White People, Can We Talk?

In response to Charlottesville…

I’ve spent the last week reading and watching and listening to all things regarding the horrific events that took place last weekend. I’ve also spent a lot of time contemplating how exactly I wanted to talk about Charlottesville on this specific platform.

My contemplative state did not stem from being afraid of ruffling feathers or from not knowing what to say. My stance is actually pretty clear. I am against white supremacy, racism, bigotry, and any other form of hate targeted at marginalized groups.

I’ve spent every waking hour wondering how I could create the most helpful message to a particular group of people – white people.

But first, to my friends of color that might be reading, I understand that I can never identify with your daily struggles, fears, and oppression. I want you to know I care about you, that I will fight for you, and that I am here FOR YOU.  As a white woman who holds the power of white privilege, I will continue to work daily to disarm my weapons of whiteness and acknowledge that my white privilege allows me greater opportunity than you in this “land of the free”.  And just like you, I am watching to see who is showing up, and I am also watching to see who stays silent. I will keep talking. I will shout it from the rooftops. YOUR. LIVES. MATTER.

This piece is not for you.

This specific message is for white people, specifically silent white people. I am going to use storytelling from a personal experience to hopefully provide you some perspective. I understand that my personal story has NOTHING TO DO with this current racial divide, but I hope that my own situation demonstrates how our friends of color (including co-workers, students, church members) are waiting for us to speak up.

I came out of the closet at 16 years old in a small conservative Oklahoma town. But I didn’t let that stop me from placing a long thin rainbow sticker on the back of my ’90 Pontiac Grand Am, nor did it stop me from wearing that (hideously big) hemp necklace with the rainbow beads the size of jaw breakers. ROYGBIV, baby.

“HELLO CAN YOU SEE ME?”

That’s the message that was probably passed off to anyone that knew me back then. It looked like I was begging to be noticed in my more masculine attire, but not for the reason that you might suspect. I wasn’t looking to be noticed from anyone and everyone. I was just in search of discovering someone else like me. We are strength in numbers, right?  (← Remember that.)

Fast forward through college, significant weight loss, new relationships, and a more feminine presence. I was using my voice to advocate for LGBT, but as a blonde, white, (and now) more feminine-presenting woman, I was afforded the privilege to hide my sexual orientation if I needed to.

New job? I hid my sexual orientation from co-workers until I had a grasp as to who the people were that I would be spending my 8 to 5 with. Trust needed to be established first.

Holding the hand of the woman I love? Not when the guy with the confederate flag bumper sticker showed up. When racism is present, often homophobia thrives, too.  

Over time I became more and more unapologetic about being a lesbian, especially as same sex marriage rights were evolving and I was planning my own wedding. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t met with resistance to accept me for who I am: I remember a teacher friend of mine asking lots of questions and acting genuinely happy for me in my upcoming wedding. Around the same time that our conversations were transpiring, she posted an article to Facebook about the institution of marriage being between a man and a woman.  Wait, what? I was confused, but I also felt like a fool. All of our conversations from our past felt inauthentic the very moment that I saw her outward lack of support. It exposed to me that our personal—and sometimes vulnerable, for me—conversations were simply just obligatory small talk, to her.

I was embarrassed and ashamed, and in that moment I became frightened to think that many of my other friends felt the same way that she did.

From then on I started paying close attention to people around me. I yearned for my friends to outwardly support gay marriage. The ones that fell silent in the fight for equality were the very ones that I questioned. I had no idea where they really stood on the issue. But the outspoken ones, they were my JAM. They made me feel loved and supported.

Let me be very clear right now. The struggle with marriage equality acceptance is not the same as the struggle that people of color endure every single day because my sexuality is, at first (and sometimes second, third, and fourth) glance is invisible. We can never empathize with their daily struggles.  We can never know what it’s like to show up to an interview as a person of color. We can never know what it’s like to have to pass up the truck stop because of the guy with the confederate bumper sticker.

I told you the story with my coworker to give you context for why this issue is so important to me personally, but actually, the larger point isn’t really about me at all. But it is about lessons I’ve learned recently, and passing them on to you.

This is embarrassing to admit, but I was naïve about racial tension among women until I attended the Women’s March in D.C. back in January. “Yes, women! We are in this together!” Actually no, women of color don’t feel this way. They feel as if they’re on their own because historically white women have not shown up for women of color. Read more about that here. Although women are certainly a marginalized group, white women are afforded more opportunity due to white privilege. I get it now. I see it. I benefit from it.

White people, we can NEVER KNOW. We simply cannot exist in our white skin and try to understand anything about being a person of color.

These are some of the excuses for silence that I have been given, but none of them are worth the incitement of fear, mistrust, and oppression that our friends of color experience:

“I have black friends, my support should be obvious.”

“I don’t need to speak up because I am raising a black child. I’m on their side.”

“I travel abroad and post pictures with children of color while building schools with my church. My stance on racism is clear.”

“I just don’t know what to say.”

These statements are problematic to people of color. This article might explain why: “White people and Black people are not having a discussion about race. Black people, thinking as a group, are talking about living in a racist system. White people, thinking as individuals, refuse to talk about “I, racist” and instead protect their own individual and personal goodness. In doing so, they reject the existence of racism.”

They’re still waiting for us to speak up. They’re paying attention. But they are so tired. And they live in fear, rightfully so. They navigate through an oppressive system that is set up to see them fail. They show up in white spaces looking for trust in white faces.

White people, let’s get it right starting now. We can’t undo the past, but we can redirect the future.

And I hear you loud and clear. I, too, worry that I don’t have the right words. I screw up often, but I choose to proceed anyway because to do anything less is indecent. This time calls for urgency over hesitancy. If you want to talk about this more, I am here to help you or direct you to some of the resources that I follow. I am currently reading this book by Phoebe Robinson and I'm listening to this dose of reality from Erin Brown. 

Listen. Speak up. We ARE strength in numbers.

xo 

Coach Fowler

*black and white mural painted by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, Oklahoma City

I Won't Win

Let me set the stage for you: I was living in Dallas in 2005 and had traveled to my hometown in Oklahoma to visit family for the weekend. I'll never forget the words my grandmother said to me after I told her that I was training to run my first full marathon.

"Are you going to win, Steph?"

I laughed before I responded. "No way, grandma. There are thousands of people running this race. I just want to finish."

"Then why are you doing it?"

I still laugh when I think back on this conversation. Her question was valid. Why would I agree to run 26.2 miles in hilly San Fran if I had no chance in winning? Well, you probably know the answer. Whether winning is an option or not, there are some of us that still compete to push ourselves to be our best. 

Last week I sent an email out to my tribe (not signed up? click here to get my best stuff) talking about my goals for the next couple of months. I signed up for the StrongFirst Tactical Strength Challenge coming up on October 28th, and I did it in an effort to get myself geared up for training for my kettlebell cert (AGAIN). I started training for it last year, but life presented some challenges and I decided to back off from the cert because I couldn't give my best. 

The TSC consists of competing in three movements: the pull-up, the deadlift, and 5 minutes of as many kettlebell snatches as possible. Of the three movements, I'm fully confident in one: the deadlift. I've got chin-ups, but my pull-up is nonexistent. My kettlebell snatches really need some work, too.  

But I still signed up knowing that I probably (lol) will not win. That's not to say that I'm lacking confidence or that I'm going to be relaxed in my training. I'm simply being realistic in the fact that there are people that train year round for this, and I'm coming in three months prior with a mindset of "I'm all in to do the best that I can."

I COULD have stuck with something that I'm more familiar with. After all, we live in a society where it's expected that we compete to win. As a former softball coach I get that. We entered tournaments with a mindset of doing the best that we could, but our end goal was always competing to win. 

Also - arm wrestling. I don't want to just compete. I want to WIN. Gimme. Your. Arm. 

But on a serious note- I think our constant need to win or 'already be at the top' hinders us from taking on new ventures, activities, or even engaging in difficult conversations. 

"I'll join the gym, but I need to lose a little bit of weight first."

"This eating regimen isn't working. I quit."

"Uncle Joe is set in his ways. He'll never see my side of things."

We miss out by opting out. And I'm not talking about things we don't enjoy. I'm talking about things we're interested in doing, or things we know we need to do - but we avoid said things for fear of not winning, not competing, looking dumb, or feeling like a failure. 

Growth is in the process. Nobody starts off deadlifting their bodyweight. Relationships don't exist without difficult conversations. And losing weight doesn't happen overnight. We are all too quick to celebrate at the finish line without crediting that we had to actually step over the starting line FIRST. 

Join the gym. 

Eat your veggies. They're good for you anyway. 

Have the difficult conversations. 

It's always something for something. It's never something for nothing. I say that in my gym all the time. Be intentional - with lifting reps, nutrition, conversations, action. Decide to grow. Strive for discomfort, even if it feels silly or uncomfortable in the beginning.

I won't win, but I'm damn sure giving my all for the next few months of training. And there's one thing I know for sure. I'll be better on October 28th than I am today. THAT'S winning. 

xo

Coach Fowler

Old Habits Die Hard

 

It had been a very difficult day for me back in January. My divorce was about to be final, and the whirlwind of emotions continuously punched me in the chest every time I switched the music channels on my Sirius XM. Apparently satellite radio decided that I needed a good cry on that particular day because she sure as hell provided the right music to achieve the crying feat while I sobbed my way home after coaching my evening strength class. Every. Single. Channel. I cried.

I intended to drive home to start dinner and settle in for the night, but my Wrangler instead turned into my neighborhood drugstore where I proceeded to pick up a large bag of my favorite Easter candy (side note: they make a Christmas version which basically means that this hellish candy is available year round to us. You’re welcome).

I sat mindlessly in front of my TV that evening and ate the entire big bag of milk chocolate crisp candy eggs for dinner. What I did next was pretty pivotal: I didn’t applaud myself, and I also didn’t shame myself.  In my moment of sadness and brokenness I ACKNOWLEGED what I was doing, I SAT WITH my sadness, I HELD SPACE for how I was handling it, I chugged a large bottle of water, and then cried myself to sleep that evening. Y'all, it was a hard time. 

This is not a “woe is me” offering. This is a LIFE-IS-HARD-AND-SOME-OLD-HABITS-DIE-HARD offering. There are circumstances in life that are bigger than us that feel like they’ll never end, and this moment was exactly that for me. If you’ve read any of my beginning blogs you understand that I come from a childhood that dealt with overeating, obesity, food addiction, shame, and everything else in between. Throughout the second half of 2016 I found myself back in this particular place of coping with food, but the way I handled these episodes were completely different now than how I handled them at age 12, age 19, age 27, age 30.

Here’s where things were different at this stage in my life:

  • I never stopped lifting weights. There WERE days that I opted for a walk instead of a workout, but 90% of the time I let lifting heavy weights be the constant in my life while going through a difficult life situation. When life deals you heavy shiz, pick it up. 
  • I fought like hell not to allow these episodes to happen back-to-back. I kept my “you're one meal away from getting back on the track” rule. I never said, “screw it”. I never let my coping with food episode knock the domino down next to it. I may not have lived by my normal 80/20 rule, but 70/30 was still a really good attempt during a challenging life situation.
  • I kept my intention of drinking water and I stayed hydrated.
  • I forgave myself, rather than shaming myself for how I was handling this habit that I “shouldn't” have anymore.
  • I KNEW and continuously reminded myself that this would be short term. I have the necessary tools, habits, and intentions to refocus. THIS is why establishing habits will get you to safety every time – not just moving on to the next “quick fix”.

I own a gym now. I’m a personal trainer. I’m a voice for nutrition and mindset and strength and movement to my clients. But I also practice authenticity and vulnerability – and I am always reminding them that we are not striving for perfection. Life is full of ebb and flow and ups and downs and fastballs and curveballs. As I coach them through a current nutritional challenge, I am revisited by the intentions that I lean on every single day. I don’t get it right 12 months out of the year, but 10 or 11 outta the year ain’t so bad, AMIRIGHT?

It didn’t take long for me to find my way back to a better place emotionally AND physically. Once I grabbed the teaching moment, (that’s a really important part of working through any difficult situation – what is your teaching moment?) I quickly found myself back to my normal 80/20, back to eliminating cravings, back to less bloat, and back to ME – back to essentially what I’ve established as my NORM. Other than my jeans fitting a tad tighter during that challenging time BECAUSE BLOAT (and I’m sure the scale changed but you know I don’t step on that thing), nothing else happened. My jeans are back to good, btw.

These changes didn’t happen overnight. These home base habits didn’t come easy either. It has taken consistency, trial and error, and MANY bags of Easter candy and other useless calories were consumed in the process.

I started to understand a long time ago that if we lose the shame portion of our mishaps, we can hold space for ourselves to ACKNOWLEDGE what is happening, we can strive to CHANGE what is happening, and then we can always (ALWAYS) find our way back home. And for me, home feels so good.

I wanted to open up about this post today to remind you that so many of us share the same struggles day in and day out. I never want to be the coach that pretends to be perfect because I'M SO FAR FROM IT. What I DO have are the tools that again and again have helped me find my way back home when a life sitch has led me astray. These same tools allowed me to stop by the store on my way home from the airport (just flew in from the Girls Gone Strong Women's Strength and Empowerment Seattle trip YAY-UHHH!) to grab a small, single serving bag of those devilish chocolate eggs. I'm not using them to cope, but simply enjoying a moderate amount of chocolate on Easter Sunday. 

Identify the things that pull you back to shore, and lean on those when life feels hard. 

xo

Coach Fowler

P.S. I'm off to water my grass because of what I talked about in the e-mail that went out to my The Roster newsletter this morning. This is where some of my best stuff is going. Make sure you subscribe today! 

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34 Years Summed Up In < 100 Words 

34 adventurous trips around the sun and this is what I’ve got: Washing hair is overrated - dry shampoo & rally. Lifting weights has been my most effective fitness regimen to date. Losing a dog is damn near one of the worst kinds of heartache. Divorce can be paralyzing. Losing friends due to divorce is painful. Amicable divorce is work, but worth it. Owning a business is the coolest & most stressful kind of freedom. Sunshine is, was, & always will be the best disinfectant. Change is inevitable. Growing is optional - do it anyway. Supportive friends rock. Mimosas for the win.

Do You Even Self Care? 

Can you think back to a time in your life where you simply were not taking good care of yourself? Do you remember how it made you feel? Is this happening now? I 100% believe in the notion that if we don't take care of ourselves fully then we can never truly give our best self to others. Self care is sometimes deemed a selfish act, but I think that self care vs. selfishness are on completely different ends of the self spectrum. 

You mamas out there fall victim to lack of self care ALL THE TIME. Kids first, kids first, kids first. While I think it's so very admirable that you do this for your littles, I think mamas miss the mark on the opportunity to take care of themselves, too. I'm not a mom (well, a dog mama 🐶) but I do know that I'm not my best if I don't self care. 

So how do I self care? I consider strength training to be one of my biggest self cares. I intentionally make time to move my body, strengthen my muscles, all the while cultivating a tribe around me. This one gets me a lot of bang for my buck.  I also think nutrition is a form of self care. What we directly put into our bodies will undoubtedly determine how our bodies perform for us. 

I took a brief survey yesterday among one of my challenge groups at my gym, (em)POWERHOUSE. Their biggest win in this first week is how much better they feel with strength training and eating with balanced nutrition. THIS IS WINNING, right? SELF CARE.

A solo night with wine + dark chocolate is another one of my self cares. 

Getting a massage. 

My meditation. 

Yoga. 

My THERAPY. Can I get an amen? You guys, therapy gets such a bad rap and is even considered taboo among some. My therapist has been a pivotal part of how I self reflect, how I take radical responsibility for the things I do every day, and above all else, she's the one that allows me to show up vulnerably in this world. I'm not, nor have I ever, taken medication (but it's okay if you do - that's a whole other topic of stigma). I've never felt like I couldn't handle the world around me (but it's okay if you have). And I don't walk into her office to lay on a couch and cry to the ceiling (it's completely okay if this has ever happened to you). 

Some days we laugh during a session. Some days I cry. Some days she hits me with reality. And some days I throw her for a loop in my latest life happenings. I'll drop in with coffee to show appreciation, and I even based my decision for my health insurance premium from HealthCare.gov based on which one allowed me to see her in the most affordable way necessary. 

Seeing a therapist is a brave act. It takes courage to show up authentically in order to face your fears, stresses, emotions, problems, successes and anything else happening in these grand lives of ours. 

If we're being honest, ANY form of self care is brave. How are you taking care of yourself to show up as your best you? The train is stopping, and I'm asking for an ALL ABOARD call right away. Do something for yourself today that will allow you to show up better for others. It doesn't have to cost you a thing. It could be as simple as setting aside twenty minutes to be present, be mindful, and set your intentions for your day. 

Self care. Do you even?  P.S. next week I'm trekking to D.C. to be a part of the Women's March. When you've got a fire in your belly, you do the things that help keep the fire burning. THAT is a form of self care. 

xo - coach fowler 

Cut Out the Size Tag

Push-ups are one of my favorite bodyweight exercises. They're very simple in context, but they can be VERY challenging when done correctly.  Grip. Abs. Glutes. Elbows drive back. Entire body moves all the way down and back up at the same rate. Yeah, yeah. You get me. 

This morning I was coaching one of my (em)POWERHOUSE Gym clients through a push-up in her superset, and I admittedly noticed the new shape that her glutes have taken on in the last few weeks. We deadlift a lot. We hip thrust a lot. I coach my clients to activate the glutes in everything. Activation builds dat muscle! 

"OMG look at your bootay!" 

She stopped mid push-up, looked at me directly and said, "I know but my pants aren't fitting anymore." 

"But look at everything your body can do, and the transformation in your glutes is PERF!"

I thought about this exchange all morning long. I don't know if she has embraced the fact that she's deadlifting more weight than ever before. I also don't know if she's embraced the fact that she's creating buns of steel. She obviously hasn't embraced the fact that her strong glutes are helping with her new, worked-so-hard-for, push-up form. SHE NAILS IT. She's worked hard for it. 

But honestly, it seems that she can't get past the fact that the changes in her body are changing the way her clothes fit. She's NOT putting on fat. Her muscles are sculpting and sometimes it's just harder to squeeze muscle into the jeans than it is to squeeze in softer body fat. 

I don't know if she'll ever fully grasp that her body is doing SO MUCH more for her now than it was six months ago. But my job, my goal really, is to show others that we ARE ALLOWED to start focusing on how our bodies PERFORM versus what pant size we take into the dressing room. 

Now let me back up. I do realize that on a weight loss journey the inches are lost and we reduce our size. I remember the first time I purchased a size 8 at Express. Never EVER in my teenage-to-adult life had I been a single digit. I floated from a 16-18 my whole life. It's true - soooooo I totally get identifying with a size that we wear. 

But, can I tell you that 15LBS later and a LOT of muscle and strength added, I still wear that size 8? It definitely fits different in the quads and butt, but they fit just fine. 

I also have a size 10 from Old Navy that fits. 

I have a freaking size 12 from Target that fits. 

I have medium shirts. I have large shirts. And sometimes I have to buy a women's XL - not for anything but my biceps and delts. They're typically busting at the seams. 

But if I let all of those sizes dictate my being because of the number on the tag, I really might feel unworthy. 

But instead I know that I can bench press 175 pounds. I know that I can move hella weight with my glutes in a barbell hip thrust. I can also perform several consecutive push-ups correctly. My body can do so much, and even though I sometimes have to up my sizes due to my new muscles, I AM OK with it because I love how my body performs. 

We don't all have to have the same goals for our body. And I mean that. While I love that a few months ago my spray tan lady noticed that my butt has lifted, someone else might not aspire for that same transformation. My only thought here is that if we are only focusing on getting into that perfect size, then we are missing out on the progress in the process. Nail the perfect push-up. Pick up the heavy weight. See your body for what it can do. Actions speak louder than the words on the tag. 

Buy the pants that fit, and if you need to, REMOVE the size tag. Cut that sh*t right outta there. Tag sizes are not a level playing field. Have you ever specifically shopped somewhere because you knew that your size was smaller there versus the store down the street? I get it. I get it. But our body is OURS, and no size tag or store gets to dictate how we feel about it. 

Keep up the good work. Have your own goals. And while you continue to realize your worth REGARDLESS of tag size, imma be over here working on more glute bigness. That's my goal. 

I Meant To Do That

If you follow me over on snapchat {👻 iamcoachfowler} then you may have seen the other day that I opted to walk and carry a big heavy box to the post office near my house instead of conveniently loading it into the car to drive it there. You see, I skipped my lifting that morning, so I figured I could at least find alternate ways to move throughout the day as my best backup. I love heavy carries - gimme, gimme! 

As I walked into the post office (sweaty and all), the sweetest woman said to me, "HAD I KNOWN you were coming here I'd have stopped and given you a ride. I saw you carrying that big heavy thing and felt SO bad for you!"

My response in the most kindest of tones: "Thank you so much, but I meant to do that. I didn't lift today."

She smiled, shrugged her shoulders, and we both went on about our USPS purchases. 

This stranger was incredibly kind to me. Her gesture was much appreciated, and it was so compassionate of her to see me carrying a heavy object and want to help me. My response was not self righteous by any means, but I wanted to reassure her that I was purposeful in my act. It also got my wheels turning. 

How often do we assume we know everything about a specific story or a place in time? How often do WE write the stories for OTHERS? This woman felt sorry for me and had written a sad story about my circumstance when in reality I was intentionally moving like a badazz. Her sincerity did not go unnoticed, but unfortunately, not all stories include sincerity. 

1: "That woman is eating at the restaurant all by herself. She must be lonely. Or weird."

2: "That man is begging for money on the side of the road. He's so lazy." 

3: "That woman is eating ice cream and still has a fit body. She can probably eat whatever she wants and never worry about her weight."

4: "That kid is so disrespectful and sleeps in class every day." 

5: "That woman doesn't have the body for that outfit." 

Truth is, {1} First woman enjoys her independence and opted to eat alone. In fact, she loves it! {2} The man suffers from a mental illness and doesn't have the capacity to look for the proper resources. {3} This woman works out and eats healthy most of the time, but opts for indulgences when she wants. She might even suffer TONS of guilt for indulging in that ice cream. {4} This kid lives in an abusive home and stays up late each night protecting his siblings. {5} This woman has lost weight and now feels confident to wear new clothing. 

Can you relate? Do you write stories for other people? I believe it's completely natural to do this, and it's safe to assume that we've all done it. There lies a problem, though, when our story actually begins to have a negative impact with how we view those around us. When we start to think negatively about others, WE THINK we know their story. 

Stop it. 

We are only responsible for our OWN stories. I'll admit - it feels a little more safe to control the story of others because it's entirely less vulnerable. Confronting our own is the hard part. It's the part that we OWN, whether we like it or not. 

Let's not write the story for a woman and her journey to a healthier lifestyle. Let's not write the story for how a parent raises their children. Let's not write the story on someone else's marriage, someone else's mistake, or someone else's life choices. 

Write your own story. It's more authentic, and it's the only one you'll ever have the permission to write. That shiz is copyrighted to you and ONLY you. 

Benefit of the doubt is always helpful, as well as a dose of "they're doing the best they can" or "they meant to do that" or "they might not know any better."  

I hope this got your wheels turning. I meant to do that. 

NO PAIN. NO GAIN? 

NO PAIN, NO GAIN? Let's settle this.  This is a widely disputed phrase in the fitness world. Some trainers push their clients to extreme measures, and sometimes these exact measures push clients into the "just work through it" mentality which inevitably honors injury after injury. 

Other trainers are on the opposite spectrum and constantly combat the "no pain, no gain" phrase. "Movement should not hurt." While I do agree that movement shouldn't hurt (like, injury hurt), I think sometimes clients use this mentality as permission to stop before it gets hard. 

But fitness IS hard. Let me explain... 

This morning I was at the bottom of a Bulgarian split squat. Rep 3. I had 30LB dumbbells in each hand asking myself how I was going to get to rep 10. That S%#@ BURNS. 🔥🔥🔥 YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN! And I still have two more sets? LAWD HELP ME. 

I was executing the lift safely and effectively, and it just so happens to be an excellent unilateral exercise. But, you guys, it sucks just a little. And that's where the phrase above comes in. No pain, no gain. It's pain - but NOT injury pain. But it's definitely uncomfortable. I believe it's important that we understand the difference. 

Here's my best advice for you in your weight room. LEAN IN to uncomfortable. Get comfortable with being a little UNcomfortable. It's going to burn, whether you're at the bottom of the squat, middle of a plank, or on the way down of an eccentric pull-up. Know the difference between injury pain and some burnin' pain. "We can push through the burn, but we never push through the pain." I repeatedly reinforce this with clients. I want them to know the difference, but they need to feel the difference, too. Self awareness is key. 

While we're at it, let's talk about leaning into burpees. If I include burpees in a finisher with my group sessions, I always put form at the front of the line. My clients know that they can perform a belly burpee, an athletic burpee, or a functional "stand up from a push-up position" burpee. They also modify by moving to elevated objects like curbs or plyo boxes or tires. I encourage them to scale the exercise for them, and then LEAN IN to discomfort by challenging themselves from there. 

When I have to perform an exercise that I deem challenging, I refrain from becoming discouraged. "Lean in, Stephanie," I mutter to myself. 

LEAN IN. Trying something new or working on a weakness is a vulnerable action. But it strengthens us in many ways - ways that don't always show up on the PR board. 

So that's my interpretation of "no pain, no gain". You've got to learn to experience some discomfort in your journey. Are there exercises that you know you're shorting yourself on? Could you still honor your body with the rest and recovery that it needs, but still challenge yourself to lean in to the undesirable exercises? I'm a certified trainer, and I STILL think Bulgarian split squats are awful. Awfully good, that is. 

Perspective changes everything. 

No pain, no gain? Yes! LEAN IN! But injury? Nope. I'm in this for the long haul. Working through an injury is not for me. 

It Doesn't Have To Be A Barbell

Yesterday I set a personal record for my bench press. While this might not seem like a big deal, I think it's a really HUGE deal considering that I've not used a barbell in over a year (aside from the last 3 weeks of my latest program). A couple of weeks ago I decided to join Kourtney Thomas and Jen Sinkler on their Bigness Project Early Coaching Program. Admittedly I didn't know what to expect, but I was completely open to what the next 14 weeks might bring. AND - BIGNESS. How could I ignore that part?

Yesterday started week 3. Listen, I'm no stranger to the barbell, but I've solely focused on improving my basic movement patterns with bodyweight exercises, dumbbells, and kettlebells. I even spend a lot of time crawling. I'm serious. Just ask my clients. This is also the same programming that I include for them at (em)POWERHOUSE Gym. We are building strength every single day, and barbells are just not in our repertoire... YET.

So back to my lift. I haven't had access to a spotter in the last two weeks, so I've been playing it uber safe on a couple of my lifts BUT THE WEIGHT HAS BEEN FLYING UP. (Note - Always have a spotter. Always.) Yesterday I had my spotter (finally) and I hit 155# on the bench press several times. Even when I was solely doing barbell training in the past I NEVER got more than 135 up off of my chest. I'm playing it cool in the video, but I WAS PUMPED. (pun intended).

https://www.instagram.com/p/BKCW8NtACuH/?taken-by=iamcoachfowler

During my Senior year of high school I was voted "Strongest Girl of 2001"at CHS in Chickasha, OK. (in case you're wondering - it's chick-uh-shay.) And that guy below? He was our "Strongest Guy of 2001". I got'chur back, Kyle.

kyle-and-meI was always very strong growing up. I was also much bigger than everybody else, so if I were going to be biggest girl in the group, I might as well embrace the iron and use it to my advantage. AT LEAST I had something that I could be confident in, right? Aside from school and softball, my confidence lacked in all other areas of my life. If you've been following me for a while, you might remember that I had my very first pair of "goal jeans" at the young age of 12. At 240lbs and 18 years old, bigness was all that I ever knew.

I also dabbled a lot with lifting while playing college softball. I was never the fastest, but you can bet that I wanted to out lift you if given the chance. Due to the nature of college sports and an increase in my activity level,  I actually lost a lot of that weight that I'd carried with me to college. I also discovered a love for running because the more miles that I tracked, the more pounds I would lose. I then took on marathon running after college, which then transitioned into endless elliptical workouts at the gym when I finally decided to be done with marathons. The duration of my 20s was seriously spent either on the asphalt, on a treadmill, or in the footprints of the elliptical machine.

Then LIFE happened at age 30. I got married, after that working out became less and less of a priority, and I slowly found thirty pounds that I'd lost somewhere along the way. When I decided that it was time to dial back in on movement, I discovered a local bootcamp that reignited my love for fitness. We used much lighter weights, but new knowledge on nutrition started to really change things up for me. I lost more weight, started a blog, quit my job as a high school teacher and coach, and now I own (em)POWERHOUSE Gym. (There's SOOOOO much more to that journey, and it can all be found right here, if you've got time for that.)

You see, my journey over the last 15 years has been pretty diverse.

fullsizerenderThis map has some roadblocks, and man oh man, my body has seen it all. But I didn't get to where I am without ALL OF THAT experience above. It took a lot of trial and error, a lot of experience, a lot of courage to say YES, a lot of sacrifice, a lot of burn, and a lot of heartache. Fitness is not always easy. I didn't always lift weights either. I had lots of other adventures  mixed in. And do you notice the trend? My story starts with lifting and bigness, but it also ends with lifting and bigness. That word has two completely different meanings from my start to my finish. Through 15 years I've embraced lot of different fitness avenues, but I've also taken on body love, compassion, and self image.

I want to clearly acknowledge a place for the barbell and for strength training, but I'm going to combat that idea with the notion that any movement at ANY level is powerful in its own right. I know this Bigness Project and its tempo training is changing my game, but because I allowed myself to build a strong foundation with bodyweight exercises and other accessories, I believe I came back to the barbell STRONGER THAN EVER BEFORE.

The fitness industry has a lot of dogmatic ideas when it comes to movement. Now - when it comes to safety and form I DO think that there are some best practices to follow. However, if you're lifting a barbell or a dumbbell or a kettlebell or walking on a treadmill or killing it on the elliptical or shakin' ya thang in Zumba, then YOU my friend, are a force to be reckoned with. Commitment to movement is an amazing feat, and if you're just starting this fitness ride out, don't let dogmatic ideas intimidate you and keep you out of the game.

It doesn't have to be a barbell. It doesn't have to be a kettlebell. It doesn't have to be running. Maybe it IS a resistance band. Maybe it IS a long walk in the park. Maybe it IS a 5K. You'll navigate your own route, but don't let "the only way" be the reason that keeps you away. (Also note: if you've got specific aesthetic goals, then there are certainly some detailed ways to train to reach those goals (LIFT WEIGHTS!), but for an entry point, just start SOMEWHERE).

Find something that drives you. There's an entry point for every single person out there, and no matter what anyone says, there's a way to build strength for whatever path you choose. It doesn't have to be a barbell.

 

 

I Blamed the Broccoli

  house-of-margot-personal-branding-photography-3I remember playing defense in the infield on my 2002 college softball team when a hard hit ground ball hummed my way. I bobbled the ball, messed up the play, and the runner was safe at first base. I stared dumbfounded at my glove, as if it were my glove's fault that I botched the routine play.

"It's not your glove's fault, Fowler!" my coach yelled out to me from the dugout. She was right. It was obviously MY fault, but it was easier to look at my glove and try to find the reason for the error there rather than be embarrassed for my mistake.

You'll laughingly witness the same thing at a little leaguer game. The cute little players with baseball pants up to their ears blame their gloves for pass balls all of the time. And if you're lucky you'll get to see them launch their gloves across the dirt in an effort to stop a moving ball. Ball gloves served a fine job of assigning blame for many plays on the diamond. Aw, the days of sunflower seeds and bubble gum.

Speaking of bubble gum.

gum

In 2014 I participated in three fitness challenges that required me to be on a very strict eating regimen. I wasn't competing for anything, but the weight loss challenge featured a money back option if you lost the allotted weight within the challenge. In addition to the strict meal plan provided, we were given unlimited access to workouts, accountability, and weigh-in.

I lost a lot of weight within those three challenges that I completed. I was at my smallest weight as an adult (smaller than I was in the 4th grade), and I was determined to play by the rules, follow the eating plan, and revel in my weight loss success. Having struggled with obesity at a young age, I was navigating into a new me, and it felt good at the time.

The problem was that I was starving myself. If we weren't on a high carb day, I was eating under 1000 calories for my meals. That's ALL of my meals put together. I would eat my breakfast, only to count down until I could have my next protein shake. Once I'd have my protein shake, I'd count down until I could heat up my prepped chicken and broccoli. Then I'd time it just right so that I could have my afternoon protein shake and a small, small handful of nuts, and then the count down ensued for my tilapia and asparagus dinner. Every. Single. Day.

I didn't fully understand this at the time, but I was starving, you guys. I couldn't drink enough water to make the hunger in my belly go away. I couldn't even complain about being hungry because I was losing weight. I was supposed to be hungry, right? The goal was to lose weight to feel more confident, but my social life and my outings with family and friends revolved around food. I measured my food, and I obsessed with every day results.

In an effort to avoid "cheating" and eating more than I was supposed to (I always ate more than my allotted nuts - TRUE statement), I chewed on gum all day long. I'll admit, I'm that person that always asks for two pieces of gum BECAUSE I LIKE TO POP BUBBLES. Don't judge me. But I began to chew gum incessantly. When I felt hungry, I chewed gum. When the flavor went away, I popped in a couple more pieces of gum. Directly after dinner, I'd have GUM for "dessert" so that I wouldn't get hungry before bed. Every trash can in my home and at work left proof of an obsessive gum chewing monster roaming the house. Gum was deemed as my saving grace in this weight loss challenge.

Until the gas bubble came.

I was still dropping weight in our bi-weekly weigh ins, but my stomach started to experience major bloat and constant gas. It even became a joke in my inner circle of friends. WHY WAS I SO GASSY?

"It's gotta be the broccoli."

brocc

My naivety in this situation is admittedly pretty embarrassing. But you really don't know something until you know. You know?  ;)  At that time I was blaming broccoli for my gut issues. I was even going so far as to searching the internet for broccoli side effects. (I'm SO serious, you guys. WTF!) I once faked sickness in my graduate level class because I could not comfortably sit in a classroom without flatus outbreaks. Embarrassing as it might be for both the physical and the ideological sides, it all happened because of my obsession with gum. Apparently excessive artificial sweeteners do not sit well with me.

For me, the gum obsession was a side effect of the restrictive eating plan. I was resolving my "overeating" problem, but I was bandaid-ing the issue with another obsession - gum. Replacing a problem with another problem isn't the answer. The ACTUAL answer is forming healthy habits, ones that don't fall on extreme sides of the spectrum - the good or the bad.

Sometimes smokers pick up unhealthy eating habits when trying to quit smoking. Sometimes drinkers pick up unhealthy shopping habits when trying to quit drinking. I wasn't cognizant that my new gum obsession was detrimental in so many ways.

After my challenges, I quickly gained weight back (hello water and carbs and satiable food), and I discovered that not only was chewing gum messing up my digestive system, but I had lost my menstrual cycle, I was losing my hair, I developed night sweats, and the list goes on. I'd gotten to a body weight 1) that I'd never, ever been at before and 2) I believe this body weight was much too small for me.

Hindsight is 20/20, and I can look back at that time in my life and still be thankful. The problems that I experienced forced me to become more educated about nutrition and body awareness. I now talk about eating in moderation, and I never blame foods for the problem. The problem is our relationship with food (or gum), and the outcome is the response to our actions with those specific foods (or gum).

Let me also mention - I think striving for fat loss is an admirable goal to have, but I now understand that FOR ME eating a strict regimen and white knuckling my way to the next meal with gum in cheek is not a sustainable way of eating. Sustainable fat loss takes time. It takes knowledge about your own body. There is no one size fits all nutrition plan.

This realization wasn't without disappointment. There are days that I think "Oh, if I can just go back to a really strict diet I could quickly get back to my leanest self." It just doesn't work like that anymore for me, though. I can mutter those words all I want, but I KNOW I have no desire to eat like that again. There's a way to dial in on nutrition without restricting yourself to obsession. If I go about fat loss, I realize now that it can't be a quick fix. The faster we lose it, the faster it comes back. I want to eat the same on Saturday that I do on Wednesday. Making it a lifestyle is the goal.

I obsessively chewed gum for a long time before realizing what the problem was for me. And gum wasn't the actual problem. The amount of gum I was chewing was my problem. The strict regimen was my problem. My inability to ask questions and educate myself at the time also contributed to the problem.

I think it's more important than ever that we ask questions when it comes to nutrition and movement. We can't work on autopilot and expect to get to know ourselves like we should. Ask questions. It's true trial and error. Find the things that work for YOU. It can be an overwhelming process, but credit yourself with the ability to figure it all out. TRUST yourself in the process. Some of us want to be handed an exact meal plan with exact instructions because we don't really trust ourselves. And why should we, right? Nothing that we've done has worked so far.

But it CAN work.

My story has lots of wrong turns, stop signs, and MANY instances of running red lights. But now I pay attention to the signs. I give my body the compassion and grace it needs. I love it right now, regardless of my body fat percentage. And I can still strive for wanting fat loss, but when and if I do that, I can do that in a healthy, sustainable manner. NOT in a manner that forces gum to come to the rescue of my ravenous belly.

I now moderate nutrition with the 80/20 rule, I lift heavy weights, and I practice compassion with myself on a daily basis.

I eat my veggies, too... But I don't blame the broccoli anymore.

 

Finding Strength in the Buff 

Today I had my annual appointment with my dermatologist. I've always been pretty freckly, and after having gone through a small scare two years back, I make it a point to go every single year for a thorough check-up.

I don't know if you've ever been to the dermatologist for a check-up, but lemme tell you, thorough means THOROUGH. You're completely nekkie, and every crack, crevice, and wrinkle is examined. It can feel pretty vulnerable, but I've gotten to the point where I find more comfort in knowing that my doc inspects ALL of it. It feels safe to me.  Today's appointment was different. As I was undressing, she quickly asked me if I was a personal trainer. I responded accordingly and then went on to tell her about my gym, (em)POWERHOUSE. We discussed everything from safe form, to camaraderie in group training, to building strength, and working towards sustainable nutrition - all the while intermittently slipping in her comments on my freckles and moles. 

Towards the end of my appointment, she expressed interest in contacting me, and she also mentioned how desperate she was to lose 20 pounds. Quite frankly, it surprised me. She is my height (5'10") and noticeably much smaller than I am, and right then I felt comfortable asking her where those 20 pounds were going to come from.

Her response? "I don't know. I just want to weigh _____." 

Me: "Get rid of your scale." 

Doc: "I should throw it away, huh? I'm slightly obsessed."

There was much more to our conversation, but the gist is that she felt comfortable enough to let me know that the scale runs her life, and she really doesn't have a reason to lose 20 pounds. She's chasing an elusive number thinking that she'll feel better once she reaches that weight. 

We know that's not always entirely true, right? We know that the number doesn't automatically make us happy. We have to find love and compassion in our current state, and that's where we can start to aim for goals. 

I talked about the importance of strength, and we also discussed the importance in feeling comfortable in her own skin. 

{meanwhile, I'm still naked.} 

She DID see me completely naked today. I have strong, muscular arms, but I also have a tummy that lacks a noticeable six pack. I am on "team thick thighs", and cellulite graces those thighs AND this booty of mine. 

She saw my body and all of it's social-media-labeled-flaws, and she wanted to know more. She didn't care about those so-called flaws. She had questions. She wanted advice. She saw strength.

She thinks she wants to lose 20 pounds, but do you want to know what I think? I think she wants to be strong. She just doesn't know it yet. 

I have single-handedly seen lives transform once they found strength. And listen, I'm not saying that being strong means you have to have big muscles (but I LOVE that idea). Strength comes in many different forms. 

FOR ME, strength has changed my mindset. I look at aesthetics differently. Sure, there are times in my life that I strive for fat loss, but there are times in life that I strive for ALL THE SANGRIA. But I mostly find balance in moderating between those two things 365 days out of the year. I could have a more cut and lean body, but I'm not willing to white knuckle my way through miserable eating to get there. 

It's the STRENGTH portion that has allowed me to find that sense of worth. It's knowing that I can take a heavy object and safely move it if I need to. It's the idea that if my 70lb lab got hurt that I could pick her up by myself and get her to safety. It's the idea that I don't need a number on the scale to walk around strong and confident. I walk around strong and confident BECAUSE I GAVE MYSELF PERMISSION TO DO SO. 

NOT THE MEDIA. 

NOT MY SPOUSE. 

NOT MY FRIENDS. 

I found strength in that appointment today, even in all of the vulnerable nakedness. I hope that my doc did, too. 

Strive for strength. You just might get more than you bargained for. 

Engage. Empower. Elevate. 

xo

Coach Fowler

PS {I am fully clothed again, and it's overrated.}

Makin' & Breakin' Habits 

Sweet summertime is here, and it’s the best reason to let our habits go awry. The kids are out of school, vacations are in the planner, and cookouts, happy hours, and lake rendezvous are all the rage.

I’m out of protein powder, so after coaching my morning classes I made a call to my wife letting her know that I’d be stopping by the store to pick up some protein on the drive home. It wasn’t until I was pulling into my driveway that I smacked myself in the forehead. HOLY SH%T I forgot to stop and get protein?! I even stated OUT LOUD on the telephone that I was making a pit stop, and yet I still went on autopilot and ended up in my driveway with zero protein powder.

We certainly are creatures of habit, aren’t we?

The word habit triggers an embarrassing moment for me. I’m a tad humiliated to tell you why, but I’m going to do it anyway. I’ve always considered myself a very good student – even completing grad school was a reminder of how much I actually love being a student. Learning new things is my jam. I was always a great speller, math came natural to me, and writing was something that I always loved. Side note – I was actually going to major in Journalism at UNT, but it was going to require me to play catch up on my pre-reqs, so I decided to stick with business instead.

So about that embarrassing moment…

We were having a spelling bee at my school, and as I stood in front of the mic, the moderator gave me the word “habit”. I KNEW how to spell the word, but I was in front of my peers (helloooooo, intimidation), in front of parents, and I IMMEDIATELY thought of the word “rabbit”.

“Habit. H-A-B-B-I-T. Habit”

“That is incorrect.”

I was mortified. I immediately realized that I’d spelled it incorrectly, but I couldn’t take it back, and I had ruined any chances of being any spelling bee champion. I still bring this story up from time to time. It’s evident that I’ve moved on from the situation lolololol.

Our habits represent us to the outside world. They’re the things that we engage in, good or bad, that demonstrate how we live our lives. For instance, working out for me is a habit. I’m not obsessive, but it’s something that I try to incorporate into my everyday routine. I will workout until I can’t workout anymore. I know this to be true because it’s a habit that I intend to nurture for the rest of my life. I took 5 days off last week because of some annoying inflammation in my knees, but today I was back in the game. If this weren’t already a habit, then it would have been pretty easy to let the routine fall at the wayside.

Healthy eating? Same.

Flossing? I need to nurture that habit FOR SURE. lol 

How many times have you started at a gym or decided to overhaul your diet and then several days later quit cold turkey? Along with being creatures of habit, we are living in a time where we expect immediate results, and when results don’t happen on our time frame, we give up or move on to another method. Creating a habit takes time. It requires careful planning, attention, drive, willpower, and the WANT.

I would really like to make it a habit to read more, but I admittedly haven’t made it a priority. I read on airplanes, I read while traveling, and then I’ll intermittently read around my house when I have the time. If I want to actually read more books, I MUST incorporate reading time into my schedule.

Think about some of the habits that you engage in every day. What are the things that you would like to make more habitual? Meditating, praying, working out, healthy eating, flossing (hehe), reading, journaling, and walking your dog are great examples. What about habits that you’d like to eliminate? The snooze button, lack of sleep, mid-afternoon candy bars, highway speeding and smoking might be good examples for you.

Whether we’re makin’ habits or breakin’ habits, I think we can all agree that it takes some diligent planning and effort, and while it’s not easy, I think we can all agree that it’ll be worth it.

What habits will you nurture and/or eliminate today? 

xo

Engage. Empower. Elevate. 

Coach Fowler 

I Flunked the Monkey Bars

Because of my size, there were a lot of basic things that I couldn't physically do as a child. I never learned how to do a pretty cartwheel, handstands were laughable, and monkey bars were downright embarrassing.  I did play sports though, and softball would eventually be my ticket outta town that would lead me onto a path of a college degree alongside a soon-to-be changed body. I then spent my 20's on a path of self discovery in the world of fitness and nutrition. 

At 33, my mindset and physique have seen their fair amount of 180 changes:

-I once ran marathons and ate everything in sight to fuel for the next race. 

-I starved myself for months leading up to my wedding for "the perfect day". 

-I white-knuckled my way through very restrictive eating challenges to find my way to the smallest weight I'd seen since childhood. 

And now I can happily say that I have a moderate mindset - one that fuels my body with the right foods, but certainly does not fear the idea of a cupcake. I indulge mindfully, and I always do it without guilt. 

I've also found that building strength has given me a new kind of confidence. I've stepped away from the barbell over the last few months to work on a new program preparing me for a kettlebell certification this fall. In this program I've worked on my functional strength, giving me a much stronger foundation to build on in the future. 

Last weekend my (em)POWERHOUSE crew and I participated in a local obstacle mud run together as a team. We appropriately started with mimosas, ensuring that we eliminated some fear factor of any of the obstacles. Are we doing it right? WE SURE ARE! 

We dominated some, we skipped some, and we made fools of ourselves at a few, too. But I walked away more proud than ever because during the race I successfully made it all the way across the "Rings of Fire" without dropping into the water below. I had previously made it my goal to use grip strength to swing my way across the entire obstacle. 

I did it. And while there might be a lot of other bigger and stronger feats out there, THIS feat made my 12 year old obese and overweight self more proud than ever. It made me forget about any insecurities that I might have about my body. It made me forget that my knees hold me back from a lot of activities. It made me REMEMBER why strength is so important in our every day lives. 

Sometimes we spend endless amounts of time focusing on our scale weight or the aesthetics of our bodies or the way we look in pictures, but we forget to appreciate the amazing amounts of strength that our body will develop for us if we will allow it. 

We are capable of achieving so many things on a day to day basis, but we don't always credit those accomplishments because we're too busy thinking about how to lose a fast 10 pounds before an upcoming trip or avoiding wearing shorts in the summertime because of the cellulite on our legs. SERIOUSLY? Oklahoma summers are hot. I'm pleading with you - WEAR SHORTS! #teamnopants

YOUR BODY CAN DO AMAZING THINGS WITH STRENGTH. Don't get me wrong - fat loss goals are completely okay. Scale weight goals are also okay. But rather than using negative reinforcement throughout the journey, what if we start celebrating what we CAN do? 

Did you pick up a heavier dumbbell? Did you grab a deadlift PR? 

OR...

Did you carry the biggest bag of dog food to your car all by yourself? Were you able to take the stairs instead of the elevator? Did you make it all the away across the monkey bars? 

WHATEVER it is, celebrate THAT shiz! I sure did.

Engage. Empower. Elevate. 

-xo

Coach Fowler

It's Not ALL About Comfort

IMG_9062.jpg As we grow older, the significant "BIG" purchases that we've made stick out in our memories: the first car you bought, your first home, the day you paid off your student loans! I remember buying my first brand new car within a couple of weeks after getting my Bachelor's degree. I would finally have a dependable mode of transportation. My college jumper cables could rest. One year later I bought my first house at age 23. I didn't have a lot of things to go inside of this small house of mine, but I had a house that I owned, and that was pretty cool. It wasn't until a couple of  years later after having had a steady career under my belt that I was able to afford the luxury of a new bedroom suite. No more mismatched furniture, no more high school nightstand, and certainly no more egg crates to help hold space for clothes because my dresser was too small. This was not a small purchase, and I'd decided that I was going to get exactly what I wanted. "I deserve it!"

My high school mattress needed to be thrown out, so I decided to go with the "free" mattress that came with my new bedroom suite. If you've ever made this same mistake, you soon found out that the "free" mattress is free for a reason. It was awful. It was uncomfortable. It was too good to be true.

So in addition to spending a small fortune on a new bedroom suite, I forked over the money to invest in a great mattress. In this case, comfort won.

There are many things that we all buy on a day to day basis where comfort is a factor for our purchase - the mattress where we sleep, the clothing/shoes we wear (and when we choose style over comfort, you guys KNOW we regret it by the end of the night! #barefoot), the cars we drive, the rings on our fingers, the sunglasses on our face, the crowd that we hang out with, the neighborhood of our home, etc...

So we can all agree that comfort is sometimes a BIG DEAL.

So fast forward to today when I was working with my trainer, Eric. He's a movement specialist, and he's also a StrongFirst certified instructor. I sought him out to work with me while I train for my kettlebell certification. I've learned so much about how my body moves AND about body movement in general. See, we coaches need coaches, too! I've told him on numerous occasions that he has made me a better trainer.

Me: "Oh, this feels pretty good today!"

Eric: <repositions foot>

Me: "Oh $hit!"

You see, Eric has exposed how wonky my hips operate for my body. Before I ever even pick up a kettlebell in my session, we work on a sequence of things involving only body weight. Like so many of us, I unknowingly in my past added load (iron weight) to disfunction within my body. I was getting stronger in the weight room, but my functional strength, (the foundation of it all) was actually not all that strong. I'm happy to state that things are definitely progressing, but it wasn't an overnight progress - that's for sure.

Every time I see Eric, my body is in a somewhat uncomfortable state. It's not painful though. Pain and discomfort are two totally different things. "If it feels all nice and comfy, then I know I'm not doing it right," I jokingly said to him in the middle of an awful hip flexor stretch with a mean 'ol resistance band. I make the best #meanface when we're doing this.

But after I said that, I realized that I actually say the same thing to my clients. "We will NOT work through pain, but we will work through burn. I want you to become comfortable with being uncomfortable." I want them to know the difference. When we're activating the glutes during a hip thrust or using full tension to hold an effective plank, it's honestly not comfortable in a fuzzy kind of way. There's some burn to a heavy lift. There's some burn in a plank. There's some burn in a sprint.

But the pain you have in your shoulder? The nagging pinch in your knee? THAT'S pain - and that's something to address and something to LISTEN TO when exercising. That's when rest might be needed, and that's when a modification might need to be planned. That's when comfort is imperative for your pain - and choosing to ignore that might lead to worse conditions.

The "burn" can make things hard for new gym goers. It's definitely uncomfortable in the beginning, it feels defeating, and DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) makes it an easy decision to rest, rest, rest, and then eventually not come back. This goes back to my statement above - I think it's important to get comfortable being uncomfortable. The more we move, the more advanced we can get (in terms of adding load OR increasing ROM OR moving in more advanced moves). But as we all know, things are never just easy. Coming out of the bottom of a deep squat never feels EASY. But it ALWAYS feels good.

"NO PAIN NO GAIN!" - and this is where I think people become confused between the difference in pain and burn. While there are coaches out there that are willing to put you through the ringer to get a good workout, I can tell you that I am not one of those coaches. I do push my clients out of their comfort zone for a challenging 45 minutes, but I also highly encourage rest (often) and modifications when necessary. It's not always "go hard or go home". There are times when we must listen to our bodies.

There are different perceptions of what it means to listen to our bodies. Am I choosing to skip this workout because my bed is oh so cozy, or am I skipping it because my lats are wrecked? Sleep is necessary, but so is movement. It's tricky to find the balance to fit it all in. When I am contemplating skipping a workout I like to ask myself, "am I being lazy or do I really need to rest my body?" For ME, I know that movement makes me feel better, so EVEN on my tired days, I strive to move no matter what. I may not go as challenging and I may not go as hard, but I GO. And guess what? I never regret it.

But there HAVE been days where I suit up at home, walk to the garage with my kettlebell, a staring contest ensues, the kettlebell wins, and then I walk inside. Those days are laughable, and they only happen every great once in a while.

So as we strive for comfort in so many of the things that we do in our every day lives, remind yourself that there ARE instances where discomfort provides growth - whether it be in our marriage, our friendships, or our fitness journey. In the instance of pain vs burn, we push through the burn while avoiding pain. Knowing the difference between the two is pivotal to a successful workout program. Mindfully listen to your body, and choose consistency with movement.

I'll keep all of this in mind when I find myself coming out of the bottom of a goblet squat with a heavy kettlebell in hand.

Burn, baby, burn.

engage. empower. elevate. 

xo Coach Fowler

 

 

Habit > Motivation : BYE, Snooze Button.

IMG_4450 copy.jpg Last week I decided to work on kicking a habit that I've been allowing myself to engage in for quite some time: hitting the snooze button.

I'm an early riser. I coach my first strength class at (em)POWERHOUSE Gym at 5AM. It's actually our busiest and most consistent class. When we first opened our doors back in August, I was up by 4AM making my coffee, getting dressed, and allowing myself plenty of time to get my mindset right before leaving for the gym.

As the months went on, I wasn't getting the appropriate sleep that I needed in order to feel fully rested. When my alarm (both of them) would go off, I'd hit the snooze button multiple times, annoying my sweet wife to no end. Although still arriving to the gym in a timely manner, the snooze button made for a super annoying and rushed process of making coffee, getting dressed, and picking my socks out in the dark.

I started hitting the snooze button EVERY SINGLE DAY, regardless of my sleeping pattern. Even on days where I WOULD get plenty of sleep, the snooze button became my autopilot button. I now knew (down to the very minute) at what point I would HAVE to crawl out of bed in order to get to the gym on time. I started noticing that my morning routine was much less peaceful - more stressed, more rushed, and let's get real - I drove with a hint of anxiety. I like to be prepared, but I was honestly cutting it way too close for my own comfort.

Snooze

There's a point in which things crossed a line - and that was the morning that I didn't have time to make my coffee because I'd hit snooze one too many times. Coffee is another habit of mine, but it's also an "experience". I love sipping on my cup of joe while I drive quietly to work. Most mornings I don't even turn on the music. It's my meditative time where I think, brainstorm, breathe, and get my mind ready for the day. So you can imagine that I was pretty annoyed with myself during that drive. I probably even turned the music on, avoiding my quiet time. BECAUSE no coffee.

So now I was hitting snooze because I knew that I could, and not particularly out of necessity. I started digging deep into this simple action of mine. WHY was I doing this? I know when it comes to motivation, I'm at the top of my game. And while motivation creates excitement and drive, I am starting to understand that consistency (i.e. those habits) outlives motivation.

In my case, my consistently "pushing the snooze button" created a habit - one that I wanted to eliminate. I started to think of how all of this translates to working out and nutrition and life's everyday activities.

I'm going to say something that may surprise you: I'm NOT always motivated to work out. Are you surprised? Maybe. Maybe not. But it's the truth. There are days that my schedule is crazy and there are days that I'm honestly just NOT feeling it. But EVEN on those few days when I lack motivation, I have made working out a HABIT of mine. In this case, this habit IS desirable, as I know that working out, lifting weights, and moving my body is better for my health AND better for my mindset. And guess what? I always feel better afterwards, and I'm always thankful that I stayed with my habit. Nobody ever regrets the workout after the fact, right?

The same can be stated for those that do just the opposite. How often do you see somebody  motivated to start a new workout program only to disappear within a few weeks or months? This is because when their motivation goes away, they're going back to WHAT THEY ALREADY know, and for some, this means no working out at all.

Let's look at nutritional habits. We're actually discussing this very subject in my Girls Gone Strong "Strongest You" program coached by Jen Comas. Most people are motivated by the notion to eat and incorporate healthier foods into their diet. But old habits have an ability to creep back in (sneaky b*stards!) and people often revert back to those old habits in times of stress or peer pressure.

The less than desirable habit I have with these mini eggs should DIE. It's a habit of mine to buy these (multiple bags) every year at Easter. I'm working on it, but I'm also admittedly relieved that most of these bags are in the clearance section, soon making their way out of all candy aisles. #halp

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Can you see a pattern? We can look at NUMEROUS situations in our lives - comparing the motivation factor to the habit factor. The habits we create will win EVERY time.

So back to my snooze button. I knew that I wanted to change the situation, so I decided to create a few action steps in order to set myself up for success the next morning.

  1. I made the conscious decision that I wanted to stop pushing snooze. This has to be the first step in redirecting any habit. If you don't REALLY want to change it, then you're not going to work as hard at it, right?
  2. After telling MYSELF about my new intentions, I told my wife about my plans. This created the accountability piece.
  3. Making my bedtime a priority. Listen, we all need our sleep. In order for me to start this habit out RIGHT, I HAD to set myself up for success by getting to bed at a reasonable time.
  4. I changed my alarm tune to a loud, upbeat tone. You might think that this negates my desire for wanting to wake up in peaceful mindset, but for this situation I needed a way to get my a$$ out of bed. JLo's "Booty" song did the trick.
  5. I set all of my clothes out the evening before. Now you might be thinking ,"that only sounds like a solution that would help if she were continuing to push snooze." But for me, this just added value to my morning routine. Not only would I be waking up "on time", but everything from getting dressed to making my coffee would make the process run smooth.

So far, my actions steps are working! I've gone 4 whole mornings avoiding the snooze button. I'm back to loving my morning routine, and the coffee always tastes better when you can enjoy the experience. I'm going to HAVE to remain consistent with these steps, or it's very likely that I could fall back into the snooze button habit. Habits will outlive motivation every single time. Evaluate the habits in your own life - those with your own snooze button, working out, nutrition, relationships, etc...

You're one (or a few) action steps away from working to start/stop/redirect a habit. Motivation is a wonderful thing, but the habit wins every time. Don't miss out on an opportunity to live the way that YOU want to live. After all, ya snooze ya lose!

(You had to know that was coming!)

Engage. Empower. Elevate.

Coach Fowler

 

 

 

 

 

I Almost Had A 6 Pack

       

These pictures were taken just one year ago - February 2015. I was finishing up a strict nutrition regimen for a weight loss challenge, and I had dwindled down to a scale weight of 160LBS standing at 5'10". 

YOU GUYS - I had never, EVER seen this weight in my adult life, my teenage life, and honestly, I had already surpassed 160LBS by the time I was in 5th grade at 10 years old. 

In that picture I was focused. I was SO determined. And I was so proud of my "almost a 6 pack" abs. I had come a long way from 240 LBS. 

My weight loss journey has occurred in many phases - my college phase (losing the most weight), my running marathons phase (all throughout my 20s), and then my "ah-ha, nutrition matters" phase that started at age 30. 

I was obsessed in the pics above. I awoke every single day to step onto the scale, letting the number dictate how my day would go. I pinched my belly and frowned up my rolls. I constantly looked for reassurance from my wife on my physique. While her responses were always positive, my constant questioning for validation was a tad alarming. I was at my smallest weight since elementary school, and it still wasn't enough for me. 

Once the weigh-in was over for the weight loss challenge, I found myself addicted to the strictness and structure, but my willpower was wearing thin. When I allowed myself to indulge in sweets or less than healthy snacks, I completely and embarrassingly found myself bingeing on those foods. "I deserve this!" Following a binge, guilt would take over. It was a vicious cycle that left me terrified of food. 

I started seeing my extreme leanness disappear, and some of the weight started to appear back on the scale. 

Here's what I learned:

- for ME, strict regimens do not work. Yes, they yield physical results, but the mental ramifications are far too damaging afterward.  

- I'm thankful for the experience (hindsight is 20/20 lol), but going forward I know that mindset guidance is just as important as nutritional guidance. 

- there is certainly a place and a time for fat loss, but extreme measures do not serve ME well. 

- just because my willpower wears thin with strict regimens does not mean that I am any less disciplined. 

- white knuckling my way through nutritional methods leaves me feeling less powerful of my own decisions. 

- the faster I lose it, the faster it comes back.

- today I'm 175 LBS, and I'm wearing the same pant size that I did at that weigh-in 1 year ago. 

- not only am I physically stronger, but today I am mentally stronger in all aspects. 

Listen, last year I was chasing a number on the scale. I was VERY lean in those pictures, but I was NOT HAPPY. I was hungry. I was thirsty. I was living with a measuring cup in my purse. 

This year, I might be heavier on the scale (that I rarely EVER step on by the way), but my mindset has shifted. I have learned to love the skin that I am in, and I don't let a number define me. 

I don't have washboard abs, but I have strong quads, muscular arms, and a strong core to support my movement. I have the capability to grocery shop and know that while 90% of the shopping cart items are healthy, I'm not scared to allow the other 10%. 

I could easily look at those pictures above and want to be back in that lean body. But I don't. I strive for fat loss in a sustainable way, one that allows me to live my life outside of traveling Tupperware. I eat healthy. I exercise. I lift. But I'm not afraid of a cupcake. 

Today I feel powerful in the skin that I am in. I'm stronger than ever. I'm confident in my body and all that it does for me on the daily. Our bodies work SO hard for us!

No number on a scale can take any of that power away from you. It's yours for the taking! Go get it, 6 pack or not. 

Engage. Empower. Elevate. 

- coach fowler 

PS - yes, I constantly keep chapstick on my bathroom mirror. lolol 

         

The CliffsNotes On My Body

IMG_9293.jpg The other day I had to step on the scale, and if you know me or read my blogs, you're probably surprised that I still even have a scale in my house. I let go of "the number" on the scale a very long time ago, and I stopped letting the scale dictate my mood, meaning that I very RARELY weigh myself. I used the phrase "had to step on the scale" because I was actually inputting my baseline information into a spreadsheet to submit for the Strongest You Coaching Program that I'm participating in through Girls Gone Strong. Along with our weight, we also submitted body measurements and rated our levels of stress, sleep, energy, etc...

Surprisingly, I was pretty happy with the number. Happy in the fact that I endured the holidays eating chocolate and drinking wine and eating movie popcorn and STILL kept my body at the same weight that it was a few months prior. To be 100% honest, my pants fit better today than they did a few months ago. I actually stopped paying attention to the details in the food that I was eating. I stopped letting food control me. The only thing I really allowed myself to focus on was eating to 80% full, while prioritizing proteins and veggies first and still allowing myself indulgences along the way. That's it, folks. Moderation for the win! It seems to be working for ME.

So, back to the Strongest You (SY) Coaching Program that I'm involved in.

Yes, I am a certified personal trainer.

Yes, I've already been through a 60# weight loss transformation.

Yes, I write about fitness and nutrition.

So, why do I need to be coached? Well, coaches need coaches, too! I continuously strive to put myself in places where I am encouraged to grow and learn in the field of fitness and nutrition. I opted to join in on this group to get the very best mindset, nutrition, and fitness coaching tips from the lovely Jen Comas. There's a very diverse group of ladies within this SY Coaching group. We're all very different in our backgrounds and careers and life stories, but we all have one common underlying theme -  we're trying to find the best version of ourselves through mindset, body acceptance, nutritional habits, and fitness plans.

So just when I thought I was doing pretty good with self acceptance and body image and all of that jazz, Jen assigned a mindset challenge for us. The challenge was to watch a video featuring Kathryn Budig - well renowned yogi guru - as she hands out some honest talk about body image and her own experience in social media body shaming. It was, no doubt, life changing for me. Do you have 27 minutes? If so, click HERE to watch the video. It may resonate with you, and it may not. But for the love of all things regarding body image and self acceptance, find some quiet time, plug in some ear buds, and GO WATCH IT! Please. xo

Without giving the whole video away, here were a few of my favorite takeaways -

"I'm a girl that eats healthy, but I'm not afraid of cookies."

"We need to put weight into the words that we share."

"Jealousy will never serve you."

"The way we use our words is like casting a spell - they have power."

"When we step down from a challenge because we let our insecurities get the best of us, we give others permission to do the same." - WOW.

"I love this vessel, this vessel holds my soul."

"I call my body a meat suit."   ---> that might actually be my favorite line. EVER.

I don't want to give the entire video away because I think you owe it to yourself to watch it, but here's what happened at the very, very end. Kathryn challenged individuals to grab a sticky note to write something positive or something showing gratitude to a part of the body that needs some self love, then post the sticky note on that body part and share it with the world. We were encouraged (if we felt comfortable enough) to share this within our SY Coaching group.

At first I had a VERY difficult time trying to decide where to even put the sticky note. Topping out at 240# in high school left me with some battle scars. I am very uncomfortable with my softer belly. I dislike the stretch marks on my NON-giving-birth hips, I've always hated my breasts - they're never the same after a huge weight loss transformation. My feet have their own issues - I'm forced to get a pedicure every three weeks so that my lovely nail lady can take care of an ingrown toe nail problem on my right foot. I have a single hair that grows out of my chin! I am freckly and moley. I have dense muscles and it makes me feel uber "thick."

BUT WAIT.

The stretch marks on my body tell a story about my skin. They are a reminder of where I was, and where I've come in this weight loss transformation.

My feet? I may not have the best looking feet, but those feet allowed me to run for miles and miles in several half marathons and full marathons, and they were a catalyst to my weight loss journey. They've allowed me to see the world and all of its beauty. I should love these feet.

My freckles? They tell the story of my childhood and the years I spent in the sun playing on an old ball field that would eventually allow me to earn a college softball scholarship, another huge catalyst to my weight loss.

The chin hair? WHO EFFING CARES. Pluck it, be gone.

So, the assignment. {sigh}

I posted THIS photo in our group to complete our assignment. I chose to put the sticky note on my hips, and my self love phrase said "I love my hips. They don't lie."

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Posting that to our private group was a scary thing, and it's even MORE scary posting this for all of you guys to see in my online community. It feels less safe, and it feels vulnerable. Some responses that I've articulated in my head include:

"She's too big to be posting a picture like that."

"Needs some abs before posting this."

"That stomach? Gross"

"What stomach?"

"If she were truly overweight, then I would understand the hesitancy."

"She can't even relate to being big anymore."

"She's not lean enough."

"Put your clothes on."

HERE IS WHAT I FINALLY DECIDED. What anyone says about my body is NOT MY BUSINESS. 

MY body, the way it looks, the way it feels, the way it operates, and the things it accomplishes, AND HOW I FEEL ABOUT MY BODY - THAT's my business. 

I opted for my hips and the side profile in the picture for my SY Coaching group because I was terrified to show my belly. That wasn't very authentic, and that wasn't the takeaway from the video. So, here you go.

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I'm authentically doing this to show you that self image issues among individuals do not discriminate. Damaged self image issues come in small framed bodies, big framed bodies, skinny bodies, strong bodies, obese bodies, female bodies, male bodies, and the list goes on - WE are all capable of experiencing a lack of self love which contributes to a negative self image. AND THAT is a scary reality, folks. But we - you - can change that.

I'm not posting the picture to say "hey, look at me, look at me, look at me."

Just.. NO.

I'm posting the picture to say, "My name is Stephanie, and I am guilty of shaming my own body. I did it when I was obese, and I mentally still do it now -even at the best shape in my life. Come with me. JOIN ME, and let's change the conversation together."

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That video? It changed me just a little. I cried a few times (the whole time) watching it. I needed to see it, and my guess is that if you struggle at all with self image, you might need to see it, too.

It was a POWERFUL thing for me. I honestly practice self love at my gym with my clients, and I TRULY abide by it verbally, but mentally I have given myself absolute anguish. No more, though.

Physically, mentally, and spiritually - this vessel is all that I have. It works EXTREMELY hard for me every single day, and I will now return the favor with self love.

These are all of the CliffsNotes that go on my body. They are the story of my skin, and they are the proof that I have lived, loved, and endured.

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My words have power. I will choose words carefully to empower myself.

This was a game changer. Go give your body some love. You owe it to that meat suit! xo

Video link once again - right HERE. Please, PLEASE, please go watch it.

xo

Engage. Empower. Elevate.

#eeetribe

Coach Fowler

 

Don’t Drop the Cake in 2016

7U6B9065B.jpg A year or so ago I found myself running extremely behind as I was driving through some crazy traffic to get to work on time. Before I owned (em)POWERHOUSE Gym, I trained boot camp classes in the early morning hours and then served as a high school math teacher and softball coach for my “day job". The specific vehicle I was behind was moving at a considerably slower pace than I needed to be traveling in order to make it to work on time. Any teacher out there knows that it’s not easy to just hit the ground running, but that’s what my morning was about to look like if this guy didn't push the pedal to the metal. DIDN’T THIS GUY KNOW THAT HE WAS MAKING ME LATE?

I look back and laugh at that situation.

Maybe two weeks following this incident I was driving again, probably on the exact same highway, but THIS time I was driving much more careful and slower than normal because I was hauling a birthday cake in my backseat. You guys know exactly what that’s like –be it hauling a cake or transporting your dogs or traveling with a new bouquet of flowers – you have to be wicked careful or else the cake will drop, the dogs will slide all over the backseat, or your flowers will spill over and the leaking vase will quickly make a mess.

So I mean it when I say that I was driving SLOW to keep the backseat in order so not to mess up this pretty little birthday cake. But when I looked into my rear view mirror, a lifted truck was riding my bumper, and the car language (you know, like body language) was totally not cool. I could tell the guy was annoyed as I slowly took the curve around to merge onto the other highway, and my suspicions were right-on as he hightailed it past me once he got the opportunity. Geez. DIDN’T HE KNOW THAT I WAS HAULING A CAKE?

I’m laughing again. Are you getting my point here? In the first scenario – of course the slower car didn’t know that I was in a hurry. And of course it wasn’t the slower car’s fault that I was going to be late. IT WAS MY FAULT. I was the sole reason that I was going to be late. His slower driving status wasn’t helping my case, but if we get down to it, it was my own fault for not leaving my house when I needed to – not his. Same response goes for the guy riding my bumper. He had no idea that I was hauling a birthday cake, and maybe if he had he’d have cooled his temper a bit. Maybe, maybe not.

I want to illustrate to you that people navigate through their operating systems based on past experiences or current circumstances. Maybe the slower driver is a safe driver because he’s been a victim of a frightening car crash. Or even worse - MAYBE he’s lost a loved one in a car crash. Maybe THAT’S why he drives a little slower than I do. Maybe the what-seemed-to-be angry, faster driver was on his way to an emergency situation. Maybe he needed to be moving faster than I was allowing him.

After all of this happened, I found myself a little less judgmental on the roads. Now, let me be clear, there are still some pretty senseless drivers and there are always exceptions to the rule, but for the most part, people are inherently GOOD and are merely reacting to their current situation. When someone is driving slower than I’d like, I imagine they’re probably hauling some precious cargo in their vehicle. And for the opposite, I imagine they’re in a hurry to a pretty important situation. Neither of those things may be true, but at least it's a more peaceful, less stressful reaction.

Give a little grace in life’s day-to-day scenarios.

I think these scenarios go for those in the fitness industry, too. People are quick to judge others that aren’t doing things like us. Whether you’re a runner or a crossfitter or a powerlifter or a swimmer or a lover of the elliptical – it’s not our place to say that our way is the best way. Because is it really? Do we know that OUR way is the BEST way for Jane Doe? No, we don’t.

-Maybe Jane Doe stays at the gym elliptical because it doesn’t hurt her knees and she enjoys the quiet time to herself. I loathe the elliptical, but if Jane likes it and gets the results that she wants, then GO, JANE, GO!

-Maybe Jane Doe stays with her running group because she lost a lot of weight when training to run, and hitting the pavement makes her feel good. Get your 26.2, baby! I got mine!

-Maybe Jane Doe sits at home and chooses not to work out because she’s terrified of stepping into a gym for fear of embarrassment. I’ve personally always had the confidence to step inside of the gym, but I’ve certainly felt self-conscious or not good enough in plenty of athletic or fitness scenarios in my lifetime. It's a valid emotion.

Give grace. People operate based on past experiences and current situations. Once I truly understood this concept, even the communication piece in my marriage became much clearer to me. This notion goes for everything. Every. Thing.

For the most part, people engage in fitness activities that they enjoy. Do I think that some things are more effective than others? Certainly. But maybe my goals differ from others’ goals. And that’s fantastic, too. It’s important that people continue to inspire and continue to educate.

Give grace in the coming year. And for what it’s worth, don’t drop the cake in 2016 – even IF somebody is riding your bumper.

engage. empower. elevate.

#eeetribe

xo - Coach Fowler

A New Year Is Not A New You

Alas, December is here - the month where you'll see excess of peppermint mochas, tacky sweater parties, and all things Christmas and Hanukkah and Festivus, too! Regardless of what you might celebrate during this time of year, we can all agree that holiday cheer is displayed on every street corner in a city near you. It’s a time to celebrate LOVE with family and a time that triggers STRESS with family. It’s a time to PAUSE and enjoy the moment and a time that demands URGENCY to get everything done. It’s a time for JOY and a time that causes ANXIETY. You catchin’ my drift? We love to celebrate the good, but inevitably for some, there is always a hiccup that pops up throughout the holiday season. I hope you’re choosing to let the good outweigh the possible less-than-good of your holiday hustle. This month also marks the end of another year. A lot of people use this as a time of self-reflection – where we evaluate ourselves in our current careers, our current financial situation, and for A LOT OF US - our current pant size. We all do it. We compare ourselves to where we were last year, and the year prior, and then sometimes we go waaaaaay back to before we were married or before we had babies or before real life happened. We trap ourselves into thinking that the current “ME” is not as disciplined as the previous “ME”.

And if we’re lucky, some of us might be able to say we’re in a much better place THIS year than we were last year. Either way, January 1 brings to us the act of comparison. More times than not, the comparison that we’re experiencing is stealing from our ability to be happy with our current self.

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Around this time of year the fitness advertising hype chimes in, and everybody around us convinces us that we must do “this” and “that” and “change this” and “change that” in order to make 2016 a better year. We see this REPEATEDLY in the fitness industry, an industry where the ongoing joke is that January is the busiest time of year for gyms – and then you already know what happens in February and March and thereafter.

People start the year off with GRAND, aspiring goals, and let me be clear - goals are to be commended! Often times, though, those goals don’t make it past the first month. In the past I always had a goal for a “clean slate” starting January 1. New Year’s Day arrives and I quickly abandon (every single year) my first goal of eating black eyed peas, and then more times than not, I ended up splurging with some unhealthy meal for dinner and THEN I would justify to myself, “It’s ONLY a day. I’ll start tomorrow instead.” So much for starting the New Year with success. Sound familiar? This has happened to me more times than I could ever count.

“A New Year, a NEW YOU…”

I don’t necessarily resent that phrase, but I’m going to challenge you, along with myself, to go at it thinking differently this year. Rather than giving yourself the stress of creating a whole new YOU, why not think of approaching the New Year as “moving forward”?

Moving forward. Ahhh. I kinda like that. It might not sound as glamorous or life changing or powerful – but it’s what we aim for every day, right? We want to move in a positive direction to better ourselves or give ourselves permission to experience different life events. Of course you can always set new goals – goals are encouraged, and you should most certainly always have goals for yourself.

a new year is not a new you

See these photos? They are all photos of ME. As you glance from left to right you'll notice that I moved forward in age and forward in thinking and forward in my fitness journey.

Picture 1 - 18 years old / an athlete with no nutrition knowledge

Picture 2 - mid 20's / I took up marathon running, but still lacked nutrition knowledge

Picture 3 - 30 years old / underwent several month calorie deficit in preparing for wedding day / still a runner

Picture 4 - 32 years old / taken after participation in new workout regimen and restrictive meal plan

THIS IS ME TODAY - 32 years old / living a life of moderation and no restriction

These photos all reflect ME. Not an "old me", not a "new me". Just.... ME.

Another phrase I often hear: “I can’t wait for the New Year to get here – I’m leaving this year far behind and never looking back.”

I try to avoid this phrase. Do you want to know why? Because every single life experience – the good, the bad, and the ugly – that happened throughout the past year has completely shaped me (literally and figuratively) to be who and where I am today. I’ve put myself in a position to grow and learn from every life experience. Life is not always peachy – we all know that. Things happen to us. We hurt, we grieve, we cry, we lose, we gain, we suffer, we live – and through all of those emotions, I try to create a stepping stone to move forward to the next life experience. That doesn’t mean that you have to drag things with you from the past. You can LET GO of things from your past. Letting go is different, and we can all agree that not everything from last year will travel with you into next year. But avoid running from last year – instead, position yourself to learn and grow from last year’s life situations. See the difference? It’s more of a mindset shift.

So now you might be thinking, “Hey, I do have goals for 2016. I want to be different. I want to start working out, get in shape, look better. I WANT a new ME.”

Those goals are ON POINT! But you don’t honestly need a new YOU to start said goals. You can still love YOU and be YOU and still incorporate new goals and challenges that will transform you. And we transform by simply moving forward – one step at a time. (And honestly, if you still want to refer to each year as a "New YOU", then so be it. I'm just here to challenge your thinking and get the wheels a turnin').

So in this time of holiday hustle, reflection, and goal setting, I challenge you to think of moving forward. I want you to be okay with your CURRENT YOU. A NEW version of yourself is not needed in order to create and achieve goals. YOU, in this moment, are enough. And - - - - wait for it. You DON’T have to start your goals in January. Start NOW. Be it a new career, a different nutrition plan, committing to a workout regimen – move forward with the confidence that your current YOU is good enough to achieve those goals.

Speaking of moving forward – if you are in the Oklahoma City area and you’re looking to commit to the goal of working out, please take a moment to check out (em)POWERHOUSE Gym. During my own personal time of reflection, I have the BIGGEST amount of gratitude for so many wonderful things that happened in 2015. Owning a business with a constant mission of giving back to the community has allowed me to move forward in a multitude of ways, and it’s given me the strength and confidence to create and pursue additional goals. Every day I’m humbled to get the opportunity to coach this #EEEtribe. Whether you decide to come visit us OR you decide to partake in another fitness route, I sincerely wish you the best as you move forward with your 2016 goals.

Go find your best version of YOU – not necessarily a new you – just the BEST VERSION OF YOU!

engage. empower. elevate.

xo

Coach Fowler

I Can't Workout, and It's Gonna Be Okay. 

I don't workout because I have to. I workout because I want to. I've always played sports, I love competition, and I thrive when I sweat. Bring. It. On.

I was like that back in high school, too - but my lack of nutrition handed me a whole different lifestyle with a yucky self perceived body image.  And then years later when I realized what the benefits of healthy nutrition can do for the body, I became OBSESSED with working out and eating right. Two-a-day workouts were often in my schedule. I did not miss a day. No way, no how.

I've come a long way. I'm not obsessed anymore with working out. I simply enjoy it, it's an obvious part of my routine, and I eat moderately to go right along with it.

I've been on both ends of the spectrum, and if you've read earlier posts of mine, you already know that I've found solace in the happy medium position. I still almost always workout 4-5 days per week, but if I miss a day OR three, I simply don't freak out. Life happens, and I always get right back to it. (Not to be confused with jumping back ON the wagon. What wagon? It doesn't exist).

I've even hired a trainer to work on some movement issues. Hey, trainers need trainers, too! It's been pretty remarkable to see my movements broken down from a movement specialist. Humbling might actually be a better word. I've had to slow down my pace to work on breathing (yes, breathing apparently is a challenge for me!) and I've worked on getting back to fundamental movements that transfer into real life. I love the barbell, but I'm not picking that thing up until I fix my left hip - actually, until I fix my ENTIRE left side. You see, I'm kind of broken and I really had no idea. I was graciously born with lateral patellas, and in addition to my years as a college athlete and then doing so many things incorrectly for a really long time, I've found that I need to back it up to basic movements. It's humbling, it's fun, AND I get to work more with the kettlebell.

Speaking of my wonky left side - I'm having surgery on my left knee tomorrow. It's just a little arthroscopic procedure to rid some chondroplasties floating around causing some major discomfort and swelling. It's been ongoing since July (I just love injuring myself in my backyard jumping on things) and it's time to get it fixed. The recent knee issue has really brought light to the problematic left side of my body. It's all connected, folks.

I've actually never had surgery before. I'll be weight bearing once the nerve block wears off 1 day post surgery, but I'm absolutely going to have to take some time off. That would have scared me a year ago. But this year I'm going to BABY this knee. I've got some nasty issues that I'll have to address with my knees later on down the road (thank you, family genes) so for now I'm gonna play by the rules. Not because I have to, but because I need to.

There's no "I can't wait to start squatting again!" or "I will have to eat super healthy since I'm not working out".

I'm excited to still get to be around my clients, and I'm looking forward to ALLOWING myself to heal. I'll take advantage of this downtime and work on my alignment patterns and resets, and soon enough I'll be back at it.

It's all gonna be okay.

I've transitioned my mindset. It's not all or nothing. I've found gratitude somewhere in between. That's my happy place.

Now off to bedazzle my crutches. No, seriously.

I'll be in touch. In the meantime - whatever it is, it's all gonna be okay.

Engage. Empower. Elevate.

xo

Coach Fowler