Tag Archive | strength

Like a Pineapple…Hard and Prickly on the Outside, Soft and Sweet on the Inside.

I have been a bad blogger lately, but I’m a work in progress 🙂  I read a great article by Zara Barrie for Elite Daily that I just had to share because it resonated so much with me. A man I once dated used to call me “Pineapple” because he said I was “hard and a bit prickly on the outside, but soft and very sweet on the inside.”  I think many modern day women develop this hard exterior to protect themselves…”girls who, to the naked eye, project an image of steel nails, but once you scratch past the superficiality of their outer appearance, are made up of something surprisingly soft...”

Girls encased in radically thick lacquer who wouldn’t allow anything to touch them, girls who blow rings of toxic smoke into the frail air with a dangerously sexy “I don’t give a f*ck” attitude.

The razor blade of a woman whose energy is that of a freshly sharpened silver knife.

She just looks so otherworldly fierce. So sinewy and unbreakable. So impossibly untouchable.

What most people neglect to grasp is that it takes a lifespan of unyielding work to build walls as high as the sky. It’s no easy feat.

Sometimes it feels almost impossible to see past a tough girl’s ever-thick, leather-bound exterior.

So she roams the earth in steel-toed boots largely misunderstood.

So what do these outwardly tough girls wish you knew about them?

1. She’s aware you can exit her life as easily as you can enter it

The most terrifying part of allowing someone into your furiously protected inner world is that once a person enters, he or she can also turn around and exit at any given time. It’s something we have no control over.

The tough girl knows this from personal experience. Whether it’s a friend who unexpectedly lost her life, a parent who left without warning or a partner who tossed her aside like yesterday’s laundry — she’s felt the ache of loss.

She’s vowed to never allow anyone to get close ever again; it’s not worth the risk.

So she pushes you away. Not because she wants to, but because she has to.


2. She respects herself enough to protect herself

Self-respect and insecurity are two very different things, and while the tough girl may be secretly insecure – she has a world of respect for herself.

She is so vehemently self-protective because she knows her value in the world.


3. Laughter is her pretty blue pill 

The most universally effective way to mask vulnerability is to turn all that life throws at you into that of a meaningless joke.

I mean, if she doesn’t even take her own life seriously, then no one else will either, right? Wisecracks are her ultimate crutch.

If only. There is always something lingering behind the excessive need to turn everything into a meaningless joke.

Pain is the driving force of comedy, and laughter is her pretty blue pill, her everlasting prescription of Xanax.


4. She’s not immune to lovepineapple

Her chest holds court to a massively huge heart that requires a multi-nation army of mass protection.

But if you were to push past the plethora of severely armed guards, you would see an insatiable hunger for love.

The bigger the heart, the bigger the break.


5. There is more to her than meets the bare eye

Contrary to popular belief, there is far more to the tough girl than whip-smart quips and an out-of-this-world aura of confidence.

When you break open her shell of whiskey and leather, you will find a multi-faceted, hyper-complex girl – a girl with fears and desires and ambitions and dumb phobias and odd personality quirks and lovable flaws.

Just because it takes time for her to unravel these truths doesn’t mean they’re not there.


6. Her anxiety runs deep

So she’s ethereally calm, James-Dean-cool and wickedly collected on the outside. How very different is the still exterior to the brutal hurricane that exists within her.

I have this theory that goes as such: The more you endlessly discuss your anxieties, the less severe they are.

A girl who is a wide-open book, detailing her fears to anyone who cares to read has made peace with her neurosis. She’s confronted it.

It’s the girls who suffer in silence who are struggling the most.


7. Your words can cut her

The tough girl has worked hard to make us believe words are meaningless to her. She’s so seemingly fierce and unbreakable that something as vapid as a mere word couldn’t scar her steel skin. So we play rough with her (it’s how she likes it, right?).

Not so fast, sister. While maybe she’s set herself up for this kind of aggressive back and forth, it doesn’t mean your unkind words didn’t cut her.

When you so innocently called her “overweight” or “slutty” or a “slacker,” it hurt her just as much as it would hurt you.

She just doesn’t show it; that’s the difference.


8. As tough as she is on you, she’s harder on herself

A tough girl is hard as hell on everyone who surrounds her, but her hardness to you is soothingly gentle compared to the enormous pressure she endlessly bestows upon herself.

A tough girl has integrity and wouldn’t dare to treat anyone differently than she would treat herself. She has a hard outlook on the world, and she is no exception.


9. She doesn’t necessarily want to f*ck you on the first date

Tough elicits sexy while vulnerability elicits love. People automatically assume that the outwardly strong chick doesn’t need to be romanced, that she’s always down for sex.

That pleasure is the intention. That she’s simply here to get her rocks off and doesn’t crave anything as mundane as affection.

This is false. The outwardly tough girl wants to be gorgeously wooed and relentlessly pursued just as much as the seemingly soft girl.


10. When she dares to love, it’s for life

Once an outwardly tough girl grants you permission into her guarded heart, it’s for life.

That’s why she’s so very specific as to whom she allows in.

Ciao for now, and cheers to my fellow “pineapples” 😉

-E

Temperature Update!

Well, today will be partly cloudy in NY with a high of 41 degrees F…

Just kidding!! Actually, sadly, I’m not…spring has not sprung here apparently, but this post is not about the weather. I owe you guys an update about my coconut oil experiment!

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I’ll be honest, I dragged my feet on this one because I was hoping to report glorious rising temperatures in the 98 degree range…unfortunately, I haven’t broken my 97.9 degree record and have been averaging about 97.3. I’ve still been going grain/gluten free, and the only other change that I can say I had since I started the coconut experiment is that I cut back on weight training (and the gym in general) after a head cold and daylight savings kicked my butt. So of course, less activity could have affected the body temperature, but I’m still a little bummed that I don’t have more exciting news on the temperature front.

HOWEVER, I will say that I’ve noticed lots of other positives:

  • Clearer and more radiant complexion (a few people told me I was glowing!)
  • Better digestion and, ahem, regularity
  • Less cravings, particularly for sugary snacks
  • More energy during workouts
  • Faster recovery from strenuous weight lifting…particularly leg daycoconut_spr03_310

So, it’s safe to say that I’ve noticed enough benefits to keep making coconut oil a part of my daily diet…especially now that I’m hooked on Liquid Armor Coffee (my own version of the Bulletproof® Coffee that’s been getting so much hype). I named mine Liquid Armor because evidently the company demands that you use a ® symbol when speaking about “Bulletproof® Coffee” because it’s a specific recipe using specific (and overpriced/over-hyped IMO) beans. Anyyyyywayyyy, this is just a lil teaser of a future recipe for my own Liquid Armor Coffee that will be delightful to both your tummies and wallets 🙂 Stay tuned!

Ciao for now!

-E

Do You Even S T R E T C H ?

Alright, confession time…how often do you hard gainers, iron pumpers, and cross fitters actually stretch? I mean, consistently and thoroughly stretch?

If you’re like me, your answer will be “meh, not much.” And in my own head, I’ve kind of rationalized this by coming up with a myriad of excuses. For example: I don’t have time; I don’t feel like taking time; It’s boring; I forget; How much difference will it really make with my workouts?; etc…

What if stretching could actually help you gain more muscle?? That’s right! I recently read an article, How Stretching Can Explode Your Muscle Growth by Nick Nilsson, VP, BetterU, Inc, which mentions the critical role of stretching in building muscle.

Now, I learned in my massage therapy training that every muscle in your body is enclosed by tough connective tissue known as fascia. And it’s pretty common knowledge that fascia is important for holding your muscles in their proper place in your body. BUT, Nilsson proposes, your fascia may also be holding back your muscle growth.

FASCIASource

“Because fascia is so tough, it doesn’t allow the muscle room to expand. It is like stuffing a large pillow into a small pillowcase. The size of the muscle won’t change regardless of how hard you train or how well you eat because the connective tissue around your muscles is constricting the muscles within. The best example of this is the calf muscle. The lower leg is riddled with fascia because of its tremendous weight-bearing duties in the body. It is because of this fascia that many trainers have great difficulty developing their calves.

Using the pillowcase example above, imagine you can expand the size of the pillowcase by stretching it. Suddenly, the pillow within has more room and will expand to fill that new space.”

Anyone else having the same lightbulb moment that I had?

Nilsson goes on to mention that there are actually ideal conditions in which to stretch your muscles so that you can maximize fascial stretch and kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.

“The key to effective fascial stretching is the pump. The best time to stretch to expand the bags that are holding in your muscles is when your muscles are pumped up full of blood. When your muscles are fully pumped up, they are pressing against the fascia. By stretching hard at that time, you increase that pressure on the fascia greatly, which can lead to expansion of the fascia.”

 fascia stretchSource

You’ll know you are engaging the fascia when you feel a powerful pulling sensation and pressure as the muscle works against the fascia to expand it. Just be careful not to stretch so hard that you hurt yourself…you should not feel any sharp pain, just a steady pull.

You can find instructions for stretching at: http://www.fitstep.com/Library/Info/Stretching1.htm

“Hold each stretch for at least 20 to 30 seconds as you must give your fascia time to be affected by the stretch. Stretch hard like this only when you have a fully pumped muscle as you must give your fascia a reason to expand. If your muscles aren’t pumped, just stretch normally.”

Ciao for now,

-E

ProGress

We live in a success-driven world whereby “success” is perceived less as a journey and more as an ultimate destination. While this way of thinking can be motivating, it can also be discouraging and rob us of happiness “in the moment.” We think we will finally be successful when we ______________ …fill in the blank: lose 10 lbs, have a six-pack, get a boyfriend/girlfriend, get married, make x amount of money, drive x car… Can you relate? Are you auditing your own list of “I will be successful when’s?”

Rather than having this mindset, I’m reminded lately how much more beneficial it is to focus on and celebrate progress, rather than waiting for whatever finite parameters of success we have in mind.

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By definition:

prog·ress (n.)

1. Movement, as toward a goal; advance.

2. Development or growth

3. Steady improvement

pro·gress (pr-grs) pro·gressed, pro·gress·ing, pro·gress·es  (intr.v.)

1. To advance; proceed: Work on the new building progressed at a rapid rate.

2. To advance toward a higher or better stage; improve steadily

This means that every little step we take in an overall forward direction is progress. Your goal is to lose 10 lbs? Great! Celebrate each pound lost. Celebrate new, good habits of eating more healthfully.  Your goal is to go to the gym 5 days a week? Great! Celebrate each time you get yourself there.  Is your goal to make six figures?  Fantastic! In the meantime, celebrate the progress of getting a raise

no-matter-how-slow-you-goSource

On top of that, research shows that positive reinforcement (i.e. celebrating progress) is more powerful than negative reinforcement (i.e. beating yourself up for not being exactly where you want to be). So, a kick in the ass may be necessary at times to get you going, but periodic self pats on the back will keep you going longer. 😉

 “Our ambition should be to rule ourselves, the true kingdom for each one of us; and true progress is to know more, and be more, and to do more.” – Oscar Wilde

 Ciao for now!

 -E

Exercise – It’s for EVERYbody but it benefits MORE than just your body!

A recent discussion with a friend of mine, who is recently getting back on track with making fitness a priority, prompted me to write about the mental health benefits of exercise. You see, my friend had been having difficulty getting back on track amidst running her business, recently giving birth to a new baby, raising her two other kids, and keeping a home together. She was worried about making time to workout, what if her body didn’t respond to exercise the way it once did b.b. (before babies), etc.

exercise makes you happySource

As her friend, it was hard for me to watch her struggle…she has been stressed out and a little down lately, and I know from my own experience that, regardless of the physical benefits that she’d reap from regular sweat sessions, exercising would really boost her mood and be a great stress outlet.

Many of you already know about the mental health benefits of working out, but with society cramming images of perfect bodies down our throats, it’s easy to focus solely on the physical/aesthetic benefits. So, as a reminder, here are a few ways exercise can improve your mood:

1. Reduce Stress
One of the most common mental benefits of exercise is stress relief. When we work up a sweat, our body increases its concentration of norepinephrine, a chemical that can decrease the brain’s response to stress.

exercise reduces stressSource

 

2. Increase Happiness
In addition to releasing chemicals that help us deal with stress, exercise also releases endorphins, which create feelings of happiness and euphoria. Studies have shown that exercise can even alleviate symptoms among those    who are clinically depressed. In some cases, exercise can even be as effective as antidepressant pills in treating depression. And it doesn’t have to be pumping iron or sprinting on the treadmill at a gym…go for a walk, a hike, rollerskating, etc for just 30 minutes a few times a week and you can instantly boost overall mood.exercise helps depression

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3. Relieve Anxiety
You might be surprised to know that a 20 minute jog is actually better at alleviating anxiety than a warm bubble bath. During (and after!) a sweat sesh, the brain releases chemicals that help us calm down, and doing moderate-to-high intensity aerobic exercise (interval training, anyone?) can reduce anxiety sensitivity.

4. Boost Brainpower
This one is awesome…Several studies on both mice and humans have shown that cardiovascular exercise can stimulate the creation of new brain cells (for my science geeks, this is known as neurogenesis) and improve overall brain performance. Research also suggests that higher intensity workouts increase levels of a brain-derived protein (known as BDNF) in the body, believed to help with decision making, higher thinking and learning.

brain on exercise

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5. Sharpen Memory
Regular physical activity boosts memory and our ability to learn new things. Getting sweaty increases production of cells in the hippocampus—the part of our brain which is responsible for memory and learning.

I talked to my friend about some of these and she finally just bit the bullet and hit the gym for the first time in a while…and she said she felt immediate results. She told me she felt less stressed, more in-control, and her overall mood was just better. Hooray!

Give it a try and see for yourself! The proof is in the pudding 🙂

Ciao for now!

-E