Comfort Lacks Confidence

By: Cati Davis

How many times have you heard us say, “you can go heavier than that,” “is that too easy,” or c’mon, one more rep, you got this?” Too many times to count, right? We don’t just say these things to say them. We say them to challenge you. Because, hey, if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. We love to see change. And, the look on someone’s face is priceless, when they have been doing dumbbell presses with 20 pound weights, you hand them 30 pounds and they pump out 3-4 reps, or when they accomplish a goal on the goal board and better yet, get their name drawn from the achieved jar.

There are so many ways that you can challenge yourself in life and step out of your comfort zone to achieve goals and become a more confident person. This is exactly what I experienced and learned when I received my HKC (Hardstyle Kettlebell Certification) and went to the Perform Better Summit in July. There were situations where I wasn’t completely comfortable, but ended up succeeding because I went out of my comfort zone to challenge myself.

Let’s look back at, “if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. When the day came to come in for the HKC workshop, I was nervous as ever because I had no idea what to expect. I am the kind of person who likes to have things planned and I definitely do not like surprises. Let’s be honest here, I had an extra set of clothes packed, along with the ones set out on the bed the night before, and of course I couldn’t forget snacks. Was I prepared? Yes. Did I use any of the things that I brought besides a water bottle? Of course not!

Obviously there were going to be 23 trainers judging me for my goblet squat, Turkish get up, and kettlebells swings. And that was if I even got through the entrance test of holding a hardstyle plank for 60 seconds. Now, was any of this true? No. I held my 60-second plank and moved on. There were several times where I was not fully comfortable with the task that I was asked to perform. But, I always pushed through, which gave me the confidence to move to the next task. The whole day could not have gone better. Thanks to two great instructors working with everyone the entire day, I was able to learn so much more than I ever imagined and was able to earn my HKC. And, I walked out of Forward Fitness with more confidence than I thought was possible.

The Chicago Perform Better Summit was next up and I was totally pumped for it! I was so ready to fill my brain with new knowledge to bring back to Forward Fitness. On Saturday we attended a Todd Durkin session where there  were 300 trainers in one room doing a conditioning workout. I’ve never seen so many people high fiving each other and cheering each other on, it was amazing! The workout was intense, but I knew I had to keep going. The push ups were getting tough, but I heard Suzanne’s voice over 300 people cheering me on to get one more in! That was it, I challenged myself to get one or two more in. I left that comfort zone and kept going. I walked out of that room of 300 people and had a complete boost of energy and felt like I could take on the world! I left Chicago with a positive mind, motivation, and confidence to help others.

People, take a step back and look at how you challenge yourself in life. Whether it be during your daily life or when you get your training in for the day at the gym, push yourself to the next level and see how much can change for you, mentally and physically. You will find yourself with more confidence than ever and hey, you are going to feel great too! So, next time you reach for the 20 pound dumbbell that you have been comfortably pressing, kick it up a notch and step out of your comfort zone, gain the confidence to help make the change, we’ve got your back!!

No More Negative Self Talk

By: Nick Lape ACSM, FMS

Happiness concept.A few months ago if you would have said, “Nick, I think that there is a bit too much negativity in your life,” I probably would have argued with you and came back with something like, “No I don’t I just have a lot of stress in my life right now.” And then, I would have kept on living the way I was. In all reality you would have been exactly right. This is actually the case for most people when they stop and think about it for a second. We often forget that even though we say, “Oh, I don’t care what other people think or say about me,” we often tell ourselves what is wrong in our lives without even voicing a word of it. We think, “Why do all the bad things happen to me?” “Why can’t I get the job I want?” “Why am I not smart enough?”  This is what I, and a good number of other people such as Tony Robbins, would call Negative Self Talk.

Many times in our lives we think that the reason we can’t succeed in our goals is because of some sort of external source. Someone has said to you that you can’t. You don’t have some sort of training that would allow you to know how to do something. You physically feel that you can’t. The reasons can go on and on with this merry-go-round of not believing in ourselves. But, that is exactly it. WE believe it. We internalize these statements and actions see them as truth in our life. What if we said, “No, I will not believe that.” Or “How can I be successful today. That is all it takes to begin to turn things around.

Now, I said, “begin.” I use this word because it takes way more than one self-empowering statement to turn things around. Think of positive thinking as a muscle in your brain. You need to build that muscle. If you go to the gym and lift a 5 pound weight once a week, do you expect to get results? No! It is the same with positive thinking. You must do it on a consistent basis to get results. Ask yourself empowering questions every day, multiple times a day. How can I do that? Where can I find the answer? What do I need to do to accomplish my goal? What am I thankful for? What am I excited about today? If your brain is focusing on finding the answer to these empowering questions it will not have to for the negativity. Imagine all the possibilities when you let go of negative self-talk and ask yourself positive questions.

If I’m being honest, we all live in a world full of negativity. It’s a can be a constant battle some days. There will DEFINITELY be more than just one time per day, per hour, even per minute that we are faced with the choice of saying I can or I can’t. However, hitting that first test head on with a, “No, that isn’t going to be me today,” or “How am I going to succeed today?” can start a wild fire in your mind and fuel more empowering thoughts. It will take some work, but taking action and controlling your own mind can turn conscious effort of positivity into subconscious reaction. That is where the fun starts.

If you know that you tend to doubt yourself start paying attention to it. See how it makes you feel. If you have never thought about it, start thinking about your actions and interactions with those around you as well as the way you talk to yourself. How do you feel? How do they make you feel? Why do you feel that way? Being in charge of your thoughts is the first step to success. Whether it is in weight loss, job advancement, relationships, or any other trial that gets set in front of you, getting rid of that Negative Self Talk is the first step in achieving even your hardest goals.

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Coach K of the Duke Blue Devils: “Doubt, kills more dreams than Failure ever will.”

Three Steps of Stress Management

By: Nick Lape

Stress ManEvery single person at some point during their week has that moment when they think that the entire world is out to get them. Or they have so many things to do they don’t see a way to accomplish it. With work deadlines, kids’ schedules, constant connection to email/the internet, and the want for some time to relax, life can get pretty stressful. Even if you start off fine as weeks progress all of these tasks begin to wear on us if we don’t manage it. During these stressful times it is imperative that we learn to manage ourselves, our nutrition, and our physical well-being.

1. Ask yourself positive questions and get positive answers.

In order to manage ourselves we must first be able to understand what makes us tick. We spend a good portion of our day inside our own heads. We have a constant dialogue with ourselves saying, “Why does this always happen to me?” and “Why am I always so busy? I never get to relax.” What if we stopped asking ourselves negative questions and started asking empowering ones? Instead of searching for negative answers we would search for positive ones. Due to the amount of time we talk to ourselves without anyone else hearing this is truly crucial when it comes to stress management. Empowering thoughts, questions, and answers to those questions are going to be your first defense against the battle inside your head that can consume you. DON’T LET IT!!!! Don’t let it affect the other aspects of your life, especially nutrition.

2. Choose foods that will benefit your health, mind, and mood.

Why do so many people in this country choose to eat during times of stress? Well food does have a way of comforting us. To go along with empowering thoughts, why don’t we take the time to choose something that will empower our mind as well as our body? During times of stress if we haven’t mastered our inner thoughts when it comes to fueling our bodies, it is a lot easier  to choose the easiest route possible to feel better immediately. We choose donuts, twinkies, bags of chips, etc.; foods laden with sugar. Or you could go the other route and swing by McDonald’s or order a pizza. Mastering our thought processes can prepare us for this. When we know a day is going to be painstakingly long or busy planning ahead can be a game changer. Choosing foods that benefit your health like veggies, fruits, nuts, grass-fed meats, healthy fats etc., can easily satisfy your hunger cravings and make you feel better about yourself.

3. Exercise on a regular basis.

When we talk about feeling better about ourselves one of the best ways is through physical activity. Every person enjoys their “me” time. How you choose to spend it is up to you. When managing stress, doing something that is physically taxing can make you feel less of that stressful burden. Personally, I choose to lift weights, however, running, biking, hiking, or just getting outside and go walking. All of these can have drastic effects on the way you feel. Choosing the healthy road when dealing with stress in this matter can only help.

Everyone in this world goes through stressful times. Sometimes you ask yourself, “How is that person so happy?” when you know personally they have a lot on their plate. The answer is that they have probably mastered a couple if not all three of the things that I’ve mentioned previously. They probably have the ability to manage their thoughts which will empower them to eat well and exercise. The product of all of this is efficient stress management. Ask yourself empowering questions, and answer them with empowering answers. Prepare food that will benefit your mind and your body. And lastly use exercise as your escape. In addition, time management, learning to say no, muscle relaxation, and breathing can help with stress. Choose the things that make your mind and body happiest and healthiest. I can guarantee that if you master these things that you will be the person that people ask that question of “How can he be so happy with some much on his plate?”

Can Weight Loss be as Easy as Sleep?

By: Suzanne Doerries RD, LD

Sleeping GirlWhen we think of weight loss or health, most of us think of exercise and nutrition. However, sleep plays a very important role. The average adult needs seven to nine hours of continuous sleep EVERY night.

Think about those nights when you don’t sleep well or get at least seven hours. How do you feel the next day? Are you able to think as clearly? Do you have lapses in your attention? Do you over react to situations? Chances are you answered yes to at least one of these questions.

In addition to the above, lack of sleep affects metabolic hormones. It decreases glucose tolerance affecting blood sugar levels.  It also decreases leptin and increases ghrelin. These are two hormones that have an effect on your appetite. Leptin tells the body that we have had enough to eat, while ghrelin tells us to eat. It’s the perfect storm, you are over emotional, don’t have control of your feelings, and feel hungry. How likely are you to make a healthy food choice especially when there is chocolate in the break room at work?  Multiple studies have shown that sleeping less than seven hours each night is associated with an increased BMI.

How can you improve your sleep? The first step is to make it a priority. If you are getting ample sleep you will be able to focus better and accomplish to-dos more efficiently. Here are some other tips to help insure a quality seven to nine hours of shut eye each night.

  • Turn off ALL light producing electronics at least 60 minutes before bed. Having complete darkness is really important to a good night’s sleep. Light affects melatonin levels which will affect your sleep.
  • Set a peaceful timer to remind you to get ready for bed. One of the most common reasons people do not get enough sleep is because they choose to stay up. Whether they get sucked in to a TV show or want to get in extra work the choice is made to stay up.
  • Create a calming bed time routine. You want to be relaxed when you go to sleep, not stressed.
  • Turn down the heat. Most experts say that the best temperature for sleep is between 65 and 68 degrees F. If you get too hot while you sleep you will wake up.
  • Avoid caffeine after noon or at least 6 hours before bed. Caffeine is a stimulant and can affect your sleep schedule.
  • Avoid alcohol. Any amount of alcohol can affect quality of sleep.
  • Exercise early. Exercising in the evening can make it hard for some people to fall asleep.
  • Breathe. Close your eyes. Breathe in and out through your nose without making any noise. You should not be able to hear yourself breathe. Your exhale should be twice as long as your inhale.

Don’t let a lack of sleep be the limiting factor to your health.