Helping People Rediscover their Strength, Confidence, and Joy through Fun, Safe, Effective Exercise.
Author: Kayla Goldwag
Kayla Goldwag is a Certified Personal Fitness Trainer who loves helping women move better, gain confidence, have more energy, lose weight, work around injuries, regain range of motion after mastectomies, gain muscle tone & feel good in their bodies. She has also taught Kickbox-cardio, Bootcamp, TRX, Pre & Post-natal, and a variety of Toning and Stretching classes in Los Angeles. When not training or writing about training, she keeps busy wrangling her headscarf collection, talking back to her teenagers, and performing courageous acts of laundry origami. She can also be reached via Facebook/getfitwithkayla and on GetFitWithKayla.com
While I’m reasonably certain of what will work best to keep me mentally sharp, performing well in the gym and emotionally even in terms of my nutrition, I’m an agnositc when it comes to my belief about whether that method is the right one or the best one for YOU.
First, let’s be sure we are on the same page. When I say DIET, most people hear the word restriction. When I say the word diet, I just mean the habitual pattern of what you eat on a day to day basis.
I know there are people who are devoutly Vegan or Low-Carb or Paleo or eat within a specific time window or High Fat or High Carb, Gluten-Free, Keto, Kosher, Hallal, Vegetarian, Pescatarian, or any variety of nutritional lifestyle and many of them think their way is the BEST way. However, I know from working with real clients over many years that different things work for different people. I actually think any of these could probably work depending on one’s situation.
If you like to cook, or don’t like to cook, have food allergies, have a big or small food budget, have a lot or a little nutrition knowledge, have GENES or diseases that predispose you to gain or lose weight on certain diets or require certain foods be added or omitted from your diet all coalesce into what your perfect diet is for YOU.
You may be wondering how it is that someone like myself who has studied nutrition and fitness could endorse such wildly different and sometimes conflicting diets depending on the person, and how I could even coach nutrition under such circumstances. The answer is that most nutrition programs accomplish certain cornerstone habits which are necessary in a healthy lifestyle.
In other words, when I coach clients in nutrition I don’t prescribe a diet or a particular menu though I may make some suggestions in the way that fits their lifestyle.. taking into consideration things like:
~ Cooking Experience and Knowledge
~ Stage of life (big family, small family, living alone)
~ Genetic variables (For clients interested in high fat or high protein diets I often suggest a DNA test to see if they are good candidates for such a diet in the long-term since some plans can require intense commitments. If a diet could feel overly restrictive given their social and entertaining calendars or those of other family members or their genetics indicate it would yield poor results at the outset they will have the information to make a more well informed decision as a result of the DNA test.)
If you just think about something, if you merely try, it doesn’t usually happen. However, when you decide and commit and have a plan of action, that’s when you succeed.
It is when you don’t leave room for doubt that you’re most likely to succeed.
Once you DECIDE, cement it as a priority in your daily, weekly and long-term goals so you can visualize it and realistically achieve it.
The Fantasy: If anything were possible, what would that look like?
The Long-Term: In 5 years what would that outcome look like?
In A Year: What would the achievement look like a year from now?
Weekly: What is a realistic goal for this week
Daily: What can I do right now to get me toward my weekly goal.
Once you make that commitment, whatever it is; to create a happier life, to work out more, to take the weight off, to invest in clothes that are more flattering, to surround myself with emotionally healthy people…Put It In Writing.
So often, potential clients have their priorities out of whack. They are waiting for motivation to work out yet they want results NOW. I tell them, perspiration before inspiration.
Nothing is more motivating than success!
Think about this.. the Psychiatrist who sends her client to the gym before prescribing antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication doesn’t wait until her patient feels Motivated to work out. She sends them to me, a trainer, or to the gym FIRST. The prescription to work out comes FIRST and then the motivation will follow. (There are many studies that show exercise is sometimes more effective than medication….and still sometimes medication is necessary so speak with your own doc).
Think about it, in starting a new habbit, we understand intellectually what changes we want to make and why but if we wait until we’re inspired every single time we will likely never change. It is taking that step that causes the next one to be easier and more rewarding.
Another thing a lot of clients miss is to focus simply on the outcome on that fantasy goal and forget the daily and weekly goal that will get them there.. and a lot of the time, the focus is on an unrealistic outcome. Sometimes this is influenced by influencers on social media who are using filters on their photos and really painting an unrealistic picture that they themselves aren’t even living up to.
Once you have mede a intellectual decision, a mental commitment, you will need to protect that sacred space by drawing a fence and a gate and a protective wall around it so you can nurture it to fruition. Want to know my BIGGEST tip last week to my 1:1 clients who are starting to see some doubts creep in?
To Get out of your own way. Cleanse and purge…your social media!!!
Surround yourself with supportive people and if you don’t have people in your life to support you, nurture yourself with podcasts, books, classes, and images which do support you – things that make you feel valued, energized, happy, supported…and be very wary of the FB and instagram algorithm. If you have not yet heard, the social media giant is purposely manipulating what you see in ways that are sabotaging your mental and physical health and that of your daughters. An inside whistleblower showed that if you’re already feeling crappy about yourself and look there for inspiration you’re likely to be fed more that makes you feel worse.. (see this article among others if you need proof) so guard your health and your heart please and stay the course -focus on the small daily goals and prune your social media accordingly.
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Breast Cancer is one of the most frequent cancers in women. One in eight women who live to age 85 years will develop breast Cancer over the course of their lifetime.2
The reality is that Breast Cancer Awareness strategies have done little if nothing to decrease the incidence of diagnosis. The mammogram can be a useful tool for detecting a breast tumor, however, the cancer cells may have have already spread. Wouldn’t it be great if we could prevent and/or reverse unhealthy breast tissue before it becomes cancerous?
Um, Yeah! That’s why I’m on the lookout for the latest and greatest in research to arm us with just that sort of tool. While researching information on foods and health and weightloss, I stumbled across this mind-blowing info:
A 2019 review of the studies from Oncology Review indicates some promising research about the efficacy of probiotics to alter the but bacteria to prevent the growth and development of breast cancer by modulating the gi bacteria and systemic immune system.
Probiotics (bacteria or yeasts) are live microorganisms which when given in the right amounts in food or as a supplement provide health benefits. The most commonly used bacterial strains for probiotic purposes are the lactic acid bacteria, which are mainly consumed as fermented dairy like Kefir and yogurt. There are others as well including Kimchi, fermented saurkraut, Kombocha, and there are also tablets. Each type of probiotic is somewhat different and it may take some research and experimentation to find out which one(s) are right for you. Gastrointestinal bacteria is affected by diet, alcohol, and cholesterol metabolism, and vice versa… and these all have an effect of the amount of estrogens in the body. In short, several small-scale studies reported lowered cholesterol on using probiotics, which may support their benefit in blocking the hypercholesterolemiaestrogen cancer mechanism.44,45In summary, in addition to regular exercise, stress reduction such as including mindfulness meditation, adding fruits and veggies to your diet (specifically the cruciferous ones like broccoli and cabbage) it seems probiotics can be another tool to improve your odds preventing and beating disease including Breast Cancer (-specifically, estrogen positive cancers).
I’m trying to incorporate probiotics like this fermented cabbage into my daily diet. Its ok to start with a small amount even a tablespoon to see how you tolerate different kinds. Do your research and consult with your doc to see which might be right for you.
This post involves discussions of Weight. If such topics are distressing or triggering to you please consider employing self-care tools and strategies which may include not reading this.
A February 2021 survey by the American Psychological Association reveals how the pandemic has led to unwanted weight gain.42% of US adults gained unwanted weight during the pandemic.52% of Gen Z adults report undesired weight gain, with an average gain of 28 pounds.48% of millennials report undesired weight gain, with an average gain of 41 pounds.Yet despite these statistics, for better health and a longer life span, exercise is more important than weight loss.
An interesting new scientific review of the relationships between fitness, weight, heart health and longevity found that obese people typically lower their risks of heart disease and premature death far more by gaining fitness than by dropping weight or dieting.
The review adds to mounting evidence that most of us can be healthy at any weight, if we are also active enough.
Glenn Gaesser, a professor of exercise physiology at Arizona State University in Phoenix (My alma matter, BTW), found overweight and obese people with significant health problems, including high blood pressure, poor cholesterol profiles or insulin resistance, a marker for Type 2 diabetes, showed considerable improvements in those conditions after they started exercising, whether they dropped any weight or not. The studies show that even if no weight is lost, obese and formerly sedentary individuals can lower their risk of premature death by as much as 30 percent or more.
And now, because the science needs to also explain that water is wet:
“Some past research shows that people who start to exercise rarely lose much, if any, weight, unless they also cut back substantially on food intake because the exercise they are doing burns too few calories and because they compensate for some caloric burn during exercise by eating more calories afterwards.”
This information begs the question: Is Obesity a Choice?
This short answer is..not usually. Sure genetics and bone structure, genes and upbringing play a part. However, some of us eat more and/or move less when stressed or anxious or depressed.. and for others its just the opposite! Some of us find sweet foods satisfying in some situations and salty in others (hint: there are actual biological reasons for craving salty in some situations and sweet in others–and its part of the glorious way or bodies are pre-programmed for survival).
Sometimes people are making choices, but they are only semi-conscious of them-for instance out of self-harm as a trauma response. Other times we don’t even know we are making choices because we are simply unaware of alternatives or we have never been educated about the way that stimuli such as emotions and specific foods trigger different responses within the body that set us up for a cascade of effects that are displayed visually or on our bloodwork results…
Information like how to combine which foods to achieve stable blood sugar and lower insulin response. A sensitive balanced insulin response can increase your sensitivity to feelings of hunger and fullness. That is necessary for true agency in one’s health outcomes (and visual outcomes). Listening to one’s body only works well when the body is working to give us those signals otherwise the whole system is rigged against us succeeding from the start (if our goal is to “listen to the body”).
There is a whole science behind options including which foods to combine or eat and when if you want to decrease cravings overall. Or which foods can make you feel fuller longer or think more clearly or have more energy. Which type of exercises performed which way for how long will make you hungrier and which will enable you to feel more full after the workout. If you would like to know more about those things, so you are more empowered to make changes smarter not harder, it is something I coach my 1:1 Private clients on.
Some people say, I can’t train with you Kayla, you’ve never been overweight like me. I have never been you, but there have been times I was overweight (5’5″ 172lb not pregnant, and 175 when pregnant) and I have also been mocked for appearing underweight (young teen), Fortunately I have mostly been in the normal range. I have discovered ways to hack the system both from reading and studying and talking to pros about it to be more stable over time and some of it has to do with hearing relatives who do have a good relationship with their bodies and food while growing up-which helps me reflect back to my clients when something seems off track. I’ve survived illnesses, injuries, and other setbacks. I’ve had a few pregnancies too…and struggled sometimes there too. Its important to select a trainer and coach (sometimes a counselor and/or RD) who does get you and who you are comfortable with and have the conversations so it can become more of a choice that your body is rigged to help you with instead of fighting with your body.
This year it seems World Mental Health Day got a lot more press in America. That’s a good thing because its really time to lower the stigma and thereby encourage everyone to get the help they need to to feel good.
So many of us have been affected by lifestyle changes brought about by Covid and I’ve seen many tip lists and articles about how to lower anxiety and increase happiness but some of it is dense and hard to remember so I created this handy dandy chart compiled from some of them. See if you notice what I did:
OK. Technology wasn’t on the list. Did you see how often EXERCISE was on the list?!?
Exercise has multiple physical health benefits. AND it can have a positive impact on emotional well-being.Regular physical activity can increase your dopamine and serotonin levels, making it a great option to boost your happy hormones. In addition, you’ve probably already heard of the ‘high” that many feel from endorphin release intense exercise triggers.
According to one article focused on using food to boost mood, here’s how to Maximize the Mood Boosting Power of your workout:
To see even more benefits from exercise:
Include a few friends. A small 2009 study (of men) found evidence to suggest group exercise offers more benefits than solo exercise.
Get some sun. Move your workout outdoors to maximize your serotonin boost.
Time it. Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at a time. Any amount of physical activity has health benefits, but research associates endorphin release with continued exercise rather than short bursts of activity.
Have you watched the Netflix show Home Edit? I know, me neither. Ok, its become my new obsession. I didn’t even have Netflix but I found some episodes of the show on You Tube and then took the book out of the Library on kindle (because I have committed to not giving more shelf real estate to books until I clear some out).
Even if I am very late to the minimalist trend and the pandemic did not send me into home organizing, as we’re emerging from it I find myself needing to have a fresh start. There’s something about clearing a closet or decluttering a drawer that brings a sense of calm; even more-so when it looks pinterest-worthy.
Authors, Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin (yes, members of the tribe) sound like your close personal girlfriends as they declare their love for the low-bar lifestyle where applying heat to food is called cooking, a pizza is a kind of salad without lettuce, workout clothes are for everyday because getting though LIFE is a workout (my favorite), champagne is basically sparkling water, and trips to the store and cleaning up after kids are cardio, maybe even their main source of it. They talk about how organizing your home can conjure up feelings of overwhelm. Once you follow the steps and its organized though, its a time saver, a money saver, a sanity saver and provides closure. Sometimes we need someone to hold our hand and guide us or a road map to get there.
They urge us to start easy – with just one drawer and to remember baby steps are small victories, so break things into small steps and reward yourself with a gold star.
Well, despite all these awesome tips I have to break it to you that trips to the store and cleaning up after your kids is NOT the best source of cardio exercise!!! While it counts as an activity of daily living and may be exhausting, it does little unfortunately to help you make it all look pretty on your body nor does it increase your cardio capacity in a way that makes all the other activities like it easier, more fun or efficient and doesn’t make muscles like your heart significantly stronger in an efficient way. Bummer, right?
I want to be that friend to help you go from safer at home body to rock it on the town mama. It too takes some decluttering to move out of fitness overwhelm and enter maintenance mode. Once you’re there, its so much easier. Instead of feeling weighed down, you have a road map and some victories under your belt to celebrate, you realize how much it saves you time, money, and sanity to have your fitness on point.
As we emerge from pandemic mode and lay social distancing aside its time to re-assess. I suggest you:
Separate out what are you doing now that counts as cardio, as strength and flexibility.
Is there a balance? Got enough of each, or is it time to restock?
Figure out if any of it is joyful and if its not sparking joy consider editing it out and replacing it with some other activity that does bring joy.
If all your activity is just moving things from one area of the house to the other consider taking a class or hiring a fit pro to bring some efficiency and good looking results for your efforts.
Go for 80%. Don’t over-stuff your plate or work yourself too hard.
Nobody is perfect. Perfectionism leads to overwhelm and lackluster results.
Set the bar low. Short bursts of joyful movement count! Break it down into something manageable (Yes 5 and 10 minute workouts count!)
Give yourself a reward for small victories.
Put out-dated fitness ideas like no pain no gain and misleading ideas like champagne is like seltzer in the trash and get real with where you’re at now and what fits your goals and lifestyle.
Its ALWAYS ok with me to wear yoga pants because LIFE is a workout..
….and if you’re not sure where to start, I’m here to help.
Its a little known secret that my Passover/spring cleaning begins in January. I was inspired by a class I attended nearly 20 years ago on Passover preparations made easy led by professional organizer Esther Simon. Easy? Starting in January?
I know that sounds a little crazy but hear me out.
Esther explained that once we already start cleaning the cheerios out of the bedrooms and under the couch cushions, and goop from inside the fridge, its so easy to get sidetracked and start sorting old books and figuring out what clothes need to be replaced, which chair legs need tightening and re-upholstery, and, basically, it snowballs into a full-on de-clutter and deep-clean. However, Passover cleaning is supposed to be just the search for leavened products. I find that once I finally get into motion prepping with the goal of Passover in mind, I can feel dejected, not uplifted when I realize I don’t really have time to do the much-needed deep clean and de-clutter…or I go full-hog, do it all, and wind up rushed, uninspired, and exhausted by the time the holiday arrives.
I learned at the seminar that having systems in place makes the process less painful and less overwhelming. In 21 years, I have made 20 Passovers and it only really works because I have a system. Part of my system is beginning in January.
Now, that doesn’t mean I am kashering my countertops and eating only matzo right now but what it means is that I start with the end in mind. The end goal is to arrive at the seder feeling like a queen and not a rag. That the week before should be spent cooking in my kashered kitchen and that I have finished my cleaning well in advance. Furthermore, knowing that once I get going I will discover shiny distractions of other things that need to be repaired, replaced and more…that I will have the time to do that only if I do it well in advance. Having done it before, I know that there will inevitably be bumps in the road- catching a cold or needing to replace or repair or declutter things. Also, having done this a few times, I know there’s a sort of recipe of what to clean first, and second so that its do-able and less overwhelming.
Similarly, when we think about beginning an exercise program we sometimes envision ourselves at the final stretch, with our new fitness buddies, in our well-fitting leggings and workout top, with the energy to climb Mt Everest…but if we start a week out and notice we’re overwhelmed or sidetracked with other exciting tasks, at the end of the week, or in the spring or whatever our imagined deadline is we’ll just feel exhausted and dejected and maybe not have anything at all to show for it. We need to start well in advance and have a plan- a road map and maybe even the help of someone who has done it before- many many times. Preferably with the guidance of someone who has overcome some of the common obstacles to help guide us and cheer us on.
That is one of the reasons its so important to yes, have a trainer, a workout buddy or a whole tribe of fit-minded folks to help you clear the clutter and get you to your goal.
If you work best one-on-one and have a springtime fitness goal, or you just want someone to help you make self-care a priority you can book a series of personal training sessions or join a community of women in the double-chai fitness challenge. Whatever you choose know that I support you and applaud your decision to not leave it all to chance and instead plan for success. To your health.
There are both pros and cons, gains and losses when going from in-person classes to virtual and they are different. Some of it has to do with the technology, and some of it also has to do with who the instructor is and how they teach.
I was once that person in class who felt new, nervous, shy and intimidated so I get it. Sometimes students want to be guided to do the moves correctly and sometimes they want to be invisible to others and when I am a participant now in other instructor’s classes I still feel that way.
The complexity of novel technology adds yet another layer of barrier to fitness that now must be overcome for those already intimidated by fitness. So I try to be the kind of instructor who never loses sight of that because there will always be someone in class who is new or feels insecure about their body or their coordination or the setting.
There are a few things I do right at the start to make things easy:
I have taken the guess work out of registration with my automated signup and zoom link process; You will have your zoom link immediately after registration and you’ll get an email reminder automagically with that link again 15 minutes before class.
When you arrive in the zoom class, I welcome you by name.
I announce what the format of the class will be (and if you’re in the wrong class you can just bail right there and then).
I let you know about how I will accommodate different bodies and different abilities in the course of the class: usually offering a variety of options or expressions of a yoga pose all of which are equally acceptable nurturing you to find which expression feels best within your own body. In trauma-informed yoga for resilience the concern is less about the ideal posture and more about finding your own expression and presence and breath in the posture in that day and that moment- which in many cases IS the most advanced posture regardless of what it may look like in the variety of shapes the body makes. If it is a cardio or strength class, you will be told that there are level 1, 2 and 3 options given. You are told how to measure your intensity to stay within a safe zone.
If at any time anyone needs assistance, during the course of the class they can un-mute themselves and say that they need help or another option.
I wear a headset with an ear piece so it is like you are speaking right into my ear (something you probably couldn’t do in a in-person class in the middle of class). Other ways to get my attention include putting a note in the chat or physically waiving your hands.
You will know that I come close to the screen a few times during class to observe even if I spend a lot of it demonstrating.
We go over the basic orientation of camera positioning if you wish for me to comment on your form or you do not want me to comment. Some folks choose to turn their camera off once class begins for privacy.
We leave some time at the end for people to schmooze too or ask questions. We also have a what’s app and/or a Facebook group for schmoozing so nobody feels held up for leaving as soon as class ends.
There are other things I do when teaching online to help students which are slightly different than in-person; I try using more verbal imagery to help participants feel in their bodies the particular muscles we’re working. I try and change the angle I’m demonstrating from as well as demonstrating something other than the most complicated version of a move.
As for hands-on assistance: its always been my last resort even in person and I’m not a toucher in my yoga classes. I never used scented oils or massage in class for a variety of reasons (allergies/boundaries etc) either. The lack of hands-on to some degree is just me and my personal preference and my teaching style and that’s not new. Many scandals involving inappropriate touch that have become exposed by the media. It’s generally not used as much as it once was and we want students to learn what it is to find those positions in their own bodies and feel it themselves not be pushed into it- which can also cause potential injury.
So that’s how I do my part..and then there’s the technology:
Here are some PROs:
#1 pro of virtual= convenience/ time savings
No parking, no gas, no getting a babysitter. Big time saver. Practice any time, any where, on vacation, in the yard, at the park, in your pjs or even naked (hopefully with camera OFF),
#2 pro of virtual= access
If price was a factor before, virtual has made things far more accessible. High priced and exclusive teachers limited to one city -no longer an obstacle. Train with the best in any city or anyplace in the world. You’re not limited to your local studio or gym. You may have access to formats that weren’t available near where you live or work that you can discover. Maybe your favorite teacher moved out of the country and now you can take her class in your own bedroom
#3 pro= more control over the experience
Thought the class could use a better soundtrack? Mute the zoom volume and jack up the home stereo. Make it hotter or cooler in the room. Add candles. Dim the lights or jack up the brights. You can choose to look at others in class or not. Choose to have your image to be displayed to others or not. Use speaker view.
To cut down on comparisons and help you have your own personalized experience. Privacy might allow you to experiment with something more daring. If the instructors drives you nuts 20 minutes in, its easy to leave or turn the camera off, make some tea and wait till the end to exit- something I wouldn’t have done in a live class without being really rude.
Then there are the Cons:
#1 drawback of virtual= option overwhelm leads to commitment issues.
Too many choices can lead to overwhelm and inaction. For some of us, knowing we’ve got just one shot to take that class because that’s the only day and time that instructor is teaching it mean’s we’ll definitely be there. If that’s you, then sign up in advance for your classes and pay up front so you’ll be more committed.
#2 con of virtual= lack of quality control
Internet outages can affect service, wifi service can fail, some instructors simply hang a virtual shingle without the credentials and experience to back it up. You can develop bad form habits because it went un-noticed because you’re the size of a thumbprint on the screen. You might be more shy to try new things knowing someone isn’t there to reach out and catch you or you might go so crazy trying new things because nobody is watching that you push too far. You are in charge of your environment and if you’re in a small cluttered space it can be dangerous or impossible to do certain workouts. The options might make for a lack of continuity and lack of consistency can mean a lack of progress. (VIP membership includes coaching and program design to solve this issue.) You may not see the instructor as well or in 3D like you could in person (A solution may be to hook up to a computer or tv screen and not a mobile device for class so the teacher is bigger than a thumbprint)
#3 con- distractions
It can be challenging to plug into class mentally when there are doorbells ringing, phones and paperwork, or household pets or kids demanding attention or interrupting so make sure to pre-arrange your situation for minimal interruption or distraction.
There are differences from in-person but I think there’s more social contact in a zoom live than in a Facebook live or a IG live or in a recorded YouTube class or video. We need the social aspect as much for our emotional and mental well being as we need the physical exercise. You may prefer in-person classes to virtual but even if we go back to in-person, due to some of the benefits listed above I believe virtual fitness is here to stay.
Speaking of staying connected, why not book a class right now with a friend or family member you haven’t seen in a while and set up a time after to chat? When life is more unpredictable or stressful is when we need the mood boosting benefits of exercise most.