As I was dreaming up ideas for my blog and brainstorming topics I planned to discuss and share, the sun’s benefits were toward the top of my list. I started such a post last fall, then set it aside along with the other hundred plus blog posts I began generating. Then in early January, a few weeks after I had launched my blog, a PERFECT resource showed up in my inbox!
My husband and I have been following Logan Christopher’s work for 2+ years. We have read several of his books, listened to his podcasts and purchased/consumed his herbs from his Lost Empire Herbs site. Brian even wears his tshirts :) We found Logan by way of Eric Fiorillo’s podcast, Motivation & Muscle. Logan is writing a book tentatively called, Powered by Nature, wherein it will contain an entire chapter about the benefits of the sun.
Here’s a brief bio about Logan:
Born without genetic gifts, a weak and scrawny Logan Christopher sought out the best training information in his pursuit of super strength, mind power and radiant health. Nowadays, he’s known for his famous feats of pulling an 8,800 lb. firetruck by his hair, juggling flaming kettlebells, supporting half a ton in the wrestler’s bridge and more. He is the author of many books, a coach and a public speaker. Discover how you too can become super strong, both mentally and physically, at www.LegendaryStrength.com and find the superior herbs to support all aspects of your performance at www.LostEmpireHerbs.com.
In my blog post entitled Your Mission ----> Eliminate Decision Fatigue, found HERE, I share a portion of Logan’s Vital Way podcast and tell about how it helped my husband and I take some next steps in our journey in terms of streamlining our weekly meals and time.
Back to the benefits of the sun...
I had intentions of putting a lot of time, thought and research into my own blog post about the benefits of the sun. However… I now feel this is now completely unnecessary and I am pretty excited to be freed of this time commitment! It would have been a fun project, but to do the topic full justice I would have needed to invest a lot of time into doing a ton of research. I’m grateful to Logan for giving me permission to simply share his work; as his is way more in-depth and outstanding than I could have ever attempted myself!
Before you dive into his work, here are my two cents about the sun…
Not having done the research like I said, all I can offer is my own personal experience, and that is this… I feel better when I’m out in the sun on a consistent basis. I feel healthier, more energetic, more positive and generally in a better state of being. It’s no coincidence that people just look better after they’ve been active in the sunlight. They ‘glow’ and this as humans, is attractive, is it not? Good-looking physical attributes can’t be denied. A healthy summer tan is more appealing on someone than a winter’s pale sickly look. We’ve all seen it in others and in ourselves, have we not?
I feel a draw, an internal calling, to go out to my favorite gravel road and just ‘be.’ ‘Be’ in the sun. ‘Be’ still and take in nature. ‘Be’ grateful for the rejuvenation that the sun/God/the Universe provides out there. ‘Be’ recharged - literally. ‘Be’ vigilant about getting back out there again soon - to not let a priority like that slip away or get buried by the tasks of everyday living. I almost feel an obligation of sorts to keep returning to that experience whenever possible. I realize it’s what fuels me, detoxes me, re-energizes me and keeps me sane and healthy for the stretches of time between.
Don’t we all feel grumpy and uneasy in the winter when we’ve been forced to go too long without that sunlight therapy? Aren’t we all like little flowers reaching up toward the sun on those days when we are blessed by its presence after a period of time without? I know I can feel that within me on sunny days - picture us all like little flowers turning toward the sun, saying “aha, there you are!,” finding that source, dropping everything else on our minds for a bit and just ‘being’ in the sun’s presence… opening up to receive more of it… wanting to remain open to it for a long while. Little flowers: Soaking it up. Using it’s *energy* to *re-energize* us. That all sounds natural, true and instinctual to me. Does it to you? Please keep reading to find out why, as Logan does an outstanding job of explaining the whys we are naturally drawn to the sun… our life source.
[Of course, even beneficial things can be overdone or overused. The sun is no exception. Getting burned reminds us to indulge sparingly. When I feel I’ve gotten my fill for a day, then I find some shade or do a different activity indoors. I would go all year without applying sunscreen if a perfect balance of sun and shade were possible, but life happens. If I must stay in the sun for a period of time long enough to provide a sunburn, then I use a smart sunscreen like the one produced by Alba Botanica. I look for a sunscreen that contains 100% vegetarian ingredients and NO parabens, phthalates or synthetic fragrances. Skin is our largest organ. Make smart choices about what you make it absorb into your body. An idealistic standard my family and I are working toward as we make improvements in our lives, is to only put products on our skin that we’d be willing to eat. Think about that one. It matters.]
CLICK HERE TO READ LOGAN’S GREAT WORK ABOUT SUNLIGHT
I wrote the following article about dead stop squats back in February. It just never got posted. Since writing this article I have gone on to kill a 160 from bottom position. Check out that video on my YouTube Playlist! And continue reading to hear my thoughts about them...
What do I think about dead stop squats (DSSs)? I love them! Granted, I’ve only done partials from the #12 pin, but I’m excited to venture into bottom position DSSs next.
I’ve been doing heavy traditional squats for a year and a half. Well, heavy for me... I am a 5’4”, 115 pound, 34 year old mom. When I reached 140 pound singles I stalled out at that weight. I could feel in my body that I had the power in my legs and low back to keep progressing but I felt that my upper body wasn’t strong enough. I knew this was my weak point so we thought doing some overloads would help get me past that plateau. That is when I began doing DSS partials. They were exactly what I needed!
After eight weeks of training these one night a week I am at a 295 single partial. I’ve seen a beneficial carry-over; I added 25 pounds to my traditional squat in that eight week time. I feel so much stronger, precise, and controlled. ...more capable at my full-range squats now. DSS partials have helped mentally, too… after I had just been under a bar that’s over 2.5 times my bodyweight it was easy to decide that 165 pounds wasn’t going to be so challenging. And it wasn’t. 165 felt ‘lighter.’ ...to my body ….and my mind.
It was an obvious and fun difference on the mental side. With the partials, I rapidly progressed in a new way. It was the opposite from having it already in your mind that the added weight you’re about to attempt (on full range squats for example)... should be a challenge. With the quick progression of partials, my mind didn’t have any blockages. No pre-conceived notions. It’s just what I was going to do.
I’m going to be honest and admit that, until neurological fatigue set in from the 295, I was on a natural high for a day and a half! It was crazy. Ask my husband. I experienced a level of energy I’ve never quite reached before. And every breath I took in that day and a half was clear, clean and always reached the ‘top’ as I’m constantly striving for. However, I will also admit that in the subsequent 24 hours after that ‘high,’ I could really feel it in my body that I’d just had close to 300 pounds on it… I had to power down and recover for a day. But it didn’t knock me out like some might expect. I wasn’t sore at all, just fatigued. And I’m excited as hell to go out the next time and do it again!! Because within 2 weeks of that 295 I WILL do a 315 pound DSS partial! It’s gonna happen.
Dead stop squats just make sense. To summarize Bud Jeffries’ words, the DSS is the truly functional way to do the squat. There’s not really a scenario in real life where you start from a standing position, squat down with the weight, and use a rebound to stand back up. Generally, lifting is done from a dead stop position.
No matter your take on DSSs, I know, for me, that I’ve accomplished a lot after doing them. Having 295 pounds on my back is doing something. I can feel that. I see the carry-over effects. I am going to keep doing them, keep progressing and adding weight and also add the bottom position into my training as well. At the end of the day, they’re fun… that’s reason enough for me.
Yep. You guessed it. That's me on the left as a little girl; soaking up summer and having all the fun that could be had in the season that, as a kid, seemed to last an eternity (I'd welcome that misconception back into my life by the way... an eternity-long summer!). The picture on the right was taken by our son on April 16th of this year. He, his sister and I were all having a **BLAST** - an absolute blast - riding toys on our sidewalk that day!
[Side note: It occurred to me quickly that adding "designing, creating, and marketing adult-sized riding toys" might be a worthwhile task to add to my really-long bucket list! Seriously, if any of you out there wanted to create your millions... make us fun-loving parents riding toys in our size so we can get in on our kids' fun too!! Please put me down for the first toy off your assembly line! :) ]
What reminded me of this fun spring day, and moved me enough to blog about it, was the article below. Yesterday, I was able to spend a few minutes reading my January 2017 issue of Good Housekeeping (I'm a little behind in my reading, ha ha. And even funnier is that I haven't been a good housekeeper lately - that irony makes me giggle as well.) Back to my point... the article...
You've gotta read it. It's inspiring and makes you really think about the fun we make ourselves miss out on, simply because we are too busy 'adulting' and think that's what we are 'supposed' to do. Well, phooey. I'm going to get on board with this lady's thinking and add yet another goal to my long bucket list and that is this... be a 'more fun' person and incorporate things I enjoyed as a kid into my adult life. Like she said, "Why not!?!" She definitely inspired me. And got me thinking. And what I'm thinking is this: "I need to stop taking life so fucking seriously!"
I apologize for the poor quality of these. It's 10:00 at night and I'm attempting to take a decent picture when there's a huge glare... in a dark room. Hopefully your device allows you to zoom in and read the words well enough. My apologies; but the article sure is worth reading.
Not a coincidence, probably, that I was inspired enough by Rocky saying this line in Rocky Balboa to post it on my Facebook wall a few weeks before I got in on my own 'Kid Fun' on the riding toys that beautiful day in April :) What other kid things can I take part in and relive from my childhood next!? What do you plan to do!?
Time to brush the dust off this blog! :) Life got crazy busy in a good way! I’m excited to say that instead of working on the blog each night as my creative outlet, I have been doing web work and graphic design projects for others. Click HERE to see some of the graphics I’ve completed for numerous businesses. I have done work on their websites as well. Please keep me in mind! I’d love to help in any way I can; whether that’s making minor changes or completely overhauling an existing website, creating a new one entirely, or designing a logo or graphic. I will work with you and communicate frequently about the project and work/rework until you’re completely satisfied. I’m new, but I’m your girl!
As I alluded to on Facebook a while ago, I started a new series of blog posts that will outline the steps Brian and I have taken on our journey these past few years. Please reread this post entitled, Mountain Analogy to hear how I equate making changes in our lives to taking steps up multiple staircases on a metaphoric mountain. In a nutshell, our mountains represent the journey we are on in our lives and each staircase represents the following paths of growth: physical, spiritual and mental/thinking. Each improvement we make, every lesson we learn, each change we gradually make habitual, helps us ascend upward.
I can’t say/remember for sure in exactly what order our changes occurred. But what I will attempt to do, via this series, is address the BIGGIES first and work up from there. What I’m essentially doing is creating the program/template /guide I’d eventually work through with people whom I train. The steps I will outline in this series will be part of the guide I'll share. Step 1 you ask? Get outside! Make physical activity a habit! Read on...
*STEP 1 - Get Outside! Make Physical Activity a Habit!*
I’m not sure about you, but I think that Spring is the BEST time of year!! I love the fresh start it provides and the rejuvenation we all can’t help but feel.
Spring is the best time of year to begin new habits. … especially the habit of getting outside and MOVING. How you move doesn’t matter. Just MOVE! Start your mountain ascension by creating the habit (and sticking with the habit!) of getting outside and doing some sort of physical activity. Pick your days and times. Maybe it’s three nights per week where you will start by simply going on a 20 minute walk. Maybe you’ll eventually add some light weight training in after your walks. Maybe you like to ride your bike. Maybe you plan to play basketball with your kids. Whatever you decide, DO IT! And do it again, and do it again, and do it again. Making this physical activity a habit is your first goal. Don’t fret about the ‘what’ you’re doing just yet. Start by habitually doing. Habitually doing something.
In August of 2015, Brian and I started our consistent habit of physical activity by allowing each other two nights per week to go out and train how we wish. We both work full time, have hefty commutes and have two kids. So adding this routine into our lives, then sticking with it, would only happen if we were realistic with our expectations. For us to each get out two nights per week for an hour per session was a HUGE accomplishment. But we were committed, and we did it! It has almost been two years and we’ve stuck with this routine! Sure, there are many weeks were kids’ activities and work schedules force us to rearrange the days we get to train, but we always make it work for one another. It’s an accomplishment we don’t take for granted. Since we value this time and work hard to carve it into our week, we then make a conscious effort to make the most of it. It’s sacred me-time for us so you’d better believe we make every minute count.
Before we talk about other mountain steps to include in your lives, or the ‘what’ of the physical activities to incorporate (weight lifting for beginners for example), please focus on just this one step. Make getting outside and doing some sort of physical activity a consistent habit for several weeks or even a solid month, before you move on to incorporate other changes. This step’s a fun one! Do it and kick ass at it!
Another huge 'Thank you!' goes out to Eric Fiorillo over at Motivation & Muscle for inviting me back as a guest on his podcast! Fun as always! And such an honor. Our topic was: Hard Work. No Surrender. Pretty killer, because as I gain momentum in accomplishing the things I intend to accomplish in life, the option to surrender is becoming fainter and has practically disappeared. The more you create and invest in your life, the less likely you are to simply 'give up' to just sit around on the couch wasting your life away. Life is meant to be LIVED. Not surrendered. Not puttered away. Not squandered away under layers of fear, doubt, guilt, laziness, the 'poor me-s,' judging others, shame, or even food coma. Get out and LIVE *life* !! Make it to the end with zero regrets! Pursue your *PASSION*! Set the world on fire with that *LIGHT* inside of you!!
In this particular podcast, Eric graciously gave up some time to speak about the graphics and things I've been creating for him. If there is any type of visual graphic, logo or branding work you'd like for me to create, I would love to discuss it with you! Send me an email, I'll give you my phone number and we can begin communicating! My only issue is fitting projects into the only hour or two a day I get to work after the kiddos go to bed. But, you have my word that I work my buns off and will make your project a priority! And I must note... summer is coming and since I'm a teacher this means a few more hours will open up in my days! Consultations are FREE and I will work on your project until you're completely satisfied! Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you!! Thank you, in advance, for giving a small-town girl from Iowa a chance like Eric did! :)
The following is Eric's write-up about our podcast. This, along with the link to download our podcast and other podcasts can be found HERE. Please go check out his KILLER vault of over 700 podcasts! The wealth of material located there is unreal! Motivation & Muscle and Fiorillo Barbell Company are your one-stop-shop websites for all things related to strength, life, nutrition, entrepreneurship and cultivating the motivation to succeed! Enjoy...
Hard Work. No Surrender- Eric Fiorillo The Host of The Award Winning Motivation and Muscle Streaming Radio 24/7 Welcomes Wife, Mother, School Teacher, Weightlifter, and Blog Writer Kelly Johnson to the Broadcast.
Eric and Kelly get right into today’s topic called The Harder You Work The Harder To Surrender! One of the most important things to understand is when you have to work very hard on things that are of importance and succeed the bigger goals along the way are going to come to you much easier than not. By this, I mean that you’re going to have to endure some hard times but the fight has been built within you to see the task through and succeed big.Eric and Kelly discuss her training history using the Dead Stop Squatting Power Rack Method. Kelly has performed well with DSS Lifting but has now hit a brick wall with it. This is a very concentrated style of lifting which has to handled differently from the conventional style. She has a goal of a 315 pound DSS and has moved the weight at various partial positions in the power rack. This is where that no surrender attitude comes into play. Eric and Kelly now are working together on her DSS 315-pound maximum goal. We will have a true plan of action from week to week where Kelly will make her goal and transform herself completely.With the hard work and a, no surrender attitude we learn that thinking through things are a prerequisite in our training program but being too analytical or overthinking the situation is problematic. There are times you’re going to grunt, groan and yell to get yourself in that place where you end up fighting your way to victory for that training session. Eric and Kelly talk about Power Rack Training and the goals, the hard work and surely that no surrender. We talk about so many people who criticize this type of lifting and say it has no benefits for strength training. If your moving heavier weights from all different heights in the power rack you’re going to tell me your not making the body and mind stronger? I think it’s time to rethink your position! Eric and Kelly end the podcast with how hard work is the key to strength, health, confidence and the ability to see anything through. This leads us to a much stronger mind which has been built through time to not surrender no matter what. People and negative words will no longer hold any meaning in your life. I love this analogy from Rocky Balboa with this verse from Rocky 2. As Micky said to Rocky. You’re an Italian tank. Run over him go through him! And that phrase really sums it up. The harder you work the smarter you get. No Surrender! Conquer, Conquer and Conquer! Motivation and Muscle Streaming Radio 24/7 Connects Your Brain With Your Brawn. Enjoy!
*Don’t Forget to Do a Search for Our Past Shows with Kelly Johnson at http://www.motivationandmuscle.com
*This Radio Show Was Posted April 5, 2017
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I realize I'm bouncing all over the place on my blog... from topic to topic... to completely different topic! Just try and keep up with me!
Today's post will explain what I eat for breakfast. Let me tell you... it's delicious! And satisfying! A win-win! Actually, there’s a third win involved... the fact that my breakfast doesn't create a carb-crash for me come lunchtime; it maintains my flat-line standard. If it didn’t accomplish this, I wouldn't be eating it every day! Read what I mean about striving for flat-line hunger in my blog post entitled 'I banished being ‘Hangry’ forever!'
I need to start by explaining to you that I place a great deal of importance on eating a variety of healthy fats, in addition to protein and even a small/reasonable amount of healthy carbs. For ME...this breakfast fits the bill. It is the right amount of fats/protein/carbs at the right time.
I have already mentioned in other posts (namely ‘Turn your day upside down - In terms of food that is!’) that my husband and I get out of bed around 4. I consume nothing but water until my greens drink at 7 am (Brian waits until 10 am - we each do what works for us). Then I eat this satisfying perfect-for-me small breakfast around 9:00. At 11:30 I eat a small protein-packed lunch (strategic and nutritionally perfect). Afternoon snack consists of a greens drink and an apple and then supper is our big eat-until-we-are-full-and-satisfied meal. It’s a slick, predictable, super-satisfying, not-much-thinking-required pattern that we love.
Back to explaining my day’s second breakfast…
Here is the complete gang of ingredients I use to create my amazing breakfast concoction!
For a long while, I used to make my concoction on Brownberry Oatnut bread as this was a bread that wasn't detrimental to my flat-line hunger maintenance, but I have loved the switch to using rice cakes lately! Regardless of which I choose, I only need half to fill me up. No need to eat more than that if my body says that's all the fuel it needs! Remember, my biggest secret is to fully listen to your body's cues. It always knows best.
Rice cakes provide an awesome clean 'crunch' to each bite. YUM! Using a honey flavored rice cake is awesome, as is making this concoction into a full-blown 'dessert' for later in the day by simply swapping the plain or honey rice cake for the chocolate variety. THAT makes it a delicious never-regrettable-because-my-body-isn’t-angry-with-me-later feel-good dessert-type yummy snack (who is tired of the hyphens!). Just remember to stop eating when your body says it's good and fueled up. ...cuz your taste buds may tell you to keep going (!)
Next up! Three layers of awesomeness. First is chunky peanut butter. I prefer the simplest cleanest (possibly-even-organic) kind I can find. Just go to your local coop like we do, plunge that huge spoon into the THREE gallon bucket of bulk nut butter, fill up a tall container and tell me your senses haven't assaulted you in the best way possible (!) Trust me, it's a fun experience.
The second layer is a thick satisfying layer of almond butter. Mmmmmmmm. Enough said.
Sun butter is a new favorite at our house! It is the third layer of yumminess I pile on my rice cake every morning. There's more added sugar in this than I'd prefer, but it doesn't mess with my flat line hunger, so I roll with it.
Atop it all I sprinkle pumpkin seeds. I discovered that pumpkin seeds are a really wonderful snack. My body loves them and they help 'carry me through' whenever a small snack is necessary. In fact, a go-to snack for Brian and I is to eat a spoonful or two of sun butter mixed with pumpkin seeds. Yummmmmm.
Finally... to wash it all down... some Zest Tea. This tea! Its caffeine content is pretty high so I can't go too crazy, but there are times where it's exactly what I need! We highly recommend it :) and I don't get paid a penny to say that. You can order it here.
There you have it. My delicious, satisfying win-win-win second breakfast. Just know... if you pick the right foods, you can eat less overall. Strive for, 'The most bang for your buck.' This meal provides me with just that.
Since this is my blog and I’m completely free to do whatever I wish with it, I plan to take breaks every once in awhile from writing polished blog posts. Today is one of those days. I will share a quicker piece of writing. A glimpse into my thoughts. I plan to do this periodically; to pass along a heartfelt thought-provoking message from me to you.
There are naturally times and situations in my life when I am more prone to these thoughts. In the shower, during my commute, while running on the gravel road. ...especially while running on the gravel road.
That gravel road… I tell you what… it's as if, while I'm running, I brush off the dust on *ME*. It’s my reset button. It’s the place where all of the baggage I’ve accumulated since my previous run gets sloughed off. It’s the place where my stress, fears, ickiness are stripped away and left behind. What do you do that accomplishes the same? Where and what is your “Gravel Road*? What can you do, just for yourself, that grounds you? Balances you? Find it. Do it. And do it frequently enough that *YOU* aren't far from the surface in your day to day life.
In previous posts, I’ve alluded to a period of time where my *ME* was suppressed. I have yet to fully describe that 6 year darkness. Now isn’t the time, but I plan to eventually. For now I will say that those years didn't afford me opportunities to brush off the dust atop *ME*. THAT’S what made them a dark time. I became buried. In terms of my soul, my spirit, *I* was buried. My *ME* was suppressed. I didn’t handle that well. No one truly would, I imagine, if they really tune in to themselves. That experience, I feel, is why I’ve recently become so passionate about helping others brush off their own dust.
A dear friend phrased it like this to me the other day... 'Sounds like you're shedding some layers of skin.' BEAUTIFUL! Absolutely beautiful. And so true. So so true.
Go! Brush off the dust! Shed some skin! Find your *Gravel Road* and frequent it as often as you can!
Your mission… should you choose to accept it… is to eliminate decision fatigue from your days and weeks! But first, let me explain how we did exactly that…
First, I will need to go back to August 2015. August 2015 was a pivotal time in my life. It not only brought an end to one chapter in my life, but it also brought an incredible opportunity for me to decide. ...to decide how I would proceed with the rest of my life. How to proceed in my body - now that my body was finally my own after nearly a 6 year stretch of time of being pregnant or breastfeeding, or both. Those six years were a God-given blessing because they gave us two absolutely beautiful, amazing, healthy, smart, awesome children. We realize the magnitude of this blessing and gift. Even more so because of a miscarriage in the beginning of those 6 years. Yet… at the same time those years were so incredible and sacred, they were also what I’ll call a 6 year darkness. It’s so fascinating how it can be both at the same time. What I’m discovering in life, though, are these dichotomies - how things can and are two ‘things’ at the same time. I will speak more about this 6 year darkness and maybe even about the beauty of dichotomies, in future posts; but for today’s post, I will leave it at this…. that August 2015 was a pivotal point in my life.
Because I’m wired the way I’m wired, I got busy right away! Why in the world would I waste another minute?! I shot out of the gate with goals, ambitions and things to accomplish and change.
Since I’m a teacher, August is a unique time of year for me anyway. With each new school year comes a new routine. The creation of that year’s new routine was especially fun! Also, since I was done breastfeeding, this meant normalized hormones and that my body was finally my own… it came time to FINALLY schedule in workouts for myself. However, with us both commuting and wanting to eat healthier, we knew it would be a Herculean task to get it all in. AND to make it all a consistent, do-able, habit. The goal was to consistently juggle all of those balls in the air at once… week after week… without getting stressed about it. Or letting one fall. And still being able to have time to spare - for fun, and for schedule changes like parent-teacher conferences at school or kids’ sports and activities. We basically wanted it all ;) Don’t we all?
At the previous pace/way we were going, we wouldn’t have had the time to let me squeeze in any workouts. Heck, this fact (along with the toll of breastfeeding) was the very reason working out had been at the bottom of our priority list for most of those 6 years. So we had to get creative. We needed to find areas we could streamline in our lives so that we could then put energy into other things/decisions.
We decided a good place to start would be to take the thinking out of “What’s for supper?” and “What should we have for lunch?” and also out of our weekly grocery shopping. We created a meal plan. Over time our weekly meal plan has become even simpler and simpler, to the current tune of 5-7 basic supper options and that we each eat the same lunch 6 out of 7 days of our week. STAY TUNED for a post and an EBook about our streamlined chicken lunches! **Sign up for my email newsletter by clicking the Newsletter tab, above, and maybe you will be one of 5 lucky winners to receive the EBook for FREE before it’s released!**
So, now I’ve told you a little bit about the theory and thinking behind why and what we do in our lives in terms of meal plans, grocery shopping, workout schedules, etc. WE HAVE TO… otherwise there wouldn’t be enough of our energy, or our time, or our “daily-decision-allowance” left over to spend the way we’d like to spend it. Which leads me to explain...
Around the time we began implementing our meal plan and we structured our weekly schedule, I listened to an incredibly helpful podcast, The Vital Way, by Logan Christopher His guest that day was Tyler Bramlett and their topic was “Habit Change.” We were led to Logan Christopher by Eric Fiorillo’s podcast, Motivation and Muscle. Logan is a regular guest on Eric’s show. I’m sure you’ve heard me discuss Eric and his podcast in previous posts :)
A little background on Logan Christopher…
Born without genetic gifts, a weak and scrawny Logan Christopher sought out the best training information in his pursuit of super strength, mind power and radiant health. Nowadays, he’s known for his famous feats of pulling an 8,800 lb. firetruck by his hair, juggling flaming kettlebells, supporting half a ton in the wrestler’s bridge and more. He is the author of many books, a coach and a public speaker. Discover how you too can become super strong, both mentally and physically, at www.LegendaryStrength.com and find the superior herbs to support all aspects of your performance at www.LostEmpireHerbs.com.
His guest that day, Tyler Bramlett, is known as the Garage Warrior. He describes himself as a fat kid turned personal trainer and boot camp owner. He is now an online fitness expert.
The entire hour-long podcast is very helpful. I highly recommend you listen to it. Minutes 37:42 → 42:16 were especially helpful to us and really stood out as something to implement in our lives as we moved forward in making changes. I took the time to write down what Logan and Tyler said in this portion of the podcast so that you, too, can benefit from their insight. Read on. I hope it helps you understand why we do what we do and also sparks something in you that will help you to eliminate decision fatigue in your life as well!
Tyler Bramlett: I think everybody, for the most part, needs to take little baby steps, consistently, over a long period of time, until those things become a part of your life.
Logan Christopher: Right, I think that’s the important part when we’re talking about habits, right? I mean, …anyone who does that for awhile is going to have a perceptive shift. They’re going to see benefits that come from it. At that point, I’d say most people are going to continue doing it and really the whole point of something becoming a habit, something that you habitually do - it’s where you do it automatically. You don’t need to consciously think. …You don’t need willpower to do it anymore. Because you’ve sort of verified those benefits to yourself. You’ve gotten the value out of it. And it’s no longer an issue … it’s a thing for you to do. It just becomes automatic. And when you get to that point , I mean, that’s where the benefits [are]. Because according to a lot of the willpower research out there… it’s a finite kind of resource that we have, that replenishes each day with sleep, but we can only do so much. So that’s the whole purpose of getting these health routines as habits. Something we do automatically. So that we don’t need to spend our willpower on that. Then we can move on to the next big thing. You know, we can spend our willpower on whatever else we’re working on at that time. This other stuff is taken care of automatically.
TB: I love how you brought that up - the finite amount of willpower; because a lot of people don’t know this, right? That in your day, you have a certain amount of decisions you can make effectively. … Everybody here has probably felt mentally fatigued - hard day at work, stressful day, whatever. Something happened in your life; you’re super-stressed. And you know, someone says “What do you want to eat for dinner?” And you can’t make that decision. You’re just like, “I have no idea. I’m just so _____. I’m not there. I can’t make that decision.” That’s decision fatigue. And that happens to every single one of us and each one of us has a different number of decisions we can make effectively throughout the day. But what you need to do is minimize the decisions that are not as important as you might think. ... So if you look at some of the most successful people in the world - they don’t wake up and … pick out their outfits. They don’t think about breakfast and lunch and dinner. They have somebody bring them breakfast, they have somebody press their outfit, and lay it out for them; they have somebody bring them dinner, right? They’re basically creating a lifestyle around them that’s systematic so that they can focus on the big decisions they can make. So they can have their laser-like precision when something like that happens. Now, I’m not suggesting you have to hire … a personal assistant to press your clothes and cook meals for you or what not, but if you have a routine that you can do consistently… I’ll give you a simple example; the way I typically do my weeks. Let’s just go on nutrition… Monday through Thursday I generally fast, most of the day. I just usually have dinner and eat whatever my wife’s cooking… and that just comes down to her choosing to cook healthy, which she does. So it’s usually meat, vegetables, starch. Really simple. And then Friday/Saturday we’ll… eat out or eat at home. And make something a little bitmore flavorful, like some gluten-free pasta or something like that. ...Then on Sunday we usually go over to her parent’s… house for dinner and we typically have …a meat, vegetable, starch kind of thing over there, too. ...Saturday/Sunday I tend to eat breakfast or something like that as well, so I don’t do fasting every single day. ...That’s become so habitual… it’s just so easy for me to go from day to day and just kinda do that. That I don’t really even have to think about it anymore. And then I don’t have to make as many decisions… Maybe on Friday I’ll make a decision about what I really want to enjoy eating. But for the rest of the week it’s not that hard. You know? And the less decisions you have to make in your life - the easier it will be to make good ones when the time comes. Because, ultimately, the reason why you’re going to Taco Bell and you’re eating desserts and you’re drinking too much booze at night is because your day is over and you’ve had to make thousands of tiny decisions and you’re just done. You’re done making decisions. And so your brain can not make a good decision. It will just make whatever decision sound most pleasurable at the time. And that’s usually, you know, get a little tipsy,
LC: Get some sugar.
TB: Watch TV too late, and ya, eat sugar, and sit on the couch instead of go to the gym. You know, like all these different poor decisions… Ya, decision fatigue is a huge one. Try not to be the person who has to make every decision all the time - ALL THE TIME - in your life. You know, if you’re married, assign decisions to each one of you that you’re responsible for to keep you guys in these health habits. And then allow the freedom to have debates about things you want to do in addition to that.
Brilliant! Now, go! Eliminate Decision Fatigue from your days and weeks!
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I am going to offer you some big-picture food-for-thought today. What if you took a step back and reevaluated your day in terms of the food you eat - and WHEN?
*Which meal is your largest?
*When do you find yourself craving the most variety of flavorful foods?
*Be honest… when would you PREFER to eat your biggest meal?
*What part of the day would you prefer to eat to your heart’s content?
*Do you feel sluggish after your current lunches? Or more energized?
*Does an empty stomach (please read my previous post about types of hunger if you haven’t already, because I’m referring to relaxed-flat-line-hunger here) serve you well in terms of energy and productivity mid-morning?
Being the think-for-ourself-ers that we are, my husband and I gave ourselves permission to turn our days upside-down, so to speak. We aren’t swayed by marketers claiming that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. They just want to sell their cereal, don’t they? I don’t agree with the line of thinking that you’ll win an award for depriving yourself of food or that for every night you go to bed hungry you’ve somehow earned another star on your dieting sticker chart. Going to bed hungry is one of the hardest things to work through mentally, is it not?
We’ve come to realize that claims can be made for either side of so many arguments and that research can be constructed to prove whatever opinion the researcher holds. We learned to listen to and trust our bodies. We also found a book we can relate to: The Warrior Diet, by Ori Hofmekler. I already referenced this work in this blog post. The Warrior Diet outlines a fairly extreme eating lifestyle. Ori’s Warrior Diet truly is a lifestyle eating structure not a temporary fad diet. However, the more we transform our ways, the more our bodies naturally venture toward Ori’s approach. We don’t have our days set up quite as extremely as he does, but our basic outline is pretty similar now!
We get out of bed around 4. I consume nothing but water until my greens drink at 7 am (Brian waits until 10 am - we each do what works for us). Then I eat a small breakfast loaded with protein and healthy fats at 9:00. At 11:30 I eat a small protein-packed lunch (strategic and nutritionally perfect). Not much food you say? We intentionally ‘run lean and clean’ during the day so we have and maintain lots of energy. An added plus is that we don’t have to slow down much during our work day to eat. Not only are our meals small so they don’t take much time to eat, but they also never make us feel sluggish. Win-Win! Then… here’s another Win… we indulge in a large satisfying heavy meal in the evening. Some nights it isn’t until after our kids go to bed! So I will have gone a 9 hour stretch that afternoon with only an apple and another green’s drink as a snack. These just-right ‘carry-you-through’ food choices are the ticket to easily breezing along. Two days per week I even have the energy to have a huge lift before I come inside to pig out on a delicious supper! The large satisfying heavy meal at night is a really fun routine… couple’s quiet time to eat to our heart’s content at a time in the day when we most enjoy sitting down to do so. Another planned indulgence is the large Mexican meal we eat on the weekend. Do you remember me mentioning that I’m up to four enchiladas most times!? Yep… lift heavy… eat heavy! It’s really fun :) Win-Win-Win-Win-Win! Strategic. Sustainable. Intentional. Satisfying. What our body is asking for. And best of all… enjoyable!
Be excited… an ebook is in the works that will outline my week’s lunches - the step by step how-tos for you to copy and implement into your own life! Stay tuned!
Here is an excerpt fromOri Hofmekler’s book, The Warrior Diet, that speaks to why turning your day upside down might be instinctual and beneficial and also why excess estrogen is problematic and how the Warrior Diet lifestyle change combats this issue. This excerpt is taken from the Introduction of his book: Introduction xxix-xxxii.
One Meal A Day
The gist of the Warrior Diet is to eat a meal only once a day, preferably at night, and without restriction of calories or macronutrient content.
It involves retraining the body and the mind. If you try it for a few weeks, I maintain that your hunger will diminish during the day. And when you eat at night, you’ll know exactly what to eat and how much to eat. Your body may, in fact, tell you to eat a considerable amount-no matter, listen to it. During the day you’ll likely want to nibble on things. This is okay, as long as your snack consists of fresh vegetables, fruits, and a little protein if desired, and doesn’t include carbohydrates like breads or grains.
Yes, this runs against current theory. Yes, it runs against modern-day common sense. But there’s a body of science to support it. We already know that exercising on an empty stomach supports our sympathetic nervous system and promotes more weight loss than if we had eaten beforehand. This diet guarantees you several hours a day of fat-burning hormones percolating through your body.
During these daily hours your body is at a peak capacity to remove toxins and generate energy, while staying alert, resisting fatigue and stress. Long periods of undereating increase protein efficiency. If you refrain from eating large amounts of protein at arbitrary times, your body will become more efficient at recycling proteins, so when you do eat protein, it’ll be utilized much more efficiently. Not eating for long periods also improves insulin sensitivity, so when you do eat, your blood sugar doesn’t fluctuate wildly and your body won’t store the carbohydrate calories as fat. [Kelly’s two cents: aim for flat-line hunger versus the up-and-down angry-hungers. They feel better, fuel you better and are a much better pattern for your body.]
The list of potential benefits is staggering. Taking in certain types of protein on an empty stomach can increase testosterone levels [Kelly’s two cents: don’t be afraid of testosterone ladies!] and growth hormone levels, and you can’t do that on a full stomach. Long periods of fasting also allow certain beneficial amino acids to act favorably on the brain. How many conventional diets do that? Naysayers might argue that the body needs large reserves of glycogen to compete in athletic events. This may be true, but the Warrior Diet trains the body to stretch glycogen reserves so that athletic endurance doesn’t become a problem. Others might point out that this type of diet may induce the production of catabolic hormone cortisol, which may have negative effects on muscle growth and fat deposition. Ordinarily, yes, but this diet is not about water fasting. By ingesting the right nutrients during the Undereating Phase you will be able to block the cortisol effect.
Just to make sure we’re on the same page, let’s recap the essentials of the Warrior Diet. The main ‘trick’ is to retrain your body; teach it to become more instinctive. You can do this by avoiding most foods during the day, although I do recommend that you eat vegetables and fruits (mainly as freshly squeezed juices). It’s also okay to have a little protein during the day, such as eggs, cheese, yogurt, or high quality whey. As you get used to eating this way, your cravings should disappear. And once you’re done, “fighting the battles” of the day, you can eat as much protein, vegetables, and carbs as you want - even if it means the equivalent of three meals in one seating.
The Warrior Diet Advantage
Make no mistake about it. This is not a three-week program or “get in shape for summer” plan. It is a lifestyle. As you continue to do it, hunger pangs during the day will likely disappear. Simultaneously, you’ll find yourself getting leaner and more muscular. Furthermore, your thoughts should become clearer and more focused. You will, in short, become a warrior.
Remember, genetically we humans are hunters/gatherers, as are predators in the forest. Wild animals, which practice “free feeding,” stay lean and athletic, but when you put them in captivity they begin to eat like most modern human beings - nonstop. Their natural instincts wane and so they eat and eat, and eventually die.
Most people habitually eat between three to six meals per day. Unfortunately, many are not satisfied with these small meals.
Additionally, eating meals during the day leaves many people feeling sluggish and exhausted due to uncontrolled hormonal and neurotransmitter changes. On the other hand, when you practice the Warrior Diet, you can let your hormones and neurotransmitters work for you. In other words, instead of the hormones clashing against the diet, your diet will work in synergy with your hormones.
Although it may seem difficult to accept at first, the Warrior Diet allows you an incredible sense of freedom. Once your natural instincts kick in, you’ll want to eat only one large meal per day, at night. You’ll fully enjoy it and will get even more satisfaction knowing that you can eat to your heart’s content. I believe that every time you fulfill an instinct there’s a feeling of intense pleasure, a kind of high. We get this feeling from food, sex, and even after completing a workout. Could it be that the drive to exercise instensely is part of the “Warrior Instinct,” and that people are drawn to bodybuilding or other sports because we’re deprived of this instinct in our modern lives? I think so. It’s all part of being a warrior.
The “Stubborn Fat” Syndrome
“Stubborn fat” is a major problem for many people today. Those who suffer from this “stubborn fat syndrome” know that it’s almost impossible to get rid of it. And they realize that even when they lose some body fat through diet and exercise, the fat they lose is not the stubborn fat. That’s why it’s called stubborn fat. This stubborn fat usually remains around the belly or chest area, making men look soft. On women, it usually hits their hips, butt and thighs.
Stubborn fat is caused by an excess of the female hormone estrogen in both women and men. There is evidence that stubborn fat is a modern-man problem due to high exposure to estrogenic chemicals in the environment, food, and water. These chemicals affect the body like estrogen, causing fat gain, sterility, and various disorders, including cancer. Besides the Anti-Estrogenic Diet, my recent book dedicated to this topic (North Atlantic Books, 2006), I’m not aware of any diet that seriously addresses this problem. It isn’t a simple issue. Excess estrogen - which increases the size of estrogen-sensitive fat tissues - comes from various foods and chemicals that mimic the effects of the hormone in our body. The result can be metabolic disorders, fat gain, and mortal disease in men, women, and children.
One needs to understand what stubborn fat is, what the reasons are for having it, how to avoid it, why it’s hard to burn if you have it, and most importantly, how to remove it. In Chapter 7 I will explain how to deal with this syndrome. It’s all part of the Warrior Diet. (Hofmekler, The Warrior Diet, Introduction xxix-xxxii)
Periodically on my blog I will pass along content from other writers, authors and sources. These quick breaks from sharing my own ideas will include content from those we look up to, quotes that resonate with me, insights I’ve gained from books I’m reading, or great advice I assume readers of this blog would appreciate hearing.
Lately I have been learning from Marie Forleo. A link to her resources popped into my junk mail folder one day… the day I happened to think to myself, “hmm… I wonder if anything important or valuable ever gets sent directly to my junk folder without my knowing it.” I hadn’t checked that folder in years! The word coincidence comes to mind… but I’m not going to use it because I don’t believe in those.
All I’ve got to say about Marie Forleo is…. Where has she been all my life!? She said just-right things at just the right time… for me. For me. I know that’s key - that we all hear exactly what we’re meant to hear at just the right time… if we are tuned-in to hear it. So maybe Marie’s work isn’t for you right now and that’s ok. But something she was explaining jumped out at me as something I should summarize and share on my blog.
It went like this. Now, please keep in mind that this is all my interpretation, paraphrasing and summary. Click here to sign up to receive a link to her full-length presentation. Marie said that 99% of our ‘can'ts’ are actually ‘won'ts.’ Read that again:
She is saying that whenever we say we ‘can’t’ do something, that we are actually engaging in self-deception and we are making excuses. We should take note of our ‘can’ts,’ look them in the eye so to speak, and in doing so the excuses will disappear. Calling them what they are (excuses) we will then be able to move past them and come up with steps of action to take toward making things possible in our lives.
Here are the ‘can’ts’ she gave as examples of some things we’re guilty of telling ourselves and that she says are actually ‘won’ts’/excuses:
*I can't get up and workout everyday. → I won’t get up and workout everyday.
*I can't seem to find the time to ________. → I won’t create the time to ________.
*I can't seem to control myself around food. → I won’t control myself around food.
*I can't forgive ________ for ________. → I won’t forgive _______ for ________.
*I can't ask for help. → I won’t ask for help.
*I can't get ahead because of ________. → I choose not to get ahead because of _______.
*I can't do ________ because I can't afford it. → I won’t ________ because I choose not to afford it.
I’m going to add one of my own:
*I can't lift heavy weights because _______. → I won’t lift heavy weights because ________.
What about this:
*I won’t choose foods that make me feel my best because ________.
Marie Forleo says that choosing to say the word ‘can't’ actually takes power away from ourselves. We are 100% responsible for the results we produce in our lives.
When we re-frame our thinking and realize that ‘can’t’ actually means ‘won’t,’ we realize ‘won’t’ could mean a variety of things: it could mean that you don't want to, that you don't want to put in the effort to do what it takes, that you don't want it bad enough, or that it is not a priority in your life. All of these are ok if you’ve chosen them for whatever it is. BUT… if it is something you really want to go after and it is a priority, then the only way you’ll achieve it is to look your can’ts/won’ts/excuses in the eye, get rid of what’s standing in your way and take steps toward your goal. She reminded us that we have more power than we think and also more power than we give ourselves credit for to accomplish the things that we really want to accomplish.
Great advice if you ask me. Any time you can take a step back and gain perspective and clarity about your own thinking and see how you’re standing in your own way is so valuable. Now, go… get rid of your ‘won’ts!’
Below is the link to my second time on Eric's podcast Motivation & Muscle. Check it out! Over 700 shows to draw motivation and wisdom from! Go get started downloading and listening!! Valuable use of your 'mind space!'
Squats and Bacon - Eric Fiorillo The Host of The Award Winning Motivation and Muscle Streaming Radio 24/7 Welcomes Wife, Mother, School Teacher, Weightlifter, and Blog Writer Kelly Johnson to the Broadcast. Eric and Kelly get right into the nuts and bolts of her workout and her husband Brian’s workout. They each train at different times of the day and they are both dedicated to a 75-minute session in their garage gym. The squats and bacon title came from Kelly telling Eric when she gets done with her heavy dead stop squats she eats like a man. It’s nothing for her to eat half a dozen of eggs with a half a slab of bacon. Now that’s what we call satisfying the beast within all of us! Squats and Bacon just like any form of training and diet have to satisfy you both mentally and physically. This means it’s going to increase your ability to recover? Does it give you enough protein and fat and does it make you want to become more creative with your food consumptions intake? We talk about planting the seeds of weightlifting into the younger children no matter what their given age. As Kelly explains to Eric her training encompasses her whole life. She gives the example of wanting to be able to do more chin-ups. She discovered her grip needed to be improved in order to be able to excel at doing more chins. This is evident as you start weightlifting and give yourself the time you need to grow, your instincts will become sharper and the required attention a weaker body part needs will be improved to reach your goal.We talk about society in general and how it has taken a turn at this time for the worst. At times the world has wanted everyone to become a big punching bag. Everyone needs to get a trophy, never to be ridiculed and told you screwed up and add the parents into the mix and you have a serious mess. Many kids today through the school system are told not to defend themselves and this has really created the emergence of the bully. As Kelly says that she believes in talking it out but there are times that leave you no quarter. Sometimes things just have to become physical and unfortunately, that’s how things will get settled. No one has the right to put their hands on you in a destructive way. Eric and Kelly finish Squats and Bacon off with this. What is it going to take to get you started on your road to glory? What event in your life is just going to break that dormant Hulk out of your soul? It’s there for everyone but are you ready to listen? Let it evolve and you evolve with it! As Kelly says: ”find that inner strength within yourself.” Don’t depend on the others who usually lead from the rear of the line. So do your squats and bacon, be a leader, not a follower and cherish the life you’ve been given! Own it! Motivation and Muscle Streaming Radio 24/7 Connects Your Brain With Your Brawn. Enjoy!
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Most of us have been there. They’ve even coined a new term for the experience: hangry. I’m on a mission to never feel that again. I truly believe it’s possible and I’m enjoying glimpses of success. Long stretches in fact. Come to think of it, I’m rarely that kind of hungry anymore. And I’m damn proud of it. It means I’ve defeated a very large monster. ...because angry-hunger used to consume my life! It made me anxious about food; food always had to be on my mind so I could avoid those ‘crashes.’ I suppose I could have marched on in to a doctor’s office and been diagnosed with hypoglycemia - I experienced similar symptoms - but I don’t do that. I don’t seek diagnoses for my ailments - to me, and my body, a diagnosis feels like an excuse for not addressing an issue I’m aware I need to address and believe I can correct/heal on my own. I’ve accumulated several experiences like that in my life already and let me tell you - it’s so fun to trust your body’s ability to heal, take discernible and appropriate action, then watch the turn-around and healing unfold miraculously. Reminds me of my dear 97 year old friend’s refrigerator magnet: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle (~Albert Einstein).” Our bodies are miraculous units. Treat them as such.
Instead of ‘settling’ on being a person who gets angry-hungry often, I sought solutions. Implementing/incorporating one small solution after another added up to a total lifestyle change. That, in turn, eradicated my angry-hunger for good.
I am writing this post so that I have a place to refer back to later when I’m outlining the positive effects of our eating changes. I also picture myself referring others to this when I am helping them make their own big changes. There is a stark difference between the kind of hungry I’m referring to as I move forward/what I NOW feel… and what that word used to mean to me. This post describes that difference. As I spent time thinking about and identifying this difference, I realized that there are actually many kinds of hunger a person can feel. However, they fall into only one of two categories.
There’s the angry-hungry I already discussed. This is the umbrella term over which all of the negative types of hunger fall. The bored-hunger, the panic-hunger, the unsatisfied-yet-full-hunger, and the dreaded breastfeeding-hunger! Let me briefly explain these.
*Bored-Hunger - The kind of hunger that makes you wander around the kitchen, opening cupboard doors, aimlessly looking for something to eat. Do you really need fuel? Or are you just bored? If you went and did something entirely different for ten minutes would you still feel that way? Would your mind even go back to wishing for food? Or will you have gotten involved in something that takes your mind off of your supposed hunger?
*Panic-hunger - The ‘if I don’t eat within 15 minutes, I feel like I’m going to pass out and begin shaking’ kind of hunger. This is the ‘all I can think about is food kind of hunger;’ the kind that seems like stuffing a large meal into your face is the only way to stop your insides from trembling. A simple snack such as an apple would be laughable, not enough.
*Unsatisfied-yet-full-hungry - The kind of hunger where you’ve just stuffed yourself with junk food so your stomach feels full, yet your body still doesn’t feel satisfied. So you’re still hungry. You’re fooled into thinking you want more of that junk. When really it’s telling you it that it’s needing nutrients. It’s demanding that you eat something healthier; it’s wanting more. ...more yet different... nutritious.
*Breastfeeding-hunger - Holy Buckets is all I’ve got to say about that one. I imagine that my having experienced this kind of hunger for as many years as I did was what triggered me to learn how to eradicate the panic-type-hungers altogether because they’re as downright icky, terrifying, atrocious and debilitating as hungers come! Breastfeeding our little man was far more demanding and strenuous than our daughter. I tell you what… a mere 120-125 pound lady (at that time) trying to eat enough of the right things at the right time to sustain and nourish the life of a I’m-only-drinking-Mama’s-milk sturdy 24 pound thirteen-month-old little man felt like and should have been my only full-time job at that time! Not to mention trying to keep some nutrients for myself! Holy buckets. Glad I did it. Wouldn’t change a thing. Kudos to me at the time. Not sure how I stuck with it. No wonder why my acupuncturist kept telling me ‘my reserves were low.’ He better thank me for it when he’s older. Grateful Mama’s milk is miraculous. Glad that phase is over. Whew! I’ll leave it at that. hahaha
Apart from the breastfeeding-hunger, I can say that the negative angry-hungers were all caused by poor food choices on my part. ‘Foods’ that are full of fake ingredients were the biggest culprits. So were foods full of pointless and nutritionally-void carbs. Obvious offenders included: cereal, crackers, bagels, pasta, muffins, pizza, granola bars, pancakes, and sugary desserts. Even foods that others think are ‘healthy’ made my body upset and angry-hungry hours later. Here are some of the foods, off the top of my head, that some people label as ‘healthy’ but made me not feel well a few hours later (which tells me it wasn’t a food that my body needed or appreciated nutritionally speaking): sub sandwiches from that supposedly ‘healthy’ restaurant chain, cold meat (those nitrates! that soy filler!), oatmeal, orange juice, casseroles (I’m better off without cans of ‘cream of crap,’ as I call them), some crock-pot hodge podges, breaded frozen chicken items (even the ‘best’ and ‘healthiest’ options), and freezer ‘meals.’ I even have to be wary of bananas. Rarely is there a time in my day where I can ‘get away with’ eating a banana. They’re so sugary… they lead me to ‘crash’ if I don’t time them appropriately. To summarize this section:
**Any high-glycemic, processed, artificially-colored, artificially-flavored food will NOT be what your body is ‘hungry’ for.**
Then there’s the second type of hunger: relaxed-hunger. This is the kind of hunger I NOW experience and appreciate and always strive for. No jittery feelings. No anxiousness about where my next bite of food’s coming from. I would describe this as a “my tanks down below a quarter, I should probably be thinking about filling up in the next 100 miles” type of thing. NOT an all-out “MY TANK IS ON ‘E’!!!” type of emergency! When I now start to feel an emptiness in my stomach, I know I could go another hour or two easily without eating. And if I simply ate an apple or drank one of our awesome greens drinks, I’d be able to easily last more hours than that. Sustained. Satisfied. Stable. Just more empty than, say, after I’ve eaten a meal. It has been fun figuring out how to live within that stability => lean and clean, ‘flat line’ as I’ll describe it. Note: I do not make, sell or profit from telling you about the greens we enjoy; but I will recommend them, tell you about them and point you in their direction in the future! Another note: lifting heavy weights causes an entirely unique kind of hunger as well… it’s what I call being “Muscle-Hungry.” Whoa buddy! I’ll let ya know what I figure out about this one… I still haven’t quite mastered it. It’s definitely not a negative hunger, but it’s awfully panicky! ...and absolutely needs to be fueled correctly!
Back to ‘flat-line’ hunger - Mid-morning especially, my energy level never declines in the hours before I sit down to eat lunch. So even though my stomach’s telling me it is nearing empty, I’ve still got a ton of energy. I no longer crash. Ever. And I know to be smart during this time because it’s usually eating something that will make me sluggish. People typically turn to food for energy, and yes, there are times I do too, but it’s all about figuring out what your body needs and finding that balance. Sometimes meals, if they’re too big or not the right thing, will actually slow a person down. Be strategic and choosy about what and when you eat. And sometimes not eating is an equally brilliant solution. Listen to your body!!
To really drive my point home, I will visually show the difference between my ‘angry-hunger’ of the past and how the ‘flat-line hunger’ I now experience feels to me.
Angry-hunger of the past. The angst and my body’s frustration with me! The shaky-insides!
Feeling like I was about to pass-out crashes! Not to mention the racing-heart highs!
My new peaceful hours-long casual slide into ‘hunger.’ My flat-line.
All is well with my body… when my belly is full of food AND when my belly is low on food.
A couple more thoughts before I close…
I realize that making a lifestyle change isn’t a perfectly linear process; that it’s a two steps forward, one step back kind of thing. But after years of making a lot of small changes, the transformation is so incredible that I’m motivated to never go back to old ways. I will never fall off track as much as I was back then. Time is precious, my health is precious and I’m on a beautiful roll of feeling my best. Join me! ...if you haven’t already.
Also… listen to your body. We’ve all had those gigantic meals at night where we don’t really feel like eating much the next morning... or even into that next day’s lunch. Maybe take a cue from your body and don’t. I took a cue from my body the other night and slid right into bedtime and then breakfast the next day not having eaten any supper. Now… don’t freak out on me and give me a lecture of how tiny-little-Kelly can’t stand to ‘starve’ herself like that. First off, it isn’t ‘starving’ or ‘depriving’ myself in any way, shape, or form. Trust me… that I’m trusting my body. I had every intention of eating a yummy supper that night, but once I took note of what my body was telling me, I realized it was telling me I’d be better off not putting a ‘rock’ of a supper into my stomach that evening. It wanted time to digest everything it had already consumed in the days prior and then additional time to focus on detoxing and ‘cleaning house’ instead of being forced to process and deal with the next meal I’d stuff into it. I plan to write an entire post about this concept in the future. For now, though, I will leave it at the fact that my body told me it just wanted additional time to process and digest existing food and extra time to clean house. It felt wonderful by the way. It wasn’t drudgery. It felt right. And the only reason this was true was because of the super smart choices of food I gave it in the 12 hours prior to this decision. This only works (so my body says) when you’ve fueled it properly beforehand. If I had made one slip-up and ate some sugary crappy dessert that afternoon, I would have plummeted into a carb-crash shaky-insides type hunger instead of being able to breeze on through the subsequent 18 hours meal-free. It’s strategic and choosy and planned. It works and it feels flipping amazing (if done properly). I had so much energy and alertness during that ‘fasting’ morning - it was insane! In fact, creative inspiration came to me that same morning. I was ‘clear’ enough for this to occur!
What I’ve rambled about in today’s post isn’t anywhere near a proper scientific explanation. I know ones exist. I know that there are long, technical, hard-to-pronounce labels to identify and describe the body’s intricate processes. It’s a miraculous unit, remember? I took a semester-long course at Iowa State during my undergrad to learn about them; I aced that class. But I’ll admit... I’m not into the science of things so much as I am the ‘what is your body telling you?’ types of things. I know you’ve felt the differences in the hungers you experience. You know there are the hungers you can easily power through and also the ones where your body’s crying out for something specific because you’ve given it a series of ‘wrong things’ prior. Listen to it. And seriously strive to get rid of the kind of hunger that makes you ‘hangry’, that makes you anxious about food, that simply disrupts your life. Be nice to your body. It’s time.
Welcome to Part 2 of my two part Eating Philosophy blog post! Part 1 can be found here.
We’ve all been in a convenience store, fast food restaurant or grocery store between the hours of 11 and 1. There are people in there who have no plan or criteria for the ‘meal’ they’re about to call lunch. This observation can even be applied to a person opening their refrigerator - at lunchtime - and asking themselves, “What should I have for lunch today?” I’m sorry, but I don’t think any of us is very successful at making reasonable food choices when we’ve reached the point where we need food… now! I think at this point, giving in to ‘what sounds good’ is a formula for disaster! You’ve got to approach meals with the decision making and prep work already done. ...and if you’ll eat away from home, then the food, etc. should already be made and packed. I will explain this by describing what I ate for lunch today. I am a full-time teacher, so my Mon-Fri lunches are eaten at school. Today is Thursday, by the way. Today’s lunch occurred as it did because of the following steps. This doesn’t include the time/planning/thought involved in the three stages I outlined inPart 1 of this Eating Philosophy post. The ‘What’ to have for lunch took time, awareness, focus and thoughtful intention. Be sure to read that article here if you haven’t already.
The groceries and ingredients for my lunch today were purchased last Friday. The chicken was baked Sunday morning. The lunch was assembled last night and kept in the fridge. Everything I needed was packed this morning (including a fork and water) in this amazing bag. I HIGHLY recommend this bag!! It holds three 20 oz water bottles, a Blender Bottle full of Zest Tea, a Blender Bottle for Living Fuel, my lunch, two ice packs, two apples, plus side pockets for three greens powders' containers, forks, an olive oil bottle and pumpkin seeds! It’s a backpack which works slick for carrying, its top handle is super sturdy, or I load it on top of my travel crate for work since I travel between two elementary schools.
Our system is so slick that every step of this process is habitual and hardly given a thought. ...streamlined! And that’s the way food should be handled! Not emotionally. Not rushed. Not last minute, where quality options are not available. Hey, there’s a Kelly girl who promised to share what she and her husband have done to streamline their lives so as to take the decision-making and excess-thought-expenditure out of their days! She promised this would help free up time and energy to do additional things in their lives. Being intentional and having a plan are what she’s all about.
Now, just because you don’t frequent a gas station, grocery store, or fast food restaurant for your meals, doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for being guilty of approaching food like a scavenger. Our kitchens can also reveal just how guilty we may actually be. I know… because I used to be guilty! I used to have boxed convenience meals in our freezer and microwaveable single-serve stew and pasta entrees on our pantry shelves that were capable of sitting there months and months and were still be deemed ‘edible.’ But now our eating philosophy has changed drastically. If our fridge died and the food inside it spoiled…. we wouldn’t be able to assemble a meal! Granted, we could live on Living Fuel, Tanka bars, and nut butters and seed butters for a while, but we’d have to replenish a new fridge with fresh clean basics before we could prep an actual meal. And we take great pride in that. ...considering how far we’ve come!
If ‘food’ can be made and processed in one year, shipped to a store to sit on their shelf the next year, then purchased by you, only to sit on your pantry shelf for another year, before it is actually consumed…. then that particular food has got to have a different effect on your body than say, foods that are so fresh that they should be consumed within the 1-2 weeks it takes to get from source → store → home → our bellies! Think about it. Think about the difference between perishable fresh foods versus shelf-stable items that can sit for years and years. Think about what your body would prefer to process. To digest. To gain nutrients from. To tuck away deep within your body.
I know there are exceptions…canned albacore, nut butters, seeds and nuts, etc., but I think I’m beginning to prove my point, aren’t I? If not, let me remind you of some other beneficial guidelines to consider when purchasing the food you choose to consume:
*Keep the percentage of perishable items in your cart to most if not all of the groceries you’re about to purchase.
*Shop the perimeter of the store. This means fresh foods from coolers versus boxed processed foods.
*It is all about making a true lifestyle change.
*You should only eat food you can grow or kill.
*Be a hunter, not a scavenger. Let me explain by sharing some wisdom from pages 5 & 6 of Ori Hofmekler’s book The Warrior Diet...
“There are several distinct differences between hunters and scavengers. Hunters/predators work in order to get their food. They make a selection. They know exactly what they are after... They eat only when hungry. They have a sense of priority - and a sense of time. This is very important…”
“The scavenger is exactly the opposite. While hunters work hard to get their food, scavengers don’t. They pick up leftovers. While hunters have a sense of priority and know exactly what they need, scavengers have no clear sense of priority. While hunters will make a selection, choosing their food, scavengers eat whatever is available. While hunters eat only when hungry, scavengers eat all the time. While hunters eat warm, fresh, live food, the scavenger often eats cold, dead food. While hunters like to eat when it’s safe so they can relax, scavengers eat “on the go.” These comparisons might make you wonder what kind of person you are. Are you a hunter/predator or a scavenger? Be honest with yourself. Which do you want to be?”
“Can You Be a Hunter Without Hunting?
You may ask, ‘Are we all forced scavengers?’ The answer is mostly yes. ‘Are there really hunters anymore?’ My answer is that even though most of us no longer hunt in a traditional sense for our food, the Hunter Instinct is within us all - and you can easily switch it on. ‘Can you be a hunter if you choose your food but purchase it in advance?’ Good question.”
“With awareness, by choosing your own food you’re already working for it and making priorities. Once you reach the peak - by designing your meals, cooking your food, and understanding what tastes do for you - you are living like a hunter. You understand what you want, set your priorities, acquire your food and, as necessary, prepare it, all of which requires effort. You sit down for your meals and relax. Then when you eat you’re satisfied and you don’t need to eat more. People who shop in health food stores, even if they don’t understand exactly what they’re doing, are already a big step ahead because they at least have awareness and are making priorities and choices. The scavenger, by contrast, is like an idiot. An idiot is someone who doesn’t think about what he’s doing. A scavenger will pick up any food, not knowing its nutritional value or where it came from, nor care if it’s fresh, and eat it - just for the sake of eating… Hopefully I’ve put this all in perspective and you’re now in touch with (or at least aware of) this deep primal instinct within you, and within all of us - the Warrior Instinct.”
I love that. I’ve converted my eating philosophy to a Hunter mentality and I’m never going back!
I need to say one thing before I end this. I am highlighting observations of convenience store scavengers to you in order to make a point about the two ways a person can approach their next meal… not to judge the people making the choice. I have been that scavenger myself! Every time when break-time and lunch-hour rolled around at the grocery store where I worked part-time through high school and college. At home in my twenties. Even in packing my lunches for school the first years I was a teacher. That is now in my past. This talk of scavengers only serves the purpose of pointing out differences in mindsets and patterns and choices. Remember that we are all in charge of our own choices. I strongly believe there are no ‘bad’ people… only great people making some misguided choices… or worse yet…. not even giving themselves enough care or self-worth to make a better choice. It’s like kids and behavior… I heard a kindergarten teacher do an amazing job of reshaping a parent’s mindset during a parent-teacher conference a few years ago when she said this, “He is always a Good Boy. He just needs to decide to make Good Choices; he needs to learn to choose Good Choices more often than Bad Choices.” I gathered that that parent had drilled it into their son every morning to ‘Go be a Good Boy today’ and would then ask him at the end of the day, ‘Were you a Good Boy today?’ Oh no, no, no… you see, he’s always a Good Boy. Always. He just needs guidance in making Good Decisions. Don’t we all? Does your eating philosophy need some reshaping? Do it. Your mood, your energy, your ability to cope and be less reactive, your motivation, your body’s health, your mental clarity, how you feel, how you function, and your drive will all benefit! Mine have.
Let me know how I can help.
Find me on my Facebook page by searching: What’s your secret Kelly? Blog and send me a message. Or email me at email@example.com. While you’re there, also let me know what topics you’d like me to blog about in the future :) Thanks!
I believe that the “Whys” are generally more important than the “Whats” in life. So before I share with you ‘What’ we choose to eat week in & week out, I want to first focus on the ‘Whys’ and also ‘How’ we landed on our ‘Whats.’ Follow me? Haha! Let me explain...
As Brian and I were talking the other day, we were reflecting on our food journey these past 6 years. We landed on a pretty cool summary of our journey; identifiable steps we went through. I highly recommend you follow the same skeletal outline and embark on your own food journey.
Phase 1 - Awareness
If you haven’t read my blog post entitled, Secret #1: Awareness Tune in to yourself!, I highly recommend you do that now. Awareness is a biggie. Awareness is a necessary first step in the process of changing your eating philosophy.
When we decided we needed to make changes in our lives, we knew we had to become aware of every item we put into our bodies and also aware of how each of those items affected our mood, our energy, our ability to cope/be less reactive, our motivation, our body’s health, our mental clarity, how we felt, how we functioned, and our drive.
I’ve said it before, but I will say it again… if you want a concrete way to gain awareness, start a journal. No… not a calorie-counting food journal. Start a journal to document everything you consume in a day and track how each thing affects you ...continue this until patterns emerge. Include a column on the left for everything you eat/drink, but also a column on the right to write down what you notice about how those foods/drinks affected you 1 hour after, 3 hours after, and even 24 hours after each choice. Jot down how you feel, what your mood is like, what your outlook on life is in general! This will help you connect some As to some Bs. This is what the Awareness phase is all about. … realizing that with every choice comes a reaction - whether it’s a negative consequence, a positive perk or a neutral response. Write it all down. Continue this until you see patterns and know definitively what each item does to you when you consume it (when things are consumed together as they typically are, at meals for instance, it may initially be difficult to discern which item has what effect. But over time it will become apparent.)
After you have given this step a lot of time and fidelity, and you’re confident you’ve landed on what exactly each food and drink that you consume, does to you, move on to Phase 2...
Phase 2 - Focus
We went through a few years where food was our main obsession, I mean… focus. As annoying as this phase was, it was absolutely necessary to discovering and landing on the foods that give us *ENERGY* and which ones we’d best nix from our lives completely ...because they don’t serve us well.
You could probably already list many of the foods you need to nix. The 1st awareness phase will really reaffirm this because you’ll notice how these foods don’t serve you well. The consequences of each will be written down for you to see.
For example, any food or candy with red dye gives me headaches. ...immediately nixed in Phase 2. Artificial sweeteners (aspartame especially) mess with my body badly - I gave those up when we knew we wanted to get pregnant. I knew I didn’t want to create life with that running through my veins, yuck! Obsession also caused us to do some reading and research. We learned that we wanted to avoid soy when possible (harder to do than you’d think!) - it’s very estrogenic and not a good thing, in our opinion.
Foods that ‘made the cut’ had to, had to, had to fit into our week’s schedule. By this I mean, it couldn’t require so much preparation and time that it wasn’t do-able to incorporate each week, or several times per week! We lead very busy lives and are juggling a lot currently: full time jobs, hefty commutes, 2 kids, workouts, an eating philosophy standard, kids’ sports and activities, and our marriage. While we realize that there are foods and meals that we should work to include when we have more time (I don’t steam veggies every single week - gasp! - that’s where we use our greens drinks as our nutritional insurance), the simple basic outline we began with needed to be do-able, something we could sustain, and something we worked toward making a solid habit.
Other major factors that we considered were these: What does it contain that we’d prefer it didn’t? What doesn’t it contain that we’d like it to contain, so it’d be more nutritional? Sometimes it isn’t enough to pick apart the ingredients that are included… sometimes you need to look one step further and ask, “what purpose does this food serve nutritionally?” Maybe it’s just a filler you need to nix because there’s no nutritional value or point to putting it in your body. On the other hand, we are never about deprivation. We never ever deprive ourselves in the name of some number on some scale. I rarely jump on a scale, remember? Our meals and foods have to be satisfying. End of story.
In this phase we put in a lot of work creating, tweaking, revamping and fine-tuning a weekly meal-plan of sorts. Once we identified what foods we wanted to incorporate on a routine basis, we strategically placed these meals into our week. Factors we considered included: the fact that we maintain energy and don’t get sluggish when our lunches are chicken based. So across the board we eat chicken for lunch and higher fat meats for supper. We even identified each of our favorites/preferences for ‘after a work-out’ meals and ‘the day before a work-out’ meals. Strategically planned. Fine-tuned. Obsessed about. Hahaha!
I’m happy, though, that this 2nd stage, for us, is now over and done with. From the outside looking in on us during Phase2… we probably appeared crazy. Obsessed. Consumed. But you know what? It was necessary. We came out on the other side with a completely transformed eating philosophy… a completely transformed life! I feel waaaay better than I ever have. I have more energy than I ever predicted. We are now fully enjoying the fruits of our Phase 2 labors where we get to focus on other things in our life more because we’ve streamlined our food choices and food prep. Food is simply a functional part of our day now. That’s it. Food is not something to dwell on, obsess about, condemn ourselves for, regret or waste time thinking about. It is now something we have ‘mastered’ and overcome so that we can go on with the business of *LIVING*. Food is a means to an end, a fuel (albeit an incredibly tasty fuel - we wouldn’t have it any other way). It’s streamlined and very simple. ...yet tastier and more enjoyable than it’s ever been.
I’d do it all over in a heartbeat. My life is forever better because of the work and determination we invested in our life changes. It’s not about quick fixes… it truly is about a lifestyle change. A transformation. Transformations don’t come easily or quickly, do they?
One caveat… you’ve gotta give it time. I’ve spoken of the years involved in our journey haven’t I? I remember gagging every time I drank our greens drink in the first weeks I began consuming it. But now I can’t imagine going a day without it. I now find it delicious and satisfying, therefore I crave it each day. We’ve even added another awesome greens drink into our ‘weekly plan.’ More about these in a future post. Give it time. There might be a rough patch to work through initially. Maybe you need to power through a sugar detox to jump-start your success. Whatever it takes… do it. Do it! But commit to seeing it through.
The motivation for me to power through initially was wanting a way out of the sluggishness and nutritional deficiency I had landed myself in. So I manned up, did it, and reminded myself I was heading in the right direction. One small change at a time. And after awhile, a couple of changes led to several changes, which led to a lot of changes. Over time the numerous changes we’ve made have brought us to an entirely different phase of our eating philosophy. Ironically to a place where food is no longer an ‘issue’ for us at all. Read my Mountain Analogy post for more insight about how transformation is a series of small changes that have a major cumulative effect.
Back to acquiring the taste… My brutally honest advice? Quit being a wuss. Eat it/drink it often enough and eventually you get accustomed to the taste. I promise… you’ll eventually crave its nutrients and taste. I do.
Change is difficult. But promise yourself that you’re worth the rough patch and that the transformation on the other side is well worth it and where you truly desire to be! Just think… soon you’ll be joining us as residents of Phase 3!
Phase 3 - Just roll with it.
All the hard work is done! We became aware. We became obsessed. We were focused and diligent. We identified what foods work and don’t work for our individual bodies. We strategically developed a general layout of our week’s meals and ‘snacks’ to roll with. Now…. the really enjoyable stage of ‘rolling with it!”
We have taken the ‘decision fatigue’ out of eating. That is a real thing by the way. I learned about it on Logan Christopher's The Vital Way podcast about habit changes (minutes 38:00-42:00 especially, but the whole podcast is great!) and immediately could relate, then became motivated to eliminate ‘decision fatigue’ wherever I could in my days. It is now a ‘Why’ added to our list of reasons we do what we do. I plan to make an entire post in the future solely about ‘decision fatigue.’ Stay tuned for that! [so many ideas, so little time haha]
I plan to share details about what we do and ideas for foods/meal plans/grocery lists in the future as well. However, I don’t recommend following any of it to a T. Pretty crazy of me to say, isn’t it? What I encourage you to do first, before you ever read my future food posts, is to go through the first phase of your own food journey… the Awareness stage. Set yourself up to be ready to listen to and consider the things your body is telling you. My body never lies. I bet yours doesn’t either if you’d tune in and listen to it.
None of us are perfect, but this is a hell of an outline and a place to start. Changes shouldn’t be seen as so daunting that you don’t do them. Pick one, just one! Start there and implement that one until that it’s habitual. Then choose another… until that one has become a sustainable habit. Then another... and another. Know that within 6 months, a year, two years, that you will accomplish what you’ve decided to accomplish. That is how we’ve done it. Our journey didn’t happen overnight. But we are MILES ahead with our eating than we were 2 years… 6 years… 10 years ago… and THAT’s what matters. It was never a temporary fad for us. It became a lifestyle change.
Small steps. Offer yourself some grace. But don’t settle for ever going back to old patterns and ways. Do something every day to work toward a transformed eating philosophy.
I love reading the weekly newsletter I receive in my inbox from Jon Gordon. I recommend you sign up for them as well (click here to do so). A few weeks ago this great quote was included in his write-up. I knew I had to pass it on...
Eric gave me a great idea as we were talking after the podcast. He suggested that I write a blog post about my experience of coming on his show. Great idea! Here’s what’s been running through my mind as I reflect on it all...
I imagine there are phases of fear much like there are stages of grief. There's gotta be. Regardless of whether it’s an actual thing or not, I went through identifiable phases between the first time Eric called me and invited me on his show and when we actually went on the air for my first introduction podcast. First, I have to describe my feelings about that initial phone call. I was literally lacing up my Chucks to go out to the garage to deadlift. That was fun timing! I was star struck, to be honest, and I’m not into celebrities or popularity contests. It’s just that Eric has been kind of a big deal in our house the previous two and a half years ;)
The first phase of this podcast journey went like this... “HE.. called ME!?” I couldn’t believe it. ...I still don’t actually! Then came the excitement, the “Let’s do this!” Since it was far enough off in the future at that point, I was safe in only feeling the giddiness and not the fear. But eventually the fear set in and turned to pure dread... “I'm doing WhAt?!?!” ...“I've got nothing to say!” ... “Why in the world does he want to talk to ME?!?” As these feelings went on for a few weeks, I experienced brief moments of wondering if I should back out. This occurred to me when I’d remember how speaking, especially in this type of situation, is probably at the very top of the list of things I'm terrible at. Public speaking is not my thing. Speaking to more than one person at a time is not my thing! I know, I know... when I was on air I was technically only talking to Eric. But I knew full well that thousands of listeners would soon be listening in on our conversation, so it was pretty much the same thing to me as public speaking. Speaking, in general, is not as much my thing as, say, writing. I have horrible detail recall. I’m not sure why… it’s just the way I’m wired. Instead, I'm a quick learner and remember things as a big picture summary in my mind. To be expected to remember details and specifics, especially on the fly, is seriously torturous for me! But a quitter I am not. And beyond not being a quitter, my word is something I'm proud to know can be counted on when I choose to give it to people. I don't offer or commit to something unless I've already committed to myself that it's a thing I plan to see through to completion. It wasn't an option for me to back out. I don't do that. I’d rather have a catastrophic flop weighing on my shoulders in retrospect than regrets and “I wish I would have gone through with it instead of quitting before I gave it a fair shot.” But that’s just me.
So it came time to accept my commitment and the reality that I was actually about to do it; I was going to be on Eric’s podcast. ...Holy. Shit. I was going to be on Eric’s podcast! For the 2-3 weeks prior to the show, I toughened myself up mentally into a state where “This was happening” and “I'd better step up and be in the ‘right state of Kelly’ that's ready for it.” I would visualize myself sitting there in a state of ‘flow,’ and at the very least not messing up and saying something I wouldn't be proud of. I visualized myself thinking clearly. I visualized the whole thing going smoothly.
No amount of cramming or prep work or rehearsing would help for Eric’s format. That actually turned out to be a good thing for me. I knew I needed to show up with a clear mind… instead of crammed and cluttered and rehearsed. So contrary to every other high pressure speaking task I've experienced before - interviews, speeches in front of groups of people, and that hour-long rhetorical analysis interview in college (barf! speaking of torturous!) - where it actually benefitted me to prepare and I wouldn’t have survived without rehearsing, the alternate prep work I did for the podcast was successful… and it looked like this: no junk food - none - in the 3 days prior. Not even a little taste. I know myself and if I bog my body down with even a mini candy bar, it throws me off and fogs me up - I couldn't risk even an ounce of unclarity. I also made sure I didn’t miss one morning or evening of Qi Gong, knowing this helps my clarity and helps me feel my best. If public speaking were my strength I'm not sure I'd need to go to such lengths to ensure I was 'running so clean' for the podcast, but since it isn’t something that comes naturally to me, I needed to be sure I brought my A-game and this involved a variety of smart choices.
The next thing included in this prep was a killer lift the night before. This is where and why that 250 partial dead stop squat partial looked easy and was easy. I had some baggage to release so I had an additional drive in me that led to adding 35 pounds to my previous week’s dead stop squat partial’s poundage. That was such a great lift and exactly what I needed! To finish off my preparation I ate a man-sized-amount of eggs and bacon for supper that evening because I feel my best and most clear the mornings after that meal.
Now, I fully realize… that many of you are wondering what the hell I’m going on and on about in this article. Speaking to others comes easily to many of you and you don’t bat an eye at being in the spotlight. Not me. To those of you out there that can’t relate? Substitute ‘public speaking’ with something at the top of your list of things that you’re terrible at or that stirs up feelings of dread and fear at actually facing and doing. You’ve got something, I know you do. What is it that you’re fearful to face? ...Speaking up for yourself? Fear of change? How about the fear of success? Or taking a risk knowing you may fail? Saying ‘no’ to another request for your time? Being yourself for fear of it not pleasing everyone? Getting involved in a relationship for fear of rejection? Speaking your truth to someone? Learning how to sit quietly by yourself and enjoy your own company? Learning how to be your own cheerleader and follow your own path? Well, this is an article full of the honest reflections of someone who confronted a fear like that. So maybe re-framing it in that way could help you relate to me more.
The podcast morning arrived. Our daughter woke me up at 3, but I planned on getting up at 4 like usual anyway. So I had a few hours to wake up, decide to not feel nervous (I’ve discovered that’s a choice after-all and that our minds have way more control over our bodies than we give it credit for). I did Qi Gong, took a nice shower, talked to Brian and drank some Living Fuel before setting up my ‘office’ in our garage. I knew I needed to stay clear of the usual morning kid chaos, so the garage was the best place for me to be in order to focus.
Then 6 AM… Eric called via Skype. Ahh! This is it! “Let’s do this!” I immediately felt safe and comfortable. I knew I would… I’ve listened to his other podcasts and predicted that I would. ...I felt safe to mess up...that it wouldn't upset him or throw him off...that he wouldn't make me feel foolish if I did. I felt safe to share my views and opinions and knew that if he didn't agree with them it would be okay. He rolls with it and is ok with differing opinions. He's not scared of someone using his air time to say something that contradicts his beliefs...he's open to that and doesn't make differing opinions into a big thing. There's a peace about him that can be felt….it’s contagious. It’s this peace that makes you feel supported and encouraged to step it up and feel safe enough to speak your mind. I relaxed immediately, and even started to enjoy this crazy podcasting experience I once feared so much. Do I think I did a stellar job? Absolutely not. I can think of things I should have said instead, should have worded better, should have elaborated on more, etc., etc., etc. I know that's something everyone can relate to even if public speaking comes naturally to you. However, I'm not gonna sweat it. I'm not dwelling on my mistakes or shortcomings. I'll just try harder next time! By the way, there's gonna be a next time!! Can you believe it!? No, neither can I. haha
What I am pleased with myself for is 1) going through with it, 2) choosing to face the fear, 3) not letting my nervousness make me say something regrettable, 4) sharing my opinions even though every listener may not agree with them, and 5) making no apologies for being myself...even if being myself involves not shining in a speaking arena.
Maybe I'm a good lesson for others: don't let the messenger's poor delivery stand in the way of the message. Think about that one. How many people have we written off because of a flaw? I know I’m guilty of that one and I’m not at all proud of it. I learned the lesson, though... tune in to truths even if they don’t come wrapped in a fancy smoothly-delivered package.
I caution you… don’t judge a book by its cover. The cover may look like just a no-nonsense strong man, but within the book inside is the most gracious, understanding, gentle and wise man. The cover may look like a meek girl whose quiet reserved ways could be mistaken as standoffish, but within the book inside is a strong, emotionally-sound and stable introspective friend who’s on your side.
Phooey on you if you're foolish enough to judge a book by its cover. Think of all the amazing books you’ll miss out on if you continue overlooking their possibilities and potential!
In my mind the podcast was a success. It turned out to not be a catastrophic flop to weigh on my shoulders in retrospect, but rather another conquered fear faced that I can check off on a bucket list of things I’d like to overcome. And the coolest thing about this whole experience that I could have missed out on had I chickened out and given in to fear is this... an experience so incredible and almost beyond description that occurred about three-fourths of the way through our on-air time… deja vu. It was the longest and clearest deja vu I’ve ever experienced. I debated whether I should even share this with you because it was so personal and sounds so crazy. But I will, because I want to point out that deja vu is a very real and purposeful thing. It serves as a checkpoint on our life’s journey... a checkpoint to remind us and show us that we’re on track. A checkpoint to indicate we are where we are meant to be …doing what we’d planned on doing. The deja vu I experienced during the podcast was wild. I’m not even going to try and explain it. I can’t! But know that I’m grateful and proud that I faced my fear. ...the alternative was clearly a missed checkpoint on my journey. So glad I didn’t deny myself that!
Brian and I have listened to Motivation & Muscle, since it began over two years ago. It is a podcast show that ties weightlifting, strongman training, power lifting, stone lifting, health and nutrition, entrepreneurship and life wisdom in general, all together. When I decided to start a blog, I sent Eric an email simply to thank him for the encouragement and advice we'd gained over the years. He's so great, that he called me the next day! ...and invited me to come on his show! Below are his summary of our podcast and links to download and listen.
Introducing - Eric Fiorillo The Host of The Award Winning Motivation and Muscle Streaming Radio 24/7 welcomes Wife, Mother, School Teacher, Weightlifter, and Blog Writer Kelly Johnson to the Broadcast. Eric and the Motivation and Muscle family have the honor of meeting and introducing Kelly Johnson to our listening world. I met Kelly and Brian through Motivation and Muscle. Brian who is Kelly’s husband has been listening to M&M from the very start. The reason why I tell you the history is to explain to all of us how this show has touched people in so many ways. Since listening to M&M Kelly has discovered that our dreams that we all want to achieve are possible. M&M has pushed her in such a strong positive direction that she has started her own blog called: Whats Your Secret Kelly.com This is what M&M and I are all about. Go after what you want, make a plan and never look back! Eric and Kelly talk about her biggest influences growing up. They were none other than her parents and grandparents. Kelly learned very early in her life that you had to work very hard to achieve your dreams and goals in your life. With this in mind, she became a school teacher which has such impact on her school children. Kelly brings such passion to everything she’s involved with I can guarantee you her students meet up with lots of success. Eric and Kelly talk about her passion for writing and why she has had so much success so early on with her blog. Kelly tells Eric that she now has the confidence to go after whatever it is she would like to achieve in the short term and long term. Kelly has so many plans and ideas that they are bubbling over when we spoke. She is working on her long-term goal of one day calling her own shots and becoming financially independent. This is what will happen when you finally find out what you were meant to do with your life. Eric and Kelly talk about all of the positive elements of strength and how strength on its own will be your greatest discovery ever if you really invite it into your life. As Kelly tells Eric when she’s had a rough day she’ll get behind a prowler and away she’ll push! Kelly puts all of her training videos out on Facebook. There she is the other day doing a dead stop squat partial with 250 pounds. Outstanding! Eric and Kelly talk about some of the possibilities that we will be embarking upon down the road. But for now take a page from Kelly’s journal and discover once and for all what you really want to do with your life. Kelly explains to all of us that once you get a clear picture in your mind you will never stop till you reach that destination inside of you. I’ve been telling our family that for years. Sometimes you just need to find out for yourself. Kelly sure did and look at her now. Passion, Purpose, and Action say it all. Do it and witness your life change forever! Motivation and Muscle Streaming Radio 24/7 Connects Your Brain With Your Brawn. Enjoy!
*Don’t Forget to Do a Search for Our Past Shows at http://www.motivationandmuscle.com
*This Radio Show Was Posted January 25, 2017
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Kelly's 250 lb dead stop squat partial
at 115 pounds body weight
January 23, 2017
Our friend, Eric Fiorillo, has graciously allowed me to write several articles for his blog on his Fiorillo Barbell Company website. The other day he gave me a fun assignment... define strength in my own words. So here you go!
I am an ESOL teacher. I teach English to young (Kindergarten-5th grade) speakers of other languages. It’s such a rewarding job and I am privileged to support amazing kiddos. My favorite part of the day is when I get to teach them new vocabulary words… robust rich words that will help them better understand the world and help the world better understand them. Word choice can really add depth to understanding. It pays to have an extensive vocabulary and to never stop learning new words.
Whenever I teach new vocabulary to students, I typically go through the same process. We write the word, define it, list its synonyms and antonyms, use it/write it in a sentence, draw a picture of it, and brainstorm possible affixes we could add to the word (sufficient => insufficient for example). Since I was asked to define strength in my own words, I would love to go through the same process that I ask of my students :)
How do I define strength? Well, strength to me is a quality that a person or an object can possess, but it is also an action that one can exhibit. It is a trait that can be seen, heard, felt, sensed, if you simply slow down and choose to observe it. Strength is not a fixed trait. You can practice it and make a goal and conscious effort to increase it.
Synonyms of strength? Tenacity. Grit. Power. Force. All great words, aren’t they? Strength requires work, commitment and determination. It requires you to be relentless in your pursuit of your goals. It involves creating big goals for yourself… dreaming big. Then working big! Working to reach those goals. ...and helping others work toward theirs too.
Antonym of strength? Weak. Weakness is the easy way out. Weakness involves quitting, excuses, half-assing. Not giving something your best or your all. Not forging through the tough stuff. Not choosing growth because growth is difficult. Weakness is the choice to waste time instead of maximize your time. Weakness is not facing your demons because of fear. Must I remind you of your strength? Those dark parts of yourself have nothing on you. You are bigger. You are stronger. You are more capable. Have you decided that for yourself yet? It's in you. All you've gotta do is believe it.
Sentences and examples? Strength is being You. Being You and making no apologies for it. Strength is not changing yourself just so you will get the approval of others; or denying who you are for fear of rejection. Decide to be You… quirks, uniqueness and all.
Strength is found in those people working multiple jobs in order to support their family. Doing whats gotta be done. Refusing a free ride.
I see strength in my student, who came to America having very little education. He was a third grader who wasn’t even able to read at a kindergarten level. A little more than a year later you’d hardly recognize the struggles he has overcome. I marvel at his strength daily. His strength leads him to not only soak up the education we offer, but then to spend his evenings and weekends practicing his new reading and math skills at home. He is the only student I have seen, in all my eleven years as an ESOL teacher, that came back after summer break at a higher reading level than when school ended in June (typically students have an expected minor drop during the summer). His strength and determination are amazing.
Strength is often demonstrated in physical feats as well. ...and it probably goes without saying that mental strength goes right alongside these feats. It must! Bud Jeffries doing a dead-stop squat with 1,000 pounds! Also, Bud carrying a 200 pound stone in one hand, a 100 pound dumbbell in the other, all while pulling his 5,000 pound truck! Adam Glass doing a double overhand axle deadlift with 430 pounds! Logan Christopher pulling a fire truck… by his hair! Dennis Rogers at 168 pounds bodyweight, bending a 12 inch crescent wrench or driving a nail with his bare hands! Hell, strength could even be seen in that 110 pound Kelly girl pulling 250 pounds off the #3 pin the other night, or doing the farmer’s walk with 90 pounds in each hand.
Strength is Eric blowing a bicep but having the balls to go back over and go after it again! Determination? Grit? Absolutely!
Strength is a mom waking up 3-5 times per night to breastfeed an infant then going to work a full day and taking care of her family and house in the evening. Then repeating that every day… for 2 years… per kid. If I stop to remember those times fully, I am amazed that even I remained strong enough to not quit. Strength is also found in her comeback story.
Strength is a man believing in his vision and dream, pursuing it relentlessly, and becoming a successful entrepreneur despite the obstacles and challenges he faces. ...despite the reasons the naysayers think he can’t make a go of it. Thank you, Mr. Eric, for keeping on keepin on. Your strength has a ripple effect. It doesn’t begin and end with you. You fill others with strength by having so much of it yourself. You are the reason my blog exists. You filled me with enough courage and motivation to overcome my own doubts and fears, in order to pursue my vision. Thank you for infecting me with your strength. I believe strength is contagious. Maybe someone could even draw some strength from my blog, allowing the ripple effect to continue!
Remember, you are only as strong as your weakest link. Grip. Lungs. Low back. Mind. Etc. We’ve all seen the man with big bulging biceps who lacks spinal strength. Or worse yet, lacks willpower or belief in himself. Be sure to strengthen all aspects of yourself. Build them all up proportionately.
How about the purpose of physical strength? I want to continue picking our 32 pound little girl up like she’s as light as a feather and not ever let it take a toll on my body. I refuse to ever ask my husband to carry the vacuum up a flight of stairs for me. You should be as physically fit, if not ‘fitter,’ than your everyday life demands.
Strength can be found in your beliefs and your faith. Let me share an example of what strong faith and the belief that God can/does provide looks like, as minor of an example as it may be. I vividly remember particular runs on the gravel roads where I identified myself and my body as ‘not being a runner’s body.’ As ‘not having what it takes to ever be able to progress as a runner.’ Let’s face it… I was a ‘jogger’ at that point! My doctor said I had asthma. My right shoulder hurt so bad after runs (my right shoulder!? how odd), not to mention my hips and knees. My spinal health was less than ideal. These things always caused me to slow to a walk and to never go as far and as fast as my ambition should have allowed. It was discouraging to be in my early twenties and to not have the physical health and capability to do as much as I thought I should be able to do. In came my strong faith and belief that, with God, I could change anything. Fast forward to today, today! ...a January day in Central Iowa where I got the privilege of running on the road I love after two months off of running because of snow, cold and ice. I got to enjoy the fruits of my labor …and faith. I kid you not… it felt like I was running in a whole new body. The strength I felt throughout all of my insides was incredible. Despite the odds (people’s beliefs about aging and my doctor’s past diagnoses), I am enjoying a new reality out there on the gravel road compared to 10 years prior. I attribute it to a strong belief and faith that ‘better’ can be achieved and that ‘healing’ is possible and within reach. We have no idea, I imagine, how much God and the Universe are just waiting for us to just say the word that we’re ready for that. Say the word! Say the word… then believe that it will happen! Our bodies are meant to heal themselves. I think we are the only ones standing in our own way.
Decide to be stronger than what you're up against. I'll say that again... promise to yourself that you'll become stronger, much stronger, than the struggles you'll face in life. You owe it to yourself. You know you'll be up against some shit in your journey. Life’s struggles aren't an if. But your strength in the face of those storms is a large if. Do yourself a favor and be strong enough (physically, emotionally, mentally) to let them barely throw you off. Only allow them to nudge you, poke you. ...not knock you over completely.
*ENERGY* This word has taken on a whole new meaning for me in the past couple of years. It actually hit me like a ton of bricks (flashed like neon lights really) within this sentence: “God is *ENERGY*” This life-altering sentence was spoken to me by my acupuncturist, one of a few dear spiritual mentors in my life. A piece of me woke up immediately when I heard it. I was stirred to investigate and thirsty to learn more. ...God is *ENERGY*. It still resonates deep within me.
Since I had recently gained understanding in the truth that God is in us and we are all God => God experiencing, then that means that we are *ENERGY*. Doesn’t that have amazing implications for the daily choices we make!? This knowledge sure raised the bar for the choices I go through life making.
I ask myself, will this fuel my energy? Or drain it? Suddenly that doughnut I was craving wasn’t an object of my obsession that I was struggling to maintain willpower over, but became an inanimate icky object for me to make a choice about - and obviously the way I feel after eating a doughnut isn’t the way I feel when I’m enjoying my optimal *ENERGY*. The relationship I had with that doughnut suddenly became impersonal and something I didn’t have room for in my life… in my soul’s journey. Now, will I eat another doughnut sometime in my life? Possibly. I’m human. And yet maybe not! ...I haven’t missed doughnut-hangover sluggishness for the two years I’ve been doughnut-free. In my daily routine and as I’m going along on my journey, I’m no longer ‘tempted’ by them. And I definitely don’t drive my car to the gas station specifically to buy one for breakfast anymore! Doughnuts just don’t align with my goals now. Haha - that’s kind of a silly sentence :)
I don’t believe that it’s any coincidence that the further I go up my “Mountain’s stairways,” the higher my Energy’s vibration becomes. This is our goal as we evolve. *I’ve read that somewhere, and I’ve been trying to remember where. I will reference the source when I do and be sure to share more of his/her insights on this process of raising your vibration. It’s fascinating and one of my numerous new goals.
There are a variety of ways a person can increase and cultivate *ENERGY*. Brian and I started doing 10 minutes of Qi Gong every morning and evening and have noticed a remarkable improvement! The kids even enjoy it. More about this in a future post. For now you could read this article and see the program we use here. Ortho-bionomy, acupuncture and NUCCA adjustments have all benefited us greatly as well! More about these techniques to come, be excited. Since we’re all adults here… let me remind you that sex and orgasms are a fun way to clear your energy pathways and increase Qi (wink wink!). Also… the sun! I know it fuels me, gives me more energy and that I deeply miss it in the winter. There’s something to these simple observations - I will explore these in the future as well. In fact there’s a great resource I plan to share about this, but I need to request permission first. Stay tuned!
Alright, back to making your way up your Mountain’s stairways… Watch out!! If you take some steps up your stairways, you’ll be given more energy to spend on yourself, your goals and others! Be ready. Have a plan. What will you do once you’ve cleared your mind, energized your body and lightened your load so to speak? … reminds me of an inside joke my hubby and I have - “Be careful… if you eat that grilled chicken salad instead of that yucky casserole… it’ll force you to skip the nap you’d originally allowed yourself to take and work out instead!” … True story! We ate ourselves right into a killer workout one Saturday last summer, without even planning on it or needing to talk ourselves into it. We were seriously going to take naps that afternoon while the kids took theirs!
If possibilities were limitless - because they are - you’re in charge of creating your life (remember? God in you, creating) - what would you do? Who would you change yourself into? Now… get out there and raise your vibration, cultivate your *ENERGY* … and go kick ass at your own Life!
*If you feel inclined, comment below about the goals you choose for yourself. What will you do with your newfound *ENERGY*? Let’s make a vision board of sorts to share our aspirations. Maybe they’ll inspire you to choose the same goals and steps to add to your own stairway!
In my very first post I talked briefly about an analogy I’ve had in my mind for quite some time. I’m an analogy maker by trade, haha. If a connection or relationship can be made to help me better understand something, I’ll make it! It’s how my brain works.
I like to think of my journey like multiple sets of stairways leading up a mountain. The mountain represents the journey I plan to embark on, in this lifetime. Each stairway represents a facet of my journey that I’m constantly working at evolving and growing. There’s my spiritual stairway, my physical stairway and my mental/thinking stairway. All these stairways are “one” in some aspects, yet very individual in other ways. They interact at times. They fuel one another at times - not allowing one to fall behind because the distance I’ve ascended on each needs to remain fairly equal to remain balanced. What I mean by this is that I can’t be miles ahead on one stairway and be miles behind on the other. I’ve found it just doesn’t work like that. I’ll break off on a tangent to explain…
It’s not humanly possible for me to be growing spiritually and waking up my Consciousness so to speak, yet still be making the habitual junk food choices I used to make that left me walking around in a brain fog - a very unconscious way of living. Those two states do not happen simultaneously. I’ve learned that...
As I travel up one stairway, it naturally happens that this causes me to ascend up the other stairways similarly.
Now… I’m going to take a step back to my explanation of this mountain with stairways analogy that I’ve got going in my mind. Each step on the stairways represents a small choice or change in how you live your life. It’s the total effect of all of these that leads you to a better you… to the place you’re meant to evolve to.
And the irony is that once you’ve journeyed up several steps you actually discover along the journey, various steps you’d like to add to your own journey. Because, and here’s a big secret Kelly’s learned… you create your Mountain! You, with God, create and plan each step. You Will it into being. Your Mountain and its steps can be as incredible, energy-filled and transformative as you can possibly dare to dream and imagine! ...or as dull, life-less and bleak as you’re unconsciously capable of creating - make that: letting happen to you.
The peak at the top of your Mountain? Well, it can keep getting higher and further away as you set new personal goals for yourself and as you keep envisioning and creating the YOU you plan to become.
Your ideas of where you want to go and who you’ll be when you get there actually evolve along the way. It’s a very beautiful process in my mind. I’m learning it’s what God’s all about… and if God’s all about creation… and God’s essentially in us, creating through us... who are we to get in our own way?! Essentially God’s way?! Whoa. Process that one.
About that peak… I know for me, my peak keeps getting further away. Not in a frustrating-oh-I’ll-never-get-there--this-is-impossible-kind-of-way, but in a whoa-there’s-so-much-more-I-want-to-do-and-I-want-to-evolve-myself-even-more-before-this-lifetime-is-over-kind-of-way. As I contemplate and envision my stairways and my peak, they become richer, more astounding and way more magnificent. The possibilities are limitless!
What will you create?
Who will you create YOU to be?
What if I told you that you’re focusing on the wrong numbers and that many of you tell lies to yourself based on these numbers.
Consider the idea right now, that there’s a whole different perspective to be had about the numbers you let dictate your life. I’ll start with a biggie.
Number on the scale. You let THAT determine your self worth? You let THAT set your mood for the day? You're giving that hunk of metal too much control over yourself. A scale having any control over your life is too much control! I’m serious. Take a minute. Walk over to your scale and look at it, or picture your scale in your mind if you’re not at home. Please entertain the idea that you’re being ridiculous about the way you let that thing affect you. Then ponder this…
“The scale is a dumb device for measuring progress. It doesn't know the difference between fat weight, water weight, muscle, and poop.” Article here.
This article is a must-read! It’s awesome. I’ll leave it at that.
Age. I’m starting to realize that age really is what you make of it. Too many people create a lie in their minds that people ‘peak’ sometime between their teens and early-thirties. We’ve all seen high school classmates who really did reach the ‘highest’ ‘happiest’ times in their lives… in high school. High school! Whoa… where does that leave them for the rest of their years? I’m pretty content knowing that my high school years were awkward and an upward growing phase in my life. ….and that I have yet to ‘peak’ in any way, shape or form! I’m planning for myself that I’ll peak in my 70s or 80s and then enjoy a decade or two past that to ‘coast’ and relax :) Why not plan it like that!?!? I feel so much better at the age of 34 than I did at the age of 24. Enough proof for me to believe myself. I’ll keep on a-truckin with that plan then!
There are other numerical constructs that we may be misinterpreting. Our financial snapshot. Should the amount of money in our back account really determine our personal worth? As our dear mentor, Eric Fiorillo, has said on his podcast… money is a tool. I agree. It is a tool to be used as such. But it sure doesn’t dictate or define who I am.
Clothing sizes. Even those disappointed by the size of their current clothing realize and will admit that sizing is arbitrary. Brands run different. Which department you purchase your clothing from has different sizing guidelines. Let’s focus more on the body wearing the clothing. How does it feel? How much energy does it have to go about its day? Let’s also focus on the soul within that body. How authentic is it allowed to be? How at-peace is it within that body and under those clothes? It would rather you tune into those areas than the silly number on the tag on the clothes you’re choosing to cover up with.
Time. It’s also a tool. I often say that time is currency. I don’t know about you, but I really value my time. I’m very selective on who and what it gets spent on. I don’t brainlessly watch TV during the only hour or two I get to myself after the kids go to bed. I don’t ever waste a minute of time on learning the latest celebrity gossip or engaging in gossip about people I know. We don't even watch the news. ...all that negativity is hard to shake. It would bog me down if I’m not careful. My husband and I MAKE time to work out; that’s very valuable to us. I make sure I make time with my kids count, because that isn’t as plentiful as we’d all like. We all know how quickly kids grow up! I even maximize my drive time by listening to Eric’s show - well, let me clarify… I get a certain portion of the commute to listen to Eric, while our daughter gets a set amount of time to listen to her Nursery Rhyme CDs :) Time is all about how you choose to spend it and arrange it. Make it count! Treat it like you value it!
Wrongdoings done to you. Let em go. Keep reading for a mental visualization technique I use to help me let shit go. I guarantee if you let go of emotional baggage it'll be reflected in your physical health. Absolute guarantee. They're one and the same.
Minutes you log in the gym. I could drain my tank in 11 minutes using the prowler and feel its effects for 2 days... or putz around a gym for an hour and a half and not accomplish any true physical conditioning! The number of minutes themselves are not indicative of the intensity in which you exercised. Don’t fool yourselves, it’s only you who you’re cheating. Instead, be honest with yourself and make changes accordingly. I prefer more bang for my buck… quick ‘tank-drainers’ like the three full body compound movements and intense ‘finishers’ like pushing the prowler, farmer’s walks, salt bag carries, and sledgehammer swings.
All that being said, I will admit, there are some numbers I pay attention to in my life and evaluate myself against. The number of blessings in my life. The number of people and students I smile at in a day (ok, I don’t necessarily count those per say, but you get the idea). The number of Saturdays a parent is given to spend with their kids before they’re 18 years old… 940. 260 of them are gone by their 5th birthday. I want to read the book where this reminder is given - No Regrets Parenting by Dr. Harley Rotbart. Let me know if you’ve read it and what you gained, it looks like a good read. Here’s a fun number we’ve focused on lately… the highest number of enchilada’s I’ve eaten in one sitting at our favorite restaurant… 4! When you lift heavy you want to and need to eat like you lift heavy!
As I close, can I call you to do something? Mentally put those arbitrary numbers, and all of the value statements you’ve created because of them, into a picture of a balloon in your mind… stuff them in there… and... release them. Feel the release. Believe in the power of that release. Do this as often as they creep into your mind. Keep your mind free and clear to focus on better things, truthful things, like... how awesome you are. Or what you CHOOSE to accomplish ...at your age...and weight...in your current sized clothing… with the valuable and limited time that you have.
Aren't we being kinda ridiculous with numbers? You know I’m on to something.
It occurred to me tonight (During that crazy time after work/school where 4 hours worth of tasks, supper prep/consumption and quality time need to be packed into one hour. You know exactly what I mean. And those are just the beginning of the evening’s tasks!) that I have to let you in on some of Kelly's real secrets. Real. As in real life.
Our house is nowhere as clean as I'd prefer. It's messy in fact. Counters have been known to go days without being wiped. Toys are everywhere. It’s like walking through a minefield! Dishes don’t get done on a daily basis…. it’s more like on an as needed crisis basis… “We’re eating eggs tonight... we need to wash the egg pan before that happens!." My inner 'I can't really relax until everything in my environment is clean, organized and under control' had to retreat and surrender the day our first kiddo came home from the hospital. That crazy inner idealist had to run away with her tail between her legs at the sight of our house! Frankly I don't miss her... she was pretty uptight... and always on my ass. I'm sure Brian misses her even less than I do!
Another secret.. we have a few additional bills to pay than we'd prefer. But you know what else I've made a priority lately to let go? Fear. We are gonna be just fine. I know it. We made decisions in the past that we don't regret, like my going part-time for a couple years so I could adjust to a new baby and buying our house a year earlier than we financially should have because our just-right-for-us home came on the market earlier than we planned for. How could we pass on that?
Another secret? Sometimes story-time is cut short at night because it's way past little ones' bedtimes and sleep trumps reading. Barely.
Another secret? Bath times often get pushed back ‘just one more night’ because the craziness of the night isn't conducive to everyone making it through those alive! Haha, I'm exaggerating. Slightly.
I felt the urge to set things straight before I get too deep into this blog and ever, God-forbid, let anyone falsely believe I've got it all together. Or anything 'together' at all. I'd better seriously stop jotting this all down in order to go tend to the rambunctious (aka happy) kids playing, yelling and running around instead of eating their supper. Can I at least claim one victory for the evening before I close tho? Supper for them tonight is cut up pieces of organic chicken breast. Chicken breast that will fuel them so well that they’ll be even more rambunctious and energy-filled! Oh the irony. Our evening will seriously involve putting off baths ‘just one more night’ and scrambling to get the kids to bed... late ...with book time hopefully not cut too short. But I want you to know, also, that next to that chicken on their plate? Bribery Cheetos ;) Hey… I’m cool with ketchup to dip and Cheetos on the side, because our five year old little guy just gobbled up half of a chicken breast! That’s a win for me that overpowers the mountain of dishes (no joke) and unswept floors. It’s all about choices. It’s not humanly possible to do it all. I will happily decide to not feel embarrassed about our messy house, because I get to go lift weights twice a week, for instance. That keeps me more sane anyway. Choices... Priorities...
Also before I close… the title of my blog makes me giggle every time I think about it. Like I've got any great secrets…. or ‘better’ ways of doing things. Far from. We're all doing our best with what we know. But isn't it true, too, that when we know better we will do better? Let's all at least promise ourselves that much. That we will take it upon ourselves to learn what ‘better’ looks like for us and then commit to taking small steps toward these goals.
The next topic I blog about has to be nutrition. But where do I start? There’s no way I can include everything today, so please know that many future posts will also address this topic. I will begin by admitting that I have never enjoyed food and actually felt burdened by hunger… until we really dialed things in these past two years. I went from being a slow eater, always the last one done, to now devouring and thoroughly enjoying my food. Lately I’ve been beating Brian to an empty plate! Not sure of its implications, but it is pretty curious and kind of funny to notice since the change occurred at the same time I dialed in my food choices. Prior to that I couldn’t count the number of times I’d told him, “I just wish there was a pill I could take that would stop my hunger and be the exact nutrition that my body needs.” … take a food pill and move on with my day… wouldn’t that be kind of handy? Handy, but not as desirable now. This change and newfound excitement for food is probably my body’s way of giving me feedback… “Ya! That’s it! Way to finally give me what I’ve always been begging for! Way to figure me out! At last, some real food! The nutrition I’ve longed for! The fuel that will in turn give us more *energy*!” (look for a future blog post describing how that word has taken on a whole new meaning for me)
I will briefly touch on the changes we’ve made, but please know that I will explain each of them in more detail in the future.
*One of the changes we’ve implemented was a simplification of our weekly grocery list and meal plan. We seriously eat the same meal for lunch 6 out of 7 days of the week and suppers during the week are one off a short list of 4-6 meal options. We think that variety is not the spice of life in this instance and have loved our simplification. And I’ll be dead honest… we enjoy these meals more now than ever before, have not grown tired of them and truly crave each approaching meal. The key is dialing in your meal options and ingredients. We use quality food that in turn tastes amazing. So when I do tell you what meals we eat on a regular basis (stay tuned to future posts!), please know that one man’s version of a chicken breast, for example, is surely not the same as another’s! My point being, that we would not be able to be excited to eat chicken breast every day of the week IF we had to eat overcooked, dried out, unflavorful meat from unhappy chickens. I’m telling you… it makes a difference where your food comes from, what IT ate and how you prepare it. What I’m also going to tell you, is… figure things out for yourself. Figure out what meals settle well for you and your loved ones, which ones give you lasting energy and also figure out how to make those particular meals as freaking delicious and enticing as you can! Then… enjoy them again and again… and again!
*As my ongoing mental list of “I know better and will always do better now about this one” list! is getting longer and longer, my sadness for not ‘being able to eat them ever again’ has gotten less and less! There are foods on that list now that will just never be worth it. ...never. be. worth. it. Not worth the grumpiness. Not worth the headaches. Not worth the sluggishness. And especially not worth the brain fog. Please note I never said, “Not worth the calories.” You’re focusing too much on calories, people.
*We totally indulge on a certain meal at a certain restaurant twice per week. It’s our sanity saver and our tank topper off-er after a nice stretch of ‘running lean and clean’ for a few days. Without this indulgence, our stretches of ‘running lean and clean’ would not be so successful. But I must note… when I say we eat to our hearts content at a Mexican restaurant twice per week… it is still a meal choice that treats our bodies right, gives us energy and makes us feel good. In fact, it’s such a just-right meal for me that I can/do pig out eating it for lunch a few hours before some of my best runs/lifts. So the key is finding such a meal that not only satisfies your taste buds and need to indulge, but also settles well so that it doesn’t bog you down for days. My go-to indulgence may not be another’s go-to indulgence. Find what works for you, then let yourself enjoy it because it’s strategically effective.
*We eat the same thing for breakfast every. single. day. It tastes amazing every day, settles well, and sustains us for long periods of time. Wouldn’t you love to know what it is? Well, you’re going to have to wait until a future post. Just like you’ll have to do for the above mentioned changes we’ve made. This post is getting lengthy enough ;)
I can’t claim to be so precise or “clean” when it comes to our kids’ nutrition. We are more relaxed with them for a few reasons.
*We can’t expect that they’d eat the same thing for lunch everyday like we do, or the same 4-6 suppers nightly, without getting burnt out.
*They’re kids. I remember being a picky eater as a kid. I would have hated life if my parents weren’t realistic in terms of catering (within reason) to my super-selective palette.
*Our hope is that, like water on a rock, we will build a foundation of nutritional knowledge and awareness, but not cram it down their throats (hee hee, catch that?).
Now, that’s not to say we are lenient and let the kids eat whatever they want. No, no. We are choosy. It’s all about balance. Some foods fall into the category, “Ya! Have as much as you want when your body tells you it’s hungry (chicken, peanut butter, apples, beef, cheese, coconut milk, pumpkin seeds).” Some meals are, “Yes, you must eat that tonight. ...because it’s healthy, we haven’t made you eat it in a while ...and because we said so (beef or chicken quesadillas, eggs and bacon, tacos at our favorite Mexican restaurant, chicken breast and sweet potatoes, local grass-fed beef/no nitrates added/local hot dogs, etc.).” While others are a once-in-awhile meal or treat (corn dogs, Goldfish crackers, Big Bird/Grover bars, macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets). And still there are other foods that we’d prefer to stay away from completely, but instead we limit and strategically plan into their week (cheese curls, fruit juice, candy made with ‘food paint’ - any time I say this I am referring to artificial dye). With this latter group, we have a method behind our madness as to when these foods are allowed. If we are heading out the door to drive an hour, have studio pictures taken, skip a nap that day, and accomplish other things outside of our typical routine, then I refuse to give them any kind of food that messes with their best. Such foods alter their ability to cope and I can’t afford to risk any additional melt-downs or stubbornness than is already common and expected for toddlers and young children. However, if it’s 7 pm and their bellies are full of grass fed beef quesadillas and all we need to accomplish the rest of the evening is our bedtime routine, and the next day will also be routine, then yes, a treat from the “rare and limited” category is alright. Indulge, my little ones.
Call us super picky if you’d like. Won’t hurt my feelings. We see it as strategic and intentional and pretty damn effective. We’ve experienced some learning lessons along the way that verify why we do what we do. If we can give our kids every possible advantage to feel their best at the times when it’s best to feel their best… then we will support them and do that. But you’d also better believe that we don’t want to cram our nutrition obsession (not really an obsession, I’m just poking fun at ourselves) down their throats. My biggest reason for doing so? I don’t ever want to run a dictatorship (read dictatorship as a “NO JUNK. NO TREATS. NO FUN. EVER” approach) that would cause them to completely swing to the other end of the pendulum when they are 18 years and 3 hours old. We are balanced. We are realistic. But our biggest goal? To help them to help themselves choose and decide how to feel their best. Sound familiar? Hey.. there’s this Kelly girl who wrote a blog... and in it she says that her litmus test for every choice she makes is “Will it make me feel my best?” How’s that for pretty good advice? I plan to teach my kids that too.
I have so many tips and ideas that I look forward to sharing, but the topic I want to bring the most attention to on this blog is weightlifting, so that’s where I will begin. I honestly think it’s where everyone should begin once they’ve made the commitment to transform their life.
Since weightlifting is about strength, I need to tell you what the word ‘strength’ encompasses to me. ...because I am continually working on all forms of strength. I want my outer physical strength to reflect my inner strength, if that makes sense?
There are many kinds of strength, but I will address the four that I have been working on lately.
✦ Inner Strength - Do you enjoy your own company? Are you comfortable in your own skin? Work at this. There’s beauty in it. And a hell of a lot of peace.
✦ Emotional Strength - Are you emotionally strong enough to discuss the ‘tough stuff’ like a mature adult? And by the same token, are you emotionally tough enough to hear the ‘tough stuff?’ Maturity and growth can only take place if you’re adult enough to handle it.
✦ Mental Strength - Do you crumble under stress? Or man up to the challenge? A few weeks ago Brian told me about a guy in his mid-40’s (mid-40’s!) who quit his new job because he hit a deer on the way to his first day on the job! (!?!?) I’d like to know how those two are even related and how he’ll be able to cope in the face of larger challenges. Wow.
✦ Physical Strength - I truly believe that the previous three come together to manifest themselves as physical strength and well being ...or lack thereof. By improving physical strength I don’t mean just muscles. I mean strengthening tendons, ligaments, bones, and the neurological system. I want my physical body to withstand that silly concept called aging. I want my physical vehicle to be healthy enough to keep up with all of my ambitions! Side note: to address a common misconception, I’d like to admit that I have actually become smaller as I’ve become stronger.
Weightlifting is just part of who I am. I have always loved physical labor and being productive. I have always been drawn to strength; I am not okay with feeling weak. Ever. At the risk of making myself sound crazy, I’ll also admit… I’m fairly certain I was a farmer in a past life, or in multiple past lives. As I’ve tried to think of a way to sum up and share my weight lifting goals and style with you, I keep thinking, “I just want to train and strengthen myself like a farmer!” Strength is instinctual for me.
I had periods of time in my twenties that I was able to go to a gym and lift weights. But this was not consistent since I didn’t always have a gym membership. In those times where I didn’t have access to a gym, my outlet was running. I was content with this since I find another piece of who I am running alone on gravel roads, but the weightlifting beast inside of me did not die... he only slumbered. Then came a loooong 6 year stretch of time (more about this in future posts) where I didn’t get to do either of these! I had to suppress both facets of myself that make me a sane person. That was difficult. Again, more about this in future posts.
When that dark time ended in August 2015, Kelly had the opportunity to finally be who she wanted to be. August 2015 was the beginning of Kelly’s comeback story. And she went with it! She shot right out of the starting gate and got after it full-bore. The beast inside didn’t slowly wake up or even pause to stretch and yawn first. He stood right up, got going, and unleashed himself immediately! Boy did it feel good. One and a half years later I still have that drive and am actually going at it stronger than ever before.
Like I said, weight lifting is just a part of who I am. I never have to scrounge up motivation to go do it. I’d go do it more often if time allowed. I love how it makes me feel. I love that my breath is clearer and ‘higher’ toward the end of heavy lifts than it was walking out to the garage prior. I love how it fills me with energy for the days between lifting (Recovery and neurological fatigue are a real thing.... very real. Even still…. I have more energy overall compared to if I didn’t lift at all. This level of energy increases over time as well.).
In my twenties when I was lifting, I didn’t ever progress past 25 pound dumbbells or the 45 pound bar in the rack. But fast forward to the period of time between August 2015 and now... as the beast within me got going, I have made the following progress. This is only one snapshot in a long journey, as I’m only getting started! I went from a broomstick (!) to an empty bar squat (45 pounds) to a 155 pound squat. I went from being a complete newbie at deadlifting to a 165 pound conventional deadlift. In the farmer’s walk I went from carrying 20 pounds in each hand to now carrying 80 pounds in each hand. I went from being a newbie at the overhead press to doing 65 pounds for a set of 5. I can now push the Prowler (a weighted sled with TONS of resistance) with 160 pounds added; when I started it was all I could do to get that bitch to move a half a block and back...empty! I am currently lifting the Rolling Thunder (which is a one handed deadlift using a 2 ⅜ inch revolving handle made by IronMind - used in grip competitions) with 68 pounds added. I couldn’t do one full chin-up when I started (I used resistance bands to assist me) and now I can knock out a set of 6 body weight chinups or sets of 3*2*1 with a 10 pound plate belted to my waist. I moved from carrying and loading a 25 pound plate to a 40 pound bag of softener salt, to now carrying two 40 pound salt bags taped together.
I have accomplished this progress in just two 75 minute workouts per week. And honestly, within this 16 month time frame, there was a 5 month ‘break’ from weightlifting (that will never happen again!!) where I enjoyed running on the gravel roads in the summer. I am solar powered, if I haven’t already mentioned that! Anyway… I get to work out twice per week and my husband gets to work out twice per week. This is all that our weekly schedules and crazy-full-plates allow. One of us corrals the kids, makes supper and starts the bedtime routine while the other enjoys alone time killing iron in the garage. This is what works for us. We look forward to the day when our kids are old enough to afford us more time to work out AND the time to work out together when we wish. Time will also eventually allow them to spend some time out there with us, building strength at their levels! You’d better believe that I will train my daughter to squat, deadlift and press! I think I’d better create a post about this in the future, too, because I believe everyone would benefit from a base of strength in these compound movements! Until we get more time to spend working out and training, my husband and I very much appreciate what the other does to allow us this amount of time, what little it is. It sure as hell beats the 6 years of NO working out I had to endure. Bleh!
I look forward to sharing with you what exactly I do each time I work out, as well as more about weightlifting in general. Some topics I plan to address include:
*How a beginner should begin
*Basic whole-body movements to include
*My detailed weekly workouts
*How to structure your lifting schedule/program/plan
*Tips for each particular movement
I will leave you with a very simplified and general summary of our workout plan. The other night Brian and I were once again trying to reign in our focus and ambitions, as we often do because we have the desire to go out and do it all! By this I mean, there are so many different lifts, programs, theories, progressions plans, and avenues we want to pursue, yet we only have 150 minutes per week to devote. We needed to bring ourselves back to our most basic goal… and he summed it up perfectly when he said this…
“As long as we pick up something heavy off the ground… and make it heavier the next week; push something heavy over our head… and make it heavier the next week; and carry something heavy… and make it heavier the next week and/or carry it further the next week, we should realize we are successfully progressing.”
I loved it. I wrote it down immediately and knew I had to share it with you. What I love most about it is that it really bridges the gap between those who are beginning and those who have done it for years…. and really everyone in between. Offer yourself some grace wherever you are in your weight lifting journey and remember that you’re kicking ass at it as long as you’re accomplishing something and progressing a little each week. Now, go lift something!
Today's 155 pound squat.
January 2, 2017
Today's 205 pound partial.
January 2, 2017
I am a wife, mom to two and teacher. I have a lot of things I'd like to go after in this lifetime!