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.

Triathlon Training: My Journey… So Far!

When I started this blog site, I intended to have a ‘fitness’ category to share with you some of my favorite training exercises/moves. Should the demand present itself, I still may do that- but my training has DRASTICALLY changed since this site’s start date! For the past 2.5 months my training has been solely catered towards preparing for my very first triathlon race, May 29th. Since I’m just over the half way mark of my 16 week training, I thought I’d share with you how it’s all going so far!

 

Weight Training

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Although I have been weight training for years, this area has had to change the most and was the hardest for me to wrap my head around. I’m used to weight training about 5x/week, and high-volume sessions at that. I am now weight training twice a week, and all movements are strictly for strength and mobility purposes. The exercises I perform were recommended to me by My Champ (functional trainer extraordinaire and kinesiologist 😉 ) and are designed to make me more efficient in my swim, bike and run. My routines currently looks like this:

Routine #1

Plyo Rudiments (Jumping forward/backwards/lateral; recruiting leg muscles from only below the knee)- 3 sets of 6, each direction

Front Squats: 3:2:1 second tempo; 4 sets of 5 reps

Conventional deadlifts: 3 sets of 6 reps

T-Y-I raises (laying on a bench, 5 lb dumbbells in each hand: Ts- rear flyes; Ys- extending arms out and forward; Is- extending arms forward at eye-level, fluttering weights as quick as possible for 10 seconds total): 10 reps; 10 reps; 10 seconds

Nordic Curls: kneeling on a foam roller with heels secured, lowering your upper body towards the floor, and back up again (like an eccentric leg curl); 3 sets of 6 reps

Routine #2

Plyo Rudiments (same as above, plus A-skips)- 3 sets of 6, each direction

Front Squats: 4 sets of 5 reps, max weight

Bent Over Barbell Rows: 2 second iso-hold- 4 sets of 8 reps

Pull-ups (bodyweight): 4 set of 8, or until failure

Strict Press (Standing barbell press): 4 sets of 8 reps

 

Swimming

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This has been a major focus of mine since the very beginning. For those of you that don’t know, a triathlon consists of the three disciplines: swimming, biking, and running- in that exact order. In my opinion swimming is the most physically taxing out of all 3. I’m willing to bet this is also why it’s the shortest distance component of the race 😉 For this race in particular, I’m to complete a 1000 meter swim (a standard distance is 1500 m). At least once a week I attend swim practice at the Kinsmen (a fitness facility here in Edmonton), and then at least once, if not twice more I swim train on my own time. The swim practice is where I have a coach that offers me suggestions on my technique as well as what  distances I should be hitting at a certain point in my training. Even if I only gain 1-2 pointers from this man each week, he has been very helpful in guiding me thus far. Every time I go to practice I am reminded of just how hard I have to PUSH IT. At this point in my training my goal is to swim well over my required 1000 m, and hit at least 2000 m if not 2500 m so the my endurance is up to snuff. So far I can complete 800 m non-stop without issue. 2 months ago I could only complete 400 m non-stop and would be completely gassed at the end!

 

Biking

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This is the discipline that is TERRIFYING to me! Ok, look- I CAN bike. The thing is, prior to accepting this challenge of a triathlon I had only ever ridden a mountain bike. A road bike fits and feels very different. Road bikes are extremely light in weight, with very skinny, narrow tires- and the seat sits incredibly high. They are 100% built for speed, NOT comfort. While I practiced several times on my road bike through the winter in my house on the trainer (a device that holds the bike stationary so you can ‘ride’ it), but getting on top a moving, high-seated bike is something else! 2 weeks ago my girlfriend and I took our bikes out for their first ride of the pavement. It took me about 10 minutes just to leave the parking lot!! It was extremely difficult and awkward for me to get on top of the seat, with the bike moving, and pedal. The seat felt a little too high for my short legs (although I’m 5’8″, I’m all torso) and I was feeling unsafe. I went back to the shop and got them to lower the seat a bit for me. I am going to give it a few weeks of getting used to, then go back when I feel I can confidently raise it again. Until then, I am only riding flat routes at the moment- I can’t quite imagine heading down a steep hill in such a top-heavy position! I plan on concentrating more and more on this as it’s currently an obvious weakness. The bike component of a triathlon is a very important discipline as it’s the longest distance of the race, and the area you can make up for the most amount of time.

 

Running

This is the area I have been most confident in all along, and that remains so. I’ve considered myself a runner for almost half my life. Even though I feel running is my best asset, I am still diligently preparing for this component at least twice a week. I am concentrating on building my distances, and purposely training tired. “Brick Training” is a method triathletes use to prepare for their multi-discipline sport. A brick either involves a run, bike, then a run again; in my case I will perform a bike, then a run directly following. I will do this once a week. It is a great way to give yourself a sense of performing the race if you will. Now that spring is here to stay, I plan on doing more conditioning drills outside such as running hills to bring up my strength even more for race day. The longest distance I’ve hit thus far was 10.5 km; I don’t require practicing much farther in distance as the running component of my race is 8 km.

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In summary, I am thoroughly enjoy my training and all the variety that is involved. As my distances increase each week, the rest of my life gets a little busier as more time is required to train. Although I am seeing great improvements each week, there a still parts that really scare me! The transition from the swim to the bike worries me some: the equilibrium change of swimming then getting out the pool onto a high-seated bike is very daunting to me. I’ve heard stories of people crashing in to one another, spilling their bikes… but hey, I guess they all lived to tell about it, right?! 6 more weeks until go-time… time to stifle that fear 😉

 

Event: Coronation Triathlon, May 29th, 2016; Edmonton AB

Swim: 800 m; Bike: 26 km; Run: 8 km

Goal time: 2 hrs, 15 min

 

 

Diets Shouldn’t Have Finish Lines

This past week I got asked by a coworker if I had heard of a certain nutrition plan (I won’t name names of programs here). I genuinely hadn’t, and then proceeded to ask her what was entailed. She mentioned something about so many shakes, and a meal service. She said it was an 8 week plan, and she just really wanted to get her weight down quickly- even though she admitted she understood losing weight slower was better in the long term. I could tell by the look on her face she knew I wasn’t going to be on board with her plan. I simply responded: “Could you maintain this ‘program’ for the next 20 years?” Her answer: “Well, no…”

People ask me questions about fad diets/quick fix nutrition plans almost as often as they ask me how they can spot-reduce fat (how do I get rid of my underarm fat; how do I tone my legs; I just want a six-pack, etc.). The only painful part for me is that I know they know the answer. It’s like they’re hoping their bogus weight loss plan might be ‘it’- the one diet program that will actually work! But here’s the ugly truth: there ARE NO quick fixes. Sorry, but you know it, I sure as hell know it, and unless you can maintain whatever program realistically FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE that weight is only going to come back and then some. I have not met one single person who lost a ton of weight at a quick rate (without surgery) and didn’t gain it all back.

Competition diets are very similar. Most people lose a significant amount of weight (most of it being body fat) at a fairly acute rate. Many many competitors, usually female, then strive to achieve that same leanness year-round. First of all, we as women are not meant function with body fat so low we have striations in our shoulders and veins in our lower abs. I mean, you could try- but I will say long term it’s not possible ‘naturally.’ Many of these competitors forget all that they gave up nutrition-wise to get in that condition. This is a huge part of the problem. Any diet that restricts entire food groups (unless you’re celiac/lactose intolerant) WILL NOT WORK in the long term. Our bodies need macro and micronutrients from various sources of food to achieve optimal health- but that is a whole other lengthy blog 😉

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A quick selfie before shooting with BodyRock TV last spring. I did a series of shoots over the course of 3 months which I was able to maintain shoot-shape for.

It’s taken me a long time to come to this. By ‘this’ I mean coming off 6 years of competing in fitness- all of which involved yo-yoing between 20-30 lbs (which is better than most), going from a super-restrictive competition diet to free-for-all ‘off-seasons’, I feel I have FINALLY arrived at knowing very well what my body needs to maintain itself. And herein lies my point: all of this takes time. I’m sorry, but I really wish I could say I had the magic ticket to get everyone lean, right away, and maintain it forever. It’s just not like that. If you truly are passionate about a fit lifestyle, about bettering yourself, living your BEST possible life then you have to be willing to put in the effort. I’m not talking effort for 8, 12, or 16 weeks- I’m talking for ALWAYS. If I sound preachy, it’s because I live and breath this. It is a huge compliment to be told by someone they want a body like mine, but make no mistake- I work for it EVERY single day. I am not lucky, and it’s not genetics. It is a testament of my passion and willingness to live this lifestyle, and my work ethic. If you want it bad enough, you’ll get there 🙂

How I Fell in Love with Bodybuilding

Friday nights are usually reserved for ‘quality time’ for My Champ and I. 9 out of 10 times this usually involves watching something on Netflix. This past Friday I had suggested we watch ‘Pumping Iron’.  For those of you that don’t know, Pumping Iron was documentary-style film made in 1975 showcasing the then-bizarre world of bodybuilding. The film’s main star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was the highlight featured as he was in preparation for his 6th Mr. Olympia win in Pretoria, South Africa. He was then, and arguably still is the most famous bodybuilder in the world. This was My Champ’s first time seeing the film, and likely my 6th or 7th. It still gives me goosebumps when I watch it.

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I still have the copy 🙂

Growing up in my childhood home, my bedroom had this very large bookshelf. My parents kept many of the family photo albums and cherished books in this shelf. I distinctly remember being about 10 years old, and snooping in the section of the shelf where the books were kept. There I found my Dad’s copy of the 1977 version ARNOLD: The Education of a Bodybuilder. I flipped through the pages in complete awe. I loved how muscles looked! Although I knew absolutely nothing about bodybuilding in my tender youth, I knew that Arnold had quite the aesthetically pleasing physique. The attraction was not of a sexual nature, but more of a keen interest and admiration in how one could transform their body in such a way. Not only was I impressed with his appearance, I also became intrigued with the information provided regarding exercise and nutrition. Though there have been many changes to what constitutes a ‘proper’ bodybuilding diet over the years, it was obvious that to look like a beast you would have to eat and train like one! Even today (as I still have the copy in my possession) I admire the confident, no-bullshit approach Arnold had toward his craft. In order to be the best, you have believe you are the best: feed yourself with the best, train with the best, practice the best, sleep the best, always question ways you can be BETTER. I believe this applies to anyone and everyone trying to get ahead in life, no matter the goal.

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Love me some Madge

It was around this same point in time that I also became infatuated with Madonna. For a female singer/actress, the girl was RIPPED! I actually remember watching one of her music videos while my cousin was baby-sitting me, and I uttered “I want to look like that when I grow up.” Sure, Madonna has done some things in her past that are maybe questionable for a young girl to view her as a role model- but the impact she had on me as a confident, strong, independent female was huge. She was fierce. She was intimidating. I just remember loving the flow of the muscles in her arms: the visible delts, the separation of biceps, the veins in her forearms… I wanted all that. I loved that she made no secret that her appearance took much discipline through diet and training.

Many people have celebrity heroes from their childhood, and mine were Arnold and Madonna. So I guess it makes sense that I would eventually fall into the world of bodybuilding and fitness. I knew I’d never be a model for Vogue or Elle, but I knew in my heart I had what it took to be a fitness competitor. It was my desire, my passion, my everything to pursue the sport I grew up admiring. And although I’m not being displayed on a stage anymore, I’m still very much all about challenging myself to my absolute physical limits. Everyone has a ‘why’ as to how they started, and it’s important to always remember what that ‘why’ is. Keep going, because truly anything is possible 😉

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