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Fitness / It’s Not About Looks: How To Focus On What Your Body Can Do

May 27, 2015 • Nia Shanks

How can you stay motivated to reach your health and fitness goals? By changing your focus. Your health and fitness actions (e.g. eating well and working out) should ultimately make you the strongest, most awesome version of yourself. Of course we all want to build a leaner, more toned body, but our healthy lifestyle should also provide us with greater rewards.

Nothing helps you burn off steam from a hectic day like setting some personal records in your workouts. Not only does working out boost your mental fortitude, but it’s also a tremendous stress reliever. Or give the day a boost; often times you finish a workout feeling better than when you started, and this has a carryover effect into the rest of your day. Set some goals that get you excited, and then go after them!

Really take the time to appreciate your strength by feeling the little changes in your body and the way it reacts to workouts that were once difficult for you. Enjoy the progress you make with every workout, and you’ll likely shatter any previous self-imposed limitations about your strength. By having this performance-matters mindset with your workouts, your routine should make you proud of what your body can do.

Here are some ways you can implement this new focus in your favorite workout:

  • If you enjoy Yoga, challenge yourself to take on a new pose. Focus on your form first; you’ll get stronger every time you stretch your limits. For example, try holding your chaturanga for an extra breath or two before moving into upward facing dog, or start working your way up to a new arm balance pose.
Yoga stretch
  • If you love running, try adding in a hill sprint or intervals (really fast sprint, followed by a jog) to kick things up a notch. Try this sprint interval workout next time you hit the pavement: after warming up for 15 minutes, sprint for 30 seconds at nearly your max effort, then take 3 minutes of a jog as an active recovery. Do this 30 seconds on / 3 minutes off interval four or five more times to really get your body going.
Weight lifting
  • For strength training, strive to perform more repetitions and then add additional weight whenever safely possible. For example, if you performed 10 reps with 55lbs. the first time you perform a workout, stick with that weight until you can perform 13-15 reps. Then increase the weight a little bit and start back at 10 reps. Repeat this process.
Leg stretch
  • Using bodyweight exercises, progress to more challenging variations. For example, progress from hands elevated push-ups to traditional push-ups, and then feet elevated push-ups.

Another great option is to think about the activities you enjoyed when you were younger, and then go do those! Maybe you liked roller blading, playing basketball, or swimming. The point is that you don’t have to “exercise.” Choose to be active in a fun, enjoyable way. This is also a great way to expand your mind and get creative – perhaps you can try a new activity!

Finishing out these strength-building workouts with an Original High Protein Smoothie will also help your muscles recover and be ready for their next show of strength – it’s all about eating for power after pushing your body.

This is your new challenge: eat well and work out because you love your body. That is what a healthy lifestyle should be all about. Challenge yourself to push your limits while having fun and you’ll reap the benefits of a healthier body and higher quality of life as well.

Nia Shanks is a coach, health and fitness writer, and leader of the Lift Like a Girl revolution. She helps women build the bodies they want by focusing on becoming the strongest, most awesome version of themselves with sane, simple, sustainable information through her website and the Lift Like a Girl Podcast.


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