Your Secret Garden

"Being taught to read before you are ready is like being handed the keys to a secret garden, only to discover it's barren."
photo credit : ruffledblog.com

photo credit: ruffledblog.com

Paraphrased from a brain development book I read when I was a first time mother, Jane Healy points out in Your Child's Growing Mind, that reading is not simply an act of putting letters into words and words into sentences. Instead, we read to create meaning in our lives. For example, the word child is not simply a c, h, i, l, and d put sequentially next to one another. Instead this word invokes memories, meaning, opinions, thoughts, fears, hopes, and dreams. (Similarly, the word simoom means little to anyone who doesn't live near the Sahara.)

Instead of letters and words, the real precursor to reading is an engagement of our environment . . . so that we can make connections . . . figure out differences . . . and decide what's importance to us.

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For some it can be the same for how we view our bodies.

As long as you live in an industrialized nation, have stood in a checkout line, and viewed fashion magazines, you have been promised the amazing and incredible life that accompanies some ideal of a perfect body. Take some pouty lips, plus a bubble butt, minus the thighs touching, add in breasts, and luscious eyes . . . and voila . . . you are promised happiness, sexiness, popularity, likability, extroversion, and having "arrived".

But . . . to dismantle our bodies in terms of the arms we want and the thighs we desire . . . in hopes that we'll be able to piece ourselves back together into a whole, fulfilled human is missing the point (at best).

Perhaps you've known someone who has tried to do this.. It's usually a woman. She . . .

  • is overly thin
  • acts edgy
  • has a far-off gaze in her eyes
  • is unsatisfied with her life

Has she been taught that a life of thinness guarantees status, happiness, and a beautiful secret garden to live in?

Now that she is thin (possibly even perfectly shaped), is she standing . . . prized key in hand with only a barren garden in view?

This can happen if she was not also taught the importance of . . . 

self love

self protection

growth mindset.

Truth is that no matter how sexy and appealing that perfect body is . . . we don't live our lives from the outside in.

We live and experience our lives from the inside out

In our personal training studio, this is one of our keys to successful clients . . . leading with self-love within a safe environment. 

Clients learn to be the landscape architects of their own beautiful life vision. 

We take her vision and design the map to help her achieve it. 

With her new keys in hand, she plants, tends, weeds, tills, and through patience and perseverance cultivates her own secret garden.

No one else gets to design the gardens of our lives.

Make sure that's the case.

And if part of your garden vision includes health and strength, ensure that your fitness plans are founded in love not hate.

For our lives and healthful bodies grow best in the fertile soil of self-care.

Cheers and hugs,
-Coach Rebecca

Your Worth

i will tell you, my daughter
of your worth
not your beauty
every day. (your beauty is a given, every being is
born beautiful).
knowing your worth
can save your life.
raising you on beauty alone
you will be starved.
you will be raw.
you will be weak.
an easy stomach.
always in need of someone telling you how
beautiful you are.

- nayyirah waheed

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After the birth of my first daughter, I studied up on how to be a capable parent. I combined what I read with observations I'd collected over the first 30 years of my life. Among the handful of values I assimilated, some of the more relevant include:

  • emphasize the efforts that lead to achievement (rather than the end product)
  • confidence comes from solving and overcoming obstacles (not from holding up an ego)
  • if they can do something, they should
  • help them build their strengths, and their sense of worth will follow

Likewise, to my children I have taught:

  • a stressed mind cannot make effective decisions. breath first . . . then decide how to proceed
  • always trust your gut
  • don't expose yourself to anything that drains your energy (including "fashion" magazines)
  • beauty is a natural outpouring of strength. aim for strength, and everything else will take care of itself


Now as a fitness coach, I want to help others discover these same truths for themselves.

Whether you are:

  • a grade school child who feels out of step in a gym class
  • a teenager who needs to be shepherded across the rocky terrains of adolescence
  • a woman who isn't ready to give up hope
  • a man who has never found his place at the gym's benchpress
  • a senior citizen who refuses to lie down for age

. . . exercise builds you up and allows you to take advantage of all life has to offer.

Come build your strength, then confidence, and then more strength in the four walls of our garage gym.

-Coach Rebecca

In Hiding

In seventh grade, I entered into my school's science fair with an oldie but goodie flat worm experiment. The hypotheses: that planarian worms can be taught to anticipate a shock through a simple conditioned response.

I initially observed that the worms stretched out and relaxed when exposed to light and recoiled in stress when an electrical shock was administered. Light equaled movement. Shock equaled immobility.

After confirming the normal responses, I then coupled the stimuli closer together: light, then shock; light then shock; light . . . until eventually those simple flatworms learned to associate light with pain.  I no longer had to shock them. They already knew it was coming.
 

We humans are no different.

Photo credit:  stl.unitedway.org

Photo credit: stl.unitedway.org

We are born to:

  • want the warmth of sunshine on our face
  • like the feel of soft grass under our feet
  • want to be our best
  • seek out the adoration of those who care for us


Yet, life can be painful . . . and we learn to anticipate the shocks.

Sometimes we work really hard to avoid ever being in a situation that makes us feel bad.

Other times we brace ourselves with tension and stress . . . hardening ourselves against the hit in hopes that it will lessen the blow.

And in some cases, we get around the whole thing by just stepping out of our bodies altogether . . . remembering that helplessness to the emotional or physical violation . . . just to avoid feeling anything at all.

However you've adapted, you have trained yourself to be less than who you are meant to be.


But there comes a time when that gets old . . . 

and we wary from living our lives in avoidance of a possibility . . .

where we want to move towards something positive instead of away from something negative.

And we need help . . . because all we know is how to hide, by:

  • burying ourselves in work so that no one demands anything of us
  • letting our health slide so that we don't feel good enough to do anything fun
  • allowing our beauty to fade so that we no longer look for affection


But just as life springs forth through cracks in the sidewalk, our light is always waiting and looking for a way to penetrate the hardened exterior of our adult selves.

Your job?

To help chisel away the plaque of life so that your health can flourish.

Build back your strength and resilience to break through this outdated exterior

Make way for your own beauty and success, and no longer be held captive to events that happened decades ago.

Let the hardened chunks of your past fall behind you without any need to pick them back up.


And how do you do this?

By taking better care of yourself 

eating better

exercising more.


To rediscover your source of light, you must move towards it. As you pass through those old memories, you might flinch at the recalled pain. But then you're done. It's over. Go through that old and worn out gate . . . which is now holding you prisoner . . . and step into the sunlight.

You were not born to hide. You were born to shine light into this world.

And exercise is the fastest path there.

Join us to feel the warmth of the sunshine on your face . . . and remember what it's like to feel beautiful again.

Schedule your No Sweat Intro to make that happen.

I look forward to helping you get there.

-Coach Rebecca

 

Frontier

"If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself."
-Mickey Mantle

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Dear H., B., and K.,

Three different conversations . . . all with the same theme.

We've all heard these stories . . . but my eyes and heart are opened even wider by your first hand experiences.

Caring for your aged parent is difficult. It takes a toll on everyone involved in the care: financially, emotionally, physically. 

Whether there's dementia involved or not, you are experiencing first hand having to watch a loved one's quality of life fall. And besides the heartache of losing someone to declining health, there is a cost . . . a big one.

Your parents spent a lifetime building their nest eggs, dreaming of leaving a legacy for their children. Instead, that money is pouring into the nursing homes at an alarming rate of $10,000 per month. Any one of us would justify that cost to create comfort in the final few months of life. But that's not what any of you are talking about. 

You describe years and years of care . . . five, seven, fourteen. For what?

This was not what your parents planned. They did not want this for you.

No one among us wants to be a burden to society, our spouse, and least of all to our children.

And each of you has taken the initiative to not follow in their footsteps.

By taking charge of your health through exercise and improved eating habits, you are:

  1. increasing your odds for independence into your later years
  2. decreasing your risk for fractures through weight bearing exercises
  3. bettering your quality of life for right now
  4. helping you build the strength and energy to handle your current and future stresses
  5. setting the best example of health for your children and grandchildren
  6. lowering the future burden you place on your family


Somewhere in the past 100 years, society has confused the concept of leisure with complete inactivity. 

And although you might not realize it, you are at the front of a new movement. This new frontier embraces very different truths from the past:

  • rather than the leisure class being a reflection of status, it will be associated with disease and decline
  • instead of thinking that pain should be immobilized, it will be managed through movement and increasing strength 
  • separating yourselves from the outdated beliefs that strength is masculine, you will see your power as beautiful
  • knowing that convenience doesn't have to equal processed, you will learn to efficiently feed your family healthy foods

You now are the frontier blazers . . . forging ahead through the dense societal and habitual resistance that begs you to sit around while eating whatever you want. 

Why you?

Because you know that end of life care carries very heavy responsibilities . . . and you want something different for your children.

With my deepest respect for your grit and resolve . . . let's keep building your strength while spreading the message of better living and aging through movement and whole foods.

-Coach Rebecca

Your Why

In a Google search for "Benefits of Exercise", about 658,000,000 results were returned.

Of those, do many restate the standard "exercise is good for your physical, mental, and emotional health, as well as your relationships, quality of life, and longevity . . . all while reducing your risks for cancer, heart disease, and diabetes"?

My guess is Yes . . .(at least that's what crosses my information feeds).

And although there are controversial perspectives on what types of exercises are most beneficial or how much is enough,  I doubt that many would argue against the fact that moving our bodies through space is better than sitting around.

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Q: That said, if we all know that exercise is important . . . why don't we just do it? 

A: Because we don't know our true Why?

In that case, what is yours?

Although there's probably a hierarchy

of most noble . . .

to most base reasons to get us off the couch . . .

the only important reason is the one that works.

So, get honest . . . and figure out what really makes you tick.

What do you want?

"I want to . . .

  • feel good in my own skin
  • fit into skinny jeans
  • be able to hike with my family
  • stay out of the nursing home
  • look younger than my years
  • feel attractive
  • save money on healthcare 
  • be stronger than I ever thought possible
  • prove the world wrong
  • prevent premature death
  • be a strong role model for my children"


The closer you get to your true Why . . . the more likely you are to reach your goal.

And as long as you are going towards something, there really isn't any wrong reason.

Choose competition. 

Choose health.

Choose vanity.

Choose longevity.

Choose love.

Choose your family.

Choose how it makes you feel.

Just CHOOSE.

[There's one caveat: you don't get to choose self-hate. If that's the only reason you can come up with, get some professional help to get past that. It's a no-thru street.]

Ok . . . now go figure it out.

Oh, yes . . . and by the way, if you think that you should wait to get moving until you get your Why perfectly set up . . . that's not how it works.

Instead, it is a process.

Choose a reason.

Does it hold your attention? Keep doing it.

Did you lose interest? Try something else.

Choose.

And then choose again.

And keep returning to that well until it is dry.

Then find a new one.

And choose it.

Humans are not inherently lazy . . . and nor are you.

Keep digging until you hit water.

Now, drink up.

Your WHY = Your LIFE

It sustains you.

Choose it.

And if you need help, set up a No Sweat Intro, and we'll figure it out together.

-Coach Rebecca

The Trouble with Beauty

Beauty.
Everyone wants it.
Some will pay out thousands in its pursuit.
Others will spend tens of thousands to make us believe we lack it.

Yet.
Why the inconsistencies?
Some look the part, but we wouldn't call them beautiful.
Others don't get the modeling shoot, but their light attracts us to their side.

Access.
Exclusive or Inclusive?
Is it a secret garden that only a few have access to?
Is it an energy that anyone can tap into with the softening powers of love and grace?

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As a motivator, the desire to feel beautiful is powerful and super effective.

As an unchanging, fixed image to be matched, it is de-motivating and very ineffective.

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To want to feel beautiful inspires action.

To try to look beautiful as an end game shuts us down.

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Our mission at The Fittest Me is to help families build strength and health for a lifetime.

Being strong looks really cool. But more importantly, it makes us feel amazing.

As we build strength, we begin to feel more confident, capable, and yes . . . more beautiful.

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If you are in pursuit of a perfect body, and you're not getting the results you want (or are feeling empty inside as a result) don't throw in the towel. Instead, change your intention and goal from an external to an internal one.

It's a game changer.

And of course if you want help with that, you know where to find me.

-Coach Rebecca

 

Booty Shorts

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.

Perhaps it was the neighborhood boy's thunder thighs comment that I was trying to avoid. Or, maybe it was 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

Within Yourself [note: trigger warning]

Dear E.,

You have such a great presence about you . . . grounded, kind, gentle, self-aware. The fact that you are in the service industry makes complete sense. You are a giver.

And yet, when you read my mother's story, a chord was struck within you.  Specifically, you could relate to her struggle for balance, and wanting to be a better role model for her family.

Trained over a lifetime to ignore your own needs, you knew that these yearnings would require a shift in how you see yourself. You could choose: to imitate your mother's meek and mild ways; to push against that role and become the opposite in defiance; or to break through on your own uncharted path.

But in truth, it's not that simple. There's a whole other layer of complexity to what you want and need.

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Truth . . . you want to do more for yourself.

You want to be a role model of strength and self-care for your daughter.

You want to feel beautiful.

Yet when we spoke together about your Why for getting involved in exercise, I didn't see it coming. I didn't see the rush of emotion that would overcome me when you shared your childhood of sexual abuse. I didn't expect the flood of sadness in learning that your mom knew of the abuse . . . that you told her of how your dad would touch you . . . and she still didn't do anything to stop it.

And yet, out of it, you have risen with a strength that most of us cannot know. You have done all that you can to forgive your father, and even accepted his apology many years after DCFS had to take him away. You have walked straight into the storm of honest love and made peace with your mother's weakness and negligence. 

And here you are now, coming for help in this next phase of your life . . . moving back into your body . . . the one that you once had to abandon . . . simply to survive the pain and block out the anger. 

You have such beauty within you and it resonates out. Add to it your conviction in wanting to overcome the years of living outside of yourself . . . and I can already see that you are a force.

In your first training session with me, it was clear . . . that although this is not without its challenges, you are ready for the fight. Instead of timid or cautious, you embraced and then charged through the rowing, pushups, and ring rows.

Your household growing up might have inhibited the expression of your wants and needs . . . but it clearly did not drive them out. You are so clearly capable of living within yourself.

Now is your chance to own it.

I am grateful for the opportunity to be your trusted guide at this point in your life . . . to help you look up from the daily responsibilities of life to experience blood flowing through your veins. By sticking with your new routine, you will find yourself grounded solidly within your body more days than not. And then unexpectedly, the day will come when your gaze will relax upon the surrounding view, and the scenery will take your breath away.

At that moment, perhaps for the first time, you will fully know your strength, power, and beauty . . . beacons of light for your daughter to follow and someday make her own.

- Coach Rebecca

Compounding Health [Tax Countdown Edition]

Whether through economics class or life experience, most of us understand the concept of compounding interest: that a penny invested today will grow at an exponential rate over time. It is for this reason that we are all encouraged to stash those dollars away while in our 20s, so that by the time we retire, we should have a nice nest egg to ensure a comfortable retirement.

Photo credit from Huff Post article https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/16/healthy-lifestyle-telomeres-lengthen_n_3916235.html

Photo credit from Huff Post article https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/16/healthy-lifestyle-telomeres-lengthen_n_3916235.html

The same holds true for the use and disuse of our health. Building healthy habits early in life of eating well and exercising pay forward in measurable and immeasurable ways. Alternately, pretending that our health (or that of our children) is something we can tend to tomorrow, is a bit like playing Russian Roulette. We can rationalize that it'll be ok (to make ourselves feel better), but plaque-ladened arteries and diabetes don't care about what we hope . . . only what is.

Here's the good news:

  • although global economics are outside our control, what we do with our bodies is firmly in our hands.
  • our bodies are incredibly adaptive, and are standing ready to heal and get stronger
  • even small changes of improved eating and increased movement will have a positive impact on our health

Here's the bad news:

  • doing nothing isn't a great idea
  • the average $235/day cost of a nursing home room is likely to increase to $388/day over the next 20 years
  • not using your $30/year gym membership is like buying a bunch of vegetables but never eating them.

What to do? Find something that works and show up . . . 3-6x/week.

How about if you need more accountability?
That's why personal trainers exist.
Find one that makes your life better and embrace them and the work they require of you.

Are you put off by the cost? Look at it this way: If you are someone who could use the guidance and the health mentorship of a personal trainer to improve your strength and quality of life, an hourly rate of $60-75 is a bargain. Working out 5x/week with a personal trainer for a cost of $325/week, could keep you from paying the inflationary nursing home cost of $2830/week some day in the future. Paying $65 today so that you don't have to pay $388 in your 70s and 80s is a prudent investment of time and money.

Just as we can't convert a penny into $0.02 nor have it compound to $0.16 with the snap of our fingers, we can't expect our health to improve for the better whenever it suits us. Instead, we set aside a little time and effort each day so that by the time we retire, we have legs strong enough to take us touring world-over, a heart that allows us to walk up and down stairs with ease, and the balance to make it so that we don't live in fear of falling. That is what you're investing in when you eat well and exercise every day.

Now, go stash away a few health coins and eat your veggies. Then set aside some more by doing some squats. After only one year, you will see the mountain of your health well on its way to where you want it to be in your active senior years.

And the best part? You'll have earned it.

- Coach Rebecca