Tag Archives: benefits

Who are You Grateful for?

"We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives."  -John F. Kennedy

“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.”
-John F. Kennedy

Point to Ponder:
Who are you grateful for?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Who are you grateful for? If you are like me, I would guess that this is a fairly simple question to answer and that you could create a long list of people, however, it’s likely that these people may not hear or see the words “I am grateful for you” as much as they’d like to and as often as you feel grateful for them.

It was at this exact same time last year that we launched our “I am grateful for you”, week-long letter writing campaign, and it was nothing short of beautiful! As a result of you, our members, writing gratitude letters during classes, we mailed over three hundred notes by the Thanksgiving holiday. That was approximately 2.5 gratitude notes per person, which translates to over 600 uplifted and happy hearts — with both the sender and receiver experiencing the proven benefits of gratitude. Therefore, we are absolutely committed to making this a pre-Thanksgiving tradition! My personal goal is to crush last year’s number and aim for at least three hand-written notes per person.

iGnite is emotionally invested in your well-being and we believe that the act of expressing gratitude verbally or in a handwritten note has the power to repair relationships and transform lives. And because having healthy relationships is paramount to living a low-stress and fulfilling life, we have ordered one thousand cards and we’d love to have ZERO left over when you’re done with them! The only action required is for you to attend classes throughout this week, have at least three people in mind that you are grateful for, then fill out the notes & envelopes during designated class time. The postage and trip to the post office is on us!

Finally, there is one more thing that I encourage you to pay close attention to during and after writing your gratitude notes, and that’s how you feel. Because you will have just finished exercising and/or practicing yoga, your endorphins will be flowing and you will already be feeling great, but all gratitude research proves that the result of expressing gratitude is an increase in life-satisfaction and well-being. In fact, one fascinating and very relative study by Steve Toepfer, associate professor in Human Development and Family Studies at Kent State University, found that “when a study participant wrote up to three gratitude notes about something that was important to them (not a generic “thank you” for you a gift, etc) the more they improved significantly on happiness and life satisfaction. The new and potentially important finding is that depressive symptoms decreased. Even more fascinating is that by writing these letters – 15 to 20 minutes each, once a week for three weeks to different people – well-being increased significantly.”

Gratitude. We can question its power and significance, but it’s all backed up by research. The more we express it, live in it and share it, the happier, more fulfilled and healthier we are. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s the cheapest and most effective fix on the market. Unlike everything else, there are no crazy side-effects — with the exception of extreme joy — and we can access it at our disposal. Now that’s what I call some serious good news!

Action Item:
Think about 3 people who you are grateful for and write them a personal “I am grateful for you” note this week!

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Fourteen Reasons to be Grateful

iGnite -gratitude changes everything

Point to Ponder:
Do you regularly acknowledge what you are grateful for?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

As you have likely noticed, during the month of November we are celebrating gratitude! Not only are we eager to blast out our gratitude in our social media #ignitegratefulgram contest, but we are fired up to wear our gratitude loud and proud with our NEW ‘Grateful’ fall apparel.

We are not at all suggesting or asking that you post or wear your grateful spirit to be boastful about your “things”. Instead, the motivation behind our Grateful Campaign is to encourage the daily action of giving thanks for our amazing lives and blessings…because when life gets inevitably tough, a grateful spirit can change a bad day into a good day, and a good day into a great day, because gratitude changes everything. I’m hopeful that our Grateful Campaign will inspire and reignite a grateful spirit in everyone.

There is no denying that acknowledging our blessings on a daily basis leads to a physiological reaction that creates a happy and peacful state in the body. To go a step further, based on the findings from a fascinating gratitude experiment conducted by two psychologists, writing down what we are grateful for leads to even greater results. Check this out:

“Two psychologists, Michael McCollough of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis, wrote an article about an experiment they conducted on gratitude and its impact on well-being. The study split several hundred people into three different groups and all of the participants were asked to keep daily diaries. The first group kept a diary of the events that occurred during the day without being told specifically to write about either good or bad things; the second group was told to record their unpleasant experiences; and the last group was instructed to make a daily list of things for which they were grateful. The results of the study indicated that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of 1. alertness, 2. enthusiasm, 3. determination, 4. optimism, and 5. energy. In addition, those in the gratitude group experienced less 6. depression and 7. stress, and 8. were more likely to help others, 9. exercised more regularly, and 10. made greater progress toward achieving personal goals. In addition, Dr. Emmons’ research shows that those who practice gratitude tend to be more 11. creative, 12. bounce back more quickly from adversity, 13. have a stronger immune system, and 14. have stronger social relationships than those who don’t practice gratitude. He further points out that “To say we feel grateful is not to say that everything in our lives is necessarily great. It just means we are aware of our blessings.” – The Change Blog

Something that I am experimenting with in our family is a gratitude jar. The jar sits in the middle of our dining room table and each evening at dinner, we talk about one thing we are grateful for, followed with writing it down on piece of paper and placing it in the jar. Because I have small children who can’t write, I have been writing what they say as as well as including the date. It has become a sweet and focused time which stirs up great conversation (even with a two and a four year old). My personal goal is to revisit the jar of notes during our Thanksgiving meal and to continue writing down what we are grateful for throughout the month of November and the remainder of the year.

Another idea is to print and cut out our Grateful Printables. Then, place your jar, printables and pen in a high-traffic area in your home and anytime you or your family members pass by it, drop a gratitude note in the jar. From a good nights rest, a warm a cup of coffee to the blessing of good health, family and friends, it all counts and taking the time to acknowledging your blessings will make a positive impact in your health, relationships and overall quality of life. And, several months from now or anytime you need a pick-me-up, all you have to do is read what’s in the jar and you are guaranteed a good laugh, happy cry and/or mood booster. Why? Because gratitude changes everything!

Action Item:
Print out our Grateful Printables. Place your jar, printables and pen in a high-traffic area in your home and anytime you or your family members pass by it, drop a gratitude note in the jar. Or, at dinner each evening have each family member write down and discuss what they are grateful for and place in the jar.

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The Quickest Way to Great Abs…Sprints!

iGnite - Advantages of Sprints

What is the KING of getting great Abs??

A. 1,000 crunches
B. $19.95 Ab Cruncher from an infomercial
C. Sprints

Woo hoo! How easy and less time consuming is the correct answer C – SPRINTS!!!

by Kathleen Parker

by Kathleen Parker

YES, they are uncomfortable & YES, they are challenging!! But, if you are not uncomfortable or feeling challenged, then most likely you are wasting your time.

As a matter of fact, ask any good strength and conditioning coach what they do to work on their athlete’s midsection and they will not tell you crunches. Sprinting is a required component of 90% of all sports and therefore the major component of any athletes training.

WHY SPRINTS?
Crunches and other ab exercises focus almost exclusively on the rectus abdominis muscle. This is a narrow range of development. Total degree of muscle activation and length of time that muscle is under tension are major determinants of muscle function and growth. There is no exercise that generates more force in the abdominal musculature than sprinting, and therefore NO exercise can mimic the developmental stimulus it provides.

When sprinting, the arms and legs are pumping and exploding like pistons. This immense force being generated on either side of the body pulls and twists the spine and body back and forth, and side to side. The only reason the body stays ridged and upright is because of the tremendous degree of force and pressure elicited by the contraction of the abdominal wall. The entire abdominal cavity is forced to engage in one monumental effort to stabilize the trunk. This force is so powerful that even ONE ten second run can induce massive muscular stimulus on the midsection.

ADVANTAGES OF SPRINTS:

BURNING FAT:  Sprints literally teach your body how to be an effective fat burner. Unlike steady state aerobics, sprint training produces a metabolic ripple that leads to enhanced fat burning for days after the workout is over. Almost ALL traditional ab exercises fail miserably in their ability to burn fat.

AFTERBURN = FAT LOSS: The sprint is so powerful for fat loss because it sets into motion biochemical reactions that turn on your fat burning machinery. This concept is popularly known as the metabolic afterburn effect. It represents the body’s attempt to recover, repair and regenerate after intense exercise. Anyone who has run a 100 yd dash or a HILL sprint knows what the beginning stages of the afterburn feels like. This intense exercise releases a “chemical soup” that is one of the key benefits leading to fat burning for hours and even days after the workout has ended.

BURNS FAT AT REST:  Sprinting also trains the body to be a more efficient fat burner at rest. Sprint training turns on fat burning enzymes and keeps them on.

The most important thing to remember is that intensity is an individual thing. You can reap the benefits of this training by just putting on your gas pedal a little bit more when you are doing your cardio!

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Finding Mindfulness…on the Mat

Finding Mindfulness…on the Mat

iGnite leader Amy Younkman

by Amy Younkman

In the day and age of quick fixes, constant fads and “7 minute workouts,” it can be hard to slow down and ask ourselves, Is this really what’s best for my body?   In our American culture, there seems to be an ongoing obsession with ‘new forms’ of exercise; for example, the latest, greatest form of functional fitness, performed in an efficient, short period of time, giving you the most “bang for your buck,” and relying on external sources to guide and motivate you.

While these forms of exercise are effective and do lead to a fit, strong body, they are only part of the picture if we are truly seeking a healthy lifestyle.  By relying solely on these forms of fitness, we risk creating a vicious cycle of continually striving to be faster, stronger, look younger, be more ripped, track more daily steps…etc.  We never actually “arrive”, because there’s always that next level to strive for.  And that can get exhausting!

iGnite Yogalates on Lady Bird Lake

Yogalates on Lady Bird Lake

It’s important to balance these forms of exercise with what I like to call “mindfulness on the mat” so that we can continue to enjoy a variety of activities and pursuits, and most importantly, so we can prevent injuries and be more mindful of our existing ones.  When we step onto our yoga or Pilates mat, our first priority is tuning into our body and tuning out our goals, expectations, what we did yesterday, and what we need to do tomorrow.  If we pay attention, our body will tell us what it needs.  The ego is not invited onto our mat.  With time, practice, and patience we begin to notice imbalances and places we hold tension and resistance.  We learn to practice compassionate observation and tolerance for ourself so we are in a better place to extend it to others once off the mat.

Yoga and Pilates are two wonderful practices that teach mindfulness on the mat so that we can be more self-aware in our over-stimulated, consumer-driven world.  Yoga is over 5000 years old.  Pilates is nearly 100 years old.  These time-honored practices have much to teach us!

Pilates is a form of strength training with little to no impact.  It emphasizes alignment, core strength, muscular rebalancing and joint strength.  It is a very safe way to stay fit, prevent injury, and rehabilitate from injury, while increasing balance, body awareness, confidence and better posture.  While we use props during class to keep it interesting and fun, the classical Mat Pilates series is a total body workout using your own body as your guide.

Yoga has become so westernized that it’s hard to define what yoga is today.  In its truest form, yoga teaches us about ourselves and our relationship to the world.  It ignites awareness about how we respond to difficulty and ease, to consistency and change, to the way we face our universal human struggles of avoiding difficult situations (hard yoga postures, tough life issues), or the way we cling to the familiar and comfortable (postures that we can do, habits we grow accustomed to).

iGnite Power Pilates at Rollingwood Park

Power Pilates

Besides reducing stress, yoga also teaches us balance between sthira (effort) and sukha (ease) both in our yoga practice and in life.  It teaches us to balance stability with mobility, and strength with flexibility, so that we can balance setting boundaries in our relationships with creating the space we need.  Yoga teaches us to feel the poses rather than force them.  The postures are questions, not answers.  We ask ourselves, “How can I create more ease in this pose?”  which then translates off the mat to “How can I create more ease in my life?”  Yoga is not about doing the poses; it’s about undoing what gets in the way of the poses.

In a Vinyasa Yoga class, we become aware of our breath, the life force that pulsates through our body.  From there we let the breath guide us and connect us with movement.  While we get stronger and more flexible practicing weight-bearing and balancing exercises, twists, backbends, forward folds and inversions, we also become stronger and more flexible in our mind.  We tune into the subtle energy body and discover what we have always heard to be true: that the body and mind cannot act separately from one another.  Yoga is a practice because, rather that striving to accomplish something, we continually return to the bottomless well of wisdom and guidance from within.  As Judith Lasater, veteran yogi, says: “Slowing down is the same thing as waking up.”

So, as you plan your fitness program, be sure and schedule time to consistently practice “mindfulness on the mat”  through Pilates and yoga.  With regular practice, you will not only become more mindful and body-aware, you will find more ease and inner strength in your body and in your life.  Best of all, you will bring your newfound insights into everything you do, which will add to your enjoyment and keep you safe and injury-free!


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How to Maximize Nature’s Body Benefits

maximize_natures_benefits

by Kathleen Parker

by Kathleen Parker

Given that we are so big on exercising outdoors, here are 4 ways to maximize nature’s benefits:

  1. GET OUTSIDE! People who get outdoors have lower BMI’s (meaning they have less body fat) than those who don’t, according to a report in PLOS One. Getting outdoors also has a strong stabilizing effect on your body clock, which regulates metabolism and energy levels.
  2. MAKE QUICKY JAUNTS ALL DAY: A mere five minutes of being in fresh air can improve your mood and self-esteem, according to a study in Environmental Science and Technology. Your goal is to take a mini blue-sky break 3 to 4 times a day. Just looking at natural landscapes increases activity in the areas of the brain that control happy memories and stress reduction, found researchers from Chonnam University.
  3. LET YOURSELF FEEL CHILLY! As soon as you start to feel the cold, the weight-loss perks of outdoor time kick in!  Temperatures of 63 degrees and lower will both increase activity in brown fat (the “good” calorie-burning kind), and have been linked to reductions in total body fat, according to research from Japan and the Netherlands.
  4. EXERCISE IN FRESH AIR! Nature can motivate! When you exercise outdoors, you tend to work harder and feel more powerful than when you work out inside, a study in Psychology of Sports and Exercise reports. Your immunity gets a boost from outdoor activity, too: walking in wooded areas can even increase the function of cancer-fighting white blood cells, according to research from the Nippon Medical School in Tokyo.

I hope to see you this week, and if not, be sure to get outdoors!

Keep moving,
Kathleen

Source: 
Ketchiff, Mirel. “Live Healthy: Slim, Happy, Calm,” Shape.

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Alli’s Day 9: 10-Day Body Re-Boot

ignitelogo_daily_journal-01

by Alli Phillips

by Alli Phillips

I actually woke up before my 4:30am alarm buzzed this morning! Granted, at 4am my “baby boy” roused me when he crawled into my bed and curled up next to me. Nonetheless, (or maybe because of the sweet wake-up cuddle-session?), I woke up easily and got out of bed feeling rested and ready to “rise & shine.”

For me, more and better sleep has been the most notable benefit of the reboot so far. I think my sleep improvements are due to, in large part, the evening “technology shut down” and the “social media cleanse.”

I started the morning today, as I have every day during the reboot, with hot lemon water and gluten free oats topped with berries.

I started the morning today, as I have every day during the reboot, with hot lemon water and gluten free oats topped with berries.

At bedtime, I typically knock out a little more work via my phone (which charges overnight on my bedside table), return a few more emails, and also peruse Facebook — all of which, I have come to realize, keep me awake a full hour or more later than my body would drift off to sleep otherwise. (I’m now re-thinking the placement of the phone charger beside my bed.) The effect of “screen time” on my sleep has been a huge eye-opener; pun intended. 🙂

During this reboot I have also realized that I usually run around somewhat dehydrated and under-fueled. My norm (pre-reboot) is to eat and drink very little in the morning and afternoon and then “refuel” my empty tank with a big dinner and a gallon of water at night. I usually feel a drop in energy in the late afternoon during the after-school hours, when I want and need to be at my best for my kids…. Conversely, while rebooting, I’ve been drinking my iGnite cranberry water and “topping-off” my fuel tank throughout the day (instead of letting it drop to empty) with nourishing snacks and meals every 2-4 hours; and I have been able to stay up and “on” for my family in the afternoons and evenings and have had sustained energy till bedtime.

Snack time: before & after :)

Snack time: before & after 🙂

My mid morning snack was peanut butter on gluten free bread topped with strawberries. I took “before and after” pictures of my plate because I thought the “after” image was a great reminder of how I feel when I stay nourished and hydrated throughout the day…. Note the big bright eyes, rosy cheeks, and smile, even with a few sticky smudges and smears on my face! 🙂

Lunch: roasted Brussels Sprouts (leftover from last night's dinner) and walnuts

Lunch: roasted Brussels Sprouts (leftover from last night’s dinner) and walnuts

My late afternoon snack was avocado wrapped in seaweed paper. (I typically also add cucumber and carrots to this snack, which my family has dubbed “sushi nachos,” but I was out of those veggies and didn’t have time to go to the grocery today.)

Dinner was out of the norm tonight because I ate at a meeting during my normal “dinner hour.” The food was typical “meeting-food,” appetizers, but yummy, and I was able to stay within the reboot guidelines: carrots, hummus, apples, and grapes.

My late afternoon snack: avocado wrapped in seaweed paper

My late afternoon snack: avocado wrapped in seaweed paper

Also served were corn tortilla chips and chocolate chip cookies, and of course I was tempted (more by the corn chips than the chocolate chips!), but I resisted. It is day 9! And I feel great!

Only 1 day Left: You Can Do It!

4 Benefits to Working Out in the Great Outdoors

workout outside

by Kathleen Parker

by Kathleen Parker

This is great info! You will love it 🙂

There are numerous benefits of working out in the great outdoors:

1. It’s Harder and More Effective

Studies found that outdoor running/walking is more strenuous than the indoor treadmill/eliptical. In studies comparing the exertion of running on a treadmill and the exertion of running outside, treadmill runners expended less energy to cover the same distance as those striding outside, primarily because indoor exercisers face no wind resistance or changes in terrain, no matter how subtle. The machines are obviously doing some of the work for you. When you run outside, YOU provide the movement. Running outside increases your work load from 2% to 10%!!!!

The same dynamics apply to CYCLING:

Where wind drag can result in much greater energy demands than going the same distance on a stationary bike. That means if you have limited time and want to burn as many calories as possible, you should head outside instead of the gym!

2. It Improves Your Mood

In a number of recent studies, volunteers have been asked to go for two walks for the same time or distance — one inside on a treadmill and one outdoors. In all of the studies, the volunteers reported more enjoyment outdoors, scored significantly higher on measures of vitality, enthusiasm, pleasure and self-esteem and lower on tension, depression and fatigue after they walked outside! And of course exposure to direct sunlight greatly affects your mood.

3. You’ll Do it More Often, for Longer and Be More Active

In another study, those who exercised outside exercised longer and more often than those working out indoors, and were significantly more physically active than those who exercised indoors!

4. Stress Reduction

A few studies have found that people have lower blood levels of cortisol, a hormone related to stress, after exerting themselves outside as compared to inside!

We are blessed to live in Austin, Texas where we can work out outside most of the year, so keep moving!
~Kathleen