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Casey Douglas

Gym Things You Definitely Should Not Be Embarrassed About

Gyms can feel judgmental, but you shouldn’t feel embarrassed about your workout.

The gym is supposed to be your mental sanctuary, the place where you can smash your fitness goals. However, the often-aesthetic focus of fitness creates an all-eyes-on-you feeling that can cause anxiety and stress.

I have heard plenty of people complain of common gym behaviors that cause them to feel embarrassed. But, they’re all normal things that shouldn’t cause any such embarrassment. Let’s break down these taboos, one by one.

Also: I’ve put some of these headings in quotes as to show that terms like “heavy lifting,” for example, are subjective rather than objective.

Sweating “Too Much”

People are often embarrassed to “sweat too much” at the gym. For some unknown reason, people think their sweat symbolizes that they’re out of shape or “gross”. First, being sweaty is a trademark of a hard workout (though not necessary for one); it can show you’ve put in maximum effort. Second, it’s good for you! Sweating is your body’s way of regulating its temperature, ridding itself of toxins, and even boosting your immunity. So, get your sweat on and embrace it. The visual embodiment of your work ethic and natural cleanse should be nothing to stress about.

Fumbling with Machines

Sometimes, you approach a weight training machine (ex: leg extension, lat pull down, etc.) and it’s not perfectly adjusted to suit your height or preferences. Or, maybe its your first time using the machine and you need a moment to get your bearings. You might feel embarrassed to fumble with the settings, or slyly try to decode the machine’s workings via its infographics. However, it is far better to adjust a machine or take a pause to understand exactly what you’re doing than to blindly use it. Improper usage or settings can lead to injury or at least ineffective sets. You should never be embarrassed to take some extra time to understand and adjust your machine – it simply shows you’re a more conscious athlete.

Using “Light” Weights

Just a few things to say here:

  1. You have to start somewhere.
  2. Everyone was a beginner at some point or another.
  3. Some exercises and muscle groups require smaller weights than others.
  4. It’s none of anyone’s business how much or how not-much someone is or is not lifting.
  5. Listen to your body and lift accordingly.

Refusing to Treadmill Race

Just like in lifting, running on a stationary cardio machine can be a nerve-racking experience. You gaze around at all the gazelles sprinting at a 500 incline at speed 1.2 million and feel sluggish and ungraceful. You may be tempted to skip your cardio all together, or jack up your speed to one outside of your ability. Instead, you should block out your surroundings and go at your own pace.

People use the treadmill for all different purposes: intervals, long distance, power walking, shake-outs and warm-ups. There’s no point in comparing yourself to anyone else, because you have no idea how long they’ve been running or what their goals are. And even if you knew these things, someone else’s cardio routine is neither better or worse than yours. Focus on yourself and you will reap the rewards of mental and physical fortitude.

Using Fellow Gym-Goers as Resources

Imitation is said to be the highest form of flattery. Using others’ workouts as inspiration is nothing to feel embarrassed about. Additionally, asking a veteran gym attendee for advice on lifts, form, or programming isn’t something to fear. People are typically happy to help, and expanding your scope of
knowledge can lead to better informed exercise decisions.

Final Thoughts

So, next time your in the gym, don’t sweat the small stuff. Do your workout, clear your head, and carry on with confidence in your stride and pride in your accomplishments.

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Read This When You’re Struggling to Love Yourself

The media makes it hard to love yourself, but you don’t have to listen.

Your body, health, soul, and spirit are a beautiful gift all together, but the world doesn’t always tell you that.

On one side, an exquisitely photoshopped women stands in front of a mirror, posed precisely to accentuate her already-thin waist and strong-yet-lean body. She has thousands of Instagram followers, all of whom adore her online personality.

They call her “health goals.”

Her hair is perfectly messy, her arms are perfectly toned, and her entire image is perfectly filtered. The only imperfections on the scene are:

  • A: The gross gym bathrooms in the background.
  • And B: The ever-so-slightly, almost impossible to see warped scene around the edges of her figure, evidence of a computer’s intervention in her waist. 

That small, secondary imperfection really makes you think. “Neat! I had no idea a wall could bend like that!”

(I’m kidding.)

The other side of the “beauty” argument is the one I love with every fiber of my being: the overtly positive viewpoint, the one that calls for you to love yourself, accept yourself, and celebrate yourself.

Personally, I choose to subscribe to this new method of thought – the one that asks for kindness, patience, and love.

However, loving your body isn’t always easy.

Serial photoshopping, false health information, unsustainable weight loss schemes, and body shaming run rampant like a disease across the globe. These are the factors stand in the way of self love. They demand that we give up our battle and give in to the tiny demon that whispering in our ears, the one telling us that we’re incapable and inadequate, that we don’t look perfect and are therefore undeserving of joy.

It’s easy to forget that your body is a gift.

In the face of all that negativity, you might fail to remember just how remarkable your are. Your gift, like an old friend that you stopped checking in with, gets forgotten. Your body becomes the Christmas gift you opened but never quite got around to appreciating.

This can manifest itself in a few ways. You might start wearing baggier clothes, hiding your body away for later. You might not allow yourself to use your body in ways that are fun and liberating, like dancing by the pool or on tables. These scenarios build up and start to have an effect on your life. You start to feel inadequate just because you’re told you are in imagery.

However, when you look at the facts, you’re truly incredible. And mind you, I haven’t met you. I can’t speak to your double-people-over-with-laughter sense of humor or your unique set of talents and abilities. I can’t compliment you on your strong soul– the one that gets up again and again after being pushed down.

But, I can tell you this: your body is capable of amazing, amazing things.

I stumbled upon this pretty epic slideshow of body-centric facts and discovered some very incredible things. Did you know that you – yes you, are made up of 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms? All of those atoms exist to make you who you are, which is really kind of epic. 

Those atoms and molecules and proteins and more give you a brain and a heart. Your brain is full of knowledge, wonder, and creativity, and when you’re awake, it produces enough electricity to light up a light bulb. Meanwhile, your heart controls its own orchestra: a system of 100,000 miles of blood. It produces enough energy to pilot a truck down a scenic way for 20 straight miles.

Not only is your heart powerful, but it is also perceptive: your heartbeat responds to music, and will adjust its pace to accompany your earbud symphony.

Humans have engineered light out of nothing, have conquered land, air, sea, and even space. We have traveled to the most ancient parts of the world, and have seen incredible things with our eyes, which, by the way, can see about 10 million different colors.

People can complete 100-mile races. They can climb to the top of the Earth’s peak, and lift weights over three times their own mass. Humans have found hope in the darkest of times, and have persevered through terrors beyond belief.

We have made it so far. Your existence is a product of grit, tenacity, and effort. Your existence is beautiful, and epic, and startlingly awesome. Look at all that others have accomplished – surely there is no reason why you are not capable of greatness.

What, just because of what you look like? No.

You are tough as nails (seriously, your body contains enough iron to form a 3-inch nail), powerful as thunder, and a scientific wonder. It is your right and your duty to love yourself, for to do anything else would be a disservice to the greatness you encompass.

I implore you to treat your body as a gift.

The next time you want to give in to the demons in your mind, fight them off. You are fully equipped to conquer all the trials and tribulations that come your way, including the challenge of practicing self-love.

But, I believe in you, as do those who love you most. So treat your body as it deserves to be treated, and think about yourself as you deserve to be thought about.

Your body is a gift, and most importantly, so are you.

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Let’s Leave “Gluten-Free” (GF) in 2016, Please

Everybody knows somebody who is “gluten-free” (GF).

These gluten-free individuals sometimes suffer from “celiac disease.” However, more often than not, they are perfectly healthy, if not mostly misinformed, people. The general population doesn’t even know what gluten IS, yet alone understand why they’re suddenly not consuming it. So, lets first begin by putting down some finite definitions.

What even IS “gluten?”

According to the official website of the Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF), “gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat (wheatberries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, graham, KAMUT® khorasan wheat and einkorn), rye, barley and triticale – a cross between wheat and rye. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together.”

And what’s celiac disease?

Also according to the CDF, celiac disease is a, “serious genetic autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.”  Celiac disease affects about 1 in 100 people worldwide.  Additionally, the CDF claims that, “two and one-half million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications.”

Now that we’ve settled what we’re talking about, we can get to decoding and demobilizing the gluten-free diet. Disclaimer: this argument excludes those who are GF for health reasons. If you have a gluten intolerance or celiac disease, please continue the gluten-free course of treatment/diet as prescribed by your health professional!

Why go GF?

Many people start the gluten-free diet because they want to cleanse their bodies or lose weight. However, there’s no scientific basis to these claims. As best stated by www.gluten.org: “The gluten-free diet is sometimes promoted as a way to lose weight, or as a ‘healthier’ diet for the general population… claims are unfounded.  The gluten-free diet is healthier for people with gluten-related disorders… no evidence that it is beneficial for people who do not have these conditions.”

Gluten is in carbohydrate-heavy foods like bread, pastries, oatmeal, and grains. Therefore, GF seems like a great option for dieters, because people believe that they’ll ultimately be forced to cut out “unhealthy” foods. However, restricting your food intake by creating “good” and “bad” foods foods can cause disordered eating habits. Also, subbing out regular version of snacks/foods for the gluten-free version can be nutritionally detrimental to one’s health

Peter H.R. Green is director of Columbia University Medical School’s celiac disease center. In an interview with The New Yorker, Green explained how orthorexia nervosa is on the rise. This disease forces people to stop eating certain foods that they perceive as bad for their health. “First, they come off gluten. Then corn… soy… tomatoes… milk. After a while, they don’t have anything left to eat—and they proselytize about it.”

Outside of this, there’s no evidence to support the assumption the gluten-free is healthier than a balanced diet. Some studies suggest that removing glutinous foods from your diet can improve gastrointestinal health. However, these studies more likely demonstrate that people should watch their sugar or refined grain intake.

So what now?

In short, going gluten-free is only a good decision if you have a medical reason to do so. Otherwise, it can lead to disordered eating and malnutrition. 

The key to a healthy lifestyle isn’t fad diets and internet crazes. To be healthy is to be holistically well– in mind, body and spirit. The “body” aspect of this triad needs whole foods, fruits, veggies, proteins, AND grains. Don’t sell it short by selling out to a quick-fix Internet obsession.

 

For more info on wholesome nutrition and how to achieve it, check out these articles:

Why I’m Over The Quick-Fix Health Industry (And You Should Be Too)

Reality check: quick-fixes don’t work.

The “quick-fix health industry”, by my personal definition, is any company/person that sells a product specifically designed to “make you skinny, fast”. It could be a diet pill, a spot-reducing device, an impossible-to-maintain nutrition regimen, or any other improbable (and likely miserable) manner of weight loss. I’m sure you’ve all seen or heard the following buzzy phrases:

  • “Lose 10lbs in 10 days!”
  • “It’s the diet your doctor doesn’t want you to know about!”
  • “This new, vibrating body corset will melt away belly fat!”

Important PSA/news flash/message for the public: it’s all nonsense. 

The Evidence

Exhibit A

First of all, my Facebook is absolutely plagued with a product line called, “It Works!”. The brief breakdown is as follows: the company sells body-toning products, and is most infamously known for their “crazy wraps.” As explained in this brilliant article by one James S., “the only thing It Works! works at doing is to make the owners wealthy by selling multilevel marketing weight loss bullshit.” 

Can anyone really explain to me how these products create “lasting” results, scientifically? And how can anyone possibly believe that this is sustainable?

Exhibit B

Garcinia Cambogia (GC): everyone’s favorite diet pill! (Sarcasm, my friends.)

You’ve likely seen the ads, read the reviews, and/or have been skeptical of its effectiveness. Here’s the real talk: in a Women’s Health article, author K. Aleisha Fetters explains that GC is not FDA regulated. In this article, Sue Decotiis, M.D, explains that “Most brands of garcinia cambogia extract diet pills, including big names, have failed independent laboratory quality and quantity testing.” Hmmm… Additionally, the pill hasn’t been tested against a placebo, which means theres no guarantee this actually works.

You might have seen crazy before/after pictures that lead you to think otherwise. If you have, just know that the pill and other products like it often steal images/information from reputable sources and call it their own. 

These are just two I chose out of infinite examples: juice cleanses, no-carb diets, and waist trainers are just as bad.

These fads typically get worse in the summer.

Watch our for headlines about dropping 20 pounds or getting a bikini body.

How To Get A Bikini Body:

  1. Go to the store.
  2. Buy a cute bikini.
  3. Go home and then put on the cute bikini.
  4. Congratulations! You have a bikini body.

Seriously, that’s all there is to it. You are beautiful and wonderful and fabulous, and beside that, you don’t want what these phony fitness fanatics are selling.

Okay, so let’s say you fell off the “healthy lifestyle” wagon (maybe you’ve forgotten what a vegetable looks like), and would like back on.

You came to the right place!

Fit University is here to offer you support, guidance, and an entire community of resources and allies.  We’re not trying to sell you a quick-fix; rather, we’re here to offer you fun and also sustainable ways to reach your goals.

Not only do we give you free access to workouts, wellness news, and fun-yet-healthy-yet-so-delcious recipes, but we’ve got each other’s backs, we hold each other accountable, and we provide unconditional fit-family love, even when you’re at your lowest.

health industry

So before you call up your local quick-fix provider, take a minute to think about what you deserve. Be wary of those who claim fast results with no effort. These products are ineffective in the long term. Also, they can take you down paths of disordered eating and diet yo-yos. Lifestyle changes are slow and steady, but with patience, you’ll achieve all you set out to accomplish. 

Instead of a quick-fix, you can try out a new class, incorporate more fruits and vegetables onto your plate, or/also take time out of your day for yoga or meditation

In conclusion, I implore you to stay away from these brands/companies/sellers, and I ask you to take care of yourself– sustainably. You’re worth it.

Additionally, if you find yourself in need of a support system, Fit University is a judgment-free ally. I can promise you that our events, chapters, and social media accounts are way more exciting than wrapping yourself in plastic wrap.

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Three Life Lessons I Learned From Running

I had such an awesome run Morgan Freeman should’ve narrated it.

Running is likely one of the world’s most basic (but challenging) forms of exercise. It requires a slew of highly developed emotional and physical qualities to really pursue the sport.

Though running can be exceptionally painful, it is worth all the challenge that comes with it. Running has the power to teach us endlessly important lessons. Through my eight years of running, the three most important lessons I have learned are:

1. Emotional Resilience 

Running can be frustrating. You see marathon runners, Olympic track stars, and crazy ultra 100-mile racers all over the media. They seem to flow through their races with ease and grace as their legs effortlessly work beneath them.

Meanwhile, for us regular folk, sometimes an easy 3-miler or a few intervals seems like an impossible challenge.

It’s easy for us to give up and get down on ourselves. However, we must remember that hard work breeds better results, and though we may never be that Olympic champion, we can become the most determined, fastest, and best versions of our runner selves. Through running, we realize that our hard work will take us places and allow us to achieve our dreams.

2. What Goes Up Must Come Down

This one is pretty literal. It applies to hills, yes, but also the highs and lows of existence.

There will always be good times, and there will always be bad times. Both are inescapable, but both provide valuable lessons. Without the good, the bad would be unbearable. And without the bad, the good would be less sweet. So next time you’re dreading that hill, just remember: keep going, keep striding, and soon you’ll be coasting toward victory.

3. Hold Your Judgement

Let’s say you see someone out on a run. They’re jogging slowly, with labored breath. Your first thought may be to say, “Run, Forrest, Run!” or maybe make a comment on how sluggish they are. I ask you, from now on, to refrain from judging this runner.

You don’t know if this is their first mile ever, or their 18th mile out of 20. You don’t know if they’re recovering from an injury, or just trying to get back on the workout wagon. Maybe that mile is their newest personal record– and even if it’s not quite up to par with your PR, or another runner’s, it’s a wonderful accomplishment nonetheless.

In all situations, it’s not your place or your right to judge this individual. A person on a run is just like any other individual you will encounter in life. Instead of judging their situation: root for them, support them, think kindly of them. This positive mindset and compassion toward others will take you far in life.

Running has proven to be challenging and heartbreaking, but also beautiful and awe-inspiring. I am proud to be a runner, for running has taught me how to be a better friend, leader, and citizen of the world, and without it, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

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Why We Need To Celebrate The Beginner

Why We Need To Celebrate The Beginner

To my fellow fitness friends:

We, as a health community, fit family, or whatever you’d like to deem us, spend a lot of time applauding amazing feats. We celebrate everything from heavy weightlifting personal records to fast mile times to intricate yoga holds. However, we often overlook the fitness community’s most important asset: the beginner.

Why We Need To Celebrate The Beginner

You’re likely at some point in your “fitness journey” if you’re reading this.  Maybe you’re a seasoned athlete, or a promising powerlifter. Maybe you can run a 5-minute mile or have bikini-bodied your way to a gold medal in a bodybuilding competition.

On the other hand, it could be that you’re just getting started, or you’re just getting back into the swing of things. You are the beginner.

But guess what?

We were all a beginner at some point or another.

To the seasoned health veterans:

The fitness community is excessively guilty of indulging in narcissism, and quite frankly, it’s eating away at the fabric that holds us together: grit, effort, tenacity, empowerment, and self-love. We spend all this time chasing the next best thing and inevitably forget why we started in the first place. We forget who we were when we began. I don’t sit here pointing a finger, judging you. You should be proud of how far you’ve come. 

Why We Need To Celebrate The Beginner2But, I don’t believe its irrational to ask you to pair pride with compassion, and competitiveness with care. You can be your very best without silently wishing to look someone else, or becoming hyper-competitive. Tell the new gym-goer you like her leggings and give her substantial, patient advice instead of quietly rolling your eyes at her squat form. You were once new and confused, so think about the compassion you would have liked to receive when you were first starting.

To the beginner:

I’d like to let you know a few things-

  1. Hi!
  2. I’m proud of you.
  3. You’re a rockstar.
  4. Hang in there.

I’d give you a hug if I could. I recognize your struggle and understand your hopes. You’re here to make a change, and a change WILL come. I can promise you that. However, change is two-fold: it’s a process, and it’s an experience. The process part requires time, effort, and consistency. It requires rainy long runs and occasional impromptu in-home workouts. There will be days when motivation isn’t at its peak. Don’t be discouraged by someone else’s progress, as each and every journey is a bit different. Things won’t always be easy, but I can assure you that they’re worth it.

Why We Need To Celebrate The Beginner3You can do it. I know you have it in you.

As for the experience, I believe this may be even more important than the process. I implore you to value this experience. You won’t appreciate the end product if you can’t find joy in the journey. Celebrate a tiny bicep pump, or your first deadlift. Take pride in finally catching the beat in spin class, or holding your yoga pose for five more seconds.

Finally, please keep your goals in line. Don’t you dare begin to think that your success is defined by one less-than-perfect day, or if you have the elusive thigh-gap or not. Just like those seasoned vets, your goal should be to become the best version of you that you can be – the happiest, most holistically healthy version (mind, body, and soul).

To everyone:

We must support each other. The ins and outs of health can be tricky to navigate, and falling into self-destructive extremes is a possibility. But if we celebrate the beginner, and lift each other up every step of the way, we can slowly but surely bring light to the toughest of self-love situations, and eventually become the most balanced, positive, and supportive community of fitness fiends I know we can be. 

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Attitude Adjustment: How A New Mindset Changed My Life

They say your attitude determines your direction…

My name is Casey Douglas, and I’m a self-proclaimed “fan” of fitness. But I haven’t always been. As a child, I was far more into chocolate Hostess cakes than I was into after-school activities, and my “health” wasn’t really something that was on my radar.

I did have one hobby, however: artistic gymnastics. You know, that sport involving floor, beam, bars, and vault (think Simone Biles, but way less awesome). I was a decent competitor and enjoyed gymnastics overall, but still, ironically, I quit because there was “too much conditioning.”

However, gymnastics gave me the empowering knowledge that my body was capable of strength and endurance.

My athleticism went into hibernation until I started high school and joined the cross country and track teams. This decision drove a physically and emotionally profitable career of running and I owe a great deal of gratitude to those 12 seasons of pavement pacing.

Right before I started school at Boston University, I began training at a boot camp facility, where I discovered weight lifting. Admittedly, I feared becoming “big” and “bulky,” but I fell passionately in love with the sport and the challenges that came with it, that those quickly became things that no longer scared me.

Now, my life is a conglomerate of these things. I am a girl whose heart is split between double-digit mileage runs and challenges that test my strength. I’ve found my home at Boston’s toughest boot camp, Beantown Bootcamp, where each day my passion for fitness continues to grow.

IMG_1595From the surface, my fitness journey may seem rather simple — a girl who has grown as an athlete as time has passed. However, I quickly learned that health is so much more than just the physical aspect and my body is meant for more than aesthetic.  

 

When I was 9-years old, I stood next to other girls in gymnastics class and wondered why my legs touched one another while other girls legs did not. When I was 14, I felt thick as I ran amongst my tall, lanky competitors. And, as high school progressed, I found my self-disdain and disappointment grow larger.

In 11th grade, I crash dieted. I knew crash diets never work, yet I continued. Eventually, I began to cope with my sadness in the only way I knew how: with comfort food. This pattern continued until October 8th, 2014.

On that fateful day, after a night of compulsive overeating, I awoke with guilt, horrible stomach pains, and a sugar-hangover. In that moment, I knew that my lifestyle of emotional eating would perpetuate my cycle of low self-esteem and poor body imageAdditionally, I knew that if I wanted to succeed, I needed to overhaul my negative attitude and rearrange my lifestyle.  I needed to understand that those legs that may or may not touch, helped me run faster and jump higher.

I look back at the loneliness of my high school days and don’t recognize the person I was.

Now, I am 30-pounds lighter, eat nutritious foods, and enjoy treats in a blissful moderation. I find joy in pushing my body to accomplish new fitness feats. I focus more on what my body can do rather than what it looks like. And I work towards weight PRs instead of weight loss.

Boot camp gives me life and continuously lights up my mornings. I am happy, whole, and in love with the fit lifestyle I lead. And I am honored to join Fit University, a place that celebrates each individual’s unique journey.

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