Mondays can be...rough. Whether you aren't that excited about returning to work or your feeling stress about all your responsibilities- it's normal but that doesn't make it any less painful to deal with.
One way to help you alleviate stress is to move! Movement pumps up your endorphins, and even acts as 'meditation in motion'. This can be a hard mindset shift when you've viewed exercise as punishment. One way to change this is to begin to see it as a tool to help you feel better and take care of your physical and mental health.
I know this shift won't happen overnight, but I wanted to share a strength training circuit that takes 30 minutes in case you need an idea for this week!
🍑Glutes🍑...why are they important? Is it all about looks or is there something more to think about?
Everyone can grow larger, stronger glutes, no matter where you start from. Despite recent social media trends, your backside isn't just ornamental. Your glutes are also incredibly important to your health and strength. The glutes are made up of three groups: the minimus, maximus & medius. These muscles are incredibly strong and powerful- but only if you know how to activate them properly. Most people don't, so let's dive into what you can do to get started.
Whether you're a serious athlete or work an office job with lots of sitting- you need to have strong glutes.
They help you...
Try this workout and let me know how it goes. Tag me on instagram @lilybirdlifts or share in our free Never Diet Again Facebook Group!
Did you know that 56% of women say they are dissatisfied with their overall appearance and 89% of women want to lose weight? These thoughts can become increasingly intense when the weather turns warm and summer is around the corner. The key to easing your negative thoughts is not weight loss. 95-97% of intentional weight loss diets fail, so let's put that to the side. We aren't going down that path!
Instead try these 6 Steps to Body Confidence now...
no restriction, negativity or deprivation necessary.
Face Your Body:
When you're feeling insecure it's easy to "turn off" from looking at your body. You avoid your reflection at all costs, never look down or ban full length mirrors. This is a problem because while we are not only our bodies they are still important. If you hate your physical self you won't be able to fully enjoy life so let's get to work. In order to begin the process of accepting yourself you need to start looking at your physical self. You can start by dressing in a favorite outfit or you can even go nude. Sound scary? Take a breath...This will get easier with practice. It's common for the first time to be rough. If you feel negative emotions come up write them down or say them out loud. Be compassionate with yourself. Add a self-care routine to your mirror gazing, play some favorite music, put on some luxurious body lotion. Make this a daily activity- the more familiar you are with your body the easier it will be to begin your journey to acceptance.
Purge Old Clothes:
Many clients feel incredible amounts of stress when it comes to trying on old clothes. This is especially prevalent during the summer season when people tend to show more skin. Instead of trying on a bunch of old items give yourself permission to buy clothes that work for you now. Your body is the gold standard- your happiness and well-being are worth much more than that old pair of jean shorts! If your budget is smaller check-out Amazon.com, Poshmark, a clothing swap with others or a local thrift or consignment store. Pick clothes that make you feel good in your skin today and donate the clothes that no longer serve you.
Unsubscribe from Diet Culture:
Whether it's other people on social media, a women's magazine or a friend's constant diet talk- now is the time to say no more. If you notice that you start criticizing yourself after looking at a piece of media or talking to another person take heed. In order to accept yourself you need to start setting boundaries. It's not okay to make yourself feel bad for who you are. Period! It doesn't matter if you've made mistakes, slipped up or let yourself down in the past. Today you are sticking up for you and that means cutting out negative influences that enforce a rigid standard or beauty or worthiness.
Check Your Feelings:
Do you often say, "I feel fat"? Part of diet culture is teaching us that fat = bad. Everyone- regardless of their body size or health deserves to love and respect themselves. Body positivity has no weight limits and if you have a problem with other people liking themselves that says more about you than them. Instead of saying "I feel fat" dig deeper and ask yourself what's really going on? Try to think about what set off your feelings and begin to de-program yourself from thinking fat = bad.
Ban Negative Self-Talk:
If you wouldn't say it to your best friend, why are you saying it to yourself? When you start getting down on yourself picture someone you love in front of you. It can be your friend, mom, child. Take a moment to really visualize this person and all the things you love about them. Now- think about your negative comment. Would you want the person you love to hear this about themselves? Usually the answer is no! It is also helpful to write down the negative things you say about yourself. Doing this type of exercise helps take the sting out of our self-criticisms. When you hear a negative comment- "You failed again! I can't believe you're such a loser."- visualize a door slamming on that voice. You cannot hate yourself healthy or happy.
Do you ever notice that one side of your body is stronger than the other? What about flexibility and power, does that vary from side to side as well? If so- you're not alone. In my coaching experience I have found that most clients have a more dominant side. There can be many reasons why you have a discrepancy in your upper or lower body: past injury, which side is naturally more dominant, lifestyle (which hand you write with, which leg you step/jump with, etc.) While this development might be normal it's also important to note that strength training can either exacerbate or help balance your muscular imbalances.
If you are only performing bilateral exercises (bilateral- both arms or legs) you will get stronger on both sides at the same time. This is great for increasing strength and power but if you don't split your limbs up and force each one to work independently they will continue to be uneven. For example, if you are squatting 115lbs with both legs your right leg may be doing 75% of the work while your left side is only pushing 25% of the weight. While both legs will get stronger your right side will continue to get the most benefit while your left lags behind.
Interestingly enough this doesn't usually result in aesthetic differences between sides, but it can put undue pressure and stress on your dominant side. Most people end up injuring their dominant side first because of overuse or joint, ligament injuries. To avoid this result combining bilateral (both sides together) and unilateral (one side at a time) training is recommended.
Unilateral exercises allow you to train each side individually and can help isolate and correct muscle imbalances, aids injury prevention and can also improve injury rehabilitation. When you train one side at a time you are also indirectly stimulating the non-working side of your body. This helps improve the strength of neural pathways in your brain which can improve balance, strength and endurance on both sides of the body.
Unilateral exercises are single-leg or single-arm movements. The primary benefit of including unilateral exercises in your training programs is that the exerciser is using both sides of the body equally. Doing so helps your clients avoid overtraining or overusing the dominant side, helps to isolate and correct muscle imbalances, improves balance, utilizes core muscles, aids in injury prevention and facilitates rehabilitation.
It's best to start with low-impact exercises as you begin unilateral training. Consult with your doctor and a trusted, certified personal trainer before starting any new exercise routine.
TRY THIS! Unilateral movements to add to your next workout. I recommend 3-4 bilateral moves and 2-3 unilateral moves per workout.
Did you know...other people’s bodies aren’t your business?
As we head into the holidays please remember that body compliments or comments are not a great way to reconnect with your loved ones. Neither are comments on how much or what others choose to eat.
Many clients that I work with have expressed anxiety & trepidation as we head into family gatherings. They’re not really stressed about food or gaining weight either- they’re fearful of what family members will (or won’t) say about how they look.
If you are ‘that person’ who is looking for weight loss/gain/change in others to chat about- just don’t. Keep it to yourself.
If you’re not ‘that person’ please remember that if you hear these conversations going on they are not helpful. Be an ally!
When I first stopped competing I gained weight. My restrictive habits came to an end & my body re-calibrated back to its natural ‘set point’. I was very nervous to see people after this because I felt an enormous amount of pressure to look competition ready at all times. This kept me from being comfortable & made me hyper aware of how I looked- would people still respect me as a health coach if I didn’t look ripped anymore? Would they judge me?
Many people (97% actually!) re-gain weight after dieting. The compliments when you get smaller can be overwhelming. I remember thinking “Wow! People really do pay attention to my body size” because it was a topic of conversation almost constantly. The comments when you are larger are not usually positive and they can cut others quite deep regardless of how insignificant they might feel to you. Regardless, comments on weight can hurt the ones you love and they can even reinforce detrimental and disordered habits. So please, use your creativity! Spark conversations based on all the other interesting facets of those humans across the table.
Summer time is a social butterfly's dream. Vacations, Reunions, BBQs, Parties...If you find yourself going out multiple times a week and eating and drinking more than ever you're not alone.
The key is to enjoy yourself while still taking care of your health and wellness. You don't have to choose between them! Balance often goes out the window when your schedule changes, but, that doesn't mean you can't stick to your goals. Instead of relying on rigidity it's all about being flexible, having a growth mindset, and staying in sync with your needs.
I recently went on a 16 day trip and managed to drink champagne and margaritas while I enjoyed lobster rolls, sushi, french fries, tacos (multiple times, I might add) all without gaining a single pound. How? Magic? Silver Bullet Supplements?
Nope...(Read on for My Top Tips for Easy Travel!)
I hope you love the products I recommend! LilyFontas.com may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page. Prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.
Understanding your body is always essential if you want to feel empowered about your choices. If you are noticing the changes that your body goes through each month it's important to "connect the dots" and realize that there are many different reasons for the challenges you face.
These are my top tips on how to feel your best and get moving too. While it may seem counterintuitive to exercise when you'd rather hide under the covers keep reading...I promise you won't be disappointed...
Exercise: Yay or Nay?
When you begin your cycle exercise might be the last thing you want to do. While curling up into a ball and watching hours of "Grace & Frankie" might seem preferable to hitting the weights, hear me out! The endorphins you release when you workout can help regulate your hormones and mood which is especially welcome if you're feeling down. Increased blood flow from exercise also helps reduce cramps and stress. It's also a natural pick me up when you're feeling tired and fatigued. Start slow by stretching, forward folds and child's pose are a great way to alleviate abdominal cramps and get your body ready for a more rigorous workout.
Did you know that during your period your estrogen levels are at an all time low? While this might sound like a bad thing it can actually increase your strength and endurance! Instead of taking a break try a new strength training class or interval workout. Many women report breezing through their workouts once they get to the gym- you might even set a new personal record without trying.
Period Workout: Lifting the Curse
How Does My Hormone Cycle Work?
Exercise During Your Period (& why you should absolutely do it!)
Menstrual Cup vs. Tampons/Pads
In addition to holding more liquid, costing less and being better for the environment menstrual cups can also decrease your cramps over time and even shorten your period. There's no known risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) and you can use a single cup for at least a year depending on the brand. When you're working out you're less likely to suffer from leaks or spills and you won't be inserting harmful chemicals from bleached cotton into your body. Tampons absorb all the moisture in your vaginal canal and can also cause tiny paper cuts when inserted (talk about ouch!) Feel uneasy inserting your cup? Like most things, practice makes perfect! Don't miss the opportunity to get to know your body better either...if you haven't had the opportunity to explore and understand your monthly cycle now is a great time to start.
My take...Personally I have been using a menstrual cup for 1.5 years and the way I feel is astoundingly different. No more emergency runs to the drugstore or having to wake-up in the middle of the night for me! Pre-cup I was cramping for the first 3 days of my period and I was taking ibuprofen for the pain. These were not the "I'm slightly uncomfortable" cramps, they were the "I need to lie down like I'm having a back spasm" type of situation. I'm not alone either, over 40% of women experience cramps during their periods and 10% of that group is incapacitated for one to three days because of their pain! Today I have one day of cramping, not 3-5, and I use a heating pad on that day to feel better. I contribute less cramps and a shorter period to switching from traditional tampons. Today the first day of my cycle is uncomfortable, but using a heating pad can alleviate cramps naturally and after that I am pain free! I also plan ahead and make sure that first day is free from too many responsibilities. Which leads me to my next point...
How a Cup Changed My Life
Tampons and their effect on the vagina
18 Reasons You Should Switch To The Menstrual Cup
Schedule "Me Time"
Ever have an unexpected, emotional moment then realize it's almost time for your cycle to start? "Ah-ha!" you say as you realize these shifts aren't that uncommon after all. Getting caught off guard by your body's rhythm is common but tuning into your inner 'schedule' can help you feel and perform better than ever. The two weeks leading up to your period is when your estrogen levels soar and your emotions and moods fluctuate the most. This can also lead to a dip in energy so be sure to track your period to understand your natural cycle better. One great app for this is Ovia. While it's designed for a woman trying to conceive it also allows you to track your symptoms and estimate your cycle length so you can plan your schedule around your body.
My take...As an entrepreneur I don't have colleagues to fall back on, it's just me! When I'm feeling down and out it's hard not to perform, I either get things done or fall behind. Instead of feeling trapped I pay attention to my cycle by tracking it with an app. This way I can schedule presentations and work meetings appropriately and move other obligations if need be. I don't always get the chance to take it easy when I know my body will need rest but I am aware of WHY I feel down or tired and that helps immensely.
Go With the Flow
schedule your workouts to feel amazing any time of the month
the beginning of your cycle
Capitalize on increased strength, power and endurance during this time of the month. Add more weight to your exercises, try a new class or up the intensity of your cardio. Now is the time to push yourself if you are feeling up to it- enjoy the benefits of low estrogen and don't be surprised if your cramps decrease as your mood elevates.
beginning with ovulation until the day before your period
Hormones are elevated and that can result in mood shifts, lack of energy and an increase in anxiety and frustration. Instead of pushing yourself choose a more restorative activity like yin yoga, a low-grade hike or walk or try a meditation class. Swimming and biking are great low-impact ways to get your heart pumping as well. If you are truly exhausted it's time to rest...listen to your body and know that restoration is just as important as sweating it out.
Questions or comments? Leave a note below, I look forward to hearing your perspective!
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About the Author
Lily lives in the Bay Area of California with her husband. She loves to lift heavy, watch vintage movies and cheer on her fellow warrior queens!