The Blog

Positively Motivated: A Blog on Mindset

Social media is an amazing thing. Sure it has its dark side, but as of late I have been seeing a lot of good from outlets such as my Instagram and Facebook feeds (FYI I don’t have Twitter, and I’ve lost pretty well all use for SnapChat). One really cool thing is I’m seeing a lot of people tag me in things having to do with various styles of training, such as Olympic lifting, Crossfit, running outdoors, swimming, etc. I’m taking it that people are responding to my new variety, keep-your-body-guessing style of training, and I’m LOVING it!! People are also messaging me things like: “I ran 10 km today, and I totally thought of you” or “I wasn’t going to train today, but then I read your post- thank you.” You have no idea how much those messages make me smile 🙂

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The number one question I get asked every single week is “Lindsay, how do you stay so motivated?” While I am not perfect and definitely have my sluggish moments, my answer is simply: mindset. Before we talk about that, we need to explore your original source of motivation. Motivation can come and go with so much as a whiff of a cheeseburger. Fickle in nature, extrinsic motivation is as flaky as your Grandma’s pie crust (damn, I must be hungry 😉 ). Extrinsic motivation refers to a reward or inducement provided by an external person or entity to compel a person to act. The reward could be the cheeseburger, it could be a paycheque or monetary prize, or even a promotion. Take any of those initiatives away, and the goal becomes less desirable. Intrinsic motivation is the most effective personal motivator. Intrinsic motivation is a person’s inherent or inborn motivation that does not need outside influence to make things happen. This is a goal or something you as the individual wants to achieve out of pure interests sake, without expecting any sort of reward other than the achievement itself. Try to think to the last time you had a goal/task you wanted to achieve and you were intrinsically motivated. This type of motivation does require some soul-searching.

Once you have identified your goal, and more importantly- your ‘why’ for what you wish to achieve, the next piece of the puzzle is your mindset. Having a strong, healthy, positive mindset is what will keep you in the game and help make that goal a reality. As motivated as one may be, the path to success is never smooth. The following are 3 tools I currently use in everyday life to help maintain a strong mindset:

1) Be Grateful

If you follow me at all on social media, you’ll know I refer to gratitude A LOT. Recently I shared that I began journalling every night 5 things I am grateful for. This has been an amazing exercise! It takes about 5 mins and it gets me to think about my day and all the good that was in it. It also makes me realize the things I am most grateful for are my relationships with others and how they make me feel/I them.

Another way to show gratitude is get in the habit of replacing the term “I have to” with “I get to“. Speaking from experience in my line of work (in health care), you’d be surprised on how many everyday activities you might view as a chore or routine that others would give ANYTHING for if they had the ability.

Example: Instead of “I have to go to the gym today after work” say “I get to go exercise after work”. How fortunate that A) you have the physical ability to exercise and move your body; and B) that you are working!! Those are both great things! Nobody has to do anything, but everything we do serves a purpose and we should feel grateful for what have, not dwell on the have-nots.

2) Believe

Ashley Horner: fitness model, entrepreneur, Reebok athlete, mother of 3 #lifegoals

Ashley Horner: fitness model, entrepreneur, Reebok athlete, mother of 3 #lifegoals

Relating back to extrinsic motivation, many of us are in all honesty motivated originally by an external source. One might be look up to a certain athlete, or CEO, or media mogul- but our inspirations do often stem from someone or something. I often catch myself wanting to do and achieve more because I see others with greater life obstacles succeeding. This is inspiring to me because I have seen it can be done. Nothing is truly impossible. We all go through tough times, as have many role models before us.  If your extrinsic motivation has to be “I can do this because I know _____ did”-  then so be it. Better yet- you can be your own source of motivation. If you can think of the most challenging obstacle you have ever faced and realize that you got through that, you will likely succeed at overcoming another.

3) Focus on the Good

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We all have our bad days. The truth is, more often than not we have a bad ‘moment’ and tend to dwell on it for the rest of the day. I have been a victim of this many times, and it’s crippling. We all go through tough times, as have many role models before us. To me, staying negative about something is a set back- you are losing time. In the amount of time spent dwelling on what went wrong, someone who had it worse than you has picked up and moved on. As crazy or corny as it seems, when times get challenging I say this to myself: “I will NOT let this beat me.” I am a competitor at life!! It works almost every single time. Tying in with tool #1, try to remember your ‘haves’ or ‘get tos’ not your ‘have nots’.

All 3 of these tools have helped me get through some tough challenges in my day-to-day life, but I am not perfect. I do have my less-than-positive moments, but when I feel myself slipping I refer to all 3 of these points listed. There’s winning a competition, reaching a weight-loss goal, or achieving that promotion- any goal reached will have its bumps and hiccups along the wayStaying motivated is not easy, but your motivation is only as strong as your mindset.

Am I doing Crossfit?

Once again, it has been some time since I have last posted here on my site… face palm. I will say it has been a productive 4 months: I have been putting many steady hours at the hospital, and also had my first out of country trip to Mexico with My Champ in early December. Come to think of it, things have been pretty non-stop since our return! Busy is a good problem to have, in my opinion. A busy life is a full life 🙂

The last physical venture I had written about was my Spartan Super race I ran in September. Naturally, coming off that race led me to wanting to challenge myself even more. Preparing for the Spartan in conjunction with my endurance training for my triathlon races was an eye-opener. There were both strengths and deficits that became evident. The strengths: I had decent muscular endurance and a fairly efficient ability to recover; the deficits: I had lost a lot of strength (mainly upper body) and my physical skills were very limited. Since I desire to be as rounded an athlete as possible, I had to change that.

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Katrin Davidsdottir of Iceland

For just about a year, I had been following the sport of Crossfit under the radar. I began following the likes of Katrin Davidsdottir (current Crossfit champ of the World, ‘Fittest Woman on Earth’), as well as several other professional athletes under the Crossfit umbrella. Inspiring doesn’t even come close to describing what these athletes are capable of. I watched a lot of YouTube on the sport, and as mentioned in another blog- the documentary “The Fittest on Earth” helped fuel my urge to finally participate/train in such a way.

What is Crossfit?

The sport of Crossfit was founded in 2000 by Greg Glassman, and is defined as a strength and conditioning program of constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity across broad time and modal domains (1). An individual’s ‘fitness’ is measured by work capacity across broad time and modal domains. Individuals train often by taking classes at Crossfit affiliate gyms, also known as ‘boxes’. Classes are usually structured about 1 hour in length, including warm-up, skill development, followed by a circuit/workout of the day or ‘WOD’. Performance on each WOD is scored (ie. the amount of repetitions, rounds, or time performed) to encourage competition and to track progress. Over time, one can objectively measure their level of fitness based on the progress of their scores and even by comparison to others within their box or even in competition. According to Greg Glassman: “Crossfit is not a specialized fitness program, but a deliberate attempt to optimize physical competence in each of 10 recognized fitness domains”(2). The 10 fitness domains include:

  1. Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance
  2. Stamina
  3. Strength
  4. Flexibility
  5. Power
  6. Speed
  7. Coordination
  8. Agility
  9. Balance
  10. Accuracy

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    Samantha Briggs: 2013 Crossfit Games Champion and decorated triathlete/duathlete

Displaying some sort of skill in each of these domains makes one a complete, rounded athlete: excelling at each of them is the elusive goal in becoming the ultimate athlete. Sounds rather daunting, doesn’t it? On the flip side, I do believe that is the draw: to test one’s physical fitness in every was possible. Call me crazy, but the idea of being constantly challenged physically, really excites me. I knew the more I read up on the sport, the more videos I watched, the more WODs I attempted (thanks, Crossfit.com!) I knew I wanted to join a Crossfit affiliate to supplement my training.

Something New

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At SPARK Sport Conditioning: Oct. 2016

The sport of Crossfit is actually huge in the United States and all over the world (over 13,000 boxes and counting); and it is showing substantial popularity here in my hometown of Edmonton, AB. A few friends and acquaintances suggested their boxes to me, but it was SPARK Sport Conditioning that I fell in love with. The main reason was the quality of everything: the facility, the coaches, the people, and the expected quality of performance. There is a negative stigma that many have towards the concept of Crossfit. Many feel there is a great risk for injury having individuals who are beginners with little or improper instruction performing complex movements/lifts at an accelerated rate. I did not get that sense at all at SPARK. I can say from my own experience, as well as watching the coaches interactions with others- that they take great care in ensuring proper form is executed.  I will say that my background in weightlifting and sports has helped me progress at an accelerated rate. Witnessing other athletes from all walks of life attempt and excel at each WOD is so motivating and inspiring. SPARK’s positive environment and focus on quality have made me feel right at home.

What I love most about training Crossfit is the variety: you are always training a different skill, and the variety of workouts are limitless. You are constantly keeping your body guessing. Examples of equipment used in a Crossfit box/workout:

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  • Barbells
  • Dumbbells
  • Gymnastics rings
  • Pull-up bars
  • Jump ropes
  • Kettle bells
  • Medicine balls
  • Plyo boxes
  • Rowing machines

One item that you will NOT find in a Crossfit gym/box that you would commonly see in every other gym: a mirror. That’s right. Unless you are in the bathroom, you will not find a single mirror on the workout floor. GASP- no mirror??? How will you ever check your form, make sure you’re doing it right; how will you ever capture that perfect post-pump selfie?? My sarcasm is to prove a point: the mirror is NOT necessary to the purpose of your workout. You are encouraged to learn to FEEL when your form is on point; and actually, following your form in a mirror can lead to improper form (often due to head direction, and following a moving target). Your purpose for your workout has zero to do with how you look, but how you PERFORM. Your success is measured not from the subjectivity of your appearance, but instead objectively measured by the weight, time, and repetitions the task is executed. Something new, right? That is what made me fall in love with this training the most.  Ever since coming off the fitness competition scene, this is the very thing I have been looking for to switch my focus. Not looks, but performance, strength, skill. It’s a much healthier, tangible way to measure my fitness- my success.

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Body confidence: Feb. 2nd, 2017

Ever since implementing Crossfit-style training into my regimine (about twice/week) I have gained confidence and a new passion for my training. My aerobic capacity has increased in each discipline for my triathlon training- particularly in my swim. The aesthetic results are the icing on the cake. I have an increased metabolism, and my clothes are fitting me as though I’ve been dieting. The truth is, the better and stronger I feel, the better I want to fuel my body; the better I fuel my body, the better I perform. Everything just keeps getting… better. To answer the question of this title, the answer is ‘yes’. I can’t wait to unlock some of my undiscovered physical potential.

“What’s the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable?” – John Green, American author, YouTube video blogger, and historian (3)

“Your biggest challenge isn’t someone else.  It’s the ache in your lungs, the burning in your legs and the voice inside you that yells, ‘I can’t.’ But you do not listen.  You just push harder.  Then you hear that voice fade away and start to whisper, ‘I can.’ That’s the moment you discover that the person you thought you were is not a match for the person you really are.” – Author Unknown (3)

 

Citation

1. Glassman, Greg. “Understanding CrossFit” (PDF). The CrossFit Journal. Retrieved 20 February 2017.

2. Shugart, Chris (November 4, 2008). “The Truth About CrossFit”. Testosterone Muscle.

3. 50 Inspirational Quotes for Crossfitters. https://www.boxrox.com/50-inspirational-quotes-crossfitters/. Retrieved 20 February, 2017.

My Ascent: The Journey Continues

It has (again) been some time since I have been on my site. I hope I haven’t lost too many of you! I actually have no idea who is on here or what my numbers are like. This site is first and foremost a platform for me to spew out my thoughts, ideals, my routine (or lack thereof) and the occasional recipe that I think is worth sharing 😉

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Since I have a good minute, I thought I’d share my current plans for the upcoming month and my feelings on what’s to come in subsequent months. This upcoming Sunday, August 7th I will be competing in the St. Albert Triathlon. It is a sprint distance (750 m swim, 20 km bike, 5 km run)- I was hoping to experience at least one Olympic distance tri (double the distances of a sprint) this summer, but it just wasn’t in the cards. Following the triathlon I had completed in May I felt the need to maintain all that preparation and conditioning for AT LEAST one more race.

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Performing 50 18″ box jumps for time. I completed mine in 1:16, a PR

On July 23rd, 2016 I had competed in an event called ‘Femsport’ in Fort Saskatchewan (a suburb of Edmonton, AB) which is a strength and agility competition. The events included: an obstacle course (which ended in pushing a 3/4-tonne truck 50 ft.); a kettle bell relay; 50 box-jumps for time; 125 lb tire-pull; 300 lb tractor tire flips. It was quite the day! Over 100 female athletes were participating, so the biggest challenge was much of the all-or-nothing, full tilt-to-rest effort all day long. Although I completed each event (even got some personal bests!) I was by no means good enough to podium. I was not discouraged or disappointed by this- the exact opposite! These women were SO motivating, so inspiring. Some of them were quite young (a couple of 19 year olds) and some more seasoned (including a 60 year old cancer survivor). What I took from this event was I needed to be more prepared. I had only given myself a few weeks to practice the skills, being in between triathlon races and vacations.

The night before my Femsport competition I watched ‘The Fittest on Earth’: a documentary that follows several of the world’s top Crossfit athletes competing in the 2015 Crossfit Games. If you ever need some kind of physical motivation or fitness inspiration, I highly recommend watching it (find it on Netflix). Currently, I won’t comment on whether or not Crossfit is my next venture, but I am absolutely enamored with the passion, dedication, and positivity from the sport and it’s athletes. I like the idea of having a variety of events/skills that you have to excel in, combining both strength and cardiovascular abilities. I like that what is expected of you seems impossible at first, but then with the right amount of heart and work ethic you find out it can be done.

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Experiencing Femsport motivated me to enter in yet another event: the Reebok Spartan Super Race, September 3rd, held in Red Deer, AB. It is a 12+ km race involving a variety of obstacles along the way. I have wanted to do a Spartan for a couple years now, and I thought no time like the present. Although I have very much enjoyed preparing for my triathlons, Femsport made me realize I have the potential for so much more.

***WARNING: SELF-CONFIDENT COMMENTS ABOUT TO ENSUE 😉 ***

Many have mentioned how ‘busy’ I have been this summer with my events and my races. It is no accident. Last fall I was feeling very lost in regards to my training. I had no focus. When a girlfriend had challenged me to enter in my first triathlon this past January, I had no idea it would ignite such a hidden spark inside of me. In my years competing in Figure, I had reached what I would call my ‘aesthetic  peak’. In all the preps I had done, I always knew by my cardio capacity, performance and recovery I was built for endurance; I also knew I was decently strong. I feel at the age of 33, I am approaching my ‘performance peak’. I have NEVER been in this kind of shape. The distances I have hit, the times I have beaten, the strength I possess, my ability to recover: I am surprising myself each and every week. I am a woman in her 30s who is simply just GOING FOR IT. Putting the work in, and continuing to see results is incredibly rewarding and motivating.

So to summarize, I am basically still searching for my ‘niche’. I simply enjoy training, but training with a purpose is so much more rewarding for me. The idea of a race/competition just adds gasoline to my fire. It makes me nervous, but mostly it makes me excited. As long as I continue to feel those butterflies, as long as I continue to enjoy the process and continue to improve- I will continue to challenge myself in as many ways possible 🙂

“Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” – Joshua J. Marine 

Spartan Race

 

 

My 5 Favorite Moves for Sculpting Beautiful Legs (and Glutes!)

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When I first started competing in fitness, one of the very first areas my coach and I focused on was legs. Being just shy of 5’9″, I had my work cut out for me. Typically those that are on the more ‘petite’ side (a nice way of saying short 😉 ) tend to put on muscle a little more easily as their muscle bellies have shorter distances between the insertion points on their limbs. I was put through some BRUTAL leg workouts over the years. By brutal I mean ears popping, almost to the point of puking, having aching sore muscles for up to three days after the workout. My mission is not for others to necessarily experience the same, but my point is that it was NOT easy! I have learned over the years which exercises where the most detrimental in building my legs into what they are today (surprise, squats isn’t one of them). I have listed my five all-time favorite moves that were game-changers for me in creating great legs. You may even be able to perform a few of these in the comfort of your own home! Enjoy 🙂

My Top 5 Moves

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1) Bulgarian Split Squats

Areas worked: quads, hamstrings, glutes

Standing in front of a bench/raised surface, extend one leg back placing that foot on top of the bench; you should be able to stand tall with front leg slightly bent. With your weight supported on the front leg, lower yourself until your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Ensure your front knee does not extend over your front toe. Keeping your posture straight, drive your weight through your front heel, raising yourself into starting position. Repeat for 10-15 reps, each leg. If you can perform this comfortably for 15 reps with your body weight, challenge yourself by adding weights in each hand.

2) Reverse lunges (with a stepper)

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Areas worked: quads, hamstrings, glutes

Using either an aerobics stepper/raised surface (that will safely support your weight) start by standing on the stepper. Keeping your posture upright, extend one leg back as far as it will reach; front leg remains on the stepper. With your weight supported on the front leg, lower yourself until the front thigh is parallel to the floor. Driving your weight through your front heel, raise yourself back up and return rear leg to stepper: that is one rep. Repeat for 10-15 reps, each leg. Having hands on both hips tends to help for balance. Add weights to increase difficulty.

3) Single-leg press

Areas worked: quads, glutes, hamstrings

This applies to those that have access to gym equipment. Seat yourself in leg press machine as you would. Start by positioning both feet in a neutral position: feet should be about hip-width apart, toes pointed slightly outward. I like to place my feet a little higher on the platform as I find this really helps  engage the glute muscles. Release the brake on the machine, and lower the platform; ensure your knee does not extend over your toe; knee should be lowering toward your shoulder. Lower as deep as you can: depending on the placement of your footing. Driving the weight through your heel, raise the platform to starting position. Repeat for 10-15 reps, each leg. Try this with just the platform to start, then add weight accordingly.

4) Step-ups

Areas worked: quads, glutes, hamstrings

Start by selecting a bench/raised surface at height that you’re comfortable with (thigh should be parallel with the floor when you step). Standing behind the bench, step with one leg onto bench. Driving your weight through the front heel, raise yourself to stand on top of the bench; drive the opposite leg up towards your chest. Lower the other leg down off the bench. Repeat 10-15 reps, each leg. If you can perform 15 comfortably with your body weight, add weights to increase difficulty.

5) Leg Curls on Balance Ball

Areas Worked: hamstrings, glutes

This applies to those with access to a balance ball. Start by laying on the floor, with your legs up on the balance ball; heels should be on the centre-top of the ball. Raising your hips, support by placing hands to your sides on the floor. With your weight on your shoulder blades and your heels, drive/’curl’ the ball with your heels toward your glutes. Keeping your hips raised, return the ball into starting position. Repeat 12-15 reps. If you can perform 15 reps easily, increase the difficulty by using one leg. Perform 10-15 reps each leg.

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Confidence is the sexiest thing a girl can wear 😉