It’s time to #breakthebinge

(guest post from Julie Stubblefield)

Dieting.  We’ve all done it.  We’ve all hated it.  Yet, we keep going back for more.  Despite feeling unworthy, unsuccessful, and unvalidated in the process, dieting is the most-accepted form of self-abuse.

There.  I said it.  Dieting is self-abuse.  What’s scarier is that it is not only accepted, but expected.  Care to take a walk on the dark side with me?

Let me tell you a story of a girl and her friend.  

They spend a lot of time together.  But this girl’s friend is a bit overbearing.  Just when the girl feels like she is being successful, the friend shoots her down.  Just when the girl feels like she is making positive changes in her life, her friend abruptly tells her she can’t.  And when the girl is feeling particularly vulnerable, the friend reminds her of all her failures, pouring salt into the wound.  Even though the friend is more critical than supportive, the girl stays close, keeping her in her daily life.

Upon first glance, we would see this as a pretty dysfunctional relationship.  Why would this girl continue to let this friend in her life?  Who would want to be treated that way?  Who could tolerate it on a daily basis?

The girl is me.  The girl is you.  The friend?  It’s the diet.

Put the word “diet” in place of “friend” in the story above.  Ouch.

We choose to keep ourselves in a nasty relationship with dieting.  We allow ourselves to feel like utter shit when we don’t achieve a goal.  We know what will happen at the end of every diet…self-loathing, disappointment, and frustration.  We blame ourselves.  We think we can’t succeed.  We feel like we are undeserving of changing our bodies.  We are drawn to diets, because we think they are to answer to happiness, the solution to smaller waists, the key to gratification.  Even when we know how we feel when we are on them, what happens when we end them, we keep going back for more.

We are abusing ourselves with dieting.  

If you knew a friend was married to a guy who only let her eat certain foods, required her to workout a certain number of hours per week, and made her feel awful when she couldn’t follow the rules, you would tell her to leave his ass!

If you knew a friend was dating someone who belittled her, made her feel like a failure, and made her cry on a regular basis, you would tell her it’s not a good relationship.

Can you see the similarities here?  These flaws, these restrictions, these rules of dieting put us in a cycle of emotional and physical damage.  Women face this daily.  And we expect this to be how we change our bodies.


What’s fascinating is that 68% of people regain what is lost on a diet within 3 years.  Even more startling is that only about 5% of those who achieve results in a crash diet will maintain the change. {sourced from}

Do you fit into either of those statistics?

Re-read this:  68% regain within 3 years.  There is no specific diet being isolated as being the troublesome one (though I could list a dozen).  Dieting as a generalized term is the problem.

The Cycle:

  • Feel guilty about health and/or physique
  • Go on a diet to change it
  • Follow the rules as long as possible
  • Eat a food not on the list because the diet is unrealistic
  • Feel guilty about the food
  • Possibly eat more
  • Feel more guilt and possibly shame
  • Repeat the cycle (sometimes this happens daily, weekly, monthly)

We stand up in outrage when we see women struggling with external relationships we can see, we stand up to be able to breastfeed in public, we stand up to help moms deal with depression.

Why the hell can’t we see what we are doing to ourselves?  Why are we continuing this cycle?

Because we think there is no other way.

Breaking the Cycle:

  • Stop counting.   Fill your body with great food.  When you put protein, veggies, fruits, and fats in your body, the calories will take care of themselves…every time.
  • Make your own rules.  Screw the status quo.  Eat more of what makes you feel good, less of what doesn’t.  Does eating early in morning make you feel worse?  Then don’t.
  • Slow down.  We want fast results, like yesterday.  Making your own rules takes time.  And if you want to break the cycle, you have to be willing to take the time to listen to YOUR body.
  • Lighten up.  We make dieting so serious!  And when we struggle, it gets even more so.  Find humor in mistakes.  Find a way to laugh.  Find a way to enjoy the process.
  • Give yourself compassion.  This is probably the most difficult one.  Know that you are doing the best you can each day, and that truly is enough!  The results will come in time.
It’s time to stand up for ourselves.
It’s time to stop abusing ourselves with diets.
It’s time to #breakthebinge.

If you are ready to break your binge, you don’t have to do it alone.

My awesome friend Julie!! Check out here program!

 This week’s blog post is a a guest post written by my good friend Julie Stubblefield of Fit Mom Revolution. She has been featured on Zen Barbell before and is one of the women who I am working with to put on an in person event in 2015 talking about the exact topic that she writes about here (I am excited! Its going to be wonderful!) Julie is passionate about helping women breaking the binge cycle and ending the diet mindset. You can check out here program here:  

Loving myself or just being lazy?

As many of you know I am big on loving yourself (including your body in what ever shape/size it is in) exactly as you are in this moment. I got in to a discussion the other day around this topic with a friend who feels like I have “bought into the new age crap too much” and I am settling for less than what I could be especially when it comes to body composition. I was thrown. My inner monologue started questioning “Am I being too accepting of my weight? Am I using the excuse of loving my self exactly as I am to be lazy? To not push more?”

Or were her words more about her? I know she feels like she has peaked and that it has been down hill since high school. That as beautiful as I think she is, she hates to see pictures of herself.  I know that we often view the world in very different ways and that in her mind peace and loving yourself = complacency and accepting imperfection.

For me loving yourself exactly as you are stops the madness but doesn’t stop the progress.

When you are physically with some one you love, don’t you find that energizing?

Don’t you WANT to pour more into the relationship to make sure it stays happy and healthy?

I view the relationship with myself to be the exact same way.

 I eat whole – not processed food – because that is how I feel and perform the best. I get my sleep each night because my body loves it.  I get into the gym and lift weights because it brings me sheer joy. I spend quiet meditative time with myself so I can better hear that inner voice and I can better feel the present moment.

Love is all you need

I am happier here. The discontent and constantly wanting to be different than who I am brings me to an obsessive miserable place where I count calories and stress about if I am getting smaller or not. When I get to that “I should be different” place I sneak foods and have a daily drink to numb a bit to the stress and misery.

Over the past few years, I have been getting bigger. I size 6 then an 8 and recently last month I bought some size 10 jeans. I know there are certain clothes I am not digging how I look in them. Can I hold that I am ok as I am and lose fat at the same time? Yes. I guess looking at the opposite of that can I hate myself and lose fat… well yes, I could but not for long. As the quote from Fit Mama said – “You can hate yourself fat. You can hate yourself thin. But you cannot hate yourself healthy.”

Its our choices on a day to day basis that make us who we are.

So am I loving myself or am I just being lazy? I can look at my life now and see that I am happier and healthier than ever before. I am not being lazy by not having body aesthetic be my top goal. If I do all the good things to care for myself, then the weight will take care of itself.

Much LOVE!!!



Why Maintaining A Healthy Body Has Nothing To Do With Food or Exercise

Today’s guest post on Zen Barbell is from Josh Becker of I Simply Am.  I came across  Josh in Scott Dinsmore’s Live Your Legend group. I immediately connected with his passion and energy and of course, his message of loving yourself as you are in this moment. I am so happy he agreed to write something for Zen Barbell.  What he wrote really touched me and I know will resonate with you.  As we have talked about before, mindset change first, then the body will follow. 🙂


Why Maintaining A Healthy Body Has Nothing To Do With Food or Exercise – Josh Becker

Over the years, and since I started my own journey to live my Authentic Life I’ve learned that there are two ways we respond to pain. We either cope or we resolve. As a society we’re mostly taught to cope with our problems. We learn to mitigate them, set them aside, shame ourselves for having them, or turn to isolation. In fact, coping has been so engrained in us that it’s actually an acceptable response when we say that we’re coping with our problems. Coping, as I define it, means that we’re “getting by” and that we’re doing our best to live our lives despite our past hurts.

Coping may seem fine on the surface but the reality is the pain we carry affects us greatly and normally in ways we’re not even aware. Resolving our pain means just that – we’ve healed from our hurts and have freed up that energy spent on coping to love ourselves and others more fully.

Often times we turn to coping and specifically isolation as a means to numb out the uncomfortable feelings. Isolation doesn’t necessarily mean being alone (although it may). Rather, we isolate ourselves from the pain and the uncomfortable feelings by turning to things that on the surface make us happier. This could include buying clothes, getting into inappropriate relationships, drugs, and eating.

Eating is the most common form of isolation because it’s so acceptable. I mean let’s face it, we all need to eat. Eating too much food or unhealthy food is so easy to do and in fact is pretty much the norm for most of our American society. Yet, we find ourselves becoming more and more unhealthy. Whether it’s heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, or a myriad of other diseases our bodies are paying the price for our unhealed pain.

We’re always looking for the latest exercise routine or fad diet to try on in order to lose those extra pounds. Yet, the vast majority of us gain all the weight back within the first year of losing it. The problem of course is not that we don’t know how to lose weight. All of us know that regular and moderate exercise coupled with sensible eating based primarily on a whole foods diet is what it takes (for the vast majority of us) to stay healthy. Yet, having that fundamental knowledge isn’t enough, we need more – or so we think!

An unhealthy lifestyle is not the problem. Let me say that in another way – Eating too much and not enough of the right foods and limited or no exercise is not the problem. These are the symptoms of a much larger problem called coping.

I talk a lot about self-love and most of us consider this to be an emotional or spiritual thing. This is true to a large degree. However, we must consider that if what we think and feel about ourselves is based on love then our actions and physical responses to life will be in alignment with that. This means that eating well and exercising is a physical response to loving ourselves.

Most of us will say that we love ourselves but do we really?:

  • Are we loving ourselves when we call ourselves fat?
  • Are we loving ourselves when we call ourselves stupid?
  • Are we loving ourselves when we say Yes to people when we really mean No?
  • Are we loving ourselves when we judge?
  • Are we loving ourselves when we can’t forgive ourselves or others?
  • Are we loving ourselves when we eat that cup of ice cream knowing we’re 20 lbs. overweight?

We all do this and the problem is that we’re confusing the idea of loving ourselves with the physical, emotional, and spiritual act of loving ourselves. Trust me, I know! As I write this I have a solid 30 lbs. that I want to lose. While I rarely find that I talk negative about myself, and in fact normally I’m affirming inherent qualities, I had that cup of ice cream tonight. Yup, Mr. Self-Love Helper of others was isolating tonight and coping with unhealed hurts of his own.

Living an Authentic Life for me is a journey. It’s never a destination and therefore, I’m going to have my fair share of mishaps and mistakes along the way. Lately, I’ve realized that I’ve been turning to unhealthy food and limited exercise in return for not having to feel my feelings. There’s no way I’m loving myself and feeding myself ice cream at 30 lbs over weight. This isn’t about having a “perfect” body or fitting into the perfect size dress or pants. This is about loving (the verb) your body.

Every time we put food in our mouths we’re either nourishing our body (with the exception of those times when we eat for pleasure) or we’re covering up unhealed pain that we’d rather not feel. I know this because just the other night I found myself craving something to eat late at night. I asked myself if I was hungry and the answer was actually No! I realized that I was feeling bored and had I explored those feelings even deeper I know I would have uncovered some pretty uncomfortable ones. It’s much easier to eat and not feel. The problem is that our body pays the price for our unhealed pain. That pain eventually comes out in a physical manifestation through all forms of dis-eases.


I know I need to shine more light on how I’m treating, and literally abusing my body as a means to cope. It’s much more pleasurable to eat but this is only for a moment. Because, not long after I eat something I shouldn’t I feel terrible anyway. The very feeling I’m trying to avoid comes back eventually and the cycle starts over again. In those moments we find ourselves putting something in our mouths that’s unhealthy or when we’re not hungry the question should always be, “How do I feel?”. If we can answer this question with honesty and clarity then we can begin to make decisions that are with self-love in mind.

  • Self-love means accepting that you are not your past traumas.
  • Self-love means that you are not destined to live your life based on your feelings.
  • Self-love means that sometimes we have to feel a lot of sadness, grief, anger, and despair to truly express our inherent quality of Joy.

When they say, “No Pain, No Gain” they’re not just talking about the sweat pouring down from your forehead as you push through that last rep. They’re also talking about the tears pouring down your face as you push through the fear, the sadness, the anger, and the loneliness we feel deep down inside.

Do you ever find yourself struggling to maintain a healthy body?

What would your answer be if you asked yourself how you felt before every bite?

What if you asked yourself how you felt after deciding that tonight would not be a “gym night” for you?

Does that fear of feeling those feelings make you run the other way? It does for me sometimes but I know that while both of us are vulnerable we’re also strong, courageous, and resilient.

When we express our wholeness, accepting ourselves as we authentically are, then our bodies get to reap all the rewards. It’s a hard journey but one worth exploring. For each of us has a gift to give while we’re here on this planet and our body is the only vehicle we have to deliver it in.


Connect with Josh on Facebook or on his blog. 🙂



If you want to learn more about loving who you are and getting peace with your body but aren’t sure how to do that, let Zen Barbell help you! Check out the 30 Days to Stop Hating Your Body program here.  

5 Kind Ways to Deal with Yourself After an Eating Binge

I am a binge eater. Well I used to be. It used to happen for me very frequently.  Now it happens rarely. This past weekend was one of those rare events.  It happened.  A full on eat-what-you-can-get-your-hands-on-it-has-nothing to-do-with-hunger-binge happened. Why? Upon reflection, I think it was excess sugar consumption the day before  and disrupted/shortened sleep cycle on top of struggling recently with my confidence since I keep gaining weight. We had friends over the night before and I ate a little more than I normally do and certainly more sugar than I normally do but it was a party so I wasn’t too worried.

However, the next morning I woke up tired, sad and feeling so fat and defeated. The messages going through my mind were “You are so fat” “You don’t have the energy or the discipline to lose this weight again”, “Why keep trying?” Nothing makes a difference”. I felt hopeless.  (Any of that familiar to any one?) So instead of picking myself up, maybe getting out and moving a bit, I wallowed and I ate. I mean if I can’t lose the weight again why not just eat every ounce of every thing that is in the house? (That is GREAT logic, right?!) So I did.

I felt pretty miserable for a bit. Then I decided I needed to take the advice I give most people about this situation.

Here are my five steps for dealing with yourself after a binge:

1) Take some deep breaths. Calm down and be really present.  This helps you to relax, de-stress a bit and get some space from the situation. This can bring perspective and in that some learning and choice can happen.

2) Talk to yourself like you would a good friend who was feeling this horrible.  I doubt any of us would call our friends fatty, loser or stupid.  We would smile and be comforting and encouraging. We would say things like its going to be ok. You will definitely pick yourself up tomorrow. We would hold their hand and offer gentleness and love while they are going through a hard time. Nothing is gained by beating the crap out of ourself when you are down. Negative reinforcement and berating is not going to pull you out of this faster.

Remember: “You, yourself, as much as anybody else in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~Buddha    – even when you had a food binge. 🙂

3) Clean up your environment.  I had to go through and remove anything left that would be a temptation for me. All the sugar, sodas, etc needed to be gone. (And don’t try to eat it away so its out of the house either because I KNOW we have all been there. 🙂  )  Thankfully it was trash day. I took it all right outside to the bin. This way the next day, my kitchen only had healthy whole food options for me to fuel my body and mind with.

4) Commit to one small change.  Part of me wanted to promise myself that I would fast for the next 24 hours to make amends for what I had done. I even considered buying one of those month long cleanses where you don’t eat food, you just drink shakes and take supplements. I wanted to completely be something different the next day.  But that is not how it works or how things happen. So I committed to one small change for this week. I will master that and gain some confidence around my food and choices again.

5) Take some time to reflect. A failure is only failure if we don’t learn anything from it. Make this a learning opportunity. Journal, talk it through with a supportive spouse, friend, support group. However you best can figure out what the lessons are.  It will make a big difference if the same circumstances come up again… and more than likely they will… and you will be better prepared.

Be kind
photo source: pinterest

None of these steps made it feel magically better.  I was still one unhappy camper that day but what DID feel better is I didn’t spend time beating the crap out of myself, I spoke to myself kindly and I took steps to make myself feel more in control again.  There is no magic out there. Changes take courage and practice. Lots and lots of practice. 🙂



If you want to learn more about loving who you are and getting peace with your body but aren’t sure how to do that, let Zen Barbell help you! Check out the 30 Days to Stop Hating Your Body program here.  

Interview with CrossFit Coach Jen Grabham

This month on ZenBarbell, I interview Jen Grabham, one of the owners of West End Crossfit. I met Jen for the first time in the Short Pump Lululemon Store when we were both ambassadors for that store at the same time. While not its not the CrossFit gym where I coach, I often stop by West End CrossFit for a workout or just to chat about coaching/CrossFit stuff. Jen and Tim have always made me feel completely welcome at their gym.  I love that they are so open to sharing, growing the greater CrossFit community and helping everyone get better.

Jen prepping for a lift
Jen prepping for a lift

I wanted to interview Jen as she exemplifies many of the values that Zen Barbell is all about. She is one hell of a coach (caring, thoughtful, creative, motivating and I consistently learn when I am around her) and she is a bad ass. This woman lifts heavy weights very well. (Can’t you tell by how big and bulky she is?! ha!)

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself Jen.

Hahaha, not too much to tell.  I’m a wife, mother of 2, and an individual who is passionate about helping other people realize their potential.

2. How did you come across CrossFit? What did you connect with about it enough that you wanted to have your own box? Did you grow up being athletic? 
I first learned about CrossFit roughly 5 years ago through a friend who was a Navy EOD specialist.  I was a personal trainer at the time at a local YMCA.  The day I decided to visit to find out what our friend was so excited about, the WOD was 30 muscle ups for time.  I immediately dismissed CrossFit based solely off of this one workout.  I had no idea there were scaling and modification options.  Tim finally convinced me to try a benchmark wod about a month later.  “Cindy” was my first go at CrossFit.  I was a gym rat.  I spent no less than an hour and a half in the gym on any given day.  I just knew there was no way this 20 minute WOD would challenge me.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Seven minutes in I was ready to cry Uncle!  I was immediately hooked. Initially,  I really connected with the competitiveness of CrossFit.  I was a Division I athlete and CrossFit was the closest I had come to that “rush” since graduating college.  As far as finally coming to a decision to open up our own box?  My ultimate goal in life has always been to help other people.  I never knew in what capacity until I became a personal trainer.  CrossFit just seemed like a natural fit.  It produced tangible, measurable results and was concerned with a TOTAL approach towards a healthy lifestyle.  I did grow up being athletic.  Volleyball became my passion once I got to high school.

3. How often do you encounter the argument that women shouldn’t lift heavy? Why do you think this is so prevalent? Do you think it is starting to change?  
I, along with our other coaches, encounter this argument with nearly every woman who walks through our doors who is a newcomer to CrossFit.  I do believe media plays a huge role in women not wanting to lift heavy for fear of “bulking up.”  We are flooded with images of women in magazines and in TV commercials who are thin with little to no muscle tone.  The “cute” clothes are made for those with no ass, no thighs, no shoulders and no lats.  Ask any woman who lifts how much of a nightmare it is to shop for a great fitting pair of jeans.  🙂  Traditionally, the skinny body type is praised and desired and the muscular body type is criticized.  I do think this is slowly starting to change and I think CrossFit has played a monumental role in this change!  Quite honestly, all body types deserve to be praised.  All bodies are not created equally!  The healthy, beautiful, strong body has MANY different shapes and sizes and deserves to be celebrated never criticized.

4. What are the big differences, if any, do you notice in training women vs training men?

Honestly, it’s a pretty level playing field. We have women who are JUST as competitive and driven to lift more weight and better themselves as their male counterparts. I think it’s more individualized differences among members not male/female differences.

5. How important is mind set in training? In life in general? What has helped you most in your life in learning about mindset (books, people, movies, etc)?

I think this is where a lot of people miss the mark. Mindset in training is CRUCIAL. We’ve all had the experience of looking at a WOD and low and behold ALL of our goats are listed. The success of that WOD is dependent on how an individual mentally approaches it. They can defeat themselves from the beginning with “I can’t” or “I suck” or look at it as opportunity to challenge themselves and step outside that comfort zone. Experience has taught me most about mindset in life and of course CrossFit. I’ve been both. I’ve been negative and positive. The positive is much more difficult but elicits the MOST return! Negativity also sucks the life out of those around you. Who wants to be a life suck?? I highly recommend Words by Lisbeth. She has a knack for telling it like it is and I think her blog resonates with people through all walks of life.

6. What advice would you give to some one who might be interested in trying CrossFit but is too nervous or feels like they need to get into better shape first? Take a leap of faith and just try it. Scout your local boxes. All have their own unique vibe. Find what fits your personality and needs. Those with concerns about having to “get into shape” first? The intro sessionshould leave these individuals feeling like they could have done a little more. Everyone knows CrossFit can kick your ass. There’s plenty of time for that! But how many amazing success stories might you miss out on if you design an intro session that leaves the previously sedentary individual defeated before they’ve even begun? Find a box where the coach is willing to put in the time and effort to scale and modify wod’s to accommodate your current fitness level. This is imperative to success!

Jen coaching athlete
Jen coaching one of her athletes in competition

Any other parting words or thoughts?

I feel very fortunate to be a part of so many different journeys and to have a staff who values every single member’s progress.



Jen coaches at and co-owns West End CrossFit which is located at 3641 Cox Road SUITE Henrico, VA 23233.  You can also find WECF on Facebook!



If you want to learn more about loving who you are and getting peace with your body but aren’t sure how to do that, let Zen Barbell help you! Check out the 30 Days to Stop Hating Your Body program here.  

Sharing the Spark. An Interview with Julie Stubblefield from SparkFit.

Each month for 2013,  I am planning to have an interview on Zen Barbell with some one who I feel really embodies both the Zen (mindfulness and self acceptance and awareness) and the Barbell (in some way loves to move and challenge their body regularly) in their lifes and actions.

I could not be more excited that my friend Julie Stubblefield, owner of SparkFit agreed to be my first interview for this site and for 2013!!  Julie has completely transformed her life in so many dimensions – as you will read below.  I often refer to her as my friend ON FIRE because her passion and energy for life and for helping others is breath taking. Get ready to be inspired!!

Tell us a little about you, Julie.

Hi, Kara! Thank you for the opportunity to share information with your readers! After losing 70 pounds, I made it my mission to be an expert on fat loss and share that knowledge with as many people as possible. I’ve also been working with teens to help them learn how to fuel their bodies properly to not only perform better on the field and in the classroom but also to give them tools to avoid adult obesity.

Julie - Before she found her spark
Julie – Before she found her spark


Julie - Hot Mama.
Julie – Hot Mama.









As you know, Zen Barbell is about finding the right mind set and lifting heavy weights. So I want to ask you about both of those things.

Do you think women are encouraged not to lift heavy? if so, why? Do you lift heavy weights in your own work out? How do you coach your clients around this?

I think there is mixed information about women lifting heavy weights. The popular media tends to lean toward women lifting lighter weights and performing more repetitions. There is the notion that women can only lift lighter weights because of genetics or because lifting heavier weights will immediately land them on stage in a physique competition. With what I’ve experienced personally and what I’ve witnessed with my clients, it couldn’t be further from the truth! Women MUST lift heavy weights to get lean!

 I do lift heavy weights…every time I work out. I spend 3-4 days a week on big compound movements with heavy weights (dumbbells between 20 and 40lbs and barbells with more weight). Lifting heavy allows me to challenge my body in a way that builds a better muscle mass (which burns more calories when I’m resting) and also to keep fat away (by getting breathless frequently in my workout).

 My clients are sometimes intimidated when they see the heavier weights in my studio. We start off slowly and a little lighter to build confidence and correct any issues with form. Once they feel more comfortable, we increase weights regularly (but safely) to keep their bodies challenged and in fat-burning mode. One of my favorite quotes from a client is this. “I NEVER would have picked up heavy weights on my own. Thank you for putting them in my hands, for coaching me through, and for helping me get leaner, stronger, and more confident!” It just doesn’t get any better than that.

Can you share a bit on your thoughts on mindfulness in life and in training?

Mindfulness is what I consider being present, and it really has the opportunity to take anything to the next level, whether you are lifting weights, spending time with your family/friends, or cleaning house. When I’m lifting, I’m all there. I’m not thinking about what I need to do when I get home or who I need to call later in the day. I’m thinking about the muscles I’m using, the feeling of getting sweaty, the breeze from the fans on my neck, the sound of the music in my ears. When I’m spending time with my family, I do my best to be fully present. Admittedly, this one takes a little more practice with life’s many distractions. I do my best to fully focus on conversations with my kids and husband. I listen to what they say, feel their emotions of whatever they are sharing with me, and engage with them. Even when I’m folding laundry or doing dishes, I’m truly thinking about just that. I used to get aggravated or distressed by the sheer volume of dishes and laundry that a family of four (that includes 2 growing boys) can generate. The bottom line is that the dishes and laundry will always be there. I could either be frazzled every single time I had to take care of the chores, or I could do it with mindfulness, presence, gratitude. Sure, laundry and dishes are not my favorite things to do. But, I’m thankful to have a family to dirty them. Thinking of it that way makes it a lot easier to tackle them!

 If I want to lose weight and get healthier, why does it matter if I am motivating myself from a negative vs a positive place?

 I’m so glad you asked this because it’s near and dear to my heart! There are two approaches to change: punishment vs. self-love.

With the first approach, we tend to punish ourselves for not going to the gym or not following our meal plan, etc. Since we punish ourselves for not doing what we think we should do, we then feel the need to reward ourselves for when we do follow through. It’s a vicious cycle, and our brains are constantly in one mode or the other. I rode that roller coaster for YEARS! I completely let my mood be determined by how I felt about my performance in life. Should I feel like celebrating or should I feel bad about something? Even when I was celebrating, I assumed something was “right around the corner” to punish myself with yet again. It was a never-ending battle and it was hard on my psyche.

Now I take a different approach; it’s one of self-love, and, yes, it sounds a little “out there”. This is definitely not easy at first and takes practice. I’ve decided to make an effort every day to love where I am at that moment. So I overslept and didn’t get to the gym this morning. In the “old days”, I would have mentally punished myself and would have felt bad about myself a good portion of the day. Today, I decided I must have needed the sleep, so I’m doing the best I can with what I have today. I’ll make sure I go to bed a little earlier tonight so I can get up on time tomorrow. Last week, as I was trying to make dinner for everyone, it was a total flop. It tasted absolutely awful (even to me). Instead of being mad, ordering a pizza, and letting it ruin my evening, I turned it around. We had the good old standby of breakfast for dinner, and we had a good laugh about it. I was doing the best I could. There was nothing to punish myself for. I was mindful of the situation, appreciated that I did my best, laughed hysterically about how awful it was, and was able to fully let it go. Is this always easy to do? No. I still find myself in the midst of a frustrating situation and wanting to punish myself for not doing what I think I should. But the more I remind myself to operate out of place of self-love, the easier it gets.

Any tips for the really busy women out there who want to make a move to be healthier in life but feel overwhelmed by even starting?

This one is juicy! Believe it or not, don’t change everything at one time, because that’s just overwhelming! Take a look at your current lifestyle. What are things you would like to implement to get healthier? Some ideas are to walk each day, increase water intake, increase lean protein, increase veggies and fruits, decreased processed foods, lift heavy things repeatedly, make 15-30 minutes to fully unwind. Pick ONE thing and do it for a week. At the end of that week, if this change feels like it’s part of your daily routine, then select a new one to work on. Keep working down your list as each one gets easier and easier to do. You’ll find that it’s not nearly as difficult as you think if you break it down into smaller parts. It’s not a race to get healthy. You don’t have to do it all today. Make small incremental changes in a way that will allow you to continue with those changes forever! And if you have a day that you don’t hit all those lifestyle changes, love yourself anyway and do the best you can in that very moment. You know those days will come up anyway, so you might as well expect them!

Thank you so much for sharing, Julie! I know my readers will be just as inspired by you as I am!!

You can find Julie Stubblefield at and her SparkFit fan page is  If you have teens (ages 11-18) and would like a free plan that outlines nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle changes for field and classroom performance, check out her site at and the fan page at

If you want to learn more about loving who you are and getting peace with your body but aren’t sure how to do that, let Zen Barbell help you! Check out the 30 Days to Stop Hating Your Body program here.