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Happy 2020!!

Well, it’s that time of year.  Everyone is deciding that this will be the year they turn everything around.  It happens this way every January.  Couch potatoes become gung ho dieters and gym goers, full steam ahead, jumping from doing nothing to daily exercise and extremes on food intake.   The percentage of people that the New Years Resolution works for is laughable, however, every good thing begins somewhere doesn’t it?  So let’s figure out a way to make it stick this time.  I have a few suggestions. 

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Do not go from 0-60 overnight.  If you’ve been a zero exercise person, do NOT start working out every day.  You WILL burn out and start feeling sorry for yourself.  You will end up miserable and sore and irritable.  If you’ve been sitting on the couch and behind a desk for 6 months, a year, ten years, whatever it is, then taking a walk around the block will be an improvement and your body WILL NOTICE!  Remember that whatever you choose to do, your body will adapt to it and at some point you will plateau.  Do a slow build.  If you’ve been a hit and miss lifter, then start with going once a week consistently and without fail.  Then you can add on when you’re mentally and physically ready to do so.

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DO NOT go on a diet!  Just say no to any diet that has a name.  There is no diet out there, NOT ONE, that is the magic cure for fat.  Barring a physical ailment, you got fat because you ate too much and didn’t move enough.  Period.  Carbs are not your enemy out to ruin your life.  A healthy and fit lifestyle is quite simply a daily practice of self-control. These are the questions that you need ask yourself every time you sit down to eat.  “Will the content of the food on my plate make me stronger and healthier?  Is it nutrient dense, full of things that will help me have strong muscles, a clear mind, abundant energy and strong bones?  After all, the real purpose of food is to fuel your body so that you can keep your engine running all day long.  Don’t fill your engine with things that slow you down.  “Is it more than I need to eat at one sitting?”  Guess what, you can eat too much healthy food and gain weight too.  If you’re unsure how much to eat then cut what you typically eat by ¼ or ½, eat it slowly (set your utensil down between every bite) and don’t eat in front of the TV or computer or your phone.   Focus on enjoying the food.  Then see if you’re still hungry.  (I doubt you will be).  Eat mindfully but have something fun every now and then because life it too short to never have ice cream and those occasional treats will keep you focused on eating healthy the rest of the time.  And I’ve said this before but it bears repeating over and over again.  NEVER punish a perceived food indiscretion by beating yourself up in the gym or on the treadmill.  Exercise is never ever to be used as self-punishment. 

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I don’t care what your friend, your neighbor, your husband, your wife, your trainer or that person you follow on Instagram does.  They are not you.  Let me say that again, they are not YOU!  You are a unique individual with a physical and mental makeup like no one else on the planet.  Your life is different, your responsibilities, likes and dislikes, aches and pains, tolerances and intolerances, hopes, desires, drives and dreams.  Don’t try to be someone else, focus only on being the best you.  What works for you will look very different from what works for someone else.  At the same time, don’t use your circumstances as an excuse to not try.  We all have things we have to overcome.  Some have bigger things to overcome than others, but no one that’s successful has ever let those things hold them down. 

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Exercise takes time out of your day.  No way around it.  It doesn’t have to take hours out of your day as some would have you believe, but it will take consistent time dedicated to doing the work.  And I have only come across one person in my training career that I couldn’t help figure out the when, why and where it was going to happen.  This is a true and unexaggerated story for you…many years ago, in a galaxy far far away in a place called MISSOURI, a woman in her mid 30’s came to me because she wanted me to train her.  She brought herself to the gym and we talked for over an hour about her desire to get in shape and eat right, how that was going to look and what it was going to take.  She agreed with all of my assessments of her current condition and knew she needed to make a change to feel and look better.  We got to the part where I ask a new client how often they are going to come see me, how much time will they devote to exercise on their own and what time of day would best for them.  After much time going back and forth, me offering suggested times and her shooting them down, (her quick negative responses to all of my suggestions was not unlike skeet shooting) I finally told her that I had no idea when she was going to workout as it appeared that she had no time available in her life, not even three 10 minute mini sessions 3 days a week (no joke and no exaggeration, I’m very thorough in my ways to make exercise fit) and that she needed to come back to me when she made exercise a priority because I could not help her until she made exercise more important than folding laundry.  Then I very nicely escorted her to the door and never saw her again.  I’m not sure what she expected me to do, I’m not a genie, I’m just a trainer, albeit a trainer that tries my hardest to help figure those things out for my clients.   So the moral of that little story is, DON’T BE THAT LADY.  We will always have time for things we deem important.  ALWAYS.  Every time someone tells me they don’t have time to exercise I do a mental eye roll and think of that woman 20 years ago that didn’t have time to do squats while she was brushing her teeth because that’s when she was making sure her kids were getting dressed.  Where there’s a will there’s a way….

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Last but not least, diet and exercise results take patience. All good things take time.  I tell every client I’ve had over the past 35 years the same thing.  Make sure that every time you leave the gym you can say, “today I changed my body”.  If you can say that then you know you did the work.  Make sure you go to sleep at night and can say, “today I fueled my body and made it healthier.”  Now, put those two things on repeat and keep playing them for the rest of your life.  This is your responsibility as the steward of your own body.  Avoid extremes, quick fixes, and promises of a dancers body in 10 minutes a day (yes, that is a real one going around right now).  Stay away from weird supplements, injections, and 500 calorie diets.  Stop volunteering to be a lab rat for every new fat loss promise out there.  And most importantly, never forget that you are amazing no matter what you think you look like on the outside. Never call yourself a failure.  Every breath you take is a new beginning and offers a new opportunity to move forward.  So no matter how long it takes or how many hills and valleys there are on the journey, just keep moving!!!  Don’t allow your feet to be stuck in this place a year from now.  Remember, hindsight is 20/20!!  Happy New Year!!

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PS, If you need help figuring out how to get started, how to find the time or you just need a word of encouragement, message me!  

Maintain Your Home

Let’s talk about home maintenance. If you drive around your town enough, you’ll see it. A cute house that someone didn’t take pride in and let it go. Maybe there were circumstances beyond their control that led to the disrepair, and that’s so very sad, and yet understandable. But for many, it’s quite simply a lack of pride of ownership and laziness. These are the situations I’m addressing today. Overgrown yards, peeling paint, broken fences and piled up trash, you get the idea. The homeowners didn’t do their due diligence in daily maintenance and now all of those small fixes and 30 minute clean up jobs have escalated into an overwhelming amount of work and a fortune in repairs. You get a roof leak, which when ignored leads to water damage. So what once was an hour job of replacing shingles, which costs very little, has now become a huge job of mold mitigation, drywall and floor replacement, and repainting, and when added up, proves to be extremely costly and time consuming. Proper daily maintenance is the key to a home that will provide you shelter for a lifetime. You spent the money to buy it, do your part to make that house a home and show it some love! That way, when you come home and open up that door, you feel happiness and peace, they way a home is supposed to make you feel! 
Okay, so here’s the point of this whole thing. And no, I’m not really starting a blog on home maintenance. Just like a home that is ignored and falls into disrepair, our bodies will do the same. I believe that we all have a DAILY responsibility to do the work to maintain our health and fitness through proper nutrition and exercise. That means making good choices at mealtime and providing your body with adequate and well-rounded nutritional choices. That means daily movement and full body muscle stimulation, however you choose to do that. These things are not wants for our bodies, they are needs. Without them, things stop working properly and it leads to a cascade effect of malfunctions, just like a home that is ignored. So, do the work and take care of yourself. That does not mean we are all perfect everyday, by the way. It just means that you continue to take steps forward with the goal of maintaining that beautiful gift of life, YOUR home, that you’ve been given. If you stumble, you get back up again, period.

Now I want to speak about another side to being happy in your home. There are a lot of styles of homes, cape cod, saltbox, tudor, craftsman, tents, yurts, igloos, high rises, and cabins. The list goes on and on. If every house was the same all over the world, things would be very, VERY boring. Imagine driving down the street or traveling the world and no matter where you went, every house was the same style. So let’s say you are gifted a home. Let’s say it’s a cape cod style home. Someone hands you the keys and the garage door opener and says, this is now your house, free and clear! Wow, what an amazing gift, right? You look at it and have this incredible feeling of ownership and pride and imagine all the possibilities. But then you start looking at other people’s homes and you think, “I really wish my free home was a mid century modern”. And then every time you come home, all you can focus on is the fact that your house isn’t all sleek lines and angles. Suddenly that free gift feels like a cumbersome load. That peace you should feel when you walk in the door is gone. And all because you decided that you drew the short straw. Someone else got the mid century modern that you wanted and you were given this crappy little cape cod. Life just isn’t fair, right? I’m sure you know where I’m going with this, I’m not that sneaky.

We have all been given the keys to our own home, free and clear, and that’s this body that we live in. But what happens when we decide that someone else’s body is the one we’d rather have and suddenly, what we have isn’t enough? If you wake up every morning, look at yourself in the mirror and get frustrated and angry and sad that what you see isn’t what you desire then where does that leave you? If you spend every day struggling to become something you aren’t how does that shape your life? Living with those feelings takes away that sense of peace within yourself and removes the happiness from every part of your life. It creeps into everything, time spent with your family and friends, vacations, or just sitting quietly at home. The thought that you aren’t good enough takes over completely and overshadows that beautiful gift you’ve been given. The fact of the matter is, there is no perfect body. We’ve been programmed to believe perfection is a certain look, but that’s not reality. We are all designed to be different and unique and thank goodness for that because it’s variety that makes life interesting. So you need to find your peace and happiness again. If looking at social media posts only leads to you feeling bad about yourself then stop following them. Do the work to maintain YOUR home and stop comparing it others. Focus on the daily maintenance, movement and sound nutrition, and then learn to rest in the knowledge that you are doing your part to keep your home in good working order. And then spend the rest of your time embracing the things that make you different because those things that separate us from someone else aren’t flaws. Being different from everyone else is a gift in itself! You have a completely unique experience and voice to add to this world and the truth is, being happy and healthy and leading a meaningful life doesn’t only live in one body type just as there is no single perfect style of house for everyone. True happiness starts at home, so treat it with respect and love. You have a responsibility to let your light shine, because you’ve been given the gift of YOU. ❤️

Operation Exercise Part I

We all have things we have to do that aren’t our favorites.   For me, it’s housework.  I’m certainly not one of those people that likes to clean, not by a long shot.  I strongly dislike it all; laundry (mostly the folding and putting it away part), dishes, de-cluttering, bathrooms, changing bed sheets, the list goes on and on.  I honestly can’t think of one thing that involves cleaning that I enjoy.  I take that back, actually I really like what my house looks like when it’s over.  But, we all know that lasts for about 5 minutes (especially when you live with two boys and 4 dogs like I do) and then it starts all over again.  And it gets especially bad if I let it go for a few days like I did over the holidays.  It feels like an uphill battle to get things right again.  But, as much as I dislike doing it, it has to be done.  So I suck it up and clean. 

 I know that going to the gym, and exercise in general, is like this for some people.  I can’t say I relate to that because for me the gym is a haven.  But whenever I hear someone say how much they hate exercise, to put myself in their place I interject “housework” in place of  “exercise” and suddenly I can relate.  Honestly, they aren’t that much different.  We don’t like doing it, we get no satisfaction while doing it, the only part we like is when it’s over and we see the results, we don’t look forward to the next time, and in both cases, the next time is inevitable because the effects of that one clean/workout don’t last long.  And the longer you neglect both the worse things get.  

When I have a clean house though, it seems like I’m more relaxed.  The clutter in the house is directly related to clutter in my head.  And even though I know this and understand this on an intellectual level, it doesn’t change the general feeling of dislike I have for the task, every single time.  You’d think it would, right?  In the same way, people who exercise and dislike it may feel and look better when they’re consistent, but it doesn’t change the fact that they don’t enjoy it.  I get it, and in my own way I can relate.  (And for the record, I’m not a hoarder and I don’t have a filthy house.  I do clean, I just don’t enjoy doing it….ever.)

There is one very major difference between the two, however, that simply can’t be ignored.  I can have a pile of discarded clothes hanging over the side of my garden tub (isn’t that what tubs are for?) and still walk out the door and go throughout my day and function normally.  No one ever knows the truth about my disregard for hanging up clothes I’ve tried on and decided not to wear.  Unfortunately, that isn’t the case with exercise.  Physiologically, exercise and movement is required for a healthy body.  It’s the way we’re designed and when we ignore such a big part of our existence, things start to fail.  Exercise is simply not optional if you seek a healthy life.  Putting away my clothes, on the other hand?  Completely optional.  If I want to pick out my outfit from the side of my tub every day then I can do that, it doesn’t affect my long-term physical health.  (I know, somewhere out there is a clean freak that’s about ready to write me a scathing reply explaining how wrong I am.  Save it.  I’m trying to make a point here.)

So, we’ve now established that you hate exercise, the gym, sweating, whatever.  And you have a right to those feelings just as I have a right to dislike cleaning.  But we all have to do things we don’t like and the consequences of not exercising are dire.   So, it looks like we need to work on finding a way to make exercise more palatable.  Not so you’ll do it, because again, that’s not optional for a healthy life, but in hopes that some day in the future you may do it without the internal struggle that you have today.   I continue to try to organize my life in hopes of making the cleaning process easier.  I recently added some cool organizers in my closet, which makes putting my clothes away much easier.  That’s a win for me.  In the same way, you need to continually seek out different forms of movement in hopes that someday, one of them will light a spark in you.  I don’t know you, so it may take months, or years.  Heck, it may never happen.  But I think the benefits of continuing to try are worth it.   

The best advice I can give you is to keep seeking out new ways to move.  Even if you find something you like, still keep looking for new things.  There are so many ways to exercise and putting all of your eggs in one basket is less than ideal.  Variety is great not only mentally, but for your body as well.   Next time, I’m going to help you figure out what works for you and give you some tools to help make the gym a place you don’t hate.  But at the end of the day, much like cleaning, some things just have to be done, like it or not.   Now, I’m off to empty and reload the dishwasher, AGAIN, and fold more laundry, AGAIN.  Let’s make a deal, I will endeavor to NOT throw my clothes over the tub today if you will do your best to move your body, sweat a little, and make sure those muscles get some action!  Stay tuned for Part II!

Cheating, Guilt, and Fear

Let’s talk about cheating, guilt, and fear. Sounds awful, doesn’t it? I mean really, nobody wants to experience any of those things, much less talk about them. Chances are if you’ve ever cheated on anything, guilt and fear weren’t far behind. (Unless you’re some kind of sociopath, and if that’s the case you need to find some professional help, and quickly!) But for the rest of us, cheating on anything leads to guilt. The burden of guilt tends to stay with us, throwing a shadow over everything else in our lives. I’m going to be very honest and share a deep, dark, guilty secret with you. One time in high school, I cheated on a geometry quiz. Yes, it’s true, I’m terribly ashamed to admit it, but I did. I hated geometry and I’d say I didn’t understand it but truth be told, I doubt I did the work necessary to actually learn it. I went through a time where I thought math was stupid and a waste of my time. I do not believe that now, however my teenage self had other ideas. So anyway, back to my cheating incident. I wrote some formulas (or whatever it was) on a piece of paper that was in my sleeve and set it on my lap under my desk. Here’s the kicker, I’m 100% sure my teacher knew that I was cheating while I was doing it. However, he never called me on it, which I always wondered about. But I had so much shame after that test I couldn’t look my teacher in the eye after that and I have NEVER forgotten that day, so I think his decision to let me self-punish was a good one. As a matter of fact, I had anxiety and fear every time I saw him or set foot in that geometry class. I never cheated again, deciding that flunking a test was much more palatable than the feeling of guilt I had cheating. And I’ve never ever forgotten that feeling. It’s almost 40 years later and I still feel guilty about that and if I ever saw that teacher again, I’d apologize for cheating on that quiz.   So, I can definitely attest to the fact that cheating leads to guilt and fear. Remember that…

Now we’re going to apply that lesson to the way you approach nutrition and exercise. There are some common phrases that you have probably used or been told to use that I think need to be changed TODAY.

Let’s start with the phrase CHEAT MEALS. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I despise this term. The science of proper nutrition and hormone fluctuations during weight loss has proven that having at least one higher calorie/carbohydrate day built into your fat loss program actually helps your body to continue to burn fat. As you diet, and your calories become lower and lower, your body starts protecting itself against starvation and slows down your metabolism. As a counter for this decline in metabolic activity, stoking the fire, so to speak, on a regular basis is not only a good thing, but a necessary part of your program. Not to mention the boost to your mental health. So I propose that we stop calling it a CHEAT MEAL and instead call it a FUN MEAL. It may seem like a small thing, however, the words we choose to use can have a detrimental effect to not only our progress, but also our perception of the choices we make. Calling it cheating infers that you are doing something bad, something that you should be ashamed of or regret. I propose that we get away from looking at food as inherently bad, and instead look at it as GOOD, IMPORTANT, NECESSARY, and ENJOYABLE! So much of our eating these days is based around what’s right and what’s wrong. With the multitude of diets on the market, foods have been categorized into either good or bad and everything that doesn’t fit in the good category is considered cheating. Psychologically speaking, that’s a very dangerous place to reside. But, if we call it a FUN MEAL, and it’s in the plan, then we aren’t doing anything wrong. We aren’t CHEATING, we are doing exactly what we need to do to keep our mind and bodies functioning optimally. We have re-stoked the fire of our metabolism and of equal importance, we have granted ourselves a mental reprieve, because, quite frankly, there is nothing wrong with enjoying a wonderful meal. By allowing ourselves to have these meals and calling them FUN, we are creating a healthy food relationship that can last a lifetime. People get on and off the diet wagon constantly. Strict diets will always fail in the long term. I wish I had a dollar for everyone that has told me that they’re doing the “X” diet again because it always works for them. Guess what? If you’ve had to do it more than once it never actually worked in the first place. You may have lost weight but you were unable to keep it off, therefore it’s another failed diet. Perhaps you should STOP dieting and learn how to actually eat and stop telling yourself that you’re cheating when you eat something that actually tastes good. Yes, eating nutrient dense foods that will fuel your body and create an environment for abundant health and continued strength is absolutely important. But does that mean you can’t have a piece of cake on your birthday without feeling guilty about it afterwards? Does it mean that you can’t enjoy going out with your family and splitting a pizza on a Saturday night? Absolutely not! It is possible to stay on the path of a healthy lifestyle your entire life and still enjoy many wonderful things along the way. Your body will be just fine with it, trust me. And by allowing yourself those enjoyable moments, your desire to completely jump off the path and set up camp at the first bakery you pass by will be greatly diminished, if not disappear altogether. But once you’ve given in to the notion that you’ve cheated, then just like my geometry quiz, what follows is guilt and self-punishment and fear. Fear that you are incapable of ever being successful, fear that others will see you as a failure, and fear that your unhealthy relationship with food will always control your life.

So that moves us into the next phase of self-punishment, the GUILT workout. I’m going to give you a little scenario. So, let’s say you are on a diet to lose 25 lbs. You’ve been very good for a whole month now, not straying even a calorie from your plan and you’re so proud of yourself! You’re down 8 lbs. so far and feeling great. It’s your birthday and your best friends come over to help you celebrate and they’ve baked you your favorite cake! At first you say, “No, I can’t have that! I’m not allowed to eat that on my diet!” But as the night goes along, the willpower gets weaker, and you get a little bit mad that you CAN’T have things that taste good until you finally give in a get yourself big slice of cake and eat it. It tastes great, but as you’re eating it, the guilt starts to set in. You can almost feel the fat forming on your body with every bite. After your friends leave and you see the leftover cake, the self-punishment begins. You were weak and you failed. Instead of remembering how great that cake tasted and how awesome your friends are, instead you start focusing on how that slice of cake probably ruined your whole diet. So you decide that you’ll have to head to the gym tomorrow and work extra hard to burn off that cake and hopefully mitigate some of the damage that was done. And maybe it would be a good idea to skip breakfast, too. When you get to the gym you do twice as much cardio and work 3 times harder than usual, but get discouraged by the relatively small amount of calories the treadmill actually says you’ve burned off! The GUILT workout is in full force.

Let’s review what just happened. First, you let your fear of food take over the enjoyment of your time with your friends. You started the whole evening off with I CAN’T and all it did is make you feel like you’ve drawn the short straw when it comes to your metabolism. When you finally give in to the cake, you’re hit with a feeling of anger that you’re overweight and one of failure because you cheated and are incapable of sticking to a plan. Then you used the gym as a punishment for your failure. Sound familiar??? This. Needs. To. Stop. It’s a vicious circle with no successful outcome. Don’t EVER go to the gym as punishment for something you ate. Let me say that again. Don’t EVER go to the gym as punishment for something you ate. All you did was associate the gym with failure. Just as the phrase CHEAT MEAL associates eating something you enjoy with cheating, working out under the guise of burning off that so called cheat meal now associates the gym as a place to punish yourself. Here’s a fact. Going to the gym is a gift. If you have the ability to walk into a gym, then you are blessed. There are a lot of people that would give almost anything to be strong enough to go to the gym and exercise. Instead, go to the gym because it will make you stronger and healthier. Go to the gym because you LOVE how it makes you mentally stronger and because it gives you a healthy outlet for your stress. But DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT go to the gym to punish yourself. This is so incredibly important because how we label these things in our lives greatly affects our perception of them in the future. And adding a negative connotation to exercise and food will only lead to feelings of frustration and guilt, and a fear of ever reaching our goals.

Even some people in the fitness profession feel the need to justify eating something that is in the BAD column of foods. They’re eating something decadent on vacation and post it on social media, but make sure to tell everyone that it’s cheat day lest anyone be led astray by their questionable choice to eat a pastry. Guess what, that one pastry isn’t going to break them or you! In fact, what it will do is keep the desire to overindulge at bay leading to a lifelong healthy relationship with food. It’s IMPORTANT and NECESSARY to enjoy small pleasures along the path of a healthy lifestyle.

Enjoy your cake, take pleasure in time spent with friends and family and don’t let your fear of food control the situation. Exercise your body because it’s a gift to have the ability to do so. And run away from diets that have strict GOOD and BAD labels when it comes to food and exercise. We are all individuals, unique in our strengths as well as our weaknesses. It doesn’t matter what your fitness journey looks like, protecting your mental strength is the key to success. Understanding why you need to eat healthy foods the majority of the time, but also understanding how very important it is to allow yourself to enjoy the wonderful things life has to offer in order to keep moving forward is crucial. Being mindful of the things we say, our governing thoughts and the labels we put on things is so important. We must learn to be respectful of the process, forgiving of our missteps, and above all, focused on starting each day with a step forward and a thankful heart.


I haven’t written a blog in a very long time. I’m not sure why exactly other than perhaps I lost my inspiration. More on that in a bit. But it has been an exciting year. First, my son Mitch graduated from college. Wow! That’s both kids now that are college graduates with honors, no less. Also, just a few weeks ago, my daughter Samantha got married to an amazing man. I spent the past year planning that wedding and it was an absolutely perfect day. Now I know why people hire wedding planners because it’s a LOT of work coordinating all of those moving parts. However, I have a bit of a problem relinquishing control of things I have a big stake in, so I wouldn’t have done it any other way. Good stuff and I couldn’t be more proud of both of my kids.
During this past year I also prepped for and competed in my final 2 bodybuilding shows. For those that compete, you know how much prep controls your day from your sleep to your food to your time spent with family and your time spent in the gym. Even on vacations you don’t want to stray too far off course so you make choices with that in mind. The tentacles of bodybuilding reach into every part of your life. Dramatic? Yes, but unfortunately true and anyone that claims otherwise AND does well in the sport isn’t being honest with themselves or you. So let’s consider that I have, essentially, been either on-season, pre-season, or post-season since 2004. (There’s no such thing as OFF season when you compete, is there?) Now I know a lot of people that have competed for much longer than that but for someone with a relatively short attention span like I have, that’s a LONG TIME!
I always wondered if I would know when it was time to retire from competing. Would it just come to me one day or would I have to force myself off the stage? I even asked several happily retired people how they knew it was time to be done. Two of them wanted to have kids (my kids were 10 and 15 when I STARTED competing so that didn’t apply to me), one said he was very happy but that he wouldn’t rule out getting back on stage in a few years (um, that’s not retired, that’s taking a mental health break) and one said he wanted to be able to eat whatever he felt like eating. All of these were altogether completely unhelpful. So I continued to compete, hoping to get to the point where I felt okay with letting it go. The problem with competing after you’ve BEGUN to think about stopping competing is that your motivation is a little on the thin side. On a scale from 1-10, 1 being no motivation whatsoever and 10 being so motivated that you put everything else on the back burner so you can focus solely on winning your next show, I was at about a 5. Now, let’s be honest here, a 5 on the motivation scale isn’t stellar. Don’t misunderstand me though, my diet was spot on and I RARELY, if ever, missed a workout and if I did miss one it was for a good reason and I always made it up the next day. But even though your physical self is at a 9 or 10, if your mind is only at a 5, that’s a problem. Attitude plays an ENORMOUS part in the success of anything that you set out to do. And like it or not, my heart just wasn’t in it anymore. There are multiple reasons that led me to that place which I will not delve into because this already wordy blog would become a novel, but suffice it to say my desire to be on that stage was losing steam.
I’m a bodybuilding judge and MC and I remain that to this day. It’s great fun for me and I’m honored to do both. I seriously appreciate all of the hard work that goes into getting on that stage for a show and I want to be the best judge possible to honor that commitment that’s been made by every competitor up there. But when you find yourself behind that microphone saying “quarter turn to the right” and one of your thoughts is, “wow, I’m really glad that I’m at this table and not on that stage right now” well, you know the writing is on the wall. Fact is, I competed 7 more times over the next 4 years AFTER having those thoughts. Crazy, right? But this sport gets a hold of you because we all have a desire to be better than we are right now. And bodybuilding is a visual manifestation of that goal achieved. But here’s the problem. ‘Better’ doesn’t have to mean more muscular, leaner, or more symmetrical. Most of the time better has absolutely nothing to do with being on stage. And that’s what I finally realized standing backstage at my last show. I wanted to be better at a lot more than just the way I looked. Now, if you’re still competing, don’t take offense because everyone could argue that there’s so much more they are gaining from the sport than just aesthetics and I will agree, to a point. But this blog isn’t about where you are in your life at this moment, it’s about where I found myself and what I needed to do for me. Let’s be clear, lifting weights and exercise has been in my life for 33 years. I was lifting weights for 20 years BEFORE I ever started competing. That will never change. I LOVE being in the gym and I love challenging and pushing myself when I workout. As a trainer my goal is to help others to find that same feeling when they step in the gym. Lifting weights will always be a part of what makes me strive to be a better person. But I’m no longer walking into the gym with the guiding force to make myself look better to a panel of judges. I’m ever so slowly returning to my gym roots of simply loving to lift just to be healthier and stronger. It’s a challenge to be sure because competing has definitely changed the way I look at myself. But I’m working on it and in the meantime learning to be less critical of my imperfections. It’s a slow process because I have and always will have a desire to be fit. But fit doesn’t have to mean 5% body fat with striated glutes. I was fit before I ever had that and that’s where I want to be again.
So there I was, backstage at that last show on the east coast, all tanned up, wearing a very expensive velvet bikini covered in crystals and rocking 5-inch heels. I had a grip on my bands and was getting pumped up to go out on stage. I looked around at all the other ladies doing the same thing and to be honest, one person who had been staring at herself in the mirror and taking selfies of her booty for about an hour and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I absolutely don’t want to be here doing this anymore! BOOM! Hallelujah, I just KNEW! What a relief that I wasn’t going to have to force myself to quit and always wonder if I made the right decision. Whew! I finished up that show with a few more signs from God that this was absolutely the right decision and walked out of that place with a smile on my face and called it a career.
Ever since I made that decision, slowly but surely my creative side, which had been neglected for so many years in lieu of competing, started reawakening. It sounds dramatic because there are a lot of people who compete and stay creative at the same time, but everyone’s journey is unique. And for me apparently, it was one or the other.
So, there you have it. I’ve found my creative inspiration again. Without the all-consuming presence of competing in my life, I’ve discovered that I love to make bracelets. I’m pretty darn good at wedding planning, and I’ve always loved to write, on my own terms, of course. I’ve missed training clients. I love teaching people how to lift and be stronger and just feel better about themselves. And most of all, I’m inspired to work on being the best version of me. Not just the outside, but all of me.
I have some pretty strong opinions about the place fitness needs to have in your life. But I’ve found that I also feel pretty strongly about the importance of balance. Unfortunately, I think I painted myself into a corner for 14 years. So, I’m going to work on regaining some perspective that’s been lost along the way and I’ll try to keep you updated on how that’s going so that maybe, just maybe, I can help one other person find that balance that is so necessary to being the best version of you.

Not everything you touch needs to turn to gold, but the minute you stop reaching out towards new things, even the gold around you will tarnish….


You know what’s frustrating? When someone tells me they want to start competing and ask my advice about how to get started and I tell them that there’s a lot of diet misinformation out there and I STRONGLY warn them before they ever start to NEVER fall for the pitfalls of old school prep (no carbs and hours and hours of cardio). I tell them that it’s a great sport and can be an awesome experience but if they do prep that way then they’ll most certainly regret it and it’s not worth the plastic trophy to watch your body blow up post show because it’s been STARVED for months on end! And you know what? They DO IT ANYWAY because some ridiculous “prep coach” told them that’s what they need to do to get on stage. No, it’s NOT what you need to do to get on stage. It’s wrong, it’s harmful, and it is devastating to your existing muscle as well as squashing any hope of muscle gains. Prep isn’t easy on your body anyway but if that’s what it’s going to take for you to get stage ready then you’re not PREP ready! This happened to me and it’s no joke. And just so we’re clear, I’m not a special case, this has literally happened to SCORES of competitors. A lot of competitors don’t even like to talk about it because they think it’s embarrassing. We’re supposed to be specimens of fitness all the time, right? I’m not being overly dramatic and I’m not exaggerating. I’m being REAL and trying to save you from a whole boatload of awful stuff. My only excuse for participating in this ridiculous prep diet trend was because it’s what everyone was doing when I started competing and NO one told me the downside. In fact, no one ever so much as hinted that there would be a negative impact on my body! On the contrary, I was told by my supposed “professional” coaches at the time that it was normal when, 2 days after a show, I was literally SLOSHING when I walked, my ripped legs turned into tree trunks with no visible knees or ankles and I had fingers that wouldn’t bend because they were so swollen. NORMAL???? No, that is in no way normal. I remember girls laughing about how they gained 25 pounds in the first 5 days post show, like it was some badge of honor or something.

before and after cartoon

They were all STUPID. I was naïve and stupid and I’m a trainer! I know better! But this is for a competition so normal nutritional rules don’t apply, right? That’s what got me. Prep dieting was new to me so I was learning, thinking I was learning from people that knew what the heck they were talking about because they were well known prep coaches and they put a lot of people on stage that looked great. And I thought I was learning from people that actually gave a crap about me in the long run. I was wrong. I’ve lived it and I learned and I’ve finally come out on the other side. And now I’m trying to help you to not ever have to go down that road like I did. It’s unnecessary and in fact it can be downright dangerous. We’re smarter now. SCIENCE is smarter now. We know more. So why on earth are there still coaches out there immediately yanking all but a smidgen of carbs out of your diet, for MONTHS? So yes, I’m frustrated that there are still “coaches” out there selling people a line of goods. Please pay attention! When someone who has been around the block a few times tells you vehemently to proceed with caution, LISTEN! Don’t just believe a prep coach because they have a lot of clients. This is your life, your body, and your health, not theirs. And there are coaches out there doing it RIGHT! There are real coaches that actually care about your health. And if you’re hell bent on competing then you need to find one of those. And if you find a coach and their plan for you ends the day of the show, if there’s no post show protocols laid out in detail, then walk away. Trust me, not all prep coaches are created equal. I can’t tell you how many people I have warned about all of this only to see them a few months later and find out that they’ve signed on with some idiotic coach and they are doing ALL the things I warned them about. And doing it with a big smile on their face like it’s the coolest thing ever to be starving their bodies and making these grand nutritional sacrifices like it’s so great to be a part of some crazy club. Quite frankly, it makes me wonder why I even try. It doesn’t really seem like it ever makes a difference. Maybe I shouldn’t waste my time and just keep it to myself. And yet, I adhere to a kind of ‘trainer’s Hippocratic oath’ to do no harm. And in my opinion, not warning someone would be doing harm. It’s like telling someone not to walk off a cliff and they go and do it anyway. All I can do is stand back and shake my head. After it’s all said and done, it’s their choice and I’ve done my part….

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