Tag Archive | workout

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.

———————

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

A Little Help

I clearly remember ringing in the start of 2014, recounting with Regan how fast 2013 went and looking ahead on the upcoming year with excitement. Then I blinked and now it’s November. The holidays are just around the corner and my calendar is starting to get super busy. Sound familiar?

A Little Help #2It’s times like these especially that I am grateful for the healthy living practices I’ve been putting into place all year-long. The meal-planning that translates into wallet-saving grocery shopping; the consistency + variety of movement that makes my body feel good; the meditation, visualization + morning wake-up and evening wind-down routines, along with the constant practice of slowing down and tuning in to my intuition. Although each small pieces themselves, they all add up to more energy, less stress, higher productivity, more time for things & people I love and quite frankly, a happier + healthier Whitney.

But what’s been even more eye-opening for me in 2014 has been the realization of how much I was taking the impact of these small practices for granted and how much of a difference they really DO make. I’m going to tell you a little secret — I didn’t expect to get pregnant…so quick. When Regan and I decided we were “ready”, I think we both figured it’d take some little time and that we’d be able to adjust to the “idea” before it actually happened. God apparently had a different plan and in what seemed like literal moments later, I had a positive pregnancy stick in my hand.

A Little Help Blog PostI’m not going to lie. The first trimester rocked my world — that is, the world in where I have “control” over my body, my energy levels, my creative spark and my ability to “do” things. I suddenly had none of those things and only my intuition and habits to fall back on. And can I say, THANK. GOD. I’ll touch more on all this in a different blog post, but when I was finally able to come up for air from this new phase, I was able to see so clearly how fundamentally important it is to have healthy habits in place. Practices we do on a daily basis to improve our well-being because want to feel good in our own skin. Because what we do on a daily basis MATTERS because it sews the seeds for our future well-being + happiness.

In truth, there’s really nothing in life we can control. We have to learn to roll with the punches, navigate the busy and know that regardless of the season, work deadline or number of events on our calendar — we have a plan + practices in place that allow us to feel good, look good and thrive on a daily basis.

And that, my friends, is why I created Holiday Helpers, a free 2-week series designed to help you do just that – feel awesome in your own skin on a daily basis. To give you the tools needed to create a plan that helps build habits to help you navigate the looming busy-ness of the fast-approaching holidays. Because you deserve, no you owe it to yourself to thrive. And it’s my passion to bring that to you — before the holidays start.

We’ve never done anything like this before…and you’re not going to want to miss it. By the way, did I mention, it’s free?!

Sign-ups are happening right now – over at our website [click here for details + to get on board] and the fun begins this Saturday, November 8th — giving you 2+ weeks to get your feet underneath you and that vibrant health brewing before the holidays hit. The series includes 5 recipes, 2 workouts [complete with exercise video tutorials] and 14 days of tips + tools you can fall back on to have a thriving holiday season and beyond.

On top of your series packet + daily emails, you’ll be getting tons of bonuses, because we love to spoil our clients. Join the movement for vibrant health + thriving life NOW! Visit http://www.macksmo.com/holidayhelpers.

PS: There’s more…of course. 🙂 For this series, I am partnering with some of the people who bring ME the most inspiration all the year-round – for my body, my mind and my soul, including: 
Sarah Kaler of Soul Powered
Claire Gould of Friendspire Fitness
Emily Newman of Move Your Booty
Sarah Adler of Simply Real Health
Molly Scott of Fuel Fitness
Kari Gran of Kari Gran Skincare

How Do You Get “Those” 6-Pack Abs?

6-Pack Abs are perhaps the ultimate buzz word in the fitness world. The most sought after physical trait, the holy grail of fitness. And everyone wants to know the secret on how to get them. To solidify this argument, just check out the buzz over the 2013 Calvin Klein Super Bowl commercial. ABC News ran an entire piece called “Abs-olutely Fabulous! The Best Abs in the World?” Tuesday all dedicated to the advertisement. And it’s this segment that got me thinking – or rather, got the attention of my client Anne, which sparked this discussion. And from such, comes the inspiration for this blog post.

Calvin Klein

So, back to finding the answer you’re waiting for — how do you get those 6-pack abs? First, I’ll let you in on one little secret…(drum roll and spoiler alert, please). It’s not what you think and it’s ten times better…

You already have them! 

Really. We all do. Anatomically, the rectus abdominis muscle’s Imageshape IS a “6-pack” (reference the picture to the right). All the muscles you see defined on Mr. Terry above are all visible on our anatomical figure as well. Problem is — most of us just have too much extra padding over top to let the muscle show it’s true form.  😉 Not the answer you were looking for? Don’t worry – just keep reading.

If you’ve trained with Regan and I before, you’ve heard us talk about engaging the core through every movement – be it a squat, lunge, plank, crunch, sprint, bent over row, push up; literally EVERY movement. When we first start working with people, most don’t fully get what this means – both in terms of muscle activation and the limitless potential of muscular strength & development.

In the post-Super Bowl media frenzy that Matthew Terry’s ab-tastic commercial caused, everyone wanted to know his secret. His answer? Plank. You might be thinking, “What?! But there is no movement in plank. There’s no way that’s how he got all that definition!”

And so in comes our second secret to a creating a strong and defined core — the most important function of the core during movement or exercises is not to move at all. In an article written for our Macks Mo Get Mo(re) Challenge, Regan explains:

“When we exercise, we typically move at our JOINTS, including the: hip, knee, ankle, shoulder, elbow and wrists joints. These movements allow our body to travel through space. In all exercise aside from rotation, keeping the spine completely still while our arms or legs move should be a primary focus. As an anti-mover, a stable core allows you to transfer energy and power between your upper and lower extremities safely and efficiently. In this respect, all power, quickness and even strength starts and ends with a strong core.” By stabilizing the spine against movement, the core is creating resistance for your extremities to move against and vise-versa. When a force is applied to the core (through movement of other body parts), it grows stronger – and accordingly more defined, through this resistance.

Coming full circle and back to #1 washboard abs & #2 plank, let’s experiment in your body. First take a look at the picture of your core’s anatomy (above) so you have a visual of what the muscles look like. Now, try these two exercises to train maximal core activation through compression and an isometric (non-moving, but active) contraction:

  • Supine Compression: Lay flat on your back, feet on the ground under your knees. As you visualize the different layers of your core with eyes closed, press your sacrum (bony triangle at the base of your spine, inside your hips) and bottom of your rib cage into the ground, leaving the natural pocket of air underneath your spine. Take a deep breath and relax your shoulders into the floor. As you exhale, first kegel the pelvic floor up, then compress (pull in + down) through your abdominal wall – drawing the belly button towards the ground. Think of your core like a shoe’s laces and pull the two sides of the core IN like you’re lacing up the bottom to top of your shoe. Take 10 deep breaths and with every exhale, try to contract the core tighter 360 degrees around the spine. Imprint this feeling of compression into your mind.
  • ImageMoving on to plank, once you’re set, make sure the shoulders are over wrists and feet in line with hips. Create length in the body by reaching both the crown of the head and legs away from the belly button. As you do this, take a deep breath. On the exhale, press your foundation points (hands & feet) into the ground then lift “up” through the abdominal wall + postural muscles of the upper back, again compressing the core towards the spine and drawing the two sides together and in. Soften the shoulders down the back away from the ears and imagine being suspended in space just by your core – as if your arms and legs weren’t there. Hold for a count of one-one-thousand to 30. Every breath focus on getting lighter on your hands/feet and tighter through the core. Try to emulate the SAME contraction you had when you were lying on your back.

Okay, now it’s go time. How your core felt in both the supine compression exercise and plank is how your core should be engaged 100% of the time – during every exercise and throughout your day. Try it – right now. See if you can do a squat or a lunge and focus on engaging and moving from the core first. Can you feel a difference? If you do this, it means your core is working ALL the time. And this will take your fitness and body to the next level, while intensifying every workout.  When you layer on movement – like a lunge, etc. to the already intense “plank” contraction of the core, you get…BINGO! The developing strength, definition and power of your abdominals. You don’t need to do 1000 crunches per day.

Instead:

  1. Learn to stabilize through the core, practice the two exercises above until you’ve mastered the contraction without changing your posture or bringing tension to anywhere else in the body.
  2. Practice breathing while holding the core in these isometric contractions. Always exhale on the “effort” – the push or pull of an exercise.
  3. Start every exercise movement or daily activity by engaging the core: front, side and back. Move with intention. Power and initiate all movement from the core and then transfer that energy out through your extremities.

And last (you may have guessed this was coming) – you must master your nutritional habits. Like I said earlier, we all anatomically have a 6-pack. It’s the layer of fat over top that’s hiding our most coveted asset. My one rule: eat 100% real food. Food you can make in your own kitchen, not a science lab. No matter how hard or how long you exercise or what your movement of choice is, your body composition will not budge if your eating isn’t on track. 90% (or more) of how you look isn’t done in the gym, it’s that “fork to mouth” exercise that is the game-changer. I’m not talking about a diet, I’m talking about a lifestyle of eating delicious, good-for-you food that nourishes you from the inside-out.

And THAT, my friends is the winning formula –>

Take your plank with you every day in every way you can + eat 100% real food

= YOUR MACKS MO SIX-PACK ABS FORMULA.

Image

And no, that’s not the Calvin Klein model – that’s my Regan. Un-enhanced by any photo program or color (just saying – check out the difference between the advertisement picture and the video where Matthew Terry shows his abs on camera – slightly different I’d say). These are just the results of using the said Macks Mo Formula.  🙂  And you can find yours too! If you need help, we can get you there. Shoot any questions our way: whitney@macksmo.com or post below.

– Put Mo(re) In, Get Mo(re) Out. In your workouts, through your nutrition and into your life. –

12.12.12 Workout

12 exercises, 12 reps. You pick your workout time [20 min, 30 min, 40 min]. Do as many rounds as you can in that time frame.

(1) DB Side Lunge with Crane Twist [left]
(2) DB Side Lunge with Crane Twist [right]
(3) Plank Supermans
(4) Jump Squats [option to criss-cross legs when jump to center, alternating]
(5) DB Stiff-Leg Deadlifts
(6) DB Plank & Row
(7) DB Wide Deadlift Hops
(8) Push Up Jacks
(9) Bicycles
(10) Hover Ups
(11) DB Squat & Shoulder Press
(12) Squat Thrusts

Exercises Explained:

(1) & (2) DB Side Lunge with Crane Twist: Hold the dumbbell [DB] at your chest and side lunge to the left. Engage your left glute & use it to lift you up to balance on your right leg with the left knee bent and lifted to 90 degrees [this is your crane]. Using your core, twist towards the left leg. Repeat for 12 reps on left side, then switch to right.

(3) Plank Supermans: Start in a plank position on hands. Tighten the abdominal wall and lift opposite arm & leg off of ground, pausing for a moment, then control lowering them back down. Alternate until you complete 12 reps. Make sure you keep the hips in alignment [not sashaying side-to-side; your plank looks the same with 4 foundation points down as when there are only 2].

(4) Jump Squats with Criss-Cross Option: Start in a squat position, toes forward, feet outside the shoulders. Hop the feet in & together, landing on balls of the feet “standing” then hop back to squat position. Criss-cross option: Same squat starting position, but when you hop the legs together & land on the balls on the feet, cross right leg in front, left leg behind [squeezing inner thighs together]. Hop back to squat & next time you hop legs in, cross left in front, right in back.

Image

(5) Stiff-Leg Deadlift: See picture — hold a DB in each hand & hinge at the hips,reaching the butt back [you’ll feel a stretch in your hamstrings], keeping the back flat/spine long; which means keeping the core engaged & shoulder blades pulled together. Look at Regan’s spine — see how it’s one long line from his head to his butt? Perfect form.  🙂  To come up, engage the glutes & hamstrings to pull yourself back up to the standing position.

(6) DB Plank & Row: Get into a plank position holding a DB in each hand, shoulders stacked over weights/wrists. Step feet out shoulder distance [basically width of mat] and firmly engage the core. Like the plank superman, keep your hips steady [no sashaying side-to-side!] as you “row”/lift one weight off the ground, bending the elbow to 90 degrees. Control both the lift & return to start. Alternate sides.

(7) DB Wide Squat Hops: Hold one DB between both hands and set the feet about 2″ outside the shoulders on either side. Sit back into a squat [DB will be in between legs]. Hop straight up in the air as high as you can and LAND back in your squat position. Arms stay straight the whole time. Important to keep the core contracted AND never land “standing” with locked knees. When your feet come back to the ground, you’re right back into your squat.

(8) Push Up Jacks: Get into plank position, hands wide for push ups. Perform one push up [on knees or toes; if on knees, lift them back up to plank when finished]. The end of your push up returns you back to plank [where we started]. “Jack” the feet out then back in and start over with the push up. The “jack” looks just like your feet would for a standing jumping jack.

(9) Bicycles: Yeah yeah, so you “know” how to do a bicycle. Here’s our way. 🙂 Lie on your back with your legs in table top [bent 90 degrees, knees stacked over hips] and hands behind the head. Your gaze will be up to the ceiling the entire time, don’t pull on the neck & drop chin down to the chest. To bicycle, connect your back hip points & sacrum firmly into the ground & engage the space between your frontal hip bones [never let back arch or hips sway side-to-side]. Extend you right leg straight out & contract the quad, keeping back pressed into floor by keeping core engaged. Now, use the obliques to lift the right side of the upper body off the mat and twist towards left knee.Pause in the twist & hold. Return to start & repeat on other side for 12 reps total.

(10) Hover Ups: Oooo, the hover up. FYI, major corner burner, always. And especially after push up jacks & bicycles. Get ready. Lay on your back with arms & legs extended. This is a CORE exercise, so try to avoid using momentum and letting the quads & hip flexors dominate the work. You’re going to be using your abdominal wall – from top to bottom, to peel the upper & lower body off the ground, coming to balance on your sit bones in a modified boat pose [knees bent]. Sweep the arms along your side as you pull your rib cage down to your hips to get the upper body off the ground; and simultaneously engage the space between your frontal hip bones, initially pressing your sacrum towards the ground to draw the legs up & in. After you’ve paused in your boat pose, return to start the same way you came up, slow & controlled, but THIS time and from here on out. Return the head all the way to the floor, but hover the arms & legs off ground before returning to boat pose. To understand what modified boat pose [with knees bent] looks like, check out this video.  😉

(11) DB Squat & Shoulder Press: Hold DB’s hovering above your shoulders and sit back into a squat. With the weight at your shoulders, the tendency is to round the back. Engage the core & keep the spine long while chest stays open, collar bones wide. Keep the postural muscles in the back activated at all times to protect the shoulder joint. From your squat, stand up & press the weights up [all in one motion], then return weights to shoulders as you sit back into the squat again. Full range of motion squats, people.

(12) Squat Thrusts: The best way to end any set.  🙂  Hold DB’s at your side & start standing. Lower through a squat to place DB’s on the floor in front of & just outside your toes. Hop or step the feet back to plank, keeping the core strong and not letting your weight transfer back into the feet. Keep weight over the DB’s [shoulders stacked over wrists]. Then hop the feet back up to your squat position and jump up with weights at your sides, landing back in your squat, ready to repeat. Once you get the movement pattern, make it a continuous, fluid motion. Modifications: step back to plank, step forward to your squat and/or just stand at the top instead of jumping up.

ENJOY!  And let us know how it goes — please post your workout time & # of rounds you got.