How To Use Periscope To Boost Your Fitness

@thrivefitONperiscope

If you’ve been reading my blog on a regular basis you know that I am not the person who jumps on every bandwagon. Never once was I tempted to do oil pulling. You won’t catch me at a barre class. I say no to Bulletproof Coffee (although the idea of the tea version has been tempting).

So there must be something kind of special about it for me to be so quickly hooked on Periscope.

Periscope is a live streaming video app that lets me talk to you directly. I can video record and broadcast from anywhere. And you can talk to me! You can ask me questions, which I love to answer. You can share your thoughts, which I am always eager to hear.

I think Periscope may be one of the best new tools to boost your fitness. You (and I) can get even more access to the fitness experts we love. The ability to interact allows for more engagement than a YouTube video. I love listening to Jamie Eason’s scopes (the term for a Periscope broadcast) on her life and her training tips. She’s open, honest and will answer just about anything you ask. She’s sort of my Periscope idol. I love watching Alexandra Williams show off fun and fit core exercises from exotic locals. I think I should do more of that on my upcoming fit adventure to Peru. Tamara Grand’s Fit Tips for Midlife Chicks gives me plenty of reasons to tap the screen. (This causes hearts to appear and give the Periscope version of a thumbs up). I hope she keeps doing them.

I’ve told you why I love Periscope. My mission is to empower women with fitness. Periscope gives me a direct and real time way to do it. My question is: what do you want me to talk about? I’ve been trying to do one scope a day (except when I try to get offline on Sundays for my Social Media Sabbath). I like doing them but I want to make sure you find them valuable. I’ve already shared how to do a dynamic warm up, the onion chopping trick and talked about when a health coach might be a better choice than a personal trainer. Here’s a list of topics I’m thinking about discussing in the future:

  • Meal Planning
  • Macros
  • Sleep Deprivation
  • Home Workouts
  • Gaining Muscle
  • Book Recommendations
  • Carb Cycling
  • Food Labels
  • Falling Off the Wagon

What do you think of my list so far? What would you add to it or take off it? What would make you join the Periscope community and tune in to my scopes? I want to know how YOU want to use Periscope to boost your fitness.

I’m also curious how long is a good length of time for a broadcast to last. I can talk forever about my favorite subjects but I know we all have things we need to do. I’ve tried to keep them short but I notice other people talking for a REALLY long time. I want to respect your time but I also want to give you what you need.

Now is your chance to speak up. What should I talk about? How long should I broadcast. Who else should I be following? Don’t forget to follow me @ThriveFit!

Finding Your Inner Strength In the Gym

Finding-Your-Inner-Strength-In-the-Gym

The gym is my salvation.

It is how I got hooked on weight lifting over 16 years ago. When I first started my fitness journey I was a scared and insecure 20-something. I was coming out of a bad relationship and dating someone new. While that “someone new” turned out to be my husband, I was very unsure at that time if we were meant to be. I was finishing my degree but had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I’ve always had a complicated family life. I didn’t know where I was going or who I was.

In the gym, however, I found that none of that mattered. In the gym, all I had to do was push, pull or squat. All I had to do was breath. I could put my headphones on and shut out everything around me. In the gym everything made sense. In the gym I learned resilience. I learned to be strong. I didn’t find me, I created me.

Since then, I have observed that when the world starts to spin out of control, people on a fitness journey respond in one of two ways: they default to old bad habits or they deeply embrace their new healthy ones. It’s easy to get caught up in the drama, the misery or someone else’s agenda. Life is full of ups and downs. I get it. I judge no one. for defaulting to the habits we know and find comforting. All I can do is be there for those who need me. If exercise is their lifeline, I’ll throw the rope. I welcome them to the gym as a safe place and a sanctuary.

As 40 approached, I really thought I had it all under control. The gym was about stress relief, a break in the day to do some thinking. It was a restorative niche. I did realize I was in a bit of a rut, which is what first attracted me to the Ultimate Oxygen Challenge. I was ready to try something new. The coach needed a coach. It was about tackling something on my 100 Dreams List and letting someone else take the lead.

Finding-Your-Inner-Strength-In-the-Gym

After I started the Challenge, however, it became something more. Shortly after we returned from Shanghai, some things in my world started to shift. Turning 40 brought me a renewed sense of self and a discovery of where I want to go. This means new challenges and choices. It means looking at life, work and relationships with a new set of eyes. I’ve seen things that perhaps have been there all along but I never wanted to face.  All of this means change is coming. As we all know, change is very hard. Growth is hard. They are called growing pains for a reason.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a gym epiphany. As I lay on the floor of the gym with jelly legs, replaying a particularly emotional conversation from the night before, it came back to me. It hit me again why I loved strength training from the very start. Tears started to come to my eyes as I realized how much I needed the OxyChallenge. I needed to be in the gym with music blaring, a plan I didn’t have to create and pushing my body in ways I hadn’t in years. I knew no matter what was happening out THERE, in HERE was logical and dependable. I knew here I would find my inner strength and my resilience again. I knew that letting go of control in the gym would help me let go of everything else and bring me peace.

The gym is my salvation. I had forgotten, but now I know. I will weather the storm. I will come out stronger on the other side.

Is the gym your shelter from the storm? Is it where you need to be today?

5 Steps To A Healthy and Fit Road Trip

5-Steps-To-A-Healthy-and-Fit-Road-Trip-2

When I signed up for the Ultimate Oxygen Challenge I knew that our planned trip to Peru fell exactly in the middle of the 90-day program. I knew it would mean taking a week off from weights (which might actually help me push through the second half) and packing plenty of clean snacks.

What I hadn’t planned on was a weekend road trip to Kansas City. Long story, short version….my husband needed to test drive cars. I also can’t pass up opportunity for a Costco/Trader Joe’s run.

Since we’re going to Peru so soon that means I can’t “take off” a couple of days from the plan if I want to see my desired results. What I can do is modify the plan for the road. All it takes is a little prep and the right tools to create a fitness focused road trip. Here is my 5 step checklist (and my favorite fit things to make it happen).

Step 1

Check out your accommodations in advance. I say go Hyatt if you can! I love Hyatt hotels! Luckily, I am already very familiar with the gym at the Hyatt Place in Overland Park. It’s our favorite place to stay in the KC area. Their gym is very nice with new equipment but it’s cardio equipment only. I contemplated bringing along my exercise bands. Instead I swapped upper body and cardio on the plan. Don’t be afraid to be flexible, but don’t try to adjust your exercise routine on the fly! Check the website or call the hotel you’re planning to stay at to see what their fitness center is like. If they don’t have a fitness center, ask if they have a partnership with a local gym or search out another hotel with a fitness center (like a Hyatt hotel).

Step 2

5-Steps-To-A-Healthy-and-Fit-Road-Trip-4

Shop and prep portable food options. Check out my list of Fast and Fit Travel Foods and don’t forget your water bottle! I brought my Kleen Kanteen with me to refill often. I love the stainless steel bottle because it keeps the water very cold, which was much appreciated on a hot summer day. The hotel gym has a water station for refills. So do many restaurants and convenience stores that they will let you use for FREE. Carry more food with you than you think you will need. I probably prepped enough food to feed both of us for the day because I didn’t know how many hours we would be at the car dealership.

Step 3

Be realistic with your schedule the day before you leave and travel days. Your going to be busy so be honest about how much time you have for a workout. I knew my lower body circuit would only take about 30 minutes so I planned my morning accordingly. Circuits are a great way to get strength and cardio in on efficient workout. I love my Gymboss interval timer because it keeps my honest about my cardio burst and my rest interval times. Keeping my rest time to one minute and no more made sure I was done and out of the gym in plenty of time to hit the road.

Step 4

5-Steps-To-A-Healthy-and-Fit-Road-Trip-1

Have food ready the night before you leave. You’ll always be rushed the day you leave for any trip and you will forget something. Don’t let it be food. Anything non-perishable was already in my insulted tote. Cold foods were prepped the night before and placed together in the refrigerator. All I had to do was grab them and add them to the insulated bag. I used my gym bag (courtesy of the Vitamin Shoppe) for the trip because it already had many necessities in it. Most of you probably keep things like deodorant, flat irons and brushes in your gym bag, why not use them as an overnight bag too? I also added in my travel Thera-Band Roller Massager to the bag because I knew after sitting in a car all day I would need it! It fits in almost any bag and I’ve taken it around the world with me.

Step 5

Try to have some fun. I love road trips because Brian and I can talk without the usual distractions. I love eating at Eden Alley on the Plaza in KC. I love roaming around Costco on a Sunday morning. I love a vegan chocolate chip cookie from Whole Foods. Yes, I stayed true to my plan but I also allowed myself a little indulgence too. Life is about enjoying the little things.

Stay fit, stay focused but have a good time on your next road trip too!

Negative Self Talk: How To Silence Your Inner Critic

Negative Self Talk: How To Silence Your Inner Critic

The biggest obstacle on your fitness journey isn’t missed workouts or birthday parties. It isn’t forgetting your lunch or not hitting 10K steps.

Your biggest obstacle is your INNER CRITIC.

  • It is the constant chatter of negative self talk.
  • It’s the negative messages we give ourselves.
  • It’s the unrealistic expectations we apply to our progress.
  • It’s the feelings of unworthiness that keep us from going after what we want.

Most of my clients deals with at least one of these things. They  often use words like lazy, stupid or failure to describe their reasons for succumbing to a doughnut, skipping a workout or gaining weight. In almost the same breath they tell me about being a caregiver to an ailing parent or young children. They tell me about working 10-hour workdays. They describe the tremendous amount of stress they are under and the long list of responsibilities they have.  Then they criticize their lack of discipline and willpower. They just don’t understand what is going wrong.

Every BetterU team I’ve coached has dealt with the weight (no pun intended) of unrealistic expectations. I blame The Biggest Loser and, as one team member put it, 80’s teen movies. My goal is to help them establish new healthy habits and a foundation for the journey to come. They expect a full body makeover in 12 weeks. They beat themselves up for “only” losing a pound a week. The progress is slow, they say, what I am I doing wrong?

I find myself falling for it too as I participate in the Ultimate Oxygen Challenge. Sometimes, when I am having a bad day, I still see the fat girl staring back at me in the mirror. Even though at this point in the process (wrapping up week 5) I am not focused on fat loss, I find myself envious of progress posts. I see abs popping out, butts lifted and biceps flexing. Body fat and pounds are dropping. Their progress taps into my own fears of never being enough. My goal right now is to build muscle and my body fat has dropped slightly but I still think to myself what AM I doing wrong?

To them and to myself I have to say:

We are DOING nothing wrong.

We are THINKING wrong.

We have to reframe our thinking and reprogram our feedback loop.

No more words like “just” or “only”. No more comparing the beginning of our journey to someone else’s middle.  No more comparing PERIOD. If you keep feeding your brain with negative messages it will give you negative thoughts in return. Nurture it just like you would your body. Find your mantra to repeat silently when the bad starts to overtake the good. Mine for the rest of the challenge is…I was born to be real, not perfect.

We have to be honest and realistic with our expectations.

The Biggest Loser is a game. It’s not about long term health. They also live on a ranch with nothing to do but exercise all day. We have lives. We have to face what we are ready, willing AND able to do and set expectations accordingly. I don’t have that much fat to lose and my goal right now is to gain muscle. Expecting the scale to change isn’t realistic at this stage in the game (other than perhaps to gain a pound or two). I have NO reason to feel bad about my own progress.  Instead I should be proud of how solid my legs feel and the definition starting to appear in my shoulders. I need reaffirm my goals and trust the process. I vow to spend more time applauding my teammates progress and my own.

We need to be kind to ourselves during a time of transformation.

Cocoons aren’t very pretty but they are a necessary part of turning into a butterfly. Growing your hair out after a pixie cut can get ugly but you deal with it to get a gorgeous shoulder length bob. We will experience frustration, weakness and fear on our journey. Give yourself whatever time and love is necessary to get to where you want go. Ask for the help when you need. It doesn’t make you weak, it makes you stronger.

The world is hard enough on us. Be your own champion. Let the voice in your head be your cheerleader, not your critic.

Your Quick Guide to Plant Based Protein

The updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests a more plant based diet. It’s not just better for our health but also for the health of the planet. This doesn’t mean you have to give up meat entirely, it just means looking at other ways to get your protein. There are many easy to cook and affordable sources of plant based protein.

Check out this Fit Friday segment with Paul Adler on Ozarks Today for some of my favorites. You’ll notice I shop at Target A LOT. The Vega Protein + Greens is also my new favorite for plant based protein powders. It has made a wonderful substitute for casein protein in some of the recipes on the Team Amanda meal plan for the OxyChallenge.

6 Things To Consider When Hiring A Personal Trainer

6 Things To Consider When Hiring A Personal Trainer

The key to letting go is finding someone you trust to take the lead.

I always tell perspective new clients that personal training is a very personal relationship. If it’s going to be a happy and productive one you need to make sure not just hours and cost meet your needs but personalities as well. They need to be able to trust my methods. I need to be able to trust that they will share their honest feedback.

Which is part of the reason why I had to sign up for both teams when I decided to join the Ultimate Oxygen Challenge. I needed a chance to get to know my coaches before I made a commitment to one of them.

I understand it takes a little bit of risk to try something new but I am a big believer in calculated risk. Get as much information you can and then take a little leap of faith. Signing up to follow someone else’s program was a step out of my comfort zone. Signing up for both decreased the risk by giving me an option. These last four weeks have been like interviewing my new personal trainer, something you should always do. If you go into a gym or studio and they have you workout with whomever is on the floor without any prep or consultation – RUN AWAY.

Here is what I needed to know before I committed to my coach and team. These are things you should think about too before you hire a personal trainer or join a fitness program.

What is the coach’s fitness philosophy?

Both are at the top of her respective physique game. While I love fitting into my skinny jeans, aesthetics have never really been at the top of my goal list. My 100 Dreams List (and turning 40) made me think it might be time try a different approach. I love training my glutes so I was initially drawn to Team Amanda since this is her specialty. Think about what’s most important to you when talking to potential personal trainers. What result or outcome would make you feel successful? See if that matches how he or she trains.

Do our personalities match?

I’m doing the workouts on my own but there is still interaction via video and Facebook. Amanda is like the Energizer Bunny – constant energy, maybe a little over the top. She’s very passionate about what she does and I admire that. Erin is a little more low key. She’s still passionate but she does it in a more “just the facts” kind of way. I tend to be more like Erin myself (I think? Ask my clients, I guess.). If you don’t want a cheerleader, don’t hire one. If you need to be pumped up, find someone with big energy.

How will the schedule work?

I don’t have to meet either of my coaches at the gym but I need to make sure I can make the number of weekly workouts mesh with my schedule. Both programs actually make things pretty flexible (plus I work in a gym) but hiring a person trainer may not have the same flexibility. Ask what days and times sessions are offered and make sure the cancellation policy is clear. If you’re a night owl don’t sign up for 5 am classes. If weekdays are crazy for you, look for someone who trains on a Saturdays.

Is nutrition part of the program?

farmers-market-finds-08-2015-1

You cannot out train a bad diet. That’s why each OxyChallenge coach has a meal plan. Both offer vegetarian and vegan substitutions but only Erin offers an actual meal plan for ovo-lacto vegetarians and vegans. Meal plans can be helpful but limiting. Amanda’s meal plan, for example, has recipes that offer just one serving. That works out if you’re a family of one or two but not so much if you’ve got a lot of people to feed. Erin’s recipes often make 4 servings, which can help with dinner but leaves little for leftovers. You may also encounter foods in a meal plan you can’t eat due to intolerance, medical conditions or lifestyle choices. You may find foods you just don’t like (ugh …grapefruit). I have an extensive nutrition background so I have no problem making slight adjustments but there is a lot of discussion in both Facebook groups on not knowing what to do for specific issues, how to cook for families, what the heck are macros and where to find and how to use unfamiliar foods. Since nutrition is so important I would advise looking elsewhere if the personal trainer you’re interviewing doesn’t provide help. Find someone who will teach you about nutrition, how to make small changes and help you learn the basics of eating a healthy balanced diet while achieving your goals.

Is the coach available outside of session?

Erin interacts more to individual questions in the Facebook group. Amanda seems to prefer to wait till she gets a lot of questions and post a video to answer them. Both work, they are just different styles. I haven’t messaged either with a specific question so I don’t know if they respond. You need to find a coach who you can ask questions outside of session. While we all have lives, I think personal trainers should be “on call”. As long as you’re respectful (no texting at midnight for example) you should be able to reach out with homework or food questions between sessions. Make sure your communication style matches with your coaches as well.

How much does it cost? What do I get for my money?

6 Things To Consider When Hiring A Personal Trainer2

I knew the program cost going in. $99 for both programs is much less than hiring a personal trainer for 3 months. However you get what you pay for. The program isn’t specialized for my equipment (or lack thereof) or my fitness level. Weeks 1 and 2 felt super easy but I tried not to do to more and to trust the process. Consider other costs too like supplements and food. Amanda’s plan also felt like it required more specialized foods (things I don’t normally eat like hemp seeds and cacao nibs) while Erin’s was all about the eggs that I love and always have on hand. Amanda has a big list of supplements while Erin has a more basic and whole foods approach. Cost is important but don’t hire someone because they are the least/most expensive. Look at the other factors first, then consider what your budget can support. Beware of a personal trainer who hits you with a big list of supplements at the very start, especially if they are ones that he just happens to sell. Ask if they do any special classes or events for clients. For example, I partner with Mama Jean’s Natural Market to offer cooking classes on occasion to my clients at no extra charge.

I “interviewed” my coaches by doing two weeks with each one. After trying each one on for size and comparing what’s to come, I’ve made a commitment for the rest of the program. And the winner is…..Team Amanda! The decided factors? Meal plan and rest days. I like her recipes better but I may pull in some meals from the ovo-lacto vegetarian plan that Erin provided. (Although Amanda has more eggs in month 2.) Her rest days give me time for yoga and running, the other things I need to do to stay sane. Right now, I need her intensity and her drive.  I’ll all in for the next 60 day!

I would love to hear how you found your coach or personal trainer. What helped you choose them and let you know you made the right decision?