Tag Archives: honesty

Closer to Love

Mat Kearney: Closer to Love

Oh it’s your light,
Oh it’s your way,
Pull me out of the dark
Just to show me the way
Cryin’ out now
From so far away…
You pull me closer to love
Closer to love

In the last 24 hours I’ve had two very thought-provoking things happen. The first was when a dear friend asked if I “missed being in a relationship,” after I mentioned the commitment I made to ride this year out single so I could focus on self-reflection and getting to know MYSELF through a variety of people and experiences. The second was when I ran across an incredibly dynamic and attractive individual – one of those people you just instantly connect with, that get you thinking intensely about what you want in life, somehow. You know those people – the game-changers. The “hail marys” of your life that skyrocket you into self-reflection and sometimes, powerful life changes.

Between those two incidents, I’ve been thinking deeply on how my approach to love has changed in the last decade. Thinking about the assumptions I now make about self and world, about how I’ve lost the romance along the way amidst the pain, and about the bigger picture of human relationships and connection.

I’ve been reading an amazing book lately called “Waking Up: a Guide to Spirituality without Religion” (available on amazon – highly recommend it!). In the beginning of the book, the author mentions that people tend to love one of two ways: first, for what you give them or how you make them feel, and second, for who you are. He calls the first “transactional love” and makes a firm point that this type of love exists in a vacuum – it cannot survive if practiced by one or either individual – in any type of relationship. Ironically, I’ve said this in my own way upon reflecting on my past this last few years. I say often that “it is possible to be loved selfishly, while loving selflessly.” 

My own experience of platonic and familial love has been powerful and life-changing. I have an incredibly, unconditionally loving family. Parents who love each other and their daughters with reckless, selfless abandon. I have friends who will be there for me at the drop of the hat – who truly love who I am, regardless of what I can do for them, or how I’ve changed. I’ve magnetized more and more of these people this last few years, and I am deeply grateful for them.

What has been painful for me is the romantic aspect of love. I have a deep, vested interest in the success and wellbeing of every stranger I meet. Truly, I care instantly for people, and want their best. If I only touch their lives briefly, I want to touch them powerfully, positively, and inspirationally. I want to help everyone. I’ve always been that way, and I passionately love this about myself.

This is, however, crippling for me in romantic relationships. In a culture where what we have – what we own – seems to determine our self-value, people seem to be just another commodity to acquire. Something entertaining, fulfilling, satisfying – to discard when the amusement has passed or the newer model becomes available. We’ve marginalized human relationships in our quenchless thirst for the next-best-thing.

I’ve never loved this way. I can honestly say that even in two long, emotional, deeply powerful, monogamous relationships, I’ve felt every day that I wanted the best of my partner first and foremost – even if their best was not me, or not what I wanted. I was more invested in their future, their health, their self-fulfillment, than in my selfishness on any level.

There is a fine line to walk here. I fully recognize that while selflessness is admirable, a martyr mentality is not a healthy approach to romantic love. What I’ve come to recognize the last few years is that love is at times, selfish. Love begins with self-love, and self-love INCLUDES a certain level of selfishness – the courage to say “I want this.” The commitment to speak up when we are hurt. The ability to ASK. 

Somewhere along the way, in the darkest places of my broken marriage, in the corners of my living room – as small as possible, hiding from the world and from my shattering reality – I learned that if I expected nothing, asked for nothing, dreamed of nothing – if I turned fear into open-handed coexistence, if I took away the romance… I was less brutally torn apart by rejection and sharp words and raised fists and a relentless verbal destruction of the things I had always found most beautiful about myself.

I learned not to ask, not to hope, because there is nothing more painful than loving selflessly, and being loved transactionally in return. There is nothing more painful than realizing that you love more deeply and powerfully than your significant other is capable of loving you. There is nothing worse than being loved intermittently, haphazardly, while loving someone with love like the ocean – vast, expansive, endless, deep, constantly moving and changing but always there. There is nothing sharper and more destructive than the careless wounds of someone you love wholly and completely for everything they are, and can be. 

I’ve swung to the opposite extreme these days – not to selfish love, but to the absence of romantic love. I expect nothing, hope for very little, and keep my hands open. I reassure people over and over that I’ll never ask anything of them – that I expect nothing of them – I don’t dream or read into things or romanticize anything, because it is much easier for me to accept the transience of human relationships than it is to hope that something powerful, purposeful, and earth-shattering could come into my life, and remain. 

This year of committing to be single is so very intentional. These are the revelations I need to make – the observations about my extremes that I need to master, to conquer – to find that middle ground. To find the balance between love and martyrdom. To practice discernment in avoiding transactional lovers, but investing fully where I find the possibility of something lasting.

Somewhere amidst the ashes of my former life, there are burning coals of romance and hope and passion and a curious desire to be loved the very same way I love everyone else in my life.

But if there is one, simple way to explain the evolution I am undergoing, it is this:

The more I love myself, the closer I feel to love. 

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CANDOR

Sometimes you sit, and you stare at the reality that is your life, and you reflect.

Today I’ve been all caught up in my head space. I spend way too much time overanalyzing my own progress or regression. I am easily devastated by the opinions of anyone I trust, if a negative criticism is suggested.

Today someone suggested I had PTSD from prior relationships. That’ I run from potential. That I have a lot of unresolved issues.

They said this when I suggested that things were moving too fast – that it was important to slow down and build something rationally, explore possibilities without making assumptions.

I sat there, and I wondered – am I damaged?

I’ve been severely ill, abused, and abandoned. What are the ramifications of those three separate life events?

Are we a product of our circumstances, or of our choices, or of our self-awareness? All three? Does my obsessive self-reflection and desire to understand my own psyche help me progress, or do I need to learn to live in the moment? Abandon all learned behaviors and defenses in favor of possibility? What is truly wise, and what is fear-driven?

Sometimes I am so confident that I know myself, and others, I wonder if I’m blind to my own inconsistencies.

My soul is a war of traditional with free spirit – on a regular basis. Reserve and caution and respect for the culture I grew up in, at war with my constant desire to be free and open to the world, to walk around without boundaries, to rebel against the idea that I could be owned or possessed or controlled in any way by another human.

I’ve changed dynamically and exponentially this last few years. I’ve become a person that I NEVER expected to be – but someone I truly love. I never stop growing, changing, evolving, learning.

The more I know myself, the more I realize how much I have to learn.

The problem with realizing how much you evolve and open up and change is that you realize you’re boundless – your limits are unknown. Apart from your moral and ethical code, you have no idea where your journey and self-development may take you. You’re unaware of who you may be in 6 months, a year, 5 years. You can hardly ever say “I wouldn’t”… because you know the “wouldn’ts” you’ve already done.

The older I get, the more I learn myself, the more I realize that being candid with myself and others means admitting that I am a constantly growing, changing, burning, fiercely alive human being. I am passionately and intensely and humanly both consistent and inconsistent. I am reliable where it matters, and transient and changing where life ebbs and flows. Harsh lessons and beautiful connections empower and compel me to change and evolve.

Candor means admitting that sometimes, I do not know what I want. Sometimes, that is purely because I understand my own capacity for evolution – and not because I’m damaged, broken, or unresolved in any way.

I am simply human.

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What Doesn’t Kill Me

If you look back on a brief synopsis of my life the last decade, you’d wonder how I am who I am today, how I am where I am – and where the hell I’m headed.

  • 7 years of chronic illness. Hospitals, dressing changes, PICC lines, never a normal life like all my friends had from 18-24… so much crying and so much fear. I went to bed wondering how much pain the next day would bring.
  • 3 years of intense emotional and physical pain in my marriage. Leaving and starting over as a single mother. Begging for money from strangers on my drive. Minimum wage, credit cards. The devil at my back, driving me to succeed because a Little Someone needed me to.
  • Moving for an opportunity that fell through 2 weeks after I had spent my entire, meager savings relocating and signing my first lease as a single mother. Getting a job two days later that fell through 2 months later when I was fired for reporting sexual harassment. Washing cars to make ends meet. Studying my ass off to recertify as a trainer. Never knowing every month if what I had would be enough. Eating rice cakes and peanut butter to survive. 11 things in collections… I simply couldn’t pay them.
  • Finally relocating for a better life, with someone I truly loved who treated me well, and MAKING it, first time in my life I wasn’t afraid of not surviving… breaking up 11 months later and facing my life head-on again, with a dramatic increase in living costs, and no help – once again, single mother, running from all of the possible failure at my back.

With the amount of fear and crying and that tight throat feeling I’ve had this last decade or more, I should be a bitter, jaded, angry, person. I should be cynical, fearful of change, living in anxiety and closed off to risks. I should be, but I am not.

“What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” – we have all heard it, but it’s not automatically true.

What doesn’t kill you can leave you broken. Your pain can debilitate you. Change you, degrade you, hurt you. Leave you alone in the darkness.

What doesn’t kill you can leave you destroyed – a shipwreck of humanity on the shores of broken dreams and one too many prayers for salvation.

Or…

It can make you stronger. But you know what the difference is in that “or”?

It’s just YOU. YOU are the difference. Your choice is the difference. Your determination, your ability to keep your chin up no matter how many times life throws a left hook and drops you. No matter how many times you’re beaten down and broken and hurt and afraid, no matter how many times you hit the “can’t” wall – no matter how many times life abuses your hopes and tarnishes the beauty of your optimism – YOU ARE THE DIFFERENCE.

You decide what you will make of your pain. You decide what will come of your past. YOU. YOU DECIDE.

LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL TO ME. The little things are precious. Human connection is empowering. The ability to relate to others in pain I’ve experienced is priceless. Faith is a beacon. I don’t sweat the small stuff. I live hopeful, determined, progressive, disciplined, driven, strong. The world is bigger, more open, less limiting for the limitations I’ve experienced.

Life has never been easy for me, but my callouses are hard-earned, and impenetrable. I’m tough as nails, because I CHOSE TO BECOME STRONGER.

I am deeper, wiser, kinder, more hopeful, more loving, more outward-focused, more joyful, because life didn’t kill me. It didn’t break me. I pick myself up every damn time, and I FUCKING CHOOSE TO LIVE.

Here I am in sunny San Diego, surrounded by amazing friends, strapped again but LOVING the fact that I GOT MYSELF HERE. I toughened up, I CHOSE. I DECIDED TO BE STRONGER.

What didn’t kill me made me BEAUTIFUL.

Never forget that YOU are the determining factor in your life… who you become will be a result of what you choose to do with what COULD kill you. BE STRONGER. BE WISER, BE MORE FAITHFUL, DRIVEN, PASSIONATE, OPEN, LOVING, KIND, POWERFUL, CAPABLE…

Be STRONGER.

I believe in you.

smile

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The Importance of Being Earnest

If you haven’t seen the iconic “Importance of Being Earnest” movie, it’s a fluffy, cute romantic comedy starring some fan favorites. You can check it out here. The movie is based on a book by Oscar Wilde, and stars two men pretending to be something they are not… and remembering this film sparked some thoughts for me today.

Our culture is increasingly driven by two powerful “I” words: Ignorance and Image. It feeds off of those who can pretend to be what they are not, and those who believe them. Problem? I think so.

This generation is more belabored by bull shit than any previous generation. We’re surrounded by photoshopping, inflation, exaggeration, comparison, greed, and lies. We’re inundated with it. We live and breathe it.. and most likely as a result, we think it.

When you’re constantly exposed to small amounts of toxic chemicals, they can kill you. In the same way, the constant barrage from a culture based on things that are FAKE (Image) can promote similar tendencies in our own behavior if we are not keen to ascertain them (Ignorance).

Some people are clearly and maliciously fake. They pretend (and pretend very well) to be something or someone they are not. To want things they don’t want, to be what they think you want them to be for whatever end they are serving. Others of us, like myself, may slip into these habits from ignorance – from a lack of alertness to this common cultural bias toward being fake.

I see this in how I present myself to people. I may cater my words, retract a perspective, suggest something that is slightly untrue but not entirely false in order to gain approval or commendation. I may not do this maliciously, or often, but I may still do it. When I do it – or when I catch myself doing it – I hate it. I hate everything about it.

I’m from the old-school society that things that your value depends heavily on how much Integrity you have – another “I” word that is a million times more powerful than Ignorance and Image. When you have integrity to what you believe, who you are, what you stand for – and additionally, to the good and respect of others… you can do amazing things, and you can live with yourself.

It’s so easy to cave to this culture, to forget that we so quickly cater to the people around us in small ways. It’s so easy to let your guard down and be what someone wants you to be because you love them or because you simply want them to like you. But it is so, so detrimental to your character, and your relationships.

This can play out in some odd ways you might not expect. Someone asked me once if I regretted anything from my relationship with my ex-husband. I had to think about it pretty heavily. I finally realized I did have one regret – I regretted lying to him for years. Sound appalling? It is, but it was more subtle than you think.

These were lies of omission – of omitting how I really felt and thought about things. How I felt about him yelling at me, about porn affecting our relationship. How I felt about never seeing him, never getting time together. About his hours and hours on the computer and me crawling into bed alone every night. About sexuality when he wanted it, but only when he did… and always when he did, and how he wanted it. I lied about who I was by not saying how I felt. By not standing up for myself. By not being honest when things hurt me. By the time I did, he was genuinely shocked that I remembered every single hurt, abuse, and neglect. Every single malicious word. Every put-down. Every time I paid for his bad days. I remembered Every. Single. One.

My dear friend Josh was the unfortunate beast of burden right after I left my ex and drove in the middle of the night many hours away. He had to listen as I poured my heart out, brokenly, about finally leaving. About fear and pain and loss and hurt. We talked about a lot of things and he called me out when I said that my ex forgetting every little thing about me every day – likes and dislikes and holidays and birthdays and anniversaries – never hurt me. He said “when did the romantic Jen die? You know, it is okay to be a woman.” I burst into tears.

Have you ever heard the phrase “We accept the love we believe we deserve?” Neither had I until this year. But that is so damn true.

The more you lie to yourself, the more you omit things in your relationships, the less you say when things hurt, when they break you down – the less you listen to your gut instincts, the less you are honest with others about who you are, what you want, and where you’re headed – the more you cater and cave and conform… the more you will find yourself playing right into a culture of Ignorance and Image.

You’re losing your Integrity.

The little things that bother you. The repeated hurtful words. The distance or the disregard. Those things will destroy you – they will destroy your relationships if you do not speak up.

Have the integrity to operate outside of a culture of lies. Be earnestly, completely, fully yourself. Fully honest with yourself, and with others. If you do love someone and you do care about them, be honest now. Speak up now. Be real – NOW. Before it is too late and one day you break, and you’re real and raw with them and everything falls apart because it was based on lies.

The truth will either make your relationship stronger, or it will break you apart – and if the truth breaks you apart, you never would have made it. Wouldn’t you rather know now?

Be honest with yourself. Be honest with others.

Be real, and true, and raw with the world.

Be you.

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Worth a Read: The Brutally Honest 6 Reasons You Are Still Overfat

Read the article HERE: http://strengthcoachtaylor.ca/uncategorized/the-brutally-honest-6-reasons-you-are-still-overfat/

THE BRUTALLY HONEST 6 REASONS YOU ARE STILL OVERFAT

I haven’t written a new blog in quite some time. Why? Because every time I go to write a new blog I realize that I have already written on the topic, most often many years ago. So I just repost that. How does this happen? It happens because there is very little that is new in fitness.

Sure we repackage things and create flashy new tittles for the same old same old. The zone diet has become the paleo diet. Ab workouts became core training, which is becoming functional fitness. Warm-ups became prehabilitation, which is becoming movement training. It’s all the same stuff at the most basic level. When you actually break it all down to individual components you will see that it is all basically the same thing. Except the new versions are making a lot of money for those who are able to get creative and do the repackaging.

When it comes to fat loss (weight loss for all those over 40) things are no different. In fact I would say that the societal drive to ‘lose weight’ and have a skinnier (now leaner and soon to be more muscular) body is probably the absolute worst culprit for this lack of change.

I am told on a fairly regular basis that I am an asshole. It is something I have pretty much become calloused to. I used to wonder if it was something I was doing wrong, so I spent a lot of time trying to understand why some people consider me an asshole with a stick up my ass thinking everyone is out to get me, when in actual fact I have literally dedicated my life to helping other people improve the quality of their lives.

Of all places, an Internet meme summed it all up for me and I suddenly figured it out.see-through-your-bullshit-300x300

My problem is my complete commitment to honesty. I am simply too brutally honest. Add to this the fact that I can see straight through bullshit and it is a recipe for offense. Just ask my lovely wife how annoying this can be!

You see we live in a culture of jazz hands. Put on a smile and tell people what they want to hear. Maybe, just maybe, passive aggressively try and tell someone the truth. But never in a way that could possibly offend anyone.

Fuck. That. Shit.

I don’t live like that and for better or for worse I won’t ever change this. SOMEONE out there has to deliver the truth. Argh.

So this blog is designed for all of you concerned with fat loss and who are in pursuit of a leaner, less fat laden, physique. Be forewarned! This is coming at you in a brutally honest matter and from more than a decade of experienced combined with more certifications and education on the topic than 98% of the population.

The Truth About Why You Are Still Overfat

 

  1. The 2 Minute Rule

In a mere two minutes I can tell you if someone will be successful in their quest for a leaner physique. And two minutes is being safe. It is probably closer to about 30 seconds. And this applies not just to fat loss but also to the rest of your health and fitness goals.

If you blame yourself – success. If you blame everything else – no success. Period.

When I first talk to people I am not listening to the details of their health, fitness, and nutrition. That stuff is pretty irrelevant and I am going to be changing it all anyway. All I want to know is whether a person takes responsibility for themselves or if they blame everything and everyone else.

You haven’t been successful because you made bad decisions. You ordered a pizza on a Tuesday night. You surfed Pinterest for an hour instead of heading to the gym to train. You bought a tub of ice cream to ‘have a treat’ while watching Downton Abbey (confession: I love Downton Abbey).

VS.

My significant other brought home pizza so I had that for supper. I had to respond to my friends third cousins post on Facebook to debunk the anti-vaccination people and that is why I skipped my workout. Everyone brought donuts to work to ‘indulge’ while we sat around and talked about Downton Abbey.

See the difference? I made the decision. THEY all MADE me do it.

You are responsible for yourself. Either take responsibility for your own life and actions or blame everyone else and everything else around. I really don’t give a shit. Honestly. I don’t care. Because I am over here living my own life that isn’t affected by you. And that is why I am successful.

So make a decision. Take care of your own life or sit around bitching how hard everything is and how everything is someone else’s fault.

It’s your life.

  1. You can’t make a sacrifice.

I am seeing this pop up on a lot of blogs in all sorts of areas and I sure hope it sticks.

Who said life was easy?

Who said life was fair?

Let’s release the captive born lion back into the wild and to its natural habitat. That is fair. That is how it is supposed to live. Then the pretty sunset hits the camera with just a touch of lens flare as the newly released lion jogs into the sunset. Fade to black.

The camera isn’t there tomorrow when the lion gets hungry. Or the day after that when a territorial dispute leaves bloody wounds across its back. Or a week later when it is starving because it has never been taught to hunt. And a week after that when it is lying in a field unable to move because it is dying of infection and lack of water and its emaciated body is mere minutes from death. A flock of vultures moving in behind the lion as its ragged breathing finally stops. Fade to black.

Don’t get me wrong, I hate the idea of animals in captivity. But let’s not glamourize what life outside of captivity is really like. Forget the Disney version of fairy tale endings (Cinderella actually had parts of her feet cut off to fit in the slippers), real life is hard, brutal, and not fair.

You have to make sacrifice to stay healthy. Deal with it. You will have to turn down the donuts. Pass over the ice cream. Skip the odd party.

Forever? No. You can add these into a healthy life for sure. Not daily. Maybe not even weekly. 95% of your diet has to be perfectly healthy. That is the reality.

Life isn’t fair. Life is hard. You will get out of it what you put into it.

And when you decide to make real changes, when you make a commitment to yourself to make a difference, YOU HAD BETTER STICK TO IT.

We run challenges a couple times a year to help people make more drastic changes to their lives. Usually ranging in length from 6 to 12 weeks. Most people do really well. Some people don’t.

This blows my fucking mind. It’s 8 weeks. Seriously. You can’t make sacrifices for 8 weeks? And to be fair those who don’t make the length of the program usually are going off track within the first 3 weeks.

Yep. Can’t even do something for 3. Fucking. Weeks. And then have the audacity to complain or be down on themselves because they aren’t getting results! Seriously? WTF. You couldn’t even make 3 weeks of some small life sacrifices to change your health. I don’t feel sorry for you.

I am sure it’s your co-workers fault for bringing in that cake.

  1. You Don’t Know What a Treat Is

Treat /tret/: defn: an event or item that is out of the ordinary and gives great pleasure

You know the part about great pleasure. Chocolate tastes good. Wine goes down smooth. Nachos and wings are delicious. Cookies should be their own food group.

But you missed a part I think.

‘An event or item that is out of the ordinary’

100 years ago you had cake on your birthday and maybe a family member or two. 70 years ago you had a milkshake a few times a year at the drugstore soda fountain. 20 years ago you ordered Chinese food (the nasty deep fried North American version) a couple times a year as a family or at a party.

Today is different. EVERY SINGLE FUCKING DAY you are exposed to ‘treats’. Donuts and chocolate milk on the way home from your kids sporting events. Trays of cookies in the office lounge. Bags of chips in the cupboard.

Every. Single. Day.

That’s without dinners and events every weekend or birthday parties, anniversaries, baby showers, sports events, holidays, and the plethora of celebratory events.

‘Treats’ are something out of the ordinary. If it happens more than once a month it is no longer out of the ordinary. Stop saying treat. You aren’t having a treat.

It comes down to sacrifice and commitment, like we talked about earlier. Come on. You’re a grown ass adult making their own decisions. Don’t delude yourself in an attempt to justify the fact you are fully responsible for the shit you plow into your mouth.

You are just eating shit. And that’s fine. I don’t care. It’s your life. Don’t cry over the blubber hanging over your belt though.

  1. You Are Planning for the End Date Already

When we sell annual memberships at our fitness facility we have a few red flags that pop up. When a potential new member is seemingly more concerned with how long the contract is and how they can get out of the contract that they even have yet to sign, we know the relationship is not going to work out.

If you are already planning the end then what you are doing is not for life. And if you are doing things for your health and fitness that you don’t plan on doing for life then you are destroying your own life.

I see it all the time during challenges. ‘Only 3 more weeks.’ ‘Halfway through!.’

You. Have. Already. Failed.

An end implies cessation of current activities. If your current activities are healthy then by default the cessation of those activities is unhealthy. They are your old habits. You know them, they are the habits and activities (or lack thereof) that got you to this point to begin with.

If the end point is in your sights I am telling you right now that you will not be successful in the long term.

It is awesome to have targets and goals. In fact it is imperative to have targets and goals. But those are simply markers, stepping stones, to the ultimate goals, which should be health and fitness until the day you die.

If you have an end date in mind you are already fucked.

  1. You Want Results Faster Than Your Laziness

Four week bootcamp programs are seemingly still popular. Two week diets! Results in just one week! 10lbs a week in weight loss!!

The claims never stop. They just keep on coming. Everyone wants results fast. They want results now.

Question for you: how long did it take to plump up that body of yours with extra adipose tissue?

One week? Two weeks? Four weeks?

Probably not. It was probably something that caught up with you over time. Months. Years. It is slow and steady and a result of many different factors all working together to plump you up.

It’s the parents of the other kids on the team who bring in donut holes and cookies. It was your coworkers who kept having Friday pizza parties. It was your job that got busy preventing you from doing any exercise.

Just joking. By this point you should know better than that! Seriously.

Those are all a group of compounding factors that led to you being fatter than you want to be.

Yet now you want to change and you think making ONE change (adding exercise) should have RESULTS in 3 WEEKS.

Wtf. Remember earlier when we talked about being a grown ass adult? Take that to heart again.

The same way it went on is how it is going to come off. Through a group of compounding factors over a period of time. You have to change your exercise, your diet, and your lifestyle and you have to expect it to take the SAME amount of time to get back to where you were as it took to get you to where you are.

Period.

Can you get results in 4 weeks? Sure. Will they last for the next 4 years. No. No they won’t.

As long as you are looking at short term fixes with definitive end dates, having a few treats, and blaming everyone else for your current state, you will never be successful.

  1. You Have a Shitty Fucking Attitude

This is the number one thing I believe will have the most effect on your long term health and fitness.

Your attitude.

This is something I rant about a lot. You need to read what I am about to say and really try to understand it.

You need to shut the fuck up about how hard you have it and how hard your life is. Seriously.

There are people who really have it rough. They have no home, no job, they have cancer or diabetes, they have been in terrible accidents and their bodies are broken, and many people have no way out and no hope to make it better.

If you have a house, can walk on two legs, use both your arms, have a job, a family, can go grocery shopping, drive in your car, go out for dinner, exercise, and free time then STFU. If you don’t have to be worried about your young daughters being kidnapped at school by boko haram and sold into slavery and you don’t have to worry about ebola decimating your entire community and everyone you love, then STFU.

The vast majority of people reading this will be North American middle class and above. You are among the luckiest of all humans on earth.

And you go around bitching and moaning about how hard you have it. About how hard it is to not eat cookies while you watch TV. About how hard it is to motivate yourself to go workout after a day at work. About having to eat pizza and wings at a Superbowl party.

You’re stressed because you have a little blubber hanging over your belt? Almost 1 billion humans suffer from malnutrition and chronic malnourishment.

You are so lucky. You don’t even know.

Why do I write about all of this in a fat loss fitness article?

It is because your attitude will determine your success. And your attitude is based on your life and the issues you deal with. And I want you to take a minute to put into perspective the majority of your problems and issues.

It’s too hard to exercise. Think about accident victims who are now confined to a wheelchair and would give anything JUST TO TAKE A SINGLE STEP.

You’re just too tired to exercise. Think about people living in fear for their lives of another missile attack or rape gang visiting their village.

Everyone else makes it so hard on you bringing bad food around. Think about all the children who are without parents because their parents are dead from preventable disease that could have been corrected with a healthy diet.

It’s everyone else’s fault. No. It’s. Not.

It is your life, your decisions. Your life is what you make your life to be. Period. Your attitude WILL determine your success in both your health and your life.

It is either a cold miserable winter day or a chance to learn to cross country ski. It is either a boring meal of roast and vegetables or a gift to spend time with loved ones over a bounty of food many people would literally kill for. It is either a workout you have to do or a celebration of the amazing gift your healthy body is.

Conclusions

Your life is yours to live. Be reasonable, responsible, and realistic.

What I have written is all true. It is the brutally honest truth that people aren’t telling you. I have coached hundreds of people over the last 13 years and I can tell you that each one of these 6 honest truth’s work. Every. Single. Time.

Take each of these 6 truth’s to heart. Live them. Mold your lives around them. And you will achieve every single health and fitness goal you have ever had.

-Coach Taylor

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Calling the Fitness Industry Out: It’s Time for Some Integrity.

After careful consideration and an anticipation of backlash, unfollows, and unpopularity, I’ve decided to publish a letter I wrote to my old bodybuilding team when I made the decision to leave them a few months ago.

The reason is trifold:

1. This letter was never acknowledged.

2. This prep with a different coach has taught me a lot about wrong and right.

3. I’ve now had MANY people come to me with similar concerns, female athletes triad, eating disorders, depression, and depletion and adrenal issues from poor coaching or a lack of attention – from several teams.

I would have appreciated the response I felt this required, or to have seen changes in the last few months as I and others have expressed these concerns.

The bodybuilding industry is losing its integrity and its focus on the long-term benefit to their clients. The responsibility to the individuals. Multiple coaches are guilty of this… The integrity is leaving us…Let’s bring it back.

To be clear, I do support a lot of these girls on my old team and consider them brilliant industry competitors. But the personal care is going downhill, and the more experience I gain and the more pain I see, the more I feel people need to be made aware of these concerns, which apply to many coaching styles.

Please feel free to contact me at sportyspicefit@gmail.com with any questions. 

I have also included the response of a friend who is hugely active in the fitness industry, and someone I respect a lot, because it was invaluable. You’ll find both below.

My intent in sharing these is to push the people who participate in the industry to recognize how far we have come in the wrong direction, and to help competitors and athletes and people seeking weightloss alike to make informed decisions.

Here is the letter I wrote the team, months ago. It’s reflective of the experience of many, on multiple big-name teams.

Hey guys!

I wanted to take the time to send you a thorough email and express my gratitude and also a few thoughts.

First, thank you, thank you, thank you for believing in me and bringing me on board during an incredibly difficult time in my life. The added kindness of the sponsorship enabled me to really find my feet and establish myself after an awful abuse situation. It pushed me back into a career and community that I love dearly, and opened my eyes to a whole other side of fitness.

Working with you has been a wonderful education and an incredible honor.

This year was super challenging as I pushed through starting life as a single mom and returning to school, as well as battling the confusion of post-show metabolic compensation and feeling really lost when my body rebounded last winter. I knew so little, despite years as a trainer, about the effects of competition on your metabolism and reverse dieting, it was a shock for my system and something I learned from this time around.

I wish I had been ready for and physically able to do North Americans, and to see everyone again.

Despite the fact that my training has been gratis, I will be leaving the team at this time. I wanted to write an email because I didn’t want in any way for you to feel I was angry, bitter, or prepared to trash talk the team as some others have done. I’ve had girls come to me upset or confused about things and every single time explained how hard you both work and how I respect and love you both.

That being said, just a few thoughts.

First, for many girls as the team has become so big, they are panicking and stressed by the lack of personal attention. While it is understandable with the empire you’re building that you don’t have the time to respond quickly to emails, in my opinion it would’ve been ideal quite some time ago to start hiring assistant coaches in order to keep from the growing number of posts I see in our private group from girls weeks or less from competing who haven’t had plan updates or responses to emails.

Another girl in particular came to me stunned that it had been three weeks with no reply regarding her prep. I don’t get involved in those discussions, but it’s fast becoming the norm. That doesn’t speak well of the team, or of the heart I know you have for everyone. There has to be some way to delegate so that people are taken care of on a personal level.

Second, favoritism. While I know this is likely NOT the case, people are observing that a few girls in particular seem to have more time and attention. I can’t speak to the truth of that and don’t know if that’s true, knowing you both, but it probably comes from the first thing I mentioned above.

Third, personal care. While people are more and more needy and emotional and stressed, and I deal with that myself with the few bikini clients I have, they also do occasionally have valid need for more personal input which ties back to the first thought. They ESPECIALLY need more preparation for what happens post-show, and some basic direction for reverse dieting and off season. This to me says there is a full extension of care for each person so that they don’t go through what I went through (and many others have) after my last show.

All of that being said, I do know who you are and I do love you both and admire and respect you. I just think as the team has gotten so big, there is a much greater need for assistants and delegation because things are slipping through the cracks. It reminds me of the difference I’ve noticed between working for a mom and pop gym vs a franchise. Your girls NEED the one-on-one and the prompt responses and the TIME investment that says we are here for you.

I’m transitioning to another team because they’ve offered an opportunity to be a part of something smaller and more personal, but also because I have a chance to assistant coach there which is a HUGE dream of mine. I’m excited that they’re already working on off-season plans for me and I’ll be competing with them in the spring in Arizona. I look forward to seeing the girls out there and have nothing but love and support for everyone competing, no matter the team. You know that my integrity is everything to me, and I think this is a good transition to support that. It’s also the reason I took the time to write this email.

Thank you again for the time and love and care. Best wishes in all of the amazing opportunities you’re pursuing!

Love and respect,
-Jen

————-

Here is the post back to me on FB from my friend (his reply – Team Edge never responded to the email):

From MD:

Standing up and sharing truth! Never, NEVER anything wrong about that. Any business should adapt to the growth swing, yet this is more common. Unfortunately the side effect teams loose sight of is that they are coaching people to a physical extreme that leaves these competitors in a very delicate state physically … with their physical health swinging in the balance. I wish more “coaches” would look at the magnitude of what they are doing to their client’s body as more important than how much money they can make. 

At some point, a client of a team / coach is going to wise up after suffering serious health issues due to their practices and hold them accountable and sue them … AND WIN! Until then, these teams / coaches are playing a very dangerous game of Russian Roulette sending people into adrenal fatigue and failure leaving so many with serious, if not permanent, endocrine problems due to their cookie-cutter approach, lack of communication and no concern for the health of their clients. What these teams/coaches fail to understand is that just because a client signs a liability release, if gross negligence has occurred … the release can’t protect the team/coach from knowingly or unknowingly harming their clients resulting from poor communication & misguided coaching that causes physical damage. The lawsuit could in fact show criminal negligence and some could end up in jail, but God forbid a client actually dies as a result to these issues you’ve stated. 

What if their client was suffering serious physical/mental issues and needed guidance from their coach, and as you pointed out, no response? The results could be tragic for all parties involved. But as you have said, this isn’t good. 

**HIGH 5** Jenny for no longer biting your tongue. Until people like yourself voice the problems and exposing these poor business practices that clearly the bottom line is more important than their client’s health … it will continue to occur.

Bravo my friend. BRAVO!

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Life’s Purpose

People want purpose.

They want something to live for, rules to live by, rewards and struggles and triumphs.

People want to define value by what they achieve.

What they have.

Who they marry.

What group they identify with: gay, straight, religious, atheist, athlete, musician, hipster, corporate, blue collar, white collar, married, single, middle class, poor…

I grew up thinking my value was defined by how many people I “converted”. How “close I could get to God”. How much better I could get at being “perfect”.

What if, instead, our value is defined by our self awareness?

What if, instead of fighting to identify, to redefine, to blend, you fight to find yourself?

What if you use your challenges to ferret out your strengths? Your triumphs to encourage you to sharpen your gifts?

What if you spend life surrounding yourself with people who push you to be the truest and best version of yourself?

What if your income, your possessions, your relationships, your studies, your job, your future are simple tools to discover the deepest parts of you?

I would submit that the end-goal of life is never a line in the sand, a box of things, a relationship and its tenure…

The end-goal of life, of my life, is knowing myself better.

You discover, with time, as you let yourself into YOU, what you are capable of, what you can achieve.

You discover your self-discipline, the lengths of your patience, the better parts of your character, and the struggle to preserve them.

And from there, you give back.

Until you really know what you are capable of, until you know yourself, you cannot truly capitalize on your abilities.

When you pause to study yourself, you begin to be awed by your own potential.

Learn your potential. Fight for your individuality.

Don’t blend, cave, surrender. Be you, find you, develop you.

Learn the value of “I can”, and learn to DO, by learning the essence of the person behind that knowledge and its implementation.

Stop focusing on what the world thinks of you, what your friends think of you, who you want to look like and become, and start delving inward.

Turn your focus to being the best and truest version of your very own individual self.

I promise you, that’s the best place to find happiness, and to develop purpose.

Your integrity to yourself is the greatest and most beautiful thing you can achieve in this lifetime.

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The S-E-X Word

Yea, you read that. Let’s talk about SEX.

Whoa, whoa, fitness blog! Nah, I told you things might get spicy.

DISCLAIMER: This is my PERSONAL opinion, and I understand and respect that everyone has their own.

Let’s get the preachy part over with first.

I’m not sure when this happened, but somewhere along the way since the flower-child free-love drugs-galore era where sex as a pastime was normalized (not all a bad thing) sex has become the easy-button go-to for that empty, lonely feeling we all get.

People go through pain or emotional/relational challenges in their marriage, friendships, relationships, work environment, you name it and they decide they have a “need” that needs to “be met”. So they cash in. Maybe through a connection online, maybe through someone special in their life, maybe through someone not so special, or maybe through a “f*ck buddy”, someone they can call up when they just feel their sex-tank is on “E”.

The inner dialogue seems to go something like this:

“Oh man, my sex drive is growling. Must be time for some nookie again”

“Geeze, nothing in the freezer. I thought I had some on standby. Bummer”

“Since I can’t microwave this, I’ll have to grab a phonebook and have it delivered… what a hassle”

“Yea, I’ll have that… with a side of endorphins and no shame please”.

I just don’t get it.

Granted, I was raised in a culture that went to the opposite extreme, where sex was an almost taboo word and the concept of any intimacy (including hand holding) outside of marriage was a carnal sin.

HOWEVER.

Having made some choices in my past that I legitimately regret and having been out of that culture for a while; having explored various religions myself and come to terms with what I personally know and accept about God and the afterlife and standards of conduct, I STILL find myself frustrated by this convenience-store concept of sex and intimacy.

Here’s why.

My reasons don’t really have to be “biblical”. In an age where hedonism is all we live for, where generation Y is hell-bent on doing everything they can to reach the ultimate end goal of personal gratification, we get lost in the rat race for success and satisfaction and miss the cost aspect of the things we do to cheapen things that are priceless.

I’m of the old fashioned, grab-me-some-dentures and pour-me-some-prune-juice opinion that sex is INTIMATE and SPECIAL and AWESOME and reserved for someone who is in fact INTIMATELY involved in your life, SPECIAL (like no one else is), and AWESOME beyond explanation. Now that I’ve used up my ’90s child vocab…

I personally feel like the more sex you have, the emptier it becomes. I’m not talking about sex with that special person (we will get to that), I’m talking about sex with everyone else. There’s actually science that shows that we only have a limited amount of dopamine receptors, and when we max those out we will never achieve that first rush feeling of sexual gratification again.

Well that sucks.

Why can’t we keep sex on the top shelf and not make it the cheap version of what we really want to drink? We all know the thrill and intensity that comes with sex inside of a loving relationship with someone we want ALL OF, including their mind, soul, heart… we love them COMPLETELY, and there’s a special intensity that comes with THAT kind of sex.

YES, everyone has a desire for sex (some more than others), but just like any other desire, there’s ways to meet it without going A-WOL. I like sweet stuff. I choose low-sugar fruit when I’m competing because my end-goal is worth giving up the chocolate cake for.

If you can genuinely say you really don’t want a fulfilling, deep, intense, passionate relationship with someone else as an end-goal then more power to you, I won’t judge you. Your end-goal, in your world, justifies the normalization of shopping-cart sex. But not for me.

Having indulged myself in the best type of all-out, multiple-times-a-day (yea, TMI, sorry), complete, awesome, intense, passionate, loving, trusting, beautiful type of sex, I want to hold out for that. I’ll snack on fruit while I wait (how sketchy is THAT analogy) but I’ll give up the chocolate cake for the sake of coming in first place in the end.

On to the practical. Some quick bullet points:

1. SEX SHOULD BE FUN. Some positions are tried and true for a reason, but everyone should be open to experimenting. If you really trust and love someone let them do it upside down and backwards if they want to. If you really can’t physically deal with it, that’s your choice, but be open to experimenting. Sex goes stale when it’s too boring or when everything is “expected”.

2. SEX SHOULD BE REAL. Get over the movie-screen romance-novel version and get lost in the moment. You might hit your head on a wall, someone might burp, that button won’t unbutton, they might not do exactly what you want. #REALLIFE. Get used to it. When you script it in your head everyone will enjoy it less. Get lost in it.

3. SEX INCLUDES COMMUNICATION.

The BEST sex means you’re talking, to some extent. Once you get over the movie-screen version and stop scripting, start talking, start asking questions. In my relationship before things got bad, sex got better with time because you get used to asking what the other person wants. The more you get to know your partner, and they get to know you, the better it is.

4. SEX SHOULD BE SELFLESS

Now, this does go BOTH ways. BOTH people have to be focused on the other person’s satisfaction and enjoyment to have really awesome sex. But don’t forget your part in that. Get rid of the script, ask questions, and then take pleasure and joy in making the other person happy. I promise it pays off.

5. SEX ISN’T JUST WHEN YOU WANT IT

Cut the selfish act. Unless you’re physically ill or you really really have a crazy to-do list, be willing to give up the right to demand when you want but not meet when they want. Those of you who want it less often, give in and be surprised by how much fun you have. Often it’s just a mental block that keeps you saying “he has a stronger sex drive” or “she wants it but I’m too tired”.

Summary:

Sex is awesome, intimate, special. Keep it for someone who is.

Sex (great sex) is real, unscripted, communicative, often, and unselfish.

Just my two cents.

xoxoxo

-sportyspice

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Lessons I’m Learning #1

IT IS OKAY TO FEEL.

Not only is it okay, it is good.

Some women function regularly on emotional waves. Yours truly functions by shutting out emotion when things hurt. I avoid sadness and pain in my thoughts because of that weakness I hate so much.

Part of this is a coping mechanism for the tidal wave of emotion that comes with a severely painful situation, and part of this is a survival mechanism because I can’t afford to fall apart. I have a son and myself to provide for and responsibilities to meet.

Only teenagers can collapse in a puddle of mascara-smeared, powder puff tears on a bed of broken hopes and obliterated self-esteem, right? Nope.

I really do rarely cry, but I’m learning that tears or no, IT IS OKAY TO FEEL.

It is okay that when I caught a glimpse of his face when he FaceTimed our son, I had to rush to the living room with a sob caught in my throat, cover my face and weep: that is okay. 

The fact that I still love him, that I deeply miss him: that is okay.

It is okay to relive the pain in order to move forward, and it is also okay to relive much of the beauty and good. This type of nostalgia is not unhealthy; it is pure and unadulterated HUMANITY.

In the interest of humanity, let me be raw for a moment on this score:

I loved his passion for life. When we met he was as intense as I am in his curiosity, his balls-to-the-wall lifestyle and his deep and passionate love for and interest in me.

He was the first person to make me believe, by his very confidence, that I could be healthy again. He taught me to hope for healing.

He taught me to BS less and to say what I was thinking; to stop being a people pleaser.

I loved the laughter; SO MUCH LAUGHTER, it would break me into a million happy shining pieces in the best of ways.

I loved his deep awareness of God’s voice: he would hear from Him, make decisions, and every time things came to pass as he said they would, and he succeeded.

I loved his aggressive fearlessness. Where I was afraid to try new things, to travel, to live after years of sickness, he would hold me and remind me I was safe, but also that I had the power to do things, and possibly even to succeed at them.

He held me amidst significant physical pain and breathed through every contraction with me on our son’s birthday.

Wrestling and late night cuddles and the honeymoon effect of military lifestyle; I look back and love it and feel it all.

No one made me grin the way he did, and no one made me feel so like an 8 year old girl with her first crush.

I love what we had and what we were, and what he helped to make me be. I have a million things to thank him for.

I am human, I feel, I accept that feeling. I acknowledge the pain of rejection, anger, betrayal; of a beautiful thing turned upside down and backwards and inside out and broken at the hands of a fallen world.

IT IS OKAY TO FEEL.

This is how we know we are alive.

xoxoxo

-sportyspice87

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