#GORGOgirl: Tiffany Sylvester

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

Screen Shot 2019-10-09 at 12.05.34 PM.png

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF!

I am a 37 year old single mom raising four boys all by myself, whose ages range from 14-3. I was born in KY but raised in Maryland and currently reside in Annapolis, Md. I have always had a passion for making people look and feel their best. So 17 years ago I decided to become a hairstylist. For the past 8 years I have owned Frederick David Salon in Severna Park, MD with one of my best friends, Geri.

image7.jpeg

TELL US ABOUT YOUR FITNESS LIFE!

I have definitely been a lover of fitness my whole life. I am a firm believer in the mind/body/spirit connection. Fitness for me is a big part of not only my physical health, but mental and emotional health, as well. It’s become a fantastic coping mechanism to healthfully handle all the stress in my life. As the saying goes, “strong body, strong mind.” Crossfit is my new love in life! Like, I love love it!!!

image2.jpeg

DO YOU HAVE ANY SPECIFIC GOALS YOU’RE WORKING ON?

My goals are simple, to be the best mother, friend, and person I can be. To live a full life with a tremendous amount of peace and happiness. To wake up every morning and make the conscious decision to be better and do better than the day before. Never make the same mistake twice. Live authentically and transparently with everything I do. Finally, to honor myself and my journey. Sometimes I think it’s really easy to forget about the source that holds it all together—me. I am good to no one if I am not good to myself first and foremost.

image3.jpeg

Any Struggles?

My struggles are having too high of expectations in others to be decent and respectful humans. It’s very hard for me to understand why people can’t act with integrity and character in all they do in life.

I love the quote: Don’t talk, act. Don’t say, show. Don’t promise, prove.

DO YOU HAVE ANY MESSAGE YOU FEEL CALLED TO SHARE ABOUT WHERE YOU ARE AT IN YOUR LIFE RIGHT NOW TO ENCOURAGE OTHER GORGO GIRLS?

My message goes along with another quote I love: She needed a hero, so that’s what she became.

It’s really hard being everything to everyone all the time. I wanted so desperately for the right people to step up and do what they were supposed to do. Or if I were really lucky Superman would come along to lift me up and take me anywhere—show me the love I desperately longed for—and save me before it was too late. But the reality is, no man, woman, or superhero will ever do that for me or any of us. It has been me all along that possesses everything I have always needed to be my own hero, I just couldn’t see it—or didn’t want to. But now I do and that is one of the most beautiful lessons I have learned in recent months.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT THE GORGO COMMUNITY?

What I love most about the GORGO community is how much love and acceptance the entire community emanates. Everyone wants to see everyone else persevere and achieve their hearts desires. In today’s world where most attempt to tear another down in order to lift themselves up, this community does just the opposite. They all attempt to lift one another up to the highest level. They share the belief that life becomes limitless when one becomes fearless. With women like this by my side, it is a lot easier to let go of the fear and limiting beliefs. For that, I am eternally grateful.

image1.png

CAMP GORGO: THOUGHTS ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE? FAV PART? WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO ATTEND?

*CAMP GORGO was one of the most phenomenal experiences I have been blessed to be a part of. I knew no one; however, didn’t feel as though I met a single stranger. Everyone was so warm, loving, and welcoming plus beautiful! My favorite part was getting to know all these beautiful and inspiring women that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to encounter in my day to day life—all in one place—sharing a common goal of betterment of ourselves and others. I wanted to attend because I have never done anything like it before and was excited to experience something new that was totally outside my comfort zone.

image5.jpeg

Gym BFFs

by Katy L.

AdobeStock_139245035.jpeg

When I was young, I played on lots of sports teams. I was surrounded by girls who loved to sweat, eat, and spend way too much time together, so it came as no surprise that I grew up and became a Phys Ed teacher, trainer, and yoga instructor. As I matured (somewhat) and began replacing sports with fitness, I had a harder time finding those like-minded girls who loved to sweat. Apparently, not everyone's idea of having a good time involves getting the shit kicked out of them. I was confused. Didn't everyone think squatting to failure was fun? Who doesn't love comparing sweat stains and smelling each other's armpits? Wasn't running past the point of nausea everyone's favourite pastime? 

It will come as no surprise that I don't have many gym friends. Some would argue I don't have many friends in general, but I digress. I remember how often I'd tell people that I wanted a workout buddy. I wanted someone to hang out with at the gym instead of the 20-year old receptionist at the front desk who felt obligated to laugh at my horrible jokes. The other personal trainers were crazy jacked and only talked about protein powder, and the other yogis would just laugh at (not with) me when I tried to speak vegan. Really, I'd tell anyone in hopes that someone would take me up on it. The guy on the subway, a server, my taxi driver, my mom...

I got lucky when I finally met my gym BFF at age 30. Number one, she didn't run in the other direction when I called her my gym BFF after knowing her for one day. We started out as running buddies, and after only a few runs in, I discovered I was pregnant. I was terrified of losing my only gym friend, but didn't want to tell anybody I was expecting just yet. Our next run together, I swear I nearly died. I was beet red, drenched with sweat and panting while trying to keep up to our regular pace. My gym BFF was supportive and caring about my disgusting exterior and inability to run more than 100 meters. While on a walk break, she confided in me that she was pregnant! I jumped for joy (and believe I wet myself) and exclaimed that I was, too! We were at the exact same point in our lives, and both enjoyed active pregnancies by continuing to run, strength train (she would come to my fitness classes... Unforced!) and by taking prenatal yoga.

Katy Livingstone.jpg

I won't lie, having a workout BFF made me up my game. I'm competitive in nature, so it helped having someone push me harder than I would push myself. She wanted me to do three sets of stairs, I'd do five, then pretend to take a drink while gasping for air. We liked coming up with new workouts for each other, whether we were tandem on the treadmill or supersetting. I'd try to impress her by sprinting a little faster or lifting a little heavier, all while trying to keep my sweat to a glow and not let out a fart.

My workout partner kept me accountable. Knowing she was going to be meeting me at the gym or on the trail forced me to keep driving even when my senses smelled McDonald's fries, and helped me get my ass off the couch even if the Bachelor was on. My workouts became so much more enjoyable!  I had a partner in crime to carry out some of my favorite hobbies: bitch about people, rate the guys at the gym, and people watch.

I don't know about you, but I'd think about my workout BFF when I picked my gym outfit. "Awe, man- Emily is soooo going to notice how small my gunt looks in these compression tights!" "Haha, Emily doesn't need an XS sports bra to hold up her non-existent boobs!" "I wonder what Emily will think of my lashes in this waterproof mascara?" "I'll just use a little bronzer to make it look like I woke up like this."

Emily has since moved away (reading this, it makes perfect sense) and I am left without a gym BFF. We talk a ton, still share workouts and have signed up for a half marathon together. I'm not sure she is replaceable, but I have hopes that I can find another gym BFF.

It just may take me another 30 years.

#GORGOgirl: Teri Richardson

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

pinterestGORGOterry.jpg

Tell us about yourself!

I own and operate a Garbage disposal business in Texas with my husband of 16 years, Jack. Due to endometriosis I am unable to have children. However, I am a mom to several furr babies!

Tell us about your fitness life.

Teri & Jack.jpg

The majority of my fitness comes from my job which is hard manual labor almost 16 hours a day, 6 days a week.

Do you have any specific goals you’re working on?

My personal goals are to make more time for myself and those I love. My professional goals are to continue building a strong, trustworthy business. A business to be proud of and that allows us to continue to give back to the communities in which we provide service.

Any Struggles?

My largest personal struggle is that I need to learn to stop buying people's love and friendship. My largest business struggle would be to learn to accept the fact that I can not please everyone and not everyone is worthy of my time and effort.

Fav Quote that inspires you right now in your life?

"Let them sleep while you grind. Let them party while you work. The difference will show."

Truck and Vette.jpg

Do you have any message you feel called to share about where you are at in your life right now to encourage other GORGO GIRLS?

In the past I battled some depression. I felt I wasn't good enough. I let toxic people and their opinions of me dictate the way I felt about myself. I am very grateful for God and my husband and the unconditional love they have shown me. No matter the situation or the stress you're under, don't ever let temporary feelings lead you to making a permanent decision. Reach out. If you're someone who doesn't struggle with or understand depression, be a friend and really listen to those who may be reaching out. Today, I find myself stronger and more motivated than ever. I work hard doing a job that most people aren't capable of doing and that is considered the 5th most dangerous job in the United States. Being a garbage collector is an underestimated, under-appreciated, thankless job - and a deadly one. In 2017 there were 132 recorded fatalities. It is a labor intensive, nasty and disease-ridden job but is an absolute necessity for our communities and environment. Women only make up 1% of the workers in this industry. Being such an asset to what is considered a man's industry is very empowering. You can do anything you set your mind to. Believe in yourself. Dig deep. Take control of your power. Dust off your crown and make things happen.

What do you love most about the GORGO community?

I love the FACT that you become part of a tribe. You meet and bond with women from all different walks of life, all religious beliefs and different political beliefs. This is a loving group of non-judgmental strong beautiful women.

CAMP GORGO: Thoughts about your experience? Fav part? What made you want to attend?

I originally started following Christie Nix and her journey which led me to following Gorgo. Every year I've always watched the camp come and go with hopes to one day attend. After the 2019 New Year I jumped in on the early bird registration. I knew if I went ahead and paid for it, I would have to do it. I met some absolutely amazing women who brought me out of the shell that I had buried myself in and because of them I sang again for the first time in years. I look forward to a lifelong friendship with these amazing women. The Gorgo workshops were not only informative but motivational. I was pushed but not to the point of feeling defeated. In the last 3 years, I have maybe had 3 weekends off. I'm so happy Camp Gorgo was one of those!

Gorgo 2019.jpg

#GORGOgirl: Jennifer Hawley

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

pinterestGORGOJennH.jpg

Tell us about yourself!

I’ve been an Ultrasound Technologist for 20 years. My husband Scott and I have been married for 23 years and have 2 boys: Nathan (age 17) and Zach (age 14).

jen family.jpg

Tell us about your fitness life.

I’m at the gym by 5 am to either teach a group training class or participate in one, everyday.  My favorite style of training includes group training, lifting heavy things, and metabolic conditioning.

What are your goals?

My goal is to inspire other women to have positive body image, be active and strong.

Do you have any struggles?

I struggle with hypothyroidism and premature menopause, resulting in major hormonal imbalances.  Managing stress and fatigue, body image. I work hard to manage stress by continuing a fitness schedule, making sure to get enough seep and proper nutrition. Body image is a bit rougher, but focusing on the things I am great at and the strength and power I have helps.

jen hawley 3.jpg

Fav Quote that inspires you right now in your life?

“When it feels scary to jump, that is exactly when you jump, otherwise you end up staying in the same place your whole life.”   Why? So many good things can happen when you trust in yourself and go after your dreams.

Do you have any message you feel called to share about where you are at in your life right now to encourage other GORGO GIRLS? 

Keep moving forward no matter how small the steps or how many obstacles you face.  

What do you love most about the GORGO community?

I love to see that it is possible for women to support women.

Jen+6.jpg

CAMP GORGO: Thoughts about your experience? What made you want to attend?  

I’ve always loved the pictures of Camp Gorgo posted by friends who attend each year. The women looked like they were having so much fun. 2019 was my first year and I had a fantastic time connecting with so many women and learning so much from them. It was a weekend of learning, growing and fun.

Any Advice for someone interested in attending but unsure if it’s for them?

I would tell anyone who is contemplating it to just go. The love on acceptance you feel there is greater than your fear.

-







Chapin Schnick: Honoring Your Body Through Life's Ebb and Flow

By Jill Farr

gorgo-cover-chapin.jpg

To say that Chapin Schnick was “active” growing up is an understatement.

“In high school, I played volleyball, soccer, basketball, and softball, and I swam,” Chapin says. “And then I played college softball.”

For many people who are athletes in high school and college, finding the time and energy to be the level of active they were in their youth is difficult; the pressure of getting a job and maintaining an adult life takes a big chunk out of the time formerly devoted to sports. But Chapin stayed athletic.

“I dabbled in things after college, CrossFit, running.” Chapin says. “I stayed active. Even during a time when I was overweight, I was still running marathons.”

Some big events altered that trajectory, however.

“After two consecutive miscarriages and a debilitating wreck,” Chapin says, “I took an extended break from the gym and enjoyed a few years where I just focused on being a rainbow-wearing, donut-eating art teacher my students loved.” 

“In a sense, this was excellent, because it helped my career. I came out of it with a few important grants, including the inaugural InstaGrant from the Indiana Arts Commission, I presented at national conferences, and was named the 2018 Indiana Art Educator of the Year.  My mental and physical health suffered, though.”

This time, Chapin took a different route back to fitness. 

“In the spring of 2018, I began taking weekly hot yoga classes and going on backpacking trips with DNK Presents, a women-owned adventure company, which led into a summer of camping road trips. Coupled with a focus on intermittent fasting, I finally felt like me again. In addition to now working for the Indiana Arts Commission (IAC), I’m training to be a guide with DNK Presents.”

Instead of an intense, regimented workout schedule, Chapin’s fitness life is more organic.

48388893392_3d7dfdaebd_k.jpg

“I focus on yoga and hiking, and natural movement in general,” Chapin relates. “Along with metabolic conditioning. If I have an upcoming hike, I’m preparing for it. I’m usually just focused on trying to get 30 minutes of activity, whether it’s weights, kettlebell exercises, or whatever. Today I did double unders..it varies.”

Another shot in the arm for Chapin’s fitness life has been Camp GORGO.

“I had been following Val Solomon on social media, along with Christie NIx, about six years ago, when it came up on FB that they were going to do a lifting workshop, and it was at my parents' gym. I was so excited to see it happening, and then after that they announced that Camp GORGO was happening in the same area. I’ve gone to every single camp since.”

48390763377_1c23d712c6_k.jpg

“It’s not even so much the workout experience for me, anymore...I came out of the first camp with friendships and more of a holistic view of fitness. Every summer since has been about catching up with these women, setting new goals...I literally can’t imagine my year without a Camp GORGO in it.”

Chapin gives yoga a lot of credit for bringing her back into the fitness fold. 

“For about six months,” Chapin explains, “After the accident, I did nothing aside from the occasional walk. Yoga was what brought me back to the point of being able to get active again.”

Yoga is deceptively simple, and good exercise for someone who needs a gentle fitness beginning...but it’s also a very intense workout that can level up as your strength and ability increases. Studies have shown that there are several reasons why it has such a positive impact on the people who practice it, but Chapin has her own opinion.

“The reason I think it appealed to me so much--after having basically destroyed my shoulder in this car accident--was the notion that it’s infinitely accessible. People following the same flow can have very different abilities. I may not be able to do this intense version someone else is, but I can do it where I am, and get benefit.”

67188026_10111961697259738_5739150783719407616_n.jpg

In addition to its gentle on ramp for beginners, yoga has the potential to build incredible strength, and Chapin has seen that, too.

“For the last two summers of Camp GORGO,” she says, “I’d only done yoga and hiking, going in, but was keeping up with everyone. I hadn’t picked up a weight for two years. It blew my mind.”

The mind/body connection can be experienced with any activity, but yoga’s origins give it a leg up, since it was designed with that symbiosis in mind.

“I always come out feeling relaxed,” Chapin says. “I prefer hot yoga and one of the reasons is that I just feel cleansed. It’s about more than the activity. Being into yoga for the last couple of years has gotten me into understanding chakras and things like Reiki. I always thought Reiki was crazy stuff, and now I participate in Reiki massage. It’s opened my eyes to more.”

Chapin’s love for hiking developed out of necessity, and is fed by the meditative quality of having the great outdoors as your gym.

“The hiking focus came about when I was prepping for some camping trips,” Chapin shares. 

48389878186_1e15a74b01_k.jpg

“I knew we were going to be carrying 60lb backpacks, so I got into it. I’d avoided the outdoors for a while, but this got me back outside. As with yoga, I feel renewed afterwards. Now I’m an assistant backpacking guide for a women’s outdoors company. In October we’re going to Tennessee, we’ll have a bunch of beginner backpackers --women--and we’ll teach them about no trace ethics, safety, and how to poop in the woods!”

“I had always felt like, coming out of being a competitive athlete, that I need to keep up with running, I need to keep up with lifting, but I don’t feel the stress of needing to have a certain type of movement any more. I’m trying to honor my body, and if I feel like moving my body a certain way, I do. I don’t feel the need to have a certain structure with having to have four lifting workouts that last a minimum of an hour...my only focus is four days with 30 minutes of activity.”

When you look at the pattern of Chapin’s activity, going from the highly competitive mindset of organized sports, to the Zen end of the spectrum, with hiking and yoga, you might wonder if a part of her misses the competition. She wondered about that, herself, and the answer might not be what you’d expect.

“I thought I would feel lost, not having competitions coming up. When I had the wreck, I was training for a powerlifting competition. That hasn’t interested me since. And it’s freeing in a way. I spent probably 25 ish years always trying to focus on being the best at some pursuit, or supporting other team members, and now I just feel like...I’m just trying to be good to my body.”

And as far as the team aspect of sports being gone, Chapin says that she’s found the fix for that in Camp GORGO, with even more of the support, and none of the competition.

“I feel like a lot of folks coming to Camp Gorgo believe it’s going to be the opposite of what it is. They think, “Oh, it’s a fitness camp with all of these influencer types...everyone’s going to be catty...it’s going to be competitive, focused on looks...it’s the opposite. I actually feel so relaxed at Camp GORGO. We’re all trying to be the healthiest versions of ourselves. It’s freeing to be around women who have similar goals.”

35301254_10110232735927108_7628976689342578688_n.jpg

The ability to listen to what your body needs and honor it as life changes those needs is the big message that Chapin believes her story holds. And that adaptability has served her well in finding happiness and contentment with the changes she’s had to navigate.

“I spent more than 25 years thinking being a mother was the one thing I was certain I was meant to be,” Chapin says.

“But as I close in on 34, I am happily content with my handsome hubby and our three furry boys, my goal of 30-min. of movement most days of the week, and supporting fellow artists and arts organizations in Indiana through my position at the IAC.”

Dig, and Push Through: Joyce Harrison

By Jill Farr

gorgo-cover-Joyce.jpg

Joyce Harrison wasn’t athletic growing up, and carried some extra weight as a result, not unlike many kids who aren’t particularly active.

However, not many people have a clear idea about the “why” behind childhood habits...and Joyce does.

“I survived being raped and molested as a child,” Joyce explains. “So, from a young age, I already felt unworthy, broken and dirty. Looking back I think I kept my body hidden under layers of fat, ate my feelings, then hated myself even more in that vicious cycle.” 

“As an adult I worked through those feelings, or so I thought, and went on about my life and got married to an amazing man and started a family.”

While the trauma of her early years had posed a significant challenge, Joyce had no idea that an even greater one lay ahead.

“When our second child Olivia was 11 months old,” Joyce says, “She died of a very rare condition. We were devastated.”

The loss of a child is one of the most horrible things most parents can imagine, and Joyce and her husband Terrance faced it, and carried on.

But the heartbreak wasn’t over.

“Three years and three days later,” Joyce explains, “Our third child, 18 month old Samuel died of the very same rare condition.”

43472707152_5dd57ebfe7_k.jpg

“I fell into a pit of grief so deep and dark and terrifying. Losing one child is tragic, but losing two? I begged God to help me understand. I was in a constant state of fear that something else bad would happen. The toll that grief and stress takes on the body, mind and soul is immeasurable.”

Joyce kept going forward, doing the things that needed to be done, and living, but finally the pressure of continually managing such a deep, underlying depression finally became unbearable.

“When my youngest son, Max was 6 months old,” Joyce shares, “My husband deployed for a year to Iraq. Within a month, I hit rock bottom. I felt isolated and alone. I didn’t want to die, but I didn’t want to live either.”

Friends and family stepped in, helping Joyce to take some initial steps.

“My mom took me to weight watchers and a friend took me to a spin class--my first ever.”

“Within a few weeks of lining up some nutrition and exercise, I saw some results,” Joyce says. 

“I also sought treatment for my depression and PTSD and started to feel like I was worth it. I felt like I was climbing out of the rubble and looking around at my life--in fact, the previous almost 10 years were a blur, I didn’t even remember how I got to that point exactly.”

18664136_10209371351575840_8095554242214247313_n.jpg

Joyce decided that living her best life and being the best mom possible to her living children Gracie (now 18) and Max (now 9) would be a way of honoring Olivia and Samuel...not forgetting them.

The impact of exercise on a variety of types of depression is well studied and documented, and while those suffering should always consult a health professional for diagnosis and treatment, engaging in exercise is a meaningful way of helping your brain and body cope with trauma. Research has also indicated that the relief from depression that exercise can provide is long lasting, and Joyce is a believer. Once on the road of recovery, she made the decision to amp up her activity level.

29648713548_1c457cabca_k.jpg

“My primary fitness goal is to be healthy and strong,” Joyce shares. “Although losing weight seems to be all I can think about. The scale and clothing size has ruled me for as long as I can remember, but I’m trying to change that mindset and not focus on the numbers. One day I would love to walk across the stage in a fitness competition just to wear the sparkly bikini, but right now I’m still trying to learn my body and how to get it in the shape I want. Until then I will love it and honor it for giving me 4 amazing babies.”

“After I got started, I followed (stalked) some people on Facebook. People like Busy Mom Gets Fit, Sisters in Shape, Dani Get UR Guns, FitNix and my coach, Natalie, and then I read about this thing called Camp GORGO!”

Joyce’s initial excitement was temporarily derailed by old, negative thought patterns, though. 

“It was so close to my home! But I kept thinking things like, ‘Oh, but I couldn’t, I’m not fit, I’m not strong, I’m too fat. So I just sat and watched for two years as this amazing event was happening.”

But that didn’t last, and eventually Joyce’s desire to be a part of this event overcame her self-doubts...and the results were worth it.

“Camp Gorgo literally changed my life,” Joyce says. “Obviously from meeting these amazing women that I totally fangirl over in person, but also from them being transparent, open and vulnerable.”

67263883_10156692383513403_183907080820752384_o.jpg

“I connected with a tribe of women that are strong, fearless, full of grace and grit. I communicate regularly with my Camp GORGO roommates and even though it’s through text or Facebook, the strength, encouragement, and empowerment is palpable.”

In sharp contrast to the years of darkness and depression, Joyce now has joy in abundance.

“Sometimes I feel guilty for being so happy and sparkly,” Joyce says, “But God has restored my joy and I can find it anywhere! I have been an RN for about 20 years and I have just graduated from the University of Cincinnati with my BSN. I am very fortunate to have the support of a great husband and family.”

67513704_10214618820719289_457169130873683968_o.jpg

When asked what advice she would give other women, who are struggling with feelings of unworthiness, or crippling depression that feels as if it’s all-consuming, Joyce admits that it’s hard to share, but wants other women to know that they can take the reins of their mental and physical health.

“I struggle telling my story sometimes,” Joyce says, “Because I am not where I want to be; it’s messy and imperfect. But I have learned to take responsibility for my mental and physical health, become proactive and less reactive.”

“Have an honest discussion with yourself, ask yourself, what is the life you want to live, what does it look like and how would it make you feel? It is so liberating to discover your authentic self. Do one thing everyday that will get you to your goals. Change your inner dialogue, tell yourself how awesome you are and what a great butt you have! I was told that whatever you are going through, God has already put in you what you need to make it through, So dig and push through! It’s painful and it reveals parts of me I don’t like- but then I imagine the life I want to live to honor my children and it’s so worth it!”

I Cannot Even. No, Really You Can.

28632671657_d4abda8439_o.jpg

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.

28632691537_bc688f7083_o.jpg

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.”

pinterestGORGOrobin.jpg

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.

IMG_3364.JPG

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.

IMG_4115.JPG

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.

IMG_2212.jpg

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.  

29015127737_9e557481a3_k.jpg

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.

30084268648_f0bda135d8_k.jpg

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

gorgo-cover-dianne.jpg

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.

gorgo-cover-dianne2.jpg

“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.”

28632870317_020d310288_k.jpg

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.”

42802963064_ac5852b3b1_k.jpg

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  

pinterestGORGOimperfect.jpg

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.

AdobeStock_97803971.jpeg

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.

AdobeStock_102226305 (1).jpeg

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

pinterestGORGOlisa.jpg

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).  

nutrition pyramid.jpg

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).

pre post nutrition 2.jpeg

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!

pre post workout photo 1.jpeg
 

New Year, New You…OR not

 

By Val Solomon

blah blah blah.

I like you the way you are.  Really.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

#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

gorgo1.jpg

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.

gorgo4.jpg

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.

gorgo2.jpg

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!!

gorgo3.jpg





 

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.”

Read More

Are Your Goals Authentic?

 

By Chivon John

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

21799256465_a69cc17a29_k.jpg

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.

21775918436_0e46b8f027_k.jpg

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.

21614468099_670ba3d885_k.jpg

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.

morgan green 4.jpg

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.

morgan green.jpg

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

morgan 5.jpg

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.

morgan green 2.jpg

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!!!!

Morgan.png












 

Woman Up: Heather Burba

 

By Jill Farr

Connect with Heather: @babies_to_biceps

gorgo-cover-board-Heatherb.jpg

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.

gorgo-cover-board-heatherb2.jpg

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.”

42797560_10217821641511753_1088792063715049472_o.jpg

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.

42823454694_767660c36b_k.jpg

“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.”

41732637730_48a01a66e8_k.jpg

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.”

37676868_10217271995650950_8099784055073013760_n.jpg
 

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

 

By Ali Ludovici

43472409002_2b3104a6b4_k.jpg

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.

41711319250_834595e9f2_k.jpg

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.


DSC_3672-Edit.jpeg

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

america-cover.jpg

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.

29648591818_1877d81c03_k.jpg

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.

29648570438_7174fe6e6f_k.jpg

“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.”

29648588558_d38d3bbb4b_k.jpg

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.

37730710_1778702395545535_2924393753823150080_n.jpg

“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.”

37675269_1775183169230791_8648516502808428544_o.jpg

“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.