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?

Is there a "right" way to have a body?
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Love your body.

Change your body.

Don’t change your body.

Hate your body.

There are so many mixed messages coming from every direction when it comes to women and their bodies. It seems like every day there is a new expectation associated with how we should exist in our bodies.

I totally understand the struggle of trying to find where you “fit” and grappling with wanting to change your physique but also embrace where you’re at. I’ve felt this way numerous times in my journey. I’m currently about 15lbs heavier than I typically feel best at due to a PCOS flare up (check this post for more details) and honestly, there have been MANY moments where I have said some not so nice things to myself. There have been some tantrums and frustrated fits of grabbing at things I don’t like and obsessively staring at old photos.

While these moments happen, the frequency and duration of them has diminished over the years. That is not to say that I am head over heels in love with my body all day, every day. In fact, I’d describe my relationship with my body as pretty neutral. My body is a vessel that I exist in – it does amazing things, allows me to live the life that I want, carries me through tough times, and helps me celebrate good ones. I try to do things to keep it happy and functioning. It is part of me but it is not my entirety.

So what should we do? Should we love our bodies unconditionally? Should we hate them? Do we change them via diet and exercise? Or is that an act of hate towards our bodies?

The pressure to live in our bodies and feel a particular way about our bodies can be overwhelming. It can feel like no matter what we do, we aren’t doing it right. We aren’t loving our bodies enough. We aren’t trying hard enough to change them. We aren’t embracing them enough. The weight of these expectations can be downright soul crushing.  

I had a conversation with someone just the other day about the feelings of failure associated with health, wellness, and existing in our bodies. They felt like they failed at changing their body in a way they wanted, so they opted to shift gears and work on embracing their body in the present moment. After a while, they felt as if they failed at that too because they still wanted to make changes towards living a different lifestyle and therefore, they must not reeeeally love their body if they have a desire to change it.  Living in these two extremes and feeling like a failure is no way to live. No one has the right to make you feel like you’ve failed at building a relationship with yourself. You can absolutely feel positively about your body and want to change it.

What if instead of trying to shove ourselves in a false dichotomy of self love and self hate,  we move towards a healthy relationship with our bodies? What if we honor them and treat them in a way that feels good for us?

We eat, move, and exist in a way that serves our mental and physical health.  

We release the expectations of a labeling our relationship with our bodies because, let’s face it, sometimes relationships are complicated and messy. These relationships don’t need to exist in a box or adhere to a particular set of standards that are set by someone other than ourselves.

Can we actively fight against arbitrary standards that tell us how to exist in the world?

Can we resist the urge to trade one box for another and instead forge a unique path?

I think we are up for the challenge.

 

PCOS & FHA Update: Regression, Stress, and Next Steps

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, dietitian, or medical professional. I’m simply sharing my experience with PCOS and FHA and the strategies that have and have not worked for me. Always consult with your health care professional and remember that what works for me may not work for you.

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It’s been a minute since I’ve written or talked about my PCOS and FHA. In case you missed it or want to catch up, I was diagnosed with PCOS and functional hypothalamic amenorrhea in the winter for 2016 and have since been on a journey to find ways to keep my body happy. You can read more about that here:

Dealing with PCOS & FHA: My Experience

Dealing with PCOS & FHA Part 2: Carbs, Stress, & Weight Gain

PCOS & FHA: 1 Year Update


Since my last update, quite a lot has happened. I started dieting and it was going quite well – I was making decent body composition changes, my lifting was going well, and the scale was even moving down. At my last endocrinologist appointment in late December/early January, my testosterone levels were a smidge elevated but nothing that was extremely out of the ordinary for what was going on in my life at the time. For me, my testosterone levels will get elevated during times of high stress, low sleep, and when I’m doing training that is focused on higher intensity (i.e. heavier lifting) rather than high volume. I had not been experiencing any negative symptoms that tend to occur when my levels are high, so I took note to chill out a bit more and went on about my life.

Stress and Regression

Stress is my number one “trigger” for my hormones getting out of whack. Stress comes in many forms ranging from stress because of positive things, stress from acute traumatic incidents, and daily life stressors. I like to think of the stress response as a light switch on a dimmer. When we incur stress like the physical stress of training, daily life stressors, and a fight with a friend or significant other, our dimmer switch gets turned up and our room is brightly lit. We recover, eat well, hydrate, calm the fuck down, and then the dimmer switch gets turned down. Sometimes though, there are stressors that turn that switch all the way up and keep it up. Things like traumatic events, large life changes, and jarring incidents would certainly qualify here.

In January, my switch got turned ALL the way up. My brother had a very extreme health episode and was in the hospital on life support for several days. (Sidenote: thank you to everyone who reached out with kind words – it meant A LOT to me and my family <3 ) He is physically fine now but sustained an anoxic (lack of oxygen) brain injury and suffice it say, life has not and will not be the same. His recovery has been nothing short of incredible and his prognosis is the best that it could possibly be. The body is freaking incredible and my levels of gratitude for his health, my family, and life in general are astronomically high, but the trauma of that event left a serious mark on my body. Add to that the ever present stress of trying to build and run a business by myself, general life shit, and a very busy schedule…and well, my stress levels were lit the fuck up.  

I continued on with my life, adjusting to this new normal, and tried to give myself some compassion. Training changed to accommodate a hectic schedule and stress levels, however, I was already committed to a powerlifting meet in early February. I decided against pulling out of the meet because I just wanted to do something that was normal. Things continued to go well in training and I was so ready to have a great meet.

When I went to go weigh in…I was told that I was FIVE pounds over. I had cut weight (mind you, not extremely hard) and according to my apparently very defunct home scale, I was at weight the night before. Not being at weight isn’t a big deal for powerlifting and quite honestly, I didn’t care all that much – I knew I wasn’t going to sweat out 5lbs in the next few hours and I just lifted in the higher weight class. But, it DID throw me off my game enough to shake my confidence somewhat. And more than that, it was a big glaring sign that things were not quite right on the hormone front.

I felt defeated – my competition plan for the year had already fallen apart but I promptly made a new plan because that is the human that I am. I felt very out of control of my body and was honestly pissed off. I DID THE THINGS DAMMIT. I did my time! I’m ready, SO ready, to just push forward and do what I want to do.  I just felt like someone had pulled the reigns back, just as I was prepared to sprint ahead. My meet went sort of okay but it was abundantly clear that my body was not happy. My anxiety was outrageous, my recovery was shit, my weight was one big guessing game, and I felt off. That light switch had been pushed to the brink and in that glaring light, I was forced to see what was in front of me. Hormonally, things were not okay. 

Next Steps

So what now?

Now,  I’m in a space that feels familiar yet very different – clearly, my hormones are a little whacky and my body has detected that things are not quite normal. I’ve been here. I’ve done this. I know HOW to do this. But also, I don’t. The stressors aren’t the same, the process isn’t the same, and my body isn’t the same. This narrative is certainly one that is not unique to anyone who has experienced PCOS or hypothalamic amenorrhea. So, what is game plan now? Quite honestly, it isn’t much different than what I have done in the past. 

The biggest factor, for me, is stress management and reduction. This includes several things:

- more food and lots of it

-  trying new recovery methods

- blocking out time in my schedule to not work/check email/train/etc.

- saying no a whole lot more often

- more quality sleep

 

Training & Nutrition

As far as diet and training go, I was starting to prep for an April strongman show however, given my current weight situation, I decided to withdraw and hold off to aim for a summer show. Switching gears into strongman training means that my volume is quite high and intensity is relatively low. For me, that tends to push my testosterone levels back into the normal range and serves as a good mental relief for me. Training is one of the few times when I am doing something that is solely focused on myself and I can have some time to not interact with a ton of people all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE what I do, but I do need specific times to not be talking, educating, coaching, etc.

On the diet front, after a couple weeks of dieting and being stalled out, my coach upped my calories substantially to help bring stress down and get hormones in a better place. I need to lose a decent amount of weight to make the LW class for my strongman show and honestly, it was not a fun decision to decide to pull out of the April show BUT, there are other shows and that is totally okay. Now it is time to focus on eating more, recovering, and turning that dimmer switch back down. Is it frustrating? Yup. But, I know that it is worth it. I also know that I’ve learned when I’m starting to dig a hole that is too deep and can catch it early, so hopefully, it doesn’t take quite as long to climb out of.

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And that’s the current update! I’m also reading a TON about hypothalamic amenorrhea and female hormonal issues to compile a list of resources that would be helpful. If you have any suggestions, please leave them below!