Archive for Author fitlizzio

Unfiltered Sunday

I’m standing in the gym between sets of chin ups, writing this on my phone. This is how I write 80% of the time. It’s not ideal, but when the thoughts come, I write. Thoughts come like a burning blaze during my workouts, so I go with it. Enjoy, or don’t 😃

I want to pinch myself every single day. And at the same time, I still have this lingering “holy shit, what if I never figured it out???” feeling that really humbles me. Actually, no. It knocks me on my ass, if I’m being honest. It’s hard to explain that feeling, other than it feels like a form of PTSD. Where I get this deer in the headlights look realizing that if about a million little things hadn’t happened and my reactions to those things not been what they were…that I may have never known what it was like to truly live life on my terms. (That rocks me to my core to think about. And also keeps me so fucking thankful). To find the magic that comes with that. It feels like magic. I don’t know any other way to describe it. Like I can literally just be me and do me and things fall into place. It doesn’t mean I don’t hit road blocks or have serious problems come up…but the difference is that when they come up, my perspective on them has shifted so much that they just don’t fuck me up like they used to. It’s really incredible. Knowing it and living it….I can’t begin to explain how much easier life becomes. Or how much more comfortable you get with the uncomfortable. It sounds like crazy talk to pretty much anyone who hasn’t experienced it. So if you’re rolling your eyes, I Fully understand and don’t blame you. I’ve been that person. I was for most of my life. So I still have to check myself sometimes and remind myself that I’m not dreaming (well, maybe I am. #philosophy 🙃)

I still don’t know exactly what brought me here. What led me to really dig in to myself. To question my world around me simultaneously. What allowed me to actually be able to SEE during that process. (It wasn’t the LASIK, I don’t think 😜) And learn. And grow. I have my theories. There are events that occurred. But it still blows my mind. Grateful doesn’t come close to describing it. All I can say is that there isn’t a moment that goes by where I don’t completely understand how fucking lucky I am to have gotten to this point. Lucky in the sense that I allowed myself to open my mind. The rest of it was work. It’s still work. It will always be work. But holy shit is it the most magical thing. My life feels like a dream come true…and in ways it is.

I don’t have much of a point to this other than, writing helps me organize my thoughts and let out a creative energy, so I do it. And if it at all helps another person, then it makes me even happier. So here we are.

The Rollercoaster

I’m constantly analyzing…literally everything. From the structure of a sour gummy worm, to my life and what does or doesn’t make sense in it..for me.

I used to live in a very scared headspace. Scared of the worst thing happening. Losing a job, being forced to move, being the one person to fall off a roller coaster that’s never had a problem….that kinda shit.

And I’d be lying if I said I still don’t do that haha. But the thing that I don’t do anymore is let that stop me. I’ve gotten a better grasp on the fact that I really am in control of (and responsible for) most things in my life (Like 99%…the 1% living in that bird-shitting-on-me realm. Although I do control what happens next….).

If I want to spend more money on traveling, I no longer think about the dent that will put in my finances, but instead the opportunities around me to build my finances in order to support that want. I put my energy there, and not the former.

The fear is still there sometimes and it does hold me back occasionally, but much less than it used to. For the most part, if I want something, I go for it. I trust that I’ll figure it out. I trust that it will work out. I trust myself. Which is something I didn’t do for most of my life.

It’s the most liberating thing I can think of, and while it comes with its own set of fears in itself, it also shows me that I can overcome them…and the more I do that, the more I expand my comfort zone. (My comfort circle grows and grows and my comfort zone starts to encompass all the things I used to fear. I have a drawing of this that I will try to share at some point. It looks like a Bird drew it, but it gets the point across.)

It takes practice and trusting before you actually believe it…(think about that for a second…..)

but it WILL prove itself to you if you give it that time and patience and trust….before you believe it.

I still can’t control the roller coaster thing, but I feel like if I am that 1 in a million person, at least I went out DOING the scary thing and not standing on the sidelines 🤷🏻‍♀️

And really, a rollercoaster is the best metaphor for life. You might get thrown off at some point, but it’s more likely that you’ll just get thrown around and feel like shit a lot, but also have some thrills along the one. Just keep your seat belt on and you’ll probably have the ride of your life…literally….

As my dude Chuck says…..

“The best way to waste your life, is by taking notes. The easiest way to avoid living is to just watch. Look for the details. Report. Don’t participate.”

Bramble Jam

The amount of time spent in my brain exhausts me sometimes, but it is also what lets me figure out what to do next.

Next meaning…immediately next. Not 5 years next. I used to spend so much time worrying about the future, because that’s what the world constantly stresses. And while it’s good to have goals, some emergency funds, etc, spending so much time planning the details takes you completely out of your own life. You can talk about all the things you’ll do in 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, but what about now?

I notice that many people avoid doing things right now because of what that might mean in 5 years +.

Thank you Chuck Palahniuk…

Most would rather avoid the path their soul is walking them towards because society has told them that happiness is a house, that steady 9-5 job, that human being that has signed a paper to ensure they spend the rest of their days with you no matter what. They call this security.

Don’t get me wrong, those things might be monikers of success and joy for you. Being with someone until one of you leaves the world can be a very real and amazing thing. But the WHY is what defines what it truly means for someone. Are you with a partner for 30 years because you both truly choose each other? Or is it because you’ve completely intertwined your lives and it’s “comfortable” (I use that term loosely, as many people mistake comfortable for just being used to something. You can be used to walking on egg shells and not consciously feel phased by it even though your subconscious is on life support in the form of stress and anxiety and all kind’s of health issues).

The why is what matters. Did you buy a house because the feeling of home and owning a place to make your own makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside? Then great!!! Buy that house baby.

But if you’re doing it because “that’s the next step” or others have pushed the concept….well you might want to take a step back and look at it and what it means for you.

See, there isn’t a generic right or wrong way to live (with the exception of hurting other people. Don’t do that)….but there is a right or wrong way to live for you. Asking yourself why you are doing something and what your true purpose for it is will help you start to see what is right or wrong for you and your life. From there you can decide whether or not it changes anything, but awareness is powerful. Scary, vulnerable, eye-opening…but powerful.

Doing and following the things that truly light your soul on fire yields a whole new world. It means people will think you’re crazy, stupid, short-sighted, wild…..I’ve heard it all and I’m not even that far off the grid. The things that the world has told you to do are worth looking at. But if you really look, you might just see that it isn’t for you.

.

I certainly don’t have everything figured out. In fact, that’s actually what makes my life so enjoyable (for me). It used to scare me and make me feel lost. And used to meaning like…even 6 months ago. But things can change quickly. If I look back to the catalyst for my transformation, which was almost 3 years ago, I’m a far different person now. 3 years really isn’t that long ago. It’s been a shit load of ups and downs to get here (and there is no question that it will continue until I die), but in the big picture, it’s a small window of time.

I used to be really afraid of the fact that I didn’t have a master plan. And then I realized that the master plan has been there all along. It ebbs and flows and zigs and zags as I go, but it is the most reliable and secure path there is. I started trusting myself before I trusted myself and it was terrifying. I didn’t know how to just let go of the reigns I was holding onto, because I was afraid. Turns out those reigns were connected to a merry-go-round pony. False control. It made me “feel better” but ultimately just took me in the same circle a thousand times over.

I’m still afraid sometimes, but I’ve gotten much more comfortable with not knowing, not having a plan, not manipulating, and just trusting. This also doesn’t mean that being a feather in the wind is all that I am. I still choose my environments and have goals. But my goals have started to center around happiness. And oddly enough, I have become more successful in all areas of my life through this “goal”. It turns out that doing what makes me happy and making that my ultimate goal actually makes me better at the things I love and a better human to others..without focusing so deeply on the outcome.

Spending my energy doing the things that fuel my passionate self, that make my heart dance, being with people that I connect with beyond just being in the same square footage….it all contributes to reaching my “goal”.

It sounds so fucking hippie dippie that it kinda makes me want to punch myself in the face, but at the same time it actually makes sense to me now. Only because it’s proven itself to me time and time again in the last year or so (and actually longer as I start to see it all as a whole).

Prior to that, my eyes would have rolled so far into the back of my head after reading what I’m writing that I would have probably found the contact lenses I lost 5 years ago.

ANYWAYS.

The inner voice, instinct, internal compass, soul, gut, whatever you want to call it……it tells me where to go. It shows me what makes sense and what doesn’t. It does it for everyone, but you just have to shut up long enough to hear it.

Ever wonder why young kids are just happy all the time? Like yes, they lose their goddamn minds when they don’t get to bring all 14 of their Batman figurines into Chili’s, but that’s because you’re interrupting their inner desires in that moment 😂

They follow what their gut tells them. They don’t have the capacity to listen to all the noise that us kids-acting-as-adults do. When was the last time you heard a 3 year old tell you how worried they were about whether or not they would make it down the big slide at the playground next week? In fact, we get soooo caught up in the noise that it becomes all we hear. And so we start building a life based on what’s coming through the cheap, shitty, blown out speakers and not what’s actually been etched into the vinyl.

Take a step back. Look at your life as a whole. What parts of it light your soul on fire? What parts of it give you anxiety? What parts of it are not ideal, but not a total bother?

And then ask questions for yourself. Why? Why are you doing all the things you’re doing. Is it because you truly want it? Is it because you’ve been told it’s what you want?

I actually have no problem with people buying houses even though it seems like I bring it up a lot. My issue is only in the fact that people view that as a gauge for success because someone told them it’s what they should do. As if buying a house means you have done something substantial with your life. It COULD. Or it could not. But most people don’t take the time to unpack these blanket statements and ideals.

It might not make sense for you AT ALL to buy a house, and yet I guarantee, no matter what, people will congratulate you when you do it. They’ll tell their friends and family too. You’ve done it. You’re there. Congrats.

As my boy Chuck says…”What we don’t understand, we can make mean anything.”

Ugh, this is why I call it a Bramble Jam. Well, that meme is really why, but also because I go down so many different avenues I forget why I started. As Michael Scott says “sometimes I start a sentence and I don’t know where it’s going, but I hope that I find it along the way”

That’s my entire existence in one sentence haha.

Ok, let’s wrap this up.

What I notice more and more is that when I focus on aligning my life with what lights my soul on 🔥, the more things that light my soul on fire show up in my life. It feels like it’s cheating. Like I cracked the code in Earthworm Jim 😎

And for a long time, I really just chalked it up to coincidence. But over time as it’s proven itself over and over…as my life has become fuller and fuller…as I’ve learned more about who I am and what this world looks like when the emotions are stripped away….it’s become clear to me.

Listening to and following the inner voice, silencing the noise, moving towards the things and people that fill my soul up and walking away from the things and people that empty it…..it all starts to align. In a scary, mind-blowing way.

Do I still fuck up and let the noise distract me? Oh yeah. Do I still have things in my life that are pulling me away instead of pushing me towards what feeds my soul? Yuppppp. But I’m also learning to be patient. With myself, mostly. Taking small steps, not manipulating my situations, letting things happen and be, letting the world around me happen and be, and making small adjustments to shimmy my way into the right places for me.

Charles Bukowski has a quote that really puts it into perspective for me:

“People are strange: They are constantly angered by trivial things, but on a major matter like totally wasting their lives, they hardly seem to notice.”

I have been that person. So much that person.

But luckily she died and now there’s me. And hey, maybe you’ll all laugh at me in 10 years when you’re living in your 5 bedroom house with your new kitchen remodel and I’m still sitting in my apartment trying not to get evicted for playing Lady Madonna 600 times in a row. But man…even the small number of exhilarating feelings I’ve experienced by choosing to live on my own terms (mostly) are worth it. While I hope to live for many more good years, I could leave the earth tomorrow with no regrets. It’s not something I could say even a few years ago.

Oh Black Betty..

Addicted to Bullshit

In the last 4 months, I’ve developed some of the closest, most unexpected, deep relationships with people. Particularly men, who (whom? I wanna say whom. 🤷🏻‍♀️) I’ve always clicked with much more than women. I was a Tom boy growing up (I guess I still am to a degree), grew up playing on all guys sports teams, and naturally just tend to have more in common and speak the language of men much better.

I don’t think these new, deeper friendships are a coincidence either. In typical Lizzy fashion, I’ve spent a lot of time analyzing it all. 🤓

Jump into my brain if you feel compelled…

Some back story…Last December was one of the hardest month’s of my life. Nothing actually happened, but mentally, I was in a low spot. (Which kind of makes it worse. For anyone who suffers from any form of depression, manic episodes, anxiety, etc, you know the guilt you feel for feeling bad when your life is nothing short of incredible.)

This low wasn’t anything particularly new, but I got extremely fed up with it. I was tired of the cycle. Starting a day on a good foot and then falling down rapidly into this low is extremely frustrating. Not to mention the fact that I am a very happy person with an amazing life. I mean, AMAZING. I get butterflies every day thinking about how grateful I am for all that I have.

Which made (and makes) those lows so, so frustrating. It’s not caused by anything in particular and once it catches hold, its hard as fuck to pull out of. Then you get mad for being down there and it’s just fucking exhausting.

I finally got so annoyed with it that I came onto social media with a strong message that basically said what I needed to hear: do something about it.

While I’m not technically an addict, I do have addictive tendencies and it runs rampant in my family. I got so sick of feeling like I was down in a hole (feeling so small 😜) that I decided to treat it like an addiction. An addiction to my bullshit. And truth be told, it probably wasn’t so far off.

Because I knew that I was being lazy in preventing myself from falling down those holes. As if I was walking around the Bushwood Country Club with a blindfold on, hoping I wouldn’t fall. (If you get that reference, you rock).

I knew that if I worked on paying attention, I could prevent it from happening as often. Or at least I hoped so.

So I started doing just that. I started hiking a ton because being outdoors got me out of my head. The moment I felt it creeping in, I dropped what I was doing and drove to the mountain. I started playing music as much as I could instead of watching TV or scrolling my phone.

I even downloaded an app for addiction (I Am Sober) and started tracking the days I could steer clear of the hole. It actually helped me a lot.

Playing music and being in the studio became even more crucial for me. I realized how much I needed that in my life. Music is more than a hobby and more than a “job”. It is what truly soothes my soul. I knew that, but didn’t know just how much.

Without that, without writing (written word), without meaningful conversations with other open minded, creative people, without the creative outlets that my brain wants and needs, I start to get low. Knowing these things was showing me how I needed to live my life. It helped me further align things for myself. And I’ll continue having to align things until I die. Because as a good friend put it last night, there is no “it”. You’ll never find “it”. You’ll keep chasing what you think it is, but you’ll get there and realize it’s a moving target. Follow it anyways. (Brilliant words that I wish were recorded because it was said so perfectly).

So back to my original point. I pulled out of that darkness eventually (beginning January 2nd to be exact), and while there have been some minor lows in the past 4 months, I’ve avoided the major ones. I truly believe it’s because I started paying attention and getting ahead of it. Knowing what keeps me feeling good and also knowing what magnets lay at the bottom of the hole.

And as I started being more aware and making my daily life follow those needs….Doing what my heart, my brain, my soul NEEDED. Following that regardless of what anyone said or thought. Following the inner voice (intuition) and most importantly, trusting it (which is terrifying at first, by the way)…led me to suddenly have these new people, new conversations, new realizations, and new experiences in my life. It’s given me a new light and happiness. It blows my mind a bit, because aside from the lows, I was already living a pretty magical life. I didn’t even know it could get better.

Don’t get me wrong, this growth didn’t just start 4 months ago. It has been happening for the last almost 3 years. And has morphed and developed because I’ve been obsessed with becoming better, more open, happier. Not settling for anything less than that either. Willing to live life differently than many others. Being ok with the criticism and skepticism that comes with that (and there’s a lot of that by the way 😂)

It absolutely works and has been for a while now.

But it’s gotten stronger and more magical than ever. It’s been an interesting thing to reflect on, because I know it isn’t a coincidence. It furthers my belief that trusting my gut really does lead me to the right places, the right people, the right things. And now that I know it, I feel like I’ve unlocked a secret. I’m sure I’ll have many more lows in my future. I won’t say “I’m cured!”

But it just keeps getting easier and easier to stay happy, to have perspective, to understand my emotions and what they mean (or don’t mean). Easier in the sense that the work I put into myself has changed me for the better. The work is hard as fuck, but the pay off takes you to places you never knew were possible.

Anyways, at this point I’m just rambling and could go on forever, but I’ll stop there.

I had to write this out because otherwise it just sits inside of me. I compare creative energy to nails. If you don’t get them out, they sit inside of you. They pile up and Eventually they rust. A few won’t be too noticeable, but as they add up, they become dead weight. I know now that I have to listen to that and get the words out when they want to go out.

So here we are…

How I Became an Unwaveringly Happy Person – Part 1

This series of posts will be written in short snippets. Because while I love writing, I just want to get this stuff out in the simplest manner. So pardon the no-fluff approach. No preamble, no setting the stage. Just raw words from my brain to the page. Enjoy it, or don’t.

Stop Setting Expectations and Ruining Everything

One of the first things that started allowing me to be free and happy was this: I stopped setting expectations and started letting things be what they are.

The first thing people say to this is “but don’t you want to be treated a certain way? Don’t you want some standards?”

The thing is, I didn’t lower my standards, and people confuse the two.

When you set expectations of people or a situation, you are projecting onto it. It’s not fair to you, the situation, or anyone else involved.

When that expectation that YOU set isn’t met, you end up disappointed.

But who gave you the right to set that in the first place?

Let that go. Let things be what they are. Don’t ruin it before it happens by deciding what it should be, what you want it to be, etc.

And to answer the question, this also doesn’t mean you have to allow yourself to stay in the situation or around the person/people if what it is doesn’t serve you for the positive.

So no, you don’t need to lower your standards, let people treat you in a way that you deem unfavorable, or anything else.

You simply just let things be what they are. Let people reveal what and how much they want to, without you projecting your expectation. Without you digging into them or their life. They don’t owe you anything and it’s not your place to dig. Let a situation unfold as it will.

Let

it

be

what

it

is.

And when it does unfold and reveal itself? Decide whether or not you want to stick around for it. That’s your choice and you get to take responsibility of your choices (which is part 2…another day).

Expectations are a disease.

Anxiety and Happiness

There are people out there who are super happy, love their lives, are grateful for what they have, LOVE being alive knowing new opportunities are possible every minute….and yet they still deal with mental health issues that affect everything they do.
I’m one of them.??‍♀️
For me, it’s anxiety. Many people think of anxiety as being scared of something (an event, person, situation, etc), but that’s isolated anxiety. Chronic anxiety comes in the form of a low (and oftentimes mid to high) level hum of confusing energy that illicits feelings of questioning yourself, irritability, sadness, and constant chatter in your brain.
For all the audio nerds out there like me, I compare it to a 60 cycle hum. Oftentimes you don’t notice it when there’s a lot of stuff going on, but when the music stops and it gets quiet, that motherfucker doesn’t shut up.
It’s extremely frustrating. It wears me down and exhausts me. It’s really tiring to not only live your life -work, relationships, etc- but to also be constantly dealing with this nagging “hum” all the time.
I’m sharing this only because I find it hard to relate to many people about it. Maybe sharing it shows someone else they’re not the only one.
Because yes, you can love the fuck out of your life and still battle your own brain every day.
I’m learning ways to deal with it so that it’s less of an enemy and more of an acquaintance.
-Walking by the beach where I can appreciate the beauty and sounds of the ocean
-Hanging with my dog (and other people’s dogs) and watching how much joy they find in the simplest of things (OMG a stick! ?????)
-Listening, playing, recording, watching live music. That’s always been my security blanket and it still works
-Spending time with friends even when my anxiety tries to prevent it. I almost always feel better.
-Taking care of myself – eating well, working out
-**a BIG ONE** paying attention to what I consume. What I read, watch, surround myself with….take a second when you read stuff – a headline, someone’s IG caption-and look back into yourself and see what it makes you feel like? Actually pay attention to the feeling that comes over you when you read something like that. THIS has been huge. It’s brought so many realizations to my life and in turn, led me to pay attention and filter what I consume.
-Writing. Getting things out of my head is really helpful to make space up there.
-reflecting. I spend a lottttt of time reflecting. Connecting dots. Paying attention to my behaviors, reactions, inactions, thoughts, etc and then looking at why I do/say/feel those things. I take that further and try to come up with solutions.
-and probably the biggest one-I don’t let myself lose perspective for too long. YOU choose your lens. As my good friend put it, whether you’re looking through your glasses from one side or the other, it’s still the same pair of glasses. Sure, I get down. I go to low places sometimes and it’s sucks. But even at my lowest of lows, I see the light. I see it because I believe it’s there. I can’t say I’m a religious person, but I guess this could be considered faith. Because isn’t that what religion is about too? You don’t need to see it to believe it. You just have to believe it with every cell in your body.
.
This life is good. Whether I’m a science experiment, an alien, or this is all a dream…I’ve been blessed to have emotions. To feel things. To feel the bad and the good. Without bad there IS no good. Contrast is what allows us to feel different ways.
.
So while it’s not easy, it won’t always happen, and you’ll often fight it (I do too at times)….welcome the bad and the negative.
Let that stuff happen and view it as a lesson. A road block that YOU get to figure out how to get around. Notice I said GET, not HAVE to. You’ve been given the Privelige to be alive and to feel and to experience. Don’t let that slip away. Keep that in mind. Remember what you have, even when a lot has been taken away. Think about what may come. And remember that time heals.
No matter what you’re dealing with…depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, any other mental health issue, a combination of them all (I truly think I’m just a hodgepodge of mental health issues sometimes ???‍♀️)….other people are too.
Successful people
Famous people
“Perfect” people
Nice people
Mean people
Happy people
Unhappy people
We all have our demons.
I hope this is helpful to even 1 person.
And if not, it’s been helpful for me to just write this, so I’ll take it!

New Year’s Resolutions 2018

marinadelrey

It me!!!

It’s been quite a while since I’ve blogged. It started to feel like a job for me, and I felt pressure to write, even when I didn’t feel like it. In addition, I always want to put out worthwhile content, so half-assing it didn’t seem like the right choice either. This is an outlet for me and when it wasn’t fun anymore, I needed to curb it temporarily.

Anyways, I’m back and I’m here. I’ve missed blogging. I needed to miss it to come back to it with authenticity. So here I am.

It’s the start of a New Year and I’d like to blog 1-2x/month. It may be more, it may be less. I hope you’ll take a read at the topics that interest you.

The focus of this blog will remain health and fitness, but with the addition of mindset and wellbeing. I’ve posted on these topics before, but I’ve truly had an incredible year and a half of learning, growing, self-reflection, and soul-searching. It won’t be easy to put into words, but it is my goal to share some of what I’ve done, as I have never been happier in my life and I truly believe that I’ve figured out the “formula” to happiness. I hope to share as much of that as possible to help you find that place of being/living.

2018

While last year was full of ups and downs (both personally and for our country/society), it was a fantastic year for me. I grew as a person, I made new friends, I traveled all over the place, I went to see a LOT of live music, and I said YES a lot. <—I’ll do an entire post on this.

My resolutions this year are quite different than in years past. I am constantly working to better myself: learning more, becoming more proficient at various skills, finding what makes me happiest, being a better person, getting stronger (physically and mentally), and so on. While I have several goals in the works (that’s a year-round thing for me), there are a few things I’d like to focus on in 2018 and they all revolve around self-care and giving.

My 2018 New Year’s Resolutions

Less time on social media, texting, emailing, etc. This means not bringing my phone with me everywhere I go. It also means not replying right away or jumping at the sound of a notification. It means not aimlessly browsing through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter when I’m bored. There are so many other things I could be doing with my time. While most of my work revolves around social media, emails, and the like, this isn’t going to be easy, but setting some boundaries for when I’m working vs. just passing time is going to be the big difference for me.

Steam Room Life. I am pretty sure when I announced this goal on Instagram, everyone thought I was joking, but I’m not. And the reasons for it are actually pretty impactful in my life (blog post on the little things is forthcoming as well…). There is a steam room in my apartment complex and occasionally I’d go there in the evenings or after a workout. I noticed that when I went in the steam room for 10-15 minutes, showered, got ready for bed, and laid down, I felt really relaxed. I noticed that I slept better as well. A deep, refreshing sleep that is hard to come by for me. So yes, one of my new year’s resolutions is to sit in the steam room and/or sauna every night before bed (unless I’m going out or out of town of course).

More writing. I love writing. While I haven’t been blogging, there are probably 100+ Notes in my phone and in Google Docs that are just my thoughts that needed to get out. Some are intellectual, some are stories, some are nonsense. They all helped me release something though. I truly believe that our creative thoughts must be released from us in some way: through playing music, writing, singing, talking, etc. If we don’t express those creative thoughts, they sit in us like rotten nails. One nail isn’t felt much, but several rotten nails is dead weight that we end up carrying around.

Relax more & flip my stress upside down. I take on a LOT at once. If you know me, you know I’m always working and adding more to my plate. I get stressed out, anxious, and sometimes it’s enough to paralyze me. I’m really focusing on taking care of myself this year. When I’m stressed and anxious, just taking 5. I try to be really efficient and not waste time, but if time is spent recharging my brain, it’s well-spent and worth it. More beach walks (with NO phone), more staring at the boats on the water. More deep breaths. More looking at whatever is stressing me out and flipping it over into the positive aspects. Is it a learning experience? Is it making me stronger? Is it forcing me to think outside the box? Is it actually a good thing for me? And lastly, if it’s toxic, what can I do to remove it?

-Travel. This is always a goal of mine. I went on 18 trips in 2017 and I plan to increase that this year. Learning how to travel and get your work done, workouts in, eat well is a skill I feel I’ve mastered. I learned by doing (that’s how I’ve learned most things, actually), and will also write a post (or posts) on this. Either way, I plan to go to: Chicago, NYC, Oregon, Alaska, Switzerland, Germany, Czech and/or Poland, Hawaii, Banff and more this year. I’ve already booked Chicago, NYC, and Maui. It’ll be a wild ride, but THIS is something that fills my cup, so I make it a priority <—-more on that in another post

Add. Add positive people, positive experiences, and positive environments into my life. The negative shit will fall by the wayside out of default.

Give back. I’m going to be doing a few different things this year to give back to the community. Some will involve dog shelters, some will involve helping people through the power of dogs. I’ll share more on this later on, but I’m excited for a few different things I’ve got in the works. I have way too much good in my life to not be spreading it around. I’ve given to charities in the past, but I want to do more.

-Continue saying Yes. I’ll likely keep repeating this phrase on all platforms for as long as I live, as it was life-changing for me when I truly started adopting the phrase. “If you’re going to regret something, regret doing it.” I can’t stress enough how much this mentality will improve your time on this Earth. Saying YES, going for it, doing it, experiencing it. Regretting only that you DID something, and not that you DIDN’T DO something. The power of this style of living isn’t shown until you actually start living it. Reading it and envisioning it don’t work. It’s like a sports car with a dead battery. You know it can go fast and do a lot, but until you’re driving 110 mph down the freeway and feeling the adrenaline pumping through your body, you didn’t actually understand what it felt like. When you DO start living it, it’s power is so huge that you can’t believe you’ve lived any other way for your entire life.

I’ll leave you with this video that I’ve shared several times on my Facebook page. It encapsulates the essence of this phrase and if it doesn’t bring a tear to your eye (a happy tear, a regretful tear, an anything tear), then you might be dead inside.

 

I’ve Changed: My Body, My Strength, My Goals

It’s hard to believe that for 7 years, I wrote a blog post almost every day. I love writing and if I didn’t have so much on my plate, I’d probably write a lot more. I have a lot to say and I’d probably save the people around me by writing more often 😉

The last 6 months have been interesting. My goals have changed, some of what I’ve been doing has changed, and I feel that I’ve changed mentally as well. Not to sound like a kook, but I felt these changes coming on. I kept telling people that I felt like change would be coming soon. Maybe I manifested it, or maybe I could just tell that my life was getting ready to adjust. Either way, it’s not unwelcome and I’m riding the wave to see where it takes me.

Let me back up and get you caught up on my 2017 thus far…

If you’ve kept up with me for the last few years, you’ll know that in January 2016, I started working with a Powerlifting coach (Jason Kelske….he’s still my coach 1.5 years later), as I wanted to see better strength results. I had geared my workouts back to gaining strength somewhere in 2014 (after a hiatus where I spent my time “chasing the sweat”, as I call it), and by the end of 2015, I felt that I had done what I could on my own to get stronger. I had plateaued in most of my lifts and knew a coach would be helpful. As a trainer myself, I truly believe that any trainer can benefit from having their own trainer. Whether you’re an expert in your field or a total newb, there’s something to be said about having a 3rd party assessing what you’re doing and making decisions on where to go next. There’s no emotion involved with a coach. When it’s you coaching yourself, you tend to overthink. I love having a coach and always learn so much from everyone I work with. I think it’s important in expanding my knowledge as a trainer and a lifter.

I started gaining strength rapidly with my coach and became totally addicted to it.

I believe when I started my numbers were roughly:

  • 155lb Back Squat for 3 reps
  • 105lb Bench Press for 5 reps
  • 185lb Deadlift for 5 reps
  • 3-4 struggly Chin-Ups (yes, I said struggly)

This past January, 1.5 years later, I hit some really exciting PR’s:

  • 225lb Squat
  • 148lb Bench Press
  • 275lb Deadlift
  • 10 bodyweight Chin-Ups

If you would have told me even a year ago that I’d hit those numbers, I would have said you were crazy. It was seriously an awesome feeling to do that!

But in January, I also weighed about 155-156lbs. I had “fattened up” in the winter, and since I was training really hard, I was able to get really strong.

The problem was, I wasn’t happy or comfortable in my skin.

This was me in February. I looked fine, but it wasn’t a happy weight for me (although I looked buff AF).

If you don’t know my history, here’s a brief overview:

-I started lifting weights in 2007 – I weighed approximately 130lbs at a height of 5’7

-I competed in my first NPC Bikini competition in July 2009 and weighed in at 127lbs on stage (and started binging and restricting immediately afterwards)

-I competed in my 2nd Bikini competition in August 2009 and weighed in at 134lbs on stage (due to binge eating and trying to “rectify” the binges in the prior month). I was told I should be leaner for my next show

-I ballooned up to 145-150 or so pounds by October of 2009 due to binging and restricting. I had developed an eating disorder through prepping for my show and after the show, I lost it. I couldn’t control it.

-I moved to Los Angeles in May 2011. I was still battling my eating disorder. I weighed about 155lbs and didn’t recognize my face.

-By October 2011, I had finally gotten tired of hating myself. I was sick of working out for hours, binge eating, starving myself, eating “clean”, worrying about how bloated I looked, canceling things because I was embarrassed of how I looked. I finally decided that I needed to just find a way to be happy with my body, STOP restricting foods, and release the pressure I was putting on myself.

-In September/October of 2012, I had made progress and was being much more free about foods I ate. I still battled with binge eating at times, but it was at this point in time that I decided to quit doing cardio (I was doing cardio 5-6 days per week in addition to either lifting weights or doing “functional” workouts–chasing a sweat and doing a bunch of plyometrics to induce said sweat). I lost 5lbs in the next 2 months by focusing on strength training (and training hard), not doing any cardio, and giving myself the break I needed when it came to what I was eating.

-Over the next few years, I finally had gotten through the weeds of my eating disorder. I felt comfortable around food again. I could have formerly “forbidden” foods in the house and not feel the need to eat all of it. It wasn’t easy and didn’t happen overnight, but by 2013/2014, I felt somewhat normal again. Finally.

So there’s my brief overview. Since 2013, my body has been “happy” at about 148-152lbs. It has fluctuated in that range consistently and has been a weight that I feel very comfortable with. My body composition has changed drastically since 2013 (see photo below), yet my weight has stayed pretty much the same. I’ve done a few cuts in the last few years and gotten down to 145 a few times, but overall, I’ve hovered around 150, and that’s pretty effortless for me. This means I’ve been able to get leaner and have more muscle mass and less body fat than I did a few years ago.

I’m roughly the same weight in each picture.

This is why in January when my weight was 155-156ish, I didn’t feel good. Sure, I was stronger than I’d ever been, but I felt fluffy. I realize that 5-7lbs may not seem like much, but the difference was noticeable enough for me to not feel my best.

I decided I wanted to get back down to where I’m comfortable (just under 150ish), but I also know my history with dieting and am very careful with it. I will be the first to admit that I SUCK at dieting. I haven’t taken off more than 4 days in a row from lifting weights in the last 10 years (and realistically, I’ve only taken 3-4 days off in a row probably a 2-3 times in that 10 years), but dieting is like this dangling carrot that I can’t seem to grab onto. With that knowledge of knowing myself, I decided to do a slowwwwwwww cut that didn’t require me to cut out too many calories each day, which would keep me from feeling like I was dieting.

It’s now August and I’m happy to report that I’m hovering between 148-150lbs these days. Yes, I took 5 months to lose 7-8lbs (I think I started cutting in March), but I didn’t feel like I dieted down at all. I stayed at a slight caloric deficit 5-6 days per week, and ate at maintenance or just above for 1-2. There were no drastic lows and no drastic highs. It has probably been the healthiest cut I’ve ever done in my life. I’m actually still doing it, as I have some new goals that I’ll discuss at the end of this post.

Currently:

Here we are in August 2017. As I mentioned, I am back to 148-150lbs and I feel good. I had a few minor injuries in April and May that caused my strength to take a hit, so my strength numbers aren’t what they were in January. I want to point out that none of my injuries have been serious and as a lifter, there WILL be minor injuries. Some will last 1-2 days, others will last a few weeks. It’s going to happen and the smartest thing you can do is to work around those injuries (and not through them). Do exercises that don’t hurt you and stay away from exercises that do. You’ll heal and be back to normal soon. Trust me. It’s better to take a few days/weeks off than months or years. If you suffer from a major injury, it can be much worse. I’ve been lucky enough not to have any major injuries in the last 10 years, but I continue to be careful. I want to be able to lift and be active for life, so it’s not worth risking an injury to set a PR. I always coach people to stay in control of their lifts. Even when it gets super heavy, the weight should never control you. I see lifters all the time who get cocky and go for a weight they aren’t prepared for. Their mentality is that they are just going to try and see if they can do the lift. There’s a smart way to push yourself and a dumb way to do it. I guess it’s hard to know what’s smart or dumb if you’re inexperienced (so if you don’t know, make sure you’re with someone who does), but someone who has been lifting for a long time knows. I am always in control of my lifts. ALWAYS. Even in my heaviest squats, which are the most terrifying exercise in the world to go heavy on (in my opinion), I don’t ever have a point where I feel like the weight is controlling me. I think that is a big reason I haven’t had any serious injuries. It’s also the reason why I won’t be breaking any world records any time soon, but that’s not my goal, so who cares. 🙂

Anyyyyyyways. Back to my minor injuries.

Hip Flexors: I was dealing with hip flexor issues for quite a while (8-9 months at least) that led me to the decision to stop doing back squats for about 6 weeks. They were just feeling tired and sore constantly. To the point that even a body weight squat felt difficult as I came out of the hole in my squat. It just wasn’t fun anymore. I had some MAT done and after just 4 sessions, my hip flexors are probably healthier and happier than they’ve ever been. I’m still amazed by it, but I won’t question it! I’m back to squatting now and at my most recent 1RM testing, I hit a 198lb back squat, conservatively. It wasn’t pretty (because let’s be honest, NONE of my heavy squats are very pretty #longfemurclub), but I probably could have done 8-10 more lbs, which is only about 10-15lbs less than my previous 1RM when I was 7lbs heavier.

Left Wrist: I had a wrist injury from doing dips that prevented me from doing bench press and barbell military press for about 3-4 weeks. I stopped doing dips and will probably never do them again, as there’s no need. They’ve never felt good and always cause me to get injured. There are plenty of other exercises for me to do. This is a big take-home point. If an exercise bothers you or constantly causes you to have issues, don’t do it. Find other exercises that don’t hurt you. There is no exercise you “have” to do. There are hundreds to choose from! Anyways, because of the time off from bench press, I lost some bench strength. I was able to build back up and while I didn’t hit my 148lb bench press last weekend at my mock powerlifting meet, I still got a 137lb bench and again, felt like I had more in the tank. I’m happy with that. While my wrist healed, I did push-ups from my fists, dumbbell presses that didn’t hurt, and pulling movements that felt okay.

Left Shoulder: In addition to my wrist, I had a minor shoulder injury. I can’t remember exactly what I did, but it started bothering me after I did a few grindy barbell military press reps. Ideally you won’t go to an RPE 10 on multiple sets of an exercise, but sometimes I’m on fire and I push too hard (Oops). Do as I say, not as I do. Anyways, I actually thought it was worse than it turned out to be. It was really hurting me, but (do not try this please), I decided to do an upper body workout to see what did/didn’t hurt me. Oddly enough, chin-ups didn’t hurt me at all and neither did most pulling exercises. I was also able to do some cable chest flys and they didn’t hurt either. I remember pushing through that workout and thinking “I’m either going to feel great after this, or I’m going to regret this decision”. Miraculously, my injury seemed to nearly disappear after that workout. It was one of those things that shouldn’t have happened and there’s no explanation, but it did. I would never, ever, ever, ever recommend it to anyone, but it worked for me. This is another example of something you’re able to do when you’ve been lifting a long time and know your body really well. You know how to “take chances” but not put yourself in a position of total fuck-uppery. Once again, please do not ever do what I did to “heal” your shoulder injury. Ever. Got it?

In conclusion, here’s what happened from January through today:

January 2017

  • Weight: 157lbs
  • Squat: 225lbs
  • Bench: 148lbs
  • Deadlift: 275lbs
  • Chin-Ups: 10 bodyweight, 2 reps with 25lb plate

July/August 2017

  • Weight: 148lbs
  • Squat: 198lbs
  • Bench: 137lbs
  • Deadlift: 259lbs
  • Chin-Ups: 9 bodyweight (I only tested it 1 time), 2 reps with 25lb plate, 1 rep with 35lb plate

The moral of the story is this: I’m not as concerned about being the strongest I can be anymore. Sure, I want to be strong. I want to be really strong. But more so, I want to be healthy, I want my body to feel good, and I want to feel comfortable in my skin. I want to be as strong as possible in THAT body. The one that feels amazing and has no problem stepping on the beach in a bikini.

(like I did on 4th of July with my fam)

July 2017

My goals now are to drop down to 140lbs (as slowly as a saguaro cactus grows) to do the following:

a) See what I look like

b) Hold my weight there and reverse diet my maintenance calories up

c) Build strength at that weight and see what I’m capable of

There’s no deadline or timeline for this. I want to enjoy life and being in a strict caloric deficit is not in my interests. What IS in my interests is to slowly chip away and do further experimenting on myself. I’d imagine around Thanksgiving or so I may be there, but we’ll see.

Anyways, that’s my update. I wanted to put this out there for a few reasons, but one being that I want to highlight that changing your goals is okay. If you aren’t happy with something, it’s fine to change course. There is no shame in deciding that something is or isn’t right for you. As one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite band goes….

“Yes there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.” -Led Zeppelin

7 Hip Thrust Variations for Better Glutes

I wrote this blog for IRON Fitness, but I liked it so much that I asked if I could share it here too. As you all know, hip thrusts are one of my favorite exercises. I’ve now been hip thrusting for 10 years thanks to BC (The Glute Guy) introducing me to them. The full blog post is below:

 

This blog is all about the popular glute exercise, the hip thrust!

For some of you, you’ve probably walked by the Hip Thruster in the gym a hundred times and wondered why the powers that be decided to put Santa’s sleigh in the middle of the gym.

For some of you, you’ve seen the Hip Thruster being used and either thought “what does that even do?!” OR you wanted to try it, but you weren’t sure how.

And for some of you, you’ve used and love the Hip Thruster.

No matter which category you fall under, this blog post is going to benefit you (and your glutes) in a lot of ways! (7, to be exact).

First thing’s first: What IS the Hip Thruster?

The Hip Thruster is a piece of equipment developed by Dr. Bret Contreras that allows you to perform glute bridges (a.k.a hip extensions) in the most optimal way in order to train, strengthen, build, and condition your glutes. Strong glutes are important for sport’s performance (like sprinting and jumping), general back health (weak glutes are a leading cause of back pain), and the reason the majority of people do them: to have a nice, round backside.

The Hip Thruster’s design allows you to elevate your upper back, plant your feet without slipping, and provides the proper bench height to ensure that you’re able to extend into the ideal position for glute contraction. Typical benches in the gym are too high and if they’re not bolted into the floor, are very prone to moving during this exercise. Since we’re all built a little differently (short, tall, long legs, short legs, long torso, etc) there are times when an intervention (such as an airex pad) may be used to allow you to get into the proper position on the Hip Thruster. For most people, the height of the Hip Thruster is perfect.

Before I show you these 7 Hip Thrust variations, let’s talk about the basics.

Copy of Management Skills page 1 Presentation

  1. Situate your upper back on the pad of the Hip Thruster so that it is just underneath your shoulder blades.
  2. Keep your arms at your sides and make fists, or if you’re using a dumbbell or barbell, hold onto the weight.
  3. Your feet should be out in front of you at a distance that yields a 90 degree angle of your knees when you’re at full extension.
  4. Keep your chin tucked and ribs down. Find a spot in front of you and keep your gaze at that spot throughout the entire movement.
  5. Foot placements varies person to person. Here are some starting points, but over time, you’ll find the best foot placement for you that gives you the greatest glute contraction.
    1. Feet shoulder-width apart, facing straight forward
    2. Feet 2-3 inches apart, facing straight forward, with knees out.
    3. Feet wider than shoulder-width, toes slightly flared out.
  6. If you feel your quadriceps (top of your thighs) taking on a lot of the work, try playing with your foot placement. You can also place a small resistance band around your knees. This forces you to push your knees out against resistance, which will engage your glutes.

Ultimately, hip thrust form has some absolutes, but is a very individual exercise in many ways, so you’ll have to experiment to find what feels best for you. (Psst. We can help you with that, especially in our BRAND NEW Just GLUTES Small Group Training Sessions).

How to Perform the Hip Thrust:

Now that you know your setup, here’s how to perform the movement. The movement is the same for all variations, with only slight differences that I’ll discuss below.

Once you’ve set your back on the bench just underneath your shoulder blades, chin is tucked, ribs are down, and foot placement is set to your liking, drive through your heels, SQUEEZING your glutes as you come up until you hit full hip extension. At the top of the movement, your torso should be flat, knees at a 90 degree angle, and a good contraction in your glutes! With your chin tucked and ribs down, you’ll prevent yourself from being able to overextend, which can cause back pain. From here, you’ll lower back down and repeat.

Without further ado, here are 7 Ways to Perform Hip Thrusts:

Bodyweight

These are done just as described above. Beginners should start by doing 3 sets of 15 reps with pristine form. Once you’ve mastered that, you can begin adding weight, resistance bands, additional reps or tempo adjustments.

Dumbbell

DB-Hip-Thrust-1

DB-Hip-Thrust-2

To perform the dumbbell hip thrust, place the dumbbell on your hips. It will feel tight at the bottom of the movement, but that’s normal. As you extend your hips at the top, roll the dumbbell slightly forward to move it off of your hip bones. This is just to eliminate any irritation from the dumbbell being directly on top of your hip bone.

Barbell

Barbell-Hip-Thrust-1

Barbell-Hip-Thrust-2

To perform the barbell hip thrust, I suggest placing bumper plates on each side of you. You’ll also want to use the Squat Sponge (or another barbell pad) to protect your hips. Roll the barbell up onto the bumper plates and over your hips. Set up in your start position and then begin. You can perform these in a heavy rep range (1-5 reps), medium rep range (6-12 reps), or high rep range (13-25). It is best to practice all rep ranges, but depending on your goal, some rep ranges are better than others. Heavy rep ranges are best for strength, medium rep ranges are best for hypertrophy, and high rep ranges are best for conditioning and endurance. All three rep ranges can and will yield hypertrophy (muscle growth), but depending on the person, the rate at which this happens may vary.

Hip Banded

Banded-Hip-Thrust-1

Banded-Hip-Thrust-2

The Hip Thruster has pegs on either side to allow for an easy placement of a resistance band. Cross the resistance band over your hips, making sure it is securely wrapped around the pegs. For this variation, you want to have constant tension (meaning there is not resting position) throughout the entire movement. To do this, your starting position will be slightly higher as you find the point where the resistance starts. Once you find it, that becomes your starting point. Perform these reps in a shortened range of motion by going from your starting point to full hip extension. You can perform these as fast reps (do them as quickly as you can), at a normal rep pace, or by doing pause reps (details below).

Knee Banded

P1000597

P1000598

To perform this variation, place a small resistance band either just below or just above your knees (personal preference, but i prefer above the knees). You still want to keep your knees out, so having the resistance forces you into hip abduction, which will increase the glute activation. (In other words, it makes it harder and burns more.)

Pause Reps

Pause reps can be performed with any of the above or below mentioned hip thrust variations. To do these, you’ll pause at the top of the hip thrust and hold for any given amount of time. I recommend trying 3 second holds at the top of each rep for 8-10 reps. When that becomes easy, you can either increase the weight or increase the pause time to 5 seconds per rep. I also like to do a single pause rep at the end of any hip thrust variation that may last anywhere from 3-15 seconds.

Combos

The beauty of the hip thrust is that you can combine any of the aforementioned versions of this exercise and change the difficulty, feel, and muscle recruitment. Some of my favorites include:

  1. -Dumbbell + Hip Band
  2. -Barbell + Knee Band
  3. -Hip Band + Knee Band

As you find your form and become stronger, you can play around with these combinations as well as tempo changes (pause reps, fast reps, super slow reps, etc.) and see what you like best.

Take-Aways & Things to Keep in Mind

The big thing I tell my clients is that you have to figure out what you like best and what you feel most. For some people, heavy hip thrusts are the hardest variation. For others, high rep-hip banded hip thrusts are hardest. Personally, the Dumbbell + Hip Banded + Pause Rep hip thrusts are the biggest bang for my buck. With that said, I perform all variations of hip thrusts and at various rep ranges and tempos. This ensures that I am working my glutes in more than one way in order to get the best results.

As you can see, the Hip Thruster gives you the ability to really increase the intensity of your glute training. Whether you’re training for a sport (and yes endurance athletes, this exercise will improve your performance too!) or you just want to turn heads when you pull off your swimsuit cover up at the beach, the hip thrust is hands-down the best glute training exercise out there. It’s not the ONLY one and it’s important to train in different planes of motion, it definitely gives you a great return on your exercise-choice investment.

 

 

What 10 Years in the Fitness Industry Has Taught Me

This August is a big month for me, personally. It marks 1 year since I made a decision that turned my life around (for the better) in ways that I could have never expected, but it also marks 10 years since the day I walked into my first training session, another life-changing event (although I didn’t know it at the time). I realize that I’m writing this a few months early, but coming off of another great Fitness Summit in Kansas City with the best, smartest, and most realistic people in the fitness industry has me feeling the urge to do it now. I’m inspired, I’m reflecting, and I have a lot to say. And since I stopped living by “the rules”(<—whole other post right here) last August, I’ll say it now, because I want to.

A little background

I grew up as a total tom-boy. I remember my grandpa and I kicking a soccer ball around in my basement when I was just 4 years old. In our neighborhood, almost every house had kids and we would all meet outside, pick something to play, and play until it was dark out. This was every day after school that I can remember. It ranged from baseball to kickball, street hockey, basketball, butts up (who remembers that?!), etc. We made rollerblade ramps, created obstacle courses, and I don’t remember ever NOT being active. In organized sports, I played flag football (I was the quarterback) and baseball (1st base) with the boys. I stopped football in 7th grade when all the guys started playing tackle football, but kept playing baseball year-round on club teams until high school. I tried playing softball for 1 year on my high school’s team when I was a sophomore and was moved up to varsity, but it just wasn’t the same as baseball. I didn’t like it and decided to go a totally different direction the next year. My junior year of high school I was on the track team. I did high jump and long jump because I hated running (LOL). I made it to State for high jump and totally flopped there, but it was a really fun season. To this day, I still love jumping!

My freshman year of college was the first year that I wasn’t active. My roommate and I would try to go to the rec center to “work out”, but from what I remember, we would do a few sets of leg extensions and about 20 minutes on the elliptical. Then we would smash a bunch of sushi and Coldstone ice cream or order Domino’s pizza WITH brownie bites and devour the whole thing. We had “earned it” haha. I also vividly remember going on a diet of sour gummy worms and goldfish and losing a bunch of weight because I was barely eating. Who needs protein?

By the beginning of my sophomore year (August 2007), I just felt lazy and not like myself. I had been so used to being active my entire life that it just felt weird to be so sedentary. I decided to seek out a gym and found Lifts, owned by Bret Contreras. It was a small studio and only about 5 minutes from where I worked at the time. From what I remember, I wanted a personal trainer, but was also a broke college student. This gym was a personal training studio and only a few hundred dollars a month, so I think that’s what drew me to it initially. In hindsight, I’m SO lucky that I ended up here. In fact, my entire life would be different if I hadn’t.

Bret taught me how to lift weights right off the bat. With my athletic background, I caught on pretty quickly and became obsessed with it. I would spend hours at Lifts. I’d get there right after work, I’d workout, and I’d hang out there afterwards. I was also known for taking naps on the Reverse Hyper after I finished my workouts while Bret and the other trainers did their own workouts. It became my home away from home and to this day, the gym IS my home. (To this day, I can’t thank Bret enough for showing me the world of lifting weights).

There have been a lot of ups and downs in the last 10 years. It’s hard to remember every zig and zag, but I have learned so much and it’s shaped me into the person that I am today. Social media wasn’t as rampant then as it is today. We had Facebook, but it wasn’t wildly popular yet. I think we were still on Myspace back then too, if I remember correctly. There was no Instagram, no Twitter. Bodybuilding.com, T-Nation, and other fitness sites were where I got a lot of my information about what the fitness pros were up to and what the latest research said. Between my obsessive search for information and surrounding myself with the people that seemed to know what they were doing, I was able to gain a lot of good knowledge (and plenty of bad, too). It was a really different time (I realize I sound like an old woman, but it really was drastically different than it is today).

Today, I am a private personal trainer in the Santa Monica and Burbank area. I train clients in a private gym, at their homes, and at a movie production company. I also work on the business side of fitness with a company that helps gym owners run PROFITABLE gyms. It’s hard to do, but our company knows all the magic tricks ;-)!! All jokes aside, I love helping gym owners learn how to turn their passion into something they can do full time. I like being on all three sides of the industry: an athlete, a trainer, and a business consultant.

Through all of that, I have seen a lot. I still have much to learn and my favorite thing about fitness is that there is ALWAYS more to learn.

Here are the Top 10 things I’ve Learned in the Last 10 Years about Fitness

I Know Nothing

1. The biggest thing I’ve learned is that I know nothing. Let me clarify. When I got into lifting weights initially, I literally did know nothing. But about 2 years in, I thought I knew it all. I spent ALL of my time either IN the gym OR perusing fitness articles. I spent every afternoon and night researching nutrition, fitness, different workout protocols, looking up what the bodybuilders were doing, seeing what other trainers did. I read everything I could get my hands on and didn’t have the knowledge to decipher the bullshit. I believed a lot of things that in hindsight, I realize was bro-science. I thought I was learning, and I guess I WAS learning, but not necessarily the right things. I did learn a lot of GREAT things as well, but I also thought I had it all figured out. Bret will never let me live down the day I came into Lifts after I had started working out at another gym and telling him that he was a good trainer to get me started, but my new trainer knew things that were more technical. (*bows head in shame* haha). In reality, I had gotten really into bodybuilding and was preparing for a Bikini show (2009, the first year it became a division) and a trainer at my new gym was teaching me all the “bodybuilding tricks”. I thought they were the end-all-be-all and would make ALL the difference I the world. Now I know better. I know that I know a LOT, but I also know that I have so much to learn. Enough that I’ll never stop. I’ll always be researching, listening, reading, attending seminars, etc. The difference now is that I DO have a good understanding of how this all works. I have not only learned from the RIGHT people, but I’ve experimented extensively on myself and my clients. I’ve surrounded myself and sought advice from the REAL professionals in this industry and I now know how to decipher bullshit. I know a lot, but I also know nothing. I like it that way. It keeps me hungry for more.

 

Follow the rules, then you can break them.

2. There are many “rules” when it comes to lifting weights and making progress towards your goals. They are there because they are based on what science tells us and this is what has been shown to optimize progress and keep you safe. Everyone should learn them. Everyone should practice them. THEN you can decide which ones you continue with and which ones you don’t. For example, these days I “do it all wrong”. I’ll lift weights fasted, I won’t drink a protein shake after a workout, I don’t wear squat shoes, I don’t wear a belt, etc. Is this ideal? NO. And I am in NO WAY saying that “you should do this”. I would never recommend this to someone. What I AM saying is that this is what works for me. When you’ve been training long enough and have followed the “rules”, you can start to break them. You learn what things work for you and what things don’t. For me, I like to train in the mornings and I don’t like eating that early, so I don’t. I find it annoying to bring protein shakes with me to the gym and by the time I get home, I’d rather just eat something instead. Sometimes, I don’t go home after the gym and I just grab a coffee and eat a few hours later. I don’t wear squat shoes because I don’t feel like carrying an extra pair of shoes with me to the gym. I don’t wear a lifting belt because I only want to be as strong as I am without one. I don’t want to rely on gear. Many will argue that, and that’s totally fine with me. I’ve stayed healthy and relatively injury-free for the last 10 years (minor injuries or nuances happen and are expected). I’ve been able to gain strength, stamina, and improve my form. This is what works for ME, even though it might not be perfect. The point is: learn the rules of lifting, practice them, find what you like and what allows you to continue making progress and staying healthy, do that. But don’t skip any of those steps.

Do the things you like, mixed in with the things you don’t like (but should do).

3. I had a conversation at The Fitness Summit about this exact topic. Some coaches and trainers are very one-track minded. They might believe powerlifting is the way, so all of their clients’ programming is based around powerlifting. They may believe bodybuilding is the best way to train, and so all of the programming is bodybuilding style. This is fine if the client likes that way of training, but I’ve found that most people like some type of combination. And that’s actually BETTER than only training one way. For me, I like to lift heavy with low reps, but I also like to do higher reps and “feel the burn”. In addition, the athlete in me still likes to run and jump, and so plyometrics and conditioning drills are something I really enjoy. I realize that I piss off my own coach for being this way, but I also know that training MUST be enjoyable in order for it to be something you stick with. I have gone through stages where my training leaned more towards one way than the other. I spent many years “chasing a sweat” and not making any real strength progress because of it. I haven’t always trained the right way and I’ve probably done more things wrong than right, but it’s also allowed me to figure out what I love, what I like, what I dislike, and what I downright hate or don’t feel. On my main training days, I prefer to start with 1-3 of my main lifts (squats, deadlifts, bench press, chin ups, hip thrusts) and then I’ll mix in some bodybuilding movements (more isolation-type movements), and glute-focused movements. I like to do 1-2 days per week where my focus is on conditioning and plyometrics. This might include things like: box jumps, squat jumps, step ups jumps, medicine ball slams or throws, sprints, sled pushes or pulls, etc. I also really enjoy going on long walks. If I take out any of these things, I don’t feel fulfilled. I also have to manage my physical activity so that I don’t overdo it, but incorporating these things into my training is what makes ME happy. I encourage you to find the pieces of training that you like and make sure to incorporate them. If you’re training for a specific event, you’ll obviously want to prioritize based on that. It may mean you don’t do EVERYTHING leading up to that event, but overall you should be able to do all the things you enjoy doing to make your program the best one for YOU.

Never stop learning.

4. Find the people in the industry that you feel aligned with (3-5 people you trust MOST) and listen to their advice. (make sure they base their teachings on the actual research and science, not made-up bullshit meant to instill fear in people). Attend seminars, watch webinars, watch their videos, follow them on social media, read their articles, and if you have the chance, talk to them in person or online. Keep up on the latest research as best as you can.

Experiment!!!!!

5. I can’t say this enough. People always think I’m “so creative” in the gym and not because I come up with ridiculous exercises that have the potential for more harm than good. What it refers to is my ability to figure out a way to make a movement work, even if I don’t have the ideal equipment. This comes from years of experimenting in the gym. I try everything I can. I try new exercises I see, I take an exercise and try performing it in different ways (different foot placement, hand placement, grip, angles, etc) to see what I feel best and what happens when I change any of those variables. I try different rep ranges, drop sets, adding bands to weighted exercises, and more. I’ve literally spent almost 10 years using myself as a guinea pig and I will never stop. I do this with my clients as well. Just because I feel something one way, doesn’t mean they will. Any of my clients will tell you, I ask a lot of questions. “Where did you feel that most? How does that feel? Which variation did you like better?”. We are all build a little bit differently and have varying mobility, so exercises can feel drastically different for different people and you may find that something you don’t like or don’t feel, feels fantastic for someone else. Try things, test things out, and I guarantee you’ll be a better lifter for it.

Everyone’s an Expert

6. People will always try to tell you a better way. Especially as a female lifter, you will come across people who try to tell you you’re doing it wrong or that there’s a better way. This is where sticking to the people you trust and also trusting yourself comes into play. At this point, I know what works for me pretty well and can easily ignore this unsolicited advice. But when I wasn’t as sure, it made me question what I was doing and at times, even CHANGE what I was doing (and usually not for the better). Is my foot placement wrong? Should I be looking up or down? THIS is when you use your trusted resources to figure it out. I have 3-4 go-to people in my life that I trust very much. I have gone to them throughout the years to ask questions like this when I’m unsure if someone’s advice should be taken or thrown out the window. In addition, if something feels right to you and isn’t hurting you, it may very well just be the way that works for YOU. Never be afraid to ask the people in your trusted circle, just make sure they know what they’re talking about. Some red flags when you receive unsolicited advice: “my friend does this lift with 23408324 lbs and this is how HE does it” <–we are all built differently. you are not this person’s friend and you don’t have their body. this is a ridiculous supporting argument, “I’ve been a coach for 100 years and all of my athletes do it THIS way” <–we are all built differently. if all of their athletes are doing something the SAME WAY, it’s probably because the coach only knows how to teach it one way. Over time, you’ll feel more comfortable knowing what you should/shouldn’t listen to but I highly suggest ignoring most of it and asking the right people when you’re not sure.

Things are going to change…a lot.

7. It’s okay to try different approaches. It’s okay to do things that aren’t ideal. It’s okay to screw up and “waste time” in the gym. You learn that way. You’ll go through physical changes, mental changes, taste changes, and you’ll start to find what you do and don’t like along with what works and doesn’t (for you). I started out with strength training, I shifted into bodybuilding for a few years, I stopped doing cardio and started making all of my workouts based around plyometrics and conditioning, and eventually I made my way back to strength training. I regret none of it and I don’t believe any time in the gym is wasted, even if it’s not optimal training. I learned (and continue to learn) from every session in the gym. I’d estimate that I’ve done about 3,000 workouts to date (I’ve averaged 1-2 days off per week for almost 10 years but have had many weeks with no days off and some with up to 3). I truly believe that each one has it’s purpose. Whether it’s a shitty workout that teaches you to get more sleep, or an awesome workout that was supposed to be shitty that proved to you that you can’t train based on how you feel all the time. Which brings me to my next point

Don’t train based on how you feel emotionally.

8. If I only trained when I felt like it, I think I’d probably workout 2-3 days per week. Some weeks it would be higher, some weeks maybe lower. I train regardless of how I feel emotionally. I go and do it and I do the best that I can. You cannot train based on your emotions only. Not if you want to make any kind of significant progress at least. With that said, if you PHYSICALLY feel like shit, that is up to you. Sometimes it’s better to rest, sometimes training makes you feel better. That is something you learn about yourself over the years. I am still learning it, but it becomes easier over time.

 Take rest days and don’t go balls to the wall every day.

9. STILL trying to learn and implement this one. I’ve gotten markedly better at this over the years, but I still have a hard time working out at a level 6-7. Rest and recovery are so important and truly do allow you to make better progress. Still though, it’s hard for some people to NOT push themselves to a 9 or 10 at every work out (hiiiii). It can be hard to take rest days when you love training and want to do it every day. BUT, it will make you a better lifter, a happier person, and overall stronger lifter if you do take rest days and go lighter on some days as well.

Enjoy the chance to move and be strong.

10. I look around and feel sad that so many people are sedentary. Many people my age (I’m 29) get out of breath just taking a brisk walk. They can’t lift their groceries or luggage. When you’re young, you’re just weak and it’s fine. When you get older? That’s a broken hip because your bones are brittle too. That’s health issues related to your weight or weakness. As we age, we aren’t going to become more mobile or stronger by doing nothing. Strength training, walking, being active, staying fit are ESSENTIALS in life. They are looked at as options in this society and I don’t believe that should be the case. It makes me angry that people think a sedentary life is the norm. I believe being active should be as much of your daily routine as brushing your teeth is, because what you do now WILL determine how you get around when you’re older. Do you want to have strong bones, feel good, be able to move around on your own and take care of yourself because you’ve continued to stay strong? Or do you want to have people help you to stand up out of your chair and get injured because you chose to let your body degenerate without even putting up a fight? You get to do this. You have the opportunity to give yourself more. Enjoy that, embrace it, and don’t take it for granted.

 

I could probably write about 500 more things I’ve learned, but these are the first 10 that came to my mind. I encourage you to find what you like and what works for you. You will find physical strength, but you will also find mental strength. I always say physical strength = mental strength. What you do IN THE GYM, will absolutely translate to what you do in everything else. Your relationships, career, friendships, and even the relationship with yourself. My way isn’t your way, but you do have a way. You may have already found it or this may be foreign to you and you’ll need to find a starting point. Don’t be complacent. You weren’t destined to be sedentary and “un-athletic”. We were meant to move. Give yourself the opportunity to grow. Both your muscles AND your mind.

« Older Entries