Is it money? Time? A successful career? A big home? The dream job?
If you saw where this was going, you already know that it's none of the above. The number 1 predictor of happiness is the quality of our connections and relationships. This is what I call, your "choir." Our relationships and connections are our choir. These are the people that pick us up when we are down, no matter what. Choirs are ever changing, and grow and develop as we do. Your choir doesn't have to be big. You just need ONE good friend, ONE good person who's got your back and who loves and supports you no matter what.
We need people in our lives that sing our praises for the times when we don't sing our own. I certainly learned this lesson the other week when I wrote my blog post about "throwing in the towel." I felt truly alone. I felt like I had no choir. I wasn't even in my own choir. But out of the woodwork, came so many choir members to let me know that I was not alone, and to remind me of my purpose. To press on. There in lies my first mistake. I had stepped out of my own choir. I hadn't been singing my own praises. You must be in your own choir.
We all need a choir because WE is more powerful than ME. We are more powerful together than we are alone, and that's why having a choir, even if it's just ONE other person is so important.
If you've ever felt unhappy, it's time to work on building your choir. Don't get overwhelmed with adding people just to add numbers. Really truly think about who you want to add.
My rules for adding people into my choir:
Do you make the cut for your own choir? Having a choir is one of the most important things we need as humans for the sake of our happiness. We need social connection. It's why I believe so strongly in the power of retreats where we get the opportunity to create relationships and connections. It's why I believe in the power of WE, and that we are stronger together, than we are alone. It's why in the Trainer In Your Back Pocket, we are a tribe, rather than just individuals.
There's no denying that when we feel lonely, we simultaneously feel unhappy. Maybe your choir needs more practice. Or maybe you need to make cuts from or additions to your choir. Maybe you forgot to put yourself in your own choir. No matter what, if you want to find happiness, you've got to begin building your choir. We simply cannot do it all alone. It's why the "S" in our MEDS is essential. That Social connection is key indicator of happiness.
So, if you're an introvert like I am, and you find it intimidating to reach out to your choir, I hope you find comfort in knowing that your choir is always there for you, whether you reach out or not. Maybe a simple phone call, text, or hand written letter to let your choir members know that you appreciate them will not only help you feel happiness, but them too. I guarantee you'll feel happiness when you reach out and let your choir know how appreciative you are!
Feeling stuck? In need of a new choir to help you achieve your health and fitness goals? You're always invited to join the Trainer In Your Back Pocket tribe, where you'll have a group of supportive, like-minded individuals who are constantly striving to be stronger both on the inside and out. We also have powerful women-only well-weekend retreats each year, to connect, and grow our choirs. We got you!
This shit is hard. Believing in something so much, working so hard for 10 years to make it become a reality, and still struggling to make it work has been the biggest test of my willpower. It would be so easy to quit. To give up. To throw in the towel. But I can't. And I won't.
Last month, I attended a fitness convention for the gym that I work at part time. I sat in the crowd, listening to all of the "new additions" into online training that the big box gym plans to implement. I crumpled into my seat. I slowly retreated. I may have even brushed away a few tears. This brand new online training module that the gym plans to launch is the "new craze." It's "never been done before," and it's "cutting edge." As I listened closely, I shrunk even more. My confidence sank. My soul got crushed that day.
For the past 6 years, I have put my heart and soul, and every resource that I have, into building the best damn online fitness training program I could possibly create. For 6 years, I've been building, from the ground up, the Trainer In Your Back Pocket (TBP) program. I spend every moment innovating a program that combines not only fitness workouts, but nutrition and wellness, mindset and accountability, and most importantly community. So, to sit in the crowd, and hear that "it's never been done before" left me feeling a little less than worthy.
I thought it would pass. I thought the feeling of being a small bug getting squashed by the big corporations would lessen. But it didn't. What the F* am I doing? Why bother pushing, hustling, when, 6 years later, it hasn't rewarded me (financially)? I'm no fitness model. I'm no Social Media guru. I'm just me; a slightly overweight lover of improving my health, exercising, and living a healthy, inspired life. Luckily I have two educational degrees to back up my passion and knowledge for health and fitness.
Well, enough is enough. I needed a perspective change this week. It was time to swap my focus from being a squashed bug, to helping those who want my help. If I was in this for the money, I'd have given up 5 years ago. The Trainer In Your Back Pocket (TBP) is so much more than a paycheck. It's my chance to help spread health to a sick, unhappy, and unhealthy world. I must keep pressing on. My dreams for this program are to help so many more people find their true powerful greatness within.
So, in order to force a perspective change, I pulled out the trusty white board in my office, and began creating a list of all the great additions to the TBP program that I implemented this year, and all of the things I want to add to the program next year. As the list grew, my mindset began to change. Holy moly, I did a ton this year! I added so much value to the already value-filled TBP program. Not only did I implement the coolest training tool yet, the MYZONE fitness tracker, but I put together so many bonus programs, like Awesome Abs April, Amazing Arms August, March Madness, the TBP Travel-Fit-Kit, and the 100 Woman Blood Sugar Project. I was busy! This is on top of all the content that I create and provide each month with the monthly workout plans, weekly workout videos, nutrition challenges, and wellness challenges. As I made my lists on the white board, I also got inspired to create some new projects for 2018, and I can see the great value in the upcoming year ahead. It was just the motivational push from behind, and inspirational "carrot" into the future, that I needed to turn off the self-doubt.
So, if the big box gym wants to do their thing, BRING IT! The Trainer In Your Back Pocket is the place where everyday people can come to feel connected, loved, inspired, and know that they are getting the best damn fitness and nutrition advice out there.
So, with that long rant, I want to send lots of love to you all, and a million thank you to my TBP tribe who supports the Trainer In Your Back Pocket program year after year. You guys are the reason I continue!
'Till the cows (let me) come home!
I originally started "Adventure Wednesdays" about a year and a half ago to stave off the loneliness and depression of deployment #6. If you're an Air Force spouse stationed at Travis, AFB, you know that you spend a lot of time alone without your better half. It seems that they're either deployed or on trips more than half of the year. Lately I haven't been going on weekly adventures like I used to, but I still try to do at least one adventure per month for my own sanity. This week's adventure brought me just 45 minutes down the road to Richmond, CA and Wildcat Canyon Regional Park.
I had never even heard of this park before a couple weeks ago until one of my Trainer In Your Back Pocket members, Tami, posted a photo in our private TBP Facebook group from a hike she did with her family. I quickly did some research, and decided that I needed to get to that park and hike too! Plus, it's always 20 degrees cooler in the bay area, so 85 degrees at home was just 65 at there! That meant I could take my boxer, Timber, and not have to get up at the crack of dawn to "beat the heat."
I arrived at the Alvarado Staging area, which had plenty of parking, no park fees, trail maps, and was super easy to find off the freeway. There was one semi-clean port-o-potty in the parking area. Just at the end of the parking lot, you enter the main trail, Wildcat Creek Trail. This is a wide "road" trail, partly paved, partly dirt/gravel road. It's the "main road" of the park's trail system. It seemed like most people take their dogs out on this "trail" for their "neighborhood walks." Dogs can be off leash on this path, but I kept Timber on leash, mainly because we were new, and didn't know what to expect around each bend.
The trail was well marked, with each offshoot trail labeled very well on the map, and they all show up on google maps. It's hard to get "lost." I felt super safe being a solo gal with her dog on this trail. If you're a runner, this would be a great trail to run.
About 2 miles down the trail, I turned left on Havey Canyon Trail, in my attempt to follow the route found in the Bay Area Hiker webpage. This trail was much more of a "hiking trail" than the Wildcat Creek Trail. It was single track, lined with trees, and quite a bit of incline, which I love, and it smelled great! Once I got to the top of the Havey Canyon Trail, I turned left onto Nimitz Way, and for the first time, I felt a little uneasy being there alone with my dog...
Why did I start to feel uneasy? Well, I apparently entered the cow grazing area of the mountain, and there were larger than life cows lining the path, and at some points, blocking the path. Cows are generally docile animals, but I have seen cow attacks, and since I had my dog with me, I didn't want to startle or bother them. (I may have started talking to the cows as we passed, asking them for permission for us to pass... is that weird?) My only other option was to turn around and retrace my steps all the way back to the "safe" Wildcat Creek Trail. I pressed on past the first set of cows.
About 500 yards up a little farther, I came to my next cattle gate. This time there were 4-5 more cows staring at me, and one looked like he was telling me to turn around and never return. I asked them for permission to pass, literally talking to them like they were gate keepers, but of course they just stared at me and didn't move. I didn't want to take any chances with these animals. They are much larger than I am! I contemplated doing a U-turn right there, and looking for the nearest street exit from the trail system so I could call an Uber ride back to my car. I think I spent about 5-10 minutes there, just simply waiting for the cows to disappear by magic or something.
Then, out of thin air (or rather, emerging from the fog on the other side of the cows), were two "guardian angel hikers." I call them my "cow angels." They were coming up the path toward me, from the other side of the cows. The one cow that was blocking the path moved out of the way and let the two ladies pass. This gave me hope that I could pass too. I waited for the Cow Angels to make it to me, and I asked them if there are lots more cows from the trail that they came up on, which was the one I was planning to return on. They said YES, there are lots of cows out. So now, I was even more freaked out. I asked them if they knew the best way to return with the least amount of cows. They said I should take the Leonards Trail back down to the Wildcat Creek Trail, because the Mezue and San Pablo Trails had lots of cows out today.
I knew this would add 2 extra miles onto my planned route, but once back on the Wildcat Creek Trail, at least I know there would be no cows. The Leonards Trail was a nice steady downhill after all the climbing I did to get there, and thankfully, the cows were over on the Mezue trail from what I saw. Phew, the Cow Angels saved me!
Once I made it back on the Wildcat Creek Trail, feeling relieved and safe, Timber and I jogged the two miles all the way back to the car. Thankfully the cooler temps in the Bay Area allowed Timber to be able to tackle the extra two miles, and I always carry extra water "just in case."
Overall, I loved it! As a solo gal with her dog, I would absolutely recommend the Wildcat Creek Trail. I probably wouldn't do any of the other trails again unless I went with some friends, and I'd probably leave the dog at home for those trails too.
Here's a link to the map of my 8 mile route.
I have two passions. One, of course, is learning and teaching about health and wellness. The second is traveling and exploring! We're into summer now, where many of us have planned vacations and travel. It's a busy time of year when we tend to step out of our regular routine, and into a little bit of the unknown. I love this! Routine gets mundane if we don't step out of it and change it up every once in a while. But there are a few parts of our routine that we don't want to step out of. These are the parts that make us healthier. These are the parts that give us "feel good power." There's no use in traveling and exploring if we're not feeling good.
Even when you travel, it's absolutely imperative to move your body to maintain your "feel good power." You may not be able to get in your normal workout routine while on the road, but you've at least got to move your body. This will help your entire system function better, eliminate toxins (usually you're ingesting foods that are not as organic or home cooked as you may eat normally, and thus your body has more toxins to eliminate), and keep your lymphatic system flowing so that your immune system remains healthy. When you travel, you're exposed to new (and sometimes toxic) environments, foods, people, and places. You want to give your body the best chance it has to stay in top condition through these added stressors. Maybe you're in a hotel with unknown mold in the walls. Maybe you're on an airplane next to a sick toddler. Exposure to toxins is elevated every time you travel.
Exercise is key to keeping your body working efficiently with this heightened toxin exposure.
When I travel (for vacation), I'm usually a little more relaxed than in my normal daily routine. This is great because my body has more resources to fight off any of this travel toxin exposure, since it doesn't have to worry about normal daily stressors. I don't have to do work. I don't have to answer emails first thing in the morning. I can create my own relaxed schedule. I try to wake up without an alarm, and then head off to move my body first thing. Usually this happens while everyone else is still sleeping. It's my chance for a little alone time before a day of enjoying friends & family.
If I am at a hotel, I'll usually make an effort to head to the hotel gym or stairwell and run the stairs. If there is no gym, or place to run outdoors, I'll make my hotel room my gym. I do this quite often, even when there is a hotel gym. In fact, I've walked out of hotel gyms to do my workout in the room, because the gym was too crowded.
I've had so many clients ask me how they can stay active while traveling this summer, and all I ask is: "How do you stay active when you're at home?" Here is my answer.
If traveling is a passion of yours, or you simply want to maintain your health, you've got to make time for exercise, even when you're on the road. You don't need a gym. You don't need equipment. You just need to do those three things mentioned above.
So this year, I took the guess work away from all of my clients. I created a Travel-Fit-Kit that has 30+ bodyweight and mini-band workouts in it that they can do while traveling! Some workouts take just 5 minutes. Some take 45 minutes. All you have to do is decide which workout you'd like to do, plan it into your day, and then do it! Many times while I'm traveling, I only have 5-10 minutes to workout, and that's ok! I'll choose a short core or hiit workout to do. Never underestimate the power of a 10 minute workout!
I want to invite you to get your Travel-Fit-Kit too, because when you move your body, you become happier, healthier, less toxic, and better able to enjoy your travels! Let's travel together this summer!
The Trainer In YOUR Back Pocket
Are you overwhelmed with everything going on in your life? Can you make it through the day without multiple cups of coffee or a nap? (I am absolutely guilty of needing these things way more often than I'd like to admit). I mean, you've got work demands, family duties, social obligations, personal development, your own health, and if you're a busy woman like me, you've got a million other daily tasks to perform. How do we find the time to do it all without draining ourselves anymore? How do we avoid this overwhelm?
As many of you know, this past year, I've taken upon myself to start a morning routine, where I listen to something inspiring or educational before I begin my day. It began as a challenge in my 42 Days to Fit & Feeling Good course. Some days my morning routine includes listening to a podcast, sometimes it's a meditation or a webinar, or a youtube video. This week, my morning routine has consisted of listening to the Business Bootcamp Telesumit that my friend and fitness business colleague, the amazing Angela Hubbs developed.
In one session Angela interviews soulful business strategist, Lee Murphy Wolf, and they discuss this topic: Start with ONE. It reminded me that we need to SIMPLIFY. It reminded me of how real of a problem "overwhelm" is for many of us, and that the last thing I want to do is create more overwhelm in myself and in my world. I immediately thought about my Trainer In Your Back Pocket program (TBP). In the TBP program, we have A LOT of moving parts. We have the monthly fitness plans, the weekly workout videos, the monthly nutrition and wellness challenges, running clinics, and so much more. It's A LOT, and, for the newbie in the program, it can absolutely seem overwhelming, and that's the last thing I want a new TBPer to feel! Listening to Lee and Angela speak about simplifying, reminded me that I need to do a better job at explaining to my clients that we don't have to do it all. And, relating back to the TBP program, while I give you all the tools that you could possibly need to enhance your overall health, we all need to do a better job at simplifying. We all need to START WITH ONE.
So, what does "start with one" mean for improving your health? It means, let's narrow down our goals to the top one. If we start with just one thing, it can't be overwhelming, right? For those of you who are trying to increase your fitness, and at the same time completely change your diet, and maybe also read some personal development books to improve your mindset, you may quickly fall into the overwhelm category. When that happens (it's happened to me many times), you just want to throw in the towel and give up, right? And in many cases, we do just that. We give up and say that we've failed because we couldn't do it all. And rinse and repeat the cycle of trying to do it all, burning out, and getting even more frustrated with ourselves.
What if I told you to just conquer one thing at a time? Start with the ONE thing that you intuitively feel will help you the most. Maybe, choose that thing you've been struggling with the most. If it's meal prepping, start there. If it's exercising more, start there. If it's taking timeouts to read a personal development book, take time out to start there. Just pick one. Then build.
For me, when I'm not in the flow of life, when I'm tired and not inspired, or when I just don't have "it," I find that the fastest way to get my energy flowing, my brain working better, and my inspiration back, is to do a quick 20-30 minute workout. It doesn't have to be much, and I advise that it's not a super long workout, as that has potential to drain you even more. So, if you don't know where to start, I would say, start there! Add a 20-30 minute workout a few days a week, and actually, the science shows that it changes your brain chemistry for the better. According to the science, exercise seems to be the fastest, easiest action step to take to have the greatest impact, immediately, on your health and physiology.
Of course, if you're already a regular exerciser, it's time for you to start adding a different tool, based on the next challenge you'd like to conquer. Start with the next ONE. Exercise was my ONE for about 10 years. For 10+ years, I focused on exercise. I taught aerobics, studied exercise science, ran and coached marathon runners, was a personal trainer, and exercise was just a part of my daily routine, no matter what. It literally took me 10 years before adding in the next ONE, which was nutrition. Since exercise was just an automatic for me, adding in nutrition changes didn't cause any overwhelm. Then just 2 years ago, my main problem was meal prepping, so, what did I do? I added in prepping and planning my meals each week! Now, I wasn't overwhelmed about exercise, what foods to eat, AND I was beginning to add in more efficiency from meal prepping. See how this works, guys? There is no timeline. There is no rulebook that says you need to do everything every day. Let your health grow and improve organically, starting with ONE thing at a time. You don't have to do it all- today!
So, who's with me to exit the overwhelm cycle and simplify? Who's with me to "start with one?" What ONE thing can you start doing today, this week, or this month that is your greatest challenge? Leave me a note in the comments and let's have a conversation about your ONE!
For those of you who knew my dad, Dave Solomon, he was famous for his "I Was Thinking" newspaper columns in the New Haven Register's Sports Section. So, today, I was inspired to write my own "I was thinking" blog!
I went out on my SUP (stand up paddleboard) to get some fresh air this afternoon (which I crave if I don't get it often enough!) While I was out paddling, I realized that many of you are probably like me. You MUCH prefer exercising outdoors than indoors. You may be thinking "but she's a personal trainer and teaches people how to exercise INDOORS for a living," and you'd be correct. I do. And ironically, that's the basis of my Trainer In Your Back Pocket program. But let me share with you my thoughts on this topic, which all boil down to one thing.
You can't enjoy the outdoors if you aren't fit enough, strong enough, or healthy enough to do the things you enjoy. Exercising outdoors is made possible through the hard work, time and effort you put in by exercising indoors. I want to continue being able to do activities like hiking and paddling for the rest of my life. So, for me, it's a top priority to make sure I get my total body strength training workouts done either at home or at the gym (or by taking my strength workouts and dumbbells outdoors to the local park!) Doing my regular strength training workouts is my way of continuing to stay strong enough to enjoy my more preferred activities!
So, get outside (if that's what you love to do), but appreciate all of the indoor time that has helped you get there!
Love you all!
Every year, my soul's sole purpose is to host an adventurous women's wellness retreat. While I spend my days throughout the year focusing on my Trainer In Your Back Pocket program, personal training clients at the gym, teaching bootcamps out at the park, and helping others to heal through nutrition, the one program that lights my soul each year is the annual Well-Weekend retreat. I began hosting these retreats in 2010, out of my soul's calling to travel more and to share the experiences with other women.
I just returned home from the 8th annual Women's Well-Weekend Retreat, which was the first time we adventured to Moab, UT to explore the Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. I embarked on this journey with 8 other women of all ages, shapes, and sizes, and I wanted to share with you a few lessons that I learned along the way.
#1: It takes a lot of planning to create the perfect Well-Weekend. In fact, it took me an entire year of planning to create this well-weekend. No matter how much planning I did, however, I must still be willing to go with the FLOW, modify as needed, and adapt.
Back story: Last year I spent months creating the most perfect itinerary for our Lake Tahoe Well-Weekend. I had it planned out to the T. I knew what hikes we would do, when we would have time to paddleboard, when we would arrive places to ensure parking space availability, what we would eat, etc. I was confident that my plan would work like a charm, because, according to me, it was perfect, and I had factored in everything I could. Then, when it didn't go according to plan, (having a group of 12 ladies doesn't always go according to plan), I was lost. I got flustered, and I had a hard time recovering. While no one in the retreat even knew that things weren't going according to plan, or that I was flustered, I felt that if it didn't go as I had planned on the itinerary, that things would not be "perfect" for everyone attending. This bothered me for many months, until I simply had to let go, and focus on the word FLOW. So, that's what I did heading into this most recent Utah Well-Weekend. While I had the perfect itinerary planned, and even though things went exactly as planned this year, I was more open and available to FLOW. If we needed to spend more time in one park, we would. If we were tired and didn't want to do another hike, we didn't. I felt like I finally made up for my past mistakes of trying to control the flow. Just like a river, you can't control the flow. You just have to go along with it, or else you're paddling upstream and getting no where fast.
#2: You're never too old to have an adventure! It was awesome to see women ages 30-65 "bunking" together (in luxury resort cabins, nonetheless). Everyone did what they could with the activities, and we all gathered together to share our adventures afterward. While it's important to maintain a high fitness level throughout every age of life, it's just important to continue putting yourself out there and trying new things. Do this, and I believe you'll never get "old." Don't ever feel like you're holding someone else back because you are older, or maybe can't go as fast. The most important thing is that you get to share the experience together, no matter what speed you hike, bike, walk, or run at. Just start where you are, so that you can get where you want to go. Never give up, or feel like you're too old to dream! If you don't start, you'll never get there!
#3: I need more TRAVEL in my life! This is pretty self explanatory. I love travel. I love sharing my travel adventures with other women. I can't wait for next year's Well-Weekend adventure! Time/Place TBD! If you haven't joined me for a Well-Weekend over these past 8 years, what are you waiting for?!
#4: So many women have blood sugar handling issues!
Back story: For the past 4 months, I have been trying to get my blood sugar under control. I'm not diabetic. I have healthy blood sugar, according to blood tests. However, I answered yes to many of the questions on this quiz, and definitely had symptoms of blood sugar addiction. Can anyone say HANGRY? So, in December 2016, I did my first blood sugar support program through Standard Process, and I felt like a million bucks after just 10 days. This program involves daily supplements to help with blood sugar handling, in addition to a low carb, (high veggie), moderate meat diet. This is when it clicked for me. For the first time ever, I understood "intermittent fasting," simply because I didn't need to eat all the time. I didn't need to eat between meals, or have snacks in my bag at all times of the day. I could feel satisfied after a normal sized portion of food. This was the first time in my LIFE that I experienced this. Up until then, I thought that it was normal to be hungry all the time (well, not normal, but normal for me). Then, starting in February, I embarked on a self-experiment to try a ketogenic diet after reading the book, Keto Clarity. (high fat, low carb, moderate protein). And yes, everything continued to improve. Some days I could go 24 hours without food, simply because I wasn't hungry! It was almost like the shackles were taken off, and I was free from food. My workouts suddenly became more intense because I had the energy for them. I didn't need a nap after each workout. I could recover faster. And meal prep was a breeze (cooking 1 meal a day is way easier than 3!)
So, how does this relate to the Well-Weekend? Well, for our trip, I packed snacks for everyone. I brought Chomps jerky sticks, Trader Joe's trail mix packets. I brought avocados and tuna, greek yogurt and cottage cheese with nuts and berries, green and herbal teas, and 90% dark chocolate (this is a women's retreat, so chocolate is a necessity.) What happened? I came home with most of those foods that I brought for everyone. Here's why: everyone brought their own carb & sugar-laden snacks like milk chocolate easter eggs, chex mix, pringles, popcorn, muffins, honeybutter, chocolate chip cookies and granola bars, etc. When all of the foods were laid out for breakfast, everyone chose the muffins and granola over the greek yogurt or cottage cheese and nuts. When needing a snack, everyone chose crackers or chips over meat and cheese. I noticed folks become cranky if they didn't eat every few hours after that, or rather, they were always looking for food, to the point of obsession. Now, don't get me wrong, I used to be like this! This was the first time, however, I noticed it from an outside perspective. This is the first time I didn't need to eat all the time. I simply wasn't hungry between meals. I didn't have to have a meal, then a snack, then another snack, and then a meal. I totally get that everyone was "on vacation," and many times, on vacation, healthy eating goes out the window. That's not the point. The point is that it was so obvious to me, how eating carb rich foods (especially first thing in the morning) led to the chain reaction of needing to eat every few hours, being hungry (sometimes hangry), and being obsessed with food all day. (Having to bring 10 different snacks on a 5 hour trip is a little obsessive in my opinion).
So, what does all of this mean? It means that I'm going on a mission this year to help 100 women conquer and control their blood sugar! I hope to mentor 100 women through the Standard Process 10 Day Blood Sugar program this May. If you feel like you're always hungry, or get tired a few hours after eating, or have a mid-day slump, or get HANGRY, please join me in my 100 women quest to curb our blood sugar handling problems! It's just 10 days, but it can change the way you look, see, and feel. Read more about the program here, and enter your information below to stay tuned & join me in a kickoff party where we will do the 10 day program together!
Those are just 4 simple lessons that I learned from, what I would consider, the most epic, amazing, and awesome Well-Weekend that I have ever hosted! See more photos over on our Live For It All Facebook Page, and connect with me on Instagram @trainerinyourbackpocket.
This past weekend, I spent some time down in Coronado, CA. I was apprehensive about going. I was nervous. I was scared. I was excited. I was also terrified. I was going to a retreat.
Now, don't get me wrong. I LOVE myself a retreat. In fact, this is the 8th year in a row that I will be hosting my own annual women's retreat in Moab, UT. But I rarely attend them as a participant, and that was the scary part. See, my personality tends to "retreat" or withdraw internally when things get tough or scary, boring or unknown. It would have been easy for me to stay home and go about business as usual. But true growth doesn't happen unless you step outside of your comfort zone, and no matter how much I know that, it is still a tough action step to take.
In an effort to get outside of my comfort zone this year, I joined a mastermind group with Todd Durkin, to improve my fitness business skills and continue to grow my Trainer In Your Back Pocket (TBP) program to impact even more lives around the globe. So, while our mastermind group is virtual, thanks to the internet (ie: non-scary and within my comfort zone), once per year, everyone gathers in one location for RETREAT.
As a newbie in the mastermind, I really had no clue what to expect. Would the people I meet be cool? Would they judge me? Would they think what I'm doing is enough? Are they so much more successful than I am? Am I worthy of even being there? Would they accept me into the "tribe?" See, all these worries, thoughts, and questions (unvalidated), made me quite anxious. But I knew that I needed to go. There was a little voice in my head about a month ago that told me I needed to suck it up, get out of my comfort zone, and go. I tried to rationalize that the cost of travel was too high. That I wasn't able to make enough money to pay for the trip, that my husband was just getting back from his deployment that week, etc. etc. etc. I tried to talk myself out of going. But that voice kept telling me that I needed to be there.
See, this past year, I was beginning to lose my spark. My light. My fire. This is partly why I chose the word "Light" as my guide word for 2017 (see previous post). But since I chose that word on January 1, it never seemed to fit. I was simply missing my light, my fire. Until this weekend.
This past weekend, as I stepped out of my comfort zone to be vulnerable, to dig deep into my dreams and goals for the TBP, the fire was lit. I came out of the retreat with quite a long list of "to-do's" to help make the TBP program even better, but more important than that, I came out of retreat with a network of amazing, fit pros who are now my friends, and a fire in my soul. (and the flint to continue lighting the fire if/when it burns out again).
The experience of getting away and attending a retreat gave me room to breathe. To grow. To get ideas to help break of the stagnation of "real life." Having the fire lit up again in my soul is worth every penny it cost to get me there. I am so grateful that I listened to that little voice in my head that told me to go, when everything else (rationality, cost, fear, intimidation, unworthiness, etc) told me to do what was easy and not go.
It is true that we don't grow unless we step outside of our comfort zones, and that is what I did this past weekend. I grew. I learned about myself, my business, my tendencies to "retreat" into myself instead of expanding out into growth. I got out of my comfort zone, and I grew, and for that, I am kind of proud of myself.
Is your fire burning out? Are you in need of a retreat? Come light your fire with me and some amazing women at my 8th annual Well-Weekend, this year in Moab, UT! I have 4 spaces available, and would love to help you spark your fire, your passion, your zest for life again. Don't let unvalidated fears hold you back from what will be a life changing experience, like I almost did.
Every year, I have the ritual to choose a "word of the year." Last year, for example, my word was "adventure." That led me to a year of weekly adventures (many of which I blogged about on this blog). The year before my word was "joy" because I was feeling depressed and needed more joy in my life. This year, I struggled and struggled, and stuggled to come up with my word. Nothing seemed to fit or feel good for my theme for 2017. I even attended a full day-long retreat in Sacramento hosted by some amazing wellness coaches designed solely to reset, renew, and come up with my theme word for the year.
I had NO IDEA how hard of a time I would have with the process this year. It's not like this is a new thing for me! Wellness Coaches, Nikki Stern, and Tami Hackbarth hosted a retreat called Restoration, Not Resolutions, on Jan 1, 2017, and I signed up at first word of this retreat. I knew, if nothing else, this would be a powerful & positive way to start my year. As the day went by, and we went deep into thought about the past year, and what we want for our upcoming year, I got more and more frustrated. The burdon of life fell on my shoulders. I was frustrated that I couldn't come up with my "word." I began questioning my entire life. Am I in the right business? When will all of my hard work finally pay off? What am I doing wrong? How can I be more successful? What's missing? Who am I if I'm not "The Trainer In Your Back Pocket?"
At the end of the day, I felt so heavy. And that's what finally sparked my word. "Light." I'd been feeling so heavy with self-imposed pressure to be everything to everyone. That I SHOULD be more successful. That my clients SHOULD have better results (when in reality, they aren't seeing results because they aren't following the program, not my fault). That I SHOULD be far beyond where I'm at in life. So, when I realized how heavy I had been feeling lately, LIGHT was exactly what I need to focus on.
Not only do I need to release the self-imposed heaviness, but I also need to be a brighter light into the world. This year, my goal is to be more like a LIGHThouse. I need to shine my light out more for lost "sailors" to find. My new light will attract those who are in search of hope, to join me in the Trainer In Your Back Pocket programs that I host, and into my life as friends.
If you've been feeling "heavy" this year with imaginary (or real, legitimate) burdons, maybe you can share the word "light" with me this year. Or, do some self-reflection and come up with your own guide word for the year. Even if "light" isn't necessarily your word, as women, couldn't we all stand to remove the heaviness that society places on our shoulders?
So, how am I exactly going to be "light" this year? First and foremost, every day, when I get out of bed, I plan to remind myself that my word is light. I've set a weekly reminder in my phone to "Be Light." When I eat, I am to remind myself if the food I'm eating is going to "weigh me down" or is it going to make me feel light. When I show up to work, I plan to be the lighthouse for my clients, a place where they find safety and guidance. And every night, before I go to sleep, I plan to reflect on how my light positively influenced the world that day.
So, if you see me around this year, remind me to SHINE BRIGHT! I'm sure I'll need as many reminders as I can get, and I will be there to remind you to shine bright too.
Love you all,
Shine bright with me in the upcoming 42 Days to Fit & Feeling Good course that begins on January 15, 2017! If you're feeling lost, this course will help guide you along your path. We'll go deep into self-reflection, physical health, fitness, and nutritional health. You will exit the 42 days with a new outlook and a healthier perspective on life. Step into spring LIGHTER with me!
Read more about 42 Days to Fit & Feeling Good Here
I am not a proponent of taking prescription medications. In fact, my entire career, mission, purpose, journey, etc, is about helping individuals get off their medication by creating health from the inside out through clean nutrition, movement, and through empowering the mind. So why am I asking you to take your MEDS today?
Last week, I was sitting down to create plan to keep me focused and to make sure I get done what needs to be done during my husband's deployment. It's way too easy to get wrapped up in reacting to life, instead of being proactive to life. So, I sat down and created a calendar on a piece of paper for the number of days that he will be deployed for. In each daily box is four letters. M.E.D.S. What it boils down to, are the four things that I need to do daily, so that I don't forget to take care of me, during, not only this deployment, but through this holiday season, and new year.
These are the four things that I need to do daily in order to achieve my best self.
M- Mindfulness Meditation. This can be anything from sitting quietly with a cup of tea and reading some inspiring words, to practicing a Headspace meditation, to writing in my journal. Each day, my goal is to commit to just a few moments of some sort of mindfulness practice. Some days I may sit and meditate for a longer period of time, and some days, I simply sit on the edge of the bed before I lay down and think of one thing that was great about my day. So, whether it took me 30 minutes, or 30 seconds, my goal is some sort of mindfulness or meditation practice each day.
E- EXERCISE! Do I really need an explanation for this? Movement is the key to life. In fact, death is simply a lack of movement (on all fronts from each cell in the body). So, in order to stay alive and FEEL alive, we must MOVE! You don't have to get in an hour long, high intensity strength or cardio workout each day, or run a marathon. But some sort of exercise each day is important. Some days are lower impact, like yoga or long walks, while other days I attend a high energy kickboxing class. Most days, however, I choose to do Trainer In Your Back Pocket workouts, becuase, well, in my opinion, they KICK ASS! (and I can do them at home in 30 minutes or less!)
D- Diet. Did I eat intentionally today? Did I follow my own clean eating food rules? Or, did I give in to the temptation of the pizza or chips? This is the task that for me, is the hardest, but when I know that it's part of my MEDS, I actually make a better effort to complete it. I mean, what is MEDS with out the D? Just a MES! When you eat with intention to fuel your body, you no longer eat to satisy emptiness, boredom, sadness, stress, or fear. (emotions that we ALL go through!) In fact, it makes meal planning so much simpler to cut out the CRAP. (Carbs, Refined Sugars, Anything Artificial or Processed.) My focus is to eat proteins, vegetables, and any other REAL FOOD that grows or has a mother! (Sign up for my newsletter and get a free video series where I tell you my top 2 food rules, plus a free workout and mindfulness challenge!)
S- Social Support. When you're an introvert at heart, like myself, and would rather stay home than go out and socialize, it's easy to fall into the habit of being lonely and not feeling connected to the world. (SOCIAL MEDIA DOES NOT COUNT!) Depression is a dark space that so many of us face. The key is to put yourself out there to keep the darkness at bay. This is especially true for me during deployment periods when I am literally alone for months at a time (except for my favorite dog ever, Timber, who also makes an appearance in all of my Trainer In Your Back Pocket videos). Every day, make an effort to be social in some way. Whether it's a simple phone call to a friend, meeting someone for coffee or tea, interacting with clients and co-workers, or joining a group hike or workout. We are social creatures. Something social is a must in order to completely take all of your MEDS.
Let's be honest, some days I only get the MED in. Some days I only get the MES, or EDS, or any combination of MEDS. But my ultimate goal is to take all of my MEDS, every day. Having these four letters to check off daily in my calendar helps me to stay proactive about my health and life. They are not things that should be done "occasionally." These are 4 things that need to be done DAILY. Otherwise, life somehow has a way of taking over, and the MEDS end up sitting on an empty shelf not being used. Get the benefit of your MEDS by making a daily effort to take them. It does take effort, but the rewards in "feel good power" are amazing, and the routine that you will create for yourself will put you closer to living more inspired! (and who doesn't want that?!)
Need help taking your MEDS? These 4 practices are a critical component of my upcoming 42 Days to Fit & Feeling Good program that begins on January 15, 2017. If you need a kickstart and a little encouragement to help you get on track with a proactive, feel good lifestyle, you don't want to miss out on this course! It's free for all Trainer In Your Back Pocket members, and just a minimal cost for non-members. I hope you can join me! There is an early bird special taking place until Jan 1!
About the author: Abby Malmstrom holds her Masters Degree in Exercise Science with a focus on exercise, nutrition, and eating behavior. She has worked in the fitness and wellness industry for over 15 years as a certified personal trainer, clinical nutrition consultant, running coach, and group exercise instructor. Abby has created the Trainer In Your Back Pocket™ program to help individuals around the globe improve not only their physical fitness, but their mindfulness and eating habits as well. Find out more about Abby's certifications and qualifications at www.liveforitall.com or www.trainerinyourbackpocket.com
Abby Malmstrom M.S., a.k.a. The Trainer In Your Back Pocket, is an exercise physiologist, certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, wellness coach, and "real food" nutritionist. Her life as an active duty military spouse takes her all over the world, allowing her to influence, teach, and connect with folks in communities she never even dreamed of reaching. Life's an adventure, so join Abby for the ride! It's time to "Eat Well, Move Well, Think Well, Be Well."