I Cannot Even. No, Really You Can.

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I can’t.

I cannot even.

I just cannot even.

I mean. I can’t.

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

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

Yeah, you can.

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

“Can you?”

That’s it.

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

I get that. I really do.

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

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

You can.

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

You can.

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

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

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

You can.

Southern Comfort: Lessons on Loving Food Appropriately with Robin Shea

by Jill Farr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#GORGOgirl: Trish Shahady

 

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

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Tell us about your fitness life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tell us about your non-fitness life.

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

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

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

What do you love about GORGO?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Stronger Than You Think: Dianne Rideout

 

By Jill Farr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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







 

Embracing Imperfectly Perfect

 

By Crystal Seaver  

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

No, really --- WHY?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Author: Stephaney Theobald, with preface by Erica Willick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SIMPLIFIED: Eat protein and carbohydrates before and after workouts.

But, let’s get more specific:

PRE-WORKOUT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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POST-WORKOUT

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

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

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

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

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

These are a few of many options:

  • whey isolate & white potato

  • egg whites & white bread

  • whey isolate & banana

  • egg whites & grapes

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

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New Year, New You…OR not

 

By Val Solomon

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I like you the way you are.  Really.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

#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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Woman Up: Heather Burba

 

By Jill Farr

Connect with Heather: @babies_to_biceps

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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“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.”

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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.”

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Get Over Yourself: How your Mindset is Affecting Your Results (and your life)

 

By Ali Ludovici

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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.

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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.


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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.

 

Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way: America Garcia

 

By Jill Farr

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Single parents who work full time are experts when it comes to understanding that time and energy are precious resources--if anyone on the planet has an excuse for lacking the schedule and head space to work out, it’s someone working 40+ hours a week and parenting alone.

America Garcia is a single working mother who has a seemingly contradictory message for everyone--single, parent, childless, or otherwise--that’s worn out and tapped for energy.

Work out.

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A typical day for America usually starts with her getting up at 4:30 a.m. so that she can catch an early bus and get a one hour workout in before her job starts. With two kids, ages 11 and 4, there’s really no such thing as a “typical” day, but America has a system set up that allows for life to happen and still leave time and means for fitness; she has a gym membership that provides a place to work out near her home and also near her job. If the early workout doesn’t happen, it can take place after work. Have to miss the bus? Work out before the later one. Or after hours.

If you think that this early workout routine sounds exhausting, you might be surprised to find that the opposite is true; America credits working out with increased energy, and science actually backs her up. University of Georgia researchers conducted a study in 2008 that indicated that regular exercise--even at a low intensity--increased energy in participants by 20% and reduced fatigue by 65%.

“On my commute, on the bus everyday, I look around,” America says. “It doesn’t matter what time it is--it could be the super early bus, the late bus--people are passed out. They’re exhausted! They’re fatigued...and I’m wide awake. I believe working out is the difference.”

Getting over the hill of “I’m exhausted” to an actual workout can feel enormous, but starting that momentum can be a game changer. If anyone should be exhausted, it’s someone with America’s schedule, but she’s on fire...and she credits pushing through those tired times with upping her game. At 41, she’s no stranger to the hormonal dips and energy struggles that seem to be par for the course of getting older, but she’s thriving--she insists--due to her fitness focus. She encourages everyone--but most especially, older single moms--to take the issue of increased energy seriously, and focus on working out as not just a solution for a problem, but as the most important life hack you can adopt.

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“I feel like for me...every workout that I do, I feel like I’m adding to my life. You gain so much--energy, self confidence, the endorphins that support a good mood--you’re enjoying life. You’re not stressed out or sad. I feel like you gain life in the gym. It’s important to make time for that.”

Even a superwoman like America isn’t immune to overdoing a good thing, however. After several months of a CrossFit-type regimen, she admits that she burned herself out, but instead of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, and stopping workouts, she simply changed up.

“It happens,” she says. “I decided I needed a switch. Now, I’m back to predominately weight lifting--heavy--and I love it.”

Another aspect of the importance of fitness in America’s life is that she’s seen its benefits in her improved mental state. Single parenting can be stressful, and anything that strengthens your mind in a positive way is a benefit worth pursuing.

“I go hard,” America says. “This is my therapy. A lot of life spins out of control, but this doesn’t. It’s the place where I don’t feel anxiety or stress.”

“Through my divorce and any dark times, I’ve always turned to the gym to keep me grounded.”

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When her children were younger, America adapted her need to pursue fitness with the demands of mommying by being a little more flexible, and engaging in workouts that she could do even when she was restricted to the house.

“I had a million workout gadgets when my daughter was little, so that I could workout at home if I had to. There was no excuse.”

There can be even more of a pressure to put kids first when you’re a single parent--but you’re important, too. Not just because you provide for others, but because you matter as an individual, and if you don’t have a partner’s support...you have to take that role, yourself. America exhorts single parents to really look at working out as an investment in yourself.

“The worst thing you can do as a single mother is not take care of yourself. I don’t allow any obstacle to get in the way of my workouts because fitness and my health are priorities to me. I feel that if I’m good, my kids are good.”

The demands of being limited to 24 hours in a day are still a reality, however, and America admits that she feels the strain the most in the area of nutrition.

Meal prepping as a busy single parent doesn’t always (or ever, probably) look like a Pinterest fairy tale, but America has a work-around for that issue, too...as well as a big helping of realistic balance.

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“Sometimes I don’t eat that well,” America admits, “But I’m very mindful--I feel as if I eat healthier more often than I don’t.”

“The weekends are hard, with kids--they want things like mac and cheese--and it’s hard to not take a bite!”

America uses Isegenix products to hit some of her wellness markers, and buys premade Paleo lunches from Plate Therapy, ensuring that for the biggest part of her day, her nutrition is handled.

“I definitely struggle with nutrition more because I’m so busy,” America says. “The one thing I can do consistently, however, is make it to that one hour every day where I’m working out.”

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“I just do my best. With workouts, with nutrition...it’s all I can do. I realize that it’s important, and I have to have it in my life.”

Lessons from America:

  • Make it easy to be flexible so that your workout can happen even if there’s a curveball. (Membership to a gym with multiple locations = opportunity to quickly work out before or after work, close to home or the office; YouTube videos, etc., if you’re at home with young kids).
  • Make at least part of your day’s nutrition automatic; protein shakes and premade lunches might need more budgeting up front, but you’ll be getting insurance for your gains down the road.
  • Understand that getting in that workout now can pay dividends in the energy department later.
  • Look at your health as important, because you’re important...but also because your kids need a healthy mom.

 

 

How to Get In More Greens: Meal Plan

How to Get In More Greens: Meal Plan

If I had to break it down, I would admit that getting in my veggies is THE challenge of all challenge. I’m mindful of my protein, choose whole grains, skip the refined sugar (most of the time), and drink ample amounts of water but getting those greens in, it requires intention!

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The Power of Femships: Finding a Modern Day Tribe

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