Bringing Your Body Into Balance

My 100+ pound weight loss is what grabs people's attention. However, my weight loss was merely a side effect of finally taking my health and happiness into my own hands and finding that perfect balance. Body, mind, spirit. It all matters.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Turns Out....I Really AM What I Eat!

I've been struggling with some health issues lately. Nothing serious, just enough to affect my quality of life a bit. But what it's done is forced me to take a long hard look at what I preach compared to what I live and it turns out I'm a total hypocrite.

During and since my weight loss, because I have such an active lifestyle, I've been able to "cheat" a lot when it comes to food...or so I thought. Turns out I wasn't getting away with it at all.

All of our bodies are affected by the food we eat. Some can get away with it for longer with no apparent ill effects (especially the younger they are). However, it all counts and it all catches up to us eventually. Some people who are more in touch with their bodies will recognize how food affects them. Other people may not make the connection for years, if ever. It amazes me, for instance, that very few people make the connection between the unbelievable outbreak of gastrointestinal diseases, type II diabetes, etc. and the standard American diet....whaaaa?

So that's where I'm at right now. I'm pretty tuned in so I'm aware of the horrible reactions my body is having to certain foods that's becoming progressively worse each year of my life. However, I am actually extremely grateful for this because it's helped to, once again, shift my focus away from the immediate pleasure of food back to what's actually important and it is this:

Each and every time I eat I ask myself, "Will this heal me or hurt me? Am I feeding life or am I feeding death?"

This question, combined with my health issues, has helped me to once again turn to living, life giving foods that will make me stronger and happier. And, while they may not set off those fireworks in my head while I'm eating them, and they're not always quite as convenient to just grab and eat, what they give me is so much more. They give me energy, long lasting energy. They make my skin glow. They don't send me running to the bathroom all day or, on the flip side, make me a stranger to the bathroom for days on end.

When I eat these foods I feel truly alive. I don't know how I keep forgetting that. And no amount of pecan pie or fried cheesy things or chips and hummus (even garlic lovers, mmmm) can take the place of that!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Drive and Learn

Anyone who is a friend, client or within earshot of me for more than five minutes knows that I love audiobooks and podcasts. I've already created a list of other educational material here such as audiobooks and movies.

However, the thing about podcasts that makes me love them above all other modes of education is that, in addition to being free, they are full of the latest, most relevant, information.

Podcasts are a great way to stay informed on the subjects that interest you most. They are also a great way to get a daily dose of motivation to help keep you on track toward you goals.

Here is the list of podcasts that I always stay completely up to date on:

Less Doing Raido with Arie Meisel. started in early 2011 as a blog of productivity and wellness hacks. It quickly developed into a framework for optimizing, automating, and outsourcing everything in people’s personal and professional lives. The blog covers email management, never running errands again, better sleep, cognitive performance, organization, and even stress management with the goal of making everything in your life easier.

It's no accident that I listed this podcast first. Arie's podcast is my favorite so far. He covers everything from how to be healthy and fit to how to streamline your to-do list and stop wasting time.

Underground Wellness Radio with Sean Croxton

Underground Wellness is a resource for TRUTH in fitness, nutrition, and health. Get informed and improve your health by joining Sean for a weekly expert interview.

I love Sean's podcast so I want to establish this before you listen to his podcasts. His intro is horrible. It's all grainy and he kinda yells "Whazzup! Whazzup!" It makes him sound like a basement weirdo but this dude knows his stuff and gets some amazing guests on his show so give him a chance.

Fat-Burning Man with Abel James

Abel James is a pretty man with a catchy title. Which probably lures many in but I would guess also turns many away. Don't be put off by the shirtless pics and the singular sounding title. Yes, Abel James cares about being fit and keeping body fat low but his bio-hacking knowledge and diverse collection of guests offer cutting edge knowledge on all things food and fitness.

Get-It Done Guy with Stever Robbins

I actually found Robbins from a the Less Doing podcast. He was a guest on the show. While I don't enjoy his podcast quite as much as Meisel's, I still automatically download and listen to all new episodes because it's definitely worth the listen.

Cut the Fat Podcast

One of my most favorite podcasts (and one I always recommended that my weight loss clients listen to the first five episodes of) has decided to yank some of their most valuable material to make a buck. They've also stopped producing new material. Their podcasts starting #34 are still available on their website for free so take a look if you'd like as this is still very valuable information but I'm not going to provide a link from my page because I'm very disappointed on how they decided to start trying to capitalize on the loyal following they had obtained.

Super Nutrition Academy Health Class with Yuri Elkman

Okay, now we're are getting into podcasts that I don't religiously listen to. One of my issues with Yuri is that he often has very specific interviews that don't pertain to the whole population (like the more obscure diseases) and his and his guests' views can be a little too extreme. Not to say that their views are wrong but I reach a point where I start to get depressed and discouraged to learn things like my shower could be killing me and the things in the air I can't do anything about. That being said, he has some really good content that you can pick through and listen to when all your other favorite podcasters haven't came out with any new shows in the last few days.

So these are my top picks (all available on iTunes by the way) but this barely scratches the surface. And while the genre of podcasts I listen to is pretty narrow (although I do listen to parenting podcasts as well), there are as many subjects covered in podcasts as there are crowds to enjoy them, so get to listening!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Ugly Duckling Syndrome

Yesterday my (almost 6-year old) son and I went exploring our local area on foot. We were walking to a park we had never been to before. On the way we saw two rather ferocious looking dogs ahead that were running around barking aggressively at us. I stopped us and told him that I wasn't sure that the dogs were on leashes and that maybe we should turn back. Just then I looked up again and could see a chain jerk tight on one of the dogs as it jumped up. Then I noticed a rather rough looking woman sitting in the yard looking at me like I was an idiot for being afraid of her obviously chained up dogs. Before I could say that they were on chains, my son took my hand firmly and tugged. He looked up at me with the bravest look on his little face and said, "Come on Mommy, I'll protect you." I kept my knowledge of the leashes to myself and allowed him to bravely lead us into danger.

To that woman, I was a fool. To my son, as he would tell me later, I was a lady who needed to be protected by a gentlemen. That experience could mean two things to me. I could have a chip on my shoulder about the judgmental look from the woman or I could embrace the fact that my son had a chance to be a hero and protect his mommy, who he obviously must love and value a lot. I choose the latter.

A few years ago I was in a bar. One of my favorite non-mommy, non-healthy things to do is to find some good live music in an unassuming bar, sink into a dark corner and nurse a beer while I people watch. I love to see them laughing and dancing and just study the dynamics of different types of people in one festive place together. Well, the person I was with that particular night tried to shame me for not getting up and dancing and socializing. He said I was a knot on a log. I argued that I love to do those things (which I do!) but I liked to people watch too. In retrospect, I wish I could go back, being the person I am now and simple shrug my shoulders and say, "This is what I like." 

So how do these two stories relate? They are all about perspective. I have spent most of my life being the ugly duckling. Too freely sharing my feelings, being weird, being too enthusiastic, too dramatic, too this and that. Only recently have I come to learn that I am not "too" any of those things, except to a select few who are rude enough to point it out. 

When I worked in an office setting, my loud dramatic expressions were frowned upon by somber business men. Now, in the fitness industry, I am hugged and thanked for my explosion of personality on a fairly regular basis. Am I everyone's cup of tea? Most definitely not! But neither are you. And neither is anyone. 

In this life we will always be ugly to someone in some capacity. We can choose to define ourselves by the opinions of the few or we can choose to define ourselves as the ugly duckling, simply misunderstood and absolutely beautiful in our own space. Once again, I choose the latter.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Why I've Gained Weight

When I chose to have a public blog, I knew that I was taking a risk by putting myself out there. Every time I post something personal, like I posted about my weight gain yesterday, I know that I open myself up to ridicule by mean spirited people.  It is the plight of any blogger. I expected it but it still stings when it happens. While I'm only human and I do sometimes dwell on the negative, I am also an eternal optimist who always finds the silver lining in any situation after given just a moment or two. This one is no different. Instead of choosing to focus on the negativity of the few, I choose to focus on the positivity of the many. And I've had way more "thank you"s and people inspired by my staying so real than I have nasty jabs and speculations so THAT is what I choose to focus on. In that spirit, as my reasons for weight gain have been drawn into question, I'd like to take this opportunity to share with others the reasons for my weight gain in hopes that this may help others.

Here is a list of contributors to my weight gain:

  • First and foremost, 145 was too low for my body and what I want it to be! Period. I have no desire to see the scale go that low again. I didn't look good. I didn't FEEL good.
  • Maintenance is hard!! It's a whole new ball game and I wasn't prepared. Especially when one naturally struggles with their weight. Seeing the scales go down became a game almost. Seeing the scales stand still,..not as fun of a game. This time I'll have a plan. Maintaining 200+ pounds is a cinch and that, until now, had been my only experience with trying to maintain a weight.
  • I was and am still learning about what works for my body. I've used myself as my own Guinea pig and some things started out seeming to work splendidly, only to leave me a couple pounds heavier when I finally realized I was on the wrong path. Add to this that a woman's hormones generally change in her 30s so what my body needs is changing as well.
  • Life! About 2 years ago my life got waaaaay more busy and, again, I didn't prepare. That won't happen again either.
  • It's easy to not be so careful when everyone tells you that you look great. Ladies, this is a perfect example of why muscle is so important, you look better even with a couple extra pounds. When I finally had a precious but brutally honest man at the gym scan me up and down and say (in obviously a doubtful way) "are you still working out?" It helped wake me up to the fact that I had not, in fact, gained 29 pounds of muscle lol
  • I love food. Shocker, I know. I love cheese and crunchy salty things combined. I loooove Mexican food. I love food. Oh and alcohol is pretty lovable. Cheat day turned into cheat week at times.
  • And let's be honest, settling into a cozy relationship with a guy who is blind to a couple extra pounds can make the scale creep not so important. He also loves all things cheesy and is a bodybuilder who can eat me under the table any day of the week and still somehow maintain an impressively low body fat percentage. The good news is, he is just as supportive about me NOT going out for Mexican as he is when I suggest it!

So there's the reasons that contributed to my creep. Now let's take a moment to review what did NOT contribute to it.....

  • Anything out of my control.

....End of list.

That's what makes me successful where others fail. I'm not anything special. I just believe in my own power and DO NOT believe that other people or things have power over me. I'm not a victim. It wasn't too hard to maintain. It was a slip because I wasn't dutiful about it. Now I am and, I have to be honest, losing weight is the fun exciting part. The excitement of stepping on the scales. The double takes and compliments of people who haven't seen me in a while. That man at the gym with no filter who saw me for the first time just yesterday and said "are you working out? You're looking good!"

Other than a medically diagnosed issue, we all have the power to change ourselves. And it's not a magic formula. It's merely a series of choices.

Create a good foundation for change. Arm yourself with knowledge, a good night's sleep and the support of others. Be prepared with good food choices and goals that mean something to you. Find many things that make you happy and fill you up. And don't ever, EVER give your power away by saying it's out of your control.

My gain has proven that I'm just as human and unspecial as the rest. That's why my current and continued loss should prove that YOU are just as capable as me at making this happen!!

P.S. I'm down another pound (to 166) as of this morning!!!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Back to Basics

I've tried it all. Intermittent fasting, HIIT, all fruit diet, raw/vegan diet, eating whatever the heck I want and just lifting weights (you know, like the guys). Well, it has resulted in me gaining up to 174, which is 29 pounds above my lowest weight of 145. Okay, not all of this is fat gain. I would guess about 5-7 pounds (based on the change in my body fat percentage) to be muscle gain. But we are still looking at about a 20 pound fat gain. 

So I've gone back to basics. And I've lost 7 pounds in less than 3 weeks.

What are basics?

More cardio. Less calories. Okay, I HAVE to clarify this. Less calories BUT more volume and nutritious content in the foods I'm still eating. Where before I had switched to lots of protein shakes and bars, I now am back to eating large portions of vegetables and using things like meat, beans and potatoes as a side dish. Dairy, oils, nuts and seeds have become a garnish, measured out with spoons instead of measuring cups.

I still believe fats are very important. I still believe that the hormonal effect of food matters almost as much as calories (and possibly matters MORE for overall long term health). I still believe that high intensity cardio intervals and strength training make fat loss easier. However, my body has not let me escape the fact (no matter how much I've wanted to) that calories in versus calories out matters.

More than this superfast return to my ideal weight (which I guess to be around 155 now), I FEEL so much better. The more extensive cardio curbs my appetite and elevates my mood. Less (yet more nutritious) calories has made my digestive problems all but disappear (we won't count last night when I used about 8 garlic cloves in my and learning here people).

So last time around, at 167, I looked very saggy and wore a size 14. This time, at the same weight, I wear a size 10 and, I have to say it, I look pretty friggin good. Not perfect. Not even close. But my butt and legs are firm and round. My arms are fairly sculpted looking and nothing jiggles. Even my once very saggy breasts have lifted because I've built up the muscles underneath (nature's breast lift, ladies!).

So here's my very simple formula for the best, healthiest, jiggle-free body possible:


  • After warming up, strength train hard (ladies, gravitate toward more total body training opposed to isolated strength training--think planks and squats to overhead press vs. crunches and seated leg press--UNLESS if you are still trying to adhere to an exercise program, then keep it simple. Don't do anything you hate until you feel dedicated.) 
  • During your strength training or after, do cardio intervals. There are many ways to do this. If you do it during your strength training, you will do it during rest periods. For example, push ups followed by 20-40 seconds of jumping jacks, mountain climbers, running in place, get the idea. If this is a little too advanced or overwhelming for you, do your cardio intervals on the treadmill or elliptical afterwards. You will do a "sprint" where you work as hard as you can for about 20-40 seconds, or until your body tells you it's time to stop. You take a minute (or a few) to recover and then repeat.
  • After your intervals, you do extended cardio. This can last 20-40 minutes depending on how much time and energy you have.
  • Count calories at least for a while to get an idea of how much you're eating. Don't starve yourself!!!! On days you're working out hard, eat more. You can find all kinds of online calorie calculators but I encourage to compare notes from different places and truly learn what your ideal calorie range is. Going too high will result in no loss. However, going too low will do exactly the same and could result in muscle and bone loss as well which not only compromises your health, it also lowers your metabolism and makes you look mushy. 
  • Veggies, veggies, veggies!!! Load up on non-starchy veggies. Not only do they physically fill up your stomach and provide you with fiber to keep food moving through your system, they also nourish you which prevents false hunger signals that result from nutrient deficencies. They also make your skin look great and keep that spare tire bloat at bay. 
  • Watch your carbohydrate intake. While different people will run optimally on different levels of carbs, most people who struggle with their weight, need less carbohydrates. Experiment. Find the amount (of complex carbs such as beans, potatoes and low-sugar fruits) that works for you. You will know because they will give you energy without a crash or cravings soon to follow. 
More than anything, learn to pay attention to your body. Every single time I tune back into my body, it tells me what I need more than any book or blogger ever could. How is your energy? How is your stomach? Are you gassy? Constipated? How are your cravings? Learn to identify which foods do and do not contribute to your overall wellbeing.

Now that I am back on the downward trend once again, I am more convinced than ever that weight loss is merely a side-effect of health because I feel better (and FULLER!) than I have in a very long time!!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Most Important Person I've Ever Met

When I became single again almost 5 years ago I almost instantly signed up for an online dating service. It seemed like a great way to meet a lot of potentially good mates in the comfort of my own home. The questions started out simple enough...

Gender? Easy. Female

Age? Also easy. 31

Height? 5'6 3/4....okay not an option, we'll round up, 5'7". Still pretty easy.

Body Type? Hmmmm...."overweight". This one was, so far, the hardest one for me to answer because, after doing a little research, I noticed that women as large as I was at the time were listing themselves as "a couple extra pounds" which was a BIG stretch and only once you got to the 300+ pound beauties did you see "overweight" confessed but I decided to be honest. "Overweight" it would be. So, still, pretty easy...

The "about me" area, however, stopped me dead in my tracks and caused me to ask myself a very important question...."Who the hell am I?!" 

I had lost a good deal of weight at that point and had become interested in fitness so I put that. I listed that I was a mom.....but that didn't take up much room or look very impressive....

I thought some more. I remembered when I was 19 I really liked to hike (well, I realize now, what I was doing was walking through the woods, not hiking, but that lesson would come later). So, hiking. Yes, that looked nice.

I think I put that I liked music and watching t.v.

I couldn't even put a career because I had finally walked away from the miserable career I had spent so many years dedicating myself to out of my desire for money, status and growing benefits. 

I looked at my sad little profile, complete with a few face shots and the most honest full body selfie I could manage as I didn't want to have an awkward first meeting with a man who didn't realize what I really looked like. As I tried to view my profile through the eyes of a stranger, I thought, "who would date me?" And, quite honestly, the men who were interested reinforced this notion.

In retrospect, I realize just how lame my "about me" was but it was because my knowledge of myself was pretty friggin lame at the time. Instead of spending my life getting to know myself, I spent it getting to know fictional characters both in books and on the screen. I spent it figuring out my favorite pizza. Became an expert at online checkers. None of these things were very impressive so I left these out of my "about me". 

Fast forward: I've spent the past 5 years getting to know myself and, I have to say, I would totally date me! 

I'm now in a wonderful, loving, committed relationship with a man who appreciates and encourages my constant evolution and I hope to never complete another dating website "about me" form again. So, just because I need a do-over, I'll do my new "About Me" right here:

I am a 36 year old mother of a brilliant and funny 5 year old artist. I am a Personal Trainer and Health Coach and I spend my days making people healthier and happier. Each of my clients holds a special place in my heart. I love to be outside and will bounce off the walls if I'm inside too long. I enjoy long, strenuous hikes, trail running, heavy strength training, yoga, camping, a good beer, live music, especially bluegrass, dancing, meditating, learning new things, especially about exercise and nutrition, exploring new places on foot, cleaning (yes, you read that right), organizing, cooking healthy food, growing things, bargain hunting and meeting interesting people. I won't talk politics with you. But I'll talk non-GMO to whoever will listen. I vote with my dollar. Changing the lunch program in schools is my passion. I am a Food Revolution Ambassador for my area. I am a spiritual and happy person who's biggest desire in life (other than giving my son the best life I can) is to constantly grow and evolve as a person. I will never be content with who I am because I always want to strive to be better, smarter, fitter, more virtuous, more loving, more free-spirited, and happier. I choose to only spend my time with others who approach life the same way. Stagnation and complacency do not interest me. 

Yeah, that looks better. And the best part is, I didn't have to lie or bend the truth once! And I didn't have to write it to get a man. I wrote it for me. So I can step back and look at it and realize the person I've become...except, I was always this person. 

My boyfriend and I were reading some spiritual writings last night that talked about how beautiful and great things come out of the mud. A tree comes out of a seed. These things, and their potential to be these things, already exist. We just have to allow them to grow. So now it's your turn. What's your "about me"? Do you know who you are yet? If not, what are you waiting for?!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

What Feels Really Good

I've been struggling lately about where my career is going. While I feel like I'm moving in the right direction, it is extremely hard to establish oneself as a personal trainer and do it exclusively as a career. So far I'm getting by but I'm making lots of sacrifices and something has to give soon or I may find myself behind a desk once again. 
Lately I've been having some short days and I realized yesterday that I've been punishing myself for them. Instead of embracing these little blocks of free time I find myself with some days, I feel the need to fill every moment with as many chores and duties as I can. While I do feel this is good and gets my life in order, I've also finally realized that it's not making the most of what I've been given in this moment. 

So yesterday I ended up working out for about 2 & 1/2 hours. Excessive? Maybe. But, as a fitness professional, it never hurts to spend a little extra time working on my body. So that's what I dedicated my extra time to yesterday. The final hour being a brisk walk through a natural setting. I knew it would be good for my body and help burn up the fat I had just released into my bloodstream after a session of sprints. However, what I didn't count on was what it would do for my spirit and my resolve.

While I was walking, I was completely alone with myself and some good tunes. I chose the album Afterquake by The Shanghai Restoration Project (which I highly recommend, by the way) to be the theme music of what would become my little awakening.

While I sweated out every stress I had been holding onto, I thought about my career and the parts that didn't make me happy. While thinking about this I practiced EFT Tapping (which I also recommend-do a YouTube search). Once I felt like I had released some of my not so positive thoughts, I was able to focus on what DID make me feel good. 

I have a couple clients that are, quite honestly, big arrogant jerks. I dread working with them. However, they are the minority. The rest of my clients, on the other hand, I truly love. I embrace their success as though it is my own. They are why I get up each day and do what I do. And I've gotten away from that. 

A while back I tried to arrange a free workshop and just didn't have the space or the confidence to make it happen. However, now I have both. When I started to think about doing a free workshop where I can reach a lot of people free of the constraint of their finances...I felt really good! It filled me up and made me happy. 

As debtors continue to stick their hands in my pockets and life happens, I tend to think more about money than being in service to others. The funny and ironic thing is this: Whenever I've just focused on giving freely of myself in the service of others, the money has freely flowed without me even trying. 

So I am stepping up my service to others once again, not because I expect the money to follow but because it's what fills me up and feels so good to my soul. When I'm filled up emotionally I don't feel the need to fill myself up with food, men, alcohol, etc. It's a more substantial and spiritual filling.

I also plan to video the entire workshop and post it, along with PDF's, on this blog, so stay tuned!!