healthy life

How Do You Use Your Fear?

This is going to seem like it’s totally out of left field, but go with me. Do you know who Cus D’Amato is? Don’t go Googling him just yet, I’ll tell you the little bit that I know and why he fascinates me. He was a boxing trainer and boxing manager who trained heavy weight champion Mike Tyson as well as Olympic gold medalist Floyd Patterson. Side note, one of his methods of training was hypnosis.

Anyways, D’Amato was known not just for his unorthodox training methods but also for his quotes, one in particular (it’s super famous and I put the full quote below for your reading pleasure) that speaks about fear and how fear can work to your advantage if you understand it.

I think fear is a predominate force that holds people back, myself included. I remember the first time my PT said I could walk again (without assistance), took my boot and told me to walk. I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared in my life. I thought my whole foot would crumble, I thought I was going to fall, I thought I would FAIL. But I took that first step because I had the support of my PT beside me and I told her what was scaring me. 

I think fear is what holds people back from losing weight or incorporating healthy living as a way of life and not just a pipe dream. The actual reasons behind the fear are different depending on the person, but it’s fear nonetheless.

Ultimately it’s fear of the unknown. Unhealthy living is still living after all, not to your fullest potential, but it’s something you become comfortable with like you would an old friend. We get used to feeling like shit, being sluggish and tired, having that roll of fat that pooches over your pants and then we make up excuses for it. Trust me, I’ve heard every excuse under the sun. Everything from “I can’t do it”, to “my body won’t lose weight”, to “I’m just a thick girl”.

 I know that what’s really behind those excuses is the fact that changing is scary. That anticipation of what could be is terrifying, you don’t know what will happen on the other side of things so it’s easier to just stay where you are.

So it’s easier to just stay where you’re at and continue complaining. But here’s the thing: if you can understand what’s holding you back, if you can understand where those excuses are coming from, then you can use that fear to propel you past the excuses and into a healthy life.

Harness your fear and what’s holding you back and turn it into a strength, then all of a sudden the excuses that used to work won’t work and you’ll be well on your way to your healthiest and happiest existence.

Here’s D’Amato’s full quote:

“You must understand fear so you can manipulate it. Fear is like fire. You can make it work for you; it can warm you in the winter, cook your food when you’re hungry, give you light when you’re in the dark and produce energy. Let it go out of control and it can hurt you, even kill you…fear is a friend of exceptional people.” – Cus D’Amato

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I Quit My Job

I quit my job so I could work out more. I’m only half kidding because having the flexibility to make working out a priority that didn’t have to happen at 6am was awesome.  

But here’s what I figured out about myself: I come from this long line of super kick ass, extremely empowered and progressive women. I’m sure I’ll write about it more in depth another time, or maybe do a live on the good ol’ Gram, but I have been blessed to have amazingly influential women in my life. 

Their influence helped me realize that everything I did in my life, from my first job out of college, to getting into the fitness industry and eventually expanding that into an online platform has all been with the same underlying goal: to help as many women around me as I can realize and step into their badass potential.

When I began working with victims of violence all those years ago, that was what I looked forward to the most. Obviously, a LOT of things had to take place in order to get each woman to that point. For some women, it unfortunately didn’t happen while I was working with them. But I was blessed to be a part of so many journeys that started with a woman in arguably the worst place in her life on every level, where the priority was truly safety and survival, and ended with her feeling like she had her life back.

I used to tell the survivors I worked with that I wanted to know where they ended up and there was nothing that felt better than having a survivor come into my office telling me she got her first job since she couldn’t remember when, that she was going back to school, or that she finally found herself again.

It was never the words that moved me. It was always the aura around them, the energy that moved with them, the confidence they gave off that would leave me feeling this tremendous sense of gratitude that I played such a small role in this life changing transformation.

When I decided to take the leap, leave my cushy corporate job and pursue fitness as a full time gig, it was because of that feeling. I love seeing the people I’m training gain their healthy back, gain their sexy back, lose weight and feel better. That air of confidence was the same and I got to sit back and say yep I helped out in that person’s journey.

The job might change, it might evolve but the mission stays the same: help as many women as I can realize their true potential.

Because the confidence you gain when you train with me is the confidence that translates into the boardroom, into your parenting, into your relationship, into every single other thing you do.

There’s nothing better than seeing someone walk out of a workout or hang up from a call with their head a little higher, their spine a little straighter and their smile a little brighter.

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Do You Love Yourself?

I was talking to a friend recently who didn’t know that much about my history. She didn’t know about my foot, or the litany of other injuries I had, and when I started delving into things she said “damn girl, you’ve got a lot of stuff wrong with you, how did you get to that point?” 

I could go through the specific exercises that caused injury, you know the practicality of it, like what I was doing at the time that caused the injury. But I feel like that would take too long. Because here’s the thing: how I did all the things doesn’t really matter, all of my major injuries all happened in succession in a few years directly following my foot and there was an undercurrent of commonality amongst all of them. I didn’t love myself.

That’s a really hard thing for me to right. I know I didn’t though. I thought I could just push my body to the point of injury because I had already been through worse, so nothing else could be as bad right? It didn’t matter that I was young and had my whole life ahead of me (and totally wasn’t thinking about how chronic pain would look as a longevity issue). I didn’t love myself enough to be compassionate to myself. 

When I coach people, I notice the same thing. We are more often than not cruel to ourselves. We very rarely show ourselves the love that we need in order to experience the growth we’re seeking. I know there’s a lot of contributing factors to mindsets like this, I know because I know what’s contributed in my life to my own mindset and I know now how important it is to do the work to shut that inner critic up.

It’s not an overnight process either. You have to first recognize the negative things that are even coming through in your thought process before you can begin the process of changing anything. Once you recognize what those thoughts tend to be, you have to do your due diligence to replace those negative thoughts with something more positive, and then you have to KEEP DOING IT. Which is easier than it sounds.

Because at first, you’re going to go back to the negative thoughts quickly and you might not even find anything positive to say to yourself because the negative thoughts are such an easy fall back. It’s muscle memory, your brain as a muscle is geared towards a certain line of thought and if you are used to telling yourself how much you suck or some variation of that, then that’s where your mind is going to go.

You have to keep at it. You have to keep shoving those positive thoughts into your conscious train of thought until you think you’re going to explode into rainbows and sunshine. And then you do it again, you do it more, you just keep at it.

Now when I exercise the positive thoughts are like second nature to me. Whenever something gets hard, whenever I want to quit, I have certain things I instantly go to in my head to push through whatever I’m doing. 

If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking well dang I have nothing positive to tell myself. Which I get because if you’ve never done this before it is super weird, we’re not accustomed to celebrating our victories.

The easiest way that I got into the groove of celebrating my achievements was by writing them down. Seriously. I sat down with my journal and I wrote down 100 things I have achieved throughout my life. From the little things like learning how to French braid my hair, to the big things like scholarships, graduating college, learning how to drive.

Celebrate all your victories and relish in the fact that you are totally unique. One of one. Then the next time you’re working towards your goals in a workout or in the board room, you’ll find how much easier it is to show yourself the love you deserve.

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I Gotta Check My Ego

I’ve been thinking a whole lot lately about ego. I mean obviously if you read the last blog post about doing what you need verses what you want, ego goes pretty strongly with that right? Because doing what your body needs might mean putting your ego aside. It might also mean actively stopping the comparison game that I know we all play when it comes to getting healthy. I get it, I share these experiences I have and give these opinions because I’ve been there.

Being in the fitness industry, ego can get in the way so easily and so quickly as can the comparison disease. There’s this constant drive to look amazing, be rocking ALL the muscles, be able to pull off all the tight clothes, be stronger or faster or leaner than the person next to you. Really all that leads to is this dissociative state of reality.

Your ego becomes your inner bully constantly trying to push you to where it thinks you should be instead of embracing the journey you’re currently on.

Case in point: when I was cleared by my doctor post delivery to start practicing Pilates again, I went into the studio, by myself just to see where my body was at. I remember trying to do a roll up (if you don’t know, it’s an ab exercise) and I could NOT DO IT. AT ALL. Instead of taking a deep breath and giving myself credit for even being in such an amazing state of health that my doctor COULD clear me 4 weeks post c-section for exercise, I thought “fuck I’m gonna have to find another job.” No joke. I had NO sympathy for myself. My ego was the sole operator, telling me that I needed to be in a certain place, to be able to perform a certain way when I was only a month post partum, not to mention post major abdominal surgery.

You know what I figured out though? I didn’t need to be ashamed at where I was on my journey because I wasn’t alone. In fact, the women I trained loved me sharing my journey back to my “Pilates shape” because it was more relatable to them than the women who just seem to bounce back post baby with zero issues whatsoever.

That struggle is what binds us because it draws commonalities and also shows us what we’re capable of accomplishing. While that potential for accomplishment can be completely limitless, we have to check our ego in order to make it happen. That ego, that internal bully is going to be the first thing to give you a hard time whenever you try to make a positive change for yourself. Like that saying “you are your own toughest critic”, that ego gets in the way of progress for whatever reason, and ultimately your end goals that are completely attainable end up suffering.

I know you can do it because I’ve done it too and I know how much internal grit it takes to ignore that critic, that bully, that mean girl that always wants to knock you down a peg.

So now whenever that internal bully comes up in my head and starts telling me all my failings, not only do I tell her to sit down and shut up, but I also remind myself of 10 of my accomplishments. Small ones, big ones, it really doesn’t matter. I put where I think I should be aside and embrace where I’m at, embrace that I’m on a journey and it’s only going to get better from here.

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What Do You Need Today?

Some days I just need to slow down. I know you know that feeling. When your body is literally telling you to stop and take a breath because you’ve been going a mile a minute with no end in sight. I mean I get it, life is crazy and there’s always something that needs to get done or something that needs to be taken care of for someone.

I’m not saying that taking a break means that you neglect your responsibilities. Far from it. I’m saying that taking a break needs to be an opportunity for you to rejuvenate.

With self-care being the hotness, I feel like people everywhere are toting this verbiage of doing what’s the best for you. To me, that’s not what self-care means.

Back in the day, I couldn’t give myself a break even if I tried. When I was really active in CrossFit, and then again post baby when I was trying my hardest to lose weight and feel good again, the thought of taking time off was non-existent. It was one of those ‘well that’ll be a nice thing to have in the future when I’ve reached my goals’ kind of thought.

I let my ego get in the way, along with my pride. I felt like taking a break meant I was weak or that I didn’t take the goals I set for myself as seriously as other people took their goals. Like one day off would circumvent any progress I had made. 

I realize that sounds a little ridiculous but that’s where my head was at. Like I didn’t deserve to take a second to myself, I had to do everything by myself AND I still had to workout like a fiend so I could hit my fitness goals. I was lucky because I didn’t hit burn out. Most people do. That kind of pace isn’t sustainable nor is it realistic for the majority of the population.

But you know what happened? I didn’t have some major epiphany or some major meltdown (thank GOD), but I started regressing. Not giving my body the rest it needed, meant that my body couldn’t perform in the manner I wanted it to because I was too exhausted. The feedback I received from my body was to stop if I wanted to get stronger. Take a break if I wanted to see change.

I could spout off all this stuff about how I had to let go of my ego and my pride, I had to do the work to realize that I was worth the break, my body deserved the rest and all that stuff. But I won’t. I won’t because that wasn’t how it happened. I had to give myself the rest because I was getting frustrated that I wasn’t performing to the degree I wanted to, and I had to let that rest show me that it wasn’t going to undo the progress I already made. After I saw that taking a break was not going to undo everything I had already done, that I actually felt better, then I started to do all that internal work (with the help of a coach).

This is why when I coach, I encourage my clients to listen to what their bodies are telling them. Know that there is always an option that will work the best for you and it doesn’t have to be what everyone else is doing. Learn the difference between doing what you want and doing what you need, and take ownership in doing what you need. There’s power in listening to what you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. So when you want to go hard, go for it but when you need to slow down, go for that too.

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Sophrosyne

I talked about this on a live last month, and I’ve posted about in on IG (oh the Gram), but I felt like it was worthwhile to expand upon in here too. Only because so many people have contacted me about this whole concept of sophrosyne.

I know. Fancy. I’m not one for fancy words but I’m totally one to geek out on concepts that are so applicable to all people all of the time. And the Greeks are super smart with ideas that were applicable back then and now as well.

Basically the idea of sophrosyne is the idea of moderation. It’s knowing what you need verses what you want, and how you create a healthy lifestyle around that difference. It’s that idea that once you know why you over indulge on something, you’ll be able to make a different decision because you’ll understand why you’re making that decision in the first place.

I think when most of us are presented with this idea, we think about either what we’re eating or our fitness. It makes sense to me that our minds would go to those two things because those are two things that are directly correlated with healthy living that can be quickly screwed up when it comes to healthy living. 

But doing that deep dive to understand why you’re reaching for the second piece of cake when you don’t really NEED it, or why you’re working out 4 hours a day when really 1 hour would suffice is hard. It means looking at aspects of yourself that maybe aren’t the most flattering or working through things that have happened in your life that maybe aren’t the prettiest.

It means you have to get uncomfortable. I mean right? Addressing these issues makes us have some icky feelings below the neck. Maybe our chest feels tight, maybe our breathing changes or we get clamy hands or all of those things happen at once. It’s uncomfortable, it’s hard, it makes us cry, it pisses us off but it’s so freaking necessary.

Not just for your growth and development as a human so you can be a better member of the community around you, but also for your own self worth and self love. It’s so you know when you go out to dinner and opt for the decadent mac n cheese instead of the salad that you won’t be beating yourself up about it later. It’s also knowing that you don’t need to finish the dish when you feel full. For me, it was giving myself rest days when I was actively trying to lose weight so my body could recover and embracing those rest days. Like going into true and full sloth mode and loving it because before I would berate myself for not working hard enough. I thought it would set me back and I would never lose the weight.

Healthy living really is about not just the choices you are making for yourself but also how you feel about those choices. Every choice. Down to your midnight snack choice. It’s knowing what serves you and what is a disservice to you and it’s being ok with those things. Because having a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean you cut out all those things that you’ve loved before (like your lazy days), but it’s having the reassurance in yourself that those are not things you need to survive. That you can have some of all the things and be happy.

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What's Your First Thought In the Morning?

I want you to know that as I’m writing this, a swarm of bees is surrounding my house because it’s springtime and they want to know where to put their queen. Of course right? Just when you think things are going your way or when you have a certain plan for your day, the universe literally sends you bees. Is that a sign of the apocalypse? I can’t remember.

That’s the thing about life though, it’s unpredictable at best. Same with parenting. As soon as you think you have some of it or all of it figured out, the universe (or your kids) throw you a total curveball.

What’s your first thought when you wake up in the morning? I know it seems unrelated but go with me on this one. Do you wake up thinking about how tired you are? How you’re SOOOO not looking forward to your work day? Do you wake up on a Wednesday wishing it was a Saturday?

The first business coach I ever had asked me that question as one of her interview questions for new coaching clients. My answer? I wake up every morning looking at the amazing view in the house I own with my husband and I think “Good fuck this is a good day. Thank God for this day.” Everyday. Rain or shine. Crappy sleep or 10 hours of sleeping like a rock. It doesn’t matter. That’s always my first thought. 

It wasn’t always that way thought, especially when I first got hurt or even right after I had Grace. When I first got hurt, there was no way I could have approached anything from a place of gratitude, even though I should have because that situation could’ve been way worse on a multitude of levels (trust me, I’ve ran through them all in my mind). I was too angry and quite frankly too scared about what I would do with my future to be looking at anything in my life from a place of gratitude. I was too busy thinking about what went wrong, how I could’ve prevented it, and what my future held.

After I had Grace, while I wasn’t depressed, I was so focused on the pain my body was in especially in my back as well as how tired I was that I couldn’t be grateful for everything around me. When you have chronic pain, pain that wakes you up in the middle of the night, pain that leaves you unable to stand for longer than 2 minutes, pain that makes it miserable to sit for longer than 2 minutes, there’s not a whole lot else that consumes your thoughts.

At least in both instances, that’s how things were for awhile. But then when I started to come out of the other side of the pain, when I let go of how much worse things could have gone (in both cases), I started realizing how good I had things. Granted this wasn’t something that happened overnight. In both instances, there was a TON that happened that I needed to process. I needed to think about the worse case scenarios, I needed to think about the bad shit, I needed to perseverate on all of it for a little bit. But then I needed to stop. Because focusing on how bad things were, focusing on how much worse things could’ve been, wasn’t serving anyone.

I did what I needed to do to find the silver lining on the cloud. It was necessary for my survival. Now that I’m on the other side, I get to wake up every day excited for the day, grateful for the day, and thankful for whatever it holds for me.

Now I understand that having that mindset serves me on a greater level because it allows me not only to deal with things like bees in my yard with some levity. It also allows me to not give up when things get hard, because they will get hard. It allows me to continue to push through to my fitness goals, even with things that could be viewed as obstacles like chronic pain and previous injury. It gives me the perspective on a good workout to know I’m getting stronger and pushing past my limits, and it gives me the perspective on bad workouts to know that I’m still getting stronger and I’m learning about myself.

So what’s your first thought in the morning? Is it time to change it?

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It Lights Me Up

When I got to the point where I was cleared for exercise again after my injury, I went freaking balls to the wall. Working out at least two times a day, 5 to 6 days a week, pushing my body to the point of exhaustion. I definitely was making up for some lost time but I definitely was also pushing myself like crazy to lose the weight I gained while on bed rest.  

I was determined. Nothing was going to stand in my way from me getting back to where I was pre-injury. Maybe some of that drive was the subconscious need to show myself that I hadn’t lost who I was, my strength, that sort of thing, that I was still me at the end of the day, and my life hadn’t changed “that” much.

I did not let myself fall into any excuse. If I had an early morning class or work shift, working out meant waking up at 5am. If I was hungover, it didn’t matter, if I was sore, cramping, in a bad mood, really pick your favorite excuse and to me, it didn’t matter. I still showed up.

I had to show up. I was so bound and determined to move my body that I showed up and I showed up hard. I started lifting weights, I started doing CrossFit, I pushed myself to the very edge of a cliff of complete body breakdown.

I don’t recommend this at all. I had no respect for my body, the process of healing and recovery, of regaining strength properly, of rest days. None of it. I was a machine on a single lane course towards disaster.

My body bit back at me. A back injury, a shoulder injury, and a knee injury later, all within the first 7 years from my foot injury, and I couldn’t do it anymore. I had let my ego and this internal drive to show myself (not anyone else mind you, just me) that I could still perform like I did pre-injury, get the best of me.

I stopped doing CrossFit, even with a certification, I started focusing more on yoga, swimming, more into Pilates which were my primary modalities of fitness when I was first recovering, I started meditating and I started forcing myself to take rest days.

I also started working this very stressful job as a second responder and fitness became my primary avenue of self care. My outlet for stress from clients, from colleagues, from life. I would workout so I could tune out all the bullshit that was around me. The noise was too much sometimes and I didn’t know how else to handle it. So I would sweat it out. That hour became my only chance sometimes during the day where I knew I didn’t have to think about anything else. 

I started working out during my lunch break at work so I could escape my office, I started my certification for Pilates and I lost all desire to be in corporate America. I was burnt out in every single aspect and totally over it. I craved having the balance of having life, I was over being a mid-level manager, I felt like it was time to take my second chance and have a bigger impact.

Being able to move my body and see what I was capable of made me feel empowered and I wanted the women in my community to feel the same way. Even now, nothing fires me up more than having someone tell me “damn I didn’t think I could do that, but your encouragement showed me I could”. It makes me feel like I’ve won every award and every medal, it gives me the drive to keep learning, keep pushing and keep showing up.

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Let's Switch It Up

I realize that up until now, the intention of this blog has been for me to share funny parenting stories. While I will still be doing that, I feel like it’s time to expand the horizon of this blog into something more, something still funny and still equally worthwhile.

I think it’s time for you to learn a little more about me, about how I operate and about how I integrate all of these healthy things into my life and ultimately why that matters to me. I guess on some level that’s important for Grace too so she can understand her Mama a little better. 

But ultimately, especially when you’re working with someone, be it through coaching, or even just using their workouts or recipes, it’s good to know their motivation. It’s good to know why they’ve decided to do the things they do so you can decide whether or not they’re someone you vibe with.

So coming in hot with all things mommyhood and just adulting at its finest. The good, the bad and the ugly because that’s often how life goes for all of us and if we can’t support each other then really what’s the point?

I figure my mindset shapes how I do pretty much everything, including parent, so knowing me and knowing my mindset will help you understand how I am (especially with my funny parenting antics) even more!

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Grace and the Ball

It doesn’t take long to realize that working out is a large part of my household. I think it all started for me with my injury, and this subconscious pressure to make sure that I was active so I could maintain my mobility and make sure that I kept my body healthy. It just makes sense. I have to make sure that I can continue to weight bear properly and that my joints are all happy so I can continue to have a good quality of life. 

While that’s definitely a large part of my active lifestyle, I’ve also come to realize over the years that working out is my selfcare. It’s what I need to keep my sanity during the crazy days, sometimes it’s my only hour to myself during the day, and oftentimes it’s when I have moments of clarity and creativity. 

Now it’s even bigger than all of that because I have this responsibility to this amazing kid to show her what living a healthy lifestyle looks like, what working out for your body looks like, and what it looks like to really take care of yourself.

Granted I’ve had to get creative since I had my kiddo with my working out time, and also super flexible because working out doesn’t always happen how I want it to or really when I want it to happen. So needless to say, we have a TON of workout equipment at our house. To the point now where I don’t even need to have a gym membership because I can do everything I need to do at home. Fortunately, because I know how to write my own workouts, coming up with new and hard things to do is never really an issue.

One of my newest additions to my home workout equipment is this little Pilates fitness ball. I know not everyone knows what this ball is all about, but if you’ve ever done Pilates, you definitely know what this ball can be used for and how much it can change the dynamic of a workout. Predominantly, it’s used for inner thigh work, which has all kinds of benefits from picking up your pelvic floor to helping the health of your knees. Regardless of its versatility, it definitely can take a workout to the next level so of course having one at home was a necessity not a want.

Unfortunately, when you have a house with a kiddo and puppies, a ball is a toy. So I’m constantly telling someone to leave the ball alone and having to hide the ball so it doesn’t get accidentally popped. As of late though, the kiddo is starting to understand that the workout equipment isn’t for her to play with and as she gets older, she wants to see how to use the equipment.

One day, the kiddo grabs the ball, puts it in between her legs as she has so often seen me do (for inner thigh work), does a single squat and gets this look on her face like ‘OH NO this is NOT happening, I HATE this.’ She took the ball out, placed it down, looked at me and said ‘No more Mommy, I’m done.’ So I looked right back at her and said ‘Baby you’re literally like every single client I’ve ever had in the studio in the past several years who used the ball for the first time. I know. It’s awful.’

Needless to say, she’s learning what she likes for fitness and what she doesn’t like and I’ll be there to continue to teach her along the way.

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