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

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?

It’s About Time You Be You

You probably hate being called “fat”. Or even a little overweight. Well, you know what I hate? I hate being called “skinny”. I hated it back in school and I hated it when I first started working out and was losing too much weight. Yea. There is such a thing. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. No one body type is superior to the other.

Then there is the body sculpted with muscle, and women get criticized, “it looks too manly”, “gross” and “unnatural”.  I remember I encountered a man who told me not to “lift too much more weight, you don’t want to look like a man” or the man who told me to “not lift heavy, I’m a girl…” Ok. Well, I was hurt. What did they know? That’s when I realized no one is ever going to be happy with how I look, so why should I care? I need to do it for me. Do what makes me feel great.  

There are so many diets, exercise techniques, training methods and theories out there; you just have to find what works for your body type, and not what someone else thinks your body type should be.

Find someone you could trust to help you.

I’ve spent my time at both ends of the scale; I never really focused on a “body type” until I got to the gym, and then I kind of let others decide that for me; with their unwanted criticism of course. 

When I first started working out, and hearing people tell me I was “too skinny,” I’d get anxious,  and I’d go on a binge; eating anything and everything. Then I would feel guilty, which made me restrict my calories even more for the next week or so, and workout even more. It took me awhile to discover what I truly wanted to look like and what I needed to do to achieve it. It took me awhile to come into my own skin, and I’m not going to lie and say that I have it all figured out yet. There are some days where I look in the mirror and like what is happening with my body, and then there are times where I want to gain more muscle, or get leaner.

It’s a swinging pendulum and it never stops.

And that’s why I feel it inside and out of me to help other people overcome their “body issues”; their insecurities that make them afraid to walk into a weight room or even a gym because they are afraid people are judging them…

Or that the mirrors that line the walls of every gym make them feel mocked and ridiculed…

Or that “someone” who’s already made you self-conscious of yourself; defined who you ought to be, and now you can no longer see through all that smoke to see just how capable you really are.  

We’ve all been there.

I want everyone to know that you’re in their somewhere; the real you, and everyone else is waiting for you to reveal yourself, and they’re just as scared as you are. It’s your best kept secret and by holding it in, you’re holding yourself back, and allowing everyone else to keep marching on. Without you of course.

There are so many people around you that see your true potential and they may just be threatened. So they make you feel sad. They define you, condemn you, and make you lie awake at night searching for the answers so that you can finally win the battle that is going on inside your head. It’s you versus them. But it’s affecting YOU not THEM. No one else. And it’s time that you made it about you.

It’s time for, YOU versus YOU.  Don’t allow yourself to be someone else; don’t allow yourself to be their reflection in the mirror. It’s all you baby. Let’s do this together.

Perfection Is Quite Ugly

I am sorry, but as a personal trainer, I cannot and will not guarantee that you’ll have an hourglass figure. I can’t promise you that you will have a “coke bottle body” or you won’t lose your breasts once you lose weight. And I’m also not going to lie and tell you that losing weight by “any means necessary” is not going to potentially cause you to have sagging, loose skin, and/or various health problems. I’m not going to advocate for fast weight loss or a quick diet to get you to your “goal weight”.  I don’t believe in a goal weight. We are all different, and your goal weight is when you feel the most energy; when you feel alive inside and out, when your skin is glowing and you’re happy and content.

 The only goals that I believe in are the small steps that provide you with the tools to improve your health and your life. If the side effect of that happens to be fitting into clothes that you never were able to before, then that is a bonus.  

 I am, however, going to keep my promise that you can gain strength, balance, flexibility; and overall the ability to depend on yourself, so when your children are all grown up and move to another state to start their own lives, you won’t feel so alone; you will not ever feel defeated or like giving up. You will have independence, confidence, and a boost in your self esteem as well as pride and love within yourself.

 I will also tell you that it’s the way a person twists their torso at the right angle, in the right lighting, and sometimes with just the right app, that they look “perfect”;  you look at them and see an illusion of  “a perfect body”, “perfect boobs”, “perfect butt,” “perfect abs, hips, legs” etc.

 I’m not going to allow you to believe that cellulite is going to completely vanish overnight. I cannot make those guarantees or promises. I will not lie. What I can and will promise you is through hard work and dedication, and of course sheer determination, you will and can achieve what someone else may call “their perfect body” But you will never be happy. You will probably still ridicule that reflection looking back at you.  

 Did you also know that it’s the way a person flexes in the mirror right before they snap a picture under the right lighting that makes their abs or muscle tone more defined and sculpted?  Sure, it also depends on proper nutrition and exercising, but it’s also genetics, lighting, and quite possibly the latest and coolest app. That may make them look oh so perfect. Or close to it.

 I know, because I am guilty of all of that. I am not yet vulnerable enough to put myself out there in a raw unedited image of myself. I am not comfortable with the cellulite that covers the back of my legs and makes me wince whenever I see a woman posing in a scantily clad bikini with absolutely no cellulite whatsoever. But I do my best, and I am proud of what I have accomplished through changing my eating habits and exercising. No one can ever take that away from me.  

 Perfection is unrealistic, yet so many of us spend so much time damaging and distorting our bodies and ourselves to try and alter our physical appearance, when all it’s really doing is causing us to suffer in silence as we allow it to destroy ourselves emotionally, mentally, and psychologically.

 All in all, perfection is quite ugly.

Who We Are In The Mirror

Who are you?

Do you say that when you look into the mirror? Does your reflection scare you, intimidate you, and make you look away? Maybe it’s the way you think others see you, or maybe it’s just how you envision others will see you.

You know you can change, you know the path, but life keeps steering you off that path and leading you in different directions, making you look in different mirrors, laughing at you through different angles. Eventually the lights become so bright, and you begin to think that if they just go easy on the lights; maybe dim them just a little bit; it wouldn’t even matter who you are, what you look like…you could even be anonymous.

Who we are in the mirror, is just a glimpse of what our insecurities tell us who we are.

A six pack, a flat stomach, doesn’t define you; sculpted shoulders or legs doesn’t create you or make you more valuable. It’s your health, your wisdom and your quirks. Whether you’re neurotic or just like to be free and have a good time, the mirror isn’t going to tell you that. The mirror isn’t going to tell you whether or not you’re healthy or unhealthy. It’s not going to reflect an image that is going to be life altering; life changing.

In that mirror, your reflection doesn’t tell the story that hides behind your eyes; your skin. No. You have to just learn to turn your back to the mirror, turn your back to the scale; remind yourself that a mirror or scale isn’t going to reveal the inside beauty that you have within. No one can tell you what to look like on the inside, only you can control that. You have the power. You are in control. It doesn’t matter if you have loose skin or cellulite; you’re doing the best that you can. Just do me a favor and let the inner beauty that you hold inside of you; the inner beauty that shines right through and captures every single light and makes someone laugh and smile; the beauty that could make a person’s day; just promise me that you’ll take care of that.

Promise me that you will try your best to never allow a poor diet or lack of exercise steal that shine away from you or from others way too soon.

Remember that your inner beauty is more important than your outer beauty, so nurture it and never, ever think that you’re not good enough just because you don’t have flat abs, wear a certain pant size, or look a certain way.

Release any doubts that may be holding you back.

Don’t starve yourself, don’t overindulge all the time, don’t drink excessively, don’t give up on yourself, I’m here for you. I need you. Someone needs you. Anything too extreme or anything deemed unhealthy just dims the light you hold within, and robs you of the life you should be living and it can and will kill you. Eventually. And maybe way too soon.

22 Facts Personal Trainers Want You To Know

Personal Trainer’s Creed

If you are overweight, your body is already under stress from your own bodyweight. Extreme diets can lead to added stress to the body, which makes you more prone/susceptible to injury etc; you will not be able to function at your best.

Don’t do so much cardio that you wreak more havoc on your body. Doing a ton of long cardio is not going to change you permanently; it’s only going to put more physical and psychological stress on your body in the long run (no pun intended).

Same thing with weights, don’t just train with weights. You do need some cardio to keep your metabolism functioning effectively.

Losing weight slowly is the best way to prevent muscle loss

You’re feelings are warranted. Everyone feels like a failure when they first begin, however, you can’t fail at something you don’t allow ample time to develop. That’s called giving up, not failing.

Everyone has feelings of insecurity.  Comparison is a hard thing to avoid. At least everyone wants to be “that guy” or “that girl”, but you can’t change who you are, you can only change what you think you are You are different. You are you. And most likely someone else is looking at you and wishes they were you too.

Improvement of any kind, that takes time, dedication and lots of hard work, but you can do it.

I believe you when you tell me that it’s impossible to look like “that” because I don’t even know what “that” looks like.  And quite frankly, neither do you.

I will listen to you, laugh with you, and share with you. But when it’s time to workout, it’s time to move your body, not your vocal chords.

I believe you when you tell me that you can’t do it. Obviously, you wouldn’t be standing here looking for a solution. However, if you’re not looking for help and you are saying that, I believe you only because you refuse to allow it to happen. You are the only one stopping yourself from yourself.

Everyone knows how to workout and exercise, but when you look at yourself and are unhappy with what you see, you must make a change. Unfortunately, you tend to call in the entire squat team rather than just the police. Interpretation: you tend to do drastic, unhealthy things to your body.

I know that the only reason why you scoff at my beliefs and passion for fitness and health is simply because you’re not ready for change. But you haven’t admitted that to yourself yet.

I also know that I am never going to convince you, you’re going to have to want it more than I do.

It is not unrealistic to look and feel healthy after you’ve had children, after you turn 30, after you’ve gotten married, or once you establish a career.

I understand that you believe that I am obsessed with working out and eating properly; that I must be nuts, that it’s unrealistic to maintain, or that you think that it gives people a way to have “control” you are wrong. It is a way to fight back and stop the things that have control over you. It’s a way to prevent the things that you fear the most from controlling you; it’s about going out and creating a change.

Exercising and eating healthy is empowering, once you see even the slightest transformation, you feel confident and powerful.

You can lift more than just five lbs. you aren’t going to break. You don’t give yourself enough credit for the empowering, challenging things you have already achieved in your life no matter how big or small.

Always be prepared to fight; don’t wait until you have a battle to win. It’s okay if you don’t win as long you still have the ability to still fight.

Do everything with purpose. Do everything like you mean it. Run with purpose, walk with purpose. Remind yourself that you have purpose.

It’s okay to NOT deprive yourself all of the time.

Group Fitness classes are fun, allow you to practice coordination, balance, and gain strength, but it doesn’t cater to individuality; it’s a one size fits all approach.

It’s not about the money. It’s about you and your transformation.

Quick Holiday Workout

It’s hard to stay on course with good eating habits and exercise when you’re inundated with the stress and excitement from the holidays. It doesn’t help that temptation from cookies and other sweets smother you with their sweet aroma, some beautifully decorated with bows and gift wrap, presented as a thoughtful gift or at a simple get together.

It’s hard not to get wrapped up in holiday traditions; to revel in the small moments that capture us for a lifetime and lure us in for everlasting memories. It’s easy to eat cookies and enjoy great food with great people, knowing that you can always start tomorrow or the next day with those resolutions that will probably make or break you.
And let’s not forget the frustration that you feel if you’re wallet is a lot lighter, but you may not be. And let’s be real, stress certainly doesn’t make getting those few extra pounds you may have gained over the holidays any easier.

So let’s start simple.

Instead of plunging right in, ready to start counting calories, restricting what you eat, and killing yourself on the treadmill or outside in an attempt to beat the bulge, start simple. Begin with drinking more water as a way to “jumpstart” your system; to get it to start functioning at its highest level again.

By drinking more water, it will help restore balance of body fluids, restore your skin’s appearance as well as your hair, better nutrient and mineral absorption, which means that your organs don’t have to work as hard if they’re getting an adequate water supply, and helps get your metabolism working properly again. It’s like giving your insides a bath.

It can be difficult to jump into a fat loss program with the holidays still buzzing in the air, and I don’t think the stress or excitement is going to die down anytime soon, but this quick workout should be just enough to keep your internal fire burning those extra calories. And all that is required is your body weight (and maybe your purse) No gym required. So grab your water bottle and Let’s Do It!!

Complete 3-4 rounds of 20 reps.

Jumping Jack Squats
To do: 1 full jumping jack, at the bottom of second jumping jack (when feet are spread wide apart) jump into a squat. Return to starting position (feet together) pause then repeat. 20 reps

Switch lunges into a pushup
To do: Alternating jump lunges (you could also lunge forward, return to starting position, lunge forward with alternating leg) After lunge on each side, back to start position (feet together) and then jump down complete one pushup. Return to start. 10 reps each side

Squats with lateral walk and overhead press
To do: Grab your purse Ladies!!! Place feet shoulder width apart, toes out slightly, hold purse in front of you. Squat down and as you come up reach purse overhead. Step to the side and repeat. 10 reps to the right and 10 reps to the left.

Ab crunch
To do: Lie down on your back, bend knees, feet flat on the floor, cross hands behind head or in front of chest. Lift head and shoulders off the floor, hold for one or two seconds. Back to start and repeat for 20 reps. Challenge: Lie down on back, legs in air, lift head and shoulders off of floor, and with arms extended, reach up towards feet.

If you do it, feel free to post the time it took or let me know your thoughts in the comments section below!!

I Am an Addict

I’m an addict. I sweat. I suffer from withdrawals. I feel pain. And I feel weak without it.

I’m an addict.

It feeds me adrenaline. It wakes me up inside. It makes me feel strong… And powerful.

I can do anything, I am unstoppable. I am an addict.

I become miserable without it. I have mood swings. I need it; it’s my only drug.

Weight lifting.

Feeling the weight of another rep; overcoming it… defeating it. Pushing hard. Through the sweat. The pain.  I do it over and over. Again and again.  I love it; the noise; the sound of the weight against the machine, the grunts of power and pride of lifting another rep; doing another set. Control. Failure is not an option. Progressing is; seeing change. I need it. Feel it. Breathe it. I am an addict.

We are all addicts. Addicts of something.

Or maybe you’re not.

 But, we all want something to make us happy; something to make us forget our pain, hurt, and anger. Just for a little while. Rather than succumb to feelings of helplessness, we may want to become numb, and just keep moving instead of dwelling on it.

But sometimes, the fear is so deep within us, that we ultimately lose consciousness of our surroundings. We may take steps and use words, when, in reality, we’re not really concentrating on what we’re actually saying or doing. But no one can tell. No one can tell, because we hide it so well. We’re used to it. At least that’s what we tell ourselves.

We all need an outlet to be ourselves; to let loose all of things that are casting shadows around us. Without judgment. Without fear.

I go to the gym. That’s my place. My time to feel peaceful and hopeful.  Feel powerful rather than helpless. I feel that if I can just overcome one more rep, force it up, defeat what is trying so hard to bring me down; to fall or stumble; to know that if I let it go, drop it, it could leave me severely injured, but if I could lift it against the force of gravity, then I could fight back and overcome a lot more. Sometimes it’s difficult when it hits so close to home. It becomes more than just a metaphorical dumbbell or barbell that you’re trying to overcome and resist against. And sometimes, you don’t have a single clue as to what to do to fix things and make it better, and all you have are these videos flashing through your mind on fast forward; giving you tiny glimpses of what you’re so damned afraid of. No stopping, no pausing, just heart beating, skin crawling, loud clamoring adrenaline pumping, hard-core-drop-and-give-me-100 frightening situations that’s either going to control you or be controlled.

Because you just have to keep going and try to keep up. There is no other choice; it’s not going to stop just because you do.

You’re just going to have to overcome defeat, get back up and get ready to tackle the world from every angle.