Archive for August 29, 2015

Finding my new happy…in an unexpected place.

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I have a confession.

It’s a big one I’ve been sitting on for four months now.

But I thought it was time to come clean and ‘out’ myself.

 

I’ve joined a CrossFit gym–CrossFit Ansbach, to be specific.

 

For those of you who have known me or trained with me over the past few years, this is probably a big surprise to you! I’m still a little surprised at myself, too, but you’ll understand why I’ve made this choice when I explain in a minute.

 

First, a little background….I’ve been super critical of CrossFit in general.

 

Mostly because what I’ve seen being performed in the post fitness facility and on the internet is, well, pretty darn awful in terms of form, execution, safety; and the cost:benefit ratio is way off.

 

I’ve witnessed a lot of ‘go harder’ not ‘work smarter’–untrained people lifting heavily weighted barbells poorly and at crazy, uncontrolled tempos.

 

I volunteer in a Physical Therapy clinic as an extra set of eyes and hands, helping patients with their therapy exercises, etc.  I’ve also been the fortunate recipient of treatment there twice–fortunate because my treatment worked really well AND I learned a ton about joint function and healthy movement patterns as a result.

 

This experience makes me a little wary of exercise selection and people performing weighted movements in some scary (and sometimes desperate-looking) ways.

 

But back to my confession…and the reasons behind my possibly surprising choice.

 

I made the difficult (and risky) decision to leave my position as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor at the post fitness center just about a year ago.

 

Though I truly loved my clients and class-goers, and was getting plenty of business, it was simply no longer a good fit for me for a number of reasons.  I persisted in working out there for a number of months afterwards (there aren’t that many options where we’re stationed!)…but it just wasn’t a good place for me any longer, even as a gym patron.

 

After some soul-searching and ego-checking, I realized a few things:

1) I needed a change.  

2) I wanted to learn and grow.  

3) I needed guidance and expert training.  

4) At 40, I wanted to test and realize my athletic potential.  I did not know what I was TRULY capable of doing, and I wasn’t getting any younger, lol!

 

So I followed the recommendation of a fellow trainer I respected and checked out CrossFit Ansbach.  I promised myself I wouldn’t do anything I deemed unsafe or overly risky, and that I would keep an open line of communication with the trainers if my shoulders, etc., started to feel bad.

 

It’s been one of the best choices I’ve made for myself in a long time.  I found that the community was warm and positive (and drama-free), and the owner and trainers were knowledgeable and attentive, AND they were as preoccupied with participant safety as I was.

And I have learned and grown–a ton already.

I’m adding new skills and knowledge to my toolkit as both an athlete and a personal trainer regularly.

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I’ve already exceeded my own expectations of my abilities and athleticism, and at this point the proverbial sky is the limit 🙂

Moral of my story and confession:  

You have to do what’s right for you. 

 

If something in your life isn’t a good fit, if it’s not serving you or growing you, if it’s causing you internal strife on a regular basis, then that something needs to change.

 

It can take serious guts to pull up roots, take a chance on something unknown, to do what other people might not understand or condone, but it’s essential to living a happier, more peaceful, more full life.

 

Life is short.  It goes by faster than you think it will.  Do that thing that scares you. 

Make those changes you know you need to so that you can think, feel, do and live better.  Find the people who have the skills, tools and knowledge to help you grow.

Stick with the people who make you feel like a better person, not the ones who drag you down.

Don’t wait.

Get out there and do one thing today that gets you closer to the you that you want to be and the happy that you seek.

Follow your gut.  Find your happy.

 

Problem…or Opportunity?

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I’ve been talking to many people lately about how things are challenging at the moment. Life is throwing wrenches in their best-laid plans, or what they are aiming to accomplish (daily or weekly) is just feeling hard to do.

Like, REALLY hard. And I’m right there, too.

When we run into these challenges, or phases of HARD (and I promise, it IS just a phase), we can handle them in a couple of ways. We can roll over, wave the white flag and say, ‘See, it just wasn’t meant to be.’ This can be seriously tempting at times–I had the desire myself week before last!

Or…we can change our perspective on our challenges.

We can choose to look at what’s challenging us as a gift–as something that’s been put in our lives to test our mettle a little bit, to cause us to grow stronger, or more determined, or more resilient, or to develop skills and talents we otherwise would not have.

We can open ourselves up to the lesson that this phase of challenge offers us, and grow through it rather than be shut down by it.

I know in my own life, my greatest accomplishments have come through facing, enduring, living through and learning from challenges that threatened to devastate me.

Each time I go through another phase of challenge, however big or small, I also know that I am GROWing through it, and I’ll come out better on the other side.

So if you’re one of those people feeling challenged lately, blown about by life, I’d say stop and take a look at what lesson your challenge might be trying to teach you. It just might be a gift in disguise.

Problems

Body Glide and the Big Epiphany

There is no wrong way to have a body2

 

This Stuff.

 

 

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I’m pretty sure there’s special place in heaven for the creator of this stuff.  What is this glorious invention?  It’s Body Glide–a little bit of heaven in deodorant-stick-like form.

 

 

 

 

It’s given many a runner a great deal of comfort, and it’s given me the ability to look at my body in a whole new light.

 

 

 

 

I think I first discovered Body Glide in 2007, when we were stationed at Fort Rucker, AL, and I’d started running regularly (in 90-degree heat and 100% humidity) after recovering from my low back/pelvic injury for the prior 14 months.

 

 

 

 

If you live in the south of the US, or have visited in the south during the summer, you’ll understand how as soon as you walk out the door, your body bursts into a total-body sweat instantly.

 

 

Now compound that with actual movement and exertion–in a climate where your sweat never evaporates, just collects on every millimeter of your skin until it pours off of you.  What you have is a formula for some serious chafing of any place where your skin rubs your clothes–at all.

 

 

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2008 Gate to Gate Run Finish

 

Well, for a girl whose thighs have always been very friendly, and whose triceps are a little on the bigger side, this does not bode well.

 

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I’m definitely ‘well-endowed’ in the tricep department!

 

There were more than a few occasions where I rubbed my inner thighs and below my armpits raw after just a couple of miles.  Yeouch.

 

 

 

Well, I wasn’t quitting running, and we weren’t being relocated anytime soon, so finding a solution was critical.

 

Enter:  Runner’s World Magazine and THE solution.

 

 

Body Glide.

 

 

Lucky for me, the local sports store in Enterprise, AL, had some small sticks available right up at the cash register.  For about $5, I snatched one up and prayed for relief.

 

 

 

Body Glide did not disappoint.

 

 

For the first time in pretty much ever, nothing chafed, nothing rubbed uncomfortably, despite high temps, horrific humidity (I’m a Seattle girl.  We don’t do humidity.), and a massive amount of sweat.

 

 

 

Victory was mine!

 

 

 

 

Fast forward a couple of years to a very warm stretch of summer in Germany, and the rare event where it was both warm enough for me to don a sundress and I actually had the desire to!

 

 

 

Although I only went out to dinner with a couple of friends that night and there was MINIMAL walking involved, by the time I got home my friendly thighs had ‘road rash’ once again!  OUCH.

 

 

 

I was pretty disappointed and annoyed that my thighs touching made it hard to comfortably wear a dress in the summer.  Damn friendly thighs….

 

 

 

Then it dawned on me, as I stared into my medicine cabinet later:  Body Glide isn’t just for athletic use.  It’s for ANYTIME use!  Duh!!  Why hadn’t I thought of this sooner?!?

 

 

 

Friendly thighs were no longer going to stop me from wearing skirts or dresses in warm weather.  With the assistance of some Body Glide, I could wear what I wanted (skirts, dresses, shorts, bikinis) with comfort and confidence.

 

 

 

Around this same time, I started having trouble with blouses and dresses with sleeves fitting.

 

 

 

Specifically, all was well until I tried to get my shoulders in them, or the blouse or dress to close.  About 6 months before this, I started doing pull ups regularly and having alot of fun with push ups and upper body training.

 

Spring 2014

 

Seeing as I’m ‘gifted’ in the delt department (they gain size really easily), my shoulders had shaped up and grown a bit.

 

 

 

At first, I had the urge to blame my shoulders for being too big or muscular–but only for a second.

 

 

Then I took a look at myself.  

 

 

 

I liked what I saw.  

 

 

 

 

I didn’t like the way the dress fit (or didn’t).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’ve got some delts…and I like them.

Epiphany:  The problem wasn’t the size of my shoulders or the way my shoulders and arms were shaped, the problem was in the design of the clothes.

 

 

Well, you know how feelings can snowball….Pretty soon I was looking at the rest of my body in the same way, starting with my friendly thighs.

 

 

 

I started to take the view on things that if clothes didn’t fit, it was because the clothes were the wrong design, not that my body was flawed.

 

 

 

My thighs have touched for as long as I can remember–seriously way back into childhood.

 

 

 

There have only been a few (three, maybe) phases when I remember my thighs NOT touching, and these were all related to drastic weight losses, one stemming from abdominal surgery and losing a ton of muscle, and two really stressful life events when I ate very little and ran a lot.

 

 

 

My thighs are the way they are and they’re not changing anytime soon.  And you know what?  I’m totally cool with that.  

 

 

 

Because they are strong and shapely and capable of some amazing feats.

 

 

 

 

It hasn’t been an overnight mental transformation, though.

 

 

 

 

Building better body acceptance has been a bit-by-bit, over time project.  It’s required me to catch myself when I slip into negative thought patterns, when I pinch my belly, or grab at my outer thighs, or mentally berate my cellulite, or fall into any kind of #comparisontrap, and to replace those negative thoughts with body-positive statements.

 

 

 

 

 

These days, when I’m shopping for jeans, or dresses, or even bikinis (still not a fun project for me!), I don’t harsh on my body when something doesn’t fit well or look good on me.

 

 

 

 

I blame it entirely on the cut/design of the clothing.  Fashion trends and social media be damned, if it doesn’t fit my body, it’s not because my body is flawed!!

 

 

 

 

My body is healthy strong, capable and amazing–stretch marks, mommy tummy, cellulite and all 🙂

 

 

Thank you, Body Glide, for starting me on the path to greater body acceptance and for helping me realize that products and clothing need to adapt to ME and my body, not the other way around.  

 

 

And in the immortal words of the Dread Pirate Scott, from one of the best movies of all time: The Princess Bride, “…anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something.”

 

 

Some of my favorite body-positive mantras are:

 

  • Just Do You (to pull out of the comparison trap)
  • You’re amazing; the clothes suck
  • I love my strong ____________ (fill in the blank with body part)
  • I’m more than the sum of my parts

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So if you’re out there carrying out that sometimes traumatic task of shopping for a bathing suit, or any other piece of clothing that has stressed you out in the past, keep this in mind:

 

 

 

 

It’s not your body that’s flawed. It’s the clothes.

 

 

 

 

 

Ditch what doesn’t make you feel good, and move on!!

 

 

 

 

{PS—2016 update} Body Glide now has an even better partner product: Body Slide.

 

 

This stuff is super easy to apply to our rounded bits and gets into any ‘nooks and crannies’ more easily. Plus, it wears amazingly well through sweat and water exposure.

 

 

 

Body Slide saved me so much pain last summer, and made wearing a bikini in saltwater a pleasant experience!

 

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Summer 2015: rockin’ the bikini with the help of more body positivity and a bunch of Body Slide :)

Can’t recommend it enough.

 

 

 

What are your body-positive mantras??

 

 

 

 

Add yours to the comments below–I’d love to hear what works for you!

Thankful Thursday! August 20, 2015

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It’s Thankful Thursday!

What are YOU grateful for today? 🙂

Today I’m grateful for every injury I’ve ever sustained. Sounds weird, right?!?

Practicing daily gratitude.

Practicing daily gratitude.

Let me explain….

Really, I’m so grateful for the shin splints I got in college, because they taught me to buy better running shoes.

I’m grateful for the ovarian cyst I had removed after college, because it taught me respect for the healing powers of the body and what it means to really start from scratch again fitness-wise.

I’m grateful for the pulled hip flexor muscles I got from jumping back into playing soccer too soon after surgery, because it taught me the importance of re-conditioning.

I’m grateful for the nasty horse riding fall I had and low-back/pelvic trauma that resulted, because it taught me about the importance of core strength and respect for rebuilding the body structurally.

I also never took walking or running for granted again.

I’m grateful for breaking my big toe, and even the bone infection that followed, because it taught me to value my body’s health once more, not just how it looked.

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I’m grateful for tearing my meniscus and needing surgery, because it taught me more about the importance and role of strong hip (glute) muscles and how to run more healthfully and effectively.

I’m grateful for the shoulder injury I needed 14 weeks of PT for, because it taught me the importance of scapular muscle strength and how to build a healthier shoulder.

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Tough Mudder 2013: One month after completing PT for my shoulder. The result? An awesome, pain-free, injury-free experience.

Every injury I’ve experienced and healed from, no matter how devastating or frustrating they were at the time, have been opportunities for practicing gratitude and learning more.

These experiences have created in me a deep respect for the function of the human body, and the partnership we all have between our bodies and our human spirit. This respect has become the foundation of my training and coaching practices.

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Without all these experiences, I’m not sure what kind of person, let alone trainer, I would be, hence massive gratitude 🙂

So what ARE you grateful for? 🙂

Skinny is a four-letter word.

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Recently, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my approach to fitness and to the nutrition, mindset and exercise recommendations I make because the moderate/sustainable approach, well, it just isn’t SEXY.

It’s not an eye-catcher or attention-grabber or a quick sell.

 

I’ve wondered a little lately if I’M the one off-base, if I’M missing the boat by not offering ‘get skinny quick’ workouts and meal plans, or by selling weight loss supplements/fixes as well….

 

I made a conscious decision last year to stop trying to ‘sell the six-pack’ in social media. I made the choice to keep my shirt on (literally) because I realized it wasn’t my goal or true calling to sell women on getting skinny or having six-pack abs or an apple butt as what their fitness should look like.

 

Fitness, for me, is so much more than just looking a certain way, or meeting a subjective standard of beauty in order to feel good, happy with one’s body, ‘fit enough’ or accomplished.

Fitness is a source of strength, of learning to trust one’s own body, of finding the depth of one’s courage and human spirit, of feeling comfortable and confident in the body we travel our life’s journey in, whatever it’s size or shape.

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Holding up that slick, six-pack ‘lean, tight and toned’ ideal as the end goal, selling that as the ideal and gold standard by which women measure themselves—it wasn’t encouraging, and it didn’t make me feel good about what I was doing.

 

It was heartbreaking.

 

Heartbreaking because many of the women I worked with, or had social contact with, many of the women I knew and loved in all the areas of my life were saving self-acceptance and happiness and comfort in their own skins for when they achieved “X” number on the scale, or “X” number in their dress size, or “X” number in body fat %, or when a certain ‘least favorite’ body part yielded to their wishes and finally looked smaller/toned/tight/smooth.

 

And these amazing women deserved MORE than that.

 

As I’ve lived through more phases of my life, met more challenges, endured more hardships, and accomplished greater satisfaction of my own through performance-based achievements (rather than just scale-based or appearance-based ‘accomplishments’), I realized that feeling good about myself and my body wasn’t an ‘outside-in’ project.

It was an ‘INSIDE-out’ one—complete with cellulite, wiggly bits and a host of other aesthetic ‘imperfections’ combined with relentless self-acceptance and even gratitude.

Once you have these experiences and epiphanies, you can’t go back to thinking and living the way you were before.

It’s like opening Pandora’s Box of positivities—and these positivities have to be shared and spread; once that box is opened, they can’t be contained or stuffed back in.

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So I made it my mission to spread the messages of relentless self-acceptance, fitness as a tool for growing into MORE of one’s self, not less, of loving yourself forward into change, not loathing yourself into submission. These were messages and ideals that had meaning, these were messages and ideals I could feel really good about promoting and encouraging women to strive towards.

Self-worth

 

And yet…there are moments, I have to admit, when I feel a little nagging doubt, a ‘naysayer’s’ voice in my head, wondering if maybe I’m off-track or in the wrong business—because the sexy and the quick-fix have a lot of traction and seem to really sell.

Then there are the moments like the one I had first thing this morning, when I received a message from a reader who was distressed by an experience she’d had with her 6 year-old daughter a that night.

She wrote, “Tonight my 6 year old daughter, two days into first grade, told me she wants to be “skinny” – and asked me if I right she was getting skinnier. I was so sad to hear her say those things. I make a point not to say things like “skinny” or “fat”, and instead focus on being healthy and strong. She said she wants to be famous and skinny. I was not expecting this kind of comment from such a young girl.”

Holy crap. She’s 6. And I know her mother is a great role model for her, so the fact that she’s saying this is really kind of scary. I could make a thousand guesses where she’s getting these ideas and messages, but it wouldn’t really matter. What matters is being part of the solution, not adding to the problem.

Being a part of the solution is what galvanizes my dedication to the choice I made last year, the decision to promote physical and emotional strength through improved fitness, to promote positive self-image and body acceptance while helping women learn to adopt healthier eating and movement habits in their daily lives.

Because I can’t stand for one second the idea that I might be someone who contributes to the concept a little girl has that she needs to be skinnier to be accomplished, to be accepted, to be someone.

 

This one message gave me back the conviction that I AM on the right track.

I’m certain that I am because I’ve lived many years of my life consumed with angst about not being good enough, feeling like I had to have a super low body fat percentage, look like “X” body ideal (round here, smooth there, ripped here….), and get enough external validation through the praise and compliments of others to feel good about myself.

And even when I DID look like “X” and got ‘lean enough’, and got lots of external validation, it wasn’t enough. I still didn’t feel good enough. Having reached one aesthetic goal and failed to get the ‘good enough’ feeling, I would chase another aesthetic ideal, or try to become more like someone else whose body other people praised as worthy and admirable.

It ate me up inside.

I was never good enough. I didn’t appreciate the body I had, the gifts and abilities I possessed. I was negative and fearful and desperate. And I don’t wish those feelings on anyone—let alone a 6 year-old girl who just started first grade, who is just in the beginning stages of developing her character and identity as a person, not just a body.

 

So, despite the noise around me, the bells and whistles and shiny objects flying around in the fitness industry and social media, I know I have chosen the right path.

  • I know that emphasizing looking at our bodies and ourselves in a positive way is critically important.
  • I know that promoting gratitude for the health and gifts we have is essential on the path to true and lasting body and lifestyle change.
  • I know that teaching women the value in working out isn’t in getting skinny, it’s in getting stronger, inside and out.
  • I know that giving women the tools to change their own lives, one step at a time, instead of offering some ‘miracle solution’ is the right thing to do—truly, it’s the only thing that REALLY works.

I know, because I have lived both sides of the coin.

 

And I’m going to continue being a part of the solution.

I work out to be MORE of myself, not less.