Even though I mostly work from home...I rarely get the mail...probably because it's mostly junk mail or bills. For whatever reason...I decided to get the mail today while taking our dog, Lucy, out for a walk.
What a pleasant surprise that amongst all that junk mail, I got a hat trick. Three pieces of mail that touched my heart, touched my soul, made me smile and reminded me that it's the little things in life, those little signs that almost certainly prove that everything happens for a reason and that those things can have the greatest impact:
1. A check from my parents to support my participation in the SkyRise Chicago on Sunday, November 4th, where I, along with my client Lisa and the Addison Firefighter's Association, will be tackling a tower climb of the Willis Tower (103 stories with our rucksacks on) to raise funds for the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab.
I am grateful for my parent's support and though I don't doubt they understand the reason of my participation is for the sake of these causes, I'm sure they wonder why I don't just write my own check and skip the stair climbs, mud obstacles, overnight challenges, etc. Well, my work ethic came from both of them...I give it my all or nothing at all. I give back because I've been given so much and that started by their example. This Touched my Heart...the never ending unconditional love from parents!
2. A 5K GORUCK Travis Manion Foundation patch for virtually participating in the 9/11 Heroes Ruck. My original packet did not contain the patch.
I follow an account, alldayruckoff, on Instagram. They shared a picture of their patch and I commented with Congratulations, my packet didn't have one. Not giving it another thought...Melissa Houser of Positive Force Consulting jumped right on that and commented for me to private message her my contact info so she could send me a patch asap! Melissa and Heather Williams of the Travis Manion Organization (two complete strangers who I only know through social media) worked together and went above and beyond to ensure I got my patch. Thank you ladies...I will display it on my ruck with honor and pride! This Touched My Soul...the kindness of strangers!
3. A reply letter from Alec Cannata, who is currently at Fort Benning in Georgia attending bootcamp for the United States Army.
I've known Alec since he was 5, saw him grow up through sports and his friendship with my son Tony, worked with him on skate park projects and hired him to work for me at the local park district in multiple capacities and it just so happens that he is the one who introduced me to rucking and GORUCK. I have the utmost respect for him and his service to our country to protect our freedoms and as I stated in the very first recommendation letter I ever wrote for him...you just know that whatever Alec puts his mind to, he's going to be successful. At the age of 23...he's already got quite the list of accomplishments and trust me...he's just getting started! This Made Me Smile...the ruck connection and the content of his letter!
It's been a roller coaster couple of weeks, nothing bad...just some every day stresses we all go through that can wear you down a bit and I've been praying to God to give me a little sign of hope...something to remind me to appreciate the little things...to put things in perspective. So today's mail was definitely not a coincidence...it was my sign...my reminder! Three little pieces of mail each with a lasting impact! Thank God for the mail!
You Got This! I live by these words, they are the base of my passion for fitness, I say them to my clients on a daily basis, I say them to myself on a daily basis and that's how I end every JZTrainedme Fitness post. Simple to say...sometimes harder to believe.
This past Mother's Day, my husband got me the best give ever! No, not jewelry or flowers or candy...he bought these letters from Hobby Lobby and hung them up for me. He knows I absolutely love thoughtful gifts, not just the typical, hallmark holiday obligatory gifts and I was so touched by his attentiveness to my work and my career.
I love reading those words every morning when I workout. It makes me think of how important he has been to my journey and my success. It's coming up on almost two years ago that I started my business, JZTrainedme Fitness. It was scary, it was risky, it was definitely a different type of income stream and yet his support has been never ending. He believes in me, he's always lets me know that he's proud of me and when I have those moments of doubt, he reminds that it's all going to be okay by saying those three amazing words: "You Got This".
I'm so thankful and appreciative of everything he does for our family and everything he has done for me to help me live my passion for helping others on a daily basis. I absolutely love what I do for a living and every single day there is a moment that reminds me of how lucky I am to be living out my dreams and I know I couldn't have done any of that without him.
So thank you Mike for the best gift ever...those letters may not have been very expensive but they, along with your support, will always be priceless to me! ❤
First off....let me start this post by reminding you...you are not perfect however, you are human. When you eat a bad meal or two or even just have a bad "eating" day, why do you feel the need to punish yourself? It's time to put a stop to that way of thinking though I know it's easier said than done.
So you ate the pizza, you drank a lot of beer, you devoured the ice cream cake, you went back for seconds...all human...all normal and all OKAY! This is no different than when you miss a day or even two of working out. You wouldn't stop working out because you missed a day of working out would you? Hopefully not and therefore you shouldn't not eat or eat substantially less because you made some bad choices.
Food is nourishment, not a punishment, so if you think that depriving yourself of food is a means of getting back on track because you went overboard on your daily calorie goal by 1,000 the day before, you are wrong. If you under eat or choose not to eat at all because of the bad choices you made the day before you are neglecting your nourishment - you fed your body unhealthy foods so not feeding your body any foods or barely any at all will not help, in fact, it's the opposite. You made bad food choices the day before and fed your body food that doesn't support your goals so the best way to get back on track is to eat according to your daily caloric goal by making healthy choices while still managing your macros and practicing consistency.
Remember one unhealthy meal won't ruin your progress just like one healthy meal won't make you fit. It takes consistency not punishment. Two wrongs don't make a right but consistently good choices will right the wrongs!
Throughout my ongoing journey of living a healthy lifestyle, I've experienced plateaus more times than I can count and I'm thankful for each and every one of them...yes I said thankful. Why? Because I know that's my body sending me a message and I make sure I listen and you should too.
Let's get this out there from the start...plateaus happen to everyone, they are normal, they are common and the best thing you can do is accept them and learn from them. You don't plateau because you're doing everything right, you plateau because something in your fitness or nutrition regimen is too easy, not working, stagnant or in need of a change. So be honest with yourself when answering the following questions:
Am I really giving 100%?
Am I enjoying/satisfied with my fitness/nutrition plan?
Am I putting forth a lot of effort but still not seeing results?
Am I doing the minimum instead of the maximum?
Do I allow myself to quit early?
Do I make excuses where I could be making progress?
Do I lie to myself and think less efforts will lead to more results?
Am I being realistic about my goals?
Am I allowing myself sufficient time to realize results?
Understanding the answers to those questions and the message your body is sending you is the first step. The second step is to regroup, reassess, refocus and make a plan for a changed or new path. The third step is to move forward and put that plan into action!
If plateaus didn't happen, we would all keep doing the same thing over and over and eventually get bored, stop seeing results or simply exist somewhere in the maintain mode. Plateaus force you to grow, to learn, to break through and most importantly, teach you about what you are capable of accomplishing...and I'll bet it's so much more than you ever thought! So next time you hit a plateau (and you will), be thankful because your next break through is just around the corner!
What types of plateaus have you experienced?
I enjoy a cocktail just as much as the next person but in the past year or so I've cut down substantially on the amount of alcohol I drink. Mainly because I was so confused by my lack of results. I was eating healthy, exercising daily with a mix between strength training and cardio training and I was either maintaining my weight and body fat or sometimes gaining depending on the time of year and many of my clients were suffering from the same. So after assessing my regimens (and my client's) I finally figured out that the common denominator was alcohol. It's a quick and easy way to reverse all that hard work and effort not to mention the results you stand to achieve when otherwise living a healthy lifestyle -- starting with empty calories (and lots of them), interference of a good night's sleep, messing with your metabolism, decreased inhibitions (aka...splurging on chips and pizza), consuming more increased sugar intake and inflammation in the body which leads to bloating, muscle pain and decreasing the body's ability to absorb nutrients from other food. Once I decreased the amount of alcohol I consumed I started to realize the results I was working so hard to achieve. I'm not trying to be a party pooper by any means but it's important to understand the adverse effects that alcohol can have on your body and your results. Your best bet is to drink in moderation with adequate hydration via increased water intake before, during and after you drink to offset all of those less than healthy effects of alcohol. Cheers to moderation and results!
What do you see when you look at someone who is overweight or obese?
It wasn't until I became a personal trainer and started meeting with clients who were overweight or obese that I stopped looking at just the physical aspects and started seeing and hearing about the emotional aspects too. I've met with tons of clients and I can tell you there is always some traumatic incident, life altering situation, major injury or illness/disease that has occurred throughout their life that set them on the path to obesity and/or fueled their dependence on food for the purpose of emotional comfort.
My sister recently told me about a documentary she watched on Netflix called Obesity: The Post Mortem, where a team of pathologists in the UK perform an autopsy on a clinically obese donor to examine how excess fat damages the human body. I've already watched it three times and will most likely watch it again. I was completely fascinated and mesmerized by seeing what an obese person's major organs look like on the inside. In addition, the documentary also highlights five overweight or obese individuals who share their stories, their struggles, their body shaming experiences and how they hope that by being a part of this documentary they can help others who are experiencing some, if not all, of the same.
This documentary was so impactful to me on multiple levels. From the standpoint of the living overweight or obese person, who is well aware that they are overweight or obese and certainly don't need strangers staring, whispering, mocking and judging them as a reminder of what they see every day when they look in the mirror. And from the standpoint of how living an overweight or obese lifestyle on a daily basis negatively affects your body's ability to function efficiently and substantially increases so many major risk factors including heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, liver disease and so on, which ultimately can lead to an untimely or early death.
Obesity is an epidemic in our country that is getting far worse before it gets better. I highly recommend everyone take an hour to watch this documentary but be warned, it is graphic and you need to have a strong stomach (definitely don't watch it while eating). If you are overweight or obese, maybe if you see what's actually happening to your organs on the inside of your body it will motivate you to start making lifestyle changes to your activity level and nutrition habits before more damage is done and if you aren't overweight or obese maybe it will motivate you to keep working hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Here's a link to a preview: (https://youtu.be/LW9WmnNrfQ8)
If you decide to watch it, please share your thoughts!
I used to be just like you...I use to weigh myself daily, sometimes even multiple times a day. It's so easy to fall into the trap of letting that number on the scale determine so many things that have absolutely nothing to do with that number on the scale, like what kind of day you're going to have, whether you are happy, whether you like yourself, how you evaluate your self-worth, the measure of your self-esteem, your confidence level and so on. Did the number go in the right direction or are you left devastated by the slightest change in the wrong direction?
In my profession, this is a subject that is discussed often with my clients and I've finally decided to weigh in on the subject and give you my answer: Emphatically, 150%, adamantly NO, please do not weigh yourself on a daily basis. Do you think you are managing your weight better by doing this? Or are you really driving yourself crazy because you can't seem to find the magic, quick fix solution to make that number go down consistently and therefore thinking negatively of yourself?
Physiologically speaking, your weight can fluctuate as much as 5.5 pounds per day - yes that's per day! You gain fluid from eating, drinking and from your body metabolizing nutrients and you lose fluid from breathing, sweating and from relieving yourself in the bathroom - it varies by person. Now are you sitting down?? Because here's the real deal, as you replace that fat with muscle, you may even find the scale going up a bit (and no it's not because muscle weighs more that fat...that's a myth and a subject for a different blog post).
Now let's look at this from a different perspective - do you consider yourself a good friend, mom, dad, sister, brother, spouse, employee? Do you go about your daily life with the intention of doing good deeds, being positive, having an admirable work ethic and trying to help others when you can? Okay, so let's say the number on the scale goes up by one pound or three pounds tomorrow morning, does that change any of those things, does it make you any less of those things - no it does not! Guess what, that number does not make you good or bad, it makes you human. And as you move along your journey to a healthy lifestyle, though that number may be used as a factor to determine your progress, you may also find that your "magic" number changes along the way too. That number is just a small part of the multitude of changes you'll discover as you move through life and your health and wellness journey.
It doesn't matter what other people think! All that matters is you, your path, your journey, your goals. That number on the scale does not define anything other than what you weigh physically, unless of course, you let it. Screw the scale and that number, it's about how you feel, your energy level, your mobility, your accomplishments and what your body is capable of doing.
Whether that number on the scale goes up or down...it's more important to look at the reflection of yourself in the mirror looking back at you rather than the number the scale reflects back at you!
Let's face it...time moves so fast these days, it feels like a workout just to keep up with everything you have to/try to fit into a day.
As much as staying active and optimal nutrition are important to your body and living a healthy lifestyle, often times the two other major components of self-care, mind and spirit, can easily get neglected. And perhaps these two are the most important because they are in direct relation to the support of a healthy body.
Self-care is different for everyone, whether it be a massage, meditation, yoga, reading a book, sitting in silence, journaling, going for a drive, listening to music, doing nothing and of course, let's not forget, blogging. But how many of us actually prioritize and schedule time each day just for ourselves? And if you're one of the many that don't practice this, ask yourself, why not? Do you feel guilty for taking time for yourself and if so, why??
Self-care is more than a necessity, it's a time to disconnect from the world, from the distractions, from the stress and focus on you and only you. You've heard the saying...you can't pour from an empty cup. If you don't take care of yourself first then how will you take care of everything and everyone else?
We use food to fuel our workouts so we perform better and accomplish more. Discover and implement self-care into your life and use it to fuel your mind and spirit for the same reasons. Remember, self-care is not selfish, it's a form of self-respect and self-love and one of the best ways to Take Care Of You!
What's your favorite type of self-care?
One of the most fulfilling aspects to being a personal trainer is witnessing clients accomplish something new, something hard, something they thought they couldn't do and then BAM...they do it!!! I call those WOO-HOO moments!!!
I witnessed one of those WOO-HOO moments this past Tuesday night. Aimee has been training with me for just under one year. It is not unusual for Aimee to utter the words, "I don't think I can do this" during her training sessions, in fact, it has gotten to the point that we both kinda laugh every time she says it and here's why--every time (and I do mean every single time) she says that my response is always, "Yes You Can", and guess what...she pushes herself, she digs deep and...SHE DOES IT!
We started a new stage on Tuesday night that involves a more intense lifting regimen and though she uttered those usual words of doubt more than once during her session, it was no surprise to me...Aimee nailed it every time! At the age of 54, this lady was putting up 15lb, 20lb and 25lb dumbbells (her heaviest thus far) like they were nothing. I was so proud of her but the best moment of the night was when she was finished and how happy and proud of herself she was! It was awesome!!!
We've all been where Aimee's been...we all have our doubts from time to time if we can do it. We find inspiration and motivation in different places and though she probably doesn't know this...to me, Aimee is truly my inspiration! When I find myself struggling during one of my own workout sessions, when I'm ready to give up because I don't think I can do it...I just kinda laugh to myself and I pull an "Aimee" and I DO IT!!!
Thank you Aimee...you are a great reminder to us all...that during our times of doubt and biggest struggles in workouts (and in life)...all we have to tell ourselves is...
YES YOU CAN!
On St. Patrick's Day, (while most people in the city of Chicago were watching the river dyed green and drinking green beer) two of my clients, Brett and Maureen, and myself participated in our very first GORUCK Light Challenge along with 25 others. For those that aren't familiar with what a ruck challenge is...the Light is a 4-5 hour, 7-10 mile challenge, led by a Special Forces Cadre, where you are required to wear a rucksack with a minimum of a 10lb - 20lb ruck plate the whole time while carrying heavy stuff and performing exercises focused on working together and team building.
This challenge requires it's participants to be physically fit and strong but the mental part was where I learned the most. It definitely required me to get out of my comfort zone and trust my teammates. Being a personal trainer, I'm usually the one in charge and directing others but having to follow the direction of others was an enlightening experience (now I know how my clients feel). Learning to work together, push through, help each other, motivate each other and be observant and alert at all times...but most importantly to trust your teammates when you have to be in Lake Michigan at 35 degrees for 15-20 minutes and submerge your entire body (aka "embracing the suck")...I truly took so much away from it all.
Even though we were freezing our butts off, our Cadre taught us to understand our bodies and keep warm, work together as a team and complete the challenge successfully. In the beginning, we really had no idea what type of journey we were embarking on as every challenge is different but in the end, we were so glad we did it. It was an accomplishment that we were all so proud of! Who knew being uncomfortable could be so much FUN! Until the next GORUCK challenge...(yup...I would do it again!!!).
Do you think you would you ever do this?
My true passion is health and wellness and helping others achieve and maintain a balanced, healthy lifestyle through strength training, cardio training and optimal nutritional choices. Everyone has what it takes to achieve their goals - all you need is the right motivation, guidance, and education to help get you there.