Hey everybody! I’m excited to tell you that I was featured in “13 Ways You’re Not As Fit As You Think You Are” in Men’s Fitness online. Please check out the article here and see the two sections I contributed to – I am sure that most of you have probably never tried these two exercises before. Try them out – you will see a difference in your training!
I’d like to thank Amy Roberts and Men’s Fitness Online for the opportunity to share my knowledge with others! Training and nutrition are my greatest passion and it’s an honor to share that in a nationally recognized publication!
So, there once was a family of three who decided they were going to move to Spain. Yes, you heard me. Spain. And we sold everything we owned. Almost.
Why We Sold Everything We Own (Almost)
Most of you may not know this, but we very nearly moved to Spain this year. LIKE… we had paid to have all of our important documents translated into Spanish. We had appointments to get our Visas. Ron had been accepted to a graduate school in Barcelona. We were looking at apartments. I was making Facebook friends in Barcelona.
And then we didn’t.
A big something came up and put a wrench in our plans.
But, before Spain “didn’t happen,” we had started selling everything we owned… because we couldn’t take it with us on the airplane. We made the decision to go to Spain with just a duffel bag per person. And that was a hard decision for me.
What about my stuff? My furniture? My art? My sheets? My towels? My jewelry? My extra clothes?? My plates, my bowls… MY STUFF!!!!!
As attached to my stuff as I was, I was more attached to the idea of taking an adventure.
And selling everything we owned turned out to be the most freeing, adventurous experience of my life. Over the course of six months of selling things, I experienced a massive shift of perspective. With every item sold or donated, I became more attached to my family, my values and my health instead of my furniture, my vases, my things. I began to feel lighter and more free.
It worked out well, in the end… we decided to do our move out West without renting a moving truck, so everything must go anyways…
This piece is the last of the last. My great grandfather’s dresser. It has been in my bedroom since I was a little girl.
This dresser represents the last of the last.
I am selling it this week. It’s just a thing. A beautiful thing, but there are a lot of beautiful things in the world. I am going to live from a place of “I CAN.” If I want another beautiful thing, I CAN GO OUT AND BUY IT AGAIN. There are other beautiful things in the world. This is not the last beautiful thing I will own.
Instead, I’m taking this picture of my dresser and I’m putting it in a photo album called “Stuff I used to own.” It will be a beautiful memory for me. And I am not sad. I think everyone should do this once in their lives… get rid of EVERYTHING!
Are you attached to your things? Could you envision yourself doing this?
This is my sugar addiction story. 10 years ago, this was my section of the grocery store. I would have little Debbie Swiss rolls at breakfast and Chocolate chip cookies with dinner. I would sometimes eat 20 or 30 cookies PER SITTING!! It was embarrassing, but I played it off like it was something cool. I drank maple syrup from the bottle. While I was thin from hours of dance class per week, I got sick all the time and never had any energy. I got into the habit of doing “penalty box” cardio to compensate for my overeating. I even lied to my then-boyfriend-now-husband about what I was eating. He would throw away junk food that I brought home. I ate out of the trash on several occasions.
My Sugar Addiction Story Continues…
Even after I became a personal trainer/strength and conditioning coach, changing my ways was extremely hard. I wanted to stop and become healthier, but I would ALWAYS find myself back to binge eating sugar and junk food. Did you watch my periscope about eating out of the trash? Lying about what I was eating?? I was ashamed and felt like a failure. I felt like I was the only person who couldn’t just suck it up and “eat right”.
I became involved with coaches who had a tough love mentality, which didn’t make anything better. Tough love doesn’t work. Extreme programs don’t work. I adopted the same mentality with my clients in an attempt to hide my own failures . I knew what I needed to do but somehow I just couldn’t do it.
Flash forward to 2016. I am like a different person. I don’t battle my sugar addiction on a daily basis anymore. I don’t have to crash exercise to make up for bingeing. I rarely get sick and I have tons of energy. Most importantly, I am happy and understand that sugar addiction is a very real thing that no one should feel ashamed of!!
Six months postpartum, my body is back to where it was pre baby… with less than 40 minutes per day of exercise. I’ve found a sustainable, fool proof way to eat… Without feeling deprived or starving myself!!
Do you hear YOUR story in any of this?
So, a year ago this month I was stepping on the NPC stage for the first time, and I looked like this…
Almost exactly a year later, I look like this:
My Fitness Update, 37 Weeks Pregnant:
I want to give a realistic picture of what my body looks like when I’m pregnant – I feel like too many pregnant women “hide” their bodies. I’m not posting professional photos, airbrushed photos or selfies from the perfect angle. I want you to see the real thing!
I’m fit, happy and healthy, but there’s a definite difference between my non-pregnant and pregnant body. I maintained as much muscle mass as I could (that was my big goal for this pregnancy), but my body fat is definitely higher (necessary for the health of baby) and I lost some lower body mass from contraindications to my lifting. No matter how fit you stay, your body is going to be different when you’re pregnant! Embrace it and don’t hate it! I am very happy knowing that I truly kept doing as much as I possibly could – and knowing that it will be much easier to return to “normal” after this baby is born!
I had to slow my pace down, this week – not bad, as it’s the first time I can say I needed to “slow down” for this pregnancy. No more deadlifting, less time on my feet, less cardio. I am still doing single leg squats (4×10 to the bench, still!), light leg press and light kettlebell squats/deadlifts. I’ve gained 27 lbs since my first midwife appointment (~10 weeks). I estimate I’ve gained about 30 lbs, total, so far. I am really not focused on weight, though – more how I feel. I hadn’t missed one workout for this entire pregnancy and averaged 5 days per week, with most weeks achieving 6 days of physical activity per week. I took my first deliberate day off last week, opting for a long nap instead.
I really want to stay on top of my goals post-baby. I know that going from 1 child to 2 is going to be a big change, on top of several changes that we have going on in our personal life. So, I enlisted the help and accountability of a fellow coach to keep me motivated! I really believe in the impact a coach can have on reaching your goals, so I am practicing what I preach!
Alyx and I both agreed that this next year is not the time for me to be following a meal plan, trying to excessively cut body fat or doing water cycling for a show. My first priority is facilitating breastfeeding and mothering. Instead, I’ll be focusing on building my muscular base more and maintaining a body fat that is easy to “cut down” for modeling and shows.
My body fat does not define my self worth, so I am excited about this set of goals!
Here are the goals I sent to Alyx Ulbrich, WBFF Pro, with some small things left out
“1. Have the most gorgeous physique possible in 1 year, taking into the challenges/changes coming up and supporting breastfeeding/mothering. […].
Would like to *maybe* show again after 1 year (July 2016), with timing depending on how long I need to cut. Not sure what organization or division.
2. Build some muscle. I’m not sure how much. Probably a lot/as much as possible. I’m not really thinking about this according to fitting into a competition category… just something I want to do. PS I will definitely be able to lift 4-5 x/week for the month of July and probably August, too (have a gym I can bring baby too).3. Deadlift 225 for 5. Max I’ve done is 205 for 5 and it did not feel great. I haven’t done anything under 8 reps in ~6 months. My nervous system is sleepy!4. 5 Pullups – I could do 4 before I got pregnant this time. I’m not sure where I am now… my lat pull down is about the same.5. Run a 5k with an 8 minute mile or better. I am a super slow runner so this seems ambitious, but needs to be done. “
21 Weeks Pregnant with baby #2! Here’s my first picture-update…
Photography by David Shields
Perfection Isn’t Perfect
As a fitness professional, it’s hard for me to show photos of my body when I feel like it’s not perfect. But perfection isn’t perfect.
I love being a model and I love being fit, but there’s no doubt that I’ve been affected by our body-culture just like everyone else has. The truth is, your body is beautiful at every size and every shape. Yet, saying that is so much easier than believing it.
In my blog post titled Embrace Your Face, I talk about how our mental image of the human face (and body) is skewed.
“You receive most of your ” visual” input from tv, internet and magazines. You see more different faces via technology than in person, walking around. So, your mental registry of what people look like is skewed to what you’ve seen in the digital world and not in the real world. You need to reeducate yourself and reset your mental encyclopedia of human faces. Spend time looking at faces of real people and not faces of models.”
I cannot stay in fitness-model-magazine-cover shape for every moment of my entire life. Why? Because it’s damn hard. It takes a lot of hard work, discipline and time. I don’t always have it in me. I’m not weak. It’s normal.
Confronting Body Image in Fitness Modeling and Beyond
The pictures we see in magazines are snapshots, single moments in time. Models prepare for those photo shoots for weeks, sometimes months. The difference between a fitness athlete’s off-season body and in-season body can be astronomical (granted it shouldn’t be). When you look at a picture of a fitness model, you don’t know a lot of what goes on behind the scenes. Some models maintain their physiques legitimately, calmly, healthily and happily. Many do not. All use tricks of the trade to enhance their appearance for the camera.
Most models practice water cycling before shoots, dehydrating themselves to enhance the look of their muscles. Sticking to low calorie diets means they sometimes isolate themselves from social situations that would create temptation and derail goals. Even worse, some models use banned substances to gain muscle and/or lose weight. And, at the end of it all, they have the benefit of retouching.
Yet those snapshots are immortalized in our minds – they have become a permanent standard that we hold ourselves too instead of a beautiful picture to appreciate. And they are beautiful. But they are not meant to diminish the beauty of other bodies, in other states and reflecting other priorities. We do that ourselves, within our own minds and our own culture. We do it by failing to present other examples of beautiful, different but just as worthy.
Breaking The Cycle
In the photo on this page, my priority was fertility. We were intent on having our second child and hadn’t been successful. My low body fat was a potential problem, although we weren’t sure if that was the root. I consciously chose to gain some fat. A few weeks later, a photographer asked me to come in for a fitness shoot (where he took the photo you’re seeing). I almost didn’t do it because I was too self conscious about my body. All my insecurities were coming out. Then I remembered a line from that blog post: “You need to reeducate yourself and reset your mental encyclopedia of human faces. Spend time looking at faces of real people and not faces of models.” You need to reeducate yourself and reset your mental encyclopedia of human bodies. Spend time looking at bodies of real people and not bodies of models. Don’t forget your own beauty because you are too busy remembering someone else’s. And so I did the shoot. And I thought it was beautiful. I thought my body was beautiful. And then I started sharing it with others, and they thought it was beautiful too. The simple act of sharing an “imperfect” snapshot in time helped me to ground myself and become stronger in my love for myself.
Be proud of your body, no matter what state it’s in. Perfection isn’t perfect.
I hope you enjoy the process of learning to see yourself as beautiful. This post is very personal and a departure from what I usually write.
I have a big nose.
I have a big nose.
I have a big nose.
For years, I’d see pictures of myself and I’d only think “I have a big nose.”
“I have a big nose” took a downward slide to “I’m not pretty.” One day, “I’m not pretty” took a downward slide to “I’m ugly.”
For years, my mental script was completely opposite. As a young teenager, I thought I was beautiful. I loved my long hair, my big eyes, my strong features. My body was strong and healthy from hours of dance classes every week. To me, I was perfection.
One day, that changed for me. I started competing in scholarship pageants when I was 17 (Note: Let me say here and now that this post is not about pageants and, overall, I had a great experience doing pageantry… and I would do it all over again!). After a few years, I learned via an online message board that someone thought I’m not traditionally pretty. Someone else responded with a nastier comment – that I needed a nose job.
I was shocked and hurt, to say the least. I began to look at models on magazine covers and noticed that I didn’t look like them. “They all have small noses,” I thought. Then, I saw an episode of extreme makeover. Remember that show from years ago? The one where they give people one million gazillion plastic surgery operations plus a clothing make over? I remember somebody on the show saying that a “receding chin” was undesirable. Well, I have a “receding chin” – meaning that the tip of my chin sits a little behind my nose. And the thoughts kept coming. I don’t look like them. I’m not pretty like them. I’d entertain thoughts of getting a nose job or a chin implant… just a little off the tip, I thought.
And those thoughts stuck with me for years. When a boyfriend told me I was pretty, I didn’t believe them. No matter how beautiful my husband made me feel, I’d still have doubts. Although I was the right height and proportions for runway modeling, I shied away from it because I thought I couldn’t possibly have the right look. I constantly sought words of affirmation to make up for it, fishing for complements.
One day, the tides changed. Someone told me I would be a perfect high fashion model. I was shocked. I asked him “Nick, aren’t my eyes too big? Isn’t my nose too big? I don’t think my face is right.” He told me “Nobody’s face is just right- that’s why they’re interesting to look at. You learn your angles, you learn your make up – you’d be perfect.”
I couldn’t believe it. This one person’s comment began to change the way I felt about myself. For the first time, I began to wonder why I was letting other people’s opinions throw me around like a ping pong ball. I wasn’t a ping pong ball in any other area of my life, but I was letting my self love be squashed and raised with just a few words. I spent years figuring out what to do about it… struggling against negative thought patterns and the persistence of my meanness to myself.
Learning To See Yourself As Beautiful
1. Recognize that your thoughts are choices. Thus, you can choose to change them.
The first step to a healthier outlook is to take control. Although you may not know it yet, you’re in charge of your thoughts. You can change the way you think about yourself, your body, your face… about anything.
2. Don’t Do It Alone: Work with a good therapist, counselor or life coach.
Changing years of thought patterns is hard. Make it easier on yourself by asking for help. A therapist, counselor or life coach can help you make an action plan instead of simply wishing for change. They provide accountability – in other words, you have someone to answer to when you’re not doing “your work.” They’re also familiar with concrete, evidence-based tools that help change your thought patterns and your self-love.
3. Take care of yourself.
I believe beauty is a natural gift that’s been given to all humans. However, no one is beautiful when they don’t take care of themselves (by the way, it has nothing to do with body weight). If you’re eating bad food, your hair and skin are going to be gross. If you don’t eat right, it will show in your eyes, your skin, your body. If you only wear sweatpants and never put on nice clothes – or at least nice sweatpants – then you’re going to feel like a blob. There were many years that I didn’t take care of myself. I ate chocolate chip cookies for dinner, drank too much (hello post college years) and rarely ate veggies. It should’ve been no surprise that I didn’t look well, no matter how much I tried. Beauty happens from the inside out, both physically and mentally.
4. Find people you think are beautiful who LOOK LIKE YOU. You receive most of your ” visual” input from tv, internet and magazines. You see more different faces via technology than in person, walking around. So, your mental registry of what people look like is skewed to what you’ve seen in the digital world and not in the real world. You need to reeducate yourself and reset your mental encyclopedia of human faces. Spend time looking at faces of real people and not faces of models.
Remember that doppelganger day that happened on facebook? The one where you found a picture of a celebrity that looked like you and make it your profile picture? That was really educational for me. I realized that I think women who look like me are beautiful. Once more I was exposed to women who looked like me the more my thought process was reversed. One of my favorite examples is Gwyneth Paltrow – I caught a glimpse of her profile during one of the “Iron Man” movies – she’s got an above average schnowzer, like me, and I happen to think she’s one of the most beautiful women in the world.
5. Realize that the only complement you’ll accept is a complement from yourself. That’s the first step in learning to see yourself as beautiful. Until you give yourself permission to feel and be beautiful, you won’t be. It’s wonderful to have higher goals and to desire change, but you have to love who you are now at the same time that you strive to better yourself. There are tons of self-love and affirmation exercises that can help you change your thought patterns from positive ones to negative ones. This is a large part of how I got into doing life coaching. I’m working on a workbook for my web site to help guide people through this – especially people who can’t afford working with a life coach, themselves. If you can’t work with a life coach or a counselor then seek out books, videos or workshops. Actively look for materials – don’t wait for them to come to you.
6. Give yourself the same benefits as the supermodels. I think it’s great for women to see the glammed up version of themselves…. to see how different they look when they have the benefits of professional make up, professional hair services and great lighting… To see how great they look when they get to choose the 10 best photos of themselves out of thousands of outtakes. Perhaps this is unfeminist, but I think having a personal modeling experience brings a dose of reality to your thoughts when you take a look at other models/magazine covers etc. If you’ve been in front of the camera then you know that a lot of what you see is smoke, mirrors, hard work and luck. For me, being a model has been healthy for my spirit. It’s become a celebration of my beauty and artistry instead of a chance to tear myself (or others) down.
7. Realize that your children are going to look like you. So you need to deal with this, now – the last thing your child needs is to think “mommy thinks she’s ugly. I look like mommy. I must be ugly.”
I can’t say that I always think positively about myself. I have a brief moment of doubt every time I don’t get a modeling job I’ve applied for. Then, I snap to reality. I don’t think I”m beautiful anymore, I KNOW it. If a photographer or an artist doesn’t like the way I look and doesn’t want me to model for them then that’s their problem. They’re the ones living in a skewed, biased universe – not me. I may not be their idea of the perfect beauty, but I AM somebody‘s idea of a perfect beauty. And that’s enough for me. I am learning to see myself as beautiful.
Want to follow my journey as a fashion and fitness model? Visit http://www.facebook.com/LaurenSaglimbeneFitnessModel/
I think the title says it all – Fit Parenting, OR Then he threw up on me.
At 5 PM – without warning – my son threw up on me. He had fallen asleep with his head on my shoulder and then BLAH. You know the rest.
I got him cleaned up and held him again to comfort him. As I rocked him, I took a moment to take one of the best “selfies” I have.
On Fit Parenting
All I could think was – this is why I work out. This is why I take care of my body.
I lift heavy weights, so I can hold him for as long as he needs to feel my arms around him; so I can carry him home when he’s walked a little too far for his tiny legs; so I can lift him high into the air and see his belly shake with laughter.
I push myself hard when I work out, so I am prepared when life pushes back. I have confronted the weaknesses of my character during my challenges at the gym, becoming a little better with each passing day. I have developed strength in my body and so naturally I have strengthened my mind. I make myself better for him. I make myself better for the children we don’t yet have. I make myself better for my grandchildren and, god willing, my great grandchildren.
I nourish my body with whole foods, so my energy for him is boundless. My only stimulants are love and willpower .
I keep every part of myself at the ready so I can provide for him. It’s wonderful to be fit. It’s wonderful to be a parent. A fit parent, however, is unstoppable.
Do you practice fit parenting? What’s your motivation?
What do you do When Diets Don’t Work? Try the Kale and Brownie Diet. This might be a game changer!
I can’t claim complete credit for this miraculous weight loss technique – the idea was first had by a brilliant yoga teacher whom I believe would like to remain nameless.
Eating right is hard. I’ve struggled with emotional and physiological food addiction for years. Although I’m thin, fit and a health coach I am still far from where I would like to be. That’s one of the things that makes me a great guide – I’ve been there, done that and bought the t-shirt. So what do you do when diets don’t work?
When Diets Don’t Work
As Jill Coleman of JillFit would say, “To get lean, stop thinking about fat loss as a protocol. Think about it as an education in YOU. ” I love these words from Jill’s blog and I try to live by them.
As a coach, it’s part of my job to recognize patterns of human behavior and help my clients avoid them. It’s also my job to take a hard look at the person I am working with and make a program specifically for them, not for Cindy across the street or Jack down the hall.
I can look at some clients and say “stop eating dairy, stop eating grains, stop eating refined foods,” give them a high five and send them off knowing that they will have no problem complying. Every person isn’t capable of instant compliance, though. We all struggle with our own personal demons. We all have weaknesses that affect our ability to make change in our life. As a life and nutrition coach, my job is to simplify simplify simplify until my clients have absolutely no doubt that they can achieve what I am asking of them. Sometimes that means the first step is a very little step.
With that being said, remember this:
It’s easier to give and harder to take away. It’s easier to start and harder to stop.
This is the founding principle of the brownie and kale diet.
The reasons we do “Bad” to our bodies are deep seeded issues that we must give attention to for our entire lives. We’ll all experience peaks and valleys in our fitness for eternity – the goal is to make the peaks and valleys level off with each other.
It’s also really hard to stop doing “bad” when you haven’t learned anything “good” to replace it with.
So, the simplest and easiest first step is to focus on giving yourself good things instead of taking away bad things. Then see how it goes after that. That’s all you can do when diets don’t work.
Hence the brownie and kale diet.
Let’s say my fake client Candace comes to me eating a dozen brownies per day. We keep it simple. I ask her to change one thing per week. The easiest first step might not be to stop eating the cookies – it’s to ask her to start doing something good for herself.
As that mystery yoga teacher said “hold a donut in one hand and green smoothie in another. Alternate a bite of the brownie and a sip of the green smoothie. Repeat.” Sometimes getting started is the hardest part. Putting something good into you body is a catalyst for change. Eventually, you’ll move begin eliminating the crap (like cookies and brownies) in your diet and move on to another diet that’s more wholesome.
Are you having trouble eating “clean” in the New Year? Do you feel like every diet you’ve tried has failed you?
Try to the brownie and kale diet. I think you’ll like it.
PS – In case you were confused, I don’t actually advocate eating kale and brownies to lose weight.
There is something missing from my kitchen. It drives visiting family nuts and confuses babysitters.
We are living without a microwave.
Surprisingly, we don’t have a microwave for the “usual” reasons that natural-minded families dislike microwaves. I’m not worried about radiation or cancer risk (although I’m sure I would be if I wasn’t already anti microwave). Living without a microwave is different for us.
I don’t like how easy the microwave makes it to eat.
In our house, delicious food cannot be easy to find or make because we will eat it immediately and copiously. The only foods that we can consume quickly are fruits, vegetables, a toasted piece of my homemade Ezekiel bread and some homemade hummus. Our immediate food options are still above and beyond that of our foraging ancestors, who only had surrounding vegetation as an immediate snack.
So, why are we living without a microwave?
We know ourselves well. We know that we have little willpower in the face of deliciousness. We know that we are snackers at heart. And the microwave makes that all too easy – you can take a few ingredients, pop them in the microwave and remove deliciousness just a few moments later. No time to think about what you’re doing. No lag between unnecessary-desire-to-eat and actually eating. Food becomes so readily accessible that it becomes under appreciated and is eaten without being savored.
Your great grandparents and great great grandparents didn’t have that luxury. If they wanted something to eat, they had to go out to the garden to pick it, get eggs from the chicken coup or slaughter a chicken before they could even step foot in the kitchen. Then, they could chop the vegetables, cook the meat, bake the bread.
At the inception of cooking a meal, your great grandparents had already done more work than we do for all three of our daily meals. I think they had a different appreciation for their food than we do. They appreciated the blood, sweat and tears that goes into producing food and so they did not take advantage of it. They did not eat more than was needed. They treated food like a precious resource, almost like we now treat water, electricity and oil. Instead, we treat food as an entitlement. In a way, food was holy – And it should be again. One of the definitions of “sacred” is devoted exclusively to the service or use of something. In the case of food, it is sacred because it is meant to be devoted exclusively to the service of nourishing our god-given bodies.
Keeping the microwave out of our house helps us to bring the holiness back into eating. It helps us return to honoring ourselves and giving respect to our bodies. Yes, at 2 AM sometimes you wish you have a microwave to warm milk for a baby – but for us, it’s worth it.