The truth is, exercise is a modern and poor substitute for routine daily movement and is NOT a solution to most people's health and fitness dilemma.Read More
Is your weight loss goal helping you to live a FULL life?
Many women have a weight loss goal in the forefront of their mind or lurking back there in their subconscious.
And it’s no surprise when you watch social media, television and magazines.
We are CONSTANTLY bombarded with images of perfect bodies.
Clothing is often designed to fit slight long and lean women.
Food is frequently presented as “good” if it makes us thin and “bad” if it could have the opposite effect.
There are plenty of subtle and overt messages out there that present and inverse relationship between size and femininity.
But let’s for a moment, mute all those messages.
You can’t really trust the opinions of folks that are CONSTANTLY trying to sell and image or a product to you, companies that benefit when you feel inferior and “unhealthy”.
So if the pressure to be smaller and lose weight isn’t necessarily a healthy thing, where does that leave all the women that have weight loss goals?
There’s absolutely NO SHAME in having physique-based goals for your body.
I help women every day work WITH their bodies to accomplish their physique and fat-loss goals.
If you know your body and life choices and have decided that you would be happier and feel more confident if you lost some fat, fit into a different clothing size or saw a smaller number on the scale, that is 100% your business.
But just in case you are someone that has long been carrying around this burden of “I need to lose weight, I need to be smaller" ...
and just in case you have been waging a war on all presence of fat or cellulite or have difficulty accepting that your body is no longer the size that it used to be, today I’m going to provide you with a checklist that you can use to determine whether the goals that you have for your body will lead you on a journey towards are more full life vs. perpetuating a cycle of feeling like you will never be enough, never be small enough, never be happy with your body.
Are the changes that you would to make to your nutrition practices in order to reach your goal intrinsically beneficial?
For example, will you chose to eat more nutritious foods, learn to recognize hunger and satiety signals?
Are you trying to eat LESS or meet your bodies daily energy requirements?
Are you looking for assistance and support in managing emotional eating tendencies?
Examples of what I would describe as nutrition practices that are not consistent with living a full life:
-cutting out entire food groups (eg. protein, fat, carbs)
-obsessing over your food choices all day long
-observing a diet full of foods that you hate
Do you believe that you were prettier, more lovable, had more value and or can only be happier at a smaller size?
This is a lie that I can personally relate to.
I had a specific physique and clothing size at which I thought I was most healthy and most attractive.
I thought my clothes looked better when I was this thin.
I thought people would consider me healthier or more fit when I was that small.
I even thought that my husband would
Often times I consult with a new client that has a very specific number they want to see on the scale, clothing size that they absolutely have to get back to because they associate those numbers with “health and fitness”.
In their mind, if they are more than that, they are too big, or unhealthy.
So I ask them straight out, “Are you open to the idea of feeling confident in your life and your body if you NEVER actually get “back” to those numbers? Why do you think that these are the benchmarks of success for you?”
And when we unpack their feelings and or discuss the life habits that they had back when they were that size, the client often discovers that while they felt “good” at that size, they weren’t necessary living a full and happy life.
They don’t ACTUALLY want to do the thing that they were doing in order to be that size again.
And I can TOTALLY relate to that as well.
When I was 5’8, 117 pounds, I was super lean, BUT I was also recovering from illness, subsisting on a super (prescribed) restrictive diet.
I liked how I looked, but that was about all the I liked.
What kind of life is that?
Appearance that isn’t the result of a balanced, full, happy life of growth and love isn’t actually going to make us feel that much better.
In fact, it can often make us feel trapped.
Like we HAVE to choose between being “pretty” and being “happy.”
And that’s SO NOT the case.
The people in our lives that love us and are worthy of remaining in our lives, their love and respect doesn’t dissipate when our physique changes.
AND if you feel like your loved ones do love you more when you are smaller, lower body fat percentage, thinner, then it’s time to have an open and honest conversation with them.
Trust them and the relationship enough to tell them how their comments and attitude makes you feel.
Do you have to adopt an obsessive and life-absorbing exercise routine in order to change your physique?
When it comes to fitness and for fat-loss, there’s many ways to “skin that cat”.
Lifting heavy things, leisure walking, gently moving your body routinely and in many different ways and finding physical activities that you actually enjoy are ALL great ways to build muscle and increase the efficiency of your metabolism.
Obsessively exercising, spending hours upon hours on the cardio machines at the gym, feeling guilty on days when you don’t exercise, feeling pressure to engage in exercise that you hate, these are ALL NOT necessary for fat loss and will ALSO not help you to live the full life that you want.
Are your fat-loss goals all consuming? Do you eat, sleep, breath weight loss? Are you constantly checking the scale for progress?
Your life is NOT supposed to be about you losing weight.
Remember, just because you are FREQUENTLY bombarded with messages that you SHOULD be thinner, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true.
You an absolutely choose to accept those thoughts or denounce them.
Life is about so much more than just your appearance, so rather than focusing PURELY on making yourself “look better” as you currently define “better”, invest energy into cultivating a lifestyle that nourishes you, mind, body and soul.
If cultivating new movement habits and good nutrition practices helps you to lose fat, that’s awesome!
If managing stress, spending time caring for yourself and prioritizing your physical and mental health are helping you to lean out a bit, how great is that??!
But if your quality of life decreases and your stress and obsessive behaviors increase when you are on a mission to lose fat, I’m going to be real honest with you, your program needs some tweaking. Your results won’t last and even if you get the results that you want, they are not going to make you feel good longterm.
In fact, they MIGHT even do damage to your physical or mental health.
Plenty of women over-do it with dieting and exercise to the point that they harm themselves.
Do you feel like a failure, beat yourself up when you "slip-up"?
Think you have to eat the perfect diet?
Think that you can never skip exercise and "never miss a Monday" in order to reach your goals and feel confident?
Here's the thing, NOTHING is going to make you feel better in your body than cultivating a lifestyle that makes you feel good.
Feeling like a slave to exercise does not feel good.
Stressing and processing guilt because you didn't make it to spin class or get in a run is not the way to spend your days.
A full life that makes us feel good in our bodies and about our bodies ABSOLUTELY involves doing some hard things.
Achieving goals will ALWAYS require work, discipline and patience.
BUT, that doesn't mean that we have to carve out a journey that doesn't make us happy!
Believe it or not, there are ways to learn to eat a nourishing and nutritious diet that makes you feel good WITHOUT feeling restricted and miserable.
It is possible to enjoy daily movement practices and train your body in a way that changes your physique WITHOUT making you feel like your constantly being punished.
If the path you are taking to get these results makes you feel crappy, makes you miserable, and or is pushing you towards a life that doesn't give you joy or make you FEEL confident in yourself, then those results will be fleeting and they won't help you to accomplish what you are going for.
And what are you going for? You want to feel good, right?
Looking good makes you feel good.
But looking good only makes you feel good when the path that you take to the physical changes actually improves your life and makes you better as a person.
It only works when it makes your life MORE full and more fulfilling.
Come follow me on Instagram today and learn more about what I do to cultivate a full (and imperfect) life that makes me feel content, confident and capable!
Why, because maybe what I do daily and imperfectly inspire you to carve out your own full and imperfect life too!
And lastly, fat loss and physique change TAKES TIME and CONSISTENCY.
You don't have to be perfect, but you have to keep going even when you have a "slip-up", because there are no "slip-ups", there's just life.
You can't stop every time you're a little bit human.
Remember what you want MOST and not just want you want NOW and keep moving!
In high school I had TERRIBLE skin.
Bad. So bad that my face was often swollen either from the acne or the meds I was using to clear the acne.
My life revolved around my skin.
I didn't want to sweat too much, because I thought it would cause a breakout.
I didn't want to go places unless I was having a good skin day....never happened.
Acne ruled my life.
It was the first thing I thought about every morning and the last thing I thought about before I went to bed.
I struggled with it for a long time, because as a high school girl I thought appearance was the most important thing (still have to remind myself that it's not) and I hated what I saw when I looked in the mirror.
I can't find any pictures, because I literally either snuck them into the trash or burned them.
But you know what really made the acne so difficult to deal with?
The things I had to do to cover up and care for my skin were not in line with what I as all about.
I didn't like avoiding and dreading sweat-inducing activities.
I didn't like having a "skin regimen" because I liked simple.
Simple hair, simple skin, simple (if any) makeup. I wanted to just take a natural approach to my appearance, and here acne was forcing me to do all these things that I felt were out of character for me.
I now know that half of the things I was doing were because TV commercials and dermatologists were telling me to do them, but they were actually making things worse...
Finally one day I just decided that I was going to put the actual acne out of my head and just start living the life that I wanted to live.
I stopped wearing makeup over it.
I stopped treating it.
I made myself smile-hoping that smiling would help people to see the real me under all the zits, puffiness, scars, and discomfort.
And you know what, I felt better and the acne improved.
Eventually it improved altogether, thanks for some dietary changes and the fact that I was no longer using externals chemicals to treat it, and I learned something from that experience that has stuck with me forever.
I guess what I'm trying to explain with my story is that, those things you don't like about how your look right now, they either come from one of two places.
1. Internal source
2. External source
If they are external in origin, meaning you feel them because others are making you feel that way, then a mission statement will help you sort that out.
If they are coming from inside you, again, a mission statement is going to help you understand why you feel the way that you do, and what to do next.
A concrete (albeit evolving) mission statement helps us to know what we want in our lives.
And what we don't.
Then we become aware of what we need to do to make our lives look more like who we feel we are on the inside.
You see it becomes more of a wholistic approach rather than just the pressure to change an aesthetic attribute about ourselves.
This also facilitates the creation of behavior-based goals instead of results-based goals.
So no longer do we only focus on thoughts like,
"I should lose weight".
Instead our mission statements includes some core values like:
Feeling proud, comfortable, and capable in my body.
Nourishing my and strengthening my body with food and movement...so I feel good.
Then when we have to make decisions about what to eat, how and when to move, and when to rest you can use this core value to determine what your next move is.
"Does eating this quart of ice cream align with my core values? Will it help me to feel proud, comfortable, and capable in my body?"
We have an answer!
-"Yes, because I'm proud of the fact that I can feel comfortable indulging in ice cream sometimes because I also eat nutritious food and care for my body with movement."
-"No, eating ice cream right now will not make me feel proud and comfortable tomorrow, I'm going make a protein shake and take a walk instead."
The beauty of knowing what you are about and what you aren't about is that it begins to make it easier for you to mute those nagging negative thoughts.
I use the core values of my personal mission statement to make decisions all the time about what I do with my body, how I spend my time, how I raise my kids, how I love my husband.
So when I'm deciding about something that isn't necessarily "good" or "bad" all I need to ask is,
"Does this align with who you want to be?"
And then for the most part, I know what to do.
Sarah Smith is a Raleigh-based personal trainer, strength and lifestyle coach.
She specializes in helping real women cultivate lifestyles that make them feel confident, capable and content in their bodies and lives!
Check out her FREE email newsletter below!
And I want to start with question #2 because I think that part of the process is most informative and impactful because when we really want something, the question is often NOT about what do we need to do to make it happen, but rather about what we are NOT going to do.
Where are our limits and how are those limits going to impact the process and timeline of this journey?Read More
Like EVERYONE else, I want to practice the things that I’m good at.
I want to stick to what I know and where i’m comfortable.
But what I’ve learned is that there’s NOTHING quite like the feeling of being terrible at something, continuing to practice at it AND SEEING improvement.
The sense of pride and accomplishment is worth ALL the moments of failure and frustration.
Feeling unstoppable, like there’s nothing you couldn’t learn to do given the time and practice, gives way to freedom and empowerment.
There’s lots of mental, emotional and physical things that I am NOT good at and pistols are just one example, but I’ll tell you what.
The first time I tried a pistol it was LAUGHABLE and I fell on my ass.
IN FACT, I fell LOADS of times before I even came close to doing something that remotely resembled a pistol.
But I knew from experience that if I just kept practicing, I would get better and eventually I will own these. Actually, I will own WEIGHTED versions of these. Because there’s nothing that can stop me, but me!
**PS-I have no physical contraindications for pistols.
And you will own whatever it is that you want to achieve, but you’ll have to fail on the way there. You’ll have to practice. You’ll have to keep it up and even when you see no change or improvement and then one day, YOU’LL GET IT!
Cultivate for life is my tagline for my business, because once we learn that life is about cultivating skills indefinitely and always learning and never being a finished product, then we understand that failure and frustration and discomfort is all part of it. But it’s good because it means we’re growing!
BUT the only way out is through! SO keep practicing, keep persisting, keep cultivating and watch how your life, body and mind grows.
Join My Inner Circle today so that you don't miss out on FREE workouts, recipes, fitness and fat-loss tips!
Ok so here's your take home message.
1. Don't follow social media, read magazines, or watch TV that makes you feel terrible about yourself or promotes unrealistic fantasies.
2. Find your tribe that will love you as you are, but also help you to improve in the areas you wish to grow.
3. Figure out what you actually want and what's most important to you because arbitrarily trying to imitate others that might be doing something great, but are not necessarily doing something that's great for you!Read More
There's also going to be times during your monthly cycle when you're going to feel STRONGER, MORE ENERGETIC and you'll even be able to eat MORE FOOD!
And if you know that, you can plan accordingly.Read More
You can schedule your workouts and your carb-loading for those times and really capitalize on this sure of energy!
Fitness and fat-loss works the same way.
If you treat it like a job and do the bare minimum to get by, you probably won't get great results or stick with it.
You'll jump around trying this diet, that form of exercise, this new gadget...
But if you invest in the process and take the time to cultivate an approach that enhances your life, you're WAY more likely to stick with it long term, see results and continue to build your approach.
When the body is chronically stressed, it pushes back against this by doing a number of things and one of those things is storing fat.
Fat is fuel. It's a good thing. In fact we NEED fat!
It’s a resource. I know we don’t always love the look of it, but it does have a purpose and if your body is storing larger and larger volutes of it, that’s because your body thinks that it needs it.
When you are mentally, emotionally, or physically stressed the body is like, “Wait, what’s happening? I need to stockpile emergency rations! Something is wrong.”
Your body is designed to keep you ALIVE, not to bend to whatever aesthetic goals that you have for it.
If your body is uncomfortable and senses that are you are in distress, the only thing that it can do to help you is to save energy in the form of fat.
This energy can then be used by your muscles, your brain cells, whatever cells in your body that are going to be potentially doing some extra work, the energy will be there for it.
And here’s the thing, serial dieting, lack of sleep, gut distress, histories of under-eating or eating chemically-laden processed food, these are all stressors.
The body responds to these activities, these signals with cravings and the hormonal environment necessary to store fat AND to keep telling your body that it's hungry.
So if you want to lose fat, you definitely need to move your body and you definitely need to start choosing good nutrition (most of the time), but your progress is going to be slow-going if you don’t ALSO deal with your stress.
You have to tell you body that everything is ok.
How do we do this?
We change our lifestyles and when we can NOT change things, we change our response to them.
I know, a lot easier said than done, but we really have no choice.
This process can be imperfect.
It will take some time, but it's a direction work moving in.
We also have to understand that IF the body has been stressed for a while, then it’s going to take some time for it to finally believe you that the stress is gone and release those fat-stores that it’s been holding on to.
So you have to be little patient with it, which is why you REALLY want to cultivate a lifestyle that not only moves you closer to your physique goals,but ALSO one that makes you feel better.
One that makes you content and happy.
So what do we do?
Exercise just enough, but not too much.
Eat loads of protein and vegetables and not a lot of processed foods.
Sleep, meditate, pray, relax.
Change what you can in your life to alleviate stress **there’s almost always some action that you CAN take.
Take risks, move out of that comfort zone, your health depends on it!
Think of leisure time with friends and family or alone as just as important for your fat-loss goals as is your exercise.
Your metabolism is basically a stubborn mule, actually pig, I have more experience with stubborn pigs.
You will not get a pig to budge by using lots of force or threats.
Trust me, I know. This novice pig farmer has tried to move one many a times.
You have to make it feel safe and gently coax it into doing what you want it to do and when it feels safe, not stressed, then it will acquiesce.
Realize that your body needs a consistent supply of nutrition to feel comfortable letting go of it's fat stores.
Not only does this mean eating nutritionally dense foods like pastured eggs, leafy greens, grass-fed meats and organ meats and good quality fats, it also means supporting the gut and the brain with prebiotics.
Screentime is fine in moderation, but lots of time on the phone or watching the TV/Netflix will negatively impact sleep and can cause cravings.
PLUS, if you're watching a screen, then that usually means that you’re not moving, which is what the body really really needs.
Walking 10-15K steps a day will DRAMATICALLY reduce your risk of metabolic syndrome.
We know that spending time in nature positively impacts our sleep habits, stress levels, gut health, posture and mental health!
If you want to learn more about healing your metabolism and gently letting it know that it's time to start reducing fat stores, then sign up here to receive my Five Day Metabolism School : Metabolism and Movement Memos
Starting August 7th, for five days, each day you will receive an email memo on one aspect of healing the metabolism to support fat-loss, complete with some manageable action steps for you to begin to work on!
It's free, easy-to-understand and a great way to get started on working towards healing your body and cultivating a new metabolism-healing lifestyle!
I'm Sarah. I'm a personal trainer and lifestyle coach. I help clients build strength, confidence, capability in their bodies and their lives.
I'm also a mom of 3 raucous boys, a small scale farmer and soil scientist living in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Ok, so on to de-toxing.
The AMAZING thing about the body is that it is very adept at de-toxing.
Personally the only approach for de-toxing that I trust is the strategy of supporting the liver.
No food, juice, supplement or enema could ever hope to work as well at removing toxins from the body as the liver!!
If I don't take the time intermittently to get back to zero, then my standard changes, the clutter and dirt grow layers and if I want to get back to my kitchen in it's original form, then it's SO much more work to get there.
The same sort of phenomenon occurs with our health and wellness, right?
We rarely dive into drinking a bottle of wine a night or eating a pint of ice cream a day.
No, one glass slowly turns into 2, then 3...
It takes a few weeks for our ice cream treat to become more of a staple.
For starters, like me you might think that “winning” is everything.
Many of you were handed the goal of weight loss at a young age possibly from yourself, but mostly by adults, peers, or society.
And perhaps you feel the pressure to always be losing or to finally get to that certain weight.Read More
The fact of the matter is, working towards change is HARD WORK!
Sometimes results are slow.
Sometimes it seems like everyone else around us is successful and we are not.
Sometimes it seems like we are just not "cut out" for this plan and we should throw in the towel.
But here's the thing.
That's a wall that EVERYONE encounters when trying to work towards something.
And if you give up when you hit that, then you will never grow.
You will never experience the victory and change that is just on the other side of that wall.
Click the video on the right to watch my demonstration of a 20 minute beginner-friendly strength training workout.
You can also download PDF of workout here.
AAAANNNNDDD, if you are interested in learning how to identify your core values and use them to create and attain goals, read my most recent blog posts on Personal Mission Statements below!!
People around you might be pursing goals that appeal to you, but with your own personal mission statement, it will become easier for you to recognize when their goal or the path that they are taking to that goal does not align with who you are and know that their journey not right for you.Read More