Posts in Fitness
F*ck Your Motivational Quote
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Want to know a secret?
I haven’t been “motivated” to workout in years.  
 
You read that correctly. I very rarely feel motivated to workout.  The other day, I spent some time doing a short Q&A session on my Instagram stories (if you’re not following me there – please do! I spend a lot of time there) on all things training related. One topic that continually came up was the topic of motivation. Specifically, what do I do when I’m not motivated to workout? I shared that I haven’t felt traditionally motivated to train in years. What I mean by “traditionally motivated” is the way that most people and social media conceptualize motivation.

Social media can paint a deceptive picture of what sustainable health and fitness look like. This type of “Motivation” tends to look something like bounding out of bed to go to the gym, smiling through your entire workout, and going home and laughing while eating a salad. It’s all positivity! And enthusiasm! And being super excited every single day! This is just not real life. Everyone has bad days, bad moods, and days where the last thing you want to do is put a bar on your back or go sweat it out at the gym.

It is 100% okay to not be feeling it sometimes.
It is normal to not feel endless enthusiasm.

It’s easy to feel like there is something wrong with you if you don’t share this seemingly endless enthusiasm.  This is not the case. The presentation of motivation is failing you; not the other way around.  Motivation, like anything else, is individual. What works for one person may not work for you. The drive that fuels your long term success and goals does not have to fit into a box or formula.

Motivation is not a pinterest quote. It is not pretty cursive words on a perfectly contrived, faded, slightly out of focus background.  It is not a perfectly posed #fitspo photo with a narrative of text about how hashtagblessed you are and how excited you are day in and day out.If pretty pinterest images and quotes do motivate, then keep collecting them! If they don't, that's okay too.  Motivation can be messy and difficult and maybe not so pretty. It is unique and it is your own.

If I'm not motivated, what does keep me going to the gym?

The fact that I have goals that I want to reach.  These are goals that I have made and that resonate with me. They’re important to me. They mean something to me. These goals will not just happen and success will not just fall into my lap. I must work for it. In the realms of strength, everything is earned and nothing is given. I am firmly in charge of my outcomes and the efforts that I put in to achieve those outcomes.  

Does that mean I skip the gym when I’m not feeling it? Not at all. Sacrifices DO have to be made, being uncomfortable is a given, and it is NOT easy. I cannot reach my goals without putting in the work, even on the days that maybe I’m not totally enthused about it. Is it always perfect and according to plan? Absolutely not. Keeping space for life to happen and keeping the perspective that the barbell will always be there is also important to keeping me “motivated”.

So don’t fret if you’re not feeling it one day, one week, or one month. Change it up. Explore your goals. Work hard for them. Create your own version of motivation.

Tell me: What goals are you working towards? What keeps you motivated?

Why You're Not Succeeding at Your Diet and What to Do About It
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Imagine this:

You get a shiny new plan or program from a coach, the internet, wherever, and you are SO ready to go. You look everything over, prepare yourself in whatever way you can, and then start your new plan. Things go well for a few days and then...you’re out of the food you prepped, work stress happens, schedules get wild,  the weekend happens, and before you know it, you’ve taken a few steps back. Rinse and repeat this cycle basically every week.

Does this cycle sound familiar?

If that hits a little close to home, I promise you, you are not alone. I have always struggled with this because I’m a super planning oriented and an overthinker. I would spend HOURS writing out diet plans for myself, calculating all sorts of numbers, and making the plan of all plans, only to have Monday come around and screw up my plans. I would forget something or have an unplanned event come up or just be a giant ball of stress.  I felt like if I couldn’t execute the plan perfectly, then what the fuck was the point?

What is the issue?

One of the hardest things about making changes is making the actual changes. Planning and preparation is wonderful (and an important part of setting yourself up for success) but all the planning in the world doesn’t mean shit if you can’t execute your plan. Simply stated - you have issues bridging the gap from point A (plan) to point B (working the plan).

In order to break out of this cycle, you first need to identify where the hang up is. This requires a lot of honesty with yourself - you have to be willing to be uncomfortable and accurate in your assessment. Some of the issues I’ve experienced most often and seen my clients struggle with include:

Paralysis by analysis: Focusing too much on the small rocks when you don’t have the big rocks in place.You focus on all of the details and get so overwhelmed that you freeze. You can’t start because you aren’t sure what direction to go.

Lack of ownership: You’re waiting for the “right time” to start or you feel as if things happen TO you and that you are not in control of your eating. You feel like you can’t say no to treats in the office or not have a drink when you’re out with your friends. Basically, life or others are sabotaging your efforts. (This can be a really complex issue that at times is best addressed with a mental health professional and I highly encourage exploring that option!)

Letting perfect be the enemy of good: You feel as if executing the plan to absolution perfection is the ONLY way to execute the plan. Things must go perfectly or else it is a total waste. This leads to what I call the “fuck it” mentality. Things don’t go 100% accordingly to plan so then you feel as if the day is a waste and go way, way off plan.

Being wishy washy on goals: If you’re actions aren’t lining up with your goals, ask yourself: are my actions the problem or are my goals the problem? Do YOU, just you, really want what you say you want? Or do you feel like it is something you SHOULD want because your friends, mom, society, etc. told you you should want that? This is a subtle distinction but a major game changer. If you’re not 100% invested in the goal you are trying to achieve, it’s easy to go off the rails and make excuses when any minor inconvenience pops up.

Managing expectations: It's easy to feel like throwing in the towel after a week when you are bombarded with "lose 10lbs in 7 days!" messaging via social media. It's important to remember that it didn't take 2 weeks to get to where you are, and it may not take 2 weeks to get to another place.  Having realistic expectations helps you know what to expect and keep things in perspective.

Identifying what is causing the issue is a critical first step to being able to figure out a solution. This is obviously not an exhaustive list, and there are several layers to each of these components, but taking the time to sit down and identify the pattern of hang ups is so key. This is also where having a coach, mentor, or accountability buddy can be incredibly helpful. It  can be hard for us to see the issue because it is too close to us. Discussing it with someone else can help bring some clarity.

The only way around the obstacles is through them, so breaking them down and being prepared to do the work to break through them is absolutely key. 

 

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So what do we DO about it?

Add IN, don’t take away: Add in behaviors, items, or habits that help you move through the obstacles you’ve identified. These are a few of my favorite strategies:

  • Have trouble with figuring things out on the fly? Try tracking your food the night before so you have a roadmap of what the day looks like. If things change during the day, it is easy to make adjustments and keep it moving.
  • Rather than focusing on taking away certain foods or food groups, add IN more of the stuff you want like veggies, fruit, water, etc.
  • Instead of feeling out of control, add in a daily practice that reminds you that you are in control of your actions and reactions. This can be something like exercise, meditation, or just even writing yourself a little note on your phone or planner and keeping it handy.

Practice the hell out of it: The only way to get better at a certain skill is to practice it, and dieting and habit change is no different! Do something that moves the dial closer to your goal every day and view it as practice. You don’t walk into the gym and squat 315 if you’ve never squatted before - you have to practice. The same principles apply when it comes to dieting.

Track it: I’m a giant data nerd so I like to track everything. Find a way to track your daily wins, skill practice, etc. so you can have some accountability and incentive to complete the task at hand. As totally dorky as it may sound, I use stickers in my planner to help me institute new behaviors. If I drink all my water for the day, I get a sticker. If I’m 100% compliant to my diet, I get a sticker. If I navigated a tough situation by using a new skill I’m trying to build, you guessed it, I get a sticker. If you’re not into stickers, there are apps like HabitBull that help you track various behaviors and habits as well. You can also check in with an accountability buddy and share your wins with them.

Find a way to win everyday: Dieting is a bit of a long game (as in, it's not a 2 week process, but it also isn't a lifestyle - it should start and end) so it is helpful to find ways to "win" throughout the process. Find some small daily and weekly goals that are relevant to you and focus on winning at those items. 

SHARE:

What are some of your favorite reflection strategies?

What are some tools you use to help yourself get through roadblocks?

The Problem With Empowerment
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Empowerment: a word that has garnered so much attention and use in the past few years that it is almost played out. Naturally, I want to ramble on about. Before I move on, let me be perfectly clear, I am ALL ABOUT “empowering” women….I just have issues with how we (the collective we) do it.

Let’s start with the word - empowerment.  Empowerment is defined as authority or power given to someone to do something. More colloquially, most of us define empowerment as the process of garnering confidence, strength, and fortitude to do things and feeling secure in the doing of those things. These definitions are perfectly adequate and do, indeed, serve their purpose. BUT….is that really what we mean when we say we want to “empower” people? We want to GIVE them power? We want them to garner power from another source? Are we supposed to lead people to some magical fountain of empowerment so they can drink from it and then BAM, they’re confident, secure, and strong?

Personally, I don’t love that idea. I don’t want to give anyone power because power isn’t mine to give. I think most people would agree that, when we say we want to empower people, we aren’t talking about an exchange of confidence forces. We want people to stand up and fight for themselves and do so with confidence. We want people to stand in their own power. It may seem like I’m being petty with linguistics here, but language matters. And more importantly, how that language is used and how those ideas come into fruition, matter. They matter a great deal.

At times, it seems that things written in the name of empowerment have taken on a rather less than “empowering” tone. There is a lot of “empowerment” that is done by shoving one group down so that another group may rise. Lately, it seems as if empowerment has really come to mean “making one better than someone else” and that’s just bullshit. That is not helping others stand in their power. That is not “empowering”.

 NOPE.

NOPE.

In my own realm, I’ve seen this illustrated most strongly (ha!) when it comes to the idea of strength versus aesthetics. The idea that women who get into sports like powerlifting, strongman, etc. that are judged on strength are somehow above, better than, or just frankly more fucking feministy, than women who choose sports that are judged on aesthetics. Don’t get me wrong, I think lifting is about the most power-building (literally) thing that women can engage in - but do we really need to shove other women down to make that point? Furthermore, does the commentary on what women wear, what we look like,  and how we adorn ourselves actually serve to further the goal of helping women stand in their power?

Whether I am reading an article about bikini competitors or reading an article about women powerlifters, I feel as though I’m being told how to present my body. Look, I get it. A sport which is predicated on being on stage half naked IS inherently a bit more about how you present your body - that’s the sport. That’s, by definition, what someone signed up for. And you know what? More power to them. Insinuating that those individuals are somehow less, and women who compete on a platform are somehow better, is just exercising the same comparative bullshit that most women who lift have come to hate. I think intention is important here as well - is someone posting things on social media as a way to garner attention to take people’s money and provide  a, shitty at best and dangerous at worse, service to them? Are they posting as a exercise in confidence? Are they trying to share their story? Are they trying to criticize others? All of these things matter. And quite frankly, you as the consumer get to chose what you consume. You can unfollow, you can ignore, you can scroll on past. You can change the conversation and show that there is not one “right” way to fitness by sharing your own story and selfies, if that is something you chose to do.

It seems as if the borderline constant comparative banter and judgement occurs as a knee jerk reaction. There is a recoiling from and rebelling against what, for most women, was sold to them as they only way to do “fitness”.  Most women have been told that in order to be “fit” you must exercise a certain way, eat a certain way, post on social media a certain way, and if you don’t...well then, you aren’t fit. More importantly, the “cooking breakfast in your underwear” (credit for that illustrative phrase to Dani Overcash) model of fitness was sold to them as the only way to attain worth. The idea that one has to display themselves in a particular way or only do particular activities in order to check the box of “fit” is, indeed, totally fucking useless.

 Can we not, though?

Can we not, though?

On the flip side, I don’t think making sweeping condemnations or generalizations about the intention of groups of women, and somehow framing those condemnations in a “well, clearly we are better” way, is useful. I know I am very guilty of thinking of that way and saying those things - and honestly, I still find myself doing that from time to time.  I don't want others to make sweeping generalizations about me, so why would I not extend that same courtesy?

We, the collective we, have to move past this. Instead, we can embrace that there is the radical notion that maybe, perhaps, some women may chose to present their bodies in a certain way and pursue certain activities because *gasp* they like them! And those activities make them feel good! And those things aid them in standing in their power. (Note: I’m not here to entertain a debate about whether one can have power if they conform, intentionally or unintentionally, to the “male gaze” or societal standards. That’s a different topic for a different time).

So what do we do? How do we help women stand in their power? We accept. We raise each other up. We refuse to settle for the tired trope of strength vs. aesthetics, because at this point, it’s just fucking lazy. We stop the comparative bullshit and the shoving of people into boxes. We stop judging women solely on how they choose to present their physical bodies. We  stand in our power. We help women to stand in their power.  We do better, because we deserve better.