Archive for August 24, 2016

One tool to feel better in your own skin right NOW.

Love what you’ve got.



Some women showcase their legs, or cleavage, or glutes; I showcase my back and shoulders!


Traveling in Europe always gives me perspective on the concepts of what’s beautiful, what’s desireable, what’s ‘normal.’



When I was 14 years younger, newly married and living in Germany the first time, I would drive myself crazy comparing myself to other women, and always come up short and feeling ‘less than.’



But at a certain point, I actively chose to see my strengths not just my ‘flaws,’ to appreciate my own human vehicle while also appreciating other people’s.



It is possible to see other people’s strengths and beauty and appreciate them without it taking away from our own.



We can say, “she’s gorgeous” without it meaning we’re not, and we can say that we’re gorgeous without it meaning that someone else isn’t or is less so…it just took me 38ish years to internalize that lesson 🙂



Work what you’ve got, love what you’ve got, don’t worry about what you don’t.



Ditch the comparison trap and just be YOUR best you every day.



Life’s way more peaceful this way ❤️



Your body is not your opponent; it’s your partner for life

Your body is not your enemy nor your opponent. It is your partner for life.


If you’ve been struggling with your body–your weight, your musculature, your shape, your size, your speed, your strength, your endurance, your appearance–it’s likely that you’ve adopted a position or attitude of being at war with your body.


You might feel like it’s resisting you, or holding you back, or even betraying you.

“If you knew who you truly were, you would be in awe.”
~Dr. Libby Weaver, Ph.D.


This quote comes from a TED talk by Dr. Libby Weaver, whose Ph. D. is in Nutritional Biochemistry, was describing how the body looks when it’s mapped out by it’s systems and biochemicals.


When we’re trying to lose weight, or get fitter, or lift heavier, or run faster, or just plain feel better and it’s just plain hard, or the results aren’t showing up the way we want them to, it can be discouraging and frustrating.


It’s easy to get a little fixated on how our bodies aren’t ‘right’ yet, or doing what they’re ‘supposed’ to be doing–and to forget how amazing our human bodies really are.


“When you the human body mapped out, you see the absolute miracle that we are,” she says. “Miraculous.”


Last week, I tweaked my back doing something light and simple in the gym.  It scared the bejeebers out of me–mostly because I couldn’t sit, stand or bend over normally for three days.


Moments like that remind me how amazing our bodies really are–and how our bodies shouldn’t be taken for granted.


The week before, I was complaining that my endurance wasn’t up to par, that I couldn’t lift as much lately, that I couldn’t keep up with the other people in class.  They were getting stronger, and I was ‘stalling out.’


Then, when just moving around the house became challenging, I realized I needed to focus more on taking care of the amazing vehicle I travel this life inside of instead of getting upset because it wasn’t ‘behaving the way I thought she* should.’  *(I call my body a she, not an it, because we’re partners in life, and she deserves respect.)


I had to be reminded not to take my body for granted, or resent her in any way, but to care for it better, to appreciate the health and mobility I have, and to just give my amazing body more rest so it could feel better and repair better, because she and I are going to be partners for a long time.  And we have alot of cool stuff left to do!


Dimel DL 29 July americanswings



What would happen if, instead of feeling like your body is the opponent to be conquered or subdued, you looked at it as your partner for life?


  • How would that change your the way you eat?
  • How would that change the way you move, or exercise?
  • How would that change the way you perceived your body?
  • Would you be more grateful, more gentle with yourself?
  • Would you be more likely to care for, rather than punish or abuse, your body?
  • Would your motivation to take better care of your body improve?



If you’ve been at war with your body, maybe it’s time to take a different perspective–to see it as an asset, a gift, and the one true partner you will always have, through thick and thin.



Maybe embracing your body’s gifts, its strengths, its natural tendencies and its needs is the first step to creating the changes we seek, the physique we desire, the strong, satisfying and fulfilled lifestyle we week to lead.



Today I encourage you to look at your body through an appreciative lens and name 3 things that are amazing about your body. You don’t have to post them here, just recognize and name them (out loud) for yourself.



Just as it can with our gratitude practices, adopting a daily body appreciation practice will create a more positive mindset and experience of the world.


When we are actively recognizing and appreciating all the incredible things our bodies do and are capable of, it becomes a whole lot harder (and less meaningful) to criticize the ways in which it’s ‘flawed.’


More gratitude, more happy feelings about our bodies. More happy feelings about our bodies, more happy hormones…which leads to better results…it’s a gorgeous self-reinforcing cycle 🙂




5 Motivation Fixes that LAST (and how the 2008 Olympics changed my life)


It was August 2008.


I was sitting on my couch, nursing my just turned 2-month-old baby, watching the story about Dara Torres on NBC’s coverage of the Summer Olympics. I always loved watching the Olympics—I have for as long as I can remember, but I was transfixed by Dara Torres’ story.


20080804_400 daratorreskidolympics


I remembered Dara from another Olympics much earlier in my life, her face familiar, but she wasn’t someone that I’d paid much attention to in the 1984, 1988, 1992 or even the 2000 Olympic games.


That changed in 2008, when sitting in my thoroughly postpartum body, living life as a SAHM and support staff for my husband as he made his way through helicopter flight school at Fort Rucker, I bore witness to Dara daring to compete again in the Olympics at age 42, after taking time off from swimming competitively and having a 15-month old child herself.


4 weeks


Her story inspired me. I didn’t really understand the rigors of her training, or her need for an extended warm up plus soft tissue massage (by means of two small, trained male masseuses walking on the backs of her legs and working on all her other limbs–completely fascinating!), but I recognized her drive, that she had to want it more and work harder than her younger counterparts. I recognized that she was still—at her ripe old age of 42—capable of incredible accomplishments.


Dara inspired me to think that more was possible; it wasn’t ‘over’ because I was 34, or had two small children, or lived in rural Alabama, or was married to the Army and its whims.


I started to believe that if I was willing to have heart, to put the work in, I could build a strong body capable of incredible things, too. Maybe not the body or the accomplishments of an Olympian, but that I, too, could reach more of my own human and athletic potential.


Dara Torres’ 2008 Olympic story and performance were heady and so motivating, even as I sat, hormonal, tired, my body soft, stretched out of shape and thoroughly postpartum, on my living rom couch.


The thing is, motivation is often a fleeting thing.


That fire that burns so hot at first when we start a new project, dedicate ourselves to a new run plan, choose a special event or occasion to prepare for, or that new diet, can be dampened pretty quickly by the rigors and demands of just plain old daily living.


Sleepless nights, long days filled with sometimes tedious, but necessary to-do’s, caring for the emotional and physical needs of others, navigating the tricky waters of the workplace—these can all knock the best of us off-track. And they have!!


Which is why, at 34, after rehabilitating my back for a year before having baby #2, and witnessing Dara Torres’ Olympic experience, I cut a picture of her from the local paper and kept it in my fitness journal, where I recorded my workouts and post-partum strength progress, so I could see it regularly.




Over the years, when I felt ‘old,’ or discouraged, or felt like throwing in the towel, or that maybe what I was doing (focusing on fitness) wasn’t that important after all, I’d look at that photo and keep trying.


It’s one of the techniques I’ve learned/cultivated to create lasting motivation in the face of struggle, injury, failure, feeling disheartened, or having obstacles thrown in my way—because real life offers plenty of these things!


At these times, it would be super easy to just throw our hands in the air and say ‘I give up until after this passes/until life calms down/until summer’s over/ until after the holidays, until January 1….’  BUT fostering a sense of purpose instead of relying on feeling ‘motivated’ can keep us positive and proactive instead of hopeless and overwhelmed.


There are five key things I do to create and maintain my ‘motivation’:


  1. Identify my deepest PURPOSE(S).

I put them into words, write them down, and reflect on them often.


  1. Get real with my schedule every week.

I identify when and where I will be getting in my workouts (I ‘sharpie’ these into my schedule), and then create my Plan B’s for those days in case my best laid plans go awry (thank you Army for teaching me this skill!)


  1. Keep motivational, inspirational and purpose-oriented quotes around the house where I can see them in the morning and evening.


These are words that have deep meaning for me, that resonate with my current challenges that redirect my thinking to the positive even when I’m feeling frustrated or unsure. They are up on my medicine cabinet, on my fridge and above my computer—kind of hard to avoid them! That’s where my photo of Dara Torres hangs out these days, too.


  1. I seek out a community of like-minded people—people who can relate to where I’m at in life, to the goals I’m pursuing, who are experiencing some of the same feelings and challenges as I am.

Community support—in the form of running buddies, fellow trainers, people who attend the same classes, and experts I can learn from all contribute to keeping me on track and moving me in a forward, positive direction.


  1. I learn a new skill.

Losing 5 pounds or looking better in a bathing suit lost their allure for me a few years ago—what was initially ‘motivating’ no longer held meaning for me.


Over time, I’ve discovered that learning a new skill, a new sport, a new technique or a new training approach keeps it fresh for me.


Learning and acquiring new skills is exciting, and mastery of a skill is fulfilling and confidence-boosting.  Plus, it’s easy to see the fruits of your labor and harder to get bored!


“In every great act, there is a challenge. In every challenge, there is a reward. In every reward lies the product of our efforts. In every effort lies new beauty to be born.”


~ Mohammed Onotu


If you’ve been struggling with motivation, then give these 5 tips a try!


Identify your deeper/deepest PURPOSE for exercising/working out/eating better.

Search your soul a bit.  Sit quietly with your feelings.  Ruminate while you commute….Then write it all down.  Don’t edit yourself, don’t judge, just write it down.  Solidify that purpose in your mind and deep in your gut.


Get real with your schedule.

Map out where your time must be spent throughout the week, then map out where you WILL spend your time acting on your purpose (exercising).  ‘Sharpie’ it in.  Then make your backup plans.  Bend if you must, but don’t break.  Find a way to make something work.


Find and post quotes where you can see them easily morning and night, and maybe even in places you’ll see them throughout the day—in your office, in your car, in your wallet….


These are those galvanizing reminders of your PURPOSE for exercising.  They should be strong, positive and purpose reinforcing.  A couple of fun apps you can use to make your own


Find a workout buddy, walking partner, running buddy or just an accountability buddy.


  • Find a fitness class or group you really enjoy where the other participants are right up your alley.  Check out other gyms if yours isn’t cutting it.
  • Start a neighborhood exercise ‘tribe’ if you don’t belong to/have access to a gym.
  • Hire an online coach/trainer for guidance, support and accountability.
  • Take part in an online fitness community with like-minded people.
  • Do whatever works best for YOU but find that support, because social support is a great predictor of long-term adherence, even for the most independent of us 😉


Try something NEW.

A new class at the gym, a new piece of equipment (kettlebells, TRX, and sandbags can add some spice into any strength training regimen), set a new goal.


Try paddle-boarding or indoor rock climbing, join a community sports team or running group, take kickboxing or karate or tae Kwan do—take on a new challenge which forces you to engage your body and mind in the process of acquiring that new skill, so that the aim isn’t so much to reshape your body as to just get better at something (your body will respond, no worries!).


“If  you can learn to motivate yourself, you can always tap into an abundance of energy that will drive you to the success you dream of.”


~ Rachael Bermingham



Now I’m the one who’s 42, and it’s my turn to inspire others to believe, with drive, hard work and a positive focus, that great things are possible for them, too.


Want to be a part of a group that will keep you positive, motivated, and purposeful?  

Check out the Real Life Fit, Happy and Healthy Facebook group!  

Here’s who we are, and what our community is all about:
Our Motto:  “Get Strong, Be Strong, Stay Strong.”
Our Mission:  To create a supportive community of women who raise each other up as we actively pursue becoming our best selves, both in and out of the gym.
What you can expect every week:
Daily thematic posts which include inspiration/motivation, training tips, recipe sharing, weekly customized workouts, and more.
What you can get out of participating:
  • Connection with other like-minded women
  • Support from a group of strong, motivated and positive women
  • The chance to ask any nutrition or fitness question you want/need and get a straightforward, no gimmicks answer
  • Recipe and nutrition resources
  • Free, done-for-you workouts
  • And much more!
We are dedicated to fostering positivity, grit, personal grace, personal growth, believing in ourselves, and helping other women believe in themselves, too.
We might be spread all over the globe, but we don’t need to feel alone!

==> Click here to check out Real Life Fit, Happy and Healthy


Always keep your head up, and keep striving for better!

6 Counterintuitive Strategies for Fast (and Lasting!) Weight Loss

This week’s blog post is a guest post from my talented and knowledgeable friend and fellow fitness pro, Becky Williams, of BKinetic Fitness.  When I need a little more fat-loss guidance, I turn to Becky for her expertise.  Plus, she has outstanding taste in books and friends 😉 Enjoy the read!


6 Counterintuitive Strategies for Fast and Lasting Weight Loss


When it comes to losing weight, we tend to rely on a few tried-and-true tactics. And whether or not they actually work for us, we keep going back to them and blame our ourselves for our inability to stick with them properly and get the results that we want.


This is when it helps to look for another way. To do something that seems at its surface to go against the grain of conventional wisdom. But then again, sometimes conventional wisdom gets it all wrong. Or, at the very least, wrong for us.


If you’re ready to try something different, read on.


  1. Eat Carbs

The practice of drastically cutting carbs has been all the rage over the past fifteen years or so. It has become the go-to tactic when it comes to losing weight. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as many of us eat too many and the wrong types of carbs for our activity levels and goals. And it’s so very tempting to lose a few lbs. right off the bat (mostly water weight though). But it’s easy to overdo it.


Carbs play a very important role in our diet — they give us quick energy, as glucose is the fuel that our brains and bodies need and use most readily.  They also help build muscle.


But cutting carbs really low can cause a variety of unpleasant side effects:  fatigue, irritability, insomnia, lowered metabolic rate, increased stress hormones, suppressed immune function, and impaired thyroid function.  Women seem to be more sensitive to the effects of a lack of carbs, particularly with hormone regulation.


A good goal is to eat as many carbs as possible while still seeing results.  This will help keep your performance in the gym at a good level, help prevent undue hormonal imbalances due to prolonged dieting, and give you something to play with if you hit a plateau.  If you start a diet at 25-50 grams of carbs a day or less, then you don’t have a whole lot of wiggle room down the road.  You can only drop your carbs down so low before it becomes counterproductive and miserable.


Start by tracking your food for a few days and then cut out one serving of a starchy or processed carb source (pasta, rice, cereal, granola bars, bread, etc.). After 2 weeks or so, assess how you feel (appetite, cravings, energy) and any results that you’re seeing before making any changes (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!).



  1. Skip the Cardio

Gasp! No cardio?!? That’s just crazy talk!


Yes, I am completely serious. And I used to be a cardio queen back in the day, running, elliptical-ing, cycling, kickboxing, stair-climbing till the cows came home. I thought that’s what I had to do to lose weight and maintain it — 45 minutes to up to 2 hours a day, 5-6 days a week, week in and week out. I was able to keep that pace up in my teens and twenties fairly easily, but now that I’m 37, I need far more recovery and smarter training.


Traditional cardio, like moderate-intensity steady state jogging or spin classes, should be treated as frosting on top of the cake, not the main dish. It’s a not-entirely-necessary but tasty addition in the right dosage. Sometimes it really enhances it, but other times it’s just too much.


The reason for this is three-fold. First, weight training is far more effective and efficient for fat loss (I’ll discuss this more below). Second, cardio tends to jack up cravings and appetite, leading to overeating and canceling out any calorie burn and then some. And third, your body will adapt to the volume of exercise that you do, and thus burn fewer calories for the same amount of work.  So that 3 miles that you run every day will boost your stamina (yay!) but will burn fewer calories (boo!).


And there is only so much exercise that you can do before it starts to be counterproductive and interferes with your recovery and lifestyle.


So the key is to be conservative with your cardio and only sprinkle it in as necessary to see continued results.  It is simply one tool out of many for fat loss, and certainly not the most important one.  As with anything, program your cardio according to your goals.  If your priority is losing fat, do as little as possible and focus on nutrition and lifting weights first and foremost.  But if your main goal is to do a 10k or a half-marathon, then by all means do as much as your training plan calls for to accomplish that mission.  Just know that your weight loss efforts will be impacted.


The one form of cardio that I wholeheartedly recommend to everyone? Leisure walking.


It’s fantastic for stress management (we can all do with some of that!), especially if you do it outdoors among nature.  It does burn a few calories, but more importantly, it activates our parasympathetic nervous system, slowing down our heart rate and increasing digestion (also known as the “rest and digest system”). This greatly enhances our recovery from exercise and the stresses of daily life.



  1. Order Dessert

I can hear all of you fellow choco-holics out there cheering yaaassss!!! Usually dessert and sweets are the first to go when dieting. And with good reason, as they are usually sugar/starch/fat bombs, which makes it more likely to be stored as fat.


Buuuuutttt….. Completely depriving ourselves of something we enjoy over a long period of time usually backfires. It’s like telling someone to not think of pink elephants. Our mind will repeatedly go back to pink elephants and how we need to think about something else. Same with our favorite treats. They’ll become all we think about, because it’s something that we can’t have. It steals our willpower, so even if we don’t give in to that temptation, we’ll struggle with everything else, whether that’s drinking more water, eating more veggies, and getting to the gym regularly. Pretty soon, even the most stoic of us will give in somewhere, and we all know how crappy that feels.

girlwith chocolate

So pick a few things that will satisfy your sweet tooth (or whatever else you crave the most) but won’t completely derail your efforts. For me, it’s dark chocolate, sugar-free fro-yo or Halo Top ice cream, and chocolate chip cookie dough Quest protein bars. I keep the portions appropriate (no binging) and, depending on my goals, I enjoy one of them a few times a week or once a day. And every once in a while, go ahead and share a dessert with a friend or loved one. Savor a few bites and then move on.


However, if you have a trigger food (something that you know you can’t eat just a small portion of and causes even more cravings), then avoiding that would be wise.


The goal here is to create built-in buffers against feelings of deprivation, in addition to cultivating a nutrition strategy that we can use for life, not just for 12 weeks.



  1. Take a Bath



Throw in some Epsom salts and essential oil (like lavender, eucalyptus, or peppermint) and get to relaxing and recovering.


Although stress has no calories, it can certainly make us gain stubborn weight.   One of the hormones that surge during times of stress is cortisol.  But cortisol is like anything else in our bodies, it can be a negative or a positive force.  We know it as a fat-storing hormone.  However, it can also be a fat-burning hormone.


We just tend to have too much of it in response to the chronic, daily stressors of modern living coupled with a lack of quality exercise, sleep, and diet. Although acute elevations in cortisol help burn fat, such as during high intensity interval-style exercise and strength training, excess prolonged elevations in cortisol can stimulate fat storage. It can also lead to muscle loss in the absence of muscle-building hormones (another great reason to lift weights!).


Managing stress is a key, but often overlooked, piece of the fat loss puzzle because of the effect it has not only on the body in general (muscle tension, headaches, etc. leading to lackluster or missed workouts and deviation from diet) but also on many of our hormones. An imbalance of vital hormones, such as cortisol, testosterone, and estrogen, throws fat loss into a tailspin. More calories are stored as fat, less muscle is built, muscle is broken down, and strength and energy levels suffer.


Our hunger hormones get out of whack as well, making it seem as though we have suddenly developed a bottomless pit for a stomach. It’s not your imagination that you crave more sweet and fatty foods when you’re stressed.


So put your phone away and chillax in the tub with a good book and enjoy some much-needed “me time.”


  1. Lift Heavy Stuff

Building strength and muscle is not just for bodybuilders. It is a critical component of fat loss and overall health.


Sadly, as we age, we lose precious lean muscle. On average, women lose 5 pounds of muscle mass per decade between age 25 and 65, leading to a 2-4% decline in metabolic rate with each decade as well.


Muscle is what really transforms your body, giving you the “tight and toned” look. Sparing muscle during a fat loss phase is especially important. When deprived of adequate calories, our bodies will take fuel from wherever it can – muscles, fat stores, and glycogen stores. And when we lose a significant portion of muscle in addition to fat, we may get smaller, but we’ll most likely have the same shape. Plus, we’ll be burning fewer calories throughout the day, which will make weight regain much more likely.


Consistent weight training ensures that less muscle tissue is used for fuel and that even more is built over time. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest. The “afterburn effect”, also known as Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC), also contributes to the increase in calories burned after the workout. The body increases oxygen use after exercise to bring various processes back to baseline and to recover. This process takes energy (ie calories).


Plus, the mental benefits and amazing sense of empowerment that comes from lifting weights tends to carry over into other areas of our lives, improving our overall quality of life.



  1. Read a Book

When we seek to make a change in our lives, it helps to get our minds right first. Everything we do is connected to our mindset, for better or worse. Our success is intricately tied to whether or not we can harness of the power of our thoughts and underlying beliefs. Anyone who has ever struggled with emotional eating or self-sabotage can relate. Grabbing a carefully selected book can help us to gain a new perspective, make some critical mindset shifts, and inspire us.


A few of my top picks:


Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck. Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success—but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset.


The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal.

This book discusses not only the science of self-control, but also includes simple actionable tips to increase it.


Grit by Angela Duckworth.

Psychologist Duckworth shows anyone striving to succeed—be it parents, students, educators, athletes, or business people—that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.” So even if you don’t have an athletic bone in your body, you can still learn to kick butt at fitness.


Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes.

He was just an average guy, unhappy and stuck in a rut, who decides one day to start running. And he doesn’t stop. Not even to refuel with a whole pizza (delivered while running in the middle of the night). It’s fascinating to read about his wacky adventures while running ridiculously long distances. And I love how he just starts. He doesn’t wait for the perfect time. He just took action and figured it all out as he went along. You really feel his love of movement shine through, and it makes you want to throw on your sneakers and get outside.


On My Own Two Feet by Amy Purdy.

On the cusp of her twenties, the author contracts bacterial meningitis, resulting in having both legs amputated at the knee. Years later, she now snowboards competitively, including earning a medal in the 2014 Paralympics. She also competed on Dancing With The Stars. Her journey is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the capacity we all have to dream bigger, defy expectations, and rewrite our stories.



The right book can be a total gamechanger. And if you’re a busy multi-tasker, check out Listening to audiobooks during your commute, a workout, or while doing housework is a great way to learn and be inspired if you’re short on time and energy.

It’s understandable if you’re a bit hesitant to take on these tactics. We’ve been all but brainwashed by the mainstream media for so long to throw ourselves headlong into an intense cardio routine (hello, Insanity), slash our carb intake, and deprive ourselves of every bit of delicious food that we love. But isn’t it time to try a new way?


Pick one strategy and see how it goes. Experiment and try to have fun with the process. There are no hard and fast rules, just what works for you. Sometimes you have to dare to take a more unusual approach to get the results that you want.




BeckyWilliams_headshotBecky Williams is a personal trainer for women who struggle with perfectionism and who have lost their fitness mojo.

Through her blog posts, effective workouts, and sane and simple nutrition tips, she’s here to shake up your approach to fitness and fat loss – while making it all feel like a fun game you never want to stop playing.

And when she’s not helping women build a powerful body and life, you can find her cheering on her favorite soccer team, FC Dallas, savoring an Americano and the occasional glass of pinot grigio (although not at the same time), or cuddling her ridiculously adorable orange tabbies, Sheldon and Theodore.


Meet Becky and get ready to uncover your inner badass at