Why You Can’t Give Up, Ever

Why You Can’t Give Up, Ever

I have a funny story for you.

About 3 weeks ago, I started a “30-day get-back-into-shape” plan. I’d just come off a bad spell – including a weekend in the hospital. That’s a long story all on its own, which I’ll write about soon (when I’m feeling brave).

Basically, though, I was sick of feeling sick.

My plan was going great. I was working out every day (just right, not too much), making headway on some business and personal stuff, and I was happy with the progress I was making.

Seriously, even though I was concentrating mostly on cardio exercises during the first week (part of that long story), I was getting stronger. One night I had my group training session clients do some sun salutations, and I was surprised at how easily I could lower into chaturanga without going to the floor, and push into full upward-facing dog.

It felt amazing.

In fact, that’s when I started thinking about putting together a real 30-day plan for this blog, that I could do in real-time with my readers. How awesome would that be? (Awesome!)

And then that let me to think:

“Slow down, speed racer. You know how it’s gone these past few years. If you make this a ‘thing,’ you’re gonna jinx yourself. Instead, write about it offline as you go, get the 30 days done, and THEN publish it for readers to follow along with.”

‘Ha, Ha, Ha!’ Saith The Universe

The next morning I woke up at my usual time and walked the dog. I noticed I felt colder than usual and generally “off.” I couldn’t seem to warm up when we came inside, so I took my temp.

It was 94 degrees … on two different thermometers.

Now, on the one hand having a low temp wasn’t shocking, as I was just coming out of a significant thyroid “crisis,” caused by a medical snafu (that long story I referred to above). And I always run a low temp anyway (again, thyroid).

But on the other hand, that’s ridiculous. I bundled up, drank some hot tea, and kept moving, and eventually my temp came up a little bit, so I went to work.

By nighttime, I was downright sick, with a real fever this time, and for the next three days all I did was sleep.

That meant I missed a major exam I was supposed to take for an advanced qualification I was working toward. Plus, I’m self-employed, so my income took yet another hit (part of the long story).

Mostly though, I basically 1) felt like shit and 2) was beyond embarrassed by this nonstop barrage of problems. Plus, I was exhausted and I looked like a stoner because I was so tired.

Not very fit-spirational!

To top it all off, I developed shingles … and out of the blue my knee started hurting, which made me walk with a limp.

Did you ever see the old Mary Tyler Moore show, where she goes through a bad spell? It’s considered one of the top 100 sitcom episodes of all time – it’s called Put on a Happy Face. It’s a classic because we can all relate to it.

When I went to see my doc, a few more things came up (part of that long story, having to do with thyroid issues).

We agreed: I was in the midst of a bonafide “spell.” Like, all I could do was laugh. But … also not laugh.

Because how would I turn things around?

How to Get Out of a Rut

… or stop getting your ass kicked, and start kicking ass instead.

I already knew the answer, and I sure wish it was sexier. There’s only one real way to move forward, even if you’re in the middle of a “spell.” 

The bad news: It’s the opposite of following a 30-day plan.

Now, I already knew all this based on my numerous (ha!) years of experience both living my life and coaching others. But the thing is, like everyone else on the planet, I wanted a plan that took me from A to B to C … preferably as fast as possible.

The good news: The key to moving forward is simple, whether or not you’re in a spell.

You just have to keep moving ahead, probably more slowly than you like, at least to start.

The bad news part two: You have to be patient, do stuff you might not always want to do, and get a little uncomfortable from time to time.

Seriously, I’ve used the whole “be patient, take your time, do a little bit of something every single day” routine numerous times. It’s how I got into fitness in the first place, after a partially misspent youth. It’s also how I achieved my goal of writing for major newsstand magazines, got a publishing deal on a book, trained for and finished a triathlon, prepared for a bodybuilding show, and more.

Chances are you won’t move toward your end goal in a straight line, and you might even back up/move sideways a little. You might even move at a snail’s pace.

Also, chances are you are gonna have to make some trade-offs along the way. 

We’ve all seen the meme:


It’s pretty accurate.

And none of this means you can’t follow a 30-day plan. But what it does mean is that it might take 45 (or more) days. You might change vehicles mid-trip. You might decide you actually enjoy the scenery on a particular detour, and you could even change your ultimate destination.

The thing is, you just can’t stop.

Here’s my plan. Do a little working out every day. Load up my diet with nutrient-dense foods (I have a great recipe tomorrow). If I’m tired, rest.

Reevaluate in a week.

Are you ready to start with me? I have a feeling that the trip is gonna be worth it.

Being Present When Your Late Father Drops By (or Vice Versa)

Being Present When Your Late Father Drops By (or Vice Versa)

Today is the last day of the “be present” challenge in my Facebook group. And as a result, today’s post is a little bit (or a lot) stream of consciousness, so bear with me, please.

Basically, this challenge is all about getting out of our heads – out of dwelling in the past or worrying about the future – and living in the now.

And it’s been good. In fact, this now-ness is something I’ve been especially mindful of over the past year. Because, not to be all cliche about it, but “now” is all we really have, yes?

But today … oy vey, today.

First, I had strange dreams last night, which made my sleep weird. My father (who died 32 years ago)  made a little drive-by appearance in my dream just before I woke up. Now, I am not one who dreams often about people who have passed away, so this was a little shocking.

I didn’t get to see him up-close, but I was aware that he was around. And come to find out, he had left a message for me at the front desk at the hotel we had been staying at in my dream. 

And this message was mostly gibberish, and the clerk hadn’t even been going to give it to me because it made no sense, but I insisted:

Sinka inka dinka do 

Sooner or later we all sink.

Which had me like, “What?”

And I woke up late and was preoccupied, which put me behind schedule, and I ended up hurrying to the training studio. The good news about my in-person work is that it requires me to be 100 percent present. I trained some clients and taught County Heat Live class. 

During the class though, I kept thinking: “inka-dinka-do.” Like, I’d heard that before, but I didn’t know where or how.

After class, I ran an errand and then stopped by Starbucks for an iced latte (my Saturday treat!), before heading back home. And basically as soon as I sat down to enjoy my latte, the cat knocked it onto the floor and it spilled everywhere.

Seriously: there was ice coffee on the carpet, I found an ice cube 10 feet away (in another room!), the cat freaked out and knocked over some more stuff, and the dog went into hiding.

And things kind of just fell apart from there. When you’re tired, it’s really hard to be present, because your brain gets fussy. And man, was I ever fussy.

I stayed that way for several hours, despite all my oh-so-serious efforts to be PRESENT.

Then the Dog Started Whining

And I’d just walked her an hour earlier, and there were about 15 more things I had to do on my list before 5:30 p.m. rolled around, and I didn’t have time to take her for another walk, but …

I did anyway.

She’s an energetic dog so I try to let her off-leash as much as possible, and that requires running up a steep snowbank. I got a head start and leaped up the hill, just barely missing stepping on this leaf.

And it was so pretty I had to stop and look. And it made me think of the leaves of the Bodhi tree that the Buddha was sitting under when he became enlightened. 

Gold Bodhi leaf skeleton

Now, I’ve always loved Bodhi leaves. In fact, I used to have them in nearly every room in one form or another. This wasn’t intentional, it was just something that had happened.

There are no Bodhi leaves my life now. As the dog and I were heading back home, I started to think about that … and if I should get some, and blahblahblah.

And then: inka-dinka-do. Wasn’t it a children’s song? 

I was pretty sure it was.

As I recall, my dad had really weird musical taste – if you could even call it music. He was more of a computer/science/math kind of guy. But he got a big kick out of things like Spike Jones (basically sound effects along with big band music), or novelty songs like “Puff the Magic Dragon.”

Anyway. Inka Dinka Doo. Jimmy Durante. Totally up his alley. 

And that made me smile. Because how can you not smile and listen that song?

I’m not ready to start thinking about the “sooner or later we all sink” portion of the message. That’s another thought for another day.

But for now, I’m going to smile and say, Goodnight Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.

(You’re welcome to join the Facebook group. Just click here.)

356 Helpful Ways to Make 2017 Awesome (Tips and Tricks!)

356 Helpful Ways to Make 2017 Awesome (Tips and Tricks!)

Even though fitness and working out is super important, let’s face it: most of the good stuff happens outside of the gym, right?

(If you disagree, we have to have a talk, k?)

Anyway, I want to start blogging more about THAT stuff, too, because after all, we are multi-dimensional Renaissance people, yes?

Toward that end, I  have found and/or been forwarded several good reads this week, and I thought I would share them with you. Yes, some of them have to do with working out, but … oh well. There’s still that.

Here’s the thing about these posts.

Most of them have to do with getting out of your comfort zone and getting shit (sorry, I’m kind of in a mood today) done. They are about pushing you just a little bit to try new and/or different things.

Yes, even kale.

Trying new things is fun and it challenges us (see the importance of that in the first tip below).

Ready? Here we go.

356 Tips and Tricks to Make 2017 Awesome

How to Be a SuperAger

This New York Times piece outlines how to age not just well, but in a super-duper way. Basically, it’s all about getting a little uncomfortable – pushing yourself either (or both) mentally and/or physically. 

I think it’s a really interesting concept, and it actually made me push myself a little harder in the gym today during my workout.

How to Exercise 312 Times this Year

This is a no-nonsense approach – complete with cool infographic – to getting over yourself and sticking with your gym habit. It’s not written by a smartypants trainer but by a regular guy.

Which makes it even better, right?

Journal Prompts to Get You Started

Speaking of getting over yourself, I am a big believer in the power of writing to help us do just that (well, at least it helps ME get over MYSELF). It helps me figure things out in my life.

And that makes it sound like a complicated, onerous task, doesn’t it? It really isn’t, not at all. The problem is, we often don’t know what to write about.

Problem solved. This post of 31 daily journal prompts will get you started. Get out your notebook, set a timer for 15 minutes, and write. And hey, you can do it on your computer too. 😀

It’ll be kind of like that workout you didn’t want to do: Once you’re finished, you’ll be glad you did it.

Two Cues to Clean Up Your Turkish Getup

Yes. The Turkish Getup. Tony Gentilcore breaks it down, God love him. (And hey, if any of my clients see this, gimme a shoutout because … you know!) 

Why does this matter so much? Because shoulders, core, hips, and more, that’s why.

How to Make Kale Salad Tolerable

Here’s one that might be worthwhile for my kale haters to read. Kale is a superfood for a reason, but it’s also a little bitter and can be pretty tough.There’s a trick to making kale salad something to look forward to: Give it a massage! (This is not a joke.)

What are YOUR tips to Awesome?

Let me know! Send me a message, leave a comment, or whatever. 

Another Route to Awesomeness …

Join my Facebook group, where we post tons of recipes, challenges, tips and more! It’s free and fun. Sign up now!

The Crazy Way I Got a Fitness Book Deal [Video]

The Crazy Way I Got a Fitness Book Deal [Video]

Ever wanted to write a book? Or wondered how to get a book deal?

The other day I did a Facebook Live stream about how my own book deal came about, along with my thoughts about the process.

It’s below, raw, casual, and live as can be! 

My opportunity to write an Idiot’s Guide book came about organically – I really didn’t seek it out. Basically, I saw an opportunity that seemed like a no-brainer, and I went for it.

Book Deals are Fun, But Don’t Expect $$$

In the live stream, I tried to answer some questions people have asked me over the years … like the random guy who sent me a series of interrogating private messages trying to get me to tell him how much I got paid.

Or, the secret you need to know to get started writing for major newsstand publications. Once I learned this secret, I had two accepted queries within two weeks.

And, most importantly, will you really lose 20 pounds in 2 months if you follow the plan I outline in the book?

What I Would Do Different Next Time

There was little incentive for me to market this book very hard because I had already gotten paid for it, which was a good thing/bad thing, given the state of publishing these days.

Plus, I didn’t even know HOW to market it, really.

Now, I definitely would be more proactive about marketing, although I’m still pretty clueless about all that – but now I have a better idea of what to do and where to go. I’d definitely get over myself and let the world know about the book’s benefits.

And if I were to do it again, I’d likely pursue another book contract immediately following the publication of the first book. Although at the time I wrote the Idiot’s Guide, I was really busy with personal training and the gym, so I didn’t have the time for it. Or the support.

Because here’s the thing with writing: It’s a solitary pursuit. I know for me, personally, I end up in my head too much if all I do is write. And I’m old enough and wise enough to know now that’s not always the healthiest way for me to spend my days.

In fact, it’s one of the reasons I am so passionate about fitness and helping others love it too: It clears my head.

I’m smarter now about creating that solitary–social balance that many of us struggle with. Plus, being around other people opens your mind to new ideas – and improves the writing.

Would I write another book? Heck yes! How about you? Do you have a book in you, just waiting to be unleashed?

When that song comes on during your cardio workout

When that song comes on during your cardio workout

Today was my first workout in a few days, thanks to a gross/disgusting cold that’s been making its way around. Normally in my own training regimen, I don’t call cardio on the elliptical or treadmill a “workout,” but today it counted.

(For the record, I consider lifting weights a long-term investment while machine-based cardio is like an infusion of quick cash. Both are cool, but I like big payoffs. Your mileage and returns may vary.)

My heart rate spiked pretty quickly during the workout because I’m still in recovery mode, so I kept my intensity low. And because my intensity was low, I listened to my “chill” iPod playlist, which is filled with songs that are kind of like poems, at least to me.

And a song from the past came on (there’s a playlist to listen to it at the bottom of this entry 🙂 ).

The song has meaning to me for a couple of reasons. But first, it’s not necessarily a GREAT song — although it might be, and I’ve been convinced otherwise. No matter, it’s kind of pivotal in my life. The first time I heard it was on a Saturday morning in 2003 and I was in a car traveling along Old Keene Mill Road in Springfield, Virginia. It was the acoustic version of the Foo Fighters’ “Times Like These.” It mesmerized me and I had to own it, immediately.

Have you ever had a song strike you that way? I think it hit me because a lot of changes were going on in my life and the song kind of summed up how I was feeling. I told my then-husband (who was being kind of a putz at the time, God love him) that I thought it was pretty awesome. He completely disagreed with me, and outlined  the reasons I was wrong.

So anyway, I downloaded the song from Napster (remember Napster?) because you couldn’t buy the song anywhere at that time, and I put it on my mp3 player and listened to it while driving in the car. And since I lived the DC ‘burbs, I spent a lot of time in the car, so the song kind of became embedded in my brain. And then when we moved, the song fell by the wayside.

But it came back several years later, during the divorce. I remember it was on repeat during a brutal winter, when I was getting ready to get ready for my first figure show. Not only was the divorce going on, but during this period a lot of people in my family were sick or passing away, I was in a stupid rebound relationship, and there was a lot of drama related to everything. It was a pretty dismal time.

So this morning when the song came on, a lot of old feelings came back (not about my ex, but about life in general), echoing some new feelings I’ve been experiencing.

No matter how hard we try to keep things the same, it’s not going to happen. That’s not how the world works. People change, situations change, change is the nature of our lives. And while change can be sad and uncomfortable, that’s only if you keep living in the past. You have to keep moving forward.

Another song was also on repeat during that brutal winter — it’s the second song on the playlist, and it features one of my pretend boyfriends, Chris Cornell. :). It talks about how we drop things that are sacred to us. I don’t think that we actually drop them. It might seem like that sometimes, but they often just fall away, during these inevitable times of change and transition.

And they do remain sacred to us, even though we no longer keep them close.

What does this have to do with cardio? With the workout? Nothing, but also everything. Life keeps moving, like the treadmill. You’ve got to keep moving. Sometimes we drop things, sometimes things fall. It’s OK, it’s through this change that we grow.

And that’s kind of the point of it all, isn’t it?

My cold ate my deadlifts, and it’s (sort of) OK

My cold ate my deadlifts, and it’s (sort of) OK

I was supposed to do deadlifts today but I woke up with a cold.

I’m pretty bummed out about this, because deadlifts are on my radar for this year. In fact, I gave myself a pep talk the other day about it. The pep talk was actually the annual birthday “come-to-Jesus” evaluation that I treat myself to each year, when I examine what’s working and what isn’t in my life, and I refocus and commit to a couple specific goals.

Generally, for me, discussions with myself turn into multi-point lectures complete with lists. The list this time around wasn’t awfully long, in fact it has to do with simplicity and taking care of myself. Which is ironic (or not), what with this sudden cold and all.

There are some other fitness-y things on the list, along with other less-workout-y things (rest, food, education, etc.). All of this was scheduled to start happening on a fairly regular basis starting TODAY, but nothing too strict or scheduled because of simplicity.

Why did I choose today? Because it’s mostly a day off. I’d been putting off starting because my schedule has been whack and I need to get a handle on it, but to get a handle on my schedule, a number of things have to happen and … well, I’m not that good at setting boundaries for myself because I’m caught in the personal-trainer conundrum of time and energy management (look it up, it’s a real thing). I feel a deep responsibility for my clients and helping them get/stay fit and vital, but sometimes I’m running ragged at both ends of the day.

So anyway, that’s how the multi-point lectures with lists come about: things have a tendency to snowball, from wanting to do deadlifts to having to completely revamp my schedule, because there’s always a reason …. or an excuse.

But then I woke up with this cold today. Which might actually be more than a cold, it’s too soon to tell, but it’s one of those yucky-gross-wake-you-up-coughing/carrying-around-tissues kind of bugs. (That’s why self-care was discussed, too, because getting run down due to the whack schedule isn’t cool.) I mean, I *could* hit the gym and get in some obligatory work, I suppose. However, I’m writing myself an excuse. Or maybe better, I’m letting myself off the hook entirely, no excuses necessary.

So the fitness part of my plan isn’t happening today. Instead, maybe I’ll just hover over the couch, or maybe I will go for a very easy treadmill walk just to shake out the cobwebs. But I can eat healthy foods, get some rest, and read some interesting stuff and work on that “simplicity” thing, right?

The truth is, keeping things simple isn’t easy. But in the long run, it sure does make things easier.

The deadlifts (and clearer-minded blog posts) will be there another day.