The Sling Diaries | Health

[[ Thoughts on health as my second entry for the Sling Diaries Project with Sakura Bloom. You can find my previous entries in the tag above, and the other sweet mom’s posts/entries from our VI volume here ]]

14webPaityn and I sit cross-legged on the floor in the morning, bowls in our laps eating breakfast as we sleepily wake up. “I’m happy” she tells me, convinced that happy is the opposite of tired. The bowls contain greek yogurt with bran cereal sprinkled on top because I’m trying to be more mindful of my macros and nutrition again. So this is me trying to be better about hitting my protein and fiber goal. Because let’s be honest, carbs and fats are easy peasy. You’ll never catch me saying, “oh geez, this sure is hard to eat x amount of fats or carbs today!”

But protein and fiber are a struggle every time. And while I’m in the awkward stages of postpartum, both aesthetically and functionally, turns out hitting those numbers make life easier. So I’ll add a few fiji apples and bag of light popcorn to my day later, resolving to find ways to branch out with fiber sources tomorrow.

This postpartum journey is completely different from last time. I’m kinder and more patient with myself this go-round.

After I had Paityn, every day was a celebration. I had no idea what to expect from my body, so when the numbers dropped week after week I literally could not believe it. The message I had seen from the media and family alike is that the body is never the same after becoming a mom. That you’ll love your children and that it’ll all be worth it, but that you’ll never be the same.

I am not the same as I was before children.
I am hands down, a million times better off.

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6webExperiencing birth twice gave me a confidence in myself that would’ve taken years to find. It’s like I hopped on the fast track to all the peaceful vibes. And I give birth all of the credit. Looking back, and if we’re being completely honest, pregnancy sucks. I tried to lean into it both times, and celebrate all the sweet moments. But it was those two births that offered me all the healing. Gone were all of the years of loathing this vessel I’d been given.

It gave me a fresh start.

With this fresh start I’ve discovered a sense of balance like you wouldn’t believe. And I’m not talking on the surface, day in the life of a nutrition nerd balance. The amount of chocolate that goes down in my life might stress some of you out for example. I mean the true-to-the-core balance.

A few nights a week Landon and the girls go to the track with me and cheer me on/play on social media while I jog 8 laps. My first postpartum run a few weeks ago I discovered this was my base, so I made a rule that I’d always do at least what I did that first day.

On other evenings he and I make use of the daycare at our gym and lift weights. I dream of having boulder shoulders and impressive biceps, but know that it takes time. So we go back and forth on sets, laughing about our faces during certain lifts and pushing each other and help with form on others.

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Nightly we visit our little raised bed garden in a community garden, water the soil, and watch our seeds turn into plants.

Adding these things to our day takes a bit of extra effort. It requires turning off HGTV and dreaming about owning a tiny house and making a concerted effort to live in the present. There’s nothing Landon and I can do about our hardwood floor, large window and tall ceiling tiny home dreams, but there are things that we can do daily for our health. And those little things add so much joy to our day, and to our relationship.
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Running a few miles, lifting weights, upping my fiber and protein, learning about square foot gardening, reading the scriptures and cutting out caffeine. These are the little things that have added so much joy and balance to my life. The process of pregnancy and birth taught me volumes about learning to listen to my body/soul and what it’s quietly begging for. At the end of the day I wholeheartedly believe that we all know a few things that we can do to better our health. We just need to turn off the insistent and ever-changing flow of health news for a second, and listen.

dress by Sonnet James, Sling by Sakura Bloom in Sencha, photos by Landon Faulkner Photography

IIFYM Postpartum Game Plan

I have always loved the idea of being completely in charge of my diet and fitness goals as well as putting in the time for trial and error till I find what works best for me, but have never really committed. So I figured what better time to do it than now — with this blog as accountability.

IIFYM as you may remember from a post I did last summer, is a method of monitoring the calories that you consume during the day a little more closely. In addition to hitting a specific calorie goal each day, you hit a specific breakdown of fats, carbohydrates and protein specific to your stats and goals.

At 4 weeks postpartum exactly I sit at 5’7″ and 142lbs. And I am so happy with how things are going! While the postpartum journey after having Paityn all feels like a blur to me now, photos remind me that it wasn’t till late April that I was down to 125; almost three months after giving birth. Though I was able to experience that postpartum journey completely through rose-colored glasses, excited that the weight miraculously dropped off week by week, I feel buoyed up this go round feeling confident knowing what my body is capable of.


I hope that by documenting my journey I will be able to encourage you as a reader, and to have accountability to stick to goals that I set at the beginning of the year. I plan to keep the first 4 weeks extremely simple — a boring as sin meal plan that helps me stick to my macros. The intent of this is threefold:

— to help simplify grocery shopping for us
— to simplify the idea of cooking dinner for our family in the evenings till I can do it in my sleep by the end of the month. Which would be huge for me! Cooking one dinner this next month would be huge for me ;)
— and, to help me get in the routine of knowing what a day’s worth of eating my macros looks like without a lot of guess-work.

This way the real variable will be what macros work best for me, which while breastfeeding can especially be an extra bit of trial and error.

So here’s how I figure out how to start. By using the IIFYM calculator I plug-in my info: age, weight, height and amount of exercise I typically do each week. When using this calculator you always use athlete’s formula + skip the body fat % box.

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Next I choose my goal. Because I’m breastfeeding I’m going to choose maintenance. My hope is that the amount of calories burned while breastfeeding will keep me on track with losing weight, while having enough to keep my milk supply up. I’m hypothesizing that choosing Fat Loss right from the get go won’t allow me enough calories as a breastfeeding mom. Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 12.16.30 PM

Next I make sure the breakdown of macros looks good to me: fats at .4 grams per lb (usually suggested) and protein set to .9 grams per lb. I knocked that one down to .9 from 1.00 while getting started into IIFYM again — protein is always the hardest macro for me to hit, protein shakes and all.

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Once I hit calculate I’m given my macro goals to shoot for daily: 252g of Carbs, 121g of Protein and 54g of Fat with an additional goal to hit the micronutrient of fiber within the range of 27-34g daily.

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And that’s it! For a gameplay at least. Now I’ll sit down and calculate the macros of some of my favorite meals till I have a basic meal plan to eat daily. I’ll save that for my next post once I have it all worked out. I know this one is probably a bit boring but I hope that it’s helpful for some, and that it helps document the beginning. If you have any questions feel free to comment below!

and a picture of us lately just so this isn’t all text + numbers ;)

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xx

3 Fit Pregnancy Lessons I’ve Learned

As of this Sunday I am officially 28 weeks and 7 months pregnant! I am trying my best to stay active through this journey into motherhood a second time, and in the wintertime no less. My hope is that by sharing what has worked for me it’ll encourage you to find your thing.

After having my first daughter Paityn, in late January 2013 I was back in the gym as soon as I was cleared at the 6 week mark. I was fired up by the rise of fitness accounts on Instagram that I had started to run into while I was up late unable to sleep from being uncomfortably pregnant or nursing my daughter once she arrived.

Something these accounts all had in common were beautiful girls of all heights and ages, with lean athletic bodies. Gone were the days of weightlifting and women conjuring up pictures of women on the ‘juice’ and necks three times larger than average. With this newfound excitement I stepped away from my comfort zone of cardio machines and into the intimidating weight lifting area. Paired with a balanced diet and the help of breastfeeding, over the space of 12+ months I found myself in the best shape of my life.

Lesson #1: Be positive in your results. Trust your body. You can do great things after becoming a mom. You will do great things! You are doing great things. Find your niche, your thing, your passion. And don’t let the world tell you you’ll never look the same, or as good, as you did pre-baby.

The exact process that I had initially feared would set me back forever from achieving a certain aesthetic, a sacrifice I had deemed worth it to begin our family, turned out to do the exact opposite. As I began to read more about the concept of fitness after becoming a mother, I learned I wasn’t the only one to see better results than what I was achieving prepregnancy. I read about Kara Goucher running a PR on her marathon at the Boston, just 7 months after giving birth. Paula Radcliffe a few years before Kara winning the New York Marathon, less than 10 months postpartum. Said Alex Allred, a U.S. National Bobsledding Champion in the mid 90’s, “you come back so much stronger.” I felt so buoyed up by these and many other moms. So I continued to wake up early and lift weights following a few different training programs over the space of a year and a half until morning sickness brought all my goals for an extra fit pregnancy to a screeching hault.

Lesson #2: Be Flexible

IMG_4886I had known morning sickness would most likely would be a part of my second pregnancy like it was the first, but I didn’t anticipate just how soon it would start. My ‘morning sickness’ phase lasted til 5pm on most days, and phased out around 13 weeks or so. I don’t think I lifted a single weight that entire time. Unless a can of ginger ale and crackers count. No? Didn’t think so.

What did work was hitting up the rock climbing wall 3x a week with my husband, toddler and another couple. My climbs were quite possibly the weakest in the gym some days but that didn’t matter. I was out of the house, in the gym, and moving my body.

The drastic energy depletion that happens in the first trimester really took me by surprise. If you’re there currently, I’m sorry! This too shall pass. And hopefully you’ll feel like a new woman in no time.

Lesson #3: Don’t Be Afraid to Push Yourself

Now listen to your midwife or doctor first and always first, because we’re all different. But my journey has thankfully been a safe pregnancy both times, where I am free to have the mindset that I’m not sick, just pregnant. I am growing a second precious life, but I am free to trust that my body will protect that life as it is designed to do.

I recently switched to an old school type of training, (think Arnond Schwarzenegger era) focused on increasing strength now that I’m feeling like myself again. Now don’t let that bodybuilding name dropping fool you, my lifts are fairly weak. I’m still struggling to top 100lbs on my squat with a full range of motion. But I’m working on it, and it feels so good. Lifting is my thing, and the squat rack and the weights area are my happy place.

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Find your thing. Is it swimming, cycling, yoga, walking, running, or crossfit? Or maybe you’re like me and don’t mind skipping cardio. Whatever it is, be all there. Don’t feel like you have to automatically drop down to a certain mileage, pace or dumbbell weight just because you’re pregnant. Listen to your body. Work with your doctor or midwife. And you can do great things, with your baby along for the ride.

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Now I don’t know what the third trimester is going to bring for me this go round. But I’ll continue enjoying the bliss of this extra energy while I can, and focus on being flexible and listening to my body once I feel the need to slow down. I truly believe that as mothers to be that we are doing great things. I don’t know that we are reminded that idea enough.

Goal : “Be Healthy”

With the New Years Resolution season quickly approaching I wanted to dissect ways that you and I can focus on health this next year. Anytime I hear someone making a decision for their health or because “it’s healthy” it makes me consider what we call healthy and why. Here are some specific ways that we can focus on our health in 2015:

Nutrition :

We Can Focus on Macronutrients  —
Macronutrients, or Fats, Carbohydrates and Protein, are the three nutrients that determine the calories in any given item. By focusing on having the right amounts of each daily we can see benefits aside from maintaining the weight that we’d like.

  • A proper amount of carbohydrates daily helps fuel our day to day needs as well as a solid workout in the gym. They are needed for the central nervous system, the kidneys, the brain, the muscles (including the heart) to function properly, as well as intestinal health and waste elimination.
  • A proper amount of protein daily aids the body with growth (especially important for children, teens, and pregnant women), tissue repair, immune function, making essential hormones and enzymes, and with preserving lean muscle mass.
  • A proper amount of fats benefits the body with normal growth and development, energy, absorbing certain vitamins ( like vitamins A, D, E, K, and carotenoids) and hormonal balance.

A micronutrient focused goal for 2015 could be to learn to troubleshoot what your body’s personal needs are, and what ratio of the three macronutrients makes you feel your best. A great place to start is to track your normal diet on MyFitnessPal or a similar app for a few weeks. From there, once you’re more comfortable with the process, you can begin to tweak and shoot for specific goals: like eating 1g of protein per lb of bodyweight for a month.

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We Can Focus On Micronutrients —
Micronutrients are the nutrients required in smaller amounts, compared to macronutrients, to keep the body in prime condition. Micronutrients do not contain calories/energy, and I feel it’s important to point out that eating micronutrient dense food does not necessarily equate to weighing your ideal weight. Tracking your macronutrients/calories determine your weight and body composition.

A focus on micronutrients, vitamins and minerals, comes from an understanding that our body has many needs. Project Healthy Children, for example, aims to educate parents and communities that proper micronutrient intake can mean the difference between a healthy productive life and one full of illness. Five that they focus on a global level are folic acid, iodine, iron, Vitamin A, and Zinc. You can find out more here. A micronutrient focused goal for 2015 would be to aim to hit 100% of your essential vitamins and minerals without relying on a multivitamin. Or it could be as simple as taking a multivitamin.

We Can Focus On Hydration —
Are you drinking enough water? If not this is another goal that you could add to your list in 2015 to focus on your health. Benefits of drinking an adequate amount of water for your body’s needs include an improvement in endocrine gland function, fluid retention alleviation, improved liver function — increasing the percentage of fat used for energy, nutrients being more easily distributed throughout the body, regulation of body-temperation, and an improvement of metabolic functions. (NASM textbook coming in handy!)Lifefactory-water-bottles

Something to remember is that “thirst alone is a poor indicator of how much water is needed.” Natural thirst returns once we’re back to consuming what we need. So til you reach that point a more accurate ways of tracking hydration would be keeping track throughout the day or by paying attention to the color of your urine.

Body Composition:

We Can Focus On Body Fat Percentage —
Weighing yourself can often times be a great indicator of your overall health. But if you’re sick of the scale, feeling jaded by the number you see there, or feel that the amount of muscle you have is giving a skewed picture of what you’re working with learning your body fat percentage can be a great thing to focus on.

If I were to want to know my body fat percentage and I was confident that it would only help me on my fitness journey and not set me back emotionally, then I’d find where the cheapest Bod Pod was in an hour vicinity of my home. For example where we live in Utah there is a University 10 minutes away from me that will test for $20 and another 40 minutes away for $30. The Bod Pod tests based on air displacement and has the same range of error that a water tank has (2%). I just so happen to not be a fish in water so I’d rather test on dry land ;) You can find a Bod Pod in your area with this link. And here’s a link from the nearest Bod Pod University location for me, if you wanted to geek out on 4 pages of info on this with me.

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Goals for a body fat percentage focus on health could be upping your body fat above the essential fat range if you are considered underweight, lowering your body fat percentage if you are in the obese or overweight range or focusing on lowering your body fat percentage while increasing muscle mass to achieve a certain aesthetic result.

Fitness Abilities :

We Can Focus On Specific Fitness Abilities —
I borrowed from this Men’s Health article to help think of 10 standards to test your fitness level:

  • Bench 1.5 Times Your Body Weight
  • Run 1.5 Miles in 10 Minutes
  • Touch the Rim
  • Leg-Press 2.25 Times Your Weight
  • Swim 700 Yards in 12 Minutes (Do
  • Do 40 Pushups
  • Run 300 Yards Sub 1 Minute
  • Touch Your Toes
  • Toss a Basketball 75 Feet Kneeling

Though these standards might not all apply precisely to a woman, I believe the idea behind them is the same. There are various ways to become more fit, as the above standards show. Upper body strength, upper body power (throwing the basketball), upper body endurance (40 pushups), lower body power (jumping), lower body strength, peak aerobic capacity, and flexibility are all important.So if you find yourself in a rut or unmotivated in the fitness department, hopefully this reminder of the various ways that you can improve your fitness helps light the fire under you. Start with whatever makes you the most excited and go from there!


Now I wanted to jump into a few aspects of health that we might not typical first think of when considering health focused goals at the start of a new year.

Mental Health

We Can Focus On Our Mental Health —
“There are many kinds of mental illnesses that affect the way the brain functions. They can affect thoughts, behaviors, emotions, and the ability to understand information. Mental illnesses are different from everyday experiences of sadness, feeling upset, or daily problems. Mental illness makes normal living difficult.” “Realize that a mental illness cannot be overcome by willpower alone. It does not indicate that a person lacks faith, character, or worthiness.” More here.

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. MentalHealth.gov categorizes mental health into a few different categories:

  • anxiety disorders: OCD, phobias, PTSD, panic disorder
  • behavioral disorders: inattention, hyperactivity, defiant behavior, drug use
  • eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, binge eating, bulimia
  • mental health disorders in combination with substance abuse
  • mood disorders: depression, bipolar disorder, seasonal affective disorder, self harm
  • personality disorders: antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder
  • psychotic disorders: schizophrenia, hallucinations,
  • and suicidal behavior.

While this is a heavy topic, and one that I have no background in, I am a huge proponent of health. And I want to believe that we live in a world where mental health is just as important, if not more, than any other focus of health. Perhaps if you have concerns that you need help with from one or more of the above mentioned topics then this is the year to take the first step and begin to get help. We’re all in this together.

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We Can Focus On Our Emotional and Spiritual Health —

The path to great emotional well-being is one that is more personal and less of an across the board formula than say, weight loss. But I’m willing to bet that we can each come up with 3 ways to could work on emotional health and well-being in the next year. Could the role of forgiveness be applied in your life in a way you’ve been neglecting? Could a focus on stress or anger management help lighten your daily load? Even a focus on smiling or laughing more freely could do wonders for the soul.

Along the same lines, are there specific ways we can focus on our spiritual health this next year? With that journey being one of the most personal I’ll hold back from a list of suggestions, but wanted to make sure to not leave it out. The body, soul and mind are so intimately connected, that to focus on one and to neglect the other seems like such a waste.



I am so excited for a new year full of goals and focusing on bettering our lives and circumstances. I hope that this post gives you pause to stop and think before setting a vague resolution or goal “to become healthier” this next year. What aspect of health do you want to focus on, and why? I believe there is power in knowing the why behind our goals.

I hope that this post doesn’t come off as preachy. I love goals, and will be posting my long list of goals to focus on this next year here soon. Because I was too excited to wait to draft those up.

 

You’re Doing Better Than You Think, Pt 2

Last spring I posted a positive experience of going for a run after solely focusing on weightlifting for over a year. I did much better than I expected and felt so buoyed up by the metaphor for life. But what happens when you have the opposite experience?

After learning that his night class was canceled last night, Landon and I made plans to check out a new evening yoga class on campus. Having never made it to a class together, our last attempt being foiled by the gym childcare SOS buzzer going off before class had even begun, I was excited to finally experience a class together + to show him something that I loved.

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We found a parking spot and made it up to the class just a few minutes after it’d begun. We slipped into two open spots on the side of the room, unrolled our mats and fell right in sync with the rest of the class. Well, one of us did; I’ll let you guess who.

For an hour, in the closest spot to the mirror I caught glimpses of my growing stomach in a shirt that will be too short in a matter of weeks, my stiff legs and hips that weren’t keeping up with everyone else in the room, and the tears that I knew would fall any second if I didn’t pull it together.

At the end of the class, and once we were out of earshot, I started to share my frustrations with the class and the instructor to Landon. The flow of the class and pose sequence felt arbitrary. The focus felt so predominantly physical, the only mention of breath was during quick instruction between poses to either inhale or exhale. I was missing a greater intention for the class and reminders to open our heart, expand the chest and to release all of our cares from the day. Yoga is such a spiritual and visual experience that without those things it felt like we were only stretching to music.

Without all the glorious layers of yoga that can get me though any class, I was forced to face a few realizations that hurt.

Yoga was supposed to be my thing. Yoga is my thing! It’s gotten me through more phases of life than I can count. But if you had seen me tonight you’d have thought it was my first time. I was without a doubt the worst one in the class. The three other guys in there, let it be known, were also kicking my butt.

I made excuses for it during the class to keep the frustrated tears from falling; “I have 40-50% more blood in my body than any of you, my heart is working double time to keep up! I’m pregnant. I’m pregnant.”

But the real problem was this: I can’t cheat on something and expect it to still be flourishing when I return. Just because yoga is one of my greatest passions, doesn’t mean I have a right to be good at it. Relationships, hobbies, talents, faith; if I’m not taking the time to make those things a priority they’re going downhill. And it’s usually without a peep.

For some hobbies, interests or relationships when you make the realization that this has happened it’s a sign that it’s time to move on. The flute and I, for example, after the 8th grade. But for the right things, when you return to it I believe it should light a fire in your heart that had dimmed or even gone out. For me this is where yoga falls. I feel reminded of my goals with yoga and a new drive to put the time into it so that I can have the positive experiences with class that I’m looking for.

I might be doing worse with it than I thought, but the body is a powerful thing. And I have no doubt that it can and it will get better from here. What was it that I wanted to say to those struggling women on the track back in March? “Just keep going! Keep this up, I promise it gets better.”

I spent a few minutes before we went to pick up Paityn from my cousin googling prenatal classes and was reminded of what seems to be an amazing studio, 3B Yoga, that’s just minutes away. It was a long two years in California not having a single yoga studio in a drivable range, but we’re back in Utah now. And goals of having monthly unlimited passes + pursing a teacher training course are quickly returning.

Wish me luck as I make yoga a bigger priority in my life this fall and winter, growing belly and all. And let me know, what is something you’re wanting to make more time for?

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“The things you are passionate about are not random. They are your calling.” Fabienne Fredrickson

Health + Fitness Lately

After posting my 21 Things I’ve Learned About IIFYM  in the beginning of June I’ve made steps towards  beginning but I just haven’t jumped in with both feet. It’s time to do this. Here’s what I need to do next:

Commit to Eating Within 5g of My Macros Each Day
In the beginning, after posting about IIFYM I wanted to wait to begin til I had protein powder. Landon prefers to eat a primarily plant-based diet, which makes it difficult to hit my protein goal. But even after protein show up at my door I still didn’t start. Or I’d log my breakfast and snacks, and then stop before we even had dinner.

This focus and attention to the numbers takes energy and it takes work. But as someone who has specific results that I’d like to achieve, and when I realize that my eating disorder days were spurred by not seeing the results I wanted to achieve and not knowing why, it feels worth it to me to take the extra time before sitting down to each meal.

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Buy a Scale to Measure Food:
This next month I’ll be eating 242grams of carbs, 130grams of protein + 52 grams of fats daily. After 3-4 weeks I should be able to see if those are my body’s true maintenance numbers, or if I see my weight creeping up or down.

By not using a food scale, I’m eyeballing anything that’s not prepackaged, which can hinder progress and accidentally add up to extra or a lack of calories. Currently when I slice an avocado and add one half to my wrap, I then go to My Fitness Pal and select “half an avocado!” So I’ve just logged 15g of fat, but MyFitnessPal has no idea the size or weight of the avocado.

With a food scale, I can weigh the avocado and manually enter its weight into MyFitnessPal. There it’ll calculate the nutrition of it for me: .2grams of fat, .1grams of carbs and 0grams of protein per gram of avocado. I’m all about maximizing what I’m able to eat and having a scientific understanding of portions.

Ask For Help:
Because Landon has a completely different philosophy with eating it can make sticking to what I’d like to do difficult. But I hadn’t really voiced those emotions besides trying to talk him into joining me. I realized that’s not really what I need. What I’d love is at dinner time for him to ask “hey! how many carbs, protein + fats do you have left?” And for us to work together to come up with a dinner that fits.

It feels powerful to realize how he can help, and how simple and routine it can be.

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Fitness Routine
IIFYM is loosely based around the idea that if you don’t like cardio that you can cut it out this instant and still see killer results, which is what I’m all about. After finishing Jim Stoppani’s Shortcut to Size + Superman Program I was looking for something a bit different. I’d heard rave review about a training program called Strong Curves by Bret Contreras and Kellie Davis. I purchased the ebook for my Kindle app on my iPhone for $10 and the proceeded to read 300 pages of brilliant information all about glutes and his research over the past 15+ years.

In chapter two he gets a bit bold questioning why women are training the same as men. He shares: “Sure you want a strong chest, but do you really want to add inches to your pectoral muscles? You need to make your workouts as efficient and productive as possible and chest day is not the best way to go.”

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The more sedentary we become, the less we use our glutes. Unlink other muscles, your glutes will be pretty lazy if you allow them to be. Rather than sticking up for themselves and saying, “hey! we need activity too, ” they just close up shop and stop working. This causes other muscles to take over and bear the brunt of the work.” This effects everything from running speeds, sports performance, to back and knee injuries.

He encourages most to begin with the 12 week beginning program to teach the glutes to properly engage and to encourage the hamstrings/quads to quit compensating or jumping in too much. Once I’m able to do the following, I’ll move on to the advanced training program once I can:

  1. 50 non-stop bodyweight hip thrusts
  2. 1 bodyweight chin-up from a dead hang
  3. 5 body weight full-range push-ups (without sagging at the hips)
  4. 20 non-stop bodyweight Bulgarian split squats
  5. 30 non-stop bodyweight back extensions
  6. + 10 deadlifts with 135 pounds

Which will feel like a great success to hit all of those standards, beginner or not. Wish me luck, and I’ll check back in next month to share if I quit it with the cold feet and jumped in with both feet to IIFYM and with seeing progress with the Strong Curves program!

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Learning to Fall In Love With Self Tanners

As a teenager growing up in Alaska tanning in tanning beds was a normal part of life: classes, work, the gym, tanning, shower, repeat was a normal day for me. For 10 to 15 minutes I could step into a bed, warm up, and catch the most amazing emotional boost. Any given month, you could be pretty sure I had a monthly pass to Solei Tanning, conveniently just minutes away from my home.

Even as a college student in one of the sunniest cities in the nation, St George, Utah my roommate and I made sure to fit tanning in, even if it meant walking a few miles to get there.

In Salt Lake City I found myself at a gym where tanning was free of charge, as well as at my boyfriend, Landon’s, apartment. I continued, despite choosing my topic for a semester long research paper being the dangers of tanning in indoor beds. I got an A on the paper, but was failing with any internalization or application portion.

“On an average day today in the United States, more than 1 million people tan in tanning salons, seeking that perfect bronzed color. Cocktail, accelerator, intensifier, maximizer, wolf, ruva, tanorexic; there’s an entire lingo that this tanning generation speaks. Melanoma, squamous cell carcinomabasal cell carcinoma; this is the lingo that dermatologists speak. The American Cancer Society lists tanning beds in its highest cancer risk category now, “carcinogenic to humans”, where tanning beds are listed among agents such as plutonium and cigarettes. Is it due to a lack of ignorance then that more than 1 million people continue to use tanning salons on an average day? The irrefutable facts are out there, easily accessible through a Google search. Within sixty seconds on the Skin Cancer Foundation’s website one can learn that indoor tanners are 74% more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors. That seventy-one percent of tanning salon patrons are girls and women aged sixteen – twenty-nine. And that the indoor tanning industry has black noirannual estimated revenue of $5 billion…”

Because, wouldn’t you know, I was sent an amazing deal for unlimited access for an entire year at my favorite Salt Lake tanning salon, “Purchase a bottle of Black Noir, Get 1 Year VIP Tanning for Free! (a $299 value)” and I walked right on in, and bought that bottle of lotion.

Tanning in beds helped me feel confident, attractive, positive, alive and more fit. All things a female in her young twenties seeks. But then, and not to be dramatic — but to tell my story, cancer hit closer to home than I ever thought it would this past Christmas. And in that month of December, I realized I was done. I stepped into a bed once more while we visited Salt Lake again because: favorite salon, and then that was it.

I literally struggled the first few months this winter to not drop in to the tanning salon for just a “a little color.”  Luckily I added it to my list of goals for 2014, and there was no way I was going to break that one a second time. I read reviews on Sephora for various self tanners, trying to find the right one for me, but couldn’t visualize how it would ever replace tanning in a bed. When tanning, the bulbs shine on ever square inch of you. I felt stressed about how a self tanner would work: do I just apply it to my arms? my chest? but then my neck would be too white?

I ended up falling in love with St. Tropez and realized that it could replace tanning beds for me. A comparison of the mousses will follow, but most of all I want you to find what works for you. I feel strongly that if you’re already shelling money for tanning that it’s ok to find a quality self tanner that you love. Shop around, read reviews, and don’t be afraid to try out a few. My next step will be to make an appointment with a dermatologist and make sure I didn’t do any real damage that past 5 years, because I’ve got some goals to stick to.

Most of all, I hope that we can work to see past the fun side of products and lotions, and get to the heart of it. Why are so many girls still using tanning beds, and why do some of us still fight to stop, despite knowing better? Though finding a great self tanner has helped, changes had to happen internally as well. I have learned to find confidence from other sources, real sources. I’ve worked on trying to be in great shape, not just look like it because of a tan. Most of all, I have seen the pain that comes from life changing news about your health and I realized that I wanted to do more to proactive about my health — to find the gaps where I was making excuses, and to try and be a little better.