The Gift of: Your (Beautiful) Body Story

I wrote this blog post about 6 months ago. I thought it would be worth sharing again, especially for newbies to the blog:

A wise person once said: You Don’t Have a Body. You Are a Body.

In light of my occupation as a personal trainer and bodybuilder, I started to take a second look at the entire fitness industry in light of this statement.

I think too often we focus on the negatives of our bodies. “We hate our own bodiliness,” was something a wise person once said recently (actually it’s the same wise person I just mentioned. I can’t help it, I love wise people.)

I tend to agree that there is an almost universal negative attitude towards our bodies.

I’ve spoken to people on both ends of the spectrum when it comes to what to do with “this body.” I’ve noticed 2 types of people:

The Hater

We hate our body and we do everything possible to hide it, to lie about it, to use it, and abuse it in an effort to make it appear acceptable, perhaps even attractive according to outside influences or societal standards. This becomes an obsession to the point that we become envious of anyone who has the body that we desire so much. This also could lead to despair as we try over and over to attain this “perfect body” with little to show for it. We devalue our bodies and think ourselves unworthy.

The Lover

We love our body so much that we become vain to the point of over exposure. We boast and brag and show off, becoming completely obsessed with maintaining this “perfect” physique. A narcissistic attitude takes over. We believe our body is something to be worshiped by those who hate their own bodies (and we know there are plenty of those).  We also become very frustrated by anyone who isn’t like us. We don’t understand how they just don’t “get with it” and aren’t in love with fitness and health like we are.

But there’s some good news, kind of.

Perhaps the overwhelming majority are those in the middle:

The Love/Haters

These folks have a love/hate relationship with their body. They struggle just like everyone else with maintaining their weight but they don’t obsess over it. They “watch” their diet but they don’t write down what they eat and they most certainly don’t count calories. They like what they see in the mirror but they don’t love it. There’s always room for improvement but they probably only get to the gym once or twice a month.

If there’s one thing all of these people have in common, it’s that they see their bodies as Objects. Things. Possessions.

But what if you looked at your body as a way to tell a story. That certainly changes things doesn’t it?

You can either tell a good, honest story, or a story of lies and deception.

Some examples, since this is a difficult concept:

I’m a smoker and I go to my doctor for a checkup. The doctor tells me that I’m showing all the signs of lung cancer and that I had better cut back or quit on the smoking if I want to live longer. Meanwhile, I’ve seen this same doctor light up a cigarette outside the office and I see a pack of cigarettes in his pocket. That doctor is lying with his body.

Or:

I go to a used car salesmen to try and find a good deal. He sells me this great looking car, I take it for a test drive, the price is right and I drive off the lot but not before he shakes my hand and tells me I made a great decision. Meanwhile, he goes back to his desk and laughs to himself because he knows he just sold me a lemon. By shaking my hand and sincerely telling me I made a great purchase, he lied with is body, as well as his words.

Or:

In the gym, let’s say I take some video demonstrating an exercise or I take a few pictures to put up on my website. When someone asks me how I manage to be so strong or in such great shape, I tell them “Hard work!” but in the meantime, I’m taking some performance enhancing drugs or steroids. I would be lying with my body.


 

So how do we use our body to tell the truth, specifically with regards to health and fitness?

 

It starts with honesty with ourselves. It’s EASY to lie to others. “Oh yeah, I’ve been sticking with my diet and my training. I’ll be ready for that 5k in a few weeks, no problem!”

Meanwhile, you know you’ve cheated on your diet, eaten ll the wrong things, splurged on junk food, and haven’t gotten a run in because you still haven’t bought a good pair of running shoes (or whatever the case may be).  But no one else knows that! So there’s no one to tell the truth to, except yourself.

If we can be honest with ourselves, by speaking the truth, by admitting our faults and our screw-ups, even if it’s in a journal or out loud to ourselves, it’s one step towards telling the truth with our bodies.

It starts when we stop thinking of our bodies as these “things” you have to deal with and work at and drag around. What a sad way to view ourselves. And we wonder why people are SO interested in the quick-fix diet schemes?


 

We need to re-frame our thinking to understand that our body is exactly who we are. It’s not something to be mocked, abused, degraded and devalued at the expense of others or in the name of vanity and pride. And certainly not the in the name of fitness.

Start telling your story with honesty. If we start there, it might become easier to view OTHERS in a more respectful way, not just ourselves.

If you are telling a story every minute of the day with your body…

What kind of story are you telling and what would you want people to remember about it?

The Gift of: Healing the Inside

While attending a Young Adult retreat recently I met a woman (I actually should refer to her as a “young lady” since I found out she’s 14 years younger than me) who mentioned her past life as a Crossfit athlete. Her and I bonded over the fact that we both have had a similar “departure” from the fitness world due in large part to the vanity that seems to accompany many of the wanna-be athletes who frequent the gyms these days.

This isn’t a knock on CrossFit by the way (although I do tend to enjoy giving them a hard time now and then). And it’s clearly not a knock on anyone who goes to the gym considering I am one of those people.

I mention this because I find it interesting to read stories of athletes and bodybuilders who didn’t get burn out per se, but they came to the realization that working out constantly and obsessing over their PR’s and what they ate and how much weight they pulled, pressed and pushed, or all their races they ran – none of it truly satisfied them. They thought they would find happiness at the finish line or after they crossed the stage and received a trophy or left the gym a sweaty mess.

They have since found that none of that really matters as much to them anymore.

The Thrill is Gone

I know I was super excited after I did my competition. I couldn’t wait to get in the gym and “bulk up” and hit some PR’s and lift some heavy weight and make progress.

It was fun for a long time. You could even say I made the gym my sanctuary.

But something isn’t quite right when even my independent, solitary-loving self felt like I spent more time in the gym and writing in my workout log than I did writing emails to friends or spent time with my family and friends. And I wasn’t even one of the “worst cases.” I have read and known many folks who became gym addicts and their relationships suffered.

What I find most interesting is that we can become addicted to something inherently good. Like an infatuation.

This desire to be strong, be fit and be a good athlete usually starts out all good. (Or, in some cases and I would actually say MOST, we give up after awhile or we get distracted by other life events and neglect our health).

But sometimes, and I would argue this is happening more and more, especially with social media – this desire to be healthy becomes an unhealthy desire for glory and praise.

You “Look” Amazing!

For me personally, it felt awkward to receive compliments from people. So many times my friends or even random strangers would comment on my blog or to my face, “You look fantastic!!! I want to look like that!” when referring to my before and after pics (I’ve taken them down, so don’t bother looking for them).

Why couldn’t I even accept a compliment of praise? For me, I felt like it was like people were congratulating me on how I looked and my appearance and it felt…vain. Fake. Like, “Why are you praising my body for looking this way?” I know this sounds strange and selfish and whiny – Who wouldn’t want to receive a compliment like that? But the keyword was “look.” I couldn’t get past that word. And to be complimented on my appearance was something I was not used to considering I never looked like that way ever before.

Of course I said thank you, I’m not rude. But still, it felt really strange and it was a feeling I couldn’t shake.

So imagine what it felt like when those compliments stopped after the competition.  I was bulking and trying to put on weight. I was somewhat relieved to not receive any more of them because then the pressure was off! But of course, looking in the mirror told a different story.

I cannot even begin to tell you the mind games the that went through my head. And I considered myself to have a good relationship with food and decent body image of myself.  Imagine what a professional figure competitor or bikini competitor goes through when he/she rebounds and gains a ton of weight too quickly! And we wonder why there are heartbreaking stories of these (mostly) women who can’t see their value anymore other than a body designed to win trophies or look good in photos. The bingeing and the dieting becomes obsessive and their health and metabolism is shot. And they take YEARS to re-cover.  Granted, this is a worse-case scenario but I assure you, the bodybuilding world is full of them.

Prioritize the Inner Self

I think the lesson learned is that we should keep our bodies healthy and in shape the best way we know how and dedicate a good amount of time to doing so. Perhaps invest in a Personal Trainer? 😉

But when the time spent in the gym or measuring our food or taking selfies (please don’t, just don’t) takes up the majority of our days, that’s when pride and vanity enter and that’s when I would suggest you take a big step back and re-asses your priorities.

I will tell you from experience, when outward appearance takes over your life, it does more harm internally than you realize at the time. And no one will tell you this – it’s something you will discover on your own.

My advice is to focus on mental and spiritual health before anything else. The physical stuff is easy to dedicate time to once you have the internal priorities set.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Repeat After Me

I don’t eat the junk food because I don’t buy the junk food.

I don’t buy junk food because I can walk past the junk food at the store.

I see the junk food but I don’t want the junk food.

I don’t want the junk food because I’ve had the junk food before…and it aint that good.

I don’t eat the fast food because I didn’t cook the fast food and I’m not entirely sure what’s in the fast food.

I didn’t cook the fast food so instead I eat the food I did cook.

I eat the food I cooked because it’s usually 100% better than the fast food anyway.

I drive past the drive thru because I spend enough $ on the real food.

I don’t get hung up about my weight because I don’t weigh myself everyday.

I don’t weight myself everyday because I don’t care about the weight that much.

I don’t care about the weight that much because I know I’m not a reflection of a number.

I don’t complain about my physical flaws because they can’t talk back to me anyways.

I appreciate the flaws I have because it’s a reminder I am not perfect and I’m human just like everyone else.

I drink water instead of pop because water tastes awesome to me.

I don’t buy the pop because I hate the taste of sugar coating my teeth.

I drink water because I listen to my body and it desires good things that give me energy.

I don’t  have the bad food or drink the sugary stuff too often (but I do sometimes and that’s okay!) because my body feels like garbage after I eat and drink that stuff.

And the more I eat and drink the junk stuff, the more my brain tricks me into thinking I want more of them…and then it’s back to….

…I don’t eat the junk food because I don’t buy the junk food…

My Top 10 Fitness and Nutrition Tips

I thought I’d put together a list (thanks to my client Heidi for the idea) of the best advice I’ve ever given as well as gotten as part of trying to be healthier, and live an active lifestyle.  Some of these I’ve stolen borrowed from my own coach or my first PT, others I’ve heard along the way, and some just from learning on my own.  Feel free to share with others who may need to hear this advice too!

In no particular order:

Be honest with yourself.  Write out what you’re going to eat the day before.  Even if you know you’re going to have a fast food breakfast, it’s better to be honest and have that reflection.  It works in reverse as well: Writing down that you plan to have a balanced, healthy dinner and then following through with it, gives you a tremendous feeling of accomplishment.  It’s also a small level of accountability you can have with yourself at the end of the day – looking over what you wrote down what you WANTED to eat versus what you ACTUALLY ate.  Do they match?  Why not?

 

Workout when you are least motivated.  Sounds strange, but when you absolutely have zero desire to get on your running shoes or get in your car to head to the gym, THAT is the time you should.  Many people experience a huge sense of satisfaction when they are DONE working out.  “I really didn’t feel like it at all but by the time I was done, I felt BETTER!”  Sooner or later, you’ll get into the habit of going, even when your body might be saying, “Let’s just stay home.”

 

Sleep trumps exercise everyday of the week.  If I was ever approached by a client who suffered from insomnia and was trying to lose weight, I would turn them down for PT until they got into a habitual sleep pattern that included a minimum of 7 hours of sleep.  Why? Because chances are they are not losing weight because they can’t sleep.  Until that is corrected, I’d be stealing their money and they would show zero results.  If you have a choice between going to bed early or going to the gym late for a workout, always always always opt for sleep.

 

Mentality.  If you start to view your food as fuel, you are much less likely to hit the drive thru or eat out at the chain restaurants.  When you’re first thought of when you hear the word or think the word “food” is “FEAR” or “WEIGHT GAIN”, or “DEPRIVATION” then you have the wrong mentality.  When your first thought is “FUEL” and “NOURISHMENT” and “HEALTH” you will never be tempted to have crappy, greasy, and garbage food ever again.  It’s a relationship that might take years to get to a good place.  It takes time to learn how to cook good food too.  Learning to cook even something as basic as steaming vegetables and baking chicken gets you one step closer to feeling good and looking good.

 

Shop the perimeter. There is no reason to go down the middle aisles of a supermarket when the majority of what you should eat is on the perimeter.  Granted, there are exceptions:  Whole grains, oils, nuts, and some baking needs are in the aisles.  But 90% of what goes in your cart is available in the perimeter.  Load up on veggies, fruits, lean proteins and fats, and you are good go.  Plus, you’re cart will be so full of the good stuff, there won’t be much room for the junk.

Goals should be something you can control.  I stole this one from my coach although I had learned it many years ago.  Don’t focus on having a goal of losing X amount of pounds in X amount of time.  How can you control that?  If we knew exactly how to lose fat, we’d all look exactly the same because no one would have a weight problem.  You cannot control your metabolism to the degree that you tell it exactly how many pounds you want to lose. Your goals should be simpler yet a challenge.  Examples:

I will drink 4L of water today.

I will not have alcohol with dinner this week.

I will have protein with all my meals today.

I will get up 15 minutes early to make breakfast tomorrow.

You cannot spot reduce.  If we could choose where the fat on our body could disappear from, that would be like discovering the fountain of youth.  Alas, it doesn’t work that way.  And speaking from experience, you cannot choose where the fat COMES on your body either.  You think I want the fat to go directly to my stomach?!  Yeah it’s irritating but the difference is, I know the endgame:  More muscle.  I know it’s temporary to have this layer of fat on me right now.  Same goes for when I’ll diet down, I know I might lose it in places that are not ideal (ummm Chest?) but, this is the way the body works.  So enough with the “Can we just do exercises that get rid of the extra fat on my inner thighs?  And can we just do abs and crunches so I can get rid of this belly fat?”  Sure! Let me just get my magic wand…

Your behavior should match your goals. Stole this one from Precision Nutrition. This goes back to being honest with yourself.  If you have a goal of losing fat and weeks go by with little to no success in that area, you most likely give up, right?  But if you take a look at what your behavior was those weeks, what would you see?  Someone who worked out 5 days a week?  Someone who ate 5 balanced meals a day?  Someone who got 7 hours+ of sleep?   Someone who did everything you’re supposed to when you’re dieting?  If you only have yourself to hold you accountable, you have to be honest with yourself and evaluate where you went wrong. You might see that you only worked out twice a week and you ended a few sessions early because you weren’t feeling it.  Or you skipped lunch a few days because you got busy at work.  And you never did prep your food for the weekend so you binged on junk.  Adjust your behavior before you set your goals because that is a huge reason why many people fail.

Bloodwork tells a big story.  I think people hear “I have a thyroid problem” and automatically assume someone must be lying or using an excuse for their stagnant progress.  As much as I hate to hear “Ever since I hit menopause I just can’t lose this weight,” or “Ever since I had babies, I can’t lose this weight,” many times, it’s a contributing factor to someone’s progress.  Yes, specifically women but men as well if they have cortisol or testosterone imbalances.  I won’t use this blog as a shameless plug but if you are interested in learning more about how hormones affect your weight loss, email me at fromfittofigure@gmail.com and we can discuss.  In the meantime, ask your doc to run a panel of tests on your thyroid, cortisol, and hormone levels to see what’s going on.  Adrenal fatigue, stress, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism are all contributors to why SOME people cannot lose weight.

The scale doesn’t tell the story.  If you’re frustrated by the lack of movement in the direction the scale might be going, first, you need to read this story from my friend Leslie who contributed to my blog last year.  Secondly, you don’t have to throw it out, but consider weighing yourself once a week and then maybe once a month.  Lastly, stop thinking of that number and start measuring inches.  Yes, that’s yet another number but almost everyone who reaches a plateau (and it WILL happen) notice that although the scale didn’t budge, the measurements did.  That’s called Progress. 🙂  You went down a dress size yet the scale only moved 3 pounds?  Oh gee, I guess you gained something called muscle.  If you’re still disgruntled, check out the following visuals.

5-pounds-of-fat-5-pounds-of-musclefat-vs-muscleWeight-Loss-VS-Fat-Loss3

I hope these tips were helpful and informative for you.  If you liked what you just read, please share and comment!

 

 

 

 

The Stigma of Being Healthy

It’s been 17 days since the competition.  I was fearful of gaining back more than 10lbs within a few days of being off the competition diet, but much to my surprise, I’m only up 3lbs.

I took two weeks off completely from dieting.  I ate when I was hungry, I stopped when I was full.  Once in a while I did indulge and kept eating long after I was definitely full and got that “stuffed” feeling.  Luckily, because I never had anything all that “bad” in the cupboards anyways but I did have an out of control mentality for a few days.  Without someone guiding me on what to do, I felt a little lost.

But it was a freeing experience to not be measuring or weighing anything.

Saturday I got a plan from a new coach, Erik, whom I have invested 12 weeks of coaching.  I’m familiar with LOSING fat but not gaining muscle, I admit.  This is definitely not my forte.  So I was quite relieved to get his email Saturday morning with a workout program and a very detailed food plan.

Back to being held accountable again!   I needed it.  I got a little too excited as I printed out my food plan and headed to Costco to stock up and spent most of the day Saturday prepping my food for the week.

A friend made a remark that they were amazed by all the bags of pre-weighed chicken and tilapia and sweet potatoes I had in the fridge.  I commented that I absolutely loved living this way.  Kind of like a Super Boy Scout, er, Girl Scout – Always Prepared.

There’s definitely comfort and less anxiety knowing my next meal is already ready to be eaten when it’s time; cooked, measured and sitting in the tupperware.  I could eat like this forever.

However, eating this way, ya know, healthy….doesn’t exactly agree with everyone.  I’m hearing alot of “It’s too hard to eat healthy, it’s too expensive to eat like that, it seems like a lot of WORK to eat that way.”

But this wasn’t an issue 15, or 20 years ago was it?  If you go back in time, back to your childhood, wasn’t it easier to eat healthy?  Wasn’t it easier to EAT period?  I find that most people want to eat well but an even more common complaint is a lack of time to eat anything at all!  On the go, on the run, busy busy, no time to do anything?  Well, if you were prepared from the beginning, you’d at least have time to eat in your car or at your desk.

Think again about your childhood – before adulthood.

For some, you had breakfast at the table cooked or prepared by yourself (or your parent if you were too young). Regardless of what it was (healthy or not), it was usually eaten in a group, slowly, already planned out for you.  Even if it was a piece of toast and a yogurt, your Mom or Dad didn’t let you leave for school without something in your stomach.  I’m sure there are exceptions to this depending on your age and your living situation but I think most of the people in my age group (30’s and 40’s) can relate.

Think about your lunch, at least during the school year.  Who made it?  Did you get it in the cafeteria or did you brown bag it?  You really only had those two options.  If you didn’t buy it through the cafeteria, you were usually a brown bagger like me.  I had Peanut butter and Jelly on white bread for about….10 years?  Seriously no joke.  I was the pickiest eater ever.  That’s all I would eat, along with a veggie and a snack like wheat thins or pudding or something like that.  My Mom rocked. 🙂  Maybe once in a while I had something different like bologna and cheese.  Wow, can you believe I ate bologna??  Nasty.

Now think about dinner.  This was the beginning of the end for most people.  I hear that alot of families don’t sit down to eat anymore, my family included right now.  Everyone on different schedules, cooking different things for different tastes, cooking differently for kids vs. adults, working parents, kids after school activities.  I get it, we are all busy.  But think about how it USED to be.  You ate at the dinner table as a family and you all had the same thing.  And it was prepared by someone else, unless you chipped in at dinner and helped out your parents with the meal.  I admit I was spoiled and bratty for most of my teenage years and am ashamed to admit I never asked if I could help my Mom with dinner.

My point of this trip down memory lane is to get you to understand that all the meals were made by someone most of your childhood.  Now, as an adult, how can you then translate that into YOUR diet?  This isn’t a trick question – the answer is:  Cook your own food.

This is not rocket science.  But if people can just realize that we don’t need to go thru the drive thru, we don’t need to try out that new lunch place that people at work are raving about, we don’t need to go out to client dinners every night, we’d save ourselves alot of extra calories and alot of MONEY and alot of time.

We can be the exception to the rule.  We don’t have to conform to what advertising and Big Food wants us to be.  We can treat ourselves once in awhile and enjoy ourselves and eat those sweet treats and then go back to eating our normal healthy food.

But it isn’t considered the norm yet is it?

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a stigma with people who MAKE their OWN food.

stigmaofhealthyeating

It’s ODD and WEIRD if you go to the movies and DON’T eat the popcorn or get a snack; you come to a party and bring a HEALTHY dish, you go to a BAR to watch a game and you DON’T have a drink, you don’t even order an appetizer.

“You bring your own lunch to work?  Why are you eating that salad?  Don’t you want Arby’s?  How about Subway?  Come on, just once won’t hurt, live a little!”

Take the opportunity to educate those people about the benefits of being prepared, being healthy, and being the exception to the rule.

Defend your right to eat your own food.

Interview: NPC Bikini Athlete/Coach Brittany Tegeler

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This week I have had the pleasure to interview Brittany Tegeler.  This woman has quite the athletic background! Not only has she competed on stage as an NPC Bikini Athlete (and won, by the way), she’s also a former Lingerie Football Player.  But where she excelled most is with the game of Soccer.  Brittany became hooked on this game from the age of 4, even going semi-pro as well as making the preseason roster twice for the professional Washington Freedom Women’s Team.

These days Brittany spends her days in Baltimore as a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist.  Just like yours truly!  Although, I think it’s safe to say that’s where our similarities end. 😉

Read on for some great motivation and inspiration from her and feel free to share with others!

Also, be sure to follow her on Social Media! (links throughout the post)

FFTF: You’re a Wellness/Accountable Care Coach; can you elaborate on what that entails and how you are able to help everyday individuals with healthy lifestyle choices?

As a lifestyle coach, you have to be able to work with people from all walks of life.  You never deal with the same person or situation and have to treat each one as its own.  I need to be able to adapt to each individual and their needs to help them in the most effective way possible.  Typical areas of focus are: weight loss, smoking cessation, stress management, etc.  I try to give each client exactly what they need to better their life, sometimes, all they need is someone to talk to and to listen to them with open mind, ears, and heart.

FFTF:  As a Certified Personal Trainer, who would you say is your typical client that comes in to train with you?  Are they looking to compete like you have or are they “just looking to get healthy?” 

I have trained every type of client from the elite athlete to the “soccer mom” all with various goals.  Right now, I am currently opening a fitness center that is designed for athletes from 8-18.  I will focus on getting the athletes stronger and faster for optimal performance on the field, as well as for injury prevention.  A lot of the training will be soccer-specific. 

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Through soccer, I learned how rewarding something can be when you work hard, stay focused, and stay motivated. – Brittany Tegeler

FFTF:  I see from your website http://brittanytegeler.com that you became involved with soccer from a very young age and were quite a successful athlete from it.  How did participating in a sport like soccer enable you to become the woman you are today?

Participating in soccer has had one of the most significant impacts on my life.  I learned what it was like to be truly, truly passionate about something.  I learned how to dedicate and commit myself fully to something.  Through soccer, I learned how to be disciplined and how to make huge sacrifices, even at a very young age.  I learned how rewarding something can be when you work hard, stay focused, and stay motivated.  This mindset of passion, hard work, discipline, ambition, and motivation is something I carry with me in all aspects of my life.  I will never give you an okay effort- I am an all-or-nothing type girl.  On top of all of the wonderful qualities that I contribute to soccer, I was also fortunate enough to travel the world while playing, and I made some of the most authentic friendships through the sport.

FFTF:  Tell us about your experience as a lingerie football player, that had to be exciting and fun!

Playing in the Lingerie Football League was quite the experience!  Many people see the LFL for its entertainment value, which it certainly has, as it was aired on MTV.  However, that sport is no joke.  The ladies of the league train very, very hard.  Most of the women are former D1 athletes in one sport or another.  The talent and athleticism in the league is fierce which makes for some pretty brutal games with some hard hitting.  I got 2 concussions in 4 games! The LFL is pro football for women.  We watched film, we learned play books, we trained hard, etc.  We did all the things necessary to succeed as football players.  Playing in the LFL was a “bucket-list” type thing for me; I had an athletic void that I needed to fill and I viewed the league as a unique and exciting way to fill that void.  I played for about a season and a half and certainly got what I wanted out of the league!

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FFTF: You competed in the NPC Bikini Division last year.  What would you say prompted you to try a bodybuilding competition? 

I saw competing as a way to fill the athletic void that I had (as I was no longer playing pro soccer) and as another way to push my body to it’s absolute limits.  Challenging myself and setting goals is inspiring; it keeps me driven and working hard.  I think working to towards new and different goals is such an important aspect of life; it keeps us from getting too comfortable.  Being comfortable in uncomfortable situations makes for a highly successful person.  I love learning and experimenting ; competing was another way to do this.

 FFTF:  What was your experience with the diet and training regimen required to compete in that division?  Would you say you had a good overall experience due to your history as an athlete?  Did you find it extremely challenging or relatively easy to adhere to the diet?

If something comes easy I have to question if I really worked as hard as I possibly could at it or if it was a worthwhile goal to have in the first place.  I think you can make almost anything you want challenging if you are willing to step outside your comfort zone.  Competing was a complete test of determination and will power.  Although I am an athlete and know how to not only train, but train hard, competing had many different elements that I was not familiar with.  The diet was definitely the most challenging part for me.  I never cheated, nor strayed away from my plan in the least.  Preparing for a fitness show makes for a huge change in lifestyle; you cannot go out to eat, you have to sacrifice many social events, you have to spend endless hours preparing/weighing/cooking foods, and the list goes on.  I did not compete simply to say I competed, I competed to WIN.  Like I stated early, I am an all-or-nothing type person.  If I am going to do something, I am going to put my entire heart and soul into it.  In the end, it all paid off; the minute I stepped on stage I found every bit of my efforts to be completely worth it.  Competing is certainly very, very taxing physically, but especially mentally, so in my opinion, it’s important to take some time off between shows, which is what I am doing now.   I learned so much about how my body works and have never felt more in-tune with it.
Eating for aesthetics (which is what fitness shows are all about) is quite different from eating for optimal athletic performance, which is why having a coach with that type of expertise was a big help.Brittany Tegeler
FFTF:   Did you have a coach for your competition or did you train yourself?
I did not have a coach for the training for my shows.  I have played every level of soccer, so I have been training since a very, very young girl.  I know what works and I know how to push myself better than I believe anyone else can.  Also, I am a NASM CPT, so that certainly helps.  I did have a friend help me with some of the specifics of the sport- posing, tanning, stage make up, etc.  I also had a nutritional coach that I consulted with on a weekly basis that was familiar with dieting for fitness shows.  I have always designed my nutrition plans around performing at an optimal level on the soccer field.  I ate for sports performance.  I am actually a NASM certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist as well.  However, eating for aesthetics (which is what fitness shows are all about) is quite different than eating for optimal athletic performance, which is why having a coach with that type of expertise was a big help.  Having nutritional consultations was also a great way to keep myself accountable, as I knew I was going to get my body composition stats taken every week.
FFTF:  Do you plan to compete again? 
Whether I compete again or not, I don’t know, but I could not be more happy that I did it.  It is certainly possible, however, right now I am focusing on my career and putting all of my efforts in to that.  You must have the time to dedicate to competing if you wish to do well.  Again, competing was another way to challenge myself and fill an athletic void.  I was lucky enough to achieve success from the get-go with competing and I really feel like I got what I was looking for out of it.  It was another great experience that positively impacted my life.
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  If I am going to do something, I am going to put my entire heart and soul into it.  In the end, it all paid off; the minute I stepped on stage I found every bit of my efforts to be completely worth it.  Brittany Tegeler
FFTF:  You’re on social media as well, as are many fitness professionals.  How do you personally utilize social media to promote health/fitness and what can your followers expect to see on your pages? *Follow her on Twitter @BrittanyTegeler on Instagram @BrittanyTegelerFit and on Facebook Brittany Tegeler’s Daily Health & Fitness Tips  
First and foremost, I keep everything positive.  I will never ever post a negative post.  I LIVE for motivating and inspiring others.  I always say, “getting” is great, but “giving” has to be the best feeling in the world.  I do my best to relate, as my ultimate goal is to inspire and assist those around me in living a healthier and happier life. I am definitely not the “cookie-cutter” type of person.   I like to be different and unique; I don’t want to be just “another face” in the field of fitness preaching the same tiresome things day-in-and-day-out just because it “sounds good”.  I am always going to be myself and in doing so, I help others through beliefs and methods that I PERSONALLY feel are best.
FFTF:  Lastly, what’s one thing you know now that you WISH you had known before you started your fitness career?
I honestly do not think I would change a thing.  I have grown as a fitness professional through trial-and-error.  I think it is so important NOT to know everything, so you can experiment, fail, and work to find better solutions. This is all part of the process of becoming better at one’s profession.  The health and wellness industry is one that is ever-evolving, so essentially, we will never know everything.  We have to continue to study and learn each and every day.

 
 
 
 
Thanks for being an inspiration to my readers Brittany!

Why are you doing this?

Consider this your pep talk.  Even if you don’t need one right about now, this is a great read for anyone to stay committed to their goal of getting in shape this year.  You know I hate the word “resolution” and I prefer the word “commitment” instead.  Just reading this should get you back in the saddle….back on the wagon (or off the wagon, however that saying goes)…whatever analogy you prefer. 

Just read it and go workout, go cook something healthy, go COOK period.  Do some sort of activity.  Inspire someone else along the way.  If you need a reminder of WHY you’re at the gym on a Saturday morning or a Friday night, remember this note from BodyBuilding.com’s CEO:

I’m angry.

 

I’m angry because fat doctors exist.

 

Every day they go into work and deal with patients that are in pain and dying from complications related to being obese. They see in gory detail what diabetics have to go through after their first amputation. They listen to crying fathers that had a heart attack while simply playing with their kids. They comfort family members after their mother died from heart disease, the nation’s number one killer.

 

And when they leave the hospital, tired from helping so many sick and overweight people, they eat junk food. They skip the gym. They take the elevator. They go home and sit on the couch. They are a terrible example for the people they are trying to help.

 

I’m angry because it’s considered kind if you bake cookies and cakes for your family.

 

If you help your family to die a little earlier, to be a little more depressed, to have to deal with low energy levels, to have to get on medication for high cholesterol, to be stuck in bad eating habits for life, then you are thanked and considered a good person.

 

I’m angry because you are considered a mean parent if you don’t give your kids candy and sweets on a regular basis.

 

Children went hundreds of thousands of years without candy, but in today’s society, it’s borderline considered child abuse to withhold it from them. You would go to jail if you gave them a single cigarette (which won’t do any immediate harm), but if you kill them slowly with sugar, you are a good, loving parent.

 

I’m angry at gyms.

 

They know you aren’t going to keep showing up. They count on it in their business plans. If you don’t show up for a few weeks, do you get a call? Do they even notice? They exist to help you get into shape, and they are purposely failing and it’s our fault. We demand the lowest monthly cost, so we get the bare minimum in exchange.

 

I’m angry with large health associations that don’t address the actual issues.

 

How is it okay to sell Jumbo Cookies Platters, which include a cookie recipe with brown sugar, on your site to raise money? You don’t get it. Most health associations are focused on treating the symptoms with drugs, rather than doing the hard work of prevention. They are afraid to tell their members to change their lifestyle.

 

I’m angry that food companies make their food look healthy.

 

High fat and high sugar products promote “whole grain” or “high in vitamin C” on their packaging, creating a false sense that these products are healthy. 100 Calorie Packs (which are just junk food in small packages) make you feel like you are doing the right thing for your body. Subway restaurant appears good for you, but most people pack on mayo, bacon, cheese and white bread and a side of chips to their “healthy” lunch. If you show up at the office in the morning with an Oreo milkshake, you are unhealthy, but show up with a Starbucks Frappuccino, which is basically the same thing, and you are just having your morning coffee.

 

I’m angry that the media is constantly bashing vitamins, protein powders, and nutritional supplements.

 

The studies that show they work are multiplying, but you wouldn’t know it by reading the news. Out of shape journalists mostly promote the ones that show supplements in a negative light. Consumers deserve the truth.

 

I’m angry with all of the hucksters selling their latest fad diet book or miracle fitness program.

 

Not a day goes by that I don’t have somebody ask me about some new diet program that was just released. They are looking for the easy way to the body they want, and they don’t want to hear that it takes actual hard work and lifestyle change. It’s not rocket science; bodybuilders have been transforming and preparing for contests for decades. We know what works. The infomercials try to sell us the quick fix, and once we get it into our heads that we shouldn’t have to work for the life we dream of, we keep searching for the next miracle.

 

I’m more than just angry. I’m sad.

 

I’m sad when I hear about somebody’s family member that died too young. I’m sad when I see the number of prescription medications that people are taking on a daily basis due to their lifestyle. I’m sad when I hear that obesity is continuing to rise. I’m sad that our children will be the first generation to live shorter lives than the previous one. I’m sad when I see somebody start a fitness program and give up within weeks. I’m sad when I see people I love struggling.

 

I’m sad that the couch is winning.

 

It doesn’t have to be this way. That’s why today I’m asking for your help.

 

Help me change it. Help me turn it around.

 

It’s possible if you understand that willpower doesn’t really exist. It’s not just about discipline and sacrifice. It’s about habit change. It’s about resetting norms. It’s about education. It’s about setting up your environment to make fitness easy. It’s about social accountability and helping your friends. It’s taking one simple step at a time, not setting yourself up to fail with drastic change all at once. It’s about setting goals and tracking your progress. It’s about long-term behavior change, not outcomes.

 

Don’t accept the things that make you angry in society. Don’t sit back and watch. Do something. Say something. Help someone.

 

Can you personally commit to health and fitness in 2013? Can you do it publicly to let others know that you are going to be part of the revolution? Sign our Facebook Commitment Wall Tab with me. Ask a friend to sign it. One person at a time, we can make a change.

 

Sincerely,

 

Ryan Deluca, CEO Bodybuilding.com

Although you don’t need to sign the Commitment Wall on Facebook, you can make a public commitment by using social media to declare that you are BACK AT IT.  Or even if you never stopped, just reinforcing your commitment to your loved ones and friends that you are STILL IN THIS is a great way to be held accountable.

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