Making Progress

Hi Guys! Hope you are having a great week! I have been feeling awesome lately! Facing my fears by creating my facebook page gave me courage to try to face other fears in my life:

I posted my first video to You Tube:

Please check it out and let me know what you think. I think that it is good enough for a first try, right?

I like challenging myself and I feel so much better about myself now that I am taking real steps toward my goals.

Guess what? You can do the same thing!

What’s holding you back?

Have you always wanted to do a bikini competition, start a You Tube channel, do a photo shoot, start your own business or is there something else? Try facing your fears and demolishing your excuses and in no time, you will be on your way to achieving your goals.

 

Fit Bit: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

A line of new activity trackers have popped up– these trackers will tell you, how many miles and steps you walked, how many calories you burned, how many times you passed the “active” threshold and even how well you slept. Fit bit, Jawbone, and Body Media are a few brands that offer these devices.

I recently purchased the fit bit for myself. Since I am in off season, I am trying to bulk and I thought the fit bit would be a good way to track approximately how many calories I was burning so I could eat at a small surplus.

I had purchased a body media a few years before but it died after a few months and so did the replacement so I decided to try something new this time.

I was super excited to get my fit bit in the mail I even posted to my instagram @valeriewiest

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The first couple of days were really neat– there was a big difference in the number of steps I walked and calories burned on days when I taught classes vs. just working at the office or staying at home. It was great for setting a baseline to see how many calories I burned each day. I also found out that I burn lots more calories when I am on vacation even when I am not intentionally working out. In the past I have always felt that I have to cut way back on my eating when I am not officially “working out” so it was nice to realize that I could relax a little about that aspect. The sleep tracking feature is also really cool, you have to make sure you set it to sleep mode when you are going to bed, but it lets you know how many total hours you slept as well as how many minutes your were restless or awake. My favorite feature of all  is the silent alarm, which buzzes on your wrist waking you up gently each morning or discretely reminding you of tasks throughout the day.

Overall I think that most of the information you need to know can be gained from wearing the fit bit a week or two and noticing patterns in your activity level. Then using this information to adjust your eating and exercise habits to meet your goals. For example, since I am trying to build muscle, I need to eat at a surplus so it is important for me to know that on the days I teach classes I need to eat a little more because I am burning more calories. But once I know this, tracking everything daily didn’t matter that much since my schedule is pretty regular so I could expect the same patterns in activity to repeat.

After a few weeks with the fit bit, though, I was singing its praises. It has lasted longer that my body media, even though there are a few things I liked about my Body Media better (please leave a comment if you would like a comparison of the two devices). I felt like it was exactly what most people need to find out how many calories they are burning and avoid eating too much or too little. I think it also helps encourage people to be more active– take the stairs, walk vs. drive etc.

That is, until I started talking with one of my clients who is a therapist. She told me that a lot of people become addicted to the device in a bad way. They obsess over the numbers the fit bit displays and it can actually make them feel bad about themselves. Users may try to increase their steps or their calories burned each day forcing themselves to set higher and higher limits. Others, who can’t or won’t change their lifestyle start to feel bad about the numbers and feel that they are not good enough.

Once she said this I immediately realized how using a fit bit this way could be a problem for some. I wanted to throw it out there in case any of you have started noticing this with the use of this type of device. If you do, the therapist recommends leaving the device with a friend who you can trust for a week and seeing how it makes you feel.

What are your thoughts? Have you tried one of these devices? Did you like it?

Write Things Down to Succeed.

Things happen when you write stuff down. It’s as if the simple act of putting pen to paper gets the ball rolling. Here are four simple ways writing things down can help you succeed:

1. Write down your goals- putting your goals on paper helps bring clarity to what it is you want to achieve. It also holds you accountable, because it is no longer just in your head, it’s on paper. Coming back to a goal list can help remind you to get started and thus help you succeed.

2. Make lists of tasks you need to do– By simply writing things down you help de-clutter your mind by organizing your tasks and taking the pressure off your memory. Also, the act of crossing things off your list makes you feel accomplished and productive and encourages you to achieve more.

3. Write down your thoughts, troubles and feelings– Sometimes the act of writing things down on paper can illuminate a situation or problem and help you come up with a solution. Also, putting your problems on paper can be cathartic and help you release some of your negative energy.

4. Start a gratitude journal– Each day write down something you are grateful for and be specific. The act of focusing on positive things throughout your day will help boost your mood and getting you in the habit of focusing on the positive more often.

You can start writing things down in a way that is convenient for you. I’ve used my “notes” on my iphone and I also carry around a small notebook in my purse. Of course, blogging is a great idea too! Try making a commitment to writing down your goals and then creating a task list and a gratitude journal everyday for a month. You will be on your way to success in no time!

Yoga: It’s not for me… or is it?

I’ve had many of my Pilates clients come and tell me that while they love my Pilates classes, they HATE yoga. I used to be the same way. When I work out I want to feel like I worked out and yoga always seemed too slow and uninteresting.

But that changed when I got pregnant. Prenatal yoga seemed like a great idea.I was so used to going balls to the wall in everything that I did, that yoga gave me a chance to slow down, listen to my body and connect with my unborn son. I realized that yoga didn’t have to be simply about “working out,” it could be about mindfulness and learning about my body and myself as a person. I also realized that I could not selfishly push myself to the limits, now that I was growing another human being.

After I had my son, I stopped going to yoga. Time was scarce and what little time I had to work out, I felt, needed to be focused on cardio and weights–losing the baby weight and transforming my body. This feeling continued as I entered NPC bikini competitions. I barely had enough time to fit in all the workouts my coach gave me, there was certainly no time for mindfulness and breathing.

After my last competition I went on vacation and stumbled upon this lovely little yoga shop, Yolicious, while I was out for a bike ride:

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If you are ever in Santorini, Greece, you must check it out– it is located on Kamari Beach, you can find the Yolicious page here. The owner Konnie, a cool German woman who wore a “F**K YOGA” t-shirt to our yoga class, is really passionate about yoga. Her passion was infectious and after I bought some cool workout clothes from her shop, I had to sign up for her sunrise yoga class the next morning.

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Konnie and I spoke about how American culture is always “push it to the limits” when it comes to working out and she told me that she focuses on breathing to help slow us down and calm our minds.

Yoga on the beach was magical. This was the view:

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The yoga class was the perfect start to my morning  and I felt energized and ready to start my day. It really rekindled my love for yoga and helped me better understand how beneficial it is to use yoga as a complement to my other activities in the gym.

Now that I am back home I am trying to take a yoga class once a week on my active rest days. It really helps to release my tight muscles, calm my mind, and bring perspective back into my life.

Interesting that even though I disliked the slowness of yoga, it was probably exactly what I needed to achieve balance.

Do you enjoy yoga? Have you ever thought you didn’t like something before you really understood it?

Facing Fears in and out of the Gym

Last week was a rough one for me! It started with no internet at our company (which lasted all week leading to a general feeling of unproductiveness), my son pooping in his pants everyday at school so that I had to go pick him up and change him, my underwear ripping in half at the gym (that was embarrassing), getting in a car crash (in my brand new car–not my fault), showing up late to just about everything, overdrawing on my account because I forgot to transfer money and the list goes on and on.

I started out with a positive attitude but as the week wore on my feelings changed to “I just can’t wait until this week is over and I hope like hell that next week will be better.” I started out thinking how lucky I was to have all the luxuries I do and how my problems are minor “first world” problems, but as the week continued I kept thinking that if this streak continues maybe all my luxuries will be taken from me.

Interestingly, “facing your fears” has been a theme from my week. It started with Chalene’s podcast “Too scared to try,” that pointed out that fears stand in our way and that you don’t need to be perfect to face your fears, you just need to be good enough to make a first attempt.

Then, it was the women’s group I attend twice a month and although there were only three of us this week, we had a great discussion about fears, procrastination and friendship.

Finally my week finished with an awesome yoga class by Jessie Kates where she encouraged us to face our fears with a headstand, reminding us that we are exactly where we need to be.

Although I wouldn’t consider myself a “spiritual” person. I do believe that sometimes the universe sends us messages and for me last week was clearly about facing my fears.

The most primal emotion is fear, we experience fear to help us survive, but in this modern world, I believe that fear holds us back a lot more than it helps us.

Have you ever taken a good hard look at your fears, if you read my last post about excuses, you know that I feel that excuses can be subconscious and so can fears! Sometimes we are not aware of what is scaring us in the first place and it ends up holding us back in unexpected ways. In fact, I believe that in some ways, excuses are manifestations of fears.

One of the reasons I started this blog was to transform my career and my life, but I had no idea that fear played such a huge role in that journey. As I have mentioned before, I was afraid to share my blog, afraid to ask for sponsorship, afraid to even take the first step toward my dream. I am facing my fears one by one– I asked for sponsorship (got rejected but that’s ok it was a learning experience), I quit my job, I put my story out there and now I am facing another fear: creating a facebook page.

Just writing that makes me feel silly (It’s only a facebook page after all, there are people with real problems and fears out there), but really I am worried that people will perceive me as vain or conceited, that no one will even like my page, what I am really fearing is judgement and failure. But I have to try right? After all, its just a facebook page.

That’s one thing I have learned about fears, the only way to get rid of them is to face them head on.Each time you face a fear, the fear fades a little bit and it is easier to face your next fear because you have that experience.

That’s where facing fears in the gym comes in. What an awesome place to practice facing fears in a (realtively) safe environment! Whether it’s trying out a headstand in yoga, conquering the squat rack for the first time, or simply getting up the courage to start at a new gym in the first place, each fear you face helps make fears in your regular life easier to face. The sense of empowerment you get from accomplishments in the gym, clues you into the empowerment you can gain from facing other fears.

That is why the gym and exercise in general is so much more to me than fitness, it is a way to empower yourself and enhance your life.

What fears have you faced in or out of the gym?

Please like my facebook page!

Hotel Gym Workout

When I am on vacation I love to workout. Working out is not a burden to me, it’s something I love doing because it makes me feel great. That’s why, whenever I go on vacation I try to book a hotel with a gym. However, you can never be sure what kind of gym you are going to get. For the most part, I have been pleasantly surprised, but this past trip I was massively disappointed. My husband and I just got back from our trip to Santorini and while the weather and scenery was beautiful, the gym was rather lacking. While I love getting exercise by running or biking outdoors, I wanted to do some strength training too, so I headed to the gym. The only equipment they had were a shoddy old treadmill, an elliptical, a stationary bike and a barbell chest press with a few weight plates.

Never one to give up, I relished in the challenge of getting a good workout with just the items listed. I decided on a circuit style total body workout, I used the barbell from the chest press to do squats, deadlifts, lunges, bicep curls and shoulder presses. Turns out, with a little creativity you can get a great workout with minimal equipment. I’ve also linked each exercise to a video explanation if you need it!

You can find a link to my other ideas for working out on vacation here. I also did some yoga on my trip and I can’t wait to tell you about the studio and my experience!

Any great hotel workouts you’ve had?

What Excuses Are Standing in Your Way?

We all have excuses, some excuses are valid and some are not, but did you know you could have subconscious excuses too?

Subconscious excuses are the ones that you don’t really think about explicitly, but they stop you from doing something anyway. I think this type of excuse is particularly challenging because you may not even realize that you are making it!

Have you ever felt envious of someone’s success or achievements and felt like they were just lucky? This is a key sign that you may be making subconscious excuses standing in the way of your own success. After all, it’s easy to look at a picture of someone receiving their doctorate or on their dream vacation (especially with social media) but did you ever stop to think about what steps and struggles that person made to achieve those things?

I have found myself feeling this way several times throughout my life so I will give you an example. One of my dreams has been to open my own Pilates studio. I look on at successful studio owners with envy, however I had never even bothered to start looking at what steps I would need to take to get there. You know why? Because I was so sure I wouldn’t be able to reach my goal– I didn’t have enough money, I’m not outgoing enough, I’m not a good enough teacher, I don’t know how to market my business. Once I started to actually look at these excuses I realized that they were serving no purpose and that they were actually standing in the way of me even getting started.

What I should have been doing is looking for ways to overcome my excuses– no money? look for investors or get a loan, not outgoing? find someone who is to help me promote my studio, not good enough? take some continuing education classes.

Instead of finding solutions I was creating imaginary problems for myself, which destroyed my confidence to be able to pursue one of my dreams.

If you find yourself in the same boat of envy and excuses, take a hard look at those excuses and come up with contradictions or solutions for them. Then, take the first step toward you goal by turning those solutions into an action plan.

For me, this simply meant googling “How to start a pilates studio” and there are tons of resources out there! Now I have an idea of what I need to do to be able to reach my goal, and it is a lot more manageable than I imagined.

Remember nothing is going to happen if you are just wishing and making excuses, you have to take action to move forward. I encourage you to try this for your own internal excuses, whether they are about fitness, a lifestyle or a career goal, the same process holds true!

What are your subconscious excuses?

Finiding Inspiration (For Fitness Instructors)

Hey guys! Hope you have been having a great week! I just got back from vacation (re-cap posts to follow). I wanted to write a little about finding inspiration and staying motivated.

As a group fitness instructor I am constantly looking for inspiration to keep my classes fresh and interesting. Same goes for my regular workouts. I am the type of person who easily falls into patterns so if I don’t consciously try to switch things up I get stuck doing the same routine over and over again.

Finding what inspires you is a process and what inspires one person may not necessarily inspire another person. Additionally, just finding the inspiration is not enough! It takes thought and effort to convert the inspiration into tangible action.

Here are some ways I find inspiration and how I put it into action:

1. Vacation- For some reason, taking a vacation always gets my creative juices flowing. Whether I am working out on different equipment or taking a class I wouldn’t normally take, I always come back from vacation refreshed and ready to share new ideas. This past vacation I took classes from a yoga instructor who was really into cuing breath. I can’t wait to focus on breathing this week with my clients!

2. Continuing Education- Never stop learning. I am always inspired by the knowledge and ideas I receive from passionate teachers. Anytime I feel like I am falling into a rut, I take a continuing education class. Even if the subject is (and sometimes especially because it is) completely unrelated to Pilates, I always find ways to relate what I learned back to my classes and even find ways to use the information to mix up my own workouts.

3. Go Back to Basics- During my training for my personal training certification I learned that there are three main ways to change an exercise- weight, tempo and range of motion. Whenever I feel like I am stuck in a rut I go back to the basics to find ways to change up my routine. Even something as simple as counting in a different way can make a huge difference.

4. Motivational/Informational articles, podcasts and videos- The internet provides a wealth of free information. Instead of browsing pictures of cats, check out some videos or podcasts with a positive message. You can also search for videos or articles on a particular subject that you are interested in. Some of my favorites are: Everyday is Saturday, Muscle Science and Application, Jillian Michaels’s Podcast

5. Taking Fitness Classes from Others- You can learn new things from every instructor, even the bad ones. Taking lots of classes and finding what you like or don’t like. Finding new exercises, new ways of doing an exercise or new ways of explaining and cuing exercises can be a great way to refresh and find inspiration. Feel free to “steal” other instructors information and make it your own!

6. Themes- No, I’m not talking Disco, Disney or Halloween, The themes I am talking about are more fitness related. I have done themes like focusing on flow, breathing or unilateral movement. For me, identifying a theme, gives my creativity a structure in which to flow. It helps me think of the exercises in a new way and helps me structure a  well designed plan.

As you can see from my examples, I get a lot of inspiration from gaining knowledge. For me expanding my mind helps me feel more inspired and creative. This may or may not work for you but feel free to explore these ideas as you try to find your own inspiration.

Although many of these Ideas are targeted to other fitness instructors you can apply them to other areas where you may need inspiration as well.

What inspires you?

XOXOX

FitVal

 

Post Competition Binge/Depression

Anyway, today I wanted to do a little post on post-competition blues/binging.

Preparing for a Photoshoot

One of my goals for this year was to do a fitness photo shoot to document the hard work that I have put into my body. Luckily my coached helped me schedule a group photo shoot (to reduce the costs) with my team mates and renowned photographer Brian Landis.

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Brian was a total pro and helped with posing and definitely made me feel comfortable but I wanted to share with you a few tips to help you prepare for a photo shoot in case you have not done one before. I had no clue what to expect when I arrived at the photo shoot and I was VERY nervous.

1. Choose a great photographer- This may seem self explanatory but it really is key to your photo shoot success. Remember, you get what you pay for and if you are doing a free photo shoot expect to work with someone who is not as experienced and just building their portfolio.

Try looking for images you like online or in magazines and find out who did the photographs. Ask around, if a a friend is posting gorgeous professional pics on social media ask her who she worked with and how her experience was.

A good photographer will know lighting, help guide you in your poses and make you feel comfortable without pressuring you.

Another point is that if you shoot with a published photographer and they like working with you they may decide to have your pictures published. This can be a great way to break into fitness modeling!

2. Learn how to pose- It is always a good idea to practice your posing and know what looks good on your body before you do a photo shoot. Also understanding what you want your photos to convey and how to show that. Here are a few links to some guides on how to pose:

 

3. What to bring- Clothes, clothes and more clothes! Bring more than you think you will need, but at least 6-8 looks. Try one your looks before your photo shoot and make sure everything looks good together. You will want to bring a few pairs of shoes to go with your looks too. Usually dramatic more extreme fashion statements are great for photo shoots. Some photographers work with a stylist and will bring clothes you can wear– so ask what they recommend. In addition here is a list of items you may want to bring:

  • Baby oil
  • Make-up for touch ups at least a lip gloss, powder and blush.
  • Scissors- you never know when they might come in handy
  • Snacks- make sure you have healthy fuel that will make you feel great
  • Music- Something fun to help get you in the mood

4. Hair and Make-up:  Unless you are really great at doing your own hair or make-up I recommend hiring someone to do it for you. This will ensure that you look your best in your pictures. Bring touch-up make-up or ask your stylist for a touch-up kit. Ask your photographer who they recommend for hair and make-up if you are not sure where to go. A good photographer will have a great network of professionals to recommend.

5. Body Prep: You want to go into your photo shoot looking great but you don’t have to be completely ripped. A softer look can be great for photo shoots. If you are a competitor, a few days after your competition is a great time to book your photo shoot because you will have that left over glow from your spray tan and you’ll still be in great shape if you don’t go too overboard on your after competition meals! Also make sure your skin looks great by staying hydrated and applying lotion.

I hope this post was helpful. Good luck on your photo shoot!