Friday, November 9, 2012

Look up!

I still remember the weekend that I was at the CrossFit Running and Endurance certification several years ago.  I was excited to go because I love to run.  I thought the fact that I ran all the time and enjoyed it would make it an easier certification.  I was wrong.  Turns out I had terrible form and it ended up being one of the most difficult certifications I have ever attended.  Add 107 degree temps while doing running drills and workouts outside and at times I felt that I was just hanging on until the end of the day.

It's funny how we all have our our habits that we develop.  Many times we do not even realize what we are doing until an outsider points it out to us.  Brian Mackenzie was leading the class, but Carl Borg was his right hand.  As we went through drills, I kept hearing the same 2 things from Carl..."USE YOUR HAMSTRINGS!" and "STOP LOOKING AT THE GROUND!"  I still remember the last day when we were doing a workout and he finally yelled at me, "MARSHA!  STOP STARING AT THE GROUND!  LOOK UP!  THERE'S A BEAUTIFUL WORLD AROUND YOU TO SEE!"  I haven't thought about that in a long time, but those words came to my mind Monday as I walked out of the gym and stopped to lock the door.

I've put off writing this since because at that moment, I made a decision...a decision to "look up"...a decision not to be consumed with pain and disappointment...a decision NOT to cry...and I knew writing about this was sure to bring tears.  I hoped that maybe I had used all my tears up but unfortunately there's still some in the reserve I guess.

I got married 21 years ago and I planned to be married forever.  Unfortunately there's 2 people in every marriage and we can only control 1 of those 2...ourselves.  I won't get into detail to spare my loved ones more pain, but I will say this...deciding to divorce after 21 years has been the most difficult, heart breaking, surprising, disappointing, hurtful decision I have ever made.  I pride myself on being strong.  I encourage others to find their stay positive and believe in themselves.  I was able to do that for a long time, but over the past month I have fallen into a dark place that left me very weak at times.  It's left me questioning everything I have ever known and believed.  At times, I have felt hopeless and wondered if I will ever get the strength and happiness back that I once possessed.
They say old habits die hard, and for me that is the truth.  I improved my running form at that certification but there are habits that I had formed for 40 years prior to the class that I still have to watch for and one of those habits is looking down at the ground while I run.  I know exactly why I do it.  I do it when I am tired or when it gets hard for me.  It's like if I can just stare at the ground, I don't know how far I still have to go and I can focus my energy inward. 

As I stood at the door and put the key in the lock, the most amazing fall breeze swept through and blew my hair.  The temperature was perfect, leaves were falling and making rustling noises on the concrete, and for a moment I paused to take it in.  I thought about how much I love the good it amazing it is to watch leaves fall off the trees and then reappear in the spring...and for that brief moment I was happy.  I was able to look outside myself and enjoy what was around me.  I was transcended above all the hurt and pain that I have been so mired in and as the wind blew I could hear that familiar command, "MARSHA!  STOP STARING AT THE GROUND!  LOOK UP!  THERE'S A BEAUTIFUL WORLD AROUND YOU TO SEE!"

 You see, I've been doing what I do on a long, hard run.  I've been looking down because I didn't wanna look up and see the end further away than I wanted.  Unfortunately in my attempt to make things easier...I made them harder.  Sure, I couldn't see how far I had to go, but I couldn't see anything else either.  I couldn't see the good around me and I haven't been able to muster the strength I needed because I wasn't really sure where I was at.  All I knew was I was hurting and I wanted it to go away.  I still hurt.  I'm still scared, and I still feel like a failure in some ways but something changed the day the wind blew my hair and the voice from the past told me to "look up."
It's hard to fight a battle when you don't know what's coming at you.  It's hard to be strong when you can't see how big the obstacle is.  Don't make the mistake that I've made.  Face whatever it is in front of you.  Know that it doesn't matter how far you have to go.  You have the strength and the determination to endure and cross the "finish line" better and happier than you were before.  Don't look down and be weak.  Look up and be strong!

Saturday, October 6, 2012


When I was a little girl, I was terribly scared of the dark!  I wouldn't even walk to the bathroom by myself in the dark.  Luckily, my little sister, Sarah, was afraid of NOTHING and she would walk with me and stand outside the door until I came out.  I shared a bedroom with my 2 younger sisters until my older brother and sister moved out.  Then, I got my own room.  I loved it during the day, and I hated it at night.  I would go sleep with my sister sometimes, but on the nights I had to stay alone in my room...I was always afraid until I went to sleep.  I would pull the covers up high on my neck and always had my bed against a wall so I could put my back to the wall and feel safe.  If it got too bad, I'd sing to myself...but on the nights that the fear was unbearable, I would leave my room to go find my parents or my sister.  I still remember the dilemma.  I wanted to get out of there but I was afraid to put my feet on the floor.  I would lie there gripped with fear trying to summon the courage to move.  The boogeyman never got me, but every time I was afraid "he" would.

I'm a little embarrassed to say that fear has been a big part of my life in different ways.  I did and did not do many things because of it.  As a little girl I was afraid of being hurt.  As a teenager I was afraid of not being good enough.  As a young woman, I feared not being smart enough to get a degree and a job, so I defeated myself in college by getting bad grades and eventually dropping out as soon as I got married.  Sometimes the fear served me well.  It kept me from doing things that were bad because I was afraid of disappointing my parents.  But most of the time, it also kept me from the love and happiness and peace that I always craved.  It's like I have the demons of the past following me...taunting me...holding me back...telling me that I can't or that I need help.  I learned to coexist with "them" well.  I dedicated myself to being the best Mom I could be.  I shopped and went out with friends.  I laughed when I wanted to cry.  I made sure all my time was filled and that I was never alone with myself for too long.  I didn't want the same fears I had as a little girl and bad memories to come back.  I wasn't sure I was strong enough to face them.  That worked for a long time...and then things changed.
When I gained and lost 70 lbs. after my third child, my body wasn't the only thing to change.  My confidence grew.  I learned to try new things and not let it devastate me if I failed the first time I tried.  I made great improvements, but I kept my life fairly stress free.  I spent money, but I didn't worry about how to pay the bills.  When I needed a new car, I did the fun part.  I picked out what I wanted and then left it to my husband to get it and figure out how to pay for it.  I just assumed it would ALWAYS be this way...that I would always have someone there in bed with me at night to keep me safe and to handle the money and day to day stresses that I thought were too much for me.  That was a mistake. 

I was lying in bed Wednesday night alone gripped with fear just like when I was a little girl.  I felt like I couldn't move.  I wanted to jump up and run away, but I couldn't.  The only difference is I wasn't afraid of the boogeyman...I was afraid of the future...of being alone...of supporting myself...of all the tasks that I have avoided out of fear all these years.  After 21 years of marriage, I'm back to having my own room.  Soon there will be no one to pay the bills but me.  I won't be able to spend and shop without thinking.  I will have to pay attention and stick to a tight budget.  For a moment, I felt stuck...frozen...hopeless.  I tried talking to a friend but I was too closed off mentally to hear any other point of view and so at 3 AM, I stared at the ceiling wondering what would happen to me.  I don't know why, but I got up and decided to make a budget and find a way to reduce some costs.  I started searching for that cost half as much as the Mercedes I needed to get rid of.  I made my choice and set out to do something...ON MY OWN the next day.  

I went to the Acura dealership to look at a new/used car they were selling for a good price.  It had all the stuff I like...heated seats, navigation, push start etc and it fit into my budget.  I walked in only to find out the car was already sold.  The internet mgr saw all my printouts for different dealerships and when I was questioned, I said, "Well, I'm not going to stop until I find a good car that has what I want and I'll go all over the DFW Metroplex if I have to."  He smiled and walked away.  When he came back he started trying to sell me great cars that were new and about 3-4 thousand above the budget I set.  He told me it wouldn't make a big difference.  I did not agree.  I held my ground...nicely of course.  Before I knew it, they were offering me a brand new car with everything I wanted at invoice.  I told them I had to think about it.  I walked away wondering, "Can I do this?  Can I buy a car by myself?  Am I smart enough to not get taken advantage of?"  The next morning I called the sales person from the previous day and made an offer.  I accepted the price but wanted more for my trade in and a certain interest rate.  He called me back and we had a deal!  I went to the dealership feeling pessimistic.  I was sure something would go wrong, but I was not going to bend.  It came time to finance.  The rate was 1% higher than I wanted.  A year ago, I would've caved.  I didn't.  I showed them that this rate was available other places and told him I refused to go any higher.  I was prepared to leave.  To my surprise, we had a deal...a deal that was in my favor...a deal that I got...all on my own.  It felt great driving my first new car purchased on my own at 42 yrs old off that car lot.
I drove to my parent's house to show everyone my car and after my brother looked under the hood and my mom checked out the inside, I pulled away to go home.  I was surprised by how I felt.  I had to contain the tears.  I was overwhelmed with excitement, pride, and hopefulness.  I realized that everyone has fears, but if you let those fears paralyze will never get anywhere!  It felt great to take that fear that held me captive two nights before and use it to make necessary changes.  It doesn't matter whether you are facing a job change, a divorce, or the challenge of losing weight and trying to get stronger.  You cannot let fear hold you back.  You cannot let it hold you where you are.  When you are scared, get up and don't worry about what might happen or who might get you.  Take action.  Do the things you need to do and start to take back control over your life.  Strength is not about never failing or never being afraid.  It's not about always being able to lift the most weight or run the fastest.  It's about acting in spite of the obstacles in your way.  It's taking the first step into the dark, where you learn that there's no boogeyman.  It's about trying again and again until you stop failing.  It's about continuing to lift a little more and go a little faster.  There is nothing too scary to face, because you have the strength within you to overcome your fears.  Remember that the next time you are afraid.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Look within

I've suffered from a bit of self loathing at times in my life.  I know...its a terrible thing to say.  It's an even more terrible thing to admit and feel...especially as a person that desires to uplift and motivate others.  I am realizing that I've looked outside myself a lot for reassurance, confidence, comfort, and strength throughout my life.  I think that's part of the reason me and my one time personal trainer, Wes, and I became such good friends and I became so attached to him.  I found all those things in my training and through his encouragement.

It was only natural for me to cling to that again when he moved back after being gone for years.  When he left, my life was different.  I shopped, got pedicures, barely worked, and had what seemed like the perfect marriage.  He came back to a very broken friend going through a divorce that at times has been consumed by fear...the fear of how to go from a girl that dropped out of college when I got married at 21 and later became a stay at home Mom to a woman that can support herself...the fear of never being loved again...the fear that maybe I'm not as strong on my own as I once thought I was.  I asked him to workout with me.  I was sure that if he programmed our workouts and I had a time to meet him each day, I would become a motivated bad a** again. 

After months of working out together, I have realized that I was wrong.  I have felt like my workouts just weren't as intense as they needed to be.  I have continued to struggle with motivation.  I know Wes has sensed this too.  He's changed our programming, but no matter what...I never feel like I'm beginning to get back to where I was mentally or physically.  It wasn't until yesterday that I had a breakthrough of sorts.  We decided to start a new, much more intense programming schedule this week.  I told myself that I would try really hard to take this seriously and work as hard as I could. 

Monday we met and ran sprints.  It took us a long time, and it was hard and intense...and I loved it!  I went home exhausted...literally.  I ate dinner and fell asleep in my workout clothes.  I got up Tuesday a little nervous about the workout.  I knew it was hard and I wondered if I would feel weak and defeated.  I had to coach the 9AM class at the gym before we could workout together.  It was a tough workout that required a lot of coaching and encouragement.  Wes and I worked together and kept instructing and encouraging the people in class.  One person in particular was struggling.  I gave him tips throughout the workout and I was really proud of him when he had finished.  As soon as the class left we got started.  I wasn't my usual self.  I wasn't silly or doing a lot of talking.  We were only a few minutes in when Wes asked, "Are you ok?"  I smiled and said, "I'm fine.  I'm just being serious."  "Good." he said, and we finished up the first 2 parts of the workout. 

By the time I got to the 3rd of 4 parts...I was tired.  I went to press the bar up and missed.  I tried a second time and missed.  Something strange happened at that point.  Instead of me getting down on myself and starting the inward self loathing and bashing that I normally would have, I could hear my own words in my head.  I remembered the advice and encouragement that I had just given someone else.  I corrected my form and followed my own advice and suddenly I was successfully pressing the bar overhead.  It was still hard, but I was able to get through it.  Even though I could barely get to my car after the workout was over, I left feeling good.  I felt proud that I had worked so hard and that I had chosen to encourage myself rather than tear myself down when I originally failed.  It was on my ride home that I came to a realization.

I realized that the reason that I have struggled so lately and never improved was not because of the programming or because of a lack of encouragement.  It has been because I was searching for something outside of myself that I needed to find within.  I was looking to someone else for strength and confidence.  The strength and confidence I needed was there inside me all along.  It was just hidden and masked by fear and sadness.  Unfortunately, I know I'm not alone in this.  I'm sure there are many other people that have felt the same feelings.

Don't make the mistake of looking outside yourself.  EVERYTHING you need to be successful lies inside you.  It's not so different than the experience that Dorothy had in the Wizard of Oz.  She wanted the wizard to help her get home when she had the power within herself the whole time.  Look inside YOURSELF.  Find what it is you need and then begin to enjoy the success and happiness that comes from knowing that you are all you need!  YOU are brave enough and strong enough to accomplish ANYTHING you want to!  Remember that.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

...cHooSe yOuR oWn aDvEntuRe...

When I was a kid, a new series of books came out called "Choose Your Own Adventure".   As you read along, you...the reader, got to choose between a couple of different options that determined what the main character did which in turn affected the story's ending.  I used to love them! I just couldn't get enough of going back and changing which path the main character took and seeing how the story and ending changed.

I thought about these series of books as I was lying in bed the other night thinking about the twists and turns my life has made.  It was as though my life was a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book.  I went back in time to the first situations that I can recall that really shaped who I am and the subsequent choices that I made.  I tried to imagine where my life would be had certain things NOT happened to me.  I fantasized about how much more confident I might have turned out to be or how much "better" things might have turned out for me.  I walked through every step and just like the books I loved as a child, the ending was always different.  Many times, the way my imagined life turned out was simpler, more successful and almost always there were less scars from hurts and disappointments.  There was always something good, but there were also always things that were missing from the end of the story.
What if I had chosen to always take care of my body and eat healthy?  What if I had never been fat...or felt bad about myself...or been ignored by people in public...or had a jerk salesman stop waiting on me because I was overweight and a thin girl walked in?  Would things have been easier?  Would I have experienced a little less pain?  The answer is yes, but there's other things I would NEVER have experienced or learned either.  I wouldn't have the same understanding and compassion that I have.  I probably would not have a desire to help others make changes.  I wouldn't have the strength that came from overcoming those hurts and the pride I feel when I look in the mirror.  I wouldn't know how hard it can be to make good choices at mealtime and how easy it can be to turn to food when I'm feeling bad.

All of our choices...all of our experiences make us who we are.  We can become better and happier than we ever thought if we are willing to stop going down the same path and decide to make different choices. We can make changes...turn the pages back...and choose a different path with a better ending.  Your life is YOUR adventure.  YOU have to choose to work hard.  YOU have to choose to make changes.  YOU have to choose to be strong.  Don't let anyone else make your decisions or choose  where your life goes.  YOU choose your own adventure!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

...strength and beauty...

The sun beat down on us unmercifully as we got out of the car to go for a 3 mile walk/run.  For a moment, I thought about pulling the plug and using the excuse that it's just too hot, but I knew that the majority of the trail I was headed for is shady.  I also knew that if I left the park and came home with the intention of doing it later...I would NEVER go back out.  I also knew that it was nothing short of a Christmas miracle that I had even gotten my running 16 yr old agree to come along, so I strapped my phone to my arm (in case one of us were to suffer heat stroke and we needed to call 911) and we headed toward the trail.  I tried to be convince her (and myself) that it wasn't completely crazy to run in the middle of the afternoon in 100 degree weather.  I said, "See!  There's other cars here!  We aren't the only crazy ones!"  Savanna smiled and said, "Mom...they are having a party where they are sitting under the shade.  We are running."  Dang it!  That didn't work.  I tried another approach.  Denial.  "Look at all this shade!  It won't be bad at all, Savy!  We got this!"  She was quiet and kind and let me be ridiculous, but she knew what I was doing.

We decided that we would walk fast in the shade and run when we hit patches where it was sunny as to avoid getting burnt.  It'll be like intervals...but more fun since it's mostly shade.  (This was my thought as I was still trying to convince myself that it was a good idea.)  Savanna agreed.  And she is not known for being naturally agreeable so I was shocked.  This child has not EVER run with me at the park since she was a toddler and did so as a passenger in the stroller I was pushing!  I was going to take every advantage of this opportunity to try and spend some "quality time" talking with her and also try and show her that working out can be fun.  Okay, so maybe choosing to do so in 100 degree weather isn't the smartest but I was going to work with what I had!
We started out walking.  I started to talk to her about some big changes going on in our family.  She opened up and was kind and honest.  I realized that maybe this was going to be more for me than her, but either way...we were talking and she was doing so willingly and to my surprise she wasn't acting disgusted.  In fact, she SEEMED to be enjoying my company.  I was impressed and touched at how she never complained.  She ran right beside me and never quit...even when I could tell she was struggling.  I would go into personal trainer mode and start saying "You got this Savy!  You're doing great!  Just a little further and we are there!"  Just when it seemed she couldn't go anymore, we would hit a long patch of shade and recover and talk some more.

There is a big hill right in the center of this trail.  I hate/dread it EVERY SINGLE TIME I run.  It seems to go on forever!  I assured Savanna that we would only run on the parts of the hill that were sunny and we could walk in the shady parts.  She was doubtful in her abilities, but she did it.  We turned around at the ending point and started back.  I cheerfully told her that THIS time the hill would be easier because most of the sunny parts would be downhill going this direction.  I then cautioned her to pay attention because it might be easier to trip running downhill.  I said this because Savanna can be a little clumsy at times.  Actually, she has been know to randomly trip and fall many times throughout her life.  Luckily, we all laugh about it and so she smiled but then I saw some fear start to arise.  She got a crinkle between her eyebrows as she said, "Mom, I don't want to run downhill!  What if I fall?  You KNOW how much of a klutz I am!"  I reassured her and said, "Oh Savy, you'll be fine!!!  I didn't tell you that to scare you.  I told you so you would pay attention."  The look of total disbelief was all over her face when she made the next comment...a comment that both surprised and saddened me a bit.  "What if I fall and scrape up my face?  I NEEED my looks Mom!"

I laughed.  "Oh Savanna!  Quit being crazy!  You're not going to fall and what do you mean you need your looks?"  There was a part of me that thought she MUST be joking, but she was very serious.  "Mom.  (motioning to her face as we ran...downhill...without falling)  My looks DO make a difference.  Without my pretty face, things would be a lot harder.  When I was at camp a couple of weeks ago, I didn't ever have to clear my tray in the cafeteria once that week.  There were always boys offering to throw my stuff away and I never had to carry my suitcase up or down the stairs.  I'm going to NEED my looks to get by in life."
 Wow.  Many thoughts raced through my mind in the 30 second pause after that statement.  I wondered if I had created this feeling in her.  I envisioned a life of her relying on men and using her looks to "get by."  That's not the life I want for either of my daughters.  I wondered how this amazingly smart (like genius smart), talented daughter of mine could think that everything good that she has ever gotten or will get is attached to her looks.  And then I realized it.  It's just like when you have that moment of dejavu and you instantly realize that you have dreamed of being where you are before.  I was instantly aware that this was one of those rare, precious moments that parents get...moments when you get the chance to teach your child something so valuable that you would not normally be able to teach them and have it make an impact.  I knew I had to say something.  I wanted her to understand some things that could make such a huge difference in her life.  And so, this is what I said,

"Savanna.  You are beautiful.  I remember when you were a baby.  I would just look at you, even when you were asleep and marvel at what a beautiful child you are.  Now is no different.  Your beauty is striking, and being beautiful has its perks.  People may be nicer to you, boys may give you attention, and opportunities may come your way because of the way you look, but you cannot spend your life relying on your looks.  Solely relying on your looks means giving up the power to be happy...all the matter what.  It may mean that you are only happy when you are getting attention and miserable when you are not.  Relying on your looks means that the opinion of others counts more than YOUR opinion of yourself.  Looks fade and we get older.  One day you will not look like you do now and if your entire identity is wrapped up in your appearance, you will feel lost and always be looking back.  You are so smart.  I can't imagine having your intelligence, and I know you can do great things.  But more importantly, you are strong.  If something were to ever happen to your would be sad but it shouldn't be the end.  You need to be strong enough to have more substance that you can fall back on.  Looks are nice, but they should be like the icing on the cake...a bonus.  You have stayed with me in this heat and never complained until now.  You have kept going when I KNOW you wanted to stop.  I don't ever want you to forget this.  You are more than what you look like."
She smiled at me and said, "You're right."  I don't know if what I said made a difference but it certainly made me think and reflect upon my own life.  It also made me wonder how many girls out there feel the same way...and how many girls have grown up feeling that way and are now women that have let it shape their lives and effect their happiness.  Don't let appearances shape and define who you are.  You are not the car you drive.  You are not that hot body in a bikini.  You are not the pretty face that gets attention.  You are more than that.  Look within yourself and find your strength and substance, because beauty is nice but it's not the most important thing.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


I have often said that if you want to eat healthy, you need to keep healthy food in your home.  One of the ways I personally avoid eating junk food, is by trying to not have it around me.  I was thinking about this today as I looked in the pantry and couldn't find anything good to snack on.  Today, my willpower is strong so I made a decision to just wait until lunch, but there are days when I would've been influenced by the chips and cookies that my kids snack on.

My thoughts turned to the people in my life.  Something made me think about a friend I used to have.  We are no longer friends, and even though I still miss her from time to time...I have no desire to ever rekindle that relationship.  It was just like eating junk food.  It was a quick fix.  It was fun and "delicious" at the time, but there were always consequences to the behavior afterwards.  Eating sweets and junk food is great while it lasts, but that's the problem.  It doesn't last long and I am always left wanting more.  It slows me down and keeps me from progress.

Maybe we should look at how everything in our lives is effecting our health and well being.  It's not just about the food we eat or how often we work out.  It's also about our mindset and the people we surround ourselves with.  Those things can directly effect how we think and the choices we make.  They can have just as big of an effect on our fitness as the food we eat does.

Make a choice to be your best.  Eat good food and train your body to be strong.  Surround yourself with people that are positive and help you want to be better.  Get all the junk food out of your pantry and lose the junky people in your life that keep you from being the strong, happy person that you should be!

Sunday, June 3, 2012


I've thought a lot about the habits we form these days.  I was thinking about it one day when I was having an especially hard time, and I became obsessed with the thought that I needed to eat bad food.  A big part of that is the emotional connection that I personally have to certain foods, but it's also a habit.  Throughout my life, when I've been sad or stressed...I ate...badly.  It almost became automatic.  It was based on emotion and bad habits.  I've made a great effort to change that, but every now and again I succumb to old habits.

So this morning, as I woke up with an iffy stomach and a guilty conscience over the box of Junior Mints that I bought and ate at the movies last night, I started thinking about habits.  We become like Pavlov's dogs in a way. (If you don't know what that it.)  We go to the movies so we think we need candy and popcorn.  And it works in reverse too.  We are tired or busy and we don't workout.  We tell ourselves we can't.  We spend time rationalizing and lamenting over our "inability" to get to the gym or have time to go for a run.  Soon, it just becomes the norm.  Tired or busy = an excuse to not workout.

I know from personal experience that we can form new habits or get rid of some we don't like.  I know this because I'm living proof.  I was not raised to exercise or eat healthy.  I had to create better habits.  I've heard people say that it only takes a week to form a habit, but I know for me that sure has never been the case.  Maybe when it comes to short term success or doing something that may not be as challenging it works, but I think it takes longer to form habits that stay with you for years or a lifetime.  So I started researching a bit, and I read an article in "The World Of Psychology" about habits and how long it takes to form a habit. This article said 66 days (approx 2 month).  That made more sense to me.
Having read those last 2 sentences, you may feel that's too long.  You may doubt your ability to stick with something for 66 days that does NOT come easily.  That's a valid concern, but one that can be dealt with if you go about it in a methodical way.  If you are struggling to build a new habit, follow this plan and let's see if it works!  Make yourself a living, breathing science experiment!
Here's my challenge/plan for anyone that struggles to consistently workout:  Get a one...print one off your computer...whatever...and for the next 66 days, I want you to workout 5 days out of EVERY week.  It can be at different intensities, but it needs to be a workout.  Walking leisurely without breaking a sweat or reading while on an elliptical doesn't count.  Do it whether you are tired or busy.  It doesn't matter.  Mark it off on your calendar and plan for it on days that you are busy.  I suggest writing out what you will do on what days at the beginning of each week so you have a clear idea of what you will do and can easily follow the plan you set for yourself.  If you have one day that is especially busy, make that day your "rest day" or plan to get up an hour earlier and do it before your day begins.  Worried you will be too tired?  Go to bed an hour earlier the night before!   Make NO excuses.  Hang your calendar up in plain site and be accountable.

When people asked me how I lost weight and found time to workout 5-6 days a week when I had 3 little kids, was on 2 PTAs, and was running a household...I say the same thing every time.  I made it my "part time job."  I didn't call in sick or decide not to show up when I didn't feel like working.  I treated like I would any other job that I didn't want to get fired from.  Most of the time people would rather stay home than go to work, but we go.  Why?  Because it's our job and we are adults and know that as adults we have to do things we don't always like.  We work because we need money to live on.  Well, we should be taking care of our bodies because we need them in good shape to truly live and get the most out of our lives.  It's just as essential in my opinion!
So...66 days!  Are you up for the challenge?  Are you willing to commit to 2 months of working out 5 days a week whether you are busy, or tired, or on vacation?  (Because vacation doesn't give you an excuse either)  66 days to form a habit that could stay with you for YEARS???  That seems like a great trade off to me!  Let's do it!  Get your calendars ready and make tomorrow the first day of your journey towards building a habit that will change your life!

HERES the article I read from "The World Of Psychology":

HERES one about "10 easy ways to make exercise a habit":

Monday, May 14, 2012

...Are you gonna stop? Or run?...

Baseball can be a tough sport.  Some people think there's a lot of standing around...and there is...but the thing is...when it's your turn to perform, you have to be able to quickly and accurately perform.  If you're not get traded.  It's the same for kids as it is for the pros.  When my son played, he had desire.  He even played a game with a broken finger, but he didn't have much ability in baseball.  So at the end of every season, he would get put back into the "draft" and the next season he was always on a new team. 

All the coaches were different.  Different teams have different dynamics depending on the coach and the parents, but some things are similar.  One thing that I noticed with every team is that there were always coaches placed strategically on the field when the team was at bat.  There was always a coach standing by third to tell the boys when to run for home and when to stop.  Sometimes the boys became so dependent upon the coaches that they lost the ability to know when to keep running.  Sometimes, if the coach was distracted and didn't tell the player to run...the player would stand there and lose the opportunity to score a run.  Other times the boys would work hard...and steal bases...and load them up and then they would get out, the inning would be over, and they'd never get to run across home plate.

I started thinking today that sometimes we are no different than little boys on a baseball team.  We stop short of a "home run" at "third base", and sometimes we "strike out" before we get a run.  Sometimes it's because we are scared.  We doubt our abilities and fear failure.  Sometimes, it's because we are waiting on a "coach" to tell us what to do.  We've lost the confidence to make our own decisions and know when it's time to keep running.  I think we should change that.  I think we should be a little braver.  I think we should take more chances and run more.  Even if we fail at's better than standing there and never knowing what we could've done, and it doesn't mean we should try again the next time.  Every pro baseball player that's ever played has been out before.  We need to summon the courage to keep running because you never know when they day will come that you will stop being afraid and accomplish something great!

Monday, April 23, 2012


  I'm not very good at organizing.  I wish I was.  I hate clutter, yet I'm surrounded by stacks and stacks of papers and books as I sit here at my computer.  I struggle to move the mouse to my computer around because there is an array of sticky notes hanging from the bottom of my computer screen and tons of mail...some opened and some not...and pens and cords to various devices all piled on my tiny little desk here in my bedroom.  I was just thinking this morning that I need to see if I can get a file cabinet that wouldn't look bad and some boxes to organize my work life.

As I thought about this, in between making more "to do" sticky notes and putting on makeup in my bathroom, I began to think about people...the ones in my day to day life...the ones I care the most about.  I was thinking about how I organize people into imaginary boxes with labels.  I expect different things from different people, and I give of myself in different ways depending on the "box" that people get put in.  So I started to review the people closest to me (besides my children) and before I knew totally normal, good, strong, "everything is just fine in the world" kind of mood took a turn and the tears began to fall.  Then, they began to flow.  I was filled with disappointment and sadness because I realized that a few of the people in the most important boxes...the ones I keep closest to me...don't really fit in those boxes the way I thought they did or the way I want them to and they take much more than they give.

As high maintenance and demanding as I can be at times...I am a giver.  My greatest desire in life is to help people and make others happy.  It's like the old Girl Scout camping should always leave your campsite better than you found it.  I try to leave people better than I found them.  I guess where the problem arises is that not everyone lives like a girl or boy scout and while the "Golden Rule" is what I try to live by...I don't get the same in return very often.  My first reaction was to blame the people that have let me down, but you know what they say..."When you point the finger at someone else, there's three pointing back at you!".  So, I had to put down the mascara brush that was now useless with tears flowing and take a good, hard look at the unhappy girl staring back at me in the mirror.
It may seem strange that I talk about this on a blog dedicated to strength.  It may seem to be a personal pity party or a rant and have nothing to do with being a strong woman, but I disagree and I know I'm not alone.  What I realized as I looked at myself in the mirror with tears streaming down both cheeks and wet spots on my t shirt where they fell, was that it's not everyone else's fault that I feel unfulfilled in many of my relationships.  Sure, people should be less selfish and be more willing to do what it takes to be there for the people they say they care about.  And yes, it would be nice if just a few of my daily interruptions were just someone that wanted me to know they were thinking about me...not because they need something, but just because they care.  I wish that the people that I listen to and give advice to, were as willing to listen and offered the same support that they are given...not because they have to, but because they want to.  At the same time, I realize that I have chosen who I give access to and how much I give them.  Some of the people that have had the most access in my life, really don't deserve it anymore.  This makes me sad and leaves me with questions.

After I stop trying to figure out what is wrong with ME, I finally ask myself the question, "WHY?".  Why are these people where they are in my life?  Why do I do the things I do and give the way I give when I am smart enough to see that there is little or no reciprocation?  I think there are 2 reasons.  The first is that sometimes it is because I want so desperately for a person to have a certain role in my life or fit into a certain "box".  It's like Cinderella's step sisters trying to force their feet into the glass slipper.  I try to cram the person where I want them and hope that somehow they will surprise me and fit.  I make excuses for them, even though deep down I know the truth.  I want people to care about me the way I care about them, but I know that I have no control over other people's feelings.
Probably the most important reason that I am struggling with my relationships is because I am taking the seemingly easy way out and choosing to ignore the problem.  I'm letting fear and grief take the reins.  It's like it's easier to muddle along and have half a** relationships that leave me unfulfilled, than it is to "clean house".  I can lie to myself and fantasize that someday it will be different...better.  I cry when my feelings are hurt and then I quickly suck it up and pull myself together in an attempt to feel strong and in control.  The problem is that as long as fear and grief are taking the reins...I don't have any way to steer myself towards another path.  I have to take the reins back and make some tough decisions.  Maybe a very few people and their "boxes" need to be tossed out, while others need to be put in different "boxes"...the kind that have very limited use...the kind that I don't give so much time and attention to, but that I can still access for very specific purposes with no expectation of anything in return.  These are the kinds of boxes that don't sit so close to me, but find a new home in the attic or garage...somewhere far enough away that they won't be so distracting..somewhere that they won't get in my way or drain my strength when I have to move them.

Life can be such a vicious circle of cause and effect when we do not make the right choices.  It's like I need to find the strength to make these changes, but my strength is drained because of the unhappiness that these problems are causing.  Change in any form is tough, but some changes are easier for us than others.  Everyone has their weaknesses and mine is the people that I care about.  I have survived some terrible things in my life that not many people know about.   I've conquered major weight loss, and I can always find the strength to workout or begin eating healthier, but it's people...sometimes the seemingly closest to me...that I have a hard time being strong enough to deal with.  It's hard for me to set boundaries and deal with the possibility of people walking away from me or getting mad at me.  Maybe some of you struggle with the same thing.  If so, it's time to make changes.  It's time to believe that you are worth being treated with love and respect.
I know deep down that I am strong enough to make these decisions, and here's what I know about strength.  My strength is not just about moving heavy weight or how fast I can do a workout.  My strength isn't just about the quotes and pictures that I use to inspire people.  My strength does not come from making changes that come easier to me.  Strength is about doing things that are really hard for me.  Strength is trying again when I fail.  Strength is knowing that I may have to stand alone and being brave enough to do it.  Strength is deciding what is best for myself and then taking action...real action...and standing tall in the matter what.  I know what I need to do.  I have some serious housekeeping and organization in front of me and I am going to dig deep to find the strength to do it.

Friday, April 13, 2012

..."the bad stuff is easier to believe"...

I love the movie "Pretty Woman".  I know that in simple terms, it's an unrealistic movie about a prostitute that finds her "Prince Charming" and gets "rescued"...and I also get that it probably glamorizes a very terrible, unglamorous, way of life...BUT...I still love it and watch it every time it comes on TV.  There's always been one scene that I have related to.  It's the scene where she talks about how it's easier to believe the bad things than the good.  It's like it's me talking...the me that not many people see...the old, hurt me that I have tried really hard to overcome.  I've done a pretty good job at trying to let go of the past and the thoughts that sometimes haunt me.  I've tried to ignore the negative thoughts that sometimes enter my mind.  I've tried to forget hurtful words that I let shape and define me for too long.
 When I saw the picture above on a friend's Facebook page that says, "Don't believe everything that you think" it made me stop and think about my thoughts and how they shape they effect my day and my decisions.  I thought about how hard it is for me to accept a compliment or believe the good things that people tell me some days.  After I discount a compliment or ignore something good someone is telling me, I always regret it.  I always wonder why I didn't just smile and say "Thank you!".  I get so frustrated with myself and think that with all the nice things I hear these days...why do I struggle to believe those words at times?

I realize looking at that picture that even though it's been a long time since I was told I was "ugly" by a boy in 7th grade...even though it's been many years since I suffered from betrayal or dishonesty...even though I've turned my life around and made something very positive out of some negative things that I went thoughts have not changed as much as they should.  I tell myself mean things at times.  I can limit and defeat myself when I focus solely on my weaknesses instead of celebrating my many talents and strengths.  I've learned to grow a thicker skin and ignore the things that may be said about or to me in the past couple of years.  So I guess what I've figured out is that other people are not as much of a problem as I am.  These days, it's my own voice and my own thoughts that I need to change.
If we tell ourselves over and over that we are not worthy...if we constantly look in the mirror and focus on what we don't like...if we beat ourselves up internally for every mistake...and we do it over and over and over again...soon it will become easier to believe those things than it will to believe the good.  Don't do this to yourself!  It sounds like a daunting impossible situation to change, but it's not.  Just like most things in life, it takes practice.  It takes chasing those negative thoughts out of your mind and embracing and believing the good that comes your way.  Sometimes, we just have to do it even when it doesn't come natural.  We have to "pretend" to be the person we want to become.  We have to embrace the good characteristics and begin making them ours.  If you begin behaving as though you are valuable and worthy of compliments and good thoughts, soon it will become a habit and you will become a different person.

Stop believing everything that you think and stop believing the bad.  Make a decision today that you will change and set your course in a different direction.  This one change can affect every aspect of your life in and outside of the gym and bring you happiness and success that you may be missing out on.  It may be easier to believe the "bad" and hard to change your thoughts, but anything worthwhile is not easy.

* The picture at the top that was the inspiration for this blog post is from the SoMuchMore Facebook page.  Please go visit this page and "Like" it!  It's an uplifting, great page that provides daily inspiration for a unique new website!  CLICK HERE to visit the page!

Monday, April 2, 2012

piCkeD LaSt iN gYm...

I was never athletic growing up.  I never played a team sport...ever...and I never played sports in school either.  In fact, P.E. was a miserable thorn in my side EVERY day that I went.  The feeling of dread that I experienced as I was dressing out before class was overwhelming, and the feeling of being a loser that I experienced for that hour everyday was even worse!  I could never climb the rope and when it came to being chosen for "teams"...I was almost always last or close to it.  Anyone who has "stood on the line" waiting to be picked...hearing everyone else's name be called as there are less and less people...knows that feeling.

I remember the day I had fulfilled my P.E. requirements in 10th grade and I no longer had to go.  I was overjoyed!  And so began an adult life where I avoided anything athletic.  I was conditioned to believe that because I wasn't good at it naturally, that it meant I never would be and I should accept it and not put any effort into it.  I had never belonged to a gym in my life until I was 34 years old.

I joined a gym because I was overweight and miserable.  Everyday was a struggle.  I was out of breath and tired and my own reflection repulsed me.  Although I always tried to look my best, I was often treated like I was invisible in stores.  There was even a day that a salesman stopped waiting on me in the middle of me trying to purchase a car stereo to wait on a young, thin, pretty girl.  It took me right back to gym being picked last...only because they were forced to.  I hung my head and walked out with my toddler on my big hip.  No one even noticed I was gone.  I sat in the parking lot in my mini van and cried uncontrollably.
So, when I decided to join a gym and get in shape, I was really scared.  I found a safe all women's gym...on the tiny downtown strip in my small town.  Most of the women were just like me...or at least I thought they were.  I was younger than most and they treated me nice.  My confidence began to grow...just a little.  By the time the gym went out of business almost a year later, I had lost 70 lbs.  I was no longer heavy.  In fact, I was VERY thin.  Although my confidence had grown, I was nervous about joining a "big gym" with men and women.  Still, I was loving working out and I wasn't gonna stop so I pretended to be brave and I signed up at a local gym.

It was there that I met the man that started out as my trainer and ended up one of my best friends.  I was a reluctant participant in a free 1 hour session with him, but through the course of events, I became his regular client for a year.  My life forever changed.  I was still NOT naturally athletic.  I was awkward and clumsy, and I had no sense of balance.  I wasn't accustomed to doing things I wasn't good at.  Those were the things I avoided in the year before.  Wes didn't allow that.  He pushed me...hard.  He knocked me down when I got too big for my britches and he built me up when I was feeling low.  When he moved away, I had to learn to do it on my own...and I did.  By the time I became a personal trainer myself, I was no longer the girl no one wanted on their team.  I was the girl leading the team...the one that everyone knew they could count on to go a little faster and fight a little harder.
Today...I can do pullups, and I can climb a rope...not one like we had in gym class with knots...a real rope.  Today...I may not always be first, but I'm also very rarely last.  Today...I have confidence in my ability, and I no longer dread walking into a gym.  The gym has become my refuge...a place I feel comfortable.  I know I'm not the only one with bad memories of gym class.  I know I'm not the only one to ever be picked last.  There may be people that read this that still feel that way at times...people afraid to try something new because they don't want to fail...people that feel like the last kid standing when the teams are being picked.  YOU CAN CHANGE THAT.  You do not have to be THAT kid anymore.  Face your fears and learn to do things you never thought you could.  Every time you think about NOT "dressing out" for the gym...change your mind and GO.  Every time you want to say, "I'm not athletic."...think of me.  Start today.  See yourself differently and decide that you will no longer be picked last in gym!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

...confidence < ability?...

Anyone that knows me or has read all my blogs knows about my friend Wes.  Wes came into my life unexpectedly at just the right time when lots of changes were going on.  I RELUCTANTLY took a free session with him at the gym at the coercing of the manager there, and through a series of events I hired him as my personal trainer.  Wes later became my great friend and has remained my friend for many years even though we haven't "worked" together in probably 5 years.  There was a time in my life when I looked up to Wes like he was the "be all end all".  In my eyes, Wes could do no wrong and he knew EVERYTHING.

When he moved away, it was very hard on me.  I lost my friend.  I grieved that loss.  I never thought I would get over that, but like any loss in life...time heals and what was once a sharp pain became a hardly noticeable dull ache.  Wes moved on and found the love of his life that became his wife and I found that I could do things all on my own and became a personal trainer.  We kept in touch and I was really excited to have him and his wife move back here recently.  I was feeling a little bored and frustrated with my own training and he wanted to get into better shape again so we decided to start working out together again.
People all fall into roles.  It's comfortable.  We do it without even thinking sometimes.  So as usual, Wes has been the "coach" and I have gladly reverted to being the student...until yesterday.  He came in to workout with me yesterday after I had to fill in at the gym on my day off.  As usual, I said, "What are we doing today?"  He said, "Whatever you want!  We are here in a different place.  YOU decide today and we will do it."  I generally like to plan ahead, but there was no time to plan.  I was really nervous and unsure...uncomfortable in this new "role", but I wrote our workout down on the board.  Wes was reassuring so I gained a little confidence, but I wondered deep down if he was just being nice.  We did the workout...and it was good...and we went our separate ways. 

I stopped at the store on my way home and as I got out of the car, I received a text.  It was from Wes.  I was surprised to read what it said.  He told me that the workout was great and that he was really impressed with my knowledge.  I put the phone down in disbelief.  I picked it up and read it again.  I had a moment right then and there in the parking lot.  It began with being so surprised because Wes has so much knowledge and I've never felt like I could ever be half the trainer he was.  Then I stopped for a moment to examine WHY I was so surprised by that compliment.  I've been training people for 4 years and spent thousands of dollars going to seminars to learn and become a better, more informed trainer.
 I concluded that my confidence in my ability and my actual ability should be equal, but they aren't.  Instead, my confidence in my ability has been less than my actual ability.  I have always been reluctant to share my knowledge fully because I was afraid of being wrong or what other people might think.  I knew I had the ability to motivate people, but I wasn't always sure about my practical knowledge.  Yesterday, in two sentences, things changed.  I don't know everything and sometimes I make mistakes, but I realized that I know a lot more than I ever thought I did.  I also realized that I should never doubt myself like that again.  Neither should you.  Don't let past hurts or disappointments cloud where you are today.  See yourself as you are and be aware and proud of your abilities!  Find your confidence...even if it means you have to search for it!  From now on, don't let your equation look like this:  confidence<ability.  Make it look like this:  confidence=ability!  Be confident and believe in yourself!

Monday, March 12, 2012

...stop dieting...

When the word diet is said, I immediately cringe.  I cringe as a fitness professional and I cringe personally.  We hear it all the time..."Diets don't work!".  Actually, they do work.  The problem is that the results usually don't last and you're left with disappointment and depending on the extreme matters you may have taken, you could be left MORE unhealthy than when you started!  Starving yourself or working out to excess WILL make you lose weight, but it is NOT maintainable and can do you more harm than good in the long run.  This is the opinion of the personal trainer side of me.

Personally, I cringe because I am a girl that knows what she likes and isn't happy when I don't get it.  I associate diets with the LOSS of things I enjoy, and I hate the feeling of deprivation that has always accompanied diets in my life.  I remember being a teenager and moving an old stationary bike in my room.  I remember eating lettuce and taking diet pills and riding that stupid bike.  I remember hating myself and feeling ugly.  Obviously that's extreme and unhealthy, but I think even healthy diet plans can be risky if you don't have the right mindset.  After my 2nd child, I joined Weight Watcher's and had great success.  I didn't get strong at all, but I sure got skinny.  It started out well for me, but somewhere along the way...old demons and ideas crept back in.  I was so obsessed with the number on the scale that I was going to see every week when I went in for my weekly meeting, that I would refuse to eat meat for 2 days before weigh in and I would use laxatives the day prior.  I've never admitted that to anyone, and it makes me sick to see the words on my screen.  The only reason I admit this is because I know there are women and men out there trying to be better but they are going about it in the wrong way.  The Weight Watcher's plan did not drive me to that.  Being on a DIET and my own personal fear and unwillingness to REALLY change both my body AND my mind drove me to that.

So if you shouldn't diet, should you just be happy where you are at?  My answer would be, "No, not necessarily."  When I weighed 200 lbs back in 2002 and began my own transformation, I went back to Weight Watcher's because I needed some kind of structure and plan.  I did not attend meetings, because for ME personally...I knew the public weigh in would set off some of my past issues.  After a couple of months, I had started to build a healthy foundation but I wanted to be able to eat more healthy fat, like nuts and avocados and the "points" on those did fit in well with being able to eat enough.  For the first time in my life, I made my workouts and what I ate more important than what I was NOT able to eat.  I practiced discipline and moderation.  I ate good most of the time but occasionally I would have small amounts of things that I wanted.  I always used to say, "ONE doughnut, once in a while, will not make you fat.  One doughnut everyday is another story."  I had great success doing things this way and maintained my weight loss for 9 years.

You may think I'm going to go on a rant about the Paleo diet or how I have began eating in the last couple of months.  I'm not.  Do I think there are benefits to this way of eating?  Yes, but the point of this is to change the way you see food in general, no matter HOW you choose to eat.  Make a decision to eat healthier.  Simplify your choices.  Ask yourself questions.  "Does this food make me healthier?  Or less healthy?"  When you are choosing something, be aware that you are indeed CHOOSING.  You don't HAVE to eat crap because you are traveling or tired, and you don't have to skip meals because you are busy.  It's a choice...a choice that's easier to make if you think ahead.

When someone that hates to run at the gym asks me how to get better at running, I have a very simple and true answer.  I say, "Run more."  Sounds like a smart a** response, but it's the truth.  If you want to increase your cardiovascular respiratory endurance, you have to increase your cardio activity!  Eating and choices are no different.  Make better choices more often when it comes to your food and it will become easier.  I remember when I began running and the first day that I burst through my own front door, excited to announce that I had just run for 13 minutes without stopping.  I knew then, I was becoming a runner.  I'm still not quite there with my eating.  I'm feeling myself start to lean back towards old habits.  I was taking my own meals to my parents' house for Sunday dinner and then the past 2 weeks I didn't.  Last night my Mom had barbecue brisket and pasta salad and corn.  I ate it and I feel bad today...physically and mentally.  So, it's a new day.  Not a piece of food has gone in my mouth yet, and when I get up and walk in the kitchen...I'll prepare something that leads me closer to my goals rather than further away.  You can do the same.  Quit "DIETING" and start eating healthier.  You'll be surprised what a difference this shift in attitude can make!

Monday, February 27, 2012

DO DO DO....DADA DA all I want to say to you

All my life, I've had a funny little thing I do when I'm feeling insecure.  I act the complete OPPOSITE.  I BEHAVE as though not a thing in the world can shake me.  I have certain things I do...ways I sit, place my arms etc.  The person across from me in these situations would never know how nervous I really am.  I was practicing this last week as I sat in an attorneys office.  my attorney is older and has a strong Texas drawl.  He always wears expensive dress shirts and ties and everything is in place.  So when I visit him and we are in the conference room I usually sit leaning slightly back and I will hang on arm up over the chair like I don't give a crap because it makes me feel like I have some power.  It's interesting too, because he responds to this.  I can tell he "buys" my fake bravado and he respects and likes it.  He and I were talking about business things and the subject of diet came up.  I told him what I had been doing and how pleased I was with the results.  As I think back on it now though, I can see why his reaction was what it was. 

I BEGAN by telling him all the DON'Ts!  DON'T eat this and DON'T drink that.  He smiled and laughed and said in a sarcastic tone, " I can pretty much just drink water...  That sounds great."  We both laughed and I went on to tell him what you CAN have, but really it was too late.  The focus began and ended with a focus on what NOT to do.  As I've thought about reeling my own diet back in a little tighter again since my 30 Day Challenge ended...I've focused a lot on the DON'Ts and that can be pretty depressing and leave you feeling deprived.  Some of the ladies in the STRONG LOLA 30 DAY CHALLENGE group on Facebook talked about doing another 30 Day Challenge because they felt like they had slipped back in to old habits.
 I think that's great, but I want to offer a suggestion.  Rather than focus on the DON'Ts...focus on the DOs!  It brings a completely different perspective that can apply to any diet and fitness regime.  Whether you are Paleo or a Vegetarian, it's the same thing.  Focusing on the positive and the things that you should be doing will make it a completely different experience.  So I will give you MY list of DOs!

DO choose the highest quality of food and meat that you can afford!  I recognize that buying grass fed beef and organic veggies costs more than if you buy the regular stuff, but if you can work it in to your makes a difference in the way you feel, the taste of your food, and the way your body digests it.  The food you buy that is not organic and is in the grocery story has chemicals that your body has to process and remove in order to keep from poisoning your system.  I have also read that organic veggies, grass fed beef, range free chicken, and cage free grain fed eggs also have a higher concentration of nutrients.  Pay attention to the QUALITY of the food you purchase and do the best you can.  If you can't get the highest quality, don't beat yourself up or feel like you cannot participate in a healthy lifestyle.  Make the best choices that you can and remind yourself that whether you are eating organic veggies or not, prepared properly that's still a better choice than throwing a bag of frozen corn in the microwave.

DO eat balanced meals!  While I understand bacon is delicious and so is fruit...only eating those things or eating too much is not good either.  Make sure that you have balance on your plate.  Eat protein and healthy fat and good carbs at every meal.  People think that the word carb is evil.  It's not.  We need carbs, but it's best to get them from healthy sources like vegetables and fruits and sweet potatoes.  Choose good, healthy carbs rather than eliminating them from your diet.  Make sure you are getting enough healthy fat so that you feel full and stay satisfied longer.  There are lots of sources of good fats in olive oil, raw nuts, avocados, and olives.

DO prepare ahead to avoid snap decisions choices made out of desperation!  Many people cook meals ahead of time.  I think this is a great idea and is very helpful to many people!  I have never been big on this as I tend to fly by the seat of my pants, but I prepare by ALWAYS having some type of veggies on hand and some kind of meat thawed out in the fridge.  As long as I have food that I can prepare on the spot, I will make good choices.  Another option is to cook bigger portions when you cook and put the leftover away for later so they are easy to grab and reheat when you need them!  Remember that you always have a choice.  Panicking never leads to anything good.  Many times, if I stop for a moment and think I can come up with a meal that is delicious and quick.

DO eat food that you like!  I am a picky eater so I preach eating what you like.  I have a very narrow range of meat that I like so it can be a challenge at times, but I never want to feel like I'm forcing myself to eat things I don't like.  If you don't like broccoli, don't eat it!  Find another green that you DO like and find different ways to cook the foods you enjoy.  I LOVE zucchini but if I ALWAYS eat it prepared the same way, I get sick of it.  I grill it, saute it, and sometimes I add canned tomatoes.  Using different spices and ways to cook things is fun and keeps you from getting bored.  Be creative!  I've surprised myself (in a good way) many times throughout the course of the past 2 months.

DO eat when you are hungry!  This is not about starvation and deprivation.  REMEMBER THAT!  It's about nourishing your body and fueling it well, so that it runs more efficiently.  If you are hungry, EAT!  This is another example of why it's good to prepare and always have food available.  If you have snacks prepackaged or you have fresh fruit and veggies in your fridge, you can easily prepare a snack that is healthy.  If you are consistently feeling like you are hungry or never satisfied, look at what you are eating and make sure you are eating enough protein and healthy fats.  This doesn't mean you have a free pass to eat all day just because you are bored.  Don't confuse stress or boredom with hunger, but if you really ARE hungry then you should listen to your body and eat!

DO make your food look appetizing!  I never used to arrange my food in any certain way on my plate or care about the colors.  I certainly didn't garnish my food or make my plate look photo ready.  Now, I do.  It does not take me hardly any extra time to throw a little garnish or place my food carefully on my plate.  When I sit down to eat and I have a plate that looks beautiful, I am excited to eat what I have prepared and there's also a sense of pride in what I have created.  It sounds silly, but this has been something that I and my family have really enjoyed.  It makes our meals more of an experience and that is a good thing. 

DO keep track of what you eat!  Since the day I started the Strong Lola 30 Day Challenge, and even in the month since it's ended...I take a picture of every meal I eat on my phone.  This does a few things for me.  It keeps me honest.  If there's bad stuff on my plate, it's gonna be in the picture.  It's easier for me than having to write everything down.  I don't need a pen and paper and my phone is always with me so it works well and I've accumulated quite the library of "food porn" as we like to call it!  It also goes hand in hand with making my food look appetizing.  I want to create meals that are photo worthy!  Try it for a week.  And if you want even more accountability, start a blog and post your daily meals!  It's also fun to send your pics to friends that are also watching what they eat to share ideas and get that reaffirmation that you are doing a good job!

DO be flexible and forgiving with yourself and others that are not making the same choice as you!  Sometimes you will HAVE to eat out or you may find yourself unprepared.  DO THE BEST YOU CAN.  Most restaurants will cook food to order.  Just be sure to ask lots of questions.  If you are at a Mexican food restaurant, order chicken or beef and ask for grilled veggies and/or guacamole INSTEAD of rice and beans.  Don't freak out or become a food "Nazi".  Having grilled veggies that were grilled in regular butter or vegetable oil is better than eating a cheese enchilada.  And if you make a mistake or choose to have a cheat, do it and then get back on track the next meal without beating yourself up!  I find when I beat myself up, it almost gives me a license to really go crazy because I feel like all is lost anyway.  That is not the case.  You are human.  Move on and do better next meal.

DO workout!  They say you can't outrun a bad diet.  Well, you can't just eat healthy and get fit either.  You need the two parts working hand in hand to be truly strong and fit!  It was hard for me at first, because my body was not accustomed to functioning on good, real, healthy food.  I was tired and felt bad.  I was weak in the gym and I wanted to just forget going most days, but I hung in there and eventually I felt MUCH better and I could see real changes both in my appearance AND in my performance in the gym.
As I think about my conversation with my attorney, I regret not telling him how great I feel first thing.  I wish I would've shown him the AMAZING pictures on my phone of the delicious and healthy food that I DO get to enjoy every day.  I'm DONE with DON'Ts and ready to focus on the DOs!  Be confident in your ability to succeed and if you're not sure at first...DO the DOs and fake it til you make it!  Try this approach and see if you feel differently about the choice you've made to get stronger and healthier.  Look at this as an opportunity rather than a struggle.  It may make more of a difference than you think!