Only The Strong Will Survive

This past month I’ve been thinking a lot about strength. And my lack of it.

How it would frustrate me if I didn’t hit a big number on my lifts and set a new personal record, especially after weeks of training.

“I’m such a weakling.”

So back to the rack I go and try again.

Still, nothing momentous would occur. Proper form, great execution but no big amount of weight moved. Same with the following week.

“Why can’t I just be STRONG!?”

Then another week goes by and I try again. And STILL nothing major. I’m still pulling (or pressing) the same amount of weight.

“What’s the use?”

And then I thought, “What’s the point of even trying?”

But the story doesn’t end there. I go back and have gone back and tried and tried and tried again. It got me thinking though: This “weakness” mindset. I thought how if I let that little voice have it’s way, I would not have gone back. I could have given up and assumed this whole strength training/bodybuilding/weightlifting stuff is for the strong. And there is no place for the weak in that world.

Luckily, that didn’t happen because weightlifting IS a huge part of my life and one that I would like to never give up on. But what about those who have no desire to lift, no desire to be strong, no desire to even work up a sweat?

They would have given up. They would have assumed only the strong will survive anyways so might as well never bother. This is too hard, too difficult, impossible.

When you THINK and BELIEVE you are destined to be WEAK, destined to fail,  you start to think that you are inherently useless.  I’ve seen this a lot lately – People think because they are getting older, they can’t possibly hire a personal trainer because they aren’t young enough. And forget going to the gym “That’s for the young folks! That’s for the athletes! That’s for the people who have willpower!”

Or they have so many physical ailments that no amount of activity will do any good. So why bother? They resort to thinking, “If I can’t even work up a sweat, it won’t produce results.”

Or they aren’t smart enough to come up with a good workout plan on their own. So why bother at all? It’s easier to just go on the elliptical for 15 minutes and call it a day.

But here’s the bit that no one ever talks about:

Just because you aren’t producing anything, doesn’t mean you are useless.

We don’t have to constantly be moving and thinking and writing and working in order to be useful. We can be just as productive and get stronger in our mind, body and spirit by being still. Being quiet. Being silent.

I think the mind can play some tricks on you if you let it. I see, now, why my clients in the past would have a physical or mental setback and just quit on me. Even if they had a number of sessions left, they allowed outside circumstances affect them to the point that they just quit.

  • Perhaps it was financial – “I lost my job, I have to save some money before I come back to the gym”
  • Perhaps it was unsupportive family/spouse – “My husband thinks of this as a hobby for me and we should try and spend more time working/being with each other.”
  • Or a moment of weakness -“I cheated on my diet so badly, there’s no way I’ll get this weight off in time for my trip!”

Even if none of those clients came back, wouldn’t it have been great if they used this time to become stronger in other ways?

Stronger in their knowledge base in order to get a new/better job.

Stronger in their marriage/relationships

Stronger in their diet mindset.

The take home message: It’s okay to be weak! 

After all, if we have no weakness, how can we possibly grow in our strengths?

Mentally/Spiritually/Socially I have a lot of weaknesses. But for the sake of this post and speaking directly to my physical weakness, it’s my upper body. I’ve never had a strong back. But you know, after many years, its finally gotten stronger. I can pinpoint the moment I FELT stronger and GOT stronger – It was when I finally stopped and envisioned this muscle doing it’s job. I imagined and pictured it contracting and releasing. The next time I went to pull the weight, I didn’t rush it. I went slowly and methodically and it FELT different – I had finally FOUND my muscles! And I wouldn’t have found them if I hadn’t focused on resting and waiting and being still in that moment.

So here’s to leading with our weaknesses!

“For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

 

Hunger Pains: Experiences in Fasting

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“That burning in your gut, that rolling fire in your belly, demanding that you feed it more food, signals game time for fasting as a means of grace. Only as we voluntarily embrace the pain of an empty stomach do we see how much we’ve allowed our belly to be our god. – John Piper, Hunger For God

“Aren’t you eating?”

I heard this question a few times this past weekend. And it brought a little smile to my face as I responded to each person who asked.

“No, not today. I’m actually I’m fasting today.”

The reactions were always interesting and overall positive.

“Oh you’re so holy, that’s wonderful!”

“What a great thing to do. I should probably be the one doing that.”

“A horrible decision! (said jokingly) You’re missing out on some delicious food.”

The next obvious question was, “Why?”

I’m trying to fast once a week. This weekend was probably the easiest time to fast because here I am, at church, with a bunch of other women giving awesome witness stories. The perfect scenario.

It should be noted that I attended a Women’s Renewal at my church this weekend. (amazing experience!)

The food did look very tasty and I know I missed out on some great desserts but, to be honest, I wanted to remember what it felt like to be hungry.

Not starving, just hungry.

And I wanted to remember the feeling I had as I told myself, “Not yet. Soon..but not yet.”

I had experienced this during the competition training…and I kinda missed it.

Since I’ve decided I wanted to lose just a few lbs before the new year, I had a hard time getting a grasp on dieting again. Being in a deficit with my caloric intake has been more difficult than it really should be. And I know it’s because of me.

So I finally became fed up with seeing the scale stay the same that I asked myself what steps can I take to get back into a deficit and not go nuts trying to satisfy my hunger (especially at night).

The answer I heard (call it a higher power, call it my subconscious, whatever, I believe it was the spirit in me) saying “Experience hunger.”

The only time I have felt that hunger, that stomach growling hunger, was back when I dieted for the competition.

I decided fasting was the best route to take.

I did it last Friday for half the day which was big for me. But it didn’t quite work.Just wasn’t long enough to make an impact, spiritually and physically.

I needed a longer time-frame. So I thought, “I’ll be at church for 12 hours.. That’s perfect!”

And it worked like a charm.

Getting back to those ladies who asked me why…

Here are some answers that I gave…and other answers I wish I had given. All are awesome reasons for anyone to abstain from one of their favorite things (could be food, alcohol. a destructive behavior, television, computer time, social media, etc). 

Given that this is a fitness blog, some of my fellow female gym-rats and dieters might get some use out of these:

I fasted because…there are plenty of people out there who have nothing to eat. I have more than most people. I always know I have another meal coming to me.

I fasted because…I offered it up as a sacrifice to all those people who would give anything to taste actual food right now. The ones on feeding tubes…the ones in nursing homes who can’t pick up a fork because they can’t remember how. The ones who have to be FED by someone they probably don’t even recognize.

I fasted because…I was at church. I was surrounded a group of amazing women who were amazed by my discipline. I did it for them. That maybe someday they’ll fast too. And continue the cycle of sacrifice.

I fasted because…I need to remember there is more to life than the temporary satisfaction of chocolate or peanut butter. Those things will be there tomorrow. Giving them up for one day will not hurt me.

I fasted because…A small voice inside me told me I needed to remember how to avoid the temptation of cheating. I had spent most, if not all, of my building/muscle-gaining phase cheating on my diet. I had to remember what it was like to stick to a plan.

I fasted because…I knew once it was over, I didn’t need to eat. But the next day, I enjoyed my food much more thoroughly than I have recently. I savored. Every. Bite.

I fasted because…I needed to remember patience. I had forgotten what patience was for so long. I needed to remember it. I need patience in between all of my meals. I need patience with my clients. I need patience with my family. I need it for every darn day.

Remember what it’s like to be hungry. Remember what it’s like to have no idea where you’re next meal is coming from. Remember what it’s like to be so lucky to have a fridge full of food. To have access to a grocery store where you can buy anything imaginable. Remember to be grateful for that hunger in your stomach.

Hear that growling in your stomach? 

Tell it to wait.

You will eat again.

 

 

 

 

Food Is Love…and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves

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Food makes everything better.

Food makes me feel worse.

Eating is my favorite pastime.

Eating is my least favorite part of the day.

Being skinny means being the cheerful one. The pretty one.

Being fat means being the funny one. The life of the party.

The thought of cooking makes me sick.

The thought of cooking makes me nervous.

Planning my food out makes me feel in control.

Planning my food out makes me feel obsessive.

I wish food was my enemy, then I wouldn’t eat so much of it.

I wish food was my best friend, then I would eat more of it.

My reflection in the mirror makes me cringe.

My reflection in the mirror makes me laugh.

My doctor said I’m going to die if I don’t lose some weight.

My doctor said I’m going to die if I don’t put on some weight.

I’m starving already…this diet sucks.

I binged again…this diet sucks.

Fast food is better than no food, right?

No food is better than fast food, right?

I have to take a picture of my food, gotta make sure people think I’m sticking to my diet.

I can’t look at pictures of food. It makes me feel guilty for not sticking to my diet.

I’m starving first thing in the morning so I eat a huge meal. I heard that’s the best way to kickstart your metabolism.

I’m starving first thing in the morning. Then I wait 12 hours to eat because I heard intermittent fasting is the best way to diet.

I have 6 small meals because that’s what you’re supposed to do.

I have 3 big meals because that’s what you’re supposed to do.

I can’t eat like you do, I’m in awe of your discipline.

I can’t eat like you do, I’m grossed out by your food.

I’d give anything to have your body.

I’d do anything to have my old body back.

I know I’m so thin, everyone looks huge to me.

I know I’m so big, everyone looks tiny to me.

I forgot what it’s like to not be on a diet.

I forgot what it’s like to be active.

I forgot what healthy is supposed to look like.

When I get to my goal weight, then I’ll be happy.

When I eat this ice cream, I’ll feel better.

When I throw up this ice cream, I’ll feel better.

After I eat that cheesecake, I’ll go to the gym before the calories really settle in.

After I eat that cheesecake, I’ll go to bed before the shame sets in.

Looking in my refrigerator gives me a panic attack because it’s always full of stuff I shouldn’t eat.

Looking in my refrigerator makes me depressed because it’s always full of stuff I won’t eat.

If I had a personal chef, then I’d lose weight.

If I had a personal trainer, then I’d lose weight.

If I had my spouse’s support, then I’d lose weight.

I wake up thinking about food.

I go to bed dreaming about food.

 

I wish I could break-up with food.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The More You Know, the More it Sucks

So I kinda figured out this whole fat loss/dieting thing. I actually figured it out a long time ago, but unfortunately, it just took me until NOW to realize how much it really sucks.

See, there’s really no big secret to losing fat and keeping it off. We all know it’s basically being in a caloric deficit. And yes it requires hard work and patience and time and effort of course.

But to finally finally FINALLY understand that you cannot possibly see good results without adhering to your diet at least at an 85-90% compliance rate 100% of the time?  Well, that’s the part that really sucks.

Here comes the whining (I’m really good at complaining, so brace yourself).

So now I gotta get back to being the tupperware queen again. Now I have to resist the urge to eat something I’m not really supposed to. Now I have to toss the peanut butter that calls my name when I’m not even hungry at night. Now I have to suck it up and just deal with hunger sometimes. (Not starvation, let’s be clear).

I finally understand how most of my clients feel MOST of the time. I’m struggling like they do. I’m frustrated like they are. I’m cheating as many times if not more than they are on the weekends.

And here we go again on Monday morning, starting over. This time we will be 100%. This time we won’t cheat. This time we will prep our foods. This time we’ll get our workouts in. This time we’ll try really really hard and we will not fail.

But a few days or maybe if I’m lucky, a few weeks might pass and I’ll be back here again, repeating the same thing.

So goes this whole dieting thing.

And there’s really no other words of wisdom to share with this. There’s no big revelation. There’s nothing more to say other than THIS. SUCKS.

 

When All Else Fails, Stop Trying So Hard.

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You know how many times you have to fail at something in order to be successful? I don’t know the exact number, as I’m sure it’s different for everyone. But let’s just agree that it’s probably a very high number. Most people just stop and give up at whatever it is they are shooting for because of numerous failures.

But what would happen if you just “sorta tried?”  Like a half-ass attempt? You’d probably get half-ass results. But wouldn’t that be better than NO results?

Here’s where I’m going with this argument:  What if people just stopped trying SO hard to be perfect all of the time with reaching their goal?

For some (relevant to this blog and myself) it’s always about diet. And eating and maintaining perfectly 100% of the time. I know this isn’t possible so I usually shoot for 90% of the time. But for others it could be their mission to find the perfect mate. Or for others, they really want to get a promotion at work. So we try and we work really really hard and we might have a good week or a good month or just a good day and what happens? We get zero results. We don’t lose an inch. We go on a ton of dates and find no matches. Our boss doesn’t notice all the overtime we put in. No change, nothing.

Now most people give up completely. Throwing in the towel after just a few attempts. Others might try again and and again and come up short again and again. But what if we just stopped trying SO hard. And we tried just a little bit? I’m talking minimal effort.

For the dieters – we aim for for even lower – 80% adherence. For the workaholics, we don’t stay at work until the wee hours of the morning. We just stay long enough to what MUST be done and nothing more. For the serial daters, we cancel our online dating profiles and just hang out with friends.

So see, once the pressure is off to be 100% all of the time, you can relax and let the process happen organically. The point is, you can’t possibly aim to be 100% perfect all of the time because something else in your life with lose attention and will fall apart – lack of sleep due to staying at work late, less money in the bank by going out on all these dates looking for Mr/Mrs Right, no social life because you can’t stick to your diet when you’re out with your friends.

When your energy is focused solely on this one goal, the rest of your priorities get a little lost and put aside. But when you step aside and relax a little bit, the pieces fall into place. This isn’t about giving up – it’s about giving just a PART of you to your goal and not your entire self. Just a piece of you. And when you start to get on a roll (losing an inch or two here, getting kudos from the boss once in awhile, having a few nice dates) you’ll be glad you never gave up completely.

Sometimes, all it takes is just a little bit of effort to make a noticeable change. It doesn’t have to be full steam ahead the entire time.

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!

 

 

Be Better Today Than You Were Yesterday

It’s been quite a whirlwind week for me complete with a few cheat meals snacks, like a couple chocolate covered Oreos.  They were worth the calories I tell ya!  But when stressful times hit, I do my best not to let myself fall completely off the wagon.  I was almost going to count this week as a complete derailment when I remembered all the things I actually did well:

1. I hit my water goal most of the days this week with the exception of Wednesday.

2. I still managed to eat every 2-3 hours even if some of the meals were “off plan.”

3. I did my taxes (Hey, this is big for me okay?)

I’m not letting one or two or even three little slip ups this week get me down.  A couple missed workouts due to just being mentally and physically exhausted won’t hurt me in the long run.  Quite the opposite – I think I needed the time to rest.  I’m doing my best to LISTEN to my body when it tells me “Okay enough CARDIO, you need to SLEEP already!”  So I’m obeying.  The time off was worth it too because this morning’s workout was LEGS and I put some new numbers on the bar today for my deadlifts and my squats. (Happy Dance!)

In the meantime, I put part of this quote on my bathroom mirror as a reminder to me.  No matter how “bad” I was or may have been, you always (God willing) get a new day to start fresh. 

Today will be better than yesterday.

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Random Tweet of the Day courtesy of: @Jensteer:  “By the way, I have stayed away from the food table today. There’s cake and I didn’t touch it.” 

Jen deserves props for this because she’s constantly surrounded by horrible not so great food/snacks at her job.  I applaud her efforts to stay away from temptation. 🙂

Random Tweet of the Day Part 2 courtesy of: @DCapriato “Pulled a @mishypic and took before photos to see where this month’s fitness goals get me. Totally not sharing until I have afters, though!”

Kudos to Danielle for putting herself out there! Looking forward to seeing her progress!