PSA: Our Winter Mantra Box® is now available for pre-order - be quick! We're now booking spots at our Namaslay Italy Yoga Retreat in April! Only a few spots left at our Kenya Safari Yoga Retreat this August! Lastly, my book Namaslay is a great yoga resource if you're looking to jumpstart your practice or your teaching.
With the New Year in full swing, I thought I'd take a minute to reflect on the fitness lessons I've learned over the course of the last year. Hopefully, they'll be helpful to you if you've set fitness goals for 2017. Please let me know what you'd add on to this list down in the comments section below!
1. Seek the help of the experts early on - Last year, I decided I really wanted to focus on building strength through hiit workouts and Olympic lifts. I sought out the help of a few different experts in personal training and while it was intimidating and uncomfortable at first (I felt like I was wearing a bit sign that said, "I'M NEW HERE!"), it was the best thing I could do because I felt like I had a solid foundation for what to do and a newfound confidence to do it. Many gyms offer free personal training sessions, and some CrossFit boxes offer introductory rates for small class intro sessions or one to one training, so be on the lookout if you need some help and don't know where to start. While nothing beats taking a one to one session with an expert, I understand that between jobs and family obligations and hectic schedules, it's not always feasible. If that's the case, search YouTube or buy a book that'll help point you in the right direction.
2. Nothing beats a great program. I was lucky because one of my friends does programming at a CrossFit box, so I had easy access to a program and what a difference it made. I'd worked out my whole life but just kind of went in each day and did whatever I felt like. That's ok, I guess, if you don't really have any goals other than maintaining, but once I implemented an actual program where the goal was to continue to build strength and become a more efficient athlete, I saw major improvements. Within just a few weeks I saw more tone and definition than I had in all the years I'd been cherry picking my own workouts. My friend no longer programs, so I've mostly been following Ben Burgeron's workouts (do a google search) and (drastically) scaling them as necessary.
3. Body composition has a lot to do with what you eat. Like I said, last year I wanted to build strength and tone up, but I lacked energy and felt drained most of the time. After taking a look at my diet, I realized I wasn't eating enough for how hard I was working out. I started tracking my macros and - once again - within weeks I was not only seeing improvements, but feeling full of energy.
4. The right gear helps. Now, these are not necessary for success, but certain things really do help me have a better workout. I used to wear these sneakers for workouts and while they were fine, the tops of my feet always hurt when I did double unders. It was like they weren't supportive enough or something - it felt like the little bones in my feet were going to break. Once I switched the these, which have a bit of a weighted heel, it was a game changer. I recently got these lifters for Christmas and they've made a world of difference in my lifts despite the fact that I have a lot of range of motion through my ankles and calves. I'm also someone who is motivated by a good playlist. I love to put on my headphones and tune out the world around me, so these wireless headphones were such a welcomed change because my previous sports headphones had a wire, and I'd tuck the phone into my waistband and it'd always fall down once I worked up a sweat.
5. Surround yourself with people who get it. I belong to both a regular gym and am also a member at a CrossFit gym that I visit a few times a month. I prefer the regular gym only because I love putting my headphones on and getting lost in my own workout world, but both gyms are great in terms of the people. At my regular gym I see the same people since I go at about the same time every day. Some of those people have become acquaintances because we'll say hey and chat about what we've got on the workout docket. There is a core group of people at my gym who all have different fitness goals - some are training for Strong Man competitions, some are training for fitness competitions, some are CrossFitters who prefer to do their WODS at our gym, etc - and we all respect each other's goals and support each other from afar. At the CrossFit gym where I go, I like the community aspect of it. Everyone is a bit more chatty than at a regular gym, and many people are super encouraging because you're in it together - you're putting in the work, you're suffering, and then you're done - together. In a similar vein, I like to also try to be around people who are stronger than me and know more than me because I feel like it pushes me to keep growing, and I love learning from them. I love that. Surround yourself with people who lift you up and cheer you on and you can't go wrong.
6. Self care is not just important - it is vital to our health. I think our culture is sort of conditioned to have this reward system mentality. Like, if you eat that cupcake, you better get yourself to the gym to sweat it off. Or, better get to the gym so you can indulge later this weekend. This kind of thinking, I've learned, does little good for our mental health, and our mental health plays a huge role in our physical health, so we've got to get out of our heads and into our hearts. You've got to be in a good headspace in order to make good progress. The fitness approach from a place of guilt or punishment really rubs me the wrong way. Instead, I prefer to attack each workout with enthusiasm which I know sounds cheesy but that mentality makes a huge difference in how I feel about my workouts. The bottom line? Pay attention to your self-talk. Further, take care of yourself outside the gym. Take rest days (they're very important), take healing baths, hydrate, get out and do things you love. Finding ways to decrease your stress levels overall will help your fitness performance.
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I'd love to know what else you'd add - chime in down in the comments section below!