Food is More Than Fuel

IMG_20170801_200918_502People talk a lot about food these days. And when it comes to food and nutrition, there is so much emphasis on food as fuel. What does that even mean anyway? It’s analogous with a machine like a car using gas as its source of energy; food is the fuel you add to your tank, or stomach rather, to function efficiently.  I get the analogy, but at the same time I don’t necessarily wholeheartedly agree with it, and have a bone to pick with its constant use. Some of the common sayings surrounding this phrase we hear are: “fuel your body with clean foods, fuel your body with proper nutrition, fuel your body post-workout, you don’t want to fuel your body with cheap or “bad” fuel, do you?” Alright, we get it. Food is fuel! Please excuse me while I top my engine off with some premium octane. Oh wait, that’s a protein shake. Gah! Food is so much more than fuel alone. The food we prepare and eat everyday is an experience, its ritualistic, and is a cultural practice that dates back hundreds of thousands of years to when Neanderthals began cooking in prehistoric times. I mean, if that alone doesn’t shed a little light on the fact that food is more than fuel, I don’t know what will. 🙂

Seriously though, we put so much insistence on food being calories in versus calories out, religiously counting these calories and obsessively tracking our macros (proteins, carbs, and fats), and adhering to specific diets like Paleo or Ketogenic or Vegan to maintain our physical appearances, yet we sometimes lose the beauty that is the food itself. Just imagine all the beautiful bushels of vibrantly colored fruits and veggies that are popping up at your local farmer’s market right now, or go to your butcher and check out all those salty cured meats and yummy artisan cheeses that are available. Ever notice how food usually tastes better when it’s prepared and enjoyed with others? Food should not simply be something that you only look at as fuel for your body. Food and the meals we eat are celebratory and should be valued as abundant gifts that fill our lives, and I’ll be damned if that means ALL my meals have to be bland and eaten out of a plastic Tupperware that I’ve used for meal prepping the Sunday before.

Food is date nights, birthday dinner celebrations, home-for-the-holidays (generational) meal traditions, summertime BBQ’s, and Sunday evening family dinners. We have so many beautifully shared experiences that revolve around food. Preparing and cooking food ignites our creativity and can also be a relaxing meditative practice that allows us to shut out all the daily busy that surrounds us. The smell of certain foods cooking like sautéed garlic and onions, for example, might remind you of someone close to you or of a specific meal that you loved eating as a kid. Food can carry emotional associations for us that bring a little nostalgia into our lives, and leave us filled with yummy memories.

The next time you’re invited out to dinner or brunch, go! Don’t let diets or gains rule your life all of the time. Obviously if you are prepping for a competition or something along those lines, you’re going to be less flexible, but don’t let that food mentality rule your world indefinitely. Be grateful for the food you have access to, and give thanks at every meal.

Pressure Versus Motivation: How to Differentiate Between the Two

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Image courtesy pexels.com

As someone who works in the fitness industry, I hear a lot of talk about motivation.  It seems like motivation creeps it’s bubbly little head up everywhere these days. It shows up on blogs, in memes, in Instagram hashtags like #motivationmonday, and wherever else it can brightly chime its way into. Amirite? Your motivation for doing something is your why. For example, why are you setting specific goals and where exactly are you headed because of said goals? Your why can also turn into your who. As in, who are you doing this for? Are you starting a fitness journey so you can have more energy to play with your children? If so, your children might be your why. Or are you starting an exercise program because your health is suffering and you need to lose weight? If this is the case, you and your well-being may be your why! 

Regardless of your reasons for taking on this lifestyle shift, are you fully in touch with your why and are you remaining true to yourself while committing to it? Staying true to yourself and your intention means that you do not feel pressured to behave any particular way. If you are living your truth and are fully in line with your mission, words like should, ought, or have to have no place in your vocabulary when it comes to fulfilling your bottom line. So, how can you tell the difference between true motivation versus pressure to complete a particular outcome? Below I will map out some simple techniques to use if you’re having doubts about how your reasons for doing something are being influenced:

If it doesn’t excite you, forget it! Let’s really break this one down. If you are not going to feel fulfilled by it and you’re not pumped about this new undertaking, ask yourself if it is truly right for you at this point in time. Sometimes we simply are not ready. And that’s okay! Other times, it isn’t necessarily our cup of tea. Most of the time we think we want things, only to find out in the end that we really don’t want them at all and end up wasting time and energy as a result. So, pay attention to your feelings and notice whether or not it feels thrilling or more like a chore. Don’t get me wrong there are times when going to the gym, for example, might feel like a chore, but if the majority of the time it feels energizing (motivating) and you WANT to be there then chances are it is not something you are feeling pressured to do. Hone in on listening to yourself, and notice how you feel emotionally and even physically about your situation. Trust that YOU know what takes best care of you!

It’s always inconvenient. If you are dragged down by it and only doing it because you “have to” chances are your heart is not in it. And if your heart is not in it, you are not being truthful about your why. Are you noticing a recurring theme yet? Yep, it’s being true to YOURSELF. If something does not feel right to you, but you do it anyway, doesn’t it seem like you’re being influenced in a way that feels pressured rather than motivating? It does to me. Obviously there are things we have to attend to on a regular basis like showing up at our jobs, taking care of our children, and being supportive to those we care about. But if you are saying “yes” all the time out of pressure rather than you wanting to, you may end up feeling bogged down rather than empowered.

You’re doing it to please someone else. If you are only working out or creating a lifestyle change to please someone else rather than yourself, chances are you are not doing it out of motivation. There certainly are a lot of demands put on us by society, our peers, and by family members to look and act a certain way. If you are only working out to achieve a certain body type based on what others are saying you should have, you are not living your truth or doing it for the right reasons. Namely, under your terms and for YOURSELF. You are not only doing a disservice to yourself by behaving this way, you may be harming relationships as well. For example, if you are going to the gym because you are after a “perfect body” to please your boyfriend/girlfriend, you are not only attaching a negative tie-in to it, you may, subsequently, begin to resent that person and have feelings of animosity toward them as a result. Again, an insult to yourself and now the other person you’ve involved. This scenario will not serve you now or in the future. Try not to let outside noise cloud your judgement and make you believe that you need to look a certain way to feel worthy. Know your worth and own your truth by doing and finding the things in life that truly make you happy.

If you are not wanting to do something, but are doing it anyway, chances are your mindset isn’t in the right place. Instead, you are putting pressure on yourself to execute an outcome that you are not passionate about and conversely, you are not being honest with yourself. Ask yourself: do I want to do this; am I ready to take this on; will doing this make me happy; and who am I doing this for? I hope this post leaves you with some insight on how to notice when you are being driven by pressure versus motivation, and remember that it is not selfish of you to make choices based on what is truly best for you.

XO,

Natasha

 

 

5 Tips for Succeeding at the Gym

healthy-light-woman-legsJoining the gym is a great way to get in shape, take time out for yourself,  and can help you become more active in your community. The local gym is an excellent place to go to work out solo, meet up with friends, or try out new group fitness classes like Zumba or Pilates. A lot of gyms are accessible 24 hours a day now, so if you work nights or have a tight schedule and cannot make normal business hours, there are plenty of options out there for you as well! Whether you are looking for a sense of community, to begin a weight-loss transformation, or take on bodybuilding, the gym has all the tools and resources you’ll need to start your journey. If you’re a beginner just starting out or a professional competitor, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the most out of your membership by attending regularly, but what is the easiest way to make that happen? Below are 5 simple, yet effective tips on how to succeed at the gym:

1. Prepay for your membership. If you buy an annual or semi-annual membership from day one, you are more likely to show up. When you’re financially committed to your fitness endeavors they become more of a priority, and there is more at stake if you feel the urge to throw in the towel too soon. Most memberships are on a month-to-month basis with the option to cancel, so you may be more likely to hit the pause button or cancel altogether if there is no risk of a monetary penalty. An added bonus of joining annually is that you will likely save money for paying up front. Most gyms offer deals where if you buy 12 months, you’ll receive an additional 3 months free, for example, which is an added incentive to commit. We all love getting things for free so this may be the better option for your budget.

2. Get a personal trainer. I am not saying this because, ya know, I am one, but rather because new gym members are typically more successful at the gym when they begin with a trainer. If there is a deal or discount when you sign up to add personal training to your membership, I highly recommend you do so. Having a trainer will keep you accountable, she/he will offer you safe and effective workouts tailored to your needs to help prevent injury, and will help you become more confident with exercises and equipment so you can have long lasting results. Depending on the gym you choose, some trainers will also provide nutrition coaching and are happy to provide assessments (body measurements, weight, body fat percentage, etc.) for you at no additional charge. It’s incredibly motivating having someone in your corner to help keep you on track! And a great trainer will make sure you’re reaching your goals.

3. Join with a partner or friend. I don’t know about you, but I love working out with my squad! It’s more energizing and fun to meet up with my ladies at the gym, and it gives us a chance to catch up, groove, and try new workouts together. Plus, it allows us the chance to meet in a space where the overall focus is on self-care and self-love — which is pretty kickass if you ask me. If you are married or partnered up, joining with your S.O. is a great way for the two of you to do something fun and engaging together as a couple. What’s the saying: couples who play together stay together. Hands down, totally agree with that one! It’s fun to get hot and sweaty with your main squeeze. You’ll both end up leaving the gym feeling jazzed from the effects of all those endorphin’s running through your brain which can only lead to a healthier and happier union. 🙂

4. Show up! I realize this is a very obvious tip, but if you’re not creating a schedule and planning out when you will make it to the gym to workout, you are not going to be consistent and will likely skip out altogether as a result. We all get busy, and yes I know things come up. Life is always going to happen regardless of how organized we are. However, it is up to you (and only you) to hold yourself accountable and to set aside blocks of time to care for yourself. Maybe you are not after a leaner body, and you’re joining for different reasons like increasing mobility or to simply maintain your current lifestyle. Okay, I get that and it’s all good. Whatever your reasons for joining may be — be sure you make yourself a priority and show up. What have you got to lose by making your health a priority?

5. Leave your gym clothes in your car or carry them in a bag with you if you walk, bus, or take a subway. I cannot tell you how many times clients have missed sessions because they were unprepared or forgot their sneakers at home, for instance. If you leave a gym bag in your car at all times, you won’t have an excuse to not make it to the gym. Depending on the time of day you plan to go and whether or not you go on days off, put your gym clothes on when you get ready in the morning before leaving the house. I find this act helpful in motivating me to get my butt in gear! If I’m already in my workout clothes, the better the odds are that I’m gonna hit the gym or get a session in as soon as my day clears.

I hope you find these tips useful and applicable to your own situation. Remember that everyone was once new at the gym and don’t let others around you (in the gym and elsewhere) distract you from your goals. Simply stay focused on yourself and your mission, and you’ll do great!

XO,

Natasha