Tuesday, July 22, 2014

It's All In Your Head: a Mindset Makeover for Lasting Change

It's All In Your Head: a Mindset Makeover for Lasting Change

“I know what to do… I know how I should eat and how to train, but… I just can’t seem to actually do it.” 

I hear this all of the time, and there simply aren’t enough font altering options to emphasize just how much I understand. 

You can have a wonderful training program and a fantastic nutrition protocol, yet unable to execute them due to certain thought processes and mental barriers that are holding you back - many of which we may not even realize are happening!

Maybe you’re obsessing over the next meal, or when your next indulgence will be, and worrying about which foods you can or can’t have. When things don’t go as planned, you’re dealing with guilt and negative self-talk, which eventually leads to labeling things (food, days, and ourselves) as “good” or “bad”. All of this starts to eventually pour over into other areas of your life, and pretty soon, you find yourself avoiding things that should be fun, such as social situations or vacations, simply because you aren’t sure how to handle them, which ultimately ends up affecting the quality of your life, and that is not okay. 

It saddens me to admit this, but…  I’ve been there. It isn’t fun, and can be quite consuming. 

For years when I was trying to make changes to my physique, I allowed myself to become trapped in the restrict-binge-guilt-restrict cycle that often accompanies really restrictive dieting. I would diet hard, indulge, feel guilty, and then try to “make up for it” by being even more strict with my food and intake, and the entire process would repeat itself over and over. Never thinking I looked quite good enough, and wasting an embarrassing amount of time dwelling on my flaws, I suffered from a wicked case of “If, then”. “If only I could get to x body fat percentage… if only my abs were visible…. if only I wore smaller jeans….  then I would finally be truly happy!”

It’s All in Your Head 

Mindset, how we think about things and react to them, is the foundation upon which lasting change is built. Without permanent habit change - which entails getting to the root of the issue - results are only temporary.

Let that one sink in for a moment. 

It is easy to tell somebody, “Stop eating those cookies every night” or “Stop caring what other people think of you” but how well does that usually work out?
Often times, it isn’t realistic to expect somebody to alter their behavior just because you tell them to. If it was that easy for them to just “stop”, then they probably would have done it by now.
Instead, we must dig deeper, and learn how to look at things from a different perspective.
A good coach - whether it be for nutrition, training, or life -  knows that their job is just as much about the mental side of things as it is dishing out (see what I did there?) which foods, how much of them to eat, and which exercise protocol to follow. . 
Often times we know the end result that we desire, but there is something that is preventing us from being able to execute. 

My friend Jill Coleman knows all about this. As a former fitness competitor and model, personal trainer, coach, and mindset aficionado, she understands the mental games that we play with ourselves to both justify and perpetuate certain thought processes that prevent us from meeting our goals, and more importantly, being happy with ourselves! 

In honor of the launch of Jill’s 10-Week Mindset Makeover, I had the chance to ask her a couple of questions about where so many women are going wrong in regards to mindset, and how her program can help make lasting health and physique changes. Here is what she had to say: 

Mindset Makeover

I've followed your stuff for years now, and it's been incredible to witness you evolve and shift your focus from solely diet and exercise topics, to the deeper things that affect our health and physique, such as mindset and habit change. 
What made you realize that lasting change involved more than just which foods we ingest and the workouts we do? 

Love this question! 
The JillFit blog has been around for almost 4 years now and contains 500+ blogs, so luckily for me, it's been really fun to watch the content change over the years as my own journey has shifted. I started out as a figure competitor and fitness model, engaging in solely physique pursuits for years. It was an amazing experience, seeing the body transform, but no matter how lean I got or how many tearsheets I collected, I never felt at ease or happy in my body.  
Dieting constantly was misery, and when you are in that mental space, you cannot see out of it. I spent many years berating myself for not being perfect with my eating, and then disgusted with myself for being what I perceived to be "weak" or "undisciplined" or frankly, just not good enough. My mindset was just always: leaner, more muscle, less sugar, more cardio, be better, stronger, thinner, etc AND THEN you can relax and be happy.  
And so, I thought it was the diet and the exercise that mattered most. If I just found "the best meal plan" and did the best workouts consistently, then of course I'd get the body of my dreams and finally like myself!  
Welp, it doesn't work that way because information does not equal transformation, and just because I had "the diet" and "the workouts" didn't mean I'd be able to do them perfectly or consistently. 
Implementation is everything. For the most part, people know WHAT to do, they just can't do it. And not because they are lazy gluttons who "don't want it enough," but because we are human and willpower is exhaustible. Plus, we have many focuses: kids, partners, jobs, home life, school, whatever, and the only people who can get and stay super lean are those who focus on it exclusively, like pro competitors and models who are getting paid to look that way. And even they struggle and the pool of those individuals is very small anyway. So for the average multi-tasking woman to compare herself to that is frankly absurd. And yet we all do it, and it doesn't serve us. 
The final piece for me came when I realized that hating yourself into positive change is impossible. Guilt, shame, remorse and self-digust are terrible motivators.  
Who's healthier: the person who's 12% body fat but hates themselves and is completely body-obsessed? Or the woman who is 25% body fat but loves who she is, wakes up excited to workout and eat healthy and doesn't waste a million hours stressing that she's not good enough according to some arbitrary number? I'd say the second woman every single time.

How important is mindset when it comes to making change, whether it be modifying physique, enhancing health, or changing the direction of one's life in a positive manner? 

Mindset is everything. I kind of sort of hate the word "mindset" because it feels really overused, but also somewhat esoteric. What I really mean by "mindset" is actually PERSPECTIVE. I've known women sitting at 10% body fat who are painfully insecure and I've also known overweight women who wake up every day killing life and loving every inch of their body. Perception is everything. You literally create your reality in every second with how you choose to see the world, how you see others and how you see yourself.  
In general, when I talk about mindset, it's to contrast two specific models:
  1. The Victim Mindset and 
  2. The Empowered Mindset. 
When we play the victim, we feel like life is out to get us. We say, "Why is this so hard??" and "How come so-and-so seems to do this effortlessly?" or "Why am I the one this bad stuff always happens to??"  
Can you see how these statements take our power away? They create the perfect scenario so that we get to continue being the one "done wrong" and unfairly treated. Playing the victim leaves us helpless to make a change. And it's also a choice, by the way :)  
The Empowered Mindset, on the other hand, is also a mindset that we can CHOOSE, and when we do, we get to be the creators of our life. When we perceive that we get a say in how our life unfolds, we are more likely to TAKE ACTION to make it so. Even when in situations that aren't ideal, people who choose an empowered mindset always feel like they have a choice. Is it always easy and pleasant? No, but they know that by choosing their attitude and their effort, they can change their circumstances. 
It's that simple. 
The Empowered Mindset is about possibility and achievement. The Victim Mindset is about staying small, scared and helpless. It's 100% your choice. 

Today is an exciting day, as your wildly popular program, The Mindset Makeover, opens up! In this program (which I have gone through), you ask some really interesting questions, and challenge our current perspectives, which leads to looking at things in a completely different way. 

How can somebody know if your 10-week Mindset Makeover is right for them, and what are some of the topics that they can expect to work through? 

Awesome! Yes! My 10-Week Mindset Makeover launches this week, and we've had over 500 women go through the program so far, and I'm pumped to have it out of retirement for the week! :)  
The program is for women who have exhausted all other options and are honestly ready for a huge mental overhaul. Meaning, they are sick and tired of stressing out about their physique constantly and wondering if they are ever going to be good enough/thin enough/successful enough/whatever enough. It's a game we never win, and certainly not by "dieting harder." 
The 10 week educational program takes the participants through 5 modules including intro to mental awareness, beating your inner victim, active acceptance and how to talk to yourself more effectively for physique change plus boosting body esteem, how to choose your attitude in every moment for success and putting it all together into a doable long-term strategy for physical and mental change. 
It combines the latest in positive and change psychology, with some of the new age personal development insights plus some unique takes on the fitness industry as it relates to body esteem and self-confidence. 
JillFit's motto is "You can have a cookie and still like yourself after," and this program is all about teaching you how to interact with your environment, other people and most importantly--yourself--to become the best version of you. 

What kind of time commitment is expected to participate in the program? 

I'm not going to lie--this program is not for someone who wants to merely dabble. This is a hardcore mindset change program. I'll often be asking you to take 10 minutes out of your day and complete some exercises to get at the core of you, your beliefs and the places you are stuck. 
The program is 100% educational in nature, but it involves the participant doing the work. I want each woman to know themselves better than ever at the end, and truthfully, that's going to take some time, introspection and the desire to unearth some potentially hard and scary truths about themselves. Each email takes a couple minutes to read, and then some exercises can take 5 minutes, while others will take more.  
Obviously, the more you put into the program, the more you get out of it. I've had plenty go through the program and learn a ton without doing any of the exercises, but ideally, the program is best for those who want to make real, sustainable change and stop wasting time looking anywhere outside themselves. 
This program is 100% about the individual. And of course I share plenty of embarrassing, open and super vulnerable stories from my own past so that everyone knows they're not alone :)

You've had a ton of people successfully complete this program with outstanding results. What are some of the biggest changes that people have reported? 

The biggest and best outcome is a complete mindset shift away from The Victim Mindset to an empowered one. 
I love getting emails from participants afterward saying that they've completely taken control of their life, their body, their career, their relationships, whatever. Ultimately, this program is about creating a life you love and feeling like you have a say in how it all plays out.  
The program can get emotional for people, and I've had women write and say they got back in touch with an estranged loved one or the program saved their marriage or they made a complete career change. It's been amazing to see. 
My personal goal? For each woman to appreciate who they are in the world, 100% and show up authentically and powerfully, as a result of going through this education :)

While almost everybody has tried to make alterations to their diet and activity levels at some point or another, I've found that diving headfirst into the mental aspect of things can be far more challenging. If you could give anybody a piece of advice as they embark upon your program, what would it be? 

Yep, I agree totally, Jen. Mindset change is so difficult! 
Usually, focusing on diet and exercise is easier because it's clinical. You're either compliant or you're not. And when you're not, it's easy to point the finger: "My coach is the worst!" or more common: "I'm the worst! I can't even follow this freaking diet for a week!"  
Negative self-talk is the biggest waste of time and energy, yet it's it's also the most effortless thing on earth--we all do it, and then wonder why we're not getting results. This is humanity's natural default state--to blame others or ourselves, which is really just one big distraction when it comes to outcomes. Blaming and complaining is a crutch. And it's also not a solution. Emotions are important, but action is what moves us. 
Mindset work is tough because it requires us go beyond the human default state. It requires we TAKE 100% RESPONSIBILITY for everything in our lives. Our thoughts and actions, the situations we find ourselves in, even if they were a result of someone else's actions. Doesn't matter, because regardless of whose "fault" something is, the bottom line is that we can never wait on others to change in order to be happy or accomplished. We have to do the leg work ourselves. 
The key with mindset work is ownership. And ownership takes courage and looking inward. Shining the spotlight on those not-so-useful parts of ourselves like the feelings of not-good-enough and the real reasons why we need to get thinner. This is hard, and sometimes painful. We have to give up the story that we've been done wrong or that life has "happened" to us. 
Mindset work requires taking 100% responsibility in every moment. And though it can be scary and uncomfortable, the alternative to doing this work is staying small, scared, insecure and never feeling like you have a say in your life. And I don't know about you, but the latter sounds a lot worse! :)
Thank you so much, Jen, for having me! Your readers are the best! Honored to be taking up space on your blog today!  


If you are ready to make lasting change to your health, physique, and happiness, you have to start with the foundation, which is your mindset. 

10-Week Mindset Makeover

Also, Jill is doing two free webinars today, Tuesday, July 22nd, at 12pm EST and 9pm EST, titled “Five Female Mindset Insights for Physique Change”

Jill will chat about the things that typically trip women up when it comes to reaching their physique goals, and how to shift your perspective to keep you moving forwards. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What To Look for in a Diet Coach: The Best in the Biz Sound Off About Contest Prep

What to Look for in a Diet Coach: The Best in the Biz Sound Off About Contest Prep

“Cod and asparagus”

“Okay. What else?”

“That’s it. I’m only allowed to eat cod and asparagus for all of my meals leading up to my show.”

“But… you’re 3 weeks out.”

“Yeah. It sucks. I’m doing cardio twice a day, too. I’m kinda scared what is going to happen after the show.”

This is a conversation I had about a month ago with a woman that was preparing for her first Figure show, and had reached out to me with concern. For five meals a day, she was only allowed to eat cod and asparagus. She is part of a "team", which in this case means (and sadly, such is the case with many of these prep teams) she is following a cookie-cutter diet program, and participating in one-size-fits-all group training sessions, regardless of individual needs. 

Getting back to her diet, let's crunch the numbers. At 4oz of cod per serving, and let’s say 10 spears of asparagus per meal, five times a day, breaks down to about:

100g of protein
12g of fat
30g of carbohydrate 
628 calories per day

Plus two-a-day cardio, and strength training four days a week. 

There are multiple problems here. 

There is the glaringly obvious, which is that she is totally miserable. Personally, I love asparagus, but force me to eat it for 140 meals in a row and I may hang myself. 

Next, she is starving, and not in that facetious “I’m so starving I may die”  type of way that I claim each time I leave the gym, but she is actually, genuinely starving. 

Less than 650 calories a day? Are you kidding me? 
Hell, even less than 1,000 calories a day. Are you kidding me?? 

Also, her concern about what happens after the show is completely valid. Can you imagine how difficult it would be to re-enter a world of ‘normal eating’ when all you are used to consuming is fish and asparagus? 
Unfortunately, I predict serious binging accompanied by a ton of remorse, followed by extreme restriction. Rinse, and repeat. That is a scary, scary path to be on, especially when you are fresh off of a competition, when most people struggle with a depressing case of the “What now?”s as it is. 

Bad Coaches

Horrible diet coaches, and more specifically to this article, contest prep coaches, absolutely pervade the industry. These reckless individuals are recommending cookie-cutter starvation diets and obscene amounts of cardio, driving their client (and the client’s health and sanity) into the ground. 

Subsisting off of nothing except for protein and vegetables, drinking only distilled water, cutting out all sodium for the course of the entire prep, using an arsenal of stimulants and fat burners, two-a-day workouts, fat coming only from fish oil.... the list of ridiculous tactics employed to get these women to the stage goes on and on. 
These women then turn to myself and my colleagues to help them sort through this metabolic nightmare once the show is over. It is heartbreaking, and it is rarely a snap to fix.

Make No Mistake - It’s Not Easy

Interestingly enough, every time I write about irresponsible diet coaches, I always have a few people rebuke me (and not surprisingly, it's always the people that have to resort to hairball tactics to get their clients leaner). Their rebuttal is always "competition prep is hard, and there is no way around that", and I agree with that to a point. 

Contest prep will rarely be a walk in the park. 
Let’s get that straight right now. 

Of course, there will always be the outliers that breeze through their prep. (We want to strangle those people. Kidding. Sort of.)

For most of us, though, contest prep is certain to be challenging and uncomfortable. You will likely be hungry, have cravings, and struggle a bit with dips in energy. You may suffer from lowered libido, irritability, and some strength loss. There will be days that you are prepared to do really desperate things for 30 more grams of carbohydrate. You may accidentally eat half of a carrot cake in the middle of the grocery store before you realize what you're doing. I get it. This is normal for many people preparing for a show. 

However, as a responsible coach, it is up to us to decide just how difficult we will let a prep be, and it's imperative that we take into consideration possible repercussions the client is going to have to deal with during the prep, and once the show is over. 

The coach that I mentioned in the beginning that has the client eating nothing but the same two foods every day, all day, is obviously not concerned about the client’s re-entry into post-competition life, and this is an aspect that must be taken into consideration. 

Professionalism and integrity aside, a coach is dealing with another human being, their health, and happiness. I certainly hope that your coach wants to see you succeed long after you’ve worked with them - because they should. 

Good Coaches vs Irresponsible Coaches

An irresponsible coach is one that takes on a client to prep for a show, knowing that there is not enough time to get the client contest ready in a somewhat healthy manner. 

As a nutrition coach myself, I am not afraid to turn down clients. If somebody comes to me, and wants to step on stage in 12 weeks (or 14, or 18, or whatever) and I know it’s not possible without employing extremely aggressive and dangerous tactics, I do the following:

  • I shoot straight. I simply tell them that they need more prep time in order to do things in a somewhat healthy manner, and still bring their best package to the stage. 
  • If they aren’t okay with finding a later show date, I will not take them on as a client. Period. I refuse to compromise their health or my integrity for a self-imposed deadline.

If a coach tells you that they can’t get you ready in a safe way for the show date that you have set, and that you require more time, it doesn’t make them a bad coach; it makes them a responsible one. 

I take my client’s health - both physical and mental - very, very seriously. Sure, I could recommend some idiotic diet, such as the cod and asparagus one above, coupled with obscene amounts of energy expenditure work, but I refuse to do that. No way, no how. 

I’d rather see somebody take 5-6 months to come in slow and steady, rather than make a big sweeping transformation in 10 - 12 weeks. The latter may look impressive on social media, but you have to ask: 

At what cost did this change come at? 
What price did this person pay - and will they pay in the future - because of this transformation?

In an effort to help you, or someone you know, find out how to hire the right contest prep coach, I asked the best diet coaches in the biz what you need to be aware of when hiring. 
I can personally attest for the knowledge, integrity, professionalism, and results that each of these coaches bring to the table.

My question to them:

"What should people look for when hiring a nutrition coach, for dieting or contest prep purposes?"

"The number one thing I tell people to be wary of when hiring a coach is when someone never is willing to say the three magic words: I DON'T KNOW.  

No one has all the answers and coaches who do not have the humility to admit when they do not know something or a topic is beyond their scope are very dangerous. Many coaches will make up nonsense when they do not really understand a topic or they will use the ever popular line 'because I said so.'  You deserve better than that.  You paid this person, they should either be able to accurately tell you why they want you doing something or they should admit that they simply are not sure.  BS or 'because I said so' is not an acceptable response."

"Be an informed athlete.
One key point that I cannot stress enough is individual specificity within nutrition. You are an individual and not a programmed machine thus your nutrition recommendations should be tailored to you, and changes should be made based off of your feedback and response, not ignored with responses like, "Oh, that is normal, this is just part of the plan." if you personally feel off or as if things are not going well. 

Make informed decisions prior to hiring a coach, a coach can sell you anything he or she wants but I encourage you to speak to the athletes of that coach and get an idea as to how that coach assesses and makes changes to nutrition with his current cliental. Reach out to several as well this will give you a good amount of data to review as to whether or not that coach is utilizing an individualistic approach or one that is more so one size fits all. 

If current athletes are all with different starting points, body fat set points, and possessing different amounts of lean body mass are all on a similar plan this is a sign that the coach is not the best option for you the individual." 

Twitter and Instagram: @INOV8ElitePerformance
YouTube: INOV8EP

Matt Jansen
INOV8 Elite Performance

"In my opinion the number one most important thing to look out for is a coach who is handing out meal plans. 
People must understand that every single person, even of the same height and weight, is going to require a different caloric intake to accomplish their goals. 

A meal plan is a generalized layout which can lead to metabolic issues, eating disorders and many other detrimental issues. A good coach is going to give you a customized caloric intake- hopefully based around macronutrients that are optimal for reaching your goals."

Kelsea Koenreich
NGA Figure Pro
IG: teamproscience

"When hiring an online prep coach, take notice how much background information they collect on you before officially hiring them. 

If they are a good coach, they will take many factors into consideration. If they don't get background info, and just hand you a diet and cardio plan, chances are it's a stock diet that may or may not work for YOU.

Also, reach out to their former and current clients, and not just the ones that are listed front and center on the testimonial page. Ask them how their experiences were and what they liked/disliked about working with that coach."

Facebook: FB.com/Julia.Ladewski
Twitter: @JuliaLadewski
Instagram: @JuliaLadewski

"Aside from obvious things to look out for like education/credentials, experience, client successes/testimonials, etc., I think the biggest thing that women face when seeking online diet coaches is the pressure to be part of a 'team'.

There are MANY teams of competitors, made up of mostly women, who have fabulous sounding names, logos, team clothing/uniforms, social media pages, group support, etc. Many of these teams give out things like cookie cutter diets, dangerous or gimmicky exercise prescription, push drug usage, offer no or minimal contact with the coach, provide no or minimal weekly assessments or updates, and promote antiquated nutrition information (all fish diets, no sodium, distilled water, etc.).

Some of the best coaches I've come across aren't flashy, don't have cool sounding team names, and don't make competitors feel part of a sisterhood of sorts, yet they are educated, experienced, and incredibly dedicated to their clients' health, goals, and success as an athlete."

Ben Hartman, MS, CSCS

"Be wary of a coach who tries to give you too much too soon. Is he/she restricting you to a ten-item food list? 
Piling on the cardio, slowly but surely? Have your workouts become a part-time job? 

If something in your program looks suspicious, there’s probably a reason behind why. You always want to start out with the minimal effective dose when it comes to training and nutrition – that means spending as as little time in the gym as possible and eating as much as you can afford to while still making progress toward your goal."

Sohee Lee, NSCA-CSCS 

When you are shopping for a nutrition coach, remember that you are hiring them to do a job, and you are trusting them with your health. This is a very big deal! 

The coach you are hiring should gather a ton of information about you prior to committing to helping you, including your goals, current and past nutrition, training, sleep cycles, stress levels, and health issues. 
If somebody shoots you over an invoice without gathering all of this information, that is a huge red flag.

Additionally, if a coach agrees to help you prep for a show without knowing your show date, and seeing pictures of where your physique is currently, along with obtaining the information listed above - yikes! You need to find somebody else. 

Remember - you are hiring somebody for a job. Ask them plenty of questions. Don't be afraid to request references from both current and past clients! If they are anything less than enthusiastic about answering your questions, and providing you with the information you're requested, immediately move on! 

If you are interested in my nutrition coaching services, please contact me at JenComasKeck@gmail.com

Questions? Comments? 
Did my colleagues or I miss anything that you'd add like to add? 
If so, drop us a line below! 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Wrong Training and Nutrition INCREASED My Body Fat

How the Wrong Training and Nutrition Can INCREASE Body Fat

“It’s happening all of the time!”

“Seriously. I know! Right and left.”

“It’s like an epidemic! A morbid training and dieting epidemic.”

“We’ve got to help these women!” 

Molly and I had just sat down to lunch at the local co-op two weeks ago, and the first topic at hand was one that we both wish we never had to discuss. 

What's lunch with a bestie without a selfie photo shoot?

Women reach out to Mols and I on a daily basis, asking for our guidance to help them get leaner and healthier. We both feel like we were put in this world to help people achieve their best health, and most confident self possible, so we are grateful for the opportunity and love hearing from everybody. 

The problem is that many of these women are only eating 1,300 calories a day, and exercising like it’s their job - sometimes doing two-a-days, which, for the record, makes our skin crawl at the mere mention of. 

This type of scenario has, sadly, become the norm. Women are going to extreme, unhealthy, and unnecessary measures, ironically, in the name of “health and fitness”.

We’re constantly seeing ludicrous things posted by women on Facebook about how they’re hammering out two-a-day cardio sessions, twice daily WODs, doing HIIT five days a week, hours of fasted cardio, and the list goes on.

These same women are the ones that are watching what they eat like a hawk, demonizing carbs, and obsessing over MyFitnessPal.

Far too many women are overtraining, undereating, over-cardio-ing (I’m sure that’s a word somewhere) and putting themselves through the wringer, desperate to get the results that they want, and yet … it’s not working. 

My heart bleeds for these women. Know why? 

Because I used to be one of these ladies. 

When I was 17, my (then) boyfriend looked me in the eyes and said, “You know, you’re getting kinda fat”. 

It threw me into a rage of fury. I was upset at him for approaching it in such a rude way, but more importantly, I was mad at myself because I knew it was true. 

I was chowing down on fast food all of the time, and went out of my way to avoid any type of physical activity, and it was starting to show - my weight was at an all-time high.

Hell-bent on making changes, I launched myself into the gym with fervor, taking every aerobics class offered. 
I made the rookie mistake of being overly restrictive with my calories - and let’s not even discuss my food choices.

I remember eating a turkey sandwich for lunch, and a bowl of Cream of Wheat for dinner, and forcing myself to starve the rest of the time.

The less calories, the better, right?? 

Um, wrong

This madness peaked after I moved to Las Vegas.
I was doing insane amounts of cardio, taking a ‘more-must-be-better’ approach, winging my strength training because I had no idea how to properly progress, and running a chronic sleep deficit. Throw in a bunch of fat burners and it was a recipe for disaster. 

I could not get leaner

And more importantly, I felt like crap all of the time. I was burning the candle brightly from both ends, working out like a fiend and barely eating. 

When our on-staff Exercise Physiologist took my bodyfat, my weight had continued to decrease, but so had my muscle mass, and - you guessed it - my body fat had actually increased

It wasn’t until I made a total overhaul to my nutrition and training that my body finally started to change, and I began to feel better.

The mistakes that I made are not at all uncommon. As a matter of fact, I believe that the internet and social media has left things fuzzier than ever for women, as they are inundated with more bad information than ever. 

A few of the most common mistakes that we see, that are standing in the way of you and your goals: 

  • Doing way too much cardio and conditioning, both in frequency and in duration.
  • Not doing any strength training because they are unsure of where to start.
  • Winging it in the gym because they are unsure of how to manipulate the variables to keep progress moving along. 
  • Undereating.
  • Making the wrong food choices. 

The right training and nutrition is about so much more than having a nice body. 

You deserve to move better, feel your best, and ooze confidence. We want you to be able to pick up your kids with ease, chase your dog around the park with plenty of energy to spare, go on fun hikes this summer, and feel good about yourself

You ladies have been asking - begging - for a program designed specifically for you that addresses proper training, warm-ups, cool-downs, recovery, techniques, and nutrition programs, and Girls Gone Strong has delivered.

The fantastic thing about GGS is that we speak from experience - both our own, and from hundreds of clients that have gotten fantastic results.

We know the exact formula and dosages that are required to get women stronger and leaner, while becoming healthier than ever.

After almost a year in the works, fielding hundreds of emails and questions to find out exactly what you need, and listening to all of your thoughts and concerns, this program covers it all.

The Modern Woman’s Guide to Strength Training is finally here!
  • What training program should I follow? 
  • How much, and how often?
  • How do I perform these exercises?
  • What about a warm-up?
  • How can I recover quicker?
  • What should I eat? 

From start to finish, all of the guesswork has been removed. 

Whether you want to simply get started, get stronger and leaner, take things to the next level, or fine tune what you are currently doing, this program is perfect for you.

You now have every single tool that you need in order to become your healthiest and happiest you. 

All you have to do is follow it. :) 

No more waiting. Life is short. Let’s do the dang thing!

Get the program HERE:   http://bit.ly/GIRLSGONESTRONG

This sale ends Sunday night at midnight, which is when the price goes up forever-ever. Hurry!

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In strength,


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Scale: Not Worth It's Weight

The last time I knew what I weighed was November of 2011. 

For about eight months prior to, I, embarrassingly enough, let myself become completely consumed by the number on the scale. This is ridiculous, because I don’t even know what I ultimately hoped it would say. I just knew that I wanted it to be lower, and then lower, and still lower again. 

I would wake up in a fantastic mood, leap out of bed, and stroll into the bathroom feeling like a million bucks. I'd hop on the scale, and then promptly become furious at whatever number popped up, and proceed to completely lose my marbles. 

FYI: declaring an unsubstantiated Defcon One emergency at 6am is a really effective way to ensure an awful day, and it also makes people scared of you. 

The Official Break-Up

This insane behavior repeated itself for a few months until I finally recognized it for what it was - extremely self-destructive, obsessive, and unhealthy. Something had to go, and it was either going to be my sanity - what was left of it, anyways - or the scale. 
I chose the latter. 

In November of 2011, I tossed the scale into the garbage with gusto, flipped it the bird for good measure, and promised myself to stop acting like a lunatic. 

Part of me was relieved that I was finally free from the mind-controlling aspect of a piddly, insignificant number, but the other part of me was concerned that I needed the scale. How will I know what I weigh?

A couple of weeks later was when the lightbulb turned on that would end up permanently altering the course of my thinking:

Who the hell cares what I weigh? 

Do my friends care what I weigh? My loved ones? The people at the DMV? 
No, no, and no. 

People that love you care about two things: your health, and happiness, neither of which should require a scale to tell you, so why do so many of us put so much emphasis, day in and day out, on what is ultimately an insignificant number? 

The Scale Only Tells You the Weight of Your Body.

The number that comes up on the scale means exactly one thing, and one thing only: how much your body weighs at that particular moment in time. That is it. 

It doesn't tell you about your sleep quality, stress levels, health markers, muscle mass, nutrition, how your lifts are going, you're happiness, or anything else that actually matters. 

So, basically, it's nearly pointless. 

A woman could weigh a relatively low number on the scale - let’s say 125 pounds - yet be sedentary, lethargic, unhealthy, and carry a higher than normal amount of body fat

On the flip side of this, a woman could weigh 180 pounds, be a weight-smashing machine with glowing health and self-confidence, bouncing off the walls with energy, and carry a lower than normal amount of body fat

I can certainly tell you which one I'd rather be, higher number on the scale be damned. 

You can take two women, at the same height and weight, but with different body compositions, and even though the scale reads the same for both of them, their physiques will look very different. 

Your friend so-and-so looks smokin' hot at 145 pounds? Awesome! However, that 145 pounds will look differently on you, depending on how much muscle you have, and where your body stores it's fat. 

Let’s take a look at how the same person at the same weight can look very different based on different points in their lives. 

To help me demonstrate this, I have a few pics of myself, and my friends Kelsea and Molly, who have given me their blessing to share their photos and details with you: 

185 pounds on the left.

Nine years later, more muscle, tons of strength gains, significantly lower body fat
and 183.5 pounds on the right. 
1.5 pound swing, yet a world of difference! 

138 pounds on the left in 2011.

In 2014 on the right, also at 138 pounds, 
significantly more muscle (hello, arms!), lower body fat, 
and some insanely strong lifts.

On the left, 158 pounds, and mother-effin' cardio queen, before I started powerlifting.

158 pounds on the right 3 years later, 
with much more muscle, significantly less body fat, 
some beefy squat, bench, and deadlift numbers, and brand new quads. 

We don't talk about that tattoo. We just don't. 

All three of us have inarguably made some pretty impressive progress over the years, but if we were basing things off of the scale alone, it'd show that we haven't done much of anything except for maintained, which couldn't be further from the truth.

She QUIT... all because of the scale. 

I have a good friend that has given me her permission to share her story with you. 

My friend was battling some big issues. Over the years she had developed some bad eating habits, gained a substantial amount of weight, and because of that was suffering from low energy, health problems, low sex drive, and terrible self-confidence. 

After reading one of my posts, she embarked on the Whole30, and she was absolutely killing it. She text me often to let me know how well it was going. After the two week mark, her cravings had nearly subsided, and she went so far as to say it was actually very simple to stay the course. She reported more energy, a boost in confidence, and couldn't stop saying how excited and optimistic she felt! Woohoo!

About three weeks in, she weighed herself, even though the Whole30 specifically forbids stepping on a scale (and soon you'll see why). 

She had only lost a few pounds, and she was crushed. Even though she had been feeling fantastic, and had made absolutely sweeping changes to her nutrition, eating habits, and was setting herself up for a lifetime of better health, she was discouraged beyond belief because of a number, and she quit
It was heartbreaking. 

All of the potential good that could have come from this, gone, because of the stupid mother-fudging scale. 

The Arrival Fallacy

Once I weigh ____, I’ll finally love myself. 

We believe that once we arrive at a specific destination, it will bring us abundant joy and happiness. This is the trickery of what is called the Arrival Fallacy. 

Sure, reaching a goal feels good, and improving your body composition will inevitably help your self-confidence to some degree, but your self-love won’t be flipped on like a light switch just because you hit a certain number on the scale. 

Striving relentlessly towards a specific digit gives us tunnel vision, and we convince ourselves that we can't be happy with our body until we get to that point. 
Additionally, we become so out of tune with how our body actually feels, that we lose sight of all of the things that are going well, because we become so dependent on the scale to tell us whether things are "good" or "bad". 

There is so much more to improvement that has nothing to do with the scale, or even with measurements, for that matter.

Since I stopped tracking the scale, and really, anything else other than the weight I slap onto the barbell, I have become more in tune with my body than I ever have been. Eliminating the stress of tracking my weight and checking my bodyfat percentage has freed up ample energy and precious brain space to enable me to pay significantly more attention to what is going on inside my body, and what it's trying to tell me. 

The following are some examples of making progress in health and fitness, that are unrelated (to a degree) to the number on the scale: 

  • Eating more nutrient dense foods, and less junk food. 
  • Learning to listen to hunger cues, rather than appetite.
  • Sleeping better. 
  • Becoming stronger, or faster, or whatever you're working on for performance.
  • Higher sex drive.
  • Clearer skin.
  • Better digestion. 
  • More energy. 
  • Improved cognition. 
  • Walking up a flight of stairs without gasping for air. 

One of my nutrition clients made this, and gave me her permission to share it:

In 10 weeks, lost 2.4% body fat, gained strength, improved health, and made noticeable physique changes,
yet the silly scale only reflects 2.5lb lost.

The Bottom Line

Stepping on the scale can be a much-needed wake-up call for some. Seeing things in a stark black-and-white perspective can be necessary in order to jumpstart change for some people, and I recognize the value of it in those situations. 

The scale is also a necessary tool for competitors that are working towards a certain weight class. 

Where the scale gets problematic is when you are letting it make or break your days, or when you are determining all of your progress or self-worth by the number that shows up. 

Let's redirect our focus to things that really matter! 
Work towards health, happiness, and performance; not an irrelevant number on the scale. 
Remember, there is so much more to progress than that number

I have gone 2.5 years without seeing my weight - and I mean not one single time - and what do you know? I'm happier, healthier, stronger, and more confident than I've ever been. 

A good friend of mine said something to me about two years ago, and it has echoed in my head ever since: 

“Nothing is more beautiful than radiant health and happiness.” 

Now, who wants to bring their scales to my house and have a scale burning bonfire?!

Has the scale been helpful or a hindrance to you? 
Could you go a few years without weighing yourself at all? 
There are no wrong answers! 
Let's chat below!