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

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?

How to Eat Better; the Affordable Way.

With so little time on our hands these days, it’s hard to be the exact epitome of health. With so much going on, and so little downtime, we’re often overtired, overstressed, and just plain overwhelmed to even consider the thought of carefully selecting healthier options by reading labels more carefully. No instead, we’re usually just waiting for the microwave or oven timer to beep to deliver a prepackaged meal or waiting in the drive thru frantically checking the time. I wouldn’t be surprised if on most days you spend learning (and struggling) with the new common core curriculum that’s eased its way into schools around the country. Or you probably just have to rush right out the door as soon as your child gets home from school, have them complete their homework later, and try to make it to sports practice or dance rehearsals or maybe even just a school function.

Long gone are the days of having cookies and milk after school was considered the only processed food you might have had, which in that case, wasn’t so bad. But even as we’re forced to acknowledge the ever growing rate of obesity in this nation, more and more meals are rolling out of the microwave and into our mouths.

People think they can’t afford “healthy” and why shouldn’t they?  They feel overwhelmed when they walk into a grocery store and are quickly discouraged when the have filled up their grocery carts with what looks to be enough for only a couple meals, but for an entire family, only to find out the total comes to well over their budget. Then they realize that they actually have less for the same budget they had before they made the choice to “eat healthy”, which results in people doing what they can afford; eating less calories, skipping meals, or just not doing it at all. Ever notice that it’s easier to find a coupon for a processed dinner such as “Weight Watchers” or “Healthy Choice”, rather than any other staple that would be more than likely a far better choice.  People do want to lose weight, they do want to look better, feel better, live better, but they’re stuck not with lack of information but with limited resources to make that change.

So I’m going to dispel a few of what I consider “myths” and just society being, well, self-absorbed and what is often said, “Keeping up with the Jones”.

You may have heard all the hype circling in health and fitness communities about Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, but that’s what it is; Hype. Don’t walk away from getting fit and healthy because you can’t even afford to just lurk around at those grocery stores without feeling like you need a guest pass.

A membership to BJ’s or other wholesale club is extremely helpful. Or if you don’t have one close to you, Wal-Mart is just as good as any to find healthy, inexpensive food. BJ’s even offers coupons for healthier options. I have a membership at BJ’s and I have literally knocked $400-$500 off of my grocery bill each month. They normally offer coupons for top brands such as Eggland’s Best Egg Whites, Greek Yogurt, Chicken, Fish etc.

Healthy doesn’t only equate to organic foods. No, it’s doing the best you can, with what you know and more importantly, what you can afford. It also doesn’t equate to bland and boring meals either. I’m not going to claim I’m Martha Stewart in the kitchen or that I deserve my own cooking show, no, that’ll go to my husband, but I know there’s a lot of you who know how to work the kitchen. In fact, you may even discover or rediscover the passion of cooking and creating meals. You never know.

But for me, I don’t enjoy cooking. I just want to eat. I love to eat. So, spices are my friend. And you can find spices at the Dollar Store. And at BJ’s or Wal-mart.Okay so look I know that fresh vegetables and fruit are what some consider to be the best choices, but buying them are expensive enough, so to buy them, bring them home and have them spoil too soon can be frustrating. Makes me want to scream actually… Especially if you’re struggling to pay bills and eat healthy, the last thing you want to do is see your hard earned money go in the garbage.  I know various nutritional sources will inform you that frozen and canned may lack the same nutritional value, but there are also some that will tell you the opposite, so I go with what I can afford for my entire family. (Besides, according to those same sources, if you purchase fresh vegetables and boil as opposed to steam them, you lose the nutrients anyway.)

As for fruit, I do buy fresh bananas, but only what I know will be consumed. I usually purchase frozen fruit such as blueberries and other kinds of berries. (They just last longer that way.)  And if you’re wondering what to do with frozen fruit? Try heating them up and putting them in your oatmeal or cereal, or you can even add the frozen fruit to plain Greek yogurt, freeze it, and enjoy as a frozen dessert!

For water and the environment, I take advantage of Primo, the water cooler system. I buy the 5 gallon water jug and once it runs out, I just recycle and get a new one! I have a couple of those shaker bottles as well as flip-top water bottles to carry around with me. Believe me, drinking bottled water can become very expensive!

Now, I’m not going to pretend that I’m the World’s Healthiest Mom and that I deserve an award for feeding my kids all organic, all natural foods. Please! I still buy my kids snacks, but I try to choose snacks that are only minimally processed, and don’t have 10 different ingredients that sound more like a science experiment gone bad. I do try to stick to just buying chicken, fish in bulk, but for the kids, I will keep pizza rolls, hot dogs, and frozen pierogies in the freezer to have once in awhile. It is okay, to still live after all.

Besides, I’m not going to preach to you about restriction, I’m going to tell you that if you want to reach a goal, or just feel better; improve your health, you can do it. There are plenty of fad diets most are willing to follow for a pretty hefty price, mostly because there is so much misinformation about what you have to do to look and feel better.

Choose you. All day, every day; for a life time. Always.

Images Speak Louder Than Words…

Has anyone read this father’s letter to his daughter written by, Dr. Kelly Flanagan, a clinical psychologist?

First, I would like to point out that I thoroughly enjoy his writing (his letters to his daughter). His letters provide insight to a world that he has already discovered, and he wishes to protect and warn his daughter about all of the deep dark secrets of the world that we now live in before she becomes tainted.

I do admire his intention of trying to make his daughter learn that “it’s on the inside that counts”. In fact, I applaud him for giving a damn. I understand the message behind it and I congratulate him on instilling a solid foundation of self worth and self respect within his little girl.

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Author: Samantha Towle

 Book: Trouble

In a recent article circling the Internet, Dr. Kelly Flanagan, writes about the powerful impact that the words and phrases that grace the cover of magazines have on how women define their worth. “Words have power…” he states. It’s a good read with some great points, however, aside from the obvious fact that these are just target words that marketers use to persuade the consumer to buy the magazine. From my experience, actions and images have a much more powerful meaning than words can ever have.

In fact, I’m even more than willing to state that images alone have the most powerful impact when it comes down to how a woman makes her choices or how a woman begins to desire and strive for a certain degree of success in career, health, fitness, family, and in LIFE.

What motivates women to become successful is not the words on the cover of a magazine, but the images. Those words have to be far less abstract than what he has listed to garner any “power”.  Yes, sure does it make us hurl insults off of our tongue or curse in our minds because that woman is probably a whore or a slut when she puts on makeup, offers beauty tips, flaunts a body that she has worked hard for, all on the cover of a magazine. Those are not abstract words. Those have power. Imagine those magazines that he has taken a photo of and replace the phrases with words like, “whore, slut, etc”  How would a woman react then? Simply the same way as if they were to have the word, “fat, fake, or ugly” on them. It would sting. Now, that, would be powerful. 

And he is right, women are intelligent, beautiful creatures inside and out, thus it takes more than just abstract words/phrases for women to buy into the so -called power printed on the cover of a magazine in some bold sans serif or serif typeface. Images are promoted front and center, whether they are age that has been altered; airbrushed and painted over; they are what screams out at you, and makes you pay attention. At least that’s the first thing I see.

It’s stimulation of our senses that are provoked when an image is flashed in front of our eyes.  It is an attraction, admiration, envy that connects me to a magazine. It is not abstract words/phrases, it is not ONE thing that can be controlled, or that we can be immune to, or forewarned; it is our environment, our society that has long before print media defined its ideal standard of “beauty” that lives in us; breathes for us. Through social media, the internet, inside and outside of our home; around the clock.

We strive for independence, confidence, a career, family, friends, but we want to look good doing it. We all want to be the woman that someone looks at and is inspired or motivated by.  Most people cannot be reached verbally, especially through abstractions.  Actions, images, carry a far more profound effect than any abstract phrase being displayed on a supermarket shelf.

Self worth and self respect comes from within. None of us are truly weak; we are strong, so strong in fact, that we go so far as to mutilate ourselves just to find perfection. But that mutilation, that sad little girl existing in a powerful, somewhat tragic world, is reaching out for help; there’s something inside of her that hurts and I can guarantee the pain is not from a magazine.

We are all capable of strong; it’s what you have to be strong for that matters.  

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What are your thoughts on this letter?