Life Beyond the Squat

I am totally at a crossroads here. I love squats. I love them so much that I find myself looking for any excuse to substitute a squat into whatever I’m doing. Jumping jacks? Perfect opportunity for a baby pulse squat in between. Sprints? Definitely tacking on 10 speed squats at every turn around. Brushing my teeth? Prime time for some quick pre bedtime squats. Driving?…ha just kidding!

But you know what I don’t like? The world acting like squats are the end all be all for women in their workouts.

Basically it’s all just getting a little excessive and I am pretty sure I’m not the only one wrapped up in the quest for the perfect backside curve, or perfect squat form. This was evident by the line of 10 girls eagerly squatting into the mirror at the gym yesterday willing the perfect booty to magically show. When did squats go from being a staple total body move to a cultish world of big booty gals breaking laws of physics through hugely toned behinds while thousands of instagramers double tap in awe?

squatting

It all reminds me of those hilarious/utterly disturbing pictures of guys skipping leg days and obviously working every muscle group besides legs 364 days a year. Makes ya do a double take in the worst way. Your workout routine is all about balance yet all I hear as a female on social media and in the gym is that squatting will solve all of my problems. It’s like the kale and avocado craze consuming health buffs around the world. Squatting has always been there yet now people think they should be doing it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Suddenly you are a fitness super star if 95% of your workout is spent squatting.

On the other hand it is an inarguable FACT that squatting is one of the most, if not THE most, functional body weight exercises around. Working over 200 muscles in the body there is no doubt this move is something everyone needs to practice. They burn tons of calories per rep, allow you to survive beach season, and most importantly cultivate a killer foundation of strength for active movements.

Luckily for anyone feeling consumed by squat madness there are numerous alternatives. Been squatting life away for the past year? Change it up try an upper body routine. Make squatting just a portion instead of the entire workout.

Check out my original post here from some awesome alternatives from Share it FItness

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The Skinny Confidential’s Lauryn Evarts on Healthy Basics

If you haven’t heard of the Skinny Confidential until now…you’re welcome. Chances are though you already have because Skinny Conf. founder, health & fitness guru, and author Lauryn Evarts is quite literally taking over. Seriously if I ever need to see something sickeningly adorable she’s my girl. As if her gorgeous self wasn’t inspiration enough, she makes the idea of eating blended vegetables actually sound like fun on the daily. **I’m talkin inspiration down to the lemons in the teal bowl. See below.**

She is known to give a very real opinion on health and how to actually make it a lifestyle, as opposed to just posting glamour shots of fitness crazies covered in sweat. Lauryn’s brand, The Skinny Confidential, is such a fresh take on the drab info we keep hearing on the same old subjects and with the recent publishing of her first book, it’s safe to say this girl knows her stuff. None of that Dr. OZ mumbo-jumbo here. Read more for the essentials to making your health not only a priority, but a lifestyle. Because we all want success in health, love, and life. Thanks for your feedback Lauryn!

Lauryn Evarts

What’s your foundation whether in business, fitness, or general health?

My foundation is balance. Balance is what keeps me sane and motivated. I also utilize The Skinny Confidential as a place to connect with my readers, and hear what they want to know.

The most important quality you value in yourself from when it all started to today?

The most important quality I value in myself today is self-discipline. I feel like with discipline comes opportunity. Lauryn-Evarts-Zella-1

Worst thing someone can do for their health?

Smoke, not wear sun screen and/or eat chemical filled food….eww to all of these.

Your take on being sick/injured and working out?

I think you should tailor your workout to the ailment that you have. If you broke your arm, then do squats. If you injured your knee, use arm weights.

Your quickest easiest get fit advice ever?

Eat clean. Work out. And practice wellness. Wellness is eating your vitamins. Getting enough sleep. Taking care of yourself and fueling your body with the right nutrients. Be nice to yourself.

Your take on juice cleanses? How long should they be? How effective?

Juice cleanses should last in my opinion three days. Juice cleanses are very effective when done correctly, and ineffective if misused. If you’re interested in a juice cleanse email me at Lauryn@TheSkinnyConfidential.com.

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What are some of the most common inhibitors you see when people struggle to formulate a health/beauty/fitness plan?

I always see people bite off more than they can chew. I think it’s really important again to stay balanced. I also see people who don’t sleep enough. Sleep is so important.

Best advice ever received in terms of personal health or in general?

The best advice that I’ve received is to be the best version of yourself. I think it’s really important to try your hardest in every aspect in your life.

Where do you see health and fitness going in the next 10 years?

I think a lot of people will mix it up daily and that gyms will become less popular and being outdoors will be more popular.

How can I start doing one thing today that will give me positive long-term payoff in regards to my health?

Stay away from fat-free and diet free products. They’re filled with chemicals and are bad for your health.

What is your biggest challenge that you face while working in a field of health/wellness/lifestyle?

My biggest challenge is that people are misinformed. The food companies are not providing the real truth of whats in food. I feel like people are eating chemical filled foods and don’t realize it. My advice is to know what the hell you’re eating.

Best advice you can offer to someone struggling to stick with it, or to find meaning in their fitness routine?

Just do it. Wake up. Work out. Eat clean. Sooner or later it will become a habit like brushing your teeth. Check out my blog here. And check out The Skinny Confidential book here.

If your were an animal what would you be?

Definitely a chihuahua. They’re bad ass and I’d want to hang out with my dog Mini Delites with Lauryn Evarts

White Girl Can’t Run

I had never felt more one with the elements than during the time spent in Dominical Costa Rica. Like I was 24 hours away from abandoning bras and shoes forever and spend my days taming wild iguanas as a career path. No hair brushing at all which meant that for the first time ever dreadlocks weren’t out of the question either. The other most awesome part of Costa Rica was the running.

Prior to the trip, I had been running like a mad woman. Partly due to a slight exercise addiction and the other part due to the half marathon I was supposed to run later that month. Only this running was better than anywhere else. Miles of rich brown sand beaches darker than those cheesy Florida sparking ocean fronts and mangroves dipping from the shore line splattered with rickety fishing boats. It was the first time that the possibility of getting attacked by a gorilla sized vulture was a possibility and the chances of a wild dog tagging along for a mile or so was definitely going to happen.

So after feeling like Mowgli for an hour every morning Costa Rican running was obviously the new favorite pastime. This led to registering for the first ever Dominical 12k to” support the possibility of getting a lifeguard and for the wild dogs” so said La Casa del Sol who was putting on the race.

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Volunteers were gathered through a real life game of telephone where you just ask around and hope people will show up. I showed up race day ready for a our very own Central American Flying Pig turn out and a killer beach run…not quite.

The group totaled to a little less than 80 people with about 40 bystanders all of whom were definitely the person who was forced to drive the runner to the starting line at the crack of dawn. The starting line was drawn in the sand with a piece of drift wood and the signage was held between two trees which were held between two shirtless locals who they called Tito and wait for it… Jake. None of that start time nonsense a little whistle was all we needed and we were off.

After a long stretch on the flat beach where I had already considered where my international 12k running career would take me next, did I see a volunteer point up the mountain in the distance as the direction we were supposed to follow. Forget the fact that someone standing in the middle of nowhere was the only source of direction…I’m sorry up a mountain?

Not just up a mountain but up a vertical spiral of loose rocks and dirt. The brisk pace that was going on was abruptly ended as the natives skipped by oblivious to the fact that we were about the scale the equivalent of 5 miles up the Top Thrill Dragster in 200% humidity. My career as an international 12k beach runner was quickly fading in the distance as the only other white person I had seen for miles and I found wound up off course and in a stream with a drifting abandoned shoe.

One of the pointing volunteers appeared out of nowhere and just froze doing his best mile marker arrow stance. Another mile up and I was walking faster backwards than I could have run. A group of barefoot 20 somethings blew by and I hear…

“Muchacha blanca no se puede ejecutar”

My one year of college Spanish told me that this meant “the white girl can’t be executed.” Whoa, I’m just doing this friendly 12k for the lifeguards and wild dogs. I used the next half mile trying to understand if this mountain would be where I was going to spend my final moments due to sheer exhaustion or a good old-fashioned Costa Rican mountain execution.

I asked the next person who trotted by if I was going to be executed and she was bilingual enough to tell me that the phrase meant,

“White girl can’t run”

Thanks for everything Spanish 103, for all of that time pronouncing to run as correr all these years. I hadn’t thought I couldn’t do something until someone told me so as I drug my sorry ass up the side of a mountain.

The entire experience made me think about the discussions I have had lately with fitness instructors from all different backgrounds on motivation and how to do what you set your mind to. How you literally are the only person who can make yourself do it no matter what it is, for example running up a 90 degree angle in a sauna. That there is a huge difference between can’t do it and won’t do it. We all can’t have the geographical inclination to scale mountains like a stroll around the block, but you can still try and see what happens. Those who won’t will simply never know.

-RV

Red Lights

Every single day I sit at this red light taking deep meditative breaths because this light never ceases to take a half hour to turn green and as a result makes me late for work. The other absolutely insane thing about this light is that at least two people blow through the red light on a daily basis. I will be sitting there willing the damn thing to turn green as I channel the traffic gods, and the rest of the world seems to just take the liberty to run it like it’s some free for all.  

When it comes to red lights I usually cringe and make weird nervous sounds because with my luck I will get caught, but I realize that the majority of people think nothing of it. As I’m looking in my rear view for Seal Team 6 on my tail for blowing through that yellow, it is easy to forget that people run red lights all the time. It is easy to become hindered by the obligation to constantly follow the rules. It is the same reason why you were the only kid who lined up (at least that’s what I remember :])when you were told after recess while everyone else continued to terrorize the playground until it was absolutely dire to obey orders. 

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the closest picture to driving and red lights I had :]

While everyone runs a red light from time to time, I think you have to save them for times that really  matter like when you decide to have ice cream for breakfast. It got me thinking about all of the red lights we sit at constantly. From waiting on your job to finally seem meaningful, waiting for the next step in a relationship, to waiting on your future plans to simply drop out of the sky into your lap. Instead of running the light and flashing forward to a life in jail as a light runner learn to run red lights like a bad ass, figuratively of course, we can’t have everyone going around like it’s Clifton winter 2012, when everyone was driving through houses. Below are a few instances when you should for sure run the red light.

Run it when

You are hungry:It makes me so sad when I hear people talk about their diet and what they cant have, how they have only had a head of lettuce in the past 12 hours with some herb water. When you are hungry you should eat…always. If that’s not the most refreshing thing you’ve heard all day then I don’t know what is! No one likes to be around hangry rage

It’s your health: I’m not saying get air lifted at the site of your next pimple, but to be proactive in your health. If things aren’t feeling right figure out how to make it better. Being in touch with your body will not only make you more productive, it will keep you from running around with the eternal sickness that we all seem to get around this time of year.

It’s for someone: not saying what you actually want and need from someone is like handing the nearest stranger a spoon and hoping they will remember to feed you at some point. Saying what you really feel and want from others can be absolutely terrifying but ultimately allows you to get what you actually want, instead of the shitty date with that person who tells you about his ex-girlfriend the entire time.

You need a break: There is nothing pleasant about someone who runs around like a cyclone of business and leaves you and your Netflix watching self feeling guilty about being caught up on your favorite seasons. When things feel too crazy take a step back and turn the volume down. There is no shame in taking a break, and those dealing with you and your cyclone will appreciate it.

You are going for it: Jobs, goals, future plans whatever it is just go do it. If only you could stare at Linkedin with conviction for an hour or so, and your future employer would finally call you. You won’t get where you want to be by sitting at a red light so just go for it.

❤ RV

Mid posting of this Ja Rule Pandora caused my internet to crash deleting this entire post. So sorry if it sounds ridiculous, this is the most I could remember from the original :] 

 

So I did two Zumba sessions with a broken toe tonight. Usually debilitating situations like this would have sent me into a tail spin of “omg my workout career is over this is the end hello 10 steps backwards a 15 pound weight gain and a whole new sedentary toeless lifestyle” emotion. Ignoring the fact at how dysfunctional that whole scenario is, what really needs to be addressed is the dysfunctional way in which my poor little toe was destroyed

Lifting and I have always had a love hate relationship. In one overly motivated attempt to befriend weight routines I have been using my little 5 pounders on a daily basis and have even been noticing subtle progress and I mean subtle. What is even more ridiculous is that I leave the weights out near my bed like being able to constantly see them will tempt me to actually pick them up once in a while.

Last night I was getting out of bed in the dark to plug in my dying phone. It was so cold that I half ran to and from the outlet and ended up crashing my foot more precisely my right ring toe into the damn weights causing a faint crack and throbbing pain. There was the wince and I walked it off like nothing happened naturally…first step, denial. All night long I felt the little thing throbbing and sure enough when I woke up it was the exact size and color of a purple grape, sweet happy Monday morning.

After taping and icing this pathetic little thing all day it was feeling okay and non-functional as it usually does, so I figured a workout was still in the cards.

Spared you the horror of the toe and supplied a picture of public enemy number one instead

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Me doing Zumba is the equivalent of those cute videos of toddlers dancing spastically in the backseat of the car to the radio; except minus the cuteness and add a broken toe with two left feet. This was going to be good.

I feel like these things are a fact of life whether it is affecting your ability to workout, or things in your general life. Things don’t go according to plan and we resort to being overwhelmed and defeated. As much as I hate shit like this, it is literally constantly happening so why not learn how to deal with it.

Make a new plan: toe’s broke now what? Shockingly enough, once that little baby got warmed up it really felt fine during the workout. I still had no ability to “body roll”so nothing was lost from the experience. I mainly can’t run which means adjustments will be made. If things veer from your path, have the wherewithal to make a new plan it won’t kill you I promise.

Get off the merry go round: When something is a routine or anticipated, the disappointment factor is higher than ever. There was nothing more earth shattering than when your favorite ride slowed to a stop, but sometimes you need to get off and try a new ride.

Adjust: Sometimes being minorly obsessed (okay maybe majorly in this case) with something can leave you feeling like that bird that continually tries to fly through your closed window. Instead of forcing what clearly isn’t working out, readjust and move on. Running was getting old anyways. This is an awesome opportunity to work on abs, or stationary lifting. I’m taking it as a sign to back off cardio.

Loosen up: No one is going to come arrest you for not completing your to-do list. It is easy to pressure yourself to do it all with time to spare. Instead of acting like a frantic zombie take the issues with stride and go with the flow.

Relax: This isn’t how things will always be. This isn’t even how they will be tomorrow so relax and remind yourself that they will work out, even if your toe feels like it is going to fall off.

Here’s to hoping these little messages will be to be enough to stay positive about even the tiniest road blocks in life. And as for the toe…it will serve as a constant reminder to never leave the weights out in the open…such a rookie mistake.

RV

 

For When There Just Isn’t Time

You know when you have one of those weeks where you seem to be half as busy as normal? Like things magically solved themselves and you accumulated free time that you hadn’t known existed before professors learned how to post mandatory assignments at random online.  Okay really these types of weeks happen once in a blue moon most of the time, but what’s worse is the following week. These ‘home-free-things-fixed-themselves’ days usually signify that the to-do list is merely stocking up its arsenal. I get genuinely suspicious when I find myself with options for how to spend my time, and almost every time, a calm week signifies the craziness that is to come.

 

Last week was one of those weeks. So of course this week was double the madness IE extra work hours, double the meetings, and a very dirty apartment that needed a bath.  When things get hectic finding time to workout can be a very real struggle.  While anyone on the outside would just tell you to wake up at the crack of dawn to fit it in like it’s some no brainier,  I wonder how willing would you be to step out of bed after 4 hours of sleep and a marathon of a day under your belt? Not very I’m assuming. From there you are forced to make choices and what’s the first to go you ask…probably not your favorite hour of TV…nor eating (thank goodness for necessities)… but an hour long session in the weight room, sweat drenched clothes, and achy muscles? I suppose we could find room for some cuts.

 

The result is the cycle of un-productivity. No workout leads to feeling like a slug, feeling like a slug leads to Netflix marathons, lack of real marathons happening means even less working out, and so on.

So for when your weeks sneak up on you, and there just isn’t time I am telling you there is time so just do it you will thank yourself later.

 

Multitask: read while walking or walk while reading whatever works best. Sure there are studies that have shown the ineffectiveness of pairing work with your workout, but even 20 minutes of the two works your brain in a totally different way that counts.

 

Stop sitting: burn more cals per hour and feel more awake by not sitting. Pace around, walk backwards whatever works for you. Progressive “fit companies” have the stand up desk and so can you.

 

5 minute fire drill: there are TONS of pre-made minute by minute workouts at your finger tips, so use em! In 5 minutes you can supposedly burn 100 cals with 40 jumping jacks, 30 crunches, 20 squats, and 15 push ups…can’t argue with that.

 

Roll with it: once you get going and start demolishing your to-do list it can be hard to slow down. Use that energy to squeeze in even a half hour of gym time, in the case of thee overworked college student a little goes a long way in most situations.

 

Reward system: 10 push ups for every page studied? how exciting! Okay so feeling the full force of your body weight and your ability (or lack there of in my case) to support it may not be the most enjoyable way to spend a minute, but the adrenaline from upping your heart rate for a little can get you focused by working both your brain and your muscles.

 

When things get crazy even the smallest workout can be the best form of therapy. Try to keep making your health a priority even through the hectic times.

 

-R

Don’t be a Simpleton

Throughout life I have struggled with a very difficult and overwhelming concept…simplicity.

“As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.”  

-Henry David Thoreau

It took me a while to realize that my lack of ability to simplify has really been the root cause of numerous issues including but not limited to…obsessively checking emails…scheduling 30 hours of events in a 24 hour day…eating a whole bag of almonds in place of breakfast, lunch, and dinner…walking into work with the pants inside out…and the ever classic only shaving one leg in the shower.  Once you forget how to simplify it’s like all logic is left in the dust, just like that poor neglected right leg.  The other ridiculous things that clutter your life become more important than oh I don’t know general hygiene, or mental clarity for example.

 ImageIf only July didn’t have to end

As summer starts to come to an end I feel like things have veered off relax in the sun road and are heading towards overwhelmingly hectic (and when I say veered  I mean came hurdling like a projectile missile in the opposite direction of peaceful bliss).  I am not sure if my issue with simplicity comes from misinterpreting its meaning or some irrational fear of being boring…maybe it’s both? Regardless of the root cause, the main thing I want to avoid in a quest for simplification is living like a simpleton. Simpleton life is when your body imprint is clearly identifiable in the couch, and the remote is now a molded replica of your grasping hand…finger prints and all.  Simpletons may find the thought of arriving 5 minutes early unthinkable, or rent by the due date out of the question. No, I could not stand to have the most exciting moment of my weekend be adding some new documentaries to my instant-que (which would probably be a very real issue if I actually had Netflix). I think a lot of us are wired this way, or at least we are socially pressured to avoid being that boring girl who likes to clean the kitchen on a Friday night.

 ImageMaybe relaxing a little too seriously…

When considering simplicity I realized many other factors that may hinder the ability to simplify. Here are a few of the big ones…the ones that could mean the difference between unintentionally sprouting an extra limb to manage your life and calmly finishing your day relaxing on the couch.

Before finding simplicity you must have…

1. Patience: As you strive to simplify be patient as your busy bee tendencies try to squash your attempt to sit down and read a book. First and foremost step away from the computer it is the ultimate trap if you are trying to think of things to fill your time. This is what leaves me up at 2 am typing things out as opposed to sleeping on a Sunday night. I tried laying on the couch yesterday and committed to watching TV purely for the purpose of zoning out. It was a rare occasion in which I had a day filled with nothing planned…so so so rare. You wouldn’t believe how hard that was! I spent the entire time feeling antsy like I was hoping the show would end early or something so I could go do stuff. If you are trying to simplify finding patience in the little moments, and being comfortable with turning off the to-do list is a must.

 ImageTaking a stroll

2. Discipline:The ‘gotta get shit done’ tendencies are so tempting. How awesome would it be to go clean the entire apartment, have dinner with 5 different people, and send 200 emails all in one day? Uhh undeniably amazing?! Productivity is a huge source of reward in this busy world we live in. Before I sat down and tried to watch TV yesterday I went on a walk. No more than 20 minutes in was I trying to make more plans to fill the rest of the day instead of simply enjoying the time to be outside.  Luckily I came to my senses and was forced to scale back the big plans. When you are committed to simplification it will be easier to see what in life is allowed to stay and what has gotta go.

3. Perseverance: Keep simplicity as a theme, consider it a lifestyle change in order for long term success.  Unfortunately one day of forced relaxation can’t tame even the most disciplined and patient Busy Bettys.  When you add work and education into the equation that whole being present in the moment thing seems as absurd as a full nights sleep.  Life will always be chaotic to some degree. By taking the chaos in small doses and analyzing how to simplify, things can become much more manageable.

…and most importantly don’t become a simpleton.

-R