Rhoades to Fitness
It's YOU vs. YOU

Aug
20

I love Mary Poppins! She’s…magical. Despite the fact the she can fly in on an umbrella, slide UP the stair banister and clean a room with a SNAP…these are the things that made her magical to me when I was child, but we know it’s make believe, just fun fiction. Trust me, I think I tried all of those things at least once, and every now and again, when no one’s looking, I still try snapping my fingers and the room has yet to clean itself (sigh). This past winter I sat down and watched Mary Poppins with my 5 year old nephew, and I noticed that my views on what makes Mary so magical have changed. Now, what I love about Mary is her confidence, the way she brings the best out of each person she comes in contact with, and how she finds the fun in every mundane task. Other’s today may watch Mary Poppins as an adult and think…”Mary’s a B****!” She may have those tendencies, saying things like “I never explain anything”, TO HER BOSS, but that’s why I love her. When she does something she feels is right, she sticks to her guns. She has the, “love me, or hate me, this is who I am” mentality. She’s not a people pleaser. She doesn’t say what you want to hear, she says what you need to hear. Here’s a few more things that I love about Mary.

1. Mary Poppins looks in the mirror every chance she gets. You know what makes her different than every other woman on this earth? She doesn’t stare at herself to nitpick at her flaws, she sees her beauty. When was the last time you looked in the mirror and saw “beautiful” staring back at you? Or did you choose to see every grey hair poking through, and a new blemish that appeared over night? Did you pucker your lips wishing they were bigger, adjust your face to smooth out your wrinkles, or pinch the fat on your body wishing you could literally just pinch it off? Or even worse, did you pinch your skin telling yourself it’s fat and huff in disgust? If you’re one of “those”, just stop it. It’s annoying. I dare you to try something new, and pick out ONE thing you like about your physical appearance next time you look in the mirror. And maybe the next time, find two things. (I like my brown eye and that I have long eye lashes without the help of latisse.) 😉

2. When Mary Poppins pulls out her tape measurer, there isn’t one number that even appears. She measures herself from head to toe and reads aloud, “As I expected. Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way.” Ha! That makes me laugh just typing it. What would you have done with that tape? Maybe measured your height, wishing you were taller, and then moving on to taking measurements around your waist, hips and thighs? This is actually what inspired this blog….I woke up this morning and could barely make it to the bathroom, because my legs are so sore from Monday’s workout. After months of lifting no more than 3x a week, some weeks 2, and my last 2 weeks none, I am kinda regretting my lack of gym time. It hurts so bad. I forgot to weigh and measure myself on Monday as I started a new fitness journey, so I decided to do it today. I stepped on the scale and to my surprise I had lost 8 lbs since the last time i weighed back in the spring. And since April of 2013, I’m down 20 lbs. Do you wanna know the first thing that popped in my head? “You probably lost 8 pounds of muscle.” I gave myself a good butt chewing for that one, and for some reason I thought, what would this scale say if Mary Poppins pulled it out of her carpet bag? It would read, “Erin Rhoades, practically perfect in every way.” Okay, practically perfect is a bit of a stretch. I’m not that confident yet, so how about…”Erin Rhoades, beautiful, strong and blessed everyday.” I like that. 🙂 I’m also gonna measure my waist, hips, thighs, chest etc. Not so I can measure my worth according to the scale or my inches, but just to see my progress so I can properly help others in the future.

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Like my hillbilly flip flop tan lines? 

3. Mary Poppins wasn’t a CEO of a major corporation. She didn’t go to college for 10 years to become a doctor or lawyer. Mary wasn’t married and she didn’t have children of her own. I’m not making light of people in these roles. These positions are VERY important, but so is the barista at Starbucks that smiles at you, makes your coffee and tells you every morning to have a good day. So is the teacher who struggles to pay her bills, but she wouldn’t change jobs for anything in the world. Mary’s soul purpose was to make the people around her happier, to kindly point out what is really important in their lives so they can prioritize accordingly. It’s not your job, what car you drive, or having the newest iPhone. It’s spending time with your family and friends. It’s loving your neighbor and lifting up the people that fall. Whatever your business card reads, whether its CEO, Dr, CPT, LMT, Mom/Dad or even Nanny. Your main job is to love the people around you and make their lives a little better.

Maybe Mary Poppins inspired me too much as a child. After all, I am a Nanny these days. I can’t slide up stairs, and I can’t sing like Julie Andrews, but last night at Kroger an older gent (that’s Poppins for gentleman) stopped to say, “I’ve passed you twice now and you’ve been humming a pretty song since you walked in here. It’s nice.” I smiled and said thank you and he walked away. I don’t plan on being a Nanny forever, although I do love it, but my next job will also be about investing time in people, and showing them how amazing they are when they can’t see it for themselves. 😉 Thanks for the life lessons, Mary.

Until next time, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, y’all.

Aug
13

I wish I had a dollar for every time someone said to me, “you have so much self control.” Actually, that would probably only leave me with $100. I wish I had $100 for every time someone said to me, “you have so much self control.” That’s better, now I can pay my car off, but I’m still a phony. From the outside, yeah, I can see where people might think that about me. I dieted for 25 weeks for a figure competition and ate no more than 1500 calories everyday, some days only 1100. I went 16 weeks with absolutely no sugar. I did my cardio at 430 in the morning and went back at 5pm for more cardio plus weight training. Yeah, I can keep going but y’all would stop reading before I made my point. So here it is…My point. I was never in control. My food, exercise and the want to look a certain way, controlled ME. I was disciplined but I wasn’t in control. When I did allow myself to veer off course and eat certain foods that were categorized as “cheat food”, I would eat like I was never gonna get it again. I can’t tell you how many times I went to bed sick at my stomach because I didn’t stop when I was full. It had been so long since I felt full that I couldn’t remember what it felt like until I went too far. Often, I would feel so guilty for allowing myself to eat these foods, and when I had that feeling of guilt, all I wanted to do was get those so called bad foods out of my body. The only way to do that was to purge. It wasn’t a habit, I can count on two hands how many times I let myself do that, and after my body was relieved of the bad foods, I then felt guilty for what I had just done. Does that sound like self control to you? All those years, from ages 15-29, of under eating, and when I wasn’t doing that I was over eating. All those hours on a cardio machine and not letting myself get off until I saw that I had burned a 1000 calories. All of that so called, self control, to find out that I ruined any metabolism I might have had. From the outside, I was the picture of health at it’s best, but on the inside, from my mental state to the way my body was functioning every day, I was sick. 1200 is the dumbest number on earth: Fast forward to today, I weigh more now than I ever did in those last 15 years, but right now is the first time I’ve ever felt in control of my relationship with food and exercise. I’ve had many women ask, “how did you overcome these bad relationships.” It was actually pretty simple. I stopped categorizing my foods into groups of good and bad. Nothing is off limits anymore. If I want a cookie, I eat a cookie. Knowing I can have anything I want, I don’t fixate on certain foods anymore. I don’t even think about food at all until I feel hungry. I remember a time when I would spend days planning out what I was gonna have for my weekend cheat. I’m so glad my thoughts aren’t consumed with my next meal anymore. Seriously, it was exhausting. Today, I couldn’t tell you the last time I thought about food, or the last time I cleaned my plate, or over-ate. I used to chew a pack of gum a day because it helped my sweet tooth and it got me to my next meal. I haven’t bought a pack of gum in over two years now. Inside my head, I felt like a prisoner, and I’ve spent my last two years trying to shawshank redemption my way out. If it wasn’t for me finally finding my worth in God instead of how I looked, or how I wanted others to look at me, I’d probably still be out of control. Next week starts a new fitness journey. One that requires a little more thought again when it comes to my food, and one that requires a good amount of time in the gym. This time around, instead of fueling my body for aesthetics, I’ll fuel it for athletics. I have to make sure I’m getting in enough protein, carbs and fats to build muscle and give me strength and energy for the intense workouts I have planned. I also have to keep check on my state of mind. I don’t want to revert to my old ways. If I see progress, I don’t want to get greedy and bump up my workouts and restrict more food for faster results. For the first time in my life I want to do it right. I’ve said in the past, “this isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle.” With that statement, I flat out lied to myself and others. A lifestyle is something you can stick to for life, and I was on a long term crash diet. I got results, but at the expense of my health. My body wasn’t meant to survive on 1200-1500 calories a day. If my body has healed at all in the past two years, I should be able to eat no less than 2500 calories a day, workout 5-6 hard hours a week, and still SLOWLY see progress in strength and fat loss. You read that right, 2500 calories. That’s a 20% calorie deficit from what my maintenance calorie intake should be. To my brainwashed mind, that number and those words don’t add up. But it’s science, Bro! Any amount of calories below what it takes for your body to maintain its current composition, you will see fat loss. IMG_1427

                                             Photo Credit:Tine Hofmann If you are following a plan that constantly leaves you hungry, and you find yourself craving sugar and junk food all day, you are probably restricting yourself too much. That diet might give you quick results, but they won’t last. You’ll eventually go cray-cray and eat an entire jar of peanut butter and box of captain crunch at 2am. Then the next thing you know, you’ll say screw it, and start eating those “bad foods” in excess, until you’ve gained every pound back, plus a few more. Or on the other hand, you’ll stick to your low calories and 12 hours in the gym each week and mess up your metabolism and hormones. I’ve done both and trust me, it’s not worth it. If I knew then, what I know now, things would be a lot different. But then again, who would be opening up to you right now and warning you of the dangers of quick fix diets? If me going through all of this, helps one woman, man, girl or boy from making my same mistakes, then I’d gladly go through all of it once again. Do me a favor and ask yourself a few question. Is your happiness based on your jean size and the number on the scale…where do you find your worth? Are you really in control of your diet and exercise, or does it control you? Is your diet and exercise regimen really a lifestyle, or is it a long term crash diet? Life is hard enough without putting these kinds of pressures on yourself. Take control of your life, don’t let your life control you. Love ya’ll

PS. Its taken just a little over a year, but I’ve lost 27 lbs. That’s about half a pound a week. If I can do that again this year, it will be a total 50 lbs. Might not be a record of getting it off, but it will be a record of how long I actually keep it off.

Aug
08

At the beginning of January I was in the gym 5-6x a week, lifting heavy 3x and at the kettle bell studio 2-3x a week working on recovery and functional training. I was in a good routine and actually seeing some changes in my body for the first time in many many months. At this time, I also got news that the family I was nannying for would be moving to Arizona in August, and that’s when my heart started breaking. Not only had I fallen in love with these amazing kids, but I was losing one of my best friends of almost 5 years. I might have went into a slight depression. We (the family and I) started traveling quite a bit back and forth from home to Arizona, and when we weren’t traveling I was spending every minute possible with the kids. My workouts went from from 5-6x a week to 2-3…mostly 2. Could I have cut my time with the kids a little and made sure I got in my workouts? Or got up extra early to get them in before the rest of my day started? Sure I could. But I was lucky to ever fall asleep before 2am, so if I could sleep in, I slept in. Lack of sleep is a big contributor to my hormone issues, so I take advantage when I can. I made a decision back in January that my priority would be spending time with those kids. I didn’t want to miss a laugh, a conversation, a hug, a movie, one episode of veronica mars or one tree hill, a dinner, a day at King’s Island or a game of Clue or Phase 10. My days spent in the gym were with my best friend that was moving, and when I had to go alone, I found myself, well, angry. It was too much time to think about the things to come and I just didn’t enjoy it. I pushed myself every time I stepped through the doors because that’s who I am. Surprisingly enough, without the gym being a priority, I actually have seen strength gains in my bench and dead lift since January, and I’ve had more than one person tell me my body has made changes. I don’t know if I have or not, but one thing I decided over the past 2 years was to listen to more of what my friends and family say and less to what my brain says when I look in the mirror. I’m fortunate that some of my favorite people and best friends, I’ve met through fitness. They are strong, motivating, uplifting, understanding and I know they’ve been praying for me for months. Being able to spend time with these beautiful friends here and there, read their Facebook posts and communicate over social media (most live anywhere from 2 hours to a 2 day drive away) has been amazing. I knew that at the moment I was only trying not to lose muscle and strength, but because of these women and the opportunity to attend Camp Gorgo last month, I never lost motivation of what I eventually wanted. I want my strength and muscle gains to be a priority again. I want to focus on my diet, making sure I’m fueling my body with the foods that give me energy and make me feel good. I want to get proper rest and I promised a few friends that recovery (stretching/foam rolling) would be taken just as serious as my other training. Y’all might need to check in on me with that one until it becomes habit.
My family moved this week, my heart finally completely broke and I cried more tears the last few days than I have in my last 31 years. I’m visiting friends and family right now for the next 2 weeks, and God has blessed me with a very sweet family to work for as soon as I return to Northern KY. I’ve already written my diet, and have a 4 week lifting plan ready to be conquered when I return home. I’m ready to work hard again, hopefully see some physical changes, and start motivating others again to be their best. I’ve missed that mental focus, but I wouldn’t trade my last 7 months with those kids for 7 months of hardcore, focused training for anything in the world. This isn’t a blog of excuses. It’s about dealing with change and heartache, making choices that are best for your current situation and for the situation of those around you, and embracing new beginnings. It’s okay to take time off, take care of your heart and mind, and reevaluate what’s most important. I think the time off has opened my eyes to many different things. I’ve been working on my mental health (the way I view the gym and food) for the past few years. This situation helped me a lot with these issues. I didn’t physically lose anything the past few months, but I gained more love, trust, and memories, and those are priceless.
Thank you to my friends that keep me and so many other women motivated to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle. I’m ready to join you again in the movement to empower women to be strong in every aspect of their lives. Time to kill it.
Love y’all.

Jul
18

I’m not talking about taking advantage of someone because you know they’re the type that can’t say no. Or even worse, taking advantage of someones love for you, because you know they love you so much, that no matter how you treat them, they will stick around, forgive you and still love you. That’s just rude. Don’t be either of those people.

This is what I mean…

When you get the opportunity to spend time with people you love, take advantage. Don’t let petty things like house work, your workout, or your mood stand in the way. Your laundry and dirty dishes will still be there when you get home, your body isn’t gonna get flabbier or your progress won’t be set back from missing a workout, and that bad mood JUST might lift when you’re in the presence of someone you love.

When you have been given the privilege to love someone with all your heart, take advantage and tell them, better yet…SHOW them. There’s a concept, right? It’s not hard. It can be as easy as driving a few hours to spend a day with them, or a few more hours to spend a weekend. Picking up the phone and actually making a call and not just sending a text. OR what would happen if we bought a card and spent a few minutes actually putting pen to paper, adding a stamp and driving to a mailbox? Whoa! That’s crazy. You know what else is really cool? Taking a few minutes to pray for them. Don’t ever underestimate the power of the words, “I’m praying for you.” Why is making time, so much harder than making excuses?

When your favorite song comes on the radio, that one that makes you goofy grin because you remember jamming out to it with your best friend in high school. You know the one…like Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. No? Maybe that’s just mine 😉 Whatever your song is, take advantage, turn it up and sing loud. I don’t care if you can’t carry a tune in a bucket and the person next to you at the light is looking. SING! Who cares what that person thinks. I personally love that girl/guy next to me having fun and not caring what others think. That person rocks!

When you have an extra dollar or two, and you are lucky enough to be the car that stops next to the person holding “the sign”, take advantage, give them a little and don’t forget to pray for them as you drive away. They might be swindling you, they might be buying drugs or alcohol with it, but they might be hungry and thirsty. I don’t know their story and who am I to judge them? What they do with that money is up to them, but I gave it to them because I trust they are telling me the truth. If they aren’t, that’s their issue to deal with later, not mine. I’ve given as little as one dollar, and even once a .50 cent bottle of water, but as little or as much as you give, I bet you won’t drive away without hearing, “Bless you.”

When you are blessed with a body that isn’t sick, that can walk and pick things up, take advantage and move your body to make it stronger and healthier. Why should you exercise? Because some people can’t and you can.

I know a God who forgives, extends mercy and grace. When I walk away, He pursues me, and when I return He’s there waiting with open arms. We shouldn’t take advantage of that kind of love, we should want to do the right things because we love Him. Having a relationship that loving, having the opportunity to spend time with Him every day, showing Him we love Him by keeping His commandments, spending time in the Word and speaking with Him continuously… those things we should take advantage of. He wants to take care of our hearts, our trials, our eternity and all we have to do is ask. Take advantage. John 3:16

I’m reading my own words. I don’t always take advantage, but I’m gonna try to remember to.
Love y’all.

2 Corinthians 9:8-11

8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 9 As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” 10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.

Jul
11

Have you ever known exactly what you want to say, but then can’t find the words to say them? That’s practically been my week and that’s why I write. For some reason my fingers find a way to say what my mouth can’t. My mind has been in a weird fog about life, where I’ve been, where I am and where I’m going. It’s been a challenging 2 years. Most people that know me and spend time with me, probably wouldn’t really know that, because I do a pretty good job at keeping pain to myself. Actually, I do a pretty good job of not dealing with pain. I like to ignore it. I’m positive my trials are very minor compared to most, but that doesn’t mean I can’t relate. But through every situation, I find that God is molding me and forming me into the person I’ve asked Him to make me. Since the beginning of 2013, until now, I’ve experienced every type of pain possible. I left my home of 30 years and moved up north, though it was my decision, it doesn’t mean I don’t miss my home. For a few months last year, one day each week, I’d get so sick that I could do nothing more than stay in bed except for making my way to the bathroom and then back to pass out again. It really made me appreciate my health. I fell in love with the most beautiful boy I’ve ever seen in my life, he’s only 20 months now, but he taught me a new way to love that I never knew possible. He moves next month, and I’m trying to figure out how to be okay with it, but if I’m alone and let myself think about it a second too long, alligator tears roll down my face. He loves alligators. 🙂 His two sisters have also wormed their way into my heart, turds. 😉 I loved them before but now I love them unconditionally. Some of my favorite moments of 2013-2014 were spent with them, playing Clue, Phase 10 and “truth” (that’s truth or dare without the dare), or watching Veronica Mars and One Tree Hill till we couldn’t keep our eyes open any longer. It’s amazing how little moments like that can be so precious. Please don’t take those things for granted. I hurt my back again in September for the 4th time in the past 7 years and it was really bad this time. And since that day in September I’ve hurt it twice since then, one of those times being this last Monday. I get so mad every time it happens, because I’ve been doing something I’ve absolutely loved each time I’ve done it. The first being softball and every time since then, lifting. I lost my granny back in October. Her death was a lot easier for me to handle than it was to see her slowly passing, and watching my mom cry. I know she’s better now and that’s comforting. One of my best friends moved 7 hours away last year, one of my best friends is moving across the country next month, and I have parted ways with a special boy that I loved very much with all my heart the last 5 years. This week has been the hardest so far and I hope that from here on out it gets a little easier. That my heart, my back and my little broken pinky toe (geez) are on the mend. I’m not saying any of this for sympathy. In fact, if you only knew how hard it is to share my feelings with y’all, you’d know that’s the last thing I’m looking for. I just know that many of you are going through similar situations and can relate to one or more of my pains. Now that I’d like to puke from being vulnerable, I’d like to share the silver lining. For every bit of pain that you feel, the healing process will make you stronger. When you get sore from tearing your muscles, when a broken bone or a broken heart finally heals, it comes back stronger. I know this to be fact. I’ve had all three numerous times. I have loved big and I have lost big, and I know it’s only going to allow me to love BIGGER. That’s actually really scary. I always say, “with big love comes big loss.” So I’m positive that with bigger love comes bigger loss. But I’m also sure that the bigger love will be worth it. It’s been a hard lesson, but I’m learning that it’s okay not to be happy all the time, and it’s okay to be sad and cry. I’m not sure where my hangup with that comes from, and I still might only do that in the privacy of God and myself, but at least I’m letting myself feel it. That’s a very big step for me. Many people have said to me this week and in the past, “maybe you need to stop lifting”…uhhhhh NO! Are you crazy? Do you know me at all? Although, I have decided some of my goals might have to change. That I guess I don’t HAVE to be the strongest girl in the gym (which I’m not, but that never stopped me from trying), I’m willing to spend more time on injury prevention and settle for being strong and not the strong-est. That’s gonna be hard and I’m gonna need a friend or two to remind me that I said that. I’m okay with some tough love, so feel free to give it.
I’m sure each of you have heard the uplifting sayings that end in “laugh often.” Well, often isn’t enough. I say, laugh every chance you get. It truly is the best feeling and sound that God created. Nothing can make your heart or even back feel better than true laughter. Even if I’m laughing so hard that I feel those sharp pains in my back, it’s the best feeling in the world, and in that moment I take in those sounds and feelings and hold onto them as long as possible.
I sing a song to my buddy sometimes when I get the chance to rock him to sleep, I don’t choose this one often but maybe I should, it says, “You have to give a little, take a little, let your poor heart break a little. That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love. You have to laugh a little, cry a little, till the clouds roll by a little. That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love. You’ve got to win a little, lose a little, yes, and always have the blues a little. That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love.” It’s just a reminder to myself that it’s okay to take and not always give. To let my heart break and come back stronger. To cry, but also laugh every chance I get, because those are my favorite moments. To win but it’s okay to lose if I tried my best. Never give up on the little things that bring you joy, like in my case, singing in my car, loving unconditionally, lifting big and playing softball when I get the chance. I’ll take my heart break as it comes, my back aches and broken bones telling me to “slow down and rethink your goals,” but I will never take for granted those talents that God gifted me with. I will use them for His glory and in Him I find my joy. “2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

Feb
05

I don’t mean the squat, bench and dead-lift (though they are important and will be covered by 1/3 of this blog). I wanna dig a little deeper into the soul than that. I have 3 major passions in life, and if I didn’t make them a priority, I’d be lost, unhappy and weak. These 3 passions are God, people and weight training. Take note that those aren’t in random order. They are listed from most important to least important. That doesn’t mean I always do things that way, but it’s my goal to not put any one in front of the other. How do God, people and weight training tie together to make sense of the title? Well…just keep reading. 

 
3 MAIN LIFTS
1. Lift your eyes toward God
2. Lift others
3. Lift heavy stuff (weights, people, cars are all acceptable)
 
Lift your eyes toward God: As laid back and carefree as some tell me I appear to be, let me tell ya, I fight anxiety (daily). Since Kindergarden, I can remember getting myself so worked up about testing that I’d get sick to my stomach. Before every high school softball game I’d throw up because I was so scared of messing up (<–not being good enough). I guess this mentality pushed me to study and practice, and that paid off by graduating high school/college with honors, and holding a career fielding average for my softball team. But that lack of faith I had in myself stole so much joy from my life and though better, I frequently let it steal my joy today. All of us battle with demons of today, our past and fear for our future (<–that one’s me).  Instead, of losing sleep, appetite and daily joy, we have to remember to every single day lift our eyes to God. We can’t defeat these demons and fears alone, we have to scream out for help. It’s the only way. Psalm 121:1I lift my eyes unto the hills. From where does my help come? 2 My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
 
Lift others: Loving, being selfless and putting your friends and family before you, even when it’s inconvenient, that’s being like Jesus. Even when I’m going through hardships of my own, I need to pray that God opens my eyes to the needs of others. I want to be there to pray, give a hug or lend an ear without being asked. I want to look past my own issues for a minute and pick up the friend that just lost her job, or is having financial problems, health issues, or is in/just got out of a bad relationship. Maybe by taking a moment to support a friend in need, I’ll realize my issues aren’t that bad and I should count my blessings. Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
 
Lift heavy stuff: This doesn’t only affect your physical health, but your mental health as well. Listen up! A weak physical body isn’t what God intended for us. The human body is the most amazing creation God ever made. He gave us the ability or should I say privilege to grow strong muscle. I don’t have time or the attention span to type all the benefits of weight training. Just a few include strengthening your bones, boosting your metabolism, having a better shape, you’ll become more awesome, happier (<–endorpins) and empowered. The pure excitement that over comes you as you physically push or pull a weight you never thought possible…it’s indescribable. I’m not just being crazy and speaking for myself here. I see women jump up and down and squeal as they hug me after I push them to add an extra 20 or even 50 pounds to what they were lifting the week before. Their body didn’t get that much stronger in the course of a week. They could have done it back then, but their mind was telling them they couldn’t. Oh, don’t let me forget about the boys! I’ve heard men grunt, then chest bump me and growl “that’s what I’m talkin’ bout!”, when they break an old personal record. It’s just plain fun! But to emphasize to you women one more time, there’s nothing wrong with being a strong girl. Proverbs 31:17 She dresses herself in strength and makes her arms strong. (<–Golly-Gee I love that one).  
 
I’m gonna do my best to keep these in the right order and practice each lift daily to become more proficient. 
Love y’all!
 
 
Nov
10

I’ve been struggling with fear this past week. I don’t like it. It makes me feel weak in my faith and frankly, it’s a pure joy-suck. I wasn’t able to attend small group last Monday, so my friends randomly drew a “spiritual experiment card” for me in my absence. Before I share the verse, let me share a little something about myself. At night when I sleep, I dream. Most would call these dreams nightmares. It’s been so long since I’ve had what we call a “sweet dream” that I can’t even remember my last one or if I’ve ever had one. Every night I dream and every night I either wake up scared, disturbed, confused or just sayin’ “what the crap?” I dream about snakes a lot. I HATE snakes. In fact, they are probably my absolute worst fear on this earth. They are quiet, they creep up on you and in my eyes that is evil! Ew, seriously the thought makes my skin crawl. I’ve looked up meanings before and I roll my eyes. Well, I have my own meaning. Plain and simple, It just symbolizes fear in my life. Fear is a sin. Sin is quiet and it creeps up on you. Where have I heard that before? 😉 I went to bed the other night and found myself scared to go to sleep because I was afraid of what I would see. After a few hours passed I got so mad at myself. Why was I allowing something that really can’t hurt me, control me? So what if I fall asleep and dream of snakes, or anything scary or disturbing. I’m still gonna wake up unharmed, because nothing in my dream can actually hurt me. That’s the speech I gave myself before I finally rested. My roommate can vouch for me that I shared my last snake dream and fear of having them with her a few days before small group. So, here is the verse that was drawn for me, and everyone’s was different…Luke 10:19 “Look, I have given you the authority to trample on snakes and scorpions, and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you!” Whoa! Is that a coincidence or what? I pick what, what being God. I know my big fear at this moment in my life and I want to conquer over it. I don’t want it to control me. I want to punch it in the face, and when it falls down I want to attack it and never stop attacking (those are words of advice my daddy gave me if any man ever tried to harm me. And also the advice the self-defense coach gives J-Lo in the movie “Enough”. Daddy swears they stole it from him. I love that movie and I love my daddy :)) Sometimes I allow the fear of my future to control me. I don’t know how many times in the last few years I said the words “I crave stability.” I almost had it at the beginning of this year. It was right at my fingertips. I could almost touch it, but I let it go for a greater purpose. This week as I had a few financial set backs and worry crept into my head I thought about what I gave up. I caught myself for the first time, wondering if I made the wrong decision. I had a good weekend with a great friend, some deep conversation, more friends, big hugs, a long quiet drive home, just me and God. Any music in my car came from words of worship from my mouth. I needed to hear Him and I wanted peace. I praised Him for all my blessings and for favoring me, I lifted up prayers for others, and told God I wasn’t satisfied with the love I give and my heart, and That I still want it to be more like His.  When I got home, I got on email and facebook to send a few messages to people that blessed me this weekend. While doing so, I ran across a message that in all honesty I shouldn’t have found because I don’t talk to this person anymore, but these are the words that I sent to them almost exactly a year ago…

The reason I’m so blessed with love is bc of Him (God). I really do feel like NKY is where I need to be. I look at people that God has put in my life and how He works through me there and not as much in Paducah and I think, why would He want me here when he uses me so much more up there? Life isn’t about stability, it’s about loving people and living for God. Nothing is stable BUT God. I have lost it all (job/financial stability) once before. Maybe thats what scares me, but I look at the other blessings that came from that loss and its amazeballs. I have to give God the chance to bless me and show his faithfulness as a Father. As i have to show Him i have faith that He will provide. It’s more than a job. It’s a mission. That’s what my work has always been and what I want it to continue to be.
 
Again…whoa! That’s exactly what I needed to read. I say all the time, “I want to be the Proverbs 31 woman.” One of my favorite verses in that chapter is Proverbs 31:25 “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” At times I can be really good at that, and at other times I fall short. If “she” is who I want to be than I have to constantly remember my own words. I have to have faith that God will always provide. In one week it will be 31 years that He has provided and never once let me down. Maybe year 31 will be the year I become “her”, that amazing woman that set the standards so high, that even on my tip toes I still can’t touch “her”. Maybe this won’t be the year, but I plan on being another inch closer. After the verse on my “experiment card” it reads, Write down an actionable way you’ll turn toward God this week. I didn’t write it down because I had no idea what I needed to do. But what I found is, I needed to drive in silence, talk and listen to His whispers. If we take the time to listen, He will answer. Truth.
Oct
26

I’m sitting here with ice on my back and 800mg of ibuprofen in my body. I think this makes the 4th time I’ve done this. It’s the same back injury that started back in 2006 while fielding a softball at first base (it hurt but I still got the out ;)). I can injure it while squatting, fielding a softball, deadlifting, moving a picnic table or picking up a sock. I can’t blame my injury on the pressure I put on my back in the gym, I agree it’s a lot, but I wasn’t a true lifter back in 2006 when it first occurred. I never pushed my limits back then like I do now. I didn’t even know what a dead lift was. I’ve been here before and there’s a good chance I’ll be here again. I hate resting, taking time off, and I hate set backs. Especially when I was really starting to love my new found strength. I’ve started over many times before, and I’ll do it again. I won’t stop lifting heavy, it’s what I love to do! So if anyone is thinking about telling me to do just that, you can say it and i’ll hear you (there’s a difference in hearing and listening), or you can read this and shake your head like you’re probably doing. Anyone who really knows me, knows I do what I want. I want to lift. I want to lift heavy. I want to improve my lifts and my technique, and I will. On a non-defiant note, I have promised myself that I’ll be more preventative this next go around. There will be more stretching and mobility training incorporated into my session. Everyone tells me I don’t take care of myself. They are half right and I appreciate that I have friends and family that care about my well being. And because I love them so much and because I hate sitting here, I promise y’all and myself that I’ll be better about this. And if my best friend/training partner agrees with me, there will be a warm up and stretch before every training session and a cool down and stretch afterwards. If she doesn’t agree, I guess I’ll do it alone and I’ll call her a “pot” (that would make me the kettle). I mean really, how many times do you think olympic, and professional sport athletes have injured themselves? What about the girl who had her arm bitten off by a shark and got right back in the water and turned pro? I’ve been hit in the jaw with a 60mph softball when I was 10, I tore my right ankle to shreds one summer sliding into 3rd base, I got my first black eye from a softball when I was 7, and again had that first back injury playing softball. These aren’t reasons to quit something you love, they are reasons to come back and work harder and they make you stronger. One of the first things I tell young athletes to remember is “pain is temporary”. What kind of leader and example would I be to quit? That’s dumb. It may take months till I’m fully able to give it my all but I’ll do it again. I have heart. When I love something or someone, I give it all my heart. No one can ever tell me I didn’t try and to me there’s a lot to be said for that. You fall down and you get back up. It’s life! Suck it up! 😉

Oct
13

Saturday, I had the privilege of training with five, strong, beautiful, intelligent ladies, whom I’m also blessed to call friends. Every other day of the week I have the privilege of training with my bff, Jenna…also strong, beautiful and the smartest person I know (she hates when I say that, but she really is). So, after training on Saturday, three of us sat in the parking lot for another 2 hours, chit-chatting about numerous things and enjoying the weather and each others company…WAIT! Lets stop for a second. I kinda feel the need to name drop right now, because I am more than proud to call these two girls, best friends as well. If y’all don’t know them you should want to, and think about looking them up. They are so beautiful from the inside out, and real. I love people that are real.  Sarah Vance and Hyla Conrad, I think you are both amazing plus some. And, Jenna Dunham, you’re the smartest person I know. 🙂 Back to my point, two good questions arose while I was with all three ladies this week. 1.) When did the definition of “fit” change from how our bodies physically perform to how our bodies physically look? 2.) When did the definition of “health” change from how our bodies physically work on the inside to how our bodies physically look on the outside? Interesting questions, huh? I think so. Why are none of us ever asked, can you show me how to make my body stronger and work more efficiently? Why is it not important to most women to be able to push more than 5 pound dumbbells over their heads? Instead it’s…”can you help me lose weight? I wanna be a size 4.” Here’s one of our thoughts during discussion, “odds are, if you focus on eating and training for a stronger, healthier, more energetic you, a better body will naturally come.” (See, I told ya my friends were smart!) Who told you that being a size 4 was the only way you will be happy, or the only way you will be loved and be beautiful? I’ve been a size 4. I likedthe way I looked, but even then I saw flaws in my body every time I looked in the mirror. Even worse, what I had to do for MY body to be a size 4, was under eat and over train. Due to those choices, I also never slept, never had a period, and had respiratory and digestive issues. I also found that my mind was totally consumed at all times with food and my workouts. My body doesn’t want to be a size 4. That body is weak and unhealthy. I’m not saying, if you are a size 4 you are weak and unhealthy. So please don’t take my words the wrong way. Everyone is different. Personally, I’m not supposed to be a size 4. As of today, yes, I’m bigger than I want to be, but I’m trying my best to do what I can so my body will heal from the damage that I did in my years past. Damage that came from trying to make my body “beautiful”. Whatever, social media’s view of beautiful! I don’t like you!!!! I was beautiful at a size 12 and I’m beautiful now! What my body does want to be is strong. It wants to sleep, it wants to eat more than 1200-1500 calories, and does NOT want to do an hour of cardio a day. By the way, if you live on a 1200-1500 calorie diet and do an hour of cardio a day, that’s not a “life style”. That’s a major calorie deficit, and you can’t live there! I did, and it’s not good, especially for a girl of my height and build. Now, with adequate calories, for the first time in my life, I’m not hungry, I’m sleeping without a prescription drug and for 8-10 hours a night. I haven’t taken my progesterone in 3 months and I’m still having a period, and no more respiratory or digestive issues, thank you Lord. As far as strength goes, even when I was weak, I was strong, but nowhere close to my strength i have now. I can safely deadlift over 300 lbs, push 150 over my head and just found out this week I can row a 120 pound dumbbell for numerous reps on each arm. That’s what my body was capable of and I didn’t even know it. I chose a different path for too many years. One that looked healthy from the outside. I lived up to the worlds standard of “fit and healthy” so much that I was in magazines, and was told daily for years, “I wanna look like you.” What it took for me to look healthy, ate away at my actual health and made me sick. I now don’t have the body that people want to see in magazines or in bikini’s by the pool, but it’s probably the healthiest and fittest body I’ve ever had and I’m only gonna continue to improve upon that in the right way. I pushed too hard for too long and now it’s time to be my version of healthy.  Thank you, to friends like Jenna, Sarah and Hyla, who to me are the epitome of health on the inside and out. Who eat and train for performance and in return have amazingly efficient, beautiful bodies. And thank you for pushing me each day, making me better and helping me to see myself the way y’all see me and the way God sees me. 

 
Blessed. Happy. Getting Healthy. 
Sep
25

I was asked today what my goals are. Since we were talking about me going to train later, I think she meant in the gym, but when I think about my goals, whether in the gym or in other areas of my life, they all intertwine. 

If I think of my goals in the gym, the first thing that comes to mind NOW is strength. For the longest time, that wasn’t always the case. Though strength has always been important to me, the body I saw when I looked in the mirror came before any other physical goal. My biggest focus was, “do what you have to, to get the body you want.” I’ll be honest and admit that it was an idol in my life. It started when I was 15. My softball coach told me I’d be a better player if I lost weight and was quicker on the field. Okay, softball was another idol of mine at the time and I wanted to be the best. Not just MY best but THE best. Not knowing anything about nutrition, I stopped eating, except for one meal a day after school. It was subway, everyday, for over a year. That’s right, I came up with the subway diet before Jared, and that’s truth. 😉 After school, I’d also spend an hour on the treadmill, along with a little bit of weight training. Did it work? Yes. I lost 50 lbs in less than a year. Did softball improve? Not really. My batting and fielding average stayed consistent for 4 years, whether I was 215lbs or 160. Did I gain more friends when I lost that weight? Nope. Same amazing ones all through high school. In fact, here’s a side story…they were so amazing that they asked one of my teachers to have an intervention with me because they all thought I was anorexic. Of course I denied it, because in my eyes I ate. I consumed an entire 1000 calories a day, give or a take a few. Knowing what I know now, that’s considered under eating. Especially for a girl of my height and build. Back to the main story…Did I become more popular? Nope. The only thing that changed from 215 to 160 was the way I viewed myself. I was more confident, and though still bigger, I was closer to the size of my friends. My only problem was, when I started eating normal again, the weight came back. Normal didn’t mean binge eating, it meant eating maybe 2500 calories a day. So, I’d drop my calories below 1200 again, lose the weight, eat again and gain the weight. Every time, when that weight came back, I no longer saw pretty. I saw fat, I saw weak because I didn’t keep it off, and I was disappointed in myself. I’m now almost 31, which means for over half my life I’ve been inflicting self abuse, both mentally and physically. I was telling myself lies everyday about the person I am. I was non-purposely starving myself, and pushing my limits so far in the gym that it took a toll on my physical health. But this is what I thought I had to do, to be just as beautiful as my friends. It wasn’t until 2 years ago I found out I have a lot endocrine issues that are hindering me from staying at my eyes idea of beautiful for myself. That’s when my goals started to change. My first goal was to stop the self abuse. I needed to start looking at myself, like I look at others and how God looks at me. I don’t look at my friends and focus on what they need to change. All I see is beauty. They are all different shapes, with different eye, hair and skin color. Different personalities and interests. There isn’t one type of beautiful. For me to even see their flaws I’d really have to sit back and think really hard. Of course, I’m not gonna do that because I don’t want to see them as any other way than I see them now, which is perfect. So just like I look at them, I needed to start looking at myself for the beauty and not the flaws. My main goal for women is for them to see in themselves what others see in them. It’s been a slow and very hard process for me the past 2 years. Do I hope to drop a few sizes one day? OH YEAH!!!!! As long as I can do it in a healthy manner. In the mean time, I just want to enjoy the gym with my best friends, keep beating my personal lifting records, gain good muscle, feel strong and accept my body in all it’s forms. This might be my best for a while and I can’t let that steal my joy or change who I really am. Those thoughts come from a dark place. They weren’t put there by God, friends, or family. They were put there in hopes that I would hide from the world, that I stop helping women achieve their goals and stop helping them see their own beauty. That’s the devils way of keeping us from doing God’s will of getting out there and spreading His love and joy to others. He’s smart, but God’s smarter and HE has opened my eyes to see things differently. He’s awesome like that, and my new goals, I believe were designed by Him.