Spirit, Courage, Action, Resilience – The #SCAR to Your Beautiful

     This is a story I shared a few years back inside of my newsletter, Sweat Unfiltered.  Once a week, I’ll email my best tips, tricks, and insights into diet, nutrition, and mindset.
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     This was one of those epic emails that struck a chord because while the details are unique to me, we ALL have that story that literally changed us from the inside out…
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How Sweat came to life is mine.
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Last week, I purposefully left this 3rd life altering moment out of my newsletter, in part because the story of how Sweat came to life is completely different from the other two moments I described earlier.
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     But, if I’m going to be completely truthful, I didn’t write about Sweat’s birth last week because the wounds are still really fresh and the dust has yet to completely settle.  The heart warming emails, loving texts, and honest conversations you have had with me since the first email, makes talking about this vulnerability much less scary though.
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     I’m offering you my personal story of grit because there’s absolutely nothing special about me.  I was born with no great talent, beauty, or charisma to set me apart from anyone, however, grit is the one great equalizer in this world.
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     It is the one quality you choose to seize when you come face to face with your rock bottom to summon the guts, the drive, the persistence, and the resilience to GET.  SHIT. DONE. (#GSD)
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     Before 2012 the only practice I’d ever had with grit was on the gym floor. There’s a moment of fatigue when you work out hard where you are forced to decide between proving you can finish strong or calling it quits.
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     The amount of times I have chosen to suck it up and given it one more set proved to me, on a much smaller scale, that my mindset could make me do what my body would not will on it’s own.
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     Never in my life, though, did I realize that I’d have to call on that same desire to keep going when it came my way of life.
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  • We got our loan for Sweat July 12th, 2012.
  • Lawrence lost his job July 13th, 2012.
  • A one income home became a zero income home and from there…
  • NOTHING and I mean NOTHING went as we expected.
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For well over a year, Lawrence and I made the hardest, most humbling decisions we have ever made in our lives.
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And while as a family we remained not only intact but stronger than ever, on a personal level, I was left RAW.
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I was tired of waking up every morning yearning for my safety net.
I drained myself daily daydreaming of my easy, previous life.
I was lethargic from constantly trying to seek refuge in things that no longer existed.
I’d go to bed consumed by my past and wake up empty by my present.
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 And then…I made the decision… to let it go.  I literally let my old life die.
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I hit a point where I stopped thinking of life before July 13th 2012 as the dream that I was supposed to chase after again.  I stopped believing that I or my family was, somehow, missing out because we didn’t have the same things that our previous life had outlined for us.
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I stopped hunting for a past that had nothing to offer my future.  .

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The magic of growth happened when grit took over, when I stopped boxing myself in with an irrelevant past and literally began to carve out my new normal.
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Grit for me has meant a mixture of spirit, courage, action, resilience (#SCAR).  It’s those 4 attributes that I have allowed to replace voids in my personality that created a victim mentality.
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SPIRITI am not the smartest or strongest, but my determination and passion set me apart.  I don’t have big corporate dollars but I care more.  I want every inch of what I create to have more value and more purpose than anything else out there. #loveyourpeople is THE business plan.
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COURAGE- Take your calculated risks, put yourself out there, daring is not the same as recklessness.  You don’t need to know everything before taking a step forward.  You just need to know what’s here, what’s in front of you.  #doyou, experiment, and forget the norm.
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ACTION My education and work ethic are not automatic tickets to success.  This world owes you shit.  It’s your mind, creativity, and decision making that will set your life in motion.  #GSD with #gritandgratitude

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RESILIENCE-  Follow opportunity to the ends of the Earth.  Failure is temporary and does not diminish your conviction.  Expect to fail…often…and get the hell over it quickly.  Learn, get better.  Fall up.  #musclesandmindset
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And so there you have it… my new normal is a SCAR.  No safety net but truly happy and fulfilled none the less.
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I cried writing this email reliving some of my old fears and remembering some really dark moments so let me be clear…I never ever want to relive what I went through.  It has changed me, for the better, but it was isolating and crippling too.
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If you’ve never been through a long phase in your life that has brought you LITERALLY to your knees on the daily…good!  I hope your luck continues!  I hope the rest of your life is smooth sailing.  CHANGE SUCKS.  It hurts.  I’m grateful I made it out better than before, but damn let me not romanticize that getting bruised and burned by life is lousy.
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I had a choice in my outcome, however, and I do hope to have planted in many of you a seed of self empowerment.  I did not choose to be broken but I absolutely had a hand in how I reacted and rebuilt myself.
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One more rep or call it quits?  I chose what I practiced.  I chose what I trained for.  I chose to #GSD.
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Optimism is RAD!

I wholeheartedly believe in the GOODNESS of people.

In fact, my personal and business decisions are grounded on this very premise.

In other words, I CHOOSE to play out my life on OFFENSE, ready to score points, instead of defense where the best I can hope for is the PREVENTION of others scoring on me and the once in a blue moon defensive interception that results in a touchdown.

When I hear people criticize optimism as a viable mode of operating and responding to the every day obstacles of life, they use words like “head in the clouds” or “refusal to see reality.”

But here’s what the nay sayers aren’t understanding…

By choosing optimism, I am not negating the existence of negativity.  

I stand in FULL RECOGNITION that there are a million bad things that may and can happen if I don’t create walls and barriers and spend my time and energy catching the lone wolf trying to take advantage of me.

I know the big bad wolf is in the forest.

I simply don’t focus on the wolf.

Let me put it to you this way…

which farmer is happier and more successful…

a.  the one spending time, money, and effort fertilizing his garden or

b.  the one pulling weeds all day?

Which has a bigger harvest at the end of the season?

The answer is crystal clear.

The farmer on offense… not the one on defense in a pile of weeds.

So if you find yourself in a pessimistic rut, a few suggestions on how to RETRAIN your brain to stop looking for the wolf, to stop picking weeds all damn day, to focus on the goodness that is in this world instead of what is lacking.

  • BE AWARE OF YOUR EMOTIONS – Seriously though… take a day, hell even an hour and give all the emotions you feel a name.  Do you find yourself using words like joy, challenged, interest, gratitude or more often than not are you miserable, stressed, bored, thankless.  That’s on you.  That’s your lense.  That’s your focus.  You are responsible for your perspective so use your POWER and create a new filter.
With that said, there are some  professions that require us to catch mistakes constantly.  Accountants and lawyers are prime examples.  I point this out so that we stay mindful that some of us have to guard ourselves extra carefully so that we don’t bring our work perspective into our personal life.  You cannot enter into your personal relationships and home life constantly looking for flaws and mistakes!  
  • LIFT OTHERS UP – Yup… give yourself the “silly” little task of complimenting 3 random people every day.  As ridiculous as this might sounds, this little exercise MAKES you focus on seeing the positive side of people.  And seriously… it takes 3 seconds, it makes someone else’s day better, and it costs you NOTHING.  What the hell are you waiting for?  Go out and be ridiculously kind.  Feed your soul!!!
  • And finally, ASK YOURSELF THESE 3 QUESTIONS when things aren’t going your way:
    • Is this forever?
    • Is this normal?
    • Is this personal?

Positive psychology tells us that those who learn to answer these questions recognizing that what’s not going right is likely TEMPORARY, UNCOMMON, and EXTERNAL and are better equipped to bounce back and conquer.

In other words if you have trained yourself to interpret struggle as catastrophic, you’re going to have a helluva time turning things around.  The strongest are those who can take the negative and deflate it’s importance by seeing it as a brief and remote annoyance.

There is no doubt that optimism is a conscious choice and a daily practice.

You will have your good days, as well as, your bad ones.  But, as you become more aware of the emotions you entertain daily, the vocabulary you use to describe others, and the headspace by which you tackle conflict… Optimism becomes second nature.

 

Holy smokes… and the freedom of that is worth every effort you make to get yourself there.

The friends you make and opportunities created on offense far out weigh anything you were guarding against from the big bad wolf.

Water your garden.

Big fat middle finger to the weeds.

Optimism is RAD!!!

#sweatlocal

 

10 Unconventional Fitness Ideas Our Kids Need

When I first got curious about fitness, I’d read, absorb, and implement every single piece of literature, post, article and to-do list out there.

Every day there appeared a new “do this every day,” “never eat that” or “amazing superfood discovery” that made it feel IMPERATIVE and even detrimental to my body if not incorporated immediately.

Before long I found myself with a laundry list of RULES.

  1.  Protein at every meal was not enough… lean protein only.  Will get fat and have a heart attack otherwise.
  2.  Dairy made me absorb less fat with food so if I eat nuts, I should have it with milk or yogurt.
  3.  But damn it, dairy is apparently full of harmful things so only buy organic, hormone free, and limit it to one serving daily.  Skip it on days where I don’t eat a lot of fat.
  4.  Sugar is from the devil so never eat cookies, brownies, and really candy of any kind.  It’s a sign of weakness if you do.  Honey and agave nectar appear to be superior forms of sugar so maybe once in a blue moon drizzle this over oatmeal.
  5.  Bread is for people who don’t really care about their health.  I mean with all the best selling books and viral articles circulating around, how could one argue otherwise.
  6. Vegetables are important but the color of the vegetable will determine my success.  Pretty sure I need to avoid anything that doesn’t make the super food list.  That’s just seems safer.
  7. There are to be “No excuses” for missing workouts so sleep and REST is for the weak minded. Clearly this is not something I am so I just need to do more and try harder.

I could go on and on and on… but you get the picture.

Fitness and wellness DOMINATED my life.

Because of that, I found going out of town or eating with friends HIGHLY STRESSFUL.  I had to have everything in a clearly laid out schedule.  I could NOT miss my workout session no matter what.

At every event, I needed to know what was being served, when, and if it didn’t appear to suit my bazillion rules, well by golly, I could not possibly let my precious earned muscle go to waste or my lean zero-fat belly blimp up in a matter of an evening.

I’d eat before or pack tupperware.

Or when even more desperate… I’d pack canned tuna in my purse in case there were no suitable proteins to eat.  Pizza?  Poison!!

I’d excuse myself to go to the bathroom and down the can AFAP and try to discreetly walk out to hide the smelly can in my car.

I knew what I was doing was weird… but hell I was COMMITTED.  If everyone else wanted to be fit as much as me they’d realize all of their mistakes!

And because of that, fitness wore me the F*#K out.  I was depleted… physically and mentally.  No amount of EFFORT was ever ENOUGH.  I could always do more.

Until finally my baby girl noticed my obsession and it hurt my heart.  DEEPLY.  So much so it literally sent me on a new journey.

I was living OPPOSITE to what I wanted for both my kids and that had to change.  Monkey see.  Monkey do.

Lord… I did not want them doing what I was doing!!!!!

So I decided MY life had to be a LIVING EXAMPLE of HAPPY and HEALTHY which meant I was no longer going to allow any book, article, or post to  create rules that made me feel dirty, unworthy, stupid, or lazy.

Fitness is not allowed to change me or my kids serving me FEAR AND SHAME disguised with information.

And so I’ve made a list of the 10 things I find myself constantly preaching against at home… and even at Sweat Fitness Studio as well.

They represent my core values… as a woman who overcame food and exercise obsession, as a personal trainer who finds herself in contact w/ men and woman battling unattainable demands, and as a mom who wants her kids to enjoy fitness without feeling like there is anything wrong with them right now… as is!

And by all means, feel free to add to the conversation!  I am not afraid to defend any of these points and I would also love to hear the things that you are battling with as well.

FITNESS IS NOT ALLOWED TO TELL US…

  1. Food is earned – We’re not dogs dancing for treats.  If you treat food like a trophy earned you’ll find yourself doing “more tricks” for more food.  More mileage, more classes, more burpees, more reps.  I can’t have this or that because I didn’t do this or that.
  2. It defines us – You offer this world so much more than just your body.   It is not your job to make this world happy with your body.
  3. Smaller is better – Nope… sorry.  The pursuit of smaller didn’t make me happier.  Size is not a measure of happiness.  Gotta love the now before you love the future.
  4. Rest is weak – Rest triggers progress.  Wanna lift more… rest more between sets.  Wanna run faster… rest longer between laps.  Wanna curve your cupcake craving… sleep in an extra hour mid week instead of coming to class.  Wanna break a plateau… stop dropping more calories and add rest.  Watch your body give back.
  5. No pain, No gain – There’s good pain.  There’s bad pain.  One burns… the other strings.  If it stings… it’s your body kindly asking for you to stop or to rest.  It only asks nicely a few times before it snaps.  LISTEN!
  6. 6 packs are normal – Okay so yeah… the fact that Lady Gaga’s “gut” stirred up such a frenzy of haters is alarming.  It’s obvious she works out, has her nutrition on point more often than not, and has put time and effort into her overall health.  The absence of a 6 pack is not an indication of poor health nor something to hide.  Our bodies are allowed to fold, move, and jiggle with us!
  7. Villainize food groups – There is no such thing as a bad food or a good food.  Any food can take on that adjective.  It’s about how you view it and use it that puts it into particular categories.  Candy is not inherently bad.  Candy eaten all day, every day… that’s bad news.
  8. It comes with a guarantee – If it comes w/ a guarantee it’s a gimmick or a fad.  Our bodies are too complex for anyone to simplify into a one way formula w/ a golden guarantee sticker on the label.  Change takes time, effort, problem solving skills, failure, re-tries, get back ups, tweaking.  Fitness, like life, is neither linear nor fair.  Get used to it now… it makes the journey flow so much easier.
  9. More is more – like basic economics there is a point of diminishing returns.  Your body will stop responding positively.  Your work load does not automatically translate to equal returns.
  10. One way – the best way to move is the way that you enjoy and are most likely to return to most often.  Sure… there are the details to worry about but if you hate it… it will never stick.  Your way is the best way first.

FITNESS is supposed to be an ENRICHMENT of who we already are.  If you find that your journey is taking parts of you away, PERMISSION TO PIVOT… PERMISSION TO CHANGE COURSES… PERMISSION TO BE A RULE BREAKER.

When I look back at the complexity of my former fitness life and the paper thin layer of skin and fat that it “rewarded” me with, I want no parts of it and I want my kids to have a role model that preaches and teaches and champions a different way.

To my mommas and daddy’s reading this, I want to take inventory of the things you do and say and FEEL about your body.

Would you want your daughter, your son, repeating this?

Monkey see.  Monkey do.

#bethechange