Sport Psychology and Mental Toughness: Taking Talent to the Next Level

I often get asked by clients and people I meet “what is Sport Psychology?” and following that “What is the point?”

My answer to this is simple: many athletes excel at the physical aspect of their sport, but still struggle when it comes to competition, adversity, injury and adjusting to a new team or changes within their team or sport. Sport Psychology is aimed at teaching athletes how to overcome these issues and excel throughout their career! The cornerstone of Sport Psychology is mental toughness!

Mental toughness is is a collection of attributes that allow a person to persevere through difficult circumstances (such as difficult training or difficult competitive situations in games) and emerge without losing confidence. The attributes of mental toughness are the skills I teach as a sport psychology consultant! Here are the most important attributes:

Motivation:

Why are you in your sport? What drives you every day in practice and competition? Identifying these factors will help you when you feel like you are losing sight of where you are going in your sport!

Goal Setting:

What do you want to accomplish? At the beginning of each season, write down large goals and smaller goals that will lead to your bigger goals.

Self-Talk:

One of the most important skills is self-talk. We often undermine our talent with negative thoughts and beliefs about our selves without even realizing it. Recognizing negative self-talk and stopping it will build confidence and mood!

Relaxation:

Take time to breathe, and calm your self . Start by taking 5 deep breaths in through your nose and our through your mouth. While doing this allow yourself to focus only on the sensation of breathing, how it feels to expand your lungs, and feeling the relief that comes with each exhale. This is a simple practice that you can do virtually anywhere when you are feeling that you are just go through the motions, feeling at a dead end, or losing sight of your goals

Spending 5-10 minutes each day with quiet diaphragm breathing will allow you to calm anxiety and anger.

All of these skills will help you to build mental toughness and persevere through whatever life throws your way!

7 Tips For a Successful Workout

Do you ever feel like you aren’t getting enough from your workout? Here are 7 tips to make sure you stay on track and get the results you want!

1. Be Consistent
Consistency is important in maintaing a successful fitness routine. Decide at the beginning of each week which days will be set aside for strength/interval training and which days are going to be cardio days. Stick to that each day. In addition if you like to take classes, look at the schedule of classes each week and write down which ones you want to take in your calendar. That way you won’t schedule something in that time slot!

2. Follow an Effective Program
As a trainer, I develop specific programs for each of my clients to make sure they are hitting the areas they want in order to get the results they want. You can do this without a personal trainer by following these steps
Strength training: If you belong to a gym, ask if they do free consultations with trainers or wellness staff. Doing this will allow you to ask any questions you may hae about what kind of s trength program will be right for you, as well as show you correct form and use of different machines! Also don’t be shy- if there is a trainer on the floor without a client- ask them for tips!
Strength should be done for at least 30 min 2-3 times a week. With the majority of my clients- I go for circuit style strength! This involves several exercises done at a specific number of reps or time intervals done 3-4 times.
Interval training- Interval training is when you change up the intervals or intensity of your workout. For example- walking for 1 min followed by a sprint or jog for a min. You can add and take away resistance as well as changing speed. Spinning is a great example of interval training. I recommend interval training 2 days a week to see the results you want!
Cardio: 30-60 minutes of steady, low to moderate activity. This can be jogging, walking, biking, water aerobics, yoga, or dancing. 1-2 times a week.

3. Set Realistic Goals
When you are starting a new program, write down exactly what it is you want. Then follow the SMART technique:
Specific: what is it you want?
Measurable: how will you know that you have made progress? Weekly weigh-ins, inches lost, strength increases etc
Attainable- can you do this?
When you identify goals that are important to you, you have to figure how to make them work.This allows you to develop the attitudes and skills to reach them.
You can attain most any goal you set when you plan your steps wisely and find yourself growing to match them. Acknowledging your goals allows you to build self image and worth.
Realistic- are you willing and able to put in the time and effort towards this goal? How motivated are you? A harder to achieve goal will boost your motivation and is ultiamtely more likely to be accomplished!
Timely- set a time frame in order to keep yourself on track.
Remember we are using goals to create healthy behaviors not striving for perfection!

4. Use the Buddy System
Working out is always more fun with a friend! It is also more likely to keep you accountable as you are going to the gym or to a class with another person who expects you to be there with and for them!

5. Be Happy
As Elle Woods so famously said “Exercise gives you endorphins and endorphins make you happy, happy people just don’t kill their husbands”
To be happy in the gym figure out what exercise you enjoy and will actually want to do. If you aren’t a class person- you wont enjoy a spin class no matter how good the music is or challenging it is! The happier you are the more you will adhere to a program!

6. Watch the Clock
Listen to your body on this one. When do you have the most energy during the day? That is when you should work out!
If you are a morning person, workout in the mornig before work! If you have the time and energy after work, do that! Finidng out when you have me most energy and working out then will yeild the best results!

7. Be Patient
Finally, remember that these things take time. To achieve lasting weightloss and body peace, you need to take your time and allow yourself to enjoy the journey. There will be setbacks and days where no matter how hard you try you just cant workout. Allow yourself breaks, with hard work and patience all your efforts will pay off!

Conquering Change

Change is an undeniable part of life. And yet it is the one thing that can derail us the most. We run from change because it often brings with it the unknown and untested. We cannot always be sure of ourselves in new situations and so we react in a negative fashion.
However there is something so beautiful about change. This is when we find out our strength, our passions, and who we truly are! So instead of running away from change, embrace it.
No matter what the change is, create a plan of action, take out the unknown by planning ahead.Part of the fear is the fact that it is often uncontrollable. Find an aspect that you can control, and breathe into it!

Before every change in your life, take a few minutes to breathe. As you breathe, embrace this change with every fiber of your being. Allow any of your thoughts around the change- both positive and negative to surface. Breathe each one out, without giving any weight to any of them. Once you are calm, begin to sift through these thoughts, paying attention to any negative or doubtful thoughts. Write these thoughts down, and when you have time, meditate on them. Why are they causing you doubt? And how can you become comfortable with them? What do you NEED to work through these thoughts as well as the change in a positive confident manner?

Remember every change is ultimately for the better, it is a part of your journey! Without it we cannot possibly grow to our fullest potential!

Weekend Warriors

Do you ever feel like you are great at sticking to a routine during the week but as soon as the weekend rolls around you stray from working out and sticking to healthy eating? I know I do!

During the week it is easy to stick to a plan, especially if you have established workout routines such as certain classes you go to, a trainer or just an easily accessible gym that you frequent most days. It is also healthy to stick to a meal plan filled with healthy foods during the week. You can plan ahead on Sundays for breakfasts, lunches and dinners Monday-Friday to keep you feeling satisfied and on track. However it can be much harder to plan for the weekends!

Weekends involve more social commitments, going out to eat, and a less regular schedule to dictate when we eat or work out! I often only eat 2 meals and fewer snacks on the weekends due to running around doing errands or bigger meals such as brunches and dinners out.

Knowing that this is the case, carve out time to add fitness into your weekend schedule. Plan a hike/walk/ bike with friends, find a new class to try that you don’t have time for during the week, or do a quick at-home workout to get you feeling ready to tackle whatever the weekend brings! This may also be a great time to break out your yoga mat in order to de-stress from the week and really allow yourself some deep relaxation time to feel rejuvenated and fresh!

With weekend eating- when you are out be mindful of portion size as well as what else you plan on eating that day! Try and order meals that incorporate proteins, carbs, and fruits or vegetables so that you are still getting a well-balanced meal! In between brunch cocktails or dinner drinks, make sure you are drinking water to remain hydrated!

Enjoy your weekend and stay healthy!

21-Day Mindfulness Challenge

Fall is almost here, lets start the new season off right by doing a mental cleanse! This 21-day challenge starts on Monday September 1st and will encompass principles of mindfulness, shame, changing thoughts and self-talk, cultivating gratitude, and allowing yourself to be more present in the moment!
I created this challenge because this summer has been an intense season of change in my life. Basically everything started anew in May, and one thing I have been so focused on has been mindfulness. Making myself take silent moments in my day to breathe, clear out the negativity, and be grateful for everything that has fallen in my lap lately. It is amazing what a mental cleanse like that can do! So I am opening this up to my community of family, friends and those I have yet to meet!
What is it:
21-Day Challenge
21 days of learning how to be mindful and in control of your thoughts.
I will send each person who signs up daily emails, mantras, quotes, and breathing challenges every day- with the purpose of guiding you along your path to self peace.
Last day to sign up is Friday, August 30th! Simply send me your email and you are in!!!
Lets get to it!

Smoothie Roundup

I am a huge fan of juices and smoothies. Not the processed store bought kinds, or a strict juice cleanse, but home making delicious juices and smoothies using fresh produce and protein to really make the most of my snacks and meals and get the protein/carbs I need in a day! Smoothies are also super easy to make and save half for a mid-afternoon protein packed treat, and can also be made into healthy tasting milkshake-esque desert options! Who can say no to that? So I wanted to share a bunch of smoothies from around the web that I absolutely love!

http://www.pbfingers.com/2014/07/10/watermelon-smoothie-with-pineapple-and-mint/

So get that blender out and get those fruits and veggies in even easier with these great recipes!!

Breathe

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Breathing, relaxing, mindfulness. When these words come up, what do you hear? Words that remind us of things we should be doing for our sanity, but who has time to relax, or meditate, and what really is mindfulness?

Mindfulness, quite simply, is the act of concentrating on your breathing, being aware of this breath and being aware of what is going on around you in the present moment. Breathing is the simplest way to calm anxiety and return our focus to where it truly is.

To figure out if this is for you, answer these two questions for yourself:

Do you tend to get so focused on the goal that you want to achieve that you lose touch with what you are doing right now to get there?

Do you then rush through activities without being really attentive, to the point that you never quite reach that goal?

After answering these questions, I want you to sit and take 5 deep breaths in through your nose and our through your mouth. While doing this allow yourself to focus only on the sensation of breathing, how it feels to expand your lungs, and feeling the relief that comes with each exhale. This is a simple practice that you can do virtually anywhere when you are feeling that you are just go through the motions, feeling at a dead end, or losing sight of your goals

The best place to breath is in the gym. When I teach spin, I have at least one song where all my riders simply climb a hill and focus on their breathing. Often afterwards, they tell that is the only time that day they have taken time out to breathe like that, but it helped them power up that hill and remember what their goals were. When we exercise, we can often get caught aimlessly following a work-out without really paying attention to what our muscles are doing. To reap the full rewards of your exercise program, use your breath to coordinate your moves and focus on the feeling of engaging your muscles for a deeper burn.

What you want is right in front of you- with the use of breathing and mindfulness, you can get there even faster!

 

 

Friday Finds

It is the end of the week, and as such, I wanted to share with some of my favorite finds from around the web this week!

Creamy Mexican Kale Salad

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http://ifoodreal.com/healthy-creamy-mexican-kale-salad/
Because really… how good does that look?

 

17-Unforgettable Active Vacations

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http://greatist.com/fitness/best-fitness-vacations-2014

Yes, I love to relax on vacation, but I also love adventures and trying new things so these are right up my alley!

 

Lunch Guide
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This is a great guide for any one making their own lunches- or kids lunches!

Back on Pointe Ab workout:
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This Quote:
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Fitness should be about making yourself proud and challenging yourself every day! Go on and make yourself proud!

Snacking to Fuel Your Day

I often get asked about nutrition, specifically snacking between meals and what constitutes a good healthy snack!

As a proponent of the Macro Diet and wannabe Paleo eater, I try to work in two or three snacks or smaller meals spaced three hours between meals in order to get what I need throughout the day, and also to keep my energy up throughout the day! No one wants a depleted, hangry trainer and wellness coach so I need to be energized!

Eating steadily throughout the day- by ways of eating a set meal or snack every 3-4 hours (not constant grazing as that is often mindless) can help us get what we want out of our plan to fuel us through workouts, work days, kids, social obligations etc.

So now that you know why you should snack- what should you be eating?

I try to get a bit of protein and carbohydrates into every snack! Here are my go-to snacks:

Protein Balls

Trader Joe’s Light Cheese Sticks

Carrots and Sabra Roasted Pine nut Hummus

Apple slices with Almond Butter (or any nut butter really!)

Smoothies like this one:

Strawberry, Coconut, PB smoothie

Greek Yogurt with 1/2 a packet of Belvita Breakfast Biscuits

1/2 a sweet potato topped with plain greek yogurt and ground turkey

Turkey lettuce wraps

Homemade trail mix with dried fruit and nuts

You can choose your snacks based on your program and what you need to meet your daily goals!