The Fall

fall <fôl> (verb) 1. “move downward, typically rapidly and freely without control, from a higher to a lower level” // 2. “lose one's balance and collapse”

Falls are usually a result of an accident.

  • a misplaced step

  • a slip on an unseen object

  • a moment of dizziness or vertigo

  • a loss of our sense of placement in space

  • a misjudgment of our own ability or strength

  • a miscalculation of the sturdiness of another object


Depending on how you were raised, or on the kind of mindset you’ve embraced as an adult, a fall is either an invitation to retreat and take fewer risks . . . or it is a challenge to become stronger and test your limits again.

If surveyed, I would guess than upward of 75% of our population reacts to the risk of falling with doing less.

Yet, what our bodies actually need are for us to do more.

We need to . . .

build our strength,

increase our mobility,

improve our balance.

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I fell last week. I dropped approximately 8 feet to the ground after a missed grasp at a hold I was reaching for.

The result? Two dislocated fingers and a month’s worth of hand exercises.

After the incident, my thoughts over the following 24-hours included:

  • “that was so foolish of me”

    • “but I almost had it”

  • “it’s time to act my age”

    • “but I don’t want to act my age”

  • “my physical decline has begun”

    • “this is actually a call to increase my strength”

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The truth is that most of us are going to experience a fall at some point in our lives. It’s more of a when than if.

But the real question is “what kind of shape are you going to be in when it happens?”

Maybe two dislocated fingers is just dumb luck.

But . . .

No broken bones

No back or spine issues

Hardly even sore the next day?

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I often speak of the power of exercise, to . . .

  • relieve stress

  • improve our mood

  • manage pain

But an equally important benefit of exercise is that it widens our ability to absorb life stressors . . . emotional, mental, physical.

There’s no question that I am very fortunate . . . that I did’t get seriously injured.

There is equally no question that the padding of muscles, the flexibility of a mobile spine, and the strength of bones exposed to weight training helped to create that good fortune.

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What kind of shape are you going to be in the next time life drops you?

Booty Shorts #repost

I can't recall when I stopped feeling comfortable wearing shorts . . . but it probably coincided with the self-conscious teenage years. Sure, I still wore shorts for my soccer games . . . you know the baggy, down to your knees kind? But given the choice . . . I'd opt for pants or a long skirt.

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Perhaps it was the style of the late-eighties.

Or, possibly I wanted to hide all those knee and shin bruises from soccer games.

But, truthfully it was something much bigger. It was a focal point. I'd begin thinking about it before the first signs of spring . . . and be concerned with it until the relief of fall time.

Was it the neighborhood boy's thunder thighs comment that I was trying to avoid? Or, was I simply trying to avoid any attention, good or bad. 

But this kind of avoidance behavior gets old . . . for us and for those who love us.

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Fast forward 25+ years to my early 40s when I learned about this fitness movement called CrossFit. After just one class, I was sold . . . on the intensity, variety, and focus on strength. Six months after having my fourth child, I was ready to take back my body.

As I moved forward with my training, I began adjusting my eating towards balance.

  • My body transformed
  • My mindset improved
  • I embraced the strength gains.

And then this incredible thing happened. I became less and less preoccupied with hiding.

For what felt like the first time . . . getting stronger and feeling more fit were more compelling than remaining on the sidelines.

Casting aside any voices in my head telling me that wearing short shorts was for those much younger than myself, I began to embrace the muscles, physique, and power . . . loving that person I'd once turned my back on.

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It's not easy to love those parts of ourselves that we once rejected.

But one thing I've noticed is that as we take better care of our health, it becomes easier.

Move towards the light and pick up those parts of yourself that you've dropped along the way. As you put yourself back together, I think you'll be pleased with how you feel: in your body; emotionally; as you look in the mirror.

And if you need help along the way, you know where to find me.

-Coach Rebecca

Perseverance

".  .  . where perseverance gave way to a good story." - Chris Casale

Photo credit:&nbsp;https://www.flickr.com/photos/lunaman/10675193625

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lunaman/10675193625

As someone who has struggled with mental health issues since adolescence, I understand literal  (chemical) and perceived (psychological) roadblocks. And although oftentimes frustrating and seemingly unending, these tests of my need to lead a purposeful life have brought success. It's a forging of the sword of life.

For yourself, think about a time in your life when purposeful action, repeated again and again, delivered you onto the doorstep of success:

  • seeing through a higher education even when it took more time and resources than originally anticipated
  • pursuing and securing a new job or an important sale despite the many hurdles that could have stopped you along the way
  • instilling an important habit in your child's life that fosters success over a lifetime

What exactly do these examples of achievement hold in common? 

  • there is a pressing importance to see ourselves a certain way: intelligent, accomplished, successful, degreed
  • the need is immediate and failure is not an option: financial stability, at-risk health, unsustainable behavior
  • a bullheaded single mindedness in seeing the effort through

Now think of something that you know is important but you've had difficulty achieving it. Do you need to improve your relationship with a loved one? Do you need to take positive action in an unhealthy work environment? Is your health deteriorating through poor food choices or inactivity?

As in the mentoring of Jay Williams of Two Brain Business, there are usually one or more of three reasons why we avoid doing something that is important:

  1. we don't fully understand the problem
  2. we are afraid of some step in the solution
  3. we don't know why it is important

So, in the case of our health, let's consider these potential blocks. 

  1. You are eating better than your parents by including vegetables like potatoes and peas, and have even switched to a diet soda . . . and don't understand why you continue to gain weight.
  2. You "know" how to eat, but are still unable to lose the weight that is hurting your knees and keeping you from playing with your children.
  3. You and your friends enjoy partying and eating out on the weekend. Your doctor tells you that if you don't take action, you are on the road to diabetes and being at risk for a heart attack. But you're thinking "but I want to have fun...is it really that big of a deal?"

If you take these examples and apply the right questioning, you start to peel back the layers of the true reasons for your inability to achieve your goal.

  1. If you seek out a health mentor to teach you how to round out your diet to also include leafy and colorful vegetables, and learn to enjoy water instead of soda, you will open your eyes to the value of food diversity in weight loss.
  2. To know something and then take action on that knowledge are two different things. If you know that you need to lose weight but aren't willing to actually change your habits, odds are high that you're afraid of some step in the process. Maybe you use food to sooth your emotions and don't have an alternative coping tool. Or, you were taught to eat everything on your plate, and don't know how to deal with being full.
  3. If your body fat % is in the obese range and you aren't exercising in some form at least 3x/week, then perhaps you don't fully appreciate the long term consequences of your choices. You can educate yourself on why eating tons of sugar, just because you feel like it, will damage your cells and shorten your life expectancy. 

The single most important decision you can make today is to take one step towards a healthier you. We can live without cableTV, a fancy car, the overflow of clothing, the twice weekly nail appointment. But we literally cannot live without our health.

Perseverance means that you accept that there will be failures along the way . . . but you keep moving forward anyway. 

I challenge you to ask yourself what is stopping you from succeeding.

I challenge you to fail and keep moving.

I challenge you to write a good story . . . with you at the center.

Please reach out if you need help. Schedule a No Sweat Intro to get started.

Cheers!

-Coach Rebecca

Path of Least Resistance

Without getting too philosophical, I do believe that humans are like streams. Our thoughts, our emotions, our actions . . . they all flow in the path of least resistance. When we choose to ruminate over some negative event, although it's uncomfortable, it is still easier than facing the part of ourself that is ready to move on. Or, if we have difficulty embracing our own success, we will find it easier to remain angry and disappointed . . . even if it's painful to hold onto those emotions . . . simply because to see ourselves as a bright light is even more painful. 

In fact, I would argue that every decision we make is based on our understanding of ease . . . and done in an attempt to minimize our pain while maximizing our reward.

But life isn't static. Situations, people, relationships, our minds, and our bodies change. And as they change, so does what we consider to be the path of least resistance.

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Here's a case in point . . . 

Despite being in the fitness profession, 

I don't naturally eat well.

I don't naturally exercise 6x/week.

And for whatever reason, I don't even naturally do what makes me feel best on a moment by moment basis.

Yet, then,

". . . why do I eat well more days than not?" and

". . . what motivates me to get moving?"

My answer: "I have engineered eating well and exercising to become my paths of least resistance."

I have lived through enough negative consequences to my past poor habits, to have trained my decision-making to consider how I'll feel in 30-minutes and tomorrow . . . not just right now. I guess you'd call it delayed gratification.

Oh believe me, if I could get away with eating sleeves or Oreos, and not exercising for weeks on end (not to mention spending my time watching old Masterpiece Theater mini-series), truth is I'd probably do it.

But I don't . . . because the cost is too heavy.

For me to eat poorly and not exercise is similar to inviting symptoms . . . one by one to my own body's party.

Sure, it always starts out fun . . .

  • the sense of freedom
  • independence
  • feeling in control

But that initial high doesn't last long.

Instead, the dark underbelly of my behavior is exposed . . .

  • moodiness
  • irritability
  • low self-esteem

And as if these side effects are not enough, my body punches me with . . . 

  • an unending achy-ness that runs through my joints and hurts as I walk
  • an energy gas tank that remains on empty
  • the discomfort of a stomach unfulfilled or overly full

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One of the magical, completely unique human qualities, is the ability to consider ourselves . . . our thoughts, who we are, and who we'd like to be.

Along with that ability, is the capacity for change.

When you notice a habit that you're not happy with,

or, you don't like what you see in the mirror,

you have the power to choose whether you stay the same or you change.

And odds are high, that with a deeply embedded trail for your habits to follow, you will continue to follow that path . . . unless you place a diversion to reroute the flow.

You can divert your stream's currents with a dam, or even something subtle like a rock.

In the case of our health, we can do things like:

  • don't bring tempting foods into the house
  • commit to not eating out
  • find yourself a walking buddy for your lunch break

. . . whatever it is . . . do something to make it easier to do the right thing.

And if you are really sick and tired of your old ways, hire a personal trainer or a nutrition coach who will hold you accountable so that it becomes more painful to not do what you said you'd do than it is to just do what you know will ultimately give you a happier life.

Find your dam . . . your rock . . . your diversion . . . 

and make your path of least resistance be the path to better health.

Happy diversions!

Coach Rebecca

The Shortest Distance

I believe that the shortest distance to our goals is directly from where we stand today.

I also believe that all the attempts we make to try to work around this truth, only makes the journey to our goals longer.

photo credit:&nbsp; AccuWeather

photo credit: AccuWeather

We were a skiing family growing up. Nearly every spring break deposited us at a ski resort in Colorado. Being the youngest of three meant that after a few requisite lessons, my time was spent chasing my older brothers down the hill. They were endlessly patient and supportive of me . . . even if my skills and speed were less developed.

Inevitably though, I'd find myself in rather awkward circumstances. Whether I was getting stuck in the deep powder of the trees, landing on my rear after another unsuccessful jump, or having to traverse a triple diamond just to get down the mountain before dark . . . in every situation it was clear that I was skiing outside my skill level.

Did I learn to be humble? Sure.
Did I learn that I'm rather brave? You bet.
But did I learn to become a better skier? Absolutely not.

Ironically, one of my ski instructors told my parents that if I lived closer, I had the makings to become an Olympian. I'm guessing he could see my steely-eyed fearlessness and athletic aptitude. Yet . . . even with that potential . . . even with many annual pilgrimages to those rocky slopes . . . I never became more than an average skier.

Why? Because I was never allowed the opportunity to just ski at my own level. Sure, I'd get to show off on an occasional blue hill . . . but most of the time I was working well beyond my ability.

It's probably no surprise that I don't miss skiing.

Where are you TODAY?
THAT is the important question.

Getting to where you want to go . . . that will come.
As long as you start where you are . . . you'll get there.

-Coach Rebecca

Options

Dear S.,

I'd like to take this moment to thank you for stopping by last week. Seeking out the options that are available to help you achieve your goals is an important first step.

As you assess the landscape of fitness facilities, you will begin to see patterns taking form . . . especially in the relationship between pricing and accountability. Let's take a look at some of the options you'll encounter, and how they might benefit you:

  • Free: this is a very effective method of getting prospective clients through the door . . . though the allure of free disappears as soon as you realize that no one is invested in your success.
  • Low-end monthly options: if you are a self-motivated individual who just needs access to some equipment to bang out your daily exercise, this option might work. Though if you're like most of us, our commitment level is usually directly connected to how much we invest. This often becomes the "I only pay $30/month at Gym XYZ . . . though I never use it."
  • Mid-range gym memberships with sign-up or annual fees: this is the most common gym option around. If you are looking for an almost country-club experience, these gyms usually have nice locker room facilities, day care, and spa amenities. Popular for good reasons, there are class offerings for everyone. As long as you don't mind having your money go towards a class you don't use, and are ok with year-long contracts with cancelation fees, this might work just fine.
  • Higher-end group options: these are your yoga, pilates, bootcamp, and functional fitness facilities. For people who thrive in medium-sized groups, these work well. The price reflects a higher level of attention than a standard gym group class. These settings create social accountability . . . where your buddies will hound you when you don't show up.
  • Boutique-style personal training studios: the least common and highest priced option available, these are designed with the individual's needs in mind. This is an ideal setup for people who need to know that their coach will be expecting them, and who require customized plans to accommodate physical or sensitivity limitations. Sometimes a last stop after not finding success in other facilities, the high value in personal training is the personalized attention.
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We fit into the last category.
The Fittest Me is a personal training garage studio that designs individualized fitness and nutrition programs for the non-gym goer.

What does that mean for you?

Well, that depends on:

  • Your injury history
  • Your mobility and range of motion
  • Your exercise experience
  • What your goals are
  • What you see as blocks to your goals
  • What kind of time and/or financial constraints you have
  • How specific and/or urgent your goals are
  • How hard you want to work for them
  • If you can tolerate exercise intensity
  • If you have a history of trauma
  • If you have mental health issues
  • What you are willing to change to get the results you want


What we've observed is that a one size fits all approach to fitness leads to injury, disinterest, and a failure to thrive. Unless the gym environment is a perfect social and fitness match, it can actually serve to de-motivate someone who thinks that they should be able to achieve the promise of weight loss solely based on their own will power.

However, for those whose needs don't meet the traditional gym mold, the magic of fitness happens when these individuals feel supported and recognized. Whereas before there was only an inability to fit in, now there is relief and a sense of finding one's home.

A few examples of people who have found their home with us:

  • In her late 40s, R had given up on her own beauty, but is now down 20+ pounds, and has built strength. 
  • L, in his 50s, became deconditioned through the distracting responsibilities of fatherhood . . . but is now exercising five days per week and has overhauled his eating habits.
  • Recently diagnosed with inflammatory arthritis, H's workouts are kept at a low or moderate intensity while she builds strength for her yoga practice.
  • B's workouts are designed around her uterine prolapse . . . allowing us to help her safely build strength from the inside out.
  • C's exercise anxiety used to get in the way of her fitness success, but after working through those fears together, she no longer feels held back.
  • After finishing physical therapy for her back and knee, M is now loving the strength-focus of the workouts that meet her where she is on a daily basis.

Our fitness certifications, background experience, and research include those of functional fitness, functional gymnastics, aerobic capacity training, mobility, body building, pelvic floor health, cognitive behavioral training, as well as nutrition mentoring. We ensure that we have the knowledge required to support your health goals.

After considering all the options available to you in the fitness world, if you don't find one that supports your goals, come give our personal training studio a try. You might learn for yourself what our loyal clients have already discovered . . . that the value of working with a personal trainer who puts your needs first is in fact invaluable.

To your health . . . 

-Coach Rebecca

The Call

“The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.” ― Ernest Hemingway
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As a Midwesterner, the songs and calls of the Northern Cardinal and American Robin are annual welcomings to spring. In our DuPage County alone, we have over 300 species of birds living in our great backyard. That means that between our springtime welcome wagon friends, mallard ducks and Canadian Geese, I can identify less than 2% by sound, and only a few more by sight. Fortunately, however, birds have their own species covered in terms of giving one another a heads-up to intruders, for food, and in times of mating.

In the case of humans, however, we form groups based on a common language, shared experiences, cultural norms, and ancestral lineage. When we dial down and look around at those who we choose to spend time with, we discover similar philosophies and common beliefs. 

The question then is, what are those glue-like links that keep each of us coming back to break bread together? Is it a certain sense of humor? How about the clan-affiliation of a religion? Do we rally around political beliefs?

Or is it how we look? I recently attended a church service where to my untrained eye, it appeared that all the women looked similar in how they dressed, how they wore their hair, and how they held their bodies both standing and sitting. However you'd define these social norms, they were clearly important to these parishioners.

Or are the bonds that hold us together, beyond the obvious commonalities?

Is there a call that only we can hear? A frequency of communication that is only perceptible to some?

In an effort to build a community of individuals and families who want to improve their health, I have discovered that what we're creating is not for everyone. I am sending out the call, but only some receive it and are ready to act.

Who are those that hear my call?

  • families who are willing to question the quality of what they put on the table
  • parents who value their children's healthy habit formation over convenient and easy entertainment
  • senior citizens who have not given themselves over to effortless comfort 
  • men who know that their time is now . . . and can admit that their habits need to be shored up
  • women who have suffered physically, emotionally, or psychologically . . . and feel vulnerable as a result
  • women who use their vulnerabilities to build positive, gritty world views to make themselves stronger
  • women who are sick of the status quo and are looking for real change . . . real empowerment

How about those who won't hear my call?

  • anyone who is only concerned with how they look to others
  • those who have lived with relative comfort, and don't really want to make the required habit changes
  • people with fixed mindsets that will go to endless lengths to protect their egos rather than face their weaknesses

Here's the call: I am looking for four more clients.

Four individuals who don't want the $30 gym membership that they'll never use.

Four people who know that $1000 spent today on their health will save them $10,000 in the future.

Four clients who understand that two years of committed effort now will add 2-3x that many quality years to their lives in the future.

If you are are no longer motivated to go to the gym on your own, have reached the bottom of your own self-care toolbox and are still not achieving the results you want, are drawn to our message of building health through self-love, and have thoughts of reaching out . . . then you can hear our call.

If that's the case, answer it. Schedule your No Sweat Intro Now

Take the path that pulls you outside of your comfort zone and into the sunlight. It might feel scary at first, but after a short while, you will discover that the warm sun on your face is precisely what you've been looking for all along.

Cheers & Hugs,

-Coach Rebecca

Choices

“There will always be those
who say you are too young and delicate
to make anything happen for yourself.
They don't see the part of you that smolders.
Don't let their doubting drown out
the sound of your own heartbeat.

You are the first drop of rain in a hurricane.

Your bravery builds beyond you.
You are needed by all the little girls
still living in secret, writing oceans
made of monsters, and
throwing like lightning.
You don't need to grow up
to find greatness.

You are so much stronger than the world
has ever believed you could be.
The world is waiting for you
to set it on fire. Trust in yourself

and burn.” 
― Clementine von Radics, Mouthful of Forevers
circa 1981

circa 1981

In comparison to the high fear culture we live in now, my childhood was relatively carefree. While both of our parents worked, my two older brothers and I spent countless summer hours searching for fun. We swam in our pool, played ghost in the graveyard, adventured through mini forests and creeks, and rode along our long circular driveway on our Yamaha 50 dirt bike.

I  was taught to think for myself and to trust my instincts.

Nonetheless, no matter what parenting philosophy any of us want to hold on to, we are slow to shed the beliefs formed in our earliest years of life. It was no different for my parents. As a result, what they said and how they acted didn't always line up . . . and we children were left to make sense of the disparity.

My mother was a kind hearted, gentle woman who had her own demons and health issues to contend with. In addition to her central nervous system lupus and chronic depression, she also had her own history of sexual abuse, and was raised in a household of various expressions of mental illness. Even if she was raised in the feminist revolution, the lens of her life had a certain unique tint.

She wanted to raise a daughter who was "equal" to her brothers, yet would let my brothers have second helpings of food before me...because they were boys, bigger, and older. My chosen response was to get my share another way . . . by sneaking food after dinner was over. I'm sure I could have acted out a number of different ways, but that one worked for me then. Habits last, however, and that one is not so helpful today . . . and I need to guard against it.

She divorced my father due to his unending denial of his grave alcoholism, yet would still take care of him. She expected us to do the same. (If you have experience with the codependent nature of dysfunctional families, you'll know what I mean.) At 14 years old, to be expected to act happy and pretend that everything is normal when your father has burnt the dinner, smells of the empty vodka bottle, and has given you a present for someone many years younger than you are . . . is a tall order.

My father was a farm kid turned brilliant, patent-holding chemical engineer. He believed in the power of learning and was willing to make financial sacrifices for his children's education. Nonetheless, he didn't like to be questioned. Perhaps that had to do with being raised by a strong-willed mom whose questioning of his father almost cost her her life. Although my father passed away 24 years ago, my understanding is that he carried the emotional burden of protecting his seven siblings and mother against the bipolar alcoholic father.

He taught us to consider greater questions, but not direct ones that questioned him. Complying with his wishes made my childhood run more smoothly, but carried over to adulthood is an ineffective way of running a household. I have to override those rules every time I need to ask a question that may ruffle some feathers.

He believed in high ideals and spoke readily of his morals . . . but alcohol tends to erode our standards of behavior. So, on this front, his inconsistencies can remain in history. I was relieved to find my life mate to be someone whose words and actions were aligned and protective.

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Although highly personal, and seemingly disconnected from fitness, I share some of my childhood with you as a means of bringing to light the humanity in all of us.

There's no such thing as a perfect parent . . . in those who raised us, nor as we raise our own children.

Yet . . . there is ALWAYS hope. And there are always CHOICES.

Even among the dysfunctional habits many of us have acquired to get through our childhoods, there were choices. And one of the important first steps to moving forward in our lives and in our health is to acknowledge that even at the age of 5, we made a choice. It might have felt like the only one, but it was ours nonetheless.

It is no different for you today as an adult. 

If you are struggling to shed some outdated habit in your life . . . odds are high that you're not sure you want to make the change. Yet, it is truly just a choice away from being changed.

And once you are fully committed to making the change, you've got the wind at your back.

Here's the catch though. In order to smooth down the edges of your deeply worn paths, you will need to make that choice for change again, and again, and again . . . until it's grooves are deeper than the old ones. This could take the remainder of your lifetime. Yet the good news is that it gets easier and easier with every pass.

If your past choices have brought you to a place of hiding, darkness, and un-health . . . it is time to change the course of your life.

Why?

You are worth fighting for.

We've been given this life to live to our fullest.

There are those in your life who need you. 

Begin to right the wrongs of outdated behaviors that once served your survival, but now hold you in the shadows of life.

If the darkness makes it difficult to know what direction to head, seek out a mentor.

I choose to be a mentor of fitness because I believe it is the fastest route to successful change.

If that is what you want, please schedule a No Sweat Intro to get you back out into the light, and to build the strength to keep you there.

-Coach Rebecca