Me vs Running: Part 2

So. Well. Exactly one month ago I wrote Me vs Running; I committed myself to run 6 times in March. I wanted to prepare my body for the 10km races I will do in May and June, as running is quite injury-sensitive. Things went a little different.

On March 4, I did my first and last run in March. Argh. I wanted to test myself and set a time for a 10km so that in two months I could see improvement. It was a very windy day, I was really pushing myself to go faster even though the wind almost blew me away.

After 7km, I felt some tweaking on the inside of my knee. Stubborn as I am, I didn’t stop but just pushed through. As soon as my Nike+ app told me that I had completed 10km, I switched to ‘walking’. Because actually it was more stumbling. I hopped home on one leg, thinking ah well, it would be fine. But the pain just got worse and the next day I could barely walk, I really had to drag my leg. While clenching my jaw.

I could just punch myself – I still can. It’s so stupid; I want to start running more regularly so my body gets used to it and then I go way overboard. And now I’m one month closer to the races, but with an injury. Right now the pain is almost gone. As soon as I’ve been completely pain free for a couple of days, I will try an easy jog – but I will stop as soon as I notice any unease.

It is so, so important to listen to your body. Guys, with all those races coming up; don’t overdo it. Because it will only set you back in the long run.

Will keep you posted!

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5 tips to start running

The sun is slightly out and summer is just around the corner. The perfect time to get in to running mode, if you haven’t already. Here I’ll share with you 5 tips that keep me running between the seasons. Best case scenario; they will get you up and running in no time too.

1. Stamina
Want to start running? Go OUTSIDE! Running outside, on an uneven surface will make you work harder than a treadmill ever will. Bumps in the road ask for you to adjust your posture all the time. While doing so you are challenging your balance and you’ll become more aware of your steps. Worrying about your stamina and wondering just how well running really can pay off? Try to take the stairs more often, avoid the escalator and the elevator too, and see how long it takes before your lungs start burning. As time progresses you’ll notice that you don’t feel like falling apart after you sprint to catch the train or the bus or go for another run.

2. Vitamin D…come and see me
While running outside you’ll be exposed to more vitamin D instantly as sunlight is one of the most abundant sources of it. People who miss-use sunblock, spend most of their time indoors and those who have lots of pigmentation (darker skin) are more at risk of lacking vitamin D. Running outside makes you fuel up in the ‘D’ department, a win-win situation if you ask me.

3. Finding your flow, stay focused
If you run long and relaxed enough you’ll experience sheer joy.
This can also be described as: -locking in to- your flow. This is a stage where you feel invincible and super confident while running. For me this translates as unleashing my inner Usain Bolt and feeling as fly as him too just to the stage where elderly people pass me by with their electric bikes :-). Just the thought of being as fast as the speed of light should be enough motivation to keep you going, please keep that in mind anytime you think of giving up.

4. Free your mind and the rest will follow
While running there is no use for stress or overthinking your to-do lists. Instead, focus on your breathing, the environment around you or on that sick beat pumping through your headphones. The satisfaction after conquering those miles, stepping through the minutes and burning calories will be so rewarding that ruining it with the thought of awaiting tasks is just not worth it.

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5. Lean Mean Running Machine
Getting lean and muscle definition is a win-win situation. Running will make your metabolism go faster and will add to your overallflexibility. While maintaining proper form, engaging your core and tightening your abs every step you take, you’ll slowly but sturdy will turn in to a lean mean running machine # dontbelievemejustwatch :-). I accomplish becoming this by executing my runs wearing a 25 LB weighted vest, which challenges my endurance while i get stronger at the same time.

6. Take it one step at a time
Remember, Rome wasn’t build in a day, so don’t expect to become Flo-Jo overnight. If you want to know more about running or have any questions about my routine, please send me an e-mail me at irisfitgirl@gmail.com or hit me up on instagram @iris_fitgirl

 

30 days to destress

Inspired by Fit Girl Laura’s 30 day yoga challenge, I decided to go on a personal quest. A mindfulness quest. These last months, I’ve been really busy and now it’s time for more structure and a little more zen in my life.

Why am I so busy?

People always ask me; why are you so busy? You’re just a student. Well, besides writing for #FITGIRLCODE, I also study communication, have another job in the weekends, try to workout as much as I can and I’m busy spending time with my friends and family. Besides working out, I don’t really make time for myself. I’m the kind of girl that always says yes to everyone and always wants to help other people even if it’s at the expense of my own well being.

My classmate suggested to do some minfulness or meditation exercises. So I decided to do a mindfulness challenge for 30 days. This will help me to destress and get a little more zen. For this challenge I’m going to do some exercises like meditation every day.

So what is mindfulness exactly?

Mindfulness literally means: being fully aware of your current experiences. Mindfulness is all about the art of being present in the here and now. With mindfulness, you live more intensity and consciously. You can focus better and are more relaxed. Your mind is at ease.

With mindfulness, you learn to make conscious decisions instead of responding automatically. Therefore you will react better to stressful situations and learn to think different.

My goals for this month

My goal is, of course, to become mindful. I want to learn how to cope with stress more easily and find a way to release the stress. Also keeping it up for 30 days in a row is a challenge for me.

My challenge starts April 1th, anybody wants to join me? Take a look at my Instagram account (@lisanne_fgc) to stay updated.

Love,

Lisanne

 

Photo diary of Roos: March 2015

Hi girls, how are you? Today I’m sharing my photo diary of March 2015 with some of the highlights of my personal Instagram. I always love reading other people’s photo diary, so hopefully you’ll enjoy mine!

berry

This Berry Booster Smoothie Bowl (recipe here) tasted amaaaaazing and was ready in 2 minutes! I made this when I just ate an entire chocolate bar and felt like crap. This super smoothie gave me a brand new start of the day, feeling energized and fit!

outfit

Pretty workout clothes make you train harder, don’t you agree? At least that is what I tell myself…Haha! This Jogha outfit is one of my favorites. Seriously these loose shorts are brilliant and I wear them all the time 🙂

sushi

Sushi salad is such a life hacking dinner idea! It tastes like sushi, it looks great (guests will love it), but it’s ready in 5 minutes. Perfect for lazy or busy Fit Girls. Anna wrote down the recipe here.

beforeafter

I’m not ashamed of my “old” pictures of myself. They remind me of how much I’ve changed. I’ve lost 12 kilo’s, but the biggest difference I’ve made on the inside, finding peace of mind 🙂

smoothie

Quick smoothie: yogurt / blueberries / oatmeal / coconut water. Yum!

cleanjerk

Yessss! I tried to do some clean and jerks with 40 kilo’s and I succeeded! This picture shows my victory face, haha. Sometimes it’s good to try something out of your comfort zone. If you fail, you know your “limit” and have set a new goal. If you succeed, well, you’re one step closer to being a rockstar 😉

zoodles

Zoodles! Waaaah I love these zucchini noodles! You can make them using a spiralizer. Adding shrimps and tomatosauce is a classic combination at our place 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this quick photo diary with some of the highlights of my Instagram account 🙂 My Instagram feed is always filled with easy recipes, workout pics and simple meal ideas!

x

Roos

 

9 steps to find your balance

Most of my time I struggle with the this hectic thing called life. I have got the habit of adding another fulltime job to my life and challenging myself to put 32 hours in one day and nine days in a week. Somehow I’ve been managing this lifestyle for quite some years now. But even when I overcome these time challenges and accomplish my to-do list, I don’t feel like I have a balanced life. Sounds familiar? Keep reading for the following 9 steps. If we can become Fit Girls, we can definitely find our balance back and stay zen.

In my research towards this subject, since I am as clueless as you are… 😉 I came across this quote:

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” – Thomas Merton

What does life balance really mean
Perhaps more time? Or less stress? Many people see the importance of work life balance, since we work for the longest part of our lives. Or a work-out life balance, when you are working on a healthy lifestyle? Whatever you seek, trying to schedule an equal amount of hours to each of your work, study and personal activities is usually unrealistic and unrewarding. It is nearly impossible to timeframe your life because your life is what’s happing in the moment and can’t be scheduled by every hour. And sometimes we need to deal with unexpected events which never fit into our timetables.

According to Jasmin Tanjeloff, a licensed psychotherapist, a balanced life means: “To handle on the various elements in your life and don’t feel that your heart or mind are being pulled too hard in any direction. More often than not, you feel calm, grounded, clear-headed, and motivated”.

Read on the next page what this could mean for you.

Jasmin Tanjeloff divided balancing into two categories: Internal and External. We can explain this as following according to a Fit Girls mind 😉

1. Internal:
Mind: Challenging yourself intellectually vs. creating opportunities for your mind to go on a vacation
Heart: Giving love vs. receiving love with cherries on top
Health: Eating, drinking, exercising on a regular base vs. resting and treating yourself to a jar of peanut butter

2. External:
Work / Study: Pushing yourself to achieve goals vs. seeing the bigger picture and enjoying this ride on a unicorn
Social: Satisfying your social needs vs. having ME-TIME in your sweatpants
Family: Fulfilling your familial responsibilities vs. creating healthy boundaries like you do with your cheat meals
Fun: Take time for things you enjoy doing vs. making sure you don’t go flamingo-crazy in this department 😉

Internal vs. External focus
Oftentimes, we focus on one more than the other. For example, when you are only focusing on the external things in your life and you are busy working, studying, going to the gym several times a week, running errands, meeting up with friends and family, going out, cooking healthy meals and snacks. Or in other words, managing this hectic thing called life, we focus on the external. While being this badass-can-manage-anything-at-the-same-time girl, we don’t pay attention to what is going on inside our heart and mind.

But it could also be the other way around, when you only focus on the internal and spend a lot of time reflecting on yourself. And we tend to miss out on the experience of living and become couch potatoes in our unicorn sweatpants eating peanut butter all day.

Perhaps you’ve already have balance between these two categories but might like to balance out some specific element in your life more. As you could see on the previous page, both ends of the categories Internal and External, are positive; BUT if either side is taken to an extreme, your life could end up out of balance. The next two pages are 9 steps on how to find your balance 😀

How do you find your balance?
Jasmin Tanjeloff explains the following 9 steps to help us Fit Girls find balance in our lives besides only practicing our yoga moves without falling on the ground 😉

1. Acknowledge Take some time to really look at your life, your state of mind, and how you’re feeling. Be honest with yourself and notice the areas of your life that you’re neglecting.
Tip: Writing down your state of mind could help you acknowledge. It gives you the opportunity to read back your thoughts and see what is keeping you so busy besides your healthy lifestyle.

2. Examine Notice if you’re leaning more toward an internal or external focus, or if there are areas within each category that you would like to be more balanced.

3. Set goals Look at the outline to help you decide which ways you want to balance your life. Make a list.
Note: This is not one of your to-do lists. For example, the webshop ‘My Lovely Notebook’ has the Carpe Diem Journal were you can write down your goals and keep track of them. It’s on my wish list for sure 😉

4. Plan Tasks Make a list of daily, weekly, and monthly tasks that you will need to do to achieve each of these goals.
Tip: While planning these tasks, ask yourself the questions: What have you tried in the past? Did it work? If not, what can you do differently?

5. Reflect What is the most important thing you’ve accomplished in the past? How did you stay focused towards this goal? How did you handle your fears, doubts, anxieties, worries, and negative self-talk? How does it feel to know that you’ve accomplished the goal despite of these parts of yourself?

6. Prepare What is your inner “stuff” that will try to keep you from sticking to your plan (fears, worries, doubts, negative self-talk)? Can you specify the things you will say to yourself to push you off tracks?
For example: “If I ever bring myself to get my ass off this couch, I will be unstoppable” 😀

7. Empower What do you need to remember in those times? What are things you can say to that self-sabotaging part of yourself? BUT be kind to yourself. Balance won’t feel good if you’re cruel to yourself in creating it!
For example: Write a note to yourself, like; “Dear Self, I know you’re doing the best you can. I believe in you. I love you! Love Me <3 😉

8. Connect Is there a person, like your BFFF (Best Fit Friend Forever), to support you, motivate you and keep you focused when you have got hard times? Jasmin Tanjeloff highly recommends that within this step we connect and share our inner processes with someone. To help us when we are facing a challenge and also to celebrate when we have accomplishments.

9. Plan Just like accomplishing any goal in life, it takes time and effort to overcome your old habits and patterns and create new ones. Like not eating the whole chocolate bar at once like we used to do, but one bite at a time 😉 The key to this step is to acknowledge your old habits and patterns, but really acknowledge and be honest towards yourself. Then you create new habits step by step, like we did when we started our healthy fit journey, to enjoy a more balanced life going forward. YEAH! 😀

If us Fit Girls follow and rock these 9 steps, like we do working our asses and abs in the gym, we will find balance (back) in our busy, fabulous and beautiful lives!

Need our support? Leave a comment below! We can support each other 😀 SUPERYEAH 😀 😀

 

Give meditation a try

Newsflash: stress isn’t good for you. Luckily there are remedies to relieve some. Today I wanted to discuss one that might take a little more effort; meditation. However – you don’t have to roll out your yoga mat for it. You don’t have to sit still for hours. You do have to be patient and kind to yourself.

Basically meditating is tuning in with your body and mind, observing how you feel. Meditation can help reduce stress and anxiety, help with depression, and helps you to connect with your emotions and the here & now. Also it can boost thinking and creativity.

Before giving it a try I want to share my personal experience. To be honest, I haven’t really given it a fair chance. But lately I’m trying to balance a lot of different things and this can be a little stressful. So that’s why I started thinking about meditating. And started doing it more regularly – a few times a week, when I feel overwhelmed, I sit down and tune in for 5 minutes, and if it feels good, sometimes even longer. I noticed that it makes me feel more calm and in control, even when a million things happen at the same time.

So let’s give meditation a try:

Get comfortable. You can either sit down on a pillow on the floor or just sit in a chair, as long as you feel good. Sit tall, straighten your spine, close your eyes and breathe. Relax your face, try to release tension in your body. Let your thoughts come, observe them, and then try to let them go. Don’t panic as other, new thoughts flow in, accept them, and release. Focus on your breath. And just continue. That’s it.

Try to get comfortable with the uncomfortable; sitting still can feel like forever, all those thoughts flowing through your mind can get overwhelming and you might feel uneasy sometimes. But that’s part of the deal. It will get easier as you do it more often.

Don’t start with an hour (unless you feel like it of course) – 5 minutes will do (you can set a timer if you like). Notice how you felt before and how you feel after; you can even write this down and start a journal.

So give it a try and let me know if meditation works for you. Just remember; it doesn’t have to be perfect!

Orthorexia: when healthy becomes unhealthy

A while ago a popular blogger quit being vegan for health reasons, which quite shocked the online community. She was not concerned about gaining weight; her focus was on healthy eating so obsessively that she restricted her diet to the point of her getting malnourished. In her words, she told ABC News: “I would just stand in front of the refrigerator for 20 minutes totally panicking that I wasn’t going to be eating the right thing for my body. I was a slave to food.”

There’s a dangerous trend arising – living too healthy. You might have heard about it; this unhealthy obsession with healthy living is called ‘orthorexia’. This might shock some people, because isn’t healthy living healthy? Indeed living too healthy can be dangerous too, not just for your body, but especially for your mind.

Balance is key in a healthy lifestyle. That means taking rest days, having cheat days; not freaking out when you have no time exercise for a week, or eat ‘unhealthy’ for some days. There is a fine line between living healthy and living too healthy. It basically means listening to your body.

So what if you hate working out? Should you quit trying? Or what if you hate veggies and rather just eat chocolate ice cream all day? Of course you should exercise and eat healthy, but don’t overdo it. Being healthy also means healthy from the inside out. It is not just about six pack abs, popping biceps or making sure you get all your nutrients for the day.

Stay on the couch when you’re feeling sick or your body is aching – but do lace up those running shoes when you’re in the ‘ugh I don’t want to work out’-mood. Eat chocolate when it’s that time of the month. And don’t feel bad about it.

If you feel anxiety or panic when you have to do something out of your comfort zone regarding your ideas of ‘healthy living’, you should be aware, and maybe even warn someone. Living too healthy is not only dangerous for your body because you could get malnourished, but it is also dangerous for your mind as it can make you feel isolated and depressed.

Being a Fit Girl is not about exercising hours a day or just eating veggies. It’s about becoming the best version of yourself the healthy way; it’s about loving yourself

My 30 days of yoga – the review

A busy job, just moved in together, decided to be my own boss…I had so much going on in my life. The thought of me going to the gym would literally make me sick. So on the 12th of January I decided to get it together and do something that was good for me, physically and mentally: Yoga!

My 30 days of yoga – the review

Fitness bores me beyond believe and running is a no go with that awful knee of mine. I did CrossFit a couple of years ago and I liked it in the beginning but later on I noticed it started to get too tough because it got me too fired up and my mind couldn’t cope with it. So when I read that the lovely people at Balanzs Yoga Studio in Rotterdam were having a 30 day yoga challenge, I decided to step up my game and joined!

Getting ready
The reasons I wanted to join was to find something that suited me well, to get more flexible and most important, to try to get more balance between body and mind. So I got my yoga mat and plenty of yoga gear (shopping rules!) and signed in! The awesome thing is that the yoga studio is very close from #FITGIRLCODE HQ so I could go before or after work. And also, the showers are to die for! 🙂

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The first week
I was super excited to start! It was quite heavy sometimes and the first three days I didn’t feel so good. I had the feeling my body was full of toxins and I was going to get sick. My mind was racing faster than ever during class. When we were in savasana (resting pose) I was thinking of all the emails I still had to answer and why I didn’t answer them sooner and of all the work I still had to do. I was beating myself up for it and I was super moody but I knew my body and mind were just responding to yoga so I was glad there was a noticeable change!

After the fourth day my body felt much better, I started to feel the blood pumping through my body, sounds strange but that’s the closest way to describe it. I was still thinking about work sometimes during savasana BUT I wasn’t beating myself up for it. I didn’t feel so stressed and things seem to go just a little bit easier. And I guess the most important thing: I felt proud of myself for something good, other than just work!

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Upwards facing dog
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Trying to get those feet flat 🙂

 

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Dare 2 Challenge – part 1

What doesn’t challenge you doesn’t change youthat was probably what I was thinking one month ago, when I agreed to this challenge! 😉 And not only that, also because I still havent completely unlocked my personal code for a healthy lifestyle.

In the work-out department I score like an 8, hitting the gym four times a week and challenging myself to reach a new level of soreness after every work-out. haha 😀 . But in the food department I score like a 5 and sometimes a 6. Like so many Fit Girls I’m also still searching for the best nutrition for my body ever since working out became part of my lifestyle. So hopefully after this challenge I will be closer in unlocking my personal code for my healthy lifestyle…

Dare 2 Challenge
So it’s very simple… there are 5 CONDITIONS and 2 RULES. You only need a pretty large doses of self-control or a full-time support system. 😉 The followings drinks and food are off limit:

  1. Alcohol
  2. Soft and fruits drinks (also try to stay away from any light versions, since they contain other substances of sweetness)
  3. Snacks (chocolate, candy, chips, cupcakes, pie etc.)
  4. Sugar (read more about “how to eat less sugar” in the article of Fit Girl Lisanne)
  5. Greasy and fast food

And you need to keep yourself to the following 2 rules:

  1. One cheat day a week (and don’t go flamingo-crazy there, a cheat day could also mean a dinner in a restaurant or one healthy snack)
  2. Time frame: 3 MONTHS (of course you can determine your own period, if one month is already enough of a challenge for you that’s also good)

Why complicate life?
Since I am determined to live a healthy lifestyle, I also need to change my food habits. Working out on a regular base alone is not sufficient and your food intake is as important as your workouts. I also realised that my body is seeking for different nutrition ever since I started working out on a regular base and therefore I am in search for a food schedule I feel comfortable with and gives me balance in this lifestyle. This does not mean I will never allow myself to eat chocolate or a hamburger again, but I am challenging myself to find healthy alternatives for these type of cravings.

I believe that because I am not aware and don’t have the knowledge yet of all these alternative healthy delicious snacks and other recipes, I continue going in circles and fall back in my old habits over and over again. I want to change that and therefore I hope this challenge will force me to make an extra effort and after 3 months will get me into my healthy habits and lifestyle 😀

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My favorite yoga DVDs

I have this crazy busy schedule. In busy and stressful times yoga is a great way to relax and tune in with your body; however, what if there is no time to go to a yoga class? A great solution is to do yoga at home. There are some great video’s to be found on Youtube, but sometimes I don’t want to search and I just pop a DVD in. Usually it is one of these, so today I will share my favorite yoga DVDs with you!

MTV Power Yoga

This may sound weird, because MTV and yoga..? Well yes uh, it works. This Power Yoga workout led by Kristin McGee gets your heart rate up as it goes through a challenging flow. If you’re looking for a yoga workout and not just an easygoing routine, try this 50 minute DVD. After some sun salutations and challenging poses the routine ends with some stretching and a small bonus consisting of some Pilates exercises.

Shiva Rea Power Flow Yoga

If you’re looking for a more challenging, advanced yoga workout with lots of variation, then this is definitely the DVD for you. I wouldn’t recommend this DVD for beginners as it is quite heavy on yoga terminology. You can mix it up and combine separate routines or choose from the preset workouts. This one has a really intense “yoga vibe”, you either love Shiva Rea’s style or hate it.

Daily Yoga with Tara Stiles

Tara Stiles is like the queen of yoga on Youtube, but did you know she also has DVDs? This 1 hour long routine takes you through poses that strengthen, tone and lengthen your muscles. Tara is a very down to earth person and she has a very relaxed voice to listen to. The dvd has a nice, easy flow with a few more challenging poses, but I think it’s an excellent DVD for beginners and intermediate yogi(ni)s.

Mandy Ingber’s Yogalosophy

In this routine, Mandy blends traditional yoga poses and toning exercises. You can split the DVD, and either do a small routine with some more traditional yoga poses, or a routine that is more focused on toning; combined you have a 1 hour long workout. I love Mandy’s vibe, she oozes this typical yoga glow. This DVD is excellent for those days you want to do something extra but don’t feel really motivated. Mandy will lift your mood and I promise you will feel a little burn a few times during the routine!

So these are my favorite yoga DVDs! Do you also pop in a yoga DVD sometimes? Tips are more than welcome!

Why you should’ve started foam rolling yesterday

ROCK, STRETCH ‘n’ ROLL! That’s what I live by when it comes to staying fit. It stands for working out – building up strength and stamina, stretching (dynamically) to lengthen my muscles and staying flexible, and… ROLL? Yep, I roll. Allow me to introduce you to some awesome tools and techniques that I use to massage my body to stay fit, mobile and (muscle) pain-free!

BLACKROLL
Rockin’ & ROLLING
In my first article I already mentioned that I spend part of my time working for BLACKROLL. This Swiss/German brand is market leader in the German speaking part of Europe in the reach of production and sales of self-massage -and simple but incredibly effective fitness tools.
Whether you are into sports or not, in BLACKROLL’s view, everyone should be able to stay mobile, pain-free and therefore happy and healthy. This fits my personal view just perfectly. That’s why I’m happy to explain a little more about this cool technique, dubbed “SMR” (self-myofascial release), and the what’s and why’s surrounding the topic of foam rolling.

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Taking the pressure off

The past 6 months haven been quite crazy with a lot of things going on. Fun things and not so fun things. But I’m still going strong. And I’m actually pretty damn happy. 

Taking the pressure off

I expect a lot from myself, I’m a perfectionist and I don’t want to fail. I’ve been juggling with 10 jobs while some pretty drastic things were happening in my personal life. Still I wanted to succeed in everything. I wanted to do my jobs perfectly, have a social life, be fit, eat healthy, be superhappy and so on. The funny thing is, I’ve sort of accomplished these things. Sort of. I’m not easily satisfied with the work I do. But somehow I’ve learned to be sort of satisfied anyway. Just because of one simple thought:

It’s okay being not okay.

I want you to think about it.

This simple yet very powerful thought takes the pressure off so many things. Life is not about rainbows and butterflies all the time. That would be pretty damn boring. We would not appreciate the good moments if we would not have bad moments. It is an amazing thing that we can experience emotions. That we can be happy. An unhappy. This is what makes life worth living. And this is what makes us human.

So next time you’re beating yourself up for something, take a walk and try to think of this simple line. Take a deep breath and try to accept the way you feel, even if this is not how you want to feel. Don’t be too hard on yourself, because that will make things only harder. Tomorrow is a new day!

Positive Psychology

January… A fresh start of a new year! It’s already up & running for about 3 weeks now. Maybe you’re kicking ass with your new year’s resolutions, maybe you already forgot them…Or didn’t even have new year’s resolutions. If you have them or you don’t, it’s always good to take a deeper look at your life. Are you happy the way it is? Are you satisfied with your lifestyle? Your relationships? Your job?

All those things come back to the fundaments of your being. How do you look at things? What things in life are really fulfilling for you? In this blog I’m going to tell you something about a subject that is closely related to the way you experience life: positive psychology!

When you think about psychology, probably the first words popping up in your mind are “psychologist”, “mental illnesses”, “depression”. Yep, that’s also psychology. Roughly said, “general” psychology is focused on the question “what is wrong with you?” Positive psychology is focused on “what is right with you?”. None of them are right or wrong, they can perfectly function besides each other. General psychology focuses on healing mental illnesses. Positive psychology focuses on developing a satisfying and meaningful life.Fact is, life isn’t always easy! The loss of a beloved one, illnesses or other unfortunate events…life happens to you. You can’t control this. But what you CAN control is how you deal with it. This is where positive psychology comes in. Dr. Martin E.P. Seligman is one of the founders of positive psychology. His theories are built on 5 fundaments: PERMA. I will show you what PERMA stands for:

Positive emotion: A very big part of life satisfaction depends on what you feel. When you’re experiencing positive feelings, you will look back on your past with more satisfaction, look at your future with hope and be grateful for the present. Experiencing positive emotions is also associated with better health, more productivity and successful relationships. Besides that, positive emotions are contagious!

But how could you apply this? How can you just feel happy on command? When something bad happened to you, it’s pretty damn hard to feel positive emotions! The best way to make yourself feel better is to do the things that give you a good feeling. When you feel bad, try to be kind with yourself: do something fun together with your BFFF, take a nice walk in the forest, read a good book, go for an intense work-out session, plan a long & nice kitchen session with a foodie friend… The most important question you should ask is “what makes me happy?” Try to take your chances and try to apply these hobbies/friends/activities in your life on a regular base!

Engagement: This is in strong connection with positive emotions. Engagement is about experiencing “flow”. Flow means that you feel like you are completely absorbed in the moment, which gives you a pleasant feeling. Research shows that these moments of flow are the moments people feel happiest in life. When you are in your flow, you feel powerful, confident and productive. When was the last time you were completely absorbed in your task or activity? What is most satisfying to you?

It’s important to apply these activities in your life on a regular base (just like the things that give you positive emotions!). Since you’re spending most time of the week at your job, it would be great if you feel this flow when you’re working, but also hobbies, sports or other activities are great to give you this flow. Typical for experiencing flow is that the activity costs energy, but gives you a huge boost of energy at the same time! What gives you flow?

Relationships: People are social animals. Staying connected with other people helps us to put things in perspective. Communication certainly can help us to find a certain balance in life. Sharing is caring, either it’s negative or positive. Only sharing your problems, can already be a part of the solution, simply because you are not alone in it anymore. For sharing positive experiences it’s even better: sharing happiness = happiness2!

In any kind of relationship, either it is love or friendship, it’s important that there’s a certain balance. This means in every relationship, 50% is up to you! Realize that you have a big influence on your social network. It’s a balance of giving & taking, talking & listening. Be selective. Keep “energy drainers” away from you and invest in valuable relationships. Oh, and pets actually have a great influence on your happiness as well!

Meaning: Having a higher plan in life also helps you to experience more happiness in life. This could be anything. Religion, family, politics, environmental protection, health (promotion), volunteer work…these are all examples of having a “higher plan in life”. Just ask yourself what things in this world have a big value for you. What things in life would you like to make “life goals”?

I will give an example about myself. I really love helping people to experience that a healthy lifestyle could be fun and doesn’t have to be hard, nor restrictive. I chose to develop myself in this direction and while I was doing this, I met a lot of likeminded people with who I can share my enthusiasm about health. Besides that, as a health coach I see people change. When I’m helping people in their process of becoming a healthier version of themselves, people start to feel fitter, their skin starts to glow and they find out they are capable of way more than they thought they could. How amazing is it to witness their journey? I love it!

Achievement: This is all about goal setting and reaching your goals. Either the process towards your goals as reaching your goals are both very important. We all know this satisfying feeling after successfully finishing a big project at your job/study. It gives you a huge confidence boost! When you feel good about yourself, you are more likely to share your experiences with other people, to help other people and to challenge yourself to try new things. It’s actually a positive circle: the more you reach the goals you set for yourself, the more confident you feel, the more you are open for trying new things which can help you to build new experiences, which on its turn give you more confidence again! This is one of the reasons why working out can help you to build up more confidence ☺

All these factors together have a big influence on your happiness. When you feel balanced, everything in life is a little bit easier. Most important thing in positive psychology is that you can’t enforce feelings of happiness and just think that you “should be happy”. What you CAN do is creating healthy habits that help you to get the best out of life, that make you feel happy.

Remember you can’t influence what happens to you, but with these PERMA-tools you can help yourself to feel better and to get more satisfaction out of life.

XoXo

Lotta

30 day yoga challenge

Nope, the title does not mean we are having a 30 Day #FITGIRLCODE Yoga Challenge…Not yet anyway 😉 This is a personal quest. Recently I haven’t been what you call a Fit Girl, shame on me. It takes a lot of time, effort and energy to work on #FITGIRLCODE and Jogha. Now, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore it, but at the end of the day I’m absolutely exhausted to do anything else except than sit on the couch with my laptop and yes…Keep working. Not good, I know…

So after weeks of this daily routine I decided: enough=enough! I need my energy back and I need to feel fit again. So I could do spinning (I love cycling!) or get killed by Gio at Elevator Sports ( Go Gio!) but I also wanted to have a healthy state of mind again. And seeing my mind has been on full speed these couple of weeks, I decided yoga would be the answer!

Balanza Yoga Studio Rotterdam
The true Fit Girls might already know Balanzs Yoga Studio in Rotterdam seeing we’ve shot our two latest challenges there. This awesome yoga studio looks so cool, the teachers are super duper nice and it is SO close to #FITGIRLCODE HQ! Yay! This Monday they are starting a 30 day yoga challenge, and I’m in! I am going to do my very best to hang in there and nourish not only my body, but also the brain. I’m kinda scared for the 30 days, but I’m looking forward it too. 

You can still sign up for the 30 day challenge, so if you feel like it, JOIN ME! I would love to see more Fit Girls joining me for this challenge. Let’s all get zen together! <3

 

 

An introduction to Hatha yoga

You’ve probably heard of ‘Hatha yoga’ before as it is the most common yoga style in the West. But do you actually know what Hatha yoga means? I will explain it all to you! 

Hatha yoga describes the physical practice of yoga and as said, it is the type of yoga that is best known in the West. It is a quite general category that includes most yoga styles. Literally, the name Hatha comes from Sankrit and stands for sun (ha) and moon (tha). It is about creating a link, balancing energy in the body and mind, through postures (asanas) and breath control (pranayama). Hatha yoga is part of the raja yoga path, teaching awareness and connection of the body and breath.

Hatha yoga relies on two important objectives. The first objective is to prepare to practice real meditation (dhyani). To do this, we have to be able to relax our bodies and focus for extended periods of time. The practice of postures helps us to prepare for meditations. The second objective is to bring health and energy to body and mind. By practicing Hatha yoga, you will develop awareness, strength and flexibility. It can reduce stress and provide you with a sense of well-being.

What can you expect in a yoga class?
A basic Hatha yoga class runs through a sequence of simple asanas and breathing exercises. You can expect a slower-paced, ‘not-so-flowing’ practice, which makes it a great place for beginners to start. The class usually ends with silent meditation, either in lotus or in sivasana (corpse pose). Popular Hatha yoga styles include Ashtanga, Iyengar, Bikram and Kundalini yoga.

If you’re new to yoga, I would recommend trying a Hatha yoga class first because you will get familiar with typical, basic yoga movements and terminology. Hatha yoga is accessible to anyone and will help you to develop a better connection between body and mind.

If you have any questions about Hatha yoga or want to share your experience with me, please to do so!

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Willpower is the drive behind self-control

Some days I live up to everything I promised myself in the morning. I eat proper meals and healthy snacks throughout the whole day. After work I cycle to the gym and kill my work out like a mad woman. And when I go for drinks with my friends later that night, I don’t lose self-control, but crawl into bed at a civilized time.

But the following day could be total disaster. I’ll bury my head in a pint of Ben&Jerry’s, make up excuses to skip my work out, and drink so much that I’d be hungover as shit the next morning. I recently watched the presentation of Professor Roy Baumeister, a respected social psychologist specializing in self-control and self -regulation. I discovered that the behavior I just described has everything to do with self-control and willpower.

Willpower is the drive behind self-control

What does self-control and willpower mean exactly? It’s the capacity to change yourself based on some standard or idea you consider as good or beneficial in the long run. And willpower is the energy behind self-control.

Self-control is limited
It seems that people who have these qualities straight are more successful in work or school and have longer lasting and happier relationships. This fact might not be a revelation to most of us. On the contrary, it intuitively makes sense. But the following was a real eye opener to me: our capacity for self-control is limited. If you expand some of it, you’ll have less (at least for a while). Even if your next task or goal doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the previous one. The next desire that comes along, you are more likely to give into it.

Let’s take another look a my situation. It’s possible that I skip my work out and down a whole pint of Ben&Jerry’s instead, because the day before I successfully resisted these temptations. In other words: I used up my willpower

Your willpower is like a muscle:

  • It gets tired after exertion
  • Conserving energy
  • Regular exercise increases strength

Don’t do it all at once
You have one stack of will power. If you put it into one thing it may not be available for others. For example, if you have several important resolutions for the next year, you should do them in sequence. Each resolution is usually a way to change yourself so it takes self-control and will power. If you have several of these at once and if you try to change your life in four different ways you’ll most likely fail. Each time you put energy in one of them, you are taking away the energy to do the others. So it’s best to pick one, succeed at it and move on to the other one. Succeeding at the first resolution will actually strengthen your muscle and give you a greater capacity to succeed at the next one.

The importance of cheat- and rest days
After watching the presentation of Professor Baumeister I see cheat- and rest days (a day without a work out) in a different light. I realize now that rest days are not only a way to allow my body to recover, it’s also a beneficial to my mind and thus my willpower. Scheduling a mandatory break from training will help you get excited break a sweat the next day. The same goes for cheat days. If I resist every single French fry or Oreo that comes my way, my willpower will crack eventually. But if I give into the temptation occasionally, I take good care of my willpower and self-control muscle. 🙂

(Source: www.apa.org & www.thinkandbehappy.com.au)

How to stop looking at your phone all the time

From these past months I have come to the conclusion, yes I confess Fit Girls, that I can’t stop looking at my smartphone… “Haha what a big surprise Shirley”! Would say most of my friends sarcastically… Anyways, I could blame it on the fact that I work for an online community that I adore, follow awesome people on Youtube and Instagram and I like to chat with my friends and family that live abroad.

Anyhow, I have been noticing that the use of my smart phone has been taking too much of my attention even when I want to enjoy the present moment. Apparently, during the course of 2014 a study revealed that we unlock our phones anywhere between 110 and 150 times every single day. Which seems a crazy amount of times that our attention is fully disconnected from the present moment. I still love and will always continue using my smart phone but I read some good tips that I’m going to share with you on how to take control and use your smart phone in a more balanced way. Shall we begin?

 

The WhatsApp Groups

We all know those WhatsApps groups that are constantly active and make your phone buzz anytime of the day. These groups are great to have, to share and talk to all your close friends. But I admit that I go crazy and wish to read and follow those conversations when I have the time and not be constantly interrupted by them. Solution? Mute those specific WhatsApp groups; they can wait until you have time to join the conversation!

 

Your Applications

If muting or turning off applications still keep you distracted you could consider uninstalling unnecessary apps. For example application that brings online services or websites to you mobile, such as Twitter or Facebook. Maybe those ones can be kept for your laptop and not to overload your phone with notifications. In case that you really need them you can always access these services thought your phone’s web browser!

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#FITGIRLCODE holiday survival guide

Christmas is that time of the year when you’re surrounded by family and friends. You eat a lot of delicious dishes and sing Christmas carols in front of the fire place. Some Fit Girls worry about how to stay healthy during these Christmas days. We’re here to save you with our #FITGIRLCODE Christmas survival guide!

Tip #1 Active family time

Are you worried that you might not move enough during the holidays? Convince your family and friends to go for a walk in the woods, go iceskating or to build a snowman. In this way, you’ll still get enough movement and you’ll get some quality time with your family and friends!

Tip #2 Quick workout at home

If you still feel like working out after you had some active family time, find yourself a workout that won’t take long. You can either do a quick workout at home, one of our challenges or jump rope. Workouts like these take only 15 minutes so you’ll be finished before you know.

Tip #3 Healthy Christmas menu

Try to convince your friends and family to go for a healthy Christmas meal instead of the same old, same old Christmas dinner you and your family had for years. Our Fit Girl Anne made a delicious Christmas menu in order for you to eat healthy during Christmas.

Tip #4. Create afterburn

Exercise a lot before it’s going to be Christmas. Why? Because exercising before Christmas can help you to create something that is called afterburn. An afterburn is a phenomenon in which you keep burning a lot of calories even when you’re done working out. This happens when you do a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) or strength training. After strength training, your body will need a lot of energy to recover the muscle tissue, this will result in burning more calories. HIIT will cause the body to heighten the oxygen level in your body 24 hours after your workout. So, go exercising before Christmas and you’ll still feel the effects during your Christmas dinner!

Tip #5. Extra cheat days

Plan some extra cheat days! We Fit Girls like to eat healthy and exercise in order to maintain a fit and healthy life. But in order to do this, we also plan a lot of cheat days. The good thing is, we don’t have to feel guilty about it! Especially when it’s Christmas you should just enjoy the time you spend with your family instead of worrying about all the food that you’re going to eat. Being a Fit Girl also means that you accept your cheat days. Just go for it and enjoy!

Do you have any tips on how to survive the holidays? Let us know! 

No-stress-December!

December. It’s one of the most coziest months of the year & probably also the month with the most parties & celebrations. Cold outside, but cozy & warm inside. Candles everywhere, the beautiful Christmas tree, warming winter food, long dinners with friends and family. Yep. I love December!

No-stress-December!


IMG_20141201_205647[1]For me December started with a kick start! On the 1th of December I heard that I could sign the contract for my new apartment and in less than a week later I moved in! There’s a lot to celebrate in my life right now so my December is full of house warming, catching up with friends, exploring the new city I live in and of course celebrating Christmas and NYE!

Unfortunately as a Health Coach, I also hear other things about the holidays. People who are stressed about the overload of food everywhere & not wanting to gain weight. Christmas dinners and NYE also could be a big stress factor. But is there anything worse than feeling stressed about what should be the most cozy and festive month of the year? I don’t think so. I want you Fit Girls to be happy during the holidays, so I want to share some tips & tricks with you!


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFirst of all… Don’t be too hard on yourself. December is just one month and actually it only comes to 4 festive days. Four festive days in a whole year… It’s nothing! Of course, it wouldn’t be strange if you can’t get back on track in between Christmas and NYE, but even then we’re only talking about 1 week. One week out of 52 weeks is nothing to feel stressed about. Especially for a Fit Girl like you! If you normally workout on a regular base and have quite healthy eating habits, your body will be resilient enough to manage your bigger food intake during the holidays.

 

 

The holidays are very simple: There is plenty of food. Everywhere. If food could talk to you, you would hear “pick me, eat me!” “look at me, I’m sooo delicious” All. Day. Long. No wonder that in the end it turned out you ate more than you would eat normally! And restricting yourself from eating certain food categories won’t help you feel relaxed during the holidays. Actually restrictions probably will work like a trigger for eating too much!

Most of the time the moment that you cross the line of “good food vs. bad food”, you’re pulling the trigger for getting into a binge because in your mind “you already ruined your plan, so it all doesn’t matter anymore”. In other words: eat all the food you normally wouldn’t allow yourself to eat. When you allow yourself to eat anything you want, it’s so much easier to listen to your body and stop eating when you feel full. And most important: if you can allow yourself to eat anything you want, you won’t feel guilty afterwards! There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a little bit too much food every now and then. Just enjoy it!

When I started to eat healthier, my taste also changed over the years. Yes I like to eat chocolate, pies and meringues when it’s Christmas, but I also really appreciate a warming veggie stew or a delicious blueberry smoothie. When you create healthy eating habits on the longer term, you will see that there’s nothing to worry about during the holidays, because at some point you will have enough of all the indulging food and you just long for that refreshing green smoothie the next morning!

gezonde frietjesLast but not least, it’s good to make some healthy dishes as well. This will give you the option to choose healthy food when you feel like eating something healthy. snack tomatoes, olives, hummus and vegetables will work fine besides the other snacks. And a winter veggie stew can be very welcoming besides the heavy & fatty main dishes at Christmas dinner. It’s always good to have the choice to eat something healthy if you want to. On the internet you can find so much inspiration for healthy Christmas treats. Also searching the web for delicious (healthy) Christmas dishes can be so much fun!

Just break up with your holiday stress. It’s like poison for the good holiday vibes and not necessary at all! Live in the moment, enjoy being together with your loved ones and celebrate the holidays! :- )

Happy Holidays Fit Girls!!

XoXo

Lotta

Yoga flow to get you zen this holiday season

We all know that the holiday season can be pretty stressful, right? Well, there is a way to get you more zen during these busy weeks; yoga! Did you know that we carry a lot of tension and emotions in our hips? That is why I created an easy yoga flow for you, focussing on the legs and the hips. If you feel the stress is getting to you, try this flow and you will feel better in no time.

Oh and btw, as the weather was gorgeous when I wanted to shoot these pictures, I couldn’t resist going outside. Yoga can be done anywhere, and that’s exactly why yoga is a great solution to relieve some stress 🙂

SO, LET’S START THIS YOGA FLOW TO GET YOU ZEN!

Hold every position for 2 to 8 deep breaths, depending on how much time you have. We are going to start the standing positions with the right leg; after you’ve finished the sequence with your right leg, repeat it but this time with the left leg.

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1. Start in a sitting position; knees, lower legs and ankles are together, sit back on your heels. Press your shoulders lightly together and keep your back straight.

2. Stretch your arms forward, come onto your hands and knees, and push your hips to the sky, straightening the legs. Keep your back straight, open more by pulling your chest towards your legs. Your head is between your arms, your heels are pressing towards the ground.

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3. Step your right foot in between your hands, bend your right knee and come into a deep lunge position. Drop your left heel, straighten your left leg and open your hips to the side as you press yourself up. Reach the arms away from each other, gaze out over your front fingertips. For the next poses it is important to keep the knee above the ankle. Gaze up at the sky.

4. Flip your left arm to the sky, your right arm to the ground, as you lower your upper body. Try to touch the ground with your fingertips. Don’t dump into the hips, but squeeze your core and try to lift yourself up.

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5. Lift yourself up and place your right arm on your right upper leg. Don’t dump into the shoulder, or put your weight fully on your leg, but keep yourself lifted and light.

6. If you can, make a bind by slipping your right arm underneath your right upper leg, and your left arm behind your back. Lock your hands, open your chest and again, stay light and lifted.

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7. Unwind, press your right leg straight and place your right hand on your right shin, stretching the left hand towards the sky. The left shoulders stacks on top of the right one as you open your chest.

8. Step your left leg in, feet together. Lock your hands behind your back, press them away from you as you open up your chest.

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9. Grab your right foot and place it on the inside of your left leg. Press your foot into your thigh, and your knee away from you to really open up the hips. Look up and stretch your arms towards the sky.

10. Those were the standing poses on the right side. Now we’re going to repeat everything on the left side. From this standing position, walk your hands forward, keep your legs straight and come into downward facing dog.

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