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"fitness training"


Preaching to Myself

Sometimes when I blog, I feel like I am actually preaching to myself. I do it when I encourage others and try to motivate them too. Honestly, I think I am in this position in life to encourage myself as much as to encourage others. The only difference between me and the people I am encouraging is that I have a few more successes in the field of health than most the people following me. I think that's why I have to stay on my toes and keep improving (kaizen); I'm just not that far ahead. Here's my story as to why I am telling you this.

This morning, I was driving somewhere unimportant. I looked down at my legs and I thought to myself, I love my legs. Wait, what?! I love my legs? Haven't I spent the last 25 years despising those things?! They are the bane of my existence; never getting proportionally smaller, only getting bigger. My body image issues began with my obsession of legs. [SIDE NOTE: I love looking at legs. Men's, women's, it really doesn't matter. I find them beautiful (on other people, that is until this morning). So if you see me checking out your legs, it's just my own weird obsession for legs, not you. Back to my story.] Then I remembered a conversation with some of clients one day. It went something like this.

Me: We're going to do side lying leg adductors.

Client #1: Oooo. These are good. I need to do these everyday.

Me: They are a great exercise, but I can't do them everyday, they just make my thighs bigger.

Client #2: SO?

Me: So what? That they make my thighs bigger?

Client #2: Yeah. Who cares if they are bigger, they are stronger.

Me: I have trouble fitting in pants already, I couldn't imagine if they got much bigger.

Client #2: Well, that's fair, but it doesn't matter if they are getting bigger if they are getting stronger and more cut.

OK, so the conversation may not be verbatim, but that's pretty much how it went down. Client #2 was preaching to me that day. I think since then, I have tried to be more cognizant of my thoughts and words about my own body image. So when the thought that I liked my legs popped into my head, I relived that conversation.

After thinking through the conversation and wondering where that thought even came from, I decided I would preach myself through all the reasons to love my legs.

So here's my top 20 list of reason to LOVE my legs:
  1. My legs are muscular and defined
  2. My legs are long
  3. My legs help me do my job better
  4. My legs carry me everywhere I want to  go (including some adventurous hikes, just ask my bestie)
  5. My legs run, sometimes fast sometimes slow
  6. My legs run, far and sometimes not so far
  7. My legs get me all over a soccer field
  8. My legs move a soccer ball fast and hard
  9. My legs can do an impressive number of squats, lunges, burpees, etc
  10. My legs are really defined in high heels
  11. My legs have bruises and battle scars from years of using them
  12. My legs carried my body through boot camp even when I didn't think they could
  13. My legs carried my excessive pregnancy weight gain
  14. My legs supported me to carry my son
  15. My legs remind me when I should rest and stretch
  16. My legs have been with me through thick and thin (figuratively and literally)
  17. My legs walked me down the aisle to my husband on my wedding day
  18. My legs motivate me (both positively and negatively)
  19. My legs are beautiful
  20. My legs are mine
 (I'm no photographer, but you get the idea. They look good!)

It feels good to write this list and share it.  It feels even more amazing that I had the positive thought about my legs very organically. And by organically, I mean with the preaching and motivation I use for others shot right back at me. So when those of you out there talk about how I help you, just remember how much you are helping me. Your support and encouragement does not go unnoticed.

My last thought before I leave is this impromptu blog: We all have that a problem area or two on our bodies that we would love to change. You may change it and you may not, but find a way to embrace it without waiting for the change to come first. If you don't love it now, you won't love it when it changes. It is your thinking that creates the love for it, not the physical change. (Trust me, I have experience in this area). Make it yours; really own it. Make a list of reasons why to love it! The list of why not is not worth your time and is probably much shorter. Just focus on why to love yourself and the why not will begin to slowly disappear. Thanks for reading! See you soon!



Ideal weight; what does that mean?

It's Friday night. My son is busy with his friends in their fort they made for the sleepover, my husband is working super late, and I am sitting listening to music, drinking wine, and finally getting around to my next blog. If you have been reading my blogs, you know that I am working on my personal weight battle testimony. Well today, I decided to jump ahead to the current battle thanks in part to some of my clients.

Recently, I have shared with clients and friends about my current dilemma regarding my ideal weight. I say current, but it really has been ongoing for about a year. See, late last spring, I dropped down to my freshman year of high school weight. I never thought I would see that number again, so when I did, I thought, "If I can get this low, what is the lowest weight I can be?".  I didn't know it was happening at the time, but I also began to get sick. I felt that "just before a cold" feeling all the time. I also had a lymph node that remained swollen for over a month. And for the first time in my successful healthy lifestyle change, I started focusing on a number. The number became more important than anything else. I started making poor nutritional decisions: If I wanted to have wine, I would just eat veggies and hummus for dinner and drink wine. Or I would track my calories on My Fitness Pal and start working out multiple times a day so I could indulge in whatever I wanted. Quickly, I went from keeping my focus on my health, fitness and nutrients to focusing on numbers. I weighed myself obsessively (and still do) because I thought if I monitored it, I was immune to gaining weight.

All of that poor nutrition and wearing on my body started to reek havoc on my hormones. I even had a month where I missed a period and thought I was pregnant- I had every typical pregnancy symptom and was terrified! (I'm a mom of 1 and the idea of another, especially since he's 10, is a nightmare of mine.) I believe that the poor decision making coincided with some hormonal changes that were occurring and destroyed the healthy balance I had worked so hard to achieve.

I decided that I had to stop tracking calories and get back to a healthier food focus. I tried to stick to my tried and true methods only to feel disappointed when I saw the scale go UP!! I was eating better, getting better rest, and remaining active, but I was gaining! That sent me into a great obsession with the number on the scale, and I continued to make poor decisions when I felt frustrated with the situation. Well, about 5 pounds later, my husband and I started a cleanse. And the cleanse definitely helped with the hormones; however, it did not help with my food focus. During a cleanse you are required to keep foods out of your diet, so I became obsessed with what I couldn't have. I cleansed for a month and felt better physically and lost a couple pounds. For the first time, I felt like I was getting back to my healthier self. I still was struggling with fatigue and that feeling of getting sick, but things were looking up. But then....the holidays hit!  It was the holidays, so I was trying to be realistic and my mantra became, "Just maintain". Maintain was what I did.

Successfully making it to the other side of the holidays, I thought I was in the clear...I was wrong. Again, my eating was better, but my weight started to go up a couple more pounds. Even though I continue to get better about my nutrition, I struggling with my weight. I say I am struggling, but really, I am just 7-9 pounds higher than I had been. Since I cannot seem to control the scale, I started talking to people about my weight. I confided in my closest friends about gaining all that weight in a short time and asked them if they can tell. My bestie (who I can trust to break the worst news to me) gave me the most shocking answer of all. She said: "I don't notice any changes in your clothes or the way you look. And actually this summer, if you had lost any more weight, I was going to talk to you. You were getting too skinny." Now, my mom said that to me this past summer, but my bestie? She is about my height and I outweigh her by 20+ pounds. We are close to the same size in clothing, we just have different body shapes. I never expected that from her! It made me stop and really think- I've become mentally unhealthy. It's time to make a change in my head, not my body...I'll keep you up-to-date as I learn to love my body and not focus on the scale.

 You can't buy friendship like this!!



Failing does not equal failure

Sadly, becoming a US Marine did not alleviate my weight struggles. Leaving boot camp I was SKINNY, I could run like the wind, but I still was considered overweight by Marine Corps standards. Within a month of leaving boot camp, I gained the 7 pounds I lost in boot camp plus another 20 pounds!! I thought since I was "skinny", I could eat what I wanted. Of course, I didn't take into consideration that I was not living like I had in boot camp: I watched TV, slept late, played on my computer and found more time to be sedentary. By time I got to my training school, I was so overweight they put me on BCP, the Body Composition Program. On the days we did not have physical training (PT), I had to go to a "special" training group where we ran until our legs fell off. Actually, I ran 7 days a week, a minimum of 3 miles a day until I developed tendinitis in my knee from overuse. Medical put me on light duty which meant I wasn't allowed to run: That proved difficult when trying to lose weight. Honestly, in a few weeks time of running I was at the same weight at which I started boot camp, but continued to go to BCP.

The entire 4 years of serving in the Marine Corps, I never made it back down to my leaving boot camp weight. I yo-yo-ed my way through the entire 4 years. I was always cutting it close with body fat percentage and always knew I would just "be bigger". I remember one day a male Marine telling me that his friend would never be interested in me because I wasn't "the prettiest" person: Code for you are bigger and have too much acne. It was heart wrenching, but because I believed he was right I just agreed with him!!!!! WHAT?!?!?!? Thinking back, I am blown away by myself! However, all of the things this Marine was saying about me, I had said to myself for years. You're not pretty enough; you're not skinny enough; you're not athletic enough; you're too slow; you're not smart enough; you'll never be that good; you're just average at best; you're likeable, but not the kind of girl good looking guys date; you're the friend. All of these thoughts (and so many more negative ones) would cycle through my head constantly from 9 years old to this point when I was 20. His comment was nothing I hadn't heard before from me. Truth of the matter is I couldn't stand up for myself because I had no legs to stand on. I disliked myself more than he thought I was unattractive.

Here's a win for you young girls out there though: That friend of his and I ended up dating for years and almost got married. When I told my boyfriend at that time what his friend said, he was shocked! He couldn't believe his friend said that, and he really couldn't believe that I would believe I was so unattractive. So there are good guys out there, but before you go looking for one, make sure you believe you are valuable. I was fortunate that he was a good guy, I could have just as likely ended up with a guy like his friend reinforcing my negative thoughts.

It has been nearly a decade and a half since that conversation and I remember it like it was yesterday. I used to spend time beating myself up over not standing up for myself that day; but the truth of the matter is that if I do that, I am still treating myself negatively. We are all bogged down by the perceived failures in our daily lives. Our culture values success more than we value hard work, trying and improvement. I believe if we focus on the latter, we will be more successful in life. Look at all the things you have learned by trying and failing. You don't get better by being successful the first go around, you get better by trying and failing until you figure it out. If you don't fail you're not pushing your boundaries which means you cannot improve. And if you do fail, YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE! You failed, but you are not a failure. Those are two very different and distinct words. Get comfortable with failing without beating yourself up and assuming you're a failure.

Let me use strength training as a metaphor: If you want to strengthen your arms, you have to strength train. You will go to the gym and workout your arms using several different exercises. Each week you go, you have to increase the resistance. If you stay with the same five pound weights for 2 months, you didn't improve your strength- you maintained. You have to breakdown your muscle fibers so much that you fail at the movement by the end of the last rep. When you give your muscles the protein, rest, and recovery time, they will build back stronger and thicker- constantly improving.

The same concept applies to life: When you keep push your boundaries (upping the resistance), you will come to a point of failure. Then you will reflect, assess and reset (rest and recovery). When you do that, you will get a little closer to pushing through that boundary- constant improvement. You will be wiser and stronger for the next unforeseen obstacle too. Don't be afraid of failing, embrace the opportunity to learn.

All my best for a healthy, boundary pushing, learning week!
Me, my mother, and my big sister at Boot Camp Graduation
(My uniform was sized a the beginning of boot camp and I was swimming in it!)

Me and my big sis!

Me and both my big sisters! 
(I was probably about 15-20 pounds heavier than the previous photos)



Just let me get off the phone! HS Part 4

My senior year of high school I knew where I wanted to go to college and applied for early admission. Of course, to be sure I had a place to attend school, I applied to and auditioned for several schools. I was going to college to become a professional musician and get a teaching credential (because the performance market for musicians is competitive and doesn’t always pay). If I hadn’t already shared, I played bassoon for many years. By December, I was offered a full music and academic scholarship to my top choice school, The Catholic University of America in Washington DC.  Life was on track. 

Flashback: The summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school my family took a vacation to Washington DC. While there, we visited Annapolis and the Naval Academy. I actually fell in love with the school immediately, but I couldn’t major in music. For me, that was a deal breaker so I never planned to apply. I did, however, decide to request information about NROTC.  (I swear this is coming to a point).

Fast forward: It was January of my senior year and I receive a phone call from a Naval ROTC recruiter while my boyfriend is over. I told him I was not interested so that I could get back to hanging out with my boyfriend, but this Marine Captain was a salesman. He kept pushing. I told him that I wouldn’t have time for NROTC because I had scholarships and soccer to keep up with. Being the salesman he was, he pushed to find out what types of scholarships. When I explained I had music and academic scholarships, his role changed from pushy salesman to excited, desperate salesman . He asked what the music scholarship was for. When I told him bassoon, I believe he put me on mute, did a cartwheel,  and broke out the champagne bottle (I'll never really know, but I'm pretty sure that's how that went down). When he turned off mute he asked if I had ever thought about joining the Marine Band. My favorite band to see perform was the President’s Own, but I was not at that professional level yet. So the conversations went like this:

Me: “Like the President’s Own?”
Capt: “The President’s Own is a little different, but the Marine Corps actually has 13 fleet bands you can join.”
Me: “I didn’t know that. But I am not interested. Like I said I have a full scholarship to my top choice school.”
Capt: “You could just take an audition.”
Me: “I’m really not interested.” (Bubble thought, “Will this guy just go away already?!”)
Capt: “Why aren’t you interested in even taking an audition?”
Me: “I am happy with where I am going to school. It was my top choice.”
Capt: “Did you know that if you join the Marine Corps, you can get free money for school?”
Me: “No.”
Capt: “How about I contact your local musicians’ recruiter, and you take an audition. She will come to your school or home for the audition. Once you audition, she can let you know if you qualify to apply for the program.”
Me: (Bubble thought, “I will do anything to get this guy off the phone and hang out with my boyfriend. Plus, I can audition in my sleep.”) “OK.”

After that, he got my information and the other recruiter called, we set up a date and I was back to doing really important stuff like hanging out with my boyfriend. 

Just a few days later was the audition; I rocked it. I played everything they asked and then some. The recruiter offered for me to enlist with the musician’s contract. I told them I would think about it and contact them later in the week. 

I vividly remember going home that night and my mom was making dinner. She asked how it went. I told her that they want me to join. And my mom said, “I think you would be nuts to not join!” I was caught off guard a little. I knew she supported the military (my sister had just joined the Navy), but I didn’t think she would support it over college. She told me that I could still get those scholarships in 4 years, PLUS, I would have the Montgomery GI Bill to help me get through my daily living expenses. She also said. “You are 18 years old, you will get paid to play your bassoon, and get to travel the world. I would go for it if I was you.” So I decided to do it. 

Now would begin a true struggle with my weight. The Marine Corps has tight height weight standards and I was “big-boned” or “athletic”. It was an uphill battle I did not anticipate. I will post all of that journey next week. Until then, keep moving!



He's a model? HS Part 3

In my Junior High Chronicles, I talked about my tendency to jump from boyfriend to boyfriend. I “dated” more boys than any one girl should have by time I finished 8th grade and never found self-worth through dating. Of course it’s not surprising that it didn’t boost my self-worth since you cannot find self-worth through other people. Well, my charades of always being in a relationship continued while I was in high school. I dated a kid, we’ll call him Bud, 2 years older than me for some of my freshman year and most of my sophomore year. He was an OK guy, and I would say he treated me fairly well. To be honest, even though we dated all of that time, I don’t remember a lot about the relationship. We broke up when he was getting ready to graduate mostly because he was getting ready to graduate and wanted to move on. What was the main reason he wanted to move on? He got a Calvin Klein modeling gig and thought he could get any girl his heart desired. See Bud was approached by some scouts leaving a concert one night. If you knew this guy, you may be a little surprised that someone approached him, but back then Calvin Klein scouts were looking for extremely slender young men to model for their ads. Bud was definitely slender. He didn’t go looking for this job; it came to him which inflated his ego exponentially. Fast forward a few months…I am over the relationship, hanging out with my summer soccer pals at camp. One of the girls is flipping through a Seventeen magazine during lunch, stops at a Calvin Klein ad and says, “Wow! That’s an ugly model!” And my partner-in-crime through all of those weeks at summer camp, Lola, said, “LJ, isn’t that Bud?!” And to my utter embarrassment with my head hung low, I mumbled, “Yes…” I couldn’t believe he actually made it into a national, mainstream publication. On top of that, I discover it at soccer camp with my summer-time friends, and they think he is hideous! It was probably the most embarrassing moment of my life! Even thinking about that ad now, I am uncomfortable. It was so hard in that moment; I felt like they were calling me ugly. It was as though I was inadequate and ugly because the guy who had broken up with me was considered unattractive by a few summer-time friends. My self-esteem really took a hit that day which made me feel even more unattractive and too “athletic” or “big-boned” to have an average looking boyfriend, never mind a good looking one! How do you recover from those feelings of inadequacy? It’s not an easy feat. As an adult I would say, “You have to realize the summer-time friend didn’t say anything negative about you. Your self-worth does not depend on the opinion of a single comment. Even more, it doesn’t depend on one person’s opinion on the looks of your ex-boyfriend.” As a teenager, I am certain my coping mechanism that night was to go home and eat my way into pathetic self-pity party. Of course this is not actually coping with anything, rather trying to satisfy my emotions with food which doesn’t next blog we’ll talk about the stress eating nightmare that has existed as long as I can remember... Until then, healthy regards.