“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!

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!

What Body Positive means to me

Sometimes I hesitate to post things in fear that they will be misconstrued. Pretty much anything can offend someone now, and that’s just the time we live in. We also live in a time where people like me have a platform to explain and possibly educate others on certain topics; or at least spark some thoughts and provide a different perspective; or maybe even validate what someone has been feeling already.

I am a “body positive” advocate and that is how I train my clients, women AND men. When that term first started coming out, it made me gag a little. It drove me nuts that people were “perpetuating obesity” as a healthy way of life. But then I thought about what it meant to me, and maybe that’s what some others thought as well. Maybe we didn’t have to let it get hijacked by those who wanted excuses to not put in effort to take care of their body.

I don’t believe there is a certain “look” of health. We set goals based off of what my clients want to do in life. I don’t think that bodyweight is the determining factor of someone’s overall health. I also believe that healthy individuals value their amazing bodies, and want to maintain or improve them so they can be the best version of themselves.

To me, it does not mean that you are morbidly obese with Type II diabetes and high blood pressure, but that you are healthy and should “rock it.” It is not my place to tell you what you need to do, but in my opinion if you are body positive, that means you appreciate your body. If you appreciate your body, you will take care of it the best you possibly can. That means practicing some sort of exercise in our sedentary lives. (I’m a huge fan of weight lifting for everyone, literally everyone, and that doesn’t mean competitive bodybuilding or powerlifting, but we’ll touch on that another time.) That means thinking about the things you put in and on your body. That means actually being proactive about ensuring your body stays healthy, not just saying “eff it, this is how I am and you have to like it and say that I am attractive, health risks and all!”

To me, body positive means valuing the things your body is capable of, not comparing it to *insert anybody who isn’t you.* It doesn’t matter how much you weigh, but it matters that you overcame your fear of the gym, and now are doing deadlifts! It doesn’t matter if you have a size 27 inch waist, but it matters that you have built the strength you need to take the kayaking trip you have been planning for years! It doesn’t matter if you are “heavier” than some chart says you should be, but it matters that you put in the effort to make smart decisions when it comes to what foods and activities your body needs.

Look at the amazing things that you are able to do because of your body. Walking, running, standing up, carrying groceries, going on hikes, playing sports, etc. Body positive means feeding the machine that gets you through life, both literally and metaphorically. Be kind to yourself. If you are nervous that someone is going to notice something on your body you don’t like, ask yourself: “Why would I care what they think?” “Why would I give that other person any power over how I view myself?” This is your O.W.N. journey, and you control the outcome.

If you have thoughts or would like to share what body positive means to you, please send it via Facebook or email: shealeonardpt@gmail.com! Let’s have people hear your story too!

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!