Let’s Try This Again

You ever have one of those moments that instantly changes your motivation?

I had one recently.

Many of you know that I went to Masters Pan Ams in the beginning of June.  It was my first bad weightlifting meet. Nothing felt good about it. I tried to cut weight. I didn’t hit my goal and it made me feel terrible.  The energy and excitement of the competition that I usually use to focus myself never kicked in. The weights felt way heavier than they should have.  I went 3 for 6 on my lifts. Got red lighted for the first time (meaning I had a lift judged as not a good lift).


The previous 6 meets to this had been amazing. The meet right before this (April 2015) was Masters Nationals where I smashed PRs and took silver.  You can imagine then how shitty this one felt in comparison. Bad meets happen to ALL weightlifters. You can’t just have amazing meets. Bombing, struggling, working through not having a good day on a meet day is part of the sport of weightlifting.

Since the June meet, I have been playing around with all kinds of things. I did CrossFit for about a month and a half which I actually enjoyed in a strange way. Then I completed a powerlifting cycle, which was a ton of fun.

This past weekend I was listening to some people talk about a fighter who had lost and some one said “What kind of athlete would he be if he failed and then never got back up and tried again?”


The comment struck right to my heart.

I signed up for my next weightlifting competition as soon as I got home.

I don’t care what my lifts will be. I don’t care if my meet total goes up.

What I care about is that I am getting back up and trying again.


Why Lift?

Do you ever have those moments in your life when you realize in that moment how cool it is? That happened to me this week.

I was sitting in my gym after a workout talking to woman in her 50s and a 15 year old girl. They were both sharing how strength training has made the more confident throughout so many areas in their life. That they came into the gym to get “healthier” and ended up with so much more than that.  It was a moment that made me just giddy.

I have lifted weights for over half of my life now. For so many years, it was because I was not ok as I am. I needed to be different. For me, it was important to try and achieve that aesthetic of a fitness person.  Some how being super lean and full of muscles would make me worthy, visible, and more loved.

IMG_0254What I have learned through the journey is it doesn’t matter what your body looks like.  What matters is strength training makes you feel strong and feeling strong is bad ass. That strength that you build in the gym from consistent work, from having a plan, from doing things that scare you, from lifting heavy shit simply makes you grow and be better as a person. It radiates out to the rest of your life in ways you don’t even count on like how you show up with others, resiliency through hardships, greater ease in doing day to day tasks and increased confidence overall. Seriously, what areas in your life could not benefit from you knowing you are badass? 🙂

This is of course aside from the general health benefits of strength training.  We want to keep moving well throughout our whole lives. Strength training means more muscle which keeps our metabolism stoked and helps to develop stronger bones that keep us steady and strong. We need the strength to move well. When we are strong and move well, it is powerful combination for living well for a long time.

My first Weightlifting Competition

I started competing in weightlifting because it is something that I wanted to do. I knew that I loved the lifts and I wanted to see what a weightlifting competition was all about.

I wasn’t told that I should compete. I don’t have a coach telling me its a good idea.  It was something I just figured out that I wanted for myself.Do we want to look back with a constant

There are definitely experiences I know I want to have in life. I do what I can to make sure that they happen. I don’t want fear to keep me from doing something.  I still feel fear some times in trying new experiences but I do what I can to mitigate that. Working to reduce the fear might mean things like: asking for help, advice or in-person support from someone who has experience, doing some research so I am as prepared as possible and even just allowing for the fear.  However, in all fairness, I am also pretty good at just throwing myself in and learning as I go.  Many times you have to feel the fear and do it anyway. 🙂


I had a person with many years of weightlifting experience offer to help me out through my first meet and my friend Leah agreed to compete with me. It helped not being alone for the first competition.

I was terrified about the weigh-in and the singlet on top of to being terrified trying something I had never done before.

The weigh in. Having been to several Ultimate Fighting Championship weigh-ins, I was picturing the meet weigh ins on a scale on a big public stage.  The reality was a little different. 🙂  The scale was in a small private room with just one woman present. I weighed quickly and told her my opening attempts.  It was done very quickly and painlessly for the most part.

The singlet Oh the agony and angst! I dreaded the singlet. It felt scary and terrible and wrong. It would show all my lumps and curves!! It so ended up being no big deal. Every one wears one. No one cares. Honestly. I promise.

The meet  My first time walking up to the platform and I realize I have no idea what I am doing. During my first snatch attempt, I approached the bar.  It was crooked.

I looked at the main judge “Can I straighten this?”

He just looked at me. “Yes.”

I straightened the bar.

“Do I go now?”

“Yes, you can go.”

Cool. 🙂

I completed my snatch which I caught above parallel. Being the good crossfitter that I was at the time and wanting to meet movement standards, I rode the squat down to below parallel and stood back up.

Good Lift! Three white lights! Yay!!

I walk off the platform and the man helping me said “Yeah…That catching the snatch and riding it down? Don’t do that.”IMG_3820

Oh. good to know.  No one told me I could power snatch and power clean!!!!!!  That makes life a lot easier for me. I haven’t hit depth since… but that is a whole other blog post.

It was a great meet. I went six for six in my lifts and had a great time.

My point of this post is that if you want to compete… compete. Every one has a first meet. No one is expecting perfection. Gain the experience. Get a total. You will learn something every time.  Don’t let fear hold you back.  Ask for the help and support you need to help make this happen.  If you don’t have any one close to you that is supportive, reach out to me and I promise we will get it figured out.

What I Have Been up to Lately: A Big Learning Cycle

I find that I go through cycles in my life of big learning followed by a bit of being stagnant or low growth. In reflecting on the past few months, I see that I am in a big learning cycle now and its tons of fun.

In August I attended a five week Strongman Clinic that met every Saturday morning. It was mostly women although a few men. We got to play with all kinds of fun toys – stones, axels, yokes, logs. I loved being able to try new things and test my strength with that. Strong man kegThere were several times when I thought “I can’t possibly do that.” Then I proceeded to not only do it but often with more weight then I figured I could do. That is a good feeling. I loved the sense of play and just trying things out as well as the environment of other women just encouraging and cheering each other on. Lots of fun.Olympic Center Pic



Also in August, I had the opportunity to attend a Masters Weightlifting camp at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO. It was a masters camp meaning that every one was over 35. I would say the ages ranged fromIMG_5397 35-65 and it was about 50/50 men and women. It was so cool to be among my peers. While there were a few people who had been lifting for a long time, many were like me and just found out about the lifts a few years ago and are completely smitten with the sport. We were coached by two Olympians Zygmut Smalcerz and Oscar Chaplin. There was lots to be learned. We had several training sessions a day plus a morning warm up session that I referred to as 1970s Polish Calthestenics. We also had several opportunities to watch the resident team lift which was amazing – speed, power and strength that I can only dream about. The more I learn about weightlifting the more I love it.

Finally, August also brought the Bar Slamming Festival in Stateville, NC. It would be my second official weightlifting meet. What I was most excited about for this competition was a chance to meet one my inspirations in the sport of weightlifting Jon North. If you don’t know him, you should check him out. He is a crazy man and I love it.  His passion and energy in the sport is just contagious. To meet him and to watch him lift and hit a PR for the clean and jerk was just inspiring. I was also there with two of my fabulous friends and I hit a meet PR so it was pretty fabulous in all ways.

Kara and Jon

In September, I attended the USAW Level 1 Coaching course. Let me repeat, the more I learn about weightlifting the more I love it. It was great to interact with the knowledgeable instructors as well as attendees, some of which had never snatched or clean and jerked before. I have an Olympic Weightlifting certification from Catalyst Athletics which is near and dear to my heart. However, the USAW Level 1 is the certification that many people look for industry wide so it was worth getting.  I did learn some great coaching queues and things to improve my own lifting.

It was after the Weightlifting Camp, that I decided to refocus on my weightlifting a bit more and enlist some coaching help. I have trained a ton on my own and really I think I have taken myself as far as I can go. I had a friend who was a competitive weightlifter write me a program and I have a coach that I work with 2-3 days a week. It has made a difference for sure. I have really learned that while I FEEL like my body is doing the right things, the video shows something different. Its been great (and challenging) to get consistent feedback on how my lifts are going. I am planning to compete at the end of September, beginning of November (Both in VA) and in a big Masters meet in California in April. I am pumped about that and ready to work hard and make some gains.

Why am I sharing this? I guess as a reflective time for myself to see how much has happened in a few months but also to help inspire you to go and seek out experiences that you want to have happen and do what ever you can to make them happen. As Jon North has said, Love your life or change it!!

An Interview With Nia Shanks

I am so excited to be able to share with you an interview I did with one of my favorite women in the weightlifting/fitness world, Nia Shanks.  I love Nia because she can lift some seriously big weight and even more than that she is doing an amazing job getting the message out there that strength training for women makes you a bad ass as well as teaching an eating approach that is very straight forward, simple and teaches “don’t let this stuff make you crazy or dominate your life”.

More performance goals and no body shaming?? YES PLEASE!! 🙂 



In this interview we cover:

  • Weightlifting philosophy
  • What to do if you feel dread when ever you walk into the gym
  • How to eat with out making yourself crazy
  • The importance of mindset in training and being healthy
  • PLUS: don’t miss the photo bomb moments from my husband and cats!!  🙂

I know you will see why I just HAD to interview Nia for Zen Barbell. She absolutely embodies all that this site is about:
strong body, present mind, better life!!

Nia can be found at NiaShanks.com and on Facebook. For more information on her programs:

  • Her Beautiful Bad Ass program can be found here: Click Here!
  • Her Lift Like a Girl video series can be found here: Click Here!
  • Her Sane and Simple Nutrition plan can be found here: Click Here!



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.  

Stop Thinking about Losing and Start Thinking about Being Amazing

How many years have you spend focusing on a calorie deficit?

How many times have you wished for that number on the scale to be just a little (or maybe A LOT) different?

It gets depressing, tiring and old to focus on loss, smaller, less food, deprivation and really there is no “there” to get to. There is no end to that cycle.

Be more than that for yourself. Focus on being amazing.

How are you amazing?

Focusing on being AMAZING means setting goals like:

  • A body weight back squat
  • Getting a first pull up
  • Full-body-on-your-toes push ups
  • Running your first race/Tough Mudder/Adventure race
  • Learning new skills like the Olympic lifts, hand stand push ups or ring dips

You want goals that have you chasing after things that scare you a bit, get you out of your comfort zone and things that you know that when you get there you will raise your hand, fist pump and yell THAT WAS AMAZING!!

All of these take a plan, focus, daily consistent steps to be successful.  And when you get that goal? BAM! You just added more amazing in your life.  You have a new skill, you are stronger.  Doesn’t THAT feel so much better than worrying about a deficit or the scale?

Keep the food stuff simple: real, whole foods – “JERF: Just Eat Real Food”  and then you don’t have to worry about it.  Fuel to meet your performance goals and your amazingness.

Amazing people also getting plenty of sleep and have good to great stress management tools. Don’t forget about those two BIG pieces!

Crazy stuff will happen when you focus on amazing rather than weight loss.

WARNING! Side effects may include:

  • Feeling more pride in yourself
  • Increased confidence that you can set a goal and accomplish it
  • A body that feels satisfied and stronger (warning: additional leanness MAY occur!)
  • An inner monologue that shifts from negative criticism to positive high fives
  • Positive changes in other parts of your life above and beyond the health and fitness area

Each Tuesday on the ZenBarbell facebook page, We celebrate amazingness. I want people to share how they are being amazing in their lives.  Please come over and shout it out!!

If you want help getting started with your own being amazing plan, let me know! I would love to help!




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.  

All you wanted to know about CrossFit Part 1

One question I get asked all the time is “What is CrossFit?”

I typically answer with “How much time do you have?” 🙂

The official description is “Constantly varied functional movement performed at high intensity.”

Um. Ok. What the hell does that mean?

Crossfit. Better than Yesterday

Constantly varied means the types of exercises, the duration and the intensity will change with every work out.  With CrossFit, you can expect to encounter body weight exercises (squats, pull ups, push ups, lunges, situps), Olympic lifts (clean, jerk, snatch), barbell lifts (bench, deadlifts, back squats), Kettlebells, running, rowing, biking, jump roping and gymnastic type movements (handstands, rings, etc).  Just to name a few things. Keeps your body guessing and keeps you from getting bored.

Functional movement opens up a whole can of worms in the trainer/exercise world but I will keep it simple by saying this means using moves that involve most of your body to get the work done and moves that translate to things you do every day (push, pull, squat, press, carry).  You won’t find too many single body movements here – biceps curls, leg extensions, etc. This helps increase fitness level and should keep us motoring longer in life.

High Intensity is the piece that seems to scare people most. It is also the most personal component. People see the CrossFit games and assume that the expectation is that every one at a CrossFit gym MUST be like that.  Not at all. The intensity is set by you. That is dictated by your current conditioning, how consistently you are moving with good technique, your personal goals and what you bring to the gym on any given day.  It can mean that while one person in the class is sprinting 400 meters, another athlete is walking to the 100 meter mark and back as that is intense enough for them to do.  It is all good and you will get cheered and supported with what ever intensity you bring.

Answers to other questions you may be asking:

  • You don’t need to be in shape to start. That is the point of going to get stronger, fitter.
  • You also don’t need special skills in order to start. Just show up and be willing to learn.
  • Yes, there are people of all ages, shapes, sizes and genders that go.  (Moms, Dads, single people, married people, skinny people, fat people, people who have never worked out before, former high school/collegiate athletes, fit people, gym rats, teens and kids, brothers, sisters, people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, stay at home people, people who work part time, people who work full time,  etc)  ALL ARE WELCOME.
  • No, Its not all like it is on TV. CrossFit can be a work out or it can be a sport. Most people do not perform at the level of the world class athletes you see on ESPN2.  CrossFit gyms are mostly filled with your average (fabulous!) person who wants to come in an be better: healthier, stronger, fitter, etc.
  • No matter what I say to you before hand you will be scared before your first CrossFit workout.  It is ok. Fear is just an emotion. You will be ok. 🙂
  • Cost. CrossFit will cost you more than your average gym. You are essentially paying for group personal training.  Each gym has their own cost structure but it normally ranges from $120-170/month depending on how many times you go each week and other things that may or may not be included. Typically this works out to about $10-15 per class.

You know if you are at a good CrossFit gym when:

  • There is an on boarding program where you learn correct technique and to move safely
  • The coaches know your name, stress safety and technique and are encouraging (and hopefully friendly!)
  • There should be no pressure to lift heavy before you move well.
  • The community should feel welcoming, not judging
  • Eventually you are moving better and hopefully more pain free

My personal experience:

Kara being zen with the barbell
That’s ME!!

What I love about CrossFit:

  1. The Growth – Facing something that scares you and getting through it makes you grow plus I have learned so much about working out and human movement since I started CrossFit. I am better for it.
  2. The Community – I love knowing the people at my gym, having them know my name and encouraging and supporting each other through some really mentally and physically tough work outs.
  3. The Olympic lifts – I had never had any exposure to these before CrossFit. Now I am obsessed.
  4. The Strength – I am stronger and have more muscle than I did before I started. It is the intensity and work I had been looking for my whole life but never knew I was missing. 🙂  Plus focusing on being stronger makes me so much happier than focusing on being skinnier.

I hope this addresses some your questions about what CrossFit is. If it doesn’t feel free to post them down below.  As Jen Grabham said in her interview on ZenBarbell “Take a leap of faith and just try it.”  You will be so glad you did.

Current CrossFitters, I would love to hear if I missed anything or if you would like to share your story about how you started with CrossFit that would be great too!

Stay tuned for next week when I give my thoughts on the dark side of CrossFit. 😮


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 CrossFit.com 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 www.sparkfit.info and her SparkFit fan page is https://www.facebook.com/SparkFit.info.  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 www.eattrainperformbetter.com and the fan page at https://www.facebook.com/EatTrainPerformBetter.

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.  

No. What can you REALLY do?

Do you ever read a blog post or a status update that breaks your heart? The other day I read a blog post from Nia Shanks that just socked me in the gut. It talked about a woman she was working out with and complaining that she wasn’t seeing results. As Nia patiently watched her, it was clear that she wasn’t lifting to her full potential. She didn’t know what intensity really was. Yet, she was in the gym loyally many days a week putting in the work like she knew she should.

I did that for years. I have loved lifting for a very long time. I spent hours a week in the gym, week after week, year after year. Never getting to what I thought I should. I learned most of my weight lifting from magazines like Shape, Oxygen and Muscle&Fitness Hers. They gave me the exercises and the sets and reps but could not convey what working hard REALLY felt like. I never had an in person coach or mentor to help me see what I was capable of. I know some people discover this all on their own but I tend to be Ms. Comfort Zone or Ms. Consistent Energy – carefully throttling my energy so I know I can make it comfortably all the way through my sets/reps/workout. That means I rarely pushed myself as I needed.

Until I found Crossfit. I was shown true intensity. I really for the first time was able to test what I could do.
I am stronger now than I ever have been before in my life and I love it.
Yes, I wish I would have had crossfit or a coach that would have keyed me into this YEARS ago but I didn’t. I have it now and I plan to make the most of it that I can for as long as I possibly can.

  • Weight training does too many good things for your body to be half-assing your way through workouts.
  • Are you doing what you are fully capable of in the gym?

    1) Get a mentor (a coach, a personal trainer who is worth a damn, a friend who can push you, a great lifting partner): some one who can watch and help push you further than you thought you could go. The feedback and insight is invaluable.

    2) Test yourself Yes, 10 reps of a back squat at 85lbs might feel like enough but put 10, 15, 20 more pounds on the bar and see if you can step up to the challenge. Safety first and always, of course!

    3) Growth comes from being uncomfortable. If you are comfy with your routine in the gym but you are wanting to continue to get better then change it up.