The power of size 11 jeans

I only own one pair of non-athletic shorts.

No, this is not me!

I wear a lot of skirts and dresses. They are more comfortable and I enjoy the femininity – to offset the masculinity of my athletic build.

There is another reason that I only have one pair of shorts: They are size 11.

I refuse to buy more double digit sized articles of clothing.

It is just a number

I know, many woman would be thrilled to fit into a size 11 pant. But one look at me – I do NOT look like a size 11. Some would say I am a skinny-minny (inaccurate) but most have guessed me to be a size 6.

I wish I was a size 6 – – –

As a society, we have assigned a value to these numbers.  They signify beauty. They signify worth. Or the opposite – unattractiveness and unworthiness.

Again, just a number

There is more to this story. I have dresses in my closet – ranging from size 4 to size 12. It depends on the designer. It depends on whether it is “junior’s” or “woman’s”. It depends on whether it is sleeved or sleeveless.

I have workout clothes – ranging from sizes small to large. The same factors exist.

The bottomline

I know this. I know that clothing sizes – particularly for women – are arbitrary and just numbers. But they still get to me – just as they get to most women.

Having to try on the double digit shorts keeps me from shopping for them – let alone purchasing them.

But all-in-all, I love my body and I would not want for it to be smaller – and fit into size 6 shorts. But somewhere along the line, society brainwashed that number into my head – – – Even above, I wrote that I do not look like a size 11. What DOES size 11 look like? Again with the brainwashing!

The truth is, it does not matter. Based on the fact that I have such varying sizes, I assume other women do, too. So, numbers shnumbers, I am done with them and I am taking the power back!

P.S. I am not going to buy another pair of shorts. They just are not comfortable and that is all that matters!

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The scale is evil

I advise most of my clients to avoid the scale. The scale RARELY elicits happy feelings. Excitement? Joy? When is the last time you have associated either of these feelings with what you see on the scale?

More often than not the scales leads to thoughts and feelings of disappointment, anger, frustration, depression, etc. So why do we continue to use the scale as a measurement?

Most of us have an unhealthy relationship with the scale – we are drawn to is, as one of the few measurements we know. And it sure is the easiest and most accessible – isn’t it?

The problems with weight

There are numerous problems with weight. It fluctuates. Your body is 70%+ water – so dehydration is a significant factor. What did you eat or not eat yesterday. How did you sleep. What time of day is it. Females, where are you in your cycle. What are the weather conditions. There are countless factors that influence weight – and cause us unnecessary frustration.

The the scientific and physical reasons aside, weighing yourself and having weight goals is psychologically defeating. This is why I emphasize the importance of having weight independent goals on your journey (also known as life).

Real-life story

I try not to weigh myself, because I know that it elicits negative thoughts that lead to negative self-talk.

I weighed myself today. I have been feeling pretty good, but I knew that my pants were getting tight. Since eliminating long runs from my training plan (I do not have any more races coming up), I have not integrated heavy leg days back into my routine. This is the primary cause for my shift. Dietary habits – of course – are a huge factor, although overall my eating has been pretty good.

But where is my mind?

Why didn’t I add leg days?

Why did I eat that ice cream when I wasn’t hungry?

Why don’t I run more? Which becomes, I should have kept my running up.

Getting on the scale is a mental, emotional, and psychological disaster. We are anxious prior to doing it. We are, more often than not, upset or frustrated afterwards. My general rule is to avoid those activities that trigger or elicit negative thoughts and feelings. This means, the scale must go!

Take an afternoon

– and work on yourself. You can follow my guidelines for goal setting. But use the following to give serious thought and consideration to your weight goals:

Please answer the following questions with your desired weight in mind.

  1. Origins of your desired weight: 
    1. Why do you want to be this specific weight?
    2. Is there anything particularly special about this weight?
  2. Other weight goals in the past:
    1. Have you had other weight goals in the past?
    2. Why were they different from your present goal?
  3. Achievability of your desired weight:
    1. When were you last at your desired weight?
    2. How hard do you think it would be to stay at this weight?
  4. Importance of reaching your desired weight:
    1. How important to you is reaching your desired weight?
    2. If it is important, why is it important?
  5. Consequences of reaching your desired weight:
    1. How would your life differ if you reached your desired weight?
    2. What could you do that you cannot do now?

Or, if you have previously been this weight, how was your life different when you were at this weight?

When answering the two parts of question 5 consider the following eight aspects of daily life:

Attractiveness (to yourself and others) Clothes size and choice
Leisure activites (e.g., sports) Health and fitness
Work Social life
Self-esteem and self-confidence Personal relationships

6. Consequences of not reaching your desired weight:

  1. How would you feel if you did not reach your desired weight?
  2. What effect would it have on your daily life?

Adapted from Cooper, Fairburn, and Hawker (2003) 

The bottomline

After completing this exercise, you may find that your weight goals are unfounded, inappropriate, or unrealistic. You may find that they are adequate. If your goal is to be the same weight as your 20-year-old self, that may or may not be a good weight at this point in your life. These questions should help you to think critically and make the best goals for YOU.

Lastly, support your journey by settings goals that focus on health, energy, and happiness.

When is the last time the scale left you thinking and feeling positively —? Or even neutral?

What makes a fantastic personal trainer?

photo (32)

I am a personal trainer…

but honestly, I am more than a personal trainer. I am a coach for life. I see more than others see. I see a whole person – looking to be better tomorrow than he/she is today. And I guide individuals to betterment.

What separates a fantastic trainer from the others?

A fantastic trainer is the one with the personality that best matches your needs. I have been doing research on what sets me apart from my colleagues. The responses are heart warming and tear jerking. Some responses relate to my enormous education and love for learning. But more mention my heart.

I am with my client every step of the way.

I am a role model – living what I teach.

I genuinely care about a client – including her spirit, not just her physical being.

I am honest. As this blog is titled: strong, brave, and honest.

Passion

The one aspect that I would add to the meme is passion. I am passionate about my work, and being my best so that I can be the best for my clients. I have the opportunity to live out my dream daily – through this blog and through my teaching and training.

Are you living your passion?

The bottomline

I sometimes feel like a broken record, but not all trainers are created equal. IF you are looking to hire a trainer, do your research and find one with not only the education (please click and read the link) but also the spirit and heart to match yours!

Will work for coffee

If you have read many of my posts, you already know that I hate aerobic exercise – commonly referred to as cardio. I incorporate my cardiovascular training into my strength training program and also finish most days with a bout of cardio. This is doable. And is my level of fitness adequate? Yes – but I will not be running a marathon anytime soon!

Tuesdays and Thursdays are designated as my aerobic fitness days. I begin each workout with a warm up and maybe some core (this is what entices me to get to the gym). The bulk of my work is done in aerobic intervals. I can stay on a treadmill 5X longer if I am doing intervals than if I do a steady state.

And when I want to quit, which is often with cardio, I tell myself that after my workout I can treat myself to a coffee. Mind you – I do drink black coffee and I allow myself to drink it whenever I want it so the concept of it being a true reward is mute. Somehow, this works for  me. While doing my intervals this morning, I thought I should make a sign, WILL WORK FOR COFFEE.

Why it works

There are multiple explanations for why my process works. I trick my own mind! I use strategies and mental skills to keep my head in the game! The most important? Goal setting.

Intervals = Task goals

We can improve motivation through goal setting (Hardy, Jones, & Gould, 1996; Wilson & Brookfield, 2009). While we often think of outcome goals (e.g., long-term goals) as big dreams or milestones that can only be achieved in time – those are certainly outcome goals – equally important are incremental goals. Some of these may be smaller outcome goals and some may be minute task or process goals. Each week, my Tuesday and Thursday workouts are outcome goals. And I set task goals that allow me to reach the outcome goal – completing the workout. Let me explain.

Because I do not enjoy cardio, it makes it hard to make it to the gym in the first place. Therefore, I begin my workout with something that I enjoy. Lately, I have been practicing headstands and handstands – which I thoroughly enjoy. I WANT to do my practicing and I have to go to the gym to do it. Once I am at the gym, I might as well put in the work! I’m warmed up and get right into my intervals, somedays :60/:90, some :30/:30, and so on. Honestly, the time split doesn’t matter all that much. What matters is that I think about getting it done one interval at a time. My mind is usually fighting me and I ask myself, why am I doing this again? So I start, telling myself that I will do half of my intervals and then reassess the situation. So,

          • outcome goal = 8 intervals
          • incremental goal = 4 intervals (reassess)
          • task goals = each interval

More often than not, by the time I have completed half of my intervals, I am pumped on adrenaline and working to the end is no longer an issue. And as a woman true to her word, and will not quit. I will not be stopped!

Short-term goals MUST be established. Short-term task goals will help increase self-efficacy and enhance sense of self-worth through the reinforcement of accomplishments (Hall, Kerr, Kozub, & Finnie, 2007; Wilson & Brookfield, 2009). Further, the use of task goals can encourage flexibility for those of us who normally retain a rigid approach to attaining perfection (Hall, Kerr, Kozub, & Finnie, 2007).

Self-regulation

Related to goal setting strategies is self-regulation. Kirschenbaum (1984) defines self-regulation as

“the processes by which people manage their own goal-directed behaviors
in the relative absence of immediate external constraints.”

Self-regulation generally requires five stages: problem identification, commitment, execution, environmental management, and generalization (Kirschenbaum, 1984). And you may find it beneficial to journal or log your personal stages. For example, I

  1. have identified a problem of disliking aerobics,
  2. have committed to a desire to change,
  3. will execute change through various workouts,
  4. have enforced that my workouts (including my headstands) must be completed at the gym, and
  5. will eventually apply what I learn to other generally difficult situations.

The reward system?

I motivate myself with the reward of coffee. But this is not a true reward. I would have had my coffee whether I had worked out or not. You see, I simply cannot function without coffee. So, what have I done here to improve my motivation?

I have ignited the reward center of my brain by placing pleasurable bookends on both ends of something I find aversive. We do not like everything that we do in life. Sometimes we just do things because we have to. Other times we choose to do things because we know the pleasurable outcome.

A bit about rewards

I want to advise against using food or drink as a reward. Hypocrite? A cup of black coffee contains 5 calories and caffeine has been shown to provide numerous post-workout benefits. If coffee works as a reward for you – that is the only exception I will allow! The problem with using food as a reward? If you are working towards adopting a healthy lifestyle, your reward of food becomes equally pleasurable and aversive. You have now confused your mind! (As if we do not have enough confusion in life!)

You are used to eating after your workout? Good, you should. Make it a planning and allotted for snack or meal! That is not a reward.

Plus, there are so many pleasures in life beyond food!!

The bottomline

I WILL work for coffee. The chances are, I would do more work for more coffee – but that is another post. I have some challenges for you. Are you ready?

  1. Find at least one exercise or activity that you LOVE.
  2. Incorporate that love into EACH and EVERY workout.
  3. Set a daily goal – and possibly task goals within that goal.
  4. Reward yourself for every goal you complete – large or small.

References

Hall, H. K., Kerr, A, W., Kozub, S. A., & Finnie, S. B. (2007). Motivational antecedents of obligatory exercise: The influence of achievement goals and multidimensional perfectionism. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 8, 297–316.

Hardy, L., Jones, G., & Gould, D. (1996). Understanding psychological preparation for sport. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.

Kirschenbaum, D. (1984). Self-regulation and sport psychology: Nurturing an emerging symbiosis. Journal of Sport Psychology, 6(2), 159-183.

Wilson, K., & Brookfield, D. (2009). Effect of goal setting on motivation and adherence in a six-week exercise program. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 7, 89-100.