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Do You Crash Post-Workout?

I had to share something with you all today. Because I think it’s SUCH an important conversation that we’re *not* having – as women {you and me} and as fitness professionals {my colleagues} – at least not in the mainstream media. One #lifechanging fact that I share with my one-on-one health coaching clients all the time, but don’t really talk about here as much {obviously I should more}. About your workouts. And IF they’re serving you {read: working FOR you versus against your goals + desires}.

In a group I’m apart of on Facebook, someone wrote a post with the fantastic question of asking for tips on how to avoid crashing post-morning workout (she was struggling to stay awake at her desk, even after a large coffee after working out in the early morning).

Can you relate to this? I hear this struggle SO. MUCH. – from clients, from pregnant mommas, from new mommas, from working mommas, from women. So if this is you — know that you’re not alone sister and here’s what I want you to know (and what my response was):

“First of all, above all things – listen to your body. It feels the way it does for a reason and is sending you a message. The more you can tune in versus resolving to push through no matter what, the better it will serve you and perform for you. Period. When we do any type of workout  – which I know high-intensity interval training isn’t new for you (and likely you, my sweet blog reader also!!!)- there is of course an adaptation period.

With that said, in my work {as a holistic nutrition + health coach and fitness pro}, most people don’t get enough rest and don’t realize that the body actually needs a break from stress. The body doesn’t differentiate between different types of stress – emotional, mental, work, traffic, relationship, or physical. A high-intensity workout is super stressful on the body – not necessarily bad stress, but it depends on when you do it and also what the rest of your life looks like. If your job is high-stress, you’re feeling emotionally vulnerable or insecure, your day is a constant go-go-go and you rarely stop until your head hits the pillow, adding high-intensity workouts to the mix will only deplete energy stores you don’t have (read: sooner or later, it will move you farther away from your goals and how you want to feel).

Exercise will always create an immediate “high” from the endorphins produced afterwards, but the telltale sign of whether your workouts are working FOR you is what happens a few hours after or in the afternoon — is your energy sustained or are you dog-tired? Do you feel stronger and better equipped for your day or like you’re dragging your body around? H O N E S T L Y.

Being in the fitness industry for almost ten years, I can tell you with 100% confidence that pushing and killing yourself in the gym (when your body is calling for something else) is counterproductive to weight loss, to your health, to your energy, your nourishment and your vibrancy.

And here’s a little known but crucial known fact (especially for you cutie Type A’s out there): if your life consists of being in constant “push mode” and you thrive on a fast-paced work life with deadlines + goals, working out hard WILL feel good to you (even when your body needs something else) — because it’s familiar. Because you’re good at pushing, it’s what you do. BUT that doesn’t mean it’s the best option for you in the moment. Or that it’s going to take you where you want to go. #truthbomb #realtalk

Being an integral part of and writing the workouts for a high-intensity interval training studio, obviously I’m a fan of these types of workouts. There are most certainly benefits and I think understanding how to physically tap into our body’s strength better equips us to know our capabilities in life — but, there’s a time and place. And it’s not always. And sometimes {okay, always in my opinion}, rest is more important, as in low impact movement. Because we don’t do it enough. We undervalue it. Because it’s harder for us to slow down and feel and honor versus push through, ignore and stuff down. But it’s essential to our well-being.

So, if it’s possible {and I know sometimes it’s not}, maybe sleep instead of workout. And if you’re feeling good as the day progresses, maybe workout later in the morning, at noon or after work. Or if you resolve yourself to do a HIIT class, maybe adapt your strategies to being there.

Don’t *always* run your hardest if you’re coming more than 3x per week.

Don’t *always* lift your heaviest and go to fatigue if you’re coming multiple days in a row.

Accept that just being there is the benefit and then gauge the effort you have to give based on how you’re feeling that day. There is JUST as much benefit (more, I believe, truly) to focusing on your breathing and working on flowing the reps of exercises together and trying to engage more muscles and be hyper-focused on form versus rushing and pushing. #trust

The benefit to interval training is just that – interval training. So maybe back off your paces on the treadmill and still let the heart rate go up and down, just to a lesser degree. It’s the increasing of breath that will benefit you most and just moving.

This is a hard mental shift to make. Believe me, I’ve been there. But I can promise you that honoring where your body is (which changes daily and yearly and seasonally and cyclically) instead of pushing what it doesn’t have will always, always make you feel better. And that’s the whole point, right? — to FEEL GOOD. When you walk in and hopefully better when you walk out (which includes the whole day, not just right after).”

So consider this your permission (from a fitness + healthy living pro) to just move. To move in many different ways, at many different speeds and (hopefully) for many different reasons (namely, of course, to feel good). Permission to know that going for a walk IS good enough. That going to yoga IS worth it (likely even moreso than your HIIT class, especially if you’re anti-yoga or anything high-intensity).

I encourage you to drop the “if it doesn’t kill me, it’s not worth it mentality”, because honestly that’s what WILL kill you / break your body / cause chronic pain / injure you to a degree that slows you down way more than doing yoga here and there ever would. #sir-ee-ously

But even those moments – where we experience less-than-optimal physical injuries – are a gift in and of themselves. Another way the body is saying, “Hey sister, I’m serious. You weren’t slowing down, so I made it happen. Can we figure out  a different strategy here?”

So like I said — consider this permission. Permission to do less and know that you’re probably going to get more in the long run. To daily assess, “how do I feel today and what does my body need?”

{To know, momma, that the more you focus on “getting your body back”, likely, the harder it will be to sink into your (new) life and (new) body. That although it might feel familiar and like you finally feel like yourself again to push hard in workouts, that that’s not actually the goal or what will move you closer towards your own goals – to return to the “old you” and way of being isn’t actually your truth. This is the time for honoring what your body has done, tuning in to her new needs and listening with your whole being instead of pushing. Truly and from the bottom of my heart, I need you to know this, because it’s at this moment in our lives – in becoming a mother that we draw closest to our unique feminine power.}

Sometimes the body needs to be pushed, to be challenged. Sometimes it needs to be gently guided through a more meditative + flowing movement. Ask yourself: what does my life MOST look like of the two scenarios I just mentioned — pushing or flowing. Likely, your workouts should be (or at least include) the opposite of what your day-to-day consists of.

So, back to the original question posed, just to recap: if your workouts are serving you, if they’re supporting your body versus depleting it, you should not crash post-workout. The energy generated from your movement should make you feel more connected, more rooted, stronger and more vibrant.

Do you feel me sister? Just think about it at least, and know it’s okay to say: “namaste in bed” to your morning workouts once in awhile. 😉

{I also wrote two separate blog posts on this topic that dive a little deeper into this topic awhile back: Making Your Workouts Work FOR You, which you can check out here: http://wp.me/p2Y0Cn-r8 and Getting Your Pre-Baby Body “Back”: http://wp.me/p2Y0Cn-ri}.

WHAT ABOUT YOU: Have you struggled with crashing post-workout? Are you exercising regularly and energy levels not where you desire? What could slowing down and listening to what type of movement your body needs versus pushing and dictating mean for you?

Photos taken by: Sarah Heitman Photography

Getting Your Pre-Baby Body “Back”

In Part 2 of this two-part MAKING YOUR WORKOUTS WORK FOR YOU series, we’ll be talking about your postpartum return to exercise and getting your pre-baby body “back” (my own being the pic below).

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IMG_7903After we’ve had a baby, one of the first thoughts that cross our mommy minds is getting back to “our old self” – physically, mentally and in our capacity to “do what we used to”. Even though we’ve had the baby, the feeling of “heaviness” still exists as we find ourselves in a body that doesn’t feel like our own. On top of that, we are exhausted from interrupted sleep and totally depleted from labor + all the new demands of motherhood. Regardless of being completely wiped, though, we are anxious to take action. Action to get back to feeling more like ourselves. Action to “get our body back” and to have control over something [in a time where we can literally control almost nothing].

Can you relate? The first 6 months of motherhood certainly rocked my world [and body].

What we don’t realize and what we’re not told – by the media, by our fellow mama friends, by our doctors and seemingly almost everyone around us – is that the practice + pressure of jumping back in to exercise too soon {or with too vigorous of a practice} is not only counterproductive to weight loss efforts, but it can and most likely will sabotage your health + well-being both in the present and down the road.

Screenshot_2015-12-08-10-28-25Let me explain — from the outside, we see that the baby is gone. Society tells us that it’s time to lose the baby weight and, in a sense, act like the biggest event of our lives {pregnancy, labor + birth} never happened. Since the concept of immediately taking action to lose ‘the weight’ is socially accepted as “normal”, we mamas also assume that our bodies ARE ready to jump back into action, returning to the form of exercise we did before pregnancy – or perhaps an even more rigorous practice. Because after all, we’ve got some weight to lose.

But while we may look “ready” to move from the outside, my dear friend Jen, a midwife once put it to me this way – if you’ve ever seen a placenta when it comes out [or even take a look at your baby], remember that was just INSIDE your body. Meaning that it left behind a big, open wound where it once was. A sacred space that held your precious baby for those growing 9 months and one I believe we should honor and treat with the utmost reverence and respect. Now if that wound were on the OUTSIDE of your body, imagine how long it would take to heal. And imagine the attitude we’d have towards even being out of the house with that kind of wound, let alone working out. I also think that if we had a wound like that to look at on the outside, we would intuitively know that perhaps working out is something we shouldn’t jump into just yet.

Even so, our culture puts pressure on women to immediately return to our “pre-baby body”, to act as if pregnancy, labor + birth are not the physical, spiritual and emotional events that they truly are. To wave aside our need to heal and pretend like our lives and bodies have not been turned upside down. Or to act like we immediately have this motherhood thing down pat – and that it’s super easy to just go back to our old way of being – including working out. We mamas know that type of thinking is ass-backwards. We know we’re not the same. Yet, women are praised for looking polished and “back to baby weight” weeks or even days post-birth. We know it’s not reality, we know it shouldn’t be this way and yet, it’s hard not to fall victim to this mentality. Because it’s literally EVERYWHERE – on blogs, in the media, on social media or walking around our neighborhoods. And it’s hard not to feel anxious for not having control over our time or our bodies. And in truth, at least for myself, although I had this beautiful baby boy, I didn’t feel comfortable in my new skin and it’s {still} taking me awhile to figure out this “new me”.

My Body Made A BabyBut there’s good reason for that — because my body is not the same body. The body I am living in now made a new life. Like #mybodymadeababy, hello?! And it not only made a new life, but it brought that life into the world as well {I believe this holds true whether you had a vaginal birth or c-section}. Brought my little Will into this world naturally, at home with 12 hours of labor and about 3.5 hours of pushing. My body bears witness – internally and externally, to these amazing feats. The uber fit, exceptionally strong and trim body I had before my baby didn’t do anything awesome like grow + birth a baby. Didn’t do anything as physical as that. As if pregnancy and birth weren’t amazing enough, now that my baby boy is in my world, my body creates and gives him everything he needs for survival – comfort, warmth, nutrition, movement and love {with countless other things left unmentioned}.

My old self didn’t have {even close-to} the huge responsibility of caring for an entirely separate human being. Pre-Will, I spent hours on my own self-care. With Will, I spend quadruple those hours on his care. My life has never been so full. My body has never been so drained. I have never EVER been so freaking tired or had so much “to do”. Never felt so out of balance and disconnected from who I “knew” as myself, yet somehow closer to connection than I’ve ever been.  I’ve never enjoyed waking up to a face this much. The amount of time I have for my self-care has never been so low. The amount that I smile, laugh and am filled with joy every day has never been so great. Has my life changed? Oh boy! How hasn’t it? Everything’s different and nothing’s the same – including my body. Somehow, life is better. My heart is fuller. I have more love to give and more gratitude than ever. It’s also a daily work-in-progress to figure out how to manage my time, reserve space for myself and be a mom, wife and entrepreneur.

So to ask my body – this new body, this “baby body” to morph back into my old pre-baby body is preposterous {in my humble personal + professional opinion}. I’ve outgrown that skin – physically, emotionally, physiologically and in every possible way I can think of. I’m no longer the same person. To go backwards means a life without Will; or rather a body that didn’t create my amazing Will. To go backwards means grasping for a space in time that’s past and no longer exists. It leaves most of us mamas searching, frustrated and in a constant state of self-deprecation, beating ourselves up for not being the same as we once were physically.

Working Out + Losing WeightAnd here’s the whole truth about “working out”, coming from an Integrative Nutrition certified Health Coach and fitness professional who helps people move as part of my living. Although fitness and movement are without-a-doubt important for overall health, it doesn’t really help you lose weight {postpartum or not}. It can support weight loss, helping to create the momentum and energy to motivate healthier choices in your life, but it alone will not make you lose weight. #truth. And postpartum, certain exercise modalities are actually counter-productive to losing weight and instead drain needed energy, can affect our milk supply, cause excess bleeding, leave us with plaguing injuries [knee, shoulder, hip and low back] and the overall feeling of a body that’s unable to support us.

Contrary to popular belief – the only REAL path to natural, lasting weight loss is proper nutrition and addressing lifestyle factors that REALLY influence our choices and time (including sleep, stress, work – and how we’re adjusting to all the shifts in those arenas, self-care, + meditation/stillness, to name a few). Focusing on eating high-quality, whole and real foods will go so much further than fitness ever could. Plus, eating is something you already do every day – so it’s nothing extra you have to worry about “adding in”, you have to do it anyway.

Below are four pictures – me at 41 weeks + 2 days (photo cred: Sarah Heitman), then 6 months, 8 and 10 months postpartum. During my pregnancy, I gained almost 40 lbs. onto my previously 138 lbs. body – while eating well and engaging in a two-fold “exercise” approach of both moving and napping. 🙂

PP Blog Collage
At 6 months, I had been walking, resting and doing my physical therapy exercises 2-3x per week. I’d worked out a total of 5 times, doing some light strength training, nothing high impact. Each of these 5 times were a “check-in”, to see how my body was feeling and how it responded to various exercises. Each time – I learned {again} that my body wasn’t yet ready for that type of movement. At 8 months, I was two weeks into a “routine” of low-impact strength training 2x/week and doing 1-2 yoga classes each week.

And today, at 10 months postpartum, that’s what I’m still doing – and even that doesn’t happen every week. I have, however, since Postpartum Day #1 insisted on fueling my body with good, real + healthy food – no deprivation, no diet, no counting calories or even entertaining ideas of eating to lose weight – simply eating whole foods that made me feel good. Since the beginning, I’ve also made {some form of} self-care a daily top priority. I’ve had more massage {abdominal + regular}, acupuncture, physical therapy and chiropractic sessions in the last 10 months then in my entire 30 years prior. I’ve also taken more baths, gone on more walks and put in some serious nap time [like serious].

The reason I wanted to show you these photos was so you could know what’s possible when you love up on your body [versus hate on it], listen to its needs and trust that with time, it will heal and naturally shed weight. Doing so with less effort, less pressure and less stress – without the need to engage in any vigorous exercise and without needing to push or force what doesn’t feel good or what our body isn’t ready for.

Baby Will PP BlogBecause with the gift of holding our babies comes some unavoidable challenges – interrupted sleep, stress and a whole lot less time. So, with less time, less energy and higher stress levels {remember what my last blog post said about high stress levels?}, we should be engaging in practices (fitness and otherwise) that maximize our time and efforts to feel good on a daily basis, ones that build UP our energy stores versus deplete them. And you may have guessed by now that this does not include hard workouts and killing yourself at the gym. And personally, even if I’d had the desire to do more vigorous or more consistent exercise before 10 months, I don’t think I could have. I had a hard enough time mustering up the energy to be a new “mom”, let alone expending more energy to engage in exercise that depleted my body. And that’s the key – because if something {like exercise} isn’t supporting your body, it’s depleting it. Postpartum, if we really tune IN to our bodies, instead of making the decision to push through because we “have to” and feel anxious to get the weight off, working out {especially at high intensities, doing high impact movements or lifting heavy weights} doesn’t actually really FEEL good – and there are real, physical reasons for that.

The common recommendation by doctors and most literature is that mamas can return to exercise 6-8 weeks postpartum (of course, with the caution of asking your healthcare professional first). However, in reality, your body is not physically ready to support the load of heavy weights, high impact or high-stress workouts. To explain why, I turned to April Bolding, a foremost expert on woman’s health, local West Seattleite, doula, birth educator, mother of 2 sweet girls and {my} physical therapist. She explains:

This 6-8 weeks is a guideline that we quote and re-quote.  I think it has set women up to think: ‘After two months, I can start running or (insert vigorous exercise here) again.’ The fact of the matter is that a woman’s body is still healing and her ligaments are still loose at 8 weeks postpartum.”

April BoldingApril further explained that to accommodate the exponential growth of the uterus + baby, the ligaments that support the uterus and surround the pelvis stretch during pregnancy. When we are post-birth, it takes time {months!} for those uterine ligaments to shorten and firm up enough to support the uterus again like it did before pregnancy – even longer for women who have hypermobile joints to begin with. Your ligaments strengthen as your menstrual cycle returns, then more when you eventually ween from breastfeeding. So when we begin vigorous exercise that involves running, jumping and lifting heavy loads, this can cause the uterus or bladder to move downward with this force. Combine that with the constant force of gravity and perhaps a pelvic floor that is not adequately supporting the pelvic organs from below, you can cause a uterine or bladder prolapse (where these organs descend into the vaginal canal).

Weak pelvic floor muscles + vigorous exercises can also cause stress incontinence (the inability to stop the flow of urine.). This means peeing [even leaking a little pee] when we exercise, run, dance, walk, sneeze, cough or go about our lives. If you talk to your peers or most women who have children, incontinence is super common. However, I think it’s super important for us {women} to understand that while it’s common, we need to reject the idea that it’s normal. It’s a sign of pelvic floor weakness and/or dysfunction that needs to be addressed in order to have a body that’s balanced, strong and functions at its optimal level from the inside out. In terms of our “core”, the pelvic floor is like the foundation of a house – and if that foundation is weak or leaks, we know that’s a serious problem. It’s no different with the pelvic floor. It’s something we need to address now to help avoid chronic injuries, pain or accidental peeing moving forward. A lot of the same principles hold true for diastasis recti (abdominal separation); while common in pregnancy and early postpartum, it’s important to make sure that you’re able to maintain tension in the linea alba (connective tissue that runs between the two sides of the Rectus Abdominis) and that your Transverse Abdominis is firing properly – both of which I encourage you get assessed by a women’s health PT!

Lastly, during pregnancy, the spine and pelvis shift to make space for the baby – this shift creates an exaggerated arch in the low back and forward tilt of the pelvis, while moving our center of gravity forward. This results in the stretching of ligaments, the tightening of the hamstrings and other muscles, thus leaving us with a body that quite literally “out of balance” after we give birth. This is also a primary reason for not returning to vigorous exercise before the body is back into balance, as we can not only exacerbate the imbalances, but also sustain unneeded injuries in the process.

Given adequate time to heal and the right supportive exercises, a good majority of these adaptations our bodies made in pregnancy can shift back post-birth. The key is TIME. Combine that with sleep + rest {naps!!!}, consistent healthy eating habits and dedicated self-care and you’ll be setting your body up to innately heal. I definitely recommend adding in specialized women’s health physical therapy {starting at 6 weeks postpartum}, bodywork and some gentle, stress-free exercises prescribed specifically for your healing to just keep feeling better and better without added stress.

April concluded by telling me that over time, you can progress your exercise from gentle and intermittent to gentle and regular. Then into more moderate exercise. Tami Lynn Kent, Women’s Health PT in Oregon and author of Wild Feminine, recommends not returning to running until a year post-birth. That’s hard for a lot of women to hear. There are many reasons for it beyond prolapse and it’s a sensible recommendation. However, that’s one recommendation. We each are responsible for knowing our body best. No health care practitioner or doctor of physical therapy can trump your knowing of your own body. We (physical therapists) are just here as a resource for you. Listen to how your body responds and reacts to what exercise you try and it’s up to you to have the courage to back off of an activity if it could push you into injury. Think long-term pelvic bowl and joint health instead of trying to fit into your old jeans. After giving birth, we’ve grown out of our old skin and our former selves for that matter. We are certainly worthy of some new jeans and new way of working with our bodies.

Right? Gosh I love her. Like I said earlier, we know. We know, IF we listen. If we give ourselves the grace and permission to listen. IMG_20151212_141734428The permission to let that silly and unrealistic “ideal” go that we must “get our body back”. It doesn’t mean that we can’t move towards creating a body that (realistically) looks the way we desire, but I think it’s important we know it will never be the same body – just as you’re not the same person. What if we allowed ourselves time to just figure out this mama thing? Because it’s the freaking hardest {and most rewarding} thing on Earth. And to give ourselves the space to not just survive mommyhood, but learn to thrive again. If you happened to take a different postpartum fitness path, know that this blog post is in no way meant to shame you, I celebrate and appreciate your own journey. And you DO know your body best. So, in conclusion, my hope is that this post can support you in that knowing, while giving you some information as to why you know what you know. Why you feel what you feel. Why, if you’re like me and you think that the concept of “getting your body back” is not only silly, but insulting for your new amazing body, that you can stand in your power and do what IS best for you. Whatever that looks like and however it manifests itself. It’s a journey, and one that I’m STILL on. And finally, my hope is that instead of loathing your new body, you can learn to love it and to honor it. Because it is freaking amazing. And so are you, mama. xoxo – Whitney

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For reading this post, I thank you. It took me {literally} 14 months to write – as I planned it’s creation even before Will was born, knowing my postpartum intention to love my body and let it heal on its own time. If you like this post, please share! If you can relate to it or have a comment/question, I’d love to hear from you! Together mama’s, we are stronger. So much love to you, all my readers!

{For more information on women’s health or to schedule an appointment with April, visit her website: www.birthportal.com}. She’s one of the most empowering + inspiring women I’ve ever met. Her teachings + love have been a priceless resource for me.

When Working Out Isn’t “Working Out”

IMG_1579Hey friends! It’s been a hot second. While settling into this new motherhood thing, I made the decision to put the business slightly on the backburner. But while Macks Mo’s online presence has been sleeping a bit [unlike myself and Regan ;)], I’ve been behind the scenes working on some really awesome new projects for you coming in 2016. And my blog topic inspiration has been through the roof, so you’ll be hearing from me more frequently. Thanks for the opportunity to grace your inbox and be part of your day. It means the world to me to be able to do the work I love.

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I’m often asked how it’s possible to establish a regular habit of exercising without getting burnt out or how to stay consistent when motivation wanes. I believe [as with most things], it boils down to a shift in mindset and a commitment to tuning IN versus out. Our Macks Mo business philosophy has always been to create workouts that functionally support your life. While it’s easy to be drawn to exercise for aesthetic benefits – using it with weight loss goals in mind, lasting fitness is so much more than that.

When we exercise solely for weight loss, fat loss, or physical reasons, we will, at some point experience that burnout and loss of motivation. Because this type of exercise comes from a negative place and is motivated by external factors. It drives us to push and push to create results while simultaneously punishing ourselves for not getting or maintaining results. This external push blinds our ability to let our body and internal compass be our guide. Even worse, this cycle of “shame—punish—repeat” is not sustainable, nor is it a method that achieves that which we desire most – to feel GOOD in our skin. And so, we find that the non-aesthetic reasons for working out are the ONLY way we’ll make it a consistent practice.

Functional [for life] fitness should create energy in your body, give you mental clarity and build better body awareness while creating a stronger + more balanced physique. It should serve as an opportunity to mentally connect with your physical body and be present versus zoning out and “pushing through”. Bottom line – it should be something you enjoy, something that breaths life into your body rather than depleting it.

— So, if your current exercise routine isn’t doing that, it’s time to ask —
are your workouts working for you? —

Choosing exercise that supports the place we’re at in our lives can be tough because sometimes it means going against the grain. The current societal approach to fitness lives within two beliefs – the “no pain, no gain” syndrome and the “my workouts not worth it if it doesn’t kill me” mentality. Both of these cause us to tune OUT and just “push through”. Don’t get me wrong – in order to continue to make fitness gains, we must allow ourselves to get uncomfortable and lean into the work, often breaking through mental plateaus that block our ability to grow {or shrink}. *However*, there is a fine line between being mentally present to this “change” versus throwing caution, body awareness + form to the wind or not feeling physically accomplished until we’ve gotten our asses kicked.

IMG_7817In my work as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, the majority of my clients come to me because they want to learn to be healthier. Generally speaking, this often translates into a desire to lose weight. A huge piece of our work together involves individualizing their physical, mental and lifestyle needs + practices to actually create that health. Doing so requires a willingness to look at the daily choices they make. It means tuning IN to what our body needs versus what we think we need to do to get what we want. And so often, what we think we need to do is completely counterproductive to what our body truly needs to be healthy.

The thing is – no one person is the same {thank goodness!} and there is no one form of exercise that’s going to work for everyone {phew!}. And within each of our individual lives, things are constantly changing; so in order to create vibrant health that moves with us, we must be willing to examine all aspects of our lives and engage in practices that serve and support us in the here and now – and that includes our workout(s) of choice.

For example – if your job is high stress, time-intensive and energetically demanding {whose isn’t these days, right?}, then coupling that with only high-intensity exercise is likely counterproductive to your well-being + weight loss. You see, exercise causes physical stress in the body and as you raise the intensity level, you also raise the stress level. And the body makes no distinction between physical “exercise” stress and emotional or mental “work” stress. So although we may view our workouts as a stress relief, in actuality, we may be compounding the stress in our lives. Interesting, right? On the flipside, if you’re lacking stability, strength and balance, it might be beneficial to add a regular weight lifting practice into your life to help ground you.

As humans, we tend to gravitate towards what’s comfortable and what we know. If we are an “intense” personality – used to working hard and putting our nose to the grindstone – we are naturally attracted to types of movement that require the same intensity. Because it’s familiar. Because we’re good at it. Building on the above example, however, what we might really need is something to counteract all that life/work stress; a physical practice that forces us to calm the mind, slow down and really be present in our body instead of continuing to push. This can mean a change in your exercise modality – from high-intensity exercise to non-impact options [or vise-versa]; or it can simply be a mental shift of slowing down and performing each exercise you do with intention, perfect form and a mind that’s fully present to how you’re moving.

For me, when I’m feeling energized – it’s a good day to expend extra energy in a higher-intensity workout of metabolic strength training. If I’m feeling tense and wound up – yoga, meditation or core-focused movement can help me feel centered and open. And if I’m feeling totally wiped – a walk, getting outside or taking a nap {seriously} will better support my body. And in truth, a blend of many different types of movement – adaptable to the phase of life you’re in, the type of day you’ve had or your current physical, mental + emotional state – is when you’ll find your workouts working FOR you.

11.30So if you’re not feeling your best, not feeling energized, having trouble dragging yourself to the gym or finding an exercise schedule or modality that sticks, my hope for you is that you can let go of the belief that you have to kill yourself in the gym to make physical gains and know that this practice is most likely sabotaging your long-term fitness, weight loss and well-being. I challenge you to make the conscious decision to be present in your body with each workout + each movement. If you can engage in the mental practice of turning your attention inward, I promise that you’ll create more clarity while boosting your ability to follow your intuition. That innate knowing is your best guide to finding your own version of health.

I also hope that you can begin to question why you do what you do {like why you workout}. Your “why” is one of the most powerful tools in your healthy living toolbox. Your why should connect you to your purpose, your values, your lifelong goals and boost your health on a daily basis. Making you feel good. Because when you’re in the business of feeling good, your choices have the power to lift you above the noise of what you “should do” or what you think you need to do, allowing you to make empowered decisions that create change. Change that lasts. #movebetter #feelbetter

Thanksgiving Body[weight] Burner

Macks Mo in 20 - #1 Body WeightIf you’re traveling for the holidays this Thanksgiving [or any time, really!], this is the perfect workout to have tucked away in your suitcase! All you need is 20 minutes and your own body! Move through this workout at a consistent pace for all 7 exercises, without rest [keeping your transitions tight]. You’ll be doing 5 rounds and at the end of each round, take a 30 sec break. Challenge yourself by timing how long the workout takes you with special attention to your posture & form throughout. Make sure to warm up and stretch after; ending your warm up with a 60 sec plank on the hands. Use this plank to set the tone for your workout – the goal is to feel your core working in every exercise the same way it’s engaged in plank.
(1) 20 (total) Speed Skaters
(2) 10 Wide Turnout Squat & Reaches
(3) 10 Squat Thrusts [burpee without a push up = squat and & hop back to plank, then hop forward into a squat and finish by hopping straight up in the air & landing back in squat to repeat].
(4) 20 (total) Split Lunge Jumps
(5) 10Pushups + 2 Alternating Knee Pulls [core twist] to Opposite Elbow
(6) 20 Sit Ups
(7) 30 Second Forearm Plank
– 30 second rest between sets –

Like this workout? Want more like it? Did you know we do online personalized workout programming tailored to your goals, time and equipment! Click here for more info!

2013 Memorial Day Workout

memorialAs you enjoy your 2013 Memorial Day, we want to take a moment to give thanks to all those who made the ultimate sacrifice, or have served in any way for our country. We’d also like to send love to those families who cannot be with their loved ones today because of their current service to our country. Although a day of memorium, today is also a great day to connect with those you love – gathering for BBQ’s, games, fun and laughter. Whatever positive experiences you have in store today, be sure to send some of that good energy to our troops overseas and those who can’t be with their loved ones today — it can make all the difference! And before you head off to your fun for the day, we thought we’d give you a quick bodyweight workout to give YOUR body some extra energy. Enjoy!

Directions: Complete all 5 exercises back-to-back with little to no rest in between exercises; this equals one round. You’ll do 5 rounds total (for time). If needed, take a 1 minute rest after each round, otherwise, try to move at a consistent pace through all 5 exercises, never compromising form or technique. Remember – exercise should work to balance your body, so focus on using each exercise to strengthen the body exactly how you want to look in life (with good posture, a long spine, engaged core and no tension at the neck/shoulders).

(1) 12/side runner’s lunge to crane hops
(2) 10 squat thrusts
(3) 20 squat jumps
(4) 10 total of: 1 push up + 10 mountain climbers
(5) 10/side x ups

*Did you know we do online personalized workouts to match your goals? For more information, email us at: info@macksmo.com.

 

 

Workout for Your Travels

If you travel often for work or want a quick, full-body workout anywhere/anytime, check out this 3 round no-equipment routine. 

Directions: Do all 5 exercises, back-to-back 3x through. Try to make transitions between exercises as quick as possible and don’t stop until you’re done. Your heart rate will be up the entire workout and you won’t really catch your breath until you’re done. Make sure to time the workout and POST your results below.

1. 15 Pushups

2. 30 total Cross-Body Mountain Climbers (15/leg alternating)

3. 50 total Bicycle Crunches (25/side alternating)

4. 15 Squat Thrusts

5. 15/leg Split Squats with back toe on a chair (complete one side, then switch)

 

Exercises Explained:

1. Pushups – you choose knees or toes (or combo of both), but be sure to challenge yourself the entire time!

2. Cross-Body Mtn Climbers – from plank position, keep chest square to the ground & shoulders back while you pull R knee across towards L elbow. Return to start, then pull L knee across to R elbow. Alternate quickly for 30 total reps. (Standard mtn climbers are like doing standing high knees, but in a plank position; for these, it’s the same “pacing”, but knee goes across the body, targeting your obliques more). Be sure to stabilize in the shoulders, keeping them right over the wrists and try not to “bounce” in the hips.

3. Bicycle Crunches – start on your back, legs in tabletop position, hands cradling head and core contracted (you want to pull both your sacrum & bottom of the rib cage towards the ground, using your core – making sure not to arch your back at anytime). For one rep, use core to twist and lift R shoulder towards L knee as your fully extend your R leg (still keeping low back/sacrum pressed to floor), then switch and perform on other side.

squat thrust

4. Squat Thrusts – the picture illustrates the movement, but think of it this way: start standing, then move into a squat. From squat, hands to ground and hop back into plank. From plank, hop feet back up and land in a squat, getting hands off floor as quickly as possible, and heels to ground. From that squat, hop straight up and land back in a squat. That’s one rep. So, squat, plank, squat, hop up and squat.
Bulgarian Split Squat

5. Chair: Split Squat – use a chair just as the picture demonstrates. You’re going to feel this mostly in the back quad, but you want equal weight over hips and drive through the front heel to come up. Start the movement by bending into the back knee, keeping front knee over front heel the entire time. You will be lowering straight up & down over the back knee/hips (avoid rocking forward & back, thus weighting in the front knee). Focus on keeping the core strong (you want to avoid arching at the low back & pressing hips forward).

– Questions? Email Regan: regan@macksmo.com

AMRAP Workout + the Benefits

Have you ever done an AMRAP workout before? Did I just speak a foreign language to you?  🙂  AMRAP stands for “as many rounds as possible” and is always done within a set amount of time. The goal behind AMRAP’s is to take a short period of time, a challenging set of exercises (generally 2-4) and to work at your max effort for that set amount of time to get as many rounds as possible in of the exercises prescribed.

IMG_7821Benefits of an AMRAP workout? Well, first of all, they are fast. You know how long they are going to take and it’s a great way to quickly get a challenging workout in. Second, when you know the amount of time a workout will take, it’s easier to give it your all. For example, if you go to a group fitness class and have 60 minutes ahead of you, most people aren’t likely to go “all out” on every exercise because, well heck — you’ve got 60 minutes of exercises & work ahead of you for Pete’s sake! But, if I were to say, “here are your two exercises, do as many as you can in 7 minutes”, well, quite frankly, it’s a lot easier to wrap your head around working as hard as you can for 7 minutes vs. 60 right? The best AMRAP workouts combine full body movements that build not only cardiovascular endurance, but also muscular strength and endurance. And last, AMRAP workouts are a great way to track your progress! Record the # of rounds you get when completing the workout, then when you try the workout again, see if you can best your previous go at it.

In terms of pacing yourself, I like to think of AMRAP workouts like running a 400 on the track. There is a big difference between sprinting 100 meters (the straight away on a track) and running one full lap. A good 400 runner is able to stay right on the border between running as fast as possible at a consistent pace versus an all-out sprint. You’re balancing pushing the pace in order to maintain your speed throughout the entire race with knowing that there is some distance to cover and you’ve got to make it all the way around the track. I am sure you’ve seen the competitors that start way out front, then finish last — they go too hard right out of the gate and can’t maintain their starting speed. The pace you want  to find should be challenging throughout every rep & exercises – you should never feel like you’re recovering until it’s over, but when it’s over, your body is spent.

If you’re used to spending lots of time at the gym – either on cardio equipment or with your dumbbells, the concept of getting a complete workout in such a short amount of time might be hard to wrap your head around. I know – it sounds too good to be true. But think of it this way: take all the strength, all the effort, all the “muscle burn” and breathlessness you experience at various times throughout your 60 minute workout and pack ALL of that into your AMRAP time. I mean all of it. It’s not the quantity (i.e. amount of time you spend in the gym) that matters, it’s the EFFORT and the quality of reps that you do.

So, are you ready to try one? Here is a simple AMRAP workout with a “finisher” (a final blast of effort to finish). Two 10 Minute AMRAP’s with 2 min’s off in between = 24 minutes. Then you complete the finisher as fast as you can (shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes). Which makes your total workout time under 30 minutes. Now that sounds like something I can get behind — you?!

AMRAP #1: 10 DB Burpees + 20 DB or BB Bent Over Rows + 10 Hover Ups or DB V Ups

AMRAP #2: 10 DB Plank & Row + 20 Full Sit-Ups + 10 Flying Jacks

Finisher: Outdoor Option: 4x (rounds) of four 20 yd. sprint with 30 second forearm plank hold OR Indoor Option: 6x: 100 (total) high knees or 100 jump ropes with 30 second forearm plank hold.

Notes about exercises:

 

– Burpees with DB’s: When you hop back to plank & perform the chest-to-ground push up, the DB’s are underneath your hands. After you hop forward (landing in a squat), you hop up with the DB’s in hand, arms by your side. Land back in a squat, set the DB’s down to ground so you can repeat back through plank. Can do without DB’s as well.

– Hover Ups: Lay flat on your back with arms & legs extended. Imprint sacrum (lower back) into the ground, contracting the core, sweeping arms by your sides to roll yourself up to a modified boat pose; knees bent. Slowly roll back down to start, but let arms & legs “hover” above the ground for remaining reps. Head touches the ground every time!

Flying Jack

– DB Plank & Row: This exercise is less about the “row” itself and more about core stability. You want to keep

your hips as still as possible, trying not to move out of your original plank while you’re rowing. Regardless of whether you have 3 or 4 foundation points (FP = limbs; hands & feet) on the ground, your plank looks the same.

– Flying Jacks: Think “big jumping jack”. Start in a squat position with legs directly underneath frontal hips bones, arms in front of you. At the same time, circle arms from the inside-out and jump in the air, spreading the legs into an invented “V” (see Whoopi’s jump to the left), then land back in your squat position. Landing back in the squat is the most important piece here to protect knee joint & low back. Try to land softly, with hips back and butt low.

*Do you like our Macks Mo workouts? Want a custom designed workout of your own that’s built around the time you have & equipment you have access to? We do personalized online workout programming! Tailored to help you reach your goals and accessible from anywhere. Find out more by emailing us: whitney@macksmo.com

Special shout out to my girl Molly Scott – whose provided fit-spiration for me lately and put me through some pretty frickin’ tough AMRAP workouts, myself. xo.