Strongies! I have something to reveal to you today and I honestly can’t believe that I’ve been able to hold it in for so long.
But first: Are you coming to our first Strong Inside Out Tour stop in Portland, Oregon this Friday?!
If you’re within 100 miles, I want to see you there! Not only are we sweating out the struggle with tons of world-changers as an official World Domination Summit meetup, but we are making change happen in ourselves and in those who need us with 50% of our event proceeds going to TWLOHA.
Ok, NOW the juicy stuff…
I wrote this post about 3 months ago, and thought it was only fitting that I release it now that the issue is available. In summary, here’s what our post is about today:
Yep. That’s an emmer effing magazine cover. Without further ado, here’s the post I wrote 3 months ago right after the photo shoot.
The last week has been a whirlwind, Strongies.
I was busy enough with the opening of The Phoenix Method, but luckily for me, the group is wicked awesome so the work involved doesn’t really feel like work!
What made the week a real doozy was my cover shoot prep…
I know, I know! I didn’t tell you! I just said it was a photo shoot! I didn’t want to jinx my very first full-blown cover shoot.
This wasn’t just a pop in and smile photo shoot, though. This was a fitness magazine photo shoot… with the photographer who shot not one, but TWO Nike Campaigns with Allyson Felix… and for a magazine that’s distributed to trainers across The US!
It meant I would probably be in a sports bra and booty shorts…
So I set a goal: I wanted to look like an athlete for this shoot. I wanted to be a strong model, not one who dieted down to nothing to fit in with every other cover on the shelf. My goal was–and is–to inspire movement, not shame.
I tightened up my nutrition regimen, and got very specific about my training schedule. I gave it everything I had, and I think it paid off.
On the day of, I looked like this (absolutely no Photoshop on these):
I’m pretty effing proud of what I achieved! I felt strong, worked hard and stayed committed, and it paid off in spades.
I’ve never gotten into this kind of strong, lean shape before. It’s been a journey, I’ll tell you that much. Here is what I did:
I Ate to Fuel My Body
I started tracking my food with MyFitnessPal, a food journal app that allows you to see calorie counts (I don’t count calories, so I don’t use this- I stick to portion sizes and hunger cues), vitamin levels, and macronutrient ratios. The latter is what really made the difference.
After tracking my clean diet for a week, I found that I was eating only about 10% protein, which is way too little for how much lifting I was doing. If I hadn’t tracked my food intake on an app like this, I never would have known.
So what did I do? I pulled out my Eat Well Pinterest Board and started discovering fish and chicken recipes I hadn’t tried before! I hard boiled TONS of eggs. I made tuna salads and bought sliced fresh roast turkey from Whole Foods… I’ll be making this on my own from now on… because my wallet is now empty.
I also found that my daily dietary fat percentage was up around 40%, which is a bit high for me personally. Every time I’ve succeeded in getting leaner, I’ve had to drop fat a little. So, I worked carefully to bring that back down to 30%, protein up to 20% minimum and carbs to 50% or less. All my carbs were coming from whole food sources, not from breads or pastas. I’ve had more than my fair share of sweet potatoes over the past 3 weeks.
Every day, I’d cart around chicken, eggs, salads, and cut up veggies so that I wouldn’t ever be stuck without a healthy option. I work at coffee shops a lot so I’m probably their least favorite customer there now (thanks, hard boiled eggs).
The whole time I did this, I concentrated on fueling my body with what it needed, not with what my mind said would taste good. I knew that if I ate crap, it would likely ruin my workout the next day. Athletes can’t afford to waste a workout because of bad nutrition, so neither could I.
Here’s what kept me from “cheating”:
Always asking myself, “What fuel do I NEED?” was a great way to stave off the cravings, though they came along anyways, as was expected.
I kept trying new recipes so that I wasn’t just eating baked chicken and broccoli (that’s a straight shot to binge town if you ask me).
I was training much more than I usually do, so I was out of the house a lot, which means I couldn’t just grab something from the fridge and nosh mindlessly; I prepared my snacks and meals that morning if not the day before.
I used some athlete-spo. I admit it. I looked at some pictures of athletes who had similar body types to mine and got inspired to strive for the strong, athletic bodies they have. Sprinters, lifters and women who worked to get the body they have.
I don’t usually look to fitspo-type images for inspo because I’m not a fan of comparing bodies, and I don’t think it should be the main goal of an active lifestyle (to look hot). What I found was that looking at these athletes inspired me to strive harder in the gym, not just for the body type. Seeing their ripped physiques and knowing the stories, the hours, the blood, sweat and tears behind them inspired me to challenge my limits.
I’ve used visual inspiration before, and found that I’d feel bad about myself a lot of the time, always looking to what the pictures have and I “don’t.” It isn’t something I’d recommend for most of us most of the time. If you want some visual inspiration, I DO recommend putting your “before” picture up as a reminder of how far you’ve come! That’s a great motivator!
Something to note: I am always, always, ALWAYS anti-thinspo. It’s not healthy, it’s not strong, and it promotes an unrealistic, dangerous ideal body image. I’ll take my thighs touching any day over the possibility of giving up your ability to have children, hair that falls out, bone weakening and ZERO energy. (P.S. even at cover-shoot-ready physique, my thighs still touch… and I think they looked damn good doing it!)
You are worth more than your image alone. Don’t starve yourself to earn love; you deserve it no matter what size you are. More on that in a sec…
I Trained Like An Athlete
Bill Bowerman, one of the co-founders of Nike once said, “If you have a body, you are an athlete.”
I decided that I was going to start giving my strong body the challenge it deserved. I would really push my limits, like any coach would push an athlete with potential.
I tried new heated yoga classes that challenged my body in ways it never had been before.
I upped my HIIT workouts in length, and added cardio on top. All you pure HIIT-ists are cringing, I know, but stay with me here.
The whole time through, I’d repeat the following to myself to get me through:
MAKE YOURSELF PROUD.
Not just proud when I’d see the photos, but proud of the amount of strong I could unleash.
I truly didn’t expect to make myself as proud as I did. I didn’t know that there was still strength lying dormant inside me. And if it’s in me, it’s in you, too.
I Loved My Body Like I Should Have Been All Along
The physical work I put in sticking to a clean diet and living in beast mode wouldn’t have mattered if I hadn’t adopted this revolutionary mantra.
I started repeating to myself in times of physical stress, “I love my body,” before it changed. That’s something important to note here. I started repeating this mantra and believing it from the very beginning of my training, before I got these results.
I have a history with body issues. I’ve never been one to strut around in a crop top. I’ve always been self conscious at the beach, scared of being compared to the girls who have flat stomachs and ITG (inner-thigh gap).
This time around, I said F**k it.
I’ve worked hard to be where I am, as strong as my body is. My body’s worked hard for me, and it deserves some serious emmer-effing love.
So every time I started dreading the amount of work this would all take, or when my anxiety started rising in my chest because I wasn’t having my typical weekly opportunities, I’d repeat: “I love my body.” Out loud or in my head.
“I love my body.”
You’d be surprised how powerful this proclamation can be.
At first, you might not even believe the words you’re saying. But when you start to own them–when you start to live them–it changes your life.
Every time I repeated this truth to myself, I was flooded with a sense of pride, joy, and relief… because it was about time I allowed my body to be exactly what it is: perfect. Just like yours.
We are all perfect in our “imperfections.” It’s the stress and anxiety and forcing and hatred that distracts us from it. I had forgotten to reserve some of the love I was giving to others, for me.
With this shift of self-directed love, the last few steps were… well, not easy, but do-able.
I have an athletic frame. I’ve got quads and calves. I’ve got significant arm muscle. I’m not a super model, and no, I don’t want to be.
When I accepted ownership of this body for life and that it is beautiful, I was able to relax into the work. I was able to ease into the trust of the effort, and that it was making MY body the best it could be, not something it’s never meant to be.
I love my body for what it is capable of, and for what it does for me. I love my body for how far it has come since my Freshman 30 days. I love my body for being uniquely mine, and unlike any of the other cover models’ out there.
I’ve earned my cover for the work that I’ve done and the lives I’ve changed and hope to change in the future. I’m much more proud of that than I ever would be “earning” it because I have a flat stomach.
What This Has To Do With You
I’m a fitness trainer. I help people change the way their bodies look. But it’s so much more than that.
I don’t urge you to move so that you can lose weight because it looks better. I don’t ask you to eat 90% clean because you are a bad/lazy/gluttonous person if you don’t. I don’t want you to meditate and be mindful because it’s the cool thing to do now and it’s what I’m supposed to tell you to do as a self-development/fitness blogger.
I want all of these things for you because they’re what will make you truly strong, inside and out. Physically, mentally, and soulfully.
All these tiers: fitness, nutrition, & mindset, they feed off each other, and then they feed you. You deserve the energy and wholeness that I know you are capable of feeling. It’s not fair to your life that you live any of it in self-hatred because of un-realized actions.
You have the choice to change every second. If you’re not happy with something, ask yourself why? What about it leaves you unsatisfied?
Now, ask yourself: Do I believe that I am worth any less because I haven’t achieved this?
What did you answer?
If you answered yes, I challenge you. Even if you have weight to lose, habits to change, or anxiety, depression or stress that racks your mind all day long, YOU ARE ENOUGH JUST AS YOU ARE NOW.
I showed you the results I got here only after I accepted my body as it was. I didn’t show them to shame you into change or to brag (ok, yeah a little; I worked really hard, guys!). These changes in my body became possible after I stopped fighting with myself all the effing time!
Remove the hate, and accept your inherent worth.
You are enough. You are enough. You are enough.
Whatever goals you go after will be icing on the cake once you achieve them. Becoming strong inside out is about accepting this truth first, then striving to be the most powerful version of you possible (in whatever way you want to interpret that).
What I’m Keeping from All of This
- My food tracking app so that I can stay on top of my macronutrient and vitamin levels, though I take breaks from it to avoid food obsession. I recommend you do, too.
- My devoted workout plan and rediscovery of longer cardio for stress relief. HIIT-purists, don’t get angry! It’s for mental benefits more than physical ones.
- The booty shorts I was gifted by the producer of the shoot. Thanks, Verity!
- My new mantras: “Make yourself proud” for workouts, “I love my body” for every second of every day.
- The love and appreciation for my body, and the way it informs every other choice I make when it comes to fitness, nutrition and even some of my Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs).
What I’m Tossing
- The no-opportunity schedule. Gah, I was craving cookies something fierce by the end of the 3 weeks!
- The self-consciousness of not looking like some of the other girls in the fitness world. I am me, and that’s enough.
- My obsessive tracking tendencies. If I don’t track every day, I won’t die or magically drop all the hard work I’ve done. I just need to stay mindful.
- My never-enough mindset. My best is enough. I will recognize my efforts more often, and refuse to get lost in always looking for better. I invite you to join me on this one.
So after all was said and done, I did make myself proud. I did love the way I felt. I’m looking forward to going back on 90% clean with a few opportunities here and there.
And I plan to keep making myself proud, and continue to help you do the same. Because you’re oh so worth it.
Thanks for staying with me through this rather long one, folks. Thank you for your strength and support. It fuels me every day.
Stay strong and love yourself a little more today while you’re at it,
P.S. Less than 2 weeks to go until the campaign ends on IndieGoGo! Please take a moment to watch the short video, and if you like it, donate and share like it ain’t summer vacation! ;) CLICK HERE TO WATCH, DONATE & SHARE.