Fitness equipment challenge

Are there machines in the gym you see someone using and realize that you never even knew it existed?

You’re curious, but not wanting to leave your comfort-zone, you eyeball it from afar until you eventually forget it exists again and use the same few pieces of equipment that you’re familiar with?

Well that’s all about to change! During this challenge I’m going to use every piece (or try) of equipment in my local gym and write about it here on dearfitkris. If you’re not familiar with a certain machine hopefully this will help you!

Or, if you are familiar with many then maybe this series will give you a different take on how to use a machine you’re already a fan of.

It’s as simple as that! It’ll be a lengthy journey, so enjoy the ride.

Today’s equipment review will be of something commonly found a community fitness centers:

THE BASKETBALL

What is it? A leather ball that is inflated to bounce, approximately 9inches in diameter.

What can you do with it? Shoot hoops, run dribbling drills, pass drills, and play games. Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need a hoop, or even a court for that matter, to workout using a basketball.

Functional fitness rating: 7/10 because basketballs are so versatile they can be used for a variety of cardio drills and agility training, I am giving this piece of gym equipment a high score. In this score I am also factoring in that you can incorporate a game of basketball or H-O-R-S-E in with a friend to keep your workout fun by adding that social component.

Blossom this Spring

Set some time aside for yourself today and just be.

Don’t put any limitations on yourself by having expectations of a certain outcome. Just sit, breath and be good company to yourself.

Allow space for your inhibitions to leave you, making way for a consciousness of only breath.

There is nowhere you need to be.

Nothing that needs to be done.

No you that you need to be better than.

There is just this moment.

And in this moment where you sit with yourself, listen to your body. Stretch. Relax. Lay down. Hum yourself a song. Breath heavily, loudly, and with purpose.

You are everything you need in this moment.

There is a line in the Tao Te Ching that reads:

The Master observes the world but trusts his inner vision.

He allows things to come and go. His heart is open as the sky.

-Lao Tzu

Don’t over think it.

Don’t over think anything, not this blog post, not that quote.

Just breath and let these words resonate with the wisdom that is already within you, effortlessly. You don’t need to try to understand. Because at a fundamental, spiritual level you just do.

I wanted to write a blog post about meditation without overtly stating it because that word can scare people.

It sounds like such an unattainable concept that brings visions of monks in the forest sitting still for hours.

But it’s not unattainable. It’s something that you can practice in your own home, with children playing around and the kitchen’s pots and pans clanking about. You can meditate in your car before work, at the gym in the sauna, while you run, before you sleep, right here… wherever you are right now.

There is no failing.

There is only learning.

My meditation practice that I wrote about previously has change the way that I react to stressors in my life, it has also created a beautiful space where I can honor my feelings without acting on them.

On my run the other day I entered a meditative state. I began to write a poem in my head. I am a poet by trade and by passion, but I haven’t published any poetry in this forum.

Not yet anyway, but Spring brings the possibility of new things to unfold, new stories to tell, and old buds to bloom once more.

Be well friends, and breath well.

Favorite recent reads and listens

This month I’ve been on a super tight schedule, but posting is still very much a priority of mine :)!

Expect 1 new post every week.

Today, as promised, I’m giving an overview of my favorite reads and listens aka books, articles, websites, and podcasts of this month so far.

Lately, I’ve been enjoying and learning a lot from the TED Radio Hour sponsored by NPR on Spotify podcasts.

My recommendations:

Circular

Where Joy Hides

Quiet

The Food We Eat

What Makes Us… Us

All of these can be found on the Spotify App.

As for reading, I recommend:

My most recent article for The Record Journal on American Heart Health Month

Hike safe

It’s Official: 2018 Was The Fourth Warmest Year on Record

The 100 Dollar Start-Up (the book)

Tao Te Ching, Stephen Mitchell edition

Enjoy!

Be well xx.

My relationship with social media

Hello loyal readers,

Did you miss me this past Tuesday?

I missed you!

But, with Spring semester in session I’ve allowed myself a bit more flexibility in my posting schedule. I will keep you posted with any changes (pun intended).

I’ve decided to reserve one of my two posting day per week (Tues/Thurs) to keep you updated on my favorite articles/books/podcasts that I’ve been reading or listening to.

Stay tuned for that!

Now, let’s get to discussing my relationship with social media.

Since Autumn I’ve been making a conscious effort to wean myself off social media. Not because I saw my usage of it as a problem, but simply because I found myself habitually using it in ways that don’t serve me.

I felt like social media had began to drain both my time and energy (see my energy vampire post for more info).

Yesterday, I went on a walk through a wooded trail & found myself moved to skip and twirl to the music I was listening to. And so, I did. Without thinking twice about my skips and twirls looking silly, I let the music move me.

I spun around and around jamming out until I became dizzy. Then, laughingly, spinning in the opposite direction in an attempt to undo all the spins that initiated my dizziness. Knowing full well it would only exacerbate the feeling of being off- balance.

I let myself be. Wishing that my niece were with me because surely she’d want to race through the woods, examining all the flora and fauna we passed by, with the keen scientist eye that only children have.

With no one behind me and only my dancing shadow ahead, I spun and spun until the song I was listening to slowly faded into another one.

Afterwards, I beamed in appreciate of this special moment with myself where I paid homage to my inner child, not feeling compelled to share it on my Instagram or in any snapshot.

I did make a mental note to tell my niece, because I knew she would find the same joy in my incessant twirling. This time just spent being me, for me alone, is so precious.

I decided to share this experience here today because I want to remind you all to do something fun and allow yourself to find joy in small things.

I learned years ago that my life is honestly all around better the less time I spend mindlessly scrolling through social media apps. I do enjoy researching and reading about topics I’m interested in through social media. I’m also very grateful for the relationships I’ve built through social media.

I’ve learned how to use it properly, through trial and error. Like for instance, I don’t use Facebook. I have a few accounts I’ve made over the years but they remain inactive (I don’t even know how to use the app). I discovered years ago, that my relationship with Facebook would never resemble a healthy one because of the FOMO (fear of missing out) it gave me. So, I haven’t really used it since.

My Twitter account is used to post updates about my blog posts, but it used to be one of the major ways that I got my news. Always being bombarded with shocking new stories that had yet to even by verified made for an emotional rollercoaster. I began to find this way of using social media burdensome, so I adjusted.

It’s all about defining boundaries in my relationship with social media apps. I feel as though I’ve gotten pretty good at that.

Instagram has been my primary social media outlet for years.

But recently I’ve discovered, the less I use my phone the more connected to my actual real life I feel. This inadvertently includes social media.

I have very sacred nighttime and morning rituals that don’t involve my phone.

During the day if I do happen to open the Instagram app a reminder pops up “You’ve spent 5 minutes on Instagram today” based on the setting I’ve chosen.

My weekly screen time has gone down considerably in the past weeks, and so have my stress levels.

I alluded to a less active Instagram account in my post about my goals for the new year. Not because anything is less interesting or “Instagram worthy” in my life, but simply because I’m living to experience it and not to document it.

One of my goals for 2019 was to take less superfluous pictures, I’m crushing that goal. And I plan to keep it up!

So, if you don’t see me as much on your feed don’t take it personally. I’m supporting you from afar. I have no plans to forego social media completely.

Social media has its place in my life, just not a very big one.

Thanks for reading.

Be well xx.

Community: Women’s Health 4 of 4

Communities of women have been the cornerstone of society since the beginning of time.

Sometimes, the overlooked or neglected cornerstone, but still an integral part of the fabric of humanity nonetheless.

It’s so important that there be places where women can go where they feel safe and supported in discussing all of their struggles and ambitions.

This goes beyond family and friend groups.

Organizations whose primary missions are to empower women need to be given regular recognition.

For more information on these check out this article on Mental Floss.

I was disappointed to discover that the first two articles I came across when researching for this post completely negated talking about WHY communities dedicated to furthering the involvement of women in positions of leadership are so essential.

One article was disguised as a “tips for creating a women empowerment group” but was actually a chocolate candy advertisement!

The other, completely dismissed the societal disparities that make it more difficult for women to succeed in business than men by claiming fundamental human fears like “failing” were exclusive to women and explicitly stated that “family life” and low esteem hold women back in the work place.

Whether or not it was intended by the authors, these articles completely dismissed the concerns of women in modern society.

I would even venture to say that these articles are complicit in furthering a culturally homogenized and offensively stereotypical view of women’s needs.

No, we don’t need to be more fearless.

No, we don’t need to be told that we can’t both be caregivers in our home life and successful entrepreneurs.

And no, we definitely don’t need to be subjected to anymore repressive marketing schemes.

Thank u, business mogul for your insight and small town blogger for all things Dove– next.

But for every misguided attempt to draw attention to women in business, and supportive communities where women can thrive, there are many more that drive the point home.

If you’re reading this blog and wondering, what can I do? How can I contribute?

I want you to know that girl squads don’t have to by synonymous with pop singers.

You can get your female friends and colleagues together to discuss your current academic or professional pursuits (for many of you both) and find local women’s groups in your area that also support a dialogue between women and their communities.

In my hometown of Wallingford, CT our local recreation center has an active women’s group. My college campus also has many support groups, clubs, and opportunists for students to talk about social justice and empowerment.

Remember that your voice matters. And know that your gender doesn’t (or shouldn’t) define the parameters of your success.

Women, women of color especially, and transgender women specifically, are massively underrepresented in politics, business, research, and positions of leadership.

Even though women make up more than half the U.S. workforce, earn more than 60% of the bachelors and master’s degrees awarded in the country each year– we make up only 8.1% of top earners in the country.

Women make up more than 80% of consumer spending in the U.S., yet only 3% are creative directors of advertising.

Jaw = floor.

Check out the link I provide here for more of these jarring stats.

If you don’t know where to start when forming a community of likeminded individuals committed to social justice, start by opening a dialogue.

Simple discussion is enough to turn the mind’s wheels, creating inspired thoughts, thoughts that lead to action, and that action insights change.

Share this blog post with a woman who inspires you.

Be well xx.

Mental disorders: Women’s health 3 of 4

Discussing mental health seems to make people uncomfortable. Albeit, we’ve come a very long way since the start of the century where people were made to feel morally corrupt or impaired for having mental health issues.

There is still plenty of stigma around mental illnesses; ranging from addiction, anxiety, OCD, eating disorders, schizophrenia, personality disorders, –just to name a few. Not to mention the many sub-types of the various psychological disorders found in the DSM-IV.

Aside for explicit diagnosed mental health issues there is always the major factor of excessive STRESS that can wreak absolute havoc in the otherwise mentally healthy person’s life.

Continuing to discuss stress and how it exacerbates mental illness is a top agenda for the world’s leading health professionals.

Making sure this topic garners the attention it deserves is one of my main goals for dearfitkris.

It’s estimated that more than 1 in 5 women have experienced some lapse of mental well-being within the past year.

That’s a ton of women.

My mind immediately goes to myself, my two sisters, my mother, and my grandmothers.

That’s over five women just right there.

An article in Psychology Today states that women are 40% more likely to develop depression than men and 2x as likely to develop PTSD.

Luckily, there are so many precious and valuable resources available to people who are struggling.

There are also many efforts within online forums and communities to END THE STIGMA ON MENTAL ILLNESS which is so incredible.

I believe one of the most beneficial actions we can take to end the stigma for those who suffer from psychological disorders is to simply talk about them.

Just as a person with diabetes might divulge information and facts about their condition, how they treat it, as to normalize the checking of blood glucose level and administering of insulin, someone with a psychological illness might wish to do the same. And if they do, they should feel comfortable and safe in disclosing their personal health information.

Tips for self-care, mindfulness, and effective practice of meditation should be traded enthusiastically and regularly.

People with mental health disorders shouldn’t be made to feel like they did this to themselves or that they have failed in someway.

For instance, an individual who has depression should feel comfortable discussing how–just as a person with diabetes, they don’t choose to have this condition, how they treat it, and their triumph in managing their symptoms.

They should revel in the fact that they have been brave enough to see a medical professional, and had their condition diagnosed.

Seeking medical help is the most important part of recognizing when something isn’t right.

Leaning on friends and family for emotional support is helpful, but it can only get you so far.

Mental health is not something that should be brushed aside because people think it’s incidental, or worse, because people are ashamed.

No one should be made to feel like a bad person for their mental health condition.

We cannot choose what happens chemically in our brains, but we can choose how we decide to deal with a perceived malfunction going forward.

It’s important to make the choice to talk to a trained medical professional when you notice things are off or when your stress load is getting to be too much and you’re having trouble winding down.

Think about your deteriorating mental health like any other physical illness. You cut your finger. You notice the cut on your finger hasn’t gone away, you assure yourself it’s nothing and it will subside on it’s own (think of the cut as the panic you feel daily when driving and your finger as your mental health). You let weeks go by and now your finger looks worse– like it might be infected (your panicked thoughts seeped into other areas of your life now and are affecting just more than your driving) before you know it you can lift your finger (you don’t want to leave the house).

But how could this be, it was just a little cut?

How could this be, it was just a little anxiety?

Don’t set yourself up for bewilderment that your symptoms have completely taken over your life. Take these signs of imbalance seriously.

I implore anybody who has recognized symptoms of waning mental wellness seek the help of a licensed psychiatrist, psychologist, or social worker.

Ask your primary care physician for recommendations for mental health professionals and explore the wealth of resources online that are available to you.

If you are in college, your school should have a wellness center with trained psychologists to assist you in times of need. These services are usually of no cost to you.

See if a trusted friend or family member would be willing to accompany you to your appointments and do something fun with you afterwards.

Now with the Spring semester beginning, it’s important to recognize when we feel overwhelmed, then take time for ourselves, and get the support that we both need and deserve!

Let this post serve as a reminder that YOU ARE NOT ALONE in your struggles.

You are vibrant, resilient, and there are people out there who want to help you manage your stress.

If you or someone you know is struggling check out the resources available at the National Institute of Mental Health.

Be well xx.

Weight loss, hormones, and self acceptance: Women’s health 2 of 4

For more information about weight loss for women, and how it differs from weight loss for men, check out the sites I’ve linked below.

But, before you do, stick around to dig a little bit deeper into WHY you want to change your body.

You know those women who have perfectly beautiful and healthy bodies but are always talking about some new diet fad or how they’re trying to get “back in shape?”

Take a step back and ask yourself: Am I one of these women?

Sometimes we get into a habit of constantly trying to change our bodies, whether that be through dieting or exercising, because we think that’s what we should be doing. When in reality, we’re doing more harm than good.

It’s been shown that yo-yo dieting (meaning losing weight, then regaining weight repeatedly) and excessive exercising that goes beyond hitting the gym a couple times a week (I’m talking the kind that gives you hypothalamic amenorrhea) have serious health implications. 

That’s not to say you shouldn’t go the gym regularly, prepare more nutrient dense food, or strive to drink more water. Because you absolutely should!

But where weight loss is concerned, ask yourself these few questions before you embark on another potentially treacherous weight loss journey:

Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

Why do I want to lose weight?

Am I in a healthy BMI range? 

Are there other things I could do to feel more balanced and healthy that don’t involve the number on the scale? What are they?

Is my consumption of health magazines, pictures of women on the internet, or depictions of women in my favorite TV shows influencing what I believe I should look like?

How do I feel when I look in the mirror?

How do I feel when someone compliments me?

Meditate on these answers and make sure you’re not practicing self-deprecating behaviors by constantly comparing yourself to others and tearing yourself down.

If you do make the decision to change your body, make sure you’re doing it for YOU and not for anyone else.

Don’t forget that when you make the decision to FEEL better, love yourself at any weight, and practice self acceptance daily, weight-loss can be an unintended byproduct of these things. 

Check-in with yourself regularly. Be aware of how you’re talking to yourself. Take mental notes on the beliefs you have about your body, who you are, and how these things affect your habits.

Information about weight loss for women:
Yes, Men Lose Weight Faster Than Women
Men vs Women: The Weight-Loss Battle
Weight loss and women

Thanks for reading!

Be well xx.