movement intensities and durations. Enhanced physical competence enables an individual to participate in a wide range of physical activities and settings...Knowledge and understanding includes the ability to identify and express the essential qualities that influence movement, understand the health benefits of an active lifestyle, and appreciate appropriate safety features associated with physical activity in a variety of settings and physical environments."
Physical Literacy is mostly a consideration for children in their developmental years, but you will be hard pressed to see much documented information on the physical literacy in adults. Could that be because we assume that adults are physically literate by default since learning fine and gross motor movement patterns was part of their upbringing? If that's the case, there are flaws in that concept. The first flaw, is that even if a child was taught and mastered movement patterns to live an active life, that doesn't mean they continued that lifestyle once they became adults. Think of how many adults who played sports all through high-school/college are now not exercising or participating in any deliberate movement at all. Many of those adults have forgotten proper movement patterns through their inactivity and sedentary lifestyle. The second flaw is that schools haven't had a great focus on developing gross motor skills in children for decades and the result of that is a large amount of young adults who were not exposed to running, jumping, skipping, climbing, swimming, throwing, kicking, hopping on one foot etc. These motor skills that were once the benchmark of development in kindergarten, are now an afterthought or not addressed at all.
Here's the thing. An adult who has no working knowledge of whether or not they have healthy movement patterns, likely does not have healthy movement patterns, nor do they know the difference between healthy movement and poor movement. Even adults who participate in only 1 activity such as running and who don't incorporate a variety of movements on all planes and in all directions, into their daily activities are often not physically literate, however they believe they are because they run every day. (I use as an example only and understand that many runners cross train).
Why is this a big deal? The biggest problem with a lack of Physical Literacy in adults is that it puts them at great risk of injury. Not just risk of injury during exercise, but they are at great risk of injury performing the tasks of daily living. Something as simple as cleaning a house or tending to a garden requires squatting, lifting, pulling, pushing and twisting. We perform these movements during every day chores without even thinking about them. A person who is not Physically Literate, performs those tasks poorly, with weak muscles, compensations, and a lack of body awareness that often leads to "freak injuries" that most will chalk up to "old age".
It doesn't have to be this way. It's possible to move well and efficiently well into adulthood and senior years. But first you must gain an understanding of what proper movement patterns look like and feel like. If you've recently started working with a Fitness Professional to "get in shape", that Trainers first area of concentration should be on assessing and correcting your movement patterns. Depending on your history of movement, you may be in this phase of learning the correct patterns (without load) for quite some time. Everyone learns at different rates. The first order of business is to correct the improper patterns, help you gain an understanding of what proper movement patterns look and feel like, to be able to self-identify when you are performing a movement incorrectly and make necessary adjustments to correct. Once you have physical literacy, you will make your own adjustments before your trainer can get the cue out of their mouth. This is how your trainer will know you have developed a Physical Literacy. It takes time to get there, so be patient. The process is important as it will lead to a stronger, healthier, happier and more active you!
After reading this, you may be wondering if you possess the ability to move properly. Do you know what a squat, push up, plank, row, or pull up is supposed to look like? Are you sure? Do you know if you are performing these movements with proper form? Are you sure?
I'd love to know where you think you fall in the continuum of proper movement patterns. Feel free to comment below after asking yourself the above questions.
Melanie Redd is owner of Power Glow Fitness, Certified Personal Trainer with a focus on Functional Movement.
Technology has infiltrated the Fitness world. From wearable devices that track your steps to apps that allow you to log your food and do yoga, pilates, and strength training right from your own living room. There's something for everyone.
So, I decided to get on board with the technology trend, but in a different way. Enter, the Power Glow Fitness App. Developed by the creators of TrainerFu, the Power Glow App is a Virtual Interactive Training Studio. What does that even mean?!
The Power Glow app is different than any app that you can pay a fee to download from iTunes. Most downloadable apps in the app store have pre-loaded workouts. This may work well for some, but others need customized and personalized plans designed specifically for you and your goals. The Power Glow App is not a template workout program. It is a personalized program, designed specifically for YOU, and is manned and controlled completely by me. Here's how to get the PGF app and it's highlights.
1. Consultation. Either by phone or in person, we will discuss your needs and fitness goals. Consultations can also include a physical assessment either in person or via Skype or FaceTime when necessary. This is an important step for me to understand exactly what you need in terms of programming and support.
2. Downloading the app. Once you've decided you want to be a part of the PGF team, you are emailed your invitation to download the PGF app at no additional cost. You can only get the app this way.
3. Your Plan. I will get started building your program in the app. Since your program is customized for you, I build your workouts from scratch in the app based on what we discussed in your consultation. Your plan will always start where you are in the fitness spectrum. The entire weeks workouts, which include video demonstration of every exercise, will be there for you to view.
4. Your job. Do that days workout and use the logging feature to let me know your workout is done in the comment box. Your feedback here is important as this feedback is data that I use to plan each week. The more feedback the better!
PGF App Highlights:
1. The app is like a virtual community. All Power Glow clients, either online or in-person, can see each others activity within the app unless they choose to hide the activity so that only I can see it. My favorite part of the PGF app is that my clients comment on each others logged workouts, and encourage each other with virtual high fives and encouragement on tough days. It's sort of like a social media page. There's a newsfeed where I can post messages to the group. I use this to communicate important information, for motivational messages and for heath and fitness education. Clients can like and comment on the newsfeed posts as they do on each others workout logs. I get notifications on every like, comment and workout logged in the app and I provide high level support by responding as soon as I can.
2. The app can be completely private. All PGF clients have the option to keep their logged workouts and feedback on those workouts private so that only I can see. This is useful if a client has feedback or a question that they wouldn't want the others to see. Privacy at PGF is very important to me as I want my clients to feel comfortable discussing anything with me so that I can better help them. There is also a private messaging tool within the app that works just like text messaging. This is where a LOT of the client support between just the two of us happens. With the private messaging feature, we will discuss in-depth, your struggles each day or week. This is where your high level support, motivation, strategy, and accountability come in to play. Here is where we can really dig deep to help you stay on your plan. I find this tool to be more effective than phone conversations as this messaging feature is one that both myself and the client can refer back to, however I also make myself available to chat by phone as well.
3. App Stats. I keep an eye on how many workouts are loaded each day and week and use this data to get a good idea on how clients are doing personally and as a group. This data lets me know if I need to do extra support and motivation that week or if a high five for a week well done overall is in order. Clients also get their own stats, and the app will alert the clients to achievements and badges for number of workouts logged, progress etc.
4. Personal Stats. Clients can enter in their account, before pictures and stats on weight and body measurements. As they update these stats the app keeps track and tracks improvement. This information is always private between clients and I.
5. Food Logging Feature. Clients can also log their daily food intake so that they can be held accountable to their healthy eating plan. This allows me to keep an eye on what clients are eating and I can make suggestions by commenting on the food log. The food log is also private so that only the client and I can see and can also sync with My Fitness Pal or Fit Bit accounts. Food logging is an excellent tool for accountability!
It's difficult to explain how special the Power Glow App is as it's something that you have to experience and use in order to understand how participation in the app helps keep PGF clients on track. Here are some testimonials from PGF app users:
"Power Glow's user friendly online training option. Whether you prefer the feedback and instant coaching you get from in-person training or the periodic virtual check-ins of online coaching--or maybe a little of both--Melanie will design a plan that you're comfortable with while still pushing you to the next level of fitness. Just call her. Seriously."
"I started training in Melanie's studio and then moved to online training 2 years ago. I absolutely love The PGF App. My workouts are loaded by Monday morning every week. There are instructional videos with the moves so I never have to wonder what I'm doing. I highly recommend Melanie Redd of Power Glow Fitness."
Contact Melanie Redd at email@example.com or call 937-470-9397 to discuss training options with the Power Glow App. Pricing starts at $100 per month for customized plans.
Photo shown is of the Power Glow app as it appears in the app store. You won't be able to download the app but you can take a peak at it by searching Power Glow Fitness in the app store. Contact me to find out how you can get your personal invitation to download the app today!
You've heard the saying "Sitting is the new smoking". A phrase coined to attempt alerting people to the effects prolonged sitting has on our health. According to the Mayo Clinic, "Too much sitting also seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. ... A nearly 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause. About a 125 percent increased risk of events associated with cardiovascular disease, such as chest pain (angina) or heart attack."
Those risks DO sound a lot like the risks of smoking. But there's new risks being researched and if this doesn't give you the motivation to get up and get moving daily, I don't know what will!
Studies have recently been published in regard to the effects sitting has on aging and on Dementia risk. The findings as reported in the Idea Fitness Journal, from a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found that "people who sit for prolonged periods of time have shorter life spans and are considered physiologically older".
Another study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease found that "inactivity dramatically increased risk of dementia, even in individuals WITHOUT the genetic marker for Dementia". Scary! The take away is that being inactive will erase the effects of "healthy genes", leading the researchers to believe that physical exercise may prevent Dementia.
Today, more people are sitting for prolonged periods of time than ever before. Desk jobs seem to outnumber manual labor jobs. Computers have officially taken over our lives, as we are now carrying them around in our pockets and purses. We shop for clothes and now even food online. Everything is automated...EVERYTHING. But at what cost? Are you willing to risk your health, your life and happiness? I know I'm not! Let's ALL make a commitment to get up and move more. You're probably sitting down while reading this. Stand up right now. Do 10 jumping jacks, 10 push ups and 10 squats. Take a 1 minute walk around your building at work. Walk a few flights of stairs. Stretch and move deliberately. Do this every 20-30 minutes. Set a timer on your phone to beep every 20 minutes to remind you to do this. If you're on the phone with a customer, stand up while you're talking. Petition to get standing desks at your office. Invite co-workers to walk with you at lunch.
I could go on and on with the suggestions. 5 1/2 years ago, when I started this business, I never thought that part of my business, Health Coaching, would even be a thing! I never thought people would need help remembering basic things they can do for their health. But the world of computers, prolonged sitting and tons of distractions has made even the simplest of health choices, extremely difficult.
Neurological Disease runs in my family. I find myself sitting for too long between the hours of 1:00 and 4:00. I'm making the commitment to taking more breaks to walk my dog and to stand up periodically from my emails and marketing to get moving. Squeezing in more active time outside of working out will be the difference in our overall health, including our brain health.
Who's with me? Are you standing yet?
Seriously, Get up! Your life depends on it!
A family adventure in learning to ride and ski and what we learned along the way.
A couple weeks ago, my husband Ronnie, my daughter Laila, and I took a 9 day trip to Whitefish Montana to visit my brother, sister-in-law and nephew. We stayed in their Whitefish Mountain Resort Condo. My brother and sister-in-law are avid snowboarders and my nephew is an avid skier. So, my husband and I decided we would learn to snowboard while my daughter learned to ski during our visit.
While I documented much of the trip on my social media pages, I'm writing this post about what I discovered along the way, what we learned about ourselves physically and mentally and the challenges that ensued, as well as what I learned about myself as it relates to my career in the fitness business. I'm also hoping this post will inspire you to finally give that new skill or sport a try!
I went out to Whitefish Montana a year ago by myself and did the Whitefish Mountain Resorts "Learn to Ride" program. It was two 2-hour classes for beginner snowboarders. They have the same program for skiers as well and the classes are available for all ages. (Check out their website to see the great deals they have for the learn to ride program at https://skiwhitefish.com).
Needless to say, my experience last year was hampered by my mindset...fear and lack of trust. The resort instruction was top notch and I got additional instruction from my brother and sister-in-law, however I could NOT get past my own fear of falling and injuring myself which made it impossible for me to apply all of what I was being taught. I was un-coachable. My fear and lack of trust in myself held me back and I could only progress so far. I must have fallen 150 times in those 5 days and came home with serious bruises, a torn muscle in my forearm from catching falls, and swollen knees. I felt like I'd been in a car accident, yet I wanted to do it again, because I knew my block was mental. I needed some time to work through that.
One year later, I made it back to Whitefish with Ronnie and Laila this time. We were truly in the midst of the most beautiful winter wonderland and were thrilled that over the course of the 9 days, it snowed over 5 feet!
The day after arriving, we enrolled all 3 of us in the Learn To Ride program. I decided to repeat the beginner program since last year didn't go so well. I had already figured out that there was no point in being scared this year. After all, bruises and injuries heal and the likelihood of serious injury on the beginner hills was unlikely. I had a year to let go of my fear and to realize that I AM physically capable of learning to ride, but that was only half of the equation. My mind-set was the other 50% and I came into the program this year with a completely different mind-set: to have fun, to apply what was being taught, to be coachable, and to let go of my fear.
Surprisingly, the muscle memory from a year ago came back within a few minutes of strapping into my snowboard at the top of the beginner hill. Our group lesson on day 1 was led by an awesome instructor named Dixie and Ronnie and I ended up being the only 2 in the class which meant individual attention. The lesson begins with simple tasks to get acclimated to the board. When it was time, we headed over to the top of the learning hill where Laila's Junior Group ski lesson were. She was doing what she was told, so we both felt at ease that we could focus on our own lesson and not worry about her. Ronnie and I strapped both feet into our board and receive instruction from Dixie on what the focus would be on our first trip down the hill. I realized that one year ago, this first trip down was TERRIFYING and this year, I just wanted to go for it! I wasn't scared, I was excited! This surprised me. As I look over at Ronnie and see uncertainty in his eyes, I felt great empathy. He was in the same exact mental space as I was a year prior. I told him to "Just have fun, take your time and be patient with yourself". He's very athletic and used to being good at almost everything. I wondered if that would help him in this sport?
I was thrilled to have picked up from where I left off last year physically from a year ago, and was relieved that paralyzing fear wasn't there. My end goal was to get comfortable on some runs that I freaked out on last year and to ride down from the summit before I left. I wanted redemption this year, but all in all, my main goal was to have fun.
Learning To Ride and Ski. Children Learn Faster!
All I really needed from Dixie was verbal commands on what to work on for each run down. She gave me 1-2 things to focus on and I was able to apply what she was teaching. This freed up her time to work in a more 1 on 1 manner with my husband. Day 2, our instructor Zach was great and both of us progressed. My husband took some nasty falls and I felt his pain. In the meantime, Laila had progressed so quickly in her ski lessons that by the end of day 2 she and I were both ready to try out chair 9 "Easy Rider". Laila, who learned to ski so in just 2 lessons, made it down with control and quicker than I did. I worked on my turns, fell a few times and got stuck on a flat portion, but besides, it was a huge improvement from last year! My husband wasn't ready for this run yet, so he continued to practice on the learning hill and by the end of that 2nd day, he was making his way down the hill and completing turns. Awkwardly, but he was making it happen. On the 4th day, my sister-in-law and brother figured out that Ronnie was having a lot of trouble with the movements because as a left-handed person, he was riding with left foot forward (regular foot), but that he was naturally a right foot forward rider (goofy foot). They switched his board to goofy foot and his comfort level rose quite a bit and things started to come together for him. He still needed to work through the mind-set issue. "He will get there..just give him space" I kept saying to myself. Again, I empathized. It was hard to watch him being so in his head, unable to let go of fear and to see the same exact mental block I had a year ago. Not being able to get your body to do what you want it to do...I know how that feels.
Laila, by this time was riding chair lifts by herself and zipping down with ease. What a JOY it was to watch her pick it up and enjoy it. She listened to instruction and applied everything she was taught. She's fearless in that way and I'm so thrilled to have given her the experience of trying a new sport. When she was out of her comfort zone and a little scared, she stuck with it, stayed calm and was glad she accepted challenges even when her legs were tired. She dubbed the trip the best vacation ever! She got to play with her cousin every day both inside and outside playing in the snow. They got to ski together and although he's an advanced skier, he slowed down for her, watched out for her and even gave her some ski tips. She thought it was a really big deal that she got to go on chair lifts with just her cousin and ride down together. Eventually, the beginner hills got too boring for her. She had the NEED FOR SPEED!
Ronnie stuck with it, even on the most frustrating days. I felt bad that he was frustrated while I was having so much fun! The daily fresh powder allowed me to take on some intermediate runs. Falling in fresh powder is WAY less painful! It felt like falling into pillows! On one particular day, my brother took me and my daughter up to chair 2, Swift Creek Express. It was a fresh powder day. The sun came out occasionally and when it did, it made the untouched snow look like a billion little crystals! He took us down that run and connected over to chair 3, Tenderfoot.... When we got over to the run at chair 3, I realized that was the run that I freaked out on last year...THIS IS MY REDEMPTION DAY.
I can't really explain to you how that felt, and I know it sounds silly. I had to walk away from that run last year and it bothered me from time to time since then. So there I was, faced with a do-over so I went for it! By now my legs were a bit tired, and I think I fell once, but I got to the bottom without freaking out. We did Tenderfoot again and again. At some point my brother gave me the instruction to point my board downhill and just "let it ride". I trusted him. I trusted ME. I was ready to "let my board take me where I wanted to go". As I pointed my board downhill and relaxed, into that athletic stance, I let it ride. I linked turns. I was going faster than I had up to that point, but it felt easier. I felt like I was riding on air! It felt like FREEDOM. I could hear my brother cheering for me from behind. He caught up to me and I think I fell when I saw him as I probably got over-excited, but I didn't care. THAT WAS THE BEST FEELING EVER!! THAT was my redemption day. It was the most fun I've ever had in my entire life.
I was exhausted and my legs were jelly, and it was worth every joyous second! I got another redemption day toward the end of my trip when my brother led my daughter and I down from the summit. There were quite a few spots where I had to go really slow, but riding down from the summit was one of my goals and I did it!
So, WHY am I telling this story? I want to share with you some things that I learned about myself as it relates to myself as a Fitness Professional. These 9 things are what I learned about being both a coach/trainer and a student:
1. Mind-set is as important as physical ability. Taking on a new skill/sport or starting a new health and fitness plan requires positivity and patience with oneself. I lacked that last year and it was difficult for my instructors to teach me because I couldn't get out of my own way. Whether its snowboarding, tennis, or a new fitness plan, there's a learning curve. And some new skills are frustrating, uncomfortable and scary at first. It's important not to panic. Do not fear failure, because the truth is we ARE going to fail to some extent while we're learning something new. Accept that and keep trying.
2. Being physically fit helps. It wouldn't be impossible to learn to ride if one lacked strength, especially leg and core strength, but it definitely helped to have strength and endurance. Especially during those times when the learning is physically uncomfortable or fatiguing. If anyone reading this has ever wanted to learn to ride or take on any new skill that requires physical fitness, but you're worried your not in shape enough, then I hope this serves as inspiration to work on your strength and endurance so you can go out and try something new with confidence.
3. Commitment. Know what you're going to do and then commit to doing it. This was especially important when it came to turning on a snowboard. You can't "kinda" turn. You must commit to the turn. And when you do commit, the turn is much easier. The same applies to any new skill. If you don't commit, everything is much more difficult. The same rule applies to so many things in life and business.
4. Trust. Applying what you've been taught and trusting that what you've been taught will work. Trust that you will get better with practice. Trust your instructor. Trust your ability to learn.
5. Nature is the best medicine. GET OUTSIDE! I think some of us spend so much time indoors, that we don't even know being outside improves our health and our mind-set. Breathing in fresh air, and being close to nature. It's important.
6. Gratitude. Be grateful for the opportunity to learn something new. Realize not everybody gets to do this. Just coming back to a place of gratitude can put the most frustrating day in to perspective.
7. Fear. Falling hurts. Everyone falls when they try something new either literally or figuratively. Keep practicing until the fear subsides. Do things that you fear until you don't fear them. It's worth it!
8. The Art of Learning. Learning new skills, at any age, keeps us young, sharp and engaged! But there's a very important aspect to learning that no one talks about. And that is the responsibility of the student. If you're learning a new skill, BE COACHABLE. If you're not coachable, there's only so much your teacher can teach you. To be coachable means to listen, to trust that what you're being told is true and useful, and to not question what the expert is telling you. Get out of your own way.
9. The Art of Teaching. Since I was on the other side of teaching, this time as the student, I realized the importance of simplifying tasks as much as possible. Simple doesn't mean easy, but giving just 1 to 2 tasks at a time to focus on helped me learn to ride with less stress.
Snowboarding Is A Metaphor for Life
My favorite metaphors along the way:
"Look in the direction you want to go. If you look down, you'll fall down."
Not just in snowboarding, but in life! We must always look in the direction we want to go.
"Let the board do the work. Don't make it harder by trying to muscle through."
Muscling through a workout makes sense. We need to challenge our physical strength safely in order to get stronger, yes. But when it comes to learning a new skill, there are times when powering through is not helpful. Ask any golfer.
"Finesse, not power"
This ties into the last phrase, but I think this metaphor for life is a great one. Life is so much better when we're finessing our way through it. Powering through life gets exhausting. Sometimes, what we really need is to just go with the flow and allow things to happen instead of trying to FORCE them to happen.
A NEW Way to Travel. A Challenge To Travel ACTIVELY
Many people sit for extended periods of time and over-indulge on food and alcohol when they travel. They are often left with feelings of guilt and sluggishness post vacation along with weight gain and sometimes illness. I challenge you to travel in a whole NEW way. Incorporate movement and activity into your trip. Balance indulgences with healthy meals. On our trip to Whitefish, we snowboarded 7-8 out of the 9 days. We took that whole entire time off from "working out" in the traditional sense, however we got plenty of exercise on the mountain. We indulged in food and drink and we ate healthy meals as well. We rode so much, that walking up the steps to the condo at the end of the day was physically exhausting! It was a great way to keep Laila active all day too!
We enjoyed that feeling of muscle fatigue at the end of the day as we rested our muscles in the hot tub, a most wonderful reward. I'm not suggesting you do something as extreme as 8 days of snowboarding until your legs are jelly, but incorporating daily deliberate movement into your vacations will help you return home without having to deal with vacation weight gain. Snowboarding was so much activity for us that it was nice to come home and give our bodies a couple days to rest and recover. In my past travels, I skipped workouts and would over-eat and drink. It would take me at least 2 weeks to recover from vacation weight gain, digestive issues and often illness. Id' much rather take a couple days to let my body rest from physical activity, than to spend 2 weeks trying undo damage done by not moving and going off the deep end with my nutrition plan.
If you'd like to learn how to travel in a whole new way, head over to the Inspired Escapes tab. If you're not able to attend our June Dominican Republic trip, contact me about setting up your very own Inspired Escape for you and a group of your friends or family. The possibilities are endless!
I have noticed something, and I am concerned about what I'm seeing.
There seems to be quite a few people who can lift heavy weights, but who struggle a great deal with body weight movements. While these people are certainly strong, what I am seeing is a drastic lack of range of motion, imbalance of strength on one side of the body compared to the other, balance issues, extremely tight muscles and increased lack of flexibility.
It's impressive for anyone maneuver through a tough workout with a lot of heavy lifting, but I'm worried that there is not enough emphasis being placed on body weight movements such as unweighted squats, lunges, glute bridges, push ups, planks etc. The reason I'm worried, is because this lack of body control, flexibility and balance will likely lead to injuries. And injuries so often lead to missing workouts and subsequently giving up on a fitness plan. As a fitness professional, my goal for my clients is to help them establish a fitness plan that they will practice for the rest of their life so that they can achieve health, strength and longevity of life.
When it comes to training clients, I am of the belief that we have to start where we are. What does that mean?
Starting from where you are means, beginning a fitness program from your current fitness level and building upon that each week. Your current fitness level can be assessed by an experienced Personal Trainer. One who can quickly gauge your strength, flexibility, mobility and stability and determine the best training program for you based on where you are in the fitness continuum. Effective training programs designed to improve strength, flexibility, mobility, and stability PRIOR to heavy lifting, set clients up for long term success. Not only will you be addressing what needs to be addressed for your safety during workouts and every day tasks, but you will be setting a strong foundation for adding load and lifting with great form and efficiency when you're ready for it. We have to remember that we can't run before we can walk.
One of the biggest benefits to body weight exercises is the immediate feedback you get internally. Feedback in noticing imbalances of strength on one side of the body vs the other, or tightness in one muscle group and a weakness in the other. The heavy weight lifter is likely not going to notice a weakened core, for example. The person squatting 200 lbs is likely not going to notice tight hip flexors unless they are very experienced. The person who's new to the fitness game, is going to be so hyper focused on getting that heavy weight lifting session completed, that they're going to miss the signals from their body that clue us in to the potential injuries. Maybe you don't even care if you get injured? Right now you don't. But trust me, you will care when you're sitting in your Dr.'s office waiting to be seen.
I get it. You want to lift heavy weights because lifting heavy weights makes you feel like you've accomplished something. You've seen ripped people post videos from the gym lifting heavy and you want to look like that too.
I'm asking you to let go of your ego for just a moment. Let go of what you think you want to look like, and ask yourself what are you really accomplishing by lifting all this heavy weight, when a performing a set of modified pushups is nearly impossible to do? And what if I told you that you CAN change your body composition with body weight movements? In fact, what if I told you that you would likely see results quicker if you focused on mastering body weight movements FIRST, with great form, and on all planes of movement, prior to adding weight to those movements? What if I told you that mastering these movements builds core strength much faster than heavy lifting does? And what if I told you that core strength is the foundation of your overall fitness and will help you lift with great form and efficiency when the time comes to start lifting? Look, there's a reason form is important and it's not to look good performing an exercise. Proper form is for your safety and leads to longevity in your exercise practice.
Once you get to the point where you are ready to add weight, be sure to check your ego again. Start light. As you adapt, increase the weights by a couple lb's at a time. Keep your focus on good form and moving through the full range of motion of each exercise. Even once you've added weights to your fitness plan, be sure to revisit the body weight movements on a regular basis. Think of it as a sort of body check-in and tuning into that internal feedback. If you do this, you will be in this fitness game, and enjoying it, for the rest of your life. And isn't that what we ALL want, after all?
Head over to Instagram or Facebook to check out one of my favorite body weight movements in today's posts.
Keep Moving, friends!
Power. Strength. Movement
It's finally happening! If you've been training with me, if you know me really well or if you just met me for 2 minutes, I've probably told you about my NEW business venture. Well, after well over a year of talking about it and a massive amount of planning, I am happy to say the execution phase is now here!
While there is some information on this awesome opportunity on the Inspired Escapes links, I wanted to provide you with the complete details here. And yes, I'm using my blog page to promote something.. This won't happen often, but I make an exception in this case!
Before you read the rest, I have to give a huge shout out and a big hug to my dear friend and brilliant Editor, Heather Martin for her editing expertise on our written marketing piece! So here it is.. all the GLORIOUS details!
Take a break from your ordinary vacation and discover a new, healthier, more exciting way to travel
Take an Inspired Escapes vacation
On Inspired Escapes vacations, you will find the perfect blend of relaxation, activity, indulgence, and healthy eating—a blend that will leave you happier and more rejuvenated than you’ve ever felt after a getaway
Don’t worry. You can still order the cheesecake, drink the wine, and take the nap. You can also join your fellow healthy travelers for a jog or a Pilates class and maybe have a salad for dinner, or not. Inspired Escapes is about choices and about learning that you can treat yourself while still being mindful of your health. It’s all about balance.
Developed and led by certified personal trainer Melanie Redd and registered dietitian Michelle Ricker, Inspired Escapes will transform the way you think about and experience vacation. You will have no-pressure access to fitness activities and nutritional coaching while you discover a beautiful vacation destination and make lasting memories. You can choose to participate in all or some (or none) of the following:
Experienced travelers themselves, Inspired Escapes guides will even help get registered guests ready for the trip, adding them to a private Facebook page, where they will receive more information about the excursion and tips for preparing.
Melanie and Michelle have been vacationing the Inspired Escapes way for years, and they want you to experience the joy they feel on this kind of journey. Join them. You’ll never travel the same way again.
Anyone can be a Healthy Traveler—but these trips are especially perfect for
Your Healthy Travel Guides
Michelle Ricker Michelle is a Registered Dietitian, Nutritionist and preeminent Personal Vitality Expert. She has extensive experience in clinical nutrition, genomics, and fitness. She holds true to her mission to help people live with vitality. Michelle offers customized and digestible nutrition and genetic-based programs, creative perspective on managing change, and goal setting in order to live a life true to your purpose.
Melanie Redd is a certified Personal Trainer, Certified Health Coach and Mind-Body Specialist. As the founder of Power Glow Fitness, Melanie’s mission is to help people of all ages achieve strength, endurance, flexibility, and weight loss/maintenance through strategic exercise and movement programming that is safe and effective. Her goal is to help her clients live their happiest, healthiest, strongest lives through daily exercise, activities and movement. Melanie works with clients one on one, in private groups, and in corporate wellness programs.
I hope this first blog post on the NEW Power Glow website finds you, the reader, in good health. I'm thrilled to share with you my knowledge, experience and passion for exercise and living a healthy life. Having been in the fitness business for 5 1/2 years now I have learned so much (some of it the hard way), and I am passionate about sharing what I've learned and continue to learn through my own personal practice and through training my clients.
There are numerous hot topics in the Fitness Industry! Some of my favorite hot topics and some of the things I will be blogging on are: Healthy Travel, Outdoor Exercise, Exercise and Aging, Finding the perfect program FOR YOU, and youth exercise to name a few. I will also be posting on various forms of exercise from traditional strength training to some of my favorite workout products such as TRX Suspension Trainer and the BOSU Ball. I will be doing posts on my journey with Pilates as well as sport specific training.
I hope that you will find these nuggets of information helpful to you as you continue on YOUR fitness journey. I welcome your comments and questions as well and if you would like to ask a question privately, click on the contact button on any of the tabs on this site to be directed to my email.
The first "topic" blog will go up next week so stay tuned!
Remember to eat well, always keep moving and NEVER give up!
Power. Strength. Movement