Out with the Old: 5 Steps to Totally ROCK 2015

Another year has slipped by and while some are nursing hangovers (either from alcohol or rich foods) others are getting ready to tackle this year with the vengeance of a Spartan.

Before you dive head first, check out these steps to Totally ROCKING this coming year….and keeping your sanity :)

  1. Use one word. Instead of writing down every goal you want to accomplish, and transferring the ones that weren’t accomplished last year, try setting the tone of your year with ONE word. Believe it or not, 12 months can hold many life events and a whole lot of change. So, instead of writing goals in January that you’ll forget by March, try setting your year up with a word. This word should encompass what you wish to see in your year throughout all facets of your life (work, relationships, creativity, etc.). You can choose any word that really MEANS something to you and then place it on display where you will see it each morning. Here are some examples, but please use what’s in your heart: SUCCESS, LOVE, FORGIVENESS, PRESENCE, ORGANIZATION, KNOWLEDGE, WISDOM, KINDNESS, CONSISTENT, CREATIVE, BOLD, DARING, ADVENTUROUS….you get the picture. Be creative in your own way and let this word speak to you. NOW, about those goals…..
  2. Instead of 1 list of goals once a year, it is far better to set aside some time to write out MONTHLY goals. I know it seems a bit time consuming at first, but writing your goals for each month will enable you to reach far more goals by the end of the year. This gives you a timeline to accomplish your goals and sets you up for success. No more than 10 goals per month you over achievers! Keep it simple, but dream big. Each month, mark off what you have accomplished, then mark off what no longer matters to you, then you can add what is pulling towards your word for the year.
  3. Prioritize. This is a skill that anybody can learn, but few of us want to slow down long enough to do it. Do you ever feel like you are fighting against your true nature? Well, that is a sure-fire sign that your priorities aren’t in line. Take a few minutes to write down EVERYTHING you do (OK, for some this may take more than a few minutes), then start to check off what is either not necessary (like scrolling Facebook all day) or simply doesn’t feed you in any way. Take what is left and begin to prioritize by importance. For me, my top priority is to spend quiet time each morning setting myself up for a positive day. Next is my husband, then my kids. Time with them (together and separately) is highly important, so I make that a priority and no job or client can get into that time. Prioritize by what feeds your soul and you will find that life falls into place more easily.
  4. Have some FUN. I know all this talk about lists and priorities can drag some of us into school mode, so stay with me. Do you remember when you were a kid and you did things just for fun? I mean, I know I did some STUPID things that were just plain fun! Don’t lose that ability as you grow older. Walk barefoot in the grass, sing on the swing set (granted you haven’t gotten old and swing sets now make you sick), go to the zoo, eat the cotton candy (just not all the time), bake cookies, play with your dog, look like an idiot at Disney World! Make time to let go of how you think you should present yourself all the time and make a little time for FUN. This act will keep you balanced and keep stress at bay.
  5. Give back. One of the MOST rewarding aspects of life is giving to others. Choose to make 2015 your year of giving. You can redo your household budget to give more to your local church, charities or missions. You can donate your time to those in need of your talent. Think you don’t have a talent? There are many children who LOVE to read to and have nobody able to do it. Everybody has something to give. Take a treat or meal to your neighbor, give your kids friends a ride, offer to walk somebody’s dog, help your elderly neighbor with grocery shopping. There are ENDLESS ways to give, so tap into your resources and get giving! You will never be the same once you start :) And should you ever want to travel with me, just let me know and I’ll be happy to place you on my team.

There you have it, 5 simple steps that will change this year into a year like no other. Time stops for no man, but we can learn to use the time we have wisely.

Rock on,

Michelle

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Moldova Day 3: Changing the Thought Process

One thing I am becoming most certain of is the fact that we are all human in nature. We have dreams, but many of us truly act upon them. We live in fear and doubt, instead of living in a place of action.

In Moldova, there are biological orphans and social orphans (like there are in many places). Biological orphans are so because both parents are deceased. Social orphans come to be because their parents simply do not want, or do not have the capacity, to take care of them. So, for many youth here they have received the message that are not worth the time or effort. The messages of your youth carry into your adulthood.

Because of this issue with feeling unworthy, many young people carry the burden of low self-esteem, low self-efficacy and general low tendency to think anything could ever come from their existence. This is a state of mind that many across the globe must learn to overcome….

One of the best things about my job is that I am privileged to see potential in people. When clients cross my path, they often expect to be judged for the lifestyle and then to be beaten into submission by one who so obviously must have it all figured out. They could not be farther from the truth : ). What I often see in clients is an extreme amount of potential blocked by self-imposed limitations due to the lies they have been sold all of their lives. It amazes me the amount of trust we put into simple human opinion…..

At the end of the day, we are all humans. The girls here in Moldova experience similar pain to what you and I go through when beginning a workout program or seeking any kind of change. The valleys in their minds run deep because of what they have faced and the lies they have placed their full trust and faith into. There are walls built in the mind to protect these lies because we fear if they ever get out we will be judged. So what do we do to break down these walls and bring about LASTING change, for these girls and for ourselves?

  • First, we do no harm. We cannot turn over the field of the mind so easily as it was hard-won by the darkness and will not so easily give up. We must approach it with a love and gentleness that will gain trust.
  • We must shed light to the dark places. Instead of always fighting against the darkness (and losing) we must commit to shining a light in the dark places to displace those thoughts. There isn’t an experience on this Earth that has not been shared! In other words, there are other people who have suffered and have been rescued from the pit of the mind. We must make our stories available to help others.
  • If we intend to help others, we must free ourselves from our own self-hatred and judgment. We cannot make strides forward if we are always looking behind us.
  • We must ask for help. Thinking we have to fight all by ourselves is self-destructive behavior and creates a hardened heart. Turning to others for help will enable cracks to form in the hardened walls of the mind.
  • We realize that we truly are all human. There are none created superior to the others, yet we allow these thoughts to take over and take hold.

One of the most gracious and heart melting phrases said to me this week was this:

“Thank you. You are the first person who has ever made me feel like they believe in me.”

How hard is it to go through life feeling as though you have nothing to offer? You may be there right now. I am telling you that if you still draw breath, then you are far from done here. You have more to offer than anyone has ever told you. Remember that you and I are created the same: humans created to help each other and show the light of love in the dark places of the world…and in the dark places of the mind.

On a side note, I was able to attend the 20th anniversary of the Light of the World church yesterday. I never knew the exact reason I couldn’t come here last year until yesterday. Two of the girls I met yesterday were baptized and they looked completely different. The dark shadows that had once clouded their eyes were gone. They had better posture and broader smiles…the look of girls who had experienced pain, yes, but also the look of girls who had experienced real love. It was a day for true celebration and a day of light in a dark place.

Until tomorrow,

Michelle

Guest Posting for Tosca Reno TODAY!

Hello Fit PEOPLE!!!!

Today is a very exciting day. First and foremost, I want to give a HUGE shout out to MY DAD: today is his birthday :) If it weren’t for him, you wouldn’t have me, so wish the man a HAPPY BIRTHDAY people :)

Appropriately, I am also a featured blogger on Tosca Reno’s personal page today! If you don’t know who she is, what’s wrong with you?!?!?! JOKING! Let me tell you:

Tosca Reno is an esteemed author of several best sellers, including The Eat Clean Diet and Eat Clean Diet Cookbooks.

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It is through her expert guidance and easy approach to nutrition that I was able to turn my life around. Once I was in the statistic range for developing diseases such as high blood pressure and even cancer, but thanks to her I am in the minority and helping others! Tosca is also the head of Robert Kennedy Publishing and the mastermind behind Clean Eating Magazine and the Eat Clean Diet Community. To say that I am honored is an understatement :)

My post for Tosca runs through my transformation, but it also comes with a challenge: what will you do with your fitness?

I am endeavoring to raise $50,000 to build a wellness center for victims of sex trafficking and human exploitation in Chisinau, Moldova. Fitness has a way of changing things. A regular fitness program has been shown to increase self-esteem , enhance self-discipline and decrease levels of depression. I can certainly attest to what fitness and eating clean have done in my life!

Check out the post HERE and at the VERY LEAST, share it :)

Want to be a part of an AMAZING change? you can donate to the wellness center HERE. I will be keeping you updated on the whole process AND you will even have an opportunity to visit Chisinau and check out what you’re a part of! Grab this chance to make a change in the world. The one sure-fire way to reach your goals is to look at the bigger picture: who can you help today?

LIVE LOUDER TODAY!

xoxo,

Michelle

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

FUN FRIDAY! Weight Loss Overseas, be a picky eater and a shout out to Under Armour

Happy Friday!!!!

So, I’ve been back from Moldova for almost 2 weeks and I feel like I’m trying to get back to normal. Do you ever really get back to normal though? That sounds like another post altogether….

I came back from my mission trip 4 pounds lighter! And I’m not just talking about the clothing I left over there :) I totally lost 4 pounds. And I wasn’t building houses or carrying babies either. So, to all you doubters that tell me you can’t lose weight because you travel and blah, blah blah…..IT CAN BE DONE! The question is “will you do it?’ actually. Now, the food was wonderful and we were never short on it. I had my fill at every meal and never refused to eat, after all that is very rude. One major difference is that the food in Moldova is pretty fresh and lacks all the nasty hormones and preservatives America has come to rely on so heavily (again, another post). This enabled my body to utilize the food eaten for it’s intended purpose: ENERGY. I had more physical and mental energy from the fresher foods, true story. I also made sure to take my Shakeology packets and FD Greens and I drank those every morning, along with a pack of EmergenC. Those were the ONLY supplements I took and I felt like a rock star! I also worked out about 4 of the 7 days we were there…in my bathroom.

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Yep, that is a picture of the set up I had each morning. I took a couple of bands with me to perform weighted squats, bicep curls, triceps overhead extensions, etc., but the majority of my 30-45 minute workouts were body weight based. I did prisoner squats and lunges, sumo squats, push ups, triceps dips off the toilet, walk outs, crunches, bicycles, burpees, knee tucks, you get the picture. It isn’t a lack of resources that keeps us from staying fit, it’s a lack of discipline. Working out is who I am, not my job. It doesn’t matter what you DO for a living, what matters is how badly you want to be fit. If you want, you’ll break down barriers to get it.

Picky Eating

It’s OK to be a little bit picky when you’re out of your comfort zone. JUST make sure you’re being picky FOR your nutrition, not against it. Airline food is hardly what I would call fresh and if we are honest, it’s not always appealing. The flight from Charlotte to Munich served pretzels (I declined and gave them to my seat mate) for a snack and the entrée was grilled chicken, salad, roll, brownie and veggies. I ate the salad, sans dressing, had a little chicken and veg and gave the rest to my seat mate. Just to clear it up, my seat mate was a sweet little lady from Germany who was on a long trip. She was saving the food for later :) I packed KIND bars and nibbled on those when I got too hungry, but just tried to focus on staying hydrated. The flight home (Munich to Chicago) was different in food fare. The entrée was not quite as edible for me BUT there was still a salad and plenty of water. Oh, and wine…yes, I had plenty of wine :) . The point is: be picky FOR your health. Stick with vegetables that are steamed, grilled, roasted or raw and make sure your protein doesn’t taste as if it has the Dead Sea’s salt contents ok? Play it smart and travel can be easier and healthier for you.

UNDER ARMOUR SAVED MY LIFE! Ok, not really but you really should invest in this…

I’m from South East Texas people. We don’t do cold here. It hits 60 and we’re complaining and breaking out the gloves and parka (not that I own one…). In preparation for the frigid temps of Moldova, I purchased a wool coat and long underwear. On a last-minute shopping trip, my son picked out an Under Armour Charged Fleece Hoodie for me to wear. Life, saved. The coldest day in Chisinau (ok, not ever, but while we were there) was 13 degrees with falling snow and overcast skies. The snow was not falling, it was plummeting. Anyways, while everybody bundled up in coats and long underwear (accept the hard-core from Michigan) I threw on my hoodie and some UA tights (tights people!) and headed out. I’ll try to keep this less technical than I want, but here we go…… These UA people know what they are doing! Their Cold Gear line blows Nike out of the snow bank (yes, I had some from both lines). I was super comfortable walking through Chisinau in the pounding snow AND I wasn’t too hot when we went into stores or restaurants. Why? TECHNOLOGY!!!!! The charged series is water proof and weather resistant. All I can tell is that it is sprinkled with magic. As the wind blew, I felt fine. The snow never melted on my clothing and gave my that soppy wet dog feeling. When we were inside warm places, the sweat wicking magic that is Under Armour went to work to ensure I stayed comfortable. To the naked eye I looked, well, naked. It was tights and a hoodie! Underneath, I was as comfortable as ever and I am now part of Team UA! Looking for great gear? Check it out to your right—————-

If you’re looking for more details on my trip to Chisinau, Moldova OR to find out how you can get involved from the comfort of your own home, click HERE.

Until next time, LIVE A LITTLE LOUDER!!!

Michelle