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Struggling With Your Body? Read This

Struggling With Your Body? Read This

When people think about weight loss, the first words that come to mind are “diet” and “exercise”. If you are someone that isn’t really active and enjoys the luxuries of food, diet and exercise isn’t really appealing. In order to get what you want in life, you must first set a goal in your mind and then take action. But who wants to eat veggies and salad all day and eat like a rabbit? Who wants to give up the donuts, chips, or pizza?

In the last week, several people asked me what I have been doing for my weight loss journey. They say things like, “I see you eating all the time!”, and, “You look like you’re having so much fun going away on trips and socializing, yet I can see your figure changing! How are you doing this?” They all told me they were struggling to keep to a strict diet, so I thought I would share what I have done in the last couple of years.

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    First, let me make it clear that I am not a fitness model, nor am I a nutritionist. I am merely an average, every day person that started to find a balance between being able to live life the way I want yet still chase those body goals. Those that knew me before the travel bug hit me, saw that I came back to Australia a much bigger version of “Lilmissmaz”. They also know that since then I lost quite a few dress sizes and have got myself back into the world of fitness again.

    My progress has been slow and steady. I’ve been back in Australia since August 2013. I have never gone on a crazy, strict diet in that time and I wasn’t a gym junkie. I will admit these days, the gym is my playground and it is the very reason I jump out of bed every morning. I love being there. However, it wasn’t always that way.

    The Mindset

    The day I decided I wanted to lose weight, I signed up to a 12 week boot camp. Why? Personally, I felt if I was paying for a service and was held accountable, I would turn up. Also, since it was only 12 weeks, it meant I only had to commit for a short period of time. I knew it would at least help kick-start my motivation. If I am expected somewhere, I’m the kind of person that will be there. If I signed up to a gym membership, I knew I wouldn’t go regularly, and after the first week or so I’d get lazy. I knew myself all too well.

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    I went to the boot camps 3 times a week. At first, I realized just how unfit I was. Before I put on the weight, I was actually pretty fit. Just by being aware of how unfit and weak I was made me feel terrible. I used to be able to do a push up, but now I could barely do these squats without my legs collapsing. I had to stop my mind from telling me how out of shape I was and instead use it as motivation to get fit again.

    Yup, that’s it guys, first thing is mindset. Change the way you think. Instead of thinking of what you can’t do something and highlighting how chubby you are, and thinking you will never look like that fit guy or girl you are secretly jealous of, think of what you could be like. Think of how you will be stronger and how you will look good at the beach. As cliche as it seems, positive thinking can take you a long way.

    What To Eat

    Next up, I switched a few things in my diet. I didn’t want to eat chicken and broccoli or asparagus every day because I love food way too much to be able to stick to this. I made a few small changes. I changed white bread to rye, wholemeal, or anything that was a healthier equivalent. Instead of giving up on pasta (mind you I love pasta), I switched to pasta made from vegetables. There are various brands out there that actually taste pretty darn good. I personally prefer it over the real pasta. I feel it tastes better and also keeps me fuller for longer. I also use coconut oil for cooking and lemon for dressing.

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    Furthermore, I ate 5-6 times a day to keep my metabolism running. Every time people saw me I was always eating! I didn’t want my body to go into starvation mode. I would bring my lunch to work. This not only saved me money, but also prevented me from overeating as the portion was already made out.

    I ate food that everyone would envy. Just ask any one that I have worked or lived with. It looks good, it smells good, and it definitely tastes good. I like food with flavor and I like variety. I like to enjoy my meals and not feel like I am on a diet. I don’t diet, I just make healthier choices 80% of the time.

    It’s A Journey, Not A Race

    Some people are great at diets and self control. I just happen to know that I am not one of those people. I feel if I was to go on a strict diet, I would lose weight fast and then pack it back on as quickly as I lost it. When it comes to exercise, you don’t have to go all out. The smallest of changes is still change. Any progress is progress.

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    Instead of that 5 minute drive, walk and take in the fresh air. Instead of that glass or two of wine/beer every night, just keep your drinking to one night a week. Have a few on that night! Life is short! Instead of takeaway every day, keep those meals to once (or twice) a week. It all depends on your current lifestyle.

    Progress

    As long as you do something that is better than what you are doing now, it is still progress. Keep in mind that the more effort you give, the more you will get back. Don’t beat yourself up. Life is too short to hate your body.

    Keep in mind, even if it is a tiny change, it counts! It is all about moderation.

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    Published on March 8, 2019

    How Adding Flow Yoga to Your Workout Routine Boosts Your Gains

    How Adding Flow Yoga to Your Workout Routine Boosts Your Gains

    When we fall into a workout routine, our moves become automatic, and the body quickly adapts. This is called muscle memory.[1] While teaching your body how to properly execute squats, push-ups, or crunches is a benefit, overly relying on these moves to consistently grow gains won’t yield the kind of results you want. That’s because the muscles work in the same way every time.

    Simply put, they’re not being “surprised,” so they get lazy.

    Supplementing your routine with flow yoga is one way of surprising your muscles, especially if you are new to the yoga practice and have never tried the postures. It’s like taking a new road home when you drive, deviating from your usual route. Science has found that by doing so, you’re creating new neuropathways in your brain.[2] The same is done in your muscles when you try a new routine.

    How is this done? Let’s dive right into it.

    How Flow Yoga Boost Your Gains in Your Workout Routine

    Think about your current workouts:

    If you lift weights, you rely on external tools to engage your various muscle groups. Over time, your shoulders, legs, or biceps will come to expect the weighted plates or dumbbells, in the repetitive sequences that you remember.

    In flow yoga, we use the body as the weight. Add gravity and hundreds of different postures and combinations, and you have a workout that uses the same muscle groups, but in many different ways.

    A pose such as plank is a full-body workout, with every muscle engaged to keep the body in one long line. While it’s a stationary pose, it requires muscle control and activation, with no room for passivity.

      A Flow sequence, on the other hand, requires your muscle to switch from one pose to another swiftly, providing you with a more balanced and wholesome use of your major muscle groups.

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      Not only do these poses and routines re-energize the body in a refreshing way, they also allow you to learn something new, which is powerful for the mind.

      Bottom line? Complementing your exercise regimen with flow yoga is like hitting the shuffle button on your workouts, using your muscles in ways that “surprise” them, which in turn boost their growth and performance.

      Energizing Flow Yoga with Added Cardio

      Flow yoga is also known as “Vinyasa.”[3] In Sanskrit – the sacred language of the practice and its Indian roots – Vinyasa is roughly translated to “one breath, one movement.”

      This guideline, first and foremost, enhances your breathing, and teaches you how to go from our typical shallow, chest-only breathing, to a more deeper, belly-chest breath that uses the entire lung system.

      Not only is this beneficial for a myriad of healthcare reasons (combat allergies, eliminate toxins, reduce stress, ease anxiety), it also greatly impacts our muscles,[4] and therefore our workout.

      Flooding your muscles with rich oxygen will only keep them healthy, while the cardio benefit will get you warmed up to take on the more challenging postures in a flow yoga class. This prevents injuries and cramping.

      The best example of energizing cardio in flow yoga is the Sun Salutation sequence. Each pose is completed on an inhale or an exhale, until the sequence is finished. One full sequence may be repeated several times, encouraging you to take fuller and deeper breaths. The cycles warm up and loosen the body and prepare the muscles for stationary poses that are held longer.

      Here’s how to do a Sun Salutation Flow:

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      Due to the Sun Salutations, the muscles are not thrown into a challenging workout, but rather primed and prepared with energizing breath.

      Why is this important, you ask? Because happy muscles are warmed-up muscles.

      The Best Thing About Flow Yoga

      The best thing about practicing flow yoga? You’re building strength and flexibility.

      Strength and flexibility are like the Mecca of a wholesome workout routine. Before we get into why this is important, let’s break these two down individually to see how they stand up on their own:

      Meet Strong Stan

      Strong Stan is at the gym, doing bicep curls with massive dumbbells. His muscles have peaked in size, and he proudly displays them.

      While he loves to lift weights, Strong Stan often skips stretching or warm-ups. He just doesn’t see how that could help him continue his muscle gains, so he jumps right into a heavy workout.

      While it’s not evident to a passerby, Stan’s muscles are hurting. Without sufficient flexibility or deliberate stretching, Stan’s muscles are shortening and getting tighter. This eventually leads to joint injuries,[5] because un-stretched muscles have limited range of motion.

      Big muscles are a sure indicator of strength, but here’s the kicker – choosing not to prioritize flexibility will keep them inherently at risk.

      Meet Flexible Fiona

      Flexible Fiona is in a flow yoga class, easing herself into a backbend.[6] She effortlessly gets into the pose, and “hangs” out there for a few breaths while the teacher cues the class.

      Even though the teacher instructs the students to engage their glutes and be mindful that this is an active pose, Flexible Fiona opts otherwise, and relaxes into the posture by sacrificing the strength she ought to be building.

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      To many in the class, Fiona’s execution of the backbend would be a success – maybe even something to envy. However, what Fiona doesn’t realize is that her excessive flexibility is actually a detriment to her joints.[7]

      Flexibility has been defined as the “absolute range of motion” by Tony Gummerson, Martial Arts instructor. For people who are naturally flexible, that line of absolute range is often blurry and, in practice, overlooked.

      It’s very easy for Fiona to go above and beyond her range of motion, since her flexibility parameters are much wider than what Strong Stan may experience in a similar pose.

      Because she doesn’t feel the stretch in the same degree of motion as other students in class, Fiona has to push the envelope of her flexibility. This puts too much pressure on the joints that are already overworked, and it overstretches the muscles that are now prone to tearing.

      Your goal is to create muscle and joint balance and wholeness.

      What Strong Stan and Flexible Fiona have in common is that they’re both missing vital pieces of muscle awareness.

      In Stan’s case, heavy and tight muscles crave flexibility. Without it, not only would Stan hit a plateau in his gains because of a sure injury, but he would miss out on having the lean and toned muscles that we all want to have.

      In Fiona’s case, her overstretched muscles are not getting a workout at all. Rather, her excessive flexibility is resting on her joints, which leads to definite injury.

      So what can you do? It’s quite simple.

      You have to give your muscles the opposite of what they’re used to.

      If you’re a Stan and hate stretching, focusing on your flexibility is key. You will lengthen your tight muscles, and you’ll create new muscle memory by practicing routines that are new to you and your muscle groups.

      If you’re a Fiona and hate strengthening, focusing on this priority is vital. Your muscles are used to being passive as you stretch, so shaking up the usual and putting them to work will not only keep you injury-free, but that much closer to the muscle gains you’ve been looking for.

      Fortunately, flow yoga is the whole package, and can be the one-stop-shop for both Stan and Fiona.

        Final Thoughts

        If you’re serious about using flow yoga to supplement your workout routine to boost gains, sign up for a class at your local gym or yoga studio. There are a number of styles of yoga to try, but as we’ve discussed in this article, the Vinyasa style is your best bet to complement a moderate exercise regimen.

        Many studios offer beginner-style Vinyasa classes, where the instructor will explain the basics, and break down the sequences in a pace that is suitable for entry-level students. From here, the student can build upon their practice, and opt for more challenging, fast-paced classes, such as Power Flow or Ashtanga.

        Working out is a lesson in teaching your muscles. The gains that we grow are the result of that experience, and it all comes down to conditioning our body in a way that is healthy, efficient, and balanced.

        With a practice like flow yoga, we can offer supplemental training to our current regimen that will work our muscles in ways that are new, refreshing, and “surprising.” This method will keep our muscles toned and lean, as long as we prioritize the balance between strength and flexibility to ensure that we’re meeting both of these needs. Our muscle gains and body health depend on it.

        More Resources About Yoga and Fitness

        Featured photo credit: Edit Sztazics via unsplash.com

        Reference

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