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Congrats! You made it to the tenth and final week of the Better Body and More Energy Challenge! I knew you could do it.
For your last assignment, I’d like to you tie together everything you’ve learned about nutrition and fitness over the past nine weeks. Don’t worry — it sounds more daunting than it really is!
With only two more weeks left in our Better Body, More Energy challenge, I hope a lot of exciting things have started happening for you! Maybe you’re experiencing abundant energy (or at least more energy), a new outlook on health, or a brand new consciousness about your body. Maybe your day starts with a glass of water instead of caffeinated soda, and even if that is the change you take away from all of this, then I am happy you have made that progress!
By the time Week 8 rolls around, many of my clients already feel a sense of achievement. At this point my hope is that I have guided you to more mindfulness — whether it is just moving your body, replenishing water and nutrition or giving yourself permission to breathe and recover when you need it. What an act of love and respect to actually set aside time and put effort into healing, nurturing and creating the best you!
You’ve likely heard that interval training is effective for your body in many ways. The increases and decreases in heart rate make the body work harder and burn more calories per minute, and the increased energy output requires more fuel, which revs up your metabolism. In this phase you will also work on your explosive muscle strength, which the body needs but doesn’t get much of during steady-state exercises such as swimming, walking and regular strength training.
When I demand that my clients incorporate rest into their intense workout schedule, I’m always met by googly eyes and a surprised “You want me to do nothing?!” But it’s a matter of fact that no workout plan works to its fullest potential if you don’t rest properly.
As with everything else in life, there are huge benefits to finding the right balance between active exercise and recovery. During the rest and recovery time (which of course includes enough hours of sleep every night), cells heal, your body re-boots and energy stores replenish. That’s why it is extremely important to let the body heal for one or even two days per week so you can reap the benefits of all your hard work. And if you are on a plan that has you working out almost every day of the week, that’s never going to happen!
A few days ago, a dear friend of mine called me up with a worried voice. She told me that since she started weight training with her trainer six weeks ago, she was actually feeling bigger and had experienced no significant weight loss. “Am I doing the right thing?” she asked. “Why is this not working?”
That experience of a period of bloating and weight gain is something I hear from many women I train with, but it’s only temporary!
Love is one of the most powerful forces on Earth. Unfortunately, I find that women who are most critical of their bodies are missing a degree of self-love. Do you find yourself looking in the mirror and having negative thoughts about certain parts of your body? Do you find yourself saying things like, “If only my thighs were slimmer,” or “I wish my butt wasn’t so flat”?
When I teach my fitness classes, I often invite my students to do some of the exercises with their eyes closed in order to really feel the movement. On a neuromuscular level, training the body while creating positive thoughts and making that positive connection is scientifically proven to be one of the most powerful ways to create and reinforce a positive body image. And, on a non-scientific level, it just feels good!
A while back, I had a client who was struggling with his weight. Unfortunately, he felt about as excited about exercising as he did about doing laundry. We dug into his athletic past and found that he had been discouraged by his physical abilities, which had turned into a near fear of moving his body.
We both knew that he would have to exercise to achieve his weight-loss goals, so I encouraged him to think about what physical activities he had enjoyed as a child, before the fears started building. After all, all children like to play.
Food is always a part of our life experience. In my home country of Sweden, we socialize a lot around food. In the world of fitness, proper nutrition is vital for making progress and increasing energy levels. As a child, food is a necessity for growth and development, and as we get older, we become more aware of our diet’s impact on our longevity. So why then do we get lost in the middle?
Believe it or not, spring is right around the corner! In Los Angeles where I live, it has already started: The days are getting longer, the birds are chirping louder outside my window and I’m starting to feel that subtle energy change, both in my personal training clients and in myself!
This is the time when there is so much “newness” happening that I like to use it as a catalyst to create a resurgent flow of energy for the rest of the year. The best thing about creating this flow of energy is that the byproducts can include a fitter body, more energy and an influx of self-confidence.
But I can’t stress enough that change takes time. Starting too many things all at once usually ends in exhaustion and a feeling of “I MUST DO” instead of “I WANT TO.” One of the best ways to overcome the inertia and the absolute best way of creating a habit and sticking to it is to change slowly and repeat the new positive pattern over and over again. And over the next ten weeks, that exactly what we’re going to do!