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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.

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 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:

Workouts:

  • 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.
Eating:
  • 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!!

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