Becoming the Best Version Of Yourself

When I started out as Personal Trainer 7 years ago, I recall giving a few pieces of advice that seemed to resonate with people. One of these “declarations” has come full circle for me as it was repeated to me almost verbatim at a retreat recently.

I uttered one little sentence to a woman in the locker room 7 years ago as she confided in me that she was struggling with making healthy food decisions, giving in to temptation everywhere she went. She was ready to throw her hands up in surrender and say, “Forget this, it’s too hard!”

Without much hesitation on my part (which is rare since I never seem to know quite what to say to people right away, I usually need a few minutes), I said to her: “It’s really not as difficult as you think it is. We all THINK it’s hard but you’re MAKING it hard. It’s simply about being aware. Constantly conscious. You have to be constantly aware and conscious of every decision you make, and that includes every time you open your mouth to eat or drink.”

I remember this woman looking at me and saying something like, “Wow, you’re so right. I never thought of it that way. Constantly conscious. Yeah. Wow, I’m totally gonna use that. Thanks!”

Color me surprised, I just gave advice to someone that they’re going to USE?!

This came full circle recently. At a retreat, one of the participants mentioned a talk given by Matthew Kelly, a popular Catholic speaker and author. He’s all about becoming the best version of yourself. He believes that God wants us to be the best version of ourselves, that we are called to be more than mediocre. We are meant to live authentic, purpose driven lives and that means being aware of our daily habits – Are we choosing things that will help us become the best version of ourselves? Or are we just seeking temporary pleasure instead of sustainable happiness?

Matthew Kelly’s favorite analogies is the Gym/Diet analogy.

It goes something like this: Think about a time you’re scheduled to get to the gym. It’s your day to workout.

Now think about the effort that goes into it. You’ll have to get your workout clothes ready, you’ll have to get in your car, drive to the gym, change in the locker room and then you finally get on the floor and you have to navigate your way around the gym while trying to avoid eye contact with peering eyes from strangers, find a machine/weights that are available and a bench, or other equipment, get your workout in, work up a sweat,take a shower and then get some food afterwards and then head home or to work.

For most people this might not seem like a lot of effort. A First World Problem if there ever was one, right? But what if you REALLY want to watch something on TV that night? Or what if you celebrated a birthday last night and you still have leftover cake in the fridge? What if you’re hungover from the night before? What if you have some beer and Doritos nearby? How much do you feel like working out now? Probably not very motivated.

And here’s the question Kelly proposes: Which of these options is going to help you become the best version of yourself?  Hitting the gym or sitting at home eating crappy food?

I think we all know the answer to this question.

But wouldn’t it be nice if we were “constantly conscious” of this every time we went to reach for the Doritos instead of the gym bag?

I have told my clients to put something on their fridge/cupboards or even your screensaver/wallpaper on your phone (since we are one those constantly) which issues the same “challenge:” Is this food going to help me reach my goals or will it deter me and send me back to square one? If I eat this/drink this, will I feel temporary pleasure or will I feel sustained happiness?

It’s essentially asking the same thing as Kelly:

If we are aiming to become the best version of ourselves, what does that look like? What does that person look like? When you look in the mirror, do you want to see someone who has made poor choices with regards to his/her life? I assume no. We want to see someone who will not only be happy in their own skin, but they inspire others to become the best version of THEMselves as well due to their consistent habits of choosing happiness over temporary pleasure.

So this is my challenge to my readers, my clients, anyone who wants to become the best version of themselves: Start to become constantly conscious of your surroundings, of your actions, of your habits. Once you have this constant awareness, you are much less likely to make poor decisions. And this includes more than just food. This includes LIFE decisions.

You only have one body, one life. Take care of it. Treat it like the gift that it is.dynamic

  • In need of someone to help coach you to the best version of yourself? Matthew Kelly sends out Daily Food For Thought via email. You can subscribe to that here.
  • If you’d like more of a hands on approach with regards to your dietary and fitness habits, I can help. Here’s a link to my online coaching services. If you’d like to ask more questions about my services, reach out to me! I’m always easily accessible through email. FromFitoFigure@gmail.com

-Michelle

Social Media Overload: How to Manage Your Social Media Addiction

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With the latest social media addiction called Periscope, I have already seen the downside of how social media can cause some negative habits creep into my life, personally. I actually did “scope” about it on Monday. Oh the irony! But people said it helped them. And even just talking about it helped me immediately. So let me give you some pointers.

A quick word about Periscope: It’s basically Twitter with video but you have more than 140 characters to deliver your message. Think YouTube video with live comments. Or like a Google+ Hangout but only one person’s face is visible. Some say Persicope won’t last or that it’s not THAT big of a deal but I have heard differently. I can see firsthand how this will change the way we watch TV actually. Some TV shows, like home improvement and makeover shows, are starting to broadcast from Periscope. Yeah the video quality isn’t as great as your HD TV, but it’s LIVE. And we love LIVE content. It’s like we are right there with them. And we can TALK BACK to our “TV” this way! Very interactive and fun…and, yes, addictive.

But here are some things I’ve learned from just being a “Scopeaholic” after one week. And these tips can be applied to FB and Twitter as well.

1. Be selective with your following/friends. Good old Facebook gave us the gift of “unfriending” people but they also added that lovely feature, “Unfollow” and “Hide from timeline.” Ahhhhh, relief. We no longer have to see that friend of ours vent about the latest candidate running for office or Aunt Sally posting pictures of her latest crocheting project (Isn’t that what pinterest is for anyways?) or look at all our high school friends become engaged/married/pregnant/divorced. Best of all, we can unfollow that “guy who always posts every detail of his life.”  With Twitter, you can “Mute” people and “turn off Retweets.” That’s one of my favorite features. Some of my tweeps just RT all day and it really clogs up my timeline making it hard for me to seek out those that I really want to see.

As for Periscope, the big thing is “Sharing.” We are constantly bombarded with requests from our followers to “Watch this scope!” when the last thing we want to do is get back on our phone and sit through a boring broadcast just because the broadcaster told you to share it! Unfortunately, the only answer to this problem on Periscope is to turn off notifications all together. But I found the next best thing which brings me to point #2.

2. The Do Not Disturb Button is your friend. I don’t know what Android users have but iOS devices have this lovely feature that puts your phone essentially asleep. YAY! No more sound effects altering us that someone is “scoping.” Or someone replied to one of our status updates or some replied to one of our tweets. Relief! The downside is that now you won’t know when anyone calls or texts you until you check your phone. Bummer.

3. Schedule Your Social Media time. Put it in the calendar if you must. For someone like me who depends on a lot of the internet to drive my business and get me some new clients, I can’t afford to just deactivate all my accounts. One of the perks of cross-pollenating on all major social media networks is that I am highly accessible. So I have learned to schedule my scoping time. I also have my Tweets from my blog match up with my Facebook Personal Trainer page so no worries on having to double up on that. My “personal” Facebook page is a whole other story. It’s touch to schedule something like Facebook when that’s where I get a lot of my news. But, I resolved this problem by subscribing to The Skimm. They send out an early morning newsletter daily that literally is just the headlines and a few sentences so you can sound intelligent when someone asks you “Whats the latest news with Yemen?”

5. Stop Getting Sidetracked. I was noticing that during my short time of being addicted, that I neglected my usual morning routine. I had it down pat for practically 2 years and then this darn thing came along and I was totally thrown off my game! I have a usual routine that consists of reading the Daily Scripture Readings (oh there I go talking about my faith again, sorry) and thanking God for a list of things I’m grateful for and then I end with a prayer from St. Thomas Aquinas. Well…I forgot to do these things for just 2 days in a row and boy was I a mess. It would be like if you had gotten on a fitness kick for 2 years and then one day you woke up and the gym you used to go to every morning was replaced with a diner that served all your favorite foods. “Oh…well I can find another gym. Everyone needs to eat breakfast and it’s not so bad! Oh yummy, is that French toast?”

And how many of us check our phones first thing in the morning? How awful is that? Or what about the radio station we put on when we get in our car? The songs you listen to can definitely have an effect on your mood: “Damnit if I hear Sam Smith whine one more time about Staying with Me I’m gonna puke!”

What about if we check social media first thing in the morning? Ugh. Talk about setting the tone for the day, yikes! Don’t let what someone posted on FB interfere in your life and ruin your day. Don’t let a tweet you saw this morning bring you down. Of course, checking your phone first thing in the morning can also set your mood in a good way if you read or hear something uplifting. It all goes back to rule #1: Be careful who you follow.

Sidenote: I ended up creating a secondary Twitter account where I only follow positive tweeters. I check that more often and my day is immediately brightened. And no I will not reveal the name of my screen name. My little secret happy world, get your own. ;)

4. Is this a waste of your data? Before you comment, tweet, post, or scope, ask yourself if this is going to be a good use of your time. Pretty sad it has come to this right? But I always think, “Would this be something I would be able to say to someone’s face?” If you don’t have the guts to post something because you think it will offend someone or cause a conflict, and you’re legit concerned you could get fired or get reprimanded for it, by all means don’t post it.  But if you’re posting or sharing something to generate a discussion, I’m all for it! Educate, spread positivity, but try and keep it brief. Time is something we don’t get back and you don’t want to waste it by being on an electronic device all day.

Scope Safely, Tweet Wisely and Post Smart Everyone!

-Michelle

Put Down Your Phone and Pick Up A Book

A popular saying among fitness people and gym rats is, “Do you even lift?”  This is usually directed towards the male  population in a mocking tone to those boys who don’t take strength training too seriously.

But lately, I think the bigger question is, Do you even READ? Do you even do research? I’m not quite sure anyone does when it comes to working out. Why would they? Why would anyone when we have social media to instruct us on how to work out and eat and diet…and live. Right?

No..not so much. Books are still relevant, in my opinion. It’s still the best medium to get a message out there, and it’s especially useful for longevity. People need to refer, quickly, back to a resource. And what’s quicker than just flipping through a book? Yeah yeah, you could download a book to your electronic device but doesn’t anyone else just LOVE to hold a real book in their hands anymore? Plus, I LOVE to highlight in my books. And you can’t really do that on a Kindle. At least not the old fashioned way.

In an effort to get everyone back to reading the old fashioned way, and as way to keep myself from repeating myself a bazillion times on social media, I wanted to put together an easy way for my readers to see what I’m reading and what I recommend, especially when it comes to diet and fitness. Theres a ton of misleading information out there and I feel it’s important to share the relevant and well-researched information. Not just copying a workout you saw on YouTube. Let’s get back to really researching what works best and calling out those quick fix, hokey, quackery looking, scamming authors who just put out books to sell garbage and make a buck.

So without further ado, I present to you my Amazon.com Store! (I included an extra page at the top of my site as well as a link on the sidebar. And I’m including it here so you have no excuse not to give it a visit. What am I recommending?

Four categories:

Fitness Books

Diet and Healthy Living Books

Fitness Gear: All my favorite products that I own/use on myself and my clients

Miscellaneous Faith-Based Books: since my faith is huge part of who I am, I thought why not show you what I’ve been reading and what has changed my life

That’s it! Simple.

Also, if you missed my post about Periscope from last week, be sure to follow me if you are on Twitter (@fromfittofigure) and download the app. You will become quickly addicted, I promise! :)

 

-Michelle

 

An Alarm(ing) Diet Tip

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So I’ve been utilizing my latest tip for about a year now and I feel like a brat for keeping it all to myself and not sharing it with my awesome readers.

It’s pretty simple actually and it’s really not anything mind blowing. But the few people I mentioned it to responded with, “Wow, that’s a REALLY good tip!”

Color me surprised, I finally thought of something worthwhile to share! So here it is:

I set several alarms on my phone via an app called “Alarmed.” It’s free to download and it works pretty easily. You just set an alarm to go off either daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly. You could use it for Birthdays, Anniversaries, Pay your Bills, Write for the blog, Make that doctor appointment, etc.

I used to use it for these things until one day I decided to start setting reminders about my diet. This was at a point when I felt like I had lost control over my cravings and had to take steps to at least TRY to combat them.

So I set this app to alarm me at several times throughout the day when I would be most likely to binge or cheat with phrases like:

“Don’t cheat on your diet tonight.” – Reminded me that my cravings could be controlled.

“You’re making great progress, keep going.” – Reminded me that I wanted to be consistent in order to see results.

“Remember how fortunate you are that have food to eat…” – Reminded me how blessed I am and how plenty of people don’t have enough to eat.

“Be an example to your clients and your fitness family.” – Reminded me that my fitness family includes my readers, my blog readers, my social media followers, etc not JUST my clients.

Some are faith based and could be my own personal mantra/prayer or sometimes it’s a scripture passage but regardless of anyone’s beliefs, I think we can all agree that we only get ONE body in this life right? :) So, with that being stated, I have used some of these “alarms” as well:

“Your body is a temple, don’t destroy it with junk.” – And not just junk food but junk tv shows, junk music, junk movies, junk social media, etc.

“God, not food, is who is in control of me.” – For my non-believer readers, you can adjust this to say something like “Food does not control me, I am in control.”

“Pursue holiness in all you do.” – Self explanatory but could also be interpreted as “Pursue good and avoid evil.”

“Untwist in me what is twisted.” – I stole this from author Christopher West. Technically you could call it a prayer but when used with a diet mindset, you’re asking that all those negative thoughts that are twisted up inside your mind telling you how you’re going to fail, that this is too hard, that you’ll never lose this weight, you’ll never achieve success and untwists those to reveal the truth. Don’t believe the lies of the scale, don’t believe the lies that the media portrays about beauty and fitness, untwist what is twisted and get yourself set up to succeed.

I hope this little tip was helpful. I use it everyday and most days, it works for me. Some days I admit, I ignore the alarm and I “snooze” through it. But that’s okay! I just move on and start fresh before that next alarm goes off.

-Michelle

Periscope – Get On Board!

Have you heard of Persicope? If you’re on Twitter, you probably have by now. Sounds like Twitter created this video app that allows you to “broadcast” from your phone whatever you want. Then your followers can view what you’re recording and add comments/ask you questions.

Think Chat Room meets YouTube is probably the best way to describe this.

What are people broadcasting? Well, it depends on who you’re following. Just as on Facebook or Twitter, people post whatever interests them, their opinions, photos of their kids/dogs, etc., You have the option of unfollowing or “hiding” them from your feed. Persicope is the same way. Currently I follow a variety of people like comedian Jim Gaffigan, personal trainer and fitness model Gregg Avedon, and then a slew of people that I found through just searching “Who to follow.”

So far, I’ve watched “scopes” (broadcasts) of everything from a Memorial Day Parade just a few towns over from me, to Jim Gaffigan hosting a party, to a woman in Montreal showing us a canal built in 1812, to a man in Melbourne Australia discussing his preworkout routine, to a woman taking a hike in the mountains of California, to Chris Hardwick (from The Talking Dead) show us a concert in Vienna benefitting HIV/AIDS research.

As you can see, the possibilities are plentiful for whatever you wish to broadcast. And if no one is awake when you decide to broadcast, if they follow you, they can watch what you “scoped” for up to 24 hours. Right now I’m watching a woman in England walk around a park and show us some castles.  Yesterday I watched a man take a trip somewhere in Boston Massachusetts in his plane.

This got me thinking: What can I scope? What would people care to see from a personal trainer? Would I limit it to just fitness or could I scope what’s happening around town? If it’s just fitness, what do people want to HEAR and SEE as opposed to just READ? I posed the question to a woman who has just started scoping and she did a scope specifically addressing my question which was super nice. She suggested things like meal prep tips, a Q & A on health and fitness in general, an actual WORKOUT that people can do along with me, simple cooking tips, etc.

With that being said…I’m developing some ideas on how to use this newest app. We all know in this day and age, these apps come and go sometimes. What is popular one day could be obsolete the next. So in a year I could be saying, “Remember that time I thought Periscope was the coolest things since sliced bread?!” :)

I really hope not. If this takes off, I think it has a ton of potential to connect people in a more meaningful way.

If you care to follow me, my screen name is the same as my Twitter: @FromFitToFigure.

Stay tuned….literally!

When The Fire Dies Out, Find a New Campsite

So it’s 13 weeks until my next figure competition and I am completely unmotivated to do anything about it.

Workout-wise, I’m doing well. No big problems there.

Diet-wise? That’s another story.

I’m not quite sure where the motivation and energy and fire went, but it is long gone and I can’t seem to get it back. I tried logging my food, thinking the accountability of my clients and random friends on My Fitness Pal checking in might help. It has helped a bit, but I’m still not all in.

I’ve tried going to my favorite fitness competitor’s websites and checking out their progress pics. That sorta worked but it didn’t seem to illicit any feelings of “YEAH!!! LET’S DO THIS!”

I’ve tried reading my old blog posts from when I first trained two years ago. Nostalgia, right? Eh…I just ended up critiquing my writing style in some of them. ;)

I’ve tried to pinpoint exactly why I cannot seem to take this goal seriously like I did the first time.  I came to a few conclusions as to why this time around I am not as enthused about it:

  • This isn’t the first time. Now that I know what to expect, I’m not EXCITED as much as I’m DREADING it because I’m thinking of all the negative aspects of competing instead of the positive ones.
  • I’m.busier than before. I have several social events coming up in the next two months including a wedding across the country, a week long retreat in Pennsylvania, and a class reunion in less than a month.  I want to look forward to attending and instead I’m  sitting here thinking “How can I fit a cooler on to a plane?” and “I wonder if I can fit in a workout before the rehearsal dinner?”
  • I’m distracted. I’ve been reading a lot of books on religion and Catholic doctrine and Christianity and although I’ve ALWAYS known that there is more to life than 6pack abs, I can’t seem to find a balance between living the “fit life” and exercising my mind as well. Granted I’m reading other books too but I also want to travel and hang out with my family and friends and sometimes I think training prevents me from doing this.
  • My family won’t be able to attend the show. I will have a large audience of friends in support of me there at the show but as soon as I found out the majority of my immediate family couldn’t make it, I  felt like maybe this wasn’t meant to be. It’s super important to me that they be there and if they aren’t, I won’t take it as seriously as I should.

I’ve talked to my trainer/friend/co-worker Chris about this the other day and we agreed that if I am not into this, let’s not push it. BUT, this doesn’t get me off the hook. He suggested I find something that DOES spark that fire in me that I could shoot for. In other words, as the title of this post suggests, FIND a NEW goal because this competition just ain’t cutting it.

So, with that said, I discussed the possibility of sticking to the plan of training and attempting to diet and just training to look great for summer! The wedding that I’m in takes place in mid-July. I went to try on the dress and order it today. I tried on a size 6 and although it fit, it was a tad snug. So, there’s my motivation!

I’m not about to SQUEEZE into a dress in the sweltering July heat for my friends wedding and look like I barely fit into this dress. Granted, no one looks at the bridesmaids at weddings, all eyes will be on her. :) But, it’s motivating me to take things more seriously.

And, the best part is, if by some chance I happen to look pretty good and feel pretty good at the wedding, there will still be a month left to prep for the competition, if I choose to do it.

If not, I will take my own advice and book a photo shoot, the one that I wanted to do LAST summer but didn’t because I got lazy and didn’t want to diet. Hmm….I’m sensing a pattern with myself.

Either way, I have found new motivation: July 18th is the wedding for my friend. Progress pics will be taken next week.

Let’s Do This!!

Repeat After Me

I don’t eat the junk food because I don’t buy the junk food.

I don’t buy junk food because I can walk past the junk food at the store.

I see the junk food but I don’t want the junk food.

I don’t want the junk food because I’ve had the junk food before…and it aint that good.

I don’t eat the fast food because I didn’t cook the fast food and I’m not entirely sure what’s in the fast food.

I didn’t cook the fast food so instead I eat the food I did cook.

I eat the food I cooked because it’s usually 100% better than the fast food anyway.

I drive past the drive thru because I spend enough $ on the real food.

I don’t get hung up about my weight because I don’t weigh myself everyday.

I don’t weight myself everyday because I don’t care about the weight that much.

I don’t care about the weight that much because I know I’m not a reflection of a number.

I don’t complain about my physical flaws because they can’t talk back to me anyways.

I appreciate the flaws I have because it’s a reminder I am not perfect and I’m human just like everyone else.

I drink water instead of pop because water tastes awesome to me.

I don’t buy the pop because I hate the taste of sugar coating my teeth.

I drink water because I listen to my body and it desires good things that give me energy.

I don’t  have the bad food or drink the sugary stuff too often (but I do sometimes and that’s okay!) because my body feels like garbage after I eat and drink that stuff.

And the more I eat and drink the junk stuff, the more my brain tricks me into thinking I want more of them…and then it’s back to….

…I don’t eat the junk food because I don’t buy the junk food…