No Pain, No Gain on a Journey of Self-Discovery.

No Pain, No Gain on a Journey of Self-Discovery.

I know, it’s a bit of a cliche.

“No pain, no gain” she says.

But what the hell does that have to do with self-discovery?

Let me tell you this, if you don’t experience some pain upon reflection of your life, if you have no regrets, and you don’t have anything you’d like to change about your life or do differently, you’ve got something mastered that so many of us struggle with. Possibly contentment? Then again, I’m also reminded of another saying.

“If you’re not growing, you are dying.”

So, in order to grow, to set goals for ourselves, to begin to work towards a point where we can truly feel contentment and know that we’ve achieved at least some of those goals, we have to KNOW ourselves first. And I don’t just mean know what we THINK of ourselves…I mean truly KNOW what works for us, what gives us pleasure, what throws us off balance, what (or who) grounds us and makes the struggles of everyday life seem more manageable.

There’s no magic formula for this.  There’s no ‘one list fits all’ approach, but I will let you know that it will involve breaking down some barriers (self-imposed or otherwise) and it will involve at least a little bit of pain.  But don’t be afraid of this pain – because it will help you grow in ways you never could have imagined for yourself.

Just consider a couple of questions:

1. How would you describe yourself? (Go ahead and think about it before continuing to read…I’ll wait for you).
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Chances are, at least a part of your description will include things you view as flaws. Notice, I didn’t specify that I wanted you to describe your looks, personality, strengths, weaknesses, etc.  I kept it broad for a reason. I know when I describe myself, I start with some parts of my personality, but it’s so easy to revert to describing things I don’t like or want to change about myself.  I am learning to focus on my strengths instead (which is only happening because of some emotionally painful experiences that have helped me to gain a new perspective).

2. Now, How would others in your life describe you?…again…I’ll wait…this one can be a little more difficult…but think about those who love and know you the best.  And for the point of this exercise, focus only on the awesome things they would say about you, because chances are, that’s how they’d describe you to someone else anyway.
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Now, what feels better to think about? The amazing things other people would say about you? Or the flaws we all so often focus on about ourselves? I know what feels better for me – and I’ve come to realize that I see flaws in myself that almost nobody else picks up on…because they’re not really flaws, they are a part of what makes me the person that I am…the person that is loved by others, but sometimes finds it difficult to love herself.  And that’s exactly why I need to experience at least a little bit of pain if I want to grow.

All of the things we tell ourselves – the way we describe ourselves – the thoughts that creep into our minds that tell us that we are anything less than fantastic human beings are all impeding us.  They can be related to our looks, our abilities, our income potential, job potential, personal relationships, love, education, or any other number of aspects of our lives. They’re called Limiting Beliefs, and if I can give you one thing to work on – it would be SQUASHING YOUR LIMITING BELIEFS because they are holding you back.  This can be difficult to do by yourself, because it truly involves identifying those beliefs you carry that are detrimental to your well-being, then working to change your perspective, and eventually, creating an internal dialogue that builds you up.

I’ve recently been working with an amazing group of ladies led by the phenomenal Life Empowerment Coach, Gina. We’ve been helping each other to see that some of the things we believe about ourselves are limiting beliefs instead of the facts we believe them to be.  Through this process, we were given accountability partners, people we could check in with on a daily basis, and people we could trust to tell us the truth when we were putting forth our limiting beliefs.  One of these exercises elicited a very powerful emotional response for me, and one of my fantastic accountability partners was there to support me through something that could have very easily resulted in a downward spiral for me.  Ruminating or stewing in limiting and irrational beliefs can be a very dark and scary experience, which can be a contributing factor or trigger for anyone dealing with depression or anxiety.  The work I’ve been doing in Gina’s “Say Yes to You” group and the activities I’ve done in her previous “The Year of You” group have helped me to become more self-aware, to the point that I knew in that moment that if I didn’t reach out to someone for a little perspective, I would become stuck in my current mindset for a long time.

So, I did.  I didn’t really want to…but I knew that I had to…to feel the pain I was trying to ignore, to allow someone else into my thoughts for a moment to help me realize that everything I was telling myself was causing the pain I was feeling, and to help me adjust my thinking to a more positive mindset so that I could see the truth instead of only my limiting beliefs.  I can’t fully explain how empowering that was for me…to begin to let go of things I’ve believed about myself for most of my life…that have NEVER been true.  It also got me in such a positive mood that I approached other aspects of my life with a more positive outlook.

I also wanted to thank the very special person who helped me by telling me how she sees me – to begin the process of squashing those beliefs I had about myself.  I took what felt like the hardest step…telling someone else some of the terrible things I truly believed about ME…and after that, the rest of the steps didn’t seem quite so painful. I wrote this for her:

Poem for my AP

So, here’s why I believe the “No pain, no gain” motto.
If I hadn’t shared my thoughts with someone else, I would probably still be feeling the pain related to them, and I would probably have created even more of those negative thoughts in my mind.  Was it more painful to admit what I’d been feeling than to just ignore it? Perhaps, but it was a temporary and necessary increase in pain for my overall wellness.  It isn’t easy for many people to admit that they’re struggling with something, especially when it’s related to mental and emotional health.  We often have an easier time admitting that we need help dealing with something like the flu, but it is equally (and arguably more) important to seek support when dealing with our emotional well-being.

So, what can you do if you’ve been living in your limiting beliefs, allowing them to rule your thoughts and your actions? As I already mentioned, there’s no hard and fast fix, and it will take a journey of self-discovery to figure out what works best for you, but I’ve got a few suggestions…and I’d love to hear more suggestions in the comments (I will add to this list if people are willing to share!).

  • Share your thoughts with someone you can trust.
  • Seek help through a counsellor or therapist
  • Find an online group , a local group, or a mindset coach.
  • Keep a journal any time you catch yourself thinking a limiting belief, then cross it out and write it with a positive spin (this takes practice but can also be done without writing…just catch yourself in the act and work to change your thoughts).
  • If you like to write, use prompted journal entries to help you identify and work through these limiting beliefs.
  • … more to come!

Most of all, I urge you to take the steps (even the hard, scary, painful steps) that you need to take for your own overall well-being.  It is so important for you and for everyone who loves you!

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It’s time for a Cease Fire. This is NOT A BATTLE!!

It’s time for a Cease Fire. This is NOT A BATTLE!!

We’ve all heard it, we’ve also probably all said it! “It’s a lifelong battle!”

What is everyone referring to when they say this? Usually they’re speaking of eating healthy, maintaining a healthy weight and getting exercise.  Well, I’m done looking at it this way.  I’m done BATTLING with my weight and my body.  Do you want to know why?

Battles are EXHAUSTING!!

By definition, a battle is:
– a hostile encounter;
– a fight;
– a conflict or struggle;
– facing an enemy.

Does any of this sound like the way we want to live our lives? I certainly don’t! I don’t want every day to be a hostile encounter, a fight, a conflict or a struggle with myself.  With my mindset. With my schedule. With my body. With my ability to love myself in each moment, always wishing I could be somebody different. Somebody healthier. Somebody stronger. Somebody prettier. Somebody skinnier. Somebody more motivated. Somebody who isn’t always battling!

I AM NOT MY ENEMY!

I AM MY OWN PEACEKEEPER!!

Living at Peace sounds much better to me.

By definition, peace is:
– an agreement or a treaty to end hostilities and abstain from further fighting;
– a state of mutual harmony;
– freedom from strife;
– a state of tranquility or serenity;
– untroubled, tranquil, content;
– not at war.

Doesn’t that sound much better to you? Let’s make an agreement within to always be kind to ourselves. Stop the hostile inner voice and give up the constant fight. Create our own harmony, free from the negative thoughts and feelings that constantly try to hold us back. To feel serene, untroubled by the views of others and how society feels we should look or act. Content in the knowledge that we are doing what we can each day to live happy, healthy and productive lives.  Not at war with ourselves, comparing ourselves with what others view and portray as happy, healthy and productive.  We are all individuals with varying levels of ability, commitments, priorities, and motivation.  Once we make this peace with ourselves, we are free to make the choices every day that are best for us and our families.

For most people (major illnesses and disabilities being a completely different story), working towards a healthy mind, body and soul is not a battle.  It is the most rewarding project you could ever work on.  Today, and every day from now on, I am CHOOSING to change my mindset.  I am not engaging in battle. I am choosing to be my own peacekeeper.  I am choosing to love myself enough to make decisions about my health that I can be happy with.  Do you want to join me? It isn’t difficult.  Just decide what a peaceful existence looks like for you.  For me, it means regular physical activity, choosing mostly healthy foods, getting the rest my body needs, and maintaining a positive attitude for my own sanity and to be a role model for my family.  Does that mean I’ll never eat another piece of chocolate? I don’t EFFING think so!! As I’ve said before, I’m not perfect, I’m a work in progress…from personal experience, I know I can make progress and still have room for chocolate 🙂

There’s always room for chocolate in a peaceful existence!

 

Don’t Give Up Momma!


I see you.

I see you struggling with little ones who seem to be on their worst behavior at the most embarrassing times for you. It’s a skill they’ve mastered!

I see you counting to ten silently, so you don’t LOSE YOUR MIND in public – for fear of sideways glances and not-so-hushed judgmental comments from perfect parents with perfectly behaved children.

I see you attempting to keep your cool as your children fight with each other for the ten-thousandth time today. “Why can’t they just get along?” You wonder to yourself.

I see you wiping the exhaustion off your face with the palms of your hands so you can just make it through this grocery store trip, get the kids home, fed, washed, and in bed so that you can finally breathe.

I see you singing songs and making funny faces to entertain your children while you wait in the never-ending lines.

I see you mentally taking note of the five hundred other things on your “Mommy to do” list and I know you’re wondering when you will have the time and how you will get the energy to do it all.

I see you dealing with a temper tantrum of epic proportions like a seasoned veteran – reducing “casualties” and clearing the scene to minimize destruction 🙂 It’s a skill every parent will learn eventually.

I see you contemplating throwing in the towel, leaving the cart full of groceries, sticking the kids in the car and ordering pizza…believe me, I know the feeling.

I see all of this and I know how you feel.

I know that for as many times as your kids behave in a way that embarrasses you in public, they also wrap their arms around you and tell you that you’re the most beautiful Mommy in the world. In those moments, their behavior for the rest of the day disappears from your memory.

I know that you fear those sideways glances and judgments from seemingly perfect parents…but I also know those parents have been through it before…and nobody is perfect!

I know that it is so hard to watch your children fight, but when you see them snuggling on the couch or playing together quietly, all the time they spent fighting melts away. In those moments your heart couldn’t be more full.

I know that the exhaustion seems permanent and that you can’t wait until bedtime. I also know that every night when you put those babies of yours to sleep, you stare at them and don’t regret one exhausted minute of your day, even knowing that tomorrow will be the same.

I know that the moments you spend singing songs and being silly with your kids are the moments they will remember, and that is why you do it with such a big smile on your face.

I know that your list of things to do is endless, but I know that none of the things on that list are as important as having a happy, healthy family. So, many days none of them will get done, and that’s ok!!

I know that temper tantrums are a phase that all children go through and you can’t wait for them to be done. I also know that the key to getting through them with your sanity intact is to breathe before you react and to sometimes see the situation for how funny it really is. Lately I’ve been taking pictures of the tantrums in progress so I can show my children how silly they looked when their mood is a little better.

I know that your children are your world and as often as you want to throw in the towel, you just find a way to keep going. You find the energy; you find the patience; you find the words to their favorite songs; you find the stuffed animal they can’t live without; you find it in yourself to smile when you want to scream; you find that your life seems crazy, but you love it!

So, right now, I see you, and I’m here with you. This is my life EVERY DAY! There are times that I wish the day would go a little faster, but I know that they will all add up way too quickly and that one day I will seem like the perfect parent going through the grocery store with well behaved kids.

But I don’t want you to worry, because when that day comes for my family, you won’t get sideways glances or judgmental comments from me. I will give you a smile. I will tell you that I’ve been there. I will remember how hard it is to be you right in that moment, and if I can help you for even a second, I will.

I don’t want you to feel like you aren’t doing a great job, because you are! Even on days you feel like a terrible parent, if your kids are fed, (relatively) clean, and they know you love them, you are an AMAZING parent! Don’t forget that, and if you ever need reminding, just come right back here!

I’m not throwing in the towel… and you shouldn’t either, because we are in this together!

On being a Mom and a Student…and getting back in the game!

succeed

I’ve been absent…

For three months I haven’t done any writing (on top of the massive amounts of writing that I had to do for 6 weeks while I did two courses). I had so much floating around in my head that I wanted to share, but I was tapped out, physically and mentally.  I honestly don’t know how I managed to get better grades as a Mom of two busy boys, coaching and building a home based business, than I did as a young student with basically no huge responsibilities.  I guess because as you get a little older (and hopefully a little wiser), you learn how to prioritize things in your life and work toward goals that are important to you.

As a young student, my priorities were spending time with friends, being active, and doing just about anything I could do to put off studying and completing assignments. I labelled myself as someone who worked well under pressure, so I was basically a master procrastinator.  This worked well enough at the time, but I now know that my grades weren’t nearly as good as they could have been, and procrastinating is foolish!

While I was in school this time, my main focus was getting all of my readings, assignments, and papers completed, as well as spending time with my boys.  Did some of my other responsibilities suffer? Abso-frikin-loutely! How could they not? Everyone gets the same number of hours in a day, but their priorities determine how those hours are spent…and I will be the first to admit that mine were not spent cleaning my house. As soon as I was given an assignment, I made a plan for what I needed to do to complete it.  Once I had that figured out, I started working on it, and set a goal for myself to have each assignment handed in at least 2-3 days before it was due.  I am very proud to say that I was able to do that! Who was this organized person? Well, she was a Mom struggling to keep her head above water…there’s no shame in admitting that things don’t come easily to you, but it’s not easy to do sometimes. Managing all of my responsibilities during this time had me questioning, more than once, if I would be able to get through it.

Trying to get everything on my list done meant I wasn’t getting enough sleep or enough exercise at times, and I felt like I was letting myself down and letting my challenge group members down.  But they were great! So supportive and on their game, that they continually  motivated me to stick with it on days that I was struggling!  That’s the beauty of surrounding yourself with people who are positive, determined and supportive…you can pick each other up when you fall, and you can count on each other to be there when your journey becomes difficult.  I am grateful that I had so many supporters during this time…it has shown me that it is possible to go back to school at this point in my life and I am looking forward to continuing my education.  It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it!

When I got my grades back for the two courses, I was ecstatic (and a little disappointed that I didn’t do better – see my post about learning to stop being a perfectionist!) Getting two A’s, while attempting to take care of my kiddos, my house, my business and my athletes is definitely something to be proud of – but I was questioning where I lost those few marks…silly, I know! I’m over that negative thinking now though, and I can see that I worked hard for that success, so I need to be happy with it!

Since my courses ended a few weeks ago, I’ve been trying to get myself back into the game. It’s not an easy thing to switch your mindset back into a higher gear when you’ve been going along at a leisurely pace for a little while.  The crap weather we’ve been having for the last couple of weeks isn’t helping either. Getting out of a good habit is much easier than getting back into it! A few nights ago (after too many days of being lazy, tired, and eating foods I didn’t even really want but were tempting me) I pulled some energy from the amazing people I share my experiences with, and got myself back on track! The key now is to be consistent.

I thought I couldn’t be a mom and a student…I was wrong!
I thought I had let myself get too far away from my previous healthy lifestyle…I was wrong!
I thought I was a procrastinator…I was wrong!
I thought I would let everyone down because I was chasing one of my goals…I was wrong!

NOW, I KNOW that once I set a goal and take steps toward achieving that goal, the zig-zags in the path and the switching of gears from time to time don’t mean I won’t get there.  It simply means I’m human and sometimes I need to take a little time out to work on other goals that have a higher priority at the time.

I still have so many things floating through my head that I want to put into words, but my goal today was to just sit down and share some thoughts about getting back in the game.  If you have a goal, write it down! Put it on a piece of paper and tape it to your mirror! Seeing it every day will remind you that the things you are doing are for a reason.  Whether that goal is to lose a little weight, build muscle, take a course, change jobs, finally get the garage cleaned out (another one on the family list here), save money for a vacation, or anything else you want to accomplish, do something today that will help you achieve that goal.  Taking that first step is critical! You can’t and won’t succeed without it! But I know you can succeed 🙂

Loving that I’m no longer absent!

The Power of Support! 

The Power of Support! 

You truly can’t beat great support – whether it be from a bra, a spouse, or a network of people cheering you on!

This week I was shown true support in a tough time and the overwhelming sense of being cheered on during a positive time. Both instances made me realize that so many people have my back, care about me, are concerned when I’m hurting, and are genuinely excited for me when I am celebrating a victory – no matter how big or small.

At the end of last week I was feeling pretty down on myself. I was sure that because of a medical diagnosis I would lose the progress I’ve made so far with my fitness goals. I shared that with my family and friends (and anyone who follows my journey on Facebook) and I was overcome with the messages people sent trying to cheer me up, help me by providing information I needed, and just letting me know that they were there for me. I can’t properly put into words how that made me feel – and I appreciate it more than anyone could know.

Here is the link to my post about: My low point this week. Since then I’ve gotten some positive news and still have to get more information, but because of all of the support and inspiration sent my way, I’m feeling much better about all of it now.
Today I shared something that was very exciting for me – but also very difficult to share publicly. For the first time since I began my health and fitness journey, I shared TRUE progress pics of myself – not fully covered in clothes and trying to hide. I could have gotten sick as I hit the “post” button and I was so nervous that I would get negative reactions (not that I’ve gotten any so far – but it was still a fear). I thought for sure someone would say “well yeah, you’ve lost some weight, but nobody wants to see pictures of you in a sports bra. You’re not skinny or super fit!” I totally get that it’s my inner fatty putting negative thoughts in my head – and I’m working every day on telling her to go EFF herself because she isn’t supportive! She’s like a worn out sports bra that leaves you out cold on the floor because it’s so loose that one of your boobies knocked you in the face! Laugh now – not so funny when it happens 🙂 Get a supportive sports bra – and tell that negative voice in your head to pound sand. Nobody wants to hear what she has to say!

So, back to the support I received today. It was absolutely humbling and has completely proven to me that I made the right decision – to begin this program in January; to become a coach; to share my journey; and today, to finally put my vulnerable, scared, excited as all heck self out there for everyone to see. Not only has it brought people to me who want to join the program I am following, but it has also opened up conversations with wonderful people who simply wanted to let me know that I’m inspiring them to take their children to the playground, take their dog for a walk, make healthier food choices and give themselves a bit of love.

For me, the most important aspect of sharing my journey has been knowing I’ve been a positive influence on people. I love sharing this program and lifestyle, but I also truly enjoy hearing from the people who let me know that they made one positive, healthy decision today because of a post I made. That’s all the motivation I need to continue posting about my meals, workouts, challenges, successes and family life since immersing myself in this new, healthy way of living.

If you’d like to check out my progress post from today, you can find it here: Progress Not Perfection

Throughout this journey my family has also been amazing. My little boys like to exercise with me and truly motivate me to keep going. They support me without even knowing, just by being their amazing little selves. My husband has also started to make his own health a priority – in the process he has become my biggest supporter 🙂 and I love that we are doing this together for our family. I also have so many friends and family cheering me on, participating in my challenge groups, and holding me up on days I need that extra push. Thank you so much to everyone who has ever been a part of that support network for me so far.

Any active lady will tell you that it’s nearly impossible to do anything productive if you’ve got both hands holding the “girls” in place 😛 I don’t have to worry about that – I’ve got some great bras, a fantastic spouse and the most supportive network of family and friends a gal could ask for! Life is good.

I’m NOT Perfect…and That’s Perfectly Fine

I’m NOT Perfect…and That’s Perfectly Fine

Why is it that so many of us struggle to attain and maintain complete perfection ALL the time? It’s exhausting.  We tell our kids that everyone has things they are good at and things that they struggle with,  that nobody is perfect at everything, and “it’s OK to not be great at Math, because you’re great at so many other things!” But, like so many things in life, we don’t listen to our own advice!

This may seem completely backwards to the point I’m trying to make, but I was a perfectionist.  I didn’t like doing anything that I thought I wouldn’t be great at right away (sports, writing, burpees – good heavens – burpees!) and I totally avoided things I knew I was not good at.  So, why is this an issue? It’s complete CRAP because I was the type of perfectionist that looked at my messy house (yeah – I often have an untidy house, big deal, not often a priority – but that’s another story for another day), or my less than “in shape” body, or the to-do list that I kept making for myself – and (up until recently) I just said “Ah, Fu@k it! I won’t be able to do a good job with it; I’m not ready to tackle all of that with the attention it deserves; I’m not perfect so I don’t deserve to be happy, healthy, blah blah blah – excuse excuse excuse.” Well, frankly, I have come to realize that thinking like that is complete BULL.

How many of us have put off doing something we know with our whole hearts that we would love to do, because we are afraid? I know I have!! My fear usually comes from the fear of failure – tripping up, face planting FAILURE is one of the things that crippled my ability to go after the things I wanted.  Where does that come from? Being a friggin perfectionist. So one of the things I’ve been telling myself lately is:

“If you’re afraid to fail, you’ll keep failing forever!”
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It has helped me in so many ways in just the last few months.  Up until the start of this year I was afraid of failing at a number of aspects in my life:

  • Being a perfect Wife and Mom – that fear never truly goes away – but letting go of some of the guilt associated with “not being perfect” goes a long way to reducing some of the stresses associated with relationships and parenting.
  • Getting myself back into the workforce. I was afraid of what it would mean to put myself out there again,of starting fresh. Would I be able to handle doing all of the things I had to do at home and work – with two small kids and a hubby who works away from home most of the time? Would anyone even want to have me work for them?
  • Heading back to school.  For years I’ve pondered and debated and put off starting a Masters program.  Why? Again, because I was completely and utterly mortified at the thought of failing.
  • Trying to make my health and fitness a priority.  For “F” sake, I KNOW everything I need to do.  I’ve been trained in this – why can’t I get my act together and just do it? Because – of course, I’m afraid that people wonder the same things I do about me…what’s her problem? Why is she so out of shape? She used to be in such great shape…what happened?

Those are just a few of the things in my life that I’ve decided not to be afraid of anymore because now I know:

I’m NOT PERFECT…and THAT’S PERFECTLY FINE!

Telling myself this on a regular basis has helped me realize that:

  • I’m a good Mom; my kids are happy (unless they’re not – but that’s normal…and usually related to not wanting to eat their supper or pick up their toys) and they’re fed, clean, safe and LOVED.  Beyond that, everything else is a bonus. I’m also a pretty damn good wife – if I do say so myself 😉 My husband is happy (unless he’s not – but that’s normal…and usually related to not wanting to eat his supper or clean up his toys…haha…no, wait, that’s the kids…it’s honestly usually related to not having enough time to do the things he loves to do because of his long work hours, time away from home and commuting…which is, again, totally normal for someone in his situation) and he has my complete support, all of my love, and I even get up at the ass crack of dawn (or well before) to help him make lunch, prepare for a few days away from home and make sure he leaves the house knowing that he is LOVED! As a family, we aren’t perfect, but we make it work!
  • I don’t need to have all my sh!t together when it comes to juggling family, work, personal commitments, and everything else life throws my way. I’ve put myself out there to work, and as a substitute teacher, I have to be fine with the fact that there will be weeks that I work a lot, and weeks that I don’t work at all.  I no longer tell myself that it’s because I’m not a good teacher.  I am – I know I am.  It’s a tough climate right now for teachers – especially new teachers or those like me who have spent a lot of time teaching in a different place, and have become a “new” teacher here.  Time will tell what that means for me, but I just have to keep plugging away.
  • Once I started to see that being afraid is fine, as long as it doesn’t stop me from trying, I went all in…I contacted the school and began the application process for completing the pre-requisites standing between me and applying for a Masters in Guidance.  I am over the fear that I won’t make a good guidance counselor. I still don’t know for sure that I will be – but I know I want to try.  I’ve failed courses before (my perfectionist self doesn’t like to admit that – but it’s true.) and the reason I failed them was because I was so anxious about the amount of work those two courses would take, they weren’t my strengths, so I gave up on them.  After I failed though, I realized that it wasn’t the end of the world…yeah it felt like sh!t, but I needed to pass them to do what I had always wanted to do, so I registered for them again and got through them.  Not gonna lie – the marks still weren’t stellar 😉 But I did it…and I’m excited to get back in that student frame of mind.
  • Taking ownership for my own health and fitness has been a HUGE factor in all of the other positive improvements in my life lately.  I finally was able to say “Screw it – I might fail; I might look like a total moron trying to do burpees again after all these years; I might only be able to do 10 minutes of this 30 minute workout; I might not lose weight as fast as I would like or build muscle the way I used to, or stick to the program 100% of the time; but I CAN DO THIS!” That’s the fan-friggin-tastic thing about finding a program that fits into your lifestyle.  Making healthier choices doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  Skipping a workout in favor of a nap because the kids were up all night doesn’t have to bring on feelings of guilt and failure.  Sh!t happens.  That’s life.  My 100% effort today might not be the same as my 100% effort yesterday, but that doesn’t mean I’m not working toward success.  Failures (little and large) are often the motivators we need to push harder – not toward perfection, but toward progress! The progress I’ve made over the last three months actually blows my mind.  Could I have lost more weight? Hell yeah? Am I willing to give up taking my kids for frozen yogurt as a fun treat? Hell NO! It’s all about balance, and I’m happy to say I’m finding that in this process!

There are lots of places in my life where being a perfectionist has served me well.  I had a former teacher of mine recently tell me that he knows I will succeed at whatever I try because I was “a determined little cuss…who kept doing [my] essays over until [I] got 90’s!” He also said that he admired that in me – even though I added to the amount of correcting he had to do 😉 That little reminder from him (about the girl I was 17 years ago) made me smile for sure, but it also got me to think about the things I really want to work towards, and putting my efforts into those things first. To me, being a “good” mom, wife, teacher, coach, student, and taking care of my health is “good enough.” I don’t have the time or energy to be perfect at all of those things, plus all the other things we often think we need to achieve perfection in.

  • I may NEVER be a size 4 again – that’s cool, I don’t determine how awesome I am by my pant size anyway 😉
  • My house has toys on the floor and a constant rotating pile of laundry that is NEVER completely finished.  Perfecto – we always have something to wear, and the kids are always playing with their toys, so what difference does it make!
  • I should mop the floors, but guess what? I told my kids I would take them for frozen yogurt and do something fun…so they will remain in need of a mopping until there’s a lull in the fun…and with our busy schedule, that might be a couple of days.  I’m good with that!
  • I VERY RARELY look “put together” to the point where I feel like I look good (for society’s standards – but shag society’s standards) because a few extra minutes of sleep is more important to me than spending that much more time doing my make-up.  That’s me – it doesn’t have to be you…and I have all kinds of love for the gals who take that time for themselves on a regular basis…if you’ve got tips for how I could look that awesome in less than 5 minutes, hit me up 😉 But if it takes longer than that, it’s reserved for date night!
  • This list could continue on and on…but we’re getting into things that are so low on my priority list that they’re hardly worth mentioning!

It is so liberating to tell my need for perfection to pound sand! I’m attempting more, accomplishing more, learning more, and realizing that my strength actually comes from those failures I have experienced. So, I hope I’ve been able to fully portray some of the reasons being a perfectionist isn’t always a good thing – especially if you let it stop you from trying in the first place because you are afraid to not be perfect. Just try it – say it! “I am not perfect…and that’s perfectly fine!” Does that make you feel a little better? If not, keep saying it until it does…and keep trying new things and working for things you want in life.  It’s OK if you don’t do them all perfectly!

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Be Someone who Empowers Others

I saw a great Meme recently that really speaks to the changes that happen within us as we grow and learn.  It said,

“Girls compete with one another. Women EMPOWER each other.”

It couldn’t be more true. In this context, the word “girls” doesn’t necessarily relate to a particular age group. It is talking about those of us who haven’t yet realized that helping others achieve their goals can, and will, help us to achieve our own.  If you surround yourself with positive, caring, energetic people, and you all focus on using your particular strengths to help each other, you will all succeed.

We probably all remember times when the focus of our lives was on being the best at something (school, athletics, art) or possessing the best or most expensive items.  That in itself isn’t a bad thing; it is important to keep yourself motivated and strive for greatness in your life. If being able to buy something  beautiful is a financial motivator for you, awesome.  Set a goal and work toward achieving it! If you are a competitive athlete and your goal is to be the best, work hard for that and celebrate it when you achieve that goal.  If you are setting your sights on a particular job within your career path, there is inevitable competition.

Sometimes competition is a good thing! It can keep you moving forward and continuing to grow.  The best form of competition, though, is with yourself.  If you strive to continually be better than you were yesterday, you will have no choice but to achieve your goals. It will happen for you. Those goals could be in your own health and fitness journey, your career, family life, or whatever you choose.

When pursuing your own success comes at the cost of putting someone else down, stepping on others to gain your own footing, or severing relationships that could empower you to be better, that is a problem.  Don’t let your pursuit of anything make you a negative influence on others.  That negativity may eventually get you to your goals, but it will likely find you there all by yourself.

The most important place, I believe, to apply this way of thinking, is in parenting and raising a family.  It is so easy to become competitive with your friends, neighbors and other family members when you become a parent.  That helps NOBODY! When did we change from the mentality that “it takes a community to raise a child” to a time where our main focus is on making sure we are the be-all and end-all for our families?  We work tirelessly to make sure our children have everything – material possessions are no longer a luxury, they are an excess! Clothes has to be the best money can buy, children have to be so over-scheduled in expensive programs because the kids at school are all doing it, or their cousins or friends are doing it, and time with immediate and extended family often disappears because of it.

As parents, we all want to give our children everything.  We want them to want for nothing.  But we aren’t doing them, or ourselves any favors.  This is something we have probably all fallen into at one time or another.  Children come to expect “things” constantly, just for the sake of getting something.  And I truly think some of the blame for this falls upon our need to compete.  It is OK to tell our children that just because “Joey” has all of the Avengers action figures, it doesn’t mean we need to buy them all.  Reducing or eliminating this type of competition at home will relieve stress, reduce the collection of stuff, and eventually (because it will be a fight at first) result in a happier house. This is a main goal for me right now – I want my children to value the things they have because they are earning some of it…gifts are great, but there’s nothing more satisfying than feeling the accomplishment of working towards a goal and achieving it.

It is also way too easy to get in the habit of comparing yourself to everyone around you.  Then using those comparisons to cut others down – all in an attempt to make yourself feel good or to get your foot higher on the ladder.  I’ve been in so many situations while trying to build my own career where it was apparent that this was happening around me.  It made me take a step back and re-evaluate exactly what I wanted for myself.  It is stressful to be constantly in “compete” mode.  At one point it caused me to shut down and it significantly reduced my love for what I was doing every day.

I was also very lucky at other times during the pursuit of my career.  I was blessed to work with some amazing women and men who wanted nothing more than to work together as a team – when one of us failed, we all failed.  When one of us was successful, we were all successful.  That was especially true in the last few years I spent teaching before my family re-located.  I was surrounded by an amazing team in a setting where empowering each other to be positive, striving for the best from ourselves and our students, and supporting each other every day was truly the only way to survive. I wish everyone could experience what it feels like to know you have that kind of support. It is an amazing feeling and I will cherish those experiences and strive to provide similar experiences for others whenever I can.

Since we moved, I struggled with finding my place in our new community.  I wasn’t surrounding myself with the right people for my needs.  My immediate, extended and in-law families have all been very supportive and their support means the world to me; I would’t have been able to get myself to the mindset where I knew I was ready to take big chances and make big changes if they weren’t all so amazing.  But I also needed to get back to the things I have always loved to do and become the person I have always tried so hard to be.

By surrounding myself with an awe-inspiring group of women (and a few men) who are all focused on the same things; personal health and fitness, helping others, raising their families, and growing and succeeding within their careers, I have started to make so many positive changes in my life.  I have a renewed sense of what it means to belong to a group of people EMPOWERING one another.  When one succeeds, we all succeed because we are a team.

So, if we could, let’s just ditch the drama! Stop competing with one another, and start putting our individual focus where it should be, on striving to be a great person. For example, we should care less about whether our kids have nicer clothes than our friends’ kids, and more about how our friends are coping as parents.  It is tough – if you see a Momma having a rough day, let her know she is doing a great job, you’ve been there, and you know it gets better…it might get worse before it gets better, but IT WILL get better! Empower her – it might just get her through the day.  I could go on and on talking about how important this is and coming up with examples of how we can empower others, but I will stop there – sometimes Memes truly are profound and deserve a little discussion!

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