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Have a Mindset of Courage

"I am not afraid. I was born to do this." Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc was only seventeen when she was inspired to take massive action.

Daughter of a poor French farmer, she believed God had chosen her to lead French troops in an ongoing war against England.Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

Her first step in this unlikely journey was to request a meeting with the man in line to be King of France. Miraculously, she succeeded.

She cut her hair, dressed like a man and went to battle with men.

Even though she successfully led French troops in battle, she eventually faced charges of witchcraft and heresy.

At the age of nineteen, her own countrymen convicted her of dressing like a man and she was burned at the stake.

What must it have taken for her to begin? To answer the call?

Surely, she had her doubts. Her internal dialogue might have gone something like this:

“That’s stupid. I’m going to leave my farm and go request a meeting with the king? Yeah, right! I’m just a girl! They’ll laugh at me and call me crazy! And besides, my family needs me. I can’t just leave them. Who’s going to do my chores?”Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

She showed tremendous courage when she answered the call.

Certainly she could’ve ignored it or talked herself out of it. She was human, after all.

Few people have that kind of courage. To ignore doubt and say, “I’m not afraid.”

That’s the stuff dreams are made of.

Someone once said:

Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will.

Fear of:

change

hardship

struggle

pain

rejection

abandonment

the unkown

failure


Everyone’s afraid of something at one time or another. Fear is normal, and powerful. It can be hard to get past it.

Instead of letting fear paralyze you, shift your focus.

Focus on what you have to gain by taking action, instead of focusing on what you have to lose.

Instead of thinking, “What terrible things might happen?”, consider, “What wonderful things might happen?”

Crossroads photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com
Shift your focus.

What could you do if you weren’t afraid?

Joan of Arc, a young peasant-girl, in early fifteenth-century France, was inspired by her belief that God was calling her to action.

And she exhibited incredible courage when she answered the call, stepped away from her traditional role, left her family, went to war, faced trial by her own countrymen, and died by fire.

Even after 500 years, her story is incredible and inspiring.

Have a mindset of courage, instead of fear, and you may be surprised at what you can accomplish.

For more information about Joan of Arc, read Britannica.com – Saint Joan of Arc

Photo by Ruby Montalvo published on strong-woman.com

Your resolution to succeed is the most important thing

President’s Day Mindset Monday:

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.

~ Abraham Lincoln

This quote is from a letter Abraham Lincoln wrote to a friend who was discouraged by a setback he experienced while pursuing his law degree.

Lincoln encouraged his friend to continue studying, to not be deterred. His message: If you really want it, let nothing stop you.

Medal photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com

Abraham Lincoln knew about getting past setbacks. He faced tremendous struggles in his life – poverty, family tragedy, little formal education, and failed business and political ventures.

He could have given up his pursuit of higher education and political office. Certainly no one would have faulted him for quitting. He suffered devastating personal losses and challenges.

And then, he was elected president at one of the most tumultuous times in American History.

Slow and steady is okay

No matter what, don’t give up. Resolve to keep moving toward your goal, no matter what.Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

Make your resolution strong. Focus on what you really want.

Whatever your definition of success, resolve to see it through.

Of course, it can be discouraging when one thing after another knocks you down. And sometimes, it may feel like it’s just too much to take.

No doubt, you’ll face setbacks, but don’t stop. Keep at it and figure it out.

Your resolve, your commitment to your goal, is bigger than any setback or circumstance. That “resolution to succeed” will keep you going when it’s tempting to quit. You’ll continue to inch forward, despite obstacles.

Keep at it and you’ll get there.

For information about all things Abraham Lincoln, visit AbrahamLincolnOnline.org.

Picture of corpse pose published on strong-woman.com

How to find an exercise group that’s right for you

One of the best ways to stay committed to working out is to find a group, gym, or club that’s a good fit for you.

How do you do that? Here are a few things to consider.
Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

Ask around

Know some one who does a little bit of lots of activities? Running, cycling, weight lifting, and martial arts, for example? Or some one who focuses on an activity you may want to try? See if they have any suggestions about how you can get started.

Be a guest.

Most group workouts encourage participants to bring a friend for free. It can be a great way to meet some of the people and to try the workout for free. Most group instructors/ trainers will give you extra attention to make sure you stay safe through the workout and that’s a good thing.

Photo by Ruby Montalvo published on strong-woman.com

Ask your doctor for a recommendation.

If you’re under doctor’s care, can he or she recommend an exercise program? Yoga, to relieve stress, or water aerobics for low impact activity?

Explore community education offerings.

It’s a chance to try a new activity at very little cost and for a limited time. If you find you love it and want to continue, that’s usually an option.

Try meet ups in your area.

The Meet Up website connects people with the same interests. Read the group description to see what they’re all about. There’s a wide range of groups in most areas, everything from tennis to fitness camp workouts.

photo published on strong-woman.com

Visit local gyms and try group classes.

Most gyms offer a trial membership so you can try a class for free.

Find a group you’re compatible with in these areas:

Activity

  • Find something you enjoy.
  • Be open to trying different activities. You may find that you like something you didn’t think you would.
  • Be teachable. You may think of the details as “common sense” but that’s not always the case. Listen, watch, and learn.

People

  • Group culture – Every group has its own culture or “vibe”. Find a group that’s a good fit. For example, if you’re a beginner, you may be overwhelmed in a group with very competitive members. She may need a more laid-back group.
  • Values – Look for a group dynamic that’s in line with your personal values. For example, a “party all the time” culture may not be the best fit for a non-drinker.

These are just a few things to consider when looking for the right exercise group for you.

Find what works for you and helps motivate you to stay committed to your goals.

Have fun with it!

 

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

Mindset Monday – Love Yourself Like You Mean It

Oscar Wilde once said, “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”

Love yourself like you’re in it for keeps.

Lifelong romance kind of love – that’s the good stuff. Work toward that.Photo courtesy of Pixabay published on strong-woman.com

Make it nurturing, forgiving, patient, respectful, humble, and kind.

Be nurturing. Take care of yourself – body, mind, and spirit.

Be forgiving. We all make mistakes and being able to forgive means forgetting pride and getting past the mistake, error, or wrong. Even the big ones.

Be kind. We can be our own worst and most unkind critic. Turn it around and work to be your own best and kindest supporter.

Be patient. We’re all a work in progress. And wherever you are in the process of being the best you possible, understand that you may not “get it” right away. Keep at it. Don’t give up.Weight loss photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com

Be respectful. Actions speak louder than words, but words speak pretty loudly. You’re worthy of respect from yourself as well as from others .

Accept yourself as you are. Accept where you are and believe your’e worthy of love from others. Instead of looking at what you can’t do or what you don’t have, take stock in what you do have. Stop tripping over what’s behind you. Accept where you are and move forward.

Be humble. Build others up. Let your actions and work speak for themselves.

Love posted on strong-woman.com

Oscar Wilde is on to something.

Because no matter what, in the end, there you are.

Better to love yourself than not.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

What is Balance Training and Should I Be Doing It?

Today, we continue the series on the benefits of exercise (you can click here to read that post in case you missed it) and specific types of exercises. (Read about Cardio Workouts here and Strength Training here.)

The importance of exercisePhoto courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

According to Harvard Health Publications, guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend a well-rounded plan of “aerobic activity, strength training, and balance exercises.”

What’s balance training?

It focuses on improving and/or maintaining stability (not falling over). Stable movement improve overall mobility.

Some types of training that emphasize balance are:

Yoga

Pilates

Various core and agility exercises

Some martial arts practices, such as Tai-chi

BenefitsPicture downloaded from Pixabay for strong-woman.com

  • Strengthens core muscles
  • Improves stability and mobility
  • Requires little to no equipment
  • Multiple variations of simple movements
  • Helpful to people at all fitness levels

In-house fitness expert, Mark Montalvo, says this:

“As we age, balance usually decreases resulting in falling or injury…this is why balance training is so important. It develops proprioception, which simply means how we move our bodies through space and time.

He says effective balance training should be performed in multiple directions of movement, in an unstable environment. It can be as simple as walking on a straight line or standing on one leg.Weight loss photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com

Complicate that by standing on one leg while throwing or catching a ball.

Drawbacks/Risks

  • Must practice good form to reduce risk of injury
  • Progress is hard to measure

So, everyone can benefit from balance training, no matter the level of fitness. Being able to stay upright and stable will go a long way to keeping you healthy and well.

Remember to check with your health care professional before starting an exercise program. This is especially important if you’re under doctor’s care for a health condition.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

Why has the FDA Banned Antibacterial Soap?

If a little is good, then more is better, right?

In a case where more is not always better, the Food and Drug Administration recommend conventional soap and water over antibacterial soaps.

In September 2016, the FDA ruled that some anti bacterial agents in soaps, hand gels, bar soaps, body washes, and other products will not longer be able to be marketed, so is banning “certain active ingredients”, such as triclosan (liquid soaps) and triclocarban (bar soaps).Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

Manufacturers will have one year to comply with the ban.

But wait! Isn’t killing bacteria a good thing?

Why would the FDA ban antibacterial soap?

According to the FDA Consumer Updates,

The FDA has been looking at for years. The issue?  Ingredients found in anti-bacterial products could be a factor in creating “bacterial resistance and hormonal effects”.

They gave manufacturers time to provide data on the safety and effectiveness of ingredients, which the manufacturers failed to do.

“Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). “In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term.”

What kind of harm?

Smithsonian.com’s article, Five Reasons Why You Should Probably Stop Using Antibacterial Soap lists potentially harmful effects as:

  1. Antibacterial soaps are no more effective than conventional soap and water
  2. Contributing to antibiotic resistant bacteria, such as MRSA
  3. Potential to disrupt the body’s hormone regulation
  4. Could contribute to other health problems, such as allergies
  5. Bad for the environment

The current ruling applies only to soaps and not to hand-sanitizers at this time.Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

According to FDA:

This final rule applies to consumer antiseptic wash products containing one or more of 19 specific active ingredients, including the most commonly used ingredients – triclosan and triclocarban. …  This rule does not affect consumer hand “sanitizers” or wipes, or antibacterial products used in health care settings.

States may begin taking action to limit anti-bacterial products as well.

In 2014, cbsnews.com published an article, Minnesota becoming first state to ban common germ-killer triclosan in soap, reporting the first state ban. Minnesota became the first state to ban triclosan, which is also used in some toothpastes, cosmetics, and body washes. The ban took effect January 1, 2017.

What’s the best thing to keep you and your family safe?

According to and FDA press announcement:

Washing with plain soap and running water remains one of the most important steps consumers can take to avoid getting sick and to prevent spreading germs to others. If soap and water are not available and a consumer uses hand sanitizer instead, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that it be an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

As always, read labels to make the best choice for keeping you healthy, well, and strong.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

Mindset Monday – Time Flies – Make the Most of It

The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.    Michael Altshuler

There are 24 hours in each day. That’s 1440 minutes. They go by fast.Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

And the older you get, the faster time seems to go.

That’s not really news. It’s more like one of those realities you live with every day without giving it much thought, like gravity.

You can’t slow down time. The best you can do is manage it, navigate like a pilot.

What does it take?

Life is short. When’s the right time to do what you want most out of life?

I got a late start. I flew on auto-pilot for a long time, not even understanding this concept of piloting my own life. Instead, I floated along like a cloud moved by the wind.

But then I realized I was taking a lot for granted.

I was on auto-pilot waiting for the right time to do what I really wanted to do with my life. I acted as if I had a guarantee that there’d still be time when I was ready. Whenever that might be.

Take the controls

My auto-pilot mentality kept me in “someday” mode. I waited for “someday” to do what I’ve always wanted to do, what I feel like I’m supposed to be doing with my life.

Being the pilot isn’t easy. It’s not all clear skies and sunny days. Of course not. You can count on storm clouds, unplanned landings, rough take offs, turbulence.Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

The beauty is, you got this.

Be assured: you’re a good enough pilot. You’re qualified. It won’t always be easy, but you can figure it out.

Stay focused on the goal because time isn’t the enemy. The sun rises and sets and that’s a day.

Stay focused on your goal, keep your eyes on the controls, stay steadfast in your commitment to be the pilot.

Do what you can each day, even if it seems like so little that you’ll never reach your destination.

So many distractions

Binge watching shows, video games, streaming movies, social media, viral videos, and celebrity drama to name a few.

Decide where you want to go and what you want to do.

Then stay focused and protective of your time because it goes by fast.

What’s Strength Training and Why Should I Be Doing It?

What’s Strength Training and Why Should I Be Doing It?

I’ve talked about the benefits of exercise (you can click here to read that post in case you missed it) and specific types of exercises. (Read about Cardio Workouts here.)

Today, I’m covering some basic information about Strength Training.

You’ve probably heard you should be doing some sort of strength resistance training.

photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com

Many women dismiss the idea because of a pre-conceived notion that “strength training” means bulked up biceps and oversized thighs, and walking around saying (in a deep voice), “I pick things up and put them down!”

But that’s the stuff of comic books and make-believe. Women who “bulk up” put forth tremendous effort, specialized nutrition, and intense training to achieve those results.

Strength Training – What is it and what are the benefits and drawbacks

Strength Training is focused movement of weight.

Benefits of strength training are:

  • Strengthens bones
  • Strengthens muscles
  • Improves stability and balance
  • Especially good for women who lose muscle mass more rapidly than men and loss is accelerated with age
  • Versatile – Can be mixed with many different types of exercises

    Artwork by Mark Montalvo
    Barbell

In-house fitness expert, (my husband) Mark Montalvo, says this about strength training:

“Most women don’t want to do strength training because they don’t want to bulk up. Strength training does build muscle. However, women who build large amounts of muscle mass while lifting weights are usually doing other things to enhance their results.

Strength training is important because it helps reduce body fat and burn calories for longer than just doing cardio or any other type of exercise. It can significantly help in maintaining a healthy weight.

It also helps preserve and build bone mass, which is important as we age. For women in particular, building bone mass helps reduce the onset of osteoporosis.”

Drawbacks/RisksPhoto courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

  • Requires equipment
  • Must practice good form to reduce risk of injury
  • Some people find weight lifting hugely boring – lifting things up and putting them down isn’t very exciting
  • In order to ensure proper form and technique, you may need a coach or trainer

 

Most weight lifting will not accelerate the heart rate for prolonged periods of time (anaerobic) so in order to get full-body benefits, you need to incorporate some kind of cardio.

 

As always, it’s important to check with your health care professional before starting an exercise program, especially if you’re under doctor’s care for a health condition.

Mineral water photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

Exercise and Good Nutrition: Why You Need Both

The first time I trained for a half-marathon, I thought, “Okay, this is good.  I’ll be burning a ton of calories running all these miles and I’ll probably drop a few pounds. Awesome!”

And, yeah, I burned lots of calories, but I didn’t lose weight. Not at all.

The saying goes: You can’t outrun (or out-lift, out-train) a bad diet.

Salad phot courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

That means, exercise alone isn’t enough.

If you really want results, you need both: regular exercise and good nutrition.

How can it possible that even when you’re burning a lot more calories you don’t lose weight?

One possibility is a phenomenon called “The Halo Effect”

The Halo Effect

In a nutshell, it’s when you think something or some one is so good it’s hard for you to be objective.photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

When it comes to fitness, the halo effect is:
I work out so I can eat whatever I want.

Sure, I can have dessert and a jumbo margarita! I just ran 10 miles.

 

I’m running a 5k tomorrow. I can have an extra serving.

The Halo Effect results in a person losing objectivity and allowing herself more high calorie indulgences or “rewards” because she worked out.

Thus the saying: You can’t outrun, out-lift, or out-train a bad diet.

In my experience, nutrition is way more critical in losing and maintaining a healthy weight than exercise, but it’s also the more challenging component.

And, it seems that the nutrition piece becomes even more important with age. You may be thinking, “I used to be able to eat whatever I want and never gain a pound.” [I’ve never said that, personally.]

So how do you do it? What’s the easiest way to get the best results from all your hours at the gym?

Here are a few tips on how to incorporate exercise and nutrition for the best results

Eat clean

Photo of apple courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

Simply put, eating clean means eating whole foods in their most natural form as possible. For example, if you have a choice between an apple, apple sauce, and an apple flavored, gluten-free fruit chew, the apple’s the best choice. Choose minimally processed food with no added sugar whenever possible.

Eat more vegetables

At every meal, have at least one serving of vegetables, and shoot for 2 – 3 servings each meal. Starchy vegetables like corn and potatoes don’t count. 

Drink water to stay hydrated

The standard recommendation is to drink half your body weight in ounces every day and even more than that if you’ve been sweating. Adequate hydration improves all bodily functions. Not drinking enough water can cause dehydration which can result in problems such as headaches, constipation, muscle cramps, and more.

Be aware of added sugar in beverages and choose accordingly

Sugar photo courtesy of Pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

Sports drinks, soda, fruit juice, adult beverages, and sweetened coffee drinks often have a ton of added sugar and a ton of extra calories.

Many restaurants now have calories per serving listed right on the menu and others have nutrition information on their website. It’s worth taking a look.

Read labels for ingredients and serving size

When you look for calories on the label, don’t forget to check the serving size.

For more information, read How to Read a Food Label

The most important thing is to find what works for you and then stick with it. For more recommendations and nutrition tips at How to Start Eating Healthy and Stick to It

Over the past few years of working out and finding what works best for me, I discovered that exercise has many benefits but losing weight isn’t one of them. Maybe that’s because of the Halo Effect. I don’t know for sure.

What I know for sure is that making good nutrition choices improves my overall feeling of health, wellness, and fitness. I make my share of bad choices and I’m not anywhere near perfect, but when I do these things most of the time:

  • Eat clean
  • Eat my veggies
  • Drink water
  • Avoid added sugar
  • Pay attention to food labels

I get better results. It’s most likely, you will too.

How about you? Do you agree with the statement: “You can’t outrun a bad diet”? What works best for you?