Amanda Fisher Coaching

I help women get crazy strong - physically AND mentally - through strength training, sustainable eating habits, and a heathy mindset.

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Reshape Your Workouts: Ditch Constant Cardio For The Weight Room

You guys.  Would you call yourself a Cardio Queen?  Like, cardio all day everyday, gotta get it in?

I used to be that girl.  I drove to the gym to walk and/or run on the dreadmill.  Or furiously spin on the elliptical.  For a good hour or so, or a certain number of calories burned.  And then, that was it.  That was my workout program.  I was furiously working up a sweat and burning calories, but outside the gym, to be honest, I wasn’t seeing much change on my physical appearance.  Maybe a slight decrease in weight, but nothing really that I could *see* in the mirror, and that slight decrease on the scale didn’t really seem worth the effort I was putting forth in the gym.

I felt intimidated as shit to try visiting the “other side” of the gym….where all the weights were housed.  Did I dare leave my comfort zone of the treadmill and elliptical?

I did eventually dare :).  And I’m so freaking happy I did.  I found a love affair in the weight room (obviously, lol, or I wouldn’t be here writing a blog alllll about strength training), but I also found a few things I wasn’t expecting.  And I think you might want to know about my findings in case you are stuck in Cardio Queen status like I was.

  • I found out that allllll the cardio I was doing was just kinda making me hungrier.  I was burning calories (probably like 400-700 per session based on the day) BUT that activity was making me HUNGRY over time, and I was just eating those calories back, which derp….makes sense, because my weight didn’t change much.  Spinning my wheels, so to speak.
  • I was NOT looking any different in the mirror, in fact, I think I was looking FLABBIER.  Welp, upon learning more about exercise, nutrition, and how each plays their role in body and hormone regulation, I learned that I was just constantly elevating cortisol ALL THE TIME.  Elevated cortisol isn’t bad BUT constantly elevated cortisol is sorta like a fat loss blocker.  I was basically stopping my body from the ability to burn fat.
  • I was burning calories to burn calories.  The work I was doing in the gym stopped after I left the gym.

And so, here’s what happened when I traded in 2-3 cardio sessions each week for strength training……

  • My appetite began to level out.  Look, I’m a hungry person naturally, but I noticed that I wasn’t having the SWINGS of hunger like I used to.  Part of this was because I was able to see that food wasn’t an enemy, and that by lifting I NEEDED to eat healthy sized meals to actually get the job done in the weight room.
  • My appearance DID absolutely change.  I began to see muscles.  I dropped a size or two without much of a scale change.  I would say I’m a more compact version of myself.  Not soft.  Definition in my muscles for sure.  And….when I walk past a mirror now, I flex.  A TON.
  • My body began working for me OUTSIDE the gym.  After strength training session, my body was in repair and recovery mode, meaning….I was burning additional calories 24 hours AFTER I was done in the gym.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Cardio is important, and I’m not hating on it.  I’m really just hating on the idea that JUST cardio is the way to go.  We DO need cardio, we just need it strategically, NOT all day EVERY day.  You know?

So, the way I see it, if you are a Cardio Queen like I was, you have two options right now:

  1. Keep doing what you are doing.  If you like it, keep going!  If you feel like you are spinning your wheels, it might be time to get off this ride.
  2. Trade 2-3 cardio days for strength training days.  Get to the OTHER side of the gym and do some work!  If you aren’t sure how to slay the strength training beast, and you need a wing(wo)man, let me know, and I’ll get you squared away on a strength training program that works FOR YOU and YOUR GOALS.

And can I just say this…. strength training was THE THING that helped me realize that I am a friggin’ capable individual, and made me confident in the fact that I can do the hard stuff in life – move the furniture, carry the kids, get alllll 80 grocery bags in the house in one stinkin’ trip, and feel (at 34 years old)  stronger and more agile than I did as a 17-year-old punk athlete.

I want that capable and strong feeling for YOU!

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Three Reasons To Love Activity Trackers (and three reasons to hate on them)

Do you even Fitbit, bro?

Fitbits, Jawbones, Misfits and the like are SUPER POPULAR right now.  It is not uncommon to see a bunch of people sporting an activity tracker on their wrist….even if it doesn’t go with their outfit (I am a repeat offender on this one).

I was a Fitbit Charge HR wearer for a few years.  Mostly, it reminded me to move when it is very easy to be sedentary.  I am one of those people who can plop down and watch reruns of The Nanny and Will & Grace for hours easily.  While I AM ok doing that sometimes, mostly that results in me wanting to sit more and move less and puts my mood in a funk.  It isn’t a good thing for me on the regular, so  I began wearing the Fitbit Flex a few years back.  Since then, I have absolutely increased my movement by becoming more AWARE of my non-movement habits and the steps I WASN’T getting.  I spend more time on my feet, around my house, at my job, and I do find myself (weather permitting) walking to work at times too.  Many of these things were brought about by the awareness of what my Fitbit told me.  I naturally increased my steps each day from 8000-ish back in 2013 to 15000-ish pre-pregnancy.  I took a break from my Fitbit for a while, and have just gone back to wearing the basic model, the Zip, about a week ago.  Mostly I’m curious about how many steps I ACTUALLY get right now, and it’s a lot less than my old days.  Mostly because I’m still prioritizing sitting a ton plus feeding a baby :), and I’m totally coolio with that at this point in time, but will be increasing gently over time.

Alas, there are many reasons to love on activity trackers.  Let’s talk about my favorite reasons.

  1. Activity trackers create awareness.  They point out the obvious – yo, do you even sit much?  Or, if you are a mom of three, a school teacher, or someone who doesn’t formally exercise but moves frequently throughout the day, you might be surprised at what your tracker tells you.  Perhaps you move about 2500 steps a day because you have a desk job.  Or, perhaps your norm is 15000 steps per day because you are the mail person who walks the neighborhood delivering mail.  It doesn’t matter WHICH person you are, but by wearing your tracker, you are AWARE at how much you move each day, or don’t move each day.  Awareness is (in my opinion) a powerful thing.
  2. Activity trackers tell you a rough estimate of how many calories you burn each day.  While I’m not all about calories all the time, I do think this is powerful for people trapped in the diet mindset.  For instance, my average burn each day is about 2900 calories, given my activity level, my weight, height, and the like.  Of course this number is, at best, an estimate…but it’s still significant.  As someone who struggles with a diet mindset and used to cling to the idea of eating 1200-1500 calories per day that some women want to default to….well, this kind of shoots holes right through that disaster, doesn’t it?
  3. Some activity trackers tell you about your sleep.  Maybe this isn’t a huge deal for some people, and that’s ok.  I think this little tidbit is cool, though.  I dig sleep.  I am unable to act like a human (or to be honest, a nice person) if I don’t get enough sleep on the regular.  My Fitbit has made me AWARE of my sleep habits.  It is a bit motivating for me to see my average sleep time increase from six hours per night to seven something.  It is motivating for me to see how increasing my food appropriately from crazy diet mindset days/times to an amount that supports my overall energy expenditure and watch my sleep QUALITY improve.  It also amazes me that I started sleeping better when my husband got braces and stopped snoring.  Basically, the point again here is AWARENESS.   Little things matter, and affect other things.

All good things, here, in my opinion.  But, as always, for every good thing or two, there might be some not-so-good things for some that come along with, right?

  1. Activity trackers can bring out the obsessive.  So, for a person NEEDING to hit a certain step count each day, they might find themselves walking up and down their stairs needlessly just to accumulate steps, even on a day where they truly might NEED to rest.  If I’m walking because I want to walk, cool.  If I’m walking just to accumulate steps, maybe not so cool, right.
  2. Sleep tracking activity trackers might actually make you STRESS TOO MUCH about your sleep or lack thereof.  And a “stressed out about sleep you” might mean you aren’t going to improve your sleep simply because you are TOO focused on it.  I know for me, when I knew I got 4 or 5 hours one night, I spent the whole day being focused on being SO TIRED.  However, when I took a break from wearing a tracker, I didn’t know how much sleep or quality sleep I was getting.  I also noticed that those I wasn’t needing to focus so much on the sleep I WASN’T getting some nights.
  3. Activity trackers can make you justify eating calories because your tracker tells you your data.  I know I could easily try justifying eating 500 extra calories one day because my tracker told me my burn was high.  And I could probably easily justify that even if I wasn’t hungry.  So……maybe this isn’t awesome either, right?  And also, activity trackers aren’t known to be super accurate, they are ballpark figures usually, sooo…..what good is it to go on hard and fast numbers?

As always, activity trackers could be SUPER beneficial for some, and SUPER over the top for others.  Right now, I’m digging my super basic version because it’s giving me that awareness again of my movement habits.  However, I feel like after taking a break from wearing one for a while, I’m coming at it with a new set of eyes.  I’m not needing to do something just because my tracker is telling me I’m low on steps or calories.  I don’t feel obsessive about data right now, and I actually am looking for a gentle increase in movement again.  For right now, it’s a huge helper for me.

So, should YOU wear one?  It depends on YOU.  What are your needs?  Do you need awareness?  Or how do you plan on interpreting the data it will tell you?  Can you wear one without getting crazy obsessive?  I want to hear!  Drop me a comment on my Facebook page and let’s discuss!

Three Ways I’m Practicing Self-Care Right Now (and loving)

A few weeks ago, I texted my best fitness friend to tell her I was in a massive funk.  The same old story – I should be doing this, I should be feeling like this, I should be doing more at this, blah blah blah.  I was at the tail end of my maternity leave and starting to get a little (lot?) nutty.  Her response…..get your ass on journaling.  Journal, journal, journal.

And I did for a few days.  She gave me a few reminders about journaling and checked in with me.  And to be honest, I was fine in a few days.

You know why I was fine after a few days?  Because I was back in my happy place routine.  With a little structure but not too much.  And back in the gym watching others tear it up and getting myself easing back in a bit more to workouts.  OMG, once you are out of that setting and then get re-entry….it’s AWESOME.

Not gonna lie to you, having some weeks at home with a new babe and more family time rocked too.  It really did.  But I also get a little nutso when my brain doesn’t get a dose of strength training and talk of strength training, a loose schedule, or a few minutes of solo time.  LOL.

And so I have more of an opportunity to try out some self-care in different ways right now.  Mostly because I’m easing back into work and workouts, and have time between classes/clients to do some of these things right now.

Before Maren showed up, I would say self-care was a bit easier.  Todd, Emma and I were in a routine, and Emma is four, so she is independent quite a bit, and also has her own little life with pre-school and part time daycare, and friends and grandma’s stealing her to come play.  So going for a solo walk, journaling, meditating, and all that jazz was something that COULD easily fit inside my day.  OR, getting up early in the morning to do those things before she woke up, because sleep was regular and plentiful, lol.

So, I still love those things, but they don’t always fit as easily into life right now.  So, I’m practicing self-care a little differently.

I’m dedicating 20 minutes each and every day to go for a walk.  Either by myself, with my kids, or with our entire family.  I don’t care how I get it, I just gotta get it.  First and foremost, it’s just a regular movement practice that I can count on that’s easy enough to do EVERYDAY.  To be honest, solo walks are nice some days, but I also really dig an entire family walk (yesterday we went to a local county park and walked and that rocked).  Spending time as a family unit IS part of my personal self-care routine right now because we are still new to being a family of four and it’s important.  So is solo time, and so the few times each week that solo walks have been happening, they’ve been with coffee cup in hand and that has been LOVELY, and I’ve been sometimes doing it without any music, OR I’ve been listening to a cool podcast or something, or complete silence.  Twenty minutes EVERYDAY.  Loving it.

I’m doing a mobility/feel good routine most days.  Nothing crazy at all.  To be honest, whatever I feel like that day, and sometimes it’s in jammies or sometimes it’s after a workout, or sometimes it’s in the living room at night.  Just to un-crunchify and get my body feeling like a working body again.  And to remind myself that I’m a priority and I can feel present in this body.

I’m trying out a no-spend month for size.  Technically probably not a true self-care practice, but it’s still a good thing for me.  In June, I’m nixing the non-essential spending.  No Old Navy random orders, no Target fun trips.  Nothing except food, toilet paper, etc.  I did slip once in the first week when I wasn’t thinking and bought a bath bomb, lol.  But….so far, this is making me rethink a bunch of things.  So, obviously no-spend months probably aren’t realistic for every month BUT in July I’m already brainstorming how I can take this and make it realistic….like buying ONE cool thing per month, or actually establishing a formal fun budget for myself or something that doesn’t end up in me buying kid stuff, lol.  Basically I’m learning that a little planning goes a long way in the form of eating more meals at home and less on the go, packing snacks and water, I don’t need every last tank top that’s on 60% markdown from American Eagle clearance, etc.  OH, and I haven’t bought workout clothes for TWO MONTHS (technically a business expense…..but still, lol).  This little no spend month has been a lot of thinking and honestly, peace of mind knowing that there is cash tucked aside and not just vanished into thin air.

I can tell you I’m still ducking into the bathtub for some epsom salt goodness when it’s convenient.  And I usually bring a beer with me and Todd asks if I’m seriously drinking in the tub (yes).  I still journal and will come and go back to that always.  I’m also creating a bunch of things for my blog and online business that are technically still work BUT they are almost more self-care because I’m creating things I believe in, and wish were created for me when I needed them, and it’s almost therapeutic in a way.

What about you?  What kinds of things are you doing for self-care right now?  Are they traditional or are they wacky and random?  I want to know!  Drop me a comment on my Facebook page!

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