Find a healthy dose of motivation, inspiration and education.
Find a healthy dose of motivation, inspiration and education.
Do you ever wish that when you were born, you came out of the womb with an owner’s manual? You know, a guide you could reference throughout life to tell you precisely what you needed to do to be your happiest & healthiest self?
How much easier would life be if you just had crystal clear instructions for how to seamlessly navigate your way without tripping up about food, exercise, self-worth and all of the other stuff that makes you feel like you have distanced yourself from yourself?
Well, I use to think about that a lot, and I reached for a lot of systems and methodologies that tricked me into believing that they had written the manual for my body, my happiness and ultimately, my life.
Eventually, I had to stand face to face with the reality of why nothing ever felt like the “perfect” fit for me; why every “system” fell a little flat for me.
There was a time in my life when I wasn’t so healthy and I was stuck in a perpetual pattern of going to bed every Sunday night vowing that I would do better starting Monday morning. I’d prep my food, plan my workouts, put my workout clothes by the bed and set the alarm for an ungodly hour. Then Monday morning arrived and IF I got up at the decided time, I always face-planted with my good intentions by Tuesday or Wednesday, at the latest, and I would start the whole dance over again the following Sunday.
Maybe you are familiar with that dance?
The “I’ll start again Monday morning” habit (cuz… let’s face it, that is what it is: a habit) is exhausting and frustrating because it lands you precisely nowhere.
So, how does one break the habit of Monday morning do-overs? Well, here are a few tips that helped me and maybe they will help you too?
An individual’s health story is not linear and in order to create an appropriate ramble, this will not be written as such. Bear with me….
A year ago I made the decision that I wanted to work with Courtney Townley from Grace & Grit LLC.
I was in a place of bewilderment and extreme stress. Looking back, if you’ve seen the movie Deadpool with Ryan Reynolds, it was like I was in that chamber of oxygen deprivation.
As someone who has traveled through the fitness and wellness industry for more than 20 years, I have witnessed a lot of conformity (and believe me I have done my fair share of conforming): to diets, to exercise programs, to a particular look, to beliefs about what defines a healthy woman.
Conforming isn’t ALL bad, of course. It makes you feel like you are a part of something bigger than yourself and accepted by a community, which ultimately, can inspire you to do better, develop new skills and garner support.
The challenge with conformity, however, is that it puts you in a box with a clearly defined label to help other people understand you, but eventually starts to dilute your understanding of yourself.
My fitness beliefs are very aligned with what Courtney preaches & teaches. She is a powerhouse in the fitness industry who isn’t afraid to tell women the truth behind the latest fad. She also discusses about her personal evolution in the fitness industry and why we need to be more accepting of our own bodies as we age. This was such a dynamite convo that I know will light a fire under you after listening to Courtney’s take on women’s health.
Check these most popular podcasts out: Straight Talk About Women’s Pelvic Health Issues w/ Alison Gray, Understanding the Incredible Power of the Nervous System w/ Irene Lyon: Part 1 and The One Question to Ask to Dramatically Improve Your Relationship With Your Body.
We have all heard the saying, “ it takes a village to raise a child.” Well…I am a pretty firm believer that it also takes a village to keep an adult from reverting back to being a child. It takes a village to actualize the full potential of every man and every woman.
If you want something greater for your life than what you currently have, you will be doing yourself a huge favor by connecting with people who either already have or are seeking the same things you are.
Yep…I am talking about COMMUNITY.
For years I thought I could go it alone (and man did I give “going solo” a valiant effort). But… eventually I realized I was going absolutely nowhere with my heavy pack of stubbornness and dogma weighing me down.
Once upon a time there was a little girl whose heart and soul were consumed by the art of dance. She had talent. She had a strong work ethic. She had passion. She had all the ingredients to make her dreams come true…well…almost.
Teachers loved her because she was an eager student and had a fire that was hard to replicate. The dance world gave her a lot: great roles, great reviews, and even a scholarship to college.
Unfortunately, it also insisted upon giving her a hefty dose of self-doubt, insecurity and even shame about the design of her instrument, her body.
Grace & Grit Podcast: Helping Women Everywhere Live Happier, Healthier and More Fit Lives! Don’t miss these popular episodes: Return to Food with Sherry Strong, Return to Food with Sherry Strong and How a Mindfulness Practice Can Radically Alter Your Health Story.
I was practicing handstands recently in a small empty corner of the gym while a man, spinning frantically on his stationary bike, peered on. As I proceeded to move onto a different task, this man had two comments for me:
#1 “You are just showing off.”
#2 “You must have been a gymnast.”
Mind you, he is not the first person to make such remarks, nor will he be the last. I took a deep here-we-go-again breath, kindly explained to him that I had never been a gymnast and the only reason I could do a handstand was because I have actually been practicing handstands…every…single…day…for the past couple of years.
Say what? Someone actually developed a skill by working at it regularly? An outrageous concept, I know.
Toddlers are a handful. They don’t walk anywhere…they only run. Once they start talking, they never seem to stop. They throw fits often. They cling to strange things. They refuse to nap when they need it the most, and they insist on doing everything their own way, even though “their way” usually defies all reason and any kind of efficiency.
I should know…I have a three and half year old, redheaded son (the red hair, I am convinced, infuses all behavior with a little extra spice). Daily, I am reminded that parenthood is the toughest job I will ever love. It has to be!
Why did you start working with Courtney?
I joined a 4-part video series about 4 years ago that talked about clean eating, drinking water, not doing endless hours of cardio and the importance of sleep. As I listened to each video, I felt like each presenter was talking DIRECTLY to me. I was in the fitness industry….I thought I was doing everything the right way….doing endless hours of cardio…eating what I thought was good but I was not seeing changes in my body, my mind and my overall health. I was really frustrated. One of the coaches on the video series was Courtney. I immediately connected with her and the rest is history.
Why did you start working with Courtney? I started working with Courtney in the Spring of 2014 after doing a boot camp for almost a year and trying to figure out what I should be eating. I was never a cookie, chips, sodapop, etc.. eater, I have always eaten “healthy” food (chicken, fish, rice, salad, fruit, yogurt, etc..) but obviously what I thought was healthy was not good enough to lose weight. I was SO confused as to which direction I needed to go…..Low-carb, paleo, vegan, gluten-free, fewer calories?????? WHAT?
There is something that may surprise you about the work I do as a health coach: I very intentionally DO NOT give people food plans to follow because I don’t believe that is how you foster confidence and self-reliance when it comes to health.
To take radical responsibility for your health once and for all, you need to learn how to fish (make educated decisions about the foods you choose to eat, rather than have someone plan your food for you).
You know the saying… “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for the rest of his life.”
I began working with Courtney last December 2014. I had been having difficulties with my weight for a number of years. I spoke to my cardiologist about my concerns, and he recommended Courtney. His comment was, “She’s a world class act!” That was enough for me to contact her.
It turned out that although I had always watched my food intake and had always exercised, I simply was NOT eating ENOUGH! It was very difficult for me to totally wrap my mind around that diagnosis.
As soon as I started truly journaling and watching my appropriate intake, I began to feel better. Apparently, I did very well with having a structured process to follow. My weight loss has been substantial, and I continue to lose pounds each month. I only have 10 pounds to lose to meet my goal!
“Grit, say psychologists, is the quality that makes us willing to commit to the long-term goals and see them through despite adversity. It's a stick-to-it-ness. It is tenacity and a meld of other qualities like optimism, discipline and self-motivation." - Polly...
Being sick is no fun. It is inconvenient, exhausting and downright frustrating. While you may take excellent care of yourself on a lot of levels, life…unfortunately…doesn’t always go as planned. Illness happens. Nobody ever plans on getting sick, but having a plan for what to do when you do get sick will minimize the chance of you making a bad situation worse and greatly increase your likelihood of getting back on your feet faster.
My name is Paige Sedgewick. I’m a television reporter and I have an internal yearning for wanting to know what’s going on, constantly. When I was little, my aunt and mom always thought I would be a reporter because I asked so many questions. You could say curiosity...
Does taking better care of your self feel like a “to-do” that never gets done? Do you feel like you know what to do to elevate your health but at the end of every day you feel like you have crashed and burned along with your good intentions? Welcome to the human experience!
What is the greatest health challenge you have faced? An eating disorder that I developed as a dancer and overcame when I got married. When I found out I was pregnant I vowed to take great care of myself by working out and eating healthy, because I had not been taking...
Weekends can be a really tough time to maintain the standards you have set for yourself around self-care Dinner parties, travel and unexpected events all have the power to derail our best of intentions to improve our health. I get it. Not all that long ago, I too was...
In my mind grit is the effort needed to counteract whatever forces are holding us back and grace is the whole package of amazing results that come from applying grit. But if it takes grit to have grace shouldn’t we be talking about “Grit and Grace”? Perhaps grace...
Courtney Townley walks her talk. That’s why we chose her as our next Best Kept Self lifestyler and contributing blogger. Also … she’s kind of a badass and we sort of want to be her.
As a seriously well-educated and dynamic fitness/health coach she helps women live a level 10 life that she knows they can achieve.
We knew we loved her when we asked her what one thing she couldn’t live without and her response was, “Honestly, I don’t think there is a “thing” I could live without. I think it would be very difficult for me to live without “movement” in my life.”
So how does she manage her life with so much grace and grit? We asked her to give us her 10 ingredients for living the Best Kept Self lifestyle.
I recently traveled to Dallas for a business conference, and I laughed out loud when I realized that while half of my suitcase consisted of clothes and toiletries, the other half was consumed by food, a water bottle, a shaker bottle and workout items.
What can I say? I know my priorities.
Traveling can be wildly disorienting when it comes to taking care of yourself; you’re away from your kitchen, your workout space and your familiar schedule. Travel demands that you become more creative and flexible to ensure you still give your body, mind and soul what they deserve…your attention. And while it isn’t always easy, with a little pre-planning, it is possible.
Below are a few strategies to make your next trip a little less stressful and help you stay-the-course with maintaining your Best Kept Self.
I have a question for you…
How are you doing with the resolutions/intentions that you set for your health back in January?
Are they a distant memory? Or are you creating progress with what you said you wanted?
For those of you who are succeeding with your “improved health” strategy, a massive congratulations to you!
For those of you who lost your way somewhere in the darkness of February, I want to say, “Be gentle on yourself. It is normal. So very normal.”
Change is difficult because…well… it requires change.
My 5-year-old son and I have an evening ritual…we dance to 1 song together before bedtime.
For 5 blissful minutes we dance with abandon, together, and it always feels like the perfect way to close our imperfect days.
Some nights we get home too late and some nights are too busy, but I try to come back to it as much as I possibly can because I think it is such a simple way of having a bonding moment with my son AND to let him feel the amazing power movement has to bring him joy.
I want my son to feel absolutely capable, strong and confident in his body for the rest of his life, so we practice fostering that attitude just a little bit every day by rocking it out together in the living room.
There is no denying that we live in body-obsessed culture today: six pack abs, chiseled biceps and defined derrieres seem to be more desirable than movement skill and exploration and that’s…well… sad. Getting to live in such a remarkable vessel as the body without utilizing its abilities is a missed opportunity, to say the least!
Transformation. Implicit in it’s meaning is to go from one thing and become something else. It’s 6am in Montana. I’m watching the sunrise over the northern mountains and I’m listening to a small symphony of birds singing, watching them start their day with joy....
I get 2 questions all too often when I workout:
Are you getting ready for a competition?
What are you preparing for?
I thought it was funny when it first started happening, but these days I get a little more irritated than entertained because I think it is a sad testament to the way we view a woman taking care of herself. Apparently, a healthy, fit woman at the gym needs a reason to be there other than for HERSELF.
Maybe she isn’t there because she is trying to lose inches, gain accolades or prove anything to anyone other than herself. Maybe she is simply there to show respect to herself and bring out her happy. And wouldn’t that be neat.
Often when people embark on a health transformation they have short-term goals driving them: to lose 20lbs by their sister’s wedding in 8 weeks, to run the marathon in 3 months, to be bikini ready by June.
I lived in this space for a long time. I was constantly signing up for new programs with big promises: the 6-week bootcamp, the 21-day challenge, the 7-day detox. I would work my ass off for a short period of time, only to discover that once the program ended, the race was run, or the summer came to a close, I started to slide down a slippery slope right back to where I started.
Short-term goals can be great stepping stones along the path to health, but short-term goals alone don’t give us the grit we need for long-term success.
Eventually, I got so frustrated with “my way” (which clearly wasn’t working), that I decided to stop and ask for directions from a health coach who showed me a better way.
I can hear your response to the title of this article already: “That is NOT going to happen.” “I NEVER weigh myself.” “The scale is evil and must be destroyed.” The scale evokes intense emotion in most women and it isn’t even a living thing! It is a hunk of metal that...
Human nature is wildly tempted by quick fixes. Who doesn’t want to make a ton of money easily, have raging business success in just a few short weeks or lose weight as easily as it came on? We all do, but the reality is that if we take shortcuts our results are likely to be short lived because we never learned how to become stewards of our success by side stepping the habits that actually create success.
Detoxes, boot camps, and bikini-ready-by -tomorrow programs often ask you to focus on a lot of radical change at once. Which is fine if you want to keep losing the same 15lbs over and over again. If you want to learn how to be your best kept self for life, however…that, my dear, will take time, buckets of practice and strategy.
To say that reclaiming and sustaining your health has been made into a wildly complicated equation is a gross understatement. There are dozens of new formulas pouring out of the diet and fitness industry every week promising to optimize your health. Each one claims to be the BEST and the only one you will ever need, which can easily leave you a hot frustrated mess trying to figure out how to become your Best Kept Self.
Hear this, sweet sister…
Taking care of yourself doesn’t have to be so complicated.
If you aim to consistently respect the needs of your mind, body and soul, you will be off to a fantastic start towards claiming and maintaining deep health for the long haul.
Comfort zones are not brightly colored spaces spaces; they are sterile, boring and decorated in basic black and white. Clear boundaries, deeply-rooted beliefs, predictable habits and familiar expectations are the walls that shelter your comfort zone and protect...
If you have ever been around young children, you know that they rarely sit still. Children are constantly in motion, exploring their environment and physical possibilities.
In a child’s world playtime = movement…lots of it.
Aside from a few guidelines (like…no, you can’t use the rocking chair as a catapult for your baby sister), there really are no rules to a child’s movement execution and they certainly do not seek permission from anyone on the appropriate mechanics or best “systems” for movement practice.
Children look at movement as a “get to” because it is fun, creative and engaging. Adults look at movement as a “have to” because they have made it such a complex thing with the systems, rules, equipment, and athletic apparel. Is it really any wonder that there is so much resistance around it doing it consistently?
At what point along the timeline of growing up did you decide to put movement in a pretty little box called “exercise” that you begrudgingly force yourself to do for an hour or so several times a week only under the guidance of an “expert”, and most often in a gym or a studio setting?
“We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary.” ...
Dear Body of Mine,
This letter is long overdue. I am finally ready to take our relationship more seriously and I want to apologize for not having done it years ago.
You always support me in doing the things I want do, even when I have little regard for what it will cost you or how it will make you feel. I am aware that on occasion I have ignored you, mistreated you, judged you and hurt you. And still, every moment of every day, you show up to help me do life.
It has taken me awhile to figure out how to best care for you and celebrate you. I am learning constantly from my mistakes. Thank you for not giving up on me. I can’t be without you…literally… so I am committing ferociously to rising up and doing better as your partner.
In Episode 8 of Build Your Practice, I chat with Courtney Townley about why you must keep exploring possibility in your movement practice.
Far too often, when I start coaching a client on improving their food choices, they will say to me, “Just tell me what to eat.”
Let me be clear, I don’t ever tell clients exactly what they should eat on any given day. That is not what I do, that is what diets do.
I don’t do diets and neither should you. (More on that in a later post)
The work I do teaches you how to nourish your best life and, of course, what you are fueling your life with has a profound effect on the “quality” of your life.
I educate you about food: what is in your food, how your body responds to food, and how to improve your food choices. What I don’t do is choose your food for you, ever. Why not? Because, ultimately, it disempowers you, and greatly reduces your chance of success in the long run.
Besides, the things that I like to eat may not be the things that make your taste buds do their happy dance.
That being said, we all have days that we get bored with our food and we just wish someone would give us an idea or ten about how to shake things up.
In light of this, I have some ideas for you to make tomorrow a little easier.
Healthy people spend time in their kitchen, period. If you really want to improve the quality of your health, you must set the stage for your success. And center of the health stage is YOUR KITCHEN. Your kitchen is a sacred space that has the power to either nourish...
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When it comes to optimizing your health, sleep is a really big deal. You can eat a clean diet and move your body daily, but if you are neglecting your recovery and dream time, your body will struggle to absorb and deliver the nutrition you are feeding it and your...
I flew to Singapore in August of 2013 to work with Ido Portal and his team because I have an insatiable hunger for anything that will make me a better mover and based on some interviews I had seen on YouTube, they understand movement in a way that few do. (Yes,...
I have coached hundreds of women over the years to become better movers in healthier bodies and based on my experience, there are some very common mindsets that PREVENT women from leading happier, healthier and more fit lives. Below I have outlined 5 questions to ask...
ac·cli·mate verb \ˈa-klə-ˌmāt; ə-ˈklī-mət, -ˌmāt\ : to adjust or adapt to a new climate, place, or situation* I grew up in Jackson Hole, WY (I know, I know…poor me) which sits at an elevation of 6500ft above sea level. When I would visit my hometown, be it a trip back...
This is one of my all time favorite and most used recipes. I use it to make a healthy version of "cereal" or add eggs to make a hearty and delicious pancake! Ingredient List: 1 TBS Chia Seed 2 TBS ...
No one likes falling. It has the power to unnerve, derail and destroy. It’s painful. Makes you feel incompetent. And it takes you by surprise because you rarely see it coming. It IS coming, however…that you can be certain of. If you are living life with even an ounce...
A woman on fire to reclaim her health, happiness and, ultimately, her life, travels often with the unwelcomed company of doubt, fear and criticism. She inches forward towards fulfillment despite the whispers next to her, behind her and within her. Who do you think you...
Restoring your health is actually quite simple. The secret? Doing better than yesterday. If you sit at a desk all day, walking 15 minutes outside tomorrow is doing better. If your diet is entirely made up of processed foods, adding a serving of vegetables tomorrow is...
Strategies That Will Help You Maintain Your Sanity the Next Time Your Life Starts to Resemble the Spartan Race
Is this picture relatable, or what? Life is rarely a straight, unobstructed line for long. You anticipate the scenic leisurely ride. Life delivers to you: THE SPARTAN RACE. Just as you start finding a rhythm in your life and begin to admire the view: You get a flat...
Last summer I had the amazing priviledge of traveling to Singapore for a 7-day Movement Camp with Ido Portal and his team (you can read about the trip here). As you can imagine, there were A LOT of details to work out in order for that trip to take place. I had to...
4 Simple Questions You MUST Ask of Anything or Anyone Promising to Make You Stronger, Leaner and Healthier
I have always been an excitable creature, easily convinced to try on new ideas, theories and methodologies, especially when it comes to anything aimed at improving human performance and optimizing health. And because I have built a career based on health and fitness,...
After years of coaching and working with hundreds of women on learning to take better care of themselves, I have learned that the biggest obstacle in attaining a health goal for most women is their inconsistency with the ACTIONS necessary for change to occur. In other...
I have a client who works 60 hours a week, only gets 4 hours of sleep a night, has serious relationship issues, and worries incessantly about her finances. She also wants to lose 30 pounds and increase her energy levels. It would be insane for me to implement...
Quitting is tempting. It is easy. It is liberating…for a moment. No one ever does it on a GOOD day. Nope. You do it on the days that struggle seeps into your flow, and insecurity whispers lies that you will never arrive at your destination. You start to question...
10 years ago, when we moved to Montana, my husband and I built a killer vegetable garden complete with raised beds, a drip hose system and 6-foot tall fences to keep the deer out. We brought in rich soil and everything we could think of to fertilize it with. Our...
Improving your health, means bettering your habits: how you move, how you handle stress, how you eat, and even how you SHOP! You have heard it a million times…you ARE what you eat! Your cells, the building blocks of life, are made-up of whatever you are putting in...
BLOG Find a healthy dose of motivation, inspiration and education. The day I stumbled into Ido Portal’s work was a big day for me. I felt as though someone was giving me permission to move my body again, which sounds CRAZY considering I have dedicated most of my life...
A few weeks ago I had pictures taken for the Grace & Grit website. They exceeded my expectations in every way. The stars must have been aligned because everything involved in the shoot turned out perfect: the weather, the location, the team and…the dress. I...
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“When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot manifest, strength cannot fight, wealth becomes useless, and intelligence cannot be applied.” –Herophilus, 300 BC Therefore…. Let today be the day; a new beginning, a clean slate, a fresh start, a new...
It doesn’t matter why you think you can’t. You absolutely CAN.
This is not just health coaching—it’s a personalized road map to the prime of your life. It’s coaching that will make today feel like the best days of your life are ahead of you, no matter where you’re at right now.