The Gift of: Good Radio

A year ago, if you asked me what I listen to on the radio when I’m in my car or streaming online while I workout or running errands,  I would have told you SPORTS talk, hands down. No brainer, Sports are my thing, that is me!

Now?

If I must be honest, I have probably listened to a total of an hour of sports talk radio in the past 2 weeks.

So what changed?

Well, discovering Theology of the Body was the first. But the second was a strong desire to learn more about my faith. And I found listening to sports talk wasn’t really doing much for me.

Was it entertaining? Sure! Was it fun to listen to? You bet. But clearly, I was yearning for something with a little more substance. I was hungry, starving really, for spiritual radio chatter.

You’re one of those Christian Rock fans?!

Let me first say, before you stop reading, that I was NEVER a fan of Christian music. I couldn’t even name one Christian singer, except maybe Amy Grant.(She still counts right? El Shaddai…El Shaddai…)

I definitely had a bad attitude when it came to “those cheesy and silly songs.”

Take a wild guess as to what I listen to now more than anything else?

Yep, I have crossed over to the dark side of Christian rock. And in it’s defense, it’s not ALL that cheesy. A lot of it is really quite catchy.

One day I was listening to the main Christian station in town and it ran a promo that went something like this:

“People who listen to our station for 30 days in a row report that they have a more positive outlook and are happier.” (I’m paraphrasing).

I didn’t listen to this station religiously (too easy) but I swear, after a month or two I noticed I was in a GREAT mood, especially in the morning on the way to work.  I found myself singing along to the best songs and realized I was this happier person than before. And most people who know me really well never associated me with “HAPPY!”

I wasn’t miserable, but I was quite reserved. (This will come as quite a shock to the people I have met this past year. Yes, it’s true, I swear. I was the quiet one for most of my life!)

While the songs were awesome, I still needed more chatter. It wasn’t enough just to hear a few good songs on the way to work. I was craving more than that.

Evangelize thru the Airwaves

Back in the summer while I was in deep with TOB, an AM station called The Rock here in Cleveland had begun. This was an EWTN station meaning they broadcast programming that can be seen on EWTN. This came in handy for me as the Pope made his visit to the US last summer. I couldn’t find any unbiased resource that was covering this as much as EWTN. It was pretty awesome to hear all of his speeches and commentary as he made his way through Philly, DC and NYC.

I quickly discovered that when The Rock wasn’t broadcasting Pope Francis, they had some awesome quality programming from folks that were popular in Catholic media like Teresa Tomeo, Johnnette Benkovic, Fr. John Riccardo and the always fiery Fr. Larry Richards.

And then, one night, I tuned in and heard this interesting show called Catholic Answers Live.

It sounds just like the title. You got questions about the faith? They have the answers. Many times, the host will request non-Catholics to call in with their questions about our faith. It’s really interesting to hear them debate and have real, honest conversations about God, about doctrine, about the sacraments, the Pope, etc. You name it, this show has it. Atheists, Protestants, fallen-away Catholics, all of them call in any given show to find the answers to their most difficult questions.

The Pods Have Arrived

Not too many of us can sit and listen to the radio all day, as much as we would love to. To solve this problem, you gotta get down with podcasts. For those that don’t know, podcasts allow you to listen to a radio program any time you want.

These days, if you want to say something, you can have your own show and record your own podcast about virtually any topic. Back in the day I used to listen to fitness shows and of course, sports talk shows.

Recently, I discovered GOLD when I met the amazing and beautiful Brooke Taylor. She was the emcee at the talk given by Christopher West that I blogged about recently.

So here’s where today’s story comes full circle:

Remember that Christian radio station with the “happy in 30 days” promo that I just mentioned? Brooke was one of the hosts on the morning show at that station when I first started listening.

She is now on her own and has her own podcast called Good Things Radio.

Note to all moms (and Dad’s!) This show is fantastic! But let me mention that you don’t have to be a mom or a dad to appreciate it. Brooke manages to discuss a variety of topics with regards to our Catholic faith as well as everyday life.

The best way to listen to these podcasts? Well, finally, if you’ve been waiting for the FITNESS connection to this post, it should be obvious: Go to the gym (or outside) and listen while you work out! I managed to listen to about 3 of Brooke’s shows while I jogged about 3 miles on the treadmill. So you work up a sweat and get a good auditory workout as well.

A Final Thought….

This journey to listen to good radio and good tunes may, on the surface, appear to be just some information that I’m passing along. But what I would like to convey is that as insignificant as it seems, changing what I listened to (and what I watched on TV which is a whole other post for another time) truly affected my behavior and my outlook on life.

If I listen to songs from my past, sometimes it conjures up images and thoughts and memories that I would rather not remember. Sometimes. And that really affects my behavior. I would get depressed, anxious, sad, angry…not a good look.

Other times I have really great memories and thoughts and that’s wonderful of course!

But I noticed that once I changed to more, for lack of a better term, “easy listening,” I was calmer, relaxed, happier and overall a more positive person.

That’s been the best gift.

And I hope I have successfully passed it on to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Alarm(ing) Diet Tip

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So I’ve been utilizing my latest tip for about a year now and I feel like a brat for keeping it all to myself and not sharing it with my awesome readers.

It’s pretty simple actually and it’s really not anything mind blowing. But the few people I mentioned it to responded with, “Wow, that’s a REALLY good tip!”

Color me surprised, I finally thought of something worthwhile to share! So here it is:

I set several alarms on my phone via an app called “Alarmed.” It’s free to download and it works pretty easily. You just set an alarm to go off either daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly. You could use it for Birthdays, Anniversaries, Pay your Bills, Write for the blog, Make that doctor appointment, etc.

I used to use it for these things until one day I decided to start setting reminders about my diet. This was at a point when I felt like I had lost control over my cravings and had to take steps to at least TRY to combat them.

So I set this app to alarm me at several times throughout the day when I would be most likely to binge or cheat with phrases like:

“Don’t cheat on your diet tonight.” – Reminded me that my cravings could be controlled.

“You’re making great progress, keep going.” – Reminded me that I wanted to be consistent in order to see results.

“Remember how fortunate you are that have food to eat…” – Reminded me how blessed I am and how plenty of people don’t have enough to eat.

“Be an example to your clients and your fitness family.” – Reminded me that my fitness family includes my readers, my blog readers, my social media followers, etc not JUST my clients.

Some are faith based and could be my own personal mantra/prayer or sometimes it’s a scripture passage but regardless of anyone’s beliefs, I think we can all agree that we only get ONE body in this life right? 🙂 So, with that being stated, I have used some of these “alarms” as well:

“Your body is a temple, don’t destroy it with junk.” – And not just junk food but junk tv shows, junk music, junk movies, junk social media, etc.

“God, not food, is who is in control of me.” – For my non-believer readers, you can adjust this to say something like “Food does not control me, I am in control.”

“Pursue holiness in all you do.” – Self explanatory but could also be interpreted as “Pursue good and avoid evil.”

“Untwist in me what is twisted.” – I stole this from author Christopher West. Technically you could call it a prayer but when used with a diet mindset, you’re asking that all those negative thoughts that are twisted up inside your mind telling you how you’re going to fail, that this is too hard, that you’ll never lose this weight, you’ll never achieve success and untwists those to reveal the truth. Don’t believe the lies of the scale, don’t believe the lies that the media portrays about beauty and fitness, untwist what is twisted and get yourself set up to succeed.

I hope this little tip was helpful. I use it everyday and most days, it works for me. Some days I admit, I ignore the alarm and I “snooze” through it. But that’s okay! I just move on and start fresh before that next alarm goes off.

-Michelle

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! 🙂 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. 🙂

 

 

Gimme Your Food

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How appropriate is this picture?  I LOVE IT!  I love it so much I made it my new profile pic on Facebook.

This is exactly what I tell people when they see me stuffing my face eating delicious off-plan food.  In fact, I did engage is such behavior on Superbowl Sunday.  I ate some really good snacks that I don’t normally eat at all and they were all pretty much worth every calorie.

I’m 15 weeks into training with my coach at LBC and I gotta say this building phase is much harder to adhere to with regards to the diet than the fat loss phase I went through for the competition.  Like, 10 times harder.  Probably 90% of the reason is because there’s no competition to get ready for.  However, as I have mentioned in previous posts, the scale is not an indicator of how I feel and how I look.  I admit I get a little scared when I step on it and see the number up 20lbs from my stage weight.  I think to myself “Stop this train, I wanna get off!” But, you gotta take a breath and realize what your goals are.  This is what I wanted.  This is what I set out to do.

Clearly, if you want to put on some muscle, you’re going to gain some fat along with it until it’s time to lean out.  So I have accepted this fact and move on.  It’s hard, especially at night when it’s too early to go to bed and I’m already finished with my last meal of the day.  I’m definitely not hungry (I’m in a surplus, how can I be?) but it’s that behavior I have to change.  That mindset of “But I’m bulking, I can eat more!” pops into my head.  It’s pretty much SHOUTING at me at night and it’s really difficult to shut it off.  So the past few days have not exactly been 100%.  More like 90% compliance.

Not bad, you might say.  It could be worse, you might think.  But remember what I always preach:  “One “bad” meal won’t undo all the hard work you’ve done just as one “good” meal won’t undo all the damage you may have done.”  But, adding up one and then another and another “bad” meal WILL yield results that will be less than favorable. 

Something to keep in mind as I go along this building phase.  Some days I think “I wish I could be in a deficit.  That was so much easier.”  But to be honest, it wasn’t as much fun as it is now.  I was SAD when I finished my last meal of the day.  Sometimes I would be sad as soon as I finished my BREAKFAST!  Just knowing I couldn’t eat anything for another 3-4 hours was super depressing.

Now, since I’m in a surplus, I’m pretty full after I eat.  And I take my time to eat my food instead of scarfing it down.  I enjoy my food SO much more since doing this.  I found myself literally shoveling food in my mouth at every meal, especially lunch and dinner since I was at a different job at the time and I didn’t really get a real legit “break.”  Now, I take my time and eat super slowly.  Just doing this one little thing has helped me immensely.

In keeping with “Accepting” this new me, I wrote a blog post for Muscle is the New Sexy this week which focuses on Letting your Light Shine.  I discuss some positive ways we can silence that negative voice that gets stuck on repeat sometimes in our head.

Let Your Light Shine

I hope you guys like it and share it!  Look for my blogs to come out every Wednesday on that site.

Looking for the positives in a sea of negatives

Feeling a little strange writing a post after such a violent and morbid week in our country.  But someone on Facebook mentioned “In times like this it’s really easy to just give up…with everything.  Not just fitness but life goals in general.  But now is the best time to exercise your mind and your body.  A time to heal.”

My pastor put it well this morning too in his homily…”Find the joy, even in times of evil and tragedy.”

On a lesser scale, we do tend to give up in times of struggle don’t we?  An injury will sideline us and leave us feeling like it’s just easier to give up rather than try to heal quickly or correctly.  A bad weekend of food bingeing or drink might make us feel like throwing in the towel and just buying all that processed food that we so adamantly swore off not too long ago.  A loss of life or a big life event might make us reconsider finishing up a project because we just don’t have the drive anymore.

But the time is more perfect than ever to get back up and try again.  To not give up…and not be a quitter.   Friday was a particularly difficult day in my own personal life after I got some discouraging news about a family member’s illness.  Obviously not trying to compare two events but this past week seemed particularly depressing for numerous reasons.

So this post is about the positives I have found in my little life this past week:

1.  I got to hang with my best friend and update her on all this figure stuff last night.  She even volunteered to make “Piccolo Supporter” t-shirts when it’s competition time. Too cute. (Of course I’m considering her letting her do this because lets face it, who WOULDN’T want their own cheering section with t-shirts!?)

2. I posted my progress pics with no serious side effects.  This was a hard thing for me to do, self reflection sucks.  But necessary and I’m very happy that I did.

3. I’m enjoying this global warming 60 degree weather today.  As I walked out of Yoga (yes Yoga) today I couldn’t help but smile and feel like after a tragedy like this, comes a re-birth.  I’m such a yogi. 😉

4. My nephew celebrated his 10th birthday on Saturday and he is such a thankful child. I’m very much the proud auntie.  Grateful I have not one but 2 adorable nephews to spoil.

5.  I still FEEL good.  I explained to my friend last night that although it was just 10lbs, I feel like I’ve lost more and never realized how much it was, literally, weighing me down.  Feels good to fit in clothes like they were meant to fit.

Time to go prep my food for this week and keep on truckin along on this fitness journey.

If you have a goal (and you know you do) don’t give up.

Don't give up!
Don’t give up!