I feel ________ (squishy, chunky, etc.)

“I FEEL CHUNKY.”

I have heard this from several people in my life recently. Some are just saying it as a statement with no negative intent, and some are saying it because it’s making them doubt themselves or feel sad. I just want to tell them they aren’t and it wouldn’t matter if they did gain weight, but I don’t want to make anyone’s feelings less valid. I understand that bodies change, and sometimes we don’t love what they do… but maybe we should focus more on why things are happening instead of just getting upset that it did happen. I’m a health positive advocate, meaning I care about overall health, first and foremost, and do not base that off of weight.

What is the worst thing if you did gain a little weight? Are you still you? Are you any less of a person because of a fluctuation? Is your overall health still good (lungs, heart, brain?) If a little “squish” is the worst thing happening to you right now, I’d say that you’re doing pretty well. I know it may seem like a bad thing, but it may not be! Maybe your body is trying to protect you or tell you something?! Try to give yourself some grace right now. Use this time to heal, to listen to your body, and to take care of yourself.

I understand that we all may feel certain ways about our bodies, and that sometimes we can’t help but feel we are being judged for how we look. We may feel uncomfortable sometimes and have things we don’t like, and I know I definitely have times where I don’t love how I look and feel. BUT I know there is a balance that we can all find, and it’s different for everyone. I have done so much work to heal my body after torturing it for years. It’s taken a lot of work with a lot of support, but I have been able to learn what my body is telling me a lot of the time. We can teach ourselves to listen to our bodies and if we pay attention, we can address things that need to be and accept and embrace our individual selves.

So, I feel squishy and watery, why?! It could be something salty I ate. It could be hormones that are out of sorts a little and trying to adjust themselves. It could be that I have been having a glass of wine or beer that my body is not used to. It’s not the end of the world, and after you do a little work to see what’s going on, you can address how you feel mentally and physically.

If you don’t like what I just said, that’s fine, but here is some science-based info on what may be happening right now if you are feeling squishier than you’d like:

Water retention, which can have several causes. A lot of us are not drinking the same amount of water compared to a few months ago. We are all in a heightened stress state right now, whether you feel it or not, and that means there is probably a little more stress hormone (cortisol) running through your body. Due to stress or just the changes that have happened we may be drinking more coffee and/or alcohol. These changes can all be part of what is causing this feeling, and here are a few possible explanations, and some tips on how to adjust them (if you want to.)

Dehydration- Did you know that if you drink more water, you retain less? It’s a biological response to hold water when it is scarce. Your body decides to hold onto water when you’re dehydrated because it’s not sure when you will get more, and it is vital for survival. Not sure if you’re dehydrated? Look at your pee. It should be a pale-yellow color, and if it’s darker, work on increasing water intake slowly each day. (You can do it all at once if you don’t trust me, but you will pee constantly and have a real bad time.) Keep a water bottle nearby, and check in with yourself throughout the day to see how much you’re drinking. (P.S. I realized how little water I have had today as I was writing this. Even if you know something, that doesn’t mean you always are perfect at it. Be kind to yourself and do what you can.)

Stress- What does cortisol and stress have to do with how I look and feel? A. LOT. When your body is stressed and cortisol levels increase, that causes a spike in the hormone that controls water balance in the body, known as the anti-diuretic hormone or ADH. Prolonged stress can also lead to other issues such as Adrenal Fatigue (but I am not qualified to diagnose/treat any of these. I know people though, so please ask if you think this may be a problem for you.) What can you do to help with stress? Meditate. There are a ton of free apps out there if you are like me and have a hard time doing self-guided meditation (I use one called Stop, Breathe, Think.) You could try to minimize unnecessary stressors in life, like reading article after article of negative information. Stay informed, but pay attention to body language, and if you start to realize your shoulders are migrating towards your ears, maybe that’s enough for the day.

Alcohol and caffeine- These are both psychoactive substances, meaning they affect your brain, which is why we take them. Alcohol slows things down and caffeine speeds things up… can you see where this is headed? It’s VERY easy to have a drink with dinner, go to bed, and wake up tired. Then you have some coffee because you’re tired. Then you are super awake since you pounded coffee all day and now you just need something to relax. If this sounds like you, please know I am not judging at all. I have done the same thing at points in my life, and it’s a challenging habit to start breaking, but totally doable. Start by cutting the daily amount down by either limiting each serving, or cutting down on frequency.

Sleep- Everyone knows we need it, but it’s still a challenge for a lot of us. A lot of times our sleep is disrupted due to the three things we already discussed: dehydration, stress, and psychoactive substances like coffee and alcohol.  You’re dehydrated so you’re thirsty. You drink a bunch of water before bed, and now you have to pee several times in the night. You’re stressed out and can’t shut your brain off. Then you stress out about only getting 7, 6, 5, hours of sleep and it takes even longer (or maybe that is just me.) You can’t sleep because you have coffee too late, and now you want a nightcap. You fall asleep, but alcohol decreases the time of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep which is where your body gets to recover. Then you wake up tired and have some coffee. Your sleep is super important, and by working on improving habits listed above, you can hopefully improve your sleep habits. This will in turn help with stress and allow you to feel better throughout the day. You may not need as much coffee to feel alive. You may not feel as stressed throughout the day because you had a nice deep sleep the night before.

I hope this has been helpful, and has given you some things to think about. Regardless if this is the cause of your “squishy” feeling or not, improving these areas is only going to help benefit your overall health. You can only control so much in life, and you get to choose to do something about it, or just talk about it. One is a positive and the other is a neutral, at best… you decide what you want to do, and if you want help, I am always here for you.

 

O.W.N. your body. O.W.N. your strength. O.W.N. your life!

X- Shea

  P.S. Jack Jack is always a little chunky, and he loves life. Be like Jack Jack (loving life no matter what.)

Photo credit: dirtiedogphotography.com (Marika is the best! Check it out and if you’re in Seattle, she can capture your furry, scaly, or hairy loved ones and all of their personality!)

 

 

Balance in Chaos

I feel like this topic always applies, but especially during our current situation. Collectively, we are going through something that has never happened in our lifetimes, and who really knows how to handle it?

It’s stressful. We are constantly being bombarded with the fear mongering television or newspaper articles. All of them providing coverage almost exclusively about the ‘doom’ in the world with big, red, headlines, and a tiny spikey photo. Constant posts on social media that are “facts that so and so heard from their cousin’s, ex-boyfriend’s, third grade classmate’s, sister.” We hear stories about how people seem to be so selfish, they are literally buying up entire quantities of items so they can either sell them for more (really? THIS is your opportunity?) or just had ‘fomo’ when they saw someone else’s cart was full of one thing, so they needed it too. (Side note: HOW much are you going to the bathroom? If you need multiple warehouse sized packages of toilet paper, you either have 12 people at home, you’re selfish and entitled, or maybe talk to a doctor about that if you NEED that much.)

Most of the ranty bits aside, we also have the opportunity to see several positives during this time. Some people are choosing to be more kind, thoughtful, and caring, individuals that are helping when and where they can. Some people are using this as an opportunity to improve a skill, learn something new, or just taking a moment for themselves; regardless which one you are doing, you are right. Do what you need to right now and check in with yourself often. Personally, one of my favorite positive things in this chaos, is that some people are using this time to find creative ways to perform things that were in their routine formerly known as “normal.” Adaptation, progression, and stimulation are all key things we need as humans.

 I am so PROUD of my people and selfishly, this makes me feel like I have accomplished something big. I have always strived to inspire my clients to seek out knowledge, educate them to the best of my abilities, and to improve my own education so I continue to be a resource for them. My goal is to teach them what they’re doing and why, instead of just putting them through the motions because ‘it’s hard.’ I am so proud to brag about my clients. When the gyms were ordered to close, I had a moment where I was bummed and nervous, for my clients, myself, and for the entire industry, honestly.  After that, I started thinking about how to adapt to the situation and what I could do to help. I could adjust my client’s programs to be done with equipment they have at home (or items that could be equipment) to start, and then plan for my business going forward.

One thing that has been the biggest positive in my world right now is my network of clients. They are amazing, and I don’t care how many times I have said it! They. Are. Amazing! It makes me so happy to hear that they are trying to keep movement and activity in their lives, because they WANT to, not because they feel like they MUST. They understand that it’s more than a ‘fitness’ routine, but an all-encompassing ‘health and wellness’ routine. They like the mental stimulation and change of scenery while working at home. Normal household items are now being adapted as weights, and they’re progressing their knowledge of different exercise modalities, and adding them into their routine. Some see this as an opportunity to focus on areas of mobility that need improving, mind-body connection, and breathing techniques. Some are taking this time off from working out to deal with what’s going on in their own way, for which I am equally proud.

I have such a fun mix of clients that includes everyone, all ages, various professions, but we all have one thing in common: exercise is important to us, and we understand balance. It’s okay that they don’t exercise the same days they had in the past. It’s okay if they want to take a week or two off. It’s okay to be worried about things and use exercise to process OR escape for a moment. It’s their choice to do whatever they want in their day, and whatever is best for them.

One thing that I would ask us all to do, is to be kind and compassionate. Don’t put others down to feel better about your choices and how you’re managing your own life right now. Try not to judge how other people process things and handle this time in our lives. Some people want to stay busy, learn five languages, knit a huge blanket, workout with homemade equipment and try to maintain their normal routine. Some people want to lay in a pillow fort, binge watching shows, baking endlessly to supply their tv time with treats, and don’t want to do anything. If it’s not your life, worry about yourself. We all need more positivity in our lives, now more than ever, so don’t add to the doom.

If you want to share positive things in your life (pet photos, something you saw on your walk, a happy link you have, etc..,) something that you have learned, or a great book to read/show to watch, please feel free to reach out to shea@ownfitnesspnw.com. You may also check out my YouTube Channel (O.W.N. Fitness) for some short instructional videos on home workouts. OH, and drink some water! Stay home, stay healthy, and stay strong!

“Stuff Happens”

 

We all know the other version of that phrase, but I am trying to be professional right now. Sometimes in life, stuff happen. Challenges that you are faced with, and you get to decide how to respond. It can be as simple as someone taking a parking spot you were going for. You can’t control that someone took the spot you wanted, but you CAN control how you move forward, or IF you move forward. Are you going to let that make you angry and ruin your day? Maybe. Are you going to be mildly annoyed, park a little further away, and go on about your day? It just depends on you and your emotional awareness at the time.

I bring this up because I recently dislocated my right shoulder… for the fifth time. I have had consistent knee injuries the past 10 years (ACL tears, meniscus tears, dislocations, bone bruises, ect.,) have dislocated both shoulders 3-5 times each, A/C separation on my left shoulder, SLAP tear on my left shoulder, sprained ankles, broken toes, and honestly I could go on. A lot, right? Some of these injuries were absolutely my fault, meaning: something felt weird, my stupid “athlete mentality” told me to push through it, and boom, something is not as it should be. Some of them, including this most recent one, just shouldn’t have happened, but it did.

Now I am faced with 2-6 weeks in a sling on my dominant arm (and a super sore neck,) modifying everything I have been working on in the gym, training 4-12 people daily, and everything taking twice as long. When I put it like that, it sounds depressing and sad. But, I am not depressed or sad. I am grateful that it wasn’t my knee again. I have accept that it happened, and as much as it sucks, I refuse to let it ruin my day (or the next 14-42 days.) I do slightly feel like I have let my clients down in some way, but I am so fortunate to have amazing clients/friends, that have all honestly made me feel better. Not one of them has related my injuries with my ability to coach and support them reaching their goals. Each person that I interact with has shown compassion, has been willing to help even though I am stubborn and don’t like needing help. All of my people *see previous post on finding your people* inspired me to stay positive, and to keep taking care of myself so I can hopefully avoid this in the future, or be better prepared to deal with it.

I say “hopefully” because no matter how much “injury prevention” you do, sometimes “stuff happens.” This shouldn’t have happened since I have been strengthening my shoulders for several years, but it did. It shouldn’t have happened considering that I can do several other, more challenging, actions and not get injured, but it did. It shouldn’t have happened because I see people with the worst movement patterns and too much load come out completely unscathed, but it did. I could get upset that I have been dealing with injuries pretty consistently most of my life. I could get upset and think about how “great I could be, if only…,”  and I could be annoyed having to hear everyone’s input on how I shouldn’t do certain things and should probably stop working out (no joke,) but I am not. Stuff happens! I will work on rehabbing this one while continuing to do my best to prevent future ones. I will allow everyone to tell me their opinions because I know that behind their words is thoughtfulness and care, even if that is not how it comes across at first. When it comes down to it, I know my body, and I know what I need to do.

The reason I am writing this is not for sympathy, it is to remind you that sometimes things happen. Sometimes, life throws you curveballs. Sometimes things don’t go your way, and you have the choice to make on how you deal with it. I chose to not let this injury make me upset and dwell.  I allowed myself time to process that it occurred, be sad for a little bit, and pull it together to set up a plan to recover and go on about life. I have been applying my annoyingly positive attitude to this, taken a look at all of the wonderful people that I interact with and support me, and decided that I am going to use it to become better than I was before.

What stuff has happened in your life that you wish you handled differently? OR what challenging situation are you proud of your response?

P.S. No, the pull ups in the photo are not how I injured my shoulder. That was from my workout prior to the injury. 😉

It’s Baking Season, Wha Whaaaa?!

Warning: It’s a long one!

It’s the best time of year! No, not Fall/Autumn, although I won’t argue with that, but no. It’s baking season. The time of year where you can bake homemade goods to your heart’s content, and not overheat your whole house!

If you have met me, you know that I really enjoy baking, and have been doing so for over 20 years. It started with my Grandma Leonard when I was around 5 or 6. She always made pies and would let me help by “crimping” the crust (shaping it to look pretty/ sealing the top and bottom crusts together.) From there, she taught me how to make the crust from scratch, and her tricks for kneading the dough just enough to make it super flaky. I would make some gross creations as a kid (all edible, just odd combinations and a chance of raw cookie dough as a “crust,”) but it taught me patience and provided an outlet for creativity. Now, it is one of my favorite ways to “disconnect” and take time for myself.

I love baking for the same reason I love lifting weights- it’s amazing what you can do/create, it involves failure which provides opportunities to get better, and it brings people together.  It’s a way that I can show that I genuinely care, and it comes from the heart. I have tried new ways to make things have more nutritional value (less added sugars, possibly some protein,) but not seem like the recipe is altered at all. I have modified recipes for food allergies, and I have definitely made some “protein brownies” that the texture and taste of a dry sponge. It’s all exciting and once a bake is complete, I feel a sense of accomplishment, just like after a lift.

I know what you’re thinking- having your trainer talk to you about baked goods can be conflicting right?

My opinion: I have mentioned “balance” several time before, and this is a perfect example. Some people have an “impending doom” feeling around this time of year because of all of the delicious baked goods and desserts that will be readily available and seemingly irresistible. I hear what they’re saying, BUT… you need to be able to live your life, and that life might include a homemade pie or some cookies here and there, and that is OKAY! I like talking to my clients about this stuff because it provides a platform to educate them about how to have balance in their life. I can hopefully encourage them to trust themselves when making food decisions, and educate them on how their bodies process what they put into it. It is important that they have established that inner trust and do not need to feel restricted or have “guilt” around certain foods.

The three main arguments I hear are usually: 1) So you tell your clients to eat pie all the time?! 2) That’s dumb, aren’t you a trainer, is that just job security? 3) Isn’t that just giving them an excuse to eat crappy food and never get better?

My answers to those: I can’t make a decision for anyone, but I can help make sure they are knowledgeable about how their body works and what happens when they eat different things. I make sure they know that it is okay to have some pie as long as they are listening to their bodies, and paying attention how things make them feel. If they need to eat a whole pie and feel sick to their stomach to learn, guess what, they learned and hopefully now they are self aware enough to not do that again- NOT because I told them, but because they now know how THEY feel.

Encouraging them to make their own decisions is why I have job security. We are in a time that it’s easy to get caught up in the “no pain, no gain,” “Low calorie ice cream so you can eat the whole thing,” “food guilt,” nonsense, and I have definitely taken part of that myself.  This is why I coach people through their workouts, and let THEM control what they eat. I am happy to give advice or my opinion on foods, but I do not dicatate what they can/can’t eat, and I refuse to cause the endless cycle of restricting> binging> guilt> restricting> and so on!

And on that note, favorite pies to make:

Savory- Chicken Pot Pie

Sweet- Chocolate Cream Pie (to eat), Marionberry Pie (to make)

Live your lives and revel in the season of baking!! What is your favorite thing to bake, or something that you have always wanted to try?

FIND YOUR PEOPLE!

This applies to life in general in my opinion, not just the gym. Sometimes we can get caught up with people that we think we should like. We’re drawn to something about them, and it might be good or it might be bad. In the past, I was constantly worried about “looking like a dude” if I had muscle. How did that thought get in my head? I had some of the wrong people in my life.

Full disclosure, when I started doing strength training, it was purely for vanity purposes. I wanted to “look good” and have people think that I was attractive or whatever “looking good” entailed. So, when people I was close with started to tell me that I should stop working out because I was starting to look like a man, it really hurt my feelings, and only made me workout more and eat less. What they could have done instead was mentioned that they cared about my health and wanted me to be healthy and happy, OR just not commented on my body that I was so clearly uncomfortable in.  

The cool thing is, I have no hard feelings towards those people. I now see that they were just very unhappy with themselves, and were threatened that I was trying to make myself “better,” while they were perfectly okay with staying unhappy. I didn’t realize at the time those weren’t my people; even though I was wearing dresses, low cut shirts, 6” heels, a full face of makeup, and pretty much anything screaming for attention, I just thought I had to be uncomfortable and eventually I would get used to it. Now that I have amazing individuals in my life, I am wearing what I like and what I am comfortable in, which is workout clothes and Vans/Chucks, or if we’re going somewhere that that is not acceptable or I am feeling “fancy,” it’s jeans, a shirt or tank, and nicer Vans/Chucks.

Now that I have found who I am, I can confidently build relationships with the people that I chose to have in my life. The gym has been a key part to this process. If I hadn’t started lifting, I would never have left that toxic environment. I would never have moved to a new city I had never been to, never got a job at a gym, never made great friends (including my now husband,) built confidence in myself- mind and body, and I would not have the wonderful network of positivity in my life. Now I have people who think it’s cool that I like to pick up heavy stuff, and understand that I do it for fun (because they do too!) Now I have people who say that I am “strong” instead of commenting on the size of ANYTHING on my body (unless it’s in a good way #hamstringgoals.)

If you are starting to work on your health and fitness, and you have people making that seem like a negative thing, take some time to think about if they are worth having in your life. If so, call them out on it! Tell them how important your health is to you, and why what they are saying makes you feel negative. I say “health and fitness” because my journey did not start out as healthy at all. Your “people” will support you, ask questions and check in, and maybe even go to the gym with you. They will snap you out of “a funk” when you start to say negative things about your body, strength, confidence, ect. (shout out to my husband, Adrian, for working on this with me for years! It’s our anniversary and the photo is from our wedding!) Your people should add positivity to your life and care about you, and in return you will add positivity to their lives. You get to a point where you keep bringing each other up to the next level and growing as individuals and together. IT IS SO COOL!

If you’re not sure who your people are yet, work towards your “why,” and it will just happen. (psst-> https://ownfitnesspnw.com/2019/07/31/why-why-why/ ) Find your people that make you want to O.W.N. the day, the week, the year! Find your people that see you O.W.N. your life, and get inspired to do the same!

P.S. If you’re reading this, I consider you some of my people!

Why? WHY?! WHY!

Find your “why” to get to the what! So deep and moody huh? Seriously though.

Why do you want to go to the gym? To lose weight? Why? To get jacked? Why? Because you know you’re supposed to? Why? A lot of times, people have a goal, but don’t really dig into why that is their goal. If someone told you that you should eat only cornflakes, would you just blindly follow them? If so, you’d probably be a really easy client to have, but you wouldn’t get the results that you COULD if you knew the why behind that. *I am NOT saying to do that… with any food.*

The why behind your actions will help you truly connect to the process, help with accountability, and make it more realistic because it’s something only you can decide and it’s what YOU want.

The goal of “weight loss” is a perfect example:

  • We still need the why behind each goal. Do you want to lose weight because you “should” so you feel healthier? What is healthy to you? Being able to do the activities you want to do?
  • Do you want to “look” a certain way? Why do you want to look that way? Are you wanting to look like YOUR version of that, or an exact copy. Spoiler: One of those thoughts can cause some serious issues with food and fitness relationships.  
  • What about your health specifically do you think would improve with weighing less? Heart rate so you don’t feel winded as often? Cool, let’s focus on building your cardiovascular capacity as our main goal and let the weight not be our focus.
  • Is it hard to get up and down because you don’t have the strength and balance to do so? Cool, let’s work on strength and balance first and see how you feel.

If you go in with the only goal of “weight loss” or a vague idea, you will have a huge range of emotions. Mostly frustration and disappointment because the scale will never be a true statement of progress. It measures your weight, not health. The mirror is slightly more dependable, but not when you compare yourself to others, only your past self.

I workout because I enjoy being strong. I workout because it’s stress relief and helps keep me sane. I workout because being strong makes me happy and feel confident. I love the feeling of a challenge, and I am constantly adapting and accomplishing mini goals (and valuing the little wins for how important they are.) The sense of joy I get from working out is so powerful, I chose to make it my career. It saved my life, and I feel that I can influence someone to help make their lives more positive through being active. That is my why.

What is your why?! Reach out on IG: @ownfitnesspnw or FB: facebook.com/ownfitnesspnw and let me know!

LISTEN to your body!

Most people think that the hardest part about reaching your fitness goals is making it to the gym. For some that may be true, but personally, I have a hard time listening to my body when I should NOT go to the gym. I love working out; it’s a great escape for my brain from everything else I have going on, and as silly as it sounds, it’s my “me time.” I try not to think about work, the dogs, what’s for dinner, the dishes that are in the sink, how dirty my car is, nothing. I feel great and can manage my thoughts better afterwards. The hard part for me is to remember more isn’t always better, and although I know this, I still have a hard time putting it into practice.

I recently went to visit my family for the Fourth of July. They live in a small town and my dad organizes the fireworks show there. That means that we help get the fireworks moved, built, wired, taken down, and moved back again. Now add that to my normal lifting schedule, sleeping on a different mattress, and bookend it with 6 hour drives. As I write this out, it would only make sense to take a day or two off, or maybe have a light week. Guess what I did the day I got back? Deadlifts… or I tried. They felt awful, I was tired, and the weight was super heavy. I left feeling annoyed and like I should have stayed home. Luckily, I stopped before I hurt myself,  but I should have let my body recover more, and gone back when I was ready and crushed it.

I could have listened to my body saying that it was tired when it was more challenging than normal to get up off of the ground after playing with the dogs. I could have listened when I felt my whole body giving on lazy vibes taking forever to get ready. I could have listened when I was more focused on the annoying people at the gym than on my own warm up. I could have, but I didn’t, even though I know better. I am not worried anymore that I will lose results if I don’t go, and I know that recovery is immensely important, and yet I still made this mistake. But, instead of going back again today to make up for my poor workout- I took a rest day!

              Instead of pushing my body even harder when it is so clearly telling me to rest, I chose to do some light mobility work, organize a bunch of files I have been neglecting, work on my business and write to all of you wonderful peeps. I am sharing my story because we all need reminders, even if this is just to myself. I need to make time for my body to recover. I need to make time for my brain to recover and find other ways to manage my stress. You need to listen to your body when it comes to a workout. It is okay to take rest days. It is okay to need time away from the gym. You will not “fall off the wagon” for missing one day, and you will be better prepared for your next workout when you allow proper recovery.

              Our bodies are amazing and we should treat them as such! What do you guys do to help keep balance with the gym?

Positive > Negative

It’s very easy to have a negative mindset, sometimes without even realizing it. If we are constantly telling ourselves these small, negative statements, eventually it adds up. ‘Oh, my left leg is my weaker leg because it’s injured from high school.’ (*A statement I have actually said/thought for years.) Instead of saying that your left leg isn’t good enough and staying attached to an injury that happened ten years ago, try saying “non- dominant” instead of weak. You WERE injured, but you’re not now. Your brain controls your body, right? If you’re always telling your brain that “I’m injured,” your body will act as if it is. If you tell yourself that it’s getting stronger, you will start to notice new things that you can do.

I hear people all the time say that they just want to “tone” but they don’t want to get “too big.” My first instinct for a long time was to roll my eyes… and then I remember that I definitely have said those statements before. Now I know how to dig a little deeper with the client and say “tone means muscle tone, so we can help build some muscle so they show more.” Or “how big is too big? Professional bodybuilders?” And I can explain that it will never accidentally happen, and it’s actually really hard to get “big.”

Things to think about when you talk about the gym:

Muscle > Bulky.

Non dominant > Weak.

I get to workout > I have to workout.

Progress > Failure.

I firmly believe that the effort you put in mentally will determine if you are successful or not. As you work on these positive thoughts, don’t get discouraged if you have a hard time changing. You may not be good at them YET, but try to keep working on it, and the positivity will just feed off itself. Eventually, you may even be “annoyingly positive” like I claim to be! (Trust me, it’s great!!)

I’d love to hear more examples of how you have used the power of positivity to help accomplish your goals!

Gym Dread

Sometimes we allow others to influence our feelings. This can happen anywhere in life; while getting groceries, while shopping for clothes, going to the gym, anywhere. That one person who is in a permanent state of “bad mood.” It can turn you off to the whole idea of the place you encountered them at, and make you dread going there.

I grew up playing sports, but weight lifting and the gym setting was sort of intimidating to me. I assumed that everyone was going to be watching everything I did and criticizing it. All of those people who knew what they were doing would see me, and instantly know I was new and doing stuff wrong. One example: I used to do squats without squeezing my glutes because I was worried people would see me clenching my butt. No joke, I intentionally did a movement wrong in fear that someone would see me do it right. What if they were mean to me because I am new and not as strong as them? Not a thing. Years later, I now realize how silly and unrealistic my fears were. Who cares what others think of me in the gym?! I wasn’t doing it for them, but I still built up dread in my mind that they felt I didn’t belong there.

Now I know that most people there are focusing on what THEY are doing, rather than others around them. I started out by being intimidated by others, and now I may even be perceived as intimidating (until you meet me and realize I am super nice and just love working out.) I have muscle, I wear a baseball cap low, have several visible tattoos, and I lift heavy.

Remebering how I started has shaped who I am now. If I notice someone looking at me or we make eye contact, I smile or nod. I am not saying that every time someone looks at you at the gym you need to smile. You do you, but I chose to smile to let them know I am happy they are there. My mission is to open their minds to the idea that maybe we don’t have anything else in common, but we have the gym, and that is pretty awesome.

Be kind to each other, and stick with it, even if it is a little scary at first. Stay focused on why you started and try not to compare yourself to others. If you’re finding yourself dreading the gym, maybe look into a workout buddy or personal trainer (another blog coming soon on finding the good ones.) They can help ease you into the workouts, build confidence, and keep you accountable. Plus, trainers are kind of like your gym bodyguards. They will make sure you get what you need to done. You don’t have to worry about other people intimidating you because they will keep you grounded and focused, instead of building up dread around things that aren’t true.

On the rare occasion someone is rude to you in the gym, that is absolutely their problem and has nothing to do with you. I have found that “killing them with kindness” truly does work, and try to brush it off and know that you belong there as much as anyone!