Hiatus is sometimes necessary

Have you ever had something eat away at your heart because you know you simply HAVE to do?

Have you ever felt like life may be getting your leftovers because you aren’t focused on the most important things?

Well, I have had that feeling for some time now and as a result I will be taking an extended break.

I don’t want to leave you completely empty handed, so I have listed some of the most popular links and search items for your viewing and educational pleasure :)

It’s better to take a break and gain some focus than to go halfway with anything right?

Looking for ways to tighten skin pre and post weightloss? I have you covered in the store.

Nutrition Short Cuts help you view your food in a different light without upheaving your whole life.

Body Image can be a struggle for many of us. Read on HERE about ways to improve yours.

Want to train like me? Here is a look into my training as I get ready for competitions or just being an awesome individual at life :)

There’s LOADS of free info and beautifully written guest posts on the blog as well, so feel free to browse.

I’ll be busy writing a devotional and Bible study for women who struggle with worth in this fast paced world.

Until next time, keep moving forward!

Michelle

Sunday Share: Proud Momma

As I sit here this afternoon (I’ve been out ALL weekend due to sickness….not cool), I wanted to share a little story with you. Be warned, this story may seem like it doesn’t directly relate to fitness…but commit to the end and you’ll see.

THIS is my daughter Debbie:

Mom and Deb

Pretty cute kid right? We’ve been hanging out together for over 13 years now, the past 2 we’ve almost been inseparable. You see, at the tender age of 12 (ALMOST 13) Debbie has a story. She, like my son, attended public school for most of her formative years. In the 3rd grade, things began to shift towards a darker side. She would come home all moody and upset, not wanting to talk about her day. A couple of months into the 4th grade, this bright child had become shrouded in darkness. As many can guess, it was the ever-present bullying that was haunting my once shining star. When I finally got her to open up about it, it was more heartbreak than a mother can stand.

Physical bullying can be stopped. I taught both of my children how to land a well-timed punch that would send enough fluid to the eyes their attacker wouldn’t be able to see them across a room without their eyes watering. Verbal abuse, thoughtfully articulated so as to inflict the most amount of pain to the emotional and mental center, doesn’t respond so quickly. Pile onto it that the main abuser had once called herself “BFF” and you have a foundation for LASTING mental anguish. Trust me, I suffered through junior high and could pick them out of a line up to this day. Words leave deeper scars than any other weapon.

The abuse was going on because Debbie didn’t conform to the crowd. One girl stopped being her friend because she wanted to be friends with another girl who didn’t like Deb. Moms, isn’t it funny how the world truly has not changed? She was made fun of because of her body: called skinny and such (ok, that part has changed…) and her energy. Kids told her she was weird, too happy, retarded, stupid, dumb, ugly, and would basically never have a hope of being nearly as successful as her 4th grade counterparts already assumed themselves to be. Talks with the teachers simply lead to heartless apologies followed by even greater assaults once the teacher left the room….them denial when she came back. I started having lunch with Debbie during the week JUST so she would have somebody to sit with in the cafeteria. I would be lying if I told you the thought of pummeling underage children and their parents didn’t cross my mind every single time I sat down to eat…

Debbie knew that I homeschooled through high school and opened a conversation about the possibility to do so herself. After prayer and more prayer, we decided to give it a go. And that has made us completely inseparable for 2 years. She has gone to work meetings and boot camps, and she even got to travel overseas on a mission trip. She has played photographer, stylist and therapist from one time to another :)

mom and deb plane

We entered the home school decision always knowing she could choose to return at any point. She chose to return this year: 7th Grade.

Her reasoning was that she felt more sure of herself and that she could handle what came her way. She was covered in prayers and backed by my ever-present promise to be at the school within 5 minutes should anybody need to talk directly to me :)

The first day of school came and my bright child felt as though she might vomit. I couldn’t get her to pinpoint what was actually bothering her most until we were walking to the school. Her response was that she had just realized those very same children who had made it their job to cut her down would indeed be at this school. My advice? Hold your head high. You have changed and perhaps they have as well…..I mean, you never know right?

Well, the first day was pretty much the first day. The ones who did recognize her met her with the astute response of “What the **** are you doing here?” A junior higher’s propensity to curse still astonishes me. She would respond with “Going to school” and move on. A real breakthrough came with her first reading assignment. They were given a reverse poem and told to write one as well. She worked hard to come up with a poem that had to do with faith, since she believes faith is what has truly brought her through all the hard stuff. The teacher said she (and some others) had done the assignment wrong and they were just supposed to reword it. She came home down, but not defeated. She felt her point of view MUST be stated. After a late night of hard work, this is what she came up with:

 

Godless Generation

I am part of a Godless generation

And I refuse to believe that

I can change the world

This may come as a shock to you but

“God is real”

Is a lie, and

“Money will make me happy”

So in 30 years I will let God know that

He is not the most important thing in my life

My teacher will know that

I have my priorities straight because

School

Is more important than

Jesus

I tell you this

Once upon a time

God was real

But this will not be true in my era

This is an unholy society

Experts tell me

20 years from now, I will be sinning without consequence

I do not concede that

I will live in a country full of the Holy Spirit

In the future

An empty church will be the norm

No longer can it be said that

My peers and I care about Jesus

It will be evident that

My generation is unbelieving and unsaved

It is foolish to presume that

We believe

 

Unless we reverse it.

 

 

Which generation are you living in?

 

 

So, how can I possibly tie a fitness bow around this? My daughter does not workout with me. She has no desire to lift anything heavier than her cat. She doesn’t strive to be stronger than everybody else. She does enjoy hitting things though :)

It’s not the act of making my daughter move that creates unshakeable confidence in her…it’s the EXAMPLE I set before her. I am a very imperfect person, but I strive to live a life that shows discipline and dedication, not to fitness….but to my family and the values we hold. I strive to create an environment where I am honest with my children AND where they can feel comfortable being honest with me. I hope they will push their generation to hold one another up instead of tear one another down. Maybe this can be the generation that changes everything….but only if we realize they are watching us…

wonder woman

#TBT: Throw Back Thursday

This particular hashtag seems to have become increasingly popular amongst social media picture users. You know who you are people! So I thought I would take full advantage, I mean the opportunity :) to shed a little light on how I went from being overweight, depressed and suicidal to a bikini competing world traveling missionary who truly kicks…butt. So, check it out.

100_1637I happen to be one of those truly blessed people who has fought with my weight ALL MY LIFE. My mom was a chronic dieter as was her mother before her and so on. The number on the scale was never good enough, the number on the pants tag was never good enough, therefore I was never good enough. By the time I was a teenager I had already been on Atkins, the Fat Free Diet, The Cabbage Soup Diet, Slimfast, Weight Watchers, TOPS, nothing-but-salad diet, etc. You name it, I did it. While most young ladies are beginning to notice boys and wondering what they will be when they grow up, I was just hoping the seams of my stretchy pants wouldn’t give out. I begrudged food and everything it stood for and I believed the absolute LIE that it was in my genes. The truth was..it was in jeans.

100_1631 By the time I had my first child I had wrecked my metabolism. I was tired all of the time and walked the tight rope of starving myself and binge eating. I wore a lot of black too….though I still love black :) . I digress… The question most often asked is “How did you do it?” Well, slowly. I did it all wrong for years. I stopped eating meat altogether and existed on tofu and fake cheese for over a year. Why? Vegans were skinny, duh! I just wanted to be skinny. Every time I would fall into old patterns of starvation and binge eating, I would blame genetics (which, when you think of it is like blaming God, RIGHT?) and step back to the back of the diet line to be sold a bunch of bull that made no sense yet I NEEDED them to make me SKINNY. It’s a crazy world out there y’all, buckle up and be safe when looking for answers.

I found yoga after a few years and things began to unravel. If you would have asked me 10 years ago if I thought about COMPETING when I’m in my mid-thirties, I would have laughed until cried…then I probably would have just cried. So, the steps have been many. Please to NOT discount what I said there: MANY! There is NO shortcut that will get the results that are worth the work. There are no drinks, powders, potions, pills, gels, creams, or even surgeries that can expedite HARD WON results. So, what does it take then?

along the way Step One: HONESTY. I hate to be the bearer of horrifying news BUT…the excess fat hanging around on your body was your decision. WAIT…what about my friend that eats whatever and is tiny? High five them and tell them God must not have thought they could handle the weight loss situation and that, my friends, is why we are all created differently. By the way, don’t think your thin friend has an easy life; they probably deal with things you could never imagine. That info was extra and free, you’re welcome :) OK, SO…be HONEST with yourself. If you’ve been relying on false measures for weight loss, it will backfire in the end. Sit down and look long and hard. In order to shed weight (the more weight, the more change) serious LIFESTYLE change has to occur. That crap about “You’ll lose all the weight you want and never feel deprived” is plain and utter BULL. The first step to cracking the weight loss code is taking an honest look at what you have to work with and what got you there. Basically, whatever got you there needs to be ditched and a new normal needs to take hold.

100_1638 Step two: TAKE ACTION. You know what happens when you talk about reaching your goals? NOTHING. You shouldn’t have to go around justifying your goals and re-explaining them just to keep yourself on board. Less talk, more action…literally. You HAVE to move MORE than you are comfortable with moving to make a change. Again, free advice :)

After2 Step Three: PATIENCE. You must become the Ghandi of weight loss patience. Do not rely on the stupid scale (I will blog in-depth about my scale conspiracy theory later!) and realize that your jeans may fit different from one day to the next. Why? Because your body is a living, breathing, ever-changing organism dude!!! Why on Earth do we think that it should just comply neatly without change or fuss. If I want a smaller butt, then my butt should shrink without anything else changing. WRONG! Your body is in a constant state of change and energy balancing. This is why your weight can fluctuate and why you can feel super tight one day and like a swollen piece of road kill the next. We are sometimes unaware of the salt content in foods and our water balance is hardly ever spot on, so be patient with yourself. It takes longer than 12 days, longer than 12 weeks, longer than 6 months! I think REAL lifestyle change does not truly sink in until after 1 full year honestly (SSSSHHHHHH: I cannot tell you about it right now, BUT something HUGE is coming!). Grow more patient as you reach each individual goal (check out Goal Setting on this blog to figure out how to do that effectively) and TRUST THE PROCESS.

After 1Step Four: Own it. You wanna know the COOLEST thing about reaching a goal that YOU worked for? You can sit back and take a moment to relish in the work you accomplished. You don’t have to give props to some drink or pill…you can say it was you. Well, in my own personal case, it was myself and God cause there was a lot of prayer involved! You can’t hate your way to your goal. Jealousy of others will not get you there. It is, quite literally, all you. I can give you meal plans, workouts, regimens…but at the end of the day you decide if you want to be the person who leaves a legacy or a whiny little life of “IF ONLY”.

Today is the day you decide. Don’t wait until after the holidays. DO it now! Make your plan, make a change, do it for yourself, your family and the rest of the world that is waiting for YOUR impact.

Peace, Love, and Lunges,

Michelle

 

FGS Strikes in Africa

Well, I am slowly regaining my bearings as I return from my latest trip to Ethiopia. As I was there, I had an interesting experience that I feel needs to be shared.

You know I don’t like to throw the phrase “fat” around to describe anything other than nutrients, but there is a valid syndrome in my own life that permeates some of my best intentions: Fat Girl Syndrome. I’ve written on this before, but was reminded of the importance while on another continent. If you are like me and have struggled with your weight for the majority of your life, then you may be familiar with this syndrome. After shedding over 100 pounds, I still feel like I’m not “there” yet. At the beginning of the Summer I vowed not to worry about weight or clothing size and to simply try to be good to my body. This included LOADS of yoga and walking just for fun…no super strenuous activities allowed. I was feeling pretty good and was in far less pain than normal….so what happened?

I, like many others, don’t travel well. I tend to swell up and dehydrate all at the same time. Annoying for one intent on making loads of mission trips each year, but perhaps this is my thorn :) . At any rate, I was ill before embarking on this journey and was feeling quite out of sorts after the long plane rides, followed by long bus rides. My body was lacking in rest, proper nutrition and all things needed to be in balance. It is in these times that the devil’s minions have a field day in my mind. A mind that was once intent on changing the world becomes consumed with thoughts of not being good enough. These thoughts then lend their way to building a wall around who I really am…because who would want to know that anyway?

Sadly, the majority of my thoughts during my stay were the thoughts of one tied to a self deprecating battle field of “feelings.” Our faith and our calling have nothing to do with feelings, yet I allowed them to speak louder than any other voice because the voices of these feelings have followed me since I was a young child. The feelings of being inadequate, fat, ugly….the list can go on and on. All of these take up much needed space for love and service. I felt isolated and alone, no matter what I did.

So, why is it important to share this? Because many of us struggle with the battlefield of the mind. The mind itself seems to be Satan’s playground and most of us give him free reign over our thoughts because it seems too familiar. Thoughts of being sub-par are nothing new to me. In fact, they feel like home. So when they begin to invade the tired corners of my mind, it feels safe to allow them to take root and bleed into all other parts of my brain and being. The problem here is that these thoughts are really not valid at all! I allow them validity and give them a place of honor that should be reserved for better things. The hook in my flesh digs deeper each time I give in to these notions that I am nothing and can do nothing. Each time I allow myself to feel ugly, fat or angry about my outward appearance, I am taking my mind off of what I am truly supposed to be doing: loving.

While I don’t buy into the “self first” attitude we are bombarded with daily, I do think that if I truly abhor who I am it makes it impossible to love others. If I can’t see past the flaws that feel as thought they are in the bright spotlight, how can I reach those who are in the audience of life? I can’t even see them…

The happy tale at the end is that by the last meal I was able to shed some of my armor and do what I came to do. The realization of wasted time on my part had to roll off my back as I strove to make up for lost time, but at least the flights home felt lighter.

Every day offers up an opportunity to let go of things we don’t need. Every day we can weed our garden of things that hold us down. Sometimes these things are pretty, like the weeds we get here that resemble beautiful flowers. Other times that which holds us down is so dark we dare not speak it into true existence for fear of others seeing the darkness inside. The problem with the latter is that is keeps us in bondage. We can never be truly free if we are unwilling to break free from what we consider normal.

I encourage you to challenge the thoughts that come into your mind and tell you that you are sub-par and not good enough. Pull those thoughts into the light and examine them with a thoughtful eye. Sometimes all it takes is a bit of light to bring balance back into the mind.

Do something that challenges you today,

Michelle

P.S. Stay tuned for nutrition fun from Ethiopia (awesome food!).

 

Do Faith and Fitness Really Mesh?

Goodmorning Fit People!

There is a lot going through my mind at the moment. This is shaping up to be a most fruitful week and it has posed some questions….

If you were unaware, I recently returned from a trip to Chisinau, Moldova through Children’s Hopechest and partnered with Beginning of Life Ministries. That’s a mouthful alone! So, this may lead you to wonder what the heck I do when I’m not slinging weight around in the gym ( I would NEVER sling!), running through cardio, prepping food and homeschooling my youngest….Even if you aren’t wondering, I’m about to tell you :)

I travel the globe teaching self-defense to victims of sex trafficking and human exploitation.

Yep, that’s where my heart truly lives. That is what keeps me training clients and running boot camps and challenges. It’s what gets me out to the gym at 5 a.m. every morning and back out there every afternoon. I train for life. My lifestyle and the path chosen for me required quite a bit of training…

So, aside from the fact that there are times when I truly do pray hard while training (Lord, please don’t let me drop this on my head…) and that God is my spotter….do I believe that fitness and faith can mesh? My one word answer: YES. It is my firm belief that we are to care for our physical bodies in order to do God’s work and rise to our calling. I’ll admit, in the days when I was a couch potato I would NEVER have taken a flight halfway around the world….but days have changed.

The Bible gives the command GO over 1492 times. That leads me to believe it is pretty important. The great commission (Matthew 28) tells us to go unto all the world. Am I making you uncomfortable yet? Good, we all need it. If I am out of shape and lackluster in life, how can I be effective for ANYBODY? This is also true if I am simply looking at my own nose and never beyond. Fitness is about way more than a tight butt and flat abs…..it’s about being ABLE.

I have been blessed with opportunities to meet loads of people from the fitness world. I have met competitors, celebrity trainers, and just some really awesome people. The thing that has really stood out is the faith of most of these people. A lot of competitors give God the glory for the life they lead and many have put their fitness to work raising money for organizations and even going on mission trips. Are they perfect people? No way! They know that, and they give God the glory for His daily mercies. Sadly, these people who are the epitome of perfection in magazines judge others far less harshly than those who warm the pew in the local church….

The realization hit me the other day that those who develop the discipline of the physical body also tend to have more discipline in their spirit and will. In my own personal life I have noticed that my quiet times took on way more meaning when I began to schedule them like a workout. I also have extra quiet time in the gym. It seems that God can be heard easier when my body is weak….

I must be honest, I never thought that I would see the world of fitness and faith collide such as it has for me this year. In my own reality, I always tried to separate the two. That goes back to my control issues :) . I just assumed fitness would stay in one corner and my faith would reside in the other. If you want to see how they really collided and changed my world, check out THIS blog. Long story short, God gave me a love for fitness and has also given a small corner of that world. Therefore, He expects me to use it for His glory and purposes for to him who is given much, much will be required. That may seem counterintuitive to the American dream, but within this “giving UP” of gifts and talents there is a wealth of freedom.

So what do you think? Do you keep it all separate? Perhaps it is this separation that is keeping you from your goals. Our faith should seep into ALL areas of life, not just some.

Are you willing to start living your faith and fitness together? Or perhaps you want to know more about this faith thing…I’m happy to chat with you :) In this faith and love there is more than acceptance. There is no condemnation, there is victory over the past, there is hope for the future and there is freedom, never-ending.

Live a little louder each day, take no moment for granted :)

Michelle