goals

The Voices in My Head

I decided to make 2018 the year of MC. Figuring out what the heck I'm supposed to do and going after it in blazing fire. We're 15 days in and I know very little. Last year I decided to go back to school, so there's that. Am I supposed to be a nurse? I sure hope so -- so we go after it with blazing fire. Took the pre-requisites, became a CNA, aced my TEAS test. Just waiting on that acceptance letter. Fitness has been a major part of my life for the past 6+ years and there's no doubt that I am supposed to do that and have been. But to what extent? Am I capable of pursuing it with blazing fire? 

 Part of making 2018 the year of MC has been to read more and read things that matter. Ironically, I chose the first book of this endeavor and it is titled "Start" by Jon Acuff. I've tried to read 1-2 chapters per day and I love his style of writing and the insight already. My first time reading I literally laughed out loud and shook my head after flipping to the back and seeing an appendix titled "10 Things to Do if You're Unemployed." In case you haven't picked up on that yet, I'm self-employed/unemployed. More on that later. 

Chapter 3, which I just read, discusses the "voices" that we all hear in our heads. These voices are the "dragons" of our journey, the things that aim to derail us and put doubt in our minds on the quest to "Awesome." The author encourages you to identify these voices; write them down as soon as you hear one and then share it, as chances are someone else is hearing the same one. So this is me, sharing my voices, negating them and hoping that maybe, just maybe someone else can benefit from knowing that you're not the only crazy person that hears voices. 

Voice #1 - You're not going to make it

This voice applies to a lot of scenarios in my life. The most glaring and ugly being my current employment situation. I was raised to be smart with money. My dad was an accountant and I was the youngest of 5 so my parents were very good at managing money and they did their best to pass that skill along to their children. (I also just want to say that it makes me nauseous to think about how much money my parents spent on various things for me throughout my life and dependence upon them and when I hit the Powerball or become Awesome, whichever happens first, they will be top priority and living in a mansion on whatever beach they prefer debt-free.) Now I'm not saying I haven't made some impulse purchases and such, but my husband hates shopping with me because I will have arms full of stuff and put all of it back because I can't commit. I read reviews on everything I buy and I have to crowdsource for big purchases. I don't like to stress about money. Let me preface the next few sentences by saying that I was not "fired." My current state of employment is unfortunate but it was something that was inevitable and was foreseen, but came several months earlier than anticipated. That being said, when I became self-employed/unemployed I was terrified to tell my husband. I waited for the "You need to find another job immediately" and the "We're eating Ramen for every meal until you're done with school," and by the Grace of God, I got a completely different answer - "We'll make it." 

.....

Say what? My frugal husband was calm as a cucumber and said "Just keep personal training and worrying about getting into nursing school and we'll make it." Ya girl had already started working on her "Welcome to Hardee's, Can I take your order?" and my husband had basically said "You can be a stay-at-home dog mom/part-time personal trainer until August when you become a full-time nursing student." TAKE THAT VOICE. 

That voice has also peeped up numerous other times in my life - deciding to compete in bodybuilding, shooting for powerlifting Nationals last year, boarding a flight on a sunny Thursday morning and just knowing it's going to go down with me on it (is anybody else like this? please let me know because I always think I'm going to be on the next Sully movie.)  This voice might creep up on you when you decide to take on a new goal or a new project. Don't listen to that voice - you will make it. You might not make it like you initially planned, but you'll make it. 

 

Voice #2 - You waited too long.

I got into fitness in 2011-2012 and started an Instagram account when Instagram had just become a thing. When I got on Instagram, the Amanda Bucci's and Christian Guzman's of the world had basically as many followers as I did. I tried the whole 50 hashtags thing and even tried to make a YouTube video once or twice but thought I looked stupid and quit. Now I look back and think man, these people who were once my equals are now making 6+ figures off of social media and get flown to Fitness Expos all expenses paid (granted they are also walking around holding a camera to their face the whole time but I mean they're making money doing it). And here I sit in North Carolina still propping my cell phone up against a dumb bell to film my workouts. I regret not pursuing that because if you ever look at their first few videos/posts - they looked pretty stupid too. The difference in them and me? They didn't listen to that voice and as a result they didn't quit. 

My decision to go back to school at 25 with a very expensive degree from a top Journalism school was scary. I started having those thoughts around this time last year and it took me until August to finally register for classes. "You're too old." "You waited too long." "It's stupid to go into more student debt." But, I tried using that degree, there is little opportunity to do so where I live and I don't like sitting at a desk. Oh you work at a fancy PR Firm and don't sit behind a desk? Good for you. I live in the middle of a corn field. Maybe that's just an excuse, but I just don't think it's something I could do the rest of my life and be happy. Unfortunately I didn't know this at age 20 before my brain fully developed and I knew what it was like to live in the real world. (I'm advocating for 18 year olds to go to community college and work for a few years before deciding on a major because I am also an advocate for the saying that you "Change a lot in your 20s" because it's true. Go to college late and figure out who you are when your brain isn't going to form another lobe and throw everything for a loop.) 

Powerlifting....oh boy is this a can of worms. I was squatting and benching in high school and I was good at it then. Unfortunately no one told me there was a competitive outlet for that. So I continued to be a sort-of decent athlete and thought I'd have to body build to be able to find a competitive outlet for fitness. I'm not going to say I wasted 4 years of training on bodybuilding because I do think I owe a lot of my strength to that, but I kick myself for not starting sooner. Can I go back and control time? No. Could I have possibly been injured or burned out by now? There's a good chance. So I just have to squash this voice and aim to be a pretty good mid-20's powerlifter. Only 10 ish years out from Masters. I'm coming for you!

 

Voice #3 - It'll never happen to you

Man if there's one voice we all hear I feel like it's this one. "You'll never be slim." "You'll never be financially stable." "You'll never be a mom." THIS VOICE SUCKS! Do we know what our life holds? Absolutely not. I say all the time now that I wish I could go back and tell 16 year old me what I know now. I shouldn't have gotten so mad about this thing or I shouldn't have wasted my time on that guy or you really should've switched your major, but I can't and I guess that's the big lesson learned of life. But there is no reason to doubt that something wonderful can happen to you. If you get fed up enough, you'll stick to your diet and you'll figure out how to be healthy and happy. Trust me because I've been there. I never thought I'd be to the place I am now where I can eat without stressing myself out. It takes time and lots of good people, but you will get there. If you work your butt off and are smart with your money, you can be financially stable. No, I don't have a direct line to the Stork but if it is God's will for you to have a baby, no doctor will be able to deny you that. And there are so many cute babies that need adopting so "Mom" is not out of reach for you.

This one is one of the hardest for me. Part of me says I want to be awesome and I want to be able to reach so many people and do something incredible and then part of me says "You know, I would be okay being a middle class American with a quiet life, a successful marriage and a big kitchen." And I don't know which part I will be, but I do know that I can only effect what is within my reach and the rest is out of my control. I can work hard and type up long blog posts that people probably don't even read and I can share more information about my life than I probably should and hope for the best. And I can annoy people with posts about my macros and my lifts and my dog because that is within my control. Can I control who sees it and what becomes of it? No. But I know that those voices are just voices. And that I AM in control of how I interpret them and how I respond to them. I decide if I quit or keep blazing along.

What are the voices in your head saying? What goals are they trying to talk you out of? Let 2018 be the year that you acknowledge those voices, negate them and share them. Don't fight them alone. So what if people think you're crazy? Everyone is. 

If you're interested in this book, find it on Amazon here.

New Year, New Me?

Welcome to Day 2 of the next trip around the sun. 2016 is behind us and tis the season of resolutions, gym memberships and a new you. 

Honestly, I can't say I have any resolutions this year. Maybe some goals, better time management, financial sense, etc. but no real habits to break/start. I am going to be shifting towards a new phase for my own training and nutrition and am honestly looking forward to it!

Since my two bodybuilding shows in April, I have been "Reverse Dieting" -- slowly adding in calories and decreasing cardio to rebuild my metabolism and maintain a lower body fat -- versus just going back to normal eating patterns immediately post show. When we diet down, our metabolism adapts to the new body fat levels and slows, so if we immediately add in an influx of calories, our bodies will store body fat rather quickly (i.e. why low carb diets typically fail). For about 8 weeks I was able to stay within 5 lbs of my stage weight, but life happens and vacations happen and I did gain a little more than I intended. I honestly cannot remember a time before this past year that I purposely ate more and was okay with gaining weight and I'm mentally stronger for it. It's amazing how content you can be when you don't focus so much on your outward appearance! However, I can definitely tell my body composition has changed for the better and I'm excited to uncover what all this heavy lifting has done for me. I now eat close to 2,500 calories a day, 300 grams of carbs and do zero cardio. That's right - zilch. The point of this is so that my body can get back to a level of homeostasis before we begin to cut body fat so hopefully it will respond better.

So with that, I will be shifting to a fat loss phase in the coming weeks and I plan to document that as much as I can via this blog including my starting stats with regular updates. After pretty much period of very inconsistent tracking and eating since Thanksgiving, my goal for this week is to track consistently every day and see where my weight is at the end of the week (I honestly haven't stepped on a scale since Thanksgiving either...yikes!). I'll check-in with my coach after that and we will make the initial calorie cuts and any added cardio if needed to get things moving. 

I don't really have any deadlines for my cut so the goal is to lose the weight slowly and maintain as much strength as possible. Once I get to a comfortable body fat percentage, we will begin reversing again. I will most likely compete in a powerlifting meet in the Spring, so I'll have to keep in mind making weight for that, but we will worry about that when the time comes. For now, I'm just focused on being healthy and being strong! 

What are your New Year's Resolutions? 

What is Online Coaching?

We live in a world where we can do almost everything electronically. We have access to people and information all across the world at the click of a button. While people have mixed feelings about the infiltration of the digital world, the amount of resources available to us is quite remarkable. 

As a result, many services once performed face-to-face can now be conducted online. Personal Training or "coaching" is one such service. In the past, when one wanted help in the gym or with body composition goals, they went to their local gym, found a personal trainer or sought out the most fit person in the building (Don't lie -- we've all done it!). With the help of social media, many trainers have taken their business online where they create training programs, nutrition counseling and other fitness related services that they can then send to their clients digitally and then the client proceeds to execute it. 

Essentially with online training, I will get basic information from you like weight, age, lifestyle, food preferences, etc. and will create a training plan and nutrition plan customized to you based off of this information. I will send it to you and you will execute it on your own, checking in with me once a week or so with measurements and pictures. If progress stalls, we will adjust a variable of your program to help get things moving again. I'll also be available via e-mail or text whenever you have a question, a concern or just need a little motivation or accountability. 

When I first became interested in fitness, Instagram was a relatively new thing and Facebook had not reached the level of popularity it has now, but both were thriving. As I began to consider competing in a bodybuilding show, I used social media to find a coach. I had a basic knowledge of fitness and nutrition, but I knew in order to succeed I would need the accountability and guidance of a coach. Someone else can hold you to a higher standard than you hold yourself to (i.e. - keep you from quitting!). I emailed several people that I had found online, some of which were in completely different states. However, I knew with this being my first go-round, I wanted someone fairly close by that could see me in-person if needed. I hired a coach about an hour away, she sent me my plans via e-mail but met me in person as needed. 

Since this initial experience, I've worked with two other coaches via online training. One in Idaho and one in Florida. I think the best part about online training is that if you're serious about whatever sport you're training for, you have access to the best coaches in the world. I currently work with Paul Revelia of Team Pro Physique in Tampa, Florida and he has helped me drop body fat several times successfully, prepped me through two bodybuilding shows and coached me to my first Powerlifting meet. I've since been able to meet him in-person, but I never felt that I lacked anything by using online coaching versus in-person. 

As a trainer myself, I value the one-on-one interactions I have with my clients on a daily basis. I love learning about them, hearing about their day and having some really great conversation. However, with training being my second job, I do not have the availability to meet everyone that wants to work with me in-person for an hour once or twice a week. As a solution, I am going to offer online services where I can still create a plan that will help you be successful, hold you accountable and answer questions/concerns as needed. 

In order for online training to be successful, there a few things that need to be considered:

1. Can you commit to going to the gym/working out at home on your own as many times as prescribed by your plan? 

2. Can you be honest with yourself and with me about your adherence, scale weight, etc.? (it's very easy to fudge a number when sending a check-in, but fudging makes it difficult to adjust your plan)

3. Are you willing to research and learn as needed to understand and complete your plan? (I think one of the big things that made me successful using online training was that I wanted to learn WHY I was doing things. I did research on my own, watched videos of exercises I was struggling with and asked for help when needed.)

Adherence and consistency will be the biggest contributors to success with any program whether in-person or online. In-person training is great for the training portion, but those clients are still responsible for sticking to their diet the other 23 hours/day they are not in the gym. Also, it's important to remember that sustainable results is slow results. You didn't gain the weight overnight and you won't lose it overnight, so it's important that you be realistic and be patient. The picture for this post is a span of 13 weeks. And sometimes it can take even longer than that. So keep going, don't let a small setback derail your entire program.

The check-in process is meant to serve as a tool for me, as well as keep you accountable. If we haven't seen much progress in two weeks, it lets me know it's time to switch something up. Also, if you know you have to check-in with me on Monday morning, it might make you more mindful of what you spend your weekend doing. My coaches have always asked for pictures with my check-ins (front and back in a bikini or shorts and a sports bra) so they have a visual tool to gauge progress. Sometimes the scale doesn't move but pictures show visible progress. Pictures will not be shared with anyone besides me without your consent and they're not mean to be glamour shots. I've rolled out of bed and taken many pictures with bed head and swollen eyes! If an online client is local, I will meet in-person as needed. 

It's also important to remember that I'm always an e-mail or a text away. There have been several times I've been in a slump and have had to touch base with my coach for help or a swift kick in the butt as needed. 

YOU will be the biggest obstacle or ally to your success. Don't stand in your own way and definitely don't let others stand in your way. You can do anything you set your mind to if you make a plan and stick to it!

19 Days and Counting...

There are 19 days left in 2016. It feels like 2015 was only 19 days ago. Funny when you look back how fast time flies. But it's also funny how a 12 week fat loss phase feels like it lasts 12 years. But when you take a second and think about how fast this year has gone by, think about how much closer (or even past) your goals you could be if you had started January 1, 2016. 

January marks a new year and for most people, the quest to be a new you. Whether you want to be stronger, be skinnier, be smarter, be more successful, etc. etc., chances are you're thinking about what you'll start on January 1. The biggest problem I see with New Year's Resolutions is the lack of a plan. People say "Oh, I'll start in the New Year" and before you know it (here's that time thing again), it's New Year's and you have no idea how to even start. And before you know it, you've given up and are going to wait until next week, next month, or even next year. 

Don't let this be another year of failed resolutions. Regardless of what your goal is, start making a plan NOW. You don't have to start today, but if you have a plan in place when you do start, your chances of success will be much greater. It doesn't have to be a plan that I gave you, the internet gave you, or your friend gave you. Figure out what YOUR plan should be, what YOU can stick with and execute it to the best of your ability.

Be flexible. No plan ever goes off without a hitch. It doesn't have to be all-or-nothing. One slip-up isn't going to derail your progress. Take each one as a learning experience, re-group, adjust your plan, and move forward. If you realize you don't like something, don't do it. Make it fun, enjoy the process and reward yourself for the small victories. 

And be patient. Just because you don't see results in a week, doesn't mean you won't see them the next week. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither will your goal. Have you ever gotten a PHD in a week? Didn't think so. Small successes add up to big victories and you will be amazed what you an accomplish in just a few weeks if you don't quit. 

I want success for every person that asks me for help. And unfortunately I can usually tell within a few conversations whether they will be successful or not. I will help someone as much as I possibly can within my scope of practice, but there's got to be some initiative. You've got to want it and have the desire to reach your goals. There's a difference in wanting it and wanting it enough. That difference will be what wakes you up early each morning. It will be what gets you through long days. It will be what helps you plan ahead. It's not going to be easy. But I can promise you it will be worth it. 

So start working on your plan. 19 days and counting to make your plan. Heck, start early if you want! But don't do it alone and don't do it unprepared. Find someone that can help you and trust them. Find someone that can hold you accountable and confide in them. And find someone that can push you and let them motivate you. 

Over the next 19 days I want to share strategies and tips that have helped me set goals and reach them. I'm not perfect and there are many goals I haven't reached yet. There are many goals I've worked for and failed. If there wasn't, I wouldn't be human. Share your goals for the New Year with me in the comments below or email me. I want to be excited for you and hold you accountable. Let's do this 2017 thing together!