James Wilson: Fitness Maps

Since creating a super-awesome home gym, I’ve been following an at-home 12 week Body Earned My Fitness Maps workout plan, created by the amazing James Wilson.  I initially did James’ 12 week Body Earned gym based plan about a year ago. Sadly, I didn’t take before and after photos, but I felt and looked great by the end of it.

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James’ 12 week plan costs $50 for the gym based plan, $55 for the home based plan, or $60 for both.  You also receive a nutritional template, a formula to determine your caloric requirements (or you can use a heart rate monitor), personal coaching from James, additional nutrition help if needed, and access to a private facebook group of individuals who are also doing the same plan.  To purchase the plan, you simply follow the instructions on his facebook page and pay via paypal. I can attest that it is legit and you will promptly receive your workouts (I think he emailed mine the next morning).  After completing weeks 1 – 12, there is an additional 12 weeks worth of workouts available for purchase.  Once I finish all 12 weeks of the home-based workouts, I will be purchasing weeks 13-24.

I can’t say enough about having access to the facebook group. It is a bunch of like-minded individuals cheering one another along, helping one another out and motivating each other.  James personally answers most questions in the group, but many of the other group members also pipe up when they know the answers also. People share recipes, and food plans, struggles and successes.

James is based in Utah, but I initially became familiar with him as he was frequently responding to questions on Jamie Eason’s facebook page which I used to stalk frequent while completing the 12 week LiveFit trainer.  He later created the workouts, which I promptly purchased.  James is a certified personal trainer, through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and Corrective Exercise Specialist. He is also certified through the National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association (NESTA) Personal Trainer and Aerobics & Fitness Association of America (AFAA).

james(photo credit to James Wilson – Faith Family and Fitness Facebook Page)

I recommend checking out James’ facebook page, even if you aren’t into purchasing a new program because he frequently posts great tips and tricks about fitness. He has over 14 000 followers right now! He is also launching a new website MyFitnessMap.com.

I am currently on week three of the plan, and actually am loving it even more the second time around. The first time I felt really run and down and wasn’t eating enough to support the intensity of the workouts. This time I have my nutrition down pat a little more, and can really feel the difference.  According to James, “the workouts are progressive in that they start out with circuit training for a couple weeks to either acclimate the body to the exercises” which is perfect for someone newer to working out, or someone who has focussed primarily on body part training.  “Each week the intensity of the workouts slowly progress and allow for better body response to the exercises.” James’ plan incorporates “active rests to keep the heart rate up and help shed fat. The first 5 weeks are only 4 days a week training and then from weeks 6-12, it is 5 days working out. Most people are in and out of the gym (or basement) in 50-60 minutes.” I personally take about 60 minutes per workout at this point, but I am still getting familiar with my new equipment, and sometimes have to stop to convince the dogs to get out of my way.

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Since I have a TRX at home, I use it instead of resistance bands for some of the moves in the at-home workouts, particularly leg exercises that require resistance bands.  I find these workouts very challenging, intense and am sweating like a necrophiliac in a zombie movie by the end of them.

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So that’s where I am. Three weeks in, feeling wonderful, loving the increased muscle definition I have already noticed, and looking forward to the remaining 9 weeks. Man I am so happy that I bought weights for my basement.

What workouts have you been doing lately?

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Secrets to the absurdly early workout

I like morning workouts best. They’re out of the way before life can get in the way, before you have a bad day or are too tired or something comes up. I like the feeling of satisfaction that it’s done and the whole day is ahead. I like how starting my day off with exercise helps me make healthier choices throughout the day.

I used to work out consistently at 5am, then I got out of my routine and BAM suddenly getting out of bed before 5am seemed impossible. Every morning my alarm would to and I’d think “noooooooo” and roll over and re-set it for a later wake up. Literally for months I tried to get back on the horse but no dice. I’d get into a routine, a very painful routine that I could manage for a couple of weeks, then I’d quit because it was just. too. hard.

Until now.

I’ve changed things up a bit, and getting up at 4:45am isn’t miserable anymore.

First thing is I go to bed earlier. If I’m getting up at 4:45, I am asleep by 9:00pm. Asleep, as in not in bed on my phone but legitimately asleep. I crawl in bed around 8:30 and relax, read, watch a show ect.

Second thing, I lay out my clothes at night. No fumbling in the dark for an outfit, no socks.

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Thirdly, I switched up my iPhone alarm. I used to have one of the annoying ringtones as my alarm. I switched it to play a pump-up workout song (Thunderstruck), and instead of the text saying alarm, I personalized that too (pump it up). I have to say that waking up to a song from my workout playlist certainly gets my blood pumping a little faster.

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Fourth, I amped up my normal pre-workout protein shake. Before bed, I brew a cup of coffee, and leave it on the counter overnight to get cold. The next morning I mix my cold coffee with a scoop of vanilla protein and some almond milk. Delicious, and it gives me the jolt that I need to get moving.

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Finally, switching up my workouts by purchasing weights to use at home has made me more excited about my workouts- getting up at 445 for something I love doing isn’t half as hard as getting up to suffer through something I felt meh about.

Combine those things together, and I am consistently working out at 5 again without the normal drudgery and the pain.

Do you work out in the morning? I do, usually with company who likes to get his ears scratched during my 1 minute rest breaks.

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Creamy Pumpkin Protein Muffins

Last weekend, I came up with pretty much my most genius cooking idea ever. ever. seriously. An idea so delicious, I can’t believe I didn’t think about it sooner. Creamy Pumpkin Protein Muffins. I used Jamie Eason’s pumpkin protein bars recipe, which I modified a little and obviously turned it into muffins.

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Jamie Eason’s pumpkin protein bars are my favourite, but I omit the fake sugar from her recipe and add extra pumpkin instead of apple sauce. Both ways taste great.

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These will be my afternoon snack for the week.

These fulfill my sweet tooth, my obsession with all things pumpkin, and give me the willpower to walk by the Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cheese muffin display.

In addition to my delicious muffins, I also prepared some overnight oatmeal (cold creamy oatmeal). I mixed 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt with 1 stevia packet and 1 tsp of instant coffee. I really like Liberte Café Latte yogurt, but it has 20g of sugar per serving! Eeek! This is my way of approximating the same taste, but with extra protein and less sugar.

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To my yogurt mixture I will add 1.5 cups of large flake oatmeal, and 1/2 cup of frozen cherries. I will do these additions nightly, as I don’t like how it tastes when it sits for longer than overnight. Greek yogurt and oatmeal is a great meal, lots of protein, and slow burning carbohydrates to keep you full for a long time.

My main lunch meal is 1 chicken breast, 1 serving of rice noodles in Thai spices and steamed green beans.

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And there you have it. Another weeks worth of food. I’ll add it some additional green veggies (likely I’ll cut up some cucumbers, red and yellow peppers) and I’ll be done.

It’s been three straight weeks of great workouts at 5am and I am excited to pair these workouts with a great meal plan.

What are you eating this week? Do you pre-cook any of your food?

Alpha Brain Review

So, I kept hearing about this supplement called “Alpha Brain” which is sold by the company ONNIT. Now, I couldn’t find this anywhere in stores, not sure if Onnit products are even available in stores, so I ordered it from their website. 30 capsules costs $34.95 USD plus about $20 in shipping. I also purchased two pre-workout supplements “Shroom Tech Sport” for myself and “T+” for my hunky husband.

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Sadly, I had to pay duty on this shipment (a $29.99 extra charge on top of my order), which I have never ever had to do in all my years of online shopping. I don’t really understand why this particular purchase elicited duty fees from Canadian customs, but I wasn’t there when FEDEX dropped it off to argue with them about it, and FEDEX is the one who paid the duty. Additionally, my shiny package from ONNIT was clearly opened and re-sealed by Canadian customs. Nothing I can do about any of that, but those extra fees will probably stop me from ordering from the site again. I would probably use amazon.com or bodybuilding.com for a future order and see if I ended up with the same additional fees.

So, back to Alpha Brain. It is a “nootropic,” which according to the gods of google is:

Nootropics (/noʊ.əˈtrɒpɨks/ noh-ə-trop-iks), also referred to as smart drugs, memory enhancers, neuro enhancers, cognitive enhancers, and intelligence enhancers {…} that purportedly improve mental functions such as cognition, memory, intelligence, motivation, attention, and concentration.

Awesome.

The website claims that using Alpha Brain will result in an: extraordinary combination of lucid dreams, mental drive, focus, and mental acuity.”

Double Awesome. Who doesn’t want an extraordinary combination of lucid dreams, mental focus and mental acuity? I sure do.

It’s ingredients are listed as:

  • Alpha GPC: Raw source of acetylcholine, associated with sharpness, mental speed.✝
  • Huperzine A: Acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, extracted from club moss.✝
  • Vinpocetine: Helps bring oxygen and nutrients to the brain via vasodilation.✝
  • AC-11®: Powerful DNA repair antioxidant.✝
  • Phosphatidylserine: Essential lipid compound highly abundant within brain cell membranes.✝
  • Bacopa: Traditional Ayurvedic brain-enhancing nutrient.✝
  • Pterostilbene: From blueberries, powerful micronutrient / antioxidant.✝
  • L-Tyrosine: Amino acid important to the production of Dopamine.✝
  • L-Theanine: Amino acid with chemical similarities to GABA.✝
  • Oat Straw (20:1): Natural anti-stress nutrient, helps balance formula and create calm focus.✝
  • Vitamin B-6: Catalyst in effective utilization of many nutrients.✝

 

I’ve been taking Alpha brain daily for about two weeks. Here’s what I’ve noticed: they ARE NOT kidding about lucid dreams. From my first dose, I experienced stronger, brighter, lucid dreams that stuck with me upon waking. Cool. Other that that, the effects are more subtle. I’ve noticed I have more energy lately, am sleeping more soundly and I’m not having that terrible afternoon slump I normally have. I have more energy at night. Is this due to the Alpha Brain? Maybe. However, the main selling feauture of Alpha Brain was its increase in mental drive, focus and acuity. I haven’t noticed anything like that. Maybe my brain is already so fine tuned that I don’t need the boost?

I like the product, and I would continue to use it after my bottle is done, just based on my sleep quality lately alone, but the price is prohibitive for me. Not the $34.95, but when you factor in the product price, shipping ($20) and duty ($30 on my last order) it is a bit extreme. If I were totally-over-the-moon in love with this product, I’d probably pay it, but the somewhat pleasant effects aren’t really worth it when I factor in shipping and duty costs. I am curious to see if my better sleep quality lately is in fact due to the product. If so, that could sway my decision and make me a regular purchaser, if I could find it in a local store, or purchase from a provider who has their duty ducks in a row (like I said, have never paid this before with online shopping).

Have you tried any Onnit products?

Thinking positive thoughts.

You guys, thinking positively is harder than I thought.

I mean, I am really good at having negative sarcasm laden self deprecating thoughts. Really. Good. You’d probably be jealous of how good I am. It’s a hidden talent that I didn’t realize I had. I knew that I’ve been focussing on the negative lately, but I didn’t know how much.

“You look beautiful today” says my hunky husband. It’s 7am, I’m getting dressed for work, makeup done, nice dress on and working on getting my hair to behave. The thing is, the dress is sort of ‘pencil skirt’ style, and I honestly find those things a pain-in-the-ass to walk around in, so I have it janked up to my waist. Janked is a word, just ask any woman who regularly wears pencil skirts and values her leg mobility. Anyway, the first thing I do is dismiss what he is saying to make fun of myself and my ample ass hanging out in that dress.

Whomp whomp whomp….

He meant it as a real compliment, and I knew I was lookin’ cute, but I immediately cast his compliment aside rather than offer a simple thank you.

Fast forward a day or so, and it’s me, my kobo (I’m reading Orange is the New Black after becoming addicted to the Netflix series) and an iced latte in a sunny sunny park on my lunch break. It is just such a perfect afternoon. Except for one thing… I’m surrounded by a ton of similarly minded people and all of their cigarettes. Gross. Disgusting. My hair and clothes will surely stink when I leave here. Why must all of these people smoke? Don’t they know about lung cancer/mouth cancer and the wrinkles (not to mention the STENCH)? Hmmmmmppphhhh I huff. I consider moving. I consider complaining on Facebook. But- I’ve committed to 21 days of positive thinking so I chose to make the best of it. The day was beautiful, the sun was shining, I had an un-interrupted hour with a great book, and these people are enjoying the same thing (albeit with cigarettes). I took a deep errr shallow breath, turned my face to the sun and read my book.

I’m sitting on the train on my way to work, dreading the day ahead for no good reason. I don’t have a deadline, no meetings that I don’t want to attend, just a regular work day, but I am dreading it just due to the fact that I just really want to stay home. I’m tired. I’m overwhelmed. I need a break. So, I harness this thought and try to re-direct my thoughts by saying (in my head of course) “Today is going to be awesome. Today is going to be awesome. Today is going to be awesome.” The absurdity of thinking like this kinda made me smile inside and on the outside too, and I tried to finish the rest of my commute as if I was really excited for the day. And you know what: it kind of worked.

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21 days of re-directing negative thinking is harder than I thought it would be. I am good at stopping those pesky negative thoughts in their tracks, but not quite so skilled at replacing them with positive ones. It is surprising to me to discover just what a Debbie Downer I’ve become lately, and that is something that I’m going to keep plugging away at- even after the 21 days is up.

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What do you do to keep positive?

Negative Self Talk

One thing that I hear fairly frequently from people I know is “you’re too hard on yourself” and I’d like to say that they’re crazy, but- I know that it is true.

They say that you are your own worst critic, and I know that I am mine.

On the one hand, being ‘hard’ on myself makes me strive for more, be more than I thought I could be… It has ensured fitness, academic, personal and professional successes that I might not otherwise have had if I wasn’t so driven.

On the other hand, it results in a lot of negative self talk.

“You look so good!”

Sadly my reply is “Thanks, but I feel so soft and out of shape lately. I was having a hard time workout out for the past few months.”

Excuses.

Wow, your back is looking really muscular.

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“Thanks but are you sure those aren’t fat rolls?” (I’m kind of ashamed to even admit that was my response because once I saw a photo of it I was like woah)

I’m beginning to realize that it is a really bad habit.  It spills over into other areas of my life. Focussing on the bad instead of the good. Pushing to do more, be better, instead of valuing what I have, what I’ve done, how far I’ve come. Focussing on the things that I’m unhappy about. Focussing on the things that need work instead of things that I am grateful for.

This morning, for my entire workout I was thinking about how I don’t really like TRX, and mentally planning a purchase of some dumbells, a small barbell and a bench. Why can’t I turn that thought around? TRX may not be my favourite, but it is an awesome workout. It is bringing my muscles back (yay!). I own one (um well actually two) already and have a perfect setup to use them. I can get a full body workout plus cardio and see results using this equipment. Why am I harping on the negative?

So, in my 21 days fashion, I am going to spend the next 21 days working on my inner dialogue. Focussing on the awesome. Ignoring the bad. I’m going to do this with my professional life, my personal life, my health and fitness efforts. Oh an also on general household stuff like not freaking out when my floors are full of dog hairs and the dishes aren’t done, but instead congratulating myself for getting in my workouts and eating healthy foods (we can’t have it all, right?).

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I’m curious about how this change is going to affect my life. I know this will be a challenge of epic proportions and I doubt I’ll be able to succeed  but I am going to give this one my best efforts.  I need the mental break. I need to be kind to myself. I need to treat myself with the same kindness I give to others.

On being afraid…

Despite my general awesomeness and bad-assery, I’ve been afraid to do something lately. Crossfit.

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(The ladies of Crossfit Montgomery, taken from the official Crossfit Facebook page)

Though, I’m not afraid for the reasons you might think.

Like this:

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Or this:

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(That would be me, literally crying from exhaustion one morning and my hunky husband took a photo of it)

Or this:

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Which is incidentally what happened when I attempted to do 36 inch box jumps to the beat of Shoop.

A few stitches later, 3 weeks before my wedding, I was just happy it was my calf and not my face.

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Anyway, the point is, I’m not afraid of hard workouts, I’m not afraid of bleeding hands, or sore legs or disfigured shins (still have a scar)…

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I’m afraid, well more like intimidated, to do Crossfit in my second language: French. Where I live, not many people speak English, and my local gym box is totally francophone. My French is pretty good, and getting better by the day, fine for work, fine for shopping and socializing, but working out?!?!?!? SCARY.

I went with my (Francophone) husband to do a trial class, and spent a good part of it with the dude yelling “Baisse tes hanches! Baisse tes hanches!!!!” at me, much to my confusion (and mortification). Finally with a loud whisper from my hunky husband, plus a pointed physical cue from the Crossfit dude, I finally lowered my hips.

That’s not so bad, really, that I could deal with. But what really terrifies me is the thought of doing it without my trusty translator and holding up the whole class…. Basically what I’m afraid of is…. Looking stupid.

I know, it’s totally ridiculous. But there it is. I am afraid of looking stupid because I don’t know workout related French vocabulary and I won’t have a trusted Frenchy to be my buffer. Because so much of an hour-long Crossfit class is group oriented, I’m afraid of holding people back from getting a good workout and them quietly (or not so quietly) resenting the Anglo interloper in my tiny French town. Even though I do speak French, I just need some help in the workout department.

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I’d love to end this post with an inspirational message saying I’m going to get over my fears, open up a French/English dictionary and march down that box gym uh box, but I’m not. It has been holding me back for 6 months. Well, that and I would prefer to go to morning classes, but they don’t have any early enough to get me to work on time. But, I’m going to keep pondering it in the back of my mind until my balls get big enough to not care and be shy about my Anglo-ness and just go and work out with people who probably don’t give a F– that I’m a little slower due to my translating the instructions to English in my head.