Tag Archives: fitness

Chasing Beauty: The Balancing Act of Being Healthy and Fit

29 Aug

I am the first one to post quotes on Facebook like: Never Give Up, You Only Achieve What You Think You Can Achieve, and Get Fit-Yes You Can.  I take pride is pushing myself in every realm of my life in an effort to achieve the goals I’ve set and help others.  With that though, I often also experience the “it’s never enough” feeling. I know there must be many people out there that feel these same feelings.  You set a goal, work hard, achieve it, and then immediately begin to compare yourself to those around you who are one step farther.  You pay little mind to the external factors that determine why, you just think you need to do more.

This feeling, at least for me, is often illustrated in the realm of fitness and body image.  I think back seven years ago to my initial goals of losing weight and feeling healthier.  A size 14 at the time, my dream was the buy a sleeveless dress and feels good wearing it.  I wanted to wear a bikini at the beach and feel comfortable.  Slowly over time I dedicated myself to the goal and got there.  I was temporarily happy, yet quickly set a new goal.  I can be leaner, maybe a size 6 would be nice, maybe I ought to be a little more toned in my upper body and that will be perfect.  So I worked at that, got there, and then revised again.  Some of my revisions had a lot to do with career goals I was chasing and other’s opinions of me.  I let that guide me to some degree.  I am acutely aware of the societal pressure that exists to look a certain way to be accepted.  I know the stigmas attached to beauty.  Working in the modeling world, I certainly feel a tremendous amount of pressure in this sense.  Sometimes I get so confused I am not even sure what the ideal is anymore.  When this happens I go right back to this: The ideal is feeling healthy and being balanced.  I can’t say I think that’s always the ideal in other’s minds, but for me it is.  I’d go crazy trying to achieve an unobtainable goal if it wasn’t.

As I work to take the next step in my career, I’m strongly dedicated to improvement but firmly committed to balance.  Having been at every spectrum of the health, weight and image scale I know exactly where I am happiest.  I know that there will always be things about my physique and my looks that are not my favorites.  I often look at the girl next to me and think “she’s got it all” when in reality there are things she struggles with as well.  We each have a unique beauty about us, it’s most noticeable when we strive for health, when we chase the goal and not the image and when we accept that there are things about us, no matter how hard we try to change them, that just are. Beauty is most obvious to me in people who smile, who are self-confident and who are grounded.  I’ve noticed I find those qualities to be the most attractive part of a person both physically and spiritually and that’s the goal I want to chase.  I certainly want to be an athlete, healthy, fit and strong, but I don’t want to kill myself trying to change the smallest of things, to achieve a goal that really will not matter much as soon as I check it off the list.

At the end of the day, I remind myself to define my health and fitness journey by how I feel, not by how others think I look.  I know where I need to be.  It’s a place where I am physically, mentally and spiritually balanced.  I am not starving, I am respecting my body, and I am pushing my physical capabilities at a reasonable level.  Wherever that takes me is where I’ll go and I’ll be content there.

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Partner Up: How Exercising with Friends Can Help You Achieve Your Fitness Goals

13 Mar

One of the most difficult aspects of any fitness journey is maintaining motivation.  The key to being successful is having a solid support network, often times made up of friends and family, that can keep you motivated.  What better way than to develop a buddy workout plan to keep you on track.

Finding the right person is critical to your success!  You may be tempted to look to your closest friend, or the easiest person to connect with; however, that person might not always be the best choice.  Finding an individual with similar goals, abilities and schedule is important!

The idea of finding the right friend might sound difficult because it involves putting yourself out there, but it actually may turn out to be easier than you think.  Many people have a desire to get in shape and value creating relationships through the process. Take a risk and let people know you are interested in partnering up to get in shape.  Try these strategies to find your fitness friend.

  • Place a note in your local coffee shop on their community board
  • Talk to the staff at your local gym
  • Find a community online forum that offers you a place to advertise
  • Join a meet-up group (www.
  • Ask friends to suggest friends.  It’s highly possible that even though your close friends might not be the best fit, they might know people who are interested.

Once you find a buddy it’s time to create Your fitness achievement plan (FAP).  This plan should clearly outline your goals and the specific steps you plan to take to reach success.  Use the following steps to creating your plan.

  • Identify what specifically it is you want to achieve.  For example, do you want to lose weight, lower your body fat, successfully run a race, build muscle or improve your endurance?
  • Create a schedule. Try to include at least one work-out a week with your buddy.  Developing relationships can easily be fostered by talking on the phone, communicating online and texting, but face-to-face contact will always remain the best way to achieve this.  Lasting memories will be the ones that you create in person.  Furthermore, it will aid in your ability to push each other harder.  Your buddy workout can be one you meet and have someone lead you in or one that you do together.
  • Identify ways you can communicate virtually that keep you on track.  You might decide to e-mail each other every day with the exercises you did.  Another idea is to create an online shared document where you post your weekly goals.
  •  Plan for results.  You should have an end goal in mind, and a plan for a celebration.  If your goal is to run a race successfully, you and your friend might plan to travel to a fun destination to participate.  Maybe you aim to have a spa day once your reach your weight lose goal.  Whatever it is you hope to accomplish, plan something special to commemorate your success.

Achieving your fitness goals can be fun.  Enlisting the support of a friend and working at it together is one sure-fire way to insure that your plans don’t derail!  Find the right person, create a fitness achievement plan and identify ways to celebrate success.  If you can make it fun and find people to help you stay accountable, you are already on your way!

Sleep Your Way to a Better Body

16 Jan

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about motivation and about what it takes to get in shape. I’ve read articles, talked with experts, conducted research, tried out tricks of the trade, and have found some common themes. I find great value in all the tips I read and as such, I try to implement many of them myself. However, I keep feeling like something is missing. I just put down an article, one of those “do it now” articles on getting fit. I’ve read several lately, and to be honest, I’ve slacked a bit this week. I’m partially blaming this on the fact that I am running a half marathon this weekend. However, to be honest, I just haven’t had made the time, and haven’t felt motivated to do it. Why is this? The why for me is actually pretty simple. I’m too tired!

The reality is that if you are not rested, nothing goes as planned. Your body simply lacks the ability to push yourself. With this in mind, I’ve decided from now on when people talk to me about their fitness goals, one of the first things I am going to ask is whether they are rested? In many ways, this is more important than what you eat or how and when you exercise. Why? Because good sleep lays the foundation for those items.

Sleep dictates nearly everything in our lives. First, it affects the nutritional choices we make. Lack of sleep makes us more likely to reach for foods high in fat and carbohydrates. It also promotes hunger. I think we have all experienced that at some point. Second, it prevents us from exercising because we do not have the energy to do so. Third, insufficient sleep affects mood, and can prompt depression. Depression can be a barrier to exercise. Thus; when we experience this we are less apt to move our body enough to get physically fit.

I had my own personal experience with lack of sleep recently. I am pretty disciplined, and despite being tired, managed to make it to the gym. Unfortunately during yoga I must have dozed off and ended up in child’s pose for five minutes. I did catch up on a few zzz’s in yoga, but I certainly didn’t get a good work-out. The bottom line… get some rest. Make whatever accommodations you need in your life to insure that you get quality sleep. Here’s some suggestions to help.

  • Set a firm bed time and stick to it
  • Aim to get the same number of hours of sleep each night
  • Shut off electronics an hour before bed
  • Invest in a quality pillow and mattress
  • Keep your room dark at night
  • Consider meditating before bed
  • Eliminate caffeine from your diet, or at least limit it to morning consumption
  • Incorporate quick naps, no more than 15 minutes a day to refresh yourself

If you get your rest, then your fitness goals will fall into place more easily. You’ll find you are more energetic, have improved exercise patterns, and that your mood will likely be elevated.

Now… if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take a nap!

For additional information about getting quality sleep, visit one of my favorite websites at http://www.youbeauty.com/sleep

New Year, New You: Three Strategies to Help You Keep Your Fitness Resolutions

13 Jan

The year has started an everyone has resolved to get in shape and lose weight!  There is a myriad of information available that provides us plans on how we intend to accomplish this but at the end of the day, it comes down to this: eat the right things and move.  Although you may be tempted to start another fad diet, pick up the magazine article, “Five minutes a day to the perfect body” or just stop eating in general, none of these things in the long run will likely help you toward improving your health, getting fit or loosing weight.  Fitness and health is best achieved through basic principles.

To keep you from derailing your efforts, here are some simple strategies to follow.  (Sorry, no fad diet advice here!)

Strategy #1: Place fitness on your calendar. 

For those of you who attended college, try to remember, what was the number one way to achieve satisfactory grades in your classes?  Working in higher education for several years and having talked with countless students about academic success, I know the answer to this.  Attend!  Show up.  That’s a sure-fire way to earn a satisfactory grade, which is a great start.  The same goes with fitness.  The best way to insure you are making progress is to show-up.  So, place your fitness activity, whatever it might be, on your weekly calendar and attend.  Even if you plan to not give 100% make sure and get there and do something.  Treat exercise like a priority. You’ll make progress and as you see results that will likely motivate you to work hard, earning you the grade you desire.

Strategy #2: Enlist accountability! 

Today, my friend posted her exercise and weight loss goals on facebook.  That was a bold move.  Better yet, another friend started a blog on her journey toward weight loss.  I imagine some of us write our fitness goals down and tuck them away in the drawer for fear that we will disappoint others if we don’t meet them.  The truth is, when you share your goals with others, you make a commitment to them.  If you truly want to get fit, lose weight or regain health, you need to be vocal about your plans.  If you fail to meet all your goals, it’s likely that it will be you that’s the most disappointed.  Your friends will be the ones that admire you for working toward something valuable.

Strategy #3:  Eat, and eat the right things.

Avoid the nearest fast food restaurant.  Think about this, every time you eat fast food is it because you truly are craving it or is it because it is quick and convenient?  I’m going to guess the latter is true for many of us.  Unfortunately there are very few fast food restaurants that offer healthy choices.  Fast food restaurants tout that they offer healthy alternatives but if we are going to take the time to stop at a drive-thru, the reality is we usually end up making a poor choice.  Planning is the key.  The best way to insure you eat the right things is to plan ahead.  Spend one day a week preparing meals and portioning out snacks.  If you do this I guarantee you’ll be less likely to eat poorly. Don’t forget, of course, to take your food with you and eat before hunger strikes.  If you get too hungry, you are going to eat whatever’s put in front of you.  Pack a cooler in your car, throw small bags of snacks in your handbag, and remember to eat regularly.

Simply by implementing these strategies you can improve your success in getting in shape in the new year.  They might seem obvious to a lot of us but the truth is we don’t all do them. Make it a priority.  You’ll be glad you did come next December!  Good luck in your journey!

What Will You Do to Win? Tips for Navigating a Career in the Fitness and Talent Industry

10 Jan

What would you compromise to win it all?  In any industry, at some point you find yourself backed into a wall. You are asked to be someone you’re not, asked to do something that you’re not comfortable with, or asked to change or deny who you are as a person. How far are you willing to go? How will your compromising really help you in the long run? Before you get too far in your career, take note of these four strategies for insuring your stay true to yourself.

Create a clearly-defined vision: The best way to stay true to who you are is to clearly identify and define your vision.  What do you stand for? Who is your audience? Who do you want to believe in you? What is your goal?  These are the questions you should ask yourself as you navigate the fitness and talent industry. Does this represent you?  Whether it’s the jobs you take, articles you write, competitions you participate in, pictures you publish, or images you produce, stay true to the brand you’ve defined.  It’s important to try new things, to reinvent yourself, but it’s equally important that you stay true to who you are in doing so.

Develop a strong sense of self: Confidence is the key to success.  When you have a strong sense of self and are aware of whom you are and what you stand for, it is easier to make difficult decisions.  A young friend of mine, aspiring to be a fitness model, was once told that rather than pursue a career in the fitness industry, he should spend time trying to land jobs in the fashion realm, as he would likely find work more quickly.  While the allure of being hired and making money was tempting, his pursuit of non-fitness related modeling opportunities would take him away from his true passion.  He easily could have made the jump and been successful doing so, but opted to stay true to his goals and has been successful in doing so.

Draw a line in the sand: At some point, if you have not already, you will find yourself in a situation where you are asked to do something that makes you uncomfortable.  For a modeling talent, it might be hearing that your images would look better if you were wearing a little less, had a harder look, took more supplements, endorsed a product you didn’t believe in.   For a competitor, it might be that you are more apt to win if you train with a certain person, because politics come into play.  Be prepared to respond to that instance when it comes.  Figure out exactly who you are, what you represent, and do not compromise that.  If you feel like you already have, use that experience as a learning tool, so that you are better prepared in the future.  Nearly everyone in the talent and fitness industry can identify some situation where they felt uncomfortable, where they made a decision they are not necessarily proud of, or can find an instance where if they could go back and change something, they would.  Don’t feel alone, draw your line and from here on out stay true to that.

Develop a passionate support network: Think about why young people make decisions.  They frequently fall victim to peer pressure because they lack the support of a mentor, a parent, or a trusted friend.  They are easily influenced by others.  Being new to the fitness and talent industry, it is much the same.  You strive to impress those who can help you succeed, and trust everyone. You often assume that based on their experience, they know what’s best for you.  A trainer might be tempted to take on too many clients in order to become better known; thus stretching themselves too thin.  An editor might feel pressure to publish a talent’s pictures because of who they are, regardless of whether the model’s image is a good fit for their publication.  Having a support network in the field not only serves not only as a sounding board for thinking through important decisions, but also will be there to back you up and keep you accountable to your decisions.  If you don’t have a support network, start building one now.  Identify local groups that you can get involved, attend a conference where you can make connections, join an online forum, or find a mentor. Work to build relationships and begin establishing your network.

So, what does it take win?  Some might say it involves making decisions you are not comfortable with, but I think you should consider what’s most important.  Is it winning or inspiring?  Inspiring people become legends.  They are well-respected for what they represent to others.  They become timeless and remembered for who they are and what they stand for.  Winners win for a moment, and then those moments gone.  You have many years to build a career, what you do now will follow you throughout those years. So think carefully about what you want that to look like.  Be confident, spend time crafting a vision of who you want to be, think ahead of time about your boundaries, and find a support network of like- minded people that will stick by you.  It’s a marathon, not a moment, look past the immediate gratification and figure out who you want to be in five years, in ten years, in twenty years.  Let that be your guide for navigating the decision you made as begin your journey in the fitness and talent industry.

Diaries of a Bikini Competitor: What I Learned From the Journey

22 Nov

Bikini competing is a unique sport, one that requires persistence and dedication.  I have to admit, I really had no idea exactly what I was getting myself into when I signed up.  I underestimated the subjectivity of the sport.  I overlooked how much of a challenge it would be to express myself and my personality to a judge without saying a word.  Being willing to step on stage and be scored on your physical appearance is a huge risk.  There are the elements of swimsuit choice, posing and confidence, but at the end of the day, it primarily comes down to physique.  Did you fit the image the judges had in their mind of what a bikini competitor looks like? 

A successful competitor often needs to master dieting.  This is by far one of the most difficult things I’ve ever undertaken.  People constantly told me they could never give up certain foods.  Surprisingly, that wasn’t the hardest part for me.  I had the will power to resist food.  I wanted the goal of getting on stage and knowing I did everything I could to do well more than I wanted food.  What I didn’t anticipate was that severely restricting my diet would take a toll on my mind.  My moods shifted, I eventually found myself losing energy and motivation.  I struggled every day the last month to stay the course. I stuck with it and learned a lot about myself in the process.  So in the end, what did bikini competing really teach me? 

…It taught me the balance is paramount.

…It reminded me that sometimes you have to give up something up in order to get something even more valuable.

…It showed me that you don’t have to win a contest to win the hearts of others.

…It proved to me that age is just a number.

…It re-affirmed my opinion that the very best people I know believe in others as much as they believe in themselves. 

…It certified my belief that strong is good, every body is different, and they are all beautiful in their own way.

…It confirmed that people who have the ability to light up a room often do it with their smile and their inner beauty.  If you were to be left with one desirable physical asset, always choose a warm smile.

…It made me more fully appreciate the amazing people I know.  It lost friends in the process but it gained some that I’ll never forget.

…And mostly, it solidified that you should never be objective with yourself.   There are enough other people who will do that for you. Your job is to completely believe in your ability to achieve whatever goal you set for yourself, regardless of how far you have to go to get there. Dream big! If you want something, go out and get it! You CAN do it and you WILL.   And whatever you do, don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise!

If you ever consider participating in a bikini competition, or any type of body/fitness competition for that matter, do it for yourself.  Don’t let the score or the placement dictate whether you were successful.  Recognize that it takes courage to get on stage.  Surround yourself with a support network of people who believe in you.  Value the journey more than the actual event.  Finally, never doubt your ability to inspire someone simply by putting yourself out there.   

With that, I am going to go treat myself to a cookie.  Be well, live strong, enjoy life, support others, smile a lot and appreciate every moment.