You Never Know

Feeling a bit “meh” lately about life, I loaded up the kids and headed to teach spin at the gym. We are in our routine, and I’m loving working with people, but there are times when it’s very redundant. People ask for fitness and health advice, but then glaze over when you don’t offer up the “latest and greatest magical 2-week plan to get you in shape with no effort”.

It’s work. It’s consistency over time. It’s making choices to delay gratification to get you to your goals. It’s….boring.

But…it works.

Excited about today’s playlist, I dropped the minions off to do a craft in the childcare then climbed the stairs. Peeking in the windows to the spin room I see no one is there. Ugh. I always worry no one will show. Every single time. It’s happened before and it never fails to be a bummer. After a few minutes, a few showed up to play and off we went. Great class, lots of sweat and awesome effort – I love it when it all comes together.

Wiping down the bikes afterward,  one of the riders approached me and said, “You are my favorite instructor by far.”

“Wow! Thank you so much! That’s kind of you to say,” I replied.

“Seriously. I’ve been spinning for a few years and you are the only instructor that doesn’t make me watch the clock. I’m not just along for the instructor’s ride in your class. I sincerely mean it. I was so happy to see it was you teaching today.”

Me blinking. “Thank you. That means a lot…” We went on to discuss that every instructor brings something to the table and it can take time for an instructor to find their voice, etc.

But the compliment hit home. Especially on days I hold my breath and pray that someone shows. We all question our abilities, and just because someone is leading a class doesn’t mean they are immune.

Here’s my suggestion: find someone who you appreciate. The friendly cashier, a family member, or even your spin instructor – and tell them when they’ve done a good job, that you appreciate them. Not as an empty frivolous thing you don’t really mean, but someone whose work you genuinely benefit from. You never know, it could make their whole day.

You never know.

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Faking It

A-hem. Not that kind of faking.

I had a conversation with a friend the other day who hasn’t seen me in person for over 6 or 7 months. After posting some silliness from a dress up day at work, the conversation drifted to something along theses lines:

“By the way, you look amazing…You were already looking good when I left, but holy transformation batman!!! Do you feel how much you’ve changed in such a short time?”

As the exchange continued deeper, I got to thinking. Do I realize it?

The answer is no, not really. Partially because I’ve been down this path before. I usually only can tell when I go to grab an article of clothing to try it on and realize I went three sizes too big. It’s a body dysmorphia of sorts, but it bleeds over into other stuff.

Stuff like thinking, “They are gonna find out that I’m not that good.” If I was at _______ gym where the “real trainers” are, I wouldn’t get hired. (As if I am not a “real trainer” or the people I work with are not “real trainers”?!) It’s a feeling that I’m back where I was. Both physically and mentally. She went on to state that, “Outsiders always see more clearly than we see ourselves.” How often have I said this exact same statement! It’s so true.

As irrational as it sounds, I feel like I need to pinch myself because inside I still feel like the size 16-18 girl who somehow managed to land a job in the fitness industry. This isn’t false humility or a begging for compliments, please do not misunderstand. When we lose a significant amount of weight, what we often don’t realize is that there is still some mental weight to offload. Just because you lose body size doesn’t mean you lose insecurities, at least not overnight.

Chasing a dream and going after it with abandon didn’t happen TO me. I went after it. It wasn’t luck or chance. I studied, learned, practiced, and continue to learn. Will it ever feel real, that I’m not faking it?

I sure hope so.

I love what I get to do. I know in my bones that I am fortunate to be able to do something I am passionate about and can pass that passion on to others.

While all of this is playing around in my mind, I engage clients day after day that continually remind me that this fitness deal is about so much more than just an aesthetic. That may be what brings us in the door, but it never fails – when we stick with it, it becomes more.

How honored I was to be told that because of our workouts, a client survived a severe physical attack. Her attacker had a knife. She ran faster than she’d ever ran before. I sat in my car and cried after our session. Who gets to be privileged to witness such amazing acts of courage?

I do.

I hope I never lose the perspective that get to do this. That it’s a gift. This deal isn’t something to be faked or phoned in.

Tattoo Part Two

Since leaving Hawaii, I knew that I wanted to help people. To help people do what I did, and I’m not just talking about losing weight. Fitness is the vehicle, but more than that, I wanted to help people discover their own strength. To help moms see that being a martyr and giving without ceasing helps no one in the long run. That it’s more than okay to take care of yourself – in fact it’s necessary. That it’s healthy to show our kids what self care looks like in action. They learn more from what we do and how we treat ourselves than just lip service. As the cliche goes, actions speak louder than words.

But wanting to become a trainer and help people and actually doing it are very different things. I even blogged about having a big dream, but was too afraid to specifically articulate it publicly at that point. Dreams are scary. What if I fail? What if I am no good?

What kept nagging at the back of my mind was, “But oh my, what if you succeed?!”

Up until last year, getting certified and becoming a personal trainer was something I would do “someday”. Maybe next year. Maybe when the deployment is over. When “life isn’t so busy”. (As if it’s ever NOT busy!?) Someday. Truth? The truth is I was scared. Petrified. What if I don’t pass the certification test? What if I suck as a personal trainer? What if I can’t find a job? And the “What ifs…” go on and on.

I made a decision at the beginning of the year to make this one a year of action. I was going to stop talking about doing stuff someday, and just go do it already. Enough procrastination. Sink or swim, this dream of mine wasn’t going to go anywhere so I better lace up and start chasing it. Even if I was afraid.

I got my first tattoo a few years ago. Personally, it’s not an impulsive thing to decide to get a tattoo. I like having significance or a story behind it, or to bookmark an event or chapter in life. This year of action has been an important next chapter. This year has been one of, as Theodore Roosevelt called it and Brene Brown discussed further; “getting into the arena”:

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It’s also been a year of being afraid, nervous, but moving forward regardless. It’s been one of turning fear into fierce.

In addition to the theme of “Action Despite Fear”, there were a couple of other components that made this tattoo selection seem almost a forgone conclusion:

As a Christian, I love C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. It is a beautiful allegory of faith, grace, unconditional love, touching on themes of courage and fear and what that looks like in life. I also love the film adaptations and am thrilled that my kiddos love it as much as I do.

My Hair. Through school I was called names and made fun of because of these crazy tresses, this wild unruly mane that I have only truly embraced over the last decade or so. (Thank goodness for great hair products!)

Astrological Sign. I’m not a huge proponent of astrology, but it does pique my curiosity as some of the general descriptions are pretty close. Mine happens to be Leo.

After considering all of these things and thinking about it for a few months, this is what I came up with:

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The butterfly represented the change. The lion represents living out those changes, even when it’s hard. Even when it’s scary. I can say I chased my dream. I get to get up and do something I am unabashedly passionate about.

Fear into fierce.

Have a tattoo? What’s the story behind your ink?

Here’s What I Want You to Know….A Letter to My Daughter

Dear Sweet Girl,

You will be 5 in just a few short days! The time goes by so fast (and slow simultaneously) I know that I’m going to blink and you are going to be asking me for the car keys. *Shudder* While it may be awhile for some of these, there are some nuggets of wisdom I would like to pass on to you. Life stuff, girl stuff, love stuff – a bunch of stuff. Growing up is hard. Here is my advice for just some of it…

Make up

Right now you are far more interested in dirt, keeping up with your brother and showing me how strong you are. You are starting to express yourself in more sparkles, pink, tutus, and purple. There will no doubt come a day when you want to wear makeup to go along with your creative outfits. Understand that no matter what other people do, when it comes to make up – do your own thing. Less is more. Trust me. Unless you are in the school play on a stage, you don’t have to cake it on. Use make up to enhance, not mask.  You are beautiful just as you are. You don’t need makeup before you engage the world. Even if I wasn’t your mother, I would think you are beautiful without it. Seriously. As cliche as it sounds, true beauty will shine outward from within. Make up doesn’t make you. You make you.

Watch this (when you are old enough to handle a sprinkling of language):

Fitness

Find something that you love and do it. Regularly. I don’t care if you don’t like the same things I do. You’re you. Find what you are passionate about. Soccer? Gymnastics? Yoga? Softball? Do what you love, not what you think your father or I want you to do. Finish what you start. If you decide you want to run track, but decide you don’t like it after 3 days – sorry. You need to finish that season. You don’t have to do it again, but we finish what we start. Even when it’s hard. Sometimes it takes a while to fall in love with an activity.

Those Girls

You know the ones. The girls that are always perfectly put together, they have the greatest style that appears effortless.  Their lives seem amazing compared to yours. Trust me, that’s not the case. They have their own insecurities, worries and problems just like everyone else. Don’t try so hard to be cool that you stop being yourself. Popularity wanes. It’s fickle. If you have to compromise what you believe is right to gain approval – they aren’t worth it. They aren’t worth YOU.

Listen to this song:

Crying

Like me, you are a deep feeler. Things affect you. There is nothing wrong with that. If you need a good cry to feel better – do it. Tears are cathartic. Have your moment. It is far easier to cry when you need to, than to bottle up your feelings and not deal with stuff. Even when it’s painful. The only way is through the pain. Learn to sit in the uncomfortable. It will be okay.

Significant Others

They say that 90% of your happiness or misery is a result of who you choose to spend your life with. I agree. You can go through the roughest of times, but clinging to each other while life is chaotic can be what gets you through to calmer waters. You may not be besties with your spouse, but you should like them as people. You should want to spend time with them, even if you aren’t doing anything special. The romance and infatuation of the beginning of any relationship will fade over time. When the adrenaline of falling in love subsides, be sure there is a relationship to nurture when that happens.

Choose someone who treats you the way you deserve to be treated. Do not stand for anything less. Like Maya Angelou says, “When people show you who they are believe them; the first time.”

Look for someone who makes you laugh. Laughter will see you through all kinds of things.

Don’t buy into the lie that you have to be with someone to “be complete”. No one will complete you. You complete you. There is no one true soul mate. There are people with whom you will be more compatible than others. When you choose someone – choose that person over and over again every day. Love is a verb.

Motherhood

If you choose to have kids, you’ll have so many ideas of what you want to do and how you’ll do things. Things you swear you’d NEVER do, things that you think you would ALWAYS do. Be wary of the always and never statements. I’ve found I’ve had to eat my words on more than one occasion for all the times I swore “I would never….”. Trust your instincts, even if it doesn’t feel like you have them. You do.

You will make mistakes. Lots of them. You are not perfect. I am not perfect. No parent is perfect. It’s okay. When you mess up, ‘fess up. Apologize. Make it right.

Listen to your children. Hear them. Don’t be so busy that you miss them growing up. You will have far more distractions than I did growing up. I feel like it will be even more challenging for your children to keep the distractions at bay long enough to grasp the really good things in life. I will not tell you to “enjoy every moment”, because truthfully, some moments just bite. They do. But you will get through them. Your kids will grow you in all sorts of ways you never thought possible. And you will know the meaning of unconditional love. You’ll think you know before, but when you hold that child, your child in your arms – you will feel the depth of love that you have never felt before.

Tattoos

Not until you’re 18. Don’t get one just because. The longer you wait the better. Make it mean something.

Work

When people ask you what you want to be when you grow up, think in your mind, “What do I want to do?” Your occupation is not who you are. It doesn’t define you. When trying to figure out what you want to do for work, ask yourself the following:

What am I passionate about?

How can I use what I’m passionate about to help others?

Is there a way to make a living doing this?

What you think you want to do at 18 will undoubtedly be different than 28. And perhaps even 38. Your interests will change. What ever lights your fire and sparks your passion may change. That’s okay. Most likely there will be a common thread among your interests. Be enthusiastic, optimistic and courageous. If it’s a little scary – that’s often a good sign. Whatever you choose – when you do it, it shouldn’t feel like work. It’s a livelihood.

I can’t wait to see what life has in store for you!

I love you and always will.

Happy (almost) 5th Birthday!

The Mental Weight Room

A while ago we were prompted to discuss confidence and describe the things at which we excel. It was a hard post to write in that describing fears and humility can sometimes come off as false, or at worst fishing for compliments. Barf. That’s so not my intention.  I do wonder, though – do we ever totally have confidence? Do we ever arrive? Do we ever just get it? “I’ve got this and life is splendid!” My theory is probably not. There’s always something more to do, more ways to stretch ourselves, and areas where we feel inadequate.

My most recent experience in having courage to take scary steps to confidence is at the gym. Oh the gym! It’s such a weird and wonderful place! There are so many great things about the gym, things that make me angry, and many things that make me stifle laughter. (And yes, I still LOVE my online workout program DB4L!) In every gym I’ve been in, there are different sections that have a sort of unspoken rule about where you go and where you don’t. In my gym (and, honestly, in my head more than reality) these sections are as follows:

The Zumba/Step/Group Cardio Room

Always blasting awesome, thumping music, the Zumba folk go straight from the front desk and/or the childcare drop off area and head right for their class. No stops, no eye contact – straight in. Dance and step cardio only people!

The Cycle Room

25 stationary bicycles, music, speakers and sweat. Duh. My home away from home. *Sigh* I love this place!

The Women’s Only Workout Room

A bank of elliptical machines and treadmills line the wall, with the resistance training machines along the opposite wall with mirrors. There is one squat rack, some dumbbells, stability balls, etc. Most of the machines are older models, refurbished or are missing parts. Why do the women get the crap machines? There are plenty of tools to get the job done, but it leaves a bit to be desired. But what do we care, we’re just reading our magazine on the elliptical anyway. (Yeah, that was sarcasm.)

The Dark Cardio Room

Introvert central! My other happy place. Dark lighting, rows of state of the art treadmills and elliptical machines and you don’t have to interact with anyone! YAY! This room says, “Leave me alone. Let me do my thing. In and out and get it done.” No mirrors in this room so no having to watch people posing for selfies!

The Weight Room

Dominated by males mostly. Lots of ear buds, workout drinks, free weights, not-so-subtle selfies, weight plates clacking and crashing together, and grunting. Occasional swearing. Lots of “Hey bro” kind of talk. People checking out other people. (I live in a college/military town – it’s gonna happen.)  It makes me laugh. But it intimidates me, too.

Every week I eye that free weight area. I salivate over the opportunity to have the courage to walk over there like I own the place and do my thing. Instead, into the women’s only gym I go and do my workout in there. WHY?!

Despite losing 50 pounds (and relapsing and re-losing!), logging countless miles, doing crazy workouts, traveling and paying to do insane mud runs, completing a marathon, and no matter how many fitness certifications earned, I still have trouble believing in my capabilities.  In my head, I’m still the overweight mom that is tired by walking up stairs, that fears she won’t be able to keep up with her kids. I don’t look like a fitness model so I don’t belong in that weight room. I’m the one who wants to be a trainer, but I know I don’t ‘look’ like a trainer. Will anyone even take me seriously?

It’s another one of those let’s stick our foot in the face of fear and just do this already moments.

After arguing with myself, I took a deep breath, went in with workout in hand and did my deal. While outwardly, it was highly anticlimactic, but in my mind? Yeah, in-the-air-heel clicks and fist pumps all dang day! I mentally high-fived myself all over the place! I did deadlifts, back rows, climbed on the assisted pull up machine (unassisted pull ups are on my bucket list!) triceps, planks, hip thrusts – I did everything I had planned and then some! I OWNED that weight room.

I. did. it.

Yeah, the ‘bros’ were in abundance in all their selfie-taking, grunting glory. Smiling, I looked myself in the eye. None of my mental b.s. matters. It’s time to end the struggle in the mental weight room and get out and play in the real one.

I’m gaining strength. Results are coming. I’m seeing muscle mass increases. I’m learning. I’m teaching. I have a voice in this field and I have every right to stand in my own confidence and own this. 

Fair Winds and Following Seas….Again

Before every PCS move (permanent change of station) there are stages of emotions we all go through, much like the way we mentally prepare for deployments and homecomings.

Initially we receive the orders, the “penciled in” ones that are sort of for sure, but could change at anytime. This is where we don’t really get excited yet, because then there would be an additional mourning stage if they did actually change. Then hard copy orders – the ones that can be officially announced. There is some relief with this stage, just having a destination and an end to uncertainty. Then the movers come to assess just how much stuff you have and how many boxes they’ll need to bring on moving day. Then there’s about 4-6 weeks of goodbyes. This is our current stage. And it stinks.

We feel the anticipation of the move, the calendar fills constantly with last minute things; visits with friends, must see sights to check off the list because who knows when we’ll live in this part of the country again, and the kids’ ever dawning awareness that we won’t get to take all of our family and friends with us.

Have I mentioned that this phase stinks? This morning I led my final workout with my neighborhood fit friends. We’ve had so much fun, shared awesome success holding each other accountable, meeting new people and being open. This has been a tangible lesson for me on the importance of taking risks, putting myself out there, moving forward despite fear, and reaching out regardless of time limits.

After this class, the words spoken to me will forever be etched in my heart.

“Thank you, you have helped me through this deployment.”

“You have changed my life. Not only for showing me I can go further than I thought, but your class has strengthened my body so much that I have minimal pains now, where as I used to have such aggravating back, knee, hip, and ankle pain that I wouldn’t work out much. Since your group, I can almost do any move without pain!!! THANK YOU!!!!”

“You have to keep doing this. You have to keep training people!”

“Thank you for helping me get off antidepressants. My doctors are thrilled and my husband can tell a difference!”

“I did cardio for the longest with no results. I had no idea strength training and clean eating were the key and would make such an impact. I love that I’m stronger and healthier. Not to mention I haven’t thrown my neck/back out for months. You are a gifted trainer and I will continue to strength train for life!”

“I can do a handstand for the first time since my teens!”

“Thank you for giving me the tools to become happier and healthier. You’ve made this deployment a little less hard!”

I do not share these comments as a “Yahoo! Go me!” self back-pat. I share them because I said them to MY trainer. I know what it means to say these words. Now I’ve been blessed to keep a promise to pay it forward and hear the words said to me. I often wondered if my trainer walked around with a giant ego – because how could you not when you are constantly told how incredible you are?! I now know better. When people take the time to tell you how you’ve positively impacted them – it’s humbling. I am so completely humbled. (Yep, even ugly cried multiple times today!)

I learned early on in my journey that fitness is more than just trying to shrink. It’s more than fitting into a smaller jean size. It’s about confidence in ALL areas; relationships, reaching out to others (even when it’s scary!), even just trying something new! Its getting up and being engaged with life, doing a cartwheel with your kid, It’s showing up and doing so with excellence in our parenting journey, our marriages, and every other aspect of life. It’s joy. Pure, deep, and wonderful joy.
I will continue to pay it forward. Thank you fit friends! Thank you for showing up and doing hard work and having a blast doing it! Thank you for giving me confidence, for laughing at my jokes, and all of your kind words. I am so grateful for our time together.

Until our paths cross again….Fair winds and following seas!

When One Door Closes…

I’ve been meaning to write this for some time, but just haven’t because it feels “icky”. I don’t like icky. I like fun and upbeat and positive. But sometimes icky happens.

Back in October I was asked to come in and interview for a Spin Instructor position at a local gym. Excited, I got the job and started my class – 5:30am Wednesday mornings. I crafted playlists, practiced each on my own bike in my garage. I remembered all the classes I had been in and what I loved about various instructors and strived to incorporate those characteristics into my own profiles. It went well and I even had a few regulars!

Two days before Christmas, I got an email from the gym owner asking if I had any thoughts on why the attendance was so low in my class. (I am literally nauseous as I type this. I hate sucking at stuff.) I mentioned that the last couple of classes had double the previous attendance, that we were in the middle of the holidays, etc. I got an email the next day that I was “moved to the sub list”.  That’s the gym’s way of saying, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” The gym just wasn’t into me.

Ouch.

Have I mentioned I detest sucking at stuff? Oy. It stung. Not even gonna lie. My fellow spin instructor friend told me that it was a sucky time slot and did her best to make me feel better, but it still didn’t change the fact that I wasn’t a big enough “draw”.

When a door closes, a window opens….or something like that. For the past 2 years, I’ve been working out bootcamp-style in my driveway with my mom, sister, neighbors, and who ever else wanted to join us. After a bit of a break through the holidays, it was time to get back to work!

These ladies that I work out with are fellow neighborhood spouses, some bring their kiddos, and we meet in our navy housing community center gym. It’s open, warm, and not being used, so why not? We’ve been adding to our numbers and steadily growing as one friend tells another, and another and so on. What I love about this group is the fact they they are all willing to be my guinea pigs! They let me practice teaching, finding my voice as an instructor, and I learn and grow with them. We all get accountability to stay active (which we all need!) and we meet others in our military housing communities.

Too often, especially here in the northwest where the weather in the winter months is oppressively grey and depressing, it’s easy to just stay inside and wait until the weather improves to get out and be active. Staying inside leads to isolation – and if you’ve ever been through a deployment, isolation is rough. When the only adult conversation (or momversation) you have is the grocery checkout lady, it’s time to get out and get moving!

All of this to say, while it didn’t feel good to get canned, I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be: working out with my friends (sometimes hollering at them!) staying active, and learning as much as I can as I study for my next certification.

The breeze from that open window feels so good.

 

Have you ever been let go from a job you loved? What got you through it?