Top 3 #thatsogorgo Game of Thrones Finale Moments

By Erica Willick

The final episode of Game of Thrones aired this week.  As a GoT fan and a Gorgo girl, a few particular moments in the epic finale resonated with our inner queens.

While the unravelling of the badass mother of dragons Warrior Queen Daenerys could be seen as a let down to us Gorgo Girls, we know that everyone chooses her own path.  All the handsome heroes and wise friends in the world cannot choose our path for us.

The path Daenerys chose was definitely not gorgo-esque.  Empowerment is never about making the choice for someone else – no matter how ‘right’ and ‘good’ we view our perspective.

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If not the Warrior Queen, then what were the top #thatsogorgo GoT finale moments?

#3 Queen of the North, Sansa Stark

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We met Sansa Start as a girl who dreamed of being a princess and royalty.  Naïve, shallow, and a ‘helpless little bird’. Sansa believed that her betrothal to a prince was the fulfillment of her fairytale dreams.

Life delivered hard lessons.  Sansa’s betrothed prince was a sadist, and ‘rescue’ by men ended in manipulation and abuse.

Yet Sansa chose not to stay a victim in this story – her story – and became the Queen that liberated her people.  Not a Queen through marriage to a King but crowned in her own right, risen from the darkness and owning that darkness as forever part of her strength.

Sansa sitting on the throne in her final scene, a deep, powerful, wise and just woman.  A True Queen. #thatsogorgo

#2 Bran the Broken’s View of Failure

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Before being banished to the Wall for life, Jon Snow says goodbye to his family.  Jon kneels before his brother Bran, the newly crowned King of Westeros.

Jon apologizes “Your Grace.  I’m sorry I wasn’t there when you needed me.”  Jon is referring to his failure to make it to Bran during the Night King’s attack on the living in the Winterfell godswood.

Bran, the wise all-knowing-being replies, “You were exactly where you were supposed to be.”

Knowing that our failures, especially the big ones, were exactly where we were supposed to be in those moments.  #thatsogorgo

#1 Arya Chooses to Be Who She Really Is

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In the very first episode of Season 1, Bran a young boy and Arya’s younger brother, practices shooting arrows at a bullseye on a barrel (and misses repeatedly).  Bran is encouraged by the crowd of men watching to try again and given tips to improve. Meanwhile, Arya is stuck inside doing needlepoint with the other ‘young ladies’.

Arya hears the activity outside the window and sneaks out of her assigned activity.  As Bran misses another shot, Arya hits the bullseye over her brother’s shoulder.

Everyone watching laughs at the ‘cute’ scene of a sister showing up a little brother in a ‘male skill’.

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And so begins the eight seasons long journey of Arya’s fight to be who she really is, and not accept to be what others want her to be, or think she ought to be.

It was far from an easy road – but in the closing scene, Arya chooses to sail West of Westeros because of the adventure it holds for her.

The peace, happiness, and freedom on Arya’s face as she pursues her truth. #thatsogorgo





Running Coach Heather Albright and the Power of Pushing Yourself

By Jill Farr

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Sisters in Shape online trainer Heather Albright has a wealth of knowledge to offer as a trainer; nutrition guidance, strength training help...but her speciality, both personally and as a fitness coach, is running.

“I’m more of a running coach,” Heather explains. “And I personally do about one marathon a year and some shorter things in between.”

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Many people love running, both for its entry level ease and because all you need are shoes and space. While many teach themselves the basics, or just start running and never look back, Heather advises that there is a point where specific coaching about your running is valuable.

“I think the toughest part for people is getting over the initial hump with running,” Heather says. While she loves her chosen pursuit, she agrees that it gets a bad rap from those who aren’t immersed in it already.

“Running just kind of sucks for a while,” Heather admits. “It’s not fun when you’re starting out. But once you get to where you can easily run three miles on your own, then you can start looking at, ‘Okay, I want to get faster. I want to add miles.’ That’s when it’s sometimes helpful to get a coach. And a plan. I can evaluate how things are going, help you build in cross training so that you don’t get injured.”

That last part--injury prevention--is another facet of running’s killer reputation. It’s true that there are a host of ways you can hurt yourself, but there are also some basic precepts that can prevent the most common injuries.

“The biggest challenge for runners is getting injured,” Heather says. “You have to pay attention to the little injuries so that they don’t become big deals. You also have to do all the things--the stretching, foam rolling, recovery, sleep...all those things that balance you out as an athlete. Not many people understand that or have been taught that.”

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Anyone who has taken up running as a pursuit has probably encountered some joking about it, or heard lines like “I don’t run unless someone’s chasing me,” or, “You know we don’t HAVE to do that, right?”

Running’s perceived (and actual) difficulty may draw a certain personality type, Heather admits, but she also believes it’s a natural desire for humans to move...and sometimes move fast.

“I was just at a women’s running retreat and that came up. Why do we do this? A lot of us are competitive; we want to show the world our times, but that’s not the only reason for it. Most of it goes back to...we were never designed to be sedentary. Running was one of the original ways we moved.”

That primal drive may fuel the famous “Runner’s High” that gets so much press, and Heather acknowledges that both the exhilaration it brings and the intensity that running requires are key aspects of why she loves it.

“There is something just so incredibly freeing about it. It depends on the day, sure; some days my legs are heavy and it sucks. But when you’re flying and you feel like you’re walking on air...that’s the best. We’re just chasing feeling good.”

The fortitude required is also a positive, and Heather alludes to running’s unparalleled potential for cultivating tenacity.

“I believe you develop a mental toughness when you run. A lot of people in this day and age just don’t have that. I asked on a Facebook post recently…”When is the last time you really pushed yourself?””

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“My last track workout, it wasn’t great, I didn’t get my fourth tempo mile, but I pushed myself. It’s money in the bank. Not enough people go there. They don't push themselves. I do think runners push like few other people do.”

Coaching is a passion for Heather, but her first love was running, and it’s a love she still holds.

“Running has been such a source of confidence for me. I got into it as a way to lose weight, but I hit that first goal by actually doing a 5k, so I got hooked on the race thing early on. Then the times got shorter and the distances got longer. I’ve surprised myself by getting out there and doing better than I thought I could. That has bled over into other areas of my life, like training women.”

Lessons from Heather:

Change the narrative.

“I like to ask people...what story are you telling yourself about yourself? What are your limiting beliefs? I asked someone the other day, “What’s your biggest struggle?” and she said “Getting to the gym.” I knew her schedule, that she didn’t go to work until around 10 a.m., so I asked when she was going. She said, ‘After work’, and I responded, “Why don’t you go in the morning, before work?” Her answer: “I’m not a morning person.” She’s telling herself that she isn’t a morning gym person. But it’s pretty easy, once you identify that, to tell yourself a different story. Start saying, “I am a morning gym person.” Say it for as long as you need until it’s true. We all like to say, “I’m not a runner”, but unless you have serious challenges, your body is able to do it. Just ask yourself which limiting beliefs you’re telling yourself, and change them.”

Ease in.

“I like run/walk methods; Couch to 5k, etc. Start there. When you get to where you can easily run 3 miles, think about a running coach. If you come to me before that, I would just have you do something similar to that. It’s solid. That’s what I started with. It’s a smart way to build up.”

Don’t ignore recovery and form.

“Recovery is tough because no one wants to take the time off--but recovery has to happen. You have to take care of your body. That’s why there are so many injured runners. Not listening to warning signs, not strengthening, foam rolling, and recovering are not great. Understanding common injuries is important, too, so that you can recognize them.”

“If your form isn’t great, it heightens injury risk. Strength training is important, too.”

You can connect with Heather Albright at @halbrightfit




#GORGOgirl: Katharine Millar

We love featuring our everyday GORGOgirls that are inspiring us to crush life and a balanced approach to fitness.
Meet Katharine Millar.

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Tell us about your fitness life.

I am at the toughest part of my fitness journey again...GETTING STARTED!  After being in the best shape I have ever been in, I had my 4th and final child a year and a half ago.  I am starting over in terms of needing to lose weight, workout, eat better, and fitting in “me” time, etc.  It’s so hard to put yourself ahead of your children and family life. I love weights, group HIIT classes, and just about every sport out there. The nice thing this time around is that I know I can do it because I already have. I’ll get there eventually so I don’t stress about it or get down on myself at all. I just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and focus on making small changes knowing each one counts!

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Tell us about your non-fitness life.

I am a wife and mama to 3 active boys (10, 8, 6) and a sweet baby girl (1 1/2).  I own and operate with my husband a successful moving company that my father in law started 50 years ago this year.  

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What do you love about GORGO?

I love everything about GORGO and what it represents for so many different women.  Most of all, I love that I can be myself! I can be surrounded by women and never feel judged.  I am there to inspire and be inspired. Every year, I experience something different which leaves me feeling so incredibly empowered & motivated.

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Any fun facts?

I love to travel! Cruising especially, and mainly because the food is fantastic and I love to eat.  I started taking piano lessons this year in a simple attempt to get back at doing something for me.

Anything else you want to say?

I want to tell all those struggling women out there who think they’re the only ones who find it difficult to make time for themselves or aren’t able to get or stay motivated to keep going.  Don’t give up, you’ll get there, you just have to keep trying!!! Even those that appear to have it all together, or have the body that you one day hope to have, experience their own struggles as well. We all have days, weeks, or months that we can’t seem to get our sh#%* together.  Everyone has to work hard for what they want whether you’re just starting out or been at it for years! Don’t give up on yourself... you’re worth it!

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Anything about camp GORGO you'd like to mention? What made you want to attend this year, why do you look forward to it? Favorite part? Etc....

I look forward to it every year and it’s something in my life that is just for me.  Camp GORGO is a weekend of empowerment, a weekend to make new friends and connect with old ones.  It is a weekend to really fuel, inspire, and motivate one another. Everyone that attends contributes in some way even, if they don’t realize it. We are a family of like-minded women and I am so blessed to have found this tribe :)

Food Myth Busters: Debunking the Top 5 Food Fake Outs

By Shannon Liard

Not all nutrition advice is created equally. In fact, some of the nutrition advice that litters Internet searches, magazine pages, and social media posts is just that – created. Not scientifically founded, not medically based, just… created. More often than not some self-proclaimed expert crafted up some dietary tactic that worked some time for someone and slapped a sensationalistic headline on it and we’ve got the next trending dietary approach. Maybe it was pulled out of thin air, maybe it was nutrition advice someone gave us; maybe it is the truth, and maybe it is an untruth. When it comes down to the nitty gritty, it is regular exercise, consistently sleeping enough, and a balanced diet that are the three keys unlocking even the most far off health and fitness goals. Yet, still there are myths and misinformation in abundance when it comes to nutrition. Why? For most people excitement does not exist in regular exercise, sleeping enough, and eating a balanced diet.

When I was younger I learned the saying, “behind most lies is a sliver of truth.” Now, as an adult, I know that clearly there are many applications to that little nugget of wisdom. As a Dietitian Nutritionist, I know that nutrition advice and dietary approach are no exception.

So, Gorgo Girls, let’s take a hard look at the cold reality of the top 5 food myths I hear most often and debunk them once and for all.

1. Counting calories is good enough.

This is a myth that was started early in the century that has lingered around ever since. While counting calories can curb excessive eating or alert you of under eating (yes, that is a thing), it is certainly not the be-all and end-all of dietary intake. Not all calories are created equal; dietary fats and alcohol have a higher caloric energy load than carbohydrates and proteins. As important as caloric intake and calorie counting is, the split of macronutrients - carbs, protein, and fat - consumed is just as important.

Bottom line: Watch your macro split and your calorie intake for effective dietary control.

2. Eat less to lose weight.

This myth applies to long term, sustainable weight loss. Science has proven that burning off more calories than you consume leads to weight loss. However, the problem comes in that this only yields short-term results. The truth is that often times when we “eat less” we’re under cutting the amount of calories that our body needs to function in life + fitness, so over time we’re putting ourselves into cellular starvation mode without even knowing it. This then causes our body to start holding onto anything ingested, slowly increasing our body weight and changing our body composition to a higher body fat over time. To lose weight long-term we’ve got to build lean muscle, propelling our metabolism; to build muscle we’ve got to eat more than the bare minimum.

Bottom line: Don’t short yourself to an extreme on calories trying to lose weight and keep it off.

3. Alcohol stores as fat.

The large truth debunking this myth is in the science of the human body having no ability to store alcohol calories like it does food calories. However, drinking alcohol does put a hold on your body’s digestion of any consumed food calories, taking priority in digestion until it is all excreted out of your system. Remember learning the “1 drink, 1 hour” rule? That’s roughly how long it takes you to metabolize one standard alcoholic beverage and it’s also roughly how long your metabolism is on hold per drink that you consume. Drink a six-pack in a day at the beach? That’s six hours on metabolic hold from properly digesting food and using it as energy. While the alcohol calories themselves may not be stored as fat, the food calories that you ate while you were drinking may be, simply because they are not being metabolized for energy while there’s still booze in your body.

Bottom line: Limit your consumption to 1-2 drinks no more than 4 times a week for women, and 2-3 drinks no more than 4 times a week for men if you want to hit your goals.

4. Carbs are bad and I shouldn’t have ______________.

I’ll let you fill in the blank. Carbs are bad and I shouldn’t have: bread. pasta. rice. potatoes. fruit. The list of foods I’ve heard filling the blank on this myth could easily be a mile or more long. Let me debunk this myth for you now, at long last. Carbohydrates are the number one fuel source in your body. They are a critical part of cellular energy, muscular function, brainpower, and a well balanced diet. Without adequate carbohydrates in our diet we can quickly feel slugglish, hangry, fatigued, headaches, brain fog, irritability, leg cramps, constipation, heart palpitations, and drastically reduced physical and mental performance. This myth got started years ago when the belief arose that carbohydrates make people gain weight. The truth is that any macronutrient in excess can make people gain weight.

Bottom line: Choose healthy carbs that are fibrous like whole grains, fruits, and starchy vegetables as well as reduced fat dairy as a part of a balanced diet.

5. Consume 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.

In recent years many diet approaches have left people over consuming protein in hopes of building or maintaining muscle. Eating excessive protein in amounts greater than the body needs can have negative effects including weight gain, extra body fat storage, extreme stress on your kidneys including excessive urine output, dehydration, and leaching of critical bone minerals. On average, Americans are consuming three to five times more protein than their body needs and can actually use. The truth? The body needs 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for an average adult and up to 1.5-2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for those that are performing strenuous exercise most days of the week. To accurately calculate how much protein your body needs, take your bodyweight and multiply it by 0.454 to get your kilograms of body weight. Then multiply that by 0.8 to get your grams of protein needed if you’re not regularly exercising, and multiply your kilograms of bodyweight by 1.5-2.0 if you are regularly exercising to get your protein macro goals.

Bottom line: 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight is only acceptable for very short amounts of time to not strain your body and have negative effects. Your regular daily intake should be between 0.8 – 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, dependent on your physical activity level.

I Cannot Even. No, Really You Can.

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I can’t.

I cannot even.

I just cannot even.

I mean. I can’t.

We’ve all heard these expressions. Goodness, we’ve all said them. Tiny little word jabs we use throughout the day to express our disbelief in someone, some thing or some event. Social media has made our ability to can or can’t such a toss away expression anymore, we’ve forgotten those two little words (and the extra ones we tag on for dramatic emphasis) are rooted deeply in our ability to accomplish something.

I mean, can you even? Can you just even?

Yeah, you can.

One of my favorite sayings from my competitive sports playing days is one I stole from my husband, and he stole from his college volleyball coach. It’s super simple. Say it with me:

“Can you?”

That’s it.

Any time a ball was out of play or shanked, his coach would yell “Can you? Can you?” In the middle of a heated game or intense practice, no one had time to answer. You either could, or you died trying. Once we get out of our 20’s or we stop playing something competitively or we stop training for a specific event or sport and begin training for life, we start making excuses about our ability. We start not being able to even – way too often these days.

I get that. I really do.

I have to scale or modify prescribed workouts on a very consistent basis. Some days my body tells me “no” all together. I have 20 years of competitive volleyball on this body and sometimes I wake up at the crack of dawn, peek at the workout and say to myself “I cannot even.” Three little words before the sun comes up that determine my ability in the gym and as a result, my ability and attitude all day.

So, I changed my husbands’ coach’s mantra a bit to fit my life. I switched the words around and took away the question mark – that left these two words: “You can.”

You can.

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Imagine beginning your workout, your day with those two words. You can scale or modify the workout. You can do yoga instead if your body says “no” to the weight room. You can just walk up to the bar and lift it without telling yourself that you can’t a thousand times before you get there. You can take care of your body, your mind, your spirit and your emotions without sacrificing one for the other. You can use this phrase to encourage other women in your life without compromising your own ability.

You can.

This phrase is now officially my favorite sports (and life) phrase of all time. As a teammate, I love pushing my tennis partner to take a few more steps to get that stray tennis ball “you can, you can!” In coaching, I love encouraging young athletes to try another time when they are ready to throw in the towel “you can, you can.” When my kids tell me they can’t find anything to pack for their lunches, I say “you can, you can.”

Our days are a series of choices. Sure, there is some level of serendipity, spontaneity and even chaos to any twenty-four hour period, but we can still choose how we approach the day and how we speak to ourselves about what we are able to do. Choosing to say to ourselves “you can,” before the world has a chance to tell us otherwise is strategic and powerful.

Guess what? You can be strategic and powerful. Now what?

You can.

Southern Comfort: Lessons on Loving Food Appropriately with Robin Shea

by Jill Farr

Southern gal Robin Shea has been known for her “Southern Fried” fitness approach for some time, but her relationship with food wasn’t always a balanced one.

“I’ve always been a fitness fanatic, fitness has always been a part of my life, but the relationships I had with food were very unhealthy,” Robin admits. “Dieting, not dieting. Dieting, not dieting.”

“I was tired of that yo-yo. I knew there had to be a balance that I could strike that was more rewarding and fulfilling. With the 80/20 method I found that, and a way to keep the passion I had for good food as well.”

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The 80/20 method-- which encourages healthier food decisions 80% of the time, leaving 20% for more indulgent choices—is not only a practicality Robin lives…it’s also the theme for her television show, which airs on the Paula Deen network, Create TV, and PBS.

Cooking 80/20 allows viewers to see Robin bring healthy recipes to life (and enjoy her vivacious personality), and the show has featured her four sons, exhibiting the reality that this way of life can work with large families, as well.

Retooling recipes and replacing some ingredients with healthier alternatives was one key, but Robin also says that there was another factor that needed embracing; letting go of guilt.

“A lot of people don’t realize that psychologically, we introduce guilt as a factor,” Robin says. “It’s a double edged sword. We have to understand that guilt sabotages us on every level. If you can push the reset button every morning when you open your eyes, and truly embrace that, you can learn to let go of guilt, and you’re so far ahead of the game and headed for success.”

The 80/20 approach contains a lot of common sense, as a method of eating—there’s evidence that supports not engaging in super restrictive dieting, long term, if you want to maintain good habits—but there’s also one simple reason to save some room in your diet for the occasional indulgence; happiness. Robin believes that healthy eating doesn’t have to preclude happy eating, as long as there’s a reasonable balance.

“A very important point is that if you’re not enjoying every step of your process, you’re on the wrong journey,” Robin maintains. “I’m not saying you’re not going to experience trouble. Just find the approach that gives you a certain level of satisfaction every day. You should be having fun! If you’re miserable, it’s the wrong diet, the wrong approach…identify it and change it.”

“You should be enjoying it—every day should be rewarding in some way.”

#GORGOgirl: Katie Singletary

We love featuring our everyday GORGOgirls that are inspiring us to crush life and a balanced approach to fitness.
Meet Katie Singletary.

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Tell us about yourself!

My faith and my family are the most important things in my life.  God has blessed me with people that love me regardless of my flaws and I am so thankful for that.  I come from a family of women who love to cook and are really good at it too! I love being in the kitchen and learning new recipes and cooking techniques.  Being a new mom has been such a joy and I can’t wait to teach my daughter all the things my mother has taught me.  My husband and I have both just taken up golfing and it has been so fun learning something new together.  He is already way better than me but I’m coming for him!  My love languages are quality time, words of affirmation and physical touch.  That means I’m always up for hanging out, meaningful conversation and I’ll never turn down a hug! :)
I am the proud wife of a Captain in the US Air Force.  Taurean and I met when he was stationed in OKC and we have since moved to Georgia. We are each others biggest fans and life together gets more fun all the time! Our baby girl Mila was born on October 2, 2018. I am the owner of Brand Boutique, promotional products and advertising specialties company. I was born and raised in Oklahoma, but currently living in Columbus, Georgia.

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Tell us about your fitness life.  

My fitness journey is one that is constantly changing.  I have always been pretty active and grew up playing sports but I didn’t fall in love with fitness until I joined Koda Crossfit in 2012.  It gave me a community of friends and fed my competitive spirit.  I had gotten in to pretty bad shape and they pushed me to get back to the athlete that I had once been.  Crossfit has taught me that a competitive edge is what I need to push me in my physical goals.  This has led me to compete in numerous Crossfit competitions, half marathons, a sprint triathlon, a powerlifting meet, with my Gorgo Queen Christie Nix and staying fit while pregnant! :)

SHARE SOME GOALS THAT YOU CURRENTLY HAVE.

I am currently working on some aesthetic goals.  Getting back in physical shape after having Mila is on the top of my list.  I am pushing to CONFIDENTLY wear a two piece this summer. I am also about to participate in the OKC Memorial Marathon with my family.  We will be doing the relay and I am responsible for one of the 10K legs.  

Do you have any struggles?  

A current struggle I am having is celebrating the little things after having a baby!  I can be my harshest critic and ain’t nobody got time for that.  The world is always going to have haters so I need to be the first one to love and support myself!

Fav Quote that inspires you right now in your life?

“You don’t need motivation if you have discipline.” - My husband, Taurean Singletary.

He might have stolen this from someone or it might be original, but it has sparked a good amount of conversation in our household.  It also goes well with, “The hardest part is getting out of bed. Once your feet hit the ground and you brush your teeth, it’s easy!” That’s also a gem from my husband! :)

Any message you feel called to share about where you are at in life right now to encourage other GORGO GIRLS?

Comparison is the thief of joy!  It is so easy to look at someone else’s journey and wish you were in their shoes.  STOP THAT! Finding contentment and joy in your own situation isn’t always the easiest task but there is so much peace when you get there.  God made you unique and special and he made only one of YOU!  , With that being said, you are the only person that can change the situation you are in.  If you want a bigger paycheck, hustle a little harder! If you want a smaller waist, turn that third glass of wine down. (Notice I didn’t say second… I gotta keep it real). If you want bigger muscles, pick up the heavier weights!  If you’re scared to start something new, ask someone who’s been there.  You can do it!

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What do you love most about the GORGO community?  

The GORGO community is such a great place for women in all seasons of life.  Young or old, married or single, kids or no kids!  It is a place to go to for encouragement and accountability.  It is a safe place to talk about real things with women that have been there or are going through your same things.  It is also just really fun!  In a community of women this big, it feels like a tight knit group of friends and I guarantee there’s someone that’s just your type of gal! 

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Thoughts about your experience at Camp GORGO?  

2018 was my first year at camp and it was a blast!  I was about 6 months pregnant and I was a little hesitant to go.  I didn’t want to feel like I was disabled and I definitely didn’t want to be treated that way.  Christie Nix, who invited me to camp, assured me that that wouldn’t be the case at all and SHE WAS RIGHT!  Everyone welcomed me with open arms and only babied me a little bit when I was whoopin’ everyone in leg wrestling.  Just kidding… and I really hope that being pregnant wasn’t a super power there. If I get beat this summer it’s going to be embarrassing.  But really, camp was way more than the physical fun I expected.  It challenged me mentally and at a time that I was a little unsure of what I wanted my future goals to be as a new mom and entrepreneur.  I can’t wait be go back this summer and see all the faces of the girls that have become my social media family!

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The Tale of Two Trailblazers

By Erica Willick

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The Tale of Two Trailblazers

As your beloved GORGO has transformed in the past couple of years into a glowing vision of strength, beauty, and power she was always rooted in, we reflect simultaneously on our roots and our future.

These cover models of GORGO embody our fiery roots and trailblazing future. Doris Barrilleaux, pictured here at 84-years-old first lady of bodybuilding, pioneered the sport of recognizing women for their efforts in physique. She gracefully flexes beside visionary Valerie Solomon, Editor-In-Chief of the publication you’re reading right now. Both are driving forces behind the unwavering belief that we as women can change the landscape of fitness and health for ourselves.

So what makes someone a “trailblazer”? A trailblazer sees the world through different eyes and chooses to not shy away from the criticism and challenges that comes with doing things differently. They tame a wild trail through a forest for other people to follow.

These two women have trail blazed a path for us first Gorgo Girls, us women who know deep down we have power and strength beyond what is currently expected of us. Not because “strong is the new sexy”, but because feminine strength is timeless and a universal right for all women.

Trailblazer: Doris Barrilleaux (Aug. 11, 1931 - May 12, 2018)

Doris was confident, empowered, strong, and well into her 80’s, maintained a deep passion for women’s equality. Doris raised a family, worked as a flight attendant, became a successful photographer, pioneered women’s bodybuilding and worked hard for female control of it. She also put a tremendous amount of energy into spreading the news of the sport as well as promoting the benefits of strength training to the masses.

Doris remains active on social media and posts regularly about her annoyance of images of helpless women in real life or media. You could call her a Feminist. “Not the man hating kind” she says, “I only hate a few of them…just a few of those that were determined to control the women’s sport from the very beginning.”

Doris is called “the First Lady of Body Building” for her tireless work spearheading the movement to make women’s bodybuilding competitions a reality. In 2011, Doris was inducted into the National Fitness Hall of Fame at the Arnold Sports Festival for playing such an important role in women’s bodybuilding.

Doris envisioned a sport in which women were recognized for being in superior ‘natural’ shape and still very feminine. She envisioned a respected sport in which women were recognized for being healthy and strong. Many times in her autobiography Doris expressed that “the men took over” or that was the “man’s version”. The quest for bigger and the oversexualized poses in some classes she questions - Is this what women want for their sport? Doris saw the sport as art and one that symmetry and aesthetics were awarded, not merely size or sexiness.

Doris had almost lost hope in the work she and other female pioneers had put into the inception of women’s recognition for their efforts of being in good shape, until she met and developed a strong bond with GORGO Magazine’s editor, Valerie Solomon through a special feature that Valerie spearheaded in 2013. Valerie’s research for the feature, led to an in person visit and the two women, born decades apart, united in a vision for telling the world about the healthful benefits of strength training and a fit lifestyle.

Trailblazer: Valerie Solomon

A teen mom at the age of 19, Valerie Solomon, has seen her children as reasons, not excuses before most of us grew into adulthood and attempted to discover our identities. A mother to 4 boys now, she is known to hundreds of thousands on social media as Busy Mom Gets Fit.

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Valerie started into the fitness industry simply by sharing her journey that resonated with so many busy moms: trying to raise a gaggle of children, maintain our passion for fitness, keep our families running smoothly, work, support our husbands in their work, go after our crazy dreams, and deal with life’s challenges.

Yet she stands apart from the noise of the mainstream by choosing to stay true to her beliefs in herself and belief in other women, and then acting on those beliefs. Valerie believes we do not need to bend to what others want us to be just because it is more acceptable in current day’s norms. Whether those norms are skinnier or more submissive. She believes that we can be more, that we are equals. The mantra Valerie has coined for her fans is “I’m not beautiful like you, I’m beautiful like me.” Valerie encourages her community to post photos with these words written on photos that they feel represents their unique body. You can see a gallery of these powerful photos by searching #beautifullikeme in Instagram.

Throughout regular attacks on her large social media page for a “too muscular physique” or “selfish” mom gym time, Valerie has become further rooted in her beliefs instead of changing colors like a chameleon to hide. Instead, Valerie pursued her vision of a stronger voice for women like her and co-created GORGO Magazine in 2013.

Valerie craved more from women’s fitness content and was tired of fluff-filled articles crammed with fat burner advertisements, amongst sexualized airbrushed female images. She knew there were other women who felt the same, and put forward the ancient Spartan Queen Gorgo as the namesake for the magazine. At the brainstorming table, “Gorgo” (pronounced Gor-GO) wasn’t well received initially as the word sounded a bit ugly and strange to the test group of women used to “pretty” or traditional titles. However, Valerie stood her ground and insisted that the brand was timeless and required a unique title to represent the movement.

GORGO Magazine was published in November 2013 with Valerie overseeing all publications since it’s inception. Each cover model and article, has been scrutinized by Valerie to ensure it was “Gorgo-enough” for the readers and women she was committed to reach. Her unique ability to rally others to join the cause has resulted in the growth of the GORGO tribe to tens of thousands of women, and contributions from top writers and experts in the industry with powerful and thought-provoking articles.

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The birth and growth of GORGO didn’t happen in a vacuum. Life challenges still happened to Valerie, like it does to all of us. Yet, giving up was never an option. No matter how challenging life becomes, a trailblazer doesn’t ever quit.

Passing of the Torch

Valerie flew to attend Doris’s 84th birthday party, amongst the pioneers of women’s bodybuilding. Doris says of Valerie, “Our dreams and goals, while several generations apart, were identical. The more I learned of Valerie’s dedication, determination, and success in the women’s cause for being physically fit, I saw her as the new generation to carry the torch we lit with our first women’s physique contest in 1979.”

At the party, a ceremony was held where Doris passed the “Torch” to Valerie with a physical representation of a torch. Doris, a woman who had dedicated her life to the cause of equality of women in fitness and recognition for those efforts, sees hope in the movement with Valerie and GORGO.

Trailblazers clear the path for so many of us. Yet there is something weaved through the fabric of Doris Barrilleaux and Valerie Solomon that is weaved through millions of women, and weaved through our Spartan Queen, Gorgo. Strong women with a desire to live and do things a little bigger than their stature might lead you to believe is possible.

See the ripple effect of Valerie Solomon’s vision and YOUR power to impact others as part of Camp Gorgo banquet speech.
https://youtu.be/HbiWh3phN1k?t=5m4s

Fabiana Pelucio: How Tragedy Inspired a Drive to Help Others

By Jill Farr

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Pivotal moments can happen at any moment in our lives, but sometimes the stage we’re in when they occur can make their effect particularly dramatic.

Falling in love at fourteen isn’t better or worse than having it happen at forty, it’s simply different. Similarly, loss of a loved one can affect us deeply at any age, but there’s something deeply impactful about losing someone important to you when you’re very young.

When Fabiana Pelucio was four years old, one such loss dramatically changed her life.

“My six year old sister suddenly died in front of me,” Fabiana says. “One minute we were playing and the next I was watching my sister lying on the ground turning blue. All I could say was ‘Stand up and walk, just stand up and walk!’  I got emotionally paralyzed from this incident. It took me 36 years to understand the demons in my head.”

But as so often happens, tragedy and the resulting pain inspired a drive to help others, and led to a passion that not only transformed Fabiana, but the lives of those she has come to touch in adulthood, first as a physiotherapist and now as a personal trainer.

“In essence I have come to understand that since that traumatic incident where I was only 4 years old I have always had the need to help people physically,” Fabiana says. “That fueled my choice of studies while growing up.”

“Since moving to Australia I have moved my focus into fitness as a Fitness Model and am undergoing a personal training course to gain credentials.”

Fabiana is a relative newcomer to the fitness model world…and unique in that she decided to pursue this path a little later in life than most.

“In 2014 I decided to do my first show,” Fabiana says, “Not knowing what to expect but wanting to experience something new.”

“I decided to compete in bodybuilding as a fitness model for the first time to celebrate my 40th birthday to try challenging myself as I embarked on the next chapter of my life.”

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“I competed in the Sydney IFBB show & placed 3rd…then I felt this fire inside to continue this. So I decided to compete in the ANB Australia Sydney titles in which I placed 1st in both novice and over 30’s divisions. Then I went onto the ANB Australia Nationals and placed 1st in both divisions. I was blown away by this experience as there were women on stage that were world class athletes. I started to believe in my ability even more. I received my ANB/UFE pro card and qualified to compete in the world titles in Canada. As the current Australian Fitness model I was chosen to represent Australia on the prestige world stage in Canada Toronto at the UFE show recently in November.”         

“My journey as a fitness model was a great start to connect to myself, finding the purpose to fulfil my life and giving myself the chance to break through my limitations to follow my inner desire.”

The level of training that Fabiana has undertaken has not only yielded physical results; she believes that strengthening the body can also heal your emotions.

“I consider myself a very spiritual person,” Fabiana says, “So the most rewarding aspect of training has been an awakening process of finding a real connection to my deep inner being because I believe in emotional and physical relationship. Now that I’ve met the real me, it gives me the motivation to keep committed to my strength.”

“Training sort of gives me the feeling of dating your soul mate where you have butterflies in your stomach on every date!”

That sort of connection doesn’t happen overnight, and Fabiana knows as well as most women that finding the time to devote to the sort of training needed to accomplish it takes commitment.

“As women we wear multiple hats in the family and it can be hard to juggle everything at once, but my advice is always to get started. They say that a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Go for walks, take the stairs, join a gym, make a get-fit club with friends; whatever stage of life you are in it is never too late to turn things around but you have to tap into your inner fire.”

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In a full circle demonstration of how the most crippling moments can give birth to some of the deepest strength, Fabiana has taken the instinctive urging she felt as a child in the worst moment of her life and transformed it into a call of encouragement to others.

“’Stand up for yourself and Walk’, that’s a quote I always say,” Fabiana says. “Reconnect to your true self and your inner desire. Regardless of the situation you may be struggling with in life, what matters is getting back you. Standing up from your struggles, learning from them and walking on to the next day believing in yourself with goals in mind. Believe you will get up stronger!”

“As a liberated 40 year old woman I decided to see how would feel to experience my dreams, something that I believed it was possible to achieve. Instead of saying “If I was____, I could” why not say, “I am willing to give myself a chance to experience this”, believing that is possible to create a different life’s story.”

“No matter what it takes for you to walk again both emotionally or physically, use your past pain to empower you by learning from it and channeling your weakness into your strength! You just need to take the first step.”

RED CURRY DRAGON BOWL - GLUTEN & DAIRY FREE

By Christal Sczebel, Nutritionist in the Kitch

Christal recreates a dragon bowl after a yummy dining out experience…

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Dragon bowls aren’t a new thing. A dragon bowl is simply a meal-in-a-bowl that consists of a high-quality protein and nutrient dense vegetables over a whole grain base like rice, or is sometimes served over roasted sweet potatoes and a bed of spinach.

I stuck with spinach and brown rice as the base for my bowl, and then chose to go with chicken, broccoli, snap peas, and peppers in a delicious red curry sauce (with peanut butter and tahini!) as the bulk of the bowl. Then I chose to use similar toppings as the bowl I enjoyed at Communitea – cabbage, carrots, cilantro, peanuts, and bean sprouts for that crunch!

The colours, textures, flavour combinations, mixture of warm and soft with cold and crunchy is honestly so amazingly good. I just can’t help but FEEL unbelievably nourished and satisfied after this meal. It’s definitely a keeper.

INGREDIENTS:

SAUCE:

  • 1½ cups coconut milk (I mixed full fat and light)

  • 2 heaping tablespoons natural peanut butter

  • 1 heaping tablespoon tahini

  • 2 tablespoons red thai curry paste

  • 2 tablespoons coconut aminos or gluten-free soy sauce

  • ½ tsp sesame oil

  • 1½ tablespoons coconut palm sugar

  • juice of 1 lime

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger or ginger paste

BOWL INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 skinless boneless chicken breasts, diced into small pieces (cook with coconut or olive oil - see instructions)

  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced

  • 2 cups broccoli crowns, chopped

  • 1 cup snap peas

  • 2 cups brown rice or quinoa, cooked

  • GARNISHES:

  • 2 cups spinach

  • ¼ head of red cabbage, sliced

  • 2 carrots, shredded

  • 1 cup bean sprouts

  • ½ cup cilantro. chopped

  • ¼ cup peanuts, crushed

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Begin by making the sauce. In a bowl dd all the sauce ingredients EXCEPT the coconut milk and whisk until smooth.

  2. In a large pan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of coconut or olive oil and warm for 30 seconds.

  3. Add in the diced chicken and cook, stirring frequently until browned.

  4. While the chicken is browning, in another large pot/wok over medium-high heat add in the curry sauce and bring to a simmer. Stir in the coconut milk and bring back to a simmer.

  5. Add in the bell pepper, broccoli, and snap peas and continue to cook for a few minutes until the chicken is finished browning in the other pan.

  6. Add the browned chicken to the pot/wok with the red curry sauce and vegetables.

  7. Simmer everything for 3 more minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

  8. Remove from heat.

  9. Take 4 large bowls and line each bowl with fresh spinach leaves.

  10. Top the spinach leaves with warm cooked quinoa or brown rice (1/2 cup per bowl, cook the rice or quinoa ahead of time).

  11. Divide the red curry chicken and vegetable mixture between the four bowls.

  12. Top each bowl with the sliced raw cabbage, shredded carrot, bean sprouts, cilantro, and crushed peanuts.

  13. Dig in!

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PURSUE PASSION: HOW A YOUNG WIDOW CHASED HER JOY

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Debbie Wilkins Baisden, www.fitwithdeb.com

My husband died 3 years ago.  I was 35 years old.  There was no warning, no sickness, just gone.  Our 4 sons were 8 years old, 7 years old, and our twins were 4.  I was (and still am) in shock.  Surreal.  Frozen.  Nearly undone. My biggest fear became an unchangeable reality as I went from “wife” to “widow.”

Life became so different as we adjusted to being without a husband and without a father.  As a young widow with children, I had to put one foot in front of the other, taking care of their needs as we all faced our grief every minute of every day.  How do I become 2 parents?  How do I start camping and mowing the grass?  And how will I become a bread-winner when I’ve been the bread-buyer as stay at home mom for 8 years?

It didn’t take long for our oldest son to ask, “Mom, how will we have money now?”  Days after this beloved man’s funeral, I knew I had to become provider for our now smaller family.  As a former elementary school teacher, the thought of going back to the classroom filled me with dread.  As a mom, I knew I couldn’t be with kids all day every day without losing my mind.  So what should I do?

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I was in Chapter 2 of life with a new normal to figure out. With much prayer and sweet friends’ wisdom, I decided I didn’t have to return to teaching. I could do anything I wanted! What a rare gift that most adults don’t have the opportunity to consider! I wasn’t locked into anything that I didn’t want to do! There was much freedom in knowing I could make money doing something I actually enjoyed!

With an unpredictable future I took a chance. I wanted to pursue my passion. I had no clue how to actually go about doing that but I was willing. I had a passion for fitness. I wanted to share my love of smarter workouts with anyone that I could reach!

Back story, my late husband was a P.E. teacher which was ironic because I was a sweat HATER. I didn’t exercise because exercise was awful and crazy. Why exercise when you can NOT?! But over time this baby-maker had a body that suddenly wouldn’t allow endless Oreos or countless cookies. Thanks to my friend (and now partner-in-crime) Emily, I learned how to eat for fat loss and how to exercise smarter so that my pants would fit!  I hated it at first, like a form of cruel torture. I cried over ground turkey and fought through painful squat jumps.  But I changed; I never knew change was possible, to be honest. I suddenly started craving salads and squats! What?!? It became more than size x pants. It became something bigger, something more important.  Body care was my goal. Four kids are exhausting!  Becoming “2 parents” (which is, by the way, impossible) was even more exhausting. Better nutrition and efficient workouts helped me become a more equipped mom and semi-dad.

So at this crossroad in my life, I chased my joy: helping others look and feel their best!  It was awkward and clumsy, but it was this organic way to become an agent of change for others.  

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Fast-forward to today, 3 years after the devastating loss of Aaron.  I am now married to a wonderful man and my children are now 11, 10, 7, and 7.  I most happily enjoy leading local group workouts for busy moms!  We crank the music and lift weights for 20 minutes and it’s a blast!  I also have online fitness and nutrition clients who prioritize their health; it’s a virtual way to hold their hand through a sustainable way of moving and eating.

When I take time to reflect over the past 41 months of my life, I can’t help but shake my head with a bittersweet smile.  God has provided.  I am daily in awe.

Life is short.  Really short.  Are you pursuing your passion?  Are you chasing joy?

 

#GORGOgirl: Trish Shahady

 

We love featuring our everyday GORGOgirls that are inspiring us to crush life and a balanced approach to fitness.
Meet
Trish Shahady.

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Tell us about your fitness life.

I’ve always been an athlete. From high school until my early 30’s, I played field hockey. I just picked up the sport again at 46. While I don't classify myself as a “runner”, I have run since middle school. It was my outlet and also helped with endurance training for hockey.

I didn’t find strength training until my 30’s.  

After having my first son, I’d hit rock bottom. I had gained weight. I was heavy, slow, lethargic, working full time, taking care of my son, and just being a busy mom. One Sunday, I woke up and stepped on the scale. I weighed 169lbs, the heaviest of my life. At that moment, I decided that was it. I’d never had to lose weight before, so I didn’t know what to do. I got online and found a Weight Watchers meeting that same morning. Once I began Weight Watchers, I began exercising regularly. First, I just started with cardio; then, I began taking fitness classes that incorporated a lot of strength training. This was my first experience with weights… and it just blossomed from there. The class instructor became my mentor. Within that year, he pushed me to get my PT certification and wanted me to teach classes.  That all came to fruition in 2009/2010 - and started a new chapter in my life -Trainer, Motivator, Influencer...

The bulk of my strength training - weight lifting life has spanned over a short period of time - approximately 10 years - mid-thirties to late forties.  I have grown and changed so much over those years - part of the beautiful journey right. In my 30’s, I coveted that lean, shredded Oxygen magazine model look.  THAT is not my body type. I was a clydesdale wanting to be a mustang! I was always striving to be something I was not, purely aesthetic, and boom it hit me - I stopped trying to force a square peg into a round hole. I started loving who I was, how I look and celebrate WHAT my body can do.  Not gonna lie, this took FOREVER. I’m finally in that place where I don’t care if I have 6-pack abs, or boulder shoulders - I’M NOT A FITNESS COMPETITOR.

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I’m ME, I’m strong, my body can do amazing things THAT my friends is the game ... When YOU DO YOU.

Present life, I eat mindfully, but mostly what I want and I workout to be healthy and strong. On the cusp of turning 48, my mindset has changed to just being strong, lifting safely -if I take a fall at 80, I’m gonna be able to get myself up.

Tell us about your non-fitness life.

I’ve been with my high school sweetheart for 30 years (married for 19 years). Together we have 9-year-old and 15-year-old boys. We also have a mini poodle, Tito. I’m the youngest of 4 with 3 older brothers. My mother is Korean and my dad is Irish/Scottish descent. I was an army brat, so we moved around a lot growing up; we lived in Germany, and I’ve lived in Maryland the majority of my life.

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I also love to cook. If I’m not in the gym, I’m in the kitchen doing my second love. My father taught me how to cook from a very early age. It takes my mind away from everything.

It takes a lot for me to be chatty. I’m somewhat introverted, so I show my love for people through cooking. I’m not a very big “let’s hug” type of person, but I’ll happily cook for you!

What do you love about GORGO?

I love GORGO because it’s not fake - not airbrushed, unfiltered. I love that I never feel judged - I am 100% authentic and REAL.  No apologies. I cuss like a sailor and that’s okay. I love that GORGO celebrates all women - all fitness levels, all body types, and celebrates self love.  

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Any fun facts? Pets? Travels? Hobbies? Silly stuff?

I’m the most uncoordinated person you’ll meet in your life. Ironically enough, I wanted to become a dancer (and no, I’ve never even danced!). Majoring in American Studies in college, I also aspired to be a teacher at one point in my life. Neither dancing nor teaching came to fruition.  

Ice cream and vodka are non-negotiables in my diet - always present :)  My Boo Tito is named after vodka, ha ha ha ha!

Anything about camp GORGO you'd like to mention? What made you want to attend this year, why do you look forward to it? Favorite part? Etc....

I first met Val Solomon at the gym and our relationship grew through fitness. The first year she offered Camp GORGO, I went as a participant with a friend and had an amazing time. The 2nd year and each year since, I have taught workshops at Camp called “Barbell Love” and “HIIT”. I’m an “influencer” but not in the way of many Camp Leads who can confidently speak in front of an audience and connect. I’m the most extroverted introvert! I motivate by DOING- walking the walking, talking the talking, in my IDGAF way and I THINK thats how I motivate. I’m that muscle who gently pushes her clients and teaches them to find their own strength through lifting. Everyone’s takeaway from the weekend is different in terms of what why they go and what they gain from the weekend. It’s a high energy weekend filled with fun, laughter, and even tears.

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I’ve always loved the concept that women from across the world get together for this one weekend a year. I love that it's all women too. I train only women because of the connection we have. Through training, the relationships we build are personal and intimate. Same goes for camp. We are all there and all connected. We aren’t competing against one another. We are learning from each other and taking knowledge in from all of the workshops, and building friendships.

I love the games. I love that everyone wears tu-tu’s. But the biggest reason I keep going back is because of what it means to me. To me, it means being with your tribe. It’s not just the tribe… it’s YOUR tribe. It’s who your people are.

Connect with Trish at www.gymgurltraining.com and @gymgurltraining

 

Stronger Than You Think: Dianne Rideout

 

By Jill Farr

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Career woman and single mom Dianne Rideout has a very clear answer when asked the standard GORGO interview question, “What do you believe sets you apart? What’s your source of empowerment?”

“I have never been handed anything in my life,” Dianne says. “I have worked for every single thing I have.”

While achieving goals as the result of hard work certainly builds a certain amount of fortitude, it’s also not something born in a vacuum; the mindset of success has to be there, too. It’s something Dianne has cultivated carefully, over the years.

Dianne was not fitness minded as a child, or particularly athletic. In fact it wasn’t until after her second pregnancy when she turned to fitness for weight loss that she discovered its secondary benefits. 

“I started my fitness journey with Sisters in Shape after I had my second child,” Dianne says.

“I was heavier than I had ever been in my life--almost 200 pounds and I am 5’2.”

“I had my daughter in May 2014 and was heading back to work in January 2015.  I started searching the internet and stumbled onto Sisters in Shape. I did a 6 week challenge and lost some weight but I still wasn’t where I wanted to be so I contacted Erica Willick and she started coaching me one on one.”

The newly found fitness focus ultimately helped Dianne with more that just physical strength.

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“I was having a lot of troubles in my marriage and personal life,” Dianne says. “I turned to working out as a way to work through those issues. I lost weight and became fitter than I had been before, but more importantly I really gained mental strength and clarity from working out.”

As it happens so often with women, Dianne’s foray into strength training brought to light a need for the coalescence of strength and assurance from other areas into the places where it was lacking.

“I’m a lawyer by trade,” Dianne says, “And I feel that in that realm I portray myself as strong and confident.”  

“In my personal life I was anything but that.”

“I had been beaten down a lot and I felt like I was far from the person that everyone saw in my professional life, and on the surface.”

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In the summer of 2016, just as she had amped up her fitness journey by going from a program to personal training, Dianne went a step further and traveled to Camp Gorgo for the first time.  

“It was very much out of my comfort zone to go to something like this where I didn’t know anyone,” Dianne says. “But it really changed my life.”  

Dianne credits meeting strong and inspirational women at the camp with challenging her to make another jump, and transform her life even more.

“After meeting women who had overcome many difficulties in their life,  it really made me realize that I needed to take action to life a live that made me happy,” Dianne explains. “I set out to start living an authentic life. I wanted to be strong and happy, and show my daughters a strong female role model.”

While the courage to strike out and change the aspects of her life that were unhealthy--both physically and situationally--is something she advocates for, Dianne also shares that realistically, the choice to make even positive changes isn’t without struggle, itself.

“Single mom life is so hard,” Dianne relates. “Some days I feel like superwoman. Some days I’m hiding in my bedroom just to escape my kids and cry. But I keep trudging on. Ultimately I want my kids to know that I did not put up with an unhappy or unhealthy situation. I stood up for myself and ultimately for them. I don’t think they see it at the moment, but I hope one day they will appreciate it.”

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Fitness competition became the next tangible marker for Dianne’s strength journey.

“I never wanted to compete, initially,” Dianne says, “But I found that once I started to build physical strength my emotional strength also grew. I felt empowered and decided that I would challenge myself to compete in a competition to prove to myself that I was strong.”

“Competing really wasn’t about winning or losing. It was about showing myself I had the dedication it takes to do it.  When I stepped on the stage I felt like a different person. It was so empowering. It turned out to be more that I had hoped for because I ended up winning two first place trophies and one second place trophy.”

Fitness became an integral part of Dianne’s life, one that helped her make strong moves in order to pursue happiness and health, and realize the depths of her inner strength.

That inner strength was tested when tragedy struck for Dianne, but ultimately her fitness provided a solid foundation for her to move forward.

“Last year, I lost my biggest support, my best friend and the love of my life in a tragic accident,” Dianne shares.

“It’s hard to put into words how traumatic his death was for me. He was my constant and biggest support. During the times that I wanted to give up, he reminded me of how strong I was and told me how much he admired my strength.  When he died, my life was shattered. The strength that I had worked so hard for seemed to suddenly disappear. Now I am trying to pick up the pieces and rebuild my life. I don’t think you ever get over something like that. I know that once the pieces are together I will be a very different lady - and a much stronger one.”

“It is ironic – I remember thinking that 2017 was the hardest year of my life.  Entering 2018 I thought to myself that 2018 was going to be “my year”. After all my struggles and all the work I had put in, I was finally going to be happy. I had no idea then what life had in store for me.  Even though I felt I had already come back from “rock bottom”, I had no idea at the time what rock bottom was.”

“Even with all of the other challenges I’ve had these past few years, attending his funeral was the hardest thing I have ever done.  So, in the end, 2018 ended up being the worst year of my life.”

“It is so hard to put into words what I felt. The best example that I can think of is that for many years I was in a dark hole. I worked very hard to dig myself out.  At the end of 2017 I felt like I could finally see the light. I was just at the surface of the hole, but before I actually climb out fully, someone grabbed my hands and threw me back down in that hole again. Only this time, the hole was deeper and darker than it had been before. I didn’t really know how to process my grief so I turned to my workouts to help get me through the days. It gave me time to think and reflect on everything that had happened.”  

“Despite everything, I survived.  I am still standing and slowly I’m picking up the pieces. My goal for 2019 is to start rebuilding my life.”

Research has shown correlations between improving physical fitness and enhanced mental states, and that can extend to coping with grief. Dianne’s fitness foundation provided a great outlet to help her cope with her grief. While it’s still a work in progress, she’s focused on moving forward.

“I definitely am not out of the woods yet,” Dianne says. “But I have come a long way since last year.”

When asked what she would tell other women who are struggling to leave unhealthy situations, or what advice she would give the grief-stricken woman who is fighting to just get out of bed, much less to the gym, Dianne adds her own dimension to a favorite quote from a book she loves…

“Never ignore your inner voice. Listen to yourself and believe in yourself because you are stronger than you think. I love this quote from Glennon Doyle Melton’s book Love Warrior, and it sums up what I believe…

“I will not betray myself. I will trust the wisdom of the still small voice. I will not let fear drown her out. I will trust her and I will trust myself. Love, Pain, Life: I am not afraid. I was born to do this.”







 

Embracing Imperfectly Perfect

 

By Crystal Seaver  

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Why strive for perfect when we should just embrace imperfectly perfect?

No, really --- WHY?

I don’t have the best answer, because, well, I’m guilty as charged. I all too often play this overly self-criticizing game too. And, it’s silly!

Let’s be real. Everyone’s thighs touch. Stomachs fold or roll [or do whatever it is that we so desperately don’t want them to do]. Weight fluctuates. Arms, butts, things – they all jiggle. Skin breaks out. Curves exist.

These things, they are all just things. But, here’s the difference. For a short while we go about acknowledging them and then the perspective switches. These things – somehow transform to define us.

So when did we stop playing nice? When did we shift from an uninhibited state where we did the things we wanted to do, said the things we wanted to say, and didn’t necessarily care about what others thought?

Was it the point where our world became increasingly visual? When we started striving for the next perfect selfie? Or was it something else entirely?

We get so caught up in what we are today, or yesterday, or should be. We really need to stop and just be. Be happy. Be imperfectly perfect. Be proud of our bodies and who we are. Bodies will change; they are what you make them. Sometimes they are lean, sometimes they are fluffy, sometimes they are pregnant, sometimes they are struggling, sometimes they are not what you want them to be.

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Bodies are always changing, but they are always beautiful. That’s a constant. We have to embrace that. We have to believe that. We have to go one step further and whole-heartedly convince ourselves of that too.

So, go ahead. Name off your laundry list of imperfections – all the things that are outtake worthy. Then make a choice. Will you embrace them? Loving your body will get you much further than hating it.

You can manipulate your body, you can make it healthier and stronger and the most important tool you own. That’s normal. It’s entirely possible to recognize so-called imperfections [no one else is as critical as you] and work with them – this will help you maintain a healthy body image in all too “fitspiration” allured world.

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I’ll leave you with this – you probably all too easily name your imperfections. So now set yourself up for this challenge. Stay present and name all the things you love about YOU, practice positive talk, remember that perfection is elusive, learn to feel versus look good, and maybe, just maybe limit that social media addiction.

Finally, take those so-called imperfections – and remember those are the things that are imperfectly perfect.

Imperfectly perfect simply means: you define your body; your body does not define you.

 

Pre and Post Workout Nutrition: And How (Un)Important It May Be To You

 

Author: Stephaney Theobald, with preface by Erica Willick

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As a diet coach, I get a lot of questions every day, but perhaps two of the most common I hear are “Should I eat before I workout?” and “What’s the best thing to eat after a workout?”.

This article will answer that question.  However, in typical Gorgo-fashion we fill you in on the bigger picture so you can decide how important, or unimportant this question actually is for you.

Asking about pre and post workout nutrition, especially as you get started with diet,  is like someone asking you “What do you want from the menu?” before you determined what night you were going to go out for dinner (are you even available?), what style of restaurant is of interest to you (mexican, fast food, cafe, etc.), and what restaurant are you going to.  To have a great dinner out, there are a number of much more important items that need to be address before you dive into figuring out what to order off a menu!

One of the best representations of how important, or unimportant pre/post workout nutrition may be for you was developed by Eric Helms in his “Muscle and Strength Pyramids” books.

In the pyramid below, Eric Helms takes the aspects of diet and stacks them into order of importance as they relate to your overall dietary success.  The items at the base of the pyramid are most important, and the items at the top of the pyramid least important.  You’ll notice “Nutrient Timing”, which pre and post workout nutrition falls into, is close to the top of the pyramid.  This means pre/post workout nutrition is less important than overall Energy Balance (total calories in/out), Macros (your ratio of protein/carbs/fats), and the Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).  

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So before you get bogged down with what to eat before/after a workout, you’re better off to master the items below Nutrient Timing in the pyramid.  Priorities in nutrition are like priorities in life!  Put your focus where it really matters, and only add to your priorities when you have a good handle on the really important stuff!

OK, SO YOU’RE ACTUALLY READY FOR PRE AND POST NUTRITION

If you’re rocking the other (more important) parts of your diet, then let’s dive into what to eat before and after a workout.

As with most things, there is really no ONE right answer, as it heavily depends on factors such as the individual’s body type, goals, workout style, fitness level, schedule, etc. – however in this article I will attempt to address these questions in a general sense that applies to a broad audience.

SIMPLIFIED: Eat protein and carbohydrates before and after workouts.

But, let’s get more specific:

PRE-WORKOUT

First, let me clarify that when I say “workout” in this article, I am referring to any high intensity activity such as heavy weight-training or any cardio that gets your heart rate above 65% max.

The most important rule of thumb I tell most people who are looking to build muscle or lean out while preserving muscle is that it’s VERY important to eat before a workout.  Working out on an empty stomach is more likely to encourage the body to break down its nutrient-dense muscle for the fuel it needs to get through a tough workout, which is the opposite of what most people are trying to accomplish.

Updated research supports this showing that fasted cardio is not effective for fat loss, although this used to be a commonly held belief.  If you hear a trainer or coach telling you to workout on an empty stomach for better results, they need to do some updating to their research.

Pre-workout, I find that a good strategy is to eat some kind of lean protein with a low-fiber carbohydrate.

  • The lean protein will provide the amino acids your body will need to protect the muscle during an intense workout. Generally, I prefer a slower digesting protein before a workout, but even a fast-acting protein such as whey isolate is better than having no protein.

  • The carbs will provide the fuel needed to get through the workout.  For pre-workout carbs, I typically like ones that are lower in fat and fiber because I find that foods too high in fat or fiber can tend to sit in the gut and make you feel too full or uncomfortable during an intense workout.  You may find that you feel better during a workout with slower digesting carbs like oats.  Give both a try and see how you feel.

  • Pre-workout meal timing is 1-1.5 hrs before working out (maybe 20-30 min if just eating a fast digesting shake).

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POST-WORKOUT

A strategy I’ve found to be effective with most people post-workout is eating a fast-acting protein and a higher glycemic carbohydrate.  After an intense workout your muscles have been broken down and are essentially looking for nutrients to aid in recovery and rebuilding.

  • Eating or drinking a fast-acting protein, such as whey isolate, will allow the amino acids to get to work more quickly, and

  • A higher glycemic carb will better spike the insulin and help shuttle nutrients to the muscle more quickly and efficiently.

It’s not BAD to eat a slower digesting/high fiber carb post workout. But the faster the carb can be digested, the more your insulin will spike and you get better shuttling of nutrients to recovering muscles.  I don’t promote eating SUPER high glycemic carbs like Skittles, PopTarts, etc. as a general rule (because I prefer cleaner eating), but of course, truth be told, there are times I’ve had candy with my post workout meal.  If you have committed to a healthy diet, and you are craving a little something sweet, the post workout meal can be a good place to slip it in.

A great example of a post-workout meal is a whey isolate protein shake with a white potato.  Plus, I like to add greens for their anti-inflammatory effect (can be whole veggies or a greens supplement), sea salt since it has 26 minerals to help the protein and carbs cross the cell membrane, and a fish oil supplement for more anti-inflammatory effect.

These are a few of many options:

  • whey isolate & white potato

  • egg whites & white bread

  • whey isolate & banana

  • egg whites & grapes

As with anything each individual should experiment and learn what works best for their situation, body type and goals. However starting with the tips above may help you get more out of your workouts and further in your journey towards a fit and sexy body!

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New Year, New You…OR not

 

By Val Solomon

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I like you the way you are.  Really.  

Maybe I don’t know you, exactly.  But I know this:  You have subscribed to this magazine about fitness and real women and empowerment… and you are reading it.  That tells me something.  

It tells me that you have this yearning somewhere deep inside to be strong.  Not just physically strong, but empowered.

It tells me that you love leaning on other strong women for support.  It tells me you are in #mytribe....this group of women that lifts up other women.

It tells me you want to keep learning.  You aren’t so set in your ways.  A GORGO Girl knows every person has a story she can learn from.

It tells me that you have some badass in you.  Maybe just a tiny tiny bit.  Maybe a whole lot.  

You are sitting here reading something for yourself.  So I like you.  Just like this.  The girl with the spark of curiosity and goals and dreams and that attitude you have.

I just want YOU this New Year.  100% you.  Not a new you.  Just the authentic you.  

 

Love and Lifting: Angela Stevenson on the Inspirational Power of Strength

 

By Jill Farr

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Seven years ago, Angela Stevenson was newly divorced, broke, and still 3 months away from receiving her Bachelor’s Degree, with four little boys to support.

Desperate to make ends meet, she turned to fitness as a way to bring in money while she finished her education.

“I began teaching Zumba classes,” Angela says, “Spin classes, any classes I could to make extra money.”

“My life was literally falling apart, but I managed to find the strength to finish school, graduate with honors, and get a job teaching kindergarten.”

With her career headed in a different direction, fitness still had a big place in Angela’s life, and the rewards that she began reaping from that time went beyond financial ones.

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“I felt as if I had been a victim,” Angela says, “And I never wanted to be a victim again. That’s when I took an interest in bodybuilding. I trained for my first figure show, and found that body building made me feel as strong as I felt inside. I felt I needed an "extreme makeover", and even though my outside body was changing, the real change took place on the inside. I found my strength and inner peace through weight training.”

Although Zumba remains Angela’s first love—she still teaches classes in the evenings—preparing for that first figure show instilled a love of strength training that has grown into a desire to share the power of weights with the world.

“My interests grew broader when I began training to do my first figure show 3 years ago,” Angela says.

“I worked with a diet coach, and trainers, and through that journey, I decided to study to become a trainer. I wanted to help people reach their goals. Today, I teach bootcamps, train clients…I want to share this with women as much as I can.”

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“I feel it is a kind of "pay it forward"--helping people reach their goal, and empowering them to find their strength. I had a weightlifting seminar, and as I shared my story of how and why fitness became so important in my life, I realized that many other women had their own demons to conquer as well. My story wasn't so unique after all.  Many other women had their own stories, and needed an outlet. Weight lifting seem to be their outlet too.”

The inner strength and peace that Angela found through building her body led not only to an increased love for herself, it served as the medium for finding another kind of love, as well.

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Angela met her current husband, Glen, in the gym, he proposed to her while she was teaching a Zumba class. They were even married in the gym…with their wedding photos featuring the bride and groom both holding weights.

“We competed in a bodybuilding show together,” Angela says, “And after dieting together and not killing one another, we thought we should get married!”

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As Angela pursues her dreams of continuing to compete, train, and coach, she believes that her singular spin on fitness comes from the example she sets; of a normal, everyday woman setting out to maintain personal fitness despite the obstacles that everyday life throws at us.

“I think women can relate to me, because I am an average working, busy mom,” Angela says. (She and Glen have seven—yes, that’s right, seven—children between the two of them).  

“I’m a kindergarten teacher, and I train and teach classes at night. I also just completed my Master's degree! I still find the time to work out, even when I have every excuse not to. I am passionate about being healthy in mind, body and soul. It is all about balance. I don't always do a perfect job at this, but I try every day.”

More than just a word, “strength” is a mantra to Angela; it’s emblazoned on both her car—as the phrase, “Where there is no struggle, there is no strength”—and on her body.

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“After a long, hard journey in my life,” Angela says, “I had the strength symbol tattooed on my foot as a reminder of how far I’ve come in life.”

“I love what GORGO stands for, motivating women to be strong, to encourage and lift each other, and to love yourself.  Strength is a powerful word to me.”

Finding that self love through strength starts with choosing your activity, Angela believes. She maintains that jump starting your fitness journey starts with finding the pursuit that makes your heart beat faster, not just literally, but figuratively.

“My advice to women,” Angela says, “Would be find your passion in fitness. Everyone is different, maybe it’s running or Zumba, crossfit, or weight training, but whatever inspires you, do it! Exercise is not just for the body, but for the mind as well.”

“Inspire, love and lift each other always!”

(You can find Angela on Facebook as Angela Stevenson and on Instagram as ANGELA_FIT4LIFE.)

 

Slow-Cooker Turkey Chili

 
This meal is perfect to let simmer away while you’re at work; the longer the flavours cook together, the better it tastes. It can also be made on the stove-top if you don’t have access to a slow-cooker - the benefit to the slow cooker is the bigger the batch, the better as this freezes well for later use, and is great for meal planning for your week.  Topped with freshly cut green onions and a sprinkle of low-fat cheddar cheese, this chilli is perfect healthy comfort food.

This meal is perfect to let simmer away while you’re at work; the longer the flavours cook together, the better it tastes. It can also be made on the stove-top if you don’t have access to a slow-cooker - the benefit to the slow cooker is the bigger the batch, the better as this freezes well for later use, and is great for meal planning for your week.

Topped with freshly cut green onions and a sprinkle of low-fat cheddar cheese, this chilli is perfect healthy comfort food.

By Aleshia Pint, Less With Bread

Imagine walking through your door, kicking your winter boots off and shaking off the chill from the frigid weather outside, and having a warm bowl to wrap your hands around - a bowl filled with comforting and filling chili.

Packed with protein from lean ground turkey and a variety of beans, one bowl for lunch or dinner will keep you feeling satisfied but not heavy. Be generous with the vegetables you add; a couple multi-coloured bell peppers, red onions, corn - it’s all to your personal taste. This chili has a spicy kick from jalapenos that are coarsely chopped and added with their seeds, but serrano peppers would work well too if you can get your hands on them! Don’t be shy with the spices either, the key to a flavourful sauce is all about building the flavour - smoky paprika, cayenne pepper, chili pepper and oregano all blend together to create that distinct and familiar chili taste.

Ingredients

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  • 1 package lean ground turkey

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 can of low salt black beans, rinsed

  • 1 can of low salt mixed beans, rinsed

  • 1 can corn (frozen works as well if that’s what you have on hand)

  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 1 can diced tomatoes and their juice

  • 1 can pureed tomatoes

  • 1 green pepper, chopped

  • 1 medium sized white onion, minced

  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced

  • 1 celery stalk, minced

  • 2 jalapenos, chopped (use one for a more mild kick)

  • 2 teaspoons cumin

  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika

  • fresh ground salt and pepper, to taste

  • additional (optional): green onions, shredded cheese, avocado, plain greek yogurt

Directions:

1. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add ground turkey and brown, breaking into small bits. Drain turkey and pour into slow cooker.

2. In the same pan, sauté onions, garlic, celery and spices until fragrant. (This step is optional - if you are short on time, go ahead and skip to step 3 - this just builds a more complex flavour).

3. Add onion, celery and spice mixture to slow cooker, along with all remaining ingredients.

4. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours.

5. Top with optional ingredients.

*if just using the stove, follow above ingredients using a large pot, and simmer for 1-2 hours.