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Mindset

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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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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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Fit People Can Feel Shitty About Themselves Too

Ugh.

I had a crappy weekend.

It started out good – I’m transitioning out of my diet, I’m feeling strong, and I had a few really cool things happen last Friday that caused a mini dance celebration in the break room and left me grinning like a complete goon most of the afternoon.

I’m working on a Top-Secret New Project (but as my Mom has told me, I’m not really good at keeping secrets – email me at Genevieve@theinertiaproject.org for details!) and had been planning to take some photos for the project this past Sunday.

No big deal – I’ve done shoots before and know how to approach them.

Or rather, I SHOULD know how to approach them.

AND I TOTALLY SCREWED IT UP!!

I psyched myself out.

In an attempt to fill my muscles out like I’ve done for my other shoots, I tried to do an emergency carbo-load on Saturday (read: ate my weight in fun party carbs like fro-yo, cookies, and Pad Thai - mmmmmm) to fill out more, with the thought that not drinking water until the photos were taken on Sunday would get rid of the inevitable carb bloat and I’d look great and tan and happy.

What actually happened was the opposite.

I woke up bloated, my abs were NOT defined, and I felt like I’d eaten a load of mopey antisocial wallflower carbs instead of fun party carbs. Exactly how I DIDN’T want to feel – and DIDN’T WANT TO LOOK!!

I was distraught. And what’s worse is that I had concrete proof my body had changed because I had taken progress photos four days before.

How I looked on Wednesday

 

How I Looked 4 days later - my literal Photo Bomb

Take a look at the difference in these pictures – the one on Wednesday is blurry and I’m pale as all get-out, but you can tell that my abs are better. I’m not retaining water. I look good.

And here’s another confession: I actually took the second set of pictures Monday night because I couldn’t bring myself to do it Sunday – this is what I looked like a full 24 hours later, after my meltdown.

(Note: I realize that my “bloaty and gross” pictures are what a lot of people would kill to have. It goes to show that regardless of your weight, you can still feel bad about yourself. This is not a post to make anyone feel shitty about how they look, or say “look at me, even when I feel bad I look good” – NO. This is about how each and every one of us has struggles with how our body looks, regardless of whether you compete in fitness competitions or avoid mirrors at all costs.)

There was an internal war going on, and it wasn’t pretty.

Here’s what was going through my mind on Sunday:

“Gen, you KNOW how to do this correctly, and that you weren’t doing it right. Why the fuck did you do this? How could you totally let go? Why didn’t you try cleaner carbs like oatmeal? Why did you think you could pull this off? The tan won’t save you, your abs look like complete crap. They are watery and soft and you can’t take pictures like this. They looked better yesterday. Why didn’t you do the photos last week when you looked super cut? What if you look WORSE later this week if you put off the photos?”
(For those who are wondering, if I had eaten no differently than usual, this never would have happened in the first place.)

There was more, but that’s a small sample of what I was saying.

But this isn’t my first rodeo. Basically what happened was I took on too much water too fast thanks to the fun party carbs. All I need to do was go back to eating normally and the bloat will subside in 2-3 days.

In the scheme of things, this is not a big deal AT ALL.

But I know myself, and I know what can happen when I let these thoughts get out of hand. I wrote an article previously about how I had a hard time with self-talk last year. I felt myself ready to fly off the handle and knew that I needed to get my head back on right.

I swallowed my pride, called up a good friend and talked through my thoughts.

This was SO HARD.

As a fitness professional, it’s so hard to admit to myself that I’m not treating my body or mind nicely, much less verbalize it to someone else. And, to be quite candid, writing this for the world to see is pretty terrifying right now!

It’s so hard to explain though – people automatically assume that because I have a six-pack that I am satisfied with how I look all the time.

THAT IS NOT TRUE.

I have good days, and I have bad days, just like everyone else.

I have days when I feel invincible. And I will admit that I do have more of them now that I have changed my body and mindset.

But I, too, still fall prey to ugly thoughts. I too have moments when I look in a mirror and see imperfections. I too struggle to love my body – and to be honest, I don’t think ANYONE fully loves everything about their body.

As I was venting to my friend, I acknowledged that what I was complaining about would seem ludicrous to 98% of the population.

But these feelings are real to me, and learning how to deal with these emotions in a healthy and constructive manner is a battle.

But if I’ve learned anything over the past few years, it’s that while I don’t always have control of what my body is doing (helloooo, carb bloat and hormonal water weight!), I DO always have control of something FAR more important – MY MIND.

After throwing a little more of a pity party, I rolled up my sleeves and started weed-whacking away my invasive thoughts.

I GET TO DECIDE TO STAY CALM.

I GET TO DECIDE THAT THIS TOO SHALL PASS.

I GET TO DECIDE THAT JUST BECAUSE I FUCKED UP THIS PHOTO SHOOT, IT DOESN’T MAKE ME LESS LOVEABLE OR WORTHY.

I GET TO DECIDE THAT I WILL LET THESE THOUGHTS PASS INTO MY MIND, BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN I SHOULD PAY ATTENTION TO THEM.

I AM IN CONTROL.

I bet you’ve had similar thoughts –

  • You’ve walked past a mirror or caught a glimpse of your reflection in a storefront window and been less than thrilled with what you see.
  • You’ve eaten too much and feel like you need to compensate by not eating for the rest of the day, texting your best friend that you’re “such a fatty”. 
  • You decide that THIS TIME, you’re REALLY going to buckle down and exercise but you give up after three workouts when you’re sore, and label yourself “lazy and unmotivated”.
  • You step on the scale and your confidence is shattered because you’re three pounds heavier than you were yesterday.
  • You have a weak moment and go for that third (and then fourth) slice of pizza and then continue the food fest because you’ve already screwed up and might as well keep going.

Look, these things happen.

It’s easy (and common!) to freak out and beat yourself up.

I clearly struggle with this too.

But always remember that you’re the master of your thoughts. Take a deep breath. Resist the temptation to take your ugly thoughts seriously. Treat them like a troll leaving a stupid comment on a YouTube video and scroll on past.

I have a challenge for you all – this week, I want you to stop yourself when you start that downward spiral and send me a short email telling me the exact thought you had when you caught yourself. I promise it will be better than hating yourself for the next day or two or three.

Chances are you’re blowing things out of proportion.

Practice acknowledging that you are having the thought, but that this particular thought doesn’t define you. This is a toughie but it will get easier with time.  And just to let you know, I’m going to be doing this too – we are in this together.

Now go, stop those negative thoughts, and be a winner.


Have you ever had a meltdown over a fitness mishap that in hindsight wasn’t a big deal? I’d love to hear it - send me an email and share your story. And please feel free to pass this on to a friend who needs to hear this.

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The Power of "Yet"

Once upon a time a few years ago, my preschool neighbor was learning to ride a bike.

If you haven’t watched this process, it is hilarious and endearing.

He was 4 years old at the time, but he carried himself with an air of expertise. His loose curls poked through his helmet as he studied the two-wheeled vehicle before him.  He put his hands on the handlebars, swung his leg over the bike and plopped down on the seat. His little shoes found the pedals and he started on his maiden voyage down the driveway, his mom standing to the side.

He was upright for about 3 seconds before he wobbled and fell over. His serious façade cracked and the first tear slid down his cheek. His mom came over, said something to him, and sent him back to try again.

And again.

And again and again until finally, he was getting the hang of it.

SUCCESS!!!!

So tell me, what do you think his mom said? That since he fell once, he probably shouldn’t try again? That he’d never be able to do it? That it was too risky and he should probably give it up?

If you’re reading this and thinking those options sound ridiculous, that’s because they are. You and I both know it was probably along the lines of to keep going and eventually he’d get it.

Have you found yourself in a similar spot, when you weren’t able to achieve something? What did you say to yourself? Probably something along the lines of “I’m not good enough / I’ll never get it / This is stupid and I’m wasting my time / *insert mopey and possibly self-loathing statement about giving up*.”

When did it become ok to fail and just stop trying? We are SO quick to give up on ourselves. We try it once. When it doesn’t work out, we think that’s it, we can’t do it.

We started putting a period at the end of the phrase “I can’t” instead of a comma and the word “yet”.

When did we stop saying “yet?”

When did we stop seeing ourselves as malleable?

When did it become ok for us to settle for things?

It’s a subtle shift that I think everyone experiences. We look up to our idols as incredible people whom we think we can’t measure up to. We attribute their success to awesome genes and lament the fact that we couldn’t choose our parents. They had more time. They had more money. They went to a better school. They knew the right people. They were in the right place at the right time. Life is inherently unfair, right? This is just another example!

We don’t see the YEARS of work, grinding, discomfort, discouragement, and stumbles. We don’t see the mindset of someone who sees the light at the end of the tunnel, knowing that whatever obstacle is in her way will pass. We don’t see that she believed in herself when no one else would.

But you know what the awesome part of all this is?

YOU CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

You, and only you, are responsible for the thoughts that go through your brain. YOU have the power to say, “Hey, I can’t do this now, but if I keep working at it, I’ll get it.

You don’t have to succeed today. You don’t have to succeed tomorrow. Hell, it might take you a year or more to get your goal - I trained for 3 years before I got my first pull up. Yes, 3 years.

Next time you go to the gym and you feel like you’re failing, remember this. Your goal should be to get used to the movement, perfect the technique, and keep progressing. You should be focused on doing the best lift YOU can do, not competing with the person next to you and feeling like you’re never going to get there.

So what if you’re not lifting as heavy as others? I hate to break it to you, but really, no one cares if you can only bench press the bar. As a lifter, I actually respect people more when they know their limits and focus on expanding their own boundaries. If that means starting with the lowest weight possible, so be it. Keep chugging and plugging and before long, you’ll be stronger and lifting more anyway. You just have to give it time.

The key is to never give up.

Don’t close the door on your future success.

Don’t stop saying “yet”.


What’s something that you think you can’t do in the gym? What’s something you can say to encourage yourself to keep it up? Leave a comment below – I’d love to hear your ideas!

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