How to Make the Most of the Life You Were Dealt.

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The gym; your workouts, your lifts, your latest cardio session, Mirror your life.

It’s a reflection of how you view yourself.

It’s what you’re willing to allow yourself to give and/or take.

How you overcome and conquer a challenge in life is a lot like determining what you’re going to do when a heavy ass barbell is hovering over your chest during a bench press or weighing you down in a squat position. Are you going to buckle? Probably not. Do you feel like it? Sure. But are you going to? No, you’re going to lift that shit right up off of you, you’re going to push like hell to overcome that weight; to overcome the feeling that is a consequence of defeat.

And that’s exactly the attitude that you need to have with you at every moment, every opportunity in life.

It’s not a matter of just “giving up” it’s a fight for your life. Right now, maybe you don’t think you matter. Maybe life seems fucked up right now and you want to escape. You feel hopeless, worthless and lost. But I tell you, when you’re in that gym with some heavy ass weight trying to call you out, trying to force you down, you fight like hell to win, to conquer it. And you will struggle, you will quiver; waver until you feel badly bruised and beaten.

Your knees will want to buckle.
Your breath will feel stifled.
Your heart will pound in your ears; in your chest.
Your palms will slip.

But that’s your mind. It’s all in your mind. You got this.

I guarantee you that you will make sure you don’t let that weight keep you down. It will be in that moment that you will realize the risk if you just give in.

You’ve been doing it for so long… thinking your life is meaningless and questioning its purpose, but you’ll finally recognize that strength that you’re capable of; how powerful you are. You’ll finally figure out that life has been calling your bluff way too many times; your mind; your depression, your anxiety, your struggles have been weighing you down making you feel physically weak, making you feel dead inside, and you’ll suddenly realize that the weight is on you and the mirror is just there, and you come alive…

You feel alive… the passion, the future, the present it all awakens inside of you. It sparks something furious inside of you that you haven’t felt in a long ass time you feel it and nothing, not anyone can take that away from you.

That power; that feeling, may seem temporary at first but then it’ll become part of you and then it’ll become who you are.

When you feel down or feel like you shouldn’t lift your head off that pillow one more day, allow yourself to feel. Go workout. Reclaim your power. >Allow yourself to feel

Most people feel depressed and question what our purpose is and what is the meaning of life. Nothing challenges you, it’s the same day in and day out, you don’t feel appreciated, you’re missing something, and don’t know what so you feel depressed. Stress alone that is caused from personal and/or professional matters, can make you feel weak and powerless; vulnerable, and can force you into depression.

I know. I’ve been there.

If I can find my way to the gym so can you. For as minimum as even 30 min, you can reap the benefits of exercise. You’ll feel in control.

Don’t compare yourself to others, you don’t know how long it took them to get there, or as I always say, “you don’t know that person’s story” so just keep going. Plan to go to the gym with a purpose. Don’t allow yourself to surrender your power before you even start. Reflect on what you were able to achieve in that session and as you progress you will notice subtle changes in strength, endurance, more confidence, more independence.

Ultimately, you grow. It’s inevitable. It’s what life is about, GROWTH–becoming greater than our obstacles.

It’s all just lightweight, baby.

Just One More Piece To My Puzzle

So here it is, I’m at a hockey game, eating my chicken breast thinking about pancakes, AND of course scrolling through Instagram, when obviously an image catches my eye.

I click on it.

I read the caption.

And just like that… I learned how to pose for a figure competition.

I mean I haven’t competed in forever because I was struggling; I was fighting demons and shit; trying to just “find the road back to fitness”, you can read about that here but once you get the blood pumping, it kind of never really stops running through your veins.

Literally and metaphorically speaking.

So like I said, (and excuse me I’m excited about this and my adrenaline is pumping from the amount of carbs I’ve had about two hours ago or I’m just water drunk. Either way I’m pretty fucking hyper) there I was, stuck in an Instagram trance, going through the umpteenth photo of someone posing half naked (I did say I was on Instagram hehe), when suddenly I was stuck on this photo of a figure competitor in the shape of a perfect V. Symmetrical, beautiful lines, definition, but that taper (as in V taper) though….

yea that’s what she said..

I’ve heard about the “V taper” when I was in the process of competition prep, and I knew what it was, but I never really “got it”…I mean, I may have been developing it physically, but mentally, um, yeah, null and void.

No connections made. Whatsoever.

I just never really understood why in the hell I had to stand up on stage and pose that way. Obviously, as you can see from my first figure competition in 2012:

Proud I made it that/this far though

Proud I made it that/this far though

(you could also check out more about my first competition here

But right then, her picture, her caption in that one photo undid all of that. Those few words; stinging my eyes, stimulating my thoughts, and the blood in my veins were burning with adrenaline.

I sat there, like a black puck in the center of the ice, being slapped with a hockey stick into the goal. That was me. And that’s how I felt.

I finally connected the dots. I connected another piece to my puzzle. I finally understood.

No matter how much I practiced those poses, I just felt awkward, shy and uncomfortable. No matter how much I twisted, bended, turned, I couldn’t get it right. Simply put, I was like a newborn calf encountering ice for the first time. Yeah, envision that.

And that just turned into yet another addition to my constant mind fuck during competition prep…

The whole, “I can’t even pose, why the fuck am I doing this” or “I can’t pose, I’m not good enough…at well, anything”
Or the, “someone is already doing this, why bother anymore…”

You know….How even just one thought can seem like complete and utter despair? Been there?

If only I was just told:

“For front, back, and side pose, focus on creating that “V taper” with your body; to show off the lines of your well sculpted physique.”

Or basically, “create the best fucking “V” you can.” More simply put: Contort your body into the shape of a V…like you’re at a wedding and the chorus from “YMCA” from “The Village People” comes on. Ok maybe not EXACTLY like that.

But seriously, you should check out this beautiful figure competitor who just made a difference in my life.

Because it’s always the little things that you don’t think are going to mean a whole lot when you simply hit “post” or “share”. All of the thoughts, experiences and memories are just pieces to one huge, amazing puzzle that you get to seize and grab hold of to make it complete one day.

And please don’t NOT visit her Instagram page because you don’t compete… if you listen to her 2 year transformation story on her Youtube channel, I’m certain you’ll take something away from it.

Instagram: @fit_tiff

What Are You Willing to Sacrifice For Your Ideal Body?

You see the toned, sleek bodies glistening with sweat at the gym, and in a selfie posted to Instagram or Facebook you wonder why you can’t look like that….and you ask over and over, “how do I look like that”.

I haven’t written a post in awhile. I guess I have just been trying to find the right words to put all these feelings and thoughts I’ve been having into a somewhat legible post. I started with the above, but then I decided that it’s just not what I want this post to be about. But everytime I try to put it into the right words, I get scared. I get scared that someone will just point out that I’m trying to defend my stance on fitness competitions and will scream “hater” or “she didn’t make it, that’s why she’s saying all of this…” but then I can’t help but feel defensive. Maybe because I made the choice to give other people power by watching their videos and reading their posts on social media sites and allowing them to make me feel like my struggle with a competition prep was merely a matter of being too weak and I couldn’t help. It was getting to me. It was becoming toxic. As a matter of fact, it was beginning to feel like everything that was once discussed between us was being used to help them “seem more real”. And I hate fake people. Ah, there I go again, letting them have power over me….

All in all, it could just be me overanalyzing and being paranoid again. So I’ll leave it alone and try to formulate a somewhat comprehendible blog post….

There seems to be this thought process that contest prep for a fitness competition is a nightmare; you are going to suffer, and it’ll break you down and force you to back down and almost quit, and if you actually do throw in the towel, then you are not strong enough. Breathe Megan, Breathee That is….mentally.

Again, deep breath …

There’s the mentality that if just striving to be fit and healthy, that’s simply not good enough. It’s just not enough if you don’t compete. You must compete to be completely relevant. But a majority of this particular “fitness culture” has become an obsession. (It’s literally can swallow you whole and spit you back out)

We spend time taking selfies that we save on our phone, filter the shit out of them a majority of the time, post them to social media that there becomes a fine line between obsession or just plain vain or desperate for attention.

Or just as easily as “all of the above”.

Then there’s this word, “sacrifice” that keeps being thrown out. What are you willing to sacrifice to get the body you want? I’ve heard it, and I’ve seen the captions along with the posts. I believe in making sacrifices to keep you from falling on your face; to achieving what you need. But when that sacrifice is just that; for what you want rather than what you need, than you have to decide what’s more important; what you want or the sacrifice you have to make, be careful what you choose….

When deciding to endure competition prep, how you fit your cardio in so it doesn’t rob time with your kids, but means you only get 4 hours versus 6 hours of sleep doesn’t really come close to being much of a sacrifice. Once you made the decision to compete, you need to be prepared to sacrifice candid moments with your kids. Yes, because you can’t turn off competition prep ; even when you’re with your kids, you’re still thinking and breathing contest prep; thinking about food, wishing you can have a bite of your kids ice cream cone, or hell just a little more oatmeal, getting anxious about getting your gym time in, your workout in, spending hours upon hours at the gym running on the same cardio machine, complaining about how “hard” contest prep is and making that the sole focus of your posts and videos on social media sites just so you can say your “just being real”.

No. The sacrifice is, trading one disorder for another one in, or just simply adding to it. The sacrifice is, giving up candid moments, living in the moment because you are now on a “schedule” that revolves around your body. And by the way, anyone who says it’s for health, is full of shit.

Oh. And apparently peanut butter. You must sacrifice peanut butter. That’s your ultimate ticket into earning the right to even use the hashtag #fitness. That hashtag alone will generate more attention than Kim Kardashian’s latest wardrobe.

Sacrifices need to be made to keep food on the table, a roof over our heads, time with our children, not to achieve this insane belief that if we want whatever is considered an ideal body for this decade or screw it- month, that we need to ask ourselves what we need to sacrifice in order to achieve it. Yea, because that’s important. A ripped set of abs, with a nice ass, always hold much more weight over my sanity, my family, me, my life any day. And I’m sure if I don’t make those sacrifices and I just keep walking into restaurants or cooking up recipes that grandmother’s used to make, making memories with my children by actually being in the here and now rather than a walking space er cardio er fitness competitor cadet, I can seriously start hashtagging “nof—clue”, “eatclean” “iifymgirls” because I’m confused as to what term is acceptable in the current fitness culture that has formed. Or worse the, “do you even lift” or “do you even flexible diet” Seriously. Because lifting and counting macros are much more superior to….look at me, projecting…Damn it…it looks like I take this shit too seriously.

But I did warn you, you could never ever go back. You can never turn it off. There is no fucking switch.

Look, bottom line is,

I love lifting heavy ass shit (weights) and maybe a kid or two if I have to, and no I won’t hesitate to pick my 17 year old daughter up like a baby), finding healthier options, eating healthy, I love fitness, I love spending hours upon hours researching it, but I couldn’t find a balance. Sorry. There was no such thing as balance in my future. I had-like many do- a distorted sense of what balance actually meant.

I mean come on, we post photos and caption them with “my favorite shirt” but with the most awkward pose in an obvious attempt to draw attention on your glutes followed by the hashtag, #squats. And we’ll caption a more provocative one with a deep quote stolen from another author or just some deep thought to say what really is going on (but no one will really outright admit it): I’ll sum it up…as a woman, we hate that we have to constantly struggle to look a certain way, that the ideal image is forever evolving and we will never, can never be happy just being in our own skin regardless of what Dove’s commercial or magazine article has to say. Mirrors and pictures on social media do not lie. We are women. We must compete with one another albeit secretly and at the same time, pretend that we are ecstatic when another woman gets more attention or you think looks better than you…and you actually hate her for it…or just simply hate yourself MORE for not being her. I should know..I’m guilty of that.

We all want to be the inspiration, yet we truly can’t even remember what exactly the real meaning of “inspiration is. We create posts that don’t let in on the pain we feel deep within, we can’t let on that it all sucks and really you just want to be able to go to the gym and remember what is was to just feel proud that you made it to the gym, and you didn’t feel at odds with food or your reflection all the time. That you can just go back to the time where you were able to actually feel yourself, feel a moment aside from what is going to make or break you on this journey to a stage designed to take what’s going on in social media, live and up close.

We pretend to be positive but it shows with all our obsessive posts of plates upon plates of food or a picture showing you taking a bite of something that you may not have thought twice about since you stumbled upon the hashtag #fitness. Subconsciously it’s our attempt to detail our struggle with food or our attempt to remind those who aren’t in the game or are thinking about walking away and hanging up the shoes and competition tan, that this is the norm and it requires a great deal of mental strength. And sadly, our own mental pain is what got us here in the first place and will also be what will walk us off the path completely or just down the wrong way continuously. I should know. I did all that.

We’ll post so much to show how strong we are, when we’re probably falling apart.

We’ll have said, “I can’t do this anymore” or “I give up” s or “what am I doing this for anyway” many times At this point, you don’t even see yourself as anything more than just developed muscles and attaining an aesthetic appearance. Your self worth can become extremely jaded.

It’ll cause anxiety or stress to just go longer than a few hours without tracking our caloric intake, or if we didn’t make it to the gym to get your workout in.

But we’ll have the “Whatever it takes” attitude because we are at least feeling something. I should know. I was that person. Kinda/Sorta still am. And while I hesitantly admit to that, I will not deny the steps I had to climb just to get to that point. Hey, just keepin’ it real (wink wink)

A competition does not define me. I said before that I’m not going to allow anything to define me, but I take that back. My role of being a mother, a wife, and a woman define who I am. We are so determined to achieve this supposed ideal image that some of us overlook the entire picture.

Deciding to compete in a fitness competition has the potential to destroy relationships. Once you start losing friends and break ups begin to follow suit, you start isolating yourself away from them. After all, no one, and I mean no one understands your new life, and everyone just wants to be unhealthy anyway…

All we think about is eating. When are we going to eat next, what are we going to eat. Even when we’re eating, we’re still thinking about the next time we have to eat. It turns into an obsession.

**Side note: I hear girls all the time as they’re putting in hours on the elliptical or treadmill complain and say things like, “I just can’t wait to go back to ‘normal’; I can’t wait to just eat ___” AND that’s all they talk about.

It becomes life. 24/7. Eat, breathe, sleep. You don’t remember anything else. Well, except for #transformationtuesdays or #Throwbackthursdays when we have to demonstrate how clueless, miserable and unhealthy we were “back then” even though we’re holding a beer, a big cheesy ass smile, and some friends…everybody needs friends…sigh..

We will say we’re “taking a break” or we’re in an “off season” because after the show, we’ll struggle even more with our body image. And no matter what, it never fails, when we finally made the conscious effort to not at least prep your meals, we’ll make a mental note that we don’t look so lean, and the lines and definition from all the extra food you choked down have faded, there will always be someone who is prepping for a show and regardless if we know that it’s not possible to stay that way all the time, we can’t help but compare ourselves to her and feel guilty that we no longer look as hard and lean as we once did. And alas, continues our love/hate relationship with food…and the scale.

From personal experience, I know this. And, yes, I know not everyone out there is like me. We’re all different and motivated by different factors, but one thing is for certain, stop right away if you find yourself becoming too obsessive.

It doesn’t make us weak person if you’re miserable doing it. If you set out to do a competition, you should love it. And love/passion and obsession is NOT the same thing.

That was me. And it could be you. Could be…(just saying)

If you have anxiety or panic attacks, this isn’t going to cure you. It’s not going to fix you or reverse an eating disorder. It’s not going to fix you mentally. It just won’t. It’ll give you control, but not power. If you’re looking for help, exercise will help to some extent, but not the obsessive kind. I should know, I tried it. Exercise will release endorphins that’ll give you a boost in mood, but if you exercise too much, it will impact you negatively.

Besides, it’s not so much mental strength, it’s our hormones that screw us up and our body’s way of telling us that something is imbalanced. But we’re supposed to ignore it and just keep going…fight through it. We might just become more mentally fit for it.

Bottom line: Listen to your body before you listen to your mind or some post on social media.

At least try to. I know I am.

Finding The Road Back To Fitness

It seems so long ago. But really, it was just within the past 14 weeks that I’ve discovered a lot about myself. I had an epiphany.

One might say that, I’ve come so far. But really it was just an awakening. Euphoric and I feel like I’m in a much better place. Finally.

Finally I can focus on me. The real me. No more denying who I am. Like I said in my previous post, I will not allow myself to be defined.

And it all started like this…

Before I just did a figure competition because I thought that would make me seem raw and a lot stronger. It would make me seem like I have this anxiety down to a science, that I was the one in control. But that was all just a lie. I thought if I competed, I would be perceived as courageous and demonstrating exemplary strength, unfortunately, behind the scenes, I was breaking. I was crumbling. I was allowing it to define me. Define my self worth. I was becoming obsessed and felt as if I didn’t do it; if I ate one thing that wasn’t on the diet I was a failure. If the scale didn’t read a certain number, I was a failure; that it would just prove that I was weak; that I was what I had felt all along…nothing. I was a failure. At that point, I would allow guilt to binge at my conscience, which by now had somehow turned into my own worst enemy. In turn, I would then sabotage myself by binging and sleeping long hours. Depressed. Anxious. Guilty. Defined. Lost and confused. I couldn’t sort out which one I felt the most and which one I hated the least. I would “check out”. I would lie in bed and imagine myself not here; somewhere else. Somewhere where it would all make sense; where it would all just seem “much easier than this” but that’s just it, I didn’t even have any idea of what “this” actually was. Everyone around me seemed to be doing a fitness competition, and I couldn’t help but feel hatred and resentment. Why couldn’t that be me? Stupid anxiety I would utter all the time. I would shut down and give up. The self- hatred grew so much that I could barely see my own achievements because they never seemed enough. I never seemed good enough.

And over and over again, I set out to put myself in the most uncomfortable place again; in contest prep. It was, at that moment, what I felt I had to do to feel a sense of purpose. But deep down I wasn’t looking at it is an experience, it was becoming my ENTIRE life.

Prepping for a fitness competition only made old wounds reappear, and new ones hastily emerge….

I would go through the prep, struggling, sacrificing, sinking lower and lower, telling myself that if I didn’t do it, I was basically nothing special. But for some reason, as I went through it, the deeper involved I’d get, and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. I couldn’t possibly imagine going back to not counting macros on a scale; weighing my food, myself and skipping the gym, even for just one workout…the mere thought of any of that scared the shit out of me. I couldn’t be a failure again. I couldn’t just quit. For some reason, the pain and struggle made me feel alive. Not normal, not really living, just alive. And all too real. I was starting to realize that I was trading one disorder for another; I was using all of these obsessive tendencies, these unhealthy behaviors I was adapting to and clinging to, to replace the anxiety that had me feel so out of control at times. Unfortunately, it wasn’t helping, it was only nurturing those toxic weeds to grow more furious and wild inside of me until I couldn’t control it anymore, in fact, I didn’t have control at all. Ever.

I forgot how to enjoy and love fitness and health and instead trapped myself in a web of self-hatred, lack of self-worth and didn’t even know where I belonged anymore.

Comparing my life to others; my worth to others, only made the anger and bitterness deepen. I spent so much time trying to conjure up an image of who I thought I could be, and instead of being proud of who I’ve become; how far I’ve come, I lost focus, and I was throwing myself into hot burning coals before the fire even had a chance to ignite.

If someone gave me a compliment, I’d thank them for the compliment, but in my mind I’d rehearse all of the things that they don’t see. Like maybe the cellulite on the back of thighs. Or that tiny little bit of fat that makes you feel self conscious in a pair of short shorts. The list may go on; it’s different for everybody. I know I’m not alone. I even found myself considering breast implants because I didn’t think I was good enough just being me.

I kept trying to walk away, but once it gets a hold of you, it’s extremely difficult to walk away; it latches on and doesn’t let go…

It wasn’t until I realized that it’s no different that any other addictive behavior; you need time to heal and recover. You need time to get your shit together; your mind right, and that requires just as much strength, if not more, to fight the urge to be honest with yourself. To not let anyone or anything get inside your head and weigh you down.

Each time I was beginning competition prep, I was only unleashing a whole new beast; I felt as though if I didn’t compete, I just wasn’t strong enough; or put in the words of a fellow gym-goer, “it was too tough for me to handle.”

But they didn’t know me. Nobody really knows the true me. And how could anyone if I even lost sight of who I was? It wasn’t that it was too tough; it was the fact that my cortisol levels are already chronically elevated most of the time, and all of the dieting and cardio was exacerbating the issue. It went from being obsessive and getting anxiety at the mere thought of having to eat something that was processed to having anxiety about sodium levels, fiber, carbohydrates etc., anxiety about cardio, or just being able to get to the gym. It was all I could think about from the moment I opened my eyes to the moment I closed my eyes. The program I was on was designed so that I would have to weigh myself everyday, and depending on the number, my macros would decrease or increase. To avoid that, I wouldn’t drink or eat anything until it read what if felt it needed to say before sending anything to my coach. I didn’t want him to lower my calories, I could have easily just lied, but I wouldn’t feel good about myself doing that.

I still can’t help but weigh my food still or fixate on the scale.

Like I said, I felt like a failure. And yes, all of the time. Even though I was hitting my macros right in point and doing all the cardio prescribed to me if the scale even fluctuated by an ounce I’d still feel like a failure.  I still felt fat. I felt that I was never going to be good enough. That’s what I thought…constantly.

 I felt so much anxiety going to my mother in laws home five hours away because I didn’t know how I was going to make it to the gym since after all she was having a heart procedure. I had no energy, no life, no memory, anxiety, sleepless nights, I loved food but I also hated food. I hated the thought of not being able to see my abs. I’d pick everything wrong with my body; I even contemplated getting breast implants. I wanted to fit in so badly. But I was not even fitting in with my own family anymore. I didn’t even know who I was anymore. I needed to make a decision. I struggled with it. The inner voice told me I was a failure, I wasn’t worth anything… who the hell am I without this? I felt depressed and even suicidal. I thought maybe that was my only way out of this mess.

For the past 4 years, I have severed relationships, missed a lot of awesome moments, and restricted not just my diet but also my life. I have 3 kids, 11, 13, and 17, and if they weren’t my kids they’d probably choose to walk away from me. I was angry, moody and obsessed all the time. I just became so intolerable of everything; and isolated myself as well as neglected anything that might have been important. If it didn’t fit around a way for me to think, talk, or breathe fitness, I wasn’t interested. I didn’t enjoy functions because I didn’t want to be around other people laughing and enjoying themselves without eyeing a plate of food trying to calculate the macros or calories it had before actually eating it. Each time I saw that, I would either feel envious or just felt the need to inform them of the physical change they could undergo if they were just to make “better choices”.

I longed for the days where I could just have control. I missed the passion; the spark I had found in fitness and nutrition. I missed the way it helped me find my way out of the darkness and thrusted me into this new dimension of life…this whole other territory that made me feel alive, more normal than anything I’ve ever encountered. I wanted that back….

This process that I’ve been on has really been quite the experience. Each and every single time. Even the two times I actually managed to make it to the stage. But this time, this time it has been way more than just a physical change. It has forced me to ask questions that I pushed away before. It has forced me to seek answers to those questions and many other questions that I had allowed myself to drown in and play dead. I was forced to seek answers that maybe I wasn’t even really ready for or had even expected to discover. And this time, well, this time I know what I really want. I want to be happy. In my own skin, my own body; I want to be happy. I think back to a time when I was the happiest and the most confident, and it wasn’t how others saw me. It wasn’t about finding myself where I didn’t really want to be. It wasn’t about living someone else’s story line to make me feel important or give me a sense of purpose. I don’t need to compete in fitness competitions to validate me; it’s just not the direction where I want to go. It may seem crazy to some how something that is so capable of strengthening the body can have the exact opposite effect on the mind. It may seem like I’m not “tough enough” because I choose not to compete, but I really don’t need a competition or validation from anyone or anything to undergo a testament of my true self. I’m not just a wanderer, I’m becoming free; free from the walls in which my mind has placed the key.

To some people, competing gives them validation for all the hard work that they put themselves through. And the number of people, whether or not they belong on stage or not, is growing immensely. I only wish more people could realize that it doesn’t take a competition, or even contest prep, to solidify the accomplishment of getting into shape. I wish more people would recognize that fitness can be a lifestyle without all of the sacrifice; without driving yourself into the ground, sacrificing relationships, missing out on events or memories that can never be relived.

Bottom line is this: there’s nothing wrong with competing, but if you’re going to do it, do it for you. Do it because you want to. Not because you want to spend hours on the elliptical dreaming of the day you can, “go back to being normal”. The process is a real mind fuck, and it has somewhat of a permanent residual effect, which requires time to heal and recover, especially to get back to a good place mentally; to unravel all of the obsessive tendencies and unhealthy habits that develop, which are pretty much inevitable. And when you’re not even competing, you’re still competing. You’re still thinking about food; thinking about what that number on the scale really means. Still studying yourself in the mirror, still taking selfies, still pointing out flaws, still getting plastic surgery, still trying to “feel better” or “waiting for normal to happen again”. It can be an unhealthy transition from contest shape to coming to terms that you can’t walk around depleted, on a low calorie deficit, doing massive amounts of cardio. You just can’t. And that’s a real head twister too. Even the slightest amount of water weight can make you feel all twisted inside; make you feel “fat”.

I want to be in control for once, so instead of giving in, or exerting all of my energy to combat the anxiety, I’m going to say that I’m no longer going to even waste my energy on it. It’s not helping towards my goals so why mess with it. I want to enjoy being fit and healthy. I don’t want to place myself in a box where I’m cornered in and have no say. Simply put, I don’t want to be controlled by fitness, I want to control it. For me, that just works best for my anxious mind. That makes me happy. And what’s better than to do it on my own terms?

When I feel anxious, I want to get annoyed and get pissed off. Like what the fuck are you even doing here? When I’m on the treadmill running my heart out, beads of sweat dripping, my heart pounding, and my adrenaline surging and a panic attack happens, I want to take control and ask it, “what the hell, can’t you see I’m running here?” And I want to run harder to keep pushing it away, burning it so that it drips like sweat from my pores. And if I feel like I’m drifting, like I’m losing the fight, I want to be able to say, “ okay fine you win” without feeling defeated. Yes, I want to be able to have those painful thoughts just so I can remember that I’m being tested; each and every time, I’m being tried and tested. And I’m growing. And I want to feel that pain; feel that growth burning in my lungs, burning throughout my veins. Right there on that treadmill, right there with the weights right above my head; I want to feel like I’m growing and fighting back. And for that, I will be thankful.

 Thankful for my arrival to a place where everything around me will feel different; still scary, yet, new and inviting…

True value and worth have both come to mean something entirely different now. As I stated in my last post, I will not allow anything or anyone to define me. And a fitness competition defines me. It controls me and steers me away from what truly matters, family, faith and overall fitness, health and my wellbeing. Those are what is most important to me.

I’ve said it in previous posts, but I’ll say it again, I’m never going to be fully healed; it’s a battle every single day. Every single time something arises; a new situation, a new journey, I’m always going to be presented with change and uncertainty. I’m always going to have to face this anxiety head on. Yes, even when I’m not looking. This massacre of feelings that keeps me constantly on edge, teaches me something every day. Something new I’ve realized is that I feel anxiety because I long for purpose, or anything really that will allow me to experience fulfillment and value. I need to stop fighting and just ride the wave. The more I resist, the more I doubt myself, the larger the wave becomes. I’m not sinking, but I am almost always close to obscurity from even my own eyes. I need to just take action and quiet that frail and fragile, broken voice from within; to restore and redefine not so much myself, but the importance and purpose of my own life.

And I’m going to do it for me.

 “You are my armor and my sword, my faith and my treasure; everything I’m fighting for.”

-Alice Hoffman

I Cannot Be Defined

I spent the last 4 years in an anxiety-panic driven mind. It’s been hell. Slowly, I’m seeing the light. I’m seeing possibilities. I’m seeking to stretch the limits, push past boundaries from which I’ve enslaved myself in for so long. I’m finding out how to emerge as a more confident and strong woman who has no toes nearing her down. It’s time to swim. And swim hard. No more treading water or fear of sinking. For so long I’ve allowed myself to watch others achieve what I’ve always wanted. I became bitter and resentful but it was my own fault my own entrapment. I hated the world and I hated myself. I looked in the mirror and saw an image. Just an image. Expressionless. Hopeless and fragile. But it was nothing that could actually be broken . I’m fact, to be fixed, it needed to be broken. I needed to feel the damage that had long held me hostage. I needed to break if I wanted to stand tall. If I wanted to be put back together. I didn’t think I could do it. I lived two separate lives. I lived the life where I said don’t allow your anxiety to define you, you are not your anxiety. But then I lived through the guilt, the pain, and sat back and let it suffocate me and take the life out of me and give it to others to have control over. I was angry and felt like dying. I felt like I wasn’t worth anything; I didn’t deserve anything. I was fragile and breakable. I didn’t want to see myself as anything but. I carried around my shackles that were invisible to everyone else but me. I was my own darkness and I made sure to keep my eternal flame from burning too bright. I would always say, “here you win”, and it became something I would say much too often; more than I should have.
I’m not fully healed. But I’m no longer breakable. These feelings of inadequacy will never truly fade, but all I can do is chip away and hope for the day they just completely shatter. So, that’s what I’m doing. Finding myself. Finding out what in the hell I’m so afraid of. Why am I so afraid of it. Searching for a light that isn’t dimmer than me and one day burning brighter than even I can see.
I’ve now just realized that this journey is a redirect away from using the words, anxiety, panic disorder, weak, guilt, and pain; words that I’ve allowed to define me and to consume me. No. I am done. I am a woman who cannot be defined. A woman who is unstoppable and freely taking each breath, each moment and really truly experiencing it all for the first time.

Dust Yourself Off and Try Again.

Last week, I felt so destroyed and so damaged. When is it okay to get fed up? When is it okay to say that you’ve had enough? I mean, why can’t I just surrender and accept that this is how I was created; it’s who I am?  I do realize that when I try to fight it, I am actually denying a huge part of who I am, and yet, I still can’t surrender to this fight that actually gets off on antagonizing me. And while I’m defending myself against the pain that grows deeper and deeper inside of me, I struggle to not feel like a failure. I also struggle to understand and make sense of why I try so hard to convince myself that I have total control over it, when, in fact, over and over, I am actually proven wrong. No, I cannot just rip it out of me like one would rip a weed out of a garden to make room for a growth that’s much more beautiful and serene. So, while it constantly tries to break me down and get me to surrender to it, I get back up and keep fighting. I can recall many moments where I have even struggled to recognize the person standing in front of the mirror, and there are times that I question the shadow that glides alongside my every stride on a day where the sun shines the least in my heart.

But as long as that shadow is there, I know that all of this is very, very real.

At first, I felt failure starting to set in (I fear that the most.).  Then I felt an insurmountable amount of guilt that would go on to rip through my body all day long.

 Panic. More anxiety. Panic. I tried to brush it off.

 With every calorie burned, with every ounce of sweat that dripped from my forehead burning my eyes, I carried on. The anxiety spread and the panic pulsated through my veins, and I couldn’t seem to push it back; I didn’t know how to make it stop. I thought, it’s just how I’m supposed to feel, this is what contest prep is all about. I’ve done it twice before and felt this same exact way, so it was normal.

I wasn’t sleeping; I’d lie awake and cry in pain, and in horror. It felt like I was being shredded to pieces; my insides screamed for mercy. I was jumping out of bed and pacing because in moments where I feel out of control, it somehow seems to be the only logical solution, followed by nights spent crying and waking my husband up, trying to seek reassurance somehow that I wasn’t failing or losing myself. I didn’t want to feel like I was becoming too weak to overcome it. I mean, what reason did I have to complain, give up, or even take a break. People suffered through much more than contest prep and anxiety. What was anxiety anyway? Just another scapegoat ; a crutch; a pass to be let out of the game early? Oh, but it pissed me off. I couldn’t even sit still without feeling restless. And one day to the next, as my cortisol levels were at an all time high, the scale didn’t budge, I mean, it fluctuated, but never any lower than the week before. I was beginning to feel desperate, but not desperate enough to say anything to my coach because I didn’t want to let my guard down. I didn’t want to seem weak. But after a week with no improvement, the email from my coach was out of concern:

 Why wasn’t I losing weight?

Was I being precise with my macros?

 I sat. Staring at it. Taking it all in. The words on the computer started to fade. Cortisol and adrenaline rushing through my body like a reflex. I knew why the scale wasn’t moving, I knew why, but I just didn’t want to admit it. I didn’t want it to be real. But as I stared at that email, I knew that if I was going to continue to make progress, now was the time to conquer the demon head on. I had to be honest, and not just with my coach, but with myself.

 True success doesn’t happen from being dishonest.

 I clicked the reply button and began to slowly type out how I have been feeling to my coach. I didn’t want any sympathy, I just wanted a solution.
Still….I thought if I wasn’t struggling and suffering; if I wasn’t feeling miserable, anxious and hungry than I wasn’t working hard enough. I wasn’t being strong enough.

 Okay, Megan…enough is enough. I have to get out of this funk. When you feel sorry for yourself, you dismiss all of the parts that make you who you are. That’s giving up; that’s letting failure come out on top.

 I hit the send button. I’m not one to give up. I’m not one to not finish something, especially if I feel passionate enough about it. When you really, truly want something, you will fight like hell for it.

 Hey, we’re all suffering here. We’re all trying to become better than who we once were…who we currently are. We all have our demons, our moments when we’re not feeling our best. Heck, maybe you smile all the time, but the only thing you truly feel inside is a clenched fist wrapped around your heart. I urge you to address it. To write about it, talk about it, share it because the truth is, if you hold it all inside of you, it’s only dimming the light that has the potential to shine and reflect so bright inside and out of you.

The great thing about life, is that you always have an opportunity to start over; the choices you made yesterday, the guilt that might have consumed you before you said goodnight and crawled into bed to stare at the ceiling or laid in bed to subconsciously listen to the faint sound of the ceiling fan, the hurt you might have endured from not feeling good enough or at the expense of others who may not be happy with themselves, all have to succumb to the darkness of nightfall. And it’s all up to you to either let it all go or carry the burden with you into the light of a brand new day.

Your choice. Always.

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Catch Me If You Can

My heart.

Pounding.

My head.

Crawling with hopelessness.

Rejection.

Fear.

Anxiety….there it is again…grabbing a hold of me; endearing, nurturing, yet so..so…stifling. And I needed to get rid of it.

I laced up my running shoes, tightening them, squeezing the top of my foot. I wanted everything tight. Extremely tight. Because that’s how I felt. My neck ached, my arms and legs wanted to sever themselves from my body and leave me vacant. I took a sip of my water and prepared to run. My mind taunted me. Antagonized me. Laughed at me. And I felt it. Every last whisper. But I was determined. I headed over to the bleachers, and slowly jogged up and down until my legs lit up and lifted me two stairs, three stairs at a time. My heart rate was skyrocketing, beads of sweat stung my eyes, burning them; I squeezed them shut. And I ran. And I ran. I was out of breath, but I kept going. I looked at my watch. Five minutes. That’s it? Discouraged, I took off towards the high school track and broke into a sprint. My heart climbing with very leap and stroke of my foot scratching the surface of the track. I heard voices and laughter. What the fuck. Shit. I didn’t realize the time. School was over. A group of high school boys broke into a slow jog. I almost left, but I needed this; I needed to overcome this anxiety building up inside of me. Approaching them, I felt my legs slowing down, my feet pounding the track; I felt tense.  Them just being there. I started to feel like I didn’t belong. And in a sense, I didn’t. It was right after school; their running time. Their track. Not mine. But I inhaled the fumes from my anxious mind, shut out their locker room humor and darted past them, pumping my legs until I felt like I was on a tarmac ready for take off; sprinting until my legs burned hotter than the sun; hotter than the air in my lungs, and the fire inside of my mind. Suddenly, from the distance, I saw a team of high school girls approaching the track. What the fuck. No. I’m not going to leave. Not now. Not yet anyway. I pushed harder. I jogged and then I ran. Hard. Balls to the wall. I was a jet in flight. A freight train. I passed them. I passed everyone. I wasn’t part of their track team, but I came to beat something; to fight for something. And then my gym boss timer went off. I was done. Done. And I had beat it. Beat the anxiety right out of me. It was over. It was time to go home.

There’s a story in each and everyone of us, you just have to have the will to stay part of it. 

 

 

 

 

Power of Contest Prep

 

To my anxiety-ridden mind:

I know that if I set up something far in advance, I become overwhelmed with you and just unwillingly, sabotage myself ahead of time…

I was doing fine, I set my own diet and followed it, didn’t have cravings, didn’t have the need to constantly go out to eat for greasy food or sugary treats. I was cutting my own weight and doing fine. Once a week, on the weekend, I’d go out to dinner with my husband and that was the extent of it. I felt better, I didn’t have the feeling of being hungry, I was committed and I felt strong. Everyday I woke up with determination and set out to become even better and stronger than the day before; to get that much closer to my goals. Whatever that was. No. I mean it. I didn’t have a goal to drive towards. I was just kind of idling day by day, conflicted and tortured by my own anxiety. I wanted to compete in a figure competition again, but I didn’t want to say “Ok I’m doing it”. Just like that. No, that made me feel too much. Besides, I felt like I was just setting myself up for failure once I spoke about it out loud. If I just kept it quiet and shifted it back into my own head, no one would know, and I wouldn’t feel pressured or anxious. It was my way of maintaining control; or at least I like to think so.

Once I made a commitment, I felt like I lost control and relinquished to some unknown bleak hole that would rupture my very existence; my little bubble that I often contained myself in for fear of treading on anything that might make my mind explode and reel with anxiety; send me into a panic attack because of the secrets I would have to keep so no one would or could judge me or criticize me, or even just sabotage my goal because they didn’t want to see me succeed. Oh but that was me. Right now. All the time. That’s me. So I guess in a way if I don’t speak about my goals, then it’s not really there. But if I take it day by day, than I can better control it all.

The other day, I relinquished control to an online coach for contest prep. Twelve weeks in advance of a figure competition. It started out with a simple email and erupted into a full blown commitment. Right away, I went into panic mode, trying to find a way to make adjustments already; adjustments so that I could maintain some kind of control. But since Saturday, when I submitted the final information and payment, I cannot stop eating. It takes him a couple days to get my custom plan together, so until then I have been thinking of ways to sabotage myself. Apprarently.

I’ve been on a non-stop binge fest. I’m having cravings and urges to go out to eat all the time now. For every meal.

I look in the refrigerator and see food and just want to devour it. I rationalize my behavior; try to soothe my mind. I’ve literally been fighting the urge to just keep bingeing. Part of me says it doesn’t matter, it’s just food, and it’s not going to hinder my goals. But the other part of me reminds me that success doesn’t come from excuses or rationalizations. But, I just want to have control.

Not only that, but I automatically have become consumed with so many antagonizing thoughts and worries that it literally feels like they are taking the very breath from deep within my heart and the lack of oxygen is so undeniably debilitating. I freeze at the thought of being asked to go to lunch with a friend or to go anywhere. And subconsciously, I isolate myself and place limitations in front of me that might otherwise be a challenge or a test of true worth or true strength. Maybe I’m afraid of the answer… I’m almost afraid to question it or to go up against it. It’s fear. I know that. It’s a lack of control. I know that there are options but it doesn’t matter in those moments when I set out to achieve something. It’s like getting in the car and purposely taking the wrong turns or inadvertently making sure that you just keep going in one big circle as long as you know you’ll end up where you started. But I want so much more. I feel it. I mean I can really feel it. It’s like a bleeding wound that burns with even the slightest amount of pressure. It feels like an attack. If you try to cover it up or dress it in bandages, it’ll just seep through or either that it’ll just dissolve the bandage making it as nonexistent as my confidence or self worth. That’s the problem I have very little self worth. I think everyone else deserves much, much more than me, and if I could I’d  be willing to give it all to them. Whether I knew them or not. And then I see these people who didn’t really notice me before or probably more likely I didn’t notice, asking me to do things, go to lunch and I look at them as challenges and obstacles that are trying to block me in my attempt from going any further when even I know deep down inside that’s the biggest lie; the biggest flaw of them all.

When I feel a loss of control; I freeze up. My body won’t move. There’s an external force that cannot be reckoned with. Over and over my mind tries to bludgeon the anxiety from my mind, and to tell you the truth, it works for a little while. Just a little while. And if you understand, then you know that you just have to keep fighting; have to keep yourself guarded, not against the world, but from your own mind. You’d understand that you cannot just walk out on your own skin; your own mind. Your body will scream like it’s beckoning anxiety and pain, but we have to remember that we’re so much larger than that. Than any of it.

We are strong enough to rise and succeed. We’ll always find a way to reach another step; another goal. And I know. I know because I did it. I seem to always find my way to the center of my goal; the center of my fear that is engulfed with the belief that I can overcome anything. And so can you. Because if u don’t do it, someone else is going to. Someone else is going to be living your dream; your life. And that control that we may so desperately cling to and think we have is going to turn into feeling of hopelessness, regret, and instead of living you’re just going to be dying. Your just going to fall into darkness and that will transfer into anger. So don’t let fear stop you; the unknown prevent you from living. And not because we have to; not because you think you don’t need to or that you have to give up control. And not because you don’t consider yourself as worthy or deserving.
Besides, I guess we’re not really controlling much when we are losing and surrendering to our anxieties; our fears and doubts. No, I guess we don’t have control if were being suffocated by fear. Fear controls us. And we need to stop it.

So here I go again. Round three to the stage.

Let’s Get Off Our Ass and Let’s Be Honest With Ourselves.

 

I resist change. I can’t help it. I’m pretty sure that you’re all aware that I’m human by now. I swear the older that I get, the more structure I need. I guess now I understand why my grandmother started eating dinner at 2 in the afternoon and staying in the kitchen with her cup of tea before retreating to the living room to watch tv until it was time for bed. Yep. Like clockwork. Every single day.

I’ve realized that I spend too much time or a lack thereof, thinking about how I can make things that seem challenging much more simple. I think about how I can take the fear away and just overcome the challenge…and then once I find the way, I keep doing it over and over again, but unfortunately, since the challenge is no longer in the way and fear no longer exists, anything new that comes along to change what I now have deemed comfortable, causes me anxiety and irrational behavior. But I went into this with determination and the will to want a stronger body and stronger mind, and I know that in order to continue to change this body that I’ve been given; to change this mind that I’ve been given, I need to erase the fear and see any challenge as an opportunity to grow and to allow myself to exceed my original belief of what I considered was my potential. To continue to ignore the fact that in order to grow; in order to make progress, I need to seek change rather than to sit and wait for someone or something to change me is only to continue to be dishonest with myself and to live in fear and a state of unhappiness. I need to be honest with myself and figure out what I could do to become better than I was yesterday. Better than I was a year ago; in body and in mind. And no one is going to do it for me.

So this week, I promised myself to approach my workouts at the gym differently. You see, the fear I have is that if I make a change in my diet or workout plan, even if it’s not drastic, I am going to lose what I have spent time building since the beginning. And even though I have the knowledge, it’s often hard to be objective with myself. It just is. And hey, if you have that power or ability, kudos to you, but I fear that I will end up looking like that skinny girl who people came up to and asked, “Are you okay, you’re so skinny…” I get upset if I wake up in the morning and don’t look as full as I did the day before. I think “shit, my muscles are smaller” when I know the truth from competing in fitness competitions; from experience, mine and others. I knew the why; I just didn’t want to give it any merit or attention. We are, after all talking about my own reflection; what it is that I see in the mirror. I’ve been on a “bulk” for ages now. Every time I would look in the mirror, I didn’t like what I saw, I would pull back from my diet and binge just so I could maintain the fullness in the muscle. I knew that I couldn’t lose muscle that quickly, but for some reason, I couldn’t convince my own mind.

I was obviously still living in my early thirties, where my metabolism was a lot faster than it is at the ripe age of 36! Haha. So I was training and eating like I was when I first started, ignoring the fact that I didn’t even have the body that I did when I first started training. So, I took Sunday off and thought about how I can get out of my comfort zone and challenge myself further; step out of my box and face some more fears. (even though changing things up was challenge enough); I promised myself that I was going to let go of any fears and anxiety that I may have and just do it. Change something. My workout. It’ll just be for the week, I reminded myself, just for one week. I’m used to doing legs, shoulders, etc, a 6 day split with a little bit of cardio mixed in. This week, however, I wanted to focus on strength and the workouts this week have been focusing on NOT overloading the same muscle group all in one day. Well, it’s killing me. I mean, killlllinnnggg me. Like I said, it’s like a whole separate battle to fight. But, I know I need a change if I want to get stronger and better; to see the results I want; to progress further. It’s hard work, mentally and physically, and requires a lot of patience and faith, but I know that with challenge comes change.

I guess we all get in a routine because we all become too afraid to deviate from a program that we have become comfortable with, and any workout is better than none at all, right? I guess we all need someone to walk around to slap us to remind us that we need to change what we’re doing in order to progress and continue to make changes. But we’re creatures of habit; we crave direction and a routine, and yes, oddly enough, even if that means staying in one place.

We have to remind ourselves that we went into this seeking a change with sheer determination and a fight that existed in us so deep that we were willing to do what it took to make our fitness goals happen? Remember how it felt when you saw that first small change? Remember how great you felt, how alive you felt and how you craved more? Well, when did we just stop craving more? What happened? What the hell happened? I mean, why should we just come to a complete stop when everyone and everything else is still moving along? Come on, we’re more than that, we deserve more, much more than just a ticket on a one stop train. I know we just can’t help ourselves; once we’re in it, it’s hard to see what we might be neglecting or in need of because we think we have it all, and as long as we’re happy with our current state, that’s all that matters. I know because I live it. We always find a way to compare ourselves to others and we ask the same questions over and over again, expecting the answer to be, “keep doing whatever it is that you’re doing.” But that’s not the truth and deep down we know that, but are afraid to leap and take a chance.

For the week coming up, I ask you to reflect on what you’ve been doing and really ask yourself what you could work on and make that your goal. I promise that you can go back to what you were doing before, but you probably won’t want to. I’d like to hear what you’re going to do to challenge yourself this week. Let me know in the comments section!

Post from my Instagram account @meglifts

Post from my Instagram account @meglifts

 

 

 

 

 

Challenge Meets Challenge

Before I set out to get my personal training certification, I would have underestimated the power of how much of another person’s life can affect your own. We are all ridden with our own insecurities, ailments, limitations (most of the time more so mentally than physically) that we suffer from; that we hold onto and quietly allow them to saturate our minds and bodies until they make us feel paralyzed. Once we become aware of ourselves, we tend to place even more limitations and restrictions on ourselves, and very rarely are willing to step out of our comfort zone. Yes, even if we’re already uncomfortable, because even when we’re uncomfortable, most of us can still find comfort in our own current state of discomfort. Understandably so, it’s familiar to us. And even though some of us suffer in silence, we are still afraid to open ourselves up to change.

For a long time, after the college degree, I found myself becoming remarkably absent and unmoved from life in general. I had grown tired of constantly trying to discover “who I was”, and while I was desperately trying to savor any possibility of discovering who I really was or was supposed to be, I found myself slowly collapsing rather than rising to any sort of podium that would scream success. I was in place where it felt dark all of the time and at that point, going to the gym became my saving grace; it became something to look forward to; to be able to at least allow me to feel something; anything.  It was something I used to challenge myself, mentally and physically. It became more of a test mentally rather than physically because lifting weights seemed to defeat any self doubt or fear that might have been lingering around, waiting for me to reach back and grab onto it for one last fall.

Everyday was a new challenge, a new workout; one more day of hope and one more moment of feeling alive and present, and the best part was that no one could take it away from me.

My passion for fitness was never tested and I soon knew how desperately I wanted to share it with others; I just didn’t expect to feel even more motivated, more challenged by the work that the people who I would spend an hour with would put in. Each one of them was so unique and had a different story to tell; a different kind of shadow haunting them; chasing them and some were so willing to lay it all out on the gym room floor, beads of sweat dripping out of their pores, making me feel like I was someone to believe in just as much as I believed in them.  And I knew, right there that I wanted to be more than just someone who told you how to lose weight; someone who would put you through some vigorous workout that I knew that you might not be able to even achieve, not because I didn’t think you were capable, only that I knew the limitation; the mental barrier that needed to be torn down in order to move forward.

It has become much more than just a scheduled time, a scheduled workout. No. It was about earning trust and lending support. It was to help them destroy defeat rather than feel defeated.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is, if you’re thinking about becoming a personal trainer because you want to change lives; you want to help people lose weight, feel better, understand that you’re life will be changed as well, you will grow, and you will have to accept that you don’t necessarily know everything. You will have to understand that clients are people not science experiments, not a number or an outcome. No. They are much more than that. They are relationships, life changers, life savers, fighters, and while they hired you, that doesn’t mean that they are going to trust you right away, so don’t expect to throw some numbers at them, or change their entire method of living or diet the very first time you meet with them.

So, again, if you’re thinking about becoming a personal trainer because you know how to get a six pack or a reduction in body weight, that’s only short term for them. Are you prepared to set them up for the long term? Are you prepared to give them the tools necessary to achieve success and overcome obstacles even when you’re not with them? Are you willing to create a plan that challenges them emotionally, mentally and physically? To help them feel confident, strong, and healthier for the rest of their life? Even after you stop working with them?