The other day I was reading through some old emails and came across this quote from Sam Parker, the author of "212 the Extra Degree".
I used to walk my dog every morning when I got up, but these days I have a very lazy dog and there is no guarantee that he'll want to get out for a walk the way that Jake used to.
This is not a habit that I've been in at all. In fact, taking time to read has really fallen off since I stopped traveling for my old job. When traveling for work there's all kinds of downtime on airplanes or trains when you can get caught up with your reading list, and these days I often feel too busy or tired to take the time to open a book, but I missed the benefits of reading. Reading is inspirational. It helps to stir up new ideas. It feeds the brain and creates a sense of accomplishment. But I admit I was struggling to find the time, and when laying in bed nice and warm in the morning, despite my stewing, I didn't feel motivated in that space to get up to read. So I started small.
I love my morning coffee, and these days it's light outside early in the morning, the birds are singing, and the thought of a warm, creamy cup of coffee was really appealing. So I started with just that - getting out of bed no later than 5:30am and taking some time to enjoy my coffee in the quiet of the early morning hours.
I've been working on my Corrective Exercise Certification, and the book is always nearby. I intentionally left it by the couch. Reaching for it was easy. I didn't have any commitment necessarily to read it at 5:30am, but it was there.
After about 10 minutes of sitting, relaxing, soaking in the morning sun and enjoying my coffee I already felt more awake. I reached for the book and started reading. Before I knew it I was 20 pages in and soaking in the new information, feeling inspired about how I could apply this knowledge to the benefit of my clients.
The next morning I remembered how great I felt after feeding my brain, but I still preferred the warmth of my bed, and still struggled with the challenges of the day ahead. But I thought about how wonderful my warm coffee would taste, and how quickly I'd start to feel more alive, and how this was going to inevitably lead to me picking up my book and feeling the sense of accomplishment and inspiration that the material provided.
Within just a few days it wasn't the coffee that motivated me but the excitement to see what interesting information the next chapter would hold, and that was what got me out of bed.
Now I have a routine of getting up each morning, brewing my coffee (after my morning mojo of course) and sitting down for 45 minutes or so to read.
I look forward to it. It's helping me refocus away from the feeling that I'm in some sort of twilight zone in this new COVID-19 world that we live in, and focus on how I can contribute to my community during this difficult time.
This in turn completely shifts my mindset. Starting my day inspired and thinking about how I can give back is far more productive than starting my day worrying about how the universe might give me another punch in the nose.
And when your mindset changes, everything else follows.
So what is my point? My point is that if I had focused entirely on a new morning ritual that seemed perfect to me at 5pm, but daunting to me at 5am, I would never have gotten there. But the simple act of just getting out of bed eventually led to something greater, more impactful, and more productive.
Don't think for a second that the smallest step could lead you to where you want to go. Getting up to read is just another small step in something bigger for me. Our current situation in this global pandemic is a big deal. I struggle with it every day, and I think it's important to admit that and to embrace it. It's not going away, and for me it's important that I am able to cope with the longer term implications of life as we now know it.
Getting up in the morning to read is one small step towards getting through what the coming months have in store. It gives me a sense of strength and control in the situation. It sets me up to make another one degree shift towards the implementation of new ideas that will allow me to support my clients and commit to my business during a time that is out right scary. As I identify those new ideas, embrace them, work towards implementing them, I gain traction, I create momentum, and I feel a greater sense of knowing that we will find our way forward in all of this. And all of this started with me just getting my butt out of bed in order to drink my warm cup of coffee.
What feels daunting to you right now? What small step can you start that will help you build momentum toward something bigger? Give it some thought....and if it still feels like it's too much, think even smaller. There's no such thing as taking too small a step. Any step is a step in the forward direction, and as long as you're moving forward you're making progress.
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Okay, full disclaimer here. I've been wanting to share some information with you about some really nasty stuff that's in our food, and when we created our "How to Crack the Food Label Code" resource guide I thought it would be a perfect opportunity. Well, I have to admit that my old scientist brain has gotten the best of me and I have included a lot of info in this blog post about SIX food additives that I think you should watch out for and avoid then as if your life depends on it....because it does!
If you want the cliff notes version than download our guide, but I hope you'll read on and take a bit away that just might change the way that you look at food labels and what food you consider acceptable for you and your family going forward.
For a long time I thought I was eating healthy, but I wasn't really paying attention to what was actually in my food! So much food is packaged to appear healthy, but when you start reading the ingredients you'll often find that's not really the case.
Over the past few years I've taken a greater interest in understanding what's in my food, and learning why some of the ingredients that are listed can be particularly bad for you.
I try to eat a whole foods based diet - in other words, food that is just the way mother nature intended for it to be. Unadulterated, fresh, and natural. This includes lots of fruits and veggies, whole fat dairy, lean meats and seafood, whole grains, nuts, and beans.
I'm sure you've heard that when you grocery shop you should shop the perimeter. This is great advice! That's generally where all of the fresh, whole foods are located.
It's when you start working your way down the aisles that things can get a little hairy. But packaged food has a place in our lives, and I admit that I enjoy a number of products that are packaged such as crackers, rice and other grains that include a convenient spice packet, snack foods, breads, nut butters, ice cream, and so forth. One rule of thumb that I use in my shopping is to look for packaged foods with 5 or less ingredients. Generally speaking, when there are fewer ingredients they are all ingredients that you're familiar with....and are the ingredients that YOU would use if you were to actually prepare the food yourself. For example, my go-to crackers have THREE ingredients....Whole Grain Wheat, Safflower Oil and Salt. That sounds like what I'd use if I were to actually make these crackers myself!
I've looked at labels in the past....but funny enough I always looked at the number of calories and less at the ingredients. Who knows what I'm talking about? But we have to acknowledge that all calories are not created equally. For example, 100 calories of almonds is NOT the same as 100 calories of Oreo cookies! So the number of calories is probably the least useful piece of info on the label.
These days I look at the ingredients, and how much ADDED sugar is in the food. It seems silly to me that there is added sugar in something like mayonnaise. I don't know about you, but when I get all crazy and make mayo myself I do not add sugar to it!
Now, I admit, I love me some snack foods and other packaged foods that have a few more ingredients included than if I were to make it on my own, but there are SIX ingredients that I really look out for and I will always put the item back if any of these are in the ingredients.
#1: Artificial Sugar: This is an absolute NO WAY in my diet. These products are pure chemicals, do not exist anywhere in nature, and NOT good for you at all because your body simply doesn't recognize them as food and this can really wreck havoc on your metabolism and health in general. If I want a little sweet in my food or drink I'll add a little local honey and it hits the spot. It's all about moderation.
There are three main types of artificial sugar that you may use in your coffee or baking, or that you'll find in your food.
One of my favorite stories that I came across is about a chemist named Constantin Fahlberg, who in 1879 accidentally discovered saccharin (a.k.a Sweet-n-Low). Fahlberg was in his lab working with a chemical called toluene, a clear, colorless liquid produced in the process of making coal. Its sweet aroma is often recognized in gasoline or paint thinner. Yeah, right! I'm serious! Look it up! Fahlberg accidentally spilled some and got it on his hands. Given that clean laboratory practices weren't quite what they are today back in 1879 he went off to lunch without washing his hands and noticed that his food tasted sweet...and that's how saccharin came to be invented! Count me out!
I'm sure you've heard of aspartame. Aspartame is what Equal and Neutra-sweet is made with. This artificial sugar has received some more significant mainstream coverage about the potential health concerns. The FDA once listed 92 different symptoms associated with the use of aspartame, that were confirmed through controlled studies. These symptoms include depression, irritability, heart palpitations, diarrhea, joint pain, memory loss, confusion, aggravation of diabetes...the list goes on for 84 more symptoms!
Sucralose is the newest to come to the market in the form of Splenda, and what really blows my mind about this chemical sugar substitute is actually starts out as sucrose (a real sugar) but undergoes a complex five-step chemical process that involves many caustic chemicals, which selectively substitutes the three atoms of chlorine for three hydrogen-oxygen groups on the sucrose molecule, creating a substance that is called a polychlorinated compound. I don't know about you, but I don't want to eat anything that is a polychlorinated compound! Other polychlorinated compounds are insecticides, such as DDT, which can accumulate in the body's fat and tissues.
Need I say any more?
#2 MSG: There is no doubt that food containing MSG tastes really good. I totally admit it! For many years I knowingly ate foods containing MSG because I just loved them so much. My favorite packaged rice and beans that I used in burritos contained MSG as did my all time favorite beef jerky. But once I started to learn about the harmful effects of MSG I became quite strict about eating anything containing it.
There are all kinds of problems with MSG. First of all it's highly addictive, and I'm sure that is why even though I knew it was in some of the foods I was eating I really loved those foods and didn't want to stop eating them. I think that speaks for itself!
MSG is a flavor enhancer that lights up our tasted buds and not only makes us eat more, but also makes us eat faster. The foods that contain the most MSG are highly processed foods that are fat free or sugar free. This is because when you start stripping out the natural sugars and fats from food they start to taste not so good....so the manufacturer has to trick our brains into liking it. This is one of many reasons why you should eat foods in their WHOLE form including naturally occurring sugars and fats.
Both MSG and Aspartame are called excitotoxins and are linked to serious diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis and other neurodegenerative diseases. I have Alzheimer's in my family history, so I want to do anything possible to prevent developing this terrible disease, and one way of doing that is to avoid these two chemical food additives.
You have to be careful when it comes to MSG, because it's often hidden in the ingredient that is listed as "seasonings". It is nearly impossible to be sure if there is MSG in the ingredients because the FDA does not require food manufacturers to list it as an ingredient. MSG is one of the ingredients used to make a number of other food additives, and only the name of the new chemical needs to be listed. Some MSG ingredients you may have seen on ingredients lists includes autolyzed yeast, anything hydrolyzed such as hydrolyzed soy protein, or hydrolyzed yeast, maltodextrin, isolated soy protein, textured soy protein, yeast extract, and natural flavorings...which brings me to #3...
#3. Artificial Flavorings & Natural Flavorings: This is a tricky one because one sounds far less harmful than the other, but the reality is that both are made in the laboratory. There is a BIG difference between Natural Flavors and Natural Flavorings...and it's important to keep them straight in your head.
What's crazy about artificial flavorings is that they are made up of a laundry list of ingredients, and the FDA does not require companies to disclose the ingredients that are used to make the artificial flavoring as long as the chemicals used are "generally regarded as safe", which is a whole other subject of what defines a chemical as "generally regarded as safe". Anything that is "generally" safe is suspect to me and I'd rather avoid it and eat the real flavors that mother nature blesses us with in whole foods!
Natural flavorings are also made in the laboratory. They have the same or similar chemical make up of natural foods, but they are not naturally occurring or derived from actual food. An example you may be familiar with is real vanilla extract vs artificial vanilla flavoring. Both smell and taste almost alike, but the latter is made in a laboratory. I'd rather have the real stuff that Mother Nature gave us.
#4. Sodium Nitrates and Sodium Nitrites: It can be really hard to find certain foods that don't contain sodium nitrates or nitrites. They are commonly added to cured and processed meats. Their primary purpose is to prevent botulism and improve color and flavor, which sounds like a decent enough reason for adding them to food, but they're also linked to cancer, including childhood brain tumors and leukemia that has been linked to hotdogs containing nitrates.
There are a lot of nitrate free options available for sandwich meats, bacon, sausage, etc, and it's worth a little extra money to make sure that the option you choose has zero nitrates or nitrites in the ingredients.
#5. BHA, BHT and TBHQ. These chemicals are FAKE antioxidants. The term antioxidant can be a bit misleading because normally we consider antioxidants to be really good. Colorful foods like blueberries are known to be high in antioxidants, and this helps to fend off free radicals that attack the cells in our bodies. Free radicals are unstable molecules that are all around us, so eating other foods high in antioxidants is kind of like the anecdote. But the so called antioxidants in BHA, GHT and TBHQ is quite the opposite! These are man made chemicals that are added to food to prevent oxidation, which in turn preserves fats and prolongs shelf life.
The problem is that these chemicals are linked to cancer, and repeated studies demonstrate that these chemicals accumulate in the body, cause liver enlargement, and retard cell development. Dr. Benjamin Feingold, a diet specialist in the 1970s, found through his studies that BHT could cause hyperactivity in children, so it's disappointing to find this in the ingredients of foods that are mainly consumed by children, such as breakfast cereals, lunch meats, and snack foods.
#6. Trans fats: Last but certainly not least on my list of additives to look out for is Trans Fat. We have all heard about trans fat, and I think many of us already try to avoid it, but we're often tricked into thinking that foods are trans fat free when in fact they aren't. Did you know that a manufacturer can claim that a food product contains ZERO trans fat as long as there is less than 0.25g per serving? The problem is that the serving size can be manipulated to hit this target when in fact you will most likely eat the whole package that is likely to be 2.5 servings or more. So in reality, the serving that YOU ate did contain enough trans fat to make you worried.
The word to look out for on ingredient lists is hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated. This is the fancy word for trans fat. What I find most interesting is what trans fat is from a chemical perspective. If you had to take a chemistry class in high school or college you may remember that molecules exist in either a cis or trans configuration. Naturally occurring fats exist in the cis configuration, which allows for a little bend to occur between a couple of carbon and hydrogen molecules. These fat molecules actually attach to receptors on the surface of cells which allows things to flow in and out of the cell. The problem with trans fats is that the trans configuration of the molecule results in the inability for the molecule to bend the way that the cis version will, and it also becomes much more rigid. It's similar enough to the naturally occurring cis-fats, so they can still attach to those receptors on the cell, but instead of function the way that it should it can block the cell from opening up those pathways for everything to move in and out. This includes the ability for LDL cholesterol to move into the cell from the bloodstream so it builds up in the bloodstream leading to high cholesterol and heart attacks. And prevents sugar from flowing out of the cell and into the blood stream to get used for energy, resulting in diabetes. Additionally, that rigidity in the trans fat molecule causes a stiffness in the cell making your cells stiff, where as the cis fats will allow our cells to be supple and pliable. Because your cells are stiff and not functioning optimally the good essential fats that you're eating aren't able to be properly utilized because the trans fat blocks them from being incorporated into the cells.
The blockage of these cell receptors can lead to all kinds of problems. Trans fats have been linked to cancer, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, and diverticulitis among others. They also weaken the immune system, and decrease the response to insulin, another catalyst for diabetes.
It can be difficult to avoid foods that contain these ingredients. These types of chemicals are in a lot of the foods on the grocery store shelves, but it's worth being extra diligent and at least being aware of where they exist. Even if you can't resist some of the delicious foods that these additives are in, I hope that knowing how harmful they are will help you eat these foods very, very sparingly. They should most definitely NOT be a part of your regular diet.
I hope that you'll be able to use this information to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy and feeling their very best. Don't forget to DOWNLOAD our "How to Crack the Food Label Code" resource guide. It will help set you on the right course and you choose the healthiest, most nutritious foods and avoid the added ingredients that can be a real hazard to your health.
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When I first realized that it would be necessary for the gym to physically close due to COVID-19 I immediately started to think about how I could best support the WILCOX Community if we were unable to be together in person.
Zoom was an obvious consideration right away, but it was hard to imagine what personal training would look like in a virtual space, where the trainers are unable to make physical contact to assist in corrections of movement, and where we'd be distanced from each other with a screen between us.
I continue to find the opportunities that our current situation provides to us each day. Although COVID-19 has created a great deal of hardship and devastation for so many, I continue to look for and find the small blessings that also exist. I think it's important to find the balance....the yin and yang...in our current situation, otherwise we may just go mad. I am so fortunate to have an incredible community of people who truly have my back during a time that is so terrifying for so many business
where needed, ensuring that everyone is supported and feeling confident throughout their entire Live Stream Training Session.
Sure, we aren't using equipment, and at first this felt it would create a major set back, but in fact, it has created yet another opportunity!
All of our Live Stream training sessions are designed to utilize body weight only. There is a lot to be said for body weight movements. Not only is it convenient for the purposes of working out at home and in a small space where some equipment isn't practical, we've also found that focusing on body weight movements provides us with a unique opportunity to truly connect with our bodies.
In the absence of equipment we must look to our own bodies to create the resistance. In doing so we need to really tune into which muscles are being used, and through engagement of those muscles create the resistance and the challenge that we would normally rely upon a weight to create.
Additionally, in the absence of equipment we are free of distraction. As a result we are able to focus more on how our bodies are moving.
There is no greater satisfaction than hearing about how the movements that we practice in the gym benefited the way that a person moves when doing work around the house, during a run, hike or other sport, or when playing with pets or children. Helping people make these connections with their body is what we do! Our whole mission is focused around enabling people to live their best lives free of limitations, and learning how to move our bodies effectively is a big part of what we do. So you can imagine how excited we were to realize that the perceived limitation of having to work in a virtual setting was actually a benefit.
artificially create resistance and challenge, and better yet....the wisdom and experience to know the difference.
Supporting our community during this challenging time is important to us!
We know that being active is good for us in so many ways! It not only keeps us strong and feeling our best physically, but staying active also helps maintain our mental health, improve sleep,
and supports a healthy immune system.
That's why we are offering STRONGER @ HOME, an opportunity for you to
join us for a Live Stream Training Session...for FREE.
These training sessions are specifically for members of our community who are looking for a way to get active from home....all with the support of a LIVE personal trainer!
I hope you can join us!!!
BE OUR GUEST!
We feel privileged to welcome you into our Live Stream training sessions. It has been an honor to support our community during this challenging time and we hope that this opportunity to train with us will create IMPACT in your life!
We will be hosting FREE Live Stream Training Sessions to help with some stress relief during COVID-19. This is a challenging time and we must get through this together!
We've been having so much fun in our Live Stream Training Sessions, and feel so privileged to be able to continue to support our client community during this time. Getting active is an incredible way to reduce stress, improve your overall sense of well being, boost your immune system, and stay strong - both mentally and physically. We believe so much in the importance of staying active during this difficult time that we want to extend our services to anyone who needs it through our FREE Stronger @ Home Live Stream Group Personal Training Sessions.
Please register for the session time that you would like to attend by clicking the button below.
Once registered you will receive an email with information to help you get ready for your training session and a link to join the session. Please be sure to provide an email address that you check regularly so that you don't miss this important information.
What to expect:
All sessions are 45-minutes in length. The trainers will take the group through a warmup at the beginning of the session. All training sessions are appropriate for ALL LEVELS. The trainer will meet you where you are and provide coaching and modifications, ensuring that feel supported every step of the way and feel amazing afterwards.
Exercises will utilize your bodyweight so NO EQUIPMENT is required! Just show up with a bottle of water and your favorite workout clothes and the trainers will take care of the rest!
STRONGER @ HOME Group Personal Training Sessions are specifically for members of our community who are looking for a way to get active from home....all with the support of a LIVE personal trainer! We are committed to your success so we have dedicated times for non-members to join our training sessions. This allows us to give you our undivided attention and support you every step of the way.
Trainers will be in the virtual room 15 minutes before the start time. Please feel free to arrive early so we can help you get your camera set up so that we have a solid view of your whole body. This will help us provide you with the best coaching experience possible in this virtual setting. We will also answer any questions that you may have about the upcoming training session. We are here to support you and make sure that you feel safe, confident and comfortable throughout your entire training session with us!
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: How much space do I need?
A: You can make do with very little space. If you can clear out a 4' x 4' space you'll have enough room, but even smaller spaces can work. The more space you have between you and your camera the better since the trainers will be able to view more of your body, but we're able to work with you and your space to make it work.
Q: Do I need to have equipment?
A: All of the training sessions are designed to use only our body weight. You don't need to have any weights to get a lot out of your training experience.
Q: My kids are home from school and may cause interruptions or noise. Is this going to cause a problem?
A: Not at all! We are able to mute you if necessary, so any noise won't be a problem at all. If you need to step away to tend to your children that's okay too. We understand that there's a lot going on right now and many people have their kids around. We are honored to be invited into your home and enjoy meeting your pets & kids :-)
Q: I haven't exercised in a very long time. Is this right for me?
A: We will meet you where you are during the training session. The trainers will provide you with individualized coaching and support to make sure you know how to do each movement. If a movement is too difficult an alternative way of doing the exercise will be offered. We strongly encourage all participants to rest. It's important to listen to your body and rest no matter how far along you are in your fitness journey. When you're working hard you'll need to rest. This is simply a sign that you're working to your fullest potential and that's a good thing! Celebrate your need to rest! Take the time you need and then get back to the movement.
Q: If I have weights can I use them?
A: If you want to use weights you can certainly use them, however, you may be surprised how you can take your workout to the next level by setting the weights aside for the time being. Consider challenging yourself to connect with your body in the absence of weights.
Q: I'm a seasoned gym goer. I'm not sure that I'll get a lot out of a training session that is in this format and where weights aren't being used. Am I really going to get a solid, challenging workout?
A: A body weight workout can be very challenging. When we don't have weights and equipment to work with we have an amazing opportunity to really connect with our bodies. We will coach you to engage your muscles and help you feel how your muscles are working through each movement. This kind of focus will help you bring your training to the next level. Connecting with our bodies in this way will help you be even more prepared to pick those weights up again once you get back to the gym!
Q: Can I play music while I workout?
A: Absolutely! Feel free to have some music playing in the background. We provide some Spotify playlists that you can download to help to inspire you :-) Click the Getting Started link below and you'll see the playlists listed there.
Q: I'm not very tech savvy and not sure I can get Zoom to work.
A: The technology is very user friendly. We have a "getting started" page with a lot of info that should help you get started. You can view it by clicking the button below. I'm also more than happy to get onto a call with you in advance to the training session that you want to attend. During this call I can help you download zoom, log into a training session, and position your camera so that it's ready to go! This way you don't have to worry about a thing at the time of your session. Shoot me an email and we will plan a time to connect that is convenient for you.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Still not sure? Read on to see what our clients have said about the benefits of Live Stream Training
"Thank you for the online option! The workouts are just as challenging as in the gym, and the coaching attention is amazing! The Live Stream workouts are helping me sustain my physical and emotional health while staying at home!" Lori D.
"Just did my first live Zoom workout and it was just right! I was able to adapt and complete all exercises, which I was nervous about. It was fun and convenient! Will definitely do it again." Rachel G.
"It was so easy to do. Download the app on your mobile device, iPad or computer, and sign up for the time you want to attend. Then you're in a live online class with the Wilcox team. You can talk to them if needed, they always can talk to you to correct your form and provide you with coaching support. The workouts are challenging. Your heart rate will go up, you will sweat. It's actually fun! You are also socializing while sheltering in place! It's becoming the highlight in my week. Don't be afraid....sign up!" Fay B.
"First, I would say most anything is worth trying once. Learning French, tango, spicy food, a live stream exercise class, just give it a shot. Sure, I can workout to a video, bt I need a coach calling out my posture, pointing out how a movement should feel, and I'm getting just that. I don't have to drive anywhere, it's convenient, the workouts are planned out....they even include a warmup! I can't recall a time when I worked out and was disappointed afterwards. Give it a shot. Do the things that you think you can't do. Do the things that might even scare you. You don't know until you try." Steph J.
"These training sessions are a great motivator. For me, this is a way of staying on track. It's nice to see other faces. I personally feel better after my training sessions!" Monique B.
"Super easy tech. All you have to do is download the app to your device or click on the link on your computer. Doing these are seriously like having a personal trainer in your home. I feel like these workouts have been a great challenge and is getting me moving in a time where there isn't much for me to do. I love this and think it's a great way for us all to connect and stay healthy." Mary B.
Other Questions? No problem! Email me at email@example.com
I've been a bit absent from my blog writing over the past few weeks as I've navigated through the "new normal" that we are all facing with COVID-19 entering our lives. I feel like I've found a new routine, and that has been a good thing. I'm excited to start "talking" with you again through my blog posts and hope that you'll share in your story too.
From the onset I've been trying to find the good in everything that is going on. It seems that many of us are focusing on the simple things in life and finding gratitude in things that we may have taken for granted just a few weeks ago, and I've enjoyed hearing those stories.
As I sit and reflect on these past weeks I realize that I've learned a few valuable lessons, and I hope that these lessons will stay with me long after this health crisis is over. Perhaps this is just what humankind needed in order to reset a little bit, step back away from the madness and truly cherish the little things that really matter most.
The #1 lesson that I learned right from the start is to Live More In The Present.
I've always struggled with this. I've been incredibly aware of my tendencies to worry about the future and dwell on my perceived "mistakes" of the past. In this new world of COVID-19 I know that I have very little control of the future. I didn't cause the problems that we are facing - and neither did you. Therefore we cannot dwell upon what could have been done differently. We can only be a part of the solution, following the advice of the people who know best so we can find our way through this sooner than later. In the meantime we have to give ourselves permission to live in the here and now, focusing on what we can do TODAY to take care of ourselves, extend our love and support to those around us, and share in the gratitude that we have in this moment.
This brings me to lesson #2 - Don't let perfect get in the way of done.
I saw a quote on social media that really struck me:
"These are not normal times so don't have normal expectations of yourself. Don't beat yourself up over how you work from home or how you home school. We are in the middle of a global crisis. Allow yourself to just exist rather than achieve".
I think that we could create a fill in the blank for the sentence "Don't beat yourself up over how you __________. I think that many of us are holding ourselves to the same standards, and perhaps higher standards than normal, and right now we need to give ourselves a little grace to just exist. To just get through the day and hopefully find some gratitude along the way.
There are some things that need to get done, and we need to do just that - get them done, and without judgement. The result probably isn't as bad as we think....which I hope holds true for this blog as well :-)
Lesson #3: Only I can choose how I respond to the situation around me.
I can choose to be grateful for the amazing support of my clients who are standing beside me as my small business weathers this storm. I have so much to be grateful for, so spending energy on things that I cannot control is not worth it to me, and this I need to be sure to practice with intent because it sure is easy to get pulled into the rabbit hole.
Lesson #4: We smile with our eyes, and it deserves a little extra practice :-)
It was at that moment that I realized that I really needed to work on smiling with my eyes. Doing so required my smile to be much more genuine. In my humble opinion, you can't fake a smile with your eyes. Perhaps this practice will help us be more genuine and purposeful with our smiles and how we connect with others.
Lesson #5: Be patient with others.
As is always the case, COVID-19 or not, you just don't know what's going on in someone else's life, and these days that is true more than ever. People already have challenges in their lives. Just because COVID-19 arrived doesn't mean that these other struggles miraculously went away, and now they have COVID-19 to add on top. Furthermore, everyone is dealing with the consequences of COVID-19 in different ways. The people who we encounter when we're out shopping for our essential items may have some serious S#!% going on in their lives! Perhaps one of their loved ones is working on the front lines in our healthcare system or as an emergency responder, risking exposure of themselves and their families each day. Maybe they have a loved one who is sick, and maybe even in the hospital - here in Maine or somewhere else in the country or world. Chances are a lot of people are feeling isolated, unable to visit with their loved ones. They may be living alone and feeling a great sense of loneliness. These are all pretty good reasons for being a little distracted and perhaps dismissive of those around them. It's important that we remember that everyone is working through this in their own way, facing their own struggles that may run deeper than COVID-19 alone.
I'm working on lesson #6 - Giving myself the time and space for self care.
I feel like I'm operating on two speeds right now. Get it done speed, or drop dead speed. And some days I feel like I lean more towards drop dead speed. As I find more routine and a new sense of "normalcy" in this new world I'm feeling a sense of balance returning, and that is bringing my attention to the need for building some self care routines into my day.
You have to start somewhere....and remember....don't let perfect get in the way of done. If you have thought about meditating, but like me struggle to make it happen, start with practicing some simple breathing techniques throughout the day. The breath work that I've been doing is outlined in our amazing "Unplug" Resource Guide. I'm including it here for YOU and I hope that it will provide you with some tips that will help you get started, or to build upon your existing practices. Taking the time to take care of ourselves is so important! Remember - in the event of an emergency you have to secure your own oxygen mask first, and then assist others. If you're not already taking the importance of taking care of YOU seriously then I encourage you to start today. Even if for just 5 minutes. Maybe tomorrow you can find 10 minutes and before long this will be a part of your daily routine.
We will find our way through this, and we'll all take away our own lessons. I'm hopeful that many of us will have the opportunity to learn some valuable lessons, take the opportunity to practice some new positive behaviors and really make these behaviors a habit in our lives - in how we interact with others, how we give ourselves grace and care for ourselves, and how we respond to the circumstances around us. And that these lessons will carry through, long after this crisis is over - Making us a kinder, more patient, more genuine society.
We cannot concern ourselves with whether or not others take the opportunity to learn and practice these lessons. We can only control our CHOICE in looking for these lessons and taking the opportunity to become a better version of ourselves as a result. I hope that you will join me in making this choice.
I would love to hear from you too! What lessons are you learning these days? How are you working on being a better version of yourself?
Lots of Love,
This month’s client spotlight goes to Monique Breault, and this crew so excited to be celebrating Monique this month.
Every day when Monique arrives for her training session we will ask how she’s doing. Without fail her reply is “Peachy keen and hunky-dory”. This phrase has become a regular response amongst the trainer team. It always brings a smile to our face, and adopting this phrase brings a little “Monique” into a busy day and it helps us remember what’s truly important in life. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Commit to your goals and have fun while doing it. Make the most of every moment, and give thanks to those who inspire you. This is what I’ve learned in knowing Monique. While we are all so inspired by Monique she won't let me forget that it's the WILCOX community who inspires her. She frequently reminds me that WILCOX is her "happy place". This brings joy to my heart because Monique makes this place a happy place for so many of us, and inspires us all daily through her values and commitment to her community inside and outside of the gym. She demonstrates her commitment through her actions and truly makes an impact in our community.
Thank you Monique for all that you do to inspire us. We just love having you in our community and supporting you in your health & fitness journey.
We would love to welcome YOU into our community!
Our next KickStart Program starts on Saturday, April 6th!
We promise that we will meet you where you are and support you every step of the way.
Come join us. We are excited to meet you!
I've been talking a lot lately about the importance of our core, and how a strong core has such an incredible impact on all aspects of our life. When in training sessions my clients will often hear me say "a strong core = a strong body". When we engage our core during exercise we will be stronger in all of the movements that we are using, allowing us to maximize each movement and make progress building strength throughout the entire body.
I have noticed so many benefits of focusing on my core. I recently wrote about how my new found core strength has had an incredible influence on my snow boarding (you can read it HERE), and I know that I'll continue to feel the benefits in my kayaking this summer. I notice how my core works for me when I'm shoveling snow, lugging heavy groceries into the house, or simply sitting on the floor comfortably.
Did you know that having a strong core will make you a better runner? I'm always thrilled to hear from our clients who are runners. When they first start their training program they will talk about focusing on building strength in their legs as well as cardiovascular conditioning, but before long they'll start to notice how their stronger core is allowing them to hit PRs and enjoy their running more.
Your core also influences how you breathe. When your core is strong, the muscles in your torso are more balanced – and that leads to having a stronger diaphragm and better posture.
Both of those factors can help you take deeper breaths. According to the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, deeper breaths help you relax and reduce stress. (win-win!)
And if you haven’t tried belly breathing (taking a few minutes to breathe slowly and deeply in and out of your belly and up through your lungs), try it! You’ll be amazed at how quickly it helps you to relax.
Your core will also help you with balance. So many people will comment on how they have terrible balance. Balance is something that we have to work on, and working on a strong core will help your balance improve. A strong core helps you stand up straight with better posture, and in doing so you will improve your proprioceptors, which improves your body's awareness of where it is in space.
And if this isn't enough, a strong core will also allow you to live an active and agile life, allowing you to move with less aches and pains. When our core is strong we avoid slouching, keeping all of our joints aligned. Think about how a slouched posture impacts an elderly person's ability to move. This is something that you can avoid if you are aware of your posture NOW and support it through a strong core.
This topic is SO important we created a resource guide for you that will help you build that core strength and improve your posture with some simple exercises that you can do at home!
Click HERE or the image below to download your copy of our Restore Your Core Guide.
Core exercises are especially important if you’ve had an injury; sit or stand all day at work; spend much time in front of a steering wheel, computer, or phone; or if you’re a new mom.
All of those factors can lead to muscular imbalances that, after a while, can contribute to pain and even injury.
Training your core properly can help counteract all that, plus have you standing taller and feeling more confident!
Feel free to share this guide with your friends, family or coworkers who might benefit from it! I hope you find this information helpful and enjoy this resource guide!
To your health!
Bone broth supports gut health and is known to help alleviate digestive issues such as diarrhea, constipation or gas, and can even help improve more serious digestion issues like leaky gut syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
When our digestive system is healthy our immune system is more robust. Poor gut health can lead to small perforations in the intestines, which allows bacteria and viruses to move from our digestive system into the blood stream, and this is one path towards getting sick.
bodies with collagen through our diet is even more effective at reducing wrinkles and cellulite from the inside out!
Bone broth can also help improve sleep, memory and learning, and even reduce symptoms of anxiety through an amino acid call glycine.
And, if that's not enough, bone broth also contains potassium and magnesium, which are electrolytes, often found in sugary sports drinks, and help with recovery after exercise. Even major league sports teams are moving to the natural benefits of bone broth over sugary recovery drinks to support their overall health and recovery after practice and games!
So of course my next natural question was how to make bone broth without it being a huge chore. I was pretty excited to find a very simple slow cooker recipe that is not only super fast (well, at least prep is fast) and easy, but also a great way to use food scraps that have previously gone into my compost pile or trashcan.
I have made two batches so far. It's incredibly easy, and since you can simmer it for as little as 18 hours and as long as 72 hours it's easy to find a good time to strain it without worrying too much about timing.
I have been enjoying a warm mug of bone broth at the end of the day when I get home from work and before dinner. It helps to wind me down for a chill evening with my husband, and serves as a good addition to my afternoon snack so that I'm not likely to snack while cooking dinner.
Give it a try and let me know what you think!
Here's to your health!
Looking for More Awesome Stuff to Cook in your Slow Cooker?
Download our Super Amazing Slow Cooker Cookbook!
I am a HUGE fan of smoothies. It's my go to for breakfast during the week. I often hear people struggle with the time that it takes to prepare a nutritious breakfast, making it the primary reason why people don't eat breakfast. I have the process for preparing a smoothie down to a science and can whip up a delicious, nutritious breakfast lickity-split.
I find that raspberries and blueberries freeze really well, so when they're on sale I stock up. Bananas also freeze pretty well, but be sure to take the skin off and break them up into useable sized pieces before you freeze. I buy organic frozen strawberries when they're out of season, and when they're in season I like to buy local and will freeze any that I don't eat before they start getting soft.
Have you ever noticed that your smoothies are either too gelatinous or on the flip side, they tend to separate and have a grainy texture? This has to do with the mix of soluble vs. insoluble fiber.
Some of my favorite soluble fiber picks for smoothies are blueberries, strawberries, pears, banana, peaches, citrus, mango, kiwi and carrots. Avocado is also a great source of soluble fiber, but use sparingly (no more than 1/4) or your smoothie will be way too gelatinous.
Insoluble fiber is found in leafy greens and in the skins of many fruits and veggies. This type of fiber doesn't dissolve in water, which is why it can cause your smoothie to separate if not properly balanced with soluble fiber sources. But insoluble fiber is super important since this is the stuff that makes you feel full and keeps you regular.
Some of my favorite insoluble fiber picks for smoothies include peas, spinach, unpeeled apples, blackberries, raspberries, kiwi and pineapple.
Be sure to have a good mix of soluble and insoluble fiber. This will ensure your smoothie has a delicious texture as well as balanced nutrition.
Consider some fun and nutritious extras:
Matcha Tea: I love adding matcha tea to my smoothies. Matcha tea has a ton of amazing health benefits, but I love that it gives me an extra boost in the morning without the jittery feeling that coffee can give you. In fact matcha tea provides a calming effect to the mind and body while also providing clarity and focus. In addition to that matcha tea is packed with antioxidants, helps boost metabolism, has detoxifying qualities, and can help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
Bee Pollen: I started putting bee pollen in my smoothies and yogurt a few years ago after reading about some of the incredible health benefits. Bee pollen is packed with nutrients and contains ALL of the essential amino acids needed to help to build and repair muscle, and is the richest source of vitamins in a single food. Keep in mind that bee pollen comes from flowers, so if you suffer from allergies you may want to check with your doctor first and start with a low dose in case you have an allergic reaction.
Raw Cacao Nibs and/or Powder: Cocao nibs are pieces of crushed cacao beans that have a bitter, chocolatey flavor. I don't recommend eating them on their own, but they make a great addition to smoothies and other recipes. Cacao nibs are the least processed of cacao products on the market and have a lot less sugar than other chocolate products. They are a great source of protein, fiber and fats, all nutrients that provide you with a feeling of being full. They're rich in several minerals including iron, phosphorus, copper, manganese, and magnesium, as well as flavonoid antioxidants. In fact, cacao nibs contain the highest concentration by weight of flavonoid antioxidants than any other food! Antioxidants are important for protecting cells against damage by free radicals, something emitted by sunlight, x-rays, cigarette smoke, air pollutants and industrial chemicals.
Cayenne Pepper: Capsaicin is the active ingredient of cayenne pepper, and this is what provides it with its medicinal properties. Many consider cayenne pepper to be the "king of medicinal herbs". It's been used medicinally for thousands of years to treat a number of ailments. Cayenne has been found to help boost metabolism, reduce hunger, and help with overall digestive health. It is also thought to help reduce the risk of cancer, and lower blood pressure among other benefits.
Turmeric: Turmeric is a known anti-inflammatory and potent antioxidant. The active compound is called Curcumin, and research indicates that it can help boost brain function, improving memory, and reducing symptoms of depression. It can also lower the risk of heart disease, help reduce symptoms associated with arthritis, and may even help reduce your risk for Alzheimer's disease and cancer! Note: if using turmeric, be sure to add a dash of black pepper. It's necessary for the absorption of curcumin.
Ginger: I love to add ginger to my smoothies. It adds a nice kick...if you like the taste of ginger :-) Ginger has some interesting health benefits. It can help support your immune system, reduce indigestion or nausea and improve digestion overall. Ginger is another anti-inflammatory food that can help reduce pain and symptoms of arthritis.
Combine all ingredients and blend. Add more almond milk to adjust the consistency to your liking.
Are you looking for even more amazing smoothie recipes? We've got you covered! Download our Smoothie Recipe Guide!
Smoothies are a ton of fun because you can experiment with different flavors and ideas. I'd love to hear about your favorite recipes. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your favorite recipes or favor combinations.
Hi! My name is Allison Hopkins and I am the owner of Wilcox Wellness & Fitness in Brunswick, ME. I am excited to bring WILCOX to Brunswick and share in my passion for living a great life through health and fitness.