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Sometimes I eat my feelings. Do you do this too?

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A few weeks ago, I opened the free Michelangelo Challenge. We have a super group of exciting, vibrant ladies (and a few gents) who are using effective workouts, healthy yet somehow delicious food, offbeat challenges, and a great support network to make some positive changes.

It's been a pleasure having everyone there, and they're all doing such a great job!

However, as it turns out, occasionally there's a bump in the road.

And sometimes that bump leads to self-soothing in the form of quesadillas, beer, chocolate, or some other tasty food. 

It would be awesome if food solved life's problems but surprise, pizza doesn't alleviate loneliness.

Especially when you trap the delivery guy and force an awkward conversation with him (not from personal experience). 

When you're eating because you're sad, you might look into addressing the issue differently.

We had a really good discussion about this - I asked everyone in the group what their hardest struggle was, and then brainstormed with John (my sidekick in the MC). Together we came up with some suggestions we personally use to check our emotions when we feel like a pizza would def solve all our problems. 

I felt it was important to share this beyond the warm, fuzzy embrace of our group. After struggling with depression for nearly a year, I know how devastating it can be and I want you to know we're in this together. 

Without further ado, here's what we wrote.

I've blanked out the participants' names - but maybe you have the same issues. Could I have written one of those answers to YOU?

If the answer's yes, please leave a comment below or email me to let me know which one you struggle with. It's important that you know you're not alone in this!



 

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What are my Goals for 2017? Probably not what you think...

Hey, wanna see how these last 3 months went for me? 

 Amazingly, Johnny is still my friend.

Amazingly, Johnny is still my friend.

 

You know what's fun?
Shoveling down handful after handful of chocolate covered almonds.

You know what's not fun?
Waking up and feeling like crap.

Not just physically from all the food, but emotionally from knowing you "shouldn't" be eating all those party carbs/fats/other tasty delights and doing it anyway.

If this sounds like it's from personal experience, it's because it is. I ate all the food from Halloween to New Year's. (I had to make sure it up to my discerning standards, ya know.) Here's the quick and dirty rundown of the last 3 months:

October was the yacht party, my birthday, and Halloween. No biggie...

November followed with lots of traveling and Thanksgiving. Not ideal, but I was kind of holding it together.

Then December happened. Things unraveled.

I had vacation, office parties, more travel, parties with friends, MORE travel, and then I CLEANED HOUSE on all the chocolate at my parents' home over the holidays. 

I'd like to tell you that I woke up on January 1 with a smile on my face and a song in my heart and was all, "LOL, I ATE ALL THE THINGS AND DIDN'T GAIN WEIGHT AND LOOK AT ME! I WILL PUT THIS BEHIND ME AND LOVE MYSELF UNAPOLOGETICALLY! NEW YEAR, NEW ME!!!!!!!!"

Did this happen?

HA! Nope.

Real talk, this is what happened.

I questioned my commitment, perseverance, willpower, values, appearance, stamina, self-worth.... this might sound excessive, but when fitness is your "thing" and you don't feel like you're doing it well, it can get a little rough.

There were lots of long talks and heavy sighs. Looking at the scale to see yet another 3 pound increase (this happened several times). Moments of self-doubt and guilt punctuated by reminders that I need to be gentle with myself before starting back on the emotional roller coaster.

I felt like not only had I fallen off the wagon, but it backed up and ran over me again before zooming off into the distance with me just sitting in a pile of dust, staring at it fading away.

But then, as I thought more about what was going on, I realized something.

I've been here before..... This is my own personal Square One and a Half.

GAME. ON.

All I need to do is get back to the systems that worked for me in the past and I'll be fine. Actually, I'll be MORE than fine because I have a WAY better idea of what to expect this time around. EUREKA!

So, my goal is to get physically, mentally, and emotionally back where I was in October before shit hit the fan and I went HAM on dem cookies.

This translates, in real speak, into:

  • Getting back into the 158-162 range by the end of April (currently at 175, which, if you know my story, is the most I've weighed in more than 2 years. I am literally cringing as I write this).
  • Tracking my meals and working with my nutritionist again. I've already started this and it's amazing how much less anxious I am about food right now.
  • Having my workouts designed by someone else and just following along. Yeah, I'm a CPT but even coaches need coaches. Plus I have noticed that since I've started writing more plans for my personal clients, my own workouts have suffered because I just don't want to think any more! Weird, huh?

Does this sound like punishment? It's not.

I find systems, habits, and discipline to be incredibly freeing. By following paths I've already traveled and having others helping me, my worries melt away. I am already calmer because if something is out of whack I can easily find where the mix up occurred. I can fix it without second guessing. Plus even I need some accountability every once and a while, ya know.

As added fun, I'll be taking pictures and logging my progress to let you all know how I'm doing. There's nothing like having a bajillion eyes on you to keep your hands off those almonds....

But as always, I want this to help YOU.

Are you in a similar boat right now with a fitness New Year Resolution?

Do you want to do this together? 

Next week, I'm opening up my BodyLaunch program for beginners who want to get fit without the gym. It's a 6 week course you do in your home with workouts, accountability, community support, personal coaching from me, and so many other cool things. I'd love for us to get fit together and really take these next few weeks by storm.

Surely I must not be the only one feeling this way..... if you're in the same boat, shoot me an email (I know how hard this is to talk about ) and we can walk through your toughest parts together. I respond to every email.

2017, here we come!

 

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Happy Birthday to ME!

IT’S MY BIRTHDAY, SO READ UP, PEOPLE.

On this very day 28 years ago, my lovely mother brought me into this world.

I like to commemorate *HER* valiant efforts by spending the two weeks before and after my birthday celebrating how awesome *I* am.

Past birthday shenanigans have included nearly getting kicked out of a Vegas nightclub after going to see Thunder from Down Under, eating THE BEST BREAKFAST OF MY LIFE in Seattle, and getting a massage in a gazebo overlooking the Pacific Ocean after cruising up the Oregon coast.

What am I doing THIS year?

Nothing, because my birthday is on a fucking Tuesday and I need to adult tomorrow.*

In all seriousness, I like to spend a bit of time each year and reflect where I’ve been and where I want to be. And I like to set a mantra to remind myself of my commitment to reaching my goals so that when things get hard (WHEN – not IF), I will have a phrase that will remind me to keep going.

Last year’s mantra was “Purposeful Tenacity”.

Why?

Because I had a vision of starting a business with exactly zero experience, connections, clients, programs, or ideas while working at an extremely demanding job, prepping for some figure competitions, and having some semblance of a social life (ha, just kidding about that last one).

Getting this baby off the ground required zeroing in only on the most effective strategies. I just didn’t have time to mess around if I wanted to succeed.

When I was evaluating any move forward I’d ask myself if it aligned with my vision (Purposeful). If it did, then I vowed to relentlessly pursue it (Tenacity).

Two weekends ago I attended a business conference in New York City and had the honor and pleasure of listening to Daymond John of FUBU and Shark Tank fame. Every year, he creates a phrase that captures his vision for the year.

Naturally, I gave myself a pretty hefty pat on the back for doing this already. Yahtzee!

His current mantra is “I’m on a quest.”

I love this mantra and I think it’s fitting for me this year – but I won't claim it as my own. Each word has to hold its own weight. It has to be personal. It has to evoke a response in me so that when I’m staring into the space between where I am and where I know I can be, I have the courage to continue.

Nothing has evoked a deep response within me yet. But it’s just a matter of time before something strikes a chord. And when it does…

It's on.


I’m nosy.  If you were to pick a phrase to capture your year, what would it be? Send me an email with your phrase. It’s all I want for my birthday. #shamelessguilttrip

*I actually kind of celebrated my birthday already. The same weekend I was in NYC seeing Daymond John, I attended a nighttime yacht party cruising up and down the Hudson River. I made it my personal mission to try every dessert at the table. Happily, I succeeded.

Yacht time = Fancy AF. Photo credit: Aida Mahmutovic

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Cue the Parade, It's the 2nd Anniversary of Beginning My Journey

I don’t really “do” New Year’s Resolutions.

That’s why you’re getting this post today – two years ago, on 9/22/2014, I started the journey that led me to where I am right now.

You know the photos on the front cover of me? The “before shot”? Yeah, that was two years ago.

Every time I look at those pictures I can’t help but cringe. I viscerally feel the emotions that were running through me at that moment. I mean, look at my face – I’m not even trying to hide them.

Unhappiness – I had just moved back to Indiana after years in Vegas that had not been kind to me, either physically or mentally.

Embarrassment – How did I get to 190-ish pounds? For crying out loud, I was an ATHLETE. I had competed with the best in the country just a few years prior – and now, I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror.

Exhaustion – More than anything, I was tired. Tired of feeling like going back to bed as soon as I woke up. Tired of exercising more and more just to see no impact on the scale. Tired of not owning myself. Allowing other people and events steer me instead of me choosing my own path.

Hope – Ah yes, hope. You can’t see it in my face, but I had the tiniest sliver of hope that I clung to. It said that maybe, just maybe, I’d be able to do this. And I wouldn’t know if I didn’t try.

While I had a lot of negativity running through me, I never lost hope. I chose to recognize my doubts and fears but not let them dictate my actions. I clung to that little spark of hope; I let my imagination take hold. I steadied myself as I started walking down an unfamiliar path.

In my imagination, I saw myself as the fittest version of myself. I had no idea what I would look like but I thought I knew what I would FEEL like.

Confident. Graceful. Strong. Poised. Composed.

Unstoppable.

As the days and weeks went by, the physical changes started to appear. And I began to dream bigger. What if I could do what I’d dreamed of… what if I competed in a figure competition? Could I do it? Well, I figured, why the hell not.

After three months of accumulating confidence and audacity, I set my sights on training for a figure competition. Stepping onstage at my first figure competition several months later was a rush of emotion and euphoria like I’d never experienced.

My outward appearance was a direct representation of what I’d worked hardest to conquer – not my body, but my mind.

I didn’t need to say a word as I posed in front of the judges and the crowd. I let my flexed muscles and stupid-wide smile do the talking for me. The quiet hopes and dreams of that unhappy woman shone through.

I’d done it.

Sometimes it’s best to take a pause and look back to where you started. It’s easy to lose track of how far you’ve come when you focus on putting one foot ahead of the other and making sure you’re doing the little things right, consistently.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. How everyone has a story. Everyone has a path. Everyone is somewhere in the middle of what we call life – struggling, succeeding, failing, thriving, flailing – all at once.

I’m no exception.

But if you’ll allow me, I’d like to share some lessons I’ve learned along the way.

1. Being scared to try something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.

My Mom has a saying – you should do things that make you nervous, but not things that depress you. Though I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions, I make it a goal to do one thing each year that scares the shit out of me. Last year’s goal was the figure competitions.

Being scared or nervous is common. But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do something. If it makes you nervous, examine what kind of nervous it is.

Are you afraid of failure? Or of success?

What’s the absolute WORST that will happen – a non-exaggerated version that weighs the real-life pros and cons. We tend to take the worst-case scenario of an event that makes us uneasy. Is the doomsday prediction accurate, or is it your mind keeping you safe and sound by drowning out the flipside: the joy of success?

Pause and reflect before you decide. Too often we kill our own dreams before anyone else does.

Don’t let your future be a casualty. 

2. Choose who to ignore.

This sounds mean. Sometimes, it is mean. People will always have an opinion about what you should do or say or think. But we all have the precious gift to act and speak and think for ourselves.

People often have the best intentions for you, but it will never fully take your life into account. But you are the person who is the most interested party in your future. And you have the final say.

Sometimes you need to listen for the signal amid the noise and cling to that beacon. Choose to listen to the people who empower you, who cheer you on. Listen to the people who pick you up when you are down. Listen to those who give you courage to keep fighting when your intentions waver, and ignore everyone else, no matter how good their intention.

When you stand up for your dream and achieve it…. That’s the sweetest victory of all.  

3. I can’t be a perfectionist.

There is nothing more harrowing than putting yourself on a stage clearly intending to be judged by your looks. No one, except perhaps a few select people sitting in the audience, has seen you bleed, sweat, and cry for months in preparation. They just see you flex for 17 seconds, turn you around a couple of times and make you switch positions with a few other women, and then award trophies based on semi-arbitrary guidelines.

It’s gratifying to win trophies and have tangible markers of success. I’d be lying if I said I’d be incredibly disappointed if I hadn’t placed.
But I also know that a trophy doesn’t make me a winner, just like not placing wouldn’t have made me a loser. Every competitor on that stage deserved the biggest fucking trophy for slogging through the same shit for the past few months and being brave enough to stand alongside me. 

Every. Single. One.

Walking home with hardware didn’t make me better than anyone. But I had to remember that not placing higher didn’t make me worse than anyone, either.

Those expensive moments cost me literal blood, sweat and tears. I couldn’t let that price include my mental health.

Fighting the mental battle afterward took a lot of energy. Did I not place higher because of my posing? Were my shoulders too narrow? I had the best abs out there, why didn’t they see that? Did I include too much cardio the last few weeks? Shit, I had pumped up too early before judging – maybe that’s why I didn’t do better.

Those thoughts, and more, flew through my brain in rapid succession. Playing whack-a-mole to beat them back and not let them dictate my self-worth exhausted me.

I realized that by coming as close to “perfection” (whatever the hell that looked like for me) as I could and having it nearly destroy my self-esteem wasn’t worth it.

There are all different flavors of awesome, and perfection isn’t one of them.

Revisiting those memories is tough. Those lessons came at a high price. However, those experiences showed me my strength in the rawest form.

It takes a tremendous amount of heat and pressure to create a diamond.

My initials spell GEM.

Coincidence?

Absolutely, but I think in this case it fits quite well. 

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