Q: What’s your philosophy on fitness?
My philosophy on fitness is twofold; firstly that you cannot be fit in a body without being fit in mind. And secondly, that fitness should be fun!
Our fitness results are defined not only by our physical efforts but our mindset as well. I am also a Life Coach so I strongly believe it is an absolute necessity to train both mind and body – we do not leave our brains at the door of the gym. If we have a negative mindset (“this is too hard”), are wrapped up in comparison (“I wish I looked like him/her”), or use fitness as a form of punishment (“I can’t believe I ate that ice cream, I have to work it off”) we are creating deep mental and emotional resistance to exercise which impacts not only our results but our confidence, body image, and so much more. If we spent the time and money that we do on gym memberships, activewear, and protein supplements, on our mental wellbeing and development we’d be such a different society.
Part and parcel of this mindset philosophy is to define fitness as FUN (not a chore). We too often push ourselves through exercise routines that we don’t actually enjoy, and surprise-surprise we then don’t see the results we want! So we punish ourselves for that and on the cycle goes. Don’t be fooled that you have to choose one type of training and love it forever. Experiment and try different things. Mix it up. Find activities that bring you smiles as well as sweat. My favorite is Retrosweat, a 1980s inspired aerobics workout designed by my dear friend Shannon Dooley!
Q: What does your fitness routine look like? And what advice would you give someone wanting to create a fitness regimen that they can stick to?
My fitness routine has changed numerous times over the years. My “sweet spot” is a mixture of resistance training, Pilates and Yoga, and a little electric jolt of cardio! In the past I have done it all, excessive cardio, training 6-7 days a week, and an injury while training for a half marathon that saw me unable to do anything but gentle Yoga. So after a long process of recovery and actually listening to what felt good in my body, I have discovered what regimen my body actually needs. I now train around 4 times per week at varying intensities and enjoy “active recovery” in my leisure time such as walking the sand dunes with my puppy.
If you are wanting to create a fitness regimen the first question I would ask you is “how do you want to feel from your fitness training?” If there is a specific goal such as weight loss, fitting a particular outfit, lifting a certain weight – first go deeper and connect with how you want to feel in your body. Energetic? Captivating? Strong? These emotive words alongside our particular physical goal really help in both motivation and selecting the type of exercise and how often. For example, if you want to feel ‘playful’ you might choose dance classes, aerial yoga or a team sport over 1:1 personal training. Of course, you also want to select something you enjoy doing, so get creative and think outside the box!
I would also look at your schedule and see when and where you can fit in your training and then seek out the classes, trainer, facility or at-home resources to use rather than the other way around. Too often I hear “I’d love to do yoga but the timetable at my local studio doesn’t work for me”. I hate to say it but these are excuses. You are in control, you dictate your fitness time and find someone or some way to make it happen. In terms of how many times a week you need to train, this is really dependent on what you want from training. As a very rough guideline, for performance or weight loss goals you want to be training 4-5 times per week. For maintenance and general wellbeing, 3-4 times per week is sufficient. These are of course suggestions only – if you don’t have a specific goal but just love the feeling of exercising then go as often as you like, ensuring you give your body rest and recuperation along the way!
Q: Why do some women struggle to create a fitness routine?
The most common struggle I see in women toward creating a fitness routine is prioritizing the time. As women, I think we often put ourselves second to other people and other duties or responsibilities in our lives, but that needs to change. When our own needs are met, both physical and emotional, we are better able to serve all the other people and the roles we have to play. It sounds cliché but that is simply because it is true. Sorry ladies! To tout another cliché – physical fitness unequivocally improves our emotional and mental wellbeing. And it’s easy for me to say, I get it. Life does get in the way, kids need caring for, and houses need cleaning BUT don’t get in the way of yourself – you also need caring for, and your mind and body need cleansing. My advice to the universal struggle for time is to stop trying to make time. Not what you expected me to say? We cannot make time. That is metaphysically impossible. Instead, we need to take time. Stop treating your own time as something only in service to others. Stop playing it safe. Get creative with your schedule, make your time non-negotiable, set your boundaries and ask for help if it’s needed to allow you to enforce them.
Q: The New Year is coming up. This is often a time that many women set the intention to workout more. However, studies show that by February, many people have already abandoned their New Year’s Resolution. How can women stick with their workout goals all year round?
I really dislike the notion of New Year’s Resolutions! By definition the word resolution means “a formed decision to do or not do something” and that is so black and white. It does not leave room for the wonderful spontaneity of life, it does not leave permission to change our mind, and it sets us up to judge ourselves as either “good” or “bad”, a “success” or “failure” based on our fulfillment of it. It is no wonder then at our first deviation from the plan (which is likely to happen!) that we throw in the towel as we’ve deemed the resolution already failed. Hello February!
My approach to sticking to goals is to think of it not as an end result, but as a daily practice (I often encourage my clients to literally ditch the word goal altogether and call it their practice). We all know we won’t achieve a goal in one day, yet we beat ourselves up on a daily basis for anything we perceive as a minor transgression. Be present, focus only on what action you will take each day that serves your practice. No matter if it is less than what you did yesterday, or more than what you will do tomorrow. Do that and you’ve done enough.
Q: For many people, the desire to work out more, stems from a negative place – a belief that their current body is not good enough. What do you tell clients when they tell you that they want to lose weight?
Wanting to lose weight is absolutely fine so if you beat yourself up for desiring that then you’re basically at the starting line on your back and miles behind already! It is the mindset from which we approach losing weight that matters. If it’s from a place of negativity, comparison, punishment then not only does it impede your ability to lose it but it has a detrimental impact on your mental wellbeing as you’re essentially telling yourself “I am not enough/worthy/good/loved the way I am right now”. That is not a foundation for positive change, it is a foundation for body hate, low self-esteem and a resentful relationship with food and exercise. Yes, we hear stories of people unhappy with their current body who take their weight loss by the horns and create mind-blowing physical change, but I guarantee two things: Firstly, those who keep the weight off and develop a healthy and happy lifestyle acknowledged their current way wasn’t serving them, made peace with it, yet believed themselves worthy from even their undesired weight. And those who did not? They still didn’t find the healthy and happy version of themselves and either put the weight back on or struggled with some other broken-down relationship with food, exercise, and their bodies.
Be kind to yourself where you are at right now. If you want to lose weight because you hate yourself then you are starting from a very volatile position. Make friends with who you are right now, acknowledge that you don’t feel good in your body and make a positive commitment to yourself to work out to feel better, not just look better.
Q: What would you tell someone who said that they just don’t have the time or motivation to workout?
As I mentioned, this is such a common struggle but you cannot make time, you need to take time. I am not a “commando” trainer but this is where I get real, and it will sound harsh to these exact people who are resisting because it pushes the button of their resistance – you only get out what you put in.
So I would ask them;
- “How much do you really want this?”
- “What in your life could be different by way of you working out?”
- “What is your biggest fear holding you back?”
- “How would you feel if you don’t do this?”
Often the fear comes down to comparison, or what other people will think. Comparison can be venomous to motivation. If we compare ourselves as “less than” others then our motivation is quashed. A belief that other people will judge us is really a projection of our own judgments on ourselves. To be motivated we acknowledge we are in competition with no-one but ourselves, and we allow comparison to be an example of the possible rather than the perfect. Be your own motivational quote!
Q: What’s your view on “fitspo” or “fitspiration” as sources of motivation to workout?
Inspiration has become such an overused word that I think in some cases it has lost its meaning. Inspiration is about ideas, inventiveness, imagination, and individuality. Yet in our media-dominated worldview inspiration is often jealousy and comparison dressed up. If we are viewing fitspo as a genuine admiration for a person’s commitment, dedication, talent, tenacity and a beacon of what human beings are capable of – then great! But be honest, many of us view these images as a prescription of what we “should” look like to be [successful/attractive/loved] or as a diagram of all the things “wrong” with ourselves. Fitspo can be incredibly damaging as it does not show us context. It is a highlight reel without showing the effort, work, sacrifice and commitment behind the scenes. It also isn’t an equal or level playing field – we may be holding ourselves up to a fitness model, an athlete with 10 years’ experience and private coaching, or simply someone 10 steps ahead in their journey to ourselves. This is becoming an epidemic, particularly for young girls. I see girls as young as 11 or 12 wanting to work out or cut carbs because they don’t look like the women in their social media feeds. At that age, their bodies haven’t even finished developing and they already want to change the mold. This is a whole separate area of discussion and the work of organizations such as The Body Image Movement is so needed to support young girls at this time of their life. At the end of the day, comparison is a difficult beast so I’d suggest reminding yourself “don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s end”, and if you’re really struggling then it might be time to point-blank unfollow any account that leaves you feeling bad about yourself!!
Q: What’s one thing you always keep in your workout bag?
It isn’t glamorous but – deodorant!! I often go from teaching to a meeting, to a session with one of my clients, to coffee, so I like to have freshness available at all times! My weight gloves also live in my workout bag so if my body is not feeling a cardio burn I can quickly make session adjustments and work on my lifting instead.
Q: What’s your favorite wellness habit or hack?
Gratitude without a doubt. Gratitude holds massive power by reconnecting us with the positive and the present moment. I like to think of it as an instant tool to “bring us back down to Earth” when we’re stuck in our own head, future-tripping, or getting sucked into the stress trap of overthinking, overanalyzing and blowing things out of proportion. I like to write down a list of everything I am grateful for or say them out loud while I drive to/from work. Don’t overthink it. They don’t need to be earth-shattering (and shouldn’t always be!). It could be the sunshine coming in your window, the mechanic getting your car back to you on time, a colleague taking your dishes to the kitchen, your favorite song coming on the radio, or the comfort of your bed. We have so much to be grateful for but we rarely acknowledge it. For more of my go-to wellness hacks check out my blogpost “5 five-minute mindset hacks”
Q: What does “Living Well” mean to you?
Living Well to me means living with curiosity, playfulness, and gratitude. It is choosing to live a life less seriously, and giving ourselves permission to seek the things that bring us joy. It is showing self-care yet generosity to others, seeking solitude yet connection to others, and looking after our minds and bodies to allow ourselves the adventures we choose. And it is living a life lit by our own unique electric spark, as the things that make us different are the things that keep it interesting.
Want to learn more about Kris? You can find her at: This Electrified Life