Badass Full Body Workout

Beware:

This is an effective home workout! No pink dumbbells. No fru fru.

I am producing weekly workout videos on my YouTube channel to bring you EFFECTIVE at home workouts that produce stability, strength and power in athletes.

No BS.

And, yes, even if you are currently holding the status of “Couch Potato” you ARE an athlete. Humans are created to MOVE, you just need to get started!

My passion is helping empower women to lift heavy, run faster, swim further, and simply just achieve those long held goals that have become buried deep for way too long.

I will post the video below but please do read through the breakdown first!

A breakdown of the workout:

Exercise 1: Frog Kicks

The exercise specifically targets the gluteus medius (side of your butt), the muscle responsible for moving the leg sideways away from your body (termed abduction).

A strong glute medius is essential for power and balance. Activating this muscle prepares your body for the explosive side-to-side movements that are common to most sports. The gluteus medius also improves hip stability, which is critical for maintaining balance for my riders, and preventing knee and ankle injuries.

Tip: If you have chronic knee or back pain I highly recommend working on your glute medius! Especially if you spend a lot of time sitting, and therefore tightening the hip flexors, it is essential to spend time on activation exercises for the glutes!

Exercise 2: Kettlebell Swings

This is one of my favourite exercises for athletes and as someone with a lot of experience, and training, with kettlebells I am very partial to their total body benefits for strength and stability.

The kettlebell swing is exceptionally efficient on improving your strength, endurance, power, and coordination in an extremely short amount of time.

Another great benefit is that the kettlebell swing is extremely useful for building explosive strength and can easily substitute for plyometric movements, for those that are looking for lower impact ways to improve power.

These are also exceptional at developing the posterior chain, creating shoulder stability as well as core strength.

This is the Queen of all exercises BUT you must use a weight too heavy to simply lift to your shoulders. It must require you to push with your glutes and hips. If you can simply lift the weight:

  1. You are at an increased risk of injury in the shoulders.
  2. You are missing all of the benefits and simply doing an awkward front raise.

A form tip: Make sure you are using your back to hold your shoulders back and down. At no point should your back be rounded or your shoulders hanging from your rotator cuff. Think of gripping the kettlebell then activating your lats (behind your arm pits) by rotating your shoulders back. Visualize trying to break the kettlebell in half.

Exercise 3: Curtsy Lunge

I like to incorporate a lot of single leg exercises in training for my athletes. This helps to target imbalances and balance.

I find curtsey lunges to be incredibly effective at targeting your glute medius (outside of glute) as well as your inner and outer thigh. It is essential to target the full leg, rather than simply the glute max. This is a great exercise for that!

Make sure you maintain good form as this is an easy one to have poor form in.

Training Tip: Pause at the bottom of your lunge to remove any momentum from the push up. If you do not feel this in your glute medius I recommend incorporating glute activation exercises as a regular part of your routine. You simply can’t work a muscle your brain does not know exists! And yes, the connection can become so weak that you have to spend time going through the “boring” activation exercises to remind your brain you have an a$$!

Use it or lose it sister!

Exercise 4: Plank Row

There are so many benefit of this exercise I will summarize in 3 points:

  • Effectively teaches core stabilization by strengthening the abdominal muscles’ ability to resist spinal extension.
  • Activates the Oblique muscles more than a regular Plank by forcing you to balance yourself while rotating.
  • Incorporates upper body rotation and improves total body balance.

To make this harder you can add a pushup between reps! I left the pushup out as many people are internally rotated at the shoulders (hunched forward) and need more pulling movements than pushing.

Form Tip: Squeeze your glutes. Make sure your hips are neither too low or too high. Stabilize your spine during the rotation.

Exercise 5: Thrusters

This is another great full body exercise that is incredibly challenging on the whole body! Thrusters help improve coordination, muscular endurance, and balance. Not only do heavy thrusters help to build overall strength, it can be a useful exercise to teach strength-speed and improve overall athleticism.

Go heavy on this one. Like the kettlebell swing the power comes from the glutes and legs. Use momentum from standing to power the weight up.

Form tip: Make sure to stay in your heels and not let the weight pull you forward. As you begin to stand up squeeze the glutes to use them as power to accelerate the weight up and over your head.

Exercise 6: Dolphin

The plank requires no introduction. It is one of the best core stability exercise and is my favourite since it does not require any bending of the spine. Our spines truly only have so many bends prior to having issues with bulging disks so I limit the amount of crunches for my athletes.

For this exercise make sure you lift your hips using your lower abs. If you struggle with a mind to body connection with your lower abs start with dead bugs and work up from there.

Form tip: Make sure to push up into your shoulders. Your shoulder blades should not stick out of your back. This is called Winged Scapula and signifies no stability in the shoulders or back. To truly benefit from the plank you must activate your body from head to toe!

Exercise 6: Twisters

Similar to the plank this is creating stability through the spine, however we are adding in rotation. This is a great way to develop strong obliques and stability through the core.

Form tip: Make sure to keep the core engaged the whole time. At no point should there be “slack”. This is also a great way to engage the lower abs.

There you have it my friends!

Complete the routine for 3-4 sets. Limit rest in between exercises to 15-30 seconds. 1 minute rest between sets. If you go heavy on the weights, which you should you little badass you, you can increase the rest to 2 minutes between sets.

*Make sure to consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Ensure use of proper form and never work through pain.

Grab your kettlebell, dumbbells, water and lets go!

And, friends, if you have any videos you would LOVE to see let it be heard! I am talking on form, injuries, workouts, nutrition, mindset. The choice is yours. Let’s build this YouTube to be the MECCA of sound fitness and health advice. You in?

Good!

Just Say No…. To Pink Weights!

I don’t even know who Sean Flanagan is, but brother, you keep preaching!

Let me say it loud and clear for those in the back:

SAY NO TO PINK DUMBBELLS.

I would like to also say no to gloves but that is for another day.

There is little, within the realm of bogus fitness B.S, that gets my gears all twisted up more than pink dumbbells and “trainers” that encourage you to use them.

  1. It insinuates that women need to have pink girlie weights to workout. Poor Pam can’t go over and touch the heavy dumbbells or barbell with the boys.
  2. They fundamentally go against the VERY BASICS of science in regards to how you are able to gain muscle, or the popular term for women ” tone up”, which, spoiler alert is the act of building muscle then leaning out so you can see it.
  3. The reason is really grinds my gears? Lifting weight is ESSENTIAL, especially as we age, due to muscle loss and osteoporosis. Women, especially, need to lift weights to prevent muscle loss and osteoporosis. The trick to lifting weights is stressing the muscle and, sister, you CANNOT DO THAT if your weights weigh less than your purse!

Breaking it all down.

Issue 1: Leave the girls with the girlie weights

Oh sweet stars, I am not even going to touch form for women in fitness pictures.

Girl weights, girl pushups, girl section of the gym, girl boss….For the love of all things holy can we stop minimizing the absolute badassery of women?!

You don’t need girl weights. I am not even going to get into the science of why here. That is point 3. What I want to get into is the fact society has broken us up into categories that begin with “girl”.

“Oh, good for Pam she is a girl boss”. You don’t hear men described as men bosses. NO. They are just a boss.

“We better make girlie pink weights so Suzy feels comfortable lifting the weights and doesn’t gain muscle”. NO. Sister, you do not need different weights OR a different section of the gym. You walk your confident self over to the REAL weights and lift those suckers better than the boys.

Nothing gives me greater pleasure than teaching someone how to barbell squat and they send me updates saying:

  1. They are lifting heavier than the guys at their gym.
  2. The guys are barely hitting paraell and they are going a$$ to grass.

You go girl!

Now we’re talking.

Not sure where to start or how to use them? I can help.

This is slightly off topic of point 1 but I do believe ties into the pink dumbbells and females having to be separated by “GIRL” titles:

I know in today’s society it is taboo to say “I want to win”. Now a days we just have to want to show up. I wasn’t raised that way. I want to win. It in in my blood and it is why I workout and train.

But you want to know something? When I competed in CrossFit I wanted to beat THE BOYS. When I train for triathlons and trail races I want to be competitive against the boys. I am blessed in riding we aren’t broken up by men and women, so there is no concern there.

I will NEVER forget the first time I was in a CrossFit gym. I had been working out at home, using Outlaw North programming, but decided to make it to regionals I had to actually go to a gym. I showed up in my baggy hoody. I kinda half assed the fun warm up we were put through, which was basically tag for adults. I am, and will always be, awkward in group activities like that.

Next was bench press. I was paired up with a male athlete and the trainer kept a close eye on me, being the new person. When it was my turn the client and trainer both said “Here, I will lighten the weights”.

I smirked and said “No need”, and dropped my hoody like some kind of badass in a boxing movie.

If cameras had been on me it would have shifted to slow mo as I drop the hoody and walk over to the bench. The next words, and truthfully I can’t remember if they came from the trainer or client, were “Holy crap you are jacked…”. Now, I find Crossfit to be a bit more progressive in the recognition of women badassery but there was still that misconception that because I was a girl I would need lighter weights.

And for those saying: You were imposing those beliefs, they could have just done so because you were new. Throughout the whole first day it was mentioned multiple times how I was “Keeping up with the boys”.

I show up to show how friggin badass and tough women are. That we don’t need special divisions, weights, areas of the gym, special titles to show a girl made it to being a boss.

I show up to prove women don’t just “Keep up with the boys”.

So sister, put down those damn pink weights and show off how badass you are. They aren’t doing a damn thing for you anyway.

JUST SAY NO TO PINK DUMBBELLS.

Issue 2: They don’t do a damn thing

My eyes bleed seeing people promoting pink dumbbells. Well, maybe not bleed yet but tears do fall.

You are being MISLED. MISLEAD and money is being made off your back for it!

Sister, do me a favour. GO weigh your purse, bag or back pack right now. I will wait. Just humour me.

I will just drop this here for some hold music while you do this.

Back?

Fab. Now, friend, if your purse weighs more than your weights you are doing it wrong. If you have a baby, and carry your baby around, and your BABY weighs more than your weights. You are doing it wrong.

To see results you must have progressive overload on the body. The progressive overload principle basically states: In order for a muscle to grow, strength to be gained, performance to increase, or for any similar improvement to occur, the human body must be forced to adapt to a tension that is above and beyond what it has previously experienced.

Or, to put it another way, your body will not change or improve unless you force it to.

No matter how perfect your workout is, muscle will not be built, strength will not be gained, and performance will not improve unless you show your body that these are things that absolutely NEED to happen in order for it to survive.

Read that again.

You know how you get rid of that turkey neck arm? WEIGHTS. Heavy a$$ weights. You need to provide muscle to give the arm some actual SHAPE. Pink weights won’t do it.

You know how you grow a booty? WEIGHTS and heavy ones!

Long term results require lifting within a 5-8 rep range to FORCE your body to change. Popular home workouts are great to get started or use during “Shreds” for high rep circuit work however to see real change and muscle growth there must also be heavy lifting within properly structured programs.

Issue 3: Bad Health Advice

Ok, so fine. A trainer wants to target women that are petrified they will look like the Hulk if they touch real weights.

Real weights won’t cause you to become huge!

So, why is it my business if “trainers” want to sell the business of pink weights and fru fru workouts?

Because they are not only misleading women but they are causing long term health problems.

My mother in law has osteoporosis. When doctors, myself and her son, begged her to start lifting weights she got pink dumbbells.

Ok, in fairness I think they are blue but either way they are under 5 pounds.

You want to know what has NOT improved? Her osteoporosis or strength. In fact, she is recovering from a broken bone as I write and struggles to use crutches due to lack of strength.

Here are some cold hard facts for you sister:

Age-related muscle loss, called sarcopenia, is a natural part of aging. After age 30, you begin to lose as much as 3% to 5% per decade.

Now, I couldn’t find a study that specifically speaks of women. I am sure they are out there I am just so riled up right now that I need to keep writing. Never the less.

Most men will lose about 30% of their muscle mass during their lifetimes. This number is higher for women.

Less muscle means greater weakness and less mobility, both of which may increase your risk of falls and fractures. A 2015 report from the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research found that people with sarcopenia had 2.3 times the risk of having a low-trauma fracture from a fall, such as a broken hip, collarbone, leg, arm, or wrist.

Shit, you may be thinking, I am over 30! What can I do to combat this!?

LIFT HEAVY WEIGHTS IN A PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD PROGRAM.

Yes, this means if you workout at home you need heavy dumbbells and a barbell, as you progress. Yes, this means you will likely need to get a membership to a gym.

No, this does not mean you are alone if you have no idea what to do or where to start. I am developing a YouTube channel with workouts here:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3QQdWscURZYByuNLHF5f-g?

And I am also creating a membership website for those that can’t afford the 1:1 training.

I do not want any woman to be left behind due to funds.

But, let’s get back to research.

Women are at an increased risk of osteoporosis over men. By stressing your bones, strength training can increase bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

This CANNOT BE DONE WITH PINK WEIGHTS.

To wrap up…

At best trainers that promote light weights and no progressive overload are misleading you. At worst they are directly contributing to long term ill effects on your health.

10 years ago I was that woman too afraid of judgement and “Doing it wrong” to dare go into the “mens” section of the gym. Too afraid to lift heavy. I now have my own business as a coach to help empower other women to realize how truly badass they are.

You are a badass. Not a girl badass. Just a badass.

xo

Ashley

Pity Party or Pool Party

As I sit here amongst a herd of babies, one of which being my own, I have realized something:

Everything in life is a choice brought on by our thoughts which developed our perception of reality.

Sometimes life goes sideways, and you wonder how you got to where you are or how you could ever stand back up. I have been there many times for varying reasons both in and out of the horse world.

I remember vividly the day I was told my 8 year old eventer had osteoarthritis in his spine and would be a pasture puff.

My heart hit the ground as all the dreams and visions that had played on repeat in my head, for 4 years, went up in flames before my eyes.

I also had to scrape myself up off the floor months later when I hit rock bottom thinking that not only was my horse retired. My heart horse. The one every single dream was attached to. But I hated my job. Not just the usual “would rather be on vaca than here”. It was destroying my soul. I barely pulled it together to last 7.5 hours, even on days I was medicated for the depression it caused.

Nothing seemed to be going right.

But, what we must remember, is that amongst all the crap you can still choose your attitude, intentions and focus.

When I finally looked myself in the mirror and said “sister, you need to wash the running mascara off and get your crap together” everything changed. Not the situations I was in. They still sucked. But my mindset shifted and it allowed me to focus on the gratitude, the amazing things I DID have going for me, and focus on building the life of my dreams.

I focused on the positive.

You can have the best plan. The best coaches. The best team but if you don’t have the right attitude you are dead in the water.

On days where I think about joining the circus, flying off to Australia or drinking a whole box of wine forcing myself to have a positive attitude is what saves me.

Choosing to find the positive is how I stay happy. And choosing to find the positive is how you will stay happy.

Not just ok. Not just getting by.

Truly happy.

Now, I am not happy 95% of the time because my life is unfolding in a way that makes it easy.

Heck sister, I am STILL at the job I talked about above but now I choose to see the company as funding the business I am building in coaching. So not only is it funding my dream but it is helping me ignite the dreams of others.

Pretty badass, if you ask me. And, a much more productive attitude to choose.

How do I do it?

In both my fitness and mindset coaching I am blunt and honest so here it is:

It is hard work.

I choose the positive in life. Every single day.

I choose to practice gratitude. I choose to surround myself with people that practice positivity and with things that bring me joy.

I surround myself with people that are also badass go getters that want more from life. That don’t allow me to wallow or feel sorry for myself.

And here is some important truth:

I regulate my thoughts because thoughts control feelings.

Feelings become behaviours.

Behaviours become actions.

And just like that your whole world is clouded by the fog of that one crappy thought.

Yes. It is that simple for one crappy thought of:

I am a failure.

I will never be good enough.

I am ugly.

To derail your whole darn life.

Are you actively regulating your thoughts?

Are you even aware of the thoughts that have become a soundtrack playing in your head?

Are you working to control the way you think of yourself and speak to yourself?

You have to choose to be positive. To see possibility. And no one can do it for you.

There is not one thing running through your mind that you don’t allow to be there.

That you ALLOW to be there.

Everytime you find yourself thinking something negative stop the hateful litany and replace it with something positive.

Like any muscle the positivity and gratitude muscle will become stronger with time. It is true.

Whether you are in a season of ease or hardship you need to realize YOU are still the one that controls how you see it. YOU. Which means only you can change it.

This is real life. Not a fairy tale.

Do not think for one moment it will be easy all the time no matter who you are,what you have or where you live.

Real life sucks sometimes.

And you will have whole seasons that will try to rob you of the energy you need to pursue your goal. Yes, it will happen so be prepared.

But you still have hopes and dreams and they are possible if you keep going.

Some days you will be sprinting towards them with the energy and grace of a gazelle, despite lack of sleep because of kids or a horse show.

Other days you will be crawling and inching your way, wondering if the pace you are going at is making any difference at all.

But you need to keep moving forward. You have to keep yourself in the game. As long as you don’t quit you are STILL IN THE GAME.

You can’t control the circumstances of your life but you can control your reaction TO them.

And, if tough times are going to happen anyway is it not much more productive to see the positive and keep moving forward rather than drowning in self pity, posting vague pity me Facebook updates and starting over once your motivation returns?

When put like that is it not obvious it is a choice!

If you take nothing else from this whole post please remember:

Your thoughts become behaviours. Your behaviours become actions. Your actions shape your reality.

Xo

Ashley.

Mindset for the Competitive Equestrian

What separates elite athletes from the rest?

Talent?

Many talented athletes never lived up to their potential.

Technical skills?

All the technical skills in the world will not help if you are unable to perform those skills in the heat of competition.

Natural athleticism?

There are many examples in sports where less athletic athletes became elite, and physically gifted athletes failed to succeed.

So what is the special ingredient that produces elite athletic performances?

The biggest contributor to elite performances is mindset after all the training and talent is baked in.

Mindset is your mental outlook and how it helps or hinders your performance in competition.

So, let’s talk about mindset for the equestrian athlete.

Have you ever felt nerves or anxiety while competing? When I was younger I literally could not eat the morning of a show. Saying I had butterflies, or jitters, was an understatement! I was even known at the show grounds for getting so worked up I was sick to my stomach the mornings of the show!

For most people pre show, or pre class, nerves are a common occurrence. Often we don’t even realize how much those nerves are holding us back or how CRUCIAL mindset is for our success. Further, a lot of us pull it together at the last minute without even realizing how much better we could have done if we were properly prepared mentally.

Telling yourself to “just relax” does not work. It won’t even work coming from your mother, trainer or long time friend. A winning mindset needs to be prepared well before unloading your horse at the show or walking towards the dressage ring.

I am going to summarize the top 5 mindset skills that I feel are required to be a successful athlete. This is not an exhaustive list and, of course, there are other skills as well. This list comes from my own education, experience and training in Psychology as well as NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming) as well as a long time working with athletes in my coaching programs!

  1. Choose and maintain a positive attitude.
  2. Use positive self-talk.
  3. Use positive mental imagery.
  4. Manage anxiety effectively.
  5. Maintain concentration.

Skills 1: Successful athletes choose and Maintain a Positive Attitude

Successful athletes:

  • Realize that attitude is a choice then choose an attitude that is predominantly positive.
  • View their sport as an opportunity to compete against themselves and learn from their successes and failures.
    • This allows you to focus on what you can control, which is your own attitude, performance and progress. This gives YOU the power to succeed instead of worrying about factors outside of your control, such as what Sally and her horse are bringing to the ring that day.
  • Have a coach-able attitude and do not say things like “I know that already” or “I have already tried that”. Successful athletes are open to feedback and welcome advice on how to improve.
  • Respect their sport, other participants, coaches, officials, and themselves.

Skill 2: Use positive self-talk.

Successful athletes:

  • Work through stressful situations using positive self-talk. It is nearly IMPOSSIBLE to do well in a sport if your negative thoughts are telling you otherwise.
    • I recommend my athletes begin with writing down their most common self limiting beliefs, such as “I am not good enough to do well” , “I could never beat the girls with the fancy warmbloods”, “I always mess up my dressage test” and reframe it into positive self talk, such as:
      • ” I perform well in tough competitions”
      • ” I am prepared and unstoppable”
      • “I am a great athlete and my horse is ready”
      • “My horse and I always perform our best”
      • “I am a badass and I am ready”
      • Post these new beliefs everywhere and anywhere you need to until they become your default thought process!
  • Tip: To generate a strong sense of self-belief, an athlete cannot worry about feeling arrogant. To be the best you can be you must believe you are the best. There is no shame in being arrogant inside one’s own head. In fact, it is a critical element to achieving success.
  • Use self-talk to regulate thoughts, feelings and behaviors during competition. When you feel negativity or anxiety creeping it reframe it with positive self talk. Positive self talk will also help an athlete overcome setbacks during competition.

Skill 3: Use Positive Mental Imagery

Successful athletes:

  • Use positive mental imagery to focus on the desired outcome. There is no more powerful mental tool than mental imagery and it can have a huge impact on your sports performance.
    • Imagery is used by virtually all great athletes and research has shown that, when combined with actual practice, improves performance more than practice alone.
  • Visualize themselves winning in great detail. They include multiple senses such as the sound of the horse breathing, the sound landing from a jump, feeling the warmth of the sun, the feel of the horses coat, etc.
    • You should duplicate the sights, sounds, physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions that you would experience in an actual competition. 
    • Tip: Create and use mental images that are detailed, specific, and realistic.
    • For those that struggle with visualization I recommend beginning with guided meditation to learn how to focus your mind.
  • Use imagery during competition to prepare for action and recover from errors and poor performances. Maybe you “messed up” in your dressage test. These skills will help you brush it off so it does not negatively impact the rest of your competition.

Skill 4: Manage anxiety effectively.

Successful athletes:

  • Accept some anxiety as part of sport. Pre competition jitters are not only normal but help increase performance.
    • Accept, rather than fight, the nervous energy you feel. Don’t misinterpret it by thinking that it is fear. That adrenaline rush you feel is normal and it is part of your body’s natural preparation for the competition. Notice it, but don’t focus on it.
  • Realize that some degree of anxiety can help them perform well. This is important so athletes do not allow jitters to develop into a spiral of stress and negativity.
  • Recognize ways to deal with stress and anxiety in their day to day life. This could be yoga, meditation, walks in nature, breathing techniques, etc.
  • TIP: If you connect a state with a behaviour, for example, deep breathing with your eyes closed to a quiet mind or fist pumping to pump yourself up you can INSTANTLY change your state at the competition. This, of course, must be a neural connection that is solidified well before the competition. The outcome needs to be connecting a desired state with a certain behaviour. This can be seen with elite athletes that have pre show rituals!
An example on how there is an optimal amount of arousal (“stress”) to reach a peak level of performance.

Skill 5: Maintain concentration

Successful athletes:

  • Have learned how to maintain focus and resist distractions, whether they come from the environment or from within themselves.
  • Are able to regain their focus when concentration is lost during competition. You see this with viral videos of loose horses running through a test and the rider staying focused. While the horse is often the one credited it is more so the RIDERS concentration that keeps the horse focused and relaxed. Horses feed off of our emotions and the more relaxed and focused you are the more relaxed and focused they are.
  • Have learned how to play in the “here-and-now”, without regard to either past or anticipated future events. If they are unhappy with their last dressage test successful athletes move on and focus on the current moment and the current test. Allowing the past or future to dictate emotions will cause anxiety and lower your performance.

In summary…

Effective athletes train their mind as they train their body, or, to relate to horses effective equestrian athletes train their mind as they train their horses! Keep in mind that research has consistently proven that athletes who possess a growth mindset, and believed their performance could be improved simply through effort significantly outperformed those who believed that their talent was fixed.

I hope you enjoyed this article and it challenged you to think about how your mindset may be effecting your performance!

Free equestrian community:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/426232728129685/

My YouTube Fitness and Mindset Channel, make sure to subscribe to stay up to date!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3QQdWscURZYByuNLHF5f-g

xo

Ashley

Wake Up. Hug Dog. Hustle.

Start everyday with a big hug for your doggo.

“Sometimes you just have to grind it out, stake your claim on your goal and hustle, hard, for what you want MOST in life” ~ Ashley Eve

From the nervousness and doubt we feel when we take risks in our careers, to the butterflies in our bellies when we are waiting for our dressage test, the shortness of breath as we push for the final 5 minutes of our run, or the soreness in our muscles as we start a new weight training program. Our largest successes are born out of discomfort, uncertainty and risk.

Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over it became a butterfly.

Anytime you’re working to achieve something big you are working against the current. Often the opinions of the people around you are trying to push and pull you away from your destination and sometimes those closest to you can be the loudest naysayers.

Often you will hear “You are making a mistake”, “it is impossible to reach that goal” or “You will fail”. The more unique and out of the box your goals the stronger the push back will be. And, I have to admit here that I have heard the LOUDEST opposition from family and it can be very hard to receive this criticism when your OWN thoughts are trying to derail your big dreams. Even the seemingly innocent “Sleeping in won’t make that big of a difference!” are self limiting beliefs trying to stop you on your way to greatness.

The most successful among us got to where they are today because they transcended obstacles, setbacks and negativity both from others and themselves.

This, of course, is easier said than done. And this is why so many businesses, diets, athletic pursuits and health goals fail. It is one to thing to say “Never give up” (and truthfully, I am tired of bumper sticker type motivational quotes), or to post a bunch of motivational one liner memes on your Facebook account, and quite another to actually become tenacious and grind it out NO. MATTER. WHAT.

Here is the truth that everyone needs to hear:

The world does not stop you from succeeding. The universe is not conspiring for you to fail.

The reality is the universe is conspiring neither for nor against you, and the only thing that stops you from succeeding IS YOU.

Once you have convinced yourself that you will fail you are then stopped dead in your tracks. Until then it is on like Donkey Kong.

One of my favourite quotes is this:

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it” ~ Aristotle

The reason I love this quote so much is that every single successful person has had setbacks, self limiting beliefs and obstacles. Every single person has thought they may fail, has wondered if they could accomplish their goals and debated between sleeping in and working on their goals. HOWEVER the successful entertain those thoughts but push forward regardless.

Don’t believe me?

Consider everything that has been considered impossible in history. Putting a man on the moon. Diseases we have cured. Or, the fact that flying would have been considered impossible before it was done. Think about this: If you went up to someone in the 1700’s and told them people would, one day, be able to fly in a metal tube across the world they would have likely sent you to the local mental health facility for some shock therapy!

The Wright brothers, however, did not accept that flight was impossible, and they did not allow their lack of funding hold them back. They failed over and over again but they did not give up. They had many naysayers as well as no physical proof that flight was even possible, yet they pushed forward. And, look where we are now.

Your goals ARE possible. However, don’t be fooled by the self-help bullshit and the universe will give you what you desire fluff. You don’t deserve it. No one does. Those statements will leave you waiting and wanting and eventually make you fall victim to your own life. You just have to grind that shit out, stake your claim on your goal and hustle HARD for what you want.

You quite literally have to MAKE IT HAPPEN.

So, when someone looks at you and says your idea will never happen or if your subconscious beliefs tell you that you will “fail anyway, so why try” you have two choices:

  1. You can succumb to the notion that you don’t know what you are doing, you don’t have what it takes and it is a waste of time/ money.
  2. You can disagree and refuse to accept it. You have the option to say “No, you’re wrong, and I’m going to prove it”.

The impossible only becomes possible when you believe it is. Your reality is what you BELIEVE to be possible or impossible. You can fail at something 1000 times and on try 1001 succeed. Had you given up on try 1000 you would have proven yourself right, that your goal was impossible. YOU, and only you, create your reality.

The truth is that no one can prove what is or is not possible. It just takes someone with enough tenacity to come along and not give up until it is done.

Further, my biggest pet peeve is when someone says “the market is saturated, I can’t come along now and do the same thing”.

The market isn’t saturated. The world has not seen your idea or take on it. Instead, re-frame your mindset and realize that if someone else has done it before it means that you can too! Instead of seeing the market as saturated see it as an opportunity to produce your results faster by learning from others.

There is a wondrous, magical life out there waiting for you in the unknown.

And while, yes, working to achieve it will NOT be all rainbows and butterflies all the time there is a reality waiting for you that is far beyond the one you are currently wasting away in.

Ask yourself: Is your dream worth working hard for? Is it worth getting up early for? Are you willing to be uncomfortable now for your dreams? Are you willing to give up what you want RIGHT NOW for what you want most?

If the answer is yes, you are willing, then stop making excuses and go out there and accomplish it. Skinned knees, bumps and bruises provide great stories to tell so don’t be afraid of falling.

A lion sleeps in the heart of every brave person.

xo

Ashley

There is no risk greater than refusing to risk at all

While in my masters of social work I took a HUGE risk: I left to travel.

I had just taken out the loan to pay for tuition. 2 weeks after I paid tuition (and it isn’t cheap!) the guy I was casually dating asked if I wanted to go to Australia with him. He was going for his masters for teaching.

Now, I feel it pertinent to add that I didn’t hop on a plane with a random guy I met at the bar the week before. We had gone to high school together and I knew him quite well.

But, it was still a risk to drop my life and move across the world!

But, that is what I did. I quite literally dropped everything and got on a plane.

I am STILL paying off my student loans 11 years later but it was worth every second. I left a piece of my heart in Australia. It was everything I could have expected and more.

Home
Dream come true.

Now, had I been afraid to take that risk I would never have had that experience. And, while one may argue that you don’t know what you don’t know, meaning I wouldn’t have known what I was missing, Australia had been on my vision board since I was 5 and my vision board was ripped out pieces of magazines and the board was my wall.

The point is this: When you are 90 in your rocking chair looking back at your life the biggest regrets will be the risks you DIDN’T TAKE. And I am not making things up. There has been actual research about this.

Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives, came forward with the top 5 regrets people had in the last 12 weeks of their life:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. Bonnie stated people realized how many dreams they left unfulfilled and how health, and “time”, had been taken for granted in their younger years.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings. Bronnie says: “Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming.”

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.” Bronnie

Now, if that doesn’t light a fire in you I don’t know what will!

A lot of people think my mission in life is surrounding fitness. It isn’t.

My mission is to help YOU live life to the fullest. Enjoy each day. Live the healthiest you can. Be happier. Laugh more. Run the marathon you always wanted to run. Buy the horse you always wanted to buy. Move to the other side of the world on a whim because your heart is telling you to.

Fitness is just a tool I use, and a VERY powerful tool at that.

My tip to help you start taking control of your life?

Take your favourite complaint and turn that baby inside out!

For example: ” I can’t afford to buy that horse” becomes ” Money loves me so much it throws itself at me!”. Yes, corny, but powerful. I did this when I was finally tired of my old excuses on why I couldn’t afford a Blazing Colours baby. The point is NOT that you say this and then money rains down from the heavens as if some drug lords house blew up a kilometer down the road. Although, maybe that could happen!

No, the point is you start to search for the possibilities, the opportunities. You see the positive, not the lack of dollar signs in your account. You start to get into a success mindset and get ready to make shit happen. When I started this affirmation I started problem solving and applied to a ton of jobs! The one that allowed me to afford the baby hired me. And I was wildly unqualified!

Future eventer extraordinaire

Another negative to a positive? “I hate my job” becomes “I am grateful to my job for supporting me and for being my stepping stone on my way to awesome badassery and for teaching me so very much about patience and perseverance.” I think every entrepreneur can relate to this one! I use it daily as my business grows and it has completely transformed my life and how I approach each day.

The point is I want you to write down whatever crappy self limiting belief is holding you back then flip it. Post it around your house. Write it on your mirror with lipstick. Stick it to your dashboard. Make it the background of your phone. Bloody well needle point it into a pillow if you need to.

Then, say it every time you catch yourself about to launch into the same old boring complaint.

And here is the thing many people don’t tell you:

Transforming your life is uncomfortable.

Changing your mindset is hard. You must commit to being uncomfortable day after day. Befriend the unfamiliar, the risky, the “I don’t wanna” and do it anyway.

The discomfort means you are almost there.

xo

Ashley

Work the booty to improve your position

If you are unstable in the saddle, or lack balance, what is the FIRST thing someone tells you?

Strengthen your core.

Yes, the abs are important.  Most people have lost the ability to move from their “center”, therefore teaching someone how to work the core, not just do crunches, is VERY important.

However, there is one major muscle group that has proven time and time again that they are actually more important to functional movement than the abdominals: the GLUTES

The glutes consist of 3 major muscles:

  1. The gluteus maximus, which does external rotation and extension of the hip joint (moving the leg backwards).
  2. The gluteus minimus, which does abduction of the hip (moving the leg away from the body).
  3. The gluteus medius, which also does abduction of the hip (moving the leg away from the body).

As you can see these muscles are important mover and stabilizers of the hip joint.  The glutes assist us in walking, sitting, standing, climbing stairs, getting out of bed, and LITERALLY every lower body movement.

The problem these days, is that we SIT on the glutes all day long, rendering them weak and useless.  Without the proper use of the glutes, the hamstrings and lower back muscles end up taking over far more work than they should.  The abdominals are strong and can support a weak lower back, but if the lower back keeps having to compensate for sleepy glutes, then the abs will never be able to keep up. This will result in poor posture, back pain and a less than ideal position in the saddle.

Trying to ride without strong, active glutes is akin to trying to build a house without a foundation.

So how does this relate to you?

Without strong glutes your lower back and hamstrings will take over as primary movers. This provides a very unstable base of support for your upper body, which can show as bracing in the upper body and tension in the reins, as well as an unstable lower leg. You will also find riders with weak glutes clinging with their legs as they have no stability through the pelvis.

Weak glutes also leads to poor posture, as the abs are only able to compensate to a point. This is where the dreaded “shoulders back” battle begins. You will also see this manifested in riders that can’t seem to sit up straight and always tend to lean forward. The weak glutes lead to tight hip flexors and a weak upper body making it nearly impossible to sit up straight. This isn’t something that can be fixed in the saddle.

Think of the pelvis, and hips, as the foundation of a house. Without a strong foundation everything is weak and unstable. This applies to your riding as well.

Without a strong pelvis, which is stabilized by your glutes, you are going to lack the ability to maintain a proper position, which leads to unclear aids, poor posture, imbalances in your body due to compensation and a whole host of other issues, just like a bad foundation does for a house.

And here is the truth: Your imbalances become your horses imbalances which become your horses lameness.

Further, by allowing your lower back and hamstrings to take over while riding you are setting yourself up for back pain, knee pain and ankle pain as you compensate for the weakness.

Often I hear “I am just old, I get knee pain when I ride”.

And while degenerative conditions, such as arthritis, can lead to pain strengthening the proper muscles, and lengthening the tight tissue, is one of the best ways to not only combat chronic pain but prevent future pain.

But riders are soooo busy!

Now, I know riders are busy between working to pay for the horses and actually riding but it is crucial to make time for your own fitness, out of the saddle. And, no, mucking stalls doesn’t count.

Sinead Halpin said it best, in her recent article Making Time for Fitness Outside the Saddle with Sinead Halpin for useventing.com:

“If you’re competitive, if you don’t want to have chronic low-grade pain, if you want to be kind to your horse by riding well, you will find it important to find an exercise routine that works to keep you supple and strong,” Halpin concluded. “Just do it. I have 23 horses on the farm, an 8-month-old, and a mortgage to pay without a major sponsor and I find the time, so just do it.”

Riding will feed into your imbalances. If you are weak on the left, and therefore lean into the right you will lean more into the right stirrup as you get more exhausted in the saddle. Especially out on cross country it becomes dangerous to have a riders imbalances being magnified when the horse, as well, may be getting tired.

If you sit at a desk all day and therefore have weak glutes and tight shoulders, causing you to slouch into a chair seat in the saddle no amount of yelling “Shoulders back” and no amount of custom saddles will fix YOUR issues.

Further, if you continue to get on the horse with the same issues it doesn’t matter how much money you dump into their massage, Back on Track, Chiropractic, acupuncture, etc. YOU will continue to cause the same imbalances in the horse until it causes a lameness. And then, well, your horse is out of the game until the injury has healed, if it can be.

A blank slate.

We are all adults right? I can be a straight shooter?

You are an athlete. Start training like it! Not only does improving as a rider depend on it but your horse depends on you to show up as YOUR best self everyday.

To help you get started I am developing a YouTube channel with free workouts for riders looking to get fit. Here is a quick booty blast to help kick off your new fitness plan!

For more videos and tips make sure to follow me on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/the.equestrians.advantage

Or join the FREE The Equestrians Advantage community at:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/426232728129685/

As a former sport horse vet tech,eventer and certified personal trainer I am passionate about starting a movement towards rider fitness OUT of the saddle to improve not only the riders, well, riding, but to also improve soundness in the horse.

I hope you found this helpful!

Ashley

Why a raccoon can teach you life lessons.

Today I was asked if I could be any wild animal which would I choose.

To many peoples surprise I picked a raccoon. You may be thinking “WHAT!? Of all the animals you choose a raccoon?!”

Yes. And you know why?

Raccoons are adaptive. Spent millions developing raccoon proof garbage bins? Give the raccoon a few hours to figure out how to outsmart the road block. Build a subdivision in her habitat? She will figure out how to use your structures to thrive.

There is no obstacle too great and no invention too advanced to outsmart the determined, persistent and intelligent raccoon.

Raccoons are like the toddlers and youth of the human world. A toddler falls COUNTLESS times learning to walk but they don’t throw up their arms and give up because there are too many obstacles in their path. They keep trying until victory is theirs.

When learning to speak toddlers and children don’t stop learning. They intently watch the world around them and soak up information like a sponge, learning words from their environment (whether ideal words or not).

Youth unapologetically pick up figure skating or gymnastics and fall to their knees. Over. And over. But they get back up and try again. As a youth I crashed to the ground on my skates, trying new complicated spins and jumps, more times than I can count.

But I kept going. I knew my goal and I forged forward without blinking an eye.

Be a raccoon. Find the inner child that NEVER GAVE UP.

As adults we seem to become so wrapped up in the opinions of others, and fear of failure, that we would rather be miserable than try to reach new goals and dreams.

“You want to dump $10,000 into starting a new business?!” you can just FEEL the judgemental comments from friends and family.

“You are trying a NEW diet?!” you can predict the harsh tones as you try one more time at reaching your weight loss goals.

“I knew she would fail”, wait, that one is coming from your inner mean girl BEFORE you even start!

Now, let me say this loud and clear for the people in the back:

WHO CARES.

First, people don’t care as much as your ego has led you to believe.

Second, others opinions of you and what you do are none of your business.

If you fail? News flash. Whatever your goal is you WILL fail. Over and over. Get over it now.

If Sally from Facebook doesn’t like what you are doing with your life? Who cares. It isn’t her life.

If you fall? Great, you will learn what does and doesn’t work, just like the young girl does trying a new jump on the balance beam.

Dream big.

Stop caring so much about failure and what others think….

And start caring more about the quality of your short life.

Stop caring what you inner mean girl says and get out there and

Start proving her WRONG.

A raccoon doesn’t apologize for out thinking the special garbage bin you bought in under an hour.

A child doesn’t apologize for trying 100 times to get their first step.

The 10 year old doesn’t care what you think when she falls off the balance beam after trying for the 20th time to land a new flip.

Friend, STOP APOLOGIZING. To yourself and others. Just go out there and start living.

Xo,

Ashley

Equestrian Problems

I overheard someone complaining about their cats $50 per month medication.

$50. Per month.

Now, I am not saying anything bad about cats. If my husband wasn’t so allergic I would be the crazy cat lady!

But this got me wondering how absolutely out of touch riders are with reality! So, from my beautiful unicorn, I wrote my top 5 equestrian problems!

1) I have horses scattered across Ontario. When was the last time you lived 2 hours from one of your baby cats and 45 minutes from your large retired fat cat and small mini cat.

Well, photo angle makes the mini look like a maxi.

Cuteness beats logic every time!

Prior to baby I had visited Niagara Falls about as many times as I can count on one hand, in my 33 years, and I limit visits to family due to kilometers and “wear and tear” on my car. Baby Loki is 3 weeks old and I have made the 2 hour drive 3 times.

Sorry not sorry. Cars can be replaced.

2) I basically pay a mortgage payment to two different barns to keep the horses. That doesn’t include feet, vet, chiropractic, massage, nothing! Oh ya, and because Monty (fat retired cat) has back arthritis he is currently wearing $700 worth of blankets.

$700.

MY jacket isn’t even worth that much. And my husband went 2 winters WITHOUT a winter jacket so Monty could get more Back on Track blankets for his sore back!

Oh, and the $50 meds? How about $160 in Omeprazole for 30 days for your sensitive Sally’s belly. And that isn’t even the brand name Omeprazole. I don’t want to be the cause of heart problems, from shock, in my non horse friends so let’s continue on!

Monty living his best life.

3) I quit my job as an equine vet tech and got a job in a busy call centre to afford my horses.

Will this work?

And the “greatest” part about horses is that they will just keep filling the new budgets. It is never ending.

Got a higher paying job? Awesome, because your horse put its leg through a fence and needs stitches (true story from Christmas Day at 4:30pm 2017).

Opened a savings account? Stop kidding yourself and skip the sad truth of putting the money in just to take it back out. Just send the money straight to the tack store for the new custom saddle.

Bonus? Better call the chiropractor for the horse and someone to clip your Yak of a pony.

It. Never. Ends.

Now my savings account sits at $0.02.

But my recent promotion means they have new space to expand into!

4) Not one of my horses have a job. I have 3 horses and I am not able to ride one!

Monty was my eventer but was retired at 8 after years of on and off soundness issues. Turns out my future superstar has severe osteoarthritis in his spine. My mini, Oreo, was bought as his companion for shows and now is living his best life as a feral retired pony!

And my new born dream foal is living his best life in baby heaven!

Hopefully one day baby Loki will be my eventing super star otherwise I am collecting “broken” horses!

5) Vacations? Weekends away?

Old vacationing pics will have to do!

Vacations are unknown words to the Equestrian! Equestrians are too broke for vacations and weekends are for horse shows!

My poor husband and I have a cottage we rarely use because he can’t drag me away from the horses long enough!

Why go out of town when you can go to horse shows?

Regardless….

For all the stress, money and time horses cost.

For the ascinine vet bills that build up on your secret credit card.

The heartbreak over an 8 year old with so much potential having to be retired.

The constant worry over temperature and if your horse is too hot or too cold.

Wondering if you are doing all the things right and helping your horse live their best life.

Wearing clothes with holes in them so you can put the money into board at the best facility you can find (and the sleepless nights finding it).

For the missed vacations, weekends in the barn instead of on a beach and the partners that wonder wtf they got themselves into.

For all the craziness….

I wouldn’t change a thing.

Owning a horse is expensive. More expensive than your cat or dog. Or 10 cats and dogs. And sometimes they don’t pay attention to you ( I guess sort of like a big cat)….

Eff off lady, I only love my mom.

But is it ever worth it.

Once you are horse girl you will die a horse girl.

It is like a virus that pumps through your veins.

And you will lay down your last penny, your last breath, for your horse.

I would legitimately do sketchy things to make sure my horses only had the best. Selling organs in Mexico is a viable option, right?

So while we may be a bit crazy, and insanity ensues on the reg, it is worth every second and I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

Xo

Ashley

Take Control of Your Life

You.

YES, you!

You are powerful beyond measure.

It is ok if you have been lost before. If you let fear rule your life. If opinions of others kept you from stepping into your greatness.

But it is time to wake up.

Today is a new day, and if you CHOOSE also a new life.

You get to decide right now who you want to be. Not Monday, not next month.

Ask yourself: How would the best version of you live this day? What would you do? Say? Wear? Eat?

It all begins with believing you are worth it.

Believing that you are capable of anything you set your mind to.

Stop using the excuse that you don’t have time. You have time you are just CHOOSING to spend the time doing other things.

Wake up an hour earlier. Go to bed an hour later.

Success is choosing between what you want right now and what you want most. Do not let those temporary pleasures derail you from your dreams.

Imagine your dreams in detail. Write it down. Make a vision board. Your personal vision will keep you in the game when things become difficult.

Challenge yourself to dream big and recognize the greatness within yourself.

Start taking care of your mind, body and soul.

Make yourself a priority.

If you can’t take care of yourself you have a 0% chance of success in other areas of your life. You must always come first.

Work out, fuel your body properly, smile, tell yourself how damn badass you are. If you have to put sticky notes around your house reminding yourself that

you’ve got this.

Remember, you are creating your reality right now. This very moment.

You are the only person in charge of what happens next. You, and only you hold the key to the next chapter.

You MUST stop procrastinating.

You must take action right now and create a vision that fires you up and propels you to the future life you want. The life you deserve. The life you dream of.

You need to own what you do, or what you don’t do.

Take ownership of your actions then go out and create the destiny you want, not the one you default on.

Remember that life is never happening to you, it is happening for you, but it is up to YOU to take action.

IF you cannot be the person you want to be right now, in this second, you don’t have a why that is strong enough.

And if you don’t have a why that is strong enough right now you won’t have a strong enough why on Monday. Or next month.

There is no bolt of lighting. No magic moment.

There is just this moment. The now.

Do not leave todays version of you to random chance. Choose who you want to be.

Choose your destiny.

Then, start living your life according to THAT version of you.

And, if you worry about how far you have to go remember that every great tree started as a seed. Stop waiting to plant your seed.

xoxo

Ashley Eve- Health&Mindset Coach