Parent Fit – Part Six

When children arrive, all your health goals go out of the window right…? This week: How to use one of the most important tools you possess

In this series we’ve been looking into ideas that actually support a healthy lifestyle when children arrive (or any other life situation that turns your world upside down).

IMPORTANT NOTICE: You may find this hard to believe, but I’m not actually a midwife J . Please do not take these ideas as prescriptions, see your health professional before you do anything.

The power of the mind

When looking for help on a certain subject, it’s very tempting to go straight to the action points, the tips, tricks and strategies that promise improvement. Is this wrong? Not necessarily, but there are some downfalls.

The home gym equipment industry is huge. Yet how many people do you know have treadmills that are now £400 coat hangers?! Is it that they don’t know how to work it? Or is there a lack of treadmill training programs on the internet? I think you know the answer to those.

It must start with a decision

1) When challenging times arrive (and I think we agree having a child is challenging), we usually revert back to default mode. What does this mean? It means our behaviour will match our core values. I’m sure you can think of a friend who always seems to be starting a new diet and on a fitness blast only to be found in the bakery two weeks later. There could be many reasons for this, but one main one is that they don’t have health as a core value.

If you want anything to succeed long term, like your health for example, it must become important to you. So important, that you will live it as a lifestyle the majority of the time, even when things get tough.

The best way to do this is to develop a love for it. To help, in this article I explain ways you can do this http://www.alphapw.com/firm-foundations-iii/

2) Basing your actions in love makes everything a whole lot easier (remember all the things you’d do when you were first going out with your partner?!) Even though the mum goes through far more obviously, a huge event has just happened that really affects both parents. Make the focus of this season restoration.

So when it comes to eating healthily and taking the time to move when you are a new parent, see it as a gift your giving yourself, the gift of movement, nourishment through food, rest, sleep etc. You’ll be better for it, your marriage will be better for it and I can guarantee your child will be too!

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The Bikini Athlete: A journey through motherhood

The Bikini Athlete: A journey through motherhood, getting her body back and feeling good about it

Today, I’m honoured to introduce a very good friend of mine; Kris J. Kris is a personal trainer, model and business owner (http://www.brasiliantan.is) from Iceland. Kris has also competed for over 5 years as an IFBB bikini athlete.

Last year, Kris gave birth to her gorgeous son Oliver Breki. I’m sure for many women who care about their health and physical appearance, having children can produce a whole range of emotions. For those whose physical appearance is their actual livelihood, the stresses and strains of staying in good shape (that are there constantly anyway) are only heightened. In this regard, Kris has been on a very special journey, and the story of where this has led her, is very inspirational.

Let me introduce Kris J;

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I wrote down a few thoughts that I have gathered regarding the challenges of motherhood and staying in shape.

My baby boy, Oliver Breki, has turned one year old. It is amazing how much my life has changed since he entered this world. No words can explain what it feels like to me to be a mother. The level of love I feel for this little boy is stronger than anything that I have felt before and the fact that this is someone who relies on me 24/7 surely changes my outlook on life. These last 20 or so months have certainly been an emotional roller coaster for me but I would not change a single thing even if I had the chance to do so.

For the last 8 years training and maintaining my physique and fitness has been an obsession of mine. I mean that in a positive way. I have put myself through a lot, made sacrifices and have constantly challenged myself as competitor, model and trainer. Some serious discipline is needed in dieting, training and everything else within this lifestyle and as a result I have become accustomed to thinking first and foremost about myself and what suits me. My fiance is a professional athlete as well and sees things the same way. That is probably one of the cornerstones of how well we fit for each other.

Nothing could prepare me for the challenges of being a mother. First the prenatal period and then the period after I gave birth. It took me quite some time to realise the changes that were ahead and that I had to put most of my plans on hold indefinitely. My mirror image soon became something different to what I was used to and that really took its toll at first. I developed a pre eclampsia and a lot of other stuff came up that made this a difficult period of time. A lot of questions popped up in my mind. Was I ever going to be able to engage in the fitness lifestyle again? Was I ever going to recapture the shape and physique that I had worked so hard to retain? I kept telling myself that in 3-6 months after giving birth i’d be back in top shape and everything would be back to what I used to consider “normal”.

After the birth of Oliver Breki the reality hit me. I was a mother and I was responsible for the well being of a toddler. I sincerely hope that no one chooses to misunderstand what I’m writing. I have truthfully loved every second of this process and would not want to change a thing but during this process a lot of thoughts flew through my mind. I was so tired. My skin was so loose. My mirror image was not what I had been used to. I did not fit into my clothes and the road back in to shape just seemed so terrifyingly long. Then the months passed one by one without me finding the energy or motivation to get back on track. I did go to the gym every now and then and I did try to eat clean food some of the time but what I wanted most of all was just to relax at home. To enjoy being at home with my baby boy and my fiance. Just be focused getting the grips of being a mother while my body recovered from giving birth. I’d have chocolate or ice cream when I felt like it and I really tried not to be too hard on myself. This was the hardest battle of them all. To convince myself that I needed to loosen up and that I needed stop beating myself up for not being back on track. It takes 40 weeks for the body to get ready to give birth. There is nothing unusual about giving the body 40 weeks to recover after birth and I finally decided to give in to that.

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Then one day I was ready. I just felt that I could increase the pressure on myself. My body was ready for the action and my son was also bigger and easier to handle so I could have a bit more space to focus on myself. This is the point I could create a routine where I could see to all his needs as well as eating clean food, training hard and doing the things that make me happy and healthy. The results followed. I love training and I love healthy food but I am not a naturally fit type of person. It takes hard work for me to stay in shape but I like the challenge. I’m not sure if I will ever again compete in Fitness competitions but I surely aim to stay in top shape and be ready for any new challenges or opportunities that come my way.

I wrote down these thoughts most of all to remind myself of this process and how motherhood has given me a new perspective. I hope there are some girls out there that can relate to or find strength in what I’m trying to say. You need to give yourself time to adjust to the life of being a mother and no one should feel shame or sadness during this process. Just enjoy this new role and give yourself some credit. You’re entering something completely new and you’re recovering at the same time. One day you will have the energy and motivation to focus on yourself. Your body decides when it is ready and you will feel it clearly when time comes.

It’s been 12 months since Oliver Breki was born and when I look in the mirror I am completely at peace with the person who is staring back at me. I learned during this process to embrace the changes and to be grateful for the experience. Most of all I am thankful for my little family and I look to the future with optimism and excitement.

If you have any questions for Kris, please send them in and we’ll do a Q & A. Kris regularly posts updates of her training and what she’s up to online. If you’d like to contact Kris or keep up with what she’s doing, here’s how: https://www.facebook.com/KRISJFITNESS/

https://www.instagram.com/krisj_fitness/

http://www.brasiliantan.is/

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Fatloss Tips – Bonus List!

Last month we put together a list of short and sharp fat loss tips. They were so popular that we’re going to put together a couple more lists. And to hopefully further help, we thought we’d categorise them so you could work at one thing at a time (which seems to be the most effective way at approaching a new task, from a results and sustainability point of view).

This week – Bonus Fatloss tips you may not have thought help!  

  • Burn fat in bed. Did you know that the most potent fat burning hormone in your body peaks at 10.30pm?! But there’s a catch; for you to get the most out of it you need to be in bed asleep. Sleep is when your body repairs and re-charges. And considering all the hard work we put into getting in shape, treating yourself to good nights of sleep is a pleasure you’ll soon come to treasure.
  • Keep hydrated. Thirst is a cheeky one and can often be mistaken for hunger pangs. Smash in a big glass of water, then assess the hunger situation (pic under a waterfall/wet cat)
  • Vitamin D plays a huge part in fat loss. Whenever the sun is out, get in it as much as possible. As well as the vitamin D benefit, I’m sure there are tonnes of great things we don’t even know about yet from being outside in the sunshine.
  • Work on ways to manage your stress levels. Whether it’s journaling, talking things through with a trusted friend, prayer, whatever it is, plan it into your schedule. When our stress levels rise, our body thinks we’re in for troubling times ahead. If we’re always worrying and stressing, our body responds by laying down fat over the vital organs (belly) for protection and fuel reserves. Let go of it bro!
  • Forgive. What a biggie this cheeky one is! Unforgiveness harbours bitterness. If this is not dealt with, it can lead to elevated stress levels and health problems people wouldn’t even imagine is linked to unforgiveness. Make a list of those you need to forgive and do it. Remember, they don’t always have to be there for you to forgive them, and forgiveness is not ‘letting thm off the hook’, it’s releasing yourself. Unforgiveness is drinking poison and expecting someone else to die
  • Keep a Grateful journal – Being aware of what we have and being grateful for it dramatically reduces stress levels. Buy yourself a nice notebook and each night write down 3 things in your life that you are truly grateful for.
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Fatloss Tips – It’s All in the Head

Last month we put together a list of short and sharp fat loss tips. They were so popular that we’re going to put together a couple more lists. And to hopefully further help, we thought we’d categorise them so you could work at one thing at a time (which seems to be the most effective way at approaching a new task, from a results and sustainability point of view).

This week – it’s all in your head!

  • There are two main ways to approach fat loss through your diet.  
  • With advice from an expert, plan a 14-30day blast, where you dive in head first. 

Pro: This method can produce jaw dropping results and provide a real kick-start/boost to your healthy lifestyle improvements. Very good for the ‘all or nothing’ personality

Con: It can be too much too soon for some people i.e. too much of a shock to the system and not sustainable.  Also, if you’re not careful, this method can cause a backlash of binge eating at the end of it, causing you to be bigger than you were.

  • Constant baby steps. 

Pro: The side effects are less harsh than the ‘all in method’. You can gradually implement changes to your lifestyle that are not painful and are definitely sustainable e.g. increase your water intake by one glass/day or change one of your daily coffees for a green tea.

Con: The results aren’t as quick, and if you don’t pay attention to your measurables (tape measure, piece of clothing, photos etc) it is easy to lose heart and think nothings happen even if you have made great strides over a longer period.

  • Instead of setting a goal e.g. lose ½ stone, aim to set habit forming challenges e.g. drink a glass of water first thing in the morning. You are a result of the things you do every day. Forming good habits will cause your results to last a lot longer.

Pick a training partner/team to help you on your journey. Pick people who:

  • Already have what you want
  • Are better than you in this area
  • Or are as motivated as you are, if not more so.
  • We are AMAZING at justifying anything to ourselves. Make yourself accountable to someone. Arrange with someone to keep a check on your progress and how you are doing with each weeks challenge. (pic of someone eating a strawberry cheesecake, 1 of my 5/day!)
  • We all fall off the rails at some point. This is life.

Come up with some ‘back on track triggers’ for the times (which are inevitable) you come off the rails. It could be reading an article on health, an inspirational youtube training clip, even a conversation with certain friends can pick you up. Learn what works for you

  • Make the call. With all the tips in the world, no one can ever make you achieve your goals. It has to be your decision.
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Making awesome the new norm…

Once you’ve starting getting some results, how do you make them stick, how do you make them the new norm?!

One of the best days in your life, is when you realise you are not the best thing since the discovery of baked sweet potato and half a pack of butter. When you learn that profound lessons can come from the mouth of a 7 year old, the world suddenly opens up and life changing lessons are everywhere.

A prime example of this is when I was talking to a good friend of mine who is an accountant. Although our conversation had nothing to do with health and fitness he provided one of the most impacting revelations I’ve had for a while.

This chap is an expert at helping people with their finance and he shared a phrase I’d never heard before: It’s one thing to get out of the red, it’s another thing to stay in the black.

What on earth does this mean?

He explained that getting people out of debt is only a part of solving the problem. Many of his clients, wiped all their debts only to find a few short months later, they were back in debt again.

Why is this? Because it is a mindset. 

As strange as it sounds, people had to get used to the idea of being in credit.

How does this relate to your health? 

Getting used to the health results you’ve achieved is often challenging and rarely talked about. It often takes time or, a ‘re-calibration’ period, to make the results you’ve achieved (e.g. you are now a size 10 instead of the size 16 you always have been) the new ‘norm’.

This is the normal path of progress, so don’t worry. You will have ups and downs and even entertain the thought of going back to where you were due to the strange sense of certainty it offers. Don’t give in to it.

So what ways can help make the new changes ‘the norm’?

  • You are who surrounds you. Create an environment where the results you have just achieved are normal for the people around you. If you’re the strongest guy in the room, you’re in the wrong room. This also may mean avoiding certain people for a while.
  • You are what you read and watch. Do you find reading certain books, articles, taking certain classes help keep you on track?

Alpha challenge:

Have a look at your week. What ways can you schedule in that help you make progress the new norm?

Go for higher; it’s what you were designed for.

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New Year – How to cement the changes

How to make it stick!

Have you ever been in the situation where you’ve said “Right, from now on I’m going to eat healthier”. For the first few days you’re on fire, eating like a professional underwear model. Then after a couple of weeks you go to a friend’s birthday party and the most gorgeous chocolate cake is passed around. Suddenly, your mind starts playing tricks on you saying “Well why not, I have been very good, one won’t hurt”. The first piece of cake tastes fantastic, but then before you know it, you’ve had four slices! Your mind goes into overdrive “OH NO, it’s all lost, all my hard work undone”. In a flash the healthy life is over and it’s back to square one.

I’m not sure if you’ve ever experienced a situation similar to the example above, where such a good start is made and then it all goes to pot, I have and many people I know have. It can be hugely discouraging, and can put people off ever trying to improve their health. With many people making New Year’s resolutions, this time of year is packed with people trying (and often times failing) to make changes.

So once we make the changes, how do we make them stick?

Here are a few quick tips to help make the changes stick. Not all may work for you, but if one can help then it’s definitely worth the effort.

– Make small, easily achievable changes that don’t make too drastic a change to your lifestyle. This infinitely increases the chances of them being sustained. Remember; try to create habits rather than going for drastic quick fixes that you’ll never keep up

Tell a few friends what you’re doing. Once you have spoken it out or written it down, your aims become public and you will be more committed to them. Your friends can also help to remind you, and become your accountability partners.

– Book into regular exercise classes, games with friends or different activities. When it’s an appointment in your diary (just like the doctors for example) there is more likelyhood you will keep it.

– Find ways to enjoy your new habits; don’t be afraid to try a few different things. And now you’ve made a start (no matter how small it is, it’s a start) why not arrange an event to work towards e.g. walking a local hill with friends/certain distance, and make it enjoyable!

– No one is perfect. The person who thinks they are is heading for a big crash! So this last tip may seem a little crazy, but I always advise to plan in a ‘treat day’ now and again, where you can have a few foods you enjoy. This can actually help to keep us on the wagon!

If you come up with any other tips you find that help make changes into habits, please let us know, sharing testimonies is one of the most powerful ways to encourage one another. Have a fantastic week.

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