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!

Single Again

Single Again....

Those were the words my ex-boyfriend recently posted on his Facebook page that caused the flood of inquiries from our mutual friends.

But it worked out well. Explaining the situation over and over again helped me to be able to talk (and blog) about it sooner than I might have otherwise.

I spent close to two years with a man who was almost perfect for me.

I remember an episode of Sex and the City where Carrie was rambling to a new guy she met about how hard break-ups were. She said "....and the older you get the harder it gets because the men you're breaking up with aren't wildly inappropriate for you anymore. You don't get out of the relationship and say, 'Whew! Glad I dodged that bullet'." Such is the case with this break-up. This is officially my first break-up where the silver linings are few and far between. He wasn't a bullet.

I'll start this by saying this won't be an over share on the sad details of our heartbreaking end. I've always tried to be somewhat discreet, leaving out the goriest of details in my relationships, never ever talking bad about the father of my child and always respecting the privacy of others. I've always liked to believe that I have enough social sense to recognize what things are sacred and what things are appropriate to share in a public forum. There have, however, been a few blogs that I had written when I was in a really bad place where I ended up going back and editing them or removing them altogether. Which leads me to the first point of this post, how I intend to conduct myself post-break up.

With dignity.

I see it often on Facebook and personal blogs. Over shares. Awkward, make your family and friends uncomfortable while simultaneously making you look crazy, over shares. It's often someone post-break up who is blinded by rage or the pain of rejection to the point where they, once a normal person, seem to lose all class and self-respect. I don't want to be that person. I fear maybe I even was that person at one point in my life. But that's definitely not who I am now.

There's part of me that struggles with feeling a little crazy and unbalanced at times. Constantly checking my phone and wondering what he's doing. Does he miss me as much as I miss him? Has he already met another woman who made him forget about me and that's why he's not texting?! There's part of me that wants to blow up his phone with texts in the middle of the night. There's moments of rage where I want to attack him and others for my broken heart.

But I don't.

Because all I have left right now, in addition to my aching heart, is dignity.

So what does one do when all her dreams of happily ever after fall apart?

Well, in my case, she has a "break-over". I actually can't take credit for this term. It's from a good friend of mine, who happens to be an audiobook. The book is called "It's Called a Break-Up Because it's Broken". This book has seen me through some pretty tough times and, when I turn it on now, it's an old friend that comforts me in my weakest moments.

I've actually become pretty good at break-ups. Here's the thing about me. I hate to be sad. I know, you're probably thinking, "um, that's everyone, Tammi." And I'd have to respond, "Ehhhhhh, I don't know about that."

I believe some people almost feel that they are punishing others to hold on to pain and suffering that someone else may have inflicted. They feel certain crimes are unforgivable and that by letting go of them, they are releasing the person who caused the pain from responsibility of it. News flash! Unless they are found guilty and punished by a court of law, they already aren't responsible. And, sure! You could harass them and make their lives crazy (until they get a restraining order against you) but you still are suffering waaaaaay more than you could ever make them suffer. While someone else initially caused our pain, WE are the ones responsible if we choose to keep reliving it over and over again.

So when someone hurts me, I get mad, I get hurt, I cry hysterically then I get over it. Okay, so I haven't gotten to the getting over it part of this break-up but, hey, give a sister time!

Back to my break-over.

After the initial fog of crippling, want to die pain of a break-up starts to lift, I always start to feel this beautiful new promise in life. I even felt it a few years ago when I was going through my horrible depression. Sometimes I wonder if being in an "on-again/off-again" relationship is what really created such a drastic life change for me because every time it would happen, I would find this strength and resolve that I couldn't find before to change myself in amazing ways.

And I've discovered along the way that the fastest way to get REALLY depressed at night is to not do the right things for myself during the day. Going through the day with the pain and anxiety of a break-up makes me work out extra hard, eat perfectly, organize everything, clear my to-do list. My goal is to get to the end of the day feeling so in control of my life that it overrides the sad out of control feeling that darkness seems to bring during a break-up.

Whenever I feel myself focusing on him, I shift the focus back to myself. Sometimes I actually drop to the ground and do push ups or burpies. I do something to redirect the energy back to myself and I automatically feel energized and more positive because of it.

So these are things I've learned over the years.

However, in addition to all these things, this break-up is different in a couple key ways.

First, I have a very full life with a lot of things that fill me up. I think this is SO important! When you make a man your life and that man is suddenly gone (for whatever reason), BAM! You now have no life! I have a career I love with promise of more and more growth. I have hobbies that fill my free moments. An insatiable thirst for knowledge. A son who lights up my life. A family and friends who give me hugs and make me laugh during the dark moments. Even this blog provides me with an important outlet that allows me to heal while connecting with and often helping others. Without all this, my life would feel so empty right now. I would feel like I HAD to have him back because, otherwise, why would life be worth living? This often leads women (me being one of them in the past) to get back with a man that isn't right for them. However, when a woman has a strong sense of self, not only does she not need the man to complete her life (no matter how painful it is without him) but she also recognizes that she deserves all the love and adoration that a strong, beautiful, complex woman deserves. She holds out. Maybe even forever.

Which leads me to the other big difference between this break-up and others. When I would break-up before, I would always look for a new man. And I mean immediately. This was actually kind of my calling card my whole dating life (which started at about 13 or 14 years old, had a marriage in the middle of it, and then picked right back up immediately after I got out of the marriage). Other than a very brief time a couple years ago when, to be totally honest, I was still occasionally sneaking up the mountain to see my ex, I've never NOT looked for a man. This time I can honestly say I have absolutely, positively NO interest in finding a man. First, my relationship that just ended was beautiful and deserves the respect of a proper mourning period. Second, and most importantly, this is MY time! I don't have another 2 years to give to yet another guy to truly get to know him and see if it works out. I can whole heartedly declare that I am FINALLY enough!

Instead, I've started reconnecting with old friends, planning some girls' nights out and working on myself every chance I get. My career, my body, my son, my soul.

In yoga last night I had tears running down my face at one point. I didn't look to see if anyone could see. I didn't care. I was completely at peace with the perfect swirl of pain and joy of finally loving myself enough. I am allowing myself to truly feel the pain. Not out of some kind of sadistic cause but because I'm not going to run from it anymore. My ex can't be replaced. The empty spot can not just be filled by the next warm body, by food, tv, alcohol or any other band-aid. I am at peace with the empty spot where he once was. I will soon start letting the other areas of my life spill into and fill that empty spot but, right now, it remains as a place of honor for what we had because, good or bad, it was my experience and a chapter in my life story.

Maybe one day I'll go on some dates with some cute guys. Maybe someday I'll be single no more. Hell! Maybe some day we will come back together as slightly different, perfect for each other, people and get our fairy tail ending after all. But this is certain. I'm done looking. I'm done compromising. This is it. This is the one life I get and I'm going to sop up every last second of it with the succulent, complete and more than enough singleness that is me. <3

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.

LessDoing.com 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!

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.

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!!!

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 dinner....living 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,....you 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!!

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?!

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!!

Gonna Eat a House

Ugh. The chronic hunger monster is back in full force. It's something I've dealt with my whole life. When I'm eating the right things it's tolerable and, at times, almost non-existent. However, after an Easter weekend of gorging on everything tasty including lots of sweets, I feel like I may lose control at any moment. Stay away from me or I may just eat YOU.

Okay, I wouldn't eat you...unless if you happen to be a 50% off Reese's peanut butter egg then you better hide! Those suckers are everywhere and yesterday I ate one. Why? Because it was 50% off of course and I can't pass up a good deal! No, seriously, because I have little to no control when I get this crap in my system.

So I'm back to the grind and slowly pulling myself back to the land of the living. Here's what I do to get my appetite and cravings back under control:

  • I never ever EVER let myself get too hungry!
  • I make sure I'm hydrated.
  • I make EXTRA sure I get a good night's sleep (this was actually my problem yesterday, I slept horribly the night before).
  • Okay, this next one is a little tricky. I try to make sure I don't eat too many carbs at one time and make sure that my protein and healthy fat is high (about 40% protein, 30% fat, 30% carbs). However, and here comes the tricky part, I actually DO eat a little higher carbs than usual (up to 40%) and I make sure to eat them more frequently than I usually do. The reason for this is that I find my body is craving sugar like a wild animal and if I go too long without carbs....BAM! Peanut butter egg city!
  • Now for the  not so healthy thing I do. I very temporarily drink extra caffeine and/or something like flavored BCAAs or Amino drinks. These are NOT healthy by any stretch of the imagination but what they do is temporarily curb my appetite until I can get this funky sugar out of my system and get back on track. I only use this one as a last resort because, truly, it is not healthy at all.
  • I also revisit my fitness goals and why they are important to me, frequently. I read lots of motivational material, watch videos, listen to podcasts. This is something I actually do on a fairly regular basis anyway but, at times like this, the more the better I find. 
I am sharing this for two reasons. First, I think these methods are very effect so I want to make them available for others. Second, I want to crush to illusion that people who control their weight or resemble what others may identify as "fit" eat perfectly. We don't! I can honestly say I have never met anyone who does. I have cravings and weaknesses like everyone else. The only difference between me and someone who hasn't conquered yet is that they haven't found the tools that work for them. This is NOT about willpower. If you deal with a large appetite and/or cravings and rely on willpower you WILL fail, I promise you! It's about having a plan and keeping what's important to you in the front of your mind at all times.

A Need For Comfort

  1. Today I received some very upsetting news about a client's health. I found myself on the brink of tears pretty much the whole day. Pushing it down and painting on my smile for the rest of my clients. By the time I left the gym, I had one thought on my mind...I want something tasty! I wanted Reese cups or a burger or maybe some fries....preferably all of the above.

    This type of reflex is probably... pretty relatable to a lot of people. It was my go to comfort (food followed by hours of tv or mind numbing computer games). Not any more. Why? Because I also have had enough experience with how I feel by the end of the day and the next morning when I give into this reflex.

    So, today was supposed to be my rest day from exercise. When I was done working at the gym, I had a little bit of down time before I needed to be anywhere. Perfect time to hit McDs. Instead of hitting the drive through, I grabbed my "emergency workout gear" and did a fast, hard workout. After my workout I grabbed a Kombucha, rolled my window down and put on some happy tunes while I drove to my next stop.

    While I was driving this amazing rush of happiness poured over me. The sadness melted away. As always, I could not control the sad and stressful things swirling around my life. But what I could and DID control was my reaction to it.

    I felt strong. Physically and mentally.

    Comfort can be found in many forms. Some forms of comfort will leave us feeling depleted and empty. Others will fill us so full that we are ready to face the next stressful or sad event which will ALWAYS show up eventually.

    My old comfort was short lived and caused me great pain. Now I find comfort in my health, in my son's smile, in that perfect crook under my boyfriend's arm and in every great, simple thing in life that makes tomorrow just a little brighter.

Here Comes the Shame Again

A couple days ago I posted the picture above on this blog's Facebook page. It represents where my body is at right now. Along with the picture, I shared my thoughts and feelings about my body and the attitude I intend to take about my body going forward.

However, upon closer review, I find myself feeling ashamed in different aspects of myself, not just my body. Quite a few of these aspects I have absolutely zero control over. Like my age. I have to say, this is not one that I saw coming. I was slightly bothered by getting into my late 30s but never expected to feel shame over it. And when I ask myself "why?" I can't help but be ashamed about the answer!! I feel ashamed because I'm afraid younger people may find me obsolete. And I'm afraid I'm not aging well and I'm getting ugly. There I said it.

Then there is another area of my life in which I can not go into detail. This area has actually prevented me from blogging as much as a I used to because I am not free to openly discuss certain issues that have taken place over the last couple years for fear of retribution. So forgive my vagueness. However, there is a person in my life who is constantly on the lookout for ways to laugh at me and shame me for whatever reason they can find. I feel like I can't openly talk about my insecurities and problems on this blog anymore which I absolutely hate as this blog used to be my therapy. Not only does this person make me feel shame about who I am, I also feel shame for not standing up for myself. I have to be honest, I can't find a way to make peace with this area yet but, here is my hope: I am going to start being more honest again about me and my life right now and let the chips fall where they may. It is my life. And I will not keep hiding.

Yet another area I feel shame is in my inability to be perfect. This one is silly enough that just typing it makes me shake my head at myself but it's true! I am not a perfect mother and this is probably the biggest source of my shame. I don't feed my son perfectly probably about 1/3 of the time even though I know the health risks he could face later down the line. I feel like I don't pay him enough attention at times. I let him watch t.v. I try to limit it to an hour per day but if it's a really rough day, sometimes it's quite a bit longer. Sometimes I lose my cool and yell at him.

A huge area I am definitely not perfect is in my health and fitness. I do good a lot of the time but sometimes I just lose my shit and eat all the wrongs things and even occasionally drink too much. I love to exercise so I don't have trouble sticking with that. However, I do have a tendency to sometimes be too extreme in my exercise which I ALSO feel shame about because I feel like I'm abusing my body in that capacity too.

This flows into my next area of shame. No one would categorize me as overweight. Most would even say I'm fit looking. However, I don't have that super buff, hard bodied look that most people expect a personal trainer to have. This makes me not pursue clients as aggressively because I feel like I don't look the part. I feel like they will look at me and say "Pffft, like YOU can help me!"

I also feel shame when I look at myself naked. This one is really hard to type. It's even harder to not delete and to know that everyone will read it. On a really super great, toned, un-bloated day, I almost don't hate what I see in the mirror. The rest of the time....shame. Sheer and utter shame. I don't really know how to make peace with this one either.

So yeah, this blog post is a little different from the rest. I usually try to end things on a good note and talk about the positive in all this but I don't think I can at this moment. This is my struggle. How do I make peace with all my shame? Hopefully just acknowledging it is a good start. In the meantime, all I can do is be the best person I can be. I'm so far from perfect, it's depressing. I'm not even always a nice person. I have selfish moments. But I am definitely a good person. I love people. I would never ever deliberately hurt a person, so why do I hurt myself? And I forgive people so easily. Why don't I forgive myself?

7 Ways to Lose Weight

I've decided to start with a list of 7 but I plan to edit the number in this title quite often to include lots and lots more tips of various changes you can make to lose weight. Here's the deal, don't pick one and think that this is going to change your life. Okay, pick one today, but pick another in a few days. You didn't gain weight with one meal, one missed night's sleep, etc. So why in the world would you think you will lose all the weight with one supplement, one exercise program, etc?

1. Sleep! Sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, SLEEP!!!! If you stay up half the night, you're not going to lose weight effectively. Period, bottom line, no butts about it. Get yo butt in bed!

2. Small, frequent meals....or 3 meals with no snacks....seems like a contradiction? Well, not quite. I always preach on how every person is different and has different needs. Try both of these styles and see which works for you. My personal and professional observations have led me to believe that for MOST overweight people (especially those who have been significantly overweight for a number of years), small, frequent meals will work best. They keep you from getting too hungry, they don't squirt out massive amounts of insulin into your blood stream like a big meal could.

3. Find a good balance of macronutrients that works for you. I went through a small stage where I believed that calorie counting and balancing macronutrients (protein/fat/carbs) didn't matter....I was wrong. Our bodies are different and they thrive on different amounts of calories and macronutrient ratios. Mine (which I hesitate to share because I don't want anyone to just mimick it then declare "nope! that didn't work"), is about 40% fat, 30% protein, 30% carbs. When I eat less fat than this I get cravings and brain fog. When I eat more fat than this, I get queasy. When I eat less carbs than this I get cranky, when I eat more carbs, I get cravings and fatigue. Fiber is also an important component. It will keep you full. PLEASE do not get your fiber from FiberOne bars. Total crap. Seriously. Horrible.

4. Eliminate unnatural foods from your diet. Nothing will screw up your metabolism faster than (aside from massive amounts of sugar) toxic chemicals that your body has no idea what to do with. Well, actually, your body knows exactly what to do with these toxic ingredients. STORE THEM IN YOUR FAT CELLS! Learn about GMOs and avoid all ingredients that you can't pronounce. Better yet? Only eat foods that don't have ingredient lists! When I want some kind of yummy not so perfect treats, I opt for soy free, organic chocolate bars or some organic corn tortilla chips. Not perfect or health food by any stretch but my body is like "oh yeah, corn, chocolate, sugar, I know what to do with this stuff."

5. Exercise! I'm not going to go too in depth with this one because I have a ton of blog posts on the importance of exercise. Here is the one thing I'll say. It's not about calories burned, it is about changing your body on a biological and hormonal level.

6. Speaking of hormones....get yours checked! Hormonal imbalances can cause everything from depression to cravings to weight gain for no apparent reason. Both men and women should start by getting their testosterone levels checked. Yes, women too! Especially if you're over 30.

7. Chill out dude! Find ways to reduce stress. Meditation or prayer, exercise, A BETTER NIGHT'S SLEEP, doing things you love, take 3 deep, mindful breaths. Elevated cortisol (stress hormone) levels cause cravings and encourage your body to go into a fat storing mode.

....stay tuned for lots more suggestions as I have time. And, I would love to receive any suggestions that have helped you (in a healthy manner) lose weight yourself!

My Naked Truth

I constantly struggle to find balance in my life. I also constantly find myself with imbalances that are quite inconsistent with both the lifestyle for which I aspire and embrace as well as the one I preach to my clients. However, it's actually very interesting to be on the "inside" of the fitness world and see how both fitness professionals as well as fitness enthusiasts constantly demonstrate these same kind of imbalances. Some are amazingly extreme. In fact, some of the biggest body builders I know turn out to be alcoholics. A much more common area for this imbalance in the fitness world is most definitely diet. They seem to fall into four categories.

The first, and most common, in my observation, are the younger and/or individuals with fast metabolism who, at best, just focus on making sure they get enough protein (from whatever source). Or, at worst, eat whatever they want and are able to attain their appearance goals with exercise alone. I literally know a guy who pigs out on Oreo cookies to try to get bigger.

The second kind are those who believe they are eating pretty decent but don't really know anything about nutrition. You see lots of conventional yogurt and crap protein bars being broken out around the gym. Fortunately, they do pretty well because, even though they may be doing quite a bit wrong, they do know to avoid lots of desserts and extremely bad foods.

The third kind, the category I fall into, are the extremists. We know what we are supposed to do but we constantly flip flop back and forth between our desire for perfection and our desire for indulgence and immediate gratification, whether it be alcohol, cheese covered everything or any other lovely that is so right only because it's so wrong. We can generally be identified by our passion for life combined with our constant struggle with our inner demons.

Then there is the fourth, and by far rarest type. The ones who know what they are supposed to do and actually do it. Pretty much always. I have lovingly nicknamed them..."freaks". I desperately want to be them but can't relate to them at all and are at times convinced they are aliens. I envy and loath them all at once. They make me so acutely aware of how unbalanced I can be.

So yeah, I'm the extremist. I go to extremes quite often. A perfect example of this is having spent the better part of my life as a morbidly obese person who binged on horrible foods and sat in front of a television as my primary source of leisure time. Then I did a total 180 and began chronically exercising anywhere from 7-11 times a week. Consuming crazy amounts of protein powders and other unnatural supplements such as fat burners and pre-workout drinks, in search of the most perfect looking body I could possibly get.  

Somewhere along the way I came to appreciate my body for more than what it could potentially look like so now I'm at a bit of a crossroads. Along the way I developed better eating habits (but all the while have struggled with no so healthy cravings and indulgences). But these developments have resulted from some pretty extreme dietary experiments. My worst of which would probably have been my all fruit diet. I have to say, I felt unbelievably amazing in the beginning. The massive amounts of fruit kept my belly full and made my skin look insane. The honeymoon was great. Unfortunately, as we (my fruit and I) settled in together, I gained the 10-15 pounds that occurs in many romances.

After my fruit fail, I became a bit discouraged and gained about 3-5 more pounds. I felt pretty lost and unmotivated and HUNGRY! I've dealt with chronic hunger and fatigue most of my life.

However, I truly feel that as I progress through this journey, despite my many fails along the way, I am finally circling in on the perfect foods for my body (which would probably be just a slightly altered version of the types of foods fit for most any person who struggles with their weight).

The reason I am feeling so good about the way my nutritional decisions are headed is because of the way I finally feel....FULL! When I quit wheat I knew I was onto something because the constant hunger wasn't nearly as bad. But I also knew I hadn't quite arrived because I could still eat a full and "balanced" meal and feel hungry 30 minutes later. Likewise, my afternoon slumps had lessened but still definitely existed.

The diet (as in, food choices, not the dirty four letter word "diet") that I am now zeroing in on makes me energetic almost all of the time and barely ever hungry between meals. But I am not 100% free of the hunger monster or the afternoon slump which tells me there's more tweaking to do.

SO! I am going to start blogging about my journey with food as it unfolds. To get a peek now at examples of how I'm eating, you can check me out of instagram:

And anyone can go back and read my blog and see where I started with food. It was absolutely horrible. Then you can read on and see my little "food phases", all of which (except the fruititarian debacle) I strongly believe moved me one step closer to where I find myself today. I'm zeroing back in on a more natural weight (I am now convinced that, with my added muscle mass, 145 is too low for me and I should be more around 155...although I'm not going to attach an arbitrary number like weight to my goal) and I feel so SO much better and more balanced. I'm even happier!

Just keep in mind, my diet, just like myself, is an evolution and is nowhere near over. Don't just blindly follow what I or anyone else is doing. Use the knowledge that I have gathered and share with you as something to help you get started on your own journey of self-discovery. Only YOU can know what's best for YOU and only YOU are going to care enough to go out there and figure out what it is. I will say this, and I'm sure it will ruffle some feathers because it always does....

DO NOT trust someone just because they have letters behind their name.

DO NOT depend of the FDA or USDA to care one iota about your health.

DO NOT grab on to one notion and run with it.

I am so guilty of this! I become passionate about something and buy into and jump in head first. My raw food phase is a perfect example. I was convinced that raw food was the way to go. I ended up feeling like complete garbage and my stomach was so jacked up. However, what I did do is walk away from my raw food phase eating WAY more raw food which I think is absolutely vital to our health.

So, bottom line. Be your own scientist. Pull from many sources. Experiment then decided.

"Be open to everything but attached to nothing."

You Can't Hate Yourself Healthy

I see it all the time. The regret. The punishment. The self-hatred that results from someone's perception of failing. Especially women. Well, I'm here to say it all stops now! Change your thoughts, change your life!

Being overweight is not your problem! Being overweight is a side-effect of your true problem. Treating your body poorly. Why do you treat your body poorly. Because you don't love yourself.

Now I'm sure there are some that are nodding their heads in agreement as they read this. You know it's true. There are others, however, who are feeling defensive, already deciding to post an argument when they're done reading this. Okay, there are one of two options here and I will present them to you.

Option 1: You are in the very, very rare small percentage of the population that has a medical condition that prevents you, no matter how well you nourish yourself, from losing weight. If this is the case, I hope you're already seeing a doctor about this and I wish you all the luck in the world.

Option 2: You're in denial.

Period. Those are literally your only two options. How do I know? Well, first, because it's basic science. Put healthy foods into your body in appropriate amounts, combine with moderate exercise on a somewhat regular basis and you will not be obese.

If you're not doing this, how do I know this means you don't love yourself?

Well, because we take care of the people we love. We don't abuse our children. We don't tell them they are failures and constantly deprive them and insult them when they don't meet a goal perfectly. (If you DO treat your children like this, please see a specialist immediately.)  We, instead, nourish their bodies and their minds and ensure they always have no less than what they deserve in order to be healthy, body and mind.

So let me rephrase all that for you and see if you love yourself. Can you say the following?

"I take care of myself because I love myself. I don't abuse myself. I don't tell myself that I am a failure and constantly deprive and insult myself when I don't meet a goal perfectly. I nourish my body and mind and ensure that I always have no less than what I deserve in order to be healthy, body and mind.

Okay, so let me stop here and say, I am not perfect at this. Not by a long shot. I am a work in progress. The fact that I didn't love myself is why I was "sick" with obesity for so long. Now I am aware of it and becoming aware didn't just make me suddenly love myself. Instead I constantly have to practice positive affirmations and be constantly aware of my internal dialogue. And I also find that the more time and energy I invest in my health, the more love I automatically have for myself because the mere act of doing it makes me deem myself worthy and lovable.

What we give our love and attention to grows and thrives. What we send hate to, shrivels and dies. Our bodies are no different.

So stop punishing yourself because you fell off the wagon. Stop saying "I screwed up today so I'll do perfect tomorrow." Instead, say, "I am deciding as of this moment to do everything I can to nourish my body because I am worth it. Then find reasons to believe it."

While the self-talk and positive affirmations can help, also make a list of the people who need you and value you and focus on them to help you get started. I think being Phoenix's mom helped get me started. Because I love him so much that I have no choice but to take good care of his mommy. I don't want him to take care of me when I'm old. I don't want him to see me suffer. I want to set a good example for him so HE can be healthy too.

Be gentle with yourself. Be kind. Find love for yourself.