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.

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Your Health

This post is similar to my post from last week about comparison.  The focus of this one will be on physical health.  Last week was a broad discussion on comparing yourself to others, but this post is going to talk more about social media, eating, and overall health.

Today, anyone that has an Instagram and has some muscle tone thinks they are a health guru.  They will caption their overly edited, overly thought out, incredibly posed photos with things like “eat this and workout like this to get abs like me” or “Follow this plan for guaranteed 6-pack abs, and rapid weight-loss”.  These ‘influencers’ and captions are detrimental.  People with zero qualifications (outside of them having a “picture perfect body”) to be giving out nutritional and fitness advice in the matter-of-fact terms in which they do.  The constant pushing of the message at the core of it all of ‘do all of these things so you are like me and not like you’ is a major issue when it comes to self-love and self-esteem.  Everyone has a smart phone, which makes access to these kinds of messages incredibly easy, especially for teens.  The main demographic that uses various forms of social media are teens, whom are already constantly thinking about fitting in and being liked, and now are followed (pardon the pun) by the never ending need to appear a certain way.  In terms of body image, this is where unhealthy relationships with food and even exercise begin to develop.  When your health becomes something you are concerned with so that you can look a certain way, in order to fit in, it no longer becomes your health.

Like I said last week, living to be someone you are not is not how you win at the game called life.  You are merely existing when you are striving to be someone other than who you are.  You should exercise because you like how you feel after you finish and because you want to, not because “Samantha got 1000 likes on her picture at the beach and has abs and I want to be like her”.  Be fit for the life you want to live, eat foods you enjoy and that support a healthy life, and stop worrying about the likes and follows and comments you get on your social media accounts.  With that, I will leave you with this quote I saw the other day.  If my words don’t register with you and you take only one thing away from this post, let it be the image below.  We are all amazingly different people and should strive to be the best version of our self that we can be.  Originals are so much better than remakes or sequels, so live life as yourself and not as the attempt to be someone else.

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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 : )

Self-Experimentation #1

Hello friends.  Today I am sharing with you all my plant-based diet experience.  For starters, I did this to give myself some experience with this diet prior to conducting a possible study that asks participants to partake in a plant-based diet intervention for a 4-week time period.  I am an advocate of being your first client, especially when you are going to be asking someone to make a change to their lifestyle, you should be able to relate and pull from your own personal experience when looking to help someone else.  I also did this from a place of interest.  There has been increasing talk and ‘popularity’ when it comes to a plant-based diet, so being the nerd I am I wanted to see how I would respond to this dietary change.

So, for 2-weeks I went plant-based.  My shopping cart at the grocery store didn’t look all that different from my normal omnivore diet shopping cart.  The veggies, fruits, beans, and grains remained the same, the only difference was there were no eggs, cheeses, yogurts, or chicken to be found.  I also decided that I would be eating ad libitum (without restrictions).  This means I ate when I was hungry and did not track macronutrients or calories.  I felt this would reflect how many people who change from an omnivore diet to a plant-based diet make the change.  I did not purchase any plant-based protein powders because 1. I wasn’t tracking macronutrient intake, so hitting a protein goal wasn’t on my list, 2. This dietary change wasn’t one I planned on doing for more than 2-weeks due to things going on in my life, and 3. I prefer to get most of my food requirements from actual foods and I didn’t want to get a protein powder because I don’t want to use whatever I didn’t finish after I switched back from this plant-based diet.

I really didn’t feel any different in daily life or at the gym compared to when I was eating my omnivore diet.  I did actually feel a little more run down and would wake up some days feeling sick.  I also was feeling more sore than usual.  Some things that could account for how I felt beyond diet was the amount of stress I was feeling from school and work, poor sleep, and possibly not enough caloric intake compared to what was being burned throughout my day.  I will say that the day after I ended my 2-week experiment I woke up feeling like garbage, super congested and was waking up every hour that night to blow my nose because I couldn’t breathe.

I’m about 1 week back on my normal omnivore diet with macronutrient tracking and I am feeling much better than last week and like my muscles are recovering much better post exercise.  I am not sharing this to persuade people to eat a certain way, just merely sharing my personal experience.  Like I have said many times before diets aren’t one-size fits all, and what works better for me won’t necessarily work best for you or someone else.   This was not the most scientific experiment as I could have controlled for chance much better, but it was overall an interesting experiment.  I don’t think I will be removing animal-based foods from my diet anytime soon, especially with my current exercise goals, but I am glad I did this and stay tuned for my next nutritional self-experiment.

CrossFit pt.2

Okay, so I can’t share with you all anything about the test, but I can tell you about how awesome my weekend at the CF L2 course was.  Just to let you guys know, I am super shy and I almost didn’t want to go to the course because I knew before going there I would have to coach in front of people I didn’t know and that is COMPLETELY out of my comfort zone.  So that was my emotional/mental state entering into the weekend.  I was forced to step WAY outside of my comfort zone and honestly I am super glad that I did.  I learned so much over those two days and I am incredibly excited to get to put my knowledge into action.  I became way more aware of my own movements and became more skilled at picking out ‘faults’ in the movements of those I am coaching.  I am by no means perfect by taking this course, but I have been given the confidence and the knowledge to strive for perfection from both myself and those I coach.  This past weekend also solidified for me that CrossFit is something I want in my future. 

I would 100% take the CF L2 course again, because it was that great.  I would pass on the whole exam part of it though because that test was the most stressful one I have taken in a while (which is saying a lot because I am still in college).  I am so glad that I took the course and I am really glad I got over the nerves I had entering into it and was able to enjoy it fully. 

Being able to enjoy the course even though I was nervous entering into it just lets me know that this is something that makes me happy and that I am making sure to actively seek out what make me happy.  That being said I would count this past weekend as a success because I was able to live out my life motto of seeking what sets my soul in fire, and I encourage you all to do the same because it is a pretty awesome feeling. 

Thank for reading! Hope you all had an awesome July 4th!!  

CrossFit

So this Saturday is a pretty exciting one because I am at Reebok CrossFit One in Boston, Massachusetts for the CrossFit Level 2 certificate course.  Almost 5 years ago I was sitting in the exact place completing the Level 1 certificate course.  I was the youngest one there.  I started doing CrossFit when I was in 8th grade(about 7 years ago) and I fell in love with it.  It took less than a year of doing CrossFit for me to decide that one day I was going to open my own CrossFit affiliate gym, which leads to my 17th birthday present being the CrossFit Level 1 certificate course.

Most of the day is spent going over movements and coaching points so I don’t have a lot of free time today.  This is going to be a short post because I need to study for the exam I am taking tomorrow that will see if I pass or fail the Level 2 certificate course.  Wish me luck!

I just wanted to write about this to share my excitement with y’all and to remind y’all that you should go after your dreams.  I knew at 15 that I wanted to open my own CrossFit gym one day, and with the help and support of my parents, I have been working toward making that a possibility.  Remember to seek what sets your soul on fire everyone!

Thanks for reading and please wish me luck

Shoutout Pinterest (Again)

So I was scrolling through Pinterest as usual and I came across this image:

I really relate to this quote and thought this would be a good thing to share here.  Sometimes it is hard to stay motivated to workout when you are comparing yourself to someone else.  This is often my problem.  I will feel unmotivated to workout or just not feel great about my workout because I am thinking it isn’t good enough compared to someone else.  I know I shouldn’t compare myself to other people because I am my own person.  Just like with diets, there are workouts and exercises that might work for one person and not work for another.  It is important to remember that progress is individualized and it isn’t about how you measure up to someone else, but how you measure up to yourself.  As long as you see changes occurring in yourself (like getting a heavier lift or a faster run, or seeing some abs peaking through) then you are getting better and that is all that matters in the end.  There will always be someone with more muscle definition or someone faster or stronger than yourself, so you just need to make sure you are better and feel better than yesterday.  You need to live your life for yourself.  The longest relationship you will have in your lifetime is the relationship you have with yourself.  So make sure it is a happy and healthy one.

Thanks for reading and have an awesome weekend!

With love,

PD