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.

 

 

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

 

 

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."

cliffsnotes of my body II.jpg

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.

img_1075

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."

12656088_10104212512598020_343073189_o

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.

cliffsnotes of my body III.jpg

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

Pumpkin Pie Then And Now

before.afterThanksgiving here in the United States is right around the corner (meaning you only have 3 days to get to the grocery store before all chicken stock is obsolete). For the love of your holiday sanity, beat the last-minute-crowd grocery shopping on Wednesday evening! Although I'm not a fan of losing daylight and delving into colder weather, I AM a big fan of the holidays. And with holidays comes feasting with the family. YUM. All things turkey and dressing (i.e. stuffing), green been casserole, sweet potatoes (do you put marshmallows on yours, too?) and pumpkin pie. BECAUSE pie.

I've been through many, many changes in nutrition and fitness in my life, and this year I've got a completely different approach to my Thanksgiving dinner. Before I tell you what it is, let me catch you up on my history with food.

  • kid/teenager- as you can see from the photo above, I lived a life full of overeating that lacked any focus on nutrition. I lifted a lot of weights and played softball (eventually collegiate), but my eating outworked my movement.
  • throughout my 20's - post college softball I discovered long distance running and ran multiple half marathon and full marathons. I lost a lot of weight, but I carb-loaded with donuts and bagels and pretty much had an "I run so that I can eat whatever I want" type of attitude.
  • age 30 - I got married and running became less of a priority. Meanwhile lack of nutrition took over. I gained some weight back and decided that it was time for a change.
  • 31 - I went extreme and started working out and participated in 3 different restrictive meal plan challenges getting down to my lowest weight (ever) of 156 with never-seen-before ab definition, and I had become completely obsessed with the scale.

Right now I'm 32 years old, and I'm certainly not still at 156LBS. With a lot of detail left out between each of those tabs, it's still easy to see that I went through an all-or-nothing type of regimen throughout my journey.

And neither one of them worked for ME.

When I ate everything in sight, it left me with an obese figure and I was completely controlled by food. When I restricted myself on a strict diet, I still found myself controlled by food. And after each restrictive challenge I would slowly binge my way back to a higher number on the scale than what I had ended each challenge on, thus leaving me in a defeated state of mind. That's why I did 3 challenges. I constantly went back for more to chase that number. It worked - but it was also a competition style diet for a mainstream woman. I don't participate in bikini and figure competitions, so I really don't need to eat for one. I needed something sustainable that I could do FOREVER. I am so thankful that I had the experience, and I honestly learned a lot during that interim. But I'm mostly thankful for the things I learned that I should not do anymore - restrict. It just doesn't work for me.

With the help of some fabulous blogs and mentors and a heavy dose of self awareness, I have found myself in a moderate state of eating. I AM NOT AFRAID OF FOOD. FOOD DOES NOT CONTROL ME. I can proudly say that I no longer stand in the grocery aisles clueless as to what I should put into the basket.

"Does that have too much sugar?"

"Is that all natural?"

"How many carbs are in that?"

"These are the foods I have to eat if I want to lose weight."

As I stated above earlier, I've got a completely different approach to my Thanksgiving dinner this year. In the past I would fill my plate (okay, stacked would be a better word) food on top of food on top of food and sit down for Thanksgiving dinner. Then I would go for round #2. And then I would allow myself dessert "once I let my food settle". I've even had to sit with my pants unbuttoned because I let myself get too full.

A little much, yeah? Can you relate?

So how will I eat this year?  I'll eat whatever I want, focusing more on the protein and veggies, but allowing myself to enjoy it all. I will continue my practice of eating until I'm 80% full. A friend and I once had a discussion on what constitutes 80% full - for us, we decided that if we could still knock out 10 burpees or go for a light jog after our meal, then we were probably sitting somewhere near the 80% mark. If we couldn't, then we'd probably pushed the limit.

I don't like feeling FULL anymore. I want to find fullness in other things - not food. I now focus on staying hydrated, getting my movement or workout in each day, and prioritizing proteins and veggies - but I purposefully and mindfully allow daily indulgences. If I wait until the weekend, then I find myself overdoing it. I don't need that. I need moderation - and that's from the school of freaking common sense. It's a simple idea, but it's not easy. I'm still practicing, but I get better and better each day.

Don't overthink this holiday. Don't overdue this holiday.

Back then I ate too much pumpkin pie. Now I will eat just enough pumpkin pie. And you can be sure that on Black Friday I'll let myself enjoy a leftover piece of pumpkin pie for breakfast while I sip my coffee and admire our Christmas tree.

Will I feel guilty? No. I don't eat pie for breakfast every day. I'm simply just allowing myself to live the life that I want. No restrictions. No guilt. And if I do it mindfully and moderately, there will be NO waistline consequences.

There is always so much to be thankful for, and not one day goes by that I'm not thankful for every single one of you. Thank you times a million.

Happy Thanksgiving!

xo

engage. empower. elevate.

Coach Fowler

 

 

You Can Stay The Healthy Course Even When Your Spouse Isn't On Board. 

img_6380-0.jpg

I love kale and spinach and then more kale and more spinach. I also love brussel sprouts and zucchini and broccoli and anything else GREEN. I am not a picky eater, which is probably a major contributing factor to my obesity while in high school. I genuinely like all kinds of food. And I never had trouble finishing any meals. "A happy plate is a clean plate." Anybody else grow up hearing that?

My wife, on the other hand, has a strong aversion to most healthy foods. She does like green beans, but I think the word "like" might be slightly exaggerated. I think it's just the one veggie that she tolerates. Oh, and glazed carrots. But those don't really count. Hello, brown sugar.

 

 

Mit grew up on a ranch in northwest Oklahoma. She's talked about meal habits and has expressed that it wasn't uncommon to sit down to "supper" and happily enjoy a dinner with grass-fed protein and 3 sides of starch - corn, mashed potatoes, and bread. This is NOT a foreign concept to me either. I remember the days of eating dinner and enjoying that soft, white, sliced bread and smothering butter on top of it. Sometimes it was 2 or 3 slices. And this was just a supplement to dinner. LAWD help my high school waist line. But the main difference is that I've always liked veggies. ALL THE VEGGIES. She avoided them like the plague at each meal.

So let's fast forward to now. I'm not here to judge eating habits or condemn any foods. That's not my job. But I DO want to express to you that you CAN keep healthy habits even if your significant other doesn't enjoy the same foods.

First off, when I'm cooking a meal at home, 80% of the time I cook the same protein for each of us. The other 20% is when I cook fish. She no likey seafood. Bummer. But when I cook veggies, I get really creative and always cook some sort of varied veggies for myself. Mit - she always gets green beans. Always. So this usually means I'm cooking something extra, or sometimes I might make two completely different meals. It might sound like a headache, but I'm honestly okay with it. I want her to enjoy her food and me enjoy mine.

When it comes to eating at restaurants, if eating healthy is your goal, then stay the course. We sometimes allow ourselves permission to make bad decisions due to our surroundings. And let me be clear, if you decide to indulge in something not so healthy, then by all means OWN IT and move on. But if you want healthy, opt for healthy, OWN IT, and move on.

Here are a few scenarios of what restaurant ordering might look like for us:

Mit orders a cheeseburger plain with mustard and ketchup. I order a Cobb salad.

Mit orders a cheeseburger plain with mustard and ketchup. (She's pretty consistent). I order a cheeseburger, no bun but wrapped in extra lettuce.

Mit orders chicken and waffles. I ORDER CHICKEN AND WAFFLES. I will not live in a world where I don't allow myself to indulge in chicken and waffles every once in a while. That's just absurd. AMIRIGHT? I'm health conscious, but LIFE.

 

Let me also defend my wife and tell you that she certainly has appeased me and will try nearly everything I put in front of her. She strives to eat healthier, but she does this for herself, not for me. She also knows that I opt for healthy meals majority of the time, and she is so very supportive of my journey - even at my most extreme and restrictive times. She never comments on my decisions in any negative manner and vice versa. In my humble opinion, resentment occurs when we judge our spouse for their eating habits. Nobody wants to hear, "don't you think you've had enough of those chips?" Ouch.

Now, would it be easier if Mit enjoyed the same healthy foods that I do? Of course! I'd be making big, BIG salads every single night. ALL THE VEGGIES! But here's what I've learned: There is strength in our differences, and my ability to work around those differences has taught me to demonstrate more discipline. That's not a bad thing.

I obviously like to talk about healthy foods BECAUSE yum. But if your spouse isn't on that same page, don't let THAT be the excuse that keeps you from healthier options for yourself - if that's your goal. 

What are some differences that you and your spouse have when it comes to choosing meals?

Engage. Empower. Elevate. #EEEtribe 

xo

Coach Fowler