What I Should Have Said

My family and I took an AWESOME little road trip up north this weekend, through Duluth and up along the North Shore.  It was AWESOME.  Awesome scenery, awesome to be together….just the three of us, and honestly just awesome to do stuff that wasn’t related to real life and work and busy schedules and all that jazz.

One day, we were feeling brave, and ventured to Palisade Head near Beaver Bay to check out the view from the top.  

Palisade Head
Palisade Head

You are SO HIGH UP, and it is SO STRAIGHT DOWN, and it is just awesome.  It gave me anxiety to be able to look straight down to the rocks and water, but it was still awesome.

Anyway, where we were and what we were doing isn’t the point of this post.

Another couple was up there while we were, and asked us to take their picture.   I would guesstimate that they were a few years younger than we were.  So, they set up shop for a great picture, and I snapped a few to make sure there was at least one with no blinks in it.

I hand the camera back to the woman, and start walking away with my family, and I hear her voice sorta panic.

“Oh my gosh, I’m HUGE.”

“I thought I posed and sucked it in, I can’t believe I’m so huge.”

I thought this woman looked great.  Not huge.  Great.  And happy.

Any then my heart sank a little bit because I know that panicked feeling when you see a photo of yourself.  I used to HATE getting pictures taken.  Or worse, when someone would tag you in a photo on Facebook, and you instantly had anxiety about what you looked like and how you looked to others.  I KNOW what she was feeling.

I don’t know those feelings too often anymore, although sometimes I need to remind myself to stop being my own worst critic and stop looking for faults and flaws in pictures.  And I wanted to stop, and turn around and say to this woman, “Please don’t say these things about yourself.  It isn’t worth it.  It isn’t worth wrecking the awesome experience you just had on the top of this massive cliff to freak out about how bad you think you look.”

I didn’t say anything.   I just gave her a little mental compassion, and went on my way.

I hear things like these a lot.  Mostly because I think I’m hyper-sensitive to hearing them because I’ve FELT all these things about myself.  And hearing them almost hurts my ears, because after knowing what it feels like to not loathe myself, I want that feeling for EVERYONE (even the ones who drive me a little nuts sometimes) who deals in self-loathing.  I can’t unknow all this cool stuff that I now know and feel.  I can’t unknow how it feels to be proud of me, my body, things I do, and how I act BECAUSE I know I deserve to have all those cool things.  I can’t say icky stuff about me anymore because it feels icky to say icky things to someone you love.

This experience was a lesson for me.  First, it made me appreciate how far I have come by putting effort into myself.  But more importantly, it made me realize that it is even MORE important to approach people with a healthy dose of compassion in this area.  How people feel about themselves impacts EVERYTHING – how they act towards you, how they talk and interject and communicate, how they participate socially, and how they feel about taking pictures.  Even on top of a beautiful rock formation, these things still happen.  Icky body image knows no limits.  It can make a great day or great experience drop into the tank with just a second of self-loathing.

If you deal a little, or a lot, in self-loathing….I urge you to show yourself a healthy dose (everyday) of self-compassion.  Be easy on yourself.  Being harder or stricter is never the answer in this arena, as those things only breed more self-loathing. If you want to do MORE of something, try on a little extra compassion for size.

Awesome Interview: Meet Kate!

I am excited to share another farm girl interview with you all!  I know her from high school, and was on the same volleyball team as her.  And to be honest, when she hit the ball, you basically got the eff out of the way!  She had a mean serve too!  

A few months ago she reached out to me about how she was doing some yoga at home and was getting stronger and more flexible.  Then I saw a few of her farming posts on Facebook and thought….dang, wouldn’t it be cool to have an interview with a farmer-mom-living room yoga-chick?  

So here we are :).  She agreed to answer a few questions for us, and let us peek into her life a bit.  

So, I will stop rambling, because it is time for you to meet Kate!

Kate!
Kate!

Tell us a little about yourself – your background, your family, what you do, and why.

I am from South of Gaylord, and graduated from Sibley East in 2000. I grew up on a dairy farm with my parents and two older sisters. I went post secondary the last half of my senior year to Southwest State in Marshall. I played volleyball there the following year and loved it. I transferred to South Central Tech and did the one year dental assisting program. Then I moved up to Excelsior and worked at Lake Minnetonka Orthodontics for almost a year, and ended up moving back to Mankato and worked at an orthodontic office for four years. We (my husband and I) moved out to our farm and I stopped working in town to farm full-time.  That was 10 years ago already!  I now custom raise heifers for my parents on our farm which includes the feeding, cleaning and breeding of around 200 heifers and I do most of the breeding at their farm also. My husband, Matt, and I have been married for almost nine and a half  years. We have three absurdly awesome kids – Genesis is 7.5, Matthew is almost 5 and Collin is 2.5.

Kate and her family!
Kate and her family!

What is the coolest thing about what you do for a living that we might not know?

As gross as it sounds, breeding is actually very interesting. Cows are oddly similar to humans reproductive cycles and gestation. Nobody ever guesses my profession and I love that!

Can you give us an example of WHAT you do every day, or what your day looks like?

Most of my days Im home with the kids and I go outside to feed the heifers or scrape manure during nap time. Two days a week the kids go the daycare (when not in school) and those days I go to my dads farm to breed cows or do herd health there. All other work is done either with the kids or after they go to bed at night. Some days its very difficult to balance everything.

What do non-farmer people NOT know about the farming world and how would you educate them?

For the most part I really dont judge people for their choices in regards to the farming industry, but that respect is rarely reciprocated since there is so much superiority around. Im not a fan of organic anything. I dont feel that its superior whatsoever. Im also not a nutritionist, so I do not back anything up with facts or numbers, it is just my opinion. The biggest joke out there is hormone free milk. Cows naturally produce the hormone bst, so there is not milk that is completely free of it. Some cows are given injections to enhance/increase that hormone but I dont think that is very common anymore. My other gripe is that they call almond juice milk or any other nut for that matter. But thats mostly because it makes me laugh. I once had someone tell me that they would love to be one of my cows because I love them so much. I give them hugs, kisses and sing them songs too 🙂  When I’m outside, I have to watch to see if any are in heat to breed.  I also have to pay attention to their overall well-being and appearance to monitor their health. I can tell almost all of them apart and I have special memories of certain ones too. They are my girls! 🙂

Kate and The Girls!
Kate and The Girls!

With a physical job, how do you use exercise to take care of yourself so you know you can perform your best?

To be perfectly honest, after I graduated from college I exercised very seldom! I only started working out 10 months ago consistently. Before that, I just did my work and hoped for the best. Oops.  🙂

What types of physical activity, besides farm work, do you enjoy the most?

The end of last September I did my first workout. I had ordered Jillian Michaels yoga meltdown DVD and of course it sat on the table for three weeks. I still don’t know what made me start, but since then I have worked out every other day minus just a couple times. I did only the power yoga for seven months straight with only two levels on the DVD. I loved it! I’m not a flexible person and this helped that. Even in the end I was dripping sweat every single time! The only reason I stopped is because I wasn’t seeing as many results I thought I should. I did basics of dumbbell work, lunges, and push-ups for a month. Now I’m a little over half done with the Fe Fit 90 day experience, which is a total body series of dvds.  It’s  incredibly difficult but I’m definitely getting stronger and seeing muscle definition which is exciting! Literally haven’t lost a pound on the scale but I feel good about my strength, definition and flexibility that I have gained. I have regained my life as an athlete and it feels great. My kids see me working out and they know my schedule (every other day) and I love that I can be a good example to them. I will only work out for 30 minutes max and I only do it in my living room. I don’t have time to go anywhere so I do my workouts during nap time or after the kids go to bed. On busy days, I will work out at any time. I have done workouts at 11:30pm just to stay on track. Just never in the morning :).  

Just a little living room yoga :)
Just a little living room yoga :)

Talk to us about how you eat….are you a home cooked meal type of girl, or do you wing it every day?  What are your favorite foods?

My biggest downfall! I don’t eat clean, or small for that matter. I love cooking and baking. I’m a meat and potatoes girl. I love pasta, starch and meat. I’m not necessarily proud of it but at this point, I’m not quite ready to change all that. I have good days and bad, I do love salads but I can’t thrive on them. One day I’ll get it…maybe.

Tough Muddette butting in here…….ain’t nothing wrong with being a meat and potatoes girl!  Kate, you expend a lot of energy caring for the cows, and the kids, and busting out your living room workouts.  Gotta eat big to account for that!

How do you unwind after a long day or long week?  Farming is physical AND emotional business.  How do you take care of yourself – your body and your mind – to make sure YOU are well physically and emotionally?

Oh my, is it! I love my wine! I usually have a glass almost every night. I love to have alone and quiet time. I’ve always been musical and appreciative of its qualities so I listen to music if I’m riled up. I think the workouts have helped a little with unwinding but the mostly just make me tired.

If you could wake up tomorrow, and have your perfect day ahead of you, what would it look like?

I don’t know if that exists. I guess taking bits and pieces from other days…mostly depends on how the kids are behaving to be honest. Some family time, great food, lots of laughing and then some down time would be great!

If you could go back and talk to your 21-year-old-self…..what would you say?

WellI was going through cancer treatments at 21 after going through a horrible breakup, so I hardly recognize that person anymore. I was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma in my right thigh and went through chemotherapy and radiation. I had to deal with the hair loss and all the unfortunate side effects. My family and friends were so beyond incredible and supportive. My faith kept me on the ground. I remember knowing that I didn’t have any other choice so I had to be strong and keep my spirits up to get through it. It taught me a lot about myself and about what I had to do to survive in life.  I would mostly have to say to that person to just give it time but try to find your passion and not give in to other peoples standards. Never depend on someone else for your happiness. Life only gets harder so enjoy the time when you can just do you!  

Anything else you would like to share with us?

I will always be a work in progress, but that doesn’t mean I’m not proud of who I am right now. I’m proud of what I am doing and I’m not going to be too hard on myself for what I haven’t achieved yet. I try very hard to stop saying “I’ll be happy when…”. I’m happy now and I’m going to embrace my good and my bad and be the badass that I want to be.

Kate, thank you SO MUCH for letting us peek into your life!  Keep being farmer-mom-living room yoga-badass!

Some Fun Fitness Finds I Love Lately

You know…..I like fitness stuff.  If I can squat in it, or wear it and feel good….I’m into it lately.  Ask me to get dressed for realisies in jeans or real people clothes….I’m out.

Ask me to find cool workout leggings and shoes and a hoodie….I’m all the way in.

So I thought I would share what I’m kind of in love with lately.   Full disclosure though…I am NOT a fashionista.  I really am just a sucker for workout gear.  So know that going into this post 🙂

Old Navy Go-Dry High-Rise Compression Crops

Photo Source - oldnavy.com
Photo Source – oldnavy.com

I love these!  This was my first venture into high waisted workout pants, and to be honest….I’m sorta bummed that all pants aren’t high waist, lol.  These don’t move when squatting, jumping, deadlifting, or running.  I have three pairs in a variety of colors/prints that I bought when there was a 40% off deal, so I paid like $17 or something per pair.  Heck of a deal!  I size up though, otherwise I notice that things get weird and see-through, and I don’t want to be that girl 🙂

Flag Nor Fail Weather Your Storm Baseball Tee

From Flag Nor Fail
From Flag Nor Fail      

I have been following Dana Linn Bailey on FB for a bit now, and I like her attitude.  Basically, lift the shit out of weights, kick butt at life, and be productive and nice.  So I saw her clothing line and found this shirt…and I love it.  I love baseball tees because they are comfy, plus this has a cool message.  It is a unisex fit, so you have to kind of pay attention to the size, and I sized down so it fit closer to my body.  I’ve worn and washed it three times and the color has not faded or had bleeding issues yet, plus it is lightweight and soft.  I love it!

 

Qalo – Customized Womens Ring

My Qalo!
My Qalo!    

I like this ring because it says yes I’m married and cook a mean pot roast, but I’m badass and kill it in the gym.  This specific one has a kettlebell on it :).  Last year after prepping for the RKC and the snatch test, my wedding ring got a bit snug on me.  My grip has changed, and thus my finger size has changed.  I need to get it resized.  So this is my gym friendly wedding ring stand in that I can wear all day :).

Forged Incorporated Tank

I heart a good racerback!
I heart a good racerback!

 

I’ve bought a few things from Forged before, but it’s been awhile.  I love this tank!  This one is kind of a charcoaly brown, super soft, lightweight, and comfy.  I really like the Forged story best, though…I feel good about putting money towards companies that use it to do good.

 

 

 

Reebok Women’s Crossfit Lite Lo Training Shoe

Photo source - amazon.com
Photo source – amazon.com

I just ordered my second pair of these.  I’ve been wearing my first pair for a year, and they need to be replaced because I’ve worn them out.  I prefer workout out, especially lifting, with bare feet, but sometimes you need to wear shoes, yo!  These are way more comfortable than Chucks, in my opinion, for workouts!  I love them!

Under Armour Eclipse Bra

Photo source - amazon.com
Photo source – amazon.com

I think I have like five of these bras.  Super comfortable!  They are supportive enough for me to jump and run in without feeling outta control, but really, really comfortable,  Um, I wear these with regular clothes sometimes and not just for workouts because they are that comfy.

 

 

Do you have some faves that you can’t live without?  Share them with me!  I want to hear them!

Awesome Interview: Dairy Woman Strong!

I have been Facebook stalking Dairy Woman Strong for the last while.  I am a creeper like that.  And I have to say, I appreciate her posts and thoughts that she shares on social media.  I dig a good farming story, and because this is a WOMAN farmer story, it is exponentially more awesome to me.  I was raised on a farm, as was my husband.  Our parents are still hustling in the farming business.  We live in a farming community.  Farmers provide for us.  And to be honest, I get a little jacked up when they sometimes get portrayed by the media as evil scientists who create sneaky stuff for the world to eat in their top-secret laboratories.  Farmers and those who know them know that they care very deeply for their land and their animals.  They respect them.  Farmers aren’t scary and they sure as heck aren’t secretive, in fact….they are some of the nicest people you will ever meet.  And I’m sure if you wanted to learn more about farming, reaching out to your nearest farmer might bring you some education and new experiences that you don’t even know exist.  And you never know, you might gain a new friend out of the deal!

So, basically, what I’m saying here, is Farmers Freaking Rock.

Anyways, I’m rambling.  Let’s get to the good stuff.  Our interview!

Tell us a little about yourself, Dairy Woman Strong!  Let us get to know you!

I am Shannon Seifert, life long dairy enthusiast. I have been a dairy farmer, dairy educator, and dairy professional. I currently work as a dairy specialist for B & R Dairy in Winthrop where I help farmers with their milking equipment. I chose Dairy Woman Strong because it describes my attitude for life. I am passionate about dairy and cows, I am a woman in a typically male profession, exploring everything about that, and Strong, using this life to learn the real meaning of strength.

Shannon Seifert, AKA Dairy Woman Strong
Shannon Seifert, AKA Dairy Woman Strong

What is the coolest thing about what you do for a living that we might not know?

The coolest thing about my job is using technology to help diagnose problems and prevent issues for our dairy farmer customers. They are some of the hardest working people I know and I love being able to help them achieve their goals and help their cows have a more comfortable life.

Give us an example of WHAT you do every day, or what your day looks like.

My typical day isn’t very typical. Some days I am working on a construction project, other days I am in the office editing our company website. Because my customers are farmers I need to meet them when they are most busy. Some of my days start at 4 am, some of them finish at 9pm. I am working with farmers who do not have set hours because the cows they care for need care 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. My responsibilities include evaluating milking equipment, training on farm employees and working with farmers to help achieve their goals. I most enjoy walking through cow barns and really taking the time needed to watch the cows. Cows will tell you an enormous amount of information about their care if you stop and just watch them.

What do non-dairy people NOT know about the dairy world and how would you educate them?

My blog has been my major outlet to educate the public about dairy farming, the one key take home message I want our customers to know is that “We CARE”. A lot of myths stem around the fallacy that farmers don’t care and they are only in farming to make a profit. Yes, farmers need to feed their families and farming is very capital intense but at the end of the day they truly CARE about their land, their animals, and their resources because they are working so tirelessly for their families and yours.

With a physical job, how do you use exercise to take care of yourself so you know you can perform your best in the farming world?

When I get to the dairy farm, it is not uncommon to log 20-50,000 steps a day on my FitBit but even then I still know that exercise is so important to my mental, spiritual and physical health. I really enjoy running, walking and biking the most. I try to mix in some strength training to keep my core solid, especially with a physical job.

What types of physical activity, besides farm work, do you enjoy the most?

I’m an outdoors girl by nature. Even as a kid I would go biking after chores at night. I love hiking, walking and running in the great outdoors. I love going to parks and exploring.

Talk to us about how you eat….are you a home cooked meal type of girl, or do you wing it every day? What are your favorite foods – dairy and non-dairy choices!

I am a home cooked type of girl. With a farming background I am used to making good, healthy meals. I do have a garden that I share with a friend. I love using produce from that garden year round for my meals. My mother was an avid gardener as well, so I was raised eating lots of fruits and vegetables plus meat and dairy. My favorites are really good savory salads with protein (fish, chicken, beef, pork), dairy based smoothies, and I do treat myself to some delicious chocolate every once in awhile. I typically buy my veggies and fruits each week and do prep work so they are quick snacks or easy to pack lunches. I always have three servings of dairy each day, my coworkers make fun of me for my thermos of milk everyday. I love exploring food so I am constantly trying new recipes and new foods/ingredients.

How do you unwind after a long day or long week? Farming is physical AND emotional business. How do you take care of yourself – your body and your mind – to make sure YOU are well physically and emotionally?

When I exercise it is what I call my “God time”. I have a few really good female based spiritual podcasts that I really enjoy listening to. When I hit the pavement, I pop in my ear buds and enjoy mental, spiritual and physical stimulation. Then I usually cool down with some time in my flower and vegetable gardens.

If you could wake up tomorrow, and have your perfect day ahead of you, what would it look like?

My perfect day would be getting up with a breath in my chest surrounded by the ones that I love (that alone is a blessing like my grandma used to say). I would be able to help a dairy farmer solve a problem or even go to work on my own dairy farm (I am aspiring to return back to the farm in my future). I love growing cows, crops and people. We have this life to make relationships and impressions on others and I really hope that I am making good ones with my friends and family.

You are a dairy nutritionist….what is that?

A Dairy nutritionist is responsible for testing all of the feed that a cow might eat and balancing the diet to provide the correct amount of nutrients at an affordable cost for the farmer. It was a great job helping farmers make amazing forages for their cows and helping their cows stay happy and healthy.

I LOVE your Bad Asses Of Farming post, and your use of a Brene Brown quote.  I’m a fan of hers!

I love Brene as well! I have read all of her books and it is her study of vulnerability which helped me to realize that TRUE strength comes from being vulnerable and taking risks. During my divorce two years ago I found a lot of healing in her words. My ex-husband divorced me. Not only did I lose my best friends and my husband, but I also lost my job, the farm I loved and helped build, my career, my passion, and how I defined myself for so many years. The past two years I have spent time working to figure out who I am, I don’t need a dairy farm to be passionate about cows, but farming is definitely in my heart.

(You guys, please read her Bad Asses Of Farming post HERE.  Also, if you haven’t read Rising Strong yet, please do).

Ok, and you’re I’m Fine posts rocks, too!

Thank you! All too often we use that phrase. Part of being strong is admitting that we are “not fine” and being honest with those closest to us that we have more to us. We need to ditch the hard shell.

(Go on to read the I’m Fine post here if you’d like).

Well, you guys.  I don’t know about you, but I got some awesome insight in this Dairy Woman Strong and her life!  Please check out her blog at http://dairywomanstrong.blogspot.com/ and also her Facebook page HERE.  She is down to earth and shares some real (and really cool) stuff!

Training Thoughts: The Last 12 Weeks

I just wrapped up a nice little training cycle, and thought it would be fun to actually reflect on my experience.

Mostly because I have the tendency to put blinders on and focus FORWARD, and rarely ever settle down and reflect on all the hard work I actually DO in the gym.

So, here we go.

I finished up a cycle on the “big three”…….squats, deads, and bench.  I was like….should I really do this?  I’m a kettlebell girl.  And I love that.  Should I start owning the barbell a bit more?

Then I stopped shoulding all over myself and bit the bullet.  I’m glad I did!  I had a lot of fun training something new, and to be honest, I learned and learned and learned some more.

The first few weeks were a little bit higher reps (8ish per set) with lighter weights….60-75% of max.  I loved these weeks, because I don’t train all of those lifts consistently.  I played it safe and used conservative max numbers because I didn’t have a true max to go off of and base my training around.  It should be noted that I don’t spend tons of time in this rep range with kettlebells, or at least I hadn’t for some time leading up to this new program.  So my body REALLY felt awesome during this phase and responded well, too.  I built me a nice meat shelf on my back to hold my barbell during back squats.  I also got REALLY comfortable in the hole of my squats, and with different deadlift variations – sumo, pause sumo, deficits, etc.  AND I LOVED THEM ALL!  I trained four days per week, a squat day plus assistance lifts, a bench day plus assistance, a deadlift plus assistance day, and then finally a wide grip bench plus pull day.  And towards the end of this part, I readjusted my guesstimated max because I realize I started too easy on myself.

The next few weeks, we started inching the reps down a bit and jumping the weight up a bit.  This was super comfortable for me, because the reps and heaviness, although I train the with the heaviness of kettlebells so it is a bit different…well, that feeling was familiar to me.  I started owning my lifts here.  And happily clocking in the work.  Still four days per week, same schedule as above.  I also really seriously plugged a fifth day in these weeks as well in the form of a circuit, or kettlebell workout, or mobility or whatever the heck I needed during those weeks.

Final weeks, well….first I took a deload.  Which basically means an easy week where you back WAY off everything, and do your lifts with like easy peasy weights.  Then, we started working in that 2-3 rep range but for sets.  Starting to own the heavy heavy shit.  And this is where it gets mental for me.  Doing 2-3 reps of stuff isn’t a biggie.  But when you are constantly starting your workouts knowing it’s going to be at 90% weight….it gets in my head for some reason.  Not sure why.  Nevertheless, I did them.  I pissed and moaned about them, but I did them.

I started the 12 weeks with “sorta maxes” of:

Bench – 100

Squat – 160

Dead – 225

Ended with:

Bench – 125

Squat – 200

Dead – 255 (tried for 275 but that beast wouldn’t even budge from the floor but I’m coming back for it)

Nutritionally, I tried some things as well.  I thought, why the heck not….because I’m trying a new way of training, let’s throw some food fun into the mix too.  Mostly in the beginning I was noticing that I wasn’t recovering well from workouts.  Taking a peek at my nutrition, my carbs weren’t as high on meals right after lifting PLUS those meals typically included more fat.  So I reversed that.  Got about 25 grams protein PLUS about 50-75 grams carbs and tried to stick around 15 grams fat.  Made a HUGE difference.  Plus it was fun as hell to eat.  Me and white rice are BFF’s now.  I didn’t do that if my workout volume was low or “easy” or if it was a bonus circuit or workout…..just the biggies where I knew I would need help recovering.  I sometimes also added an intra-workout protein shake mixed with orange juice those days for energy and to start the recovery process after workout ASAP…especially if I wasn’t going to be home from the gym for a long time because I had clients or something.  Both of these tiny changes helped me quite a bit.  I actually learned through this process that I respond very well to a moderate protein, higher carb, lower fat way of eating.  It just fits me.  I could live off rice and potatoes and such.  I’m not as excited about olive oil everything and I just feel better with my carbs a bit higher.  Would be fun if we could do “high everything”….high protein, high carb, high fat, right?  But unfortunately, that doesn’t exist.

All in all, this was a fabulous experience for me.  I learned a ton.  And to be honest, I was consistent as shit.  At training, and eating, and sleeping, and all that jazz.

Thank you, Marisa Inda (world record holder powerlifter), for this experience!

Dear TM: What Is The Best Time Of Day To Workout?

I’ve heard the following question in my lovely little gym THREE TIMES in the past three days.  So, I thought it warranted an official post.

So, here we are….

And here’s the question……

What is the BEST time of day to workout?

We all want to know the best time of day to workout, right?  Where you can maximize strength and gains and all that stuff?  And lose fat!  FAST!  Like YESTERDAY!

The “fitness and diet industry” might have a different answer than mine.  Mostly because they want to sell you their “special program” or supplement that costs a lot but really doesn’t net the results they claim it does.  But we aren’t talking about their answer.  This is my blog, so we are talking about MY answer.

So, to answer the question.  The BEST time of day for an individual to workout is THE TIME THAT THE INDIVIDUAL CAN REALISTICALLY AND CONSISTENTLY STICK TO.

Whaaaaat?

I know, I know….maybe you were expecting a different answer.

Truth is, the answer IS different…..for each individual.  We can get fancy with workout timing and meal timing and should we do cardio or strength work in the AM or the PM, and ohbytheway should we train fasted.  That’s all minute details.  We don’t need to go to that level for a LONG TIME.  Like, months and possibly years (or ever, really), after we have mastered these TWO SIMPLE (but not easy) concepts.

Adherence and consistency.

Adherence, or ACTUALLY completing the workouts needed to to complete the program you are doing IS EVERYTHING.  Most of us love to be program hoppers, or doing “this program” this week, and “switching it up again” in a week or two.  Nope, adherence means….you actually complete the workouts you need to complete.  Or said another way, doing the work you need to do….not doing the work you WANT to do, or doing the work you FEEL like doing.  Adherence means you show up, even on the days that suck a little.  Here’s a tip on adherence….if you know you can’t realistically complete the program you are contemplating completing, it probably isn’t the program for YOU.  Find one that you CAN complete, realistically.

Consistency is something a bit different.  Consistency means you KEEP showing up to do the work.  Week in and week out.  Not three days this week, and 1 day next week, and hopefully two days the week after, and “ick, I’m over this” so zero days in week four.  Nope, consistency means you are doing it, on the regular, week after week, month after month, year after year.  THAT is consistency.

Keeping those two concepts in mind – adherence and consistency – well then, you can sort of KNOW when the best time of day for YOU to workout is.

Are you a parent with a younger family, or a family filled with extracurricular activities?  Chances are, if you commit to a training program that takes about three times each week to do, scheduling evening hours is probably not realistic, right?  Because during evening hours, you are probably doing family stuff and activities.  So, if it is REALISTIC for you to wake up early, start setting your alarm for 5am and knock out that program three mornings a week.

Are you past the stage of kids and activities because your kids are grown?  Dude, you my friend have the leisure of picking pretty much anytime to get your workouts in.  If you are a morning person, I’d suggest doing it ASAP before work and other stuff can get in the way.  However, if you KNOW you aren’t getting up early no matter WHAT, don’t commit to it!  Schedule a time in immediately after work or whenever else that fits YOU best, and make sure it is REALISTIC.

Maybe you have a job that allows you a long lunch break.  PERFECT!  A few days a week, you are getting those workouts in at that time.

Maybe you have kiddos in school most of the year, but have a flexible job or schedule during the day that allows you to get those workouts in mid-morning or early afternoon.  Nail them.

The BEST time of day to workout is when YOU can adhere to your program…..consistently.

Guess what the people who are adhering to their program consistently for six months/one year/five years?

The results that the people who burned out on their 60 day workout binge challenge who gave up on day 29 because it wasn’t realistic and they couldn’t adhere consistently.

And those consistently adhering people are doing it without trying because it was realistic to begin with.

And, if you are consistently adhering, don’t worry if it is perfect.  Worry about just showing up.

Further Reading That I Find Interesting:  How Half Workouts Can Add Up To Bigger Results by Josh Hillis

Don’t Take This The Wrong Way BUT (The Best Compliment Ever)

At 10:45AM Monday, I found myself wrapping up a coaching session with a fitness and nutrition client of mine.  I’d been awake since 4:45AM, probably smelled like sweat and had coffee seeping out my pores, and had little curly hairs poking out of my ponytail standing up on end from the summer humidity, in my standard uniform of yoga pants and a tank top.  My stomach was rumbling because it hadn’t quite had second breakfast yet, and I was staring down a long ass workout of heavy leg day after my client left.  I was feeling a little bucky about lack of sleep from the night before, plus Hangry was setting in, and the mental negotiations had already started in my mind on should I or shouldn’t I work out right now.

My whole day changed for the better upon the last bit of our conversation that morning.

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but when I first came here I expected to see a size two personal trainer. I’m heading in for my doctor appointment next week, can I take a picture of you to bring with me so I can show my doctor?”

She sort of explained her comment to me, with a roundabout meaning of it being surprising that I teach nutrition and fitness without looking like the usual trainer ripped out of her mind, or super small, or advocating eating diet food or chewing gum to avoid eating real food.

You are absolutely right, dear client.  I am not that person.

We went on to discuss why I’m not that person.  In short, I said I like muscles, but truthfully, having muscles isn’t synonymous with being smaller or bigger with regard to physical appearance.  I am ‘here’ because this happens to be the place where my life and health intersect very well.  I sort of explained to her that I used to strive to be ripped and small and skinny and a certain size, and that the behaviors that I adopted while pursuing those things were not healthy for me.  Those behaviors were of someone who hated herself, and promoted self-loathing instead of self-love.  They most definitely were NOT behaviors that were healthy.  Those behaviors were the opposite of healthy.  And as a non-ripped personal trainer, I still have healthy blood work, and blood pressure, and all that jazz.  So I must be doing something right 🙂

You have to understand some backstory to this relationship.  This client came to me feeling not so great moving her body.  Things hurt that shouldn’t hurt.  Balance was a struggle.  And, when that relationship turned into a nutrition coaching relationship, I learned that she sort of views her weight right now as a death sentence.  There must absolutely be something disgusting about her at the weight she is right now.  And for a bit, there was a hint of desperation to get the heck away from that number.

But there has been a shift.  We focused on habits, which, at first, were nutrition related.  How can we get more protein, more veggies, more good quality carbs, and more good quality fat into her daily eating habits.  Once that got a bit easier, how can we step back and learn how to manage or control stress through deep breathing, or listening to a devotional podcast, or going for a walk outdoors.  In about eight weeks, I began to notice a shift when my client began showing up for sessions.   Instead of dread, she was happier, more upbeat, and alert.  Our weekly practice of things began to shift from “let’s try this” to “I think I want to work on THIS, this week because it makes me feel better.”  My client is owning her choices.

We do still talk about the death sentence weight number.  It feels less and less like a death sentence.  Because, truthfully, her behaviors are serving her well and she will practice them at this weight or that weight.  The behaviors are self-love behaviors, and not self-hate.

So back to Monday morning.  She took my picture.  Full length, full body.  Of course, I flexed in that picture because that’s what I do.  I have zero idea what that picture looks like and I didn’t have the urge to ask to look at the picture, to ask her to put a filter on it, or to re-take it.  She just took it and we had a good laugh about me flexing for it.  She said she was bringing it with to her doctor appointment to show her doctor who she works with.

I’m super proud of that.  That was the biggest compliment anyone has ever given me, and my client probably doesn’t even know that.

I did, however, put a bug in her ear to ask her doctor how many times a day he/she squats, does planks and push-ups, and does he/she even lift.  Because that’s what I do 🙂

This job is about helping people realize that they can trust themselves, and they can do things, and they aren’t broken, and things aren’t death sentences.  Of course it is about fitness, and nutrition too, but those things are really just things that people who love themselves do.  They take care of themselves, because they believe they are worth the effort to take care of themselves.

Should personal trainers be ripped?  Sure!  If they choose to be, and if that is a healthy place for them!  Are they any less quality if they aren’t?  Nope.  Should you be ripped?  Sure, if you choose to be, and it is a healthy place for you.  Are you any less of a person if you aren’t?  Nope.

IMG_3611Look at the behaviors (or habits, if you want to call them that) that make you better, not the destination.  The journey is in incorporating those, YOUR way.

PS – back to Monday morning again.  I rocked that leg day.  It was the easiest leg day I’ve ever had 🙂

We Aren’t Broken

Women are a weird species.

I went there.

I feel like I’m allowed to say it, though.  Because I am one.

We like to be hooked on this idea that we are somehow ‘broken.’

Like something about our body – excess weight, chronic pain, a cancer diagnosis, an injury, cellulite – whatever we have….is a huge physical flaw and sort of lumps us into the ‘damaged goods’ section of life.  We are now ‘broken’ because we have arthritis.  Or dimples on the back of our thighs.  Or baby weight three months or three years after our lovely new little is born.

For the record, it doesn’t even have to be something about our body.  We can feel ‘broken’ by a mistake we made in our past.  Or a failed relationship.  Or some incident in our past that we keep avoiding and not reconciling and making peace with, so we keep making not-so-great choices in order to avoid feeling the feelings associated with it.

And the sad part is that we can often go to great lengths to make ourselves ‘unbroken.’  We throw money at cures for brokenness and in hopes it goes away with the next ‘big thing.’  We throw all of our energy at it.  Because we are so wrapped up in believing the stories we tell ourselves.  And because we are so wrapped up in our brokenness.  Because there must absolutely be something that can FINALLY ‘fix’ our brokenness, right?  To take us to the other side?

When we believe we are broken, we are prey to the big lion or wolf that wants to sell us something to ‘fix’ our brokenness.  We throw our money at that big lion so we can be the nice little sheep that follows along with the other sheep and keeps ‘fixing’ the brokenness.

And what’s worse, is that we spend our TIME, the thing we NEVER get back, throwing our minutes and hours and seconds…..living in belief that we are broken.  And throwing that time towards negative instead of towards things like family and friends, and hobbies, and growth.

Except….we aren’t really broken.  We sometimes just get stuck in the trap that keeps us in that broken mindset.  That broken space.  That broken hell.

We don’t have to follow the path of believing we are broken.  We actually can just see that we are just US.  Maybe with a bum knee.  Or cellulite.  Or a failed relationship.  Or a mistake in our past that needs some reconciling and apologizing and forgiveness.

We ALL have SOMETHING that we can use as an excuse to keep being broken.  We aren’t perfect (thank God, because that would be boring).

We ALL have CHOICE to take another path.  To see things differently. Or to learn how to move past that brokenness.

Throwing money at new things or ‘fixes’ will never change how we feel about ourselves until we decide to FEEL DIFFERENTLY so we can choose a new action which will change the trajectory of our life.

Throwing energy and time at being a prisoner of brokenness will be the most expensive thing we ever do, because it takes the time and energy that we could spend being NOT broken.

We AREN’T broken.  There is nothing to fix.  We are allowed to be a whole person, with flaws and strengths and personalities.

Let’s stop being broken, shall we?

Recipe: Mango Salsa

I heart salsa.

I heart salsa even more when I can just clean out my fridge with all the stuff I need to use before it gets sketchy on me.

Enter mango salsa.

IMG_3585First step – find all the salsa like things in your fridge that might taste good together.

Second step – chop them all up and mix them together.

This might be annoying, but I don’t really use recipes for this kind of stuff.  I make mango salsa from time to time, but I use what I have on hand and make it work.

Today, I had all the other mango salsa type ingredients on hand, EXCEPT the actual mango.  I did have frozen mango though, so I used that and it worked just fine!

Here is what is in this one:

– a few handfuls of frozen mango, sliced in half, thawed

– half a diced red onion

– two handfuls of frozen corn

– one jalapeno, diced

– two forks full of minced garlic

– half a cucumber, diced

– sea salt

– black pepper

– a little shake of cayenne

– juice of one lime

Toss it all in a storage bowl, and put the top on the bowl and shake it around to mix it up.  Let it sit for 20 minutes and then taste it to see if you need more seasonings.

This was YUM.  In the past I have also added diced tomato and skipped the cucumber, and I like to add cilantro too, but didn’t have any and wasn’t running to the store to get any.  I also normally use fresh mango, and sometimes chunk in some avocado.  This makes a YUM topper for just about anything – tortilla chips, chicken, pork, and probably fish….but I’m too chicken to cook with fish so I’m just guessing on that one.

Here’s how it ate it after doing ALL THE SETS OF presses, push-ups, rows, triceps, good mornings, and front squats today…

Pile of rice, pile of chicken, pile of salsa, a smidge of cheese, a smidge of extra onion, and a little traditional salsa on the side
Pile of rice, pile of chicken, pile of salsa, a smidge of cheese, a smidge of extra onion, and a little traditional salsa on the side

Are you gonna try it?  If so, let me know how it goes for you!

Thoughts On Body Image: Mom Bods and Dad Bods

Following is an email I sent out to my clients this past month on body image.  It garnered a lot of thoughtful responses from people.  Comments such as “Oh my gosh, I wasn’t even aware I bashed my body” and “I always try to fit in by body bashing but really just feel icky about myself after participating” and “Body bashing ends NOW” flooded into my email inbox within hours of sending the email.

I thought I’d share my thoughts here, with YOU.

Read below…..

You guys, struggling with body image is a REAL THING.  

Oy.  Is it ever a real thing.

Probably the biggest reason that I am here, writing a newsletter to clients for my gym instead sitting behind my desk crunching numbers (I used to be an accountant), is because I STRUGGLED with body image in a big bad way for a large chunk of my life.  And let me tell you, poor body image, low self-confidence and low self-esteem….well those nasty things impact EVERYTHING.  And I don’t want that feeling for people.  So, that’s why I’m here in your inbox.

When you don’t like how you look, or think you are the wrong size, or think you thighs are too big, or you have cellulite, or WHATEVER, it’s easy to feel like a failure.  It is easy to hide on the other side of the camera to avoid being in photographs.  It’s easy to avoid going out in public because you think everyone thinks that you look gross.  It’s easy to let life pass you by because you’re too wrapped up in being fatally flawed and fixing yourself.

I want more for you.  I want you to love fitness and eating because it comes from a healthy mental space of “Hey, I am worth the effort it takes to move my body AND feed it.”  I want it to come from THAT space instead of coming from “Geez, I’m so gross.  I need to drop 20 pounds ASAP!  I can’t believe I let myself go.”

It is SO HARD for me to hear someone utter that last comment.  It hurts my ears.  And my heart.

It is also very hard for me to sit in a group of people and listen to the storm of body bashing that can unleash.  I know you’ve probably been in a situation that I’m talking about.  The one where you are chatting with a group of friends, and one friend says something mean and nasty about his/her body, so the next friend in line has to trump it and say something equally mean and nasty about her own body, or raise the bet and double down on why his/her body is even more disgusting than the other friend.  This process repeats until the whole group has participated and suddenly everyone thinks they are worthless at life because of what they look like.

As a former body basher….of my own body AND other bodies, I can tell you….I didn’t feel good doing or saying those things. About myself or about other people.  Feeling good about myself didn’t come from beating myself down mentally OR from making myself feel superior by saying icky stuff about other bodies.

Feeling good about myself came from stopping the verbal/mental beatdown I gave myself every minute of the day about how my body was somehow inferior, the wrong size, the wrong shape, or just plain gross.  Feeling good about myself came from stopping the body bashing of OTHER people as well.  Feeling good about myself came AFTER I stopped trying to pinch less than an inch.  Feeling good about myself came AFTER I stopped buying clothes that were one size too small for me because they would “be a good motivator” to lose weight.  Feeling good about myself came AFTER I stopped judging other bodies and honestly just started smiling and saying hello to other people more.

I won’t lie to you and tell you that every day I live is a good body image day.  They aren’t all great body image days!  However, I can spot the signs of a bad body image day a mile away – and I know exactly then that it’s time to show some compassion to myself instead of piling on more yuck.

I KNOW how it feels to feel icky about yourself.  I still sometimes feel icky about myself.  I want better for US.  I want exercise and fitness to fit into our lives because we are WORTH it, NOT because we are wrapped up in fixing all of our supposed flaws.

So, to be honest, when I hear things like “I have a mom bod” or “I’m sportin’ my dad bod” I do have to laugh to myself.

Because……I’m a mom.  And I happen to have a body.  So I guess I’m rocking the Mom Bod, right?

If you’re a dad, who has a body, rock that Dad Bod!

Want a bikini bod?  Put a bikini.  On your body.  Now you have a Bikini Bod!

To be honest, WHO EVEN CARES what kind of “bod” you have?  What matters is what I think about myself, right?  And what YOU think about YOURSELF, right?

I don’t know about you, but I feel good when I’m surrounded by my tribe of people (you guys, killin’ it in the gym), doing big things.  I feel good when I make the effort to take care of myself physically, nutritionally, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  I am WORTH that effort.

YOU are WORTH that effort. 

I feel like I have a luxury in our little gym, because it is a positive environment, and body bashing doesn’t exist.  So I don’t get into that mode every day.  I do know it’s out there everywhere in the world though, and that is sometimes hard to deal with.  So, here’s my two cents at addressing body image yuck:

  1. Remove it from your eyesight.  Seriously.  Unsubscribe from emails, social media feeds, etc that flash that icky stuff in your face. Continuous weight loss ads, “7 day jumpstarts,” the latest miracle shake, and things of that nature need to get the boot.  You don’t need that garbage in your face day after day.
  2. Remove yourself from the conversation.  If you find yourself in a body bashing conversation, I’m not gonna lie…it’s awkward as heck to get out.  But you don’t need it….it doesn’t serve you, and it won’t make you feel good after it’s done and over.  Change the subject, or simply just stay quiet.  If you can, excuse yourself.  But I’m not gonna lie, you gotta get out of it ASAP.
  3. Notice negative thoughts that you have about yourself.  They exist, and they always will.  When you notice them, you can call them out.  Or, you can do the really hard thing and actually sit with them for a good long while and figure out what is causing them.  For me, it usually means insecurity about myself for some reason.  For you, it might be different.  But pay attention to them.  Notice them.  Try to sort them out.  But always, always, always call them out…and give yourself something to say to call them out.  “I choose peace” or “I notice this feeling but I’m choosing this feeling instead.”
  4. Write out your thoughts.  Seriously.  A lot of stuff sounds really overwhelming and confusing and like a BIG DEAL when it continuously swirls around in your head.  However, that doesn’t mean it is ACTUALLY a big deal.  Write it all out.  All of it.  Read through it after you are done if you want, or burn it or review after a time when you’ve calmed down.  For me, more often than not, I feel better just by writing it, and that helps me sort a lot out on my own.

So, YOU….are you a mom, and do you have a body?  Mom Bod!

Are you a dad, and do you have a body?  Dad Bod!

Let’s not give in to all this body shaming stuff, eh?  Let’s choose a different path.

We ARE worth it.

Originally this was my journey to Tough Mudder…now it's my record of all things fitness and health!

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