Practice is Powerful

It is wonderful to learn new things.
It is wonderful to make connections and have insights about things that are important to you. However, insight alone cannot bring the change that you want to see in your life. You have to practice.

Practice has power.

Practice is what brings knowledge and insight from the head to the heart to our bodies. Geneen Roth often says that insight is not enough, you have to take action.  Practicing is action.

Practice Is Power

As it applies to areas where I am passionate; being kind to yourself and having a happy relationship with your body and your food, practice is needed.

You need to practice eating when you are hungry. You need to practice feeling your feelings. You need to practice offering kindness to yourself.  You need to practice being mindful.  You need to practice any new skill you want to be good at.

There is even power in the use of the word practice. It is different than “try this and get it right”. Practice has the attitude of “try it, see how it goes, how it feels, what you learned and what you would do differently next time”.

Did you stumble? That is ok, We are just practicing. 🙂  Practice is a different heart-space, a different mind set.

We will forget to practice. We will screw it up some times. It is all ok. Life gives us so many opportunities to try again.

Breathe and try again.

A million times over.

It doesn’t matter. Keep practicing.  It gets easier. It gets better. Mastery will be built.

Practice is power.

My Experience with Mindful Eating Part 1

My connection to sanity and peace around food has grown and strengthened substantially over the past several years. While I have many teachers and practices to thank for this growth for the purposes of this post I am going to talk mainly about practicing mindful eating through the context of Geneen Roth‘s work.

Over the course of 2014, I have taken Geneen Roth’s two online courses based on her book Women, Food and God. Course 1 is The Principles. Course 2 is the Eating Guidelines.  What I like about Geneen is that she gets that the struggle with compulsive eating is not really about the food. Geneen coaches around using food as an pathway to deeper understanding of yourself. (I am guessing some of you just laughed out loud.) 🙂 I have too.

Many things can be used as a tool for self introspection and learning, Geneen chooses what tends to rule our daily lives, what we stress and celebrate over: food.  Through her practices, which I will share in a moment, a person can learn to pause and pay attention – to your body, to your emotions, to the narrative constantly runs in our brains. The practices are about getting curious around things you have never had curiosity about before (What do I believe about eating alone? Why do I want to eat right now when I know I am not hungry? Why am I feeling anger at the moment? Or even what really am I feeling right now? Where did these messages about not being good enough come from? and countless other things that could come up for an individual).  Best of all in my mind, Geneen re-iterates that change is not made through shame and punishment. If that were true we would all be thin, smart and rich. 🙂 She encourages us always to meet ourselves with kindness and curiosity.


I have been on the path that I am sure many of you have been on. I have struggled with binge eating most of my life. I have tried all sorts of diets. I have been vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, primal and paleo (not all at one time though!). I have thought fat was evil and then carbs were evil. I have tried eating copious amounts of protein and made myself feel sick trying to hit a daily target according to my body weight. I have sought out the magic pill supplements that will make me all better – whole, unbroken, skinny.  I have felt that I have been powerless against food. I have felt lazy, weak and stupid. I have craved the discipline of sticking to a plan because I felt there was no possibility that I could trust myself around food.

Now? Finally through little steps, practicing over and over and over again, I am finding peace in more regular intervals. I am able to trust myself more. I am able to meet myself with patience and kindness more often.

Geneen Roth’s 7 Guidelines for Eating

  1. Eat when you are hungry.
  2. Eat sitting down in a calm environment. This does not include the car.
  3. Eat without distractions. Distractions include radio, television, newspapers, books, intense or anxiety-producing conversations or music.
  4. Eat what your body wants.
  5. Eat until you are satisfied.
  6. Eat (with the intention of being) in full view of others.
  7. Eat with enjoyment, gusto, and pleasure.

In the next post, I will step through each one and my experience in practicing them.

So your workout made you cry….now what

As a coach and a regular worker-outer, I have seen and experienced my fair share of tears and deep disappointment post work out.

  • It shouldn’t feel this hard.  (Really? Why?)
  • I wanted to quit the whole time. (But you didn’t.)
  • I didn’t do what I wanted. (But you did SOMETHING, doesn’t that account for anything?)
  • I can’t get (insert skill that you are wanting to have) right yet!!  (Oh I am sorry, Have you been doing (pull ups, handstands, olympic lifts, double unders, etc)  for years now and you don’t have them or did you just starting trying it a little bit ago so you are still practicing?)

Any of that seem familiar?

I have heard the saying that our minds are teflon for good experiences and velcro for bad.

On those workouts that just feel like shit for some reason and we are left feeling disappointed, teary, down on who we are – all we feel is the bad.  We don’t acknowledge the good.

As I see it you have two options:

1) Beat the crap out of your self for not being good at anything – for being too out of shape, not strong enough, not fast enough, not whatever enough.  Wallow in it.


2) Take a deep breath. Acknowledge that you had expectations of this workout and it didn’t go as planned. Acknowledge that EVERY ONE has good and bad training days and it is no assessment on you as a person.

Then take ANOTHER deep breath. Start thinking about what went right and what you are grateful for in this moment.  Here are some hints that might help you out:

    • You made it THROUGH the workout (or maybe you quit. Who cares! You came in a tried something!)
    • Your body allowed you to move and be active today.  (Meaning you are alive another day and you are not bedridden).
    • You are breathing.
    • You are thinking.
    • Your muscles are responding.
    • Your joints are working (or at least maybe many of them!)
    • You are ALIVE for another day to do things that you love to do…like exist and lift heavy shit.

Change your perspective. Love who you are. Love your training – even the hard, boring, “it should be different” days.  

Own What You Love About Your Self

Recently,  I asked a group of women to share one thing that they loved about themselves.

There was some silence. Some murmurs of “I have no idea” “I need more time to think.”

I am guessing if I asked you to name something about your best friend, significant other, workout partner, etc you would be quick to start shouting out things that you loved.

Why is it we can’t do that as easily or openly about what we love about ourselves?

Just so you don’t think I am casting stones at others, I even noticed that when it was my turn to share, I suddenly felt awkward and it was hard to get my words out. I thought ‘Oh my, am I bragging? Am I talking too much about myself? IS IT OK FOR ME TO SAY THIS?!?’

Own It

YES IT IS OK!! I think like learning to accept a friggin’ complement. Learning to own and share what you love about you takes practice. So do it! Own it! KNOW what you love about yourself. You certainly know what you don’t love, shift that beautiful focus on to the parts of yourself that you know radiate and bring you strength and peace and happiness.

What I love about me:

  • I am a damn good and loyal friend. I work on taking care of the important relationships in my life. It is what makes my life meaningful and worth while.
  • I love being a cheerleader, advocate and source of strength when people don’t (yet!) believe in themselves.
  • I love that I love working out.  It takes very little motivation for me to get to the gym most days.
  • I love that l love to learn for myself and to connect others with information that hopefully makes their life better.
  • I love that my eyes change colors some times.
  • I love that with out working on them I get GIGANTIC traps. 🙂


TEDXRVA Women: The Power of the Scale

In December 2013, I participated in the TedXRVA Women’s event in Richmond, VA.

I was so thrilled to be a part of this event. How powerful to be included in a group full of amazing women with fabulous stories to tell. How exciting to be in a room full of people willingly wanting to have the deeper conversations. Really just an experience I will never forget and deeply grateful to be a part of.

My talk was on the power of the scale.  How for some of us it can dictate what kind of day we will have and how we feel about ourselves. There is another way. 🙂

Here is the video to the talk here.


Would love to hear your feed back on the talk and what your experience with the scale is.

The Difference between Acceptance and Resignation

“Acceptance of what is can be wonderfully liberating, but it can also create a great deal of inner peace and harmony. This is an incredibly difficult concept for a society that is constantly assaulting us with messages that most of us need some kind of a ‘makeover.’ Not a day goes by without some ad telling us that we should be thinner, more successful, find our soul mate, be happier or live longer. These messages make it increasingly more difficult to simply ‘BE.’ I love to consider ways of improving myself, but there comes a point where we have to realize that we simply can’t improve everything about our lives. In fact some of how we look and act make us uniquely different from one another. Those who really care about you will enjoy who you are, as you are.” — Loretta LaRoche

Acceptance of who you are right now in the moment can be scary to people. Hell, It is still scary to me at times. 🙂 I know how it was for me when I first started the practice of  accepting and loving who I am regardless of my measurements or pants size. As I have talked before on this blog, it felt like if I accepted who I am right now then the only choice I had was sitting on the couch eating junk food since I was no longer training in an insane way a ripped physique.  If I wasn’t doing one then I HAD to be doing the other.

Accepting where you are and who you are is not giving up. That is resignation. Take a look at the definitions:


  1. the quality or state of being accepted or acceptable
  2. the act of accepting :  the fact of being accepted : approval


  1. especially :  to give (oneself) over without resistance <resigned herself to her fate
  2. to give up deliberately;especially: to renouce (As a right or position) by a formal act

Can you feel the difference in those? Most people feel, at least at first, that if I am loving who I am now then I am resigning myself to always being that person.  It is not true.

The acceptance brings care versus neglect, tenderness instead of harsh words, understanding vs ignoring inner wisdom.

Love and accept who you are RIGHT NOW in this moment (even if you are bloated, dirty, having a bad hair day, your jeans don’t fit well, cranky or whatever!). You are so worthy of your love and acceptance.  It is from THAT beautiful space that transformation can really take place.  <3


loving yourself healthy

I am ok exactly as I am in this moment

That phrase has been my mantra recently. I am not even sure where I found it or how it first came into my mind but I have really taken to it and enjoy the effect it has. It opens some space between what I am feeling and who I am… if that makes any sense.  I can get miserable about my round stomach but I can breathe and say “I am ok exactly as I am in this moment” and that misery loosens its grip a little. I can see that while I am unhappy, I am OK.  We talk a lot on Zen Barbell about loving who you are always. This is a tool that helps develop that habit.

“My stomach is too fat.” I am ok exactly as I am in this moment.  Breathe. Yes I AM ok. (Now there is some space)

“I miss my husband so very much I feel like I can stand it another second.” I am ok exactly as I am in this moment.  Breathe. Yes I AM ok. (Now there is some space)

“I am frustrated, stressed and don’t understand what is going on right now.”  I am ok exactly as I am in this moment.  Breathe. Yes I AM ok. (Now there is some space)

“I am so tired I don’t think I can take another step.” I am ok exactly as I am in this moment.  Breathe. Yes I AM ok. (Now there is some space)

“I feel great right now.” I am ok exactly as I am in this moment.  Breathe. Yes I AM ok. (Now there is some space)  I like using it in positive moments as well as moments of struggle. It feels like a positive reenforcement of this statement.

Try it out. Let me know what you notice.  🙂


You are Already Awesome Just Get Out of Your Own Way

I recently stumbled across a TedX talk called You’re Already Awesome. Just Get Out of Your Own Way by Judson Brewer

Its a great talk (as most of the Ted talks are) that essentially says when we let go and just be, awesomeness happens.   He relates his experience of taking a hill on a mountain bike where he didn’t think it through it, he was in the flow, and it was amazing.  (Judson also mentions some studies about meditation and brain waves that are pretty interesting too.)

I think we can all relate to those moments of flow – where every thing else drops away and the action just…happens.  Beautifully.  A friend of mine related the idea of being present in the moment is like bringing that feeling of flow into more of our day to day moments. That really hit home for me. Presence like that is possible, but it takes practice. It seems odd to me that we have to learn what should be a natural state.  I believe we had this flow state, this presence as children and then unlearn it for most of our adult lives. Finally, there comes a point where we realize how important being present really is and we have to learn and practice all over again. 🙂


I started thinking about the barriers I put up that prevent me from being in the flow, from being my complete awesome self and some practices that I have to remove those barriers.  Here is my initial list.

1) Barrier: Judging others. “Ugh. Can’t that person see what they are doing? They should be better than that. They shouldn’t need to do X. They should be eating this and then doing that”.  Any of that sound familiar? 🙂  We all judge. When we do it creates separation.

Practice: I try and remember that those people are human just like me and as much as I think I know, I have no idea what their story is in that moment. Besides, who am I to judge them? I have also been the person standing oblivious in the middle of the aisle, or eating junk food or using bad form, or having a really bad emotional day.

2) Barrier: Not wanting to feel an emotion or state of being.   I don’t like that I am tired more often that I feel like I should be. Conflict makes me nervous. Facing information that I don’t really want to know makes me uncomfortable and we won’t even talk about what I some times experience when contemplating my own mortality.  All these things are things that I don’t want to feel most of the time. So I look for ways to out run it, distract it or soothe it.  This can look like a scattered mind (Candy Crush or Facebook any one?) or food or alcohol or creating another situation (drama, gossip, complaining) so that I don’t have to face what is really bothering me.

Practice:  Breathe. And then breathe again. 🙂  Meditation teacher Tara Brach offers these steps to find balance and presence:

  • Ask what is going on inside me right now?
  • Ask can I be with this?
  • Offer yourself some kindness.

See if you can let it be just as it is. EVERYTHING in life changes. This emotion or situation will as well.

3) Barrier: Believing my own stories. Some times we get all caught up in the conditioning, thoughts, and madness in our head and we believe it.  We think that person who bumped into us at the grocery store was intentionally being rude. We think that if our name wasn’t put up on the board after the work out means the coach doesn’t like us and we are not important. We believe that if we are not near as smart, sexy or worthy as our friends and that life would be better if we were thinner, richer, or more famous.

Practice: Start to really HEAR the voice in your head. Is it peaceful or stressful right now?  Learn to see situations with out assessments.  I am a big fan of Byron Katie’s the Work in that it helps you see what reality is with out all the stories that you are bringing to a situation and to question all the thoughts going on in your head. Honestly, this can be hard work especially at first. If you want to grow BIG time in this practice, find a good mentor or coach. Worth every penny of investment.

Those are my big three. There are others. What barriers do you have that get in your way from being AWESOME? 🙂

Mindset, Joy and Powerful Words

Over the weekend, I attended the 1st annual Women’s Radiance Retreat in Asheville, NC. This event will be happening again in January! Click here for details. (BTW, I get no money for the referral. I just want to let you know about opportunities that inform and inspire. 🙂 )

This retreat was hosted by Jill Coleman, Neghar Fonooni and Jen Sinkler.  Three leaders in the fitness industry that really talk to (and live in real life!) loving who you are and learning to be your best self. If you have those things going on the food and exercise just tends to line up in a healthy way.

I was fortunate enough to do some quick two minute interviews with each of these women.

Jill Coleman: I have been lucky enough to be in Jill’s Best of You coaching group for the past 1.5 years. Yes, I have learned more about fat loss nutrition and workouts as well as online business tools but the most valuable piece to me is that I am more comfortable being who I am in the world thanks to her coaching. That to me is priceless. <3

Neghar Fonooni: I have been watching (online – not in a stalker way) Neghar for years with her kettle bell work. She is one powerhouse of a woman.  I mean that in so many dimensions. She can probably out lift me on any given day. Her presence and attitude is remarkable. I love hearing what she presented and even just getting to chat with her a bit.

Jen Sinkler: Jen was a bit newer on my radar but I feel like a sister from another mister (just read that phrase for the first time the other day and I had to use it 🙂 ). Her love of learning, lifting heavy stuff, a huge sense of humor as well as helping people being the best versions of themselves really resonates with me.


The weekend was an amazing experience full of great experiences, conversations and connections. I am so happy that I got to be a part of it.


Ways to Reduce Travel Stress with Exercise

This week’s guest post is from Mike Manning. Mike is new to the blogging world. When he approached me about guest blogging, I really connected with his idea of sharing different ways of thinking about exercising when traveling – something I am pretty familiar with and I know we can all use inspiration around. Plus one of this posts is about positivity.  Positivity? Taking care of your body? What’s not to like.  🙂

You can find Mike at his blog:

Ways to Reduce Travel Stress with Exercise

The irregular schedules and unfamiliar surroundings frequently faced by travelers can result in high stress. Busy agendas and other factors compound the stress by making it difficult to get good exercise and proper nutrition on trips away from home. Vacationers occasionally experience these difficulties, but business travelers cope with them on a regular basis. In fact, frequent travelers tend to have overall poorer health than others. Planning and implementing a fitness program for your time away from home can greatly decrease travel-related stress as well as improve your overall health.

photo source: the

Start by planning for success.

  • Before leaving home, learn about the place where you will be traveling.
  • Find out if your lodging will be near a local running track or trail open to the public.
  • If you are booking your own hotel, find accommodations at a place with a well-equipped gym, running trails or other fitness amenities onsite.

On a recent trip to Maui I was able to book a hotel with a 24-hour gym by searching through travel reviews site before booking. The site I used, called Gogobot, made it easy to scan through a list of Maui hotels and from there I could discern which ones had the right fitness amenities.

Also pack for success.

  • Don’t forget those workout clothes, and always bring a refillable water bottle with you to help you remain hydrated as well as avoid the temptation of purchasing sugary or caffeinated drinks that can sabotage your personal fitness plan.
  • In order to get a powerful workout in a small spaces and short period of time, consider bringing portable workout equipment. This might be a simple workout band, a TRX trainer or a yoga mat.

In transit, you can also find ways to get some exercise. Many airports have begun catering to health-conscious travelers. At these airports, you can find such amenities as designated walking areas and Zen rooms for relaxation, meditation and yoga.

On your flight, take a few moment every hour or so to perform simple in-flight exercises. These should include simple stretches such as:

  • stretching over your head
  • side bends
  • gentle neck rolls
  • ankle rolls
  • as well as exercises such as knee lifts.

This will help to improve blood flow and circulation, and you should be able to minimize common discomforts such as stiffness, cramping and swelling.

Throughout your travels, remember to be realistic about your fitness level.

Travelers simply don’t have much time.

You probably won’t get a full hour workout completed at the hotel fitness center, but you can squeeze in 15 or 20 minutes of exercise before breakfast or in the evening after meetings. On incredibly busy trips, maximize your opportunities by getting a 10-minute workout with your chair and an exercise band between afternoon meetings. Do little things like taking the stairs instead of the elevator. When it comes to fitness and travel, each small thing counts. Every step takes you closer to your fitness goal.

More info on exercise and travel:

CNN – “Beating the stress of business travel” –

Gogobot – Travel reviews site for research –

USA Today – “Airports get into the fitness craze for stressed travelers” –



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.