NO Shortcuts!

Working out at the gym yesterday I caught a glimpse of an infomercial selling the most ridiculous fitness-related device I’d ever seen: the “Miss Belt.” A wide velcro “compression” belt designed to squeeze your fat into place so that you’ll get “the perfect waistline in seconds” and give you an “hour-glass shape.” All for the cheap price of $19.99 + $7.99 S/H.

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I literally stopped my workout and started laughing. I looked around, and several women giggled with me but a few others looked intrigued. This reminded me of the fact that so many are still looking for a shortcut, a quick remedy, an easy fix, a way to look and feel better without having to do any exercise or change your nutrition.

What is really infuriating about this product is that it messes with our society’s already confused idea of what is the “perfect” body type.  This belt contradicts the current desired body type — that of slim, skinny, and flat stomached — by offering to reposition your body into a curvy, Mae West-type hour-glass shape.  Worse yet, they show women ranging from fat to slender all enjoying the ease and comfort of this product and they even suggest that you can confidently wear it OVER your clothes (not hidden underneath) and look up to two sizes slimmer.  I’m sorry, who are we deceiving here and why? I won’t even get into the question of how does your body look and feel after hours of wearing this unflattering corset.

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Women and girls are confused enough about their body image, and this throws it all into chaos in my opinion. I hate to break it to you again, but there are NO shortcuts. If you want to have a healthy percentage of body fat, and a decent level of strength and stamina then you have to make the commitment to eat all things in moderation, exercise regularly, and actively seek to eliminate gratuitous stress from your life and environment.

Until everyone is willing to take responsibility for their physical condition (or lack there of), corporations will continue to make millions of dollars off the desperate and/or lazy selling us ab toning devices, fat-burning DVDs, and body slimming belts.

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Save your money – adjust your nutrition, and make a firm schedule of 30-minutes of exercise three to four times a week and you’ll get to your goal. It’s that simple and easy. Write to me when you’re ready to make that change. Until then, turn off that infomercial and walk away from the TV!

It’s More Than The Birds & The Bees.

Raising a young girl I feel a huge responsibility to educate her on what it means to be a woman, and most importantly to have confidence and good self-esteem about her body and her femininity. What I find to be the most confusing aspect of woman-hood to 90% of girls and women that I meet these days, is the misunderstanding of sex vs. love. Making things all the more convoluted is the rampant and massive porn and sex industry sending mixed messages to both genders about what it is to be a woman.

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Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not getting on any prudish soapbox here. I have no issue with porn or strip clubs, as long as the women involved are first and foremost women, not girls, and secondly that they are participating with their own free will.

My issue is that girls AND boys are being fed blatantly wrong images about love, sex, bodies, nudity, and how a woman wants to be treated and should be treated. The old cliché that men want a refined, soft-spoken woman in the kitchen, and a whore in the bedroom still exists for many a young man.

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Merchandise like “Bratz” dolls (see picture above) and suggestive clothing is marketed to girls as young as 8 and establishes early-on the misdirection that sexiness can only be achieved by wearing revealing clothes, stripper high-heels, and posing with your lips pursed-poutly. Furthermore, men and the media spoon feeds our little girls the misnomer that sexiness (which is actually often sluttiness) is necessary for you to be attractive enough to get a man.

I am a first generation product of the women’s sexual revolution and I appreciate the strides we have made as women to be able to have birth control that we control, that we can have sex out of wedlock without shame, and even speak up about our sexual needs and likes. BUT, I had to learn the hard way the difference between sex and love, lust and caring, as did many of my peers. I feel now it is imperative that we compound the strides made by women of the 60’s and 70’s and start speaking much more frankly with our daughters and sons.

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We must explain to them the differences and nuances between love and sex. We must advise them when and how it’s okay to have sex vs. “making love.” We must teach our daughters to understand that their bodies have an affect and power over boys that neither gender can understand in the teen years, and that said power must be respected and not wielded blindly, stupidly, or just because boyfriend or peer pressure tells them that it’s okay become sexually active. We must also teach the boys that no really does mean no, even if you’re half way into the act, and that one should NEVER take advantage of a girl who is mentally impaired by drugs or alcohol.

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Lastly, we have to explain to all young children and teens that women who chose to parade around with their breasts or bums revealed are not the examples we should strive for. There is a time and place for women to be dressed in lingerie (or not dressed at all), and walking around in public is not it. (Again I’m not trying to pick on strips clubs or their patrons.) Young adults need to understand that surgically enhanced breasts and stiletto heels can send the message “I’m ready to be your sex-toy” and if you choose to dress that way, then you have to expect that you’ll be treated as nothing but a sexual object. Most importantly we must emphasize that being desired sexually is okay under the right conditions, but that those conditions are very specific and when the lines are blurred so is the treatment of women and thus their self-esteem is eroded.

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I know today’s blog is intense and not necessarily fitness focused, but I am passionate about all areas of life being in balance and I have so many friends and clients that are grown women and men who are still confused about sex and love, so today this is what spewed out of my brain. Think about it. Share your thoughts with me – and then get your self to the gym for a little brain-clearing exercise!

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Bust The Box!

Sooner or later all of us find that one aspect or another of our lives has been dulled by routine and habit and that stagnation nags at us in the form of discontent and/or depression. If enough areas of your life are squeezed into that self-orchestrated “box” you may find that you feel stuck, bored, and frustrated yet helpless to make a change. This is when you need to not only think outside the box, but blast the walls of the box apart!

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My personal forte and mode of operating for myself and as a personal trainer, life coach, and sounding board to friends and family is to always think outside the box. I say walls, rules, and “the norm” are meant to be broken if it helps you get from point A to B and beyond without hurting anyone.

So whether it’s a dead-end job, a dysfunctional relationship, or discontent with the condition/shape of your body, you CAN make a change if you’re willing to look past the four walls you’ve decided are mandatory, and become creative with your options and your abilities.

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Start with the “kitchen sink” method: contemplate all options and ideas, no matter how big, small or crazy you might think they are. Write them down, stare at these ideas without casting out “yeah buts” or “there’s no way.” It’s like art, sometimes you have to simply start doodling for the creative juices to flow. Suddenly you’ll see the light, you’ll feel the inspiration where your brain actually says hey that might be possible.

Then map out a plan that takes you out of the box and onto a path of exploration and change. Focus on one step at a time so that you don’t feel overwhelmed – as change can be unsettling and overwhelming for many of us. Continue to remind yourself of how good it feels to be moving again and pat yourself on the back for being creative and making even a small change. That self-love and encouragement will go along way to silencing the fears that automatically rear up when we shake things up in our world.

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Lastly, remember that there’s no time-clock here. There’s also nothing to prove to anyone but yourself. You deserve to be happier and if that means busting the box to do so, that’s not only okay, but awesome! However long it takes, slow movement is better than stagnation.

Need ideas or help finding getting out of any of life’s boxes, write to me – I can always be found somewhere outside the box.

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What’s Perfect?

Remember back when we were kids and we didn’t worry about what we ate or if we’d burned enough energy to thwart off belly fat? Me too, and I’ve been trying to figure how and when we got so obsessed with the condition of our bodies and the quality of our nutrition. I believe these concerns came into play in the 80’s as America on the whole became fatter and unhealthier, and people actually started dying from nutrition related problems (heart attacks and strokes from blocked arteries, adult-onset diabetes, etc.).

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Now as I go about my daily social media marketing, I see post after post dedicated to fad diets, food substitutions, quick ways to cram in exercise – all of which are surrounded by an assaulting number of flat-stomached or toned bottoms “selfies.”

The problem is that all this does is make us obsess for hours each day, about what we’re doing, or not doing to our bodies and how desperate we are to achieve a balance of nutrition and effective exercise so that we an be … what?… perfect? But perfection can never be achieved by obsessing! Webster’s Dictionary defines perfect as:

Entirely without any flaws, defects, or shortcomings; and conforming absolutely to the description or definition of an ideal type.

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Well sorry to break the news to you, but NO ONE is entirely without flaws or shortcomings. Also the description or definition of an ideal type is constantly changing and more importantly, said description/definition is decided by society’s ever-changing tastes, all of which are subjective to criteria that never fits everyone (or even the majority of us).

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Perfection to me (using that term very lightly) is gained when we achieve and maintain balance in our life. Balance comes from no single aspect of our lives being heavier than another. Work balanced with play. Relationships balanced by a variety of personalities and commonalities. Nutrition and physical exercise/movement balanced with smaller indulgences in foods we love that may be less healthy, and cerebral pursuits that refill our creative wells.

Lastly, balance depends upon a quality of time spent on our own, and learning to accept our flaws and shortcomings, and appreciating (and acknowledging) our own strengths. No one will ever have a balanced life if they are obsessing over anything.

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I long to see a reduction in posts showing tight torsos and paleo recipes. I yearn to see posts where people are living happy balanced lives. I’m not sure how to move society towards these goals, except to plant seeds with my friends, fans and followers that can perhaps grow into a societal shift. So if you agree with the sentiments herein, share this blog to all your friends, fans and followers and perhaps we can all stop obsessing and start living in better balance.

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What Makes You Feel Good?

In a life where so often we have to ignore or postpone those things that give us the most joy, today I want to suggest that perhaps we all need to do a few more things that make us feel good.  I’m not talking about selfish-joys that are detrimental to others or negate your responsibilities (and I also am not referring to adult-fun either). I’m talking about hobbies, passions, and pursuits that bring you personal pleasure (like artistic endeavors, being outdoors for fitness or sports, reading, seeing movies with friends, etc.).  With lives so full, and martyrdom often prevalent (women in particular),  many people consistently negate caring for their creative/fun sides.

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Remember, life is short and the things that give us joy in life, the passions and hobbies we pursue, the moments of fun and happiness we share and experience, are essential to living a long and healthy life. Too often we isolate those moments into rare and even accidental instances, as our priorities lean heavily on jobs, family needs, and mundane chores that keep our lives chugging forward.

If you do not plan, schedule, and commit to decent chunks of time for you to do what makes you feel good, then you will not spend much time in that happy zone. It’s been well documented that people who maintain elevated levels of stress without a constant and regular outlet for their creative juices (the “happy zone”), suffer serious detriment to their bodies and minds.

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When stress levels stay high, muscles and organs do not get enough tension release, which causes reduction in your immune system (more illnesses), increase in inflammation to tendons and muscles (tendonitis, arthritis, and muscle spasms), and your mood will be and stay suppressed (depressed). Life is meant to have a balance between hard work and playtime. Our bodies and spirits require the “peaks” to balance out the “valleys.”

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Now if you tell me you have no hobbies or passions (as some of my clients have attempted to do), I will call bull on you (everyone has at least one thing that gives them that personal inner-joy, even if it’s just relaxing with a good book). The excuses most often cited are time and money. Well time is not the enemy, it’s your management (or mismanagement) of it. As for money, while some hobbies are clearly expensive to pursue, there are ample simple joys that everyone can partake in.

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So start by figuring out what it is that you find enjoyment from while simultaneously stimulating your imagination and/or body (i.e., reading, arts & crafts, walking, hiking, dancing, playing games with the kids, etc.), then schedule in your calendar (and with your family) WEEKLY time where you will do just that thing (or those things). Make it important enough … see the importance to you … and then it will be a priority just like all the other necessities of life that you pay attention to.

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Give it one month, and I know you will see and feel a difference in your life and your outlook.  As always, I welcome your comments and feedback about what made you feel better.

Stop Competing, Start Caring.

Since I was a young girl I’ve been aware of the serious nature of girls competing against each other for just about everything from friends to grades to boys. It gets worse and uglier as we grow into women. I see it at the gym, the mall, restaurants – women sizing up the competition. You can see it in their expressions, a defensive once-over seeking some flaw or registering uncalled-for disapproval.

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I’ve mentioned this before, living in Las Vegas I regularly see nighttime parades of girls, each more scantily clad than the next, perched in ridiculously high heels, all glaring at the gaggle next to theirs to see if there is anyone they can put down to make themselves feel better. Belittle the competition and they’re no longer a threat, right? Yet despite girls’ intentions, the message men take away from this contest of looks is that you’re offering your bodies and not your brains or hearts, and thus they don’t really care which girl they get.

The question is why are we so quick to condemn or ridicule? The answer is competition. We compete to be prettier, smarter, slimmer, or funnier. But the true concern really comes down our fear that someone is “better than me.” Girls are constantly worried that another girl will get more attention, steal a mate, or even get a better mate. We regularly match your own worth against the next girl – which only serves to chronically undermine one’s self-esteem.  Our value should not be tied into how we match up with the next girl, or whether a boy finds us attractive.

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It’s sad that we are driven to such levels of insecurity that we view our fellow “sisters” as potential threats to our happiness. I suspect this is also a part of the reason that women are still undervalued and underpaid in the workforce. It’s bad enough that we have to compete with men for jobs, but when women consistently treat each other with distrust and resentment in a work environment, it’s easy for employers to offer us less money knowing that we’ll accept it just to get ahead of the next woman.

I know I’ve done my share of mocking another or feeling envious of another girl’s achievements or looks, but I’ve worked hard in this second half of my adult life to remind myself that the grass is NEVER greener on the other side, and that we all have strengths and weaknesses, gifts and limitations, and the only person I should compete with is myself – to constantly grow and improve.

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So I suggest that all women take stock of their attributes and stop beating yourselves up about your detriments. If there’s a negative aspect of yourself that you can actually change, DO IT and move on. Otherwise, be proud of who you are what you’ve achieved and never stop trying to be more. Consider the woman next to you your equal and always be there for each other.  Stop competing, start caring about each other and that karma will reward us all.

If we can teach our daughters through this example, we just might have a generation of women that work together to boost each other up, improve the world at large, and show men that we are the superior gender! (Wink.)

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Oh The Stress Of It All – Part 2 Again

Last week I reposted a blog from two years ago as stress and it’s damaging affects on one’s body appears to be enjoying a renewed rampage on many of my friends and clients. In continuation of my “summer vacation” series, this week I offer (reprint) some suggestions to help you manage your stress.

As I discussed last week, stress – chronic long-term stress, can wreak havoc on your body in a myriad of internally detrimental ways. I reminded you that there’s always a way to change a situation or circumstance, or at least change how you deal with a negative problem, when you want it badly enough. I asked you to think about what’s stopping you from making that much needed change in your life.

Well I guarantee it boils down to fear. Fear is the main culprit behind most people’s inability to change a situation, thus removing detrimental levels of stress from their lives. But fear can be faced and overcome – IF you’re willing.  So here are some steps you can take to reduce or remove chronic stress:

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1. Diagnose the core problem – the person, place, job, or situation that is the root issue to your stress. You may feel there are multiple issues, but usually there is a core issue, i.e., worries about money, poor communication, being spread too thin.

2. Acknowledge and name the fear that holds you captive. There are only four (4) fears that exist to us humans (all fears can be boiled down to one of these or a hybrid of two of them):

Fear of Failure

Fear of Rejection

Fear of Pain (physical or emotional)

Fear of the unknown

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3. Tear apart that fear by looking deeply at what is the worst possible outcome if you face that fear. Death or serious physical harm are about the only outcomes that you clearly cannot recover from. Otherwise, all obstacles, with proper planning, can be overcome (and they won’t kill you).

4. Assess your support systems. Who is truly a supportive force in your life. Not a “yes” person, not an enabler. Someone whom you can trust with your intimate emotions, who will not judge you, and will tell you the truth. Someone reliable and consistent in your life. The more of these the better – then lean on them, not wholly, but just enough to get you through the really tough stuff. The rest you must do on your own to truly succeed.

5. Make a plan. Detail the steps and map them out on a calendar.

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6. Commit to the plan.  Have someone hold you accountable, and then take each step in constant forward movement until you are where you want to be.

To some these ideas may seem obvious and easy; to others, daunting. However you perceive it, the task is to take positive steps towards a change. Stress does not have to rule your life. The key to getting rid of your stress lies in your very capable hands (and head).

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SO GO AND EMBRACE CHANGE! Happy summer.

Oh The Stress Of It All – Part 1 Again

Two years ago I posted this blog, and recently I’ve had a slew of clients dealing with the physically debilitating results of stress. So I thought since many people tend to take a summer vacation around this time of year, it might be some helpful food for thought to those of you who are “stressing out.”

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By now you should all know that negative effects of prolonged stress on the body. I’ve written about it frequently, it’s discussed regularly on Oprah, Dr. Oz, and the like. But for those of you living in a constant state of stress, I thought it time to revisit the issue, remind you of a few important stress-facts.

The kind of stress I’m addressing – that of situational, circumstantial, environmental and relationships – starts in the head (it’s emotional). If not dealt with quickly and thoroughly, it moves into the body where if left unreleased, ricochets around your insides like a pinball! A mind/body under stress releases Cortisol. Higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream (like those associated with chronic stress) have numerous negative effects, such as:

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  • Impaired cognitive performance
  • Suppressed thyroid function
  • Blood sugar imbalances such as hyperglycemia
  • Decreased bone density
  • Decrease in muscle tissue
  • Chronic digestive and intestinal issues
  • Repeat muscle spasms (lock of the muscles) in the neck and back
  • Weight gain
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Lowered immunity and inflammatory responses in the body, slowed wound healing, and other health consequences
  • Increased abdominal fat, which can in turn result in higher cholesterol, heart attacks, and strokes

I don’t know about you, but I think that’s quite a list of ailments that I would actively seek to avoid!

For those of you that reply there’s no way to change my current situation or circumstances to alleviate the stress, I say think again. I know it’s trite, but where there’s a will there’s a way. If you have enough motivation, you can overcome – and change – anything.

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So what’s stopping you? Think about this while on vacation this week, or during what little down time you allow yourself to have (like the drive home from work). Next week I’ll address (or reiterate) some tricks for handling your stress.

Take This With You.

Summer vacation time is upon us and many of will head out for relaxing tropical times, scene mountain retreats, or whirlwind city tours. Regardless of where you vacation, exercise is still essential. Ideally you will keep your muscles toned and calories burning through hiking, swimming, and miles of exploratory walking, but if you still desire a muscle training kind of workout, I herein offer my do it anywhere workout.

This workout relies solely on body weight so no equipment is necessary, and can be done in a small amount of space, indoor or outdoor, and is about 20 minutes long. Perfect for your vacation needs. So print it out, take it with you, and enjoy!

DLF’S DO IT ANYWHERE WORKOUT

   ROUND ONE:

10 Burpees w/push ups

15 Incline push ups (against a desk or wall)

20 Air squats

Rest for 1 minute – then repeat x 3

   ROUND TWO:

10 Triceps push ups (from knees)

15 Jump Squats

20 Mountain Climbers

Rest for 1 minute – then repeat x 3

   ROUND THREE:

10 Prone Alternating Arm & Leg lifts (palms & feet on ground in push up start position)

15 Prones to Planks

20 Stationary forward Lunges

3 30-second Prone-Iso-Abs (planks)

Rest for 1 minute – then repeat x 3

Below are photo examples of all the exercises listed.  Have a great summer vacation!

BURPEES:

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INCLINE PUSH UPS:

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AIR SQUATS:

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TRICEPS PUSH UPS:

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JUMP SQUATS:

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MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS:

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PRONE ALT ARM & LEG:

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PLANKS TO PRONES:

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STATIONARY LUNGES:

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PRONE ISO ABS:

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Accept it, or Fix it.

In our ever-increasing attempts to be politically correct in this Country, we have started utilizing colorful adjectives to describe someone who is what we used to call “fat.” Over-weight, big-boned, large, hefty, heavy, full-figured, thick, heavy-set, etc. are now the less insulting ways to describe someone who has a larger percentage of body fat.

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But I think we’re wrong to do so. It’s simple, you are either proportioned evenly (regardless of your height, weight, and build) or you have too much body fat. The body (and what it weighs) consists of muscle, bone, fat, organs and water. None of us are shaped perfectly and none of us ever stay exactly the same shape as we age. There are healthy fat people and internally-fat skinny people. I only care that an individual can perform anything they wish physically (like dancing or simply walking up stairs) and that they suffer from as little stress as possible in their lives, while enjoying a mix of healthy and fun foods and experiences.

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With this said, my point today is that I hear many clients and people on social media lamenting that they are fat, over-weight, uncomfortable in their size and clothes, or worse yet, have physical limitations and/or illnesses due to their increased body fat. What irritates me about this is that a predominant amount of people complain repeatedly, yet do little to nothing about it.

Sure they’ll attempt a diet, a new exercise routine, or hiring a trainer such as myself. But within a matter of months, their willingness to do the work – and I know it’s hard work for most – dissipates. Pretty soon, they’re eating less often again, more high-caloric fattening foods, and the workouts trail off to once a week or none.

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My personal philosophy on ADULTS is that as long as you’re happy, and not achieving that happiness at the detrimental expense of someone else, then just be happy. If you’re not in imminent danger of dying, if you are okay with being less able to do certain things physically, then I say accept your condition and enjoy your life. There’s nothing wrong with being over-fat outside of your shortened life span and inability to experience certain life joys. There are plenty of people who find an over-fat mate sexy and attractive. There are plenty of over-fat people who are not suffering from health related issues, and can dance all night long. Right on, I say!

But the chronic complainers who chronically will do nothing long-term to fix their issues should – well to be blunt – fix up, or shut up. Yes it’s a huge commitment to change the way you shop, cook and eat food. Yes, it can be inconvenient to your schedule to work out for 30-60 minutes 3-5 times a week. But the results can change what you’re complaining about, and in a relatively short period of time in the grand scheme of things.

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So if you really want to change – and make it a permanent one – then do it. I have faith in all humans to achieve anything they set their minds to, and I support anyone who earnestly tries. If you prefer fast food diets and couch-potato lifestyle, do so with all the lust for life that life deserves – and enjoy!

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