Book Review: Made to Crave by Lysa Terkeurst

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I’m not a book reviewer. I just read this book and thought, “I should blog about it!”

So I’m calling it a book review but I think it a better classification might just be:

“My favorite parts of a book that I read that might be useful to my readers because it’s a book about food and healthy eating and females and Jesus.”

But that title would be really really long.

So let’s call it a book review and be done with it.

The gist: Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst has the subtitle: Satisfying your deepest desire with God, not food. From the back cover: “This book is not a how-to manual or the latest, greatest dieting plan. Made to Crave is a helpful companion to use alongside whatever healthy eating approach you choose- a book and Bible study to help you find the “want to” in how to make healthy lifestyle changes.”

There’s no discussion about paleo or veganism or eating certain foods. It’s not a diet book at all and that’s what attracted me to it initially. Also, the author is the President of Proverbs 31 Ministries which has nothing to do with fitness but everything to do with women and how to live awesome God-filled lives. Plus, her daily devotional kind of inspired me to start my own daily devotional blog (shameless plug!)

Back to the book – Lysa takes certain passages from the Bible and applies them to real life. It’s a book geared toward women (but men struggle too, I’m sure) and how we put so much pressure on ourselves to be these thin, skinny jean wearing fit females.  Basically, the lesson is – turn your cravings of food into a craving for God. Instead of trying to summarize the book, I’m going to outline some of my favorite parts. (I highlighted and underlined practically every chapter which goes to show to just how much I loved this book…and I think you females would be wise to pick it up).

Disclaimer: Lysa never suggests that you CAN’T have any treat EVER AGAIN. She actually believes what I believe: You can have a taste of sweets and cake on your birthday and all that…but probably not at first. Not until you learn self-control. You may have to abstain or cut out the junk for a “season” as she puts it (i.e. a long time) but when you have that self control, then you can re-introduce those treats back into your eating plan. But it takes time to learn and apply that self-control and discipline, no matter what “diet” you’re on.

  • If we want to conquer our cravings, we’ll have to redirect them to God.
  • Lysa discusses our “Want To.” In other words, we all know what to do to lose weight, don’t we? It’s the fact that we don’t “want to” change enough to do it. She says it’s about “recalibrating our souls so we want to change.” So she lists a few ways we need to Find our Want To:

1. SpirituallyShallow desires produce only shallow efforts. Seek a spiritual want to empowered by God Himself. In other words, don’t use the vanity seeking reasons to lose weight. That will only get you so far. Just saying “Oh I want to look good in a bikini” is a vanity seeking reason. Besides, who DOESN’T want to look good in a bikini? Dig deeper.

2. PhysicallyTurn those spiritual insights into practical choices. As I’ve mentioned a few times, our weight is a direct reflection of our choices and our health. Whatever spiritual perspectives we read about are awesome for our mind and our soul, but you have to put the healthy food choices into practice to make it work.

3. MentallyWe were made for more than compromise. We were made for God’s promises in every area in our lives. Stop settling and thinking: Well this is just the way I’m meant to be. I’m meant to be overweight, there’s nothing I can do about it so I might as well not even try.  Enough with the self-pity talk. We were made for more and we can do better than settling for garbage food and garbage quick fixes.

  • God, not food, is who is in control of me. Food can fill our stomachs, but never our souls.
  • We grow closer to God by learning the powerful principle of denying ourselves things that distract us and hold us back from following. We grow closer to God as we learn to look and act more and more like Him. The bible calls this participating in His divine nature.
  • As you go to get on the scale once a week – Define your week by obedience, not by a number on the scale.
  • Confession from the author that I thought was interesting and applicable to all of us: I depended on food for comfort more than I depended on God.
  • Embrace the benefits (of exercise) instead of resisting the hardship. (This is definitely worth an entire blog post in the near future)
  • There is a good reason we must face our temptations (food, addictions, drugs, sex, etc). The struggle to say no may be painful in the moment, but it is working out something magnificent within us. Asking ourselves, “This feels good now, but how am I going to feel in the morning?”
  • On Idolatry and Food: Expecting anything outside the will of God to satisfy us is idolatry. Nutrition, which is food’s intended purpose, means consuming proper portions of healthy choices that enable our bodies to function properly. Idolatry, in the case of food, means the consumption of ill-sized portions and unhealthy choices because we feel like we deserve it or need it to feel better. We are to flee the control food can have over our lives. If we flee from the pattern of idolizing food and stop depending on food to make us feel emotionally better, we will be able to more clearly see the way our God promises to provide when we are tempted.

There is so much more that I could quote as Lysa had countless examples of scripture that could be applied to so many situations we might find ourselves in as we attempt to eat healthy and lose weight. I might take a few of her examples and apply them to my other blog since I feel it might be more applicable there. (trying to keep my faith and fitness separate although, to me, they go hand in hand).

I highly encourage all women of faith to purchase this book, regardless of where you are in your journey to be healthy. The book was/is so popular, the author wrote a study guide and a ton of other resources to go along with it.

I read this book in less than a week. And anyone who knows me knows I don’t read that quickly unless I REALLY like a book so, for what it’s worth!

 

Just a Taste…

Ahh sorry, this post has nothing to do with food as the title so blatantly suggests.  I know, I know, I just continue to disappoint.

No, when I say “Just a Taste” I mean getting a taste of Personal Training. One of my very intelligent clients (hello Lisa!) suggested that just one complimentary consultation and workout is sometimes not enough to get someone to truly appreciate the benefits of having a personal trainer.

They need a little more..just a taste…right?

I tended to agree with Lisa. After all, training is a big investment for most people. Some might say it’s a luxury to have a Personal Trainer. Although I wouldn’t like to classify myself as being something only luxurious or lucky or well-to-do people have, I suppose it’s true that I’m not exactly cheap. I wouldn’t WANT to be seen as cheap!

When I think of cheap in terms of fat loss or nutrition, I think of Slim Fast or Raspberry Ketones or those body wraps. Ya know, garbage. And I am most definitely not garbage. At least I don’t think I am. I might smell like garbage sometimes when I don’t shower right after a workout. But I swear that’s only for a couple hours and it’s only when I know I’m not going anywhere in public afterwards.

I digress…

So in an effort to promote this taste of me (ew, please don’t taste me) I’m offering a Try Me Before You Buy Me type of promo.

Alas, it’s only for people who train with me in person so sorry to my online friends. However, as I have mentioned previously, I offer a variety of affordable packages for Online Training that you can read about here if you’d like to still train with me virtually.

So for my Cleveland friends, here’s a little deal for the month of January for newbies: Buy 2 Sessions get 1 FREE! 

A 3-bie if you will. Three-bie. Like Freebie, get it?

So if you’d like to purchase this awesome deal, click this link and then click the link in there where it says “Buy Now.”  (Sorry I’m not savvy enough to put the HTML code in here directly.  Deal with it.)

So 3 sessions PLUS you still get a complimentary consultation so technically, it’s like 4 sessions for the price of 2.  Like a Four-bie.  4-bie. Okay no, that wordplay doesn’t work so well, does it?

Anyways, if you’re still not convinced that training with me would be a totally life changing experience, just read some nifty reviews about me on Thumbtack or Trainerize. And of course, if you want more information, I’m always available via email at FromFitToFigure@gmail.com, I’m all over Twitter and Facebook. And YouTube.

I am everywhere.

You cannot escape me.

See you in 2015, slim!

 

The Top 9 Pieces of Equipment for the Home Gym

Got a basement? Or a garage? Or some space that you want to fill with cool stuff?  If you want to look buff by Christmas you’re probably dreaming. But, if you want to get fit for life, you’ll need more than just a mat and a ball. Get with the times and get a few good pieces of equipment. Here are my top picks:

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1. Sandbag – My most favorite piece of equipment, ever. I purchased one a few years ago and what’s so awesome is that you can choose how heavy you want to make it. You purchase the bag, but you get the sand from a home improvement store. Of course, if you’re handy, you can just make your own bag I guess. There are tons of exercises you can do with this and it MIGHT be a good idea to get two so you can have a super heavy one and a lighter one for different exercises.

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2. Suspension Trainer – (also known as TRX) – TRX is the original creator of this mechanism and plenty of people have gotten on board, especially athletes like Drew Brees and a bunch of Mixed Martial Arts competitors. What’s so special about it? It uses your own bodyweight as resistance and you can manipulate every exercise to make it easier or more challenging. The foot cradles double as handles and plus…it just LOOKS badass when you’re training with it. The most advantageous part of it for you is that it’s extremely easy to use (takes about 10 seconds to hang it from a beam in your house or a doorway. Not to mention it’s lightweight and portable, which makes it perfect for people who travel and want to use it in their hotel rooms.

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3. Pull up Bar / Dip Stand – I bought this ages ago and continue to use it. I put these in one category although they are two different things. The pull up bar is easily installed in a doorway. The dip stand doubles as a pull up bar but moreso as a body row (pictured). You can also use the dip stand to do some hanging leg raises.  Although it’s not as portable as I would like, nothing beats a pull up as one of the most challenging upper body moves and you can get a great workout on these two.

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4. Stability Ball – I consider these the grandfather of all exercise equipment. Because probably everyone and your grandpa has one. Or knows someone who does. The reason? Stabilization is something everyone must work on. Plus, it’s completely versatile. You can sit on it, you can toss it, you can lean on it, you can lift it, you can lay on it. Just make sure you keep it pumped up air because once these things lose their air, they become UNstable.

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5. Kettlebell – It might look strange but it’s more than just a weird looking weight. This thing can be used to do anything a dumbbell can do but because of the handle, you can do more. You can swing it as I demonstrate here. You can raise it. You can hold it up and lower your body down to the ground. All kinds of torturous things! 🙂

 

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6. Medicine Ball – This is a ball that has weight. So as the stability ball is large and full of air, the medicine ball is small and full of…something. Sand? Whatever it is, it works like a charm, especially the ones with handles. Some of them are anti-bounce balls meaning they are used for more power moves. Others that are of the weight specified can be use to press, pull, twist, raise, and bounce for a variety of exercises.

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7. Powerblocks – I admit I have yet to purchase these but they are on my Christmas list. Why? I know they look strange but that multicolored block is the answer to just one set of weights that every home gym needs. In case you haven’t noticed, dumbbells are usually priced by the pound. So you can spend quite a bit of money on just one set of 5, 10, 12, and 15lb weights. Well, how about getting just two? That’s the magic behind the Poweblock. It’s an adjustable “block.” I also just noticed they make barbells and kettlebells. My Christmas list just got real big…

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8. Bosu Ball – This flying saucer, crazy blue half ball looking thing is awesome. It’s called a BOSU ball because BOth Sides are Utilized. You can balance on the blue side or the black side. You can put your hands on either side, your feet on either side, you can stand on it, sit on it, jump on it, lift it up, twist it across, anything and everything.

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9. A Timer and a Tracker – Not what you’d expect out of all this equipment on this list right? But when you workout you need a way to track and log your workouts. You could also use a really good timer when doing timed metabolic workouts. I recommend anything FREE because I’m cheap so I use the timer called Tabata Stopwatch Pro – Interval Timer. It allows you to choose different sounds for when you need to start and stop your exercises. This way, you’re not constantly looking at a clock or your watch or iPhone. As for logging your workouts, you can just use a document and save it online but I prefer the old fashioned pen and paper. I use a logbook I found on Amazon.com but you can just use a good old steno notebook. It doesn’t get much simpler than that!

 

I hope you find this list useful for building your own home gym. Keep this Wish List handy for the holidays and birthdays or after you reach a certain goal, perhaps you purchase a new piece of equipment for yourself!

 

 

 

You’re Doing it Wrong: 5 Mistakes You Make in the Gym

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I recently observed a woman about my age at the gym recently who has been doing the same “routine” every time I’ve seen her. She always seems to manage to get the bench next to me in the weight room. And she always seems to be doing similar exercises at the same time I’m doing them. But that’s where the similarities stop.

I would say this woman is probably following a Tracey Anderson-type of workout, perhaps from that blonde idiot (sorry, not sorry) herself or maybe out of a magazine. Who knows, all I know is this woman looks like she needs help. Why? She lifts nothing higher than 10lb dumbbells. When she goes to the machines, she tends to do almost all of them and puts the pin in the top (lightest) weight. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to her routine. The amount of reps is more than 20 because I literally lose count any time I attempt to count how many reps she’s doing.

I vowed to myself that if I see her one more time, which would be the third, I would go over and attempt to help her. Because maybe she just doesn’t know….

Here are 5 things that I think people do wrong at the gym. And if you think you’re doing some of these, maybe this will help you because maybe you just don’t know either!

 

  • You go in without a plan. I’m talking no plan whatsoever – no sheet of paper, no notes on your phone, no workout journal, nothing. WHY?  You travel from machine to machine. Going through the motions, staring off into space, probably making your grocery list in your head because you don’t have a plan when you go there either. You’re here to workout, put some EFFORT into it, will ya? Don’t be Mr. or Miss Random. Get in, do the work, and get out. Get an actual program from someone who knows your goals and is knowledgeable and someone you trust. Preferably a personal trainer. (Want online training? I do that now too and I’ll have videos coming soon. Click here for more information) Magazine workouts are sub par for those on a budget. If you have sworn off hiring a PT, you should invest in one or two really good BOOKS with programs that you can follow. Here are two that I’m reading right now: Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle and Strong Curves: A Woman’s Guide to Building a Better Butt and Body. Obviously men wouldn’t purchase the latter recommendation although most ladies like a man with some a strong set of glutes on them. 😉  A couple other authors I really like are Alwyn and Rachel Cosgrove. Rachel put out one of my favorite books: The Female Body Breakthrough and her hubby Alwyn wrote what I consider the bible for women lifters: The New Rules of Lifting for Women.

Not a woman and want some recommendations? Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle mentioned above is appropriate for everyone but another good one –  The New Rules of Lifting: Six Basic Moves for Maximum Muscle is geared towards men.

  • You have a routine…but it’s been the same routine for over a year. While there’s nothing wrong with being consistent, all of us could use a little update to our current programs. It doesn’t even have to be anything drastic with regards to the changes you’re making. But if what you are currently doing isn’t quite getting the job done, it’s time to update your ancient program. At the very least, you should be changing up the amount of reps or at least adding a more challenging weight. Repeat after me – Change is Good! I trained a woman recently who was doing the same program her old personal trainer had her on…3 years prior. She complained that nothing was changing at all and she was bored. No wonder! I’d be bored too if I did the same exercises day in and day out 3 years in a row too! When you can’t remember the last time you changed up the exercises in your current regiment, it’s time for an overhaul.
  • You don’t lift at all. Why are you even reading this blog? 😉  Seriously though, time to stop thinking you don’t need to lift in order to see results because I promise you, you do. Cardio will only get you so far. And no one is saying you have to lift super heavy. The woman at the gym I referenced earlier lifts nothing heavier than 10lbs. Based on appearance alone, I feel like she is MUCH stronger than that! I feel like there’s a little lion in there and it needs to roar, ha! She doesn’t seem like she has an injury that she’s recovering  from, her range of motion was fine. Perhaps she’s worried about getting “bulky.” Perhaps she doesn’t think she is CAPABLE of lifting that heavy. You have to start somewhere! You don’t need to grunt and sound like you are in pain everytime you lift…but you should look like you’re putting forth some effort to get those weights up. This is the only way you will see change. You. Need. To. Lift. Even if it’s your own bodyweight.
  • You have no idea about pre and post workout nutrition. I don’t care if you’re going for fat loss or muscle gain or maintenance – Anyone who works out knows that the best snack is your PWO snack (Post WorkOut). This is the time when you can enjoy the benefits of working up a sweat and repair those muscles. EAT your Carbs! Drink your Protein Shake! This is the BEST time to eat. I make sure I eat within 30 minutes of finishing up my workout. When I was training for my competition it would not be unusual for me to be eating my snack the MOMENT I finished my last rep, walking out the door of the gym, scarfing down that Pop-Tart or fruit snacks like they were my last meal. It was glorious! As for pre-workout, some people can get away without eating anything and still getting a good lift on but at the very least, you need to ingest some BCAA’s so you have some energy.
  • You don’t know what tempo means. I was guilty of this as well. I would get a good pump going on at the gym and go home and it was fine. But once I started getting coaching from Erik at LBC, and he instructed me on tempo when lifting, it was a game changer for me. I finally started seeing significant change in my physique. I finally started feeling a little sore too, which wasn’t a bad thing. Most of all, I FELT the muscles in my body working. You not only have to visualize your muscles working, you have to slow everything down and concentrate on the motion. Only then do you really appreciate what a machine your body is truly capable of being. Stop being in a such a rush when you lift. It just looks plain silly. Like this poor fella.

 

Hit the Reset Button

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It’s been one of those months.  Not days, not weeks, an entire month of being way too liberal with my diet.

I had booked a just-for-fun photo shoot for June 28th but told my photographer I need much more time. If I would have stuck with the original date, I would have been miserable. I probably would look “okay” maybe even “good” to some people, but I’m setting my standards higher than just “good” and “okay.”  I will in no way look like I’m ready to hit the stage in a competition, but I aim to look my most FIT this year. That’s my goal.

So, today is day number 1. Again.  We’ve all been here I’m sure:

“I’ll start tomorrow.”

“Just one more party and I’ll get back on my diet next week.”

“I can’t possibly say no to birthday/graduation/wedding cake, so just one more cheat weekend.”

I consider the past month a mini-vacation for myself. I didn’t go nuts but NOTHING was working to get myself motivated to lean out. My usual tricks just weren’t cutting it. No motivational sayings posted on my phone or pictures of my favorite competitors helped. Writing about it didn’t help. Watching other people workout didn’t do anything for me. Taking progress pics didn’t do it either. Even pushing my own clients to work hard, which almost always works for me, didn’t make me want to take this seriously this time around.

I think I realized the problem: I believe it was a combination of stopping the coaching with Erik as well as having become USED to all the food during my bulk phase. I think my stomach was just like, “Ummm….what happened to all that food you were feeding me?”

Trust me, the food that’s on my diet phase of this plan is PLENTY of food for me. But of course, who wouldn’t just a little bit more? Just an extra bite here. A little more spoonful there. Oh just a few more grams won’t hurt.

The nice interesting part is that the scale doesn’t show any significant change. I didn’t completely undo all my hard work. So this tells me my cheats really weren’t that bad. This is more of a psychological RESET button I’m hitting. Because my mind and my heart were NOT into it this past month at all.

But that’s changing today.

No more slacking. Time to get serious.

So let’s this be a lesson to you boys and girls:

Even when you set goals, be ready to put the work in. Admit when you’re hearts just not into it, and hit that reset button when you are ready. It’s never too late!

 

 

Mom Comes Home

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My mom passed away one year ago today and ever since, I have been adding a little bit here and there to this blog post, knowing I’d want to publish something on the anniversary of her death.

At first I was going to write about her life.  And maybe someday I will.  But now right now.  Today I want tell you the journey she took to her final resting place.

She was diagnosed in August of 2009 with a rare type of T-cell lymphoma.  She had already been displaying strange symptoms since March of that year but it took months of tests to finally diagnose her.  After 6 rounds of chemotherapy, she was declared to be in remission by her oncologist.  We celebrated that Thanksgiving.  It seemed it was a miracle, although we were warned this type of cancer could come back in a few years and chemo might not work.

That news did not deter my Mom from living her life as “wild” as a 62year old could.  She spent as much time doing things she enjoyed and said YES a lot more than she said NO.  She would babysit my nephews more often.  She would attend my nephews baseball games and come with us to Cedar Point and went to every wedding and graduation party she was invited to.  Lots of lunches and dinners with friends and family as often as possible.

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In June of 2012, she started having symptoms again.  This time, all the tests came back negative for lymphoma.  But it was obvious to all of us, and her, that something wasn’t right.  This time instead of a cough and a rash, it was stomach pain.  And back pain.  And loss of her voice.  Although her voice never completely went away, it was probably one of the worst things to happen to her.  See, she was quite the gabber.  She talked to my sister every morning over the phone for years!  She’d chat with friends over lunch, she’d chat with her customers at the bridal store she worked at.  That was all gone once she lost her voice.  Not to mention the pain she was in was heartbreaking to witness.

Now, I’d come downstairs to see her in the recliner, sleeping, or trying to sleep, and in pain.  The worst was the feeling of hopelessness as you watch someone in pain and there’s nothing you can say or do to help.  Too sick to go to work.  Too tired to go anywhere.  Too weak to even move off the recliner.  This went on for most of the summer until August when removal of her lymph node confirmed that her cancer was back.  It had been a frustrating time since every other test did not show the cancer.  But her oncologist said it was the type that hides.  Well, it stayed hidden for months.

The chemo this time around was changed slightly to treat the cancer.  And after a few treatments it seemed to be working.  As anyone who knows someone or is on chemo will tell you, it’s like a rollercoaster.  She had her good weeks when she was able to have enough energy to shop and visit with friends and she had bad weeks when it took many days to recover from the chemo.

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By the time Christmas came around, it seems as though she took a turn for the worse.  It became harder for her to breathe and she seemed weak.  She didn’t want to sleep for fear of not waking up.  She slept downstairs in the recliner and there was always someone with her at all times.  A few days before Christmas she went into the hospital and it didn’t look good.  We weren’t sure she would be home for Christmas at all.  But she was determined.  She knew the situation wasn’t good but she also knew she didn’t want to die in a hospital.  She insisted to her doctor that she was going to go home.  I believe his initial reaction was, “We’ll see.”  But my Mom was quite stubborn.  There was no way she was going to miss Christmas.

The situation was so grim, that she actually sat with me in the hospital and told me her final wishes.  It wasn’t really a conversation.  It was definitely one-sided as she spoke and I cried.  She told me the dreams she had for me, she told me how she knew everyone would be okay but that we should look after each other.  She did say something quite funny actually:  “Michelle, oh you don’t need any man in your life so you’ll be okay.”  🙂  Thanks Mom, ha!

But she also said some sad things like “I don’t think Sean will remember me.”

“I don’t have any regrets in my life…but I do feel like I’m being cheated a little bit.   I really wanted to watch Matthew play baseball one more time.”

“I’ve never been afraid of dying and I’ve always been a faithful person…but I’m wondering where is my faith right now?”

“I know this last round of chemo won’t save me.  But if I could just have a few more months…”

Well, God heard her prayers, all of our prayers.  Because the next day she got the all clear to come home.

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The first thing she insisted on doing when we got her home was to finish wrapping the Christmas gifts.  She could barely lift the scissors and the tape but she insisted.  She was adamant about celebrating Christmas.  It was always her favorite holiday, especially to see the look on my nephews faces as they opened up their gifts.  And us too.

As we celebrated Christmas that year, it was clear this was going to be her last.  You didn’t want to think about it, you didn’t want to believe it.  But you knew.  And you knew that she knew.

January and February of 2013 were pretty good.  We actually had hope for a little bit.  The best was when her voice came back.  I came down the stairs to the sound of my Mom on the phone with my Aunt.  I said, “Your voice Mom!!! It’s back!”  She was glowing, she was so excited.  It was the first REAL evidence that there was some hope here.

But, most of the time, you could tell she didn’t want to get her hopes up too high.  None of us did.  I always prayed for her to be healed.  To be cured.  I couldn’t help but think, “Are my prayers just being ignored?  What gives?”

Mom had one more GREAT day.  She got to spend it with my aunt at the casino downtown and eating Paczki on Fat Tuesday.  She said to my Aunt,  “This was the best time I’ve had.”  She took this picture of her in the car, with her paczki of course.

Fat Tuesday with a Paczki!
Fat Tuesday with a Paczki!

It was literally a week or two later that she was fine one day and bad the next.  You always hear about how that happens and you always think, “Oh I’m sure they’re exaggerating.”  No really, she was really okay one day and the next day she couldn’t breathe.  She went in to get the fluid drained from around her lungs and her heart and while she was there she sent all of us a text that said: “Hospice worker coming at one. Can you come?”

Well that pretty much knocked the wind out of me.  It was one thing for one of US to think about hospice.  But when SHE is initiating it…that changes the ball game.

Ironically, when we all walked in around the same time, my Mom looked better than ever.  She looked like she never had cancer.  It was the strangest sight.  The hospice worker even looked at her like, “Ummm…are you sure you need hospice?”

But that was our Mom’s gift to us.  She knew none of us would ever recommend or even say the word hospice unless she said it first.  It had to be her decision.

It was clear from talking to hospice that Mom wasn’t quite there yet and she had options.

She came home the next day though and we thought, “Okay maybe she has more time than we thought.  Maybe this isn’t so bad.”

About a week later, she was back in the hospital again.  This time she couldn’t breathe again, and needed to be drained, again.  But as soon as they drained her, shortly thereafter, the fluid was back.  It was getting to be too much and they couldn’t keep up with the drainage.

She needed to be put into a wheelchair to get back into the car.  And when she came home we needed to help her into the house.  That’s when she changed right in front of my eyes.

Her voice became tiny and high pitched, and she said her legs felt “weird” and she said she was ashamed and embarrassed that she needed a wheelchair to get into her own house.  We told her not to worry about it but you could tell the life that was inside her was diminishing.  I looked at her for the first time and she looked like she aged 20 years in that minute.

Two days later she asked for hospice.  She sat there with me and told me “This is no way to live.  Call hospice, it’s time.”  I didn’t argue with her.  I don’t think I even cried.  I was more just in shock  that this was happening.

I stopped praying for healing or a cure.  I knew it wasn’t because God wasn’t answering my prayer, He was trying to tell me I was praying for the wrong thing.  This time, I prayed for her to go home.

3 days later, she took her last breath with my Dad at her side.  Those three days were quite possibly the most beautiful moments as well as the most awful three days of my life.  No one should have to see a loved one dying in front of them.  But there were moments from that weekend I will never forget and some day I will write a nice long post about it.

Until then, I take comfort in the memories I have of my beautiful mother.  The notes she left us that we found at Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas.  The pictures of her around this huge empty house.  The sound of her voice and her laugh that I still have on saved voicemails and videos.  And of course, the look on people’s faces when they speak about her.  I have given up trying to tell people how amazing she was.  They simply will never know her and as much as it hurts and pains me to know that YOU will never know who she was, it’s okay now.  She lives on in me and my sister and my brother and my nephews.  So if you ever want to get to know her, just ask me.

I could talk about her forever.

zoofamily

Speaking of food…Vote!

I can talk about food forever and whenever.  And since starting this a year ago I must admit the subject of food has always been at the forefront of my mind.  Not to mention the hot topic of almost every discussion when chatting with friends about the competition.

“So what kind of food do you eat?”  “Are you starving??!”  “Are you eating a ton of fish and asparagus?”  “Don’t you just want to eat some Burger King once in a while?”  “How much food do you actually eat?”

When I’m not thinking about what I’m about to eat, I’m thinking about my first meal AFTER the competition is over.  I’ve seen many ideas thrown my way and they have all been enticing.  But I’m asking you, random reader, to share with me what YOU think I should eat as soon as I’m 100% FINISHED with the competition on October 5th.

Don’t consider it a “last meal” type of event – it will technically be my first REAL meal since starting the competition.

So help me choose! I promise I WILL eat whatever ends up being voted for the most and will post pics as proof!

You will do great things…

“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe. -Anatole France

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I wanted share an inspirational story today from a young lady I went to high school with named Heather.   She recently finished her first IronMan race.  If you think an IronMan is something someone just DOES one day, you are sorely mistaken.  If you have ever competed in an IronMan, then I salute you.  And I must ask you “Are you nuts?!”  Ha!

This is just her short “recap” of what the race was like, but I found myself in tears at the end of it.  Although it doesn’t relate to a figure competition directly, you can see the parallels of it with regards to Heather’s training and the mental fortitude she needed on race day.  We shared similar messages this entire time via Facebook and her blog posts seemed to echo mine sometimes that I felt like we were sharing the same brain.

Please click the link and enjoy Heather’s journey.  Congratulation again on being an IronMan Heather!!

http://www.theplacesifindmyself.com/2013/08/29/reca/

5 months to go

Or 159 days to be exact.   I wanted to have a special little “anniversary/countdown/I-can’t-believe-I’m-doing-this” post at the 6 month mark but life got in the way.

So much to update everyone on starting with the most exciting news:  I have booked a photo shoot for early June.  I’m really excited about this opportunity to showcase my progress so far.  I was feeling very unmotivated in March and earlier this month and this really was the goal that I needed to kickstart back into action.  Of course the photos will be posted as soon as it’s done and available. 🙂

Secondly, I joined a BLT Challenge courtesy of Nicole from Curls & Whey Training.

What’s BLT you ask?  Well it stands for Bites, Licks and Tastes.  Those little cheats, as little as they may or may not be, do add up.  For the average person just trying to shed a few pounds, do they make a difference? I would answer that it depends.  For someone like me trying to compete and get ready for a photo shoot? They absolutely matter.  Because in my mind I might say “Just one dark chocolate square won’t hurt.”  But guess what? I don’t have just one. I might have two or three or half a bar.  So what happened to “just one bite?”  Yep, it adds up and makes a difference probably more mentally than physically.

The challenge consists of teams of 3-4 people who pay a small fee that will go towards the prizes for the winning team.  You must record every BLT you have over the course of 2 weeks.  Just two weeks.  If you do have a BLT, you must pay a $1.  What’s just $1?  Well, again, small price you might say.  But after a few bucks, they add up to more $$$ correct?  Hmmm…are you getting the point?

The challenge officially started today and so far I am at 100% compliant with my plan.  Speaking of my plan, I’m trying a new plan out from a difference coach for now.  This particular plan incorporates what’s called Carb Cycling.  Two days of low carbs, 1 day of moderate carbs and one day of high carbs.  Then you start over with your low carbs.   I’ve done it for just a week and feel incredibly better.  I’m not feeling inclined to cheat (nothing to do with the challenge), I feel fuller longer, I’m not staring at the clock wondering when my next meal will be and I feel more alert than before as well.  I’ve also changed my workouts slightly to incorporate less steady state and more HIIT.  I think the combination of both of these is starting work very well.

Speaking of temptations and lack of cheating, one of our members at the studio brought in THESE the other day.

The Devil.
The Devil.

Ummm…Hello there sugary deliciousness, nice to see you again. Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Home made.  Soft batched. Free.

I somehow managed to have zero of these.  But here’s the best part – I didn’t exactly want them.  Yes, I told one of my male co-workers to eat them so I wouldn’t.  Yes I smelled them.  Yes they were described to me as being AMAZING tasting.  But perhaps it helped that they were brought in to work when I was just a couple hours away from the end of my shift.  Or maybe it helped that I had JUST finished eating Meal #3.  Or maybe it was the carb cycling taking effect.  All I know is that I avoided them and they were not at work the next day to stare at me for 6 hours.

This is what we call a Non-Scale Victory, or NSV.  This was a huge NSV.

Lastly, I’ve been getting some really sweet feedback on this blog as of late and I just want to say thanks to all of you who read my stuff.  I know alot of you read it without commenting and that’s quite alright.  I’m happy to inspire as many people as I can!

Not to close on a negative note but I must share that yesterday morning I was surrounded by cancer.  Three items were on the kitchen table – The Plain Dealer, Experience Life Magazine and a letter addressed to my Mom from the American Cancer Society Relay for Life.

The Plain Dealer headline was about Cancer Clinical Trials and showed the journey of a 58 year old brain cancer patient, EL Magazine has a story about “A Healthier Way to Fight Cancer,” and lastly the piece of mail.

I hadn’t read the article in EP…I skimmed through the PD article…but I did open the letter.  I’m not sure what I was expecting to see or read but nothing could have prepared me to read the words “Dear Cancer Survivor.”

It was like a punch to the gut.  I was literally surrounded by all this literature that was a stark reminder of my Mom’s struggle and passing.

As much as it sucked to read all of this, especially at a time when I wasn’t expecting to read it, I had to look at what the message really was:

That there is hope (trials), there is a more holistic way to prevent it (integrative oncology according to the article you can find here) and there are survivors out there still raising funds for a cure (Relay for Life).

So to end on a positive note – Here’s to hope, health and happiness.

-Michelle

Inspiring the Uninspired

It’s been quite the rough road for me this past month.  But with all the stress, sadness, negativity, and de-motivation, came moments of hope, renewal, reflection and restarting

After lamenting and complaining and having a big pity party for myself, I emailed my coach to ask for some advice.  What I needed was a short-term goal to get me through these next 3 months before my prep begins in mid-July.  It’s been suggested to me to maybe do a photo shoot, just for fun.  I have heard many women do that if they don’t want to do a competition.  Unfortunately it’s just as costly to do a photo shoot as it is to do a competition so it’s not exactly a money-saver.  BUT, it follows the same premise as a competition:  Tanning, makeup, hair, prep, purchase of clothes to wear to the shoot and most importantly, the fee for the actual photographer/session.

So since $$$ is a factor and I still would like to do the comp in October, I have just refocused and took some advice from one of my three bosses (yes I have three jobs ha!) and decided each month or every 2 weeks or whatever, I will pick a certain part of my body to actually work on.  I’m still going to focus on all muscle groups for my workouts each week but spending a little more time on the problem area(s) will be the goal. 

Plus I’m going to take progress pics every weeks instead of every 3 weeks.  It’s just another way to stay motivated and accountable. 

I love this plan already (Thanks Mark for the idea!)

If I am focused on one thing, it’s so much easier to accomplish it, right?  The same rule applies to anything in life I suppose.  Multi-tasking is the enemy. 🙂

Short term goals are good, but I was still feeling de-motivated and lazy and even irritated that I decided to train for the show.  I kept using the excuse “It’s not until October, let me just eat this crap right now, who cares!” everytime I thought about cheating.  I was taking all my emotions and putting them towards food.  I found any junk food in the house/cupboards and proceeded to devour them like never before.  Almost as if I would never eat again.  Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your attitude towards carbs) the most unhealthiest food we have in our house is Ritz crackers and Jelly.   

That didn’t stop me from eating an entire SLEEVE of Ritz crackers and an entire JAR (okay it was the small ones but still) of jelly, by the way. Several nights in a row… The guilt was minimal (I had more of an “I could care less” attitude), but the feeling in my stomach afterwards told me that was a BIT too much sugar. 

So I needed some inspiration, some motivation, something a little more tangible than just some words on a Facebook page or a quote from a book.  I really needed to get back into the spirit of things.  

Ironically, the Spring version of the competition took place this past weekend.  And one of my friends’ daughters was competing in the bikini division.  I never met her, didn’t know her at all. But I was SO excited for her!  Here was a small connection that I could latch on to.  Although I really wanted to attend the show itself to cheer on this complete stranger, I couldn’t attend.  But, speaking to my friend afterwards was great because his daughter placed 7th in her first ever competition! Talk about motivating!!!  This chick is a MOTHER and looked amazing on stage.  I gave her dad my email address so I hope to have her discuss her experience on the blog soon.

A few days ago, the pictures from the competition came out online.  Here are the links:

The NPC Natural Ohio

RX Muscle Contest Gallery

Just looking at the pics of the Figure competitors was inspiring to me.   It shows how far I have to go, but it also shows me that it’s attainable.  Kind of like looking into a crystal ball…a picture of what “could be.” 

Lastly, being on Twitter does have it’s perks.  I was able to get in contact with a woman named Callista, who is ALSO training for the same fall competition!  She just started a blog Run Lift Like a LandShark as well as an FB Page.

I couldn’t help but notice our similarities (except for that whole kid/husband/attorney thing) so I’m really excited to follow along in her journey too. 

Just goes to show when you think you’re hitting rock bottom and you’re ready to give up, there are people and things all around you to get you back on track. 

So here’s to a week(end) to getting back to YOUR goals.  Whatever they may be!

-Michelle

Random Tweet of the Day courtesy of myself: “Umm I put make-up on for the @Indians game tonight in the #SocialSuite so it HAS to stop raining. I didn’t clog my pores for nothin!” –

The game got rained out by the way; so yes, I DID clog my pores for nothing but $25 wasted on parking and an hour of sitting in a suite watching the jumbotron air two random MLB games.  Not fun.