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Stress management for women who cannot stop

In this post, I’d like to give some ideas to women who cannot sit still, has tons of energy, always multitask, want to get million things done, but might burn out from time to time. See the left side of the chart.

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I belong to the Go-go-go type. I cannot sit on my bum, I always do several things simultaneously, I need to exercise to burn my energy and I get anxious if I cannot take action on something right now.

Slide-show version of this article: Stress management for high cortisol women

Detailed description of the high-energy types

  • Early riser
  • Weight-gain around abdomen
  • Likes to exercise
  • Tension in neck and shoulders, headaches
  • Restlessness
  • Nervousness
  • Fast speaker
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Emotional
  • Acne-prone skin
  • Nervous stomach

But being high-energy is good, right? I mean I get a lot of work done, I’m fit, and this society promotes images of people who are always on the go-go-go.

What is wrong with being hyper?

The problem is, if we are constantly in this revved up, flight-or-fight state, our body cannot relax and rebuild itself.

Our immune system, our digestive system cannot work properly, as they are shot off by the stress-response: the high level of cortisol and the over-driven sympathetic nervous system.

This is not supposed to be a permanent lifestyle.

If we are not doing anything to balance things out and relax, we can have serious health issues:

  • Frequent infections, colds, UTI, etc.
  • Panic and anxiety disorders
  • Chronic sleep problems
  • Alcohol and other addiction problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Osteoporosis

The good news is, there’s a lot we can do to prevent these problems. Unlike the low-cortisol types, whose conditions are partially result of stressful events in the past, and some of the damage seem to be irreversible, we actually have a chance to deal with the stress real time. Right now.

The goal is to help our body to recover, rebuild and heal by:

  • getting out of the fight-or-flight mode,
  • chilling the sympathetic nervous system,
  • letting parasympathetic nervous system work,
  • lowering the cortisol levels to a healthy range.

And this is all done by managing our stress.

Tips to deal with your stress

Relaxation

I start with this one because it seems to be the hardest for this type. The very reason why we are prone to these health issues and burning out is that we have trouble relaxing. We have that urge to finish our to-do list, to keep working, to keep thinking, solve that problem…

And relaxing or meditation looks so boring!

But we need it anyway.

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There are some immediate benefits of relaxation:

  • improved sleep,
  • lowered blood pressure,
  • reduced anxiety, etc.

Plus, you can prevent developing high blood pressure and cardiac issues down the road.

So as you are reading this, do a favor to yourself fifteen years from now, and take my relaxation tips seriously. 🙂

Tip 1: Meditation for hypers

Are you ready to sit in lotus position for an hour every day?

No? Well, me neither, but luckily, we don’t have to. There are easier ways to get started.

Three deep breath mediation is something I use when I notice that my thoughts are running like crazy or when I feel stressed out or overwhelmed.

How to do it: Stop. Tell yourself: I need a break. Then take one deep belly breath with your full attention on your breathing. Then one more deep breath. Then one more.

It is amazing how well this works. Trust me.

Walking meditation is great because we don’t have to sit still. I recommend to do it first when you have 15-20 minutes but with practice it can be done while you are walking to the office from the car.

How to do it: Walk slowly. Align your steps with the rhythm of your breathing. Breath in, one step. Breath out, one step. Pay attention to your walking, breathing, and the environment as if you have never seen it before. If you start thinking about work or problems, just say ‘thinking’ and bring your attention back to your steps.

Again, very effective way to relax.

Guided meditation videos are also great if you are not sure where to start but you would like to sleep better for example.

Tip 2: Mindfulness

Mindfulness is very helpful if you are like me, always busy worrying, thinking, stressing myself out with my own thoughts.

The actual life in this very second usually way more relaxing than thoughts about problems in the past or in the future. That’s the point of mindfulness.

How to do it: Focus on what you are doing. Washing dishes, eating, drinking. Focus on your surroundings. When thoughts pop up, let them go and bring your attention back to your activity.

Since I’m doing this, my anxiety level is manageable, I’m more comfortable and I don’t get that rushed feeling so often.

Tip 3: Journaling

Tip 4: Use ABCDE method to keep not helpful thoughts and feelings under control

I don’t know about you, but for me, sometimes my interpretation about events, my angry or frustrated thoughts give me more trouble than life itself. One well-known way to deal with this is the ABCDE method from behavioral therapy. The link goes to a short video to explain you how to use this quick and effective way and stop yourself from making mountains out of molehills.

Sleep

For this type, sleep can be a problem because the high level of cortisol prevents peaceful sleep. But we need sleep to relax our stress systems and lower our cortisol level. Do whatever you need to do to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night. If you have trouble sleeping 3-4 times a week for a month, you should get help. (I resisted getting help for a while, because I thought my doctor will give me sleeping pills. But no. He recommended tryptophan, an amino-acid, safe and non-addictive, and my sleep improved significantly. I’m not saying that this amino-acid will help you, I’m just saying that don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor.)

  • Get 7-8 hours of sleep per night
  • Avoid work, screens and stressful discussions within an hour of bedtime
  • Schedule intense exercise early in the day
  • If you have problems sleeping, get help from your doctor

Exercise

Exercise is very important for this type. It supports your health in many ways:

  • Keeps belly fat under control
  • Helps to prevent diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity
  • Produces serotinin, dopamin, endorphins, etc.
  • Burns all the excess ‘charge’ that comes from the fight-or-flight response
  • Helps to sleep better
  • Reduces anxiety

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The recommendation is to try to do some exercise almost every day, even if it is just a walk on some busy day. And try to get a good sweat, moderate-intense cardio, few times a week. Include strength training once a week. For health reasons and because your body will look good. 🙂

If you just had a crash and burnout…

then take some rest. Don’t exercise for a few days, other than a walk in the evening or some relaxing stretches. Once you have recovered, you can work out as described above.

Nutrition for hypers

Avoid caffeine

We are hyper by default. No need to exaggerate it even more. Drink green or white tea instead. Avoid any stimulants after lunch if you have sleep issues.

Eat low-glycemic foods

The goal is to minimize our elevated risk for abdominal fat, diabetes and heart disease. Eat foods with low glycemic index. Don’t eat stuff like cereal, white bread, white rice, potato, pastry, sugar in your drinks; eat more vegetables than sugary fruits.

Buy some important supplements

Boost your immune system with vitamin C, D and zinc. Get tryptophan and tyrosine amino-acids from your doctor or from high-protein foods. They keep our nervous systems from overworking and burning out.

Limit alcohol

It is fattening, addictive and disturbs your sleep. Try to have less than five drinks a week.

Have a good breakfast

Eat a good, nutritious breakfast with protein and whole grains and veggies, and smaller meals later on the day.

This is the second part of my series about stress management for women. In the first one, I focused on tips for women with low cortisol levels, who struggle with fatigue, lack of energy and low motivation.

Takeaway for women who have chronic high cortisol levels

In order to:

  • Get out of fight-or-flight mode,
  • Lower your cortisol level,
  • Calm your sympathetic nervous system,

you need to:

  • Exercise regularly,
  • Use relaxation techniques daily,
  • Eat well,
  • Get 7-8 hours sleep per night.

esty Color Blocking

What is missing from our lives?

Last week, a young woman I know who didn’t take care of herself died of a stroke. She was 25 years old. Another woman, dear friend of a friend, died of a heart attack. She was 53 years old.
I also know another lady who says there’s nothing in her life, no love, no fun, nothing. Only her grandchildren are that keep her going.
She is only 46.
It makes me so sad… I know how this lady feels, because there were times in my life, too, when only my children gave me reason to get up in the morning.

Then I realized: What am I waiting for? What are WE waiting for?

We’re not promised tomorrow, ladies. Tomorrow might never come.

Do you have joy in your life?

Something that makes you instantly happy when you wake up in the morning?
Something that makes you forget about time?
Something that allows you be YOU, not a mother, not a wife, not a daughter, just YOU, having a blast?

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You know, I’m talking about being in the flow, doing what you love, and feeling energized at the end… 🙂

Is joy missing from your life?

We are grown women, responsible, dutiful. We have so much on our plates, we’re stressed and drained 24/7.
I agree that we should appreciate everyday happiness, the first rays of the warm spring sun, our family, our home. And I am grateful for those, every single day.

But I also know that without the bursts of utter bliss, life is dry like a day-old cake without filling.

And it is gone just as fast as a cake.

If you only listen to one thing that I write in this rant today, let it be this:

Bring joy into your life!

Look for it. Make room for it. Allow yourself to soak in it.

Even if just an hour a week, that moment of joy will carry you through the hard times.
That moment of joy will charge your energy and motivation.
That moment of joy will do wonders for your well-being.

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I hear you asking: Really? What has joy to do with health and fitness and energy?

Let me tell you: A lot. It has a lot to do with our wellness.

Scientists spent decades researching this topic, and the conclusion is:

The happier you are, the healthier you will be and the longer you will live. Period.

Email me for references if you doubt it. 🙂

So, back to my question, do you have JOY in your life?

Hugs to you all,

Livia

Your spring-lovin’ health and wellness coach in Calgary.

PS: My joy is dancing. Three hours every second week. Utter bliss.

Stress management for women with chronic fatigue

Stress management tips usually apply to anyone. But our body and its response to stress is not the same as the next person’s. In this post I’d like to give some tips to people who live with chronic fatigue and low energy most of the time.

Find out your stress management type

First, what is your body’s stress type? Our hormonal system and our nervous system behaves differently, mostly as a result of our personal history. I made this little chart to help you find out what is your type. The chart is based on a great book, So stressed – The Ultimate Stress-Relief Plan for Women, by Stephanie McClellan, M.D. and Beth Hamilton, M.D.

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Today’s post is aimed to women who are on the right side of this diagram, the low-energy types. Their common characteristic is that they have low level of cortisol which leaves them feeling sluggish and tired a lot.

Detailed symptoms of low cortisol stress types

Again, this list is coming from the So stressed book mentioned before:

  • Fatigue, exhaustion
  • Lack of motivation
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Sensitivity to stress
  • Increased susceptibility to inflammation
  • Late to bed and often feel tired when waking up
  • Weight gain around hips and thighs
  • Digestive issues
  • Blood pressure fluctuations (Always tired type)
  • Slow heart rate, faints easily (No motivation type)
  • Boredom, withdrawal from people (No motivation type)
  • Aches and pains (Always tired type)
  • Severe PMS (Always tired type)

Tips to manage your body’s reaction to stress

Nutrition

Part of our stress-management toolbox is what we eat.

Vitamins for low-cortisol body types

  • B complex
  • A D and E if you have inflammatory bowel problems as this condition makes it difficult to absorb fat-soluble vitamins
  • Zink to support immune function

Meals

Low-cortisol types need food to stimulate the production of cortisol throughout their day. It will help to balance the nervous system and lessen pains and fatigue. Eat high protein meals three times a day, consistently about the same time every day.

If prone to PMS pay attention to eat foods high in fiber and low in salt. Within months this simple change helped me to significantly lower my PMS symptoms like water retention or irritability and mood swings.

Avoid beverages that contain sugar and drink plenty of water.

Snacks

For healthy comfort foods, dark chocolate and high fiber snacks are recommended. Read the ‘Superfood Snacks’ book on healthy and very yummy snack recipes. Most of them require no fuss, we just put everything in the food processor. 🙂

Anti-inflammatory diet

As this type has increased vulnerability to inflammation, they can benefit from anti-inflammatory diet. This diet recommends eating avoiding high glycemic index foods, fructose and trans fat and damaged fats from margarine, refined oils, and grilled and fried foods. They recommend eating inflammation-fighting foods like turmeric, ginger,  leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables and berries.

Inflammation-Fighting-Foods-Infographic
Source: www.fitneass.com

Relaxation

Relaxation techniques help you to calm down your strong stress-reaction. Also helps you to deal with the pains and discomforts that often accompany the ‘Always tired’ type by their forties.

Basic relaxation

The goal of basic relaxation to calm the mind and the body, and dissolve anxiety and revved-up state of mind. It is extremely important to the Always tired type, as they are very sensitive to stressful events.

Incorporate any of these methods into your daily routine, much like brushing your teeth. Think about it as mental hygiene. 🙂 Try:

  • Deep breathing
  • Meditation
  • Autogenic training

For how-to and detailed description on these, please turn to YouTube.

Gratefulness and other positive emotions

Research shows that positive emotions like gratitude, curiosity, love, hope or inspiration are closely related to happiness. One way to add it to your everyday life is to consciously spend a few minutes each day on listing 5 things you are grateful for, and appreciating the love and beauty around you.

Gratitude-Graphic
Source: JairekRobbins.com

I can personally attest that it is an amazing habit that can turn dark mood and low motivation around, even during not so happy times in our lives. I use the 6 phase meditation every morning that includes gratitude and it helps to start my day well.

Sleep

Low-energy types are usually night owls. If you are like them, you easily stay up after midnight and have trouble getting out of bed in the morning. But most of us need about 7-8 hours of sleep every night to stay healthy. What can be done to re-set your circadian rhythm to a more reasonable bedtime?

  • Avoid caffeine after 3 pm
  • Dim the light in the evening in the house
  • Expose yourself to bright morning light for an hour (I know, it is impossible during winter. Try artificial sunlight lamps.)
  • Go to bed 15 minutes earlier in every 2-3 days until you readjust your bedtime
  • Get regular exercise but not within a few hours of bedtime
  • Avoid alcohol and heavy meals before bedtime

Exercise

Women who belong to these low-energy types often suffer from chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia or arthritis by the time they reach their middle-age.

Despite the aches, pains and exhaustion, low-energy types can greatly benefit from exercise. Exercise produces endorphins, natural pain-killers; it will also increase your energy, and help you lose weight if you need to. You just have to do it wisely. Don’t look at what other people do for exercise, as it might be too much for you.

  • Start with very low intensity and short intervals. Few minutes of walk every day might be a good start. If you feel exhausted afterwards, decrease the time or the intensity. If you were fine, gradually increase them.
  • Try water-based exercises, if available, since they are gentle and great for anybody with pain.
  • Get approval and advice from your health-care provider.

Dealing with the past

This type has low levels of cortisol as the result of chronic stress earlier in their life, typically in-utero and childhood. I personally know four women among friends and family members who suffered from childhood abuse. They all belong to this stress-type, and developed chronic health issues by their forties and it is quite typical according to the researchers.

Research also shows that women who suffered childhood abuse have similar physical symptoms and psychological problems than women currently experiencing abuse in their lives. Which says to me that past trauma is still hurting you unless you do something about it.

Trauma therapy

One scientific and effective way to recover from traumatic experiences is EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitization Therapy. It works faster than traditional talk therapy and also covered by insurance.

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences.  […] EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma. Source: EMDR Institute, Inc.

Forgiveness therapy

Research shows that forgiveness therapy is effective in improving physical and mental health of women who suffered abuse, including childhood abuse.

Forgiveness therapy doesn’t mean that these women are asked to agree with what happened, or stop being angry, or to reconcile with abuser, or anything like that. Forgiveness therapy helps us to be free of the emotional burden eventually and heal.

Forgiveness often is confused with reconciling, forgetting, pardoning, and/or accepting even though it is different from all of those terms. Some people criticize forgiveness because they think that advocating forgiveness leads to further abuse or hurt. Safety is the first and most important consideration. Thus, a survivor of any type of abuse would not be encouraged to forgive her abuser until she was safe and removed from the abusive environment. When one forgives, she does not give up her right to a just solution; forgiveness and justice occurs together. Source: Journal of Women’s Health Care

If you feel you might be affected by trauma I’d like to encourage you to seek help. None of us deserves to suffer. Healing is possible.

These were my tips for you if you struggle with low energy levels regularly due to lack of enough cortisol.

I hope you have found some helpful ideas. Pick one or two and try it for a few weeks and see if it is working for you.

I will post stress-management tips for women who are on the left side of the diagram soon.

What are your favorite ways to deal with your stress? Let me know in the comments below.

Take care,

Livia,

Life coach focusing on health and wellness in Calgary

Resources:

So stressed – The Ultimate Stress-Relief Plan for Women by Stephanie McClellan, M.D. and Beth Hamilton, M.D.

 

Do you suffer from chronic stress symptoms?

Lots of us do, without even realizing it. Stress symptoms can be

  • physical like neck pain, headaches and digestive issues,
  • psychological like insomnia, memory and concentration problems or mild depression,
  • or social signs like lack of interest in socializing, decreased libido or more impatience and arguments with others.

Do these things affect your life often? Even daily? Then maybe it is time to pay attention to your stress level and coping strategies.
Because there are healthy coping strategies that can help you feel better. Here and now.

Can we decrease our stress level?

Yes, we can. Without waiting to win the lottery and moving to a tropical island by yourself. 🙂

stress-equation_change

Our perceived stress level is a result of outside events and our reactions to those events. We cannot do much about the blue areas but sure we can change the orange parts: out attitude and coping strategies, for example.

Real life example: I worked with a client who came to me because she had been sick all the time last winter and was very stressed. Gradually, she started to use new stress management techniques and feels significantly better since then.

She didn’t win the lottery. Her life circumstances are the same. But she is doing something about them.

And you can do that, too, in a few minutes a day. For example, here are some active rest ideas you can use to:

  • increase your productivity,
  • relax your mind,
  • refresh your body and
  • restore your spirits.

Active rest tips video

In my next post, I will give you guys some more tips on effective daily habits that will help you to lower your stress level, and feel better immediately.

Take care,

Livia,

Health and wellness coach in Calgary, who will go dancing Friday night because it helps her with the stress a lot! 🙂

How to get mental energy and motivation to work out

This time of year, most of us seem to be somewhat sluggish. Crazy busy, of course, with work and family and pets, rush-rush-rush, then at night we can’t wait to drop down to the couch and just zone out.

And all our plans to exercise more, eat healthier or lose weight are abandoned, mostly. With the nagging sense of failure.

I hate it when it happens. I’d like to give you some tips to manage your energy level and positive attitude and keep working towards your new year’s plan.

Choose your friends carefully

In 2010, the United States Air Force Academy decided to figure out why some of their cadets increased their fitness levels during their training, and some don’t, although they all went through the same training.

Well, the difference they found was in the attitude of the least fit person in their training group.

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Source: Val Vesa on Unsplash.com

If the least fit cadet in the group was motivated and eager to improve, his enthusiasm spread to the others as well, and their fitness level increased over the years.

If the least fit cadet, on the other hand, was indifferent or negative, he dragged the whole group down.

Conclusion: choose your friends wisely! Listening to a negative coworker who complains all the time about being chubby but never does anything… It is not only annoying but it can diminish your motivation and slow down your own progress as well.

Conversely, if we look for the company of people who are enthusiastic about their health and work for some similar goals than us, we have a lot better chance to succeed. 😊

Simplify your life

Did you know, that decision-making and self-control uses up tons of mental energy and willpower?

Even if it is just mundane grocery shopping, or deciding what to eat, or resisting those chocolate chips cookies. Those little things waste our energy, and there’s none left for the big stuff that really matters.

One helpful suggestion is to simplify our lives.

This is the reason why Mark Zuckerberg wears the same T-shirt every day. Einstein, Steve Jobs and Barack Obama are all known to wear the same type of clothes all the time, too, for the same reason.

How to eliminate decisions?

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Source: chuttersnap on Unsplash.com

Here’s some examples and ideas.

  • Streamline your wardrobe. Girls can do that, too, even though the examples are more difficult to find!
  • Use a weekly menu. Plan it, shop it, cook it once a week, done, no more decisions on what to eat.
  • Have a daily schedule. Do the same activities around the same time of the day. For example, exercise always at the same time. No decisions plus creates a nice, easy habit. Two birds with one stone.
  • Focus on one area of your life. For example, if you are going through a tough time at work with tons of projects and hard decisions, don’t change your diet. Just skip eating pure sh*t for now, and revise your diet when you can give it your full attention.
  • Cut back on social activities and volunteering if they not related to your BIG GOAL.
  • Stop being a perfectionist about secondary stuff. Let it go. Who cares.

Work with your energy levels

Not only decision-making can deplete our energy. There are night owls and larks, extroverts and introverts, low and high cortisol stress types. It is important to be aware of our natural ups and downs, and deal with them. It will help to stick to our diet, go to the gym, make better choices through-out the day.

  • Schedule your exercise in sync with your energy level.
  • Give yourself a break from people if you are an introvert, or find a way to connect with someone if you are an extrovert.
  • Find the right snack, low in sugar, high in protein, to give you energy when you need it.
  • Low cortisol types, eat breakfast and move a little! These will start your engine better than living on coffee until lunch.

Just do it

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Source: Matias Saw on Unsplash.com

Well, this one is dead simple. Show up.

To quote writer James Clear from the book, “The single greatest skill in any endeavor is doing the work. Not doing the work that is easy for you. Not doing the work that makes you look good. Not doing the work when you feel inspired. Just doing the work.”

And dependably, the fun will come. I will start enjoying my laps although I didn’t feel like getting in the cold pool on a freezing winter day… And I will start enjoying my run, although I was dragging my feet out of the house first, purely out of habit.

You don’t have to be super-women all the time. Sometimes just doing the bare minimum is all we can manage.

As long as you move 15 minutes, you did enough for today, girl.

So don’t wait for the best mood. Just go and do the workout. You’ll be so proud and happily tired when you are done. 😊

Don’t beat yourself up

I was listening to my health coaching teacher the other day. She talked about how we feel we should do this, should do that, but sometimes we cannot. We are dead tired, totally drained after the days’ work, and kids and all that. And then we beat ourselves up for not having enough will-power, not being strong, not being good enough.

Sounds familiar? I know that every single woman I know tells this to herself.

If you are hard on yourself like this, too, I want you to stop it. Now.

You are doing your best. You have a lot on your plate. Give yourself credit for the work you did already today.

And for tomorrow, you can pick an idea from this post and try it.

Maybe it saves you enough energy to take a baby step toward your goal.

Take care,

Livia

Resources

Stulbers, Brad; Magness, Steve: Peak performance

14 great winter cardio ideas for the body and the spirit

Do you feel you are a lot less active int the winter then in the summer? Do you struggle to find good activities in these cold, snowy months? Other than relaxing on the couch…

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You’re not alone. We all miss the nice, long days of the summer when we can easily go for a quick jog or bike ride even on weekdays because it is so beautiful outside all evening!

But now it is cold, wet and gets dark early. And my spirits are quite low, honestly. Which means I want to snack on chocolate, which means I will put on weight.

But no, not today. I will grab myself by the hair, do some cardio and cheer up. 🙂

Here’s the great ideas I got from the ladies in a fitness Facebook group I’m member of. They are fed up with the treadmill, too! Thank you, guys!

Winter cardio ideas outdoors

Do you live in an area where it snows? Cold? Maybe have some slopes or ice, too? Then these are all great choices for you over the weekends:

  1. Cross-country ski
  2. Downhill ski
  3. Winter hiking
  4. Skating
  5. Hockey
  6. Sledding
  7. Snowshoeing
  8. Shoveling 🙂

How much calorie we burn doing winter sports?

Apparently, quite a few! Cross-country skiing takes the lead, hockey is next. Downhill skiing, sledding and snowboarding follows. Last but not least, skating and shoveling snow will still burn above 100 calories in ten minutes for a 220 lbs (100 kg) person. Smaller women obviously burn less, 60-70 percent of that. And it all depends on the intensity, too! 🙂

See this winter sports infographic for details.

Skating, sledding, snowshoeing for newbies

Benefits of skating, sledding or snowshoeing: affordable, available and kid-friendly. There are skating classes for adults who want to try it first time. Snowshoeing is rather easy, the biggest hurdle is how to put the damn thing on, hahaha! Join a group of people on meetup and they will show you what you need to know, going uphill/downhill, etc.

What do you need to start skiing?

cross_country sk

Mountains or places with cross country tracks. Some golf courses have them within the city, for example. As for ski equipment, it is available for rent for the price of movie tickets and popcorn. You can also buy used to get started.

You have no idea where to start? Watch videos and again, join a meetup group for an affordable option. That’s what I did, anyway, and it worked for me. 🙂 The videos show you what to do, and the meetup group organizer will pick a nice location and take care of the drive there.

Another choice for beginners is to find a ski school or instructor for more advice and support.

Indoor winter cardio ideas

As much as I love to go outside every day, sometimes it is not possible. Maybe my schedule is so hectic that by the time I look up from the computer is is dark already. Or maybe it is below minus 20 for weeks, like last winter. Or raining or snowing.

Then what?

Go dancing, that’s what! 🙂 Last Friday I decided to go, but it was very cold, and I was sure the place will be empty… Who would bother to get dressed and go out, right?

Luckily, I was wrong, the place was packed, and salsa music is just the antidote I needed for winter blues! So this will be the first on my list for indoors winter cardio!

9. Dancing through the winter

It is easy, fun and it burns calories, tones your legs and core, what else do you want?

dancers

Options include taking classes, going to Friday night social dances, to a dance club or finding great videos on YouTube and dance away at home. 🙂

10. Benefits of swimming

Although it is a bit scary first, to go out in the freezing cold to get wet, swimming is actually a very nice cardio option once or twice a week. It is

  • affordable,
  • gentle on your joints,
  • good after strength training day and
  • a great sleeping aid.

Hit the steam room after you’re done for cleaning out toxins and compensating for too dry winter air.

11. Cardio classes

Spinning, Zumba, barre, pole dancing, kick-box… There’s classes in the morning, at lunch hour and after work. For beginners and for more experienced people, and for all age ranges. Benefits are:

  • instructor to teach you the basics and push you beyond your comfort zone,
  • other women working for the same goal to keep you company,
  • variety of activities to fight boredom.

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12. YouTube

And yes, if all else fails, there’s a blizzard outside, you’re hair is a mess and you have no clean gym clothes… You can count on YouTube, best friend of the DIY people and self-motivated fitness lovers. From walking in place and aerobic to Zumba and kick-box, you will find something to suit your mood and fitness level. Even low-impact stuff for people with injuries or sensitive knees. And it is free. So no more excuses, ladies! 🙂

13. Walk and jog inside

In my city, there are places available where you can walk and jog in a building, or on running tracks, safe from the cold. There are even groups going together. Check out what your place has to offer.

14. Cardio machines

I left these as last ones, because I personally don’t use them, but they are valid options, available and easy to hop on for a quick sweat.

That’s it, folks.

These were my tried and true winter cardio ideas and I hope they will help you to keep your body in good working conditions until the nice weather is here again and we all can go walk, run, paddle and bike to out heart’s content!

See you soon!

Livia,

the exercise lover life coach. 🙂

7+1 tips for effective and safe strength training over forty

First of all, set this straight right away: strength training is a must for every women. It is not optional. It is not just for men, or for ladies who go to body building competitions. It is important for every one of us, just regular, everyday women.

Benefits of strength training for women over forty

Strength training builds muscle mass

After 35, we lose about 2 pounds of muscle per year if we have an average, quite sedentary lifestyle. Think about it! That is why older ladies look like they are made of skin and bones. The only way to keep muscles is to use them, to do strength training regularly, every week.

Cross-sectional MRI of thighs of two athletes and a sedentary person. Source of picture: Fitness after 40 by Vonda Wright.
Cross-sectional MRI of thighs of two athletes and a sedentary person. Source of picture: Fitness after 40 by Vonda Wright.

Strength training helps to keep bone mass

Research shows (1) that weights training specifically helpful in preventing osteoporosis, one of the big health risks for women.

Gives nice shape and confidence

After I lose weight, I always get sad boobs and bat wing arms. Specific weight training sets for those areas fill up my skin and make me look okay again within a few months. Same way, strength training shapes butts and legs beautifully, too.

More muscle means more calories burnt

Yep. Muscles burn more calories than other tissues like fat. (2) So the more muscle you have, the more calorie you will burn even when you are resting.

Strength training keeps you, well, strong

Do you do any sports for cardio, like skiing, biking, jogging, swimming, playing tennis or badminton? The good news is, having more muscle will give you more power for your favorite sports, and more confidence to try new ones. Or just give you enough strength to carry and lift those groceries and garden soil bags smiling. 🙂

Tips for strengths training for women over 40

1. Warm up. Always.

Warm up is the best defense against sport injuries and also makes strength training more effective. (3) Do a 10-15 minutes full body cardio warm up every time you exercise. YouTube is a great resource for this, use it.

2. Prepare and learn

Starting anything new means a learning process. Give yourself time and carefully learn how to lift those weights safely. Trainers, YouTube, books, google are out there.

3. Protect your joints with correct position

INFOGRAPHIC-SQUATS
Source: www.rd.com

With weight training, it is very important to be in the correct position for the exercise, otherwise we might hurt ourselves. Always make sure you know how your legs, knees, back, head should be aligned before you start new moves.

During the exercise check your position in the mirror. Some rule of thumbs I try to remember: knees stay behind the toes for squats; don’t arch your back, keep it neutral; look up slightly when doing dead lifts.

If anything hurts other then the burning muscle, stop, check, decrease the weights or do the exercise without the weight.

4. Accommodate to your body’s needs

If you have a weak spot, or old injuries, check with your doctor and look for specific recommendations. It is usually possible to find a safe way to work around these issues. For example, I do side planks instead of front planks or crunches, because I still have a teeny bit of diastasis recti, and I do dead lifts instead of squats, to spare my knees.

5. Try super sets

Yep, I love them. They are effective and keep me organized. Just google ‘upper body super sets’ or whatever you need and there’s tons out there. Or check out The body sculpting bible for women, I use theirs. (Not an affiliate link.)

6. Go until you cannot do one more…

Yeah, if you want to grow your muscles, you have to die there, okay? If you feel you have one more push up in you without falling on your face, do that last one! 🙂

Motivational quote for women

 

7. Increase the length and intensity gradually

It doesn’t make sense and it is not safe to rush strength training. Start with a weight that allows you to do 10-12 repetitions of the same move, rest, then repeat 3 times. Maybe it is the smallest weight available. I started with that one, for sure. 🙂

You have the right size if by the end of 12 reps three times, you are burning and barely able to finish the last moves. But decrease the weight you use if you are only halfway and start using momentum, your legs shake, knees go in, or cannot keep your form, body position, nice and safe.

+1: Get enough protein and water

The sources vary on how much protein they recommend for people doing strength training. Some says 100 grams (4), some says 150 grams (5) for an average size woman. But they agree that it doesn’t have to be right after the workout, it is okay to spread it out evenly throughout the day in 20-25 g chunks with meals. If you want to lose weight, keep carbs on the low side before and after the workout, so you could keep burning fat. And in any case, drink plenty.

These were my two cents on strength training guys, and I ‘d recommend you to add it to your exercise regime. It feels awesome and and have so much benefits!

Good luck!

Livia

P.S.: If you are serious about getting fit this year, join my Facebook group for support and inspiration!

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Disclaimer

As always, I’m not a health care professional, so consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise routines, and use common sense.

Resources

1.: https://breakingmuscle.com/fitness/women-need-to-lift-more

2.: https://www.webmd.com/diet/obesity/features/8-ways-to-burn-calories-and-fight-fat

3.: https://breakingmuscle.com/fitness/light-cardio-warm-up-best-before-strength-work

4.: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/protein-shake-before-or-after-workout#anabolic-window

5.: https://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/a19982208/food-rules-for-strength-training/

View story at Medium.com

7 great quotes for new year’s resolutions

Did you make a New Years Resolution? I did. A small one. I promised myself I will do something every night that helps me to relax and recharge. If I skip this, like I did in October and November, I get anxious, I can’t sleep and I’m not productive at all. Not worth it.

So if you made a resolution, kuddos to you! You want to do something about your life! Keep working for it, do your baby steps for your goals and you will get there.

perseverance-quote2.jpg

 

Whatever beginning goals you set for yourself, following through on them will build momentum and a sense of achievement and those small successes will point the way to bigger ones.

Pamela Glass Kelly

 

Most people work hard and spend their health trying to achieve wealth. Then they retire and spend their wealth trying to get back their health.

Kevin Gianni

 

Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty. … I have never in my life envied a human who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.

Theodore Roosevelt

 

Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.

Julie Andrews

 

Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance, and, above all, confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.

Marie Curie

 

All successful people, men and women, are big dreamers. They imagine what their future could be, ideal in every respect, and then they work every day toward their distant vision, that goal or purpose.

Brian Tracy

 

Remember your dreams and fight for them. You must know what you want from life. There is just one thing that makes your dream become impossible: the fear of failure.

Paulo Cuelho

And and extra one for a laugh. In case your new year’s resolution involves something not much fun. 🙂

frog_quote2

Take care,

Livia

How to stop procrastinating in 3 easy steps

An easy, three-steps method to tackle procrastination on a specific project.

I realized that I was procrastinating big time about writing a blog post when I started to detail-clean our budgies’ water container with dozens of cotton swabs.

Your trick maybe organizing your closet or your inbox that was messy for years but now cannot wait another day.

Or maybe re-watching all the episodes of your favorite show …

Or keeping yourself so busy with urgent stuff that you literally don’t have a minute to spare.

But procrastination probably has some bad effects on you…

  • Tons of stress
  • Missed deadlines
  • Damaged professional reputation
  • Lost opportunities
  • Disappointing your boss and others
  • Feeling bad about yourself

And some projects just need to be done. Now.

In this post I’d like to give you quick 3 steps to help you with that. Get that job done.

Step 1: Find your motives

Find your reasons for procrastination

Think about your project and start writing down your feelings and problems about it. Check what makes you resistant. It can be a lot of different stuff. Some examples to get you started:

  • It would take long time to finish.
  • You are worried about the end results… maybe your work will not be good enough.
  • You want to make it perfect so you want to do some more research.
  • There are tons of options to choose from.
  • You feel overwhelmed by other things in your life.
  • This is new territory for you, it requires a lot of learning.
  • This project is boring.
  • This whole thing is irrelevant to you personally, it was just pushed on you.
  • There are others involved and teamwork is not going smoothly.

Be as specific as possible, okay? Then highlight the top 3 reasons that have prevented you taking action this week.

Find your reasons for acting now

Okay, here comes the other side. I want you to imagine that you have finished your project yesterday and all went well. Hooray! You are done, you can move on, that heavy weight is off your back.

How do you feel? What are the benefits you got because you have finished your project? Write them down.

Some examples could be:

  • Feeling relieved.
  • Feeling less stressed or rushed.
  • Feeling proud because you worked through the challenging parts.
  • Getting appreciation from people close to you.
  • Maybe you saved money or time.
  • You can clean up the mess after the project and enjoy your space again, either real or virtual.
  • You can enjoy the end results of the project.

Now highlight the 3 most important benefits and keep them in mind.

Step 2: Write a contract with yourself

Write a goal for this project

I want you to write a goal that is specific, measurable, realistic, motivating and has a deadline. You can use this goal formula or create your own:

I will [ do thisthat is/has [these features and quality] by [deadline] because I want [these benefits].

Add your action steps

Now go back to step 1 and revise your obstacles. See if any other came to your mind and write those down, too. Number your obstacles.

Now for every single obstacle, write down what you will do about them. Action steps, baby.

For example, if your obstacle was that you have no clue how to do a specific task in your project, figure out how to learn it. Who can help? YouTube, a coworker, a book, your teenager? Your action step is that you set a date when you get access to your helper and do the learning.

  • Obstacle 1: I don’t know how to…
  • Action step: I will google it tomorrow after work and try it a few times. Also, I will ask X the day after to check if I’m doing it right so I won’t be worried about it.

You need to keep writing action steps until you are confident that you dealt with all your obstacles and ready to start working. You can do it!

Side note on certain obstacles

Sometimes our obstacles are actually not in real world, only in our heads. It happens to all of us I think.

  • Doubts if we can do it at all,
  • worries that the results are not going to be good enough,
  • that we cannot find the perfect solution,
  • we only have one option and we hate that so why bother,
  • feeling that it is not worth trying because it will all turn out badly anyway,
  • and even if we finish on time no one will ever appreciate our work.

If it sounds familiar to you, I have good news and bad news.

The bad news is, these obstacles are the hardest to fight. They are our hardwired reactions we learnt ages ago. Perfectionism, self-doubt, negativity… Again, most of us have them to some extent.

The good news is, we can still change them. It is doable.

Sure it’s not going to happen in a week. But if you can get help from a therapist or life coach, you can definitely decrease their affect on your life. So don’t give up! You don’t have to listen to these depressing voices in your head for the rest of your days.

Step 3: Be accountable

The last step is to pair up with someone.

  1. Get hold of a good friend, family member, supportive co-worker or a life coach.
  2. Let him/her know about your goal and action steps.
  3. Come to an agreement that you will keep them posted on your progress.
  4. Be specific! Decide together how often and what way you will report to them, i.e. by email, on every Friday until the project is done.

And this is it. A three steps method to take control of your procrastination.

Give it a try on a project that seems difficult but manageable, and can be finished in a week or two.

Takeaway

Step 1: Find your motives

Look at what is holding you back and what will motivate you to start working.

Step 2: Write a contract with yourself

Write a specific goal with a deadline and add your action steps.

I will [ do thisthat is/has [these features and quality] by [deadline] because I want [these benefits].

Step 3: Be accountable

Find someone who will help you stay on track by expecting you to send progress reports to them.

Download a StopProcrastinatingAndFinishTheProjectWorksheet for this 3 steps method.

Take care,

Livia, life coach in Calgary

 

What career should I choose: 3 simple questions to get you closer to your dream profession

What career should I choose? Not an easy question.

There’s a lot at stake… Taking courses costs time and money, and what if we end up not liking that career at all?

Maybe you work long hours, quite bored with your job, and wait for the weekend to feel alive? Or you’ve been at home with kids for years and now have no career left? Or just starting out not sure which career path is the best for you?

If this is your situation, keep reading.

We all would like to be engaged at work, enjoy what we are doing, use our best skills and have work-life balance. It is not a luxury, it is the only way that leads to a happy, healthy life I believe.

And it’s not a Millennial talking, I’m a Gen X mom. I just happen to have a midlife crisis that tells me every day that life is too short. 🙂

I’m going to ask you three questions to gather all the information for choosing a personally suitable career.

Three attributes of a great career choice

Money. More money. Even more money?

Nope.

The best career path for every one of us can be describe like this:

  1. We get to do what we love to do.
  2. We are very interested in topics we need to deal with.
  3. We can use the strengths of your personality at work.

Choose career visualization

Source of picture: roadtripnation.com

Are you ready? Grab a notebook or open a doc and let’s get started.

Career question 1: What do you love to do?

If you work in a field that is very interesting to you, you won’t mind the learning curve, the long hours, the low initial pay. The whole thing is just so captivating for you, you will think about it and jot down ideas at 3 am.

So what do you like to do so much you miss it if you can’t do it? You cannot imagine your life without it. Think general categories here, okay?

  • Working with people?
  • Teaching? Mentoring?
  • Working alone in peace?
  • Creating something from scratch?
  • Designing something cool?
  • Learning something new?
  • Planning?
  • Doing research?
  • Writing?
  • Moving, walking, dancing, using your body?
  • Being outside?
  • Your ideas come here…

Write down one.

What? Only one? Yes.

But how do I pick one if you love to do three different kind from that list at least? Which one is THE ONE?

Okay, pick the top three for now.

For example, for me, it was working with people, learning, planning and moving, exercising. I felt stuck… How am I suppose to choose one?

I thought about it for a while, and watched myself during the day. Then I realized that I feel depressed and low on energy if I cannot connect with people. I love to do all the other three as well, but if I had to pick one, I missed building connections with others the most.

And vice versa, if I had the change to talk to someone deeply and felt the connection, it energized me, made my day.

What is yours? What makes you feel alive? What do you miss so terribly you go out of your way to have a chance to do it?

Write it down with big letters.

Career question 2: What fields are you interested in?

At this point, think about school subjects, niche websites and library sections. What topic do you always end up reading about? Or googling it, or watching TED talks about it, or discussing it with another enthusiast… Are you the go-to person for friends and family about which

Some ideas:

  • Environment, nature
  • Technology, latest gadgets
  • Sciences
  • Arts
  • Economy
  • Health
  • Medicine
  • Food
  • Humanities
  • Animals
  • Psychology
  • Music
  • Your fav comes here…

Pick two of your absolute favorites and write them down.

Very neat and visual help with these first two questions on roadtripnation.com.

Career question 3: What are your personal strengths?

We all realize by a certain age, that we are naturally more talented in some areas and less in others. I am quite good working with people, but struggle when I have to deal with tons of details.

Ideally, you would like to have a job where you can use your talents a lot, and rarely need to depend on skills that just don’t come easily for you.

For the next exercise you need to

Do you happen to know what your Briggs-Meyers personality type is? There’s no need to fill out the questionnaire then, just go straight to your type on the 16personalities.com website and read the part about work.

In the book, read the chapter about your personality. It gives you, among other useful stuff:

  • three detailed career case studies, one of a Millennial,
  • long list of professions that could be a good match for your, sorted by industry and
  • a short ten bullet point description about what makes your type happy in their professional life. (Sure hit the nail on the head for me with this one!)

I know it is a trouble to get a real book and read about 10 pages in it, but trust me, it will worth it.

It can help you not to choose a profession that would make you unhappy for the rest of your career.

Brainstorming time!

Congratulations! You have collected some of the most important ingredients to cook up your dream career. You know

  • what you love to do the most,
  • which topics are your favorites,
  • what kind of professions match your personality and use your strengths.

Now it is time to get creative. Try to forget about family pressure, or others expectations about what you should do. Focus on your answers to these questions.

Mix and match, brainstorm ideas where you can do what you love, in fields you’re interested in, using your strengths.

Keep thinking, fill up some pages, let this topic float around in your head for a few weeks.

For ideas, inspiration, quotes and stories, you can go back to roadtripnation.com or check out their pretty cool book.

If you have some candidates, google a website form your country with detailed information about the chosen profession. Here’s my home province, Alberta’s Occupation Guide.

Okay, this is ended up being a pretty long post. I hope you guys found it helpful.

Choosing a great career is not something we can do in a day or two, but well worth the time and mental energy spent on it, because it can help you finding a work you love most of the time.

As always, you can ask questions and share your answers with us in the comments below!

Have fun,

Livia,

life coach in training

PS: BTW, you can even use this process if you are searching for a solopreneur business idea. That’s what I did, anyway. 🙂