Mmmmm, the fresh smell of a new year! How to make this year totally rock :)

Picard new year

 

Happy New Year to you and yours!

There’s nothing quite like that FIRST Monday of a brand spanking new year right?

Full disclosure, I’m in my pj’s and seriously contemplating another cup of coffee……and it’s 2 in the afternoon.

I did workout already! Then I showered and put pj’s on, cause that’s how I roll.

In honor of a NEW YEAR, I have some goodies for you today :) Are you excited? Cause you really should be……

Goodie number ONE:

Resolutions! Are you a resolution maker? Or do you refer to them as goals, life plans, wishes, or dog gone it I will do it this year???? Whatever you want to call them, I have some tips on how to crush your life and come out winning.

  1. Make it positive. Instead of the bland “I’m going to eat less” (what the heck kind of goal is that anyways?!?!?!?!), try a more positive spin on it. Something like, “I’ll add vegetables to one meal a day” is both positive and doable AND it really does help change your health for the better. Instead of viewing exercise as a chore, put a positive spin on it by trying some new things you might enjoy. Think outside the box and see what happens. Just remember, keep it positive.
  2. Avoid overcommitment. We all tend to have commitment issues. Those issues seem to be blaringly loud at the start of a fresh year. On New Year’s Eve we vow to hit the gym 5-6 days per week, cut out any and ALL junk food, down our own body weight in water, forgo sugar in any form, and never drink alcohol again…..then we wind up killing ourselves at the gym, hating the fact that one is so easy to get to (cause there goes that excuse), choking down dressing-free salads and dry chicken breast, and forcing a restless sleep out of our bodies. By Friday evening we are crying into the warm arms of a hot pizza, sipping our second glass of wine and binge watching Netflix. We have a food hangover Saturday and simply want to crawl back into bed….SLOW DOWN NELLY! The problem isn’t the commitments, but the amount of them. Changing EVERYTHING overnight is a shock to all of your systems and you end up overcommitting and underdelivering. Then, you just feel poorly about yourself. The fix? Focus on ONE habit change per week and you’re SURE to see results.
  3. Pay the MOST attention to the small stuff. Did you know that there truly are only 4 things that matter when it comes to fat loss and physique goals???? No lie. They are simple things that can change EVERYTHING for you once you learn to pay attention to them and master them. So why aren’t people everywhere focusing on these things and seeing results? Because these things aren’t flashy and don’t come with free T-shirts. They seem way too easy, but I am here to tell you this is what counts! Want to know them? Of course you do! Simple….

1) Quality nutrition

2) Mindful movement that includes the foundations of strength training, cardio, and flexibility

3) Sleep

4) Stress reduction techniques

Four simple things that yield BIG results. It may seem too simple to work, but it’s in the simplest things that we create the most effective habits.

Confused where to start? I’ll be offering an online challenge group to help you master the basics and you can sign up for information at the end of the post.

Goodie number two:

I’ve been working out at home lately (forgoing the gym for the time being) due to some medical issues and just the fact that I’m a bit of a homebody.

So, here are a few of my very FAVORITE things happening right now to help you see your very best self :)

BEST website for all things weightlifting: bodybuilding.com

My favorite blog of the moment: Thrive Personal Fitness

Awesome workout STREAMS: Beachbody On Demand I like P90X2 and X3. They do NOT offer the newest releases of other workouts, but old favorites (I do a lot of TurboFire) are on there and the cost is better than most streams

My favorite YOGA channel: Yoga with Adriene

Supps I’m Into: ONNIT I like the alpha brain, Matcha tea and coconut oil

OK, that should keep you rolling for now!

Get this year off to a good start…..even if you’re lucky enough to be in your jammies ;)

Michelle

 

If you want to know when the next ONLINE challenge starts and what it’s all about, hit me up here….

 

HOW TO bounce back from an overindulgence

So, I’ve noticed something at the gym this week: PEOPLE.

People everywhere……

The gym has expanded in number for 2x what it was when I left Saturday morning, AKA: Halloween.

Gyms and fitness centers see a spike in attendance between Halloween and Thanksgiving, only to be followed by a severe drop until the New Year.

It’s an interesting turn of events usually brought on by one common thread: overindulgence. :)

Guilt by food is fascinating to me because I can now look at from a different vantage point. I too was riddled with guilt following every Reese’s peanut butter cup and loaded cheeseburger, but things have changed as I see things for how they are. Want to join me? Read on for some tips on how to bounce back from any overindulgence.

  1. Realize that 1 meal, or 1 day, or even 1 weekend will not completely derail ALL progress. If you are CONSISTENT with your workouts, you’ll be OK. Treats can even help the fat burning process along if you are in a fat loss stage that requires lower calories (I try to stay away from those personally…).
  2. The more you think about it, the worse it gets. We rarely give the mind credit for how powerful it really is. If all we focus on is a “misstep” in the nutrition game of life, then our body will remain focused on that instead of the all-consuming task of building muscle or burning fat. So, take a deep breath and, like a favorite Disney character….let it go.
  3. Use your overindulgence to your advantage. You have some extra energy stored up now, so use it. Take this opportunity to ramp up your strength training, try out that new class, or test out your endurance. Food is fuel and even treats can be useful when you’re working on your fitness.
  4. If you are like me and follow carefully calculated macros (cause nerds like us dig that), you can usually factor your treats into your macros and move on with life.
  5. Be prepared. Don’t be a statistic of the holidays due to being ill-prepared. Keep foods on hand that give you energy and either limit yourself to a certain number of treats per week OR sprinkle them into your macros throughout the week.

The way I want you to see it is this: health and fitness is a large scale project and any slip up is just a blip on the radar. Dust yourself on and move forward, no tedious cardio sessions required.

If you find that you do have some serious issues with food and feel as though you LOSE CONTROL, consider signing up for the Fall Challenge and learn to live and eat in balance.

 

 

2015 Holiday Eating Challenge!!!!!!!! Sign up here

I’m so pumped about this particular challenge ya’ll!

We all know that no matter the health/fitness goal, nutrition is 80% of our results. So why aren’t we ALL seeing results when there is loads of nutrition info????

Because, eating.

Our viewpoint of food and eating in general is askew and I am here to help YOU get your eating mojo back. Fact: you CAN make food work for you instead of you always working for your food.

Check out the video to see BO ;) and some lady talking about the challenge….

 

OK, now that you’ve seen that, let’s recap.

Who needs this challenge?

Check out the following and if you answer YES to any, sign up pronto:

  • You jump on new diets all the time
  • You want to know what friends are eating (or not eating) to see results
  • You’ve tried diets before and always feel like you fail
  • You feel like you NEED somebody to tell you what to eat (or not eat)
  • You can stay focused for a while, but will binge eventually
  • You seriously feel as though you are always working out just to earn food or burn off food
  • You are always away from your goal
  • You consider yourself an emotional eater (eating when happy, sad, bored, depressed, anxious, etc.).
  • You have a “GOOD” foods and “BAD” foods list
  • You feel guilty when you eat an indulgent food
  • You eat differently based on who you are around OR the time of year…..or both
  • You feel as though you have NO clue when it comes to feeding your body and fueling your goals
  • You are a frequent dieter
  • You feel as though you have to take away food in order to see results
  • You sometimes binge eat and feel you cannot control yourself around certain foods
  • You struggle with cravings

Did I miss anybody? :)

I get it, because I’ve been there…….

before1

New mom to a baby and toddler. I was 23 and felt 80. I had recently taken on vegetarianism because the vegetarians I read about were skinny and all I wanted to do was SHRINK. I was sick all the time, tired all the time and severely depressed…….and I ate far less then than I do now.

100_0432

OK….so I get some of you may think this is OK, and so did I. But I’m going to get real. I fought EXTREMELY hard for this body. I would avoid eating out at all costs for fear of overeating and I would NEVER indulge in birthday cake or ice cream. I did a couple hours of cardio a day and tried to “tone” anything that looked off to me. I was weak and tired. I had a long list of foods I couldn’t eat and became upset if my family brought them into the house. I would often binge and then rely on laxatives and unhealthy hours of heavy duty cardio to “work it off”. I achieved getting smaller at a large price. My joints still suffer from the deprivation and impact, but more importantly it nearly destroyed my family.

Strong Camp 78

ABS checkin Disney

Musclemania 2015 Front Side Pose

mc-7059

These are the very beginning of eating to fuel and overcoming eating disorders and disordered and emotional eating, followed by the “meaty” part of contest prep (before we started to beat the fat off), to competition day and what is really more normal look (sans makeup though!).

This is strong. I eat when I am hungry and I eat what my body REQUIRES. I expect a lot from my body and deal with the injuries I inflicted by being a bit kinder in turn. I have birthday cake, chocolate, wine, ice cream and gummy bears (YAY!) in my diet and stay strong. I eat for goals, not for size (except muscle is a goal of mine).

The point is, I have been on both ends of the spectrum and I know not only what it’s like, but what it takes.

Make this Christmas the one you give your healthiest self to others. Unwrap the ties that bind and step up to a new food world where you are in control.

Remember! The limit to class is 10-12 MAX (no exceptions). This is due to the fact that I’m trying to keep it small enough to be personal.

Cost is $100 and covers everything you need to succeed.

Professional trainers welcome and encouraged as well :)

SIGN ME UP!

 

 

 

The Road to Figure, becoming a bodybuilder, and why you should do what suits you best

Happy Monday people!!!!!

This particular conversation/post has been on my mind for months now (I have a very busy mind) and it will more than most likely make it to video…..for now, we’ll all read together :)

If you’re just looking to lose some pounds and have zero interest in lifting anything…..please read on! I promise you will get something out of it ;)

Bodybuilding and the Figure decision:

gym selfie 7jpg from fasted cardio, calorie restriction and circuits……

Musclemania 2015 Front Side Pose to competition.

I’ve been involved in the fitness industry for over a dozen years now and I came from HATING sports and fitness of all kinds. I was never athletic and my start in fitness came in the form of yoga. So, after teaching yoga and a load of other aerobics classes, I began to develop an interest in weight. The weight training I did was not bodybuilding as it was mostly light weights with just enough reps to keep me small (there will be a WHOLE other post about our obsession with small-ness soon). It wasn’t until a year ago that I decided to get serious, start an actual bodybuilding program, stop trying different fads, and possibly even compete.

Years ago I thought I would compete in the bikini division and even began some prep. If you’re even thinking of playing around with competing, I encourage you to get to know the different levels of competition and the competitors within them. You see, bikini was going against everything I was…..I naturally love weight in all forms, meaning I can put on muscle and fat pretty easily…taking it off is a different struggle entirely. Training for the bikini division was making me physically ill because I was going against my natural body type. So, last year I decided on figure and started training the way my body responds best :hard and heavy.

In my quest for a figure physique I was able to make peace with foods I had long since left behind (because eating ENOUGH is paramount) and I embraced the discipline it took to put the muscle on and eventually strip the fat off. While contest prep was hard, it was far from brutal or undoable…..coaching is key here. In fact, after a lazy summer (spent with diagnosing some health problems that have been left to their own devices for far too long), I am gearing up to start a new competition season, hoping to bring my best to the stage each and every year.

In my quest for Figure, here are a few things I have learned about Bodybuilding:

  1. You have to be humble. True bodybuilders are not proud and they really do not belittle others. We all start somewhere in this sport and we all realize that in order to be our best self we must be accepting of flaws….in ourselves and others.
  2. It’s not about the HOW MUCH. I always thought it was simply about how much one could lift, but bodybuilding is about having a critical eye that can look for balance. When striving for a balanced physique we have to step back often and assess the situation. When in prep, my legs have to be run to balance out. They tend to hold more muscle than the rest of my body put together….so lifting lighter, added plyo and running are crucial to success.
  3. Embrace your whole body. You cannot HATE your body into submission. It just doesn’t work that way. I had to learn that my body really did work as one unit and if I wanted that unit to be successful I had to lead it as ONE….not belittling or ignoring the parts I felt weren’t up to par.

3 month front progress  3 month back progress Progress pics 3 months apart.

I also had to get comfortable with the changes in my body. That lean machine on the right is NOT the norm as that is the night before stage. The human body (some more than others) likes some body fat :)

So, embracing the changes during and after show prep can be challenging (and a whole other post), but mastering that part of the mind is empowering to say the least.

Now, it’s your turn…..

What if you have no desire to compete?

What can you possibly learn from a competitor?

The lifestyle of a competitor is not that far off from what ANYBODY needs to reach any goal. Check it out:

  1. Consistency. This is the #1 thing you need to reach any goal. Just like in the middle of prep I can’t decide to start eating ice cream for every meal or just do yoga for my workouts, the DAILY things you do can drive you towards or away from your goal. Develop consistent behaviors that propel you forward.
  2. Check in with your progress. No matter the goal, make sure you are checking your progress. I’m not a huge scale fan, but progress pics are the bomb! I could tell on a weekly basis what was changing and what was lagging behind. Develop a progressive system to see how close you are getting to your goals. Try monthly goal checks and to-do lists to start.
  3. Get comfortable with the uncomfortable. I know you hear it a lot, but you really can’t change ANYTHING (weight, money earnings, level of respect, kids behavior, career, etc.) without getting uncomfortable. So stop lolly gagging around and step into the uncomfortable stuff so you can move through and move on!

Whether you’re looking to start your own business or step on stage, you can learn a lot from the perseverance and consistency of a competitor. A lifestyle of success is directly related to a lifestyle consistent with your convictions and goals. Step out of your own way, into the uncomfortable, and fight for what you are after in life.

Stay humble, but stay strong,

Michelle

 

The pros and cons of a home gym vs. a big daddy gym

Good morning and welcome to a new week!

This is back to school week for us, but I realize some of you have already gotten into the school flow.

Did you know that back-to-school season is the second busiest season of the year? It’s second to the new year as back-to-school comes with a new schedule and new challenges as well as fresh goals (or refreshing the old ones).

So, today we are tackling a question that I am asked very often: Should I get a gym membership or can I get fit at home?

The answer can be a bit complicated since it really lies in your personal goals and what you have available to you to propel you toward that physical goal.

I have personally been working out at home since I was a teenager and first learned all about what working out can do for your body, mind and spirit. Here is MY take on the pros and cons of both home gyms and big gyms…….I like to make you laugh, so lighten up and enjoy.

morpheus-home gym

Pros and cons of a home gym.

Now, just as a disclosure I feel I need to tell you that I have an actual gym at home. We renovated the garage into a gym and I have quite a bit of space to move around. Over the years I have gathered weights, bars, suspension trainers, ropes, trampolines, kettle bells, etc. so I’m not hurting for equipment. Keep in mind, you really can get fit in a small space with limited equipment (even just your body) if you have the right guidance :) Click HERE for necessary guidance (shameless plug).

  1. You don’t have to have fancy gym clothes. You don’t have to match. Heck, you can work out naked if you want, but I wouldn’t advise that cause eeeewwwww. With a home gym you can literally workout in your pajamas. Some people may say this is a con……but we all know it’s a total pro!
  2. You don’t have to wear shoes. I was having a bunch of foot problems a few months ago and then I started lifting barefoot (you pay closer attention and use good form!) which enables the body to distribute weight more evenly in the feet instead of our fancy shoes overcompensating for imbalances.
  3. You can get stuff done in sweaty workout clothes…….OK, this falls into both the pro and con. As I type I have JUST finished a sweet back workout and I haven’t showered. I did change though! The con of sweaty gym clothes is that’s gross.
  4. Working out at home increases compliance. Most people find excuses to skip the gym. Who wants to throw on tights when they are super bloated? Who wants to dead lift when they have gas? Who wants to drive to the gym at 4 in the morning?!?!?!!? Being able to walk from kitchen to gym without running into anybody looking at your bloated belly is a big pro and increases compliance to any workout program :)
  5. I tend to work harder at home. I can feel free to yell, grunt, spit, cry…whatever it takes. I don’t have to reel in my inner beast lady to make others feel comfortable. Extra bonus: I don’t catch glimpses of my awful facial expressions :/
  6. You don’t have to wait for equipment. Seriously dude, if you need to return a text or brag about your warm up set on Facebook, do it by the water fountain! Working out at home eliminates the stress other gym goers may cause.
  7. If something breaks you can either fix it or replace it (or pretend you never had it) instead of having to tell the front desk, who tells maintenance, who has to wait for the OK, and then it’s fixed 2 years after you cancel your gym membership.
  8. Your gym stays open in just about any weather….BONUS: you don’t have to drive in nasty weather to get there.
  9. Your dog is totally welcome…..that may just be me.
  10. Perhaps most important: you have your pick of post-workout food just steps away :)

Now, a few cons:

  1. You may need specialized equipment that your family is unwilling to give up precious living room space to hold (focus on the cause people!).
  2. You still need to schedule your workouts. Simply having a gym within walking distance is not enough to get your booty there.
  3. If you’re a social butterfly (or feel you need to be seen in order for your workouts to count), home gyms won’t work for you.

gym creep

Big daddy gyms….and boxes, warehouse gyms, etc.

First, boxes and warehouse gyms have actually gained in popularity because they offer a better “feel” than big chain gyms. The premise is almost the same though, you pay for some type of membership to use space and equipment.

  1. Con: creepers. These are the people who just watch you workout. They have no other goal than to watch others. Not all creepers are nasty, some are just watchers. Either way, creeping is not cool.
  2. These places do have equipment in a space and your family doesn’t complain that they can’t see the TV around your squat rack.
  3. These places also have trainers and floor staff. Now, some (a rare few) are good. MOST are untrained or brand spanking new and want to tell you how to workout without knowing your current level of fitness or your goal.  They also can’t answer questions like, “How do I adjust the leg press?”…..these people should be avoided.
  4. You’re on show whether you want to be or not. You can give the speech that your crew is too cool to watch others, but we’re all human…..you’re being watched and ultimately compared by others. So, embrace that.
  5. If you dig working out around others then  gym is a safe bet to get results. If you like a “team” feel, a box would be better suited to your needs. If you’re a hermit…..stay home cause you won’t like either.
  6. Biggest con: it’s a hot bed of bad form. One person performing a move with bad form and confidence will result in many more doing the same thing (see #4). So, get the right guidance and you’ll be golden.

No matter how you choose to get fit, your biggest limitation may just be the voice between your own 2 ears. Figure out your goals, set up a plan of attack…..and make like Nike and just do it!

Stay safe and healthy,

Michelle

Monday Motivation: Guest post from Sarah Vance that will redefine how you see yourself

Do you ever think that once you get your ideal body that you will finally be content in your own skin?

That once you fit in your desired jeans size- you will never have problems picking out clothes again- because you will love EVERYTHING you put on your body?

 Or maybe you think that once you hit a goal weight- your life will magically change and you will never wake up in disgust with what is looking at you back in the mirror?

I thought these things to- and it wasn’t until years later that I discovered I had it completely backwards.

Hi! My name is Sarah Vance. I am a former bikini competitor, fitness model, and chronic dieter. I spent years searching for the perfect meal plan that would lead me to the ideal body that I had instilled in my head. I spent copious amounts of time ‘fixing’ my body…and when I finally looked like the ideal body that was in my head… I was actually at my lowest point and least confident in my own skin. My fitness regimen and eating habits ruled my life.

Sarah_before

I don’t think my story is uncommon with women- and as a matter of fact it is becoming more common with young girls. We as women feel extreme pressure to look a certain way from society’s unrealistic standards.

I would say the majority of women start a fitness regimen to ‘fix’ their body. Their body becomes their project. The majority of women start their first diet in hopes to mold their body into what they envision in their head.

All this time we are searching to become MORE. More confident, healthier, radiant, happier with our bodies, and sometimes we are looking for more LOVE from ourselves or others.

It wasn’t until I challenged all my ideals, gave a middle finger to society’s idea of beauty, and created happiness in my life that I had all of these things.

I went from tearing myself down, to building myself up in more ways than one. I quit dieting cold turkey (and have never looked back) I stopped worrying about exercising, and focused on moving in a way that is a celebration of my body and what it can do(hello powerlifting).  I started to take charge of my life and spent all the time I spent on obsessing over how many calories were in a piece of pizza or how many calories I burned from a run and put into areas that needed work: My relationship, my job, my internal self, my relationship with food, and my health.

You see: what we all desire is achievable in any body we have, however we go about achieving it in a backwards state of mind.

You see: You cannot hate your body into loving it. It simply doesn’t work that way. Take it from me- I tried that route, and I guarantee that you will not end up in a body that you love.

After I made a huge mind shift something magical happened: Everything I desired that my goal body promised started coming to me….

…confidence.

…love.

…health.

….freedom.

….happiness.

…empowerment.

…trust and faith in myself.

Sarah_after

Am I there? No. I don’t think there is ever a true ‘there’. I think it is human nature to have days where we want to go into an all out war with our body- but with this new found mindset and perspective I can come back to a place of love and respect for my body, and work through what is actually behind those feelings- because when we wake up saying: I am so <fat, gross, lumpy>, and I hate <my butt, cellulite, stretch marks, flabby arms> it usually isn’t about the body itself. Something is behind it, and only you can figure that out.

A question I want you to ask yourself is this: What does ‘there’ look like? What does this woman do, think, feel, act? How does she live her life?

Take a moment and reflect on that- then….see all those things. Now Go Do Them. Fearlessly. 

If you think your body is prohibiting you—sit with that and really break that mind barrier down.  I bet you that your body isn’t holding you back from anything, it is your mindset.

Do you really want to spend more time tearing yourself down when you can start building yourself up? Probably not, and how that has worked out for you this far. It probably hasn’t.

Why not try a new way of thinking and being? You never know- you may see the magic happen like I did, but you won’t know until you try.

Sarah_Vance

Sarah is a body positive fitness coach, nurse, lip gloss lover, barbell slinging, diet-ditching quirky chick. She specializes in helping radiant women learn to cultivate self love, nourishment, strength.  She is a former bikini champion and knows all to well the extremes of the fitness world. She is an ICU nurse who values health and living life to its fullest. Her favorite foods include a juicy burger, sushi, and a great steak. Her favorite hobbies include fishing, reading, watching good movies, and laughing until her stomach hurts.

Be sure to sign up for her FREE guide on how to start loving your body with five simple steps HERE. She will also send you ways to create a positive mindset, how to eat food effortlessly, love your fitness lifestyle, and own your body with confidence.

You can also follow Sarah on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

 

Finding my voice in Fitness

I had a major turning point this past week…..I remembered something I had forgotten: my voice.

Oddly enough, I was inspired by fellow blondie, Elle Woods :)

Have you ever had an instance where you forgot your voice?

I have been working and blogging in the fitness industry for over a dozen years, and when you are here for a while you can start to get a muddled voice. You forget what you know and sometimes your beliefs can take a back seat to current trends or stronger personalities.

Sharing your unique voice is what helps others most in the journey of life. I took some time to figure out what my voice truly says and I found out some pretty interesting things along the way…..

Srtong Camp 32 Photo taken at Strong Camp Houston by Paul Buceta

  1. A tight physique isn’t everything. It is my belief that working out for the sake of aesthetics won’t keep you motivated or get you very far. Since trying my hand at competing, this personal belief began to take a back burner. The more I focused on my looks, the worse I felt about myself. I went to the beach for almost a week and never donned a bikini……because I didn’t think I could.
  2. Listening to your body helps….to an extent. I have admittedly become a happy couch potato this summer. We love to watch movies and I have indulged with my family more than I ever have. But you know what? It’s OK. I’m not suffering from heart issues because a small season involved more rest than usual. Do I feel tight and lean? Not in the least…..but I have spent countless hours sitting with my kids talking, movie watching, playing and even planning for the future. I can get abs again, but talking freely with 2 teenagers is a rare treat.
  3. Sometimes, more is just more. I was working out nearly 3 hours a day when summer started. Half of that was heavy-duty lifts, the other half was cardio and yoga. Now, I still do yoga several times per week (at this stage in my life it is a must) but my workouts are home based and a bit shorter. I can get just as much done in a much shorter time frame. Why? Because metabolic conditioning is where I excel…..I just forgot that over this past year because I though I HAD to follow the rules. My workouts now are 25-45 minutes in the gym and consist mostly of kettlebells. The swelling has gone way down in my arms and legs and I’m starting to see definition I thought was lost until I decided to do another competition. This is my voice.
  4. True fitness can fit into any lifestyle. I really don’t believe you have to quit living just to be fit. I still eat chocolate and drink wine. I workout with my daughter by doing NTC workouts OR playing on the Kinect. True fitness isn’t all or nothing, it’s balance.

So, not that I have rediscovered my voice I plan on doing things with it. I plan to help others find their voices and find a fitness program that works with life, not against it.

So, what is your voice? You have something powerful to offer the world……you’re just hiding it :)

Until next time,

Michelle

P.S. Be sure to sign up for the email list ——–>>>>>>>>>>> to get exclusive workouts and recipes, plus check out our store for new offerings.

 

Funny Thing Happened Today…..

Good morning!

Let’s all get caught up real quick, shall we?

I just started back at the iron yesterday after a 3+ week break (it was forced) due to some health issues (not caused by lifting).

So….I’ve had a few mixed emotions.

First, I am excited to get back to the gym….however, that feeling is followed by the quick second of not wanting to leave home made harder by being home bound for so long. Any introverts feeling me?

Getting up the last 2 mornings has been a mixture of those 2 emotions in some way….going to bed is the same as I seem to talk myself out of going by the time I close my eyes.

THEN, I remember how I FEEL when I go regularly***(see note at bottom)

Funny-memes-how-I-feel-after-the-gym Something like that :)

This morning was my first leg day in what felt like forever, and after yesterday’s eh back workout, I wasn’t too pumped. So, I put on my fave Converse (the BEST for leg days) and set out to train these sticks that have taken me through life so wonderfully.

The workout itself wasn’t epic at all (I don’t favor epic as I try to aim for consistent), but it felt great. I trained legs unilaterally (one at a time) to address the many imbalances in my lower half AND the weight pushed wasn’t too shabby for such a break.

Two very rewarding things happened because of my consistency:

  1. A guy came into the sauna and asked how long I had been lifting. This is sauna guy’s favorite question….and mine too :) . See, these past few weeks I’ve felt small and not in a good way (why do women always strive for small anyways????). My midsection felt fluffy and my arms look like little noodles, lacking the curves they had not too long ago. So this question came as a great source of motivation for me. You see, I’ve been working out for 10 years (12+ years of yoga) and lifting consistently for 4 years. The body goes through an ebb and flow, but my soul mate workout is still there when I’m ready to pick it back up. My muscles start to remember the grip of the bar and the press of standing. I train for something far bigger than a show…..I truly train for the flow of life itself. Other than my marriage, this lifestyle has been my biggest commitment.
  2. A lady in the locker room (who had a cute workout top on) asked, “Didn’t ya’ll have some kind of show this past weekend?” It took me a while to realize that the “ya’ll” meant competitors. I had been added to an elite group. Even if you competed once (or 20 times) and no longer do, it is still an elite group. The group isn’t about who came in the leanest…..it’s about being a finisher. Did you know that under 5% of people actually have what it takes to finish out the goal of competing???? True story. It’s strength of mind and character that gets us there and it’s that same strength that keeps us going when life gets tough. She ended the conversation with wishing me luck on this weekend’s comp. In my eye, I am nowhere near competition shape, but she sees me in a different light.

bursting pipes gym meme

That begs the question of why can’t we see ourselves in that light?

When I go to the gym I wear long tights and baggy tops (although sleeveless cause YEAH!) so it wasn’t my six-pack (which is in there somewhere) or my lines that made her think I was ready for comp…it’s my passion lived out in the gym.

I’m grateful for the passion that I have. The passion in the gym is a gift! I start every morning with quiet time and a thankful prayer. I dedicate my workouts to those who cannot move, even though they desperately want to. I think about what I could be doing each day to inspire women to become the best version of themselves….the version outside of the aesthetic. That’s the one thing I think of and strive to do whether health permits the gym or not. That is my calling and I work out to ensure I am fit for my calling….not my jeans.

Now it’s your turn.

What light do you see yourself in? Does it match the light others see? Are you practicing a life of passion?

I’d love to hear, and I am listening! Let me know how I can inspire you :)

And by the way, thanks for inspiring me….

Michelle

***NOTE: heavy-duty weights is MY soul mate workout and the one I love the most…..you find the freedom to try things and figure out yours. There is no one way.

Strong Camp 14 Photo by Paul Buceta taken at Strong Camp Houston 2014

 

What if we were just OK? AND some Instagram inspiration

Oh, my, goodness….2 posts in 1 week?!?!?!? You gotta pinch yourself right?

I digress a bit…..

After you get over the shock of the posts, let’s get down to business. Specifically, let’s get down to the business of being YOU, just as you are and totally rockin it.

Sound good?

believe-in-yourself

We use the above image and saying for a lot of different things ranging from weight lifting to test taking to running, etc. You get the point right? But what if we used it in the sense that right at this moment, we really are OK?

In other words, do you feel like you are enough? Do you feel like you have what it takes, no matter your swimsuit size (those darn swimsuits!), no matter your thigh size and no matter the invisibility of your 6 pack?

I have a truth bomb for you from the ultimate TRUTH:

20 Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. -Hebrews 13:20-21

So, this says nothing about God equipping us with a 6 pack so more people will listen to us……or perky glutes to get the job done. Everything we need, we will find ourselves equipped*.

*Side note as always: I’m not advocating sitting around eating ice cream and Cheetos and not moving, but I really don’t think that’s what most people do. I do think most of us worry about our waistlines in the WRONG way though….

I want you to think about that for just a bit….what would life look like if you were OK with where you are? I know this is foreign to most because the American Dream tells us to always strive for more, but what if we could accept where we are especially in terms of our physical state? Better yet, what could we accomplish if we didn’t worry about our body fat?

This past month has been quite the eye opener for me. I noticed post-comp that I struggled with excessive mirror syndrome….as in, I kept looking in the mirror. I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting to see, but the lack of a 6 pack (which I NEVER have unless my body fat is super low) was disappointing. It was so disappointing that it began to take up mental space that would have better been used for other things. In fact, I am convinced that we could find the cure for many diseases if we didn’t focus on certain body parts we wanted to change. I ended up getting sick and long story short I got grounded and have been doing ONLY body weight, low impact stuff for about 10 days. It has admittedly been a struggle, but the mind needs more growth than the muscles at this point.

I can say that I am almost “THERE”…the place where I am OK with the cellulite on my thighs and the extra fluff over my proverbially absent 6 pack. I’m OK wearing a swimsuit and things actually moving. The body was designed this way people! Stuff moves. Some body fat is actually GOOD. I garnered the inspiration I needed from some Instagram accounts that are REAL and HONEST….I also deleted accounts that had boobies, excessive 6-packs, and way too shorty shorts :) I suggest you do the same as scientists have actually found those images to strike closer to porn and further from inspiration.

That said, here are my top accounts to follow:

Busy Mom Gets Fit

GORGO Magazine

Sarah Vance

Fit PB Queen

Amber Dodzweit

 

Oh, that fluffy feeling……

I have issues…….I think you know that if you’ve read my stuff :) If this is your first visit, well then, I’m human and have issues. Welcome.

This has been an off week for me. It’s actually quite beautiful here in Southeast Texas, but I have been fighting with wicked allergies. I haven’t struggled with allergies like these since my childhood days! The severity of my cough which stemmed from a head full of snot (not the exact term the doc used), resulted in two allergy meds and an asthma med….with little relief as of yet. I was also told to rest…whatever that is ;) . I am perpetually not a rester. I like to DO things. Unless we’re watching a movie, then I just sit there like a stump on a log. Moving on…rest to me is yoga, Piyo (great program!), low impact circuits, etc. You know, rest :)

This forced rest and fuzzy head could be a great time to work on the devotional book I am writing, but I have been utilizing it to allow my head to enter into a dark space instead. My competition was a little over a month ago and I have put on about 7 pounds since then (give or take a pound). My coach is trying to reverse diet me to a lean, mean, lifting machine……I find myself in a panic. These days I feel much more mean than lean. I call it “fluffy.” You cannot feel fat. Well, you can if you stick your hand into a tub of Crisco, but that would be gross. Fat is a nutrient that we need, fluffy is when you just don’t feel as lean as a certain part of your brain thinks you should be.

During the competition itself I was excited for this time…..then I realized that this time is summer time and includes swimsuits (see previous post for a good laugh on that one). This past Sunday we spend time at my brother in laws pool for Father’s Day (thanks MIKE!) and I realized from the reflection in the window that my mind isn’t always right. Even at 7 pounds heavier, things are still healthy looking. I’m not sporting a six-pack (I’m also not a teenage boy….so there), but everything looks in shape. Body fat is there, but not nearly as noticeable as the muscle and I seem to be in good proportion. I promise I wasn’t standing in front of the mirror for hours checking myself out, this was just in passing.

Musclemania 2015 Front Side Pose First contest pic on the blog! Thanks to Alfonso Aguire :)

OK, so the above pic is not a realistic version of where my body can stay. That’s why we get pictures at competitions! Duh….. So, the logical part of my brain knows this, but the junior high girl who was made fun of for her weight (and yes, I remember all the comments and all the names…..issues) wants to stay there for special occasions. This part of post-comp is hardly ever talked about though.

So, why am I talking about it? Well, for the .01% of you who may compete, I like keeping it real. For the rest of you, there is something you keep comparing yourself to that holds you back from progress. Let that sink in.

See, my goal right now is NOT to look like I did during my comp (well, I wouldn’t mind that when I hang at the pool…). My goal right now is to add muscle, increase strength AND set aside quality time with my family. That means I can’t spend all day in the gym. Holding on to a past version of myself hinders any progress because my mind is not taking in the present and looking towards the future. I am allowing what was once a small thought to fester and become overwhelming.

Don’t get me started on the old videos and pics before I started to put on muscle.

This can happen to all of us. We get fixated on what we used to look like or what we think we should look like. I cannot tell you how many clients have said, “You should have seen me when…” Well, what’s so bad about now?

I don’t know about you, but right now I do not have any bikini photo shoots in the next 6 weeks. I do have a family vacation, but if your family can’t love you then who can? Most of the time we are harder on ourselves than anybody else. This drives us to a sort of obsession and can literally keep us from reaching our goals!

What can we do?

You know I love it when you ask that! I have a few action steps to get us ALL on the right track:

  1. Get real about your goals. For me personally, I had to realize that I could not want to add muscle and want the body of a svelte supermodel at the same time. That did not lead to consistency of any kind. Muscle is good for me cause let’s face it, I really like to eat.
  2. Enlist some help you trust. Pay for a coach (mine has been so helpful post comp) or join a challenge group. Having this accountability and knowledge is super helpful.
  3. Consistency above ALL. I have said it time and time again: consistency is king (small king, big King is God just to clarify). You must stay consistent to reach any goal you set. If your brain is all over the map, so will your goals follow.
  4. Get a power song! I have a lot of them and my playlist is full of NF, Lacrae, Andy Mineo, and even some AC/DC  :) I’ll share my song of the moment with you though.

There you have it. Four simple steps to a better you! Don’t let the world tell you who you should be or how you should look and don’t let past events dictate it either. Strive for a better you to give back each day and things will start to happen :)

mc-7159 I wanted to use this one for a while :) Photo by Kendra Harwell Photography (in the Baytown/Houston area)

NOW, let’s hear it! Leave your tips and suggestions for reaching goals and not heading into a negative mind space in the comments below :)