Lean into the hard

Let’s flashback to November 2015. I was 8 months pregnant. I knew my husband was leaving for a year in two months. I’d accepted my fate, in my mind, with a sort of honorable stoicism.

Imagine my surprise when I was in church for a sermon called “Surviving vs. Thriving.” The remember the graphic from the series well. It was a tree that had two sides. On one side, the tree was dead. It had no leaves, showed no signs of life. On the other, the tree was thirving. It was growing, vibrant with new leaves.

That tree hit home. You see, I’d given up on the next year already. I figured we’d claw through, the three kids and I, but it wouldn’t be anything special. It would be a dead season. This sermon reminded me that I’m only promised a few years, and precious fewer with my kids at home. At that moment, I made up my mind that we would grow and thrive just like the right side of that tree.

Fast forward a month and I had a new baby. My parents had to rush over after my Grandma’s round of chemo ended to be with me since my husband was out of town. Then they left to go help another one of my grandparents whose health was failing.

Fast forward another month and my husband was gone, I had three kiddos (one brand new) and I’d lost one grandparent. I looked around and realized that it was up to me. For the first time, I realized I was truly on my own. I’ve been clinically diagnosed with depression and anxiety so I knew if I gave into despair it wouldn’t end well.

This was the moment. The moment I really decided to put my big girl panties on. I decided the hard work that lay in front of me was mine and mine alone. I was going to have to tackle each hurdle. I could no longer look the other way or hope something would change or that some day I’d feel motivated.

I decided to live on a budget and cut my credit cards up. I decided to finally lose the weight. I decided to try a brand new approach for my threenager so I could be the parent I wanted to be, not the yelling, frustrated mess I was. I decided to get my home in complete order. I decided to reset my relationship boundaries.

So many things. I decided. They were all hard. They were all separate battles I took head on. With each little win, I did develop confidence for the next one. I did figure out I could solve my own problems and I could overcome.

I leaned into the hard. I decided to stop pushing away discomfort or pain. Eventually I realized those things would lead me to great reward and great growth. It’s kind of like a workout. During the workout, it’s a lot of work, a lot of energy expended. But the result is totally worth it, both immediate and long term. It did take a lot of work and a lot of mental change, but the process made me a better person daily and when I got “final” results.

After I went through those battles, I decided to start helping other women do the same. I realized that the same problems I’d had was what they were facing too. I realized that we all needed a healthy dose of Put Your Big Girl Panties On. It didn’t matter the woman, the circumstances, the lifestyle, the income…we’re all fighting the same battles. So, I wrote a book about them.

If you’re interested, please head on over to Amazon to purchase a copy. I’ve walked step by step through these different areas and how to Put Your Big Girl Panties On.

A fun little goal exercise

Today let’s do a fun little goal exercise. I’m not sure about you, but my art skills are about on par with my first grader, so don’t judge me. This exercise will take you about five minutes. Grab a piece of paper and a pen.

1a. First, I want you to draw you on the left side of the paper. This is you right now. Think about where you stand right now in terms of ONE area in life. Draw yourself accordingly. So, if you’re thinking about you as a mom, you might draw yourself in yoga pants with a worried wrinkle on your forehead. If you’re overweight, you might draw yourself with a cupcake. I mean, have a little fun with it. Where do you stand right now?

1b. Right underneath of your beautiful self-portrait, draw 3 to 5 bullet points. Write out where you stand (for clarity, I know your art says it all). For your weight, it might say no energy, overweight, clothes don’t fit. For finances it might say in debt, paycheck to paycheck and worried about Christmas. For parenting maybe she’s yelling at the kids, always late and doesn’t feel like she gets in quality time. You get the point.

2a. Next, I want you to take your pen to the right side of the page. Think about where you want to be in this area of your life. How do you want to feel, be, look, act? What is the goal? What’s the ideal you look like in this area of your life? Maybe her smile is bigger and her worry wrinkle is gone. Maybe she has muscles, maybe she has a full heart.

2b. Just like you did with current you, future you needs 3 to 5 bullet points. Get really specific on what future you has, is, does, feels with your bullet points. Back to our earlier example, maybe she is at an ideal weight, everything in her closet fits and she has more energy these days. For finances, maybe she is on a budget, saving money and has a plan for Christmas. For parenting, maybe she’s speaking positivity, she’s got a schedule written out and she has a playdate with her kids once a week where they play games and eat popcorn.

3. The final part is that empty space in the middle. Draw a big box and again, give yourself 3 to 5 bullet points. Here, you can take the time to identify what is stopping you RIGHT now from getting to that ideal self, that version of you who is and feels and does things the way you desire. Your big box will show you exactly what’s standing in your way. For example, it might be eating out, not exercising and drinking too much wine. Or it might be not having a budget or shopping because you’re sad. In parenting example, maybe it’s because she is overbooked or she doesn’t have a routine. Maybe she doesn’t even know how to enjoy time with her kids because other things are stressing her out.

Self-awareness is the biggest and most important step to achieving the life we want and the goals we desire. So, first you have to get clear on where you are now. Own it. Don’t run away from it. Be present with your feelings and your thoughts. Next, you need to get really clear on what exactly you want. If you don’t it’s like hopping in a taxi and not telling them where you want to go. You’re just driving around wasting time and energy. Once you do know exactly what you want, it gets really exciting. Vision and progress and goals are human happiness factors.

But you also have to get super clear on what’s blocking you. That box in the middle is like the things they break through in football to run out on the field. It’s like a hurdle you have to jump over to get to what you want. It’s like a wall you have to climb over. Again, identifying it and being aware of what’s blocking us is a crucial step in actually achieving our desires.

Once you’re aware of all these things, you can journal about it. You can let your brain begin to solve those problems. This is the beginning and it’s a really fun little exercise. It’s also just where the work begins.

If you need help with this, with breaking through your box, I’m here for you. Schedule a session with me now!

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What are you carrying around with your extra weight?

I’ve been carrying around an extra 15 pounds all year.

Yes, after sitting comfortably at my “fighting” weight for years, this year has thrown me for a loop. There is a lot left unsettled at this time in my life and it’s manifesting in my bodyweight.

Did you ever hear about the trainer who gained 70 pounds and then lost it again all in an effort to see what his clients went through? I kind of feel like that trainer. Except at least he can say he did it on purpose. Whoops.

During this mini-struggle, I’ve noticed changes to my mental health. I always preach about how fitness and nutrition affect your mental health. I totally believe that. But there’s this gray area where even when you’re doing those things, you’re fighting through a lot more.

It’s like the extra pounds you’re carrying around are holding you back from hitting your goals. They’re like little toddlers hanging on to your ankles as you try to walk away. And you just can’t shake them off.

Or maybe it’s like you’re fighting through a windy rain storm. You’re trudging forward, but the wet grayness makes it much more difficult to get from Point A to Point B.

I think those extra pounds manifest in different ways in our lives. It’s as if every pound represents an emotion or physical trait that is really hard to get over until it’s just GONE. It’s like every pound is a pound of bad mood.

So, if there are 5 pounds maybe 1 is shame, 1 is irritability, 1 is lack of sex drive, 1 is defeat and 1 is sleepiness.  Another 5 pounds might represent muffin top, regret, anxiety, self-consciousness and disappointment.

I’ve noticed that even though I’m mostly doing the same things I’ve always done, some of those emotions (and the muffin top) just won’t budge. They stick around even though I’m aware of them, even though I’m aware they don’t serve me.

That of course makes it so much more tough for us to lose weight. We can WANT to let go of those things, but it’s like they’re literally mixed in with the triglycerides and fatty acids.

The good news is fitness and nutrition work. We can overcome a LOT of mental issues by sticking to the program, honoring our commitments to ourselves and making progress. We can also acknowledge that it’s a process. It’s not fast and it’s not easy. But, as we make progress, we can nail those issues to the “long gone” board. We can leave them in the past.

So, lets say you lose a pound this week. Can you let defeat go away with it? Can you send them both packing and ask them to stay lost forever?

Then next week, let’s say you lose two pounds! Great job. That might mean irritability and anxiety can take a hike. Maybe pound number 10 and 15 can mean your sex drive  makes a comeback and that muffin top is banished!

So, take the time to consider what you’re carrying around with your extra pounds. What negative emotions? What negative circumstances (clothes not fitting)? Name them. Acknowledge them. Notice how they’re keeping you from success. Think about how you can overcome them, how you can outsmart them. If nothing else, think about how you can outlast them. Outlast them on the path you’re already on.

Then, as you lose each pound, nail one of those negatives to each one you lose.

Let them both go at the same time.

4 mindset switches to help you eat healthier

Our nutrition is the most important component to our overall health as well as any attempts to lose weight or reshape the body. Even if we know that, though, sometimes the doing it can be pretty tough. So, here are 4 mindset shifts you can ponder today that might help you.

Food is fuel.

Many of my clients (and myself) use food as a reward or for pleasure. If you really try to think about and practice using food as fuel, it can really help you. If your body is a car, it needs high quality food do perform well. The food you give it is simply fuel. Keep feeding it high quality fuel. It is what powers our daily activities and all of our body’s functions. 

In other cases, I’ve seen folks use food as a means for punishing ourselves by withholding it. But you know what? Food is just fuel. It’s what your awesome, strong, capable body needs to do awesome things. When you feed it the right fuel, it gets stronger and more capable. When you feed it the wrong fuel it gets sluggish and less cooperative. It doesn’t function well.

But, what about that yummy food that makes you happy?

Outsource your joy.

If you’re overweight, if you have a problem with overeating and over drinking there is a big problem. You’re relying on food for pleasure. No, really. The dopamine hit you get when you crunch those salty chips or drink that sugary coffee give your brain temporary pleasure signals and you think you’re happy. But, there are consequences. First, your body goes into panic mode trying to process and deal with the non-fuel you just fed it. Then there’s the fact that you might often feel bad either about that choice or possibly just your body image overall. In the moment happy. After the moment NOT happy. Instead, figure out what things you can do that ACTUALLY make you happy. That ACTUALLY bring you long-lasting, residual joy. Do those things instead. I’ve noticed many people feel their day is so out of their own control, the only time they can get some pleasure is their food choices. That might also be the only time they get to do what they want to do. That’s a really crappy way to live, and you all deserve better than that. Find more ways to infuse joy daily and you might find yourself turning to food/booze less. (I’ll post about creating a joy list soon! You can also just schedule a session with me if you need help here!)

Eat real food.

This is the easiest and hardest of all four. People try to come up with different strategies and different diets. That just complicates things. Keep it simple and make it so you might actually find some success. Just eat real food (food that God & nature produced, not man). For example, I have a friend who wanted to go gluten free and dairy free. So she bought gluten free bread and coconut dairy stuff. You know what’s way easier? Just don’t eat bread or dairy. That is SO much easier than trying to find these  sneaky ways to have your cake and eat it too. Now, I am not saying it’s what you WANT to do. I’m just saying it’s going to make it easier to be successful. Go back to the last strategy and do it LOTS more if you find yourself that upset over the loss of cheese.

Don’t eat food you hate.

Real food is colorful, flavorful, smelly (good or bad) and all the things. You know why? Because you are supposed to enjoy eating. It’s a total experience. But many times when we make the switch to healthy, we limit ourselves to really bland, boring or disgusting food. No WONDER we revert back to the drive thru or junk food aisle. I don’t want to eat steamed fish and steamed broccoli either.

What you can do is find your very favorite foods that also happen to be healthy. Keep them around and well stocked. Look forward to your food. That’s allowed, even in healthy land.

*The above is an excerpt from my upcoming book. To be notified when it’s released, simply put your name and email here.

*If you’d like to work together, fill out the contact form below.

Veggie monster

One simple trick to help you get your food/health/life under control is to become a veggie monster.

Yes, go back to the good ol’ days when mom forced you to eat your veggies. This time, though, feel free to pick veggies you actually like. Prepare veggies the way you like them.

Then, fill your plate mostly with them. You see, it’s pretty hard to overeat veggies. That’s the good news.While they are low in calories, veggies are high in other good stuff. They’re where our vitamins and nutrients come from, they bring fiber and other goodness with them. That means we can “fill up” on them but then our body can naturally process them and we’re fueled properly.

 

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Veggies most. For me.With a small side of brown rice noodle chicken pad thai! Let’s not get carried away with him.

When we fill up on processed foods, meat, dairy and pretty much anything other than veggies, the likelihood of us taking in too much energy is much higher. And remember, we’re on a food budget. Wait, what?

A food budget is simply taking in the amount of energy (calories) your body needs and no more. Like a real budget, we don’t want to go beyond our budget. We don’t want to go over the budget, we want to stay within. The amount of energy you need each day is called your Basic Metabolic Rate. It’s a wee bit complicated and there are calculators out there, but here’s the basics.

FORMULA FOR BMR:
W = weight in kilograms (weight (lbs)/2.2) =weight in kg  (for me, that’s 150 / 2.2 = 68.19)
H = height in centimeters (inches x 2.54) =height in cm (66 x 2.54 = 167.64)
A = age in years (35)

Men: BMR=66.47+ (13.75 x W) + (5.0 x H) – (6.75 x A)
Women: BMR=665.09 + (9.56 x W) + (1.84 x H) – (4.67 x A)

665.09 + (9.56 x 68.19 = 651.9) + (1.84 x 167.64 = 308.45) – (4.67 x 35 = 163.45) = 1462ish

Personally, I don’t specifically track calories (anymore) because I’m more interested in the bigger energy picture. I know if I am a veggie monster I most likely won’t go over my energy needs. Plus, calories are complicated when you’re working out AND trying to lose weight.

You know what’s not complicated? Eating a lot of veggies.

So, in order to be a veggie monster, simply place more veggies on your plate than anything else. Put the good stuff on there, sure, but not until after the veggies. And make sure the veggies are the majority of the plate.

Then be sure to clean your plate before going back for more. You might find you’re still hungry. Fine, go grab some more good stuff. Then again, you might find you’re not! Or at the very least, your jaw might be tired from chewing all the veggies! We’ll call that a success.

This is a small adaptation to make with eating and I KNOW you can do it. Even a small change can produce big results. One of my favorite examples to illustrate this concept comes from page 60 of Darren Hardy’s Compound Effect. It’s about a plane that will travel from LAX to NYC.

“If the nose of the plane is pointed only 1 percent off course – almost an invisible adjustment when the plane’s sitting on the tarmac in Los Angeles – it will ultimately end up about 150 miles off course, arriving either upstate in Albany or in Dover, Delaware. Such is the case for your habits. A single poor habit, which doesn’t look like much in the moment, can ultimately lead you miles off course from the direction of your goals and the life you desire.”

That’s it for today. Your action is to decide which veggies you like and how you like them prepared. Then fill your plate mostly with those with a side of good stuff. You’ve got this! Tell us your favorite veggies in the comments.

If you’d like more help, contact me and we can work together.

 

 

 

You’re not a dog

One of the most profound quotes I’ve ever read on Pinterest was: “Do not reward yourself with food, you’re not a dog.” For some reason, that very obvious statement completely turned a light bulb off in my head. I realized how often I turned to food as a reward. A reward for finishing a semester of school, for getting through a tough week, for getting all the yardwork done. Really, for just about anything mentally, physically or emotionally tough.

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In fact, once I pondered it, I realized that was the case for many. We celebrate a home run with ice cream, take a graduate out to dinner, spend an anniversary over fancy food and drinks. All throughout our lives, starting as children, we are taught to reward ourselves with food.

I decided at that point to be more conscious of that. I definitely feel that food as a reward sets us up for failure in terms of our relationship with food. Of course, I certainly believe we should indulge, we should have treats and we should celebrate and fellowship with food. However, equating success or hard work with empty calories is not a lifestyle habit I want for myself or my children.

So, when we deserve a reward, what else can we turn to other than food? This concept is even more important if you’re trying to lose weight or maintain your health statistics like blood sugars, cholesterol and more.

Score a homerun? How about a new water bottle or glove?

When your middle schooler makes the honor roll, how about a trip with a few friends to laser tag?

Perhaps you could treat that high school graduate to concert tickets.

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The anniversary could be celebrated by doing something together that you’ve never done before like parasailing or geocaching.

When it comes to weight loss, there are many little and big victories that deserve celebration and reward! The first step in the process is to identify those little and big goals. For example, every pound or every five pounds could be a little goal. Every full week of working out could be a little victory. Every full week of not cheating on your eating plan could be a little victory. Rewards for those little victories could include downloading a new workout song, taking a bubble bath, a new cooking gadget or new fitness equipment.

Bigger victories that deserve bigger rewards might include losing 20 pounds, going down pant sizes, setting new personal records for running or max weight lifts. Rewards for these big moments could include a new workout outfit, new fitness shoes, trip to the movies, a massage, new haircut/color or a weekend getaway! I’ve got a big ol’ list of 55 rewards you can use other than food right here.

Separating victories from empty calories is an important step in a healthy lifestyle transformation. Little mindset shifts like this one compound into to big results.

I’ve created a free printable for you to put this on your pantry door too if you’d like. Sign up below to grab it!

A different kind of willpower

I have friends that can go out to eat and order a salad and water and legitimately be fine. They have an insane amount of willpower.

I don’t.

I lost 30 pounds in the span of a year, 50 over a three year period. But I don’t have that kind of willpower. Maybe someday, but I doubt it.

No, I’m the kind of person who sees a cookie and eats a cookie. Mmm, cookies. 😋🍪

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My kids are hiding their Cheetos their Dad rudely brought in to the house yesterday. I pleaded with them to hurry up and eat them before the Cheeto monster (me) devoured them all! Also, evidence my kids eat junk just like everyone else’s.
I tell people all the time about my pre-cookie monster days. I would dip Oreos in milk, wait forever for it to get soggy and then eat them. When it was all said and done I would might get through three or four. Then I met my husband and one day he just started popping them in his mouth-MIND BLOWN-without the milk (slow down) technique. Ever since that day I’ve been able to polish off a package of Oreos within 48 hours-and that is exercising willpower to me.

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Eventually, through lots of ups and down, I realized the only willpower I have when it comes to that kind of crack (yes, I call it crack…some studies point to these types of foods being MORE addictive than crack, yikes) is to not put it near my face. Or hands. Or within walking distance.

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NO JUNK IN MY HOUSE. No one was super excited about this idea. But no one else was going to help me lose weight and get healthy. So, no one else got a say in the matter. When I say no junk, I mean no cookies, no crackers, no goldfish, no pudding, no ice cream, no nutrigrain bars, no little debbies, no candy, no pretzels, no chips. It’s even gotten to the point where I rarely keep butter in the house because I can easily MAKE some junk if I have butter. (#skills) You have to take this to your level. My kids have Totinos party pizzas (melted plastic? not sure) on Fridays because I don’t find those tempting. The rest of the family has this super organic, sugar free granola/shredded wheat cereal that I don’t even find tempting. I don’t even buy cheese that I find tempting (though it’s amazing what you’ll eat when you’re starving isn’t it?) So if you find something tempting that you can’t seem to cut your family off of, just find an alternative that you can live without. For example, I hate mint, so if the ice cream/candy is mint flavored, no problem!

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NO GOING OUT. I can’t sit at a restaurant and make smart choices. Again, I have friends that order tacos and dump them out of the tortilla, trash the tortilla and just eat the contents. Or friends that eat the burger without the bun. Meanwhile, I’m feeling strong if I don’t get a reorder of fries. This doesn’t mean I don’t ever go out. Actually, I go out once a week. But I eat light that day, run first thing the next morning and usually cleanse with lots of extra veges, no dairy, no bread and lots of water the next day. I workout pretty intensely so I use that as a recovery meal where I tell my body, “No, we’re not starving, we’re fine, here’s some fat, enjoy.” (Yes, I talk to myself)

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So, my willpower is NOT stopping at McDonald’s and NOT buying chips. Know thyself, right? Thyself is mostly not capable of saying Thanks but no. (Though it did improve when I started supplementing my diet with some vitamins/minerals/protein/blah blah blah.)

In case you’re wondering, my kids are NOT deprived, As If! If you have a kid you know they are flooded with junk at EVERY turn. School “snack” time, birthdays, Halloween, Easter, Grandparents, WHATEVER. In fact, I am happy I decided to purge the junk because seeing how much they come into contact WITHOUT getting it at home is shocking.

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So those are the tips of the day. How do you exercise willpower? It’s certainly a mental thing and everyone has to find their own strategy. Some people need an all or none approach, some need to have a scheduled cheat meal every so often, some people can get by on one Nestle Tollhouse chocolate morsel a day. What’s your willpower strategy?

 

Every body has a challenge

Every body has a challenge is one of my favorite catch phrases.

In 2012 I moved to the Sunshine State about 40 pounds (if I’m being generous) overweight and seriously pale and out of shape.

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We had just moved here in this photo. Hard to tell but there are several chins going on there. And there certainly is not any of the rest of my body in the picture. On purpose.  
Where I live now-5 miles to toes in sand-fitness and caring about your appearance is very IN. It certainly wasn’t in Alaska. I wore a hoodies, sweats and snow boots EVERYWHERE. Jeans if I was feeling fancy. 
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Typical Alaska outfit, sub flip flops for snow boots. Wore it once in Florida.
Here,it’s nearly year-
round short/tank top weather. Plus, the heat and humidity we see here make it MISERABLE to be carrying around all of that extra baggage. I actually implemented a no-denim-in-July rule.

So, short story long, I started working out at the YMCA. It’s a great place for moms because they offer childcare, it’s affordable as well as a much more welcoming environment than you’ll find at other testosterone-driven gyms.

 

I started going to classes and generally getting better with my fitness. At some point I met my saving grace, Kristen. She taught some classes at the YMCA but she was also hosting a “Body Challenge.” I had no idea what that really meant but I knew for sure my body needed a challenge.

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October 2013 I’d shed a little Alaska weight but I still had a way to go.
I was ready to start getting in shape.

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My “beach body” in 2013, almost a year after moving to Florida.

So when I started the three month body challenge with about seven other women, I noticed something peculiar. I was the most overweight and even the most out of shape.
 
Is this the skinny girl club? Can I join?

At first I would just laugh (RUDE) at these women who would pinch a quarter inch of fat here or there when talking about their goals. 

  
I’d point to myself and say it could be worse! I got to know these ladies through sweat sessions and it dawned on me…they were here working JUST as hard, often HARDER, with what seemed to me to be less incentive. What was that about?

 

I was so fortunate to meet and get to know these amazing ladies.
 
It comes down to that catch phrase-Every body has a challenge. We are our own worst critics. That’s for sure. But we are also more in tune with our bodies and have the right to improve them as we see fit. And that should absolutely be respected and admired. 

  

We all have our areas of genetic awesomeness (apparently mine is my legs) and areas we wish were more awesome (mid section). My current challenge, 40 pounds later, is seeing what that awesome mom, stretch-marky area will look like at my goal weight and what all I can do about it without opting for surgery. That’s my problem area-I AIN’T little in the middle. Others don’t love their legs or their arms or their hair or their skin or WHATEVER. Still others long for MORE definition in any given area while my calves double in size without working them out. 

  
Now that I’m a few pounds away from my overall goal I have a whole host of new issues. #skinnygirlprobs I joke because I’m not skinny. But I definitely feel a million times skinnier! More than that, I have the utmost respect and compassion for those in the gym that seem like they “should be done.”

 

Embrace imperfection. And go to the beach.
 
The trick is to recognize and appreciate what you do have-I assure you others do-while working to improve, but not obsessing, over what you want to change-I assure you others don’t even notice.