Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Three Years Ago Today...

Today is the third official anniversary of Bella Fitness. I went out on my own a couple of months before then, and began training clients, but my LLC became official on that day.

When Bella Fitness began, I had just finished months of pre- and post-natal continuing education, so my focus fell heavily on working with pregnant women and new moms. We worked on maintaining and gaining muscle, while being careful not to overstretch the body (as flexibility is greater during pregnancy). We also worked on strengthening the Kegel muscles, and supporting the abdominals, so that diastasis recti could be avoided or, at least, repaired with ease.

At that time, I did have the opportunity to work with a couple of high risk clients, women entering menopause, and two women with eating disorders. It was a great time, and the experiences I had with these women were priceless.

Last summer, however, I took a sabbatical, and did so for a couple of reasons. Mostly, I had a health matter to deal with that, while it turned out to be nothing notable, made training clients difficult. There were some other things, too, but basically that time away was important for me. It gave me the chance to re-evaluate what I was doing, who I was helping, and how. I realized that, for me, expanding my practice to include holistic aspects of fitness was important. I knew all that I needed to know about body sculpting, burning calories, and cardio, but all of that, without flexibility and a mind-body connection, felt incomplete. I studied and practiced, working to receive my certification in Holistic Fitness through the Academy of Holistic Fitness.

I also did continuing education in Lifestyle Fitness coaching, which provided me with the tools to help clients work through challenges and resistance that they might face. I learned about the importance of mindful eating and self-love, and how dieting (and labeling foods "good" and "bad") won't help a client reach their goal weight or body shape. Empowering each client to trust their bodies is the first step toward positive change.

I was raised with a strong background in meditation, and every aspect of what I do is based in that. I use my breath when lifting weights, allowing a deep exhale with every tough lift. I focus on the muscle contracting and find a gaze point to help me get through the burn. It made sense for me to educate myself more in the practice of holistic fitness, learning what asanas created what sorts of feelings; poses for depression, poses to energize. I learned different breathing techniques, and the uses for them.

The difference in my training between now and then is obvious. Though I still practice similar methods for body sculpting, I incorporate body awareness more that I did, and I also work with my clients in a more personally focused way. I always created programs exactly to suit my clients needs, and while I still do so, I am now more trained to help them navigate the hurdles that may have held them back.

I want to thank you all so much for being supportive friends, committed clients, and readers of this blog. It's been three great years, and I look forward to many, many more.

Yours, in good health,

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Deprive Reward

Winter's been pulling hard on my patience lately. My son's was home sick, then as soon as he got better we got snowed in, and then he was sick again. It's been two weeks since I've been to the gym on a regular basis, or frankly, done much else.

I've been working with clients, and doing a lot of reading, specifically, on weight loss. Most of my clients come to me because they'd like to lose weight, so it only makes sense that I read about the principals of weight loss.

If you are on a diet, I will guess that you've probably been on one hundred before this. It's not at all surprising, because studies have proven that diets are only temporary fixes for weight loss. People gain that lost weight back (or as Kathryn would say, they find the weight they lost), and then some. Fat-free foods leaving us feeling hungry and unsatisfied, and we tend to eat more of them because they are fat-free. If given the choice, would you prefer 16 oz. of fat-free yogurt, or 8 oz. of creamy, full-fat yogurt? If we listen to our bodies, and taste what we are eating, eat mindfully, then we will notice that we aren't ravenously hungry (at least not most of the time). Better to have one piece of whole milk cheese, than five pieces of fat-free cheese that's flavorless and pumped with salt.

Here's what works: making permanent changes to your nutrition plan, and your mind. Learning to eat for life, and without labeling food, feelings, or actions as good or bad. If we reward a two pound loss one week, do we shame ourselves if we gain those pounds back (or even maintain)? How disrespectful. You aren't a bad girl for gaining, or a good girl for losing. This kind of mentality has you attacking yourself to lose weight. That just doesn't feel like a healthy thing? Your good life doesn't begin when you lose those unwanted pounds, it begins now.

There are guidelines for a healthy eating plan that include lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins (check out mypyramid.gov for the current recommend plan). However, veering off the path for a slice of birthday cake, or cookies with milk is also part of eating for life.

On death row, prisoners are given a last meal of their choice. This speaks volumes as to the importance of food in our lives. They can have pretty much anything they desire (but usually no alcohol), which got me wondering, What would you choose for your last meal? Their choices listed here.

The thing about that death row meal that the prisoner gets to pick what s/he'd most like to eat, not what is best (or worst) for her/him. I know some people who'd take that deal, just to eat whatever they'd like, once, without guilt.

On any given day my choice would be different. Yesterday, all I wanted was a mixed field green salad. I wanted it because it's cold, fresh, watery, and has bitter dressing. (Mine came with fresh slices of mozzarella, which made it even better). Other days, I crave a slice of pizza, a hamburger, a yogurt parfait. Though I am not particularly fond of desserts, there are times when I'd like nothing more than a Tiger's Milk bar. What would you choose?

When we have a nutrition plan for life, all of these options are available to us. We learn to eat foods that give us nutrients, energy, and fiber, and use those foods as the backbone of our plan. We also allow for a burger and fries, cookies with milk. This means that losing and maintaining a weight that is healthy and comfortable for us is more about listening to our bodies and less about deprivation and reward. We eat when we are hungry, and stop when we are satisfied, even if it means leaving half a plate of food on the table. We deserve to not stuff ourselves even when food is paid for or sitting in front of us. Our bodies tend to lead us towards food that support and strong and healthy body. We just need to start trusting our bodies and listening to them.