Archive for December 29, 2015

I wanted to hide in shame…but I didn’t.


I have to get something off my chest.


It’s one of those things I have such shame about, it’s like a rock in the pit of my gut lately.


I am a horrible housekeeper. HORRIBLE.


You might have just giggled a little bit, an in ‘THAT’S what you’re so ashamed of??’ Or you might relate completely, it just depends!


But it really is a source of shame at the moment–which is exactly why I’m broadcasting it on the internet.


Because, as Brene Brown says, shame can’t survive being spoken.


It’s a real hot-button for me because I live in a culture where cleanliness and keeping a clean house are valued highly and perceivably add to your quality of character.


It’s a trigger for shame right now because we’ve been moving out of our house with the help of friends for most of the month of December.


And there’s nothing that will expose your housekeeping oversights and flat-out failures than moving ALL your worldly goods at once.



AND there’s nothing that will expose YOU like having most of the people in your circle of friends witness it firsthand.


Even thinking about it and talking about it right now kind of makes me want to throw up…which, again, is exactly why I’m outing myself.


Every time a piece of furniture was picked up, I’d want to run over and either cover the mess behind/underneath it or sweep it away from right under the person lifting the furniture. I didn’t of course, but the urge was strong.


“How did I let it get this way?” I would think.

“Why didn’t I do BETTER?”

“What’s WRONG with me?”

“They’re going to think so badly of me.”

“I’m so ASHAMED.”

“How can I FIX this??”


As I stood in the middle of my filthy house, with all my belongings being moved around by our friends, I realized the feelings I was having and the words I was thinking were EXACTLY the same as when I realized on Christmas break, my freshman year in college, HOW much weight I’d gained in the first 3 months of college.


They were exactly the same as when I realized, sitting in a classroom of my peers at the end of my Master’s in Teaching program, how I’d gained ten pounds of flab—right before my trip to Italy, in the middle of the summer.  With summer dresses.  And Italian beaches.


They were exactly the same as when the female doctor looked at me when I was 6 months postpartum and asked in a not-so-kind voice, “Exactly how much do you THINK you weigh?” and then had me climb on the scale to prove how much I’d underestimated the number.


They were exactly the same as when I put on my skinny jeans after Christmas break the first year I was a personal trainer, and felt the waistband cut into my stomach.



“How did I let it get this way?”

“Why didn’t I do better?”

“What’s wrong with me?”

“They’re going to think so badly of me.”

“I’m so ashamed.”

“How can I fix this??”


I think so many of us can relate to these feelings, these words.


We can relate to the feeling of suddenly realizing how far we’ve slipped, the shame that is hard on the heels of that sudden realization, of the next desperate desire to FIX what’s wrong IMMEDIATELY.


Except, just like with my mess of a house, it can’t be fixed by any single heroic, on-the-spot action.


A house doesn’t get accumulate all that dirt in a single day, or week; it accumulates it over a long period of time.


We don’t suddenly gain weight or lose our fitness in a single day, or week; it happens as a result of small choices that add up over time.


And we can’t fix either of those things overnight, as much as we’d love to!!


It takes progressive choices over time to get us into those situations, and it takes progressive choices over time to get us OUT of those situations.



It is SO hard, but the first step to changing is getting honest with ourselves.


We have to face our reality, own our past choices, but do it in a way that releases that feeling of shame from the situation…which means speaking our shame.


My house was a disaster because I wasn’t consistent enough with my (deep) cleaning efforts. I did not prioritize cleaning.

The state of my house on moving day was the result. Ugly? Yes. Uncomfortable? Oh HELL, yes.


But the state of my house was a result of the CHOICES I had made, NOT my quality of character.


Those other times when I had those (VERY uncomfortable) moments where I suddenly realized HOW much weight/inches I’d gained?


Same thing. The first reaction was shame. Then I’d get honest with myself.


–>I’d gained weight in college because I’d been eating too much pizza and beer and overdoing it at the lunch and dinner buffets and hadn’t exercise AT ALL.


–>I’d gained weight during my master’s program because I’d been overdoing it with comfort carb foods, and adding some calorie-dense morning and afternoon snacks to the mix…and not exercising AT ALL.


–>I’d been eating for comfort and company while at home alone with an infant on an isolated Army post in Louisiana, grazing throughout the day, and not exercising AT ALL.


–>I’d completely ditched my normal eating patterns and totally indulged in holiday foods and drinks and treats from Thanksgiving to Christmas, and exercised less than I normally would.


I’d made those CHOICES, over time, that resulted in some uncomfortable form of weight gain and an increase in my waistline.


But if my choices, not my character, were what got me INTO those situations, then it would be my choices, over time,that would get me OUT of those situations.


When we reframe our experiences into choices, not just feelings, we empower ourselves to change our experiences.


When we look at how our past choices have gotten us into our current circumstances, we give ourselves the power to make NEW choices that will get us what we want…over time.


In all truth, there’s no quick fix, no matter what any commercial, ad or marketer tell us.


‘Fixing’ takes time…and that’s OKAY!


Because during that time we get to learn about ourselves, develop new ways of thinking, develop new habits, develop new ways of dealing with strong emotions, so that when we get to that point we say it’s ‘fixed,’ we know how to STAY there.



To be a better housekeeper, I don’t need to be a better person. I just need to have a schedule and a plan and stick to it. That’s just a case of making different daily and weekly choices.


Totally do-able.


To change how our bodies look or feel, we don’t have to be ‘better’ people. We just need to make better choices, on a daily and weekly basis.




When we reframe our lives in the context of a series of choices and not a reflection of our characters it frees us from shame.


When we see our current body size, shape, weight, etc. as a result of a series of choices, it gives us the tools we need to change.


If you’ve had one of those shame-inspiring, sudden realization moments, don’t hide it. Share it. Speak that shame and ditch it.


If you don’t feel courageous enough to tell someone you know, send me a message. Get it off your chest.


Then get busy owning your choices so you can make new ones and create that body and life you seek.


I already feel better because I told you about my shame. And now I’m getting busy making that schedule to create a better, cleaner, future in my new home.


If you want more support and more guidance to make lasting changes in your nutrition and fitness, but you’re not sure where to start, shoot me an email at


I’d love to talk and help get you started making those better choices to help you live a happier, healthier life.



Always in your corner,



Trainer Tip Tuesday: SMILE to perform better!

crazy c25k finale

Trainer Tip Tuesday

Today’s tip: SMILE when you’re working out–even if you don’t feel like it!


Smiling so that your cheeks are engaged ‘tricks’ your brain into thinking you’re having a good time.

This creates a bigger release of ‘happy hormones,’ like serotonin and endorphins, which relieve pain and make you ‘feel good.’



BUT, it needs to be a Duchenne smile to be effective:

“Duchenne smiles are the only type of smile that creates this positive effects. These smiles engage the muscles in the mouth, cheeks, and eyes and are considered to be genuine smiles.”


So the next time you’re in the middle of that wicked conditioning workout, HIIT workout, long run or heavy lift, remember to smile and make your workout AND your results even better!


Plus, smiling just feels a whole lot better than frowning during a workout or a rough day–I’ve given the ‘game face’/frowning thing plenty of testing in the past.

16kg clean and press July 2015

Case in point. Yes, I was suffering.


The smiling thing, and even laughing at myself, works out WAY better–in the moment AND the long run 🙂


But don’t take my word for it–try it out yourself! 🙂


Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

Workout Wednesday: Descending, Time-Saving, Fat-Burning Ladders

Workout Wednesday Kb

It’s Workout Wednesday!

Today’s Workout is a sweet, quick descending ladder workout.


It’ll get you sweaty and out of breath quick and every joint on your body will be in on the action–which means LOTS of bang for your workout buck.


And that’s the theme of the holiday season–getting all kinds of workout bang for your buck without killing yourself at the gym or on the road for hours at a time.



You need that energy for all the other holiday goodness happening in your life!

There are two versions: one for the kettlebell savvy and one for those who prefer dumbbells (although a barbell will work, too if you like that better!)


Directions for the Ladder Workouts:
Complete the exercises in the order listed, starting at 10 reps each and counting down until 1 rep of each on your last set.


Use a weight that’s challenging but one you can also ‘keep it pretty’ with. If the reps are getting ugly, you’re not doing yourself any favors, and it’s better to downsize than have regrets tomorrow 🙂


Kettlebell Ladder:
Goblet Squat
Kettlebell Swing





Dumbbell Ladder*:
Front Squats
Alternating Reverse Lunges
Bent Rows (or staggered step if that’s better for your back)


Commercial Rubber Dumbbells


*Barbell Option: Start the ladder at 5 reps and work down to 1 rep. Keep the bar in the front-hold position (or use a cross-grip hold if that’s more secure) for the squats and the lunges (you’ll get some sweet anterior core work).


For the rows, use an overhand grip where your thumbs are just outside your thighs and really think about squeezing with the middle back muscles on every single rep, especially when straightening the arms.



**Extra Trainer Tip: Pay extra attention to keeping the tightness in your back, glutes and abs the whole time to get the most out of your workout in the safest way 🙂 **


For more time-saving workout ideas, inspiration, and brain tricks to keep you healthy, happy and centered all holiday season, grab a free copy of my Healthy, Happy Holiday You handbook by clicking the link below!

Why I Don’t ‘Eat Clean’ (anymore)



A few years ago, when I began my transition from eating mindlessly, compulsively and emotionally to eating more intuitively (and it was a transition over a period of years for me, not a lightswitch event!), one of the biggest changes happened when I started to adopt ‘clean eating’ practices.



I learned about ‘clean eating’ from my then personal trainer, who was an Oxygen magazine reader. She recommended that I check out a book by Tosca Reno, called “The Eat Clean Diet.”



At the time, I’d just undergone a year-long transformation in which I’d lost 10 pounds, nursed my low back back to health through physical therapy, strength training 3-4 times a week and doing cardio interval workouts 2-3 times a week.



My limiting factor: my total lack of diet/nutrition knowledge. So this seemed like a good place to start! After all, it was recommended by my trainer (who was a really ethical and amazing person), and featured a 40-something woman (Tosca Reno) who was super fit.


Over the next three years, I slowly adopted the Eat-Clean practices, demonizing processed foods, labeling and categorizing food groups, and I fell into a very restrictive ‘on-plan/off-plan’ perspective on eating.



I started to develop a kind of fear of processed foods as a whole, a little bit paranoid that if it wasn’t a ‘good’ food, I was poisoning myself and my kids.



If I couldn’t find or use the special, prescribed ingredient (rapidura sugar comes to mind—where do you go about finding that in rural Germany, btw??) for a recipe, I was failing.



I started to be paranoid about what kind of produce I bought, so much so that I would skip buying it if it wasn’t organic—which caused me even more stress because then I wasn’t feeding us enough produce!!!




Oh yeah, my obsessiveness wasn’t exactly helping my relationship with my husband either.



Holy unnecessary life stress, Batman.


It came to a point where I realized I was not helping us by adhering to such an all-or-nothing way of thinking. I was causing myself stress, adding stress to my relationship, and just making things much harder than they needed to be. And one kid still had acid reflux and the other one still had excema.



So the iron fist nutritional regime began to shift and change.


I decided that some produce that wasn’t organic was better than avoiding all but a limited selection or amount of produce each week—because not only is organic produce a little harder to come by, it’s a lot more costly.


I decided it was okay for us to eat non-organic pasta. It probably wasn’t the devil.


I accepted that a little refined sugar in baking (and I do still keep it minimal) wasn’t going to poison us.


This ‘nutrition regime change’ also coincided with when I started working with clients as a personal trainer.


Like it or not, I was a role model.  People wanted to know how I ate to get/keep my results, so I spread the “Clean Eating” message.


But I soon realized that all-or-nothing approaches, like the “Eat Clean” diet set them up for feeling like they were failing if they couldn’t adhere to the approach 100%.   And it really wasn’t reasonable to expect that any of them would adhere to such a drastic and sudden change to their current, and historic, eating patterns.


They could hang in there for a few weeks, like they could to any diet, but then there would be the inevitable backslide once the dam of resistance broke. And they would feel shame.



I wanted to help my clients learn to live better, and eat more healthfully, not cause them shame!



So there just had to be some give in the approach—for personal, practical and financial reasons.


Which leads me to another reason I stopped preaching the Eat-Clean message and pushing the ‘all clean or nothing’ doctrine….Shame.


More specifically, the use of shame by established fitness and nutrition professionals as part of their ‘clean eating’ platform.

There is a woman who I followed for about two years during my hard-core Eat-Clean phase.



She was over 50, kickass strong, a fitness model and everything I thought I wanted to model myself after.



I loved her pull up challenges on YouTube, loved her articles in Oxygen when she contributed, ate up what she had to say on her facebook page.




Until that day when she went on a rant about domestic animal big Agriculture in the U.S.–which wasn’t what bothered me, btw. I get that position, that feeling, and there’s much that needs to be improved for the animals’ welfare as well as our own.


It was the part where she said, (and I paraphrase—it was over two years ago) “Shame on you. Shame on you if you eat meat from these places. Shame on you for not eating grass-fed meat.”


I posted in the comments that maybe that wasn’t feasible for everyone—that organic meat isn’t always affordable for people on limited incomes, that shaming people for just doing their best to feed themselves and their children as well as they can was really inappropriate.


Of course, it wasn’t well-received by her and I was chastised for my small-mindedness. I naturally unfollowed her, unsubscribed, etc, immediately.


That was pretty much the nail in the ‘all-or-nothing’ ‘Eat-Clean-or-else’ coffin.


The idea that my eating choices were either morally superior or inferior was ridiculous.


It wasn’t a concept I wanted to take any part in or perpetuate any longer in my personal or my professional life.


Sometimes good enough IS good enough.


I’ve got enough to worry about in life without struggling with myself over which bell pepper to buy each time I go to the grocery store.


I suspect it’s the same for you!


I don’t Eat Clean anymore. I eat well.


I eat sustainably—in a way that I can continue without stress or strife.


I eat healthfully, but not ‘perfectly.’


Sure, I’m still partial to some organic products and produce, and if there’s a sale or special on my faves, I’m ALL over it.


But I don’t freak out if what’s in my shopping cart isn’t all grass-fed, pasture-raised, GMO-free, and/or free-range.


Because the way we shop, cook and eat shouldn’t be causes for stress or shame. The way we sustain our physical selves and care for our families shouldn’t be a moral platform.


It should, at its best, be reasonable, satisfying, and just plain do-able on a daily and weekly basis.


Eating real foods, lots of veggies, quality protein balanced with some treats here and there is our big objective. And demonizing foods and food groups, thinking and living restrictively doesn’t serve our long-term welfare. It just hangs us up at the starting line.