You Can Do All Things!

On my forearm I have some beautiful words tattooed – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.  This comforting statement has profound meaning. It means that because of my Higher Power I can do anything. I can set goals, I can dream, I can live a life of passion, and I can have hope. 

 

Lately this reminder has helped encourage me. As I prepare for my first competition in 3 weeks I am more tired and I am training more. I am sore all over. I am doing more cardio than I prefer and I am hungry. I want to cheat or take it easy. I walk into the gym each day and have difficulty getting motivated. However I get started. And each and every time I push through. I push harder.  I get stronger.  I run faster. I keep going when I want to stop. Not because of myself. But because I have a strength inside me that allows me to do all things. 

We forget our power. We forget the power we have through our Higher Power. We allow our own flawed thinking and skewed perceptions of ourselves to hold us back. A friend stopped me at the gym the other day to compliment me in my progress. I accepted graciously and then proceeded to tell her where I felt I was lacking and cast doubt and skeptism on my progress. She reminded me my perception was not accurate and that what I saw was not what others saw. She related and talked about her own skewed thinking regarding fitness.  For my friend she was feeling tired, overwhelmed, and exhausted. She had personal issues that were impacting her life and her family. This would cause anyone to be more tired, stressed, and vulnerable. Yet she continued to do!  She kept working out, she kept taking care of her family, and she kept doing well at her job. 

The ability to keep going despite adverse circumstances or a desire to dedicate your self to an activity requires strength. I am not an athlete because of genetic or situational factors. I am an athlete because I have a Higher Power that allows me to do all things. Alone I would not be competing, nor would I have the displine or commitment to keep training. But because I believe in a Mighty and stronger Higher Power I know I can compete and I know I can stay focused and consistent. When we become self involved our thinking becomes narrowed and too focused on self. We start to evaluate our weaknesses and remember our failures. We compare ourselves to others. I am not an athlete. I never compete in anything, nor did I want to. I always quit when things get hard. I do not want to be challenged. Honestly if my training were up to me alone, I would have quit. However my inner power keeps me focused and shows me every time I workout that I can. 

I can do all things. I can!  When I remember the Power I have I am stronger. I am braver. I am more confident. You are stronger than you think. You are braver than you think. You can run faster and longer than you think. You can have self-control around food. You can do one more push-up. You can lose weight, find health, and love your body. You can if you remember your Power!  Your Higher Power is with you all day, every day, and it will give you strength, courage, and passion to all things!

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The ONE Thing You Can Do To Improve Your Workout Gains

I have been working out consistently for about 7 years. I have also maintained healthy eating consistently during that time. Granted the intensity at which I worked and the dedication to my meal plan have not always been 100 my commitment, passion, and interest to maintain fitness and achieve physical goals with my body have always been consistent. 

Despite all my work I still see areas of my that need improvement. I am probably like most girls that complain about particular areas of my body. A lot of my commitment and dedication to working out and eating well was an attempt to change my body. And still after all this time, I struggle to accept, appreciate, and value areas of my body. In fact I felt ashamed of parts of my body and I would try to hide these “flaws”.

Outsiders see my body and have their own opinions and I have been called crazy for not fully accepting my body. People may say “you are so skinny”, “you are so fit”, or “I wish I looked like you”. However kind those words may be I struggled to accept their compliments because all I saw was “thunder things”. How I viewed my body, known as body image, was not accurate and was based on a skewed idea. 

Researchers posit that body image consists of an individuals thoughts about their body and these thoughts are based on the individuals situation (Bruin, Oudejans, Bakker, & Woertman, 2011).  For example you see your body as it relates to an idea in your head that developed from seeing others, watching TV, and reading magazines. When what you see does not match the idea in your head you will start to judge your body. Judging your body and having negative thoughts about your body will prevent you from seeing your body accurately. It will cause you to have negative thoughts and feelings about your body. If you think you have “thunder thighs” then when you look at your body you will see “thunder thighs”. This is not just an issue that will impact individuals with eating disorders. No, body image will also impact people that strive for fitness and health. This is known as “athletic body image” (Bruin, et al., 2011). Athletic body image is based on your evaluation of your body as compared to another athlete or fitness professional. You may be working hard but if you are comparing your progress to someone else’s you can develop a negative body image. This will only cause you to continue to compare, continue to make you feel bad, and keep you from seeing all your hard work and feeling proud about that work. 

Your progress toward a healthier body is directly related to how you think about your body. For example if I see my thighs as big and fat then I will see my thighs as big and fat when I look at them.  All of this information is necessary to tell you the one thing you need to do to improve your body and make progress on your fitness and health goals. 

Simply change your thinking! 

Your work in the gym and your dedication to healthy eating is working but if you continue to judge your body you will not see this progress. As I shared above I have really struggled to accept my legs. Despite all my hard work I continued to judge my body and dislike my progress. There is power in thinking!  So I decided to hink differently about my legs. I decided to praise them. I choose to see the positive and remember that my legs are strong. I expressed thanks and gratitude that my legs help me move, walk, lift, run, and live a blessed life. This thinking shifted my attitude. Once all the negative thinking was out of the way I was able to see my body in a different way. I was able to see progress in my legs. I was able to see the muscle definition I had been working toward. I was able to embrace my legs and found excitement in the progress. 

Embrace the things you do not like about yourself. Honor, respect, and value your body. Identify your problem area and point out all that is great about it. Rather than criticize your body for what is disappointing, praise your body. Doing this will allow you to see the progress. Thinking more positively will help you learn to love and enjoy your body, flaws and all. 

Tell me, what is your favorite thing about the least favorite part of your body?  

Stephanie

References: 

Bruin, A. P., Oudejans, R., Bakker, F., & Woertman, L. (2011). Contextual body image and athletes’ disordered eating: The contribution of athletic body image to disordered eating in high performance women athletes. European Eating Disorders Review, 19(3), 201-215. 

Chest and Shoulder Workout Videos

I see so many people focus on leg day and squats and building hamstrings and glutes. Keep it up!  But as women it is also vital to incorporate chest workouts into our strength routines. Having a strong chest will make your waist look smaller. Now growing a chest will not make your boobs bigger, (I am speaking from personal experience) but it will grow your pectoral muscles. Ladies this will make your cleavage look better, with or without boobies.

  1. Start with a warm-up of push-ups. The Bosu is an option. I did 5 regular push-ups by lowering my chest to the Bosu and bringing my elbows level to my shoulders. Push through the ground to straighten arms. Keep the core engaged, belly button to spine, and keep body straight from head to toes. The next 5 I lifted one foot off the ground and repeated movement. Then I switched and elevated the other foot off the ground and repeated the movement.
  2. Or try single arm push ups. Use a ball to elevate one hand off the ground and push up. Try 7 on each side 3 times.

 

  1.  Arnold press. Here I am lifting heavy weights to failure so I only did a few reps but more sets. It is similar to a shoulder press. Elbows come in front of body and raise up and when elbows are shoulder height open elbows to football goal position and push arms to straighten weights above. It is a shoulder press with a rotation. Complete this exercise alone. Try for 3 sets 12 reps.
  2. Shoulder press. I used the Smith Machine here so I could use heavier weights. You can use dumbbells as well. Bring elbows to shoulder level, in the shape of a football goal, and press weights up to straighten arms. Lower elbows to shoulder height. I also included a video, of shoulder press using dumbbells.
  1. Seated chest press. Use your chest muscles to push the weight forward and control the movement to starting position.
  2. Incline chest press.
  3. Tricep dips to failure!
  4. Complete these 3 as a super set. 3 sets 12 reps each.
  1. Cable chest fly. This one is one of my favorites. Walk out so there is tension on the cables. I put one foot in front of the other to anchor my body.  Start with arms out in a “T” but keep a slight bend in your elbows. Close your chest cavity and push the weights so that palms come together. Repeat.
  2. Lateral shoulder raises. I used the cable machine again. This is just a variation. I found I was able to stabilize my body and avoid swinging and arching my back which can happen with this exercise. Start by resting palms and weight at thighs then use shoulder muscles and some chest to raise the bar so that palms are shoulder height and parallel to the floor. Keep arms straight and control movement to starting position.
  3. Side shoulder raises. Again with the cable machine. Start with one side and have palm rest at side. Raise arm to the side so that arm is shoulder height. You see I fail a couple of reps here. Doing these at the end is no joke. Try to keep arm as straight as possible but you will have slight bend in your elbow.
  4. Repeat these exercises as a super set. 3 sets 12 reps each.
  1. And end with this core and chest exercise. Be careful. It takes a lot of balance.  Place hands on the bar shoulder width apart. Carefully place one foot at a time on top of the stability ball. Now do 12 push-ups for 3 sets!  And you are done!