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Past neuroticism…land softly in STRENGTH

When lifting, a still body helps you isolate the target muscle group…to train more effectively…to train more safely. You invite stillness into your body by bracing your core. You invite stillness into your mind by knowing your core…who you are at your core. The solar plexus chakra houses our ability to be confident and in control of our lives. It is affected by self-worth, self-confidence, self-esteem. Not coincidentally, it is located in your core. We develop both types of “core” through a commitment to a continuing education in…strength.

“Do you have any support in those things?” No.
“Are they even comfortable?” Not really, I wasn’t in the market for bunny slippers.10923822_10204788859474315_4546231247280359078_o
“I heard those shoes are dangerous and cause injury.” Hmm, they could be…if you’re not devoted to strength and, specifically, the strength required to create soft landings.

I appreciate soft landings…when I’m flying into Narita and when I’m jumping in class…soft landings improve the quality of my flight, my training session…and my life. Strength is not just about how high we can jump, it’s also about how (or whether) we land on our feet. So, care about how you land.

Everything fires up from the floor…and your feet are the connection to that. If you are wearing something that performs the function of supporting your foot, the muscles in your feet forget how to…because they don’t need to. You can perform the exercise without focusing on alignment and not get injured. Therein lies the tragedy.

There is nothing like a heavy weight to tell you when your form or alignment is off. You could have crappy form with a light weight and stay free of injury forever…and also free of results…tragically. You can go long distances as a heel striker in traditional shoes or land heavy on your feet in ultra supportive shoes…also staying free of injury…perhaps. Training barefoot or in Vibrams disallows this. It’s not the shoes that are dangerous, it’s the person wearing them. Cultivate your strength to land without a sound. Our quest in strength is to become better movers in smart bodies, not poor movers with a neurotic mindset.

So, let’s move beyond neuroticism…into STRENGTH.

Face backwards on the step mill to build a better booty, twist holding a plate to whittle down your waistline, wrap your midsection to lose belly fat, take this fat burner without fear of consequence, do not head to the gym without your pre-workout supplement, sweat in hot yoga to burn more fat…wait, is it April Fool’s Day? Or, is your fitness overruled by your neuroticism?

Strength is using your mind to control the neuroticism and to search for knowledge. Be curious and cognizant. Activate your strength as you guide your decisions and allow patterns of behavior to either persist or desist.

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1. Is it correlation or causation? Just because you only see fit females facing backwards on the step mill, it doesn’t mean this variation on the step mill builds a better booty. No, squats and lunges do. These women do tons of them…and probably have the habit of including protein in every meal. You could also say bright booty shorts build a better derrière…in that the only possible causation in either of these scenarios is the reverse – the better booty perhaps “caused” her to face backwards or to select her wardrobe…just to say, “Hey, look at me!”

2. What is the point of this exercise? Is it to whittle down my waistline or to slip a disc? Twisting while holding a large plate is both the fastest way to add inches to your waistline and to slip a disc. My recommendation, stop doing this…well, unless you’re a chiropractor who can profit from the perpetuation of this fallacy. A better exercise for your waistline with that heavy plate is to squat with it. Exercise mindfully…whether it’s in the gym or out…look for patterns of behavior that are unintentionally harming you.

3. But, the scale doesn’t lie…or does it? The only way you could burn more fat in a hot yoga class than on the treadmill is if you turned the temperature down. If you think hot yoga strips away body fat, you are overlooking the fact that our bodies have fantastic cooling systems. If you’ve ever taken hot anything, you know this. You sweat. You may even drop significant amounts of weight, but you will gain it all right back after you hydrate. When I was skating professionally, some of us would sit in the sauna and most of us would consume nothing but a glass of wine on Friday nights…because we had weigh-ins on Saturday mornings. Yes, you can drop weight this way…temporary weight. But you are definitely not achieving transformation weight and you are definitely not doing something healthy. On the other hand, when temperatures are cold, our bodies have to “work” to stay warm. Hopefully, that encourages you to take up ice skating…or come to my new class, Freezing Yoga!

4. Forget the year…because your body has no clue. If you were to start a fast or extreme diet, your body wouldn’t take into consideration that it is 2015 AD and not 2015 BC. Its response would be the same…to stop and conserve everything. It doesn’t realize that Starbucks is open or there is a ready supply of food in the refrigerator…that you’re just not feeding it…because you are “committed”. It thinks, there is no more food, so it must shut down and conserve energy. But, when we diet, we want to do the opposite. We want to rev up our metabolism so we can create that caloric deficit and lose weight inexpensively…in that, it doesn’t require a lifelong membership at Weight Watchers or surgery…loose skin surgery.

5. But, everyone else is doing it…you mean, right now. Do you know anyone still on the Atkins diet? That’s how you should feel about diets or fads in general. Question their longevity…as they may undermine yours. If you say it is too expensive to eat healthily, I say it is too expensive to eat unhealthily…in terms of TCO…Total Cost of Ownership…ownership of you. Your long-term health costs. Your quality of life and movement. Personally, I never shop at Whole Foods because I can’t stomach their prices. I don’t buy supplements because I perceive them as a waste of money. I eat real food…from the grocery store…or even Domino’s on occasion (like a weekly occasion…) Food is not a reward, it’s nourishment…for future strength opportunities.

6. Question the “news”. When I was about to start my MBA at Wharton, my mother called me up frantically to tell me she had heard this “news” report that MBAs do not pay off. I exhaled and then agreed with her. Well, I agreed that many MBAs are probably not worth it. But I wasn’t in that category. I had focus, intent, and strength…strength of desire, strength of purpose, strength of…a phenomenal business school. So, Wharton ended up being one of my finest life-enhancing investments…but I had to question the news, check in with myself, and…see next.

7. Stop worrying about what others think. It’s zapping your strength. If you’re coming from a place of good intention and good heart, no else’s opinion matters. (Not even your mother’s…shhh!) You have something important to express…explore…unlock. Not more to accomplish, but more to learn…in order to get to know yourself better. To live an extraordinary life, you don’t need extraordinary luck, money, or genetics, you just need extraordinary awareness. Awareness of yourself. This awareness opens your eyes to your innate strength. See next.

8. Lift more than you think you can. Don’t leave the gym with regret. And don’t die with regret. Regret is a realization of under lifting or…under living. Ouch. We avoid it by challenging ourselves to experience life true to what our hearts have called us to do. We build strength so we can heal our fears. Healing our fears is our life mission.

Curing is a physical experience. Healing is a spiritual one.” ~Kris Carr

9. Fly business…signal your worthiness. My female frequent flyer friends often lament over how few women are sitting up in business class. The other day, I bought my first plane ticket to Japan. Although I’ve flown to Japan a gazillion times…as in, close to 40…and 95% of the time in business class, I’ve never had to pay for my flight because I was going over to skate, to research, or to work. This time, I’m going over to attend a conference…to explore, unlock, and learn…to build mental strength. I surprised my old self and chose business class…because I love business class and I don’t want to “fight” during my first day in Tokyo…fight to keep my eyes open! All of us, but women especially, often choose the cheaper “seat”…particularly in areas of our career or self-investment that symbolize we are not worthy of luxury…or worthy of sitting with the big boys. The tragedy is we pinch off our dreams…and set back our daughters in the process.

10. Don’t live like this is your last day… What would you do if today was your last day on this planet? Probably not the 5am fitness class and a healthy breakfast. More likely, feet up at the pool with bonbons and champagne followed by a woe-is-me pity party. Strength is directing ourselves to eat and exercise like it’s our first day…with the excitement and expectation to see the next…and the next. Strength is seeing past the neuroticism surrounding certain behaviors. My boyfriend is half-Sicilian…which is another way of saying he’s never had a sunburn. He used to tan religiously…as a teenager to clear acne, in his twenties for photo shoots, and in his late thirties after he was diagnosed with cancer…skin cancer. He had lost the faith and was living like it was his last day on this planet. Now, he’s not. He starts chemo this month…because he has so much to explore, unlock, learn, and…love…love about me, but more critically, to love about himself.

We don’t have to be ordinary
Make your best mistakes
‘Cause we don’t have the time to be sorry
So baby be the life of the party
I’m telling you to take your shot it might be scary
Hearts are gonna break
‘Cause we don’t have the time to be sorry
So baby be the life of the party ~Shawn Mendes

Do you want to explore STRENGTH further? Click here for quotes, mantras and our willPower dedicated weekly exercise!

Sarah Ingmanson

Sarah Ingmanson

Sarah is a studio owner, fitness instructor and competitor. She is a former investment banker and equity research analyst with her MBA from the Wharton School and her MA in International Affairs from the Lauder Institute of the University of Pennsylvania. Sarah is fluent in Japanese and consults with Japanese companies on corporate governance, finance, and investor relations. Sarah's interest in Japan stemmed from her first tour with Disney On Ice as a professional figure skater. For more info on Sarah and her studio, visit www.starslocker.com.