Monday Challenge

Bridgette with hands in hairHappy Monday everyone. I hope you are all well and encouraged for what the day will bring. Today, I am going to workout with my girlfriends, then I am going to take my boys to the Denver Botanic Gardens. There is an exhibit there by Dave Chihuly that is supposed to be beautiful. It’s going to be hot, but I don’t mind. My daughter is away at summer camp, so I thought I’d have a special week with my guys.

My workout will about 24 minutes long this morning, very high intensity. It will be short, sweaty, and sweet. I love sweating. My personal fitness goal for this week is to cut back on my sugar consumption. This means that I will cut back on breads, grains, processed foods of any kind, potatoes, beer and wine, and of course goodies. I will focus on eating healthy proteins, fruits and veggies.

Remember fruit and vegetables give us all the glucose we need for energy. Protein is also an energy source and many people don’t realize that. We have been trained to think of carbs as our primary energy source. Our bodies burn glucose first, fat second, and protein third.

Here is the Monday challenge for you: Pick one or two items in your daily intake and replace them with something healthier like a piece of fruit or just take them out all together. I’m not asking you to take out all carbs, just one or two. Slow change is easier to do than drastic change.

This will not only help you lose weight, but it will also help your body function in a healthier way. Remember excess sugar is not helpful to our bodies at all. I don’t care if it’s agave, honey, maple syrup, white sugar, organic sugar, molasses or whatever. All sugar is bad for you. Maple syrup, honey, and molasses are the only sugars that have minimal health benefits. Sugar is sugar period. Don’t be fooled.

It also doesn’t matter if your bread is white, whole wheat, or gluten free, it all converts to sugar once it enters the body. Bread is simply sugar in a different form. So as you can see, sugar overload can happen quickly. This is something we all need to be aware of and then make our food choices wisely. Sugar reduction is not a bad thing, it just feels hard to do.

If you decide to take the challenge, you won’t be alone, as I will be taking the challenge myself. Here is my plan: Smoothie for breakfast-vega one protein powder,  1/2 banana, unsweetened almond milk, chia seeds, coconut oil, and flax seed. Lunch-salad with protein (I am ordering this at the Botanic Gardens) and Dinner-baked turkey with guacamole and kale salad. You have my word, I will not cheat today. Good luck on your own personal journey.

With all my heart,

Bridgette

 

Is Sugar Your Master?

We may frequently look down on the alcohoIic, the smoker, or the drug addict, but the rest of us have a much more acceptable addiction. In fact, it is one that is widely accepted. We worship and admire and dream of food. I do it all the time. I consume food in my thoughts, with my eyes, and eventually with my mouth. Since there are literally thousands of pictures of food posted on websites like pinterest and on personal blogs, there is never a shortage of new material for me to consume. There is even a new term for this purveyance of food. It is called food porn.

Food addiction and more specifically sugar addiction is running rampant not only in our society, but also in myself and in my children. I may not be the first one to go for the cookie jar, but I am the first one to go for the potato chip bag.

So even though I don’t need to lose weight, I do need to lose my addiction to sugar. But why does it feel so impossible not to eat sweets and carbs? It feels this way because our bodies literally become addicted to the sugar. The sugar changes our brain chemistry and therefore we are compelled to eat more and more. Sadly, we remain hungry. And to make it even worse, the more sugar you ingest in all of its various forms, the more unhealthy your body becomes. Enter disease.

This may seem a little melodramatic I admit. But watching a loved one die from obesity or from obesity related diseases is no picnic. My father died recently from all food related illnesses. He wasn’t obese, but his body had become a toxic playground. He would’ve lived much longer if he would’ve just changed his diet. But he simply didn’t want to, desire to, or believe he needed to. Such is life. What good are his Hostess Ding Dongs and his Coca-Cola to him now? They were simply his escorts to the grave.

Therefore, take a look at your sugar consumption. Reduce your intake of the white and deadly. I am limiting my intake of sugar because I no longer want it to be my master. Is sugar your master? Think about it.

With all my heart,

Bridgette

 

 

Do you Love your Body?

Loving My BodyMany times when I am on pinterest.com, I see postings of women with very little clothing on with a caption saying something like “Love Your Body” or “Your Body is Beautiful”. I do believe that each one of our bodies has been beautifully crafted, designed and created. However, I do not think our bodies are necessarily beautiful because of how they look, but I think they are beautiful because of what they can do. This is why it is important to love your body.

Over time, age, bearing children, stress, overeating, circumstances, disease and many other factors begin to take a toll on our bodies. They begin to slowly lose some of their youthful luster that they once had. And this is okay. Life happens to all of us and to our bodies. Our bodies do not have a choice but to reap both the good and bad consequences of every choice that we make that directly affects our bodies. Your choices matter to your body. So do you love your body? Do you treat it like a beautifully crafted machine?

I don’t mean do you love how it looks? I mean do you love it? Do you show it love or do you show it neglect and indifference? Do you nourish it properly? Do you keep it clean and well groomed? Do you take it out for a brisk walk or for a jog in the morning? Do you give it enough sleep? This is what it means to really love your body. This is not what the woman in the picture means. She wants you to love what you see when you look in the mirror.

But let’s be blatantly honest. Some of our body parts really aren’t that pretty to look at anymore. Take my boobs for instance. They look okay but they are completely different from when I was 20. Now they are like little raisins. They even float when I sink down into the bathtub. Are they technically beautiful? No they are not and that’s okay with me. I can say it and I know it’s true. I’m not trying to put myself down, I’m just stating a fact. They performed their duty of nourishing three children and now their job is done. Nursing took away some of their aesthetic beauty.

Now if I let the fact that they weren’t perky and full anymore get me down and depressed all the time, then we have a problem. Our focus shouldn’t constantly be on our appearance anyway. It should be more on our functionality. Women have a hard time with this. Many of us have our priorities shifted thinking it is better to look a certain way than to be a certain way. We should think of how we want our bodies to operate smoothly and less about how they look aesthetically.

So can I please challenge you to love your body in this way? Love your body not because of how it looks but because of what it can do. If you don’t love it through your actions then it will cease to perform optimally. It will be tired if you don’t give it sleep and proper nutrition. It will become flabby and weak if you don’t give it exercise. It will eventually become more of a burden to you than a blessing.

And in the meantime, If you want to work on how it looks aesthetically, then go for it. There is nothing wrong with doing that, it’s just that how it looks shouldn’t be your first priority. Your first priority is to love your body and to keep it strong and healthy.

Do you love your body? Think about it.

Bridgette

 

Burn Your Labels

 

label burningLast night we watched a message by Andy Stanley. He was speaking to a group of middle schoolers about labels. First, he asked a profound question. Who has the right to label you? He said the only people who have a right to label something are the manufacturer, the owner and the purchaser.

Then he shared his personal experience and the different labels that he had been given in his life. One was Not Smart, another one was Not Athletic, and the other was Not Attractive. Some of these labels he gave himself and some were bestowed upon him by teachers and coaches. These labels had a negative influence on his life.

So tonight in my family we are writing down our own labels that we have been given over the years, and we are going to burn them in our little smokey joe. Most of my labels I gave myself over the years, but I do have some labels that were given to me by family or friends. My labels are Not Good Enough, Selfish, Lost, Mean, Different, Average, Mediocre, and Unsuccessful. I was happy to put those labels in the smokey joe and watch them go up in flames.

So when someone labels you, ask yourself this question. Do they have the right to label you? Did they make you? Do they own you? And did they purchase you? There is only one person who made you. There is only one person who owns you. And there is only one person who purchased you. His name is Jesus. He is the only one who has the right to label you.

With all my heart,

Bridgette

Be True to You

BR_kkp_51I had the privilege last week to interview/audition for a position at a very well known gym here in the Denver area. I was very excited about this audition for many reasons. 1) The trainers at this gym deliver very challenging and very unique workout routines that really take you and your body to the next level. 2) They play loud fun music which I love to be listening to when I am struggling through a workout. 3) They are located in cool little neighborhoods in Denver. I love the city vibe and the company of urbanites. After all, I was an urbanite for 20 years. 4) This would be a great learning environment for me. I could grow as a trainer and as a student. 5) They highly value community and relationships and these values are the core of who I am as a trainer. I would rather teach two or three people that I can develop a relationship with other than 40 people with whom I cannot. As a fitness professional, I desire change for my clients over dollar bills in my pocket, although I do need dollar bills.

For the audition, they requested a kettlebell workout from me. As a kettlebell trainer, I see kettlebell training as a very pure sport, whereas much of the fitness world does not. They tend to see the kettlebell as a prop that they can add to any given exercise. This in itself is not wrong, it just doesn’t magically transform any exercise to a kettlebell exercise. So in my preparation for this audition, I struggled within myself on how to present a kettlebell workout that was varied and diverse. Because there are only so many pure authentic kettlebell moves, it could’ve potentially gotten repititious after a while, since the workout was 45 minutes long.

After much deliberation, I included what my coach would call “bastardized” kettlebell exercises. For example, a “bastardized” kettlebell exercise would be a squat with a kettlebell. This exercise is no different than a squat with a dumbbell. The only difference is that kettlebells always look cooler. :) Let’s face it, dumbbells don’t come in different colors. They should. It would inspire more people to lift weights.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with these “bastardized” moves. I only have a problem with everyone thinking they are doing a kettlebell exercise when in fact they are not. They are just using the kettlebell as a prop. I like using the kettlebell as a prop, but I know this is what I am doing. Your average gym client would not know this unless you told them.

Here’s the other thing. You cannot teach authentic kettlebell technique in a fast paced environment and this is what I was asked to do. The “bastardized” moves are easy to teach quickly, but to teach a pure kettlebell move, you really need time to demonstrate the technique. I did not have this liberty. I knew this going in, and I really should have spoken up.

As I was leading the workout, the people in the class were struggling with the single arm swing, which is usually one of the first moves a person is taught to perform with the kettlebell. In its purest form, it is highly technical. You can just demo it and people can blindly follow, but w/o proper instruction they miss out on so many elements of the exercise.

What am I trying to say? I am trying to say that I should have been more open and honest with the people asking me to do the audition. I was presenting a workout in a style that I did not believe was a good match for the kettlebell. I believed in their method of training, I just didn’t believe in it for a pure kettlebell workout routine. As a teacher, I felt I couldn’t really teach kettlebell in a fast paced manner. Maybe I could have, and I simply failed to do so effectively. Who knows?

What have I learned from this process you ask? I have learned much. I have learned that I need to be true to myself and I need to speak up when something is troubling me. If I would’ve spoken up and elaborated on my thoughts about kettlebells, then maybe I could’ve presented something different to them. I ignored my inner voice that wanted me to slow down while I taught the moves, but I was trying to stay with the clock.

In conclusion, you should never ignore who you are and what you believe in. Yes, you may want to impress someone with your skills, but it isn’t worth changing yourself over it. Be true to you.

With all my heart,

Bridgette

Give Hope

Bridgette Messed Up hair muscle shot                                                                                                                                                One of the best gifts I ever received was hope. I had reached a very dark place in my life and was very dissatisfied with myself to put it mildly. After having 3 children, I was not in the best of shape. This led me to turning down the lights at night before any intimate time could be achieved. I considered myself to be too ugly to be beholden in the daylight.

As I look back over this, I know part of it was foolish. My husband didn’t really care how I looked and always made me feel beautiful. I, too, should not have been so focused on my body, but I was. I was the source of my own insecurity. I knew something had to change.

I began to take baby steps. After several attempts at various workouts, I stumbled upon the Tracy Anderson Method. Her method was fresh, innovative and unique. I tried it and enjoyed it. And it wasn’t just the workout that I enjoyed. I enjoyed her. I enjoyed the fact that she told me I could do it. She told me I could change. She told me to stick with it.

And I believed her. She made me believe I could do it. She gave me hope. Hope was exactly what I needed. I needed it more than I needed the workout regime. It was an intangible gift that grew and translated into tangible long lasting, ever fruitful results. Hope was my spring. It was my new beginning.

Now I fervently believe in giving hope. I love to give hope to others through the mechanism of physical fitness. I want people to believe that they can go from being weak to being strong. And they can. Many people do not realize that being healthy and strong translates to every aspect of their lives. Because of hope I began to workout, which then led me to being more bold in the bedroom and to being more bold in general. I now feel good in my body, good in my mind, and good in my spirit. It isn’t about a perfect body, it is about strength and confidence. I believe hope is a conduit for change.

With all my heart,

Bridgette

 

Putting Myself Out There

Bridgette's HeadshotAs many of you know I have made many life changes over the past few years. I went from sedentary stay-at-home home schooling momma to fitness freak. When the fitness bug struck, this got me off the couch, but not out of the house. Then my husband decides he wants to make a major life change so we find ourselves in the Denver area while he pursues his Master’s Degree. I support him 100%. This however, is a costly endeavor.

When the bills started piling up I thought it would be a good time to become a group fitness instructor. I was already leading a workout group for well over two years, so it just made sense that I should get paid for something I absolutely loved doing. After a few months of study, I secured my certification. I then went on to get certified in High Intensity Kettlebell Fitness. In the world of working out, I soon realized that having a specialty was a must. Now I am on the job hunt.

Since I have lived in my safe stay at home mommy cocoon for such a long time now, going out into the real world actually feels kind of strange sometimes. It’s like  I have to learn how to navigate all over again. I have to learn how to sell myself and my skills. I have to believe in myself enough to persuade others to believe in me as well. This takes confidence and courage. I really hate putting myself out there so much, but it has to be done. I really do have to believe in myself because if I don’t, how can I expect to have others believe in me?

So if you have a worthy endeavor, go for it. Put yourself out there. :)

With all my heart,

Bridgette

 

2nd Week-30 Day Kettlebell Challenge Workout

Dear Friends,

BR_kkp_51I hope you enjoyed the first week of the 30 Day Kettlebell Challenge. You should be a master at the swing by now.

I know some of you are just beginning the first week, and that is just fine. It doesn’t matter when you start it, it just matters that you finish strong.

In this weeks workout, you will do 4 new moves. Please watch the instructional video before commencing with the workout. I would like for you to practice the moves for a few minutes just to get your body familiar with the movements.

Here is another video teaching the Clean by Mike Stefano of KBNY gym in New York. He is my coach and he explains the Clean incredibly well. Please watch it as well to get a thorough understanding of this complex move.

I have included the swing in this workout as well. Since you have been performing this move already for 7 days now, try and use a heavier weight on the swing this time. If you try it, and you still don’t feel ready for a heavier weight, then go back to your lighter one.

You may also be able to use a heavier weight on the push press and on the double hand swings. When you do the push press, you are using your lower body, so a heavier weight may work nicely for you and add a bit of a challenge. But again, only move up in weight when you are ready for it. If the weight you are using feels really easy, then it is time to go heavier. Challenge yourself, but don’t hurt yourself.

And remember, I am using a 17lb. kettlebell in my workout, so I may do less reps than you. If you are using a much lighter bell, you will most likely do more reps. You don’t need to match me rep for rep. It is possible you will do more or less depending on the weight of your bell.

Also, I have made these sets a bit longer this week. Longer sets are great for weight loss. :)

Enjoy your workout!

Bridgette

 

How to Take Your Measurements for Weight Loss

Blue Tape MeasureFor those of you wanting to track your weight loss, it is important that you take your measurements. This way you can monitor your progress either daily or weekly. You will need a friend or a spouse to help you with this. You will also need a measuring tape. You can either do this naked :)- or wear tight workout clothes.

1)  Measure the biceps first. Flex your muscle and measure around the tallest point of your bicep. If you don’t have a tallest point, then measure the distance between your elbow and your shoulder and then measure at the point that is exactly in the middle.

2) Measure the chest. You want to run the tape measure around your nipples, or nibbles as my youngest son used to say. I kind of like nibbles. :)

3) Now measure your waist. Go around your belly button and make sure to include your love handles. And why are they called “love” handles? Most people don’t find their love handles lovely at all.

4) Next measure your hips. Go around the biggest part of your bottom. Stand up straight and make sure your legs and feet are together when you take this measurement.

5) If you are Irish, you will measure your “ties” next. If you are American, you will measure your thighs. To make sure you measure in the exact same place every time, measure from the top of your inseam down to your knee, and then take the measurement halfway between those two points. Make sure you stand with your feet shoulder width apart and that your feet are firmly planted on the ground when you take this measurement. Measure around both thighs.

6) The calves are next. Make sure your feet are firmly planted and that your weight is evenly distributed. Measure around the widest part of your calf.

7) Don’t forget to write this all down.

Now you can track your progress. Once you start to see changes in your body, it will encourage you to work even harder and to make wiser eating choices. Positive results are incredibly motivating.

Wishing you success.

Bridgette

 

30 Day Kettlebell Challenge

pinkkettlebellIn celebration of my new High Intensity Kettlebell Fitness Certification, I am hosting a 30 Day Kettlebell Challenge. Everyone is welcome to participate. Here are the rules:

1) Take a before picture. You do not have to show your abs,  booty or face. I don’t show my abs in pictures as I am not comfortable doing that. :) However, if you want to show your abs, please feel free to do so. I will choose several before and after pics to include on my website. You may be one of the lucky ones whose pics go up on my website. If you don’t want to do pictures, you may still participate in the challenge. I would like to know your results at the end of the 30 days though, as that is the whole point of the challenge.

2) Take your measurements and record them. Chest, Arms, Hips, Thighs, Waist.

3) Weigh yourself. Record your weight.

4) Watch the Kettlebell Disclaimer Video on youtube.

5) Watch How to Find the Right Kettlebell.–I encourage women to start with 10 or 15lbs. Men can start with 15 to 20lbs. Try not to use bells lighter than 10lbs. if you can help it.

6) Watch Kettlebell Instructional Video.

7) Practice the moves.

8) Proceed with Workout. Kettlebell 30 Day Challenge Week 1

9) I included a warm up video and a cool down video if you need them.

10) At the end of the 30 days measure yourself again, weigh yourself again, and take an after picture to send to me along with your end results.

11) Remember diet is important too. You can ruin all your hard work with eating too much or by eating the wrong foods. If you want to lose weight during this challenge, eat wisely and cleanly and pay attention to your caloric intake. I am not a nutritionist, so I am not going to tell you what or what not to eat, but use your noggin and make wise choices during this challenge. You will burn around 300 kcal during each of these workouts.

Please feel free to email me during this challenge. My email is bridgetteralph@sbcglobal.net. I would love to hear your feedback or answer any questions you may have. And remember this is your workout. Only do as much of each workout as you are able to do, until you are able to complete the whole thing.

Happy Swinging!

Bridgette