Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Yoga You, Yoga Me

     Well I suppose I can't use the excuse of "I'm in the middle of a move" anymore as to why I haven't been posting. To answer your question, no...I haven't been moving since February (my last post--about motivation of all things). And no, I still haven't settled yet either. Do you know how hard it is to write about [insert topic here] when you barely have time to think about it? My September resolution, since New Years is too far away, is to follow through with this! Why did I ever stop? 

     Anyway, here we are. I'm lounging with a glass of wine reading about harmful effects of certain everyday chemicals. If you've never done that before, I highly recommend it. That's slightly sarcastic but I'm also kind of serious. If it doesn't light a fire under you then I don't know what will! That's why I've thought up a new approach...fitness isn't just about the physical aspect. It needs to be holistic [I hate using that word]. Body, mind, spirit, ENVIRONMENT <-- thanks to my aforementioned chemical research.      

     I want to be honest with you right now. I started this particular post in July. JULY! But I never got around to finishing it. While it might not encompass all of the above Pillars of Fitness (I just came up with that and I'm not going to Google it to see if someone else thought of it first!), YOGA does focus on the body/mind/spirit aspects. So here we go...

     I always liked the idea of yoga without actually liking yoga. It seemed really great when wealthy, beautiful TV characters could while away a morning by going to the yoga studio followed by a mimosa-filled brunch. Well I decided I would make that my life! Minus the mimosas and brunch in the middle of the week unfortunately.
Unless it's a mimosa...

     Even after that decision, it was slow for me. Not, like, going to the gym itself and getting into yoga was slow. The yoga session was slow. I was so used to the hard and fast lifting or cardio that I didn't think I was really working as hard. I remember one particular day when I did heavy legs before yoga. I was never the same after that...I'd like to see you try holding Warrior 2 for ten seconds after lifting! I almost fell over my legs were shaking so bad. But the more I got into lifting, the more I realized how much I needed yoga for a few reasons.

1) I needed to improve my flexibility to prevent injuries.
2) On my active rest days or lower intensity days, it was nice to do something that would still give me a great workout.
3) It's a good alternative if I can't make it to the gym or the weather isn't cooperating for a run.
4) I wanted something that would relax and re-energize me.

Benefits of Yoga

     The social aspect of going to class every week and seeing the same faces made it rather fun, and I always felt so refreshed afterwards. That's what kept me going. My body was awake; my mind was clear. It wasn't until later that I realized there were all kinds of other benefits to doing it. Lucky me!

1) Increases blood flow, boosts red blood cells, thins blood
2) Boosts immunity
3) Lowers blood pressure and blood sugar
4) Decreases risk of depression
5) Encourages you to relax
6) Helps you sleep better
7) Improves balance
8) Prevents IBS and other digestive problems
9) Reduces stress
10) Builds strength

 Yeah hi...I would like all of those please.

Build Your Inner and Outer Strength

     Yoga is more than just a simple stretching session. A lot of the poses, especially the advanced ones, require strength. You're using slow, controlled movements that need all of your muscle groups to execute. Try holding a handstand for more than a few seconds. It's harder than you think! Even if you're using a wall for support...comme moi. The more you do it, the better your posture, more flexible, and stronger you'll become. Stick with it!

     As for inner strength, as soon as you get on the mat, your focus turns introspective. Let go of everything in your head; clear your mind. Concentrate on your breathing; feel the sense of calm sweeping over your body. It's addictive...in a good way. You practice relaxation, tune out the chatter of the world, and become in sync with your body. Listen to it!


The Art of the Pose

     I know there's a lot to take in with this post, but there's so much great information that I can't resist. Below I've included a few of the common poses and what their health benefits are. If you're suffering from any ailments, check out the list and see if there's anything you can do!

Eagle Pose

  • Supplies kidneys with fresh blood
  • Relieves neck/shoulder tension
  • Helps prostate problems


Balancing Stick Pose

  • Helps prevent cardiac disease, strengthens heart muscle
  • Increases blood flow all over the body
  • Decreases high blood pressure


Standing Leg Stretch

  • Increases circulation to the brain and adrenal glands
  • Relieves depression, constipation, loss of memory
  • Regulates thyroid gland


Triangle Pose

  • Improves chemical imbalances, immune and circulatory systems
  • Helps with menstrual disorders and fights against obesity
  • Cleanses lymph nodes


Shoulder Stand/Headstand/Handstand

  • Strengthens immune system/relieves common cold
  • Benefits nervous system and puts less strain on the heart
  • Strengthens your upper body

     I'm a huge fan of Tara Stiles and all of her wonderful yoga videos on YouTube. I recommend her for any level, any workout. She has particularly great bedtime and morning routines. I promise you will notice a difference! Stronger, less stress, refreshed...ahhh I can feel it now. Give it a try and let me know how you like it!

Fit Dame

Saturday, February 21, 2015

How to Get AND STAY Motivated!

Whether you're just starting your workout routine or you're a fitness expert, sometimes it can be difficult to motivate yourself to maintain the program. Like most things in life, what works for someone else may not work for you. If you need motivation, it's up to YOU to figure out what will work for you. Read the tips below to help you get started!

1. Track Your Progress

A daily tracker can be a good source of inspiration once you find your drive to be waning. Tracking your workouts, nutrition, and accomplishments will allow you to see how far you've come. Seeing your results weekly will make you more amped to work out.

2. Get a Workout Buddy/Accountability Partner

Get a training partner slightly more advanced than you - they can correct form, introduce new exercises, and push you a little more than doing it on your own. Surround yourself with a large support network, and tell people your fitness and nutrition goals! You're less likely to cheat in their company.

3. Find Exercises You Love

Find at least one exercise per body part you love to work so you have something to look forward to every day. Switch up your workout plan every 4 weeks, and change the entire program every 12 weeks. Not only will it prevent your muscles from getting used to the same workout, it'll keep things interesting and give you something new to look forward to!

4. Set REALISTIC Goals

Make it short and simple. Come up with goals and a plan that work for you and your lifestyle. Tailor it to your needs. Don't get discouraged if you miss a workout...just get back in the gym and push yourself harder the next time!

5. Be Patient

You must be mentally strong to continue on! You didn't gain the weight overnight, so you won't lose it overnight. There's NO SUCH THING AS A QUICK FIX!

6. Stay Amped

Think of exercise as a way to relieve stress or anger. It gives you a chance to lert go of all of your stored-up tension.

Fun Fact: 1 hour of vigorous exercise is equal to taking Prozac, with the added energy boost! (I highly recommend reading Joe Mangianello's EVOLUTION.)

7. Slowly Work Your Way Up

If you're a beginner, train like a beginner. There's no shame in starting with light weights or stopping to walk during a long run. Never start a program thinking you're advanced if you're not. That is one of the quickest ways to get injured or lose motivation.

8. Reward Yourself

Not with food; you're not a dog. Treat yourself to a new movie or workout clothes so you know you'll use them!

9. Post Motivational Pictures

Posting pictures of your ideal physique in common places will inspire you to work harder.

10. Remind Yourself Why You're Doing It

Think of all the benefits of exercising. Why did you start in the first place? Why do you want to be healthier? Remember that you can't take care of anyone else if you don't take care of yourself.
Rather than focusing on how much you don't want to [insert exercise here], focus on how much you want to attain your goals and how NOT pushing some heavy iron or going on a run could be a step in the wrong direction.
Latch on to the feelings the endorphins (feel-good hormones) give you after a workout. Before you're quick to come up with an excuse not to hit the gym, consider how you'll feel if you give up. The only bad workout is the one you didn't do!
Fit Dame 

WWII Fit Test


Kids and Kittens,

Ever wonder how you would stack up against the WWII GIs? Try out the test below!

I stumbled upon this article on The Art of Manliness page, and it's just fantastic! (Though I don't agree with the form pictured for squat jumps.) I think we should incorporate more of this type of workout into the current military tests. What do you think?


The first year the Army introduced a fitness test to the troops. It composed of squat jumps, pushups, pull-ups, sit-ups, and a 300 yard run. "The emphasis was on functional fitness and giving the American GIs the strength, mobility and endurance they would need to tackle real tasks on the battlefield."

Modern Standards for Today's Warrior

In the following years, the test changed drastically.
Soldiers are now only required to complete as many pushups and sit-ups as they can in 2 minutes and finish a 2 mile run under a certain time.
Air Force has to do pushups and sit-ups for 1 minute and a mile and a half run.
Marines are required to do pull-ups or flexed-arm hang (females), sit-ups, and a 3 mile run.
Navy has to do pushups and sit-ups for 2 minutes and a mile and a half run.

Are our troops prepared for the demands required of them for deployment? Why don't we increase the standards so we're "fit to fight" at a moment's notice? We've gone soft. We've decided we don't need to be in shape since we sit behind a desk. It's the modern way! I don't agree with that mentality and I hope you don't either!

Do this test on your own or get your squadron/platoon/etc. to try it!

The Test

Rule #1. Don't sacrifice quality for quantity. For example, pushups are ALL THE WAY DOWN and ALL THE WAY UP! None of that bouncing nonsense I see all too often.

Rule #2. Choose either the Outdoor or the Indoor tests. On the Indoor test, choose only one variation of number 5.

I'm only going to go over scoring. Full explanations of proper form can be found here.  Let's get started!

1.  Pull-ups
1.  Pullups
2.  Squat Jumps
2.  Squat Jumps
3.  Pushups
3.  Pushups
4.  Situps
4.  Situps
5.  300-yard Run
5A.  Indoor Shuttle Run
5A(1).  60-Second Squat Thrusts



Each time the performer pulls his chin above the bar in correct form, he is given credit for one pull-up. He is not credited with a pull-up if he fails to raise his chin above the level of the bar or if he stops to rest. 

If the performer does not straighten his arms at the bottom of a movement, if he kicks or jerks, only half a pull-up will be counted. If there are four half-pull-ups, the performer should be stopped and retested later.

If the performer starts to swing, the judge should stop the swinging with his hands. Some such aid as a resin-bag or a cake of magnesium carbonate should be available to prevent the hands from slipping.


The performer is credited with one squat jump each time he springs up from the squat to the erect position and returns. The movement is not scored if he fails to descend to a complete squat, if he does not straighten his legs completely and reverse his feet while he is in the air, if he removes his hand from his head, or if he discontinues the movement and comes to a stop.

If he loses his balance and removes a hand from his head momentarily, or falls but immediately recovers and continues, he shall not be penalized. If the performer gets his feet too far apart but comes to a squat on the rear foot, there is no penalty. Some men cannot squat all the way down on the heel. If they go down as far as possible they should not be penalized.



The performer is credited with one pushup each time his arms are completely straightened and the exercise is performed in acceptable form. There is no penalty for the hips being slightly out of line if the whole body is moving upward at about the same speed.

The men may proceed but may not stop to rest.

If a man violates any of the instructions given above, he is credited with a half-pushup. If and when the performer is no longer able to hold a correct front leaning rest, the test is terminated.



The performer is given credit for each sit-up completed within the 2-minute period. 

No score is given if he unclasps his hand from his head, if he pushes up from his elbow, or if he keeps his knees bent while lying back on the ground.  He is not penalized if the elbow misses the knee slightly.  He must, however, sit up far enough so that the elbow almost touches the knee.  Time should be announced every 20 seconds.  At the end of 2 minutes, the timer calls: STOP and the judge counts the full number of situps completed before the stop command.


Each runner has one inspector, or judge, who stands at the finish line.  The judge watches his runner to see that he makes the turns properly and observes all the rules.  This inspector also holds the man’s card and records his performance.  A timekeeper stands on one of the lines in the middle of the course, 20 feet away from the finish line.  The men are started by the starter with ordinary signals of: “Get on your mark; get set; go.”  Since the timer starts his watch by the “go”, the starter should also use a hand signal.
When the first runner is about 30 yards away from the finish line, the timer begins to count the seconds aloud using “hup” for the half-seconds.  For example, he counts “44, hup, 45, hup, 46, hup, 47, hup, 48, hup …… etc.”  The judge for each man listens to the count and at the same time watches his runner.  He then records the last full second or half-second, which was counted before the man reached the finish line.  After the inspector records the time on the man’s scorecard he returns the card to him.



This event is administered and scored as the 300-yard run. The time of the run is taken as the runner’s body passes beyond the turning board on the final lap.


 A score is given for the successful performance of each complete squat thrust. 

No score is given if: the feet start backward before the hands are placed on the ground; the hips are raised above the shoulder-heel line when the feet are back; or the performer does not fully recover to the erect position on the fourth count. 

The judge should not count aloud as this is apt to confuse other nearby judges.  If the man is performing the event incorrectly, the judge should coach him, or stop him and have him repeat the test after more coaching.

Check the score sheet here to see how you did!

Fit Dame