“Take a baby step, conquer it, and go from there. We’re not climbing Mt. Everest in one day. Put one foot in front of the other.”Read More
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?
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.
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?
We love featuring our everyday GORGOgirls that are inspiring us to crush life and a balanced approach to fitness.
Meet Trish Shahady.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
By Jill Farr
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.
“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.”
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.”
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.”
By Crystal Seaver
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.
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.
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.
By Val Solomon
blah blah blah.
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.
By Jill Farr
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.
“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.”
“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.
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!”
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.
“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.)
We love featuring our everyday GORGOgirls that are inspiring us to crush life and a balanced approach to fitness.
Meet Ashley Meyer.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR FITNESS LIFE
Growing up, I was the furthest from being interested in anything related to exercise. The most I remember doing was playing volleyball my sophomore year of high school. Fast forward to 2014 – I vividly remember going clothes shopping (which I still to this day loathe doing ) and realizing that if I wanted to buy the jeans I wanted, they would have to be a size 20 and I was not about to buy them.
That pushed me into starting out on a new journey in life that will hopefully one day, not only make me look better, but feel better about myself as well. I started going to the gym and found a whole new focus in life – myself. Going to Camp GORGO for the first time in 2016 really lit a spark in me and I found an entirely new love for the gym and learning to become comfortable in my own skin.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR NON-FITNESS LIFE.
This part of my life is far less interesting, but here it goes!
For the past 7 years, I have worked for the State of Missouri. During the summer, I love to be outside, so for the past few summers I have been hitting up all the state parks around Missouri for short hiking trips. If I had the funds, I would travel the world in a heartbeat. In March 2018, I went to see Havasu Falls in Supai, AZ with a couple fellow GORGO Girls.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT GORGO?
I first heard about Camp GORGO in 2015 and instantly thought it was not for me. A couple of friends went for their first time that year and came back convincing me that I had to go in 2016. I thought “Why not? It’s a year away and I have plenty of time to prepare myself.” Little did I know how much I would love everything Camp has to offer.
The inspiration, motivation and acceptance all of the girls have for everyone there is incredible. Most people would think that this big of a group of girls all together for an entire weekend, there would be all kinds of drama and judgements and cliques. GORGO Girls are total opposite. The amount of love and support you get from each and every one of them is unbelievably amazing and you will leave Camp with lifelong friendships that you will forever cherish. We all laugh together, cry together and make some of the most amazing memories. Camp GORGO 2019 will be my fourth Camp and I cannot wait to squeeze everyone’s necks!!
“Live for today. I’m not saying don’t think about your future or fly by the seat of your pants for everything…. but stop wishing today away. We are so accustomed to wishing time forward. I’m such a planner, but I try my hardest to live in the present. Thinking about tomorrow, but savoring today and truly taking in what the moment has to offer.”Read More
By Chivon John
As Danielle Laporte says “Everything we do is driven by the desire to feel a certain way.”
When you think about your fitness goals and more importantly your pursuit of them, how do you feel?
Behind the desire for a healthier life, to look great naked or feel stronger, there is a burning desire for something more.
No matter how much time you invest in your workouts, eating clean or the vision boards that you create, without a strong connection to your why you’ll always be yearning for more.
Goals should be a tool of liberation rather than imprison you in feelings of fear and self-doubt.
Although it’s difficult to believe that the pursuit of a wellness goal could be unhealthy, they can be if you’re chasing something that leaves you feeling enslaved with negative thinking instead of feeling empowered.
Curious about whether your goals are authentic? Here are 3 warning signs that you’re out of alignment:
1. You’re driven by a desire to ‘fit in’
Behind the desire to fit in, is the desire to belong. But ‘fitting in’ shouldn’t require you to change who you are.
According to shame and vulnerability researcher Dr. Brene Brown, belonging only comes with self-acceptance, specifically the courage to be vulnerable, authentic, imperfect, and the belief that you are enough.
In the absence of self-acceptance, you’ll find yourself hustling for worthiness where you constantly seek and search for self worth.
No amount of physical training can fix the mental fitness that needs to occur before you hit the gym.
2. You’re striving for perfection instead of progress
No matter what the images on your instagram feed tell you, there is no perfect or right way to live a healthy life.
Inspiration is a beautiful way to kick-start your journey but don’t let your tools of inspiration become the same tools that fuel your self-doubt. When in doubt remember this:
You have permission to create meal plans that work for your lifestyle and body.
You have permission to track your progress in a way that feels good to you.
You have permission to create a sustainable wellness plan that makes you feel alive.
You don’t have to follow what everyone else is doing, and there is no prize for trying to be perfect.
Celebrate the journey, enjoy the bumps and choose progress over perfection.
3. You’re focused on pleasing others instead of yourself
In the same way that we try to fit in, setting goals to please others will keep you stuck in the cycle of searching for worthiness.
There is nothing wrong with wanting toned legs or capped shoulders, but are your goals conditions for feeling acceptable in the eyes of others?
Behind the feeling to please others is a desire for someone to affirm who you are.
But here’s the problem, if you don’t show love for yourself in the present, you’ll have difficulty loving the future you.
Be mindful of the judgments on yourself and others and realize that a healthy you begins from the inside out. More importantly, the people in your corner should be your biggest cheerleaders and not your biggest critics.
In words of Rumi-“Be suspicious of what you want and remember that your goals should start and end with you.
According to Danielle Laporte,
“when it comes to goal pursuit, we’re either avoiding pain or seeking pleasure”.
Only YOU can decide which one it will be.
We love featuring our everyday GORGOgirls that are inspiring us to crush life and a balanced approach to fitness.
Meet Morgan Green.
Tell us about your fitness life.
I have been pretty active since I was little. I played soccer growing up, then moved to competitive cheerleading, cheered all through middle and high school and competed with those squads, and then moved into the typical cardio queen mentality after having my first baby at 17. I have always loved to lift, training legs was always my favorite on our weight room days, but it was probably when we moved to Kentucky with the military that I really learned to love lifting....ever since I just love to feel strong as a woman...and I love to push myself.
Tell us about your non-fitness life.
It’s really hard to put all that you do as a wife/mom into words...but I’ll try! My husband and I have been married for almost 11 years, he was a combat medic in the army for 8 years, and is now a firefighter and serves in the national guard. I’m blessed to be a mom to three incredible children. Wyatt is 12, Amie Rhea is 10, and Joshua is 3. I work full time as a receptionist for a busy pediatric doctors office in my hometown of Granbury, TX. My greatest passion is to sing, and thankfully God gave me the ability to do it well! I have been blessed to be able to use my gift on my church’s worship team for several years. I also love to read and learn....if someone would pay me to be a full time student...I would do it in a heartbeat! #nerdalert
What do you love about GORGO?
This was my first year to attend Camp GORGO, and I have been so jealous every year before as I saw all these women posting pictures and sharing of what camp did for them. GORGO is the first place that I felt 100% free and safe to be myself. That sounds silly....but for that weekend my identity wasn’t solely based around being a wife, mom, sister, daughter, etc I just got to be ME! I got to be in the first women centered weekend without the catty cliques, without the judgements or comparison, and without the fear of fitting in. It was a weekend of encouragement for all victories, full of growth and self discoveries. There’s not another place on earth you will learn about your innermost self, where you’re free to dream for yourself without holding back and where you learn how to make those dreams come true! There’s nothing more beautiful than a woman who believes in who and what she is.
Anything about camp GORGO you'd like to mention?
My favorite part of Gorgo was becoming part of this incredible tribe of women. It is the only group of women that I have EVER encountered where there is truly nothing negative going on. There’s no inside cliques, there’s just total inclusion. We are all women, who love and celebrate being a woman and love and celebrate other women. We encourage each other unconditionally. The giggles, belly laughs, competitions, tears, dancing, meals, it was all perfect....and I can’t wait to do it again!!!!
By Jill Farr
Anna Earley grew up as an athlete, swimming and playing competitive volleyball and soccer in high school, and was a nurse for almost twenty years, mostly in pediatrics doing case management or coordinating services. She and her husband still play and coach volleyball as adults.
So when Anna says that she believes her online Isagenix business is a more empowered and helpful pursuit than nursing...it’s worth hearing her explanation.
“I feel like a lot of my nursing career was spent in “Band Aid” fixes--after the fact measures that really didn’t address the underlying problem, or promote wellness,” Anna says. “Nursing and healthcare isn’t really focused on prevention, in my opinion and experience. When I looked at Isagenix, though, they were addressing preventative health. Helping people get healthy on their own.”
Anna co-parents her 14 year-old daughter and 16 year-old son along with her ex-husband and current husband, in addition to running her online business, and their extended familial cooperation is right up there with her contribution to those seeking health, when it comes to life philosophies that she feels are essential.
“I have a great relationship with their dad,” Anna relates. “We’re probably not the norm when it comes to blended families--we all get along. My current husband has two kids and I’m good friends with his former wife...it’s a very rare thing, but it works well and everyone gets along.”
“It’s one of the things I think I’m most proud of...I’m not proud of being divorced, but I’m proud of how we handled it. My mantra has always been, “Be the change.” In every sense, if you want a calm life, if you want fun fitness...be what you want.”
Forgoing the mindset of “Us Against Them”, and dropping comparisons isn’t just a tactic that Anna advocates for getting the best out of family relationships; it’s also a key to success in feeling your own worth in the age of social media, and doing your best for yourself.
“I have always found--especially with social media--there’s this huge comparison pressure,” Anna says. “To be on par with this person getting all this attention on Facebook, or a certain number of likes on Instagram, but for me...I’ve always loved fitness when it’s doing something I’m passionate about. I’d rather be on a volleyball court than in a gym lifting weights. But there’s a lot of pressure to do things other people are doing.”
A shoulder injury necessitated a break from Anna’s passion--volleyball--for a period of time, and that led to her discovery of weight lifting. While that progressed into a time of bodybuilding--and even competing--Anna admits that volleyball and yoga are the things that she loves...and therefore does.
“When I play volleyball, I get excited to go. I lift weights because I know the benefits, I like how it makes me feel, and I love yoga because I like being flexible. I think you have to love what you do to get the consistency you need. To get into a routine.”
“Yoga is so underrated. Especially as we get older, we need it more. We need our brains to stop, we need to be grounded...yoga is great for flexibility and strength, but it’s good for those things, too.”
In addition to the love and excitement for a particular pursuit, Anna believes that taking the time pressure off will help with developing and maintaining a regular workout routine.
“People are also always looking for the perfect timing, or amount of time to work out,” she says. “They think you need an hour set aside to go to the gym. But especially for new moms, or people on the go, you need to just take that ten minutes or whatever you have to do it now. Because if you love it, that ten minutes will naturally grow.”
Lessons from Anna:
Drop Comparisons...Do What You Love. “My belief is that you’re going to be happiest, you’re going to be most consistent, when you’re doing an activity that you love,” Anna says. “If you go into weight training because someone told you to do it, you might stick with it for a while, but if you don’t love it...it won’t last.”
Competition and Play Aren’t Just for Kids. Anna plays volleyball weekly--sand and court, depending on the season. If you’re thinking, “I thought comparison was bad...isn’t that the same thing as competition?”, the answer is “No”. Taking part in games where there are “winners” doesn’t mean you’re a “loser” if you don’t take it all at the end...the idea is to focus on challenge. Challenge encourages growth, and can be an important part of an enjoyable physical endeavor.
Any Amount of Time Can Grow. Ten minutes doing something you love will leave you hungry for more, not wishing you weren’t there. When you find your passion, or at the very least, something fun, you’ll find the time. And make more of it.
By Rosalyn Fung
1. Breathe into a positive intention every morning.
Before you get up from bed, take deep breaths to take in a positive intention to start your day from an empowering mindset. For example, “I can show gratitude for whatever comes my way today”. Keep this intention at the forefront through your day.
2. Check in with yourself. Every three hours, ask yourself, “On a scale 1-5 (1=no stress, 5=extreme stress) where am I?” Take 5-10 deep breathes to shift gears, relax your mind and body no matter your number, and take a break if you’re at a 3 or higher (e.g., go for a walk outside, listen to music).
3. Work on having compassion for your inner critic. We all have an inner critic! Notice how much self-talk is positive vs. negative. Catch yourself when you engage in negative self-talk and interrupt it by saying, “Be kind to myself”.
4. Renew your relationships with others. List the people in your life that drain your energy - this is not a judgment about them, rather it is a recognition that the dynamics of these relationships may no longer be a fit for you. Then decide to either work on changing the dynamics in these relationships or find a way to end these relationships respectfully. Create a new normal by surrounding yourself with people who are positive, uplifting, and believe in you. Their energy is contagious.
5. Allow yourself to be imperfect. There is no such thing as perfect and always on the other side of perfectionism is self-abuse. Learn to let go and laugh at yourself.
6. Slow down. Choose one to two activities in your day to be present with, whether that’s eating a meal slowly and mindfully, take your time to walk/drive to your next destination (instead of rushing). Slow your thinking down and be in the moment with whatever you are doing. Just because we live in a fast paced society, does not mean we always have to mirror it.
7. Engage in play time. Playing is not just for kids! Color in a coloring book, draw something, finger paint (these are great de-stressors, by the way), build a sand/rock castle, or play a board game. Play catalyzes our pleasure response.
8. Feel into your feelings, no matter how uncomfortable they are. Acknowledge your feelings and honor them by engaging in self-care activities that will help those feelings shift. Journal your negative feelings and journal the positive shifts too!
9. Have a daily relaxation ritual. Many of us feel vulnerable to engage in emotionally driven eating or mindless eating at some point in our day. Replace this with a relaxation ritual. So instead of grabbing for food to soothe yourself when you’re not really hungry, try making yourself a cup of tea, going for a walk or reading a book instead.
10. Nourish your body. Feed your body with foods that give you sustaining energy. Move your body in ways that bring pleasure, and get enough sleep.
By Rosalyn Fung
Holistic Body Love to me, is about being in a healthy relationship with yourself in five important realms of life: mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually & socially.
Let’s define these five areas:
1. Mental: This is our self-talk, what it is we say to ourselves about ourselves. Ideally, we want to be engaging in positive self-talk significantly more than negative self-talk.
2. Emotional: This is the way we feel about ourselves, and the ability to regulate one’s own emotions well. The way we think about ourselves leads to how we feel about ourselves.
3. Physical: This involves our physical body, not in appearance, but rather with the health condition of our body. For example, a strong immune system, organs that function well, a body that’s well nourished with nutrients, a body that has abundant energy to thrive.
4. Spiritual: This area can have multiple meanings. For some, it would be one’s own ability to tune into their intuitive wisdom. For others, it may be their connection with a Higher Power. Essentially, it is the ability to see the bigger picture and connect with sacred aspects of life, so that life has fulfillment through deeper meaning and purpose.
5. Social: We are social creatures at the very core of us, meaning we all need a connection with people to heal. We are influenced every day by relationships and dynamics in our home, work, school, and life environments.
I see that having a balance in these five realms can help us feel more present, grounded, and empowered in who we are as an individual, and in the various roles we take on.
What Does It Mean to Have Holistic Body Love?
Holistic Body Love means to be kind to yourself, to treat yourself with love and respect, to have healthy and flexible boundaries so that you keep out things that do not serve you (drama anyone?! No thanks!), to feel gratitude for all that you have in your life and to feel enough abundance with what you have right now (rather than feeling deprived or believing that ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’). These are just some examples, and there are many more. Ultimately, it’s about being your own best friend.
My Journey to Finding Holistic Body Love
I did not always have an amazing relationship with me. In fact, I used to be my own worst enemy and beat myself up all the time because I wasn’t fit-looking enough, because I didn’t have six-pack abs, because my hips weren’t small enough, my arms were not defined enough, and because for goodness sake, that little piece of flesh on my upper back behind my armpit was too fleshy and soft! I used to restrict myself from eating certain kinds of foods because it’s what I thought would exacerbate my “problem areas”. So I stayed away from sugar, opting instead for the chemically enhanced sweeteners (but hey, at least they are calorie free!) and for the “fat-free” food products. And this made me feel good and feel (falsely) safe because I was eating perfectly. I would bring my own food to social gatherings because I was anxious about eating anything outside of my diet. I would take hours to try on clothes because nothing fit right or gave me the look I wanted, I would get so stressed out packing for vacation (okay I admit I still do but for different reasons now!) because I couldn’t decide what to wear since I couldn’t predict how my body would look each day I was away from home. And when I was alone, I binged. I ate, and ate and ate all the foods I deprived myself of – peanut butter, cookies, bread and anything high in sugar and carbs. I would feel guilt and shame for binging, so I would “erase” these feelings by over-exercising. It became a silent vicious cycle.
This kind of relationship with myself went on for YEARS. And you know what? Even when I did achieve my then “ideal body” by competing in a bodybuilding competition, this didn’t bring me the happiness I was seeking. Nothing inside changed mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. Only on the outside did my capsule change.
Then I made a choice. I took the courage to go on a self-healing journey: through therapy; through my own professional training in a mindfulness-based therapy called Hakomi (in which I’m Certified now) and through exploring Eastern practices such as yoga, acupuncture, and naturopathy. I developed new practices to be kinder to myself, to slow down, to be more present, to learn how to shift out of limiting core beliefs and patterns, and to live in a new way. I decided to think, feel, and behave in my relationship with my new best friend- me.
It’s about serving me, so that I can serve the world from a deeper, loving, and authentic place. When I show love to me, the world benefits. I can give back ten fold because I’m happy right here in my mind, heart and body. I have stopped abandoning myself and I have returned home to a peaceful and happy body.
The struggles I was experiencing in my relationship with myself were expressed in the areas of food and body. However, these struggles may come out in other areas such as being in relationships that are unhealthy and even abusive. It can be a love relationship, a business partnership, family ties, or even friendships. These struggles with self could be related to feeling deprived, chronically stressed, tired or anxious, feeling low self-worth, or having judgmental thoughts about others. Oftentimes, these struggles are unconsciously deep-rooted.
YOU can change the story of your life by first being open to exploring your relationship with you. You can start by reading a self-help book that appeals to you, or you can talk to a therapist who can help guide you. Invite curiosity, courage, and hope to be with you.
By Jill Farr
Connect with Heather: @babies_to_biceps
The impetus for many women’s fitness lifestyle changes isn’t always positive. Often, it’s a dissatisfaction with our appearance or strength and energy levels that makes us realize we need to get back to the gym. (Or start going in the first place).
Sometimes, dealing with a curveball that life throws is what leads us to seek out physical strength.
When Heather Burba was pregnant with her third child, she found out her husband was cheating on her. To say it was devastating was, as anyone who has been in those shoes knows, an understatement.
When it became apparent that the infidelity wasn’t going to stop, Heather packed up her three kids and moved across the country, to try and start over. With three small kids to support, she knew that she needed a stable long term career, so she took out loans, applied for all the assistance she could, and enrolled in nursing school.
The pain of a deep betrayal, the stress of nursing school and the pressure to build a career and suddenly become a breadwinner for a little family--not to mention the interim poverty while she got her degree--added up to a huge amount of stress.
“I was so angry,” Heather says.
“I was angry about buying Goodwill stuff for my kids, I was angry that my ex-husband was galavanting around, living the single life, while I was doing this.”
“So I started running. I had no clue about how to run, I just started, and I ran and I ran and I ran. I would walk until I caught my breath, then I’d run some more. I did that to stay sane. And I was a better mom because of it. Sometimes I would park in the daycare parking lot before picking up my kids, and go run in the neighborhood.”
“I had just spent 8 hours at school, now I have to go home and be a mom and do homework. It made me angry. So I would run, to get all that out.”
The running did its job, and Heather not only became stronger physically, but psychologically. She became a nurse, she bought a house...and she found love again.
After getting stood up for a date, she went to a friend’s house to vent and eat ice cream...and the friend’s younger brother happened to stop by. Fate conspired, a romance blossomed, and eventually she and the little brother (John) fell in love.
Even in the midst of building their “happily ever after”, however, there were challenges. And once again, those hardships served as a springboard to Heathers strength. Heather discovered her boyfriend’s porn use, and without her realizing, it fed some unresolved insecurities she had about her own body.”
Eventually, even though her initial reaction was to try and change to fit what she thought he wanted, Heather decided that this wasn’t about her--it was about them. She also decided that instead of starving herself for a man, she would get stronger. For herself.
Two things came from that moment; Heather had a heart-to-heart with John about how his porn use made her feel, and she had a talk with herself. “There’s no man on Earth that’s worth killing yourself for.” It turned her towards strength training.
“Instead of being skinny, I wanted to be strong. I went in--didn’t know what I was doing--and just started lifting. Like with running...I just started. I’m a personal trainer now because I want to give that feeling to women--look how strong you are!”
That moment was a huge turning point for Heather and John, by tackling the issue of pornography and healing the residual emotional damage left over from her first marriage, they realized that together they could conquer anything and got married, on a Tuesday afternoon 3 years later.
In addition to being a personal trainer, Heather is also a doula--bringing the same empowerment mindset to birth experiences that she does to fitness training. As far as her own personal fitness goals, she doesn’t really have any end game in mind, other than the best fitness level possible.
“I basically just want to live forever--to see my grandbabies have babies and not have my children have to care for a sick, elderly mother.”
When asked about her message for other women, Heather doesn’t hesitate.
“I would tell them, ‘You have the power to create the life you deserve and are dreaming of.’ It doesn’t matter how long it takes. It doesn’t matter how many times you start over or try a new idea. Slow deliberate movement forward will always keep you moving. You can do every single thing you put your mind to. I am living proof.”
“You just have to woman up.”
Lessons from Heather:
Make a 10 minute investment.
When Heather was at a low point, her dad gave her this advice: You can’t look at the end.
“I never looked at the end of nursing school,” Heather says. “I couldn’t look at it as “the next three years”...I had to look at it ten minutes at a time.” That same philosophy is her fitness mantra. “Just go to the gym/run/spin/whatever for 10 minutes. If you still want to quit after 10 minutes, then quit. I can almost guarantee you that you won’t. If you do, then it’s still 10 minutes of something that you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Give yourself 10 minutes and see if it changes your day.”
Don’t stuff your emotions.
“Everyone tells women, don’t be angry,” Heather says. “I say...Eff that! Maybe that’s your fuel! You don’t have to live there forever...but you need to be able to remember where you came from.”
“I don’t live in the past, but I know the past can repeat itself, so you can’t forget. Those are the moments that built who you are--I would never know how strong I am and how resilient, if not for those moments.”
Heather has some mindfulness backup in this area; while a lot of positive thinking teaching will have you only focus on happy thoughts, many mindfulness teachers advocate acknowledging your feelings as they come up--not stuffing them--and then finding ways to comfort those feelings. Heather’s system of pouring anger into a fitness pursuit is a healthy expenditure of physical energy--consider a meditation or relaxation practice, as well.
Just get up and do it.
It’s more than a sports slogan--just doing what needs to be done is a key part of success in physical fitness and overcoming heartbreak--both areas of expertise for Heather. And her spin on the traditional “Man up!” is a long overdue one.
“I was never late with my rent, but I did have the electricity cut off on one occasion,” Heather says. “I was in the midst of cooking dinner, and the power shut off. I thought maybe someone had knocked down a pole, but no...I had stretched it out too far and let the bill go too long. It was a low moment.”
“But again, it was one of those moments where, you have to be a woman. You have to woman up.”
“We lit candles, and I took the meatloaf outside and finished cooking it on the gas grill. We slept together in extra pajamas to stay warm, because it was December.”
“But in the middle of all that is where I found my fitness, where I found my power.”
“If I can do it, you can too.”
When you are part of a movement, a gathering of compassionate, direct yet gentle, all-kinds-of-strength women equipping one another in more ways than technique under the bar, you accept the challenge and choose to leverage on this opportunity for permanent personal growth. I can’t wait go back and re-connect with the amazing women that collectively make Camp Gorgo!Read More
By Ali Ludovici
Having had the honour of successfully coaching many clients in health and wellness, in addition to my own experience as an athlete and weight-loss journey, I can tell you with certainty, that mindset is the single most important element of success. If you don’t have the right mindset it doesn’t matter how credentialed your coach is, what exercises you are doing or what diet you are on, success will be elusive.
What you perceive and believe creates your reality. Though you may be predisposed to a positive or negative mindset, you can choose your perception (how you interpret the world) and your attitude (your beliefs and reactions/interactions).
In the world of health and wellness, your mindset will determine whether you succeed in achieving good health and peace with your body and food. You can purchase all the nice workout gear, fancy gym memberships, coaching, and diet plans you want - if you don’t have the right mindset, you won’t achieve what you desire. So what exactly is the right mindset?
Believe in yourself
Your body and mind are intimately connected; if you believe you can, your body will find a way. Disbelief leads to self-sabotage as you will create your reality to prove your mindset correct. Set your goal and believe in your ability to achieve it. You are stronger and more capable than you give yourself credit. Just because you can’t do something today, doesn’t mean you won’t be able to in the future. Keep working and believe in yourself. In time, you will amaze yourself with what you have accomplished.
Focus on the solution
Your health and wellness journey will certainly have its ups and downs. There will be nights you don’t have the energy for a butt-kicking workout and the days where you just don’t have time to pack a healthy lunch, don’t beat yourself up. No road to success is straightforward or easy - but all good things are worth the effort. In fact, having to put in some challenging work and overcome a few obstacles, makes you value your success that much more. You can choose to focus on the obstacles, or you can choose to focus on the solutions. “Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off your goal”, Henry Ford.
Be positive in your self-talk
Many of our limitations are created within our own mind. You tell ourselves you aren’t good enough, strong enough, fast enough. You create excuses and barriers where there needn't be any. What you tell yourself, your mind believes. Change the way you talk to yourself and you infinitely increase your ability to succeed. Tell yourself it is possible, believe it is possible and you will be amazed at what you can accomplish. Challenge yourself to replace any and every negative thought, with a positive (and realistic) alternative.
Seek pleasure and balance
Despite the “hustle harder” and “no pain, no gain” mentality perpetuated by some fitness personalities, exercise and good nutrition can be pleasurable. You can enjoy both health and, athleticism while having a fulfilling and joyful personal life. While I do encourage every woman to lift weights for the physical and mental benefits, I also encourage them to seek exercise they find pleasurable. Whether you enjoy swimming, yoga, running, kickboxing or pole fitness, find something that gets you sweaty and smiling. When it comes to nutrition, trust the innate wisdom of your body. As long as you are predominantly eating whole foods (healthy fats, proteins and carbohydrates) with a plant-based focus, you are welcome to enjoy a treat now and again. Balance, pleasure and respecting your body and its wisdom, is how you will discover a fulfilling healthy lifestyle.
Focus on Abundance
When trying to achieve a specific fitness goal, you will likely need to be more diligent with your nutrition and fitness routine. You can choose to focus on the lack; of calories, indulgent foods, and changes to your social life. Or you can focus on the positive; your improved aesthetic, all the delicious nutrient dense foods, and the pleasure in seeing results. If you perceive your journey as a punishment, you will have a negative experience that will work against you and increase your odds of rebounding. Choosing to see the positive, you will have a more pleasurable journey and be more likely to create a healthy lifestyle with life-long reward.
Your mindset is the single greatest influencer on your reality. You can choose to have a pleasurable journey towards achieving your goals; you can choose to see yourself as a strong, capable woman; you can choose pleasure and balance. You can also choose to see the opposite. Your reality, your success, is in your control.
Ali Ludovici is a blogger at Charm and Grit, writing about fitness, nutrition and strategies for extraordinary living. As a wellness and mindset coach, she specializes in helping women create healthy and fulfilling lives they love. Ali promotes respecting the innate wisdom of your body, doing exercise that gets you sweaty and smiling, as well as recognizing the power of your mindset to create your desired reality. She is well known for her tough love attitude, no excuses mindset and her supportive positivity. She is a natural bodybuilder, who also enjoys yoga, running and trying new forms of fitness. Ali is on a mission to inform, inspire and empower women to live extraordinary lives.
Today, I am in the best shape of my life. Over the last decade, I am proud to say that have lost over 100+ pounds. I have worked hard to accomplish my goals that I have set for myself. As I have focused on my health, I have less flare-ups in my joints and less RA symptoms. Taking care of myself really is the best medicine.Read More
The city councilman, retired government worker, firefighter, restaurant owner, and young working dad, are now my friends. I have earned their respect by working hard and they mine by being so genuinely friendly and supportive.Read More