F45 Challenge – Do As I Say, Not As I Do!

woman, abs, fit, fitness, f45, f45 challenge

As I’ve written here on a number of occasions, I adore the unique community cultivated at F45 St. Clair West. I’ve tried a couple of other F45 locations, and they just were not for me. I love having the space to move around unique to St. Clair West. The trainers there keep in touch 1 on 1 through Whatsapp and on Instagram. They genuinely care about your well-being and your loyalty to the community.

Some people say there’s a bit of a cult element to F45. Overall, I can see it, but there’s a fine line between the optics of that kind of encouragement and dedication demands. Once you’re involved, it’s just a party of people trying to live their best lives in health. I’ve made some greats friends, reconnected with some old ones, and have learned a lot about myself. In particular? I often go way harder than is necessary, and it’s not always a good idea.

woman running, f45, f45 challenge, running, track, anger, determination

First and foremost, there’s something to be said for over-training: DON’T DO IT. Do as I say, not as I do, right? Before the F45 Challenge began, I had already been eating fairly well and making it to 3 – 4 F45 classes per week. At lunch, I usually hit up Goodlife with a colleague of mine who continuously chirps me for not having yet raced a 5 km. Add in the fact that I have been walking 4 km to work at least 3 times a week and you’ve got a case for chronically elevated cortisol levels.

f45, f45 challenge, weightlifter, weightlifting, man, sweaty

When your cortisol levels are too high, there are a variety of complications which can arise. Weight gain is what has effected me the most, but other symptoms include: high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis, exhaustion – effecting daily hormone cycles and disrupted sleep patterns, memory (ever felt like you were in a mental fog?), and infections due to compromised immune systems.

How to Combat High Cortisol Levels?

sleep, can't sleep, woman, cartoon, f45, f45 challenge

Sleep and Cortisol Levels

This was a tough one for me considering I was living in a basement with totally inconsiderate neighbours and a rich landlord who took the “hands off” approach.  I even moved apartments losing out on over a thousand dollars when I cut my lease short. My F45 Challenge team coach would often reprimand me for not getting 8 hours of sleep. I took that really personally as I was climbing into bed around 8 PM in the hopes that I could get any sleep before getting up to exercise before work. I was killing myself, and that wasn’t enough for him. This was my biggest problem with the F45 Challenge because I was trying so hard and it never seemed to be enough.

woman, exercise, fit, fitness, crunches, sit ups, f45, f45 challenge

Exercise and Cortisol Levels

Double-edged sword, non? Exercise in moderation can lead to lower cortisol levels. Over-training runs the risk of affecting neurotransmitters such as glutamine, dopamine and 5-HTP. Ever wonder why the road to fit can throw your emotions through a loop? Over-training can lead to feelings of depression and chronic fatigue. Symptoms of hypothyroidism are also a side-effect of over-training, and I think they may have hit me hard throughout the F45 Challenge. Rest and recovery time need to be penciled into your schedule, just like exercise.

macaron, sugar, sweets, dessert, f45, f45 challenge, cortisol

Sugar and Cortisol Levels

Cutting down on your sugar intake should help balance your cortisol levels. I have such a sweet tooth. If I go a couple of days incorporating limited levels of natural sugars (fruit, for example), I find myself craving “real foods” (you know, the ones you get from shopping around the outside of the grocery store) so much more. I went out for a post-challenge celebration with a gal pal recently and we shared a bunch of tapas including: grilled halloumi (cheese), roasted squash, brussel sprouts, and a beet and goat cheese salad. It felt like I had just binged on fast food, but realistically it was all pretty healthy and within moderation for my day. Once you’re off processed sugar, something as simple as a beet tastes like heaven-on-Earth candy. Dwight Shrute may have been on to something…

yoga, inversion, strong ,strength, fit, fitness, f45, f45 challenge

Cortisol Conclusions

Last week I went to the Philippines. I spent my days island-hopping, eating food I would neeeeever eat here in Canada (Filipino food is really greasy!), and enjoying cocktails liberally. I felt so puffy and bloated when I arrived home, but lo and behold – hadn’t gained a pound. It’s Friday today, and since Monday I’ve dropped 5 lbs. This is more than I had lost during the F45 Challenge.

I haven’t been stressed about scheduling a particular number of workouts throughout my week. Pizza has been on the menu not once, but twice. I’ve enjoyed a couple of spin classes and have focused on weights at the gym on my lunch break. If your workouts, or goals of a particular challenge, are consuming your entire life – take a step back. Take a night off and head out with your friends. Skip the morning workout and sleep in. It’s clichĂ©, but actually take a minute to stop and smell the roses and breathe in some fresh air. You might find some unlikely (and positive) results!

Candidly Cartier – Hit Back: Be Your Own Best Boss

 

dark room light people woman kicking film Big Hit Kickboxing Studios That Girl Cartier ThatGirlCartier Fitness Toronto
Photographer: Andrew Branch

Kicking My Own Ass Back to Sanity

Buckle your seat belts and take out your chips and salsa, ’cause it’s about to get real cheesy up in hurr.  If you follow The Toronto Seoulcialite (my other “less sarcastic” blog), you’ll have read about my issues finding a job, finding a man, and finding my figure through the mess of moving back to Canada.  I’ve finally found something which  could be the makings of a career, and a date with myself 3 times a week which gives me structure and an outlet.  Coming back home is like picking up an old, ear-marked book.  The characters are the same and the setting hasn’t changed, but you’re still not exactly sure what will happen to the protagonist next.

girl woman fitness workout gym muscles people back health athlete
Photographer: Scott Webb

Someone Else’s Story

My biggest fear returning to Toronto was that I would be reliving the same old story.  While I was away, several of my friends partnered up, a couple had kids, many got promotions, some went back to school, and my nightmare boss was finally arrested.  Beyond that?  A lot of the people I’ve left are ear-marked – frozen in time right where I left them doing the same old things and just banging their heads against the wall calling it happiness.  I knew I wasn’t happy back in 2014 when I made the decision to begin the arduous application (okay – it was long, but not that tough) to move to Korea.  I couldn’t come home and return to old habits.

Big Hit Kickboxing Studios Toronto girl woman ropes fitness working out exercise health muscles gym people crossfit strength training athlete
Photographer Scott Webb

Die Hard: With a Vengeance

Old habits die hard.  I ended up moving back to Queen St. West and was working in the events industry when, at last, I found work.  Getting into a rhythm took time, and my physical and emotional health took a hit.  I decided to hit back.  I bought myself a 2 week unlimited introductory pass at Big Hit Kickboxing Studios.  At that time, I was living with a disrespectful roommate who was a neglectful pet owner.  I had no autonomy in my own life.  Looking back, I think that I was committed to my 2 week membership, but not so much to myself.

american beverage blazer blond business businesswoman cafe call calling casual caucasian ceo cheerful coffee coffee cup coffee shop communication connection cup digital device drink european female formal mobile phone mug

Be Your Own Boss (Without Working for Yourself)

I once read that you should treat yourself like the CEO of your own life, and that fitness was a meeting you set with your employees.  Good bosses don’t reschedule again and again.  I wasn’t managing my life properly, nor was I being a good boss to my mental and physical health.  At this point I needed to hit back, but not just for 2 weeks.  Big Hit Kickboxing Studios in Toronto has given me the schedule I need to succeed.

american blond boss business businesswoman cafe caucasian coffee coffee cup coffee shop development discussing discussion drinking european female formal management manager marketing mature meeting mobile phone morning notebook

Be a Good Boss

Proper preparation prevents poor performance.  I’ve set meetings with my very important sanity at least 3 times a week, which is honestly pretty manageable!  After work on weekdays I leave the office between 5 PM and 5:30 PM (I know – my job offers work/ life balance <3) and walk for about 35 – 40 minutes from the office to Big Hit Kickboxing Queen West.  The walk enables me to just zone out and enjoy constant, steady movement while listening to music.  The workout to follow is full of different combinations which challenge my mind and various muscle groups.  Over the next 3 months I’ll be sharing my highs, lows, pounds, and measurements.  Stay tuned for preparation and progress, not perfection.

yoga pose stretch health fitness working out bikini beach sand sunshine summer ocean sea waves water shore girl woman people beauty
Photographer: Aral Tasher

Naked Back-flips

Since getting back on a regular schedule with Big Hit Kickboxing Studios, I haven’t actually lost any weight, but the rest of my body and my life has changed pretty drastically.  My clothes have started to feel different – better.  I don’t crave sweets like I did throughout my unsettled period between my old job and old apartment and now.  I have been on several dates with not one, not two, but 3 different men who actually want to see me again.

When you start physical activity with dedication, dedication spreads throughout your life in different ways.  My posture exudes confidence rather than that fear of failure with which I started.  I’m back to caring about a connection rather than having a fear that I won’t be liked (word to the wise – fear of someone not liking you crushes a connection right off the start).  I don’t really have time for people who aren’t adding to my life in a positive way, so when I make time to see my friends we’re connecting on a much deeper and more enjoyable level.  I also always seem to come back to that old adage: “You can do naked back-flips across his lawn, but if you’re not the one he wants, honey, you’re just not the one he wants”.

people girl boxing gloves fitness exercise work out woman athlete Big Hit Kickboxing Toronto ThatGirlCartier That Girl Cartier
Photographer: Matheus Ferrero

 

Strength, determination, and hope fill the pages of my novel.  I know what comes next in that old, worn out, dog-eared story because I’m writing it now.