Goal Setting

Setting goals is fun, the work along the way can be not so fun at times.  Setting a goal is like signing up for a race.  You are super excited when you sign up and have this vision of what it will look and feel like when you cross that finish line; then you start the race.  The first bit isn’t so bad, all the good vibes you had when you singed up are still there and keeping you focused.  Then about halfway you start to get tired, people are passing you, and you can’t see that finish line anywhere.  Now you are tired and frustrated because the finish line is farther than you anticipated when you signed up and you didn’t think it would be this hard and you start wondering if you should just stop the race because no one will care whether you finish or not.   How does this analogy of signing up for a race relate to setting a goal you ask?  Think of it like this, most people set a goal when they are happy, have very little daily life stressors on their mind, and they are feeling super motivated.  And when they start working toward this goal the initial excitement one had when setting this goal is still present.  Then life gets in the way.  When you decide on a goal you are excited and motivated but then all the other life duties get in the way and bog you down.  A work project gets thrown in your lap, something comes up in your family, or better yet a pandemic happens.  You put your goal on pause or just toss it completely.  No one will know you say, it won’t matter if I don’t reach it, it was silly of me to make that a goal anyway, unrealistic.  NOPE!  If that is a goal of yours it isn’t silly and you know who will notice if you don’t reach it?  You will, and that is the only person you should be worried about impressing.

So, this is what you are going to do.  Write down your goal, and then bullet below it all the things that need to happen in order for that goal to be accomplished.  Next you are going to set a date for when you want the goal to be accomplished.  Because a goal without a date is just a wish.  Once the date is set, you look at the bulleted list and break the time between now and the date you set up into 4ths.  Put bullet items together if they are related and put them into one of the quarter time dates between now and your overall goal.  These are now your mini goal check points.  Each time you reach one it will serve as a reminder that you are one step closer to your overall goal and will be a rewarding feeling to cross it off the list.  You can even give yourself a list of things you want to do daily, weekly, and monthly as they help you take steps toward your overall goal.  Whatever works for you is what works.

My challenge for you all is to sit down right now and create your goal and the mini goals that are necessary along the way to ensure success.  And if any of those goals are fitness or nutrition related Smarter Athlete Fitness and Nutrition is the place to be to help you reach those goals.  When you sign-up to work with Smarter Athlete your coach will design a program that is personalized to your goals and be there for you each week to make sure you are supported on your journey.  If this is what you are looking for reach out via email to paigedavis.wellness@gmail.com to learn more.

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Health versus Wellness

The terms health and wellness tend to be used interchangeably.  While these two are very connected, they are not exactly synonymous terms.  To be clear:

Health(n)- the state of being free from illness or injury; a person’s mental or physical condition.

Wellness(n)- the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal.

So, in order to have one you need to have the other.  Someone can be free from a physical illness or injury and thus be healthy, but not in a state of wellness because their emotional or mental health may not be at 100%.  In order to be completely healthy ones physical, emotional, and mental health must be free from illness/injury, and once that is achieved one will be in a state of wellness.

If you are looking for ways to improve any aspect of your health in order to be in a state of wellness, Smarter Athlete Fitness and Nutrition can help you.  The coaches are dedicated to you and helping you achieve your goals.  The active pursuit of your health can sometimes be a hard and lonely road, but with Smarter Athlete you don’t have to go it alone.  Email me at paigedavis.wellness@gmail.com to get more information and get started with Smarter Athlete Fitness and Nutrition to take the first steps toward a healthier you. 15894683_1776846229307750_3069929597083203043_n

So, we are still quarantining, now what?

(Still)Bored in the house, and (still) in the house bored?  4 months have gone by since the stay-at-home orders had been put in place and we are still at home.  Yes, I know some places are entering various phases of their ‘back-to-normal’ plans, but things are still anything but normal.  What many were thinking and hoping would have been at the most 1-1.5 months of quarantine has quickly turned into an entire summer.  A couple months back I posted about some ways to handle this new way of living and the stresses that come with it. (Click here for a refresher). The advice there still holds true now that we are 4 months (and counting) into quarantine living.  Overall the advice given there, if you don’t want to go read it, was be kind to yourself and choose vegetables, fruits, and whole foods before you reach for the processed options available to you.  Moving away from the nutritional side of wellness and toward the physical/fitness side this post will give you some options to help create some semblance of structure during these very unsure times.  So, without any further introduction here is my list of advice:

  1. Create a schedule for yourself- This doesn’t have to be the same thing every day, but during the ‘work week’ you should create some type of schedule that would reflect what it would look like for you if you weren’t WFH. Wake up at the same time every day, create a ‘morning commute’ whether that is having breakfast or having a cup of coffee while reading a book/magazine/the news/etc., clock-in for the work day, take a lunch break away from your work area, take walks around your home 5 minutes every hour, and have a hard quitting time where all work related things get put away for the day.
  2. Set aside at least 30 minutes of some type of movement- This can be a walk/jog around your neighborhood, YouTube a yoga session, break out the dumbbells/kettlebells, stretching, body-weight circuits, etc. Just do something that gets the blood flowing through the body and gets you up from your desk/workstation.
  3. Pick up a new hobby or start reading- Do something that stimulates your mind beyond your work; that isn’t finding a new show to watch on Netflix or Hulu.  You can even get into a new podcast.
  4. Check up on your friends and family- Group FaceTime, texts, zooms, whatever it is just make sure the people you care about are doing alright. If you are stressed out by all of this or feel off, there is a very good chance you aren’t the only one.
  5. Get dressed- I noticed personally when I stopped laying around in what I wore to bed the night before I felt a little better. Even if I did change from one oversized t-shirt & sweatpants combo to another one, it made me feel like I had started a new day.  You can also take this further and place a to-go order from your favorite local restaurant (#SupportLocalBusinesses) and put on something other than sweatpants, maybe even do your hair/makeup, and go have a socially distanced picnic.

Pretty much what I am saying is, eat well, move your body, and do something for your mind.  We are creatures of habit and love structure, but we also don’t like feeling like we are in a rut or living the same day over and over again.  So, do something that makes each day a little different from the rest and don’t forget to still treat yourself once in a while.  Nutritional, physical and mental self-care are very important to your overall wellness.

[Thought this was funny and fitting for the post]Cover-photo-for-tweets

Listening to Your Body

Listen To Your Body | Harmony Yoga Redondo Hermosa Manhattan Beach ...

Your body has a lot to say and is in constant communication with you.  Whether or not you are listening is the issue.  From waking up in the morning feeling tired to craving certain foods to feeling sore; your body is trying to tell you what it needs in order to be at its best.  I am going to try to cover these various messages your body is giving you in as succinct a way as possible, because each message could be a blog post in itself.

Let’s start with cravings.  Cravings can indicate anything from you aren’t taking in enough calories to support your expenditure, to some type of memory has been triggered that is making you want a certain food, to your hormones being at work, just to name a few reasons.  To avoid turning this into a psychology and physiology paper as I explain the interplay of memory and hormones on food cravings, I will just be talking about taking in calories to meet expenditure.  When you are undereating your body wants to get in energy as fast as possible in order to refuel.  This is why we tend to reach for the bag of chips or the cookies because our bodies have learned we can get a lot of calories in very quickly and often it is pretty tasty.  Learning to take in the proper number of calories to support your daily life is very important.  Your goals determine how you should be eating; when looking to lose weight and get leaner you will need to take in calories at a deficit, when you are looking to put on mass and get bigger you will need to take in calories at a surplus, and when just looking to stay where you are and support your daily life you should be eating at a balance.  This equation doesn’t look the same for everyone though, it isn’t as simple as just eat less than what you expend to lose weight and eat more than you expend to gain weight.  Each person is different and will respond to diets in a different way.

Waking up in the morning feeling tired can indicate that your quality of sleep during the night wasn’t that great or that you are not getting enough sleep.  Getting enough sleep is an easier correction to make than trying to figure out how to improve sleep quality.  Having a daily schedule and bed-time routine helps make getting the proper number of hours of sleep a little easier.  If you know you are going to wake up at say 6am every day, and that you want to get 8 hours of sleep then you should be in bed and asleep by 10pm every night. In order to make that happen you should develop a bed-time routine that allows you to be in bed and asleep at 10pm.  This can look something like finishing dinner by 8:30pm every night, turning off the television and putting away other screens (phones, tablets, laptops, etc.) by 9pm, having a book to read before you go to sleep, and maybe you have a white noise machine to help you fall asleep as well.  We as humans like structure, and by creating a routine for falling asleep it will help signal to your body over time that once ‘x,y,z’ happen you should be asleep.  Now waking up feeling tired due to poor sleep quality can be signs of not eating enough as well, having high levels of stress which causes your body to release cortisol outside the natural circadian rhythm, or you could have some illness present causing you to not get in a good sleep.  Depending on what the reason is for sleep quality determines what step you need to take next to improve the quality of sleep. (That is post for another time though)

Now to address being sore.  It is good to be sore because it means you have challenged your muscles enough be in a state of re-synthesis.  You worked out hard and now your muscles are repairing themselves.  It is not good to be so sore you can’t move every single day of the week.  Being in a constant state of muscle repair means that you never give your muscles a chance to fully recover and this can lend itself to injury.  Click here to read a previous post of mine on the benefits of resting and taking a day off from your training.

So, if you are reading this sentence, I am going to assume you clicked that link and read (or re-read s/o my loyal following) my previous blog post.  Taking a day off from anything is important to both physical and mental health.  You need to step back from whatever it is you do during the week in order to come back to it refreshed and excited to work at it again.  My fitness fanatics are probably thinking in their heads right now, but what about an active recovery day?  Yes, those are good but what are you calling active recovery?  For me an active recovery day is a leisurely walk or a casual bike ride.  It isn’t me jumping into the pool and swimming laps (no matter how slow I am going, swimming is actually a very interesting exercise modality when it comes to energy expenditure), or going for a long run, or going to the gym and doing accessory lifts.  Active recovery should be incredibly low impact compared to your weekly training.  There is nothing wrong with moving on an off day, but this movement shouldn’t be intense or high impact.  Off days are intended to be for taking your foot off the gas and giving your body the chance to recover and refresh.

This turned out to be longer than I intended, but the thoughts just kept flowing.  The sad part is I could have written even more, the science behind all of this are textbook chapters in exercise physiology.  What I want to be the takeaway here is listen to your body, it knows what it is saying and wants to support you as best as it can.  Taking a day off is fine, taking multiple days off is fine, you need to listen to what your body needs when it comes to rest.  Eat well and eat to support your goals, you get one chance and one body when it comes to living life, so live life well and treat your body right.

To Lift or Not to Lift?

The answer to that question is yes.  There are many benefits that come from resistance training.  The type of training you do depends on what you are looking to get out of the workout regimen you are doing.  Are you looking to improve your mile time or are you looking to put on muscle mass and see some muscular definition?

Endurance type athlete:

Lifting weights is still something that should be done.  The type of resistance training you do here should be muscular endurance training.  By strengthening your muscles so that you are able to perform multiple reps with little rest allows for lowered fatigability of your muscles.  Increasing time to fatigue will make running easier because your muscles will be able to perform at a desired intensity for a longer period of time.  It is also another way to add stress to your muscles and thus your bones without putting your joints through the same ranges of motions that you go through when running.  This can help alleviate some stress added to joints and allow for proper rest at these joints.

Looking to build muscle:

Yes, this is the perfect scenario to follow a resistance training program.  Depending on your training age and history with lifting weights, along with your goal will determine what training program you should follow.  If you are a novice resistance trained individual than you will see results quickly upon following just about any training program.  This is due to neurological adaptations that are occurring.  The more advanced you are in resistance training the more thought out the program you follow needs to be.  There needs to be progressive overload, programmed weight percentages of maximum and the proper rep scheme to allow you to reach your goal.

Outside of helping you reach your desired sport performance goals; resistance training can help you improve quality of life as you age.  Sarcopenia is a typical ‘side effect’ of aging, and results in muscle loss.  By performing resistance training exercises throughout the lifetime, you will slow the muscle loss due to aging.  Another ‘side effect’ of aging is decreased bone mineral density.  Once again resistance training to the rescue. Muscles originate and attach along various bones throughout the body.  By training muscles and putting stress on muscles through resistance training you are putting stress on your bones.  The added stress to bones, when done properly and with a knowledgeable strength coach/trainer, will make bones stronger and thus maintain a healthy bone mineral density.  Another benefit of resistance training is the metabolic cost associated with it.  When looking to lose weight, in particular burn fat, running is typically the first thought.  This thought is true, running allows for fat to be ‘burned’ during the run itself, but once the run is over that ‘fat burn session’ ends as well.  Resistance training on the other hand allows for ‘fat burn’ to occur well after the resistance training session has ended.  When lifting weights, you are breaking down muscle tissue in order to build it back up into a larger and/or stronger tissue.  This process is protein re-synthesis and can last up to 48 hours post resistance training bout (enter DOMS).  The re-synthesis is intensity dependent.  While your body is resynthesizing, it requires energy and thus has a metabolic cost, which in turn allows for ‘fat burn’ and consequently weight loss.

Basically, no matter what you want to do or what life-stage you are in, lifting weights is probably a good idea.  Improve your runs= lift some weights.  Grow muscles = lift weights.  Slow some down side effects of aging= lift weights.  Lose some weight/fat= lift weights.  When done properly and following a well-designed program, lifting weights is always a good choice.  Another thing to consider when lifting weights and seeing desired results is proper fueling, but that is a story for another time.  So get out there and pick up some heavy(-ish) stuff : )

Failure

Often when people hear the word failure the immediate thought is to the definition of “lack of success”, and to be honest I fall into this category.  What we all forget is that failure also means “the action or state of not functioning”.  This second definition is why I am writing this post.  Today’s society puts so much emphasis on being “successful” that people feel inadequate and like “failures” for not meeting expectations laid out by societal norms, but what is success?  How one person measures success is not going to be identical to how someone else measures success.  Is success the size of your house? Or how expensive your car was? Or the number of commas in your bank account?  Is it the brand on the tags of your clothing? Or is it the amount of meaningful relationships in your life?  Is it that you wake up every day excited to go to your job? Or is it that you wake up with a sense of purpose and belonging?

No matter how you define success, there will be ways in which you do not to meet that standard throughout your day or week or month etc.  What I am sharing with you all is that as a human being you are allowed to have off days and not be “perfect” every day.  This innate human characteristic of imperfection does not mean you are a failure.  Failure comes when you choose to not to do something that you are uncomfortable with or not as skilled at, for the sole reason you are scared to “fail”.  Omittance of action or being in a “state of not functioning” is failure.  Choosing to not take a risk, is choosing failure; and you only truly fail if you learned nothing from your experience.  Malcolm Forbes says “failure is success if we learn from it”; and I would have to agree.

So, the next time you think to yourself that you aren’t going to do something because you don’t want to “fail”, just remember you have failed through your refusal to give it a shot.  You will never be successful with something if you do not give it a go. In the wise words of the great Michael Scott [ 😉 ] “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”.  Believe in yourself and remember that every time you “fail”, you are merely learning what doesn’t work and getting closer to discovering what needs to be done to reach your goals.

I will leave you with this thought from Vernon Howard:

“You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you really need”

“An Investment in Knowledge Pays the Best Interest”

I am a super nerd, so I love learning.  Whether it is through formal education, conversations with friends, picking up a new hobby, or enrolling in an online course.  I have found that I have learned the most from talking to my friends about different topics, because it has allowed me to approach these topics with a new perspective.  It is one thing to have knowledge, it is another to admit when you are wrong or less versed in an area than another person.  Some of the smartest people I know are the most willing to admit when they are unsure about something and offer their best answer while leaving their minds open to further explanation and a differing perspective.  The best way to continue learning is to surround yourself with people who see all of the amazing things you have to offer, and then push you to maximize your potential.  It is always great to surround yourself with like-minded people, in that you all have some shared interest and the same desire to maximize your potentials.  Surrounding yourself with like-minded people doesn’t mean to only interact with people who have the exact same opinions and thoughts as you do.  Doing that is how you get stuck and never truly reach your full potential because you don’t have people who challenge you.  Some of my best conversations have happened with friends and family who share the same fundamental view on life but approach this view in different ways because they challenge me to think a little differently on various topics and I love that from them.  I am beyond grateful to have the people I do in my life because they support me whole-heartedly while still challenging me to grow each day and to never settle.  They are also the people that inspire me to put my whole self into learning new things because I want to show them that I appreciate their support and by being my best I hope to show them they can also be their best.

With that said it is never too late to learn something new.  You can in fact teach an old dog new tricks.  It may not be picked up as quickly, but you will nonetheless learn something new.  There have been studies that also show learning something new throughout your lifetime will help slow cognitive aging and help exercise your brain.  Just like it is important to exercise your skeletal muscles and your heart muscle (which comes with skeletal muscle exercise), you need to exercise your muscle in your skull.

So, what I would like you to take away from this post:

  1. It is never too late to learn something new.
  2. Exercising your brain through continued learning is just as important as exercising the body.
  3. Knowledge is the greatest tool you can have.
  4. It is good to admit when you are wrong and be willing to listen to/ see something from a different perspective.

Get out there and pick up a new hobby, learn that language you’ve said you’ve been wanting to learn, join that group class that you have been interested in, and have deeper, more challenging conversations with your friends and family.  You will be surprised what you learn about the people around you and about yourself.

Freshmen (Quarantine??) 15

So, this post started out as advice on how to make better food choices during your time at college, since it is often a difficult transition to go from being under the watch of your parents to making decisions on basically everything on your own.  Now with the presence of COVID-19 and the new ‘normal’ (is anyone else as tired of hearing that phrase as I am?), I decided I would make this a two-for-one kind of thing.  The concept is pretty similar between the two.  Going off to college and living in quarantine/isolation/social distancing introduce a whole slew of stresses and anxiety triggers.  Whether it is the stresses of new people, new experiences, and not having your parents there to help guide you in your decision making process that comes with freshmen year; or it is the stresses that come with the uncertainty of COVID-19, not having a job, worrying about the health and well-being of your loved ones, or having your everyday schedule completely thrown, your body will respond to stress the same way.

When things get stressful your body craves those ‘junk food’ options, and it becomes a viscous cycle; you get triggered by a stress I said above(or another one because the list is endless) and so you reach for the bag of chips or the pint of ice cream, and then you get down on yourself for making that choice, then life steps back in so you need another bag of chips or chocolate bar, and on and on.  So, I am going to share with you a list of things you can do to help you make better choices and hopefully help you combat those stressful moments, while still living the college life or the quarantine life, or just plain old life.  You can keep these in mind when walking into the dining hall, walking into your kitchen, or heading into the grocery store.

  1. Fill one plate up with veggies. This can be a salad or some raw veggies.  You can choose cooked veggies but try to limit the amount of the cooked veggies if prepared in a lot of oils and butters.
  2. Fruit with every meal. A cup or half a bowl berries or diced melons. An apple, orange, or banana.
  3. Opt for water. You can also have your coffee, if you are like me and can’t go a day without it.  But limit the sugar/sweetener in it if you drink multiple cups day, that way you aren’t taking in calories through sugar in your beverages.
  4. Lean protein options like chicken and turkey will be the best animal protein go-to.
  5. Fish and other seafood are good options when you are bored of chicken and turkey.
  6. If you want a burger or pizza try to double the veggies you get at that mealtime. You will still enjoy the burger and pizza but will fill up more on the ‘better options’ so you don’t overeat and go back another slice or another handful of fries and back again and again.

And just remember to be kind to yourself.  Don’t approach mealtime or snacking with a “I can’t” mindset, as this will only make decisions harder.  Feeling restricted will box you in and make every choice you make feel robotic, and that isn’t how life should be.  If you approach your meals and snacks with the mindset that you are choosing ‘X’ because you know it will make you feel better that will give you a sense of empowerment; knowing you are in control of what you eat and thus your health and your life.  Freshmen year and quarantine are hard enough times in themselves and you don’t need to add to the already stressful moments by getting down on yourself for food choices.

What COVID-19 Has Taught Me Expanded Edition

Some of you may have seen my short post from about a month ago about COVID-19 and things it taught me. When I posted that social distancing and school closures had just occurred, so it was pretty early on in this crazy “new normal”.  Now fast forward from that post to today, almost an entire month has passed, and I still stand by the things I said in that post, but I now have a little more to say.  I will repost below what I said in my previous post as a refresher for y’all and for those that didn’t see my post to get a chance to see what I had to say.

  1. I don’t appreciate the beautiful place I live nearly enough. Charleston is an amazing place to live and has some pretty great options to be outside and I don’t take advantage of that nearly enough.
  2. Supporting local businesses is so important. I love my coffee shops and local restaurants but didn’t even think how something like this would affect their livelihood.
  3. While I joke that I live most of my life like I’m in quarantine I’ve realized that a lot of the things I enjoy doing involves me being around other people. (going to the gym, sitting by my pool, sitting at a coffee shop, laying at the beach, etc)
  4. People can be selfish, and the internet/social media can be a toxic place, but I’ve seen a lot of people offering to help others in various ways which is an awesome thing to see. Overall things are getting pretty crazy, but it is nice to see people are trying to help one another through this, showing that there is still good out there.
  5. Now that we are quickly approaching a month of living our lives in isolation and quarantine, with an end not in sight I have begun to think about how I intend to live once life goes back to normal. This thought actually stems from a conversation some of my friends and I had after a very thought-provoking question was posed.  Individually we all had little things we brought up about how life was going and what we have been doing and are looking forward to when life returns to normal, but there was common theme we all seemed to share.  We all said we want to be present in the moment when we are with friends and enjoy the little things more now that we have seen what life looks like without them.  Just going out to dinner or sitting at the beach or in a coffee shop are things we missed being able to do and never realized how much we took for granted the ability to do that.
  6. Personally, I am going to work on making plans with friends more often and not saying no to going out and being with people as often as I did before COVID hit. I am doing my best to stay sane through exercise, getting some fresh air, and being in virtual contact with friends and family and these are things I want to carry over into my life when the quarantine lifts.
  7. I also found this has been a great time to do some personal reflection and figure out life (as best as I can because do you really ever truly get it all perfectly figured out). I’ve been doing some future planning, lots of reading, and some life hacking (basically trying to implement concepts from books I have been reading to live out my best life/self).

Yes, living life in quarantine has been and is still pretty wild/strange/annoying, but there have been some positive take-aways, and I am sure more to come being the end doesn’t seem to be insight.  I would just love to see a continued sense of community and willingness to lend a helping hand once life goes back to normal and people become “too busy” with their own lives to concern themselves with everyone else’s.  Stay safe everyone!

Life

Hello, hello, hello!!

Haven’t posted anything in a while, but I am just sitting at a Starbucks(that I walked to from my lovely apartment) trying to do some school work but I keep finding myself drifting focus from my school work.  I keep looking out the window and just thinking about life.  I know I talk about finding what sets your soul on fire and determining your purpose in life, and honestly every time I think I have that figured out something changes.  This is the one reason I don’t like school, and if you know me you know how much I love school and continuing to learn and gain knowledge.  The more I further my education the more people I meet and the more life doors are opened to me.  At the heart and center of what I want to do with my future I know I want to help people and make a difference in the lives of others, but each semester there are more avenues presented to me through which I can achieve that goal.

What has remained the same though, is that I know I want to do something with nutrition and do something with a gym, but recently other thoughts have come to my head about what I could do beyond that.  Another thing that gets me is the idea of having to start over in a completely new place, if and when I get accepted to a PhD program.  This idea scares me a little, unlike going off and starting college and graduate school away from my family, this time I don’t have the safety net of knowing I will have people who are there to support me.  Whether that was my teammates during undergrad or my friends that remained in the area when I started grad school.  Pursuing my PhD means leaving my comfort zone and potentially starting out somewhere where I would have no one I knew, in a place far away from those I love.  That is a really scary thought to me and sometimes makes me question whether this is something I want to do.  But those thoughts don’t last long because, in my gut, I know my purpose is to use the opportunities I have been fortunate enough to experience to help others who may or may not have been afforded the bountiful luxuries I have had in my life.  The way in which I do use these opportunities may change in my mind from day to day, but the core purpose has remained the same for as long as I can remember.

I guess I’ll never really figure out this life thing, but its nice to think I’m doing what I can do it to the best of my abilities.  So I leave you all with this; trust your gut and keep seeking out what sets your soul on fire.  Even if you never really figure it out, you can get very close, and hey you may even do something amazing during the process.

<3PD