Striving for Ordinary

I believe that every single person on this planet has a great purpose.  I believe that all humans are on Earth to do wonderful things and touch lives.   As humans we have a basic need to connect with others and to develop a healthy self-esteem we need a sense of community and belonging.  According to Abraham Maslow (1954) in order for a person to  reach their full potential and live a fulfilled life, a person must first find love and belonging.  To consider that love and belonging is a more essential human need than self-fulfillment means that as humans our purpose is to connect to others.

Many may struggle with the notion of “serving a purpose” or many may struggle to understand their purpose.  I think this idea seems overwhelming because as a Capitalist society we are programmed to see “purpose” as something large, powerful, and meaningful.  It seems that “purpose” means more money, more success, more fame, and more power.  I know I once believed that.  For years I believed I needed to touch and dramatically change the lives of thousands.  I believed I had to do huge things to serve my purpose.

However we do not need to move mountains, save and impact the lives of thousands, or accomplish fame and fortune to serve a purpose.  We can impact the world simply by being ordinary.  In my early attempts to be “great” and live my purpose I spent a great deal of time and energy thinking globally.  This caused me to neglect the people  immediate world and I lost time doubting myself.  I failed to see how I could impact the lives of my clients, my co-workers, my friends, and my family.  I felt I needed to reach more, do more, and be more to serve my purpose.  Rather than finding fulfillment and joy in my interactions with others, I started to feel burned out and tired.

I do believe that anyone at any time can impact the world and reach to positively change the lives of others.  However when this becomes our focus we fail to see how powerful we are in our everyday lives.  We do not need to be extraordinary to change the world.  Your ordinary self has the power to impact another and change a life.

You impact the lives of people every single day.  How you interact with people has power.  What you say to a person leaves a legacy.  In your small world you have great power.  You can set in motion a positive or a negative experience for others, and ultimately yourself.   Stop doubting your skills.  Stop seeking extraordinary.  You have the potential to do extraordinary things today in your ordinary life.  The extra things you do to better your life or the life of a loved one is what makes your ordinary extraordinary.  As you strive to create love, joy, and positivity in your life and the lives of others around you, you will be able to look back and see your ordinary life has become extraordinary.

Burn Calories All Day with This Leg Workout

Happy Friday y’all! I hope it has been a great one.  What muscle group did you train today?  This morning I trained legs.  It was intense!  I was drenched in sweat because it kept my heart rate up, my breathing rate was increased, and it challenged me. As a result of my workout this morning I have been STARVING all day.  I am generally always hungry (life of being a bikini fitness competitor) but it is more so today.

My metabolism was increased today because this leg workout not only worked out a large muscle group but the high intensity kept my body working hard.  Try this workout below to keep burning calories all day long.

The key is to keep moving.  You want no rest between exercises and little rest between sets. I just rested long enough to catch my breath, motivate myself, and set up for the exercise.

Try a challenging and heavy weight, however do not sacrifice form.  You want the weight challenging enough to make the set difficult but light enough to complete the set safely.  For example I could have squatted heavier but because I wanted to go for higher reps I kept my weight a bit lower.  No need to be a super hero – you will feel like a warrior when you are done, though! My advice – start out lighter, you can always add weight as you go.

Set 1

Lying Leg Extension

Leg Extension

Split Squat (12 reps each leg)

5 sets with 15 reps

Set 2

Barbell Squats (first 2 sets I completed 15 reps) – (I increased weight on barbell every couple of sets – the last set was heaviest and I could get in 10 reps)

Single Leg Hack Squat

Glute Push-Down

5 sets with 12 reps each

Set 3

Stiff Leg Deadlift (I increased weight after 2 sets)

Lying Leg Press – feet high and wide

Lying Leg Press – feet high and narrow

Seated Calf Raises

5 sets with 15 reps each

By the end of this workout you will be hungry and you can be sure your metabolism will have a burst to burn extra calories throughout the day.  Don’t use that as an excuse to overindulge, so be careful with hunger cravings.  Be sure to eat a small meal every couple of hours that includes a protein, a fat, and a carb.  I expect some Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) the next couple of days because this workout gave a great burn!

 

Do Whatever You Want

My first competition is drawing closer and closer. Each day requires getting up early going to the gym and training, eating according to my plan, and returning to the gym for more training. I must also remember to practice posing and maintain energy to maintain a home, a husband, a full-time job, a dissertation, and various social commitments. Needless to say energy and motivation is lacking at times. It is hard. I will be honest and say I have wanted to quit, on more than one occasion. I tell myself I can skip this cardio or I can lift less during this training session. I tell myself a bite of cheese or dessert will not mess up my plan. I want to sleep in, skip a workout, and cheat!

However I don’t. Every single day I get up early. I wake up with energy after the first alarm. I sometimes dread my workout as I get ready to head to the gym. As I start my cardio I think I may not make it. Yet every single time I do!  I go faster. I recover quicker. I have increased energy. As I approach my lifts for the day I worry about how heavy the lifts will be and how it will challenge my body. Yet every time I train I am shocked at how much stronger I feel. I have read other competitors lose strength during prep.  I have been prepared to use that as my excuse to not lift as heavy and as strong.  However I continue to progress in my strength and training.  I continue to get stronger. 

This is not because I have super powers, special genes, or unique talents. I am human and I am an average adult woman.   I keep growing simply because I can. 

“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. 

Lou Holtz

 

Anyone can do anything. I have said this before and I will say it again. So many people sell short, do not reach their potential, and doubt their ability. I want to see people know they can do whatever they want. It is possible to set our mind on something and to be successful and achieve that something. All you need is ability, motivation, and attitude.

Abilities will vary from individual to individual. Some people have mental ability. Remember high school and how your class had a class valedictorian?  That person (if it was you – Way to go), probably worked hard. They may have also had more brain capability. Research has found that some brain development is related to IQ (Lange, Froimowitz, Bigler, & Lainhart, 2010). However not every valedictorian is a genius with a high IQ and a pre-wired brain. I read an article recently that discussed a study that indicated certain genes were related to athletic ability and performance (Eynon, Ruiz, Oliveria, Duarte, Birk, & Lucia, 2011).  This same article explained these findings are small and there is not enough collective research to claim that athletes perform well because they are genetically wired a certain way. 

What this means is that everyone is born to be able to do something. Ability is what you can do physically. I cannot physically learn to snow ski in North Texas. I can travel or move but I am unable to find a slope to ski down where I am currently living. I am not able to create beautiful paintings because I have not engaged and grown my creativity. I lack patience and therefore I am not very good at customer service jobs. I understand that sometimes we are limited due to our physical, emotional, and situational experiences. Someone disabled and unable to walk will have physical difficulty running a marathon. However ability is not the only thing required for success. People that are disabled physically, emotionally, and cognitively accomplish dreams and overcome obstacles every single day. Our limitations are used as an excuse and cage us, but understand, you are able to do something. Those who are able, can! 

Add motivation to ability and the chance of success increases. If you really want something you will do it. You have heard that saying, “when there is a will, there is a way”. Motivation is that will. If you want something what is stopping you? We have clarified you are likely able. Now your success depends on your desire and willingness to overcome. How hard will you work?  How bad do you want it?  How far can you go?  For me, I keep going because I want to stand on stage knowing I gave  my all. The package I bring, no matter the outcome, is because I kept going. I am motivated by my ability to succeed and be the best possible me. What is your motivation? 

We have determined you are able. Now if you are highly motivated then how you think about the situation will influence your success moving forward. I hate cardio. I just hate it. I dread it every time and minutes leading up to my cardio session I am anxious and question how I will get through it. My attitude about cardio sucks. This attitude is quickly followed by a desire to quit, take it easy, or cheat. Then I remember the only one being cheated is me!  I literally have to chant to myself, “you can do this!” or “you got this, almost there!” to improve my attitude about the interval approaching. I can do it because I am able. I can do it because I am motivated to do it. When I think I can, I get through each training session feeling proud, strong, and one step closer to my goal. 

I encourage you to make a list and answer the following questions: 

  • What are you able to do? Write down everything you can do!
  • How motivated are you?
  • What obstacles are in your way? If you identify obstacles, which ones can be removed or avoided. For obstacles that cannot be removed or avoided, consider what resources (skills, tools, people, etc) you have to help you overcome the obstacle?
  • List your feelings about the task you are about to start. Keep the positive thoughts and feelings to continue to motivate and encourage you. Take the negative feelings and get rid of them. Simply change the negative thoughts to positive ones and you will find your attitude will improve. 
  • Focus on the positive thoughts and feelings you have and you will find you are succeeding. 
It gets hard when working toward any task. We all need little tricks and tools to keep us pushing forward. My hope for you is that you will stop letting excuses, fear, and doubt keep you from your dreams. Use what you have to get you going and use what will learn to push you forward.  If you are able, and you want to, then you can!

 

Reference:

Eynon, N., Ruiz, J., Oliveria, J., Duarte, J., Birk, R., & Lucia, A. (2011). Genes and elite athletes: A roadmap for future research. The Journal of Physiology, 589(13), 3063-3070. 

Lange, N., Froimowitz, M., Bigler, E., & Lainhart, J. (2010). Associations between IQ, total and regional brain volumes, and demography in a large normative sample of healthy children and adolescents. Developmental Neuropsychology, 35(3), 296-317. 

You Can Do All Things!

On my forearm I have some beautiful words tattooed – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.  This comforting statement has profound meaning. It means that because of my Higher Power I can do anything. I can set goals, I can dream, I can live a life of passion, and I can have hope. 

 

Lately this reminder has helped encourage me. As I prepare for my first competition in 3 weeks I am more tired and I am training more. I am sore all over. I am doing more cardio than I prefer and I am hungry. I want to cheat or take it easy. I walk into the gym each day and have difficulty getting motivated. However I get started. And each and every time I push through. I push harder.  I get stronger.  I run faster. I keep going when I want to stop. Not because of myself. But because I have a strength inside me that allows me to do all things. 

We forget our power. We forget the power we have through our Higher Power. We allow our own flawed thinking and skewed perceptions of ourselves to hold us back. A friend stopped me at the gym the other day to compliment me in my progress. I accepted graciously and then proceeded to tell her where I felt I was lacking and cast doubt and skeptism on my progress. She reminded me my perception was not accurate and that what I saw was not what others saw. She related and talked about her own skewed thinking regarding fitness.  For my friend she was feeling tired, overwhelmed, and exhausted. She had personal issues that were impacting her life and her family. This would cause anyone to be more tired, stressed, and vulnerable. Yet she continued to do!  She kept working out, she kept taking care of her family, and she kept doing well at her job. 

The ability to keep going despite adverse circumstances or a desire to dedicate your self to an activity requires strength. I am not an athlete because of genetic or situational factors. I am an athlete because I have a Higher Power that allows me to do all things. Alone I would not be competing, nor would I have the displine or commitment to keep training. But because I believe in a Mighty and stronger Higher Power I know I can compete and I know I can stay focused and consistent. When we become self involved our thinking becomes narrowed and too focused on self. We start to evaluate our weaknesses and remember our failures. We compare ourselves to others. I am not an athlete. I never compete in anything, nor did I want to. I always quit when things get hard. I do not want to be challenged. Honestly if my training were up to me alone, I would have quit. However my inner power keeps me focused and shows me every time I workout that I can. 

I can do all things. I can!  When I remember the Power I have I am stronger. I am braver. I am more confident. You are stronger than you think. You are braver than you think. You can run faster and longer than you think. You can have self-control around food. You can do one more push-up. You can lose weight, find health, and love your body. You can if you remember your Power!  Your Higher Power is with you all day, every day, and it will give you strength, courage, and passion to all things!

Be Content to be More Fit

Living a fit lifestyle has a way of changing your perspective of the world and living healthier will change the way you think about things. Living a life that promotes health, wellness, and freedom causes one to be more self-aware, alert, and thoughtful. Living a fit and healthy life causes one to have more hope for the future, set more goals, and seek improvement.

Goal-setting is necessary to establish and maintain healthy life choices. I have discussed the importance of goal setting for living a healthy and fit life in several posts. Scientist also understand the importance of goal setting and cite that a future goal will maintain focus and lead to greater future success. Specifically a study suggested that in order to maintain health a person must consistently and frequently set goals, evaluate these goals, think about the goals, and pay attention to goals (Mann, de Ridder, & Fujita, 2013). What this means is that when trying to maintain health one must often and frequently think about individual goals, evaluate progress toward those goals, and take any additional steps required to achieve the goal. As I aprepare for my competition I daily evaluate my goal to be ready and able to compete on show day. This helps me stay motivated to work hard and follow my plan. Goals give us reason to move forward.

Setting goals keeps one looking to the future.  Looking forward helps provide motivation to achieve goals. Studies indicate future orientation, looking to the future, can change behaviors in the present. For example one study found that individuas focused on the future were able to decrease aggression and anger (a goal of study participants) in the moment (Stoddard, Zimmerman, & Bauemeister, 2011). Clearly goal setting and having a direction pointed toward the future helps achieve success. As I am focused on my future competition and all the work that is necessary to achieve my desired physique I also wonder what I am missing in the current moment.

If you are like most people pursuing a goal, patience can be difficult.  The outcome becomes a longing and as we yearn for our success and achievement we grow impatient, weary, and perhaps a bit frustrated. I know I personally struggle with this. I want to achieve my desired outcome and constantly looking to the future makes my goal seem unattainable. I, then start to feel overwhelmed and frustrated and fight the urge to quit. I feel confident I am not the only one that feels this way. Perhaps setting goals and focusing on the future distracts us from the present moment. This notion is supported by research. A study found that individuals focused on diet and weight loss goals had increased distraction and experienced increased failure of tasks in the moment (Jones & Rogers, 2003).

What this means is that if I am thinking about my goal at my competition at a later date I may become too distracted while working out. This distraction will keep me from successfully completing reps, progressing in the exercise, or improving my performance. You do not need to be a body builder working toward a competition to experience decreased focus and lack of progress. If you are working to maintain a diet or lose a certain amount of pounds you may struggle  to feel satisfied when eating or working out. Future orientation and remaining focused on goals may be stealing your joy. Constantly thinking about the future keeps us preoccupied, lacking, and feeling unsatisfied. I understand how all this information can be conflicting. On one hand it is apparent remaining fit requires goal setting and thinking about the future, while on the other thinking about the future can limit progress in the current moment.

During my quiet time the other morning it occurred to me the problem was that I failed to feel contentment. The following statement cued me to my problem: ”

“Contentment isn’t a matter with being content with your situation in life and never trying to improve it. It’s a matter of being content with what you have — but realizing that as humans, we will always try to improve, no matter how happy we are. If we don’t, we have given up on life”. Leo Babauta

I always want to improve, grow, and live my passions and goals in the future. Although hope for the future is great and necessary to become a better person, it keeps me from realizing all the blessings and positives I have in the moment. Becoming content is a key component to maintain balance and overall health and wellness.

Finding contentment is needed to enjoy the work, the progress, and the journey. Contentment brings pleasure to the current moment and brings joy in life. Rather than focusing on what is to come it is important to evaluate and appreciate what is now. The current moment is all that is guaranteed and, although we can hope for the future, the future is not guaranteed. Contentment is easy to achieve.

  • Count your blessings. Recalling what you have, the people in your life, and what you have accomplished thus far brings to perspective the realization that we have much and have achieved much.
  • Look at where you have been compared to where you are now. You are not the same person. You have grown. You have changed. You have experienced success and have achieved goals.
  • Appreciate the people in your life that support and encourage you. Feeling loved and supported brings peace of mind and a sense of relaxation and joy. Knowing we are loved helps us settle into the moment and focus on the task at hand.
  • Recall future goals but do not remain focused on them. Remember the reason for the hard work and recognize the overall goal and then move on. Think about what you are doing in the present. Think about what can be done right now to bring you happiness.
  • Focus on the task at hand and the current moment. This moment in time will influence your future so use this time now to be present, aware, and engaged.
We find peace and contentment only by focusing on the present. You can choose a behavior and an action that is beneficial to the future or will stall future goals. We are better equipped to make positive and helpful choices when we choose to be happy with what we have, where we are, and who we are with in the current moment. I can choose to change the outcome in the future by making a choice to benefit me right now. Choose happiness, choose acceptance, and choose confidence that you are capable of improving your future right now!

References:

Jones, N. & Rogers, P.  (2003).  preoccupation, food, and failure: An investigation of cognitive performance deficits in dieters. international Journal of Eating Disorders, 33(2), 185-192.

Mann, T., de Ridder, D., & Fujita, K.  Self-regulation of health behavior: Social psychological approaches to,goal setting and goal striving. Health Psychology, 23(5), 487-498.

Stoddard, S., Zimmerman, M., & Bauemeister, J.  (2011).  Thinking about the future as a way to succeed in the future: A longitudinal study of future orientation and violent behaviors among African American youth. American Journal of Community Psychology, 48(3-4), 238-246.

It’s A Lifestyle Change

“Progress not perfection”.  I have said that probably a thousand times.  “Fitness is a lifestyle change”.  I have also said that a thousand times.  Yet despite the frequency we are reminded of these encouraging statements, people continue to struggle with the process of living a healthy lifestyle.  I want to spend some time talking about living a healthy life and explain how distracted views, unrealistic goals, and difficult expectations make fitness for life challenging.

I want to start with my personal journey.  I was not athletic as a child.  I was not tough or strong.  I was sensitive, creative, whimsical, and fun.  I wanted to spend my time hanging out with friends and sought to discover life on my own terms.  At a young age I started to experiment with drugs and alcohol.  It is by the grace of God that I never physically harmed or arrested, although I did land myself into some legal troubles, during my escapades.  I witnessed numerous friends make life altering choices that left emotional, mental, and physical scars.  I saw myself go from a secure young lady to a confused and morally lacking young adult.  All I cared about was the next party or the next opportunity to hang out.  This lifestyle started to negatively impact my professional future.  I was at a University and I was broke, alone, miserable, and depressed.  One night my parents had an intervention with me and threatened to pull me out of Baylor University.  Mind you, going to Baylor had been my childhood dream.  They threatened to force me home, make me get a job, and start drug and alcohol rehab.  I had hit “rock bottom”.  I re-focused my priorities and my responsibilities, found a job, and I was able to find a balance to graduate successfully from Baylor University.

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Picture of me and a friend not long after graduation from Baylor – I am the brunette and at a heavier weight.

I was quickly accepted to graduate school in Chicago, Illinois.  Living in Chicago proved to be too much for this young, small town girl.  I quickly returned to the party lifestyle.  My days were spent in school and my nights consisted of drinking and dancing until it was time to go back to class. My diet consisted of “hangover food” from any grease filled fast-food chain or Chicago-style pizza.  Needless to say I was overweight.  Eventually I added an internship to this mix.  I worked with children that had witnessed domestic violence or abuse and helped mothers that had been violently abused by their partners navigate the court process and start the emotional healing process.  Most days I left my “job” in tears feeling hopeless and angry of the hate that existed in the world.  This only fueled my desire to drink more.  I  held it together long enough to graduate with a 4.0 and land my “dream job” immediately following graduation.  I worked with young women with eating disorders, trauma, and substance abuse issues.  Rather than carefully learn to cope with what I heard and saw I choose to cope by staying up until 5 and 6 in the morning drinking and eating poorly.  It all caught up to me one morning as I was driving to work on a busy Chicago interstate when I had to pull-over and vomit from being too drunk from the night before.  During supervision later that day, my director looked at me and asked, “Is anyone using drugs or alcohol to cope?”.  Although I knew she was talking to me I denied this to her, the group, and to myself.

I was a hot mess.  I was overweight, sick, and hated myself.  It was time for a change.  During this time my sister was planning a wedding.  I purchased my bridesmaid dress and gained so much weight that when I needed to have it altered the seamstress said to me, “why do you buy a dress and gain so much weight”? I was at least 4-6 dress sizes bigger!  My wake up call came when I moved for a job to a small East Texas town.  My friend and I decided that in order to save money we would stop eating out and drinking for 60 days.  I bought food to eat at home and since my social life was lacking I bought 2 $10 dance workout DVDs.  This was late 2006 that I started to eat healthy and workout.  I started using the DVDs in my living room 3 days a week.  I started feeling better.  I started spending time working on my spiritual life grew spirituality and emotionally.  I had improved self-esteem, confidence, and fulfilled relationships.  I was truly happy.

I am not sure what I weighed when I started my journey in 2006.  I do know at one point I weighed as much as 160 pounds and I was wearing between a size 12 and size 14.  However as I improved my life my physical body started to shed weight.  My clothes got bigger.  They were so big they were uncomfortable to wear.  I had to buy a whole new wardrobe.  I became stronger and started working out in my apartment complex fitness center.  It felt so good to be in charge of my life that I was working out 5 days a week.  As I continued to work on myself I obtained a job promotion and once again moved.  This time I moved to a suburb of Houston.  I was thin, happy, and confident.  I started to workout more.  I was the girl in the gym 3 hours a day 7 days a week.  I read books and journals on food and found that I was eating less and less.  After reading Skinny Bitch, which I advise anyone interested in the quality of our food to read, I threw away all the food in my house and vowed to be vegan.  I lost even more weight.  People commented on my body and my physique and how they wanted my abs, my arms, and sought to weigh as much as I did.

Sadly I, too, was obsessed with the number on the scale.  I thought that if I weighed a certain number I would have achieved the ultimate goal.  As I lost more weight I became sicker both emotionally and physically.  I lost my period for several months.  I would weigh myself 3 times a day and if the number went up, I would lock myself in my house, cry, and tell myself I was fat.  One night I had plans to hang out with friends.  These were great plans too, it was going to be a fun night.  However, I weighed before I left for the night and I had gained.  I drove around for 2 hours crying and squeezing all the “fat” on my body.  I drove home and knew I had a problem.

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A picture of me at my thinnest – I was unhealthy and obsessed with the number on the scale.

I had to find “balance”.  That was the word my psychologist said to me and it made total sense.  I had spent my life letting something consume my thoughts, behaviors, and my emotions.  She explained I could have health, fitness, friends, professional success, and love all at the same time.  When I stopped worrying about achieving a particular goal and enjoyed the daily process I was able to find balance.  This was 2009.  Since that time I enjoy the daily process.  I enjoy the work that needs to be done today because in 6 weeks, 6 months, 1 year, 6 years, I will be a different, better, and more fabulous place.

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How I started to look as I found a balance – I was fit, active, healthy, successful, and happy.

So many people ask me, “what do I do to lose weight?”, “what do I do to have toned arms?”, or “what do I do to have a better booty?”  Here is the answer – WORK – every single day!  The fitness instructor you see or the toned and strong person you see in the gym did not wake up looking that way.  They have been working toward their physique everyday.  Most often for YEARS!  They embrace the daily grind and know the decisions made today will lead to results tomorrow.

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Progress picture – from early in my prep

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Progress this week – 8 total weeks!

I know so many people that spend hours in the gym, and they are in every group fitness class.  As a group fitness instructor I love people like you in my classes.  You make my classes fun and challenging.  However if you want to see progress the key is not to spend hours in group fitness classes.  (Please keep coming to class, but understand I did not achieve my physique by attending group fitness classes).  However I want to keep you from hitting rock bottom and having to experience the emotional and psychological pain I felt.  I want you to know that you can achieve a healthy lifestyle.

The key to living a healthy lifestyle is to eat with balance, workout with balance, and live life with balance.  You must eat healthy.  Your diet must be consistent from day to day.  A healthy lifestyle is actively making a decision to chose to eat fruit instead of cake at the company party and not feeling deprived.  A healthy lifestyle means eating a meal at home rather than the drive thru.  A healthy lifestyle means drinking water instead of soda, EVERY SINGLE DAY!  However living this lifestyle means that you can afford to eat cake or you can afford a nice dinner at restaurant and do it guilt free and without sabotaging your hard work.

Living a healthy lifestyle is knowing that physical fitness and exercise is necessary for mental, physical, and emotional health.  It is a decision to workout daily.  It is knowing that a balanced workout regime should include some cardio and strength training.  Your cycle instructor with the toned arms did not get toned arms from riding a stationary bicycle.  No, the lean arms comes from lifting weights.  My physique did not come from teaching cycle or RIPPED, no it came from lifting heavy and hard before and sometimes after class.

A healthy lifestyle means it is OK to say “no”.  There are times when your family will need your attention, your support, and your love.  Family is always more important than a workout.  You can plan accordingly and get your workouts in prior to the commitment and enjoy a family day and a rest day at the same time.  Rest is necessary to build muscle and burn fat.  You body will not improve if it is constantly under stress from working out.

Going to the gym consistently 3-4 days a week, or more, for 6 months may not yield the results you want.  If you started working out in January and still have weight to lose and muscles to tone than keep going.  If every time you work out you expect to reach your goal, you will never be satisfied.  A healthy lifestyle means doing the work because you know that each day you get a little better.  Give up on achieving your goal and start living life.  Start living a life where you choose health, you chose happiness, you choose love, and you choose wellness.  One day you will look back and see how far you have come!

Not your typical “fluffy” fitspo post!

I have written posts on here about working to better myself.  I have read blogs and posters that remind me “I am my own competition”, and all fitness motivation sites urge me to be better today than I was yesterday.  The quest to be a better person is exciting.  The belief that I can work to improve myself, my situation, and my body each day is motivating and inspiring.  But let’s be honest here for a moment – this “fluff” is at the same time, FRUSTRATING!

In order to believe I am capable of being a better person today I have to believe that I am a good person.  The desire to self-motivate implies I have enough esteem and self love to convince myself I am good enough to be better.  Not everyone has self love.  Many of us are filled with self-doubt, shame, regret, and disrespect ourselves.

Decreased self-esteem keeps us small.  It keeps us from pursuing our true potential.  The problem with self-motivating tips and encouragement that uses lines like, “I am my own competition” is these do not work if I do not like who I am and I do not see much to strive for.  We are very self-critical and it is likely you judge yourself, your behaviors, your thoughts, and your body.  You see what is wrong.  You see what needs to improve.  Sure you see others improving their bodies and their lives but because you are unsure of what you can do, you do not see your potential.

People that self-evaluate and seek to improve self have a tendency to also focus on weaknesses.  I am going to get a bit personal here.  I am 9 weeks into my prep for a bodybuilding (bikini) competition.  The season has commenced and many have already competed.  I follow several accounts on social media as a means to motivate myself, and I witness my inspirations compete and succeed.  I see their physique and compare my body to their body.  When I do this I think, “I am not prepared” because I see they look better than me.  (Please don’t see this as a means to obtain sympathy or encouragement – I am being really honest here – we all think these things – many just won’t admit it).  I see their legs and then I see my legs, my greatest weakness.  My legs is where I hold my body fat.  My upper body is lean and vascular however rather than focus on my best area, I focus on my worst.  For so long I used this weakness as my motivation to work hard in the gym and lift harder in order to train and shape my legs.  Sadly I started to dread leg day and I started to feel weaker in my legs, rather than stronger.  This only caused further frustration.  As I continued to use self-talk and encourage myself that “I can improve myself”, “I am the barrier”, and “I am my own competition” my legs slowly started to look better.

The problem starts when I compare myself to others.  In the fitness world there are fit and beautiful people everywhere, it is hard to NOT compare myself to them.  I tell you this to let you know that, first of all, you are normal.  Secondly even fit people, people that compete, see weakness and compare their weaknesses to others.  Lastly do not be discouraged if you struggle with self-motivation and pushing yourself to the next level.  I understand.  We compare ourselves to others but many fitness motivators discourage us from this.  They ask us to see our own strengths and improve our weaknesses.  Yes this is true, and yes it works, but why not use others to motivate us as well?

As I pour over fitness pages for encouragement and motivation I see girls with well-defined quads.  They boast of their ability to lift heavy and their ability to break personal records (lift heavier than they have been able to lift previously).  I want to be like them, at least have their quads, so why not lift like them?  If I want to achieve a goal that another person has successfully achieved I am going to do what they do.  I am not ashamed to say I am a copy cat.  If they can increase how much they dead lift, then so can I.  Once I started to think this way I walked into my next leg training session with encouragement and motivation.  I was able to lift heavier and even set personal records.

I became comfortable with myself, at least comfortable enough in the work I was putting into my training, and stopped pushing myself.  I needed to see my weaknesses compared to others and I needed to use that motivate myself to work harder.  We need a challenge, at times, otherwise we become complacent. But if we are going to change and improve we need a challenge, and we need things to be hard.  Losing weight, maintaining weight, living a healthy lifestyle is NOT easy. If it were easy obesity would not be considered an epidemic.  Just like any thing in life we reach a period where our motivation will decrease.  No one has 100% motivation 100% of the time.  I encourage you to work to be a better you.  I encourage you to focus on how you can improve.  You are your own competition.  But I also encourage you to work to be better than your motivation.  Seek people who motivate and encourage you and then work to be better than them.  Compete with yourself but know that it is OK to compete with others too.  They say there is only 1 winner.  If that is true I want that to be me! Therefore I will work harder to be better than myself and better than my competition.  If you want to win and be successful I encourage you to work harder to be your best self but also work harder to beat me!