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





#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 :)

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.

#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.”

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.

 

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.)

 

#GORGOGIRL Ashley Meyer

 

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

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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.

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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.

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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!!

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The “Here and Now”: Stephanie Dane

“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.”

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Are Your Goals Authentic?

 

By Chivon John

As Danielle Laporte says “Everything we do is driven by the desire to feel a certain way.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

#GORGOGirl Morgan Green

 

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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!!!!

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Competition Without Comparison: Anna Earley

By Jill Farr

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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.”

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“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.”

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“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.”

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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.




10 Ideas to Develop a Happy & Healthy Relationship with Yourself

 
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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.

 

The 5 Realms of Holistic Body Love

 
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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.

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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.