It All Comes Down to Choices


choices

You may remember my letter to myself 5 years ago as I was starting my fitness journey. I shared a little bit of wisdom that I have learned over the last five years and things I wish my 5 years ago self could have known to avoid a lot of frustration and pain. Since then I have been pondering even more what I wish I could have told myself and what I would tell other people as they are starting their journey. I am sure I could write a long series of blog posts on what I have learned but honestly, it all boils down to one thing.

CHOICES

Where we go in our fitness and health journeys all come down to the choices we make.

That sounds totally non-profound, doesn’t it? It is easy to think to yourself, “Well, of course it all comes down to choices! That’s nothing new!”

You are totally right but I think in many ways it really is profound for many people, including myself.

When we start down the road of improving our health it is so easy to get confused and to get lost. There is tons of information out there that support and contradict what we are trying to achieve. It is so easy to be lead down the wrong path by information that just seems to be the answer.

When you are starting a new lifestyle it can be daunting and downright scary. I remember. You so want to succeed and to honestly, just feel better. That is really all you want. So, you go out and start the storm of researching. You come across all kinds of information and chances are you don’t know how to weed through the good information and the misleading information. Your intentions are good but you are in the position to be easily lead down a deep, dark rabbit hole.

As you are seeking out the information you look to the information and the programs as the answers to your success. That makes sense, doesn’t it?

But, that is not the case at all.

Exercise and nutrition plans are excellent sources of information and education when the information is solid. I started out by following a specific program and I will be forever grateful for that program because it greatly increased my confidence in the weight room and I tap into that same confidence every time I lift. Good programs are the answer to educating you when you have no experience or knowledge. Using a program is asking for help when you know you need it.

However….

Programs are not the answer to your success.

When I say ‘program’ I am referring to anything that you go to for help in your journey. It can be a new exercise routine, a new diet plan, a meal replacement shake, a supplement regimen, or whatever you may choose.

As a coach and as a friend I have heard on countless occasions ladies saying things like, “This program is the exactly what I need!! If this doesn’t work I don’t know what WILL work!” I WAS that person saying those things. I would find a new program and think that THIS WAS IT! THIS is the answer to make all my dreams come true.

As I have gone through countless programs and regimens over the years I have discovered that an old cliché saying is in fact quite true.

Wherever you go……there you are.

I realized that no matter what shiny new program I was using that the common denominator was ME. It was always me. I will readily admit that I have done good programs that offered sound information and I have done programs that only fed into my disordered habits. Either way the common denominator was still always me.

I researched and researched trying to find the answers I needed outside of myself in new programs. When I did not find success in one program I would find some kind of reason why it failed me and why it was not the right program for me. Then I would go looking for the next program that would be the answer. I did this over and over and over again.

Does this sound familiar?

It was not until this past year that my thick skull was able to see the whole story as a one big picture. I saw it was not the programs that failed me.

I failed me.

I failed to see my place in this story.

I failed to see that it was MY CHOICES that determined my path.

Once that made perfect sense I started to make changes.

I saw that I choose the path I want to go on. Then it is all about every choice I make along the way.

I always wondered about the people that I met along the way who were extremely successful and didn’t seem to struggle with it. The common denominator was that these people accepted that it was their choices that determined their path and it was all about personal responsibility.

YOU choose what you eat and when you eat it.

YOU choose if you move or not today.

YOU choose how much sleep you get at night.

YOU choose how much sunshine you get each day.

YOU choose how you prioritize your time.

YOU choose your goals and how to achieve those goals.

YOU choose if you will reach out for help or not.

You can choose to use a program for education or even as a little kick in the tail but when it all boils down it is ALL YOU.

YOU choose if you will use the program or not.

As a friend and as a coach I respect your choices and I respect your personal responsibility. I can hold your hand and I can guide you but I cannot make your choices for you. I CANNOT make you want it.

Desire comes 100% from you. And Success comes 100% from you.

CLAIM your choices and claim your success.

Once I stopped looking outside of myself for the answers to my success and I looked within myself I saw success. 

 

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It All Comes Down to Choices

As You Start Your Fitness Journey: A Letter to Me


A Letter to Me

Dear Me (As you start your fitness journey),

Hey! Believe it or not, but this is YOU from the future!! Crazy, huh?! It is about five years into the future and I have so much to tell you about what’s coming up for you. I have learned so much over the last five years and just wish I could come back and share in your victories and help you through the failures.

You are in such a lovely time right now. Your son is 3 and full of so much love of life and discovery. Your love for him and your husband is so intense that in many ways you have lost yourself in your efforts to give all of YOU to them. Don’t worry. They love you too and they know how much you love them.

I see what has happened too. I see you looking in the mirror wondering where you went. Your newly-wed body is long gone and you feel frumpy and dumpy. You did lose that baby weight but ever so slowly it has crept back on over the last three years. How in the world did that happen?! I will tell you. You loved others so hard that you forgot to love yourself. You forgot to remember that YOU matter too and YOU deserve to take care of yourself.

I see that twinkle in your eye right now. You know it is time to do something about this. You can’t keep going down this path. You need to eat better and exercise for no other reason than to be there for your family. Don’t let that spark go, Honey. That mustard seed of a spark is going to take you on a very exciting journey. Trust me.

I was looking at your half-marathon medals the other day. I still have them and I pull them out every so often and smile. Did you know you ran two half-marathons? Well, you did. They weren’t fast by any means but you finished and you finished with a smile on your face. That sense of accomplishment is impossible to beat. You trained in the rain. You trained in the heat. You sprained your ankle and walked 3 miles home because you were too stubborn to call for a ride back. You even ran twelve miles on a treadmill one Saturday while your family played so you could fulfill this dream. I also distinctly remember how one race had you run right past the cemetery where Mom is buried and you shed a few tears. That same race your right thigh for whatever reason had a searing pain shoot up every time your foot hit the ground but that same race had you run past many churches and you could hear the people worshiping inside. You ran two half-marathons. Remember that.

As you are considering this journey you are about to embark on you are going to make some mistakes that only time makes clear. Do you mind if I share some wisdom with you? This wisdom is hard earned because I have climbed those mountains and I have fallen in those ditches.

Your desire for knowledge is going to be insatiable pretty soon. That is just how we work. When a spark is lit there is no stopping your desire for more information. You will spend countless hours online reading articles and who knows how much money on fitness magazines. Learning is such a wonderful thing. But, if I could go back in time I would tell you to be more discerning about where you get your knowledge. At the time you just did not know how to discern healthy information and unhealthy information. You did not know that many of the articles you are reading now are going to push down the rabbit hole of disordered eating.

Let me tell you right now that extreme measures are not the answer to weight loss or even that athletic body you no so desperately desire. Giving up entire food groups will not give you abs or cut muscles. All it will do is make you crave those foods even more and ultimately lead to binges that then leave you feeling guilty and worthless.

Those pictures that you see posted on Pinterest and Facebook all the time are not reality. You know the ones you put on YOUR FB feed for everyone else to see. Yeah, the ones with the perfectly cut girls and the phrases that say “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” or “#noexcuses”. I will go ahead and apologize to your friends now for flooding their newsfeed with that crap. It is okay. You didn’t know.

I KNOW it isn’t glamorous to talk about moderation and habits right now because you are diving into this head first. You have NO EXCUSES. You WILL have that bikini body you saw in the magazine. When you have a slip up that just means you are weak and you will diet harder, or paleo harder, or vegan harder, or exercise harder. It is all your fault and has nothing to do with the misinformation you are being fed.

Just take it from a girl who has been in those trenches and has climbed out of them. Moderation and following healthy habits really are the answer. The slow and steady route really is the way to do it. And guess what? Moderation does not mean eating ALL the cookies. It means eating a cookie here and there knowing that they won’t kill you. Vegetables make you feel better but cookies baked with your son sure do taste delicious. Memories are so much more important than worrying about extra calories.

You know what? I could go on and and on and on about how to eat and how to exercise and how to truly find balance in it all. I could keep going on about how to wade the crazy waves of life that are going to happen soon. Put your seat belt on, Honey. It is about to get pretty crazy for a few years.

There is something that is much more important than all that. When it is all said and done it all boils down to the FACT that you are WORTH IT.

You are beautiful just the way are.

I know.

I KNOW.

You don’t believe it. I remember. I could jump through the portal of time and shake you and shake you but you won’t believe it. I guess this is one of those things you just need to learn on your own. Just know that learning to love yourself like God loves you will save you so much heartache over the next five years. It will protect you from all the deceptive things you will hear, follow, quit, and hate yourself over. It will save you a lot of time.

Not only that. Your husband and your son deserve a Wife and Mom who loves herself.

Let me tell you a little secret. That body you are dreaming about right now? Yeah, that body never happens. WHAT?! You put in all that work and you never ever look like the girl in the magazine? Nope. You look better because you look like you. Once you learn to love YOUR body you realize all the awesomeness that is contained in that body. Five years later you really don’t weigh that much less than you do right now as you stare in that mirror. But, you are two sizes smaller and far more muscular. Your clothes fit better and you can do far more fun things. You feel better all around and the future is very bright.

Five years in the future your passion has grown to be a strong desire to lift women up so that they too can love themselves enough to do what’s best for THEM and not fall victim to society. But, I guess the first thing I should do is write myself. I sure do hope the letter finds you well.

Sssssshhhhh. Please don’t cry. YOU CAN DO THIS!

YOU

ARE

BEAUTIFUL!!!!!

I LOVE YOU!

But, remember that God LOVES you more.

Love,

 

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As You Start Your Fitness Journey: A Letter to Me

The Reset Button (a.k.a. The KIND Button)

The Reset Button

You hear me talk a lot about habits on this blog and on Facebook.  I’m sure you have heard about Eating Slowly to 80% full, eating enough protein and veggies for you, and maybe even being more discriminating with your carbs based on your own goals.

But, there is a habit I want to talk about today that is a bit different.  It is more about mindset than it is about physical habits.   Mindset habits, though, are cultivated the same way as eating and exercise habits.

I like to call this habit “The Reset Button.”

The Reset Button is just like all the other habits. It is a habit that needs to be practised and the more you practice the easier it becomes.

What is The Reset Button?

Do you remember the Staples ‘Easy’ Button?

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Courtesy of http://www.staples.com

 

The Reset Button is kind of like that. It is an imaginary button that you can slap and instead of making something easy you get a reset.

Tell me if you have been in any of these scenarios?

  • You are having an emotionally taxing day and you find yourself reaching into the cookie jar far more times than usual.
  • Life is super tough and stressful right now and the pull of the drive – thru has been too strong to resist.
  • You are so tired to even think let alone practice your habits and exercise.
  • You are out with friends and/or family for a fun outing. You are having a wonderful time and don’t really think about any of your habits. And honestly, you just don’t want to anyway.

I am sure we have been in each of these scenarios. We’ve all been there. This is not a judgemental talk about having no excuses, to suck it up, and do what you have to do no…matter…what. Shoot! Your coach doesn’t even follow that philosophy. We are all human and we all have good times and bad times. There is grace here.

There is the RESET BUTTON here. I also like to call the Reset Button the “KIND BUTTON.”

How does this RESET BUTTON work?

  1. When you have a rough day, week, weeks, or months, pause and notice what’s going on. Acknowledge that this is not what you want in the long haul.
  2. NAME what happened and WHY it happened. “Okay, soooooo…..that totally just happened. It happened because……..”
  3. Promise yourself that you won’t punish yourself over this. We are all human. Grace.
  4. Hit that RESET BUTTON!!
  5. BOOM!! Everything is gone and you have a fresh slate for practising habits and getting back into a healthy routine of movement. Doesn’t that feel so good?!?!

Like I said earlier, this is a habit that has to be practised. So much guilt surrounds modern diets and that is not necessary. 

Do you recognize this spiral?

  • You eat a few too many cookies.
  • You come out of whatever haze you were in when you ate the cookies.
  • You realize what you just did.
  • You hit the GUILT button.
  • You start saying things like, “What in the world?!  How did that happen?!  I am such a failure at this diet. What’s the point?!”
  • You ultimately give up, only perpetuating the cycle of guilt and self-hate.

Sound familiar?  Yeah, me too.

Hitting the Guilt button only breeds failure. You are so much bigger than that.

So, you may need to hit the RESET BUTTON every day for a while or even several times a day. That is okay. Just like all the other habits the more your practice this habit the easier it gets.

When you are working on establishing healthy habits in your life make sure you don’t  neglect your mindset habits.

Promise yourself that you will hit the RESET Button (The kind button) when you sway from your goals instead of hitting the GUILT button.

I think you will far happier and more successful in the long run.

 

How do YOU like to hit your RESET BUTTON?????
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The Reset Button (a.k.a. The KIND Button)

Are You Listening or Talking to Yourself?

listening vs talking

I swear I have a constant dialogue going on inside my head from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed and sometimes even when I’m sleeping. Throw in constant music stuck in my head and it gets pretty crowded in there rather quickly. It is like a record that just never stops whether I want it to stop or not.

The bad thing about this phenomenon going on in my head is that oftentimes those thoughts that get stuck on the merry-go-round are negative, self-defeating, self-sabatoging, and down right mean. I’m sure you know how that feels. Those nasty thoughts just keep coming on the never-ending conveyor belt and there just doesn’t seem to be a way to make it freakin’ stop.

I have heard it said that the key to this situation is to just not allow those thoughts to take root. You stop them in their tracks and replace them with positive thoughts and truth. I have heard it over and over and over again but for whatever reason it just never really clicked. Maybe there wasn’t musch space left in my head for new concepts. HA!

Not too long ago I was reading the book Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Its Cure by Martyn Lloyd-Jones and he wrote something that totally and completely resonated with me.

Check out this quote:

“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them but they are talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment [in Psalm 42] was this: instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says, “Self, listen for moment, I will speak to you.

The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: “Why art thou cast down” – what business have you to be disquieted? You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: “Hope thou in God” – instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and What God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do. Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: “I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God.”

I once heard it said that you can stop a bird from landing on your head but you can stop it from building its nest.  

You can’t stop many thoughts from ‘landing’ in your mind but you can definitely stop them from ‘building a nest.’

So, what is the difference between LISTENING and TALKING to yourself?

Listening to yourself: You have a constant dialogue throughout the day. Some thoughts are good and some are bad. Listening to yourself allows the poor thoughts to take a root inside your mind. You allow the thoughts to build their nest.  It is like listening to a radio. You hear all the reasons to give up. You hear all the reasons you aren’t good enough. You hear them and even on a tiny level you believe them. We hear and listen to the complaints, negativity, self-hatred, etc. and that leads to unhappiness, discontent, depression, lack of productivity, and unfulfilled goal.  Then that cycle self-repeats itself. 

Talking to yourself: Choosing to feed yourself the positive. You can choose to fuel yourself with Scripture, positive affirmations, or whatever that gives you energy and motivation and hope. This then gives you the power to fulfill your goals and start the cycle in a very positive way.

Do you see the difference?

Even though it makes perfect sense to me I have also learned that talking to myself and not listening to myself is a hard HABIT to break. Just like with nutrition and fitness, learning to change your habits slowly over time is key to sustainable change.  So, I am treating this just like I would any other habit.  Bit by bit, thought by thought, I will turn that listening into talking.  I can’t expect to overhaul my way of thinking in one big step but I can overhaul it bit by bit over time.   There is HOPE for a whole new way of thinking.

Are you Listening or Talking to Yourself?

BLESSINGS!!!!

 

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Are You Listening or Talking to Yourself?

Six Things I Regret Saying to My Son About Food


food regret son

It has been four years since I started my journey to better health through good nutrition and exercise.  In those four years I have learned a lot and I have changed a lot.  My family has been with me and supported me the whole way and through all kinds of crazy.  I have finally found a place of peace and contentment with my relationship with food. But, I know I have said and done things in the past that I am not proud of.  I have been thinking lately about things I have said to my son in regards to food that I regret.  I thank the good Lord that he has turned out okay and from what I can tell he doesn’t have a poor relationship with food.  But, I still look back and I think, “What was I thinking???”

Here are six things I regret saying to my son about food.

 “Oh Buddy. It is okay. Stop crying. Have some Goldfish/cookies/pudding/etc.”

This one hit me like a ton of bricks. I heard someone else doing it and all of a sudden it clicked in my head why so many of us go to food for comfort. How many times when we were children were we offered food when we were upset? Probably a lot. And then I do it with my own child. I am just as guilty as the next person. Why do we do it? Because it works. Eating something delicious helps us be distracted from what really hurts. For kids it really is just distraction and moving their attention from the bad thing to the delicious thing. For adults, it goes deeper because it means we are not dealing with our problems. We are pushing everything further and further down with each swallow.

What if instead of going straight to food for comfort we took a moment to feel the emotions and we take the time to figure out what’s wrong and then do the best we can to fix it? That way the problem is resolved instead of being pushed further and further down while just causing more issues by over-eating.

“You can’t watch any TV if you don’t eat the rest of your vegetables.”

This very quickly equates eating with something bad. Food ceases to be a pleasure. And to my child he sure as heck won’t want to eat any vegetables if it means something bad like losing TV.

“Eat your food. There are starving children in Africa.”

This one really makes me cringe. I haven’t used this one as much as the others because it has always made be cringe. But, I have said it out of desperation. That does not make it any better. We are blessed to live in a place where chances are good that you will never miss a meal . That is a good thing. But, we should not feel guilty for the situation we were born into. Guilt does not achieve anything. I do think my son should be made aware of the world and that many people do not live as we do. I pray his heart is moved to action and that goes on to serve those who are less fortunate than he is. As he matures we will teach him and show him the truth of this world but that does not mean he should carry a guilt that is not his to carry. Food is a joy and a blessing. It is not something to be consumed because you feel bad.

“If you are super duper good while we are out I will buy you a cookie.”

Overtime, in the mind of child this becomes, “Whenever I do something good I should be rewarded with something delicious.” Oh, what’s so wrong about that?? Children who seek food as a reward become adults who seek food as a reward. I am an adult who does just that. I am slowing working my way out of it.

Did you do super well on your diet this week? GREAT!! Cheat meal!! You deserve it!

Did you work hard on your workout today? Yes? Have a special treat. You deserve it!!

I confess I still find myself offering food as a reward to my child. It slips out and I am trying hard to fix that. Instead of offering food I just let him know the consequences of misbehavior and completely leave food out of it.

“You can’t get up until you are done with your dinner.”

The only thing this does is it teaches your child to ignore his or her hunger/satiety cues and then force food down just so he can move on to the next thing. It also causes undo stress as you battle it out. As I have learned more about my own hunger cues and when I am full I am respecting my son’s more as well. Now, he will say,, “Mom, I am satisfied. May I be excused?” I will respond by saying, “Yes you may, but be aware that I am not cooking anything else today. So this is your last chance to eat. Are you really satisfied or do you just want to get up?” At first he would be just trying to get up and would want food later. Now, more times than not he really is satisfied and does not want food later. Helping him learn what being satisfied truly feels like will set him up for a healthy lifestyle as an adult.

 “Dad and I are eating veggie soup. Do you want a sandwich?”

All this does is teach my son that he never has to venture out of his comfort zone when eating. I don’t want him to grow up to be an adult that has a very limited appetite because he never learned to try new things. Dinners are eaten in community as a family. Some meals are made for the adults (a.k.a veggie soup) and some meals are more to my son’s liking. When he doesn’t like the dinner he has a choice to eat it or not. But, I am not making a special meal for him. If he chooses to not eat then he chooses to be hungry. That is still his choice. Slowly, over time, he has started eating the food, albeit a little bit. But, he is slowly becoming more adventurous. We tell him, “It is not bad to not like a particular food. We all have foods we don’t like. But, you need to at least try it a few times before you decide if you like it or not. And you must be gracious to those who are serving you the food no matter what.”

As I learn more about how I relate to food, the more I want to make sure my son does not have the same problems I have had to fix.  The best way I can do that is by being mindful of how I talk about food to him and even around him.   The best thing I can do for my son is love my food and not fear it.

What are your thoughts?

What are some “Food Positive” things we can say to our children to help create a healthy relationship with food?

Blessings!!
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Six Things I Regret Saying to My Son About Food