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!!!
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.
- Protein at every meal was not enough… lean protein only. Will get fat and have a heart attack otherwise.
- Dairy made me absorb less fat with food so if I eat nuts, I should have it with milk or yogurt.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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…
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
What if we didn’t hate ourselves?
What would we wear?
What would we eat/not eat/ drink/ not drink?
Where would we go? Would we be more adventurous? Care free?
Who would we talk to/not talk to? Would we treat others the same? Allow others to treat us the same?
How long would we stand in front of the mirror? Would we avoid our own eye contact in a mirror?
Honest questions from a recovering perfectionist who has forced herself to SIT WITH these questions and answer them honestly and whole heartedly.
If I loved myself… I’d wear the same thing on a Monday as on a Friday. There’d be no skinny jeans or fat jeans. I could wear a tight pair of pants after eating tons of salty and sweet food the night before and not feel fat (which is really a disguised word for nasty or ugly.)
If I loved myself… I could sit with a decadent piece of chocolate cake and ENJOY it like a 4 year old… without judgement of myself or worries of my weight. I could eat it without worry that someone else is watching or engulf it as if someone may steal if from me. I could drink a glass of wine or a big glass of chocolate milk at 9pm and not worry about the calories or sugar. I could answer to what my body desires… vegetables, burgers, or Skittles and eat just til fullness.
If I loved myself… I would settle into the uncertainty of unknown faces and places. I would walk into any room, stage, place and feel it was my right to be there as much as anyone else’s.
If I loved myself… I could take bold responsibility for the way I REACT to the way others treat me. I could whole heartedly accept a compliment without the need to make an excuse or point out a flaw… “well it’s just the lighting is so good.” or “…no, no… I still have just 5 more lbs.” I could stand up for my beliefs in confidence and in kindness and not worry about acceptance or rejection. I could be me.
If I loved myself… I could stand in front of the mirror and tell myself I’m beautiful… and BELIEVE it. I would not feel the need to squeeze, to pull, to look away, or to compare. I could STAY in front of the mirror and simply be nice. I could observe my face and body with the same kindness and love as I have for my daughter’s.
UNWIRING myself as a person who needed to prove herself to herself and to others took me on a journey to understand what it means to have INNATE SELF WORTH.
To love myself in the same way I love my kids… irreversibly, completely, undeniably.
There’s not a thing they can or cannot do to make me love them more or less.
They are as they are and them changing, growing, maturing, getting good grades or bad grades, spilling food or forgetting to do chores… none of that moves my love for them up or down.
I might feel frustration or anger but the love… well…
It’s innate… instinctive, intuitive, inherent, and 100% steadfast.
“What… I am supposed to love myself… like this????” Yes!!!!
My messy journey has taught me I am to live inside my head and my body with that same compassion and respect.
I can mess up… like royally mess the hell up… and my worth does not move.
I believe as a coach it’s my job to not only show my nutritional and exercise journey… but hell… my head has played more games with me than my metabolism!!!
If I talk macros and deadlifts… I gotta talk mindset!
And if you’re wondering where all these rainbows and unicorns are coming from all of a sudden… it’s because this week I watched an amazing human unable to make eye contact with herself in the mirror. Not just once… but for an entire 50 minutes.
There’s no meal plan and there are no burpees or sets of squats than can work our mindsets!!!
It takes us laying our hearts out on the line for others... to say I’m holding space for you in my head and my heart and I know your pain really well. I’ve been there.
You don’t have to believe you’re beautiful today because we’re on this journey together and I’m going to carry that burden for you right now. And as we grow together and you trust me more and you trust you more I’m going hand you back pieces of YOUR “I’m a bad ass, beautiful puzzle” for you to put back in place.
And you may not know at first where they go.
And you may not even have realized those pieces were missing until you’ve re-discovered them.
And you may not always want some of those pieces back right away.
And that’s okay… the journey is really messy… but it’s also really worth it!!!
Gah… to slowly (and I do mean slowly) sift through all of the stories and scribbles and SEE your whole self and be able to look her square in the eye and feel nothing but love for her.
I am 100% a fan of making New Year’s Resolutions!!!
I know many people don’t meet them, but I don’t find that to be a flaw in WHAT New Year’s Resolutions are. I simply think most folks just SUCK at writing long term goals and could use some kick ass “How To” coaching on goal setting.
So that’s what I intend to do today in this blog and on January 7th in a very hands on way (Register here: “How to Create Goals You Actually Accomplish”…
My goal is to elevate your New Year’s Resolutions so that they go from lofty OUTCOMES written on a sheet of paper to manageable TASKS you are ACTING on throughout the year.
This blog post will show you my exact process, however I highly encourage you to attend the workshop on January 7th. This is the kind of self development work that has the biggest impact in real time, when it’s hands on, and when you’re AWAY from all of your important but very distracting responsibilities (work, kids, laundry, groceries etc!.)
STEPS TO YOUR “LET’S CRUSH 2018 NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS”
- Find some quiet time and space in your day and get as comfy as possible. Wine, coffee, tea, pjs, prayer or mediation… do whatever you have to do so that you are not feeling stressed. You are in a frame of mind to think BIG thoughts and BIG dreams.
- You need paper and pen because this is a PROCESS you are about to undergo. This is NOT a 2018 “to-do” list. Grab your diary, bullet journal, or several sheets of paper and your favorite pen or pencil.
- * On a sheet of paper, create 3 -5 life categories where you want to experience change. Each category must be broad and not have any or much overlap with the other one. For example, Fitness, Career, Family.
- Under each category just free write ideas you’d like to happen. Don’t worry about any timelines or barriers right now. It’s important that you begin your thoughts by saying… “If time, money, education, expectations, and fear of failure were not an issue…” and write those dreams down. Take all the barriers out when setting your vision!!!! You will address fears in just a sec.
- By the way, if you feel hesitant to write anything down because you feel a bit exposed, vulnerable, or like it’s impossible… you’re on the right track!! This document is YOURS and you need to give yourself PERMISSION to be AUTHENTIC.
- You can acknowledge fears or mindset barriers on a different sheet of paper to keep you aware of things you DON’T want to attract in your life or as a reference point for future self development. You don’t have to shove fears and pain away in a little box. Give them a voice. Write them down. As Brene Brown brilliantly exposed… “Shame cannot withstand being spoken.” so just looking at them in the face provides you the reference point of GROWTH.
- ** Time to REVERSE ENGINEER your goals. You will want a sheet of paper for each life category you created. Title each one. For example: Fitness Goals 2018, Career Goals 2018, Family Goals 2018.
- For each life category break up 2018 into quarters starting from the END of the year!
- October -December,
- July- September,
- April- June, and
- January -March.
- Look at your free writing sheet, if you stated that a 2018 goal is to lose 15 pounds then your job is to state IN THE PRESENT TENSE (not the future tense) what you are DOING CONSISTENTLY (not perfectly) by the last quarter of the year that get you to that goal.
- I strength train 4 times per week.
- I order grilled or sauteed foods when I go out to eat.
- I drink 2 glasses of wine on Fridays and Saturdays with friends.
- I drink 2-4 liters of water daily.
- If you are consistently doing these things by October, November, or December of 2017, what is it reasonable for you to do July- September, April- June, January – March?
- BAM!!!! You now have your task list for the first quarter of this year!!!! OMG… your goal doesn’t seem so big and scary anymore does it? If you’ve done this with healthy expectations, you are looking at January – March like … hell yeah… I got this!!!!
- Repeat this process for all the other categories you’ve picked.
- CAUTION: If you focus on everything, you’re focused on NOTHING!!!
- The hardest part if you’re not careful is revisiting your plan. Out of sight, out of mind. In sight, in mind. If you respond well to technology, set reminders on your phone every two weeks. Make them fun or uniquely yours so that they propel you to either look at your list, modify your list, or continue on the path you’re on. I’m a bullet journal girl now so my 2018 vision and goals travel will be traveling with me every day.
- #MindsetCheck: FORWARD PROGRESS is success – Not landmark dates and pounds and numbers you set arbitrarily months prior!! Your plan can shift and move WITH you and keep you in motion. It’s not meant to hold you down. LET YOUR DREAMS EVOLVE.
* CREATING GOAL CATEGORIES TO FIX THE PROBLEM OF MOTIVATION
This is what I want you to know about motivation… it naturally comes in WAVES… with highs and lows.
So when you catch a wave on high… congrats!… it’s time to get to WORK. This is the easiest time to harness focus, tenacity, resilience, and grit so it’s an awesome time to begin doing the hard things it takes to get you to your goals.
Here’s the thing… that wave will inevitably come to shore and THAT’S fine and completely natural! You can expect to hit a low about every to 30-60 days.
The problem I see people make most often is that they get stuck on the brilliance of what being on that wave was like and STAY on shore waiting for that SAME wave to come back and scoop them up on another wild ride so they can finish their right all at once!
Uhm… nope… that wave is gone and trying to re-create it and force it to the finish line gets you STUCK and in a rut.
What you need to do is be excited for all the steps closer you are now than you were before. Be self aware enough to understand that maybe your whole system and life needs to do nothing more than to work on KEEPING that goal for now.
And if you’re lucky one of your other goals might catch your eye. It might speak to you and say, “hey… you ready… let’s ride.”
2. ** REVERSE ENGINEERING GOALS
This is NOT a new concept… maybe a new term you haven’t heard before.
If you’re a teacher, you know exactly what this looks like.
You identify the vision and goals from the course of study, you break that down into your year’s course syllabus, you break that down further to create your units, you chop that down further to create your tests, you shave that down to even further to create your week’s lesson plans where each day has it’s own tasks to be completed.
You take a MACRO look and REVERSE the learning process from there.
Not a teacher? Do you grocery shop? Betting your best food weeks are when you can take a MACRO look at your life, month, weeks and plan accordingly?
If the objective is… I want the family to eat their proteins and veggies then you are forced to ask questions like… What days are we at home? What days are the kids activities? When is that board meeting again? What days am I cooking? What days are take out days?
I’m betting most of what’s on your agenda repeats itself for at least a season so you begin to see patterns like:
Monday is a crock pot day so you google a recipe for that, Tuesdays kids have activities so it’s take out so what restaurants have the best proteins and veggies, Wednesdays it’s church so sandwiches and salads are easy, Thursday all the best shows are on so we’re all at home and try a new recipe etc.
You build your menu, then your grocery list by REVERSE ENGINEERING your week, month, or season.
*** 3. LIFE IS MESSY
Life doesn’t happen in a neat and tidy list or calendar.
Despite your best efforts, you may NEED TO CHOOSE which goal speaks to you. Which wave do you want to catch? Where do you most want your initial focus to be?
It is inefficient to try to do ALL the categories at once. Then again, I don’t know you and I don’t know your exact goals either.
Some may be as “easy” as organize my house so you’ve literally picked one room in the house to tackle each month.
If that’s the case then yeah… I think you could totally organize your bedroom a little each day in January and also hit your fitness January – March goals at the same time.
Also, don’t get all bent out of shape if your fitness wave only gets you through the first 6 weeks of the year. No biggie. Totally natural! Put that goal to rest… doing your best just to maintain… and simply go to another category. I bet you’ll be crazy excited to tackle that one.
GOOD ENOUGH… it’s a term that most people dislike because they automatically let their brains go to “settling for less.”
And while that can be one interpretation, I believe there’s another more positive side to “good enough.”
The recognition that the NOW, the here, the what is right in front of you has TREMENDOUS value already!!!!
By nature, I am not a competitive person… with other people.
With myself… well, that was a hard battle fought and won through a lot of introspection.
You see… for a long time the main driver I used to fuel my health and fitness goals was “getting my pre-baby body back.”
I needed to run as fast as before.
I needed to run as long as before.
I needed to eat the exact same foods as before.
I needed to lift the same weight in the same amount of time as before.
I needed to fit in the exact same clothes and those clothes needed to fall on my body the exact same way.
Anything short of THE SAME as before was ugly, bad, a let down, and could NOT be celebrated.
So this is high season for parties and get togethers which means overeating and over drinking can become a trend.
By December, the free for all’s mount, weight gain appears, and fat loss anxiety begins to peak.
I have learned, through much trial and error, that the fastest way to remedy any stress is to plan less and just take action!
I regain focus this way.
I feel in my power.
So even if one decision doesn’t make my problem go away, I’ve at least put myself in the drivers seat, I’m moving forward, and that feels damn good.
This week I had the honor of speaking, for the second time, in front of The Mompreneurs, a local group in Huntsville which aims to empower mom’s to take that big leap of faith into business and live their passion.
I wanted these women to understand that entrepreneurship is not about becoming fearless so much as the practice of learning to walk WITH your fear and to move forward daily despite being scared as hell.
One of the most important “walk with your fear” exercises we worked on was how to…
TELL people EXACTLY who you are and aren’t,
and who you are charged to help.
Which brings me to state, fearlessly and unapologetically …
I am NOT your 6 pack trainer.
I sent out a personal and candid email to my Sweat Unfiltered crew explaining 5 ways I’ve shifted from perfectionist food goals and ended up losing weight and stress out of my life.
This blog post is the instruction manual with the accompanying print out worksheet so you can #GSD better and faster and put all the concepts from the email into practice ASAP.