Angie's Corner

Celebrate Your Age!

by Angie Miller

Angie Miller

Growing Older is a Privilege Not Everyone Gets to Experience... Isn't it time we celebrated our age? 

Last year I celebrated a landmark birthday. I turned fifty. That's right, the big 5-0, the one where you're given black balloons and you're supposed to start counting down your days. Fast forward another year, and as of December 1st I am now officially "in my fifties." In the health and wellness profession, where shape and size matter and wrinkles are not welcome, staying "relevant" and convincing a society of fitness seekers that age is an opportunity (not a set back) can be a challenge. Yet here I am, in my fifties, feeling better and more confident than ever before. The truth is, if the calendar didn't remind me that I was fifty I wouldn't believe it myself. While my face might show signs of aging, and admittedly that sometimes feels like a betrayal to a body that feels stronger than ever, I know that those signs merely demonstrate that I have seen my way through tragedy and loss, smiled my way through moments of joy, and created a story I am proud of, (minus a few chapters here and there). 

All that said, even as I'm writing this I don’t know if I'm ready to be so bold about my age, (I kind of prefer to hide it actually), after all, society puts a lot of pressure on women to stay vibrant and young and age comes with a lot of stereotypes. But I've decided that I can't cower when I have the opportunity to be courageous, and in actuality, fifty did me a favor. It encouraged me to look ahead and seek answers to some pivotal questions. I proposed these questions in my blog last year with the intention of motivating me (and you) to discover what we need to let go of and what we have yet to accomplish. If our years are limited, and no matter what our age they always have potential to be, then isn't it worth it to go on a fact finding mission that results in a life led to our greatest potential? For me, turning fifty inspired a moment of clarity that the years ahead are (more than likely) not numerically equivalent to the years that have already passed. While some may find that depressing, I find it empowering. It’s all about perspective, and age can be a great motivator. Sometimes we need that wake up call. The courage to ask questions that have potential to impact our lives in ways we never imagined. There are so many questions we could ask, but here are a few I came up with:
What do we really want?
What have we always wanted to do, and who is stopping us from doing that other than ourselves?
How do we get out of our own way?
And finally…What are we waiting for?
While I am still in the process of discovering the answers to these questions, I couldn't be more excited for what lies ahead. Questions pave the way to possibility for all of us who are brave enough to ask. I am personally inspired to see what 50 (something) holds for me, and how I can use time (and age) to my advantage. I hope that you’re inspired too, and that age will forever propel you forward rather than hold you back. Most of all, I hope that we as women can band together to break the barrier and own what is rightfully ours, the privilege of getting older without shame, and to stand united in showing the world that age is something to be proud of, not to hide. In order to become a stronger, healthier, more empowered version of ourselves, we need to embrace the years  that have gotten us to this point. Whether you use my questions or create your own, I encourage you to go on a fact finding mission and enjoy all the discoveries along the way.

Best in all Birthdays to Come~

- Angie

Angie Miller, M.S., is a fitness educator, university instructor, and Licensed Professional Counselor who blends her skills and expertise to empower individuals, mentally and physically, and provide them the tools they need to succeed. A veteran group exercise instructor and personal trainer, Angie is the star of acclaimed exercise DVD’s, including the Bedroom Body™ workout. Her passion for progressive education brought her to Northern Illinois University, where she teaches in the Dept. of Kinesiology & Physical Education. Outside of the university, she presents at fitness conventions worldwide and leads industry trainings as an AFAA Certification Specialist and Kettlebell Concepts Master Instructor. Angie writes for fitness journals and digital communities, and blogs for Collage Video. Connect with Angie at: http://www.angiemillerfitness.com

 

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Want To Target Your Core & Train Your Whole Body?

by Angie Miller

Angie Miller

Try These Functional Bodyweight Moves

Long before bodyweight training became “in vogue,” those of us who have been around the block for a while trained this way because all the popular “toys” you now see in group exercise rooms weren’t around. We learned the art of bodyweight training and how to properly position our body against gravity because gravity was all we had.

Like good and bad fashion, what’s old is new again, and bodyweight training is no exception. This is one “fad,” however, that I’m happy to revisit, and if you read my blogs regularly you know I’m a huge fan of using our body as resistance for smarter, more intuitive body dynamics.

Here are three of my favorite bodyweight exercises and how to execute them properly:

  1. Reverse Plank

  • The reverse plank is an amazing exercise that trains the posterior chain, all the muscles along the back side of the body.
  • It not only targets the core, it isolates and strengthens the gluteal (butt) muscles.
  • Think strong back muscles, toned tricep muscles, and lean leg muscles, hamstrings in particular.
  • The reverse plank is a great exercise to help promote muscle balance, especially because the front plank often overshadows it. In truth, we need both for better body alignment and good posture.

How to Execute:

  • Sit up tall on the floor with your legs extended in front of you.
  • Place your palms on the floor, shoulder distance apart, fingertips facing the hips.
  • Take a deep sniff in through your nose, and you exhale raise your hips up off the floor. Hold for 10 seconds, lower and repeat 5x

Modification:

An option is to bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. This will put you in reverse tabletop, which will also train the posterior muscles of the body.

  1. Front Plank

 

  • The front plank is a great exercise to train the anterior chain, all the muscles on the front side of the body.
  • It tones the arms and strengthens the abdominal muscles, as well as the chest, shoulders, and quadriceps.
  • The key to success (and quality form) is not hold the plank for extended periods of time. 10 second holds are great to start with, and don’t be afraid to modify by dropping your knees.

How to Execute:

  • Lie prone on a mat. Take a deep sniff in, and as you exhale raise your chest, torso, and legs up off the floor.
  • Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles.

Tip: Keep your neck long and extended and avoid dropping your head.

Tip: Brace your core, the muscles in the center of your body, to avoid dropping your hips and placing unnecessary pressure on your lower back.

Modifications: You can modify the front plank by bending your knees, or by placing your arms on an elevated surface such as a step platform.

  1. Knee Tucks

 

  • If you want to take your front plank to the next level, try adding knee tucks.
  • While planks are stabilization exercises, knee tucks involve movement, which requires that you have strong, stable core muscles to execute properly.

How to Execute:

  • Place your hands on the floor shoulder distance apart, or slightly wider.
  • Tuck your toes under, take a deep sniff in, and as you exhale slowly bring one knee to your chest. Return the leg and repeat slowly on the other side.

Tip: Avoid raising your hips too high and placing undue stress on your shoulders and wrists. Brace your center and use your breath.

Tip: You can raise the intensity by increasing the speed and moving more quickly throughout the movement.

Bodyweight training builds body confidence. It leads to stronger movement patterns and improves your posture. With no equipment needed you can perform bodyweight training in your bedroom, your office, or at the gym.

Best to you in Health and Happiness throughout the Holiday Season~

Sincerely,

- Angie

Angie Miller, M.S., is a fitness educator, university instructor, and Licensed Professional Counselor who blends her skills and expertise to empower individuals, mentally and physically, and provide them the tools they need to succeed. A veteran group exercise instructor and personal trainer, Angie is the star of acclaimed exercise DVD’s, including the Bedroom Body™ workout. Her passion for progressive education brought her to Northern Illinois University, where she teaches in the Dept. of Kinesiology & Physical Education. Outside of the university, she presents at fitness conventions worldwide and leads industry trainings as an AFAA Certification Specialist and Kettlebell Concepts Master Instructor. Angie writes for fitness journals and digital communities, and blogs for Collage Video. Connect with Angie at: http://www.angiemillerfitness.com

 

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How to Be Healthy During the Holidays

by Angie Miller

Angie Miller

Yes, those two words can be used in the same sentence, even when temptation surrounds us and routines are lost in the flourish of holiday madness. Even when kids are home from school, family is visiting from out of town, and our house feels like an endless hub of activity. I realize that during the holidays time feels like a precious, limited commodity; but I still contend that when it’s most tempting to skip our workout and other healthy habits is when we need it the most. During the holidays we are inundated with sweets, treats, cocktails, and an abundance of situations where our self-control is put to the test. That’s why this week I decided to share four S words to help you stay healthy during the holidays.

 

Four S Words to Help You Stay Healthy During the Holidays

  1. Self-Care- Exercise for self-care, self-preservation, and self-control (you know, the kind you need when your routine is off and everything from kids, visitors, traffic, and long lines test your patience). Even when it’s not the holidays, finding time to exercise can be a challenge (if we don’t schedule it), and some people hesitate to exercise because they say that it takes time away from family when they're already working. My response is this: When you're flying on an airplane and they're going through emergency landing procedures they tell you to put on your mask first, before your child's, right? Because they know that you can't save your child (or any of your loved ones) if you don't save yourself first. That's how I look at exercise. It's part of self-care. How can we care for others if we aren't caring for ourselves? My suggestion is that you put your mask on first. Exercise, eat well, and when you're feeling your best you'll give your best to others. This is especially important during the holidays when our loved ones count on us to provide them with extra love, support, and holiday hugs.
  1. Sleep- While this one is an eternal challenge for me, I do read the research and I know the importance of good sleep hygiene for brain health, disease prevention, and even good decision-making. Sleep is a like a cognitive clearinghouse (I just made that up). It sweeps our brain and gives us a fresh outlook, even more important during the holidays (refer to my line about traffic, kids, visitors and long lines if you’re still not convinced).
  1. Schedule- While our routine may be off, aka our regular schedule; we can still create a new schedule, a working schedule that accommodates the extra demands we face during the holidays. It may be that our schedule looks and feels different day to day, but that’s okay. Sometimes our body needs new challenges to wake it up and make it pay attention. If you have to replace your kickbox workout at 6 am for a yoga routine at 6 pm, because your visitors prefer to do yoga, why not? (I did remember to suggest that you include your visitors and/or your children in your workout so you don’t have to feel guilty, right?) The key to success is that on Sunday you write out your week, you decide where you need to be and when, and you schedule your workouts the way you schedule everything else. Stick to your schedule and you’ll be good to go. Working out might feel a little different at a different time of day, and you might have to substitute your regular classes or DVD’s for a different workout, but you have everything to gain by being flexible and open to new challenges.
  1. Save- Time, energy, and sanity by delegating- I like to get my tree up early, and I do mean early. Especially this year because I will be traveling for two weeks in December, therefore I won’t be able to enjoy my labor of love. In other words, all the hard work and time I spend decorating. That said, this year I also had a large speaking engagement and preparing for it was demanding a lot of my time. Between that and my regular work I was feeling overwhelmed. It just so happens that my husband had some time of, and I dared to make the suggestion that he decorate the tree this year. Guess what? He did decorate the tree, and the house, and though I might have been tempted to rearrange a few things here and there, and “spruce up” some areas that he might have missed, I didn’t. The tree looks great, the house looks great, and I didn’t have to lift a finger. I accepted, I embraced, I relinquished control, and I delegated. I suggest that if you haven’t already you give it shot; whether it’s giving a loved on shopping list, having them decorate, or whatever you need a helping hand with, go for it. You deserve to delegate and you’ll be amazed at how good it feels.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Best in Health and Many Hugs~

Angie

Angie Miller, M.S., is a fitness educator, university instructor, and Licensed Professional Counselor who blends her skills and expertise to empower individuals, mentally and physically, and provide them the tools they need to succeed. A veteran group exercise instructor and personal trainer, Angie is the star of acclaimed exercise DVD’s, including the Bedroom Body™ workout. Her passion for progressive education brought her to Northern Illinois University, where she teaches in the Dept. of Kinesiology & Physical Education. Outside of the university, she presents at fitness conventions worldwide and leads industry trainings as an AFAA Certification Specialist and Kettlebell Concepts Master Instructor. Angie writes for fitness journals and digital communities, and blogs for Collage Video. Connect with Angie at: http://www.angiemillerfitness.com

 

When Was The Last Time?

by Angie Miller

Angie Miller

 

I want to live well, and that, as opposed to living long is my goal. To live well I believe we have to take risks, go after our goals, seek challenges, practice self care (exercise and proper nutrition), and we have to ask questions! Asking questions takes courage because the answers to those questions can impact our lives in ways we never imagined. There are so many questions we could ask, ones that require soul searching and ones that require nothing more than the opportunity to put aside our inhibitions.

 

I have three questions for you for a little Monday Motivation. The first two are light and fun and will require nothing other than for you to be open to more joy in your life. The third question might require some soul searching, and of course I love that question because that’s where true growth and life-changing opportunities lie.

 Three Questions for Monday Motivation:

  1. When was the last time you did something spontaneous, something that wasn’t in your “plan” for the day? Consider the possibility of waking up to your mental whiteboard of must do’s, the white board that’s filled with notes, lists, and errands. What would happen if you cleared some space on that white board and called a friend to meet for lunch, or headed out on a little expedition to visit a museum or an exhibit you’ve wanted to see? What about getting a pedicure, or finally sitting down to cherish a good book that’s been sitting unopened on your nightstand? What’s the worst that might happen if you push back a few self-imposed should’s for another day and take an opportunity to be spontaneous and do something unexpected, just to embrace the sheer joy of living in the moment? Remember my post last week: “Today is the youngest you’ll ever be.” This day will never happen again, and this moment is the only moment we can count on, so why not?
  1. When was the last time you were alone in your thoughts, meditating on them, reflecting on them, and possibly journaling about them? Self-reflection is a critical cornerstone to a healthy mind. Thoughtful engagement with your personal worries, concerns, goals, hopes, and dreams is the key to being healthy from the inside out. Journaling provides the opportunity to purge our thoughts and it gives us great insight. We become our own personal sounding board. Giving our voice a place to be heard is cathartic. It makes our worries much more manageable and much less powerful. Grab a pen and paper and give it a try. What have you got to lose?

 

  1. When was the last time you did something that made you uncomfortable; that challenged you on a personal or professional level? If it’s been awhile, this will require some self-reflection and goal setting. Remember, age is not a limitation; it’s inspiration to get started, if you haven’t already, in accomplishing that goal that has been speaking to you and calling your attention. This past weekend I accomplished one of my goals. I spoke to a group of all mental health professionals, something I have never done before. I typically present and educate to health and fitness professionals, but this was a different audience. The best, most rewarding part was that less than a year ago I passed the National Counselor Exam to become a Licensed Professional Counselor. Though I earned my Master’s in counseling many years ago, licensure was a two-year process that involved three more master’s level courses and many other challenges, to sum up that process as briefly as possible. My goal was, and still remains that I help bridge the gap between the world of physical health and emotional well being, and bring the fitness and mental health community together to recognize that you can’t have one without the other. As a counselor, educator, and fitness professional, my mission is to help people get well from the inside out. Yesterday, in reflecting how long it took and much work I invested to make all this happen, to get accepted to speak at the conference, and to have the opportunity to influence mental health professionals, all I could think was, if I had to do it over again I would in a heart beat. Goal setting is worth it. Challenging ourselves, getting uncomfortable, and stepping outside our comfort zone opens up a world of possibility. We have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, because failure is only in our lack of willingness to try.

Today, ask a question or two, and go on a fact-finding mission of sorts. Bring a little extra joy into your life, and grab onto opportunities for growth. Be inspired~ 

Best to you in Health~
Angie

Angie Miller, M.S., is a fitness educator, university instructor, and Licensed Professional Counselor who blends her skills and expertise to empower individuals, mentally and physically, and provide them the tools they need to succeed. A veteran group exercise instructor and personal trainer, Angie is the star of acclaimed exercise DVD’s, including the Bedroom Body™ workout. Her passion for progressive education brought her to Northern Illinois University, where she teaches in the Dept. of Kinesiology & Physical Education. Outside of the university, she presents at fitness conventions worldwide and leads industry trainings as an AFAA Certification Specialist and Kettlebell Concepts Master Instructor. Angie writes for fitness journals and digital communities, and blogs for Collage Video. Connect with Angie at: http://www.angiemillerfitness.com

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Today is the Youngest You Will Ever Be

by Angie Miller

Sometimes it’s our friends who know us best and sometimes all it takes is a little Dove dark chocolate for some true insight. I’m proud of my age, how about you?

   

Seldom a week goes by where I don’t announce to one of my fitness classes: “Take a look at the clock and note the date and time…  Remember, today is the youngest you’ll ever be. This hour will never repeat itself, this experience will never happen again, and you’ll never be as young as you are right now. That said; what are you waiting for? We don’t get repeats and second chances are rare.

  

 

 Five Tips to Take Advantage of Time… Today:

Today… Inhale confidence and exhale self-doubt. Your breath is the key to good posture and conscious awareness. Short, shallow, chest breathing exacerbates stress and tension, whereas deep breathing promotes relaxation and calm. This might require a few minutes of Mindful Meditation where you follow your breath and let go of thoughts and worries clouding your judgment.

 

  • As you breathe in, picture your belly filling up like a balloon and embrace positive, self-affirming thoughts:

            “I am doing the best I can.”

            “I am a good person with good intentions.”

  • As you exhale, picture your fears and doubts floating away on a cloud in the sky, on a leaf peacefully making its way down the river, or on a wave moving through the ocean.  

 Today… Do one thing that challenges you physically and do it with powerful intentions: Focus on being healthy and keeping your brain active and emotions balanced, rather than focusing on how you look or how much you weigh. In other words, do it for you!!!! Exercise to feel good, knowing that your mind is a powerful tool. It’s hard to have negative thoughts about your body, your life, or other people when your mind is full of positive energy from exercise.  

  1. Today…Remember that you can’t please everyone. All you can do is be yourself. In doing so you will attract the type of people who are meant to be in your life. We tend to be our own worst critic, and typically self-doubt creates concerns about what others think. In reality, as Ann Landers so eloquently stated, people just don’t give us that much thought…

  

  1. Today…Remember that you can’t meet resistance with resistance. If something isn’t working despite your best efforts, a significant relationship, job, friendship, or whatever it might be, maybe today is the day you allow yourself the option to step away from the situation, reevaluate, and perhaps start over. Resistance of any kind can’t be met with resistance if a successful outcome is anticipated. Sometimes surrendering to something that isn’t meant to be allows us to open up to what might be~ and therein lies possibility.

  

  1. Today…Remember that age is a reflection of our decisions. It’s relative to how we live our life and the choices we make, positive or negative. Age is a number, but how we age is more than just genetics. Water, sleep, exercise, nutrition, stress management, and healthy relationships are just a few factors that mirror back our decisions. As Coco Chanel was quoted as saying…

 Today is the youngest you will ever be, so enjoy your youth and make it a day to remember.

Best to you in Health~

- Angie

Angie Miller, M.S., is a fitness educator, university instructor, and Licensed Professional Counselor who blends her skills and expertise to empower individuals, mentally and physically, and provide them the tools they need to succeed. A veteran group exercise instructor and personal trainer, Angie is the star of acclaimed exercise DVD’s, including the Bedroom Body™ workout. Her passion for progressive education brought her to Northern Illinois University, where she teaches in the Dept. of Kinesiology & Physical Education. Outside of the university, she presents at fitness conventions worldwide and leads industry trainings as an AFAA Certification Specialist and Kettlebell Concepts Master Instructor. Angie writes for fitness journals and digital communities, and blogs for Collage Video. Connect with Angie at: http://www.angiemillerfitness.com

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Angie’s Corner

by Angie Miller

Dear Angie,
Please help me get back on the wagon!
I am a 43-year-old housewife and mother of 4 children. It has been about 18 months since I've enjoyed a regular fitness program and I am ready to return to one!

Hello Everyone,

This week I wanted to share a different type of blog. It’s actually a letter I received from a reader who wrote to me on my website. She agreed to let me share our exchange, as her concerns and struggles are not uncommon. I believe her words will resonate with many of you, just as they did with me, and it is my hope that my responses will prove helpful to those who might need a little extra boost of motivation and a few tips to get back on the wagon.

Message: 

"Hello, My name is Kristine and I am a 43-year-old housewife and mother of 4 children. It has been about 18 months since I've enjoyed a regular fitness program and I am ready to return to one, as I am very unhappy with my lack of stamina, muscle tone, and low energy levels. I am 10 lbs. more than my regular set point and I'm softer, less defined, and sagging in places I hadn't before, such as under my triceps (how did that happen?). I still lift groceries and laundry and clean like crazy!), and my derriere, (I KNOW how that happened - that's from all the sitting while doing my laundry and driving my kids all over the planet, ha!) Friends have told me that it is just my age, but I find it hard to believe that I could experience such a rapid decline in endurance and stamina so quickly because of my age.

…I have always loved working out at home with videos. Among my collection of videos is your Bedroom Body™ Workout and it is definitely one of my favorites, however, what used to be a great workout for me has now become a challenge for me to do for even 15 minutes. I am writing to seek assistance in getting motivated with a plan of action and realistic goals for returning to my formerly strong, energetic self. You are an inspirational example of fitness and I like what I've read about you and your mother and two daughters from your website. Can you help me back onto the wagon? Best, Kristine"

  

Angie's Response:

"Hi Kristine,
Thank you for writing! …
    1. I don't think it's your age. I think that society has come to use age as something to fall back on, when really our age is a reflection of our decisions more than anything else. I think you're right in your intuition that it isn't your age, it's that you've taken time off and naturally your body has responded accordingly. 18 months is a long time, and all of us no matter what our age would see a tremendous decline in our fitness and energy levels, just as 18 months of a fitness program would make our energy and fitness levels increase tremendously. As I get older, I battle that age stereotype more and more because I don't want to let age hold me back, and I'd like to empower other women to think the same. We can be strong and fit no matter what our age. :)
    2. First and foremost, try to let the past be the past. You deserve that. You took time off, you're seeing changes you don't like as a result, but now it's time to look to the future. How do you want to feel in the future? What kind of time could you realistically devote in order to feel the way you want to feel? Notice how I focus on feeling rather than looking, because I believe that we need to focus on getting healthy from the inside out. If you feel good, you'll be inspired to workout and look good. And if you look good, you’ll feel good, so it's a positive cycle that reinforces itself.
    3. Make a schedule. Schedule your workouts the way you schedule your kid's activities. Start with two days a week so you don't feel overwhelmed or paralyzed by the worry of... where do I start, how do I start, when do I start?
Schedule two days a week, at the same time of day, and write it down on a dry erase board or a piece of paper where you and your family can see it; that way they can help keep you accountable.
 
  1. Now that you know when you're going to workout, decide what you're going to do. Maybe make the first day a cardio day and the second day a strength training day. Or choose your two favorite workout videos and decide which one you'll do each day.
 
  1. Decide how long you want to workout. Do you want to start with 30 minutes each workout? Then the second week increase to 35 or 40 minutes, then the third week you could go 45 minutes, and the fourth week shoot for the whole hour.
  1. Once you've successfully accomplished two days a week, on week five try to add a third workout day. Maybe it's a yoga DVD or a stretching routine on your third day. Then do three workouts a week for at least 4-6 weeks before you try to add 4th workout. In the meantime, if you want to increase the length of your workouts you could do that. Just try to keep the 10 percent rule in mind. Increase the duration of your workout or your intensity by only about 10 percent each week so that you don't get injured. Also, try to space your workouts: Tu/Th or M/W/F.
 
I think my biggest piece of advice is to let your self off the hook. Let your past be your past. It's okay that you took time off. You were there for your kids and that's great, but now you want to be there for yourself and for your kids, and you can do both. From here on out, focus on the future and try not to compare who you used to be and how you used to look to who you are today. Just do the best you can, so you can look and feel your best each day. One day at a time."

 

Best to you in Health~

Sincerely,

Angie 

Angie Miller, M.S., is a fitness educator, university instructor, and Licensed Professional Counselor who blends her skills and expertise to empower individuals, mentally and physically, and provide them the tools they need to succeed. A veteran group exercise instructor and personal trainer, Angie is the star of acclaimed exercise DVD’s, including the Bedroom Body™ workout. Her passion for progressive education brought her to Northern Illinois University, where she teaches in the Dept. of Kinesiology & Physical Education. Outside of the university, she presents at fitness conventions worldwide and leads industry trainings as an AFAA Certification Specialist and Kettlebell Concepts Master Instructor. Angie writes for fitness journals and digital communities, and blogs for Collage Video. Connect with Angie at: http://www.angiemillerfitness.com

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Want to Change Your Life? Challenge Your Thoughts (Part 2)

by Angie Miller

Angie Miller

 

Part II of a II Part Series
Last week we learned that stress is perception, that Toxic Thoughts pollute our thinking and create mental sabotage, and that our mind is our greatest asset or our worst liability. This week, we’re going to talk about Reframing: Reconstructing our thoughts and changing the way we view situations… changing our mental mindset.
  
 


A Recap of Reframing
Reframing is like rearranging the furniture in our home, or painting our walls a different color. It’s the same furniture in the same room, but somehow it looks completely different when we change the layout. Reframing is similar to putting our favorite photo in a different frame. It’s the same photo, but we see it differently because the frame changes the way we look at the picture. Reframing is a technique aimed at changing the way we perceive situations and altering our mindset from a negative to a more positive approach. Reframing allows us to rid ourselves of Toxic Thoughts, those thoughts that cloud our judgment and get in the way of positive solutions. Below is a recap of the Toxic Thoughts I discussed last week.

Reframe Your Reality

Below I list the four steps that help us “Reframe our Reality.” Remember that our mind is the most powerful tool we have. We can’t avoid stress or challenges, because we can’t control what comes our way, but we can take charge of our attitude about the challenges we face and more positively direct the outcome.

Four Steps:

  1. Awareness- Identify and write down your three greatest challenges, why they are causing you stress, and why they are bringing negativity into your life. Identify the Toxic Thoughts that might cloud your thinking when you face these stressors.
  1. Reappraise the Situation- Write down two to three possible solutions for each stressor or challenge. If there is no “solution,” in that you can’t change what has already happened, write down two to three things you can learn from the situation, how it can help you grow, and what you might do differently in the future. This is an empowering exercise that reminds us that we're in charge of our attitude and the way we approach our problems. It allows us to step back, generate a more objective point of view, and focus on solutions rather than the problem itself.
  1. Implement Your Solution- Adopt and implement your solutions. Meet your challenges head on. It could be that your solution isn’t a solution, so much as a different mindset, or a different outlook. Again, maybe you can’t change what happened, or what might happen, such as a job loss, but your greatest stressor might be nothing more than your own negative thoughts. It could be that the toxicity your mind creates alters your perception and clouds what is good in your life. Repeat your solutions, and adopt your new outlook each and every time you meet those challenges.
  1. Evaluate Your Solutions and Your Outlook- Do your solutions make you feel more in control? Does your new outlook bring you more peace? If not, start back at step 2.

Reframing is all about changing your perspective, taking your current situation and appreciating that for every negative, challenging event that happens to us, there is something to be learned or gained. We have a choice in how we meet our challenges and find resolution, even if it’s just resolving our own thoughts and finding peace in recognizing what we can and cannot control.

Best to You in Health~

Angie Miller, M.S., is a fitness educator, university instructor, and Licensed Professional Counselor who blends her skills and expertise to empower individuals, mentally and physically, and provide them the tools they need to succeed. A veteran group exercise instructor and personal trainer, Angie is the star of acclaimed exercise DVD’s, including the Bedroom Body™ workout. Her passion for progressive education brought her to Northern Illinois University, where she teaches in the Dept. of Kinesiology & Physical Education. Outside of the university, she presents at fitness conventions worldwide and leads industry trainings as an AFAA Certification Specialist and Kettlebell Concepts Master Instructor. Angie writes for fitness journals and digital communities, and blogs for Collage Video. Connect with Angie at: http://www.angiemillerfitness.com

By Collage Video | | Angie Miller, fitness, goals, Motivation, Weekly Blog, Wellness | 0 comments | Read more

Want to Change Your Life? Challenge Your Thoughts (Part 1)

by Angie Miller

Angie Miller

 

“Everything can be taken away from man but one thing—the last human freedom, to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”

Viktor Frankl
Nazi Concentration Camp Survivor
 


 One of the greatest ironies that I’ve personally experienced in my life, but one that proved to be life changing and transformative is that I was hired to teach a university course in Stress Management when the stress in my life was at an all time peak. Teaching any topic gives us the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the content, and to know and understand it’s true purpose and live by its principles.  Teaching Stress Management gave me that opportunity and more. I didn’t just learn to better manage my stress, I learned that my mind is the most powerful tool I have, and that it guides and directs the outcome of any event or situation that I face. I learned that the goal isn’t to avoid stress, because we can’t control much of what comes our way, but rather to take charge of our attitude about the challenges we face. I learned how to teach others the tools to turn adversity into an opportunity, and to grow and learn from our experiences. In doing so I learned how to embrace those tools myself.
Teaching Stress management proved to be cathartic in more ways than one. It got me through the challenges of caring for my mom when she was sick, managing a move across the country for my husband’s job, and helping my teenage daughter through a rough patch. To this day it is still my favorite course to teach.
Over the next two weeks I’m going to share one of the most beneficial techniques that I teach in Stress Management, called Reframing, which teaches us how to change our perception of situations, and also how to rid ourselves of Toxic Thoughts, which can cloud our thinking.

Stress is Perception
Stressors come in all shapes and sizes, but we know that it’s not the event or circumstance that’s stressful, it’s our perception of the situation. What is stressful to me may not be to you, and vice versa. Stress is all about perception, and Toxic Thoughts are negative thoughts that alter our perception.
Below I list 10 Toxic Thoughts that all of us have probably been guilty of, that cloud our thinking and prevent us from seeing situations clearly.

10 Toxic Thoughts:

  1. Pessimism- seeing the worst in every situation
  2. Blaming- shifting responsibility onto someone else
  3. Perfectionism- imposing above-human standards on others or ourselves
  4. Polarized Thinking- viewing things in extremes, as good or bad, with no middle ground
  5. Magnifying- blowing problems out of proportion
  6. Over-generalizations- one single negative circumstance manifests into a life sentence. “This always happens to me.” “I’ll never be happy.”
  7. Disqualifying the positive- negative thoughts and beliefs override positive ones. We tune out positive words and situations and focus only on the negative ones
  8. Mental filter- a solitary negative detail becomes the focus, obscuring the bigger picture
  9. Should statements- feeling that one “should” or “must,” which results in one feeling guilt or resentment toward others
  10. Personalizing- taking people and situations personally, blaming ourselves for events that we had little or nothing to do with

Our Mind~ Our Greatest Asset or Our Worst Liability
Toxic Thoughts are what I call Mental Sabotage. We face challenges everyday, but the challenges we face often don’t hold a candle to the mindset that we adopt in response. We can allow Toxic Thoughts to cloud our judgment and prevent us from seeking positive solutions, or we can reframe. Reframing is a technique aimed at changing the way we look at situations and altering our perspective from a negative to a more positive approach. Reframing allows us to rid ourselves of Toxic Thoughts.

Your Challenge
Next week I’m going to share the steps that teach us how to reframe. In the meantime, try to make it a point this week to recognize the thoughts that pollute your mind and create mental sabotage. Write down the ones you’re most guilty of, and in what situations you’re most inclined to fall back on that way of thinking. You’ll be armed and ready next week we adopt strategies to abolish those thoughts and conquer our challenges.
- Angie

Angie Miller, M.S., is a fitness educator, university instructor, and Licensed Professional Counselor who blends her skills and expertise to empower individuals, mentally and physically, and provide them the tools they need to succeed. A veteran group exercise instructor and personal trainer, Angie is the star of acclaimed exercise DVD’s, including the Bedroom Body™ workout. Her passion for progressive education brought her to Northern Illinois University, where she teaches in the Dept. of Kinesiology & Physical Education. Outside of the university, she presents at fitness conventions worldwide and leads industry trainings as an AFAA Certification Specialist and Kettlebell Concepts Master Instructor. Angie writes for fitness journals and digital communities, and blogs for Collage Video. Connect with Angie at: http://www.angiemillerfitness.com

 

By Collage Video | | Angie Miller, fitness, goals, Motivation, Weekly Blog, Wellness | 0 comments | Read more

Four Fitness Myths Busted

by Angie Miller

Angie Miller

When it comes to exercise and proper nutrition there are a lot of myths and misconceptions. After all, living a healthy lifestyle requires a lot of time and dedication and we all want to know if there’s a better way. But in reality there are no short cuts, and if it seems too good to be true it probably is. Below are four common myths, and some facts to set the story straight.

Myth #1: If you stop lifting weights your muscles will turn to fat.

Fact: Fat and muscle are two different types of tissue and cannot convert to one another.  When not in use, muscles atrophy, or decrease in size, but they don’t turn to fat. If you stop exercising and lifting weights, but you continue to consume the same amount of calories, you will likely see an increase in body fat and a loss of muscle mass. 

Myth #2: Exercising first thing in the morning on an empty stomach will help you burn more calories from fat.

Fact: It’s true that when you wake up in the morning your body hasn’t had fuel for a number of hours. This puts it in fasting mode and increases the use of fat for energy because glycogen (energy) stores are depleted. However, it also slows metabolism. Working out requires energy, and if your energy stores are depleted you won’t have the fuel needed to push yourself harder for longer periods of time. For best results, fuel your body before you work out to boost your metabolism and burn calories more efficiently.

 

Myth #3: If you want to lose weight you need to be in your “Fat Burning Zone.”

Fact: You burn the most calories from fat when your body is at total rest. In other words, when you’re sleeping.  On the flip side, you also burn the least amount of calories overall. If your goal is to lose weight then you need to burn more calories than you consume. The more calories you burn, the more weight you lose. Where the calories come from is secondary.

Myth #4: If you want to chisel a sexy middle you need to do crunches and sit-ups.

Fact: You don’t get to choose where you lose fat. Training a muscle group in isolation will strengthen the muscles underneath the fat, but not burn fat from that area. Cardio/aerobic exercise burns calories and reduces overall body fat, strength training amps your metabolism, and eating a lean, healthy diet keeps you trim and strong.  If you want to chisel a sexy middle your best bet is to combine cardio and strength work with exercises that stabilize and strengthen your entire core.

While there may not be any shortcuts, the good news is that knowledge is power. The more we understand about exercise and nutrition the better decisions we make, and good decisions lead to positive results.

- Angie

Angie Miller, M.S., is a fitness educator, university instructor, and Licensed Professional Counselor who blends her skills and expertise to empower individuals, mentally and physically, and provide them the tools they need to succeed. A veteran group exercise instructor and personal trainer, Angie is the star of acclaimed exercise DVD’s, including the Bedroom Body™ workout. Her passion for progressive education brought her to Northern Illinois University, where she teaches in the Dept. of Kinesiology & Physical Education. Outside of the university, she presents at fitness conventions worldwide and leads industry trainings as an AFAA Certification Specialist and Kettlebell Concepts Master Instructor. Angie writes for fitness journals and digital communities, and blogs for Collage Video. Connect with Angie at: http://www.angiemillerfitness.com

 

Volunteerism… The Power of Making a Difference

by Angie Miller

Angie MillerA year ago this summer my daughter and I volunteered for Habitat for Humanity in Hungary. I had wanted to take a family vacation to Europe, but as time drew nearer I started to feel like I needed an experience that was more impactful and meaningful. One that would leave me feeling fulfilled. More importantly I needed to provide my daughter, who was 21 at the time, with the same type of experience: One that would give her perspective and experience with other cultures, lifestyles, and socioeconomic statuses. I wanted to show her the impact we can all have when we put ourselves out there for others. Frankly, I needed those things as well. It had been a year since my mom had passed and I had not only lost my mom, but my role as a caregiver. I needed somewhere positive to put my flood of emotions and a constructive way to manage my pain. I knew that my daughter did too. I wanted hard work, and I wanted to know that whatever I did I was making a difference. So I started investigating volunteer opportunities through Habitat for Humanity because I love their mission. I also know that one of the greatest benefits of volunteering through their Global Village Program is that you get to immerse yourself in another culture and travel to another country, all while helping to provide a family in need with safe shelter. Not to mention, you get to join a team of individuals from all over the world, which is eye opening in and of it self. We spent nine days in Hungary. I learned to mix plaster (handling a power tool was the most fun), mud and tape (excruciating work), paint windows (a breeze), and my most memorable…crawl inside of an attic and lay insulation while donning a hazmat suit, helmet, and gloves, while it was over 90 degrees outside. My daughter and I, and little Jean from Singapore were the chosen ones for that job. Apparently being short and compact made us the perfect fit for that type of work.

I wouldn't change a thing about volunteering on that trip, and especially about sharing those days with my daughter. Volunteerism changes lives, and it’s not just the lives of those we help. In helping others we ultimately help ourselves along the way. We learn and grow and we become a better version of ourselves. Whether you volunteer five minutes or five hours away, in the U.S. or outside of it, at the food shelter or building shelter for someone else, I cannot emphasize enough how truly impactful it is.

 If you’re still not convinced, here are my five top reasons to volunteer:

  1. It’s confidence building. You learn how to perform tasks you might not otherwise have had the opportunity to learn. Who would have thought I could manage a power tool and lay insulation?
  2. You meet other people who are like-minded and have positive intentions.
  3. You gain perspective. You realize that your worries often pale in comparison to the worries of those who have no shelter or don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
  4. You have the opportunity to share your volunteer experiences with your children, spouse, friends, and anyone who might benefit from the possibilities of giving their time, energy, and expertise.
  5. Last but not least it’s a workout, and who doesn’t love an unexpected opportunity to burn calories? When you volunteer, especially when you build a house, you move your body in a functional manner. You spend your days squatting, twisting, bending, and reaching, and you’re active for extended periods of time. You use muscles you didn’t know you had, and you recognize the power, agility, and strength of your body.

Wishing you the best in your volunteer experiences, and in all opportunities to create a better life for you and the lives that you touch.

- Angie

Angie Miller, M.S., is a fitness educator, university instructor, and Licensed Professional Counselor who blends her skills and expertise to empower individuals, mentally and physically, and provide them the tools they need to succeed. A veteran group exercise instructor and personal trainer, Angie is the star of acclaimed exercise DVD’s, including the Bedroom Body™ workout. Her passion for progressive education brought her to Northern Illinois University, where she teaches in the Dept. of Kinesiology & Physical Education. Outside of the university, she presents at fitness conventions worldwide and leads industry trainings as an AFAA Certification Specialist and Kettlebell Concepts Master Instructor. Angie writes for fitness journals and digital communities, and blogs for Collage Video. Connect with Angie at: http://www.angiemillerfitness.com

By Collage Video | | Angie Miller, fitness, goals, Healthy, Motivation, tips, Weekly Blog, Wellness | 0 comments | Read more
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