Find a healthy dose of motivation, inspiration and education.
Find a healthy dose of motivation, inspiration and education.
I am a mother of 4, we live on a small farm and run a small business. Often my day would start being awoken by my children and usually end with me falling asleep on their beds in the evening. I felt I had no space and that my days were not on my terms. This is not an uncommon story. I hear mothers detailing the same story often. I felt there had to be another way, surely this can’t be the only way to live life with children?
I was already passionate about healthy eating but was not particularly active anymore. I came across Courtney’s work through a health professional in my area of Australia. Courtney’s work spoke to me on so many levels and offered me what I was looking for.
The crazy thing about motivation is that we expect it to be waiting by our bedside every morning we wake-up, but motivation is fickle – sometimes she shows up, sometimes she doesn’t.
So, you would be doing yourself a huge favor if you developed a practice of cultivating your own motivation each day rather than waiting for her to magically appear because she likely won’t.
It’s that time of year again… the dawning of a new year! May I be among the first to welcome you to it.
You may or may not be a fan of declaring New Year’s resolutions, but I am willing to bet you have done a little contemplating about how you would like to elevate your life in 2019. Am I right?
Whatever means you use to improve your health this year, I’d like to toss you a few nuggets that I think may help you create more meaningful change this year.
I’d love it if you’d take a few moments out of your day to consider EXPANSION as a means to improve health, because I, for one, don’t think it is a topic women are making enough time for.
And I understand why… For decades women have been sold the message that “smaller is better” but, sadly, that very message has created a world of hurt (quite literally).
The pursuit of being smaller (eating less, weighing less, fitting into smaller jeans and sculpting that bikini-ready body) is getting us nowhere fast (not convinced? just do a quick google search of the failure rate of the diet industry).
We are more psychologically and physiologically dis-eased than ever before which goes to show that pursuit of being smaller isn’t improving our health, it is depleting it. So, what is a girl who does want to improve her health to do?
A few years back, I was running around like a maniac trying to get myself out the door on time for work. My husband asked me a question and I reacted by saying, “Not now. I HAVE to go to work!”
He gently put his hands on my shoulders, looked me square in the eyes, and replied, “No, babe. You GET to go to work.”
As much as I hate to admit it…he was right (as he so often is).
I was referring to the job I LOVE in a way that was making my morning WAY harder than it needed to be. I was looking at my job as a hardship rather than the privilege it is. I see women do this ALL of the time along the path to improved health…
There are a lot of things in your life that you are probably NOT going to want to do but you ARE going to want the benefits on the other side of doing those things.
I don’t love paying my bills.
I don’t love going to the gym at the crack of dawn every day.
I don’t often want to cook dinner after a long, stressful day.
I DO want a roof over my head, running water and electricity. So, I do pay my bills.
I DO want to feel vibrant, strong and capable. So, I do get out the door to the gym.
I DO want to go to bed at night knowing I fed my body food that it can actually use to fortify my family and me. So, I make dinner.
And perhaps most important of all…
My son started playing soccer when he was 6 (he just turned 9 last week).
The first few seasons were frustrating for me as a parent because he was on a team that literally won EVERY game.
While my son thought that was awesome, it was clear that the teams were VERY mismatched in terms of the player’s abilities.
My son was not challenged, and so of course, he did not improve as a player for two years.
Worse yet, he thought the winning streak was an indication that he didn’t need to improve his skills. (insert loud sigh here)
This year, I am happy to report, the teams were better matched in ability and my son’s team lost their first game (which had me secretly celebrating on the inside).
My son was challenged, he failed a lot AND he became a much better player for it.
Skill, strength & resilience reside on the other side of failure (IF you are willing to get up and keep playing the game after a defeat).
So let me ask you…
If you are looking for a reason to NOT to do the thing you said you would do for yourself today… you will most certainly find one.
You don’t have groceries in the house.
You forgot to pack your gym clothes.
You had to pick-up your kid early from school.
You had to work late.
You’re out of alignment with the stars (just making sure are you are paying attention).
The human body secretes and circulates some 50 different hormones and there is a lot of interplay between hormones, which can make things complicated…to say the least.
When 1 hormone is out of alignment, it can make a mess of MANY hormones, and leave you a hot, frustrated mess (quite literally).
Because you are clearly someone who values her health (otherwise why would you be reading this?), and hormones govern your health, it would be oh-so-wise to do all you can to maintain peace and happiness in your hormonal kingdom.
While you may not have control over your genetics or the aging process (both of which do influence hormonal health), how you live your life will have the greatest influence over your hormonal state.
And how you live your life can be summarized in 1 word…
If you are anything like the women I talk to everyday, you likely have intentions to take better care of yourself this week.
If that’s true, I hope that you will measure the success of that intention by something OTHER than how much weight you lose by the end of the week.
As much as our culture LOVES to glorify weight loss, which is nuts because weight loss tells us nothing about the measures someone took to create that result.
There are plenty of unhealthy ways you could shed a few pounds this week:
Don’t drink water.
Take a diet pill.
Smoke to suppress your appetite.
Catch the flu.
Hell…cut off a limb.
Ok, maybe I am being a bit dramatic with those last few points, but you get my drift…
Inflammation is a buzz word all over the place these days, yet many of us don’t fully understand what it is and how it may be impacting our well-being in more ways than we realized.
As Dr. Mark Hyman MD, and world renown inflammation expert often expresses, “Chronic inflammation is the root cause of nearly all chronic symptoms – physically, mentally and even behaviorally.”
It’s a pretty board statement, but the truth is that chronic inflammation is like a slow smoldering fire of toxins within the body. At first, the body is able to put out the hot embers and sparks from the intake of toxins. But over time, those toxins/inflammation build up and the detoxification process simply cannot keep up. When this happens, inflammation moves to the areas that are most susceptible in the body.
I thought today would be the perfect day to remind you that focusing a little less on the results you are seeking with your health and a little more on practicing the behaviors that will likely lead to those results, truly is the magic sauce to transformation.
There are a lot of things that bother me about the way the diet and fitness industries have gone about trying to inspire women to take better care of themselves, but one of the things that disturbs me the most is that so many programs and systems sell results rather than teach sustainable practices of self-care.
Selling “doing the work” isn’t as sexy as selling “results”… I get it.
Have you ever felt like you were doing all of the right things to elevate your health, but feeling like you were sinking rather than rising?
I have. Several times.
In fact, I experienced “the sinking”, despite my efforts to rise, just this past summer.
This summer was emotionally very charged for me; I lost several people close to me and I was rumbling with a lot of things in my personal life.
I made a concerted effort to keep my training and my diet on point because having studied diet and exercise for nearly two decades, I know how important they are to helping balance my chemistry. I also made great strides to honor my body with enough sleep.
But the honest truth is…
Apologizing is a form of communicating that we care about the well-being of the other; that we respect the other. The “other” in this case being your body.
For a long time I have believed that respect for anything is enhanced by expressing gratitude, but after reading Waheed’s words, I am reminded that when trust has been broken, as in the case of many women’s relationships with their own body, an apology is best place to begin the mending process.
If you have followed my work for any length of time, you probably know by now that I think there is A LOT more to the health equation than just food and exercise. In fact, the entire reason I started the Grace & Grit Podcast, nearly 2 and half years ago, was to help women explore ways of improving health beyond the “eat less, exercise more” ideology that has been crammed down our throats.
My connection to food and farming started in my childhood when I lived just down the road from my Slovenian immigrant grandparents. We grew most of our own food, and I helped care for livestock from an early age. I loved being outside, and I learned to appreciate the humane, ethical care of the animals we ate. As I became an adult, and moved thousands of miles away, I slowly built a similar farm life here in Western Montana. I had a desire to know where all of our food came from through quality animal husbandry.
Nourished by my food and inspired by a life of cooking at home, I wanted to encourage others to share this path of wellness.
Since not everyone can spend three months of their spring tending pastured meat chickens, or raising pigs for the freezer, I created my meat business, Mountain Meat Shares.
I have worked with women from all walks of life, backgrounds and ages.
From the thousands of encounters I have had with people on the search to improve health and functionality of their bodies, I know that success in achieving our health goals lie in the stories we tell ourselves every day.
Words hold more power than we realize.
From our words, we set intentions.
We make agreements and contracts with ourselves.
We envision our goals for the future to grow into our best selves- our healthiest, happiest and most fulfilled state.
Our words, whether spoken or thought in our mind, can propel us forward with momentum on our health journey.
Our words can also create our biggest obstacles on the road to deep health.
I have an 8 year old son and watching him learn how to read and write has been an awesome thing to witness. It has, by no means, been an easy or graceful process for him but the kid shows up consistently to practice his skills and has learned to befriend the work required to get him to where he is today. Ok, maybe I nagged him a little along the way, but I am proud to say that my son is reading his first novel.
Did he get there quickly? NO! It took years.
Was it super easy for him? NO! He had a lot of challenges and setbacks.
Did he mess up a lot in the process? HE SURE DID! But he tried again and again and again.
He started by learning sounds, and then letters, and then he was able to string words together to form sentences and now? A novel!!
It is interesting how we can respect the learning process in children, but not necessarily within ourselves. We understand the necessity of a slow, systematic process that spans over the course of several years to develop a skill like reading, but when we want to learn new skills as an adult we employ methods that resemble trying to learn how to read overnight. Then we wonder why we failed. Really?
I will turn 41 in a month and this is the first year I have stepped into a New Year feeling calm and confident that I will reach the goals I have set for myself over the next year.
Yes, that’s right. I have set a few New Year’s resolutions. Gasp!
I know New Year’s Resolutions get a lot of flack these days, but resolutions themselves are not the problem, the way we go about achieving them is where things run horribly amuck.
So how do I know I will achieve my goals this year? A few reasons…
I am entering launch mode for my Signature Program, which basically means, according to online entrepreneurial standards, I should be selling myself and telling you all of the reasons WHY you should invest in working with me. The truth is, however, as much as I want people to be interested in the work that I do, I also want to be sure the people I invest in for the next year of my life are a good match for the level of work that I teach.
There was a time in my career, I would have worked like a maniac to convince nearly everyone I encountered that I was the perfect person to usher them towards greater health. Now that I am older and slightly wiser, I realize: I am NOT the right person to help all people and not everyone is ready for the work I do AND…
That is perfectly ok!
I invest a tremendous amount of time and energy into my clients, so it is really important that we are a good match to do great work together. I believe one of the best ways to begin that process, is to tell potential clients why they might NOT want to hire me.
So, if after reviewing this list of NOTs with me (which are filled with great tips too), you are more excited than terrified, then, of course, I encourage you to take the next step.
Here are a few things I think everyone should know about before they hire me as a health coach:
I don’t know where in the world you are reading this from, but where I live we are entering the deep throes of winter and I am 99.9% certain that we will have a very white Christmas, because…well… we always do.
As we sink deeper into winter, I cannot help but feel that the season seems a bit at odds with the idea of holiday cheer and party going. Looking around at nature, winter inspires rest, simplicity, and recovery NOT hustle, late nights and stress, which have become the cultural climate this time of year.
As a person who works intimately with people’s health, one of the biggest misconceptions I see people face is their expectation of the amount of time healing, health, and vitality takes to achieve. We live in a society of wanting everything to happen, yesterday. It’s easy to go down the rabbit hole online that touts unrealistic results. For example, I just googled flat abs and the first three results were “10 Flat Belly Tricks”, “Get a Flat Belly in 4 Weeks”, and “Get a Flat Belly in 10 minutes”.
Externally, we are being told that it’s easy and fast to get the body and health that we desire; but if that was the case, don’t you think that everyone would be healthy, vital and thriving? [By Guest Author, Liz Walker]
I have a love hate relationship with this holiday. Making costumes and dressing up with my kid is a blast. I enjoy carving pumpkins (I like roasting the seeds even more), and I really adore seeing adults and children giving themselves permission to dress up for a day and be silly. Play is so good for the soul!
So what’s not to like?
Sugar. So much sugar.
I have and 8 year old son which makes the sugar overload more apparent and more maddening than ever for me.
Rarely will you hear me label a food “bad”, except in the case of candy. I hate the stuff (and yes, I know hate is a strong word) and see no reason we should be using a holiday as a reason to overdose our children with it. Sigh.
Of course my son wants to trick-or-treat like any other kid, and I don’t want to rob him of that experience. So what is a mama to do with all of the candy that comes in her door?
I decided to chat to Courtney after I had been binge listening to her podcasts and felt like she really got it. She understood the missing pieces to this health puzzle and was providing such great information, I thought what else could she do for me on a more personal level.
And boy did she deliver. I had no expectations as I hadn’t had a health coach before but she was so much more than I ever thought.
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!
Raising kids, staying married, getting a degree, saving money, maintaining friendships, running a business… All of these things, unquestionably, require grit; a committed focus to long-term success, despite your temptations to abandon ship when the waters get rough.
Grit is what gets you to show up on the days you really just want to crawl back under the covers.
Grit is what gets you back on your feet, despite being battered, bruised and deflated from yet another failed attempt.
Grit forces you to stay true to what you really want for your life and be unrelenting in the pursuit of it.
Grit reintroduces you daily to your greatest weaknesses, so you can eventually be introduced to your greatest strength.
Grit blocks your entry into the house of mediocrity.
If you have intentions of living a fulfilling purpose driven life, you are going to need a very robust grit muscle. So I have outlined 6 ways to help you to strengthen yours.
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 really describes me. I always want to know more about everything: life, health, finding the secret for being happy, etc.
I have been working with Courtney for a little over a year now and being introduced to her was one of the best things that could have happed to me.
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!
I remember the day I called Courtney and I was sold immediately. Her process was totally different than anything I had ever tried on my quest to get healthy. She wasn’t pushing diet products, and I wasn’t’ going to have to starve myself! Courtney met me right where I was at, and helped me put the pieces together in a way that got me the results I was looking for without feeling deprived and insane.
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 a space where I would start negotiating my healthy habits around mid-week, because I was tired, stressed and had lost my Monday morning enthusiasm somewhere around Monday afternoon.
Here’s the thing…
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 comes first in the sense that it is so often the people that grace our lives who inspire us to have the grit to obtain our own form of grace…..at least that has been true in my experience.
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.
Observing a bird dive off a pine branch, soaring through the air, I reflect on times I’ve lived disconnected from this type of freedom. A bird isn’t preoccupied with my thoughts: how to lose 5 lbs. or whether or not to put on skinny jeans this morning. Birds are capable of self-care and self-regulating their movement and appetites. It’s something I’ve forgotten many times, perhaps you have too?
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.
The scale evokes intense emotion in most women and it isn’t even a living thing! It is a hunk of metal that is judged, blamed and booted all for giving women a number that simply reflects their relationship to gravity.
Contrary to popular belief, the scale is not telling you about the state of your health, your abilities or your worthiness as a human being.
The scale gives you a very small sliver of insight into your greater health story and, if you are anything like the millions of women who loathe the scale, you try to extract your entire health story (and your worthiness and your possibility) from that tiny bit of information and then use that number to weave intricate tales of your struggle to succeed with your health goals and, sometimes, with life in general.
The scale is not the problem but your interpretation of the data the scale is giving you most likely is.
Consider these two scenarios:
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 you from your own possibility… the possibility of pain, the possibility of failure AND the possibility of getting what you want MOST and becoming ALL that you were born to be.
To live a gratifying life you will, of course, have to take down the walls of your comfort zone. For some, this means learning how to accept, heal, befriend, love and extend more GRACE to themselves. For others, the space outside their zone of comfort looks more like dedication, endurance, discipline and GRIT.
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?
If we think of our champions and idols as ordinary people, our excuses would carry no weight and we would be faced with the fact that we too have what it takes to live an extraordinary life.
You have a mind, yes? Then you have all you need to start down the road to exceptional living.
The mind has incredible power and it may be the closest thing we, mere mortals, will ever get to having a superpower.
Think about it…
The mind can elevate you to the pinnacle of your own greatness or it can make you want to retreat into the darkness of despair. It inspires, transforms, challenges and creates. It also debilitates, injures, lies and destroys. Your mind is the birthplace of your greatest strength and your greatest weakness.
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 or deplete your life.
It is imperative that you enjoy being in your kitchen and that it is stocked with the food and equipment you will need to make healthy living possible. It is EQUALLY important that you remove all of the things that you know will not serve your healthy living goals.
Women are being sent the wrong message when it comes to improving our health and fitness.
We need to be moving from a place of wanting to be more in the world not constantly engaged with a struggle to be less.
What if you took better care of yourself as a means to be MORE? How might that change your perspective and drive to do the things that need to be done to get you healthier?
How you continue to live your life IS a choice and I know your mama taught you that every choice has a price.
What is excellent health worth to you? What is it costing you to NOT improve your health right now?
This isn’t a sales pitch for my services (although I do believe they are well worth the asking price). This is where the journey begins: you taking full responsibility for your choices (the good, the bad and the ugly).
A transformation starts to sprout ONLY when you commit to getting down and dirty and, above all, REAL with what you say you want for your health and, ultimately, for your life, then agree to pay the price to get it.
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 muscles will be unable to repair and rebuild. Your immune system will be compromised and your cognitive function will go out the window. And this is just a short list of negative consequences you will experience!
Do you feel like you are doing everything you can to lead a happier, healthier and more fit life, but still don’t feel stellar? Sleep much?
For years I thought that nearly every problem in the human body could be remedied with improvements made to diet and exercise.
I functioned (or so I thought) on 4-5 hours of sleep a night. I wore my sleep deprivation like a badge of honor. The more full my days, the more worthy I felt. Until, eventually, ALL I felt was sick (I literally became a germ magnet) and very, very tired.
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, YouTube inspired me to fly across the globe to work with people I had never met.)
I thought the movement camp would be a memorable experience but I was completely unprepared for how much it would change my approach to “training” and the way I navigate my day-to-day life.
Transformation is funny like that.
You aren’t really aware of how grand it is until you have traveled far enough to get some perspective in the rear view mirror.
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 yourself in regards to how you are approaching your own health and happiness.
I hope you will read through them, chew on them and rework the mindsets that aren’t serving you, so you can charge forth with more grace and grit than ever before.
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 from college in Ann Arbor, or life in the city of Toronto or Boston, I would always feel the affects of the altitude change for the first few days of my visit.
Fatigue, dehydration, shortness of breath, feeling like I’d consumed an entire bottle of wine when really I only had a few sips, were expected hardships the first few days of any trip home.
Moving from a lower elevation to a higher one is a shock to the system and can be a little unnerving, if you aren’t prepared for it.
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!
Benefits of this Fuel:
Chia Seeds – rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, excellent source of fiber, loaded with antioxidants and minerals, helps satiate hunger and stabilize blood sugar.
Buckwheat Groats – excellent fiber source, great amino acid profile (one of which is Lycine which helps with muscle growth and repair), gluten free, rich in vitamins and minerals, helps to relax blood vessels for a healthier circulation of the blood.
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 of boldness you are going to fall…probably a lot.
Reaching goals seamlessly, with no wrinkles in your clothes or dirt on your face is delusional.
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 are?
You don’t have enough time.
You are being selfish.
It is too hard.
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 doing better.
If you are stressed to the hilt, taking one thing out of your schedule tomorrow is doing better.
If you only sleep 5 hours a night, adding 10 minutes tomorrow is doing better.
If you make a ferocious commitment to doing at least 1% better daily, CONSISTENTLY…
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…
Last summer I had the amazing priviledge of traveling to Singapore for a 7-day Movement Camp with Ido Portal and his team. As you can imagine, there were A LOT of details to work out in order for that trip to take place.
Decisions had to be made BEFORE the trip. And once they were, all I had to do was SHOW-UP!
For 2 glorious weeks the bulk of my time was spent in the heavenly realm of DECISION FREE LIVING.
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, I am presented with bucket-loads of opportunity to try out new diets, new exercise programs, new equipment…new everything!
I DO love my field and to hear of the latest and greatest use to make me feel like a special insider. For years I thought it was a blessing, until all of the newness became too damn much.
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 words, too much compromise. Lack of consistent discipline.
Compromise sounds an awful lot like this:
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 an aggressive exercise program, reduce her calories (both of which are forms of stress) and expect her to feel better and lose weight without addressing her biggest issue…the stress LOAD in her life.
Here is why….
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 everything and, worst of all, you fail to remember why started traveling down this road to begin with.
It is on those days that you would do anything for a little more GRIT to keep going, silence the fear, and reclaim your flow.
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 planting technique was meticulous and I am pretty sure we planted just about every vegetable that could possibly grow in the climate of Northwest Montana.
Then reality set it….
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 your mouth. Literally, the integrity of your biology depends on the quality of your food. What you eat is a really big deal.
Listen, I get it…
You’re busy and tired and stressed AND you want to reclaim your health and feel better! You want to have more energy to do all of the things you love and you want to rock those jeans that have been hiding in the back of the closet since the close of the last century.
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 to movement! But the sad truth is that after years of training others, I found myself becoming more and more specialized in my approach to movement, which had me expressing myself within tighter parameters and becoming less of the movement artist I know myself to be.
Portal’s work speaks directly to my insatiable desire to explore movement and physical possibility. He has literally created a “movement” that invites people everywhere to heighten their own capacity for movement artistry.
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 had long held a vision for what I wanted the pictures to convey: grace, action, hard work and chaos. I wanted those qualities to come out in the pictures because, in my book, that is what transformation looks and feels like.
Knowing that my search for such a dress locally would be hopeless, I scoured the internet for HOURS late at night looking for the dress that would bring the “Grace” of my vision to life
What sets your heart on fire?
What are you here to Cause? Create? Contribute? Inspire?
What do you stand for?
What do you want to be remembered for?
The answers run through your veins, float on the tide of your breath and anchor themselves into the deepest part of your soul. They come obediently and swiftly for some, reluctantly and stubbornly for others. No matter, if you seek them, they will come.
And when they do… you can hide from them, avoid them and even deny them… but beware! To do so, is to retreat from your own worth and your most fulfilling life.
Let today be the day; a new beginning, a clean slate, a fresh start, a new page.
Call it what you will, but today can be the day you choose to start the journey home to vibrant health and the destiny that can only be realized through it.
Give voice to that deep ache within you, the knowing that you will never feel fulfilled and actualized until you play full out as the strong, magnificent woman you truly are.
Enough contempt, neglect and abuse to the miracle that is your body.
Enough self-doubt, self-neglect, and self-loathing.
Enough excuses. Enough procrastination. Enough storytelling.
Enough reasons why you can’t. No one wants to hear it. Not even you.
Enough of what you don’t want.
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.