The day started strong. I had trained, maybe not as well as I had wished, but I felt ready. My only goal this race was to beat my last time and conquer the downtown Nashville hell, I mean hills.
There is always a point in every race when I’m confronted with the urge to quit, or should I say the opportunity, to quit. I’ve also learned that this is just a moment, maybe a few minutes, maybe a mile, typically not longer, but a moment that if I dig down deep, I can push through until I’ve found my second wind.
I’ve learned a technique for checking to see if my wanting to bail is actually my body ready to quit or my mind going into flight mode due to the discomfort. I have also learned when it happens. I know the mile and I know when I’m racing in Nashville exactly the place; just about mile ten, just as I’m going through what is called the Gulch.
Definition of Gulch: a deep or precipitous (dangerously high or steep) cleft : RAVINE especially : one occupied by a torrent (Italics mine)
Definition of torrent: : a violent stream of a liquid (such as water or lava)…or sweat????? Just sayin!
Consequently, the Gulch is almost always the place the torrent of negative self-talk likes to creep in. So, in order to check myself I do a body check. No, I don’t take out the closest runner…I check my own body. I begin at my feet. How do my feet feel? Tired but ok. How are my calves? Actually, pretty good. And I work my way up my body, stopping at each body part. This does two things. One, it occupies my mind while I’m slowly making my way through the dreaded tenth mile, and two, it reminds my mind that my body is ok. “Stop freaking out.” I’ve trained, I’m ready. I’m tired but I’m not done. Stand up tall, breathe deep, keep going. It works like a charm.
But not this time. This time nothing was working. I was spent and no amount of self-talk, body-checking or water station was going to help. The only thing I needed was a finish line or an ambulance or both. It was hot, like fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk-hot, or at least that’s how I remember it. I had made it through mile ten but in Nashville what awaits you after mile ten is still quite treacherous. It’s three and a half miles of hills, switchbacks, and all the while you’re in sight of the finish line. One minute you think you’re headed straight for it then the next your headed in the opposite direction. FOR THREE MILES. Meanwhile, you’re watching the truly insane head off for another 13 miles of this dreaded hell. How do they do it?
I was walking, although I don’t know how. I could no longer lift my head. My only view was the pavement for the next two feet in front of me. I began a mantra to get one foot in front of the other. My mind was fighting with itself. One of me was begging me to sit down. The other of me was telling the quitter to shut up, “You know if we sit down we will never get back up! Keep going!” (I talk to myself in “we’s.” It may seem crazy but it’s one of the most-healthy habits I have.) I knew the smart thing to do was to stop. I don’t always do the smart thing. And it’s really hard to be smart when you’re dehydrated and weak.
Her voice coming from behind me is, to this day, still something that makes me want to cry. I was at my end. I had no gas in the tank, no energy, nothing. The only thing I had left was desire to finish what I started. But I needed help. And there she was. My friend Heather, who was also running the race, came up from behind.
From the moment Heather took the wheel I went on auto-pilot. I didn’t need to think, I didn’t need to navigate the crowd, I didn’t need to do anything but stay upright and follow the sound of her voice. All I could see was her shoes and the pavement. All I could hear was her voice, not the words, just her voice. I do remember her saying, “Is my talking driving you crazy? I can shut up if you want me to. Or, I can talk. I’m an only child I can talk to myself all day.” Sometimes all we need is the sound of a familiar voice and a bit of humor to keep us going. I replied, “I can’t talk back, but please just keep talking. I’m following your voice.” And she did.
Once I had Heather at my side, I even allowed myself a couple of seconds to stop and rest. My hips were on fire. I knew if I sat down while I was alone, I may not get up again. But now I wasn’t alone. A couple times I told her, “I’m going to sit on this curb. Give me 30 seconds.” And I meant that literally, and she knew it. She timed me and in 30 seconds I got up and tried again.
And that’s how it went, all the way through the finish line.
Fast forward about 6 years (I’m guessing) and my friend and I now both own businesses literally in the same parking lot. We did not plan it. Back then it wasn’t anything either one of us would have ever even seen coming. It’s just happened. And every now and then we find ourselves in that same race. One of us spent, unable to lift our heads from the grind, and hustle, and long hours. I love the moments when we get to lift one-another up and help the other through that day’s “race.”
When I hired my first coach, he did the same thing for me.
I started this business because I liked changing lives. I had no idea how to get clients, or how to build a staff, or how to….well, really do much of anything. As someone who had been in my industry and succeeded, my coach helped me see what I couldn’t and led me. He helped me remember who I was when I would doubt. He reminded me that this is supposed to be hard. If it was easy then most businesses wouldn’t fail within the first three years (I’m about to double that, thank God).
I’m not saying all of this to scare you out of your dream but to urge you on. GO! Do the thing. Do it scared. Do it without all the training. Do it without all the money yet, make it along the way. If you have a desire to do something and it’s not going away, it’s your duty to go after it. You didn’t ask for this desire that keeps knocking at the door of your heart. So why is it there? You have to ask yourself that question. I believe God is knocking and that desire is your purpose. I have mine. I’m jumping. It’s scary. It’s new. It’s BOLD.
I told you this story to remind you that even when we don’t have everything we need to finish, we can start and trust that the people, resources, and knowledge will come when it’s needed, and usually not a moment before. Make sure you have Heathers in your life and if you don’t GO GET YOU SOME! When you leap I promise you that you’ll freak out. You’ll need a voice to listen to to keep going. I actually have several now. I've had moments when the people have already been in my life (Rob, friends, family) and times when I had to seek them out (coach, therapist, spiritual director). Both work. I've sought actual people to talk to and help me through, and at times I've dove deeply into personal growth books and audio books to pull myself through. Both work.
I have learned something that is as true as the sun coming up in the morning...Every time I take a big step, I WILL be given a test. Each leap is followed by the opportunity to let go of the new scary adventure and let the safety net catch me. Something big happens to try to scare me back into my comfort zone. But I’ve learned, just like running a race, it’s just a moment. Maybe just a day or two. I have to breathe. Do a reality check. How am I today? How are my kids today? What if I fail? That's not the question that keeps me moving forward. This is: What if I don’t keep trying? That last question is the one that moves me through the moment. It’s mile ten all over again. The “Gulch.” But see, now I know what to do there. And over time, so will you. Trust that. See, I have made a decision; I would rather deal with failure rather than the regret of never trying.
Every day I get to be that voice to someone. If you need someone to talk you through “the race,” I’d love to be that for you. Check out my Action Circle Program. Let’s get you in the race! If you're worried you don't have what it takes to run the race, let me tell you that you do. But, at times, you'll need someone to remind you of that. Make sure you're running with people who will remind you.
This past Saturday while teaching Spin I had a bit of an ah-ha moment. For years I’ve guided hundreds of people on rides on an indoor bike; we sweat, and work, and my favorite, we visualize overcoming our obstacles.
I really didn’t love Spin the first few times I attended a class because it was really all about the workout. Add gear, stand up, sit down, yada, yada, yada, snore. Even when I decided to bring Spinning to our studio I did it reluctantly. Even when Rob and I traveled a state away to get my Spin certification, I went with hesitation and a bit of an eye-roll attitude. But then I met Martha. Martha is the master instructor that led us through our certification course. She is a master at bringing the rider into the moment and guiding them through powerful visualization. I entered my class unimpressed and left in tears of joy, and relief. If I could teach the way she just did, I had found something I could love. It’s almost 6 years later and I am enjoying my time teaching Spin more than ever.
Many think teaching a Spin class is easy. Let me assure you it is not. Most instructors spend hours prepping for a class. It sometimes takes years to really find your voice on the bike and it takes a passion to see others succeed and overcome to show up class after class and bring energy and inspiration.
My favorite part of Spin is leading my class through visualization. The challenges we face while on the bike are so similar to the challenges we face in life. Life is an everchanging cycle of hills and valleys, so is Spinning. Where spin and life differ is that in spin you decide the length of the hill, you decide the elevation, you are in control. It’s not unusual for me to throw a hill, maybe even a grueling hill, at my class and just when they assume that we are finished with it, I keep us on it. We keep going. Why? Because in life we rarely have the ability to decide how long a hill, or mountain, will last. When someone we love is sick, we don’t get to decide how long, we must endure. When we suffer a financial set-back we often don’t know when the next relief will come. When we are working on a project, if often goes longer than planned and we will have to remain in the climb. In my class we learn how to overcome when the hill gets longer and steeper than expected. Sometimes we practice recovery ON THE HILL. We learn to breathe, and regroup, and focus all while still climbing. We finish the hill when we reach the top, and not before, and sometimes we do not get to decide how long that will take. And let’s be honest, in life it almost always takes longer than we wish.
So here we are last week, and I say to my class, “See your hill! See the top! We are headed there! Together!” And this may be super-obvious to all of you, it is to me now too, but this hit me like a WHOOOSH! Suddenly, as if I could see little thought bubbles above every head in the room, I could see their hills. I mean that in my mind I could see this. So crazy (the brain on exercise is amazing but that is another post). EVERY HILL WAS DIFFERENT! Some were rocky, some were short, some were mountains with jagged tops, some were somewhere in the middle, but they were all unique and different and personal.
Call me Captain Obvious, I know, but stay with me.
For years I’ve closed my eyes (because I can see better that way), and I visualize a hill as I urge my class to see the hill. In my mind I have always just been on my hill. It never even occurred to me that we were all seeing different hills. I just saw mine and made a crazy assumption without even assuming. It has never been and actual thought…it just never occurred to me consciously. And again, there is another lesson here on how we see the world through our lens, but still it’s not the point I want to make today. I’m trying to stay on topic here.
What hit me was that each of us has the power to change our hills as much as we had the power to create them in our minds in the first place.
Whoa!!! Hold on….keep going.
Look, I’m going to take a side route here from the things in life that truly are hills that we must stay on as long as they are there. There are things that happen TO US in life that we need to strengthen ourselves for. We need to learn and practice mental endurance because those things are part of life and we must stay in the game, we must press on, we must CLIMB.
BUT (I want so bad to change the font of that BUT to about a 1000….so just imagine it for me because I’m fired up here) let me ask you this all-important question…
What “obstacle” or for the sake of staying on our metaphor here, what mountain are you getting up every stinking day and climbing and it’s nothing more than a hill YOU’RE CREATING IN YOUR MIND? It’s there waiting for you when you wake. It’s there when you sleep. It’s there when you go to bed, brush your teeth, breathe, or try to breathe.
And if you don’t have any of these, good for you. You’re special (sarcasm). I bet you do though. I do.
Here is where my mind was on a regular basis. This is what I was telling myself. These were my mountains:
Written like I would hear it…
You’re not smart enough (this is my childhood plague).
You’re not fit enough.
You’re too much for people.
You’re too bossy. (I’m an oldest child, this may actually be the most true 😂)
You suck as a boss, wife, mother, daughter…pretty much suck in general.
And God forbid I mess something up in our bank account….OH MY GOD HOW DID ANYONE EVER LET ME START A BUSINESS!!!!!! This could take me down for days. I’m guessing because it played so well into my belief that I wasn’t smart enough. No! It proved it!
What are your mental mountains or hills?
I’ve been doing a lot, and I mean a LOT, of work on these thoughts. These days these thoughts come to mind less and when they do I have built in tools (in my mind) to get them out faster. I even have something that is working like a charm for my middle of the night worry time that had tortured me for years. I’ll tell you about that soon.
But this all leads back to what hit me on the bike last week when I “saw” in my mind, all of the hills of everyone in my class…
We built the hill, we created it, we are its breath and life that keeps it alive in our mind. WE CAN FLATTEN IT!
Yes, trust me, I understand that the first toss of dirt that began the mountain may have been thrown there by someone else. I realize that many of us are carrying around insecurities and fear that began from somewhere, or usually someone, outside of us. But how long have WE been piling dirt onto that mountain long after that situation or person has quit.
I can’t tell you how often I hear literal quotes from women of something a boy said to them in elementary, middle or high school. They can quote what that person said word-for-word. What if that person was a parent, or a grandparent, spouse? Words hurt and they leave wounds. Very often words are thrown at our feet and instead of walking away and leaning into our truth, realizing that people that say hurtful things are usually hurting, instead of all of that, we believe them. Then we spend the next 20, 30, 40 years piling on our own dirt until we’ve built a mountain of untruth and shame and fear and anger.
I spoke with a woman who claimed she was no longer hurt by it but still recanted the day a boy in school looked at her and placed her name in the lyrics of the song, “_________ got a big ‘ol butt.” “Oh, it doesn’t bother me anymore”, she says with tears rolling down her cheeks. He threw the first pile of dirt, she has spent years piling it on.
Believe me sister you CAN do the work of ridding that little shit-head from your mind. But first you have to stop piling the dirt on. You and only you have that power.
Here’s a hill I see a lot. I’ve named this hill the “Hill of Day’s Gone By.”
If you were ever an athlete in high school or college, or if you ever competed in a competition that required athleticism, or possibly worse if you ever competed in a body building or figure competition, this may be your hill. You’ve seen your body at its peak, or at least you think, and it looks nothing like the body you have now. With my clients, because I myself am nearing 50, my clients, typically, are too, that time where our bodies were “ideal” was a LONG time ago. These people are sitting at the bottom of a very big, often unrealistic, mountain unable to even begin the climb because they either, one, fear they will never get back there, or two, know the actual work it took to get there and just don’t want to do it anymore.
The amount of times Rob and I hear high-school, glory days stories would pay for our kid’s college if we charged five bucks to listen. Rob will often just throw it back in their laps, “That doesn’t count now buddy. What did you do today?” Rob’s grueling, time-consuming, muscle taxing Ironman training has made him extremely intolerant of BS from men who like to talk a big talk about their football days. Rob was a swimmer, football player and ran track. He’s seen his share of victories and his parents saved every newspaper article to prove it. Yet he knows, that was yesterday’s victory. He got the praise, the awards, and yep, I’ve seen the pictures, the body, that keeping up with three sports would reward you with. But two kids later, we too went through our period of time that we let ourselves go. He was fully sporting the dad-bod. But now he gets up at 3:45 am Monday through Friday to get stuff done. He is literally running, biking and swimming miles (yes swimming miles) every day, every week, so that he can reach the finish of the Ironman competition and claim today’s victory.
So, if your hill is the “Hill of Day’s Gone By” you’re most likely in one of two places:
You’re still sitting on the top. Your victory is years ago. Life moved on and so did your waistline but mentally you’re still living in the past. It’s time to get off the hill and start a new one. Here’s the beauty, while you’re at it use the momentum of coming off the hill to push yourself up the next one. You know you can do it. You know you’ll have muscle memory at some point. But don’t sit at the top of a 30 or 40-year-old hill fooling yourself into thinking that there is anyone there but you. Go grab yourself a victory today. You’ll feel so good.
Here is the other option for Hill of Day’s Gone By, you’re at that bottom of the hill and not wanting to start because it’s a long way up. You don’t want to do the work all over again, this time maybe with a body that is a few years older, and has a few more aches here and there. If those in the last scenario were being honest with themselves, I bet this is really one of the greatest reasons they sit at the top of the hill and stay there…they don’t want to admit they are really at the bottom. Here is the greatest power you have at your disposal; admit you’re at the bottom of the hill and start. All you have to do is something, anything. Start again.
This next self-made hill may be my favorite. I love a coaching session when this one arises.
The hill of perfection:
“Jen, I’m just a perfectionist.” Really?! At what? Because if you’re a perfectionist there should be something you’re actually PERFECT at. If you’re a perfectionist, I mean this is THE identity you’ve given yourself, then let’s see the proof. What exactly are you perfect at? And if you are truly perfect at something, anything, then you my friend should be raking in the dough at whatever it is your so damn perfect at. That makes you an expert. But you know, and I know, and everyone else knows you’re not really perfect. In fact, you don’t believe you’re perfect at anything. Your perfectionism is just a front for non-activity. It’s a stall…it’s all smoke and mirrors for what it really is, procrastination. Perfectionism is most often the mask that procrastination wears to hide its identity.
So here you sit at the bottom of the hill called perfection, procrastinating. Why? Fear? Fear of success? Fear of failure? Fear of your pants falling off in class? What? What’s the fear? You have to name it. You have to call it to the freaking matt. You have to get it out of hiding and shed light on it. Fear hates light. Drag it out to the light.
All of these hills have one thing in common. And I’ll warn you, if you have built one of these hills you’re not going to like this. Here it is; if we could take all of these hills and give them all one, all-encompassing title, if we were to pile all of these hills into one mountain and give that mountain a name, we’d call it Mt. BS.
All of this is just one level of BS or another. It’s all lies we tell ourselves, and here is something that may surprise you. Sometimes we lie to ourselves because we haven’t yet built up the mental strength to fight. Sometimes we lie to ourselves to give ourselves an excuse to stay where we are…yes even if we are miserable where we are.
The lies may have started as dirt someone else threw on our hill, someone else spoke to us, or even believed about us. But their words, or their beliefs, do NOT make it true and it does not get to decide that it’s our TRUTH. You do. You my friend have 100% control of the size of that mountain. You do. Period.
Here is what I saw last week as I saw all the hills. We each have our own hills. The size is proportionate to our perception of the struggle, time spent on the hill, mental toughness, and a million other factors. But there is yet one fact; we, and only we, are the one with the ability to flatten that hill. And that is why I love visualization in my class, with my clients, and for myself. It can be accomplished in an instant. And by that I mean that mountain can be flat in an instant. Done. The work of keeping the hill small or flat will take time and practice and we’ll get the opportunity to practice over and over. But one day, one day you’ll have a moment like I had. You’ll have the moment when you “stand up inside yourself” and your own mind comes to battle for you. And that is a glorious day that is when it all becomes worth it.
See the hill. Now see it melting into the sea. You have that power. And you’ve had it all along.
Mothers with daughters, if you are putting yourself at the end of your list of things to take care of you are teaching your daughter to do the same. You can like that or not, but it hitting an uncomfortable spot doesn’t make it less true. More is caught than taught.
Imagine your daughter where you are now. She has many demands; children, work, household, volunteering, and who knows what else. She is tired and at the end of her rope. What is your advice to her? Just keep going? Just dig in and work more? Keep saying yes to things that drain her? No. You’d tell her to stop, take a vacation, take a breath. If she is hating on her body, you’d tell her to take care of it. You’d tell her that she matters and those little hellions, I mean angels, will survive if she takes a bit of time for herself. You’d tell her to put herself at the top of her list because you love her and want her to be healthy and sane.
If you want these things for her the best thing you can do as she is growing up (and even now if she is already grown) is to model what that looks like. Her survival through your “me time” will give her confidence that her children will also survive in her self-care absence.
I’m always so proud of our moms who bring littles to the gym in dancewear and karate gi’s. We have a big table in our lobby and the kids hang out for 30 or 45-mintues while mom or dad get in a Spin class, then off to practice they go.
Do you know how many parents will sit for hours watching their child play a sport, or practice a sport, but for some reason think it’s not okay to have their child sit while they do their thing. That’s crazy.
My daughter Chloe was a swimmer from 4-years old through her junior year in high school, making her state team all three high-school years. I have spent my time in the bleachers for sure. And seriously, swimming is the worst! Three days of hotel, 4-hour car ride, board the dog, eat at restaurants, buy the over-priced swim meet sweatshirt, sit in an uncomfortable seat for 25 hours all to watch your child swim for 28 seconds. Hopefully less! Don’t get me wrong, she is leaving for college in a couple months and I’m already missing those days. However, I figure after all of that time I spent watching her chase a dream, if I needed her to wait for me for 45 minutes to get in a workout it was teaching her several things.
I know that last one sounds harsh. But trust me my kids are loved, and they know it. We spend more time together than the average family, I’m certain. Yes, it may be at our business, but it’s still together. I homeschool my younger and we spend many hours in my office at the gym doing science and grammar. My parents owned their own business as well, so this is the only “growing up” I know, because I literally lived in my family’s business. We lived there. So, I know what this life is like as a child and now as a parent. And boy do I have a new appreciation for my parents.
So maybe your “me time” is that time you need to start the new hobby you’ve been wanting to take up. Do it. Do you know how much better a mom you’ll be if you are allowing your creative genius to escape on a regular basis?
Maybe you have wanted to start a side-hustle, or main-hustle, do it. Your daughter will see you making your dreams matter.
Are you sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. Show your daughter what it looks like to set a goal, make it a priority, and get your health back. Your whole family will benefit. I know this one from personal experience.
This is a 5-year journey between the photo on the left and the one on the right. And if you think my body changed....that's nothing. It was the mental work that really mattered. More on that later.
Here is the key - That desire you have deep inside you, the one that feels trapped. Let it out. Show your daughter that it matters. As she grows, becomes more independent, has a family and a career, she too will go through those years where she loses herself. Show her how to get back to her by YOU GETTING BACK TO YOU.
Your greatest desire for her, model it. Don’t spend your life telling her “Don’t do what I did,” even if you feel it’s too late. If you’re reading this, it’s so not too late. Get your body back, light your passion up, start that business, go back to school. Whatever it is that would make you more you, do it. Show her how it’s done, even imperfectly, and most of all show her that it matters. Show her that how we take care of ourselves matters. Show her how that dream matters. Show her that she matters by making YOU matter.
Okay, so, I started to end this post right there. Felt like a fairly good ending. Maybe not “mic drop” worthy, but pretty close. But I couldn’t finish without acknowledging a couple of things. If this has made you feel worse rather than better and fired up, I’m going to guess that one of two things may be the case.
First, this was never modeled for you. You may have had a mother who never taught you that you matter. You may have not grown up with a mother in the home at all, or maybe you had one in the home but not present. There are a million scenarios that we could come up with here. Bottom line is you have no point of reference because you don’t know what a healthy level of selfishness looks like. That’s ok. This is a skill and a skill can be acquired. I too lost myself along the way and had to work to get me back. It wasn’t easy but it’s been worth it. Zone was born from that. This blog was born from that. So much good has come from that. And all along the way I talked with Chloe about it. I have been a super role-model at times, and at times I’ve failed and had to ask her for forgiveness. I don’t know if she understands or not. I don’t really expect her to…now. I know, one day she will. She will be a mom, she will mess up, she will ask for forgiveness and she will think of me, and then she will know. I am ok with all of that process. So, even if it’s messy, find a starting place, get help, get a coach, join a group. Just do it.
And to make sure I'm being 100% here I must admit to you that my youngest is permanently scarred from me leaving him, not just once, but twice! Once I left the gym and forgot he was there. I was home, glass of wine in hand when the phone rang. One of my instructors was on the other end, "Did you forget something?" And then there was the time that I walked away from the cart he was in at Target. Just left him there in the aisle. He had to climb out of the little child seat thingy and come find me. Y'all, take my advice with a grain of salt. I'm just doing this thing too. Some days better than others. I think therapy is a good thing. Now he and his therapist will have a few topics to dive into. You're welcome.
The second thing I must mention before I finish is because I’ve coached enough women to know that I have just thrown a big pile of overwhelm in some of your laps. You want it. You believe me. You’re ready but you don’t know where to start. My answer; anywhere. Do not overthink this. Find one small step you can take and just start. Sign up for the class, go check out the local gym, go for a run…do something, anything. And don’t get ready to start. Do not go buy the paints and then not paint. Don’t spend hours setting up your office or website or researching your side-hustle. If you want to run a half-marathon don’t just download plans. All of this just getting ready to do something. Take action! Do something today! Now! Let’s pull a Mel Robbins here and 5…4…3…2…1…GO! Do not hesitate, do not overthink. Do it. And tonight when you tuck your little lady into bed, tell her that you did something today that made you proud of yourself. Tell her. Share the journey with her. Not your plans, but your actions. You’ve got this!
Actual text between myself and friend a few days ago. She is an entrepreneur and was sick and frustrated that she was not able to get to her “to-do” list (I'm the green):
Let me ask you something. How are you defining strength?
,As I did a little digging, I kept seeing a word that consistently showed up with the word strength; that word is courage.
Let’s think this through.
You cannot grow without the courage to move from where you are. Strength requires courage. Building strength will require courage to bust forth from your comfort zone into the unknown. Deciding to vacate your comfort zone comes with risk, risk requires strength and courage. Does it seem that I’m talking in circles? It’s because I am!
This is a cycle that requires all parts to complete the work. The only way out is to persist or choose to cozily climb back into your comfort zone.
For most of my entrepreneur friends retreat is NOT an option. One, because maybe they burned the boats. They followed a dream fast and hard and left no back-up plan. The only possible outcome is a WIN. To many this sounds stupid. I find it courageous, inspiring and strong. The second reason retreat is not an option is it just isn’t in their blood to quit. Early on I realized that just about anything I wanted out of life I could get with one simple rule: Don’t ever quit. Napoleon Hill would call that knowing and pursing your definite purpose. One of my favorite authors, Andy Andrews, would call that a decided heart. Either way, it’s following your dream like and arrow to a bullseye. When you miss, fling yourself at that bullseye again. Keep doing that until you hit dead center. Then find a new bullseye. Level up again. Get courageous again. Miss again.
Can I tell you a secret. Well, it’s not really a secret, it’s proven science about how the body works.
To grow a muscle, i.e. to get stronger, requires resistance. Yet it’s in the resistance we tend to think we are not strong. Maybe it’s because we are in the process of going from one level of strong to another. That always hurts because it requires a new “load” on the muscle, or the person being strengthened.
What is the resistance you’re facing that has shown up as a "trainer" to make you stronger? Every, and I mean EVERY, resistance is a trainer if you’re willing to look for the lesson.
Today’s resistance builds tomorrows strength.
The door won’t open? Maybe you’re supposed to look around and see a new way. Maybe you need to get creative. Maybe you need to get help. Maybe you need to wait. Maybe you need to kick in the door. Look for clues, they are there, usually right inside yourself.
Here is another principle of strength building: Our muscles do not grow while we’re lifting the weights. Nope. Exercise, especially resistance training, like weightlifting, causes tiny little microscopic tears in the muscle, it actually breaks down the muscle. The act of curling a 40-pound dumbbell does not “build” muscle. It’s part of the process to build muscle, however, the actual building does not happen at the gym.
What happens in the gym (again a necessary part of the process) is a tearing, a breaking down.
Or maybe a breaking open…
The mightiest oak began as a seed that had to break to birth its majesty.
So when does the building happen?
Get this…The building happens when you are at REST.
I know! I feel it too! Stab me in the heart why don’t ya?!
REST. BREATHE. UGHHHHHHHHHH
“I know Jen but…..” No buts.
Strength will require several things:
4. Tearing down, or breaking open our idea of how things should be done
All 5 KEY ingredients. I sat for a few minutes trying to decide which, if I could, I would remove from this list. I can’t remove one. Not one.
Oh, and let me address one more thing.
This week I started with a new personal training client. She is a super-driven hard worker who has a big trip in a few weeks she is getting ready for. We started together on Monday. When she walked in to our training session today (two days later) I could see she was walking a little different. You know the wobble after that first leg workout. She had it in full force. And after talking she confirmed she was painfully sore from our previous (and first) workout. She proceeded to tell me all the things that hurt over the last couple of days. BUT, she was loving it because she knows her goal is big and her trip is close.
Why does she love the pain? She knows that it’s an indication that she has done the work and the results are on the way.
I will not lie. I am not sure I will ever reach the point where I meet resistance that makes me happy knowing my breakthrough is coming. That sort of thinking usually comes after a few minutes, hours, or days of recoiling and crying. I do not enjoy the pain of change. I’m not sure I can celebrate the resistance. But notice what my friend said in the text, “I know we are strong but it sure doesn’t feel like it.” This moment, my friends, has nothing to do with FEELINGS. It’s in these moments we have to trust our KNOWING. We have to trust we’ve been here before and we always come out the other side. Even the times it feels like maybe we won’t make it.
If you’re doing the work, if you’re stepping out of your comfort zone in courage, if you’ve met resistance and you are hurting, it’s just an indication that you’re doing the work of leveling up. The results are on the way.
Look around to see what your “trainer” is trying to teach you. Persist. Breathe. And don’t forget REST.
You are not the one who hung the moon or told the sun to shine today and it will do so long after you have left this earth. Sometimes being strong is in the yielding. Sometimes being strong is in the being. Sometimes being strong is allowing ourselves moments of weakness, knowing ourselves enough to know we always get back up. The only way to not get there is to quit. Do. Not. Quit. That’s all you have to do.
Rest is not quitting. Rest is building so that when you go back to work, you’re stronger.
Committed to your success,
Jen Mulford, CHHC, PT, CES
It’s amazing to me that the things that are simple physics, like movement creating friction, work as much in the human psyche as they do in the physical world.
I heard this quote from John Maxwell but I’m certain this is not John’s idea, as this phenomenon applies to all things:
"Movement creates friction."
You have certainly felt it too. As certain as the friction between my thighs in a fresh pair of corduroy jeans, is the friction between two people when one is trying to move. And the closer the relationship, the greater the friction.
When two people are in a relationship (friendship, marriage, co-workers) and one of the members of that relationship start to “move” you can bet it’s going to cause some friction, especially if the “mover” and the partner are not equally ready.
For instance, you’re ready to throw out every bit of sugar in the pantry but hubby is not on board and is not ready to give up his nightly Twinkie-fest. Or you want to break out and try a new career, but she would rather you stay in the job you hate because the dental plan makes her feel secure. Maybe you have been doing a lot of inner work and your growth is causing friction. It happens and what I want you to know is, it’s normal.
When you are ready to take a risk, try something new, or level up your life, you can bet it’s going to cause some friction with those around you.
Are you feeling that friction right now?
Here are few tips to help relieve the friction.
1. Be aware that just because you are ready doesn’t mean that those around you are, and you can’t make them ready. Your poking and prodding will only cause them to recoil and resent. So, stay on your path, include them in your life, but don’t nag. If you’re ready to start eating healthy and hubby isn’t, that’s fine. It’s your body and you choose what goes into it. Find a way. Don’t make a big deal, don’t complain about cooking extra. Find a way, not an excuse. Do not let them be your excuse.
2. I’m going to assume the “move” you are making is a positive move. You want better health to add years to your life and life to your years. You want the new job or to start your own business to enjoy your days on this earth, make and impact by using your gifts, and build a better life for you and your family. You’re dying, clicking away at a job that leaves you feeling empty. You’re doing some deep inner work because you’re ready to leave your old story behind and create a new, brighter and happier future for your family (even if they don’t exist yet). You’re doing these things to be better.
You need to move as effortlessly as possible toward your better and allow them to feed off of your energy for a while. Make what you’re doing something they want to be part of. I don’t mean purposely make them jealous. That’s the wrong energy. I mean, show them that eating better is giving you more energy and it’s worth the sacrifice. Show her your plan for your new dream job; what exactly will that look like? She doesn’t want you to be miserable she just wants to feel secure in the change (note: dreamers often marry realists...keep that in mind, speak their language not yours). Show those around you that doing the deep work of finding out who you really are makes you a more compassionate, fun person to be around, not a finger-waggy pain-in-the-ass. And don’t fake it. If you’re faking it, you’re on the wrong path yourself.
3. Give them time. How long did it take for you to get where you are today? How miserable did you have to be to get you to move? How long ago should you have started but you didn’t? Give them the time they need. That may be longer than you and that’s ok.
When Rob and I were newlywed’s I was in a Bible Study with a group of women who were all a good bit older than me…by about 30-40 years. One night I was voicing my frustration that I always felt that Rob and I were in such different places, spiritually. I was raised feeling like Jesus was my bestie since before I can remember. Rob was raised in the Catholic tradition, and his relationship with God, while not non-existent, was much different than mine. It felt to me much more distant than mine. (Yes, I hear myself….and yes, I’m rolling my own eyes…and yet I go on….) What a wonderful mentorship I had from these women. You know what they told me to do. Read him scripture every morning until he and Jesus were also besites. NO! They said, “Leave him alone.” And I did. For once in my life I chose to listen. Did I change what I did for me; bible study, morning devotions, going to church (which he always did with me)? No. Did it change my relationship with God? No. Me and Jesus still hung out, but I stopped worrying about Rob and let God do that. I did me. He did him. And God did what God does. Through the process, and through the years, I feel like God raised Rob up and brought me down a bit (it was needed if you can’t tell), and we met in the middle. Who was I to think I had his life and especially his faith all figured out.
We may do life with the people around us but each of us is only responsible for us.
Notice that all of my advice has nothing to do with changing the other person. All of it is you and how you handle the situation. You can’t change someone else. But you can, instead of getting frustrated, come from a place of grace. Know that you have arrived ready to change before those around you and have grace as you move, knowing you’re about to create friction for them. How about instead of being irritated about how it affects you, get empathetic for how it may affect them. I bet you’ve been on the other side of that friction at some point.
But here is what I want you to hear. No matter what, if your heart is saying to create the movement, do it. You may be called to something so you can be the silent, compassionate, force in your family or circle of friends. If the movement creates too much friction and the steps here are not working, it’s not always a sign to stop. Maybe you and your spouse need to look into getting a counselor, or coach through the process. If your friends are giving you grief because your new, more positive way of living, is harshing their vibe. Fine. Start to look for a new tribe with a new vibe.
Here is my favorite part! You get to choose the energy of your movement. Your energy in this movement will determine the energy of your friction. Friction can light fires. Fires can burn a village or provide warmth and light. If you’ve been given the desire to move, follow that desire with compassion for those around you. Follow it knowing your energy will burn or provide light. Choose to be light.
Committed to your success,
Jen Mulford, CHHC, PT, CES
Have you ever been in a place where you want to make a change or take a leap of faith, but the little voice in your head keeps whispering, "But what if you fail?"
I know this is a valid fear for so many. A few weeks ago I made this video in response to an email I got from someone who wants to start improving her health but her fear of failure (or failing again) is holding her back.
We get stuck in the mental cycle of what if this time doesn’t work? What if I fail? What if I spend months losing this weight just to once again gain it back?
It’s amazing how much time we’ll spend on this one thought-train, constantly moving in the same direction without the ability to jump the tracks to a new thought.
If this is you, let me offer you a couple suggestions.
First, instead on staying fixed on, "What if I do _____ and fail?" Spend some time working through, "What if I never try?"
They only thing that sucks worse than trying and failing is the regret of never trying.
Spend a few minutes thinking about, or better yet, journaling about it. What happens if you get to 70 or 80 years old and you’ve never taken the leap?
What if I don’t ever make the time for my health? What will I feel like?
What if I never try that business that I want to start? What will I regret if I never see what my potential is?
What if I never travel to that amazing destination I dream about?
What if I never do what it takes to leave this job I hate?
I have failed so many times in the years of being a business owner. I've had to apologize to everyone around me at some point. I've forgotten things that I shouldn't have forgotten. I've forgotten people I shouldn't have forgotten. I've had to be bailed out more than on 100 occasions. I've had days I had no idea how I'd get through and the only thing that kept me going was that the damn clock kept ticking.
But I am seeing how all of that is refining me. I'm starting to see that it's making a person I am much more proud to be.
I did not, and will not, do it perfectly. In fact we can all bet I have more failures headed my way. And I'll admit that still scares me a little...ok, a lot.
But what scares me more? What moves me forward? Allowing my fear of regret to grow larger than my fear of failure.
What if I let the fear win and I never fulfill my purpos
That terrifies me! That propels me out of my comfort zone and into action even if it's scary action, even if it's action I don't feel 100% prepared for.
Tomorrow will not always be an option.
Tomorrow will not always be an option.
At some point the opportunity you have today will pass. I don’t think we hear that enough. You have an amazing opportunity in TODAY that tomorrow may or may not afford you. I think that is what age does to you, it grows your awareness of the frailty and risk of waiting until tomorrow.
Second, I would suggest that you do the deep work. Work on the inside. Get a coach, put yourself in an environment that will support you. Deepen your commitment to changing YOU. In fact, YOU is all you really can change.
If you fear failure in one area because you have a track record of failure in that area, it’s time to do something different. Get in a more accountable situation, get a tribe, get a coach, read books, start new habits, whatever it takes.
And last, be honest with yourself.
Are you really fearing failure or is it more like, “I want to start but can’t because I fear failing” sounds much more noble than…
I don’t want to.
I don’t want to make the time.
It’s just not a priority to me.
I love hanging out with other people who are achieving what they want to achieve out of life. Why? Because they have learned the hard lessons and hit the wall. You'll know when you've hit the wall, it sounds like this:
I am tired of hearing my own BS.
I cannot, for one more minute, listen to my own damn excuses.
I am exhausted…from me.
If that is where you are but you don't know where to go next. Call me. Let's have coffee. Let's see what you can do to move forward in fear. Waiting for the fear to go away is not necessary. Finding your power to move forward throughit, and using it to move you, is all you need. I can help with that.
Committed to your success,
Really ready to make some change? Get in my Action Circle Mastermind.I've added a 6 month option because you asked. We start soon. So don't wait.
A few years ago, I made a decision. As it was becoming obvious that I was entering a new phase of womanhood, made glaringly real by the bright red high-beams that once were my ears that now emit heat that I’m sure aliens are able to detect from other universes. This new phase wasn’t going to be easy, I knew this. I have watched other women go through it with grace and poise. Yet I’ve never met one who admitted going through it with ease and without a bit of bat-shit-crazy.
So, my decision was, “Head down go!” This is a phase that we were made to go through. It’s not something to fight, it’s not a curse that I have worse than anyone else, it’s part of how God made women and I will trust that wisdom. Most of all I decided it wasn’t something to fix. I knew it would get hard, I’ve heard the stories, but I decided early on that I would use food, exercise and self-care to make my way through this rough and rocky terrain of exiting the childbearing years of life.
I know that exercise can play a massive role in the effects of menopause. I also believe that nutrition (and mostly getting sugar out of the diet) can help to even out hormones and blood sugar and therefore help to improve life during this phase. So, my decision was to use these tools, tools I already had in my arsenal and using quite well. If I didn’t say so myself, pretty proud of myself.
I now understand that this was the equivalent of that time before you have kids and you’re judging the poor mother whose child is throwing a tantrum in the store. Because of course mychild will never act that way! Flash forward to a few years later when I’m screaming at my two-year-old because I haven’t had a shower in two days, haven’t taken a poop alone in a year and the only adult conversation I have is with the helpful Publix cashier who is giving me the “I hope you’re going to pick that up” look while said devil child plucks every candy bar from the shelf and I’m cursing the people who put them there because they did this on purpose to make my life hell!
Yep, I’m there. Only the menopause version of that…it’s even crazier.
A few weeks ago it hit in full force. I have to admit, I never saw this coming.
I love that working out has a positive effect on the way my body looks, but I have always admitted that I actually work out and eat very little sugar more for my mind than my body. My battle has always been in my head. And after years of a hard work, physical and mental, I really was at a place where I was happy with me, the good, bad and the ugly. I accept that the parts of me that challenge me are also the parts of me that make me able to do what I do on a daily basis. While my brain may create some challenges for me, and I may not have the ability to fullychange them, I do have the ability to mold them into something of a force.
This is also why, that after being offered medications for my ADD and OCD on more than one occasion, I have said NO, on more than one occasion. I have no judgement for those who do medicate, I’ve learned better (see grocery store story above). But I decided early on that I didn’t want to. As much as my “disorder” has its negative effects that I need tools to deal with, it also is what I believe gifts me to do what I do. The thorn in my side is also my superpower. And for this reason, I’ve made the decision not to medicate myself. (It’s also why my fingernails look like monkey’s chew them….that’s just me, I’ll live with that.)
And, so it happened. And my force was removed.
In fact, last week I described it to a friend like this, “It’s as if on regular days I must have a forcefield that keeps me from feeling the full weight of the responsibility and stress of life and then I wake up and it’s gone. The force is NOT with me, and the full weight of all of LIFE is allowed to rest on me. No forcefield. And the weight is crushing.” She responded, “You lose your armor.” YES!
And it’s not like this is something I have never experienced before but I have learned to bounce back really quick. Give me one day. I’ll hang out in my little pit for a day but tomorrow I’ll be back. I’ve learned to just be quiet and stay there, try not to talk to anyone so I don’t say something I’ll regret, adjust my day as much as I can and just ride it out. I learned that fighting it was really the largest problem. It’s a like a wave that can take you under or you can learn to anticipate its swell, jump to your feet and ride the hell out of it. The wave always leads you back to shore. Always. It’s all in how you decide to react to it.
So, when it hit this time I stuck with the plan. I adjusted, I jumped to my feet to ride it out…only I didn’t. This time it was a not just a wave, it was a tsunami. My energy level was in the toilet. I mean to tell you that washing my hair was exhausting. I chose not to use conditioner one day because it just seemed like too much work. And one day would have been a dream. Try 5! And no amount of grit, determination or self-help hype was going to help. I’ve never experienced this before. This was a low I never knew existed and after a few days I was beginning to get worried that I had bought a one-way ticket. I was worried I wasn’t coming back.
But I did. And it was great, for about two weeks…then it hit AGAIN!
ARE YOU KIDDING ME! Another period, another low, another tsunami. And now I’m pissed so it’s worse, and then it’s worseagain because I’m so mad. Exhausted, emotional, mad, tired, need a vacation, need some relief, need my armor. Where the heck is my armor?
And food and exercise? So damn hard to give a crap. So hard! And I own a gym. I have a NUTRITION PROGRAM. Add that guilt to the list! I’m supposed to know what to do. I’m supposed to do better than this. I’m the one with the plan, the way out, I’m not supposed to have the toddler throwing the fit!!!! And now I am that toddler!!!
And then today it lifts. The sun shines. The tsunami is gone. I wonder if I’m crazy or is this part of it? I wonder if my plan can work.
And yet I stay the course.
My plan has not changed. I will go throughthis “head down go” because I believe it’s the fastest way…through.Throughis the fastest route. I will not look for the quick fix, I will not change the plan just because it got harder than I anticipated.
I will however keep my eye on the horizon and watch for the next swell. Two weeks or two months, it’s coming. Maybe I’ll make myself some notes for while I’m there. Maybe I’ll give my family a week pass at Dollywood for next time it arises. I’ll stay behind, it’s too happy there for someone in my ‘condition.’
I know that this is part of it. I knew that this wouldn’t be easy. I wonder if my guilt of who I am as “fitness expert” adds to the overall frustration. I have a lot of questions. I have few answers. I feel like I’m supposed to always have the answers. But today all I know is to go back to what I know. Today I look forward to giving my body good things. This is not a time for me to slack on self-care, exercise or nourishment, it’s time to double down. This is when my body needs me most, and I need it to work with me. So, while I’m strong, I’ll be proactive. When I’m weak I’ll rest and ride the wave. I won’t judge you how you go through this, so it stands that I should allow myself that same grace. I will not judge me on how I go through this.
This last time took me by surprise. I hope it enjoyed the sneak attack because next time I’ll see it coming. I’m building stronger armor. And something tells me that my greatest strength will be found in yielding. Flow. Riding the wave.
"I will remember that there is nothing in this life that I cannot have, but there are things I choose not to have because they do not line up with who I am becoming."
I found these words that I wrote a while back as I was looking through some old writing today.
It made me think about how we so often make changes in our lives to better ourselves yet never change our language to match that good and mature decision. Even worse we never change our thinking to match that healthy decision.
Instead of telling ourselves that we choose not to have _________ (cookie, cake, bread, sugar in general, that extra drink, smoke, whatever), we tell ourselves, and often those around us, that we can't have ________.
When in reality that is just not true. We can have anything we choose. And we have the ability to choose things that either bring us health and freedom and lead us toward the person we are becoming, or we have the ability to choose things that bring us illness, bloating, weight gain and a general bad feeling about ourselves and keep us where we are.
Here is why changing your mental dialogue (and outer dialogue) is so important in this area...because we always want the one thing we can't have. Cue the beauty and the beast music because this one is a tale as old as time. This one goes all the way back to the garden where Eve wanted the one thing she was told she couldn't or shouldn't have. I think we know how well that worked.
Here is what I want you to see...
This is not a you problem this is an us problem. We're all this way, well most of us. "Tell me what I can't have and I'll show you!" The funny thing is most of us know this. We know we have this rebellious side, most even admit it to me in a coaching session within moments of us meeting. And if we got really deep I bet we would find that some seek out the super regimented diets just so we can rebel. But that's some deep stuff there. Subconsciously making the decision to rebel and quit before you've even started. We're just weird that way, us humans.
But what if we change our language, what even we go even deeper and we change our thinking.
Because saying "I can't have ____" is actually not even the truth. The truth is "I choose to have ______"
What if you start doing a new mental exercise every time you're faced with an unhealthy decision. If you're like me, when you start this practice, and it will take lots of practice, you'll find yourself noticing you've slipped only once it's already out of your mouth. And that's ok. Even though it's already been said, go back mentally and rephrase. If you're really brave rephrase out loud.
For example, you're at the movie theater...Side bar: What is it about this place and food? I'm always baffled at the behaviors I witness there. The massive amounts of snacks, in massive sizes, and it's not enough to get a popcorn the size of a feeding trough but the people who leave the counter 3 times to layer the "butter" that is not anything close to butter, into the popcorn just scare me. I'm like, I have CPR and AED certification, no worries, I'll sit behind you, I got you! And wash it down with a 1000 ounce diet coke. Our society must change...
Anyway...you're at the movie theater and you hear yourself say, "I can't have raisinettes (insert sad face)." Now prior to this moment, you were feeling really great, now that you've had sugar out of your life. Your clothes are fitting better with less bloating, your skin looks amazing and you are sleeping like a baby. And yet, "I can't have." is our mantra.
This is the moment where you need to notice your thinking. Acknowledge all of the good things going on with your new lifestyle and replace your "can't have" with what your opening yourself up to.
To me it literally sounds like this in my head, "Actually I could have raisinettes, I do have a choice. I also have the choice to not have diabetes. I have the choice to feel amazing in my clothes and my body. And one day I will have the choice to go hiking on a beautiful day instead of spending it in the doctors office because of this decision today." I know, it sounds crazy, but over time I was able to completely change my thinking buy changing how I thought about what I put in my body.
You also have to give huge recognition to this one truth: When you decide to live healthy, and I' not even talking extremes here. I mean just learning to adult yourself around food. You will be stepping outside of our societal norm. You will have to learn to swim upstream. You will learn that it's not easy but over time it does get easier. Your friends may think you're a freak, and that's ok. (note: I once took kale salad to a movie!) We like to call those freaks "psyclepaths." We're not just carving out a new mental path but we are the beginning of a revolution in nutrition. We are the path makers.
Our society is sick. Illness is normal. Medications, even with all the warnings are taken with ease, while our friends look on us like we are crazy for eating kale. If what we see out in the world is normal, call me crazy. Call me a psyclepath. I'm ready to change my own psycles, the way I think and believe, so that my children and grandchildren can live lives free from the diseases we take as normal today. 70% of disease in America can be prevented with lifestyle changes. Let's get crazy about this, let's make a new path, and lets start with our own thinking.
Jen Mulford is an entrepreneur, speaker, author and champion for personal freedom.