The Gift Of: Fitness

I finally blended my blogs together into one – this one, that you’re reading right now.

Welcome, oh ye few.

Most people who follow me here actually know me from “real life” but I still have quite a few fellow bloggers that never met me in person that might be wondering just what in the heck is going on with me. I mean, to change my website from From Fit To Figure to The Joyful Celibate with absolutely no warning is a little strange. Well, good news is, I answer most of this question in the “About” page right up there at the top of the screen.

Before I go on with my post today, just so everyone is aware, despite the name change, my fitness posts are all still available here and searchable. So if you’re looking for something regarding meal planning or workouts I’ve done or diet tips I’ve written about, simply search!

My website for online coaching will also remain linked here and above. And I’m still available by email at fromfittofigure@gmail.com.

As for today’s post, I thought I’d debut my new site with what I believe to be one of my gifts: Getting people in shape for life.

First of all, I did not start my own personal training business thinking I’d be “set for life” financially. On the contrary, I knew this would be a huge pay cut from working in a health club or gym. In fact, shortly before starting my biz, I was trying to find ways to detach from material objects, and money was the first to go! And the service I wanted to provide never changed – I wanted to help people. But I wanted to do it on my own terms, such as:

  • I could be picky about who I would train: I wouldn’t have to sit in front of people and try to “sell” them on something they had no interest in, as this was common at the gyms where I worked. The members usually wanted a tour of the place and be on their way. They were not about to pay extra for training, especially if they were already investing over $100 a month on a membership they could barely afford. I really wanted to train people that actually meshed well with my personality and training style.
  • I could charge a rate based on the client’s budget without de-valuing my services and without the pressure of hitting a monthly goal: Finally, no more pressure from my boss as to how much money I was bringing in this month. No more dialing for dollars in a last ditch attempt to hit a goal. Yes, goals are necessary, especially in sales. But that was it: I didn’t want to be in sales! I wanted to be content with the amount that I had in the bank. (Hint: I am.)
  • I could be honest and direct with clients without worrying about toeing the company line: The biggest need for fitness professionals, I have found, has been addressing the behavior and mental aspect of dieting. But many gyms, celebrity trainers and coaches come out with fancy heart rate monitors or apps or quick fixes just to make money and promote themselves, ignoring the underlying issues of their clients. If we are to be taken seriously, trainers should be willing to say, “Not all diets work for all people. The best diet is the one that you can adhere to without feeling restricted and still see results. So let’s figure out what that looks like for you.”
  • I could make my own schedule, allowing plenty of time to focus on the most important people in my life: It should go without saying by now, that God, my family and my faith are my priority. And when you have a flexible schedule and do what you love, and you detach from material things (this was key for me, personally) you start to see life differently. I started to look for more chances to be a gift to others. Sidenote: Being single really turned this from an opportunity, into a priority for me.

While the blog served its purpose for a long time, I am finding the passion to write about health and fitness growing a little stale. I still need to promote myself, but I would like to do it mainly through referrals and word of mouth. So this meant for me (because this might not be the best idea for others) no more progress pictures on display, no more Facebook or Instagram and no more YouTube videos. These were becoming distractions and a hindrance to more than anything else.

So there you have it. That’s what I aim to do with this blog: To show how I can be a gift to others. And not just with fitness. That was just the teaser for you. There will be more posts about how I plan to do this. Because we all have gifts.

And when readers find themselves here, I also hope to show them how THEY can be a gift to serve others as well.

I plan to provide the gift of fitness and health to my clients as long as I am able.

Think on it: Who do you know that needs the gift of health? You don’t have to be a fitness guru or dietitian to provide this gift to someone. Keep it simple. How about the gift of mental health (relaxing day at a spa; renting a movie at home and staying in); spiritual health (giving someone a book that helped you grow in your spirituality; taking someone to daily mass that normally can’t make it); physical health (a fitness DVD to do at home; making someone a healthy meal who can’t afford it), etc. Endless possibilities!

 

The “R” Word

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I have come to strongly dislike the word “Resolution.”

And because it’s soon to be a new year, I know I’ll be hearing a lot of it.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to have GOALS. But that’s just it, I like the “G” word better than the “R” word.

Resolution makes me automatically think of the New Year. And the New Year is a HORRIBLE time to make a Resolution. They (someone smarter than me) said the best time to make a Resolution is in August. Why? No idea. But apparently, people are more successful when they make them in the middle of the year rather than the beginning.

With that in mind, about a month ago I told my trainer that I wanted to deadlift 200lbs.

Recently, he recorded me lifting 145lbs for several reps you can watch here. (Afterwards, I lifted 165lbs but they were only mediocre so we never posted them.)

And then on Christmas Eve, my trainer suggested we should try and “work on those deadlifts.”¬† At first I was all about going home to get ready for some Christmas Eve food…but then I remembered if I was going to hit this goal of 200lbs, I kinda needed to work at it. ūüôā

The picture above is me before hitting 185lbs, a new PR for me! I’m very excited about one day hitting 200lbs. And there WILL be video proof of this when it happens.

I’m also aware that not everyone has strength training goals in mind when they join a gym or begin a new year and new plan to “get in shape.” I respect the fact that people get motivated at the thought of a “new body” in the new year. But I’m so used to seeing people get their hopes up only to fail because of their lack of planning (see below for specifics).

I’m more about being happy with the body you have and making reasonable changes to it, not in order to have a NEW body (because you’re body is aging and getting older everyday, it’s never going to be NEW) but in order to enjoy the one you HAVE!¬† It’s not about what it LOOKS like, it’s about how it FUNCTIONS.


 

Back to that dreaded “R” word:

EVERY time I hear it I cringe. It brings back memories of working at gyms, speaking with new members about their New Years Resolutions. Always the same speech, every time.

Client: “Yeah I thought since it’s the new year I would try and lose weight…again.”

Me: “Again? Have you been successful in the past?”

Client: “Yes, but as soon as I lost the weight I thought I could eat the way I used to and went back to my old bad habits.” (Didn’t have a maintenance plan)

or

Client: “Yes, but I lost the motivation as soon as my life got busy with other things.”¬† (Didn’t prioritize their health)

or

Client: “I worked out a lot and even trained for a race but never really lost any weight. I don’t know why!” (Didn’t learn any good eating habits)

or

Client: “I lost a ton of weight! I stopped eating carbs and I worked out 5 days a week! But the holiday ruined me and I ate all the foods I shouldn’t have and now I’m back up in weight. I guess the only way I can lose weight is to restrict myself.” (Took part in a diet that was not feasible or conducive to real life)

So here’s some quick advice for you to carry you into 2016:

  • Identify your MAIN issue and make a plan to WORK on it – Is it TIME? Is it MEAL PLANNING? Is it COOKING? Is it LACK OF KNOWLEDGE?¬† Is it LOGISTICS? The good news is that there’s a solution to all of these.
  • Ask yourself what you have done in the past that worked and if this is something you CAN and DESIRE to do again?
  • If you have NEVER been successful at reaching your health and fitness goals, ask yourself why? I think many times we don’t like to admit our failures but we have to in order to learn from them, right?
  • What was the barrier? Was it budget? Figure out what you CAN afford. Was it lack of support? There’s ALWAYS someone out there willing to support you, many times it’s a total stranger or even just the person behind the desk at the gym. But I promise you someone out there is supporting you and cheering you on! Was it just plain old procrastination or laziness? Set up some rules for yourself. I wrote about this recently on the faith blog that might be helpful.

Start off 2016 in the same way you’re ending 2015:

Hopeful, not dismayed.

Positive, not discouraged.

Eager, not afraid.

I hope this new year brings about change in you that’s positive, that’s exciting and continues on for years to come!

 

 

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.”

 

Too Confused To Choose – When Dieting Becomes a Heavy Burden

Happy July to all!  Thanks for all the positive feedback concerning my last post. Seems quite a few of you got some good information out of it, which is always nice to hear.

Since this month we celebrate our Independence in the States, I got to thinking about freedom and choices and how that relates to our health. That got me thinking, “What happens when we are bombarded by so many choices, that we actually become anxious and obsessed with eating and being healthy?” Technically, there is a medical term for the obsession of being healthy – Orthorexia.¬†I don’t believe I know too many people who legitimately¬†HAVE this condition, but I DO know there is plenty of misinformation out there to cause confusion and anxiety. So here’s some advice on how to lift that burden off your shoulders for good and just…live.

Let’s start with my favorite subject – FOOD.

What I typically hear from most people:

“What foods are good for me? I hear Paleo is the way to go, is that good? What about eggs? They’re “bad” for me, right? And how about vitamins, I hear thats a load of garbage, so I shouldn’t take those, right? And how often should I workout? And how much cardio is TOO much cardio and what if I overtrain? AHHHHH!!!”

Well, now you’ve completely turned yourself into a big ball of anxiety¬†because¬†you can’t figure out how to even get to Step #1.

Fact – We cannot survive without food. But we have the freedom to choose which foods to eat. And, better yet, we have the freedom to choose which ones we KNOW will literally weigh us down and pack on a few extra lbs, and those that will lift us up, make us feel better, make us lighter, and help sustain us.

The first step to freeing yourself from this way of thinking and obsessing? Trial and error. It’s more intuitive than anything.

The question becomes: “Who are you listening to?”

Are you listening to your friends or co-workers: “You probably shouldn’t be eating all of that. Aren’t you on a diet?”

Are you listening to some doctor on TV: “Take these Raspberry ketones, you’ll burn fat at lightning speed!”

Are you listening to people who enable you: “I can’t eat like you do…you eat some of the weirdest foods. You should live a little!! Here, have some cheesecake. Better yet, just give me the cheesecake, I’ll eat it for you.”

The first step is to listen to you. While we all have the ability¬†to do our own research on what foods are the most nutritious or most healthy for us, it doesn’t take a Masters in Dietetics to tell us that slice of apple pie is probably not going to help you lose weight like that one apple will. ¬†Somewhere along the way, we have become slightly obsessed with being super duper healthy and fit. And it got complicated. So if you”uncomplicate” things, that weight is slowly lifted off your shoulders over time.

(This is easier for people who do not have serious eating disorders/obesity/anorexia. That’s an entirely different issue that I’m not addressing here. This is advice for your average dieter.)

Let’s¬†say you have an auto-immune disease or condition where you DO have to be constantly¬†aware of what you eat. The person with the nut allergy is probably going to have an easier time listening to his/her own voice due to the fact that if they don’t, they could become seriously ill or die if they choose the wrong foods. I don’t have a food allergy but I do have an auto-immune disease (Ulcerative Colitis) which I have blogged about before.

I have had to decipher between the voices telling me that if I just did a Paleo diet, I could cure myself. I know they only have good intentions and the research could suggest that this is entirely possible. I gave in and tried to eat differently and avoid grains for awhile. I felt, for a while, that my freedom to eat the way I WANTED to, was taken away and now I had to adapt to this NEW way of eating.

But guess what? Nothing happened. My flare-up didn’t go away. And, even when it did go away with medication, and I ate grains/foods that supposedly would do me harm, I didn’t get sick. So, through trial and error, I came to the conclusion that¬†I should have just listened to my own voice to start with. Something inside me told me that a simple diet wouldn’t cure something that I’ve had since I was 14 years old. It might work for SOME, but it didn’t for me. And that’s okay! I had the choice to try an alternative way of eating and I did.


What about fitness and getting in shape? How about that guilt trip we put ourselves through when we KNOW we have time to get to the gym and we SHOULD go but we just don’t WANT to?

How do you think advertising agencies stay in business? They put out those infomercials and billboards and commercials telling you, “You are not good enough, therefore, take this pill/drink this shake/wear this body wrap/buy this treadmill/join this gym and you will finally be good enough.” And the sad part is, many of us listen to those commercials and we believe those lies. This is how the confusion starts. And this is when people start to HATE their own bodies and HATE the process. No wonder they stay away from the gym!

Again, it comes down to who’s voice you’re listening to? If you have zero desire to get in shape, by all means, don’t waste my time or your time by coming to the gym and hogging a machine that I could be on. Seriously, don’t. (That’s my attempt at reverse psychology). I truly believe we all desire to be healthy. But the process of exercising CAN be burdensome.

I met someone recently who said he had a barrier preventing him from getting in shape. He stated he hated and dreaded exercise so much that he could NEVER love it. Therefore, he never did it. This was the wall he was trying to break down.

Well, Newsflash:¬†Not a whole lot of people LOVE to exercise. Not a whole lot of people LOVE their job, but they go to get a paycheck and provide for their families. Not a lot of people LOVE to go to school but they go so they can learn and educate themselves so they can be a contributing member of society. You don’t HAVE to LOVE exercise to do it. But you should LOVE YOURSELF enough to do what is right for your health.

Ever heard that saying that goes something like: “Anything worth doing is worth doing right.” How about we stop obsessing about how often we’re going to the gym and just decide to GO. And then when we get there, just doing one thing well. Do one thing. Wouldn’t that be better than going to the gym and doing NO THING?

Examples of just one thing:

1. Recumbent bike/stationary bike for 10 minutes.

2. 10 push ups/15 sit ups/ 20 squats

3. Walking on the treadmill for half a mile

4. Taking one group fitness class

Seriously, this is probably the most basic of basics. Anyone, doesn’t matter who you are or what level you are at, can do any of these “one things.”¬†Imagine if you did all 4 of those things in one day. Well damn, now you just went did a pretty good workout! Give yourself a pat on the back! Why? Because it’s better than no thing.

You should see the look on someones face when I tell them how simple this is. It’s like they just discovered the meaning of life. They feel relief because they can finally let go of all that was holding them back. All those voices telling them, “No you aren’t working out hard enough if you don’t feel like puking at the end of your workout!” “No, you should’t eat that, EVER!” “No, you can’t do that!”

So go ahead and start simplifying your food choices. Start simplifying your workouts. Listen to yourself, tune out the “other” voices. Let go of all that garbage weighing you down. And do one thing well. Over time, you’ll be amazed at how light you start feeling as that burden of all that was once heavy starts to fall off your shoulders.

Social Media Overload: How to Manage Your Social Media Addiction

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With the¬†latest social media addiction called Periscope, I have already seen the downside of how social media can cause some negative habits creep into my life, personally. I actually did “scope” about it on Monday. Oh the irony! But people said it helped them. And even just talking about it helped me immediately. So let me give you some pointers.

A quick word about Periscope: It’s basically Twitter with video but you have more than 140 characters to deliver your message. Think YouTube video with live comments. Or like a Google+ Hangout but only one person’s face is visible. Some say Persicope won’t last or that it’s not THAT big of a deal but I have heard differently. I can see firsthand how this will change the way we watch TV actually. Some TV shows, like home improvement and makeover shows, are starting to broadcast from Periscope. Yeah the video quality isn’t as great as your HD TV, but it’s LIVE. And we love LIVE content. It’s like we are right there with them. And we can TALK BACK to our “TV” this way! Very interactive and fun…and, yes, addictive.

But here are some things I’ve learned from just being a “Scopeaholic” after one week. And these tips can be applied to FB and Twitter as well.

1. Be selective with your following/friends.¬†Good old Facebook gave us the gift of “unfriending” people but they also added that lovely feature, “Unfollow” and “Hide from timeline.” Ahhhhh, relief. We no longer have to see that friend of ours vent about the latest candidate running for office or Aunt Sally posting pictures of her latest crocheting project (Isn’t that what pinterest is for anyways?) or look at all our high school friends become engaged/married/pregnant/divorced. Best of all, we can unfollow that “guy who always posts every detail of his life.” ¬†With Twitter, you can “Mute” people and “turn off Retweets.” That’s one of my favorite features. Some of my tweeps just RT all day and it really clogs up my timeline making it hard for me to seek out those that I really want to see.

As for Periscope, the big thing is “Sharing.” We are constantly bombarded with requests from our followers to “Watch this scope!” when the last thing we want to do is get back on our phone and sit through a boring broadcast just because the broadcaster told you to share it! Unfortunately, the only answer to this problem on Periscope is to turn off notifications all together. But I found the next best thing which brings me to point #2.

2. The Do Not Disturb Button is your friend. I don’t know what Android users have but iOS devices have this lovely feature that puts your phone essentially asleep. YAY! No more sound effects altering us that someone is “scoping.” Or someone replied to one of our status updates or some replied to one of our tweets. Relief! The downside is that now you won’t know when anyone calls or texts you until you check your phone. Bummer.

3. Schedule Your Social Media time. Put it in the calendar if you must. For someone like me who depends on a lot of the internet to drive my business and get me some new clients, I can’t afford to just deactivate all my accounts. One of the perks of cross-pollenating on all major social media networks is that I am highly accessible. So I have learned to schedule my scoping time. I also have my Tweets from my blog match up with my Facebook Personal Trainer page so no worries on having to double up on that. My “personal” Facebook page is a whole other story. It’s touch to schedule something like Facebook when that’s where I get a lot of my news. But,¬†I resolved this problem by subscribing to The Skimm. They send out an early morning newsletter daily that literally is just the headlines and a few sentences so you can sound intelligent when someone asks you “Whats the latest news with Yemen?”

5. Stop Getting Sidetracked. I was noticing that during my short time of being addicted, that I neglected my usual morning routine. I had it down pat for practically 2 years and then this darn thing came along and I was totally thrown off my game! I have a usual routine that consists of reading the Daily Scripture Readings (oh there I go talking about my faith again, sorry) and thanking God for a list of things I’m grateful for and then I end with a prayer from St. Thomas Aquinas. Well…I forgot to do these things for just 2 days in a row and boy was I a mess. It would be like if you had gotten on a fitness kick for 2 years and then one day you woke up and the gym you used to go to every¬†morning¬†was replaced with a diner that served all your favorite foods. “Oh…well I can find another gym. Everyone needs to eat breakfast and it’s not so bad! Oh yummy, is that French toast?”

And how many of us check our phones first thing in the morning? How awful is that? Or what about the radio station we put on when we get in our car? The songs you listen to can definitely have an effect on your mood: “Damnit if I hear Sam Smith whine one more time about Staying with Me I’m gonna puke!”

What about if we check social media first thing in the morning? Ugh. Talk about setting the tone for the day, yikes! Don’t let what someone posted on FB interfere in your life and ruin your day. Don’t let a tweet you saw this morning bring you down. Of course, checking your phone first thing in the morning can also set your mood in a good way if you read or hear something uplifting. It all goes back to rule #1: Be careful who you follow.

Sidenote: I ended up creating a secondary Twitter account where I only follow positive tweeters. I check that more often and my day is immediately brightened. And no I will not reveal the name of my screen name.¬†My little secret happy world, get your own. ūüėČ

4. Is this a waste of your data?¬†Before you comment, tweet, post, or scope, ask yourself if this is going to be a good use of your time. Pretty sad it has come to this right? But I always think, “Would this be something I would be able to say to someone’s face?” If you don’t have the guts to post something because you think it will offend someone or cause a conflict, and you’re legit concerned you could get fired or get reprimanded for it, by all means don’t post it. ¬†But if you’re posting or sharing something to generate a discussion, I’m all for it! Educate, spread positivity, but try and keep it brief. Time is something we don’t get back and you don’t want to waste it by being on an electronic device all day.

Scope Safely, Tweet Wisely and Post Smart Everyone!

-Michelle

An Apple Versus A Doughnut: How Science Helps Me Avoid Junk Food

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Back when I started studying to become certified as a Personal Trainer, I came across an article that sparked something in me.

Ever have that feeling? Have you ever read something or saw something or heard something that struck a chord in you or resonated with you in such a way that you never looked at anything the same way again?

Yeah, for me, with regards to junk food, it was this article.

Now, I’ll be the first to tell you I hate science. I’ve never had a knack for understanding science, math, chemistry, pretty much anything with numbers and letters. ūüėČ But food? I understand food.

So when I read this article, I remember thinking it was a tad too “science-y” and so I had to read it about 3 or 4 times to truly get it. For those of you who aren’t into this whole biology thing, I have summarized the main takeaways. My point with today’s post is that perhaps those of you who are addicted to things like donuts and all around crappy foods and can’t seem to stop, maybe if you READ or UNDERSTAND how these foods differ, you’ll be more likely to make the healthier choice.

  1. An apple contains good nutrients like Vitamin C but also has calcium, phosphorus, iron, Vitamin A and a healthy dose of potassium. An apple skin contains a compound called quercetin, a powerful antioxidant that reduces cardiovascular risk.  The flavonoids and phytochemicals that it contains seem to help fight against cancer. AND the skin contains lots of fiber, which helps to improve bowel function and reduced cholesterol absorption. Woohoo! Lots of good stuff right??
  2. A doughnut contains none of these nutrients.
  3. The doughnut is loaded with saturated fats, trans fats and refined sugar and is largely devoid of any nutritional value, other than energy, which it has in abundance.
  4. The digestion process of the doughnut is quite lengthier than the apple. Healthier fats generally are absorbed via the liver, whereas saturated and trans fats pass through the villi and are converted into triglycerides, the main form of fat storage in the body. They are also coated in cholesterol (from the liver) and hence the fats in a doughnut will raise the bad (LDL) cholesterol and reduce the good (HDL) component.
  5. Trans fats do even more damage. They have been shown to wreak havoc with the body’s ability to regulate cholesterol and massively increase your risk of heart disease. They also get into the outer lining of our cells, causing them to harden.
  6. We shouldn’t be too harsh on the doughnut, some of their trans-fat containing friends are deep fried foods, such as French fries, cakes, cookies, biscuits, some breads (especially croissants and pastries), processed foods (especially pies, sausage rolls etc), snack foods (potato chips, some muesli bars) and margarine.

I would be lying if I said I haven’t had a doughnut since reading this post back in 2008. But I can honestly say I know I have had 3 in the past 7 years. Why? When I was presented with the option of having one, I ALWAYS remember this article. Like I said in the beginning, it was one that resonated with me. Maybe it will make an impact with you or someone you know that you think MIGHT take Doughnut Sunday at church just a little too far. ūüėČ

As for the progress that’s been made since this article came out, the USA has taken steps to ban trans fats in most foods so it’s not as popular as before. But you can bet not ALL those popular doughnut chains are trans-fat free. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows companies to round down to 0 g in its nutrition facts label even if the food contains as much as 0.5 of a gram per serving. Some popular donut companies use the words “Trans Fat Free!” in their advertising legally even though they DO in fact, contain trans fats.

That’s just an FYI for you. I’m not the food police but trans fats are not something anyone should be eating on the regular. If you care about your body and your health, take the time to research what you’re eating.

In good health,

Michelle

P.S. I recently did a consult with a woman who found me through my other blog that has little to do with fitness. In case you wanted to read what truly matters to me, you can read my ramblings there too.

The Distorted Perception of Weight Loss

Let’s go back in time to July of 2013. This is what I looked like:

July 22 2013
July 22 2013

It was 9 weeks before the competition. So I was probably 112lbs.

But I recall a specific moment from this timeframe:

I recall telling my sister (and only my sister as I wouldn’t dare say it to clients or friends) the following statement:

“Everyone looks huge to me. Big. Everyone. The people I see on the tv. The models and celebrities in magazines and on the cover. Everyone on my Facebook feed. Everyone…looks…huge.”

It wasn’t so much that I felt and looked small – It was that everyone got fat. Everyone.

I remember looking at a swimsuit model and thinking, “Poor thing…she’s too big to be in that suit.”

I went to the grocery store and looked at people in line and thought, “Poor thing…she’s too big to be buying those chips and cookies.”

I went to the gym and thought, “Poor people walking the treadmill…they must be exhausted carrying all that weight.”

Just let that sink in for awhile. Me. A Personal Trainer. Thinking everyone I looked at was huge. Ginormous. BIG.

How is that normal? How is that acceptable to think that way? I was completely distorted. Why? Probably because every time I looked in the mirror, I was getting SMALLER. I was getting so lean, that it seemed like everyone else was gaining weight by comparison. AND because people kept telling me, “You’re so small! You look great! You’ve lost so much weight, oh my gosh, you look so small!”

Although people were trying to give me compliments, they were reinforcing my thought that, Yes, I am small. This is a good thing.

As I got bigger after the competition, that feeling and perception went away. And my perception returned to “normal.” THANK GOODNESS.

It was quite possibly one of the strangest and startling things that happened to me during that period of time.

Now, that I’m building again, I am well aware of potential setbacks and feelings having gone through this before. I’m feeling much more prepared and confident. I don’t think you can fully prepare yourself for what is reflected in the mirror staring back at you once you start to change your physique (on purpose or by accident). It’s startling to see yourself in a particular way (I’m so much bigger than I was! I’m so much smaller than I was! I’m way more muscular than I have ever been!) and hopefully it’s a positive experience.

But this is the part where I point out that double standard: Society says we can’t tell someone that they look too big or too fat or too muscular but we are completely allowed to tell someone they are too skinny or too lean or too small. As if telling someone they are TOO much of something based on their appearance is EVER a good thing. No. Not even when you’re complimenting them, it really isn’t.

Because although that person you’re trying to compliment might not be training for a competition, I’m trying to give you an idea of what goes through the mind of someone who is dieting or training or struggling with their journey since they, too, might have a body distortion issue.

Instead of attaching a size to a comment, can we change the dialogue to start saying things like:

“Hey there good lookin!”

“That dress you have on is a great color on you.”

“You’re looking well today.”

Is there a reason we have to tell someone how they look and give it a size?

“You look great, have you lost weight?” – What if someone just looks great because they’re in a good mood that day?

“You look great, have you been eating more? You were looking too small last time I saw you. Glad you put on some size.”¬† – Because your opinion matters, yes.

“You look great, what size are you now? A 3 or a 4? That’s awesome! How big were you? Like a 12?? Wow!” – So now that I’m smaller, am I a better person now? Wasn’t I okay at a size 12?

Let me give an example that just happened to me:

I was told I was looking “really small” by another female who really had no idea I’m trying to bulk up. I wasn’t insulted. She thought she was complimenting me! (It’s not very common for women to WANT to get bigger). I know this. But even though I know this, guess what I did about 20 minutes later?

I downed a bag of chocolate covered almonds because…ya know, “Gotta eat to grow, bro.”

I had the idea in my head that “I’m small. That’s not good. I need to get bigger, therefore, gotta eat more.”

It was actually kind of funny at the time, and I like to think I have a mostly POSITIVE body image, but what if I was a binge and purger? What if I had a really bad history of yo-yo dieting or poor self image? And what if she had said “You look kinda small” in a way that made me second guess her intentions?

“What did she mean by that? Did she mean I should be even smaller? Did she mean I’m not small enough? Does she think I’m TOO small?”

I should have said to my friend, “Hey thanks…Actually, it’s funny you should say that. I’m trying to put on muscle…So hopefully next time you see me, I’ll look bigger!”

Just be careful with the comments to someone who is struggling or trying to make changes to their physique.

Chances are, they have enough dialogue going on in their head. And what they see in the mirror might be in complete distortion to what you see when you look at them.

P.S. I have posted progress pics in the Progress Pic page but here they are to save you a click:

March 13th, 2015. 135lbs and feeling strong, but not too fluffy.
March 13th, 2015. 135lbs and feeling strong, but not too fluffy.

The caption from my Instagram page: I’m Huge! ūüôā 5 Months to go until my next figure competition. Feeling good at 135lbs.

And I’m proud to say the comments were all positive reinforcement. ūüôā