Great Greens!

As some of you may recall, last fall and winter I took a hiatus from meat.  In fact, my whole family did this with me.  We did this for two reasons: first, we didn’t feel good about the ethics or sustainability of the meat we were buying, and second, we saw it as an opportunity to re-learn how to prioritize vegetables.  We realized that we would plan a meal around what carb source and meat we wanted, and then the vegetables would be thrown on sometimes and other times left off completely.  We became interested in more ethical and sustainable food sources in general, and this led us to our local farmers market and eventually to a close relationship with one or two local farms.

If you’re interested in my homemade pasta, check out my recipes.

 

If you missed those early posts and want to go back to where I started, you can READ MY OLD POSTS HERE.  You’ll find some of my first recipes and experiments with package-free eating.

 

 

 

Our break from meat forced us to look for other sources of protein (like lentils!), and our weekly trips to the farmers market forced us to get creative with vegetables we had never even heard of but which were in season.  During this time we also gave up all packaged foods in attempt to understand why and how pre-packaged foods became so popular and necessasry.  I learned to make tortillas, pasta, bread, sauces, and a number of other staples that I had always assumed must be bought in the store.

Since then we have identified the products we’d rather buy than make ourselves, and we have returned to eating meat, but the lessons learned during that time have forever changed how we approach food and make meal choices.  It also brought us closer together as a family, and my daughter officially became our team member, willing to take on adventures with us.  Buying foods like pasta and breads is a much different experience now that I know we aren’t dependent on someone else to make them.  And there are still some foods, such as sauces, that I will probably never buy pre-packaged again.

Contest prep diets never tasted so good!

Now that I am back to competing it is a whole new experience now that I have had time to re-prioritize the role that vegetables play in my diet.  I am currently on a very low carb nutrition plan (I don’t recommend this normally, but I’m 5 weeks out of a competition) and not feeling anywhere near as hungry and miserable as I did in the past at this time.  I now eat copious amounts of kale and ENJOY it, where before I would just choke down some spinach as an afterthought.  Where before I’d eat 4 ounces of chicken and some veggies on the side, now I see my meal as a full plate of delicious kale with a little bit of chicken to go with it.  Totally new outlook on the same macronutrients.

I have also benefited greatly from the green smoothies I learned to make from my CSA share.   Each week I get a large basket full of more veggies than I know what to do with!  A simple solution is to make either a sauce or a smoothie out of them.  What does anyone do with two pounds of cucumbers, knowing that in a week they’ll get two more?!  For me, kale and cucumber pair very well with some diet Sprite for a delicious and easy to make green drink that not only satisfies my taste buds, but also adds nutritional benefit to my life and takes advantage of the bountiful harvest from my local farm.

 

So now for some recipes and ideas!

Sauteed Kale:

I got this recipe from my mother-in-law, whose kale sautee tasted like candy to my low carb taste buds!  I enjoyed hers so much more than my own that I asked her to walk me through EXACTLY how she made hers.  Somehow just the smallest differences made a huge difference in taste!
2 bunches raw kale, chopped
1 whole onion, chopped
½ cup apple cider vinegar (ok, who am I kidding…just dump some in!)
1 cup of water
1 or two cloves of garlic, minced
1tbsp veggie boullion
3 tsp sweetener (I use stevia)

 

Add chopped onion to lightly greased pan; cook until onions are transluscent.  Add kale, water, boullion, and cider.  Cover just long enough to allow the kale to shrink up.  Uncover and stir; add garlic and sweetener.  Cook on medium heat with lid on until stems are soft.  The amount of time this takes depends on your kale—some takes as little as 20 minutes, but I’ve gotten batches that took 40 minutes.

Green smoothie (makes two)

Honestly, you can just make this with whatever you have handy.  You can’t mess it up, but it’s important to balance the bitterness of the greens with something sweet like carrots, cucumbers, apples, etc.  Sometimes I leave out the apple when I can’t have the extra sugars, and it tastes just fine!

1 whole cucumber  
2 whole carrots
1 whole apple
¼ lemon (with peel!)
1 or 2 cups of greens—any will do!  Romaine lettuce, turnip greens, kale…whatever you have on hand
1 tsp stevia, sugar, honey, etc
water or diet soda such as sprite or fresca

Add all ingredients to blender; blend until smooth.People often ask me what kind of blender I use for these, and to be honest I use whatever cheap blender I bought on sale at Target two years ago!  This blender has been through hell with me but continues to make good smoothies.  I won’t tell you that sometimes I don’t have to chew the pulp a little, but since I don’t know how smooth a Vitamix or other expensive blender would get it, I’ll just continue to chew my pulp happily.  J

Advertisements

Is Your Gym a Community, or a Destination?

FIT IS NOT A DESTINATION.

IT IS A WAY OF LIFE. 

Maybe you’ve seen this quote on a T-shirt, in a Facebook status, or plastered across a photo of some girl doing dumbell presses in her underwear.   In any case, it’s true (but not because the chick working out in her underwear proves it). But I’d like to offer a new one:

A GYM IS NOT A DESTINATION.

IT IS A COMMUNITY.

Fitness is not something we do, it’s the way we live our life.  My fitness is not over when I leave the gym.  I don’t take a break from my life to stop in and do a few curls—rather, I pursue a life that supports my workouts.  It all works together.  I always tell new clients that if they can go to bed at the same reasonable time every night and wake up at the same reasonable time every morning, they are half way to fit.  I can write you an awesome nutrition plan and stand next to you while you do lunges, but if you can’t organize your life well enough to eat regularly or work out dilligently, then you won’t get very far.  While not everyone needs to be as rigorously disciplined as a competitive athlete, if you desire to be fit then it is necessary to integrate fitness into your lifestyle.

Your fitness also depends on the people you surround yourself with.  Do your friends respect your lifestyle?  If the answer is NO, then you need new friends.  (Don’t worry, if you pursue fitness long enough your unfit friends will give up on you after you turn down repeated invitations to drink or eat pizza).  In order to accomplish any lifestyle goal, you must join a  community of like-minded people.  And where else would you expect to find this community but at a gym?

Unfortunately, not all gyms are equal.  I have been fortunate enough to have been a part of gyms that are like family, but I have also seen plenty that weren’t.  Oh, they all try, but at best often end up forming cliques that make many members noticeably excluded.  How many of those excluded members stick around long enough to see their fitness goals happen?  When people don’t feel welcome at a gym, they give up.  Don’t let this happen to you!  If you go to a gym and feel excluded, out of place, or lonely beyond the first couple of weeks, then you are at the wrong gym!

Father, son, and the instructor who teaches them both. How cool is that?

I am very lucky.  At my current gym, everyone is welcome.  And I don’t mean that in the bull$** utopian way, or because I’m a bodybuilder and I just naturally fit in at a gym.  At my gym, our kids can train at the same time as their parents.  We invite each other to birthday parties, outings, dinners, and events.  We friend each other on facebook and support each other.  Husbands and wives with very different goals can train at the same time.  A hard-core professional fighter can take the same class as an accountant in his mid-40s trying to get fit for the first time.  Stay at home moms become instant badasses, and people in all stages of fitness lift right alongside bodybuilders.   Some people even lift with their kids.  And everyone talks to everyone.  I dare you to visit my gym and escape without someone introducing herself.

 

I recently had the pleasure of visiting a gym in Maine that I haven’t been to in about three years, and when I got there it was like nothing had changed; the owners were still motivated, excited, and full of projects for themselves and their clients.  After all of these years, nothing was stagnant.  They were my first experience with what a gym community felt like.  The owners, Sean and Wendy, engage their members on Facebook regularly.  If you join their gym, you are instantly a part of a community and you know it!  They will know your name, what you do, who you live with, and what your goals are within your first week.  You will not hide or fade into the wallpaper, but no matter how shy you are you will not want to.  Sean and Wendy are always up to something (muahahaha), and you become a part of it just because you’re there.  Likewise, they become a part of your goals whether they are training you or not, and eventually you’ll start to realize that the encouraging voices in your head sound suscpiciously like Sean and Wendy…

The only downsides to gyms like the ones I’ve described are actually the benefits you need in order to maintain a fit lifestyle.  For instance, it will never fail that you’ll run into Wendy at the grocery store on the one day you decide to give in and buy a bunch of junk food (happens more than you can even guess).  Or, where I am currently, if you haven’t been to the gym in a while, someone will call you on it right on your Facebook wall for everyone to see.  But guess what?  Any one of us will publicly congratulate you for something you’ve accomplished, such as a difficult lift you finally got, or for sticking it out when you would normally give up during a cardio kickboxing class.  You should feel like your goals, no matter how big or small, matter to the other people in your gym—because they should.

Tell me they don’t look interesting and up to something? 🙂

So look around your gym—are you invisible?  Does the owner know your name, or do you even know the owner?  Do people from your gym say hi to you in the grocery store?  Do you have at least one person, outside of your training partner or close circle of friends, who encourages you in the gym?  Do you feel like if you stopped going to the gym no one would notice?

If you know your gym is not also a community that welcomes you and your family, switch gyms!  If you’re in Maine, visit Bangor Brewer Athletic Club and say hi to Sean and Wendy for me.  If you’re in the Atlanta area, come visit us at Iron Clutch Fitness!  And you know what?  If you’re nowhere near either of these gyms but you want to be a part of a fit community, check them out on Facebook!

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bangor-Brewer-Athletic-Club/148939615124253

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Iron-Clutch-Fitness/246131018105

What Fit People Really Think of You

Maybe you’ve said, or overheard someone say, one or more of the following:

  1. “I want to hire a personal trainer, but I have to get in shape first.”
  2. “I am too out of shape and I feel self conscious in the gym, so I want to lose a few pounds before I join.”
  3. [Loudly, in public, usually to the ‘more fit’ friend]  “I was good today.  It’s 7 p.m. and all I’ve had was a salad and some crackers.”
  4. “I feel so awkward, like everyone is laughing at me when I go near the weights.”
  5. “My body is ruined anyway, so why even bother trying to lose this baby weight?”
  6. “I feel stupid running with a stroller.”
  7. “I’ll get back in shape once my kids are older.”

I can’t count the number of times I have run by a woman on the trail in a baggy t-shirt and a few extra pounds who looks down self-consciously and avoids eye contact when she sees me coming.   Or a woman running or walking with an infant in a stroller and a look of shame in her eyes.  I want so badly to pass out cards that say “hey we’ve all been there, rock on!”  How about the women who sit on the sidelines at the gym and watch what the rest of us are doing, dying to jump in?  Or the ones who cling to the treadmills, honestly believing that they have no place in the weight room?  Worse still—the ones who never even try because they are too self conscious about being judged.

And it’s impossible sometimes to know: do we avoid fitness because we’re not motivated, or do we lack motivation because we’re self-conscious about our lack of fitness?  I can tell you that when my thyroid was at its worst (just 6 months ago!), it was probably a combination of both!

Who says you need a babysitter?

Ladies, and I mean all of us, in whatever shape we happen to be in—where’s the love?  Shame on those whose judgement has caused the problem (though this is a problem that runs in cycles, so who knows who deserves the blame).  Here’s the truth: WE HAVE ALL BEEN THERE. Whether you’re already fit, trying to get fit, or looking on from the sidelines waiting to start your journey, this post is important!

While I can’t speak for everyone in every gym everywhere, and I can’t promise that every gym is a judgement free zone, I can tell you that the super “fit” ones you expect are judging you probably aren’t.   I don’t mean the wake-up-skinny-and-blame-it-on-the-salad women who normally occupy the treadmills in clusters—they are the gym version of Mean Girls and they probably are judging you.  The ones I’m talking about, and the ones whose opinions still don’t matter but are more meaningful, are the knows-what-hard-work-is fit women.  The ones who sweat and lift weights.  The ones who look the way they do because they work damn hard.

We all started somewhere that was not where we are now, and we know what it means to start from the beginning.

The Good Fit women (again, the fit women who are not the Mean Girls) see your potential the minute they lay eyes on you.  Personally, I find myself spotting good genetics everywhere I go—I think “hmmm I wonder if I should tell that woman she’s built for power….” Or “would it be creepy if I told her she has great genetics for bodybuilding?” I pass women on the trail who are clearly trying lose their baby weight and I want so badly to stop them and say “OMG I was really really fat with my pregnancy!  You look awesome–You can do this!”

I am often inspired by the badass moms with their months-old babies in running strollers.  Or the ones who put their babies in backpacks so they can hike.  Really—how hard core IS that?  Those posters and Facebook memes with pictures of really skinny women and messages like, “how bad do you want it?” have absolutely NOTHING on the real-life image of a woman dragging her tired-mommy butt out of bed to run with a stroller, or a woman hiking up a mountain with a baby on her back!  So if you’re sitting at home with an infant, avoiding the trails or the gym because you think someone will laugh, keep in mind that the only people who would even raise an eyebrow are the people driving by in cars—not running.  Those of us on the trail beside you are thinking, “damn I thought I had a hard time getting out for my run this morning—look at HER!”  We are rooting for you.

It’s the same in the weight room.   When you see women lifting weights, you can safely assume that we all want to see MORE women lifting weights!  Give it your best shot—if you have no idea what you’re doing, just ask someone who does!  The secret is that  most people don’t really know, and the ones who do can all remember a time when we didn’t.

True story: Several years ago, I was a treadmill clinger with a twice weekly, four-exercise “free weight” adventure.  I stuck to the basics, such as dumbell curls, front raises, assisted pullups (done horribly wrong, looking back on it!),  and maybe a rope pulldown.  I chose what few things I thought I knew, and I stuck with them exclusively.  I was absolutely terrified of the idea of breaking out into other things because I had no idea how.  But then one day I saw a girl squat, and after that I desperately wanted to try it.  Maybe I was just a little mad because it was a girl I didn’t even really like that much, and there she was being a badass in the gym while I did my stupid 10 lb. front-raises.  But damn if it wasn’t inspiring!  For me it was the little things that were paralyzing—what were those butterfly-shaped metal things she put on the bar?  How did she know how much weight to put on?  How did she know how to adjust it to fit her height?  I was mortified at the thought of someone watching me try to figure it out.  I was also mortified at the thought of asking my then-boyfriend—oh the horror of having him “lead” me!

But eventually he did.  I asked him, somehow without telling him that I had never squatted before, and he got me started on some basics.  After that, more people jumped in to help me out around the weight room…and here I am, six years later, ready to pay it forward!

Moral of the story: you have to be willing to be the Effin New Guy.  You have to be willing to put yourself out there and be vulnerable just one time.  But I promise that if you do take that leap, there will be people ready and waiting to help you discover your full potential.

…As long as you’re not the Effin New Guy know-it-all…but I’ll save that for another post!

Ok, so I know a lot of you are reading…but feel free to jump in at any time and tell me what you think!  Leave a comment, follow my blog using your email address, or simply share with your friends via email, Facebook, or Twitter.  Help a sister out!  🙂

[re]Learning to Enjoy Real Food (Gluten Free Friendly!)

Who misses my recipes?!  I haven’t been posting them because quite frankly I don’t have a lot to say–on a contest prep, foods are eaten (or should be eaten) as simply as possible.  And how do I explain how much I love these foods?!  The way I covet my little crispy shreds of chicken (always shredded, never in chunks!), or the way I get excited over a piece of fruit, or the way I enjoy a tbsp of peanut butter…I assume no one but a fellow competitor would understand.  But I think there is something to be learned from it–if everyone could enjoy an apple, or oats, or grilled chicken as much as I do, McDonald’s would be out of business.  So I will share my take on chicken and veggies with you.

One thing that I want to mention about these “recipes” (it would be more accurate to call them concoctions) is that they are gluten free.  People ask me from time to time why I’m not talking about Celiac’s anymore, or why I’m no longer discussing my gluten free life.  The answer is really simple: on a contest prep diet, everything I eat is naturally gluten free.  In fact, on a clean diet in general–that is, one that focuses on whole grains, fruits, meats, fruits, nuts, and vegetables–gluten is a total non-issue!  On a contest prep diet there is little room for condiments, sauces, or other “extras” that typically contain gluten.  So life is relatively simple and I rarely think of Celiac’s disease.

In my last post I talked about learning to enjoy the taste of foods.  What I meant by that is learning to enjoy the taste of foods as they are, with little or no manipulation.  A mistake I made in my first contest prep was trying to manipulate foods into other foods.  I tried to turn things that were not bread into bread, such as my turkey-oat muffins.  I tried adding all of the meats and veggies to a food processor and making a loaf.  And I don’t even want to talk about my failed attempts at egg white “cookies”!!!  This list is endless!  Now, as I am maturing in my outlook on food, I am relearning how to taste the sweetness in a carrot, or the wholeness of plain oats.  I am also learning how to enjoy the flavors that happen when I pair foods that compliment one another.

Sometimes, on the go, I will eat raw asparagus and plain chicken breast.  I have even eaten dry oats–whatever I had to do in order to fuel my body.  I don’t necessarily enjoy these meals, but I see these as reminders that food is fuel.  When I do get to cook my meals, one of my favorite ways to enjoy meat and veggies is in a scramble.  The combinations are endless and I can change the ingredients based on my macronutrient needs–if my meal calls for carbs, then I add some.  If it calls for fats, then I add some.  If it calls for neither, then I scramble it without carbs or fats.  See how great this is?  Here are some examples of my scrambles.  Try them–they pass the kid test, and they act as great training wheels for anyone who is interested in re-learning how to enjoy whole foods.

Turkey, sweet potato, asparagus, onion, mushroom scramble You can’t tell me this doesn’t look good!  🙂

Chicken/Asparagus/Onion/Mushroom scramble:

4oz cooked chicken
a small handful of chopped onion
a small handful of sliced mushroom
4-5 stalks asparagus, cut into pieces

Shred the chicken into small pieces.  Coat a pan liberally with butter flavored Pam (or lightly with olive oil); add chicken and veggies.  Fry until just a little crunchy.  I use potassium salt to give it a great salty flavor without the water retention associated with table salt.  Doesn’t sound like much, but it’s one of my favorites!

Fun little tip on what to do with those leftover scraps: collect them in a container, and when the container gets full simply add them to a crockpot full of water and cook! It smells so good and this broth is a great way to add flavor to things like rice and quinoa. Cook for a minimum of an hour (the longer the better!); remove veggie scraps and pour remaining liquid into an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator and use in the place of water or broth in cooking.

Turkey/Sweet potato/green scramble:

4oz ground turkey (I prefer to grind my own)
4 oz sweet potato, chopped in food processor
green beans, asparagus, or kale, broccoli, etc
small handful of chopped onion

Same as above.  Fry all ingredients together in a pan, until the sweet potato gets just a little bit crispy.  Again, it doesn’t sound like much but even my six year old loves it!

To keep variety in my diet and to keep my diet as sustainable and locally sourced as possible, I rely largely on what I get in my weekly CSA share. This photo is from a few weeks ago when I stir fried my bok choy and broccolini. I later scrambled this with whatever protein source I was using, probably chicken from our meat CSA.

This last recipe is one I have shared before but I’ll list it again here, because so many people tell me they have a hard time eating eggs, oats, or both together.   My measurements vary based on my nutritional needs.  On lower carb days I’ll make it with ¼ cup oats, and on normal days I’ll do the full ½ cup serving.  Also, depending on where I am in my cycle, I will use either all egg whites, all whole eggs, or a combination of both.  Basically, you can’t mess this up.

Oatmeal Pancakes, standard recipe:

2 eggs whole
½ cup oats (uncooked)
baking powder (1/2 tsp?)
cinnamon
sweetener, to taste (optional)

Mix ingredients together in bowl; add to greased pan and cook on medium heat, 2min on each side (like a pancake).  What you top this with depends on your nutritional needs and preferences.

[re] Considering Food…Again

The bodybuilding/competition lifestyle has the potential to bring on many bad habits.  I see competitors obsess about food, cut calories way too low, and put way too much emphasis on the negative sides of dieting.  Dieting does not make one a martyr, and acute deprivation is never healthy–even in the name of a sport.

In the weeks of preparation before a contest, we understand that we are going in with the muscle that we have already spent the year building; during this phase, we are focused on perfecting our nutrition to serve the purpose of shedding the fat that hides the muscles we’ve built.

To the untrained eye (pun not intended) we look healthy, and whether we like it or not we inadvertently appear to be in favor of extreme dieting.  I hate this part of what I do.  No one should be eating like I am or training so intensely unless for a very short term, and there are few good reasons why one should diet and train short term only.

I am guilty of all the mistakes that I am referring to here. I have dieted so extremely (at the hands of a really terrible coach) that I came close to a severe electrolyte imbalance.  I have obsessed over all of the foods I couldn’t have.  I have used terms like “food porn,” and I have publicly glorified my deprivation.  I have narrowed my diet so extremely that I eliminated any shred of variety, and I have ingested more artifical sweeteners in just a few years than most people will in their lifetimes.

For another competitor’s insight regarding her struggle with these unhealthy habits, check out this blog:

http://andrealianne.blogspot.com/2012/06/vicious-cycle.html

During my two year break from competing, I had a lot of time to identify the things that I would never recommend to a client, the things I would be too ashamed to tell anyone I did in pursuit of a win, and the things that I never want to do again.  I went into this prep with those things in mind and am so far successful at maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle while on a bodybuilding diet.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still hungry sometimes.  And I still crave foods that aren’t conducive to reaching my goals at the moment (most recently, Honey Nut Cheerios!!).  But I have learned a lot about what it means to be healthy inside as well as out, and I have gained maturity in my outlook on food and competition—and those are the things I want to share here.

1.  Food is ultimately for sustenance.   I think too often we forget this.  Food can and should be enjoyed, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter how good it tasted, it matters how nutritious it was. There are two goals here: the first is to learn to enjoy foods that aren’t heavily processed, loaded with fat and sugar, and eaten in large quantities.  The second is to BE OKAY with sometimes stepping outside of that for a piece of cake or a cookie from time to time.

2.  Don’t trust yourself to portion your food when you’re hungry.  Peanut butter is the prime example for most competitors—when we’re hungry, can we really trust ourselves to dip a spoon right into the jar and only take out a tablespoon without going back for more?  Maybe, but why risk it?

3.  Learn to identify your “red zone.”  Most of the time I can eat one goldfish cracker, or one bite of ice cream, or one taste of something and be completely satisfied.  But sometimes I can’t.  For me, discipline doesn’t mean only being able to resist every time—sometimes it means being able to recognize when I can’t.  I call this my “red zone,” and when I’m in it I know better than to even risk ruining my hard work over one bite.

4.  Recognize that there is a time for everything—and commit to designating that time appropriately.  Some people may think it’s “healthy” to never ever eat anything high in fat or high in sugar, and to the extent that one is able to do so with no cravings or feelings of deprivation, I can agree.  But most people enjoy the taste of a cookie, and if told they can never eat one again will go nuts on a bag of oreos the first chance they get.  So why not indulge in a controlled and purposeful manner?

5.  Learn to tell the difference between being hungry and wanting food.  This one can be tricky and very difficult.  I run my own nutrition plan, which is not common among competitors, even the ones who coach other competitors.  I believe the primary reason for this is that there can sometimes be a conflict of interest: on the one hand, I’m hungry and I want more carbs…on the other hand, I’m ____ weeks out of a show and I won’t get my desired result if I consume more carbs.  I’m not really sure how, but I have learned to recognize when my mind WANTS more carbs and when my body is telling me it NEEDS more carbs in order to perform.  A lot of this has to do with the red zone I talked about earlier—I NEVER assess my diet or my body while in that zone.

6.  Always have a plan.  The average person doesn’t have to count the calories in every meal, or obsess over macronutrients…at some point, doing so can actually become unhealthy.  But have an idea of what a balanced meal looks like, what foods satisfy those balances, what portion sizes look like, and how you will give yourself those balanced meals every day.  If you wake up in the morning with absolutely no plan for lunch, you’re less likely to cook something nutritious and more likely to seek a quick and unhealthy fix.

Five Steps to Achieving a Long-Term Goal

Earlier today I took some progress photos, as is normal for a competitor to do along the way to a contest.  The point of the photos is not only to measure how far you have left to go, but also to show you how far you’ve come.  Today when I looked at these photos, I remarked that in the past two years I have made the improvements that I had hoped to achieve.  But someone else had to point out to me what I had overlooked: while I did see the progress and was proud of my achievement, I had failed to notice that it took me TWO YEARS to accomplish this.  TWO YEARS of tenacity, hard work, and dedication.  It didn’t feel like work, it didn’t feel like two years, and I didn’t even notice that I was getting anywhere.  I simply looked up, two years later, and realized what I had done.  And I had failed to recognize that what was more important than the result was just the sheer fact that I had kept at it for so long!

I realized that if, during those two years, I had watched the scale and the mirror intent on  seeing the result I was searching for, I would have missed it anyway.  I might have even gotten frustrated and given up.  After all, I wasn’t hoping to grow five inches or gain ten pounds of muscle—what I wanted was much more subtle than that.  Who wants to watch paint dry?  Instead, I took on this goal knowing that the improvements would happen over a long term, and I trusted that it would happen if I diligently pursued it.

December 12, 2009

June 4, 2012

What’s your goal?  Are you trying to “get healthy” but you don’t know how or even what that means?  Are you trying to lose weight?  Gain muscle?  Get stronger or more confident?  Are you in pursuit of a degree that feels light years away, or are your career goals progressing more slowly than you had hoped?  Bodybuilding has given me a pretty solid five step plan for achieving a long-term goal.  Check it out:

  1. Set the goal.  Don’t get caught up too much in defining it, because it will shift and define itself as you get closer.
  2. Determine a plan of action.  If you were lost in the woods, you could simply choose a direction, but you don’t necessarily have to know all the details of the terrain you’re about to face.  You can cross the bridges when you come to them.
  3. Get off to a start in the right direction.
  4. Stop thinking about the goal.  Who wants to watch paint dry?
  5. Just keep swimming.  Dense as she was, Dorey knew a thing or two about how to move forward, didn’t she?