How I Stopped Being Self-Conscious In The Gym

The other day my sister sent me a text asking how I got over being self-conscious in the gym.  My immediate response was, “I don’t know.  I just made myself do it…”

But how??

Fitness was not always a part of my life.  Working out was a chore or a punishment depending on the day and my version of a work out was going for a run.  I didn’t know anything about weights and even had escape plans up my sleeve to save myself from embarrassment of “figuring” out equipment.   Now the gym is my first home and I wouldn’t know what I would do without it.

So how did I get this to this point?

 

I had a goal, a vision, and a purpose.  The day I stepped in the gym (I mean really stepped in a gym) was the day I decided to compete in my first bikini competition. I had little knowledge in the gym, but I wanted to get into the best shape of my life and show it off in a competition wearing the smallest bikini known to man.  Placing in the competition was always a bonus, but I was there to prove to myself that I could do this. I researched different “competition coaches” and hired someone online.  Even though they gave me a plan they didn’t show me how to actually do anything in the gym.  This plan was no better than googling a random workout.  They did hold me accountable, but I was still on my own to figure it out.  Despite how intimidating it was I determined enough to step in that gym and do the work even if I looked like a jackass.   As motivated as I was, I was still afraid of using certain machines or doing certain exercises, because I knew I was “weak” and thought I would look stupid.  I avoided these exercises for quite some time until I finally decided to make myself do it.

Fitness Girl

I came up with a plan.  Every week I picked an exercise that I had been too intimidated to try and made a promise to myself that I would get it done by the end of the week/session.   Sometimes I failed on that promise and sometimes I succeeded, but I never stopped trying.  I was consistent in my efforts and building up the courage until I finally did it all.

 

I used visualization.  Some days were harder than others and it required more mental strength to get through it.  I’m inspired by the visuals I can create in my own my mind.   There would be days I sat in the parking lot seeing myself lift or at my goal physique on stage with the lights on me.  I could physically feel the emotions of accomplishing these goals and what my life will be like when I checked this goal off my list.  It was a high that I used to help step through those doors and try something new.  Visualization is still a strong tool for me, but I’ve been able to utilize self-talk to get me through hard workouts as well.  Try both to figure out what works well for you.

 

I dressed like a bad assin my own head.   I’m not a fashionista nor do I have any right telling anyone what looks good and what doesn’t.  I started off trying to find things to hide my body or sweat stains because avoiding all forms of embarrassment was key and wardrobe played a role in fading into the background. But as I grew more confident in the gym I began to expand my outfits outside of black and baggy.  It may sound silly, but when you feel like a bad ass in your gym gear then you will work out like a bad ass.

 

At the end of the day there is no magic trick to get over being self-conscious in the gym.  At some point you need to stand up to your fears and make yourself do it.  If you need to start off small then do that.  If you can rip it off  like a band-aid and go balls to the walls then more power to ya’ sista!   Regardless of the size steps you take you have to be ready and willing to make the commitment to change and step outside your comfort zone.

 

The best piece of advice someone has ever given me was ‘do it scared.’   And no matter if you’re scared, just go ahead and do it anyway because you might as well do it scared, so it will get done and you will feel so much better if you step out of your comfort zone. – Sherri Shepard

Continue Reading

The Skinny on Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Fish oils and omega-3s are all the rage these days. They are one of the most common supplements out there. Many people take them because they have heard that there are many health benefits but few people truly know what those benefits are or how to take fish oils effectively. So to make your life easier here is a breakdown on what to take and why to take it.

What are Omega-3 fatty acids?

Fish oils come from fatty or oily fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines. It is the tissue of the fatty fish that contains the Omega-3 fatty acid. The two key ingredients in the Omega-3 fatty acids are DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). Fish do not actually produce EPA. They obtain it from the algae they eat. EPA is more beneficial for adults while DHA is more important for children and youngsters.

What are the health benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids?

There are many health benefits to Omega-3 fatty acids. Although studies have been mixed there is a general trend towards improvements in HDL (good cholesterol) and triglycerides, reduced risk for prostate cancer, decreased symptoms of post-natal (postpartum) depression, reduced risk of Alzheimer’s, improved memory and other mental health benefits including help with behavioral problems such as ADHD. Omega-3 fatty acids are also referred to as a natural anti-inflammatory. They can be credited with helping to ease joint pain and cope with soreness from intense or strenuous workouts. These benefits are more antidote and vary from person to person.

How much is enough?

To ensure you are taking enough you should aim for at least 2000mg/day of combined EPA and DHA. You want your fish oil supplement to be slightly higher in EPA than DHA due to it being more beneficial to adults. This usually means taking more than one capsule per day. You need to be taking four capsules daily (two in the morning and two in evening).

The Excuse List:

I eat plenty of fish in my diet. I should be good, right?

Wrong. The majority of fatty or oily fish are farm raised these days. The amount and type of Omega-3 fatty acids in wild fish is dependent on the algae in the fish’s diet. Farm raised fish are fed an unnatural diet of plants, grains, and fish meal which can leave them deficient in fatty acids. Farm raised fish are usually crammed into small living quarters where disease can easily spread requiring fish farms to rely heavily on antibiotics.

What about fish burps?

True, some fish oils can leave you with nasty tasting and smelling fish burps for several hours after taking them. Some brands have made an effort to combat this by combining a small amount of peppermint oil (or other minty oil). Plus, good quality fish oil generally won’t make you burp.

What is a good brand/type of fish oil to take?

When it comes to fish oils there are hundreds on the market today. Keep in mind that the FDA does not regulate the supplement industry. Many manufacturers attempting to make a quick buck off this health trend offer sub-par products that can be lacking the active ingredients you are looking for. Many studies have been done showing that the majority of brands on the market do not contain the levels of EPA and DHA they claim on the package labeling. To protect yourself and ensure you are getting the benefits you should take a high quality product that is made by a reputable company. Researching each individual product can be exhausting and time consuming. Rather than researching each product you should research the company making the product. If you find that a company is reputable then you can generally trust all the products that they make. I personally turn to companies such as Thorne and Douglas Labs for all my supplements. These are both companies that offer “pharmaceutical grade” supplements.

Be prepared to invest in your health.

Taking a higher quality supplement will no doubt be more expensive than taking a lesser product. But you will be getting just that: a lesser product. Do not give in to the temptation to save a buck because you will actually be wasting money in the long run by taking something that doesn’t actually benefit you. Spend your money where it counts and invest in your health.

Continue Reading

First-Time Protein Fluff

I wish I could say that I was a woman that knows her way around the kitchen, but no…I can’t.  I have a lot of creative strengths but that creativity stops the second I walk on that tiled floor and open up the fridge, therefore I rely on cookbooks to get me “Wife Ready” as I like to say.  One of my favorite books that I recently purchased is “The Ultimate Protein Pow(D)er Cookbook“. It has almost everything you can think of and more with protein powder as an ingredient and it’s absolutely amazing!

When I say everything I mean: pancakes, waffles, cereals, breads, bagels, muffins, burgers, wraps, pizzas, quiches, soups, bars, chocolates, brownies, cookies, blondies, donuts, cakes…the list goes on!  My favorite simple protein sweet is the “First-Time Protein Fluff”.  It takes about 10 minutes to make and satisfies that late night sweet tooth.

 

proteinfluff

 

 

Ingredients

1/4 cup vanilla whey protein powder

2 cups of frozen berries (I used mixed berries)

1/4 cup of milk (I used cashew milk)

 

 

 

 

Directions

  • Blend everything together with or a blender or food processor until it is smooth.
  • Then use an electric hand mixer or whisk by hand (which I would never suggest) until the color starts to get lighter and the fluff gathers air and turns into protein fluff!
  • Shove your mouth with protein fluff deliciousness.

Enjoy!

 

Continue Reading

Aerial Yoga Review

On your fitness journey you will be inspired to try new forms of exercise.  Some of these experiences will be awesome.  You will find new avenues to explore your fitness and develop your strength.  And then there will be times where you literally think “wtf am I doing?”  This was me with Aerial yoga.

FullSizeRender (21)

To be fair, I have nothing against Aerial yoga for other people.  There are many benefits to Aerialyoga similar to other forms of yoga such as flexibility and core strength. Aerial yoga also provides the added benefits of inversion, which helps with spinal decompression.  Hanging upside down will also stimulate your vestibular system (the part of your inner ear that helps with balance).  This can be a great way to alleviate back or neck pain, improve flexibility, get some deep stretching and recovery from more challenging workouts, and improve balance and inner ear function.

On the other hand, it might just make you nauseous for several hours afterward.  This was the case with me.  The hanging upside was extremely uncomfortable to me due to the intense head rush.  I am not a huge fan of traditional forms of yoga to begin with (that’s right I said it) so I didn’t really get a kick out of being sick to my stomach in addition to doing yoga.  This doesn’t mean that yoga or Aerial yoga is bad for you or you should be insulted if you are a fan of any of these forms of exercise.  If you think that you could benefit from any of the positive outcomes I mentioned earlier, then by all means, knock yourself out and get your upside down yogi on.  I will be keeping my feet on the floor from now on.


Continue Reading

Dealing With Negative People

Negative people are everywhere and it’s almost impossible to get away from them.  Negative people find pleasure in bringing other’s down.  I mean, why else are they up all in your grill telling you how to live your life?  Because seeing you doubt your choices that bring you happiness makes them feel a little better inside.

Fitness Model
No matter how hard you try you cannot change these people or their opinions. The only thing you can change is how you react to them.  When you choose to change your unhealthy lifestyle for the better you will come in contact with a lot of positive people rooting you on and joining in on the fun (Yes, I said “fun” because fitness is fun when you find your home in the gym).  At the same time your new priorities will start to bring the negative freaks out to play.

Where is the Negativity Coming From?

Before you decide to cut them out figure out where this negativity is coming from.  Is it a place of concern or a deep-rooted ugly that only the negative person can feel?  If you come from a family that doesn’t know what a vegetable looks like and all of a sudden they see you eating a salad then you might start to hear remarks implying that you are starving yourself.  Sometimes these “concerns” come from ignorance.  If they don’t know what healthy eating consists of or don’t really care to be healthier, they may not understand what it is you are trying to accomplish and what it takes to get there.  Take the time to educate them, but know your audience before you waste your breath.  Don’t waste your time defending the reasons of your meal choice if it is going to fall on death ears.  If your audience is open to the conversation then they might be opened minded to the whole healthy concept once they “get it”.  Then when they start seeing your changes you will definitely be the first person they go to for advice.

If you have ruled out the “concern” option, then this fool is just simply unhappy with themselves.  They may be a “friend” and say they want the best for you, but if their actions don’t match their words then there is something wrong and it’s not you.  They probably can’t even acknowledge their inconsistency and shit talking, but unfortunately you cannot fix their problems.  Depending on your relationship, cutting them out of your life may not be the answer or something you are willing to do.  If that isn’t a choice for you then you just need to learn to ignore them; don’t give them a reaction and don’t bother defending your lifestyle.  It’s easier said then done, but this negative person will either learn to leave you alone, accept your lifestyle or weed themselves out once they realize you don’t care what they say (better for you…you don’t need that idiot anyway!)

Regardless of the person and the negative message they are delivering, you need to keep focus on your goal. Remember what it is you are trying to accomplish and how it is going to feel when you get there.  It is a shame you can’t share your new-found happiness with other people but life isn’t perfect and not everyone will be happy for your success.  It will feel like a heartbreak when the ones you thought would root you on don’t, but what you will find is a brand new circle of people who support your choices and will even join you on your cardio days.

mark-twain-quote2

Continue Reading

Be Your Own #Fitspo

Photo (4)

There is always some kind of controversy behind body image in our society.  One minute we hate models because they are “too skinny” and portray an unhealthy image of beauty.  The next day, fitness models are being attacked for being “too muscular” giving people the impression  that achieving health is impossible because the of various ignorant fitness beliefs.

It is disturbing that people blame “fitspo” or fitness imagines on self-esteem related issues.   The word “fitspo” is disturbing in itself, but this blame as a whole is just another way to point the finger as to why people are unhealthy and unhappy.  Take some responsibility of your own crazy and work to heal yourself to fight against.  It doesn’t matter whether you believe these imagines are damaging or motivating because they will always be there and there is nothing you can do about it.

 

You will always have two choices – Spend your energy comparing yourself to other people and feeling bad about it or work on yourself to be a better version of you.

 

Of course the media can portray better examples of beauty and health, but the reality is that no matter what is out there (skinny model, fit model, plus size model…etc) someone somewhere will always have something bad to say about it.

Beauty and health does not come in one package.

Fitness is not one shape, body type or form of exercise.

Happiness and confidence can’t be handed to you externally.

 

Stop blaming other people for your problems and take some time to recognize where your problems actually come from.  Find a therapist, start a blog, research what it takes to get to your goal or ask for help in which ever way you think you need it.  Make the choice to live a better life because you deserve it!  The sooner you focus on you and only you, the happier you will become.

Be your own #fitspo, damn it!

Continue Reading