Hey you guys! I am back on the blog with a little Q & A instalment – I thought it would be fun to share some of your questions on the blog. I always see people on Instagram asking this and, while I’m not a “big blogger” or Instagrammer, I thought it would still be fun to ask and see if anyone responded! So, here are a few of the questions you asked, my thoughts, plus some life updates in picture form. 🙂
Motivation: Please share some wise words about how to stay motivated and committed.
This is a tough one – everyone is searching for motivation always, aren’t they? Aren’t you? To me, motivation is a bit misunderstood, and is not as simple as doing what you love. To me, motivation is more about a commitment than a feeling, and one of my best tips is to JUST DO IT. Here’s the thing: we always need to listen to our bodies, and you know your body best! BUT, we are pretty good at coming up with excuses, aren’t we? Too little time, laundry to do, you’re tired that day, you’ll get to it tomorrow… Sometimes we need to do like Nike and just do it! Sometimes we need to turn off our minds and start in with an action, whether that relates to our nutrition choices or movement decisions.
So my encouragement to you? Get after it today, whether that’s an intentional, relaxing walk or a CrossFit workout or a few push ups and squats at home while your kid is napping. 🙂 And if you want to dig a little deeper (because I think a lot of this really comes down to setting an appointment with yourself and not giving up!), here are a few great articles in a series about motivation that might help, outlined in the point form below:
- Define Your Deepest Reason
- Quit Tomorrow (you’ll want to read this one!)
- Master Your Fear
- Find Your Meaning
Hormones + Strength Training/Energy
I think it’s super fascinating when we as women really start listening to our body signals. For example, it was after trying to go high fat, low carbs after reading a book about becoming a fat burning machine that I noticed how my body responded so differently to various sources of fuel. My workouts tanked, my energy slumped, my brain was foggy – and I really gave that way of eating a chance, didn’t “cheat,” and tried to switch things over – but I felt horrible. I’d seen so many people say that they felt stronger, lost weight (which wasn’t my intention), felt more clear headed – all exactly the opposite of how I’d been feeling. Food affects us tremendously, and I learned that I metabolize carbs and sugars quite well and do much better with a balance between my macronutrients.
All that to say, there are other things we can pay attention to as well, like what happens around our menstrual cycle. One of my clients asked about the correlation between exercise and your hormones changing monthly, and it’s pretty amazing when you stop to pay attention to what’s happening your body. I find that many women feel lethargic, their strength decreases in the gym while lifting, their motivation is low and they aren’t always craving “healthy” foods which of course also affects their health/mindset/etc. And you know what? All of that is okay, in fact it’s normal. And the more you can be in tune with your body, the more you can understand why your body responds one way or another. This enables you to have more grace with yourself when you aren’t performing like you usually do in the gym rather than beat yourself up about it. You might choose a nap or walk over a workout and know that you’ve made the right decision that day, and perhaps you do your best to eat well but don’t worry over a bowl of ice cream here or some chocolate there. I notice that my energy and strength levels take a BIG dip the week before my cycle starts, and ever since I realized this I’ve been able to tweak my workouts to better reflect how I’m feeling that day. This, by the way, isn’t a bad strategy to do all the time, cycle or not, female or male! Not every day will look the same, and that’s okay! Hormones are no joke (said the pregnant woman), and the more we can listen to our signals and recognize them, the more we can ebb and flow with our body’s tides.
The first step is to start paying attention; track your cycle, note how you feel in the beginning, middle and end of it, and note your response to food, sleep and exercise. If you want to learn a little more, here’s a great article from Ben Greenfield about planning your exercises around your menstrual cycle.
ACSM Prep: (American College of Sports Medicine, personal trainer cert)
When you were preparing for the ACSM, what sections did you struggle with the most? —> Definitely the anatomy for me, because in university I studied communications, not human kinetics! That was probably my hardest part, but thankfully it wasn’t a huge part of the test, and most clients don’t really care where the biceps muscle inserts and originates. 😉
How long did you take to study before your took the test? —> Man, it’s been a few years, but I think about 6 months?
After taking the exam, what areas do you think you spent too little vs too much time studying? —> This is also a tough one when it’s a bit hard for me to remember! I didn’t pass the exam by much, but I did pass – it was much more medical than the certifications I’ve had in the past, so those were my biggest stumbling blocks. I didn’t spend much time on the behavioral, personal-relationships part (like the of active listening, motivational interviewing, relationship marketing – but know those if you don’t already), because that is more my strength as a trainer, so I’d say study more where you feel weak and don’t dwell on what you already have a good handle on. But some areas I’d focus on:
- planes of motion, join actions and what planes they fall into
- order of fitness assessments, different body comp techniques
- CVD risk factors – know these and their specifics for sure
- FITT-VPP for cardio, flexibility, strength, and neuromotor
- know what a MET is and how to convert to VO2Max or VO2Max to METs
- brief questions on legal issues – know about negligence, rules on recommending supplements, etc
- spotting clients for exercises (where to put your hands during a bench press was a question; although I remember not reading about this in the book very much!)
- high altitudes/heat + training, hydration levels and recommendations
- I remember someone saying to know what the primary movers are during the concentric/eccentric movements in different motions like in running uphill and downhill. This was on the exam!
These two blog posts might be more helpful than mine:
Hope that helps!
Advice for getting post baby body in check. As this friend of mine noted, “Mine is way out of shape – more circular than it once was,” and this person is packing around an almost 2 year old on her hip and trying to eat dairy and gluten free (allergies) and reduce sugars – more veggies. So…first I’d encourage you to check out Noelle’s post about getting her post-baby body back:
Since announcing my daughter’s arrival, the question has already come up from quite a few people. “Noelle, can you share how you plan to get your body back after recovering?” While most people’s intentions are innocent when asking this, my answer is always the same: I don’t. The idea that women must go back to what they once were in order to be whole again has become pervasive in our culture. The moment your little bundle of joy enters the world, it’s sort of expected that your main focus will soon become getting your body back to the way it looked before. Marketers know this, which is why you all of the sudden find ads centered on helping you “shed the baby weight” at every turn. (Yes, Google knows exactly where you are in your pregnancy based on your search history, and ads are targeted to you everywhere on the internet according to this timeline.) During all the late night feedings and soothing sessions, I’ve had even more time to evaluate this phenomenon. As I’ve watched my body do the incredible task of shifting back to “normal” again after accommodating a 7 lb baby, I am so thankful for the opportunity to appreciate and observe these changes without judgement. I have no expectation of what my body “should” be. My body now has stretch marks. My body now has fat in different places. My body now has a little extra squish from where my baby girl once lived. Maybe it will change, maybe it won’t. Either way, there is no need to get my body “back” because it never left. Here’s the deal. If you’ve ever had a child, suffered an injury, or gone through a major life stressor, being in the mindset that you need to “get your body back” puts you in a position to fight your current body to make it what it once was. But, the body you once had and the body you have now are the same–the only thing that sets the two apart is your experience. This experience has most likely made you more capable right now than ever before. And perhaps one of the most beautiful things about your body is that it is capable, on your side, and allows you to do all the things you want to do in life. 💪🏼 #strongfromhome
So – just keep that perspective in mind. 🙂 To dig a little deeper on a practical level, however, and not speaking from personal experience quite yet, I’d encourage you to start with a program – something consistent that you can stick to! I really recommend the BirthFit postnatal program. There’s something about starting from ground zero (even if you have a two year old, you’re still postpartum – forever postpartum!) and staying faithful to a program to help you see change, especially while making sure your pelvic floor and core are strong (which this program addresses). I could encourage you to do exercises or try to eat in a calorie deficit, but I don’t know your background or body mechanics, but I can encourage you to lift weights safely – that will help change your shape if that’s what you’re after! It’s not all about cardio and eating less sugar, but incorporating strength training is what truly begins to shape your body. That’s why I’d recommend a personal trainer or a program like BirthFit – something that you can start safely and work up in terms of progressions. It’s not necessarily linear, but the more you can stay consistent and faithful to movement the better! 🙂 Hope that helps!
Emotional Eating; How to Break Bad Habits with Food; Nutrition
This was another question (or rather, a few questions from a few people), who wanted some tips around eating in general and overeating/emotional eating in particular. Please keep in mind that I’m not a nutritionist or dietician, but there are a few guidelines I’d love to share from my experience as a personal trainer, someone who eats (we all have that in common!) and as a level 1 Precision Nutrition certified trainer.
First of all, check out this article about how to quit weekend overeating – which could be similar to the binge eating or emotional eating my friend referenced in her question. It has some super practical advice for all of us! I haven’t personally struggled with emotional eating, so I’m very careful to give advice on something I haven’t experienced myself, but a few things come to mind that, while tough to practice, actually work.
- Pay Attention to How You’re Eating. Yep. None of us like to practice this, and I’m very guilty of being the first one at the table to finish my plate or walking and eating while on my way to the gym to train a client – I’m fast and don’t pay any attention to my food! A great way to practice this is to eat slowly – you’ll be able to be in tune with your hunger signals more, and also will have a different food experience! For example, you might find some foods don’t taste as good – at least not the foods we tend to overeat. For example, if you’re eating handfuls of M&M’s, they taste great initially but are gone instantly – before you know that it that giant “sharing size” bag is gone and you sure didn’t share any! But if you slow down, you’ll likely find that M&M’s taste kind of… chemically. You probably won’t want as many. Have you ever noticed how your first slice of pizza tastes immensely better than your fourth? Yep. Slow down and see what happens. Try it for a week. Try it for 3 days! Pay attention to how you’re eating – anyone who is healthy in terms of their body and relationship with food practice this. This is a skill that needs to be practiced. You can also practice eating with no distractions – no phones, no iPads, no TV – not forever, but for a week or so. Again, try it and see how much more tuned in you are to what and how you’re eating.
- Once you’re paying more attention to how you’re eating, what you’re and the environment around which you eat, try eating mainly unprocessed foods. We all know this is better for us, but if you’ve been practicing slowing down and really being mindful about your eating, this part might be a bit easier!
…hopefully some of those resources and tips help! I’d also encourage anyone local to connect with Sally Powis-Campbell of Wholistic Health YYC. She is incredible, and offers psychology services about mindfulness, eating disorders, nutrition and sport psychology, and I cannot recommend her enough.
From smoky, hot summer weather to farmer’s market runs on my bike, I’m noticing that the weather is changing and we are welcoming fall here in Calgary. The leaves are starting to fall on the ground and today we have had a few cool, gray, rainy days. Not only do we need the rain, but it felt good to smell it in the air and on the pavement when I walked outside. As much as I don’t want to wave goodbye to summer, I’m kind of excited for sweaters and cozy pants and blankets and the onset of fall! Plus, that means we’re that much closer to meeting our little bambino. Speaking of which…
35 Weeks Pregnant
Yep! This week I’m 35 weeks! I cannot believe we have a short few weeks until we meet our baby!
It feels so short but long at the same time as my varicose veins are getting worse, my tailbone is achy and those braxton hicks contractions keep showing up. But you know what? Overall I’m feeling pretty good! I’m grateful for a lighter schedule and load right now at work, still feeling great when I’m working out and moving, and sleeping well. My hips haven’t been hurting much, but according to Mikey my shape is finally starting to change – it’s been all belly-out so far! – but my midwife was asking if I’m feeling any pelvic pain/pressure because that baby’s head is way down there already! Good news. My blood pressure is looking normal, baby’s heartbeat is strong and healthy and I’m measuring right on track. Grateful for healthy reports and my plan is to keep moving forward with anticipation, choosing joy over fear if anxiety ever creeps up on me!
(feeling bigger and bigger!)
In other baby news, we had maternity pictures taken by our friend, Bre, on the weekend, who approached us as soon as we shared we were pregnant and offered us a free session! We were blown away and so grateful, and the planned date seemed so far away until all of a sudden it was here. We headed out to Yamnuska (the mountain I climbed solo while 20 weeks pregnant!) and took some fun shots on some cliffs lower down plus in our home and had a blast doing so. We’re so glad we could celebrate this unique and unexpected time in our lives with some photos! I couldn’t link them for some reason, but I’m slowly releasing them via my Instagram and Facebook pages.
We also started our birth & baby classes, which are once a week for 2.5 hours for 7 weeks. A bit drawn out, maybe, but we’re definitely going to have lots of good info in our minds, great questions to ask and tools in our tool belt as we go into a very unknown event. 😉 All these things sure make this pregnancy and baby much more real!
I shared this on Instagram the other day, but wanted to share my same thoughts here as well… It’s a wonderful feeling to be in a room of pregnant women at all different stages of their journey – you can reflect back on the early days and look ahead to those still present at 39+ weeks. It’s a comfortable environment and a great way to finish off the week, with relaxing poses that feel great throughout our pregnant bodies.
Certain poses don’t feel so relaxing though, like this one. It’s so to me fascinating that I’m mentally able to push through a workout that’s uncomfortable but these holding, static poses test me in a different way. For this pose, we leaned back on the soles of our feet with a block creating a shelf on which to seat. It’s… not very comfortable. 😜 We took 5 (difficult!) breaths here and then raised ours arms out front of us, flicking our fingers and focusing on them instead of our feet. It’s amazing how this actually helped to take the pain away – or rather, reframe my mindset around the pose. A perfect analogy for labor and really for going through anything physically difficult or demanding – mindset is key 🔑 and plays such a huge role in managing stress or pain.
It was a great reminder to me and I want to practice this and other movements at home! What’s been challenging you lately? Have you been learning anything new?