As a Personal Trainer, people tell me "I struggle with motivation". That means they've forgotten their "why". Your "why" is your most powerful tool when it comes to staying on track and making progress. Your "why" is powerful, because it has emotion attached to it.
How many of you want to "lost fat and tone up"? Why do you want to lose fat and tone up? So you can look in the mirror and be happy with what you see? Are you tired of feeling disappointed in yourself? Are you tired of lacking energy? Does it scare you to think about what you health will be like in the future?
Look at those questions. They're pretty powerful, right? Don't ever, ever, be afraid to be honest with yourself and your trainer about why you want to reach your goals. Your relationship with your trainer should be one of total honesty, without judgment. They need to know your why in order to help you.
I'll be honest with you. One of my why's is directly related to my health. I believe in God, and I believe what the Bible says about God wanting us to live good, healthy and happy lives.
A few years back, in the space of a year, six people in my life died. It was a pretty heavy year emotionally. But as hard as it was, I learned a lot. I started making decisions to promote my health and that of my family. Of course there was the usual times when I would do really well and then times when I would struggle: such is grief. But the wheels were rolling and I was on the right track.
I don't have control over how my life and my health will go. But what I do have control over, is how I look after myself. That involves getting enough rest, exercising regularly, eating healthy, and making sure I have time for myself and also my husband. I believe being healthy is my God-given right, as well as yours.
I remember before I started exercising regularly, I had no evidence of any biceps, whatsoever! It really was quite sad. But the day I noticed a little bit of shape starting to appear on my upper arm was awesome! Now don't get me wrong, my current biceps are not that impressive at all, nor have they ever been, but I know how far I have come and I am very happy!
Strength comes in so many forms and it's not until you lose your strength that you realise how important it is. During the times of intense grief I experienced a few years back, I did lose a lot of physical strength and fitness in general. At the time it was daunting to think about how much work I needed to do to regain what was lost. But, I knew what I wanted to achieve with my body, and even though it was a struggle, physical strength has been regained. I want to be strong, and I know that God wants that for me too. I want to be strong enough to help my husband at our workshop. I want to be strong enough to open jars. I want to be able to do cool stuff like chin ups! I want to be strong enough to control my body in all sorts of activities and positions. I am worth my strength and so are you.
One thing I enjoy is watching sprinters run. I love the explosivity, the intensity, the all-or-nothing-ness. Imagine the adrenaline they must feel as they line up and prepare for the starting gun to fire. Having that mental focus to keep it all together, while having a body that must be ready to go in an instant must be an crazy feeling! I'm no sprinter, I'm not very good at it at all, but I do love the feeling of having my body in a state of rest, and then feeling my muscles respond to go as fast as I can - now!!!
My favourite sport in the world is gymnastics. Unfortunately I haven't been able to train as consistently as I would like, but I just love it! There's nothing quite like it! Not only do you require physical strength, control, coordination, speed, but you also need mental mastery. When you're standing ten metres (or more) down the runway, looking down at the vault, everything in your body is telling you "no, it's not a good idea to run at full speed towards that thing". Time and time again you commit (and you must commit), time and time again it won't feel right, but there will be that one time where you perform your vault just right, it feels almost effortless :) Now, that's a pretty sweet feeling! As for being upside down on a four-inch plank of wood 125cm off the ground? That commands some mental and physical control too! And yeah, it's pretty scary falling off a beam, but holding that perfectly balanced handstand is worth it.
How can I achieve these things if I'm not fit enough? How can a sprinter win a race, or a gymnast perfect their routines if they haven't put in the work and brought their bodies to a superior level of ability? Being fit and capable is a testament to how awesome our bodies are. And that is what I want. I want to say "thanks" to God for giving me an awesome body by being able to perform well in whatever I choose to pursue.
I admit it. I'm a FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). I love having fun and I hate missing out! I want to be capable so that when my friends say they are going indoor rock climbing, then I feel confident in my abilities to give it a try. I want to be capable so that if my friends decide to go to a high ropes course, play golf for the day, or go to a trampoline park, then I can go too! I want to enjoy my life, and that means being capable for any situation.
Do you know what you want, and why you want it?
We have now learned about the anatomy of our hips, and also why a 30 day squat challenge isn’t necessarily the best thing since sliced bread for our booties. Let’s learn about exercises that will definitely help our entire lower body – old and new exercises alike! Let’s get to the fun stuff!!
Yes – I’m including the squat! Why? Because despite the fact that it doesn’t engage your glutes a massive amount, it’s still a good exercise. We want balance, so that means using a variety of exercises.
How to do it:
I love deadlifts!! People say that deadlifts are dangerous and can cause injury, but in reality if your ego gets in the way of any exercise, or if you just don’t perform it properly, of course anything can be dangerous and cause injury! That is common sense.
The action we want to perform is a hinging movement. Think about a hinge on a door. Both ends stay straight while the bit in the middle does the bending. This is the same for your body: your back and legs stay in the same position while your hip joint does the "bending".
How to do it:
Another helpful hint when it comes to deadlifting – don’t go past your current level of flexibility. If you can’t get the weight lower than your knees (or any other part of your legs) without rounding your back, don’t go any lower. Work within your current flexibility, it will improve over time if you’re stretching. You don’t want to risk injuring yourself because you wanted to go lower and be more impressive than the person next to you.
Lunges and other single leg exercises are awesome! Great for balance (as in, standing-on-one-foot-without-wobbling balance, and also strength balance between your left and right sides), but also co-ordination too! Nobody wants to live life feeling like a Gumpy Gilbert, right? Your training will not be complete without working your body in different stances and foot positions, so don’t leave these ones out!
Lunges are awesome because they can be used in different directions to hit all the different muscles within your lower body. Because we want to train smart and keep our body challenged, we will cover all of these lunge variations in our training sessions.
How to do it:
Glute bridges are the most basic form of the best glute exercise I have ever done. Glute bridges (and other similar exercises) are awesome because they make your muscles work when the muscle fibres are at their shortest – which is actually when your glutes work their best. All of these other exercises we have gone over are working the muscles when the fibres are extended or elongated. For efficiency’s sake, it makes sense to include both kinds of these exercises to get the best results, right?
How to do it:
It is super important that you only raise your hips off the ground as far as they will naturally go. And by that I mean, don’t squeeze, raise your hips, and then think to yourself that you need to go higher, and arch your back to do so. If you arch your back, you release your core which is a recipe for a back injury (mild or major). Keep your core engaged and the curve in your spine neutral, and you can be sure you are focusing on your glutes only.
So there you have it – four exercises that will work much better than only one! If you want to maximise your results, contact me here!
* Tony Gentilcore said that.
In my previous blog, we looked at the anatomy of our hips and the actions of the hip joint. From that, we can see why squats alone won’t achieve optimal hip function, let alone achieve the coveted “booty”.
A 30-day squat challenge will help you to build basic strength in your hips and thighs. Heck – it may even help you to start changing the shape of both your legs and butt. But there are a few things you should know about squats as an exercise, as this will affect your results.
A squat is actually more of a leg exercise than a glute exercise. The activation time of your glutes while squatting is minimal. The lower your squat, the more glute involvement you will get. But, we all reach the same point in our squat where our leg muscles take over. As our legs straighten, our legs muscles bear the load, leaving our glutes relatively inactive. This is true especially when you don’t stand up properly at the end of the movement. In a squat, your glutes work hardest when the muscle fibres are extended, and they don’t stay extended for long.
A squat is a "quad-dominant" exercise. This means that the main muscles in the exercise is your quads, or your thighs. If you have a postural imbalance caused by tight hip flexors or quads, squats may not be the best exercise for you. First, we need to address imbalances through stretching and activating the appropriate muscles through specific exercises. Physios and other therapists can help us with this. We also need to make sure you are performing the exercise correctly. If you have a postural imbalance, or your form isn’t correct, doing an exercise repeatedly over a period of time will only train a dysfunction, and it will wreak havoc on your body sooner or later. Trust me! I’ve been there and done that! This is one of the main reasons why getting help from someone more qualified than yourself is so important. At minimum, we all need someone to check our posture and assess our movement. From here we can learn how to correct imbalances, and exercise the best way for our individual bodies.
A 30-day challenge may sound good, but is it actually right for you? There's a good possibility it’s not.
What’s up next for our final booty blog? Click here to find out exactly what combination of exercises are going to get you strong, head-turning glutes!
I have a confession…
Those closest to me know my pet peeves. One of my hugest pet peeves is the myth that “to get a booty, you need to squat”. This, amongst other fitness myths, makes me fuming mad.
Why? It screams ignorance. And if it’s not ignorance, it’s misinformation. Unfortunately, the insta-famous with no real qualifications, are the loudest voices of this misinformation. But – it’s not just the insta-famous who are shouting this from the rooftops. This misinformation can also be found in many professional groups and networks. Sigh… I know this little old blog is probably not going to change the world, but if I can educate a few people, I will be very happy.
This blog is the first of a three part series, and in part one we will address why only squatting will not get you that coveted booty. We will learn about the hip muscles so you can see why one exercise alone is not going to make magic happen. Why? Because you have a good brain, and knowledge is power.
So: why is squatting not going to help you get a booty? A number of reasons. Don’t get me wrong – squatting will help, but the anatomy of your hip musculature is much more complex than to have only one movement pattern create a desired look.
The Anatomy of your Hips…
This is the largest, most superficial muscle of your butt (on the left). This is the muscle that gives you a great shape! It is responsible for movements such as hip extension (standing up straight, torso and legs in a straight line). It is also responsible for rotating your toes (and leg) outward while your torso is facing forward. Think about how dancers stand up straight with their toes pointing out… that’s their glutes working!
Glute medius lies underneath the glute max, between the upper crest of your pelvis and your hip joint (the middle image). It handles keeping your hip stable and aligned when standing on one foot (walking, lunging, balancing, etc). Raising the leg away from the middle of your body out to the side, and also rotating your leg inwards and outwards, is also one of its jobs.
Glute minimus is the smallest and also the deepest of all the glute muscles within your hips (seen on the right). It works with glute medius to move your leg away from the middle of your body, as well as rotating your leg inwards.
When you look at the anatomy of the hips, and the ways the muscles move your legs, you can see why squatting alone won’t achieve optimal hip function, let alone the ideal shape. Yes, squats will help, but it’s not the only exercise to reach your goal with.
What’s up next in part two? Click here to find out why 30-day challenges might not be the best idea to get you the booty of your dreams!
(Image courtesy of https://breakingmuscle.com/view-image?src=images/bydate/201501/glutealanatomy.jpg)
I'm not the same person I was one year ago. Especially not ten years ago.
I grew up in a good family. Just normal, everyday people. I was fortunate enough to do gymnastics as a child, but overall my teenage years and my early 20's were quite sedentary. If you told people I knew during that time that I have become a Personal Trainer, they'd definitely be surprised!
Our lives are journeys. Now, I don't like using that word. It seems a bit mammy-pamby to me, but it's true. We don't stop growing or once we reach physical and mental maturity. We stop growing when we die.
Think about it. Identity is important. What makes you, you? For some of us, this is an easy question to answer, but for many, it's quite difficult. I see myself as intelligent, fun, compassionate, determined. As females, we grow up with a focus on external appearances. This isn't a huge deal. There's absolutely nothing wrong with telling a young girl she looks lovely in her new outfit, or that she has beautiful eyes. However, if these comments aren't balanced, we can subconsciously "train" our young girls to think that it is super important to be beautiful, and that if we don't look good, then there is something wrong. I know that this isn't the intention of people, because sometimes you just don't know what to talk about with young kids, so why not talk about clothes? But I think we need to realise the importance of celebrating other parts of ourselves too. This also goes for boys, in their own unique way.
Personally, I enjoy getting genuine compliments from my husband and other people in my life about my appearance. Of course I want to look nice, I want to present well. But to have someone genuinely compliment my intelligence or my skills really hits the spot! It means so much to know that "I am more than just a pretty face". Because just like Neghar Fonooni says in the image above:
We have been blessed with amazing bodies. The things our bodies are capable of really does astound me. My body has given me the ability to think, create, perform, transform. That's pretty freakin' cool.
This is true and I am so so grateful for the ability to change. Hindsight is a great thing, and while I was happy in my sedentary teenage years and early twenties, what I have learned and applied to my life has made me so much happier. I have great satisfaction, knowing that I now have the knowledge to help myself and do the right thing by myself. And I get to help people learn what I have learned too. That's awesome!
Don't get me wrong. The changes that have taken place in me in the last 15-20 years have come with their challenges, and in a way they are still challenging me. But, if change was simple, it kinda would be boring, right?
I have a bit of an inferiority complex. Sometimes, I don't feel like a "proper adult". I look at other people my age, and they have nice clothes, fancy watches, they even have clothes that require ironing. I like being barefoot, wearing my Muppets t-shirt, relying on my phone as a time piece, and doing handstands wherever possible and whenever appropriate. But you know what? I accept that I don't conform to my own ideas of how a "proper adult" looks and behaves because I am happy, and I bring value to the world in my own unique way. If I was to have a job that required me to wear heels everyday (yuck!), have a full face of make up, do my hair (as in, more than brush it!), and wear a dress, I would not like it. I might enjoy the novelty of it for a short while but I'm pretty sure that after a couple of hours I'd get sick wondering if I had lipstick on my teeth. I love the fact that I am me, my husband loves me as I am, and that it's ok to not conform to anyone's mould.
I am Hannah. I am fun. I love gymnastics. I love food. I love sleep. I am intelligent. I like learning about the human body. I like learning about how things work. I work on cars with my husband. I love wearing casual clothes but I also love getting dressed up - occasionally. And I love the mould I have created for myself. I challenge you to do the same.
I hear it all the time.
"I wish I wasn't so fat"
"I wish I had (insert celebrity's name here)'s body"
"Ughh I hate my thighs"
"What can I do to get rid of my saggy arms?"
And you know what? I can totally relate! Despite being in a really good place where I have come to accept my body as mine, and accept responsibility for it, I still have plenty of times where I struggle with the way I look or the way I perform. It's natural.
One of my clients (who shall remain anonymous), was struggling with depression. Apparently her psychologist set her the task of listing three good things about herself, or three things she liked about herself (I can't remember which). Sadly, my client could only come up with one thing. One thing!! This is unacceptable! Now, don't get me wrong. I know that someone in a depressed state will struggle to do a task such as this, so please don't think that I am without understanding or compassion. But for anyone, of any mindset, this is unacceptable.
Who told you that you weren't allowed to like yourself? Who told you that if you liked yourself, or even just parts of yourself, that you were full of yourself? Who told you that liking yourself was a bad thing? If your current view of yourself is a matter of humility, then you need to re-learn the definition of humility. Because last time I checked, humility didn't mean putting yourself down, or hating yourself.
Question: How do you feel when you think about yourself? How do you feel when you think about the things that you don't like? It's pretty depressing, right?
Now tell me this: how are you supposed to feel inspired to improve yourself when all you're doing is focusing on how disgusting you are or feel? Don't get me wrong, this can be a very powerful motivator. But it needs to evolve. If you're constantly hating yourself, you'll always be punishing yourself. "Oh man I suck! I ate ice cream again! I'm never going to lose enough weight to fit my old jeans!" Yes - wanting to fit into your old jeans is a powerful motivator. But what about the rest of the sentence? "Oh man I suck!" Actually, you don't suck, you're just a human being who likes ice cream. You don't suck, you just need to figure out a better plan to work ice cream into your life so you can control your cravings and not blow out by eating a whole tub because you feel deprived.
What do I dislike about myself?
I dislike the fact that I'm carrying slightly more body fat that I deem ideal for my body, and I don't like my laparoscopy scars, and there's probably a couple of other things that I don't like too but I just can't think of them. It's taken me a long time to get to this point.
What do I like about myself?
I like my eyes. I get blue eyes from both of my grandfathers, and the blue is a really cool blue. So, thanks Grandad & Grandpa.
I like my shoulders. I suppose this is because I've done so many handstands and cartwheels. Yeah, maybe I'd like them to be a little more defined and a little stronger, but I still like them. I still like the strength they currently have and their shape.
I like the fact that I finally have biceps! They're not big at all, and they're probably almost outweighed by the fact that my arms are getting saggier with each passing year (lol), but that's ok!
I like the fact that while I don't exactly have the abs of a crossfit athlete, my core is strong enough to enable me to do some pretty cool things.
I like the fact that while sometimes I feel like my hips and butt are a little too wide for my liking, they give me a good shape.
And I like my feet. Because while (to me) they look like little paddles, I love walking around barefoot and feeling the muscles in my feet work. I love knowing that I have so many muscles in there that help me be firm and balanced in my activities.
I believe that if we focus on our good points, we are going to feel better. And in feeling better, we will see and understand our worth. We as people are valuable and precious. We can't let other people, or photoshopped images determine our worth because we don't look computer generated.
Let's have a change of motivation. Start with three things you like about yourself. If you can't think of three things, start with one. If you can't think of one, just give it a crack! Because when we start understanding, believing and knowing with every ounce of our being that we are worth good health and good fitness, our lives will change for the better.
Yep, I’m human too!
As a Personal Trainer I am supposed to be a shining beacon of health and wellness. There are many times when I definitely do not feel that way, either mentally, physically or both. Our bodies are just like yours. They have a mind of their own! Life in general can be cruel – people don’t always understand that.
I’ve never been bothered on my body image as a whole. No big deal. But…
I remember when I was about 7 or 8 years old, telling my Grandmother at the dinner table that I
think I needed to go on a diet. She (correctly) scolded me and told me that it was nonsense. And
even I knew it was daft – even if I did need to go on a diet (which I didn’t), I wouldn’t be able to stick
The next time I remember being aware of my body was when I was about 14 years old. I was going to an end of year function for a large music group I was involved with. At the hot pools. With boys. With a boy I liked. I decided that because my bum wasn’t perfectly smooth, I was going to walk to school every day (looking back I really didn’t have anything to worry about).
After that I can’t remember much about my body image until I was in my early twenties. I had always been slim, so I didn’t think that I needed to “work on” anything. I saw my reflection in a shop window and then a little while later saw some photos and didn’t like what I saw. I wasn’t fat as such, but I just didn’t like it.
Fast forward to 2014…
After working hard, being dedicated with my food, I got down to 21% body fat. That is on the lower end of the normal range, and is beginning to go into the athletic range for females. It was so nice to be feeling fit and strong and healthy all at the same time. And right in time for my best friend’s wedding too! Hi ho hi ho it’s off to London I go (and while I’m there try out all the yummy new foods)! Not long after I got back from my friend’s wedding in London, I received some heavy news that knocked me for six. I’d experienced grief before but nothing like this. I had an idea of what to expect through grieving but this was intense. This is what I was talking about when life can be cruel. I maintained my workouts (I knew it was important to keep going), but man did they suck. For a long time I felt like I was stuck in a vacuum. I felt unhappy, with no motivation or general willingness to fully take part in life.
Unfortunately I’m one of those people who either want to eat their feelings, or not eat at all. But
then I get hungry and I know I need to eat, but I don’t know what to eat. It’s a horrible cycle. My
body was slowly expanding, a big change from the 21% lean machine I was only a few months prior. And while I didn’t get fat as such, I didn’t enjoy the wideness of my hips, or the layer of fat on my stomach.
Months passed and life was improving. I hit a point where I just couldn’t take the extra weight any more so I did a cycle of my 6 week nutrition plan. I’m so glad I have a system that works. It took 7cm off my bum (and then some), boy was I happy about that! I was beginning to look a little more like my normal self.
Just before Christmas last year we were hit with another big one. Just when I feel like I’m coming out of the black hole, into another one I go. Yaaayyy…. See what I mean how life can be cruel? Back to square one. Time to eat my feelings again #nomnom
I have always believed that if I can’t accept myself where I am, how can I expect my team to? We should always be striving to better ourselves, but we need to be careful not to become obsessive. We need to give ourselves a break and understand that even though we need to soldier on, we need to be okay with having bad days. Because bad days are just that – bad days. Once we wake up in the morning we know that a new day is full of possibility. We need to be honest and real with ourselves (and our trainers!). We need to understand that sometimes we don’t like something about ourselves. We can’t change genetics.
Personally, there are things I want to change about myself. But, I know my body type. It’s unrealistic for me to think that I could ever look like Cameron Diaz or Miranda Kerr. I’m ok with having lumps, bumps and invisible abs, because they’re the scars of life and I wear them well. I’ve come through the hard times and I continue to. Of course I will strive to keep improving – but it’s no big deal if I carry a little fat. And better than what my body looks like, I know what my body can do. Aside from athletic feats, I know that my body is wonderfully made. What it is able to do is so much more important than how it looks, providing it is healthy.
One of the first things you are told as a PT, is that your body is your business card. Everything about you is a reflection on you, and sometimes, people see your body condition as a reflection of your skills as a PT too. There is a lot of pressure to be the ‘ideal’ – whatever that is. After a period of personal growth and honest reality, I no longer subscribe to that school of thought. Health, wellness, fitness and strength has no single perfect standard.
The rain over the past day or so is making me think about what kind of things influence our exercise habits. What are some reasons we may not want to workout?
Let’s go over some of these reasons…
Weather. If you’re a person who prefers to train outside, it can be hard to find the perfect weather when it comes to training. Depending on where you live, a good part of the year could be wiped out due to extremes in weather. Let’s face it, we need to be sensible and look after ourselves. There’s no point in exercising in bad circumstances if it brings on injury or sickness. The whole point of exercising is to increase our fitness levels / health / wellness. Getting injured, heatstroke or hypothermia is not going to help us with that. But, if we have a gym membership or train indoors, we have no excuse. We have an all-weather venue to use.
Is it a lovely day outside? Awesome! There are so many ways we can get creative and take advantage of a spectacularly sunshiney day. One of my favourites is Stand Up Paddleboarding. Put on your beach gear, lather up with some sunscreen, soak up the sunshine and cool off in the water as necessary. What could be better? If it’s one of those awesome days where it’s rainy outside and cosy inside, that’s great too! You can still do something fun like Dance Central on X Box, Wii Sport, or if you’re feeling flexible, Twister!
You’re sick / injured / hormones. Ok fair enough. Depending on what’s going on, something light might still be ok. Listen to your doctor / physio, and pace yourself. A nice walk outside or on the treadmill might be appropriate. However, if you’re coughing and sneezing all over the place, stay at home. When it comes to germs, sharing is not caring!
You’re on holiday. Well, hopefully you’re making the most of your trip and exploring! There’s nothing better than an adventure! You might be staying somewhere with a gym, or you might be camping. There’s no reason why you can’t do something while you’re away. Bush walking, the motel gym, skiing…
You don’t know what to do or how to workout. Fair call. Everyone starts somewhere, and even the best athletes and trainers were beginners once. I have one piece of advice for you: ask for help! Whether it’s a friend who goes exercising regularly or a trainer, someone can give you ideas and guidance. But, keep it simple. There’s no sense in starting with a 5 day weights split if you’ve never done any exercise before. Go for a walk, a swim, a bike ride, or (as mentioned above), ask someone to guide you through some exercise. Knowledge is power, so give yourself the power to change your life by asking for help.
You have no time. This is one I struggle with. Everybody is blessed with the same hours per week, some of us just struggle with priorities. Granted, there are a lot of hard working people who truly struggle with time. But even they need to take time out for themselves so they don’t burn out. Remember – unless you decide to do the work, you won’t get the results you want. This is your responsibility.
There is one other thing that can influence our exercise habits. Mentality. The mind is a powerful tool, and sometimes we struggle to drag ourselves out of our mental pit. This is a real problem, not something that people just make up. While exercise can be a huge benefit to people struggling with anxiety, depression and grief, sometimes these people have a real issue just getting out of bed. These situations need to be handled with sensitivity and compassion. To everyone struggling with this kind of situation, if you need help with exercise, don’t let people (trainers or other) put you off because they don’t believe your struggle. Search for someone helpful and reliable to help you in your journey.
Exercise benefits everybody. Get moving and (most importantly) have fun!