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

What to do when doubt gets in your head

What do you do when doubt creeps in? It can spoil your confidence and sour your mood.

Where does it come from?Photo courtesy of pixabay commons published on strong-woman.com

Doubt can creep up from inside of you. It may start small like a hint of something that causes you to second-guess yourself. A word from someone you don’t even know could trigger it. Maybe it’s a re-play of a recording of negative messages that you’ve heard over and over your whole life.

Whatever the source, you’re not alone.

Doubt happens. 

It happens to everyone. At work and in relationships. Even as a parent. Here you are doing your best, and then something happens, and then you’re like, “Oh my God. I’m a terrible mom. I don’t know what I’m doing.” You’re just filled doubt.photo courtesy of pixabay commons published on strong-woman.com

How can you keep doubt from beating you down?

Let go of perfection. It’s okay if you’re not perfect.

As long as you’re doing the best you can, just keep doing it.

You may need to tweak a few things. Who doesn’t? It’s okay.

Tweaking is part of the process. But whatever you do, don’t trash your project. Don’t think you’re no good or that whatever you’re working on is crap. 

Recognize doubt, be okay with it, and let it pass.

Re-group. Nurture yourself. Encourage yourself. (Click here to read a previous post about giving and receiving encouragement.)

Learn more if you need to. Do research on the subject. Read about it. There’s always more to learn. We get into trouble when we think we know it all.

Talk it out with someone you trust. Don’t keep it to yourself. Sometimes it helps to hear you’re not alone.

Don’t get stuck in the dark tunnel of doubt where you can’t see where you’re going and the immediate future seems uncertain. Just keep moving. You’ll get to through the darkness as long as you keep moving forward.

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

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

Where you look is where you’ll go

A few years back I took a bad spill from my mountain bike. The crash left me with bruised and bloody knees. It hurt, but while it wasn’t a pleasant experience, it helped me realize something important: Where you look is where you’ll go. 

Cycling baggage

I’ve never been very good at things on wheels. Skateboards, bicycles, skates. I tend to fall for some reason. I’ve had my share of memorable falls. I once fell off my bike when it wasn’t even moving.

So getting on a mountain bike presented a mental challenge for me because I had to let go of memories of skinned knees and painful falls. I had to expect to stay on the bike.

It was a beautiful day for a ride.

I started out fine. My husband and I were cycling on a smooth, easy trail (my favorite) in a scenic state park. 

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

The easy trail turned into a gravel trail and then a little further along we wound up in an even more difficult trail in a rocky creek bed. 

I was trying to stay positive and confident, but in the back of my mind I was thinking, “I don’t want to fall. It’ll hurt if I fall.” 

Up ahead there was a large rock, probably about the size of a football and I kept thinking to myself, “Don’t hit the rock. Don’t hit the rock.”

Well, sure enough, my front tire hit the big rock and I went flying off my bike. I skidded on the rocks before coming to a stop.

Blood ran down my legs. My knees and hands burned. I screamed a few choice words and cried like a small child. I was right. It did hurt.

What happened? I was doing so well!

Where you look is where you’ll go. 

I was so focused on the rock, I didn’t see anything but the rock. I was saying, “Don’t hit the rock.” Of course I hit the rock.

The mind is powerful. Where I focus my thoughts and attention is the direction I’ll go, even if it’s not where I want to go. 

It’s a reminder to be aware of how your thoughts direct you. What you focus on is an indicator of where you’re going.

How many times does it happen that the one thing you decide you don’t want to do is what you end up doing? The one thing you don’t want to happen is what happens?

Photo courtesy of pixabay commons published on strong-woman.com
Where you look is where you’ll go.

Avoid focusing on what you don’t want. Focus on where you want to go and on what you want to do, because where you look is where you’ll go.

Fun extra: Here’s another illustration of the principle that where you look is where you’ll go. It’s from Bob’s Burgers when Tina learns to drive a car.

Strive for progress, not perfection

journal posted on strong-woman.comIs it really okay to be less than perfect when you’re working toward a goal? Like when you’re ready to take better care of yourself and improve your confidence and overall happiness. You may commit to eating more nutritious food, exercising more consistently, practicing daily gratitude, journaling, or any number of other healthy activities.

They’re simple, but not easy.

So many distractions, it’s hard to stay committed. Why bother trying?

This is when it’s most important to strive for progress, not perfection. When you feel like giving up, remind yourself that:

You must act. You can’t make progress without taking action. Even if you’re not sure you can reach your goal, do what you can and start small if you have to.  It’s harder to get started when you expect yourself to be perfect.

No one’s perfect. What you don’t want to do is say, “Well, I already blew it today because I was ‘bad’ this morning, so what the heck? I might as well eat this pint of ice cream.” Moderation is the key. Every moment’s a chance to re-commit to make healthy choices. 

Take care of yourself posted on strong-woman.com

Keep moving forward. No one’s perfect. Small changes made consistently add up to results. Even the most disciplined people skip a workout sometimes. Don’t beat yourself up. Get back on track and keep at it.

Be okay with good enough. Aspiring for perfection has a way of keeping us from taking action, of getting started. If your goal is to work out 4 times this week and you only get in 2 workouts because “life got in the way”, it’s okay. 2 workouts is better than 0 workouts. Tomorrow’s another day to get back at it!

Be patient. Progress will come as long as you’re taking steps in the direction of what you desire. Focus on progress and it’ll be easier to keep moving forward.

Laughing baby.

Remember why you started. When you’re striving for progress, the end goal can get buried under disappointing setbacks. Keep your goal in mind and do it for yourself and your own health and happiness. Re-commit and repeat as needed.

Lighten up. Have fun along the way. Don’t be so serious. (Ahem.) When nothing short of perfection is acceptable, it’s hard to have fun.

Whatever you do, don’t give up. Do what you can every day, even if it’s something very small, to improve your health and happiness.

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

Run your own race

I’d never been a runner, even though I’d always wanted to run. I thought running was not something I was able to do because every time I tried I gasped for air and felt like I’d pass out. photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

But I decided to give running another try. Nothing about it was easy for me. I was slow and struggled through every mile.

While out running, I’d often see other runners who made it look simple. They seemed to run effortlessly, with perfect strides, breathing easily, even smiling.

Inevitably, I’d compare body shape, size, and age. I’d think, “Oh, my goodness! I’ll never be able to run like that.”Photo by Mark Montalvo published on strong-woman.com

I’d feel so discouraged. But then I thought,

What does that have to do with me?

I was running 7 miles when only a few months before I couldn’t run 2 minutes without stopping. It didn’t matter what anyone else was doing. I had stay focused on what I was doing.

That experience taught me some important lessons, not just about running, but about life.

Run your own race.

When faced with a challenge and you’re tempted to compare yourself to some one else, focus on your goals and don’t worry about anyone else’s progress.

Keep working on yourself and strive to develop your abilities. Make your only challenge to be better than you were yesterday. Do your best. Give it your all. And keep moving forward.

Self-image run your own race published on strong-woman.com
Run your own race.

Strive for progress, not perfection. Even if you have to start very small. A little progress every day adds up to big results.

It’s tempting to compare yourself to others, to want to give up when it seems like everyone’s making great progress except for you.
Better to run your own race.

Understand that your struggles are a chance for you to learn and grow. In the end, it’s your determination to continue that’s going to benefit you the most.

Photo from Flickr.com the commons project published on strong-woman.com

See the Beauty of Failure

Failure Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com published on strong-woman.comcan feel awful.

So awful that it’s easy to be paralyzed by fear of failure, so that any new venture, undertaking, or adventure is off limits unless it’s almost 100% safe.

What would life be like if we could the see beauty in failure instead of the terror of it? How can we do that?

How can failure be a beautiful thing?

We learn in Biology 101 that one of the signs of life is growth, and one of the signs of growth is change. If you’re not changing, you’re now growing.Photo from Flickr.com the commons project published on strong-woman.com

Failure means you’ve tried learning or doing something new and different, even if success is not guaranteed.

But it’s scary! I don’t want to fail!

Thomas Edison once said, “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

In the movie Edison, The Man, there’s a pivotal scene in the story. Edison is close to giving up on his pursuit of creating the electric light bulb. He’s discouraged and worn out from years of finding “ways that won’t work”. He’s tired of fighting all the forces against him. Then something happens to set him back on course.

He has a dream that reminds him of why he started and wakes up renewed and determined to continue, no matter what.

Failure’s a great teacher.Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

It takes time and effort to figure things out. If we take Thomas Edison’s approach, discovering a way that won’t work is still a discovery. There’s no failure. What you’ve tried hasn’t worked? Try something else. Tweak a little here and there. Make adjustments. 

What could we do if we were more like Edison and not give up when what we’ve tried doesn’t work?

It’s a pretty big question.

What would the world be like if we were taught to look at failure as a beautiful thing instead of a source of shame?

The founder of Spanx, Sara Blakely, says dinner conversations with her father centered around failure. He wanted to know what she had tried and failed.

In an interview with CNBC last year, she talked about how those conversations helped her:  The gift he was giving me is that failure is (when you are) not trying versus the outcome. It’s really allowed me to be much freer in trying things and spreading my wings in life.”

She had her share of ways that didn’t work and people telling her no. She kept at it. Spanx made her the first woman self-made billionaire ever.

The beauty of failurePhoto from Flickr.com the commons project published on strong-woman.com

Failure means you’re trying – you have a dream, a desire. It means you’re working toward a goal.

When you look at it that way, failure’s a beautiful thing.

What will you fail at today?

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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

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.

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?