Tag Archives: wellness

Active Kids Reap Life-Long Benefits

I’ll be honest. I am a fan of Title IX legislation. I benefitted from it as a teenager, participating in small-scale sports of cross-country and track. Certainly without the push to equalize opportunites for girls and boys, there would not have been funding for the sports I loved. And my interest in fitness has obviously carried over into adulthood, becoming an integral part of who I am.

Several years ago, the New York Times published an article about the benefits of participating in sports as youths. The article cites a study that rigorously assessed the socio-economic backgrounds of youths across the US and linked their success to participation in organized sports. Sure, we have long touted the intangible benefits of being part of a sports team– character building, teamwork, and feeling part of a something larger than the individual– but the study takes things a step further to demonstrate that kids who participate in sports also go on to higher education, have fewer incidences of negative life-changing events like drug use or teen pregnancy, and higher levels of meaningful employment.

It was timely for me to re-read this article, as I volunteered recently in my son’s elementary PE class. Not only was I impressed by the coach’s arsenal of activities to keep the kids moving, but he worked hard to really educate the children at the same time. For example, rather than just playing a simple game of tag, the kids played “muscle group tag”: when a child was tagged (by me or the other parent volunteer), s/he had to freeze and take a pose to show off a particular muscle group. To be unfrozen and join the game again, a classmate had to stop in front of the frozen child, make the same pose, and name the muscle group the frozen child was demonstrating. In the course of the 6-8 minutes the kids played the game, there were shouts of biceps, triceps, pectoralis, quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteus maximus. What a great way to get kids moving, teach them about their bodies, and have a blast while doing it.

As a personal trainer, I know that having fun with fitness is the key to adhering to an exercise program. I applaud our school’s coach– and the thousands of others like him around the country– who work hard every day to educate and encourage our children to a fit lifestyle.  With news reports that frequently remind us that recess and PE are being slashed from the school day, it’s important for parents to know what is happening at their child’s school.  Does your child’s PE program have an Open Door policy?  Encourage one!

After 45 minutes of fun-filled, fast-paced physical education the kids recited a poem (with motions, of course) in unison. It was awesome to hear and watch 22 kids so enthusiastically deliver a lesson that we can all benefit from, whether our fitness journey started as a child, a teen, or an adult:

Eat right. Stay fit.

Work hard. Never quit!

Brain wise. Safety smart.

Live strong for a healthy heart!

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GIVEAWAY: Look Back to Get Ahead

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The end of the year always heightens my need for personal retreat time.  It is time to pause, step back, and look objectively at my work-life balance. It is useful and beneficial to get quiet and clear about what my intention is with my work.   It is imperative for me to pause, do a body scan, and make sure that I’m treating my own body well.   It is important to reflect on how I’ve used my creative talents and served my greater community.

Before you go thinking that I’m going to tell you to wander through the woods or take a spa weekend, let me be clear: a personal retreat does not have to be extravagant or expensive.

For me, personal retreat time does usually mean nature.  I have a park near my home where I like to go hiking, and it is during these quiet solo hikes that I can think clearly.  But sometimes it means simply locking myself in my bedroom in my PJs and slippers and taking some quiet time.  I think about the parts of my business that are working well and the parts that are chafing.  But most importantly I think about how I feel towards my work.  Is it still feeding me?  Am I still giving my clients my best self?  Does my family suffer because of my work?  I love to have time to free-associate and think of all the ways my work and life are flowing– and clogging.

But just as important as time for reflection is time for planning.  After all, if we don’t use the reflection for growth, it just becomes sappy nostalgia.

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I know I benefit from both the mental wave-riding of free thinking about my year as well as a more structured, guided reflection.  I have used the Leonie Dawson Shining Life workbooks for several years with great enjoyment.  They never fail to challenge me, even as I’m encouraged by all that is going well in my life.

I so believe in the power of reflection and planning to help you achieve your goals that I’m giving away a 2016 SHINING LIFE WORKBOOK.  I know that it will help you take stock of where you are now and map out where you’d like to be this time next year.  It’s not just for entrepreneurs, either– anyone can benefit from Leonie’s colorful, engaging, creative, and soul-stirring prompts.

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As someone who promotes balance and wellness in all that I do, I want you to experience how good it feels to know where you are right now and know that you can get where you want to be.

It may feel luxurious to indulge in navel gazing, or it may feel like a waste of time.  Either way, it will be worth it.  If you can use what you have learned this year to plot out how you want to grow in 2016, you’re already bringing balance into your life.

If you just can’t wait to get started on this work (I know am the type!), use the button on the right ————> to order your own Shining Life or Shining Biz Workbook right now.  You can buy a .pdf copy of the workbook that will be sent to your inbox for you to start TODAY!

Well done, You!

GIVEAWAY:

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If you would like to be entered into the drawing for a Leonie Dawson 2016 SHINING LIFE WORKBOOK & WALL CALENDAR, leave me a comment that tells me one thing you learned in 2015 and one goal you have for 2016.

I’ll draw the winner at random at 10am Central time, Tuesday, 29th December, 2015.  The workbook & calendar will be mailed to the winner that day.

Four Minutes to Feeling Fab

There are some days when a little warm up and shake out are just what you need to get moving.  Just a little movement can get your blood flowing and also lift your spirits to get you ready to go do great things.

And, look…I know you’re busy.

But what I have here is a four-minute full body warm-up routine.  Everyone has four minutes.  Maybe you can do it right now.  Maybe you can do it while you wait for your kid’s basketball practice to wrap up.  Maybe you can do it while you’re waiting for the water to boil while you make dinner tonight.

Maybe I should stop writing so you can get to it…..

Try it out!

Let me know how you feel!

The Power of Potential

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This is a post that’s been brewing for a while.   Last April, I went to California for a intensive weekend retreat to complete my Prenatal Kriya Yoga instructor certification.  The retreat was held at an absolutely stunning hacienda-style home in the hills of San Jose, where we were treated with the stunning spring display of rose bushes in bloom all around us.

While the full, weighty blossoms were undeniable in their almost in-your-face beauty, I was struck by the perfection in the rosebuds.  The colors were bold and striking.  The form was compact but impressive.  The petals perfectly cuddled each other as the sepals fell gracefully down and away.  The little rosebud was just as beautiful as her big-blossomed cousins.

Maybe it’s the same with us.  To be constantly thinking about (or, more accurately, worrying about) how we are going to look, feel, think, or act once we are in full bloom, we miss out on the peace of contentment in our current life.  If we can learn to rejoice in the way we are now, celebrate what we can do, and feel grateful for our current capabilities, we can best embrace the power of our potential.

True growth happens when we can take a thorough stock of our strengths as well as our failures.  By accounting for the positives we have right now, we can give ourselves an honest appraisal of what we need to do to reach our full potential.  If we acknowledge the beauty in our various parts right now, we can use them to push ourselves even further.  After all, if we believe that we are made of goodness, strength, beauty, and wisdom now, imagine how much more we have to offer as we continue to grow!

We have all of the potential within us to be the best, most impressive versions of ourselves.  By recognizing the value in our life day-by-day, we set ourselves up for the exciting unfolding of our potential.

Good health and great happiness to you!

Can I Speak With You?

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Every time I have a public speaking gig, I get that flutter of excitement, knowing that someone in the audience is feeling down about their physical health, the stress of life that prevents them from taking care of themselves, and the struggle of just how that’s going to change.

I’m excited because I know that the message I’ve crafted for their group is going to offer them not just hope but practical strategies for success.

As a public speaker, I love to take my stories of family, fitness, and wellness to groups who align with my message that everyday people do, in fact, have time for regular exercise.  My strategies for efficient, effective exercise resonate with people who feel stressed out by the realities of work and family pressures.  What I hope people learn is that an overall plan for wellness– meaningful exercise, plentiful sleep, and nourishing foods– is actually within their reach.

Who are these people?

  • Mom’s groups
  • Playgroups
  • Corporate wellness programs
  • Service & social organizations
  • Charity athletic teams
  • Goddess circles

Speaking to groups allows me to tap into the skills I used when I was teaching college and needed to engage a group of people with varying interest levels in what I was talking about.  By adapting my message to the specific group, my presentations offer real, practical advice to add value to the listeners’ lives.

Topics include:

  • Fitness & Family Time
  • Exercising with Baby on Board
  • Postnatal Fitness: Beyond the Mummy Tummy
  • Exercises for the Deskbound
  • Creating a Wellness Culture at Work
  • Training with a Team
  • Finding Power in Peri-Menopause
  • Yoga for the Unbendy

When I am engaged as a speaker, I also include plenty of time for questions and answers.  I love to facilitate group discussions about fitness and wellness, and I never pretend to have all the answers!  My extensive background of research in women’s wellness and practical understanding from my years as a personal trainer mean that I can connect the dots for people who find regular exercise challenging….and get them over the hump to see how taking care of their body really does make them feel better!

I look forward to hearing from you about how I can help the members of your organization craft a well-balanced life.  You can find me at karen@balancepft.com or leave a comment here so I can get back to you.

Good health and great happiness to you!

Women’s Wellness Through the Decades

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For most of the past decade, I’ve worked as a personal trainer who specializes in women’s fitness.  I have a special affinity (and specialty certification) for working with prenatal and postnatal women, as I think that the perinatal period is one where women should spend extra time and focus taking care of themselves.  Whether a woman always been an avid exerciser and just needs a little extra expert direction about the dos and don’ts of working out while pregnant or she’s never had a consistent exercise habit, I can help keep both the mom-to-be and the baby healthy.   I love supporting new moms during “the fourth trimester,” especially working to ensure that the core muscles work efficiently and effectively again after pregnancy.

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That said, I’m getting older.

(Sigh.)

Now the far side of 40 and feeling the changes of my body aging, I decided to invest some time into educating myself about the body’s changes during menopause.  While it’s been societally  taboo to discuss “The Change,” I find mass ignorance unacceptable.  If I can learn more about supporting women through menopause– and approach my own transition more happily and healthfully– then I think that’s a worthy goal.

In late summer, I undertook a certification course offered by Burrell Education, a leading women’s wellness organization based in London.  Its founder, Jenny Burrell, is well-known and highly respected for her science-based, practical fitness and wellness education.  In the course focusing on “The Third Age Woman” in peri-menopause and beyond, Burrell partnered with Jessica Drummond of the Integrative Pelvic Health Institute and Irish physiotherapist Michelle Lyons.  The trio delivered a twelve-week course that covered everything from shifting hormones to optimal nutrition to ideal workouts and even the importance of rest for women who want to not just survive menopause but actually THRIVE during the “third age” period of life.

I am confident that I can help women learn real, practical, and do-able strategies for creating a well-balanced life.  By addressing nutrition, exercise, health screenings, and how daily habits affect physical health, I can support women through the small behavior changes that will result in improved health and greater ease of living.  My peri-menopause POWER program has me all fired up to help third-age women feel fierce!

So while I continue to work with perinatal clients– and am honored to be part of the excitement of motherhood– I am eager to share my new-found knowledge about surviving and thriving during menopause with clients.   Because this work is more holistic than my previous personal training, I am looking forward to working with women in Austin and well beyond.  There is much good work that can be achieved through phone coaching, virtual training, and other digital support.

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My work has always been focused on helping my clients find and maintain balance.  Never is it more important to feel balanced than when riding the hormonal rollercoaster of menopause.  For some women, this period can last a decade– that’s a really long time to feel “off” or “not myself.”  There are strategies that can be employed to regain a sense of balance that will let women live boldly with both mental and physical strength.

Please do let me know if I can support you.  Regardless of your life stage, feeling healthy and strong shouldn’t be a luxury.  You’re worth it.

Good health and great happiness to you.

 

A Child’s Wellness Wisdom

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“Mama,” she said,  “my body is telling me it needs to be outside in nature.”

My four year old daughter said that to me when I picked her up from preschool recently.  I was so struck by the clarity of her expression of her needs and by the wisdom they represented.  How many adults do I know (myself included) who can articulate what their body needs at any given moment?  Not many.

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And so we headed off to “The Peacock Park” (officially Mayfield Park), a 21-acre nature preserve very near our home, to spend some time outside.  I had been meaning to get to a local hiking trail all week, but busy-ness and stuff kept getting in my way.  It took a four year old to get me to do what my body had been telling me it needed for days.

“Mama,” she said, “let’s go into the woods where we can walk, walk, walk and breathe, breathe, breathe.”

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Whether through intuition or experience, The Stowaway knew that walking in the woods helps her breathe deeply.  My kids hear a lot of talking about the importance of breathing deeply, but to hear my child make the explicit connection between walking in the woods and expansive breathing made my heart leap….and not because I need a parenting pat on the back, but because she is wise all on her own.

“Mama,” she said, “when my feet are on the earth my insides calm down.”

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Obviously, flip flops do not good hiking shoes make.  But this child of mine prefers to be barefoot in almost any situation.  Her ability to relate this feeling of literal groundedness and the peace it brings made me gasp.

“Mama,” she said, “I’m feeling a little tired.  I’m going to rest on this bench.”

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Rest?  You mean, like do nothing?  By admitting she was tired– and having no shame attached to that state of being– and devising a plan to let her energy stores rise again, The Stowaway displayed the wisdom of rest.  For all of the time and effort people put into good nutrition and vigorous exercise, we forget about the importance of restorative rest.  You owe it to yourself  to slow down when your body needs you to do so.

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There they were: in the span of an hour, four giant Truth Bombs Of Wellness were dropped on me my by a four year old.  Maybe if we adults stop overthinking everything and tune in to the wisdom of our mind-body connection, we’ll all be better for it.

Good health and great happiness to you!