Monday, November 28, 2011

...bE DiFFeReNt...

Anyone that belongs to a gym has probably seen it...the people that come in the gym and do the same things day after day...the guy that reads the newspaper while pedaling on the recumbent bike...the ladies gossiping while walking side by side on treadmills. Maybe you've even had those days yourself where you just wanted to check "working out" off you list of to-dos. You didn't stay long or put much into it, but you could say that you hit the gym for the day. I don't care what anybody says. You get out what you put in. I believe it in theory and I've lived it. When I have been in the best shape, it was because I worked hard for it and it showed.

I remember times when I have been stopped in the grocery store or shopping to ask what I do to stay in shape. This wasn't by accident. It was because anyone that looked at me could see that I worked hard for what I had. A few times, people would ask me "What are you training for?". They were always shocked when I would respond..."Life. I'm training to be in the best shape feel strong...and live the life I want to in the best way possible." It was like they couldn't believe that I would work that hard if there wasn't a formal contest involved or a trophy at stake, but the contest should be internal.

I want to be different...different than the people that go to the gym several times a week and never see a change...different than those that wish for change and complain about where they are but make no effort...different than I was yesterday. In the eight years since I began my journey towards better health and fitness, my life has changed in many ways. I feel like I am constantly evolving...most of the time for good...but really it's up to ME. It doesn't matter what challenges I face. I determine how hard I work when I do get to the gym or go out for a run. I decide whether or not I quit or press forward. I choose whether or not I end in a pool of sweat or barely out of breath...and my results match my effort. The end result and the way you feel all starts with a choice. Make a choice to be different. Make a choice to be strong, and then do what it takes to get there!

* Small changes can make your workout more intense and change things up! Instead of millions of crunches that are not PLANK HOLDS or situps like the ones above hanging or where you get some hyper extension, but be careful to work up to it. If you want your lunges more intense...hold dumbbells or better yet, hold a weight plate OVERHEAD and do traveling lunges. Be creative and don't get stuck in a rut! :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Every year...the night before Thanksgiving...I have a secret sort of ritual that I do. Before I go to sleep, I sit quietly and reflect upon the year that is almost gone. I go 90 miles an hour most of the time and sometimes I am not able to stop long enough in the moment to give thanks for all I have. Some years, the list of things I'm thankful for seem endless, and the people that have been in my life are many. Other years, like this one...the list is small and simple and the people that have been there no matter what...are few.

It's funny to me that as I sit tonight and reflect...month by is very different than last year's reflection. We never know what twists and turns life will take or how different our life can become in just a few months time. It sounds cliche, but things I once took for granted...things I would never even counted as blessings...are some of the things I'm most thankful for.

I am thankful for laughter...laughter that I feel deep in my soul...laughter that is genuine and uncontrolled and loud. For all the tears that have been shed, there has been much laughter too. I am thankful for kind words of encouragement...encouragement that has held me up and given me purpose on days that I wanted to hide under the covers. For all the people that have judged and criticized me, there has also been an outpouring of love and encouragement both from a few people close to me and many strangers that have become friends. I am thankful for the 1200 sq ft room we call our gym. People that I care about there have come and gone...and lives there have changed dramatically...but some things remain constant. The barbells and the pull-up bars and the chalk stained rubber mats on the floor are still there and none of these things make exceptions for me.

The barbell tests me...mentally and physically. Some days, I have passed the test and left smiling...and some days I have failed and tears have fallen on those dirty rubber mats. Either way, I always know that those weights and that barbell won't leave me. They will always be there waiting for me and they don't care if I look pretty or if I'm funny, all that is required is effort.

I recognize now, that I took small miracles in my life for granted. Things that seemed like a burden or a constant that would never go away, have become things I long for. A day with nothing to do, used to make me sad and I look forward to those rare day and cherish them. A warm body next to me at night seemed like something I would always I sleep in between pillows and hope that someday that will change. Seemingly endless time to work out and focus solely on me used to be the rule, not the, I have to truly plan and sacrifice for the small time I have to do these things.

As sad as I have been at times this year, I am thankful for all the adversity that has come my way. My muscles may look smaller, but for all the times I left the gym feeling defeated or had to struggle to make it through a workout or pull myself up over the bar...I am stronger. I may have lost friends and people I loved along the way, but for all the tears that fell and nights I spent alone...I have a greater appreciation for the people that remain. I have failed and lost money and made mistakes trying to start a business. I have felt overwhelmed at times and wanted to give up, but I have learned valuable lessons and feel a drive to succeed. There's been times that I thought about walking away and giving up on my dreams, but in the midst of my small will to fight and my confidence in my own abilities have grown.

I am thankful for the good times and the bad times...the happiness and joy and pain and suffering too. I'm thankful for the moments of clarity, as well as the confusion that were all part of my life this past year. I know that I am not alone either. Many people that will read this have suffered far greater adversity and loss than I have and some have suffered less, but we should all take a moment to give thanks for the good and the bad. Because ALL these things can make us more resilient and wiser, if we choose to let them. Take a moment today and reflect and give thanks. If there are things that you don't like, change them. If there are people holding you back, let them go. Either way, be thankful for each and every thing you have both enjoyed and endured throughout the year...because all of these things made you stronger...whether you realize it or not.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

...TeLL yOuRseLf tHaT yOu CAN...

The only one who can tell you that you can't is YOU! You don't have to listen! YOU choose the voice that you hear in your mind. You CHOOSE whether or not to see beauty or ugly...potential or a lost cause in the mirror. You CHOOSE to believe that you can or tell yourself that you can't, but remember this...the voice in your head is a powerful one. You can walk away from people telling you negative things. You can close a book or turn off a TV...but your thoughts are always with you. Make them positive and you will be surprised how much more you can accomplish!

Friday, November 11, 2011

...veTeRaNs dAy...

It seems the thing to do on blogs or say "Thank you" to people in the military on Veteran's Day. Don't get me wrong. I am not belittling or making fun or saying that people are not sincere. I believe it is...and so for ME it is always hard to know what to say.

I don't think most of us truly take the time on a daily basis to think about the service that is being rendered to us...during the day and while we sleep. We forget that there are men and women sacrificing time with family, uprooting their families and leaving friends to move across the country and around the world, and risking their lives for people they do not even know. "Thank you" is what you say to someone that holds the door open for you at the store. Those words seem insufficient for such a selfless service, but I mean it sincerely when I say "Thank you!" to all my friends that do currently or have served our country in the military. I sleep sound at night because of you. Your strength amazes me.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Sometimes, I'll workout with the guys in the 6 AM class. Today, I have a lot to do, so I thought it would be great to get my workout done for the day...early. The workout was short and simple.
Row 300M
20 Push Press
Row 300 M
15 Push Press
Row 300 M
10 Push Press
Row 300 M
5 Push Press
I felt tired and weak even doing the warm up...usually NOT a good sign. I struggled through with the encouragement of the boys and when I was done, I rested. I was lying on the floor...gasping for air. My legs and my shoulders were aching and I was so glad to be done with the workout...for a moment. In just seconds, I went from feeling relief to feeling sorrow and disappointment.

I got up from the floor and made my way through the dark back room to the bathroom. The minute I locked the door, the tears began to fall and I buried my face in my arms so that if anyone came back to the bathroom, they wouldn't hear me crying. That only lasted for a couple of minutes, because I knew if I was gone long...someone would come looking for me and I didn't want anyone to see me like that. I splashed some cold water on my face and dried it off, put on a smile, and went back out to the gym to finish class.

I'm not the strongest girl around, but I can generally hold my own. I have done WAY worse workouts then this one and twenty 75 lb Push Presses in a row should NOT have been that hard!!! From the moment I cleaned the bar off the felt SO HEAVY! And from that moment on, I let the shock of that initial feeling take over. I struggled to get through every rep of that workout and when I say struggle...I'm not exaggerating! I'm talking flat out grunting and groaning and fighting for every rep. I wanted to quit, but I knew I couldn't. How could I drop the bar and give up when I spend my days telling people NOT to do that. What kind of an example would I be to the people in the gym that I push to do more?

For the few minutes that the tears were falling in the bathroom, thoughts and questions raced through my mind. "What has become of me?" "Why do I feel so weak?" "Maybe I have no place telling other people what to do." "If people saw me this morning, would they disregard EVERYTHING I've ever said?!?" I didn't really have the time to ponder these things at the time, but in the quiet hour since I dropped kids off at school...I've tried to sort these things out.

I could give a million excuses...some very valid, but I realize that nothing is going to change if I do that. I also realize that because there really are some things in my life affecting me, I have to accept myself where I'm at rather than constantly thinking and talking about they way I used to be! I think the problem that I am having is common to many of us. We only want to do things that we LIKE to do in order to change. I don't have a problem going in to the gym and working hard. That is NOT where my problem lies. I KNOW where and what the the problems are and I KNOW how to improve, but the problem is that I don't WANT to do things that are uncomfortable or hard for me. There are things I know I need to get rid of that I hang on to. I'd rather start going to the gym and spend 3 hours a day working out, than change my diet or get more sleep or go out less. There is no easy way. If there were, EVERYONE would be in shape and look great. And while desire and hard work are key takes sacrifice.

I always say that people do what they WANT to do. Our lives are not the way they are by accident. Whether good or bad, we got where we are through a series of choices, so I need to decide what I really want and think about what it takes to get there. Then...I need to STOP thinking and wishing and wanting...and start making some sacrifices! There will always be hard days in the gym, but there will be a lot less if I change...not in small, easy ways, but in the ways that count!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

...LeAvE yOuR maRk...

Don't be afraid to sweat! Get in the gym and work as hard as you can. Work until you can leave your "mark" on the floor! Chances are, if you aren't sweaty enough to do didn't work hard enough!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

...fiGhT WeLL...

Ask yourself this question...
"When the going gets tough...when I'm scared or have doubts...when I am I give up, or do I fight well?"

If you are satisfied with the answer to that question, good for you. If not...if you have become comfortable...if you have made a habit out of giving up or making excuses...stop. Make the necessary changes. Learn to fight for what you want.

I had things happen to me in my life early on that created a certain mindset...a mindset that caused me to feel like I had no control. It seemed like fighting was not worth it. Many times, I felt that I should just accept whatever came my way. I wanted to avoid any pain that I could at all costs. My life changed in ways that are hard describe when I learned the benefit of fighting...of risking failure and/or pain.

My friend and past trainer, Wes, was a big part of that. He didn't ask me to do things that were uncomfortable or give me an option. He didn't let me quit when I was unsuccessful. Wes made me try over and over again. He never set me up for failure and he helped me find success. This doesn't mean I never had setbacks or failures in the gym. I did, but I learned to fight and do things I once never thought I could...and in some instances, do them very well. The things I learned throughout this process in the gym have carried over to my day to day life outside of the gym.

I've become good at fighting physically to finish a workout or lift a certain amount of weight, but I have an area that I want to change...a part of me that is still connected to the child that felt powerless. It's my attitude. I never think of myself as a pessimist, but I live by the phrase "hope for the best, but expect the worst". I do this because it gives me a feeling of control. If things go is a bonus, and if they go wrong...I can say "See! I knew that wouldn't work out well.". The problem with this is that this can become a defeatist attitude and I think that at times I create my own setbacks and failures. I need to work harder to train myself to BELIEVE that I will succeed.

I truly believe that winning is not the most important thing, but DO NOT CONFUSE THIS with me saying that you should be comfortable or happy with second place either. Fighting...playing...performing...working as hard as you can, with the INTENT to win and never give up, IS. I also believe that WHEN we "fight well", in a sense we do conquer and fighting well does not just include our physical includes our thoughts as well. Believe that you will succeed and then fight as hard as you can to make it happen physically AND mentally.

Friday, November 4, 2011

...aLL sHaPeS aNd siZeS...

I've been on both ends of the spectrum. I've been the fat girl that was ignored and mistreated. I've been the girl that wore the swimsuit with a skirt and felt humiliated to be seen on the beach. I once had to beg a group of salesmen in a car stereo shop to help me. ALL of them were standing around...not busy...none wanted to wait on me and the one that finally did, walked off in the middle of my question to help a young, thin girl that walked in. I remember leaving and sitting in my minivan crying in the parking lot. I've also been the girl that walks in to a room or a bar and had all heads turn and watch my every move. I've had salespeople fight over who would help me. I've felt a sense of pride as I walk down the beach in a bikini. When you make the kinds of changes that I have made and you've swung so far on each end of the pendulum, it's hard not to feel a little "better than" sometimes. When you do the kinds of rigorous, extreme, difficult movements and workouts that I have done, it's hard not to feel a little elitist. I'm so glad that I don't.

Most everyone thinks that THEIR the best way. I mean, why else would we chose to do the things we do if we didn't think that? And so it's easy for people that are bigger to put down people that are thinner and easy for thinner people to think bigger people should do something different or more. We are conditioned to narrow our view of what is pretty or what is strong or what is right. We think "pretty" means a certain color hair or a special kind of makeup...that being "good" means acting one way...that being "strong" should look like a certain body type. I have learned over the years that that is just not the case. Beauty and goodness and strength come in many different shapes and sizes. If we close ourselves off to the ways or looks that are different from our own...we lose out on so much. When we choose to close our minds to different ways, we limit our OWN possibilities and rob ourselves of the opportunity to grow and become better. We waste precious time we could be spending developing ourselves, trying to look or be like someone else. A lean yoga instructor and a female powerlifter both have different strengths and beautiful bodies, but if the female powerlifter thinks she should look like the yoga instructor...she will end up hating herself and never truly appreciate the beauty and the strength that she has.

Strength comes in ALL shapes and sizes. Fitness blogs and websites and magazines are a dime a dozen. You can find endless diet plans or workout plans or pictures of half naked fitness models. The world does NOT need more of that! What is different about me and the "Strong is the new skinny" Facebook page is that in MY eyes, there is NO one too skinny or too big to too strong or not strong enough or too sexy or not sexy enough. I truly believe that appearance is just a great side effect of the hard work we do in the gym. All of us are at different places and everyone should be working to better themselves rather than judging anyone else or feeling like we need tLinko look like anyone else! I've said it so many times before and I'll say it again...BE THE BEST YOU, YOU CAN BE!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

...iT dOesN't hAvE tO bE fUn tO bE fUn...

"It doesn't have to be fun to be fun." ~Mark Twight

Some of my most favorite workouts are the ones I do outside. Today was no exception. I went up to the gym and flipped a big tire and jumped in and out of it and did ring rows and lunged and swung a sledgehammer and did sit-ups...almost all of it was outside in BEAUTIFUL, sunny, 70 something degree Texas weather! I don't know what it is, but I feel so free and so alive when I am doing this stuff outside with the sun on my face and the breeze in my hair.

I am ALWAYS very tired by the end, because doing this kind of stuff is basically good, old fashioned HARD WORK! Some people may say, "Why would you want to flip a big tire or swing a heavy sledgehammer if you don't HAVE to?". Well, I do it because I get to switch up my workouts and enjoy the outdoors while I'm working out. Also, I LIKE to work hard physically. To really IS fun...and I always feel like I've gotten a good workout and used some muscles that are hard to isolate with traditional exercises.

The next time you want to do something different...give this sort of workout a try. Find an old tire you can attach a rope to and drag it or hit it with a sledgehammer. Go to the park and do pull-ups on the monkey bars or try going across like a monkey...the way you did as a child. Find things in your garage or outside that you can use as weights. Drive to a hill and run up and down. Learn to be able to adapt and work hard without gym equipment. Gym equipment is nice and it IS important, but you don't ALWAYS need it. If you don't like this sort of stuff...LEARN TO LIKE IT! Grab a friend and make it fun! Get outside and don't be afraid of getting dirty. Try new things and be happy working hard!

Remember what my workout hero Mark Twight says..."It doesn't have to be fun to be fun!"

P.S. Ladies...and guys too...I have so many inspirational quotes that I have collected for YEARS! Recently, I started adding some of them to pictures that I find and using them here on my blog AND on the "STRONG IS THE NEW SKINNY" FB page, so I had a thought today. Why not highlight some of my FB and Blogging friends?!?!

If you would like to, email me a pic of yourself that includes your name and ONE short paragraph about you, or what motivates you, or whatever. I will sort through and find pics that I like to go along with some quotes and "edit" them! I will TRY to email or message you here when I am going to use YOUR pic so you can be sure to tell all your friends!

There's just a few "rules":
1. No nudity or anything that a child should not see. I know MY own teen is on the FB page and reads my blog posts, so I try as a Mom to be respectful of that.
2. If it takes a while or you don't see your pic, please don't get mad, offended, hurt feelings, or email me. I can say without even seeing the pics that there is no pic that anyone could send me that I would think is not good enough! you mighta noticed...there's a lot of us and I'm one girl.
3. You have to be okay with me using your pic on the page and my blog. I assume that's the case if you are sending in a pic, but I thought I'd say it anyways. :)

I'm super excited! I LOVE giving all of y'all a chance to show the hard work and dedication that you have! You all deserve to be praised and noticed so PLEASE send me pics!!! They do NOT need to be professional. Many times action shots or everyday pics work better! Just think YOU can become someone else's inspiration with a lil help from ME!
My email is: