Every few months the cleaning bug seems to hit me, and I start a massive purging of the stuff I’ve managed to accumulate over the days and months.
During one of these deep cleaning sessions, I found a box of journals I’d kept. I began flipping through journals from several years ago, and realized even though time had passed I hadn’t really changed all that much.
I decided then and there I didn’t want to let more time to pass without growing. I didn’t want to just be going through the motions of pretending to do better. I had been reading all the best personal development books, but realized very little had really changed in my life.
There was a brief moment of failure that flashed through my mind as I realized I had spent months and even years reliving the same heartbreak or the same struggle. What a waste of precious time. I began to wonder if I could actually change?
I was doing the same things day after day, yet expecting different results (reminds me a little of my time as a chronic dieter too…), for the first time, I’d seen I was basically just pretending to ‘do the work’. You can’t read a book, go to a seminar, buy a course and expect to be different. You must dig in-deep, and do the work. This lesson applies to nearly every area of your life. It’s not enough to just show up. First you show up, then you do the work.
At one point or another, you’ve probably heard the saying “You can’t do the same thing and expect things to be different”, yet time and time again we find ourselves trying that same strategy.
Here’s the thing though, you won’t solve your problems with the same thinking and behavior that created those problems.
For me, during this deep cleaning sesh, I was forced to confront myself in a way I don’t think I ever had. A new sense of self-awareness emerged. Ultimately, it was that self awareness that was the key to sparking actual change in my life.
Look at the bigger picture
The first step I took was back. I had to get a bird’s eye view of what I had been doing, and how I had been going about ‘it’ (in this case it was personal development, but for you the ‘it’ might be weight loss, might be creating boundaries around your time, etc). What was working about it, what wasn’t?
Instead of the outside in approach–simply utilizing strategies or reading more books, I needed to take an inside out approach. I had to take a hard look at my behaviors (despite what I might had been telling myself) and my values.
Subconsciously there was a disconnect between what I was truly believing and what I was doing. The way I was acting wasn’t supporting the things I said I wanted.
It’s like telling yourself this time will be different, but taking the same approach.
You can’t just change the method, you have to also change yourself–the way you think, what you believe, and then what you do.
Let’s be real though, behaviors and thoughts are hard to change. There are times we find ourselves slipping back into that old way of thinking or doing things. We have to be vigilant to guard our minds the old patterns.
Instead of looking at this as something with a finish line, take the posture of practice. Show up daily looking for ways you can practice following through, showing up, and growing.
Once I found the disconnect, I was able to create connection between what I said and what I did. Creating alignment between what I said I wanted and what I was doing to actually create the change I wanted to see allowed me to live with integrity. Which ultimately led to more confidence and self-respect.
I wish you could grasp what it’s felt like to go from being unaware and pretending to self aware and actually doing. That alone was a huge boost to my confidence. I mean, you can experience it for yourself too. By becoming more self aware of your thoughts, feelings, and actions you are able to decide whether or not you’re acting in line with the woman you want to be or not.
Action is what creates results. We don’t get results from pretending. We get results from actually digging in and doing the hard work, and calling your own bluff.
PS. Ready to do things differently, but not quite sure where to start? I got you. Start doing life The Strong[HER] Way by doing life a little differently. Get strategies, tools, and find community by signing up below.
What lies or excuses are you willing to give up to become who you want to be? Because here’s the thing, you can’t hold onto your excuses or the BS story you keep telling yourself, and be the woman you were created to be.
The other day I was on a walk with my dog, Pepper. She’s not the best at the game fetch, and truthfully would probably rather I chase her or play tug of war with the stick instead of her retrieving it for me.
To get around this, I will throw one stick and then another one so she’s alternating between the two sticks, because when I do this, she has to *choose* between the two sticks. She can’t have both at the same time—even though she does try.
While we were playing this ridiculous version of fetch the other day I thought about how often, this is how we try to live our lives …we want to change, to grow, to become the better version of ourselves, but we aren’t fully ready to let go of the things we know we need to in order to reach that next level.
Time to rip off the band-aid and get to work
We try all of these outside in approaches to ‘fix’ ourselves–meal plans, diets, new workout programs, new planners and time management strategies, but we don’t take a hard enough look at what’s really going on inside.
If you want to create lasting change in any area of your life whether it’s getting to a body you feel comfortable and confident in or it’s building a better relationship with your partner, you have to take the inside out approach.
The problem we often face though is the ‘quick fix’ mentality. We are desperate for change, for relief, for better, so out of desperation we will try anything that promises quick change. Quick fixes don’t really fix anything long-term. And they are no more than a band-aid approach to something that may need a deeper level healing.
You can’t have it both ways, you can’t operate using the same system or foundations you have been and get where you want to go, you have to be willing to let go of the lies, habits, and behaviors that aren’t serving the future version of yourself you are trying to create. You’ve gotta shift your perspective.
Find your North Star
I believe you are the best expert when it comes to your life. Only you can truly decide what matters most to you. So instead of looking for the next guru or expert to tell you how to spend your time, what you should look like, and who you should be…look in the mirror. Ask yourself those questions, and then wait for the answers to come. When they do, they will point you in the direction of your own personal North Star.
You can only do this by knowing yourself well. Knowing your deepest desires and dreams. What are the things that excite you? What are your non-negotiables?
If you could snap your fingers and be the ‘dream version of yourself’ what would she feel about herself? How would she show up in her life–relationships, work, etc? Who would she be?
Your roadmap to your North Star
Once you have the vision in your mind and in your heart, you can then draw up a plan. Reverse engineer the vision to figure out what you need to start doing differently in your own life to get you closer to your North Star.
For example, if you want to be known as being dependable, you must define that first for yourself so you have clear actions to take–does it mean you’re on time? Does it mean you’re prepared? Does it mean you do what you say you’ll do?
Then (and this might be the most important part) you must realize you have to be dependable for yourself FIRST before you can be that for others, because how you do anything is how you do everything, so if you’re not first dependable to yourself, how will you be for the other things that matter to you?
I get it, the band-aid solution seems so much easier. Just like my dog, Pepper had a hard time deciding which stick she wanted more, and which she was willing to let go of, we too, run into the tough decision of leaving who we were behind so we can grab hold of what and who we can be. This is a decision we will have to make moment by moment.
Let go of the stick that doesn’t serve you, and take a firm hold of the one that does will bring a weird sense of freedom to your life. It’s as if your heart knows you are now acting in alignment with what you were meant to be doing instead of going after someone else’s idea of good enough.
Once you have identified your North Star and the actions you must take to get there, you will have the blueprint in hand to live your life unapologetically, authentically showing up as yourself.
This frees you up to be a woman of your word to yourself first and foremost, which is what allows you to be that woman to the world around you. Making lasting change in your life starts to feel easier, more doable. Which is far better than trying another quick fix and being defeated yet again.
Do the tough work, my friend. You are worth it, and the world needs you to be who you were created to be.
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In our modern day, fast-paced lives it seems like rest has become a bit of a bad word…synonymous with lazy. If we aren’t filling every last moment with something to do, then are we even doing anything? Even with the best intentions, we often find our schedules bursting at the seams. This is where learning how to budget your time is a must if you want to live your life on purpose…your purpose.
In case you needed some permission to take a breather, here it is: it’s ok to rest.
In fact, it is absolutely critical that you do. You have lots of important things you’re doing in your everyday life, and it requires you to be the best version of yourself for that day. Whatever assignments you’ve been given in this season of life, they need you to be on your A-game.
I used to be so guilty of filling every last moment with something to do. My Google calendar looked like a paint by numbers gone wrong. If I got done with work or a project early, I’d immediately start in on something else even if it wasn’t on my calendar for that day.
My brain never got a break. I felt exhausted, short fused, and like I wasn’t getting where I wanted to go any faster. You will never feel like you have enough time or got enough done. That is just a fact I’ve come to recognize and continue to wrestle with daily.
As women today we face so much external pressure to be good at all the things we see others doing well, and when we can’t we often find ourselves feeling shame around not being good enough.
So what is your metric? How do you know when you’ve done enough?
When you’re working on the things that matter most to you, that’s when. Whenever when we fill our agendas with things that don’t really matter to us, we are too exhausted to do the things we’d rather be doing.
The “AHA!” moment came a couple years ago, when I had overextended myself with projects and committees that were important..to someone else, but they were things I thought I should be doing if I wanted to be a good mom. It occurred to me I was trying to be someone else’s version of me.
Instead of leaving my calendar to chance, I had to start telling my time where to go. I to start putting MY priorities on the calendar. Rather than trying to fill every last minute with something to do, I started leaving white space in my calendar. Which meant I also had to get good at saying “no, thank you” to the things that weren’t a heck yes for me.
One thing to remember is: YOU own your time.
Which means YOU must tell it where to go just like you do your money (if you’ve got a budget set up, you know what I’m talking about).
If you’re not planning ahead of time *how* and *what* you want to spend your time doing, you’ll be answering to everyone else’s requests all day long.
So, set yourself up to win with this scheduling strategy—
1. Carve out some time this week to plan ahead (for me, Sundays work best)
2. Pencil in your appointments and fixed commitments
3. Pencil in YOUR free time. This is time you don’t have to do anything. Side note, even though I enjoy moving my body, it still feels like a must so that I can be healthy. So for me, that would not go into the free time category.
4. Pencil in the other things.
When you take charge of your schedule like this, you fill your calendar with YOUR priorities, instead of letting other people fill it with theirs. It’s amazing what that sense of ownership over your time will do for you in so many different areas.
If you’re working around others and their schedules, it’s good to know that perhaps not everyone will be on board at first. That is ok. Work together to find a solution that works for everyone. And be prepared for some difficult conversations if your family has a hard time with you setting boundaries around your time.
When you set boundaries around your time and honor those boundaries, you find you have more time to have fun, to do something nice for yourself, be more present, and ultimately more engaged in your most prized relationships.
You go from feeling wiped out and resentful to feeling a sense of calm you may have never known before. When you create peace around your time, naturally it will lead to peace in other areas of your life too. In fact, you may find some of those pesky behaviors around food might start dwindling. Now that’s what I call a win 😉
P.S. To get your hands on other strategies and insight, sign up for the wait list to join the Mindful Eating Project. Spoiler alert, it’s not just about the food…
How many times have you said you want to be healthy, be more present in your life, or have more meaningful connections with others (as well as yourself)?
We say we want one thing, yet we act in ways that contradict and sabotage our deepest dreams and desires.
For example: we want to be healthier so that we have the energy to keep up with our kids, yet we waste our energy on things like tracking our food, counting calories, or comparing our bodies to those around ours.
Perhaps you’re more apt to frequently give into your cravings and skip the workout because Netflix was more appealing.
You say you want one thing, but you act the opposite. We have all done it from time to time. The key is to learn how to change the habit.
6-packs and flat abs, worth the cost?
There was quite a long season in my life I chased having 6-pack abs, but had to sacrifice things that deeply mattered to me. For me, some of the things I had to give up weren’t worth the flat abs. I wanted to have pizza night with my family. I wanted my daughter to grow up seeing her mama happy and healthy. Not just healthy.
I was living out of alignment with my deeper core values. This made it nearly impossible to stick with what I needed to do in order to have or maintain the abs.
Perhaps the problem isn’t your will power, but rather the problem is chasing someone else’s idea about what you should *look* like, be like, and what you should do to get there.
For many of us, when we chase someone else’s idea of success in any area of our lives or we resolve to follow their plan instead of adapting it to fit our own lives we end up not being able to hack it. This of course leads to feeling like we suck, like we’re failures. Like there is something wrong with us.
We feel torn and exhausted because we are chasing someone else’s goals or ideas and wonder why we don’t make any real, lasting progress.
For me, I knew I couldn’t and didn’t want to keep starting over. The 6-pack abs weren’t worth what it was costing me in the rest of my life.
Can healthy actually feel easy(ier)?
Maybe I lacked will power, maybe I wasn’t good enough to keep dieting. One thing I knew for sure was I wanted my healthy lifestyle to feel easier. I wanted it to be as natural feeling as living an unhealthy lifestyle.
Once I realized I had been chasing someone else’s goals and ideas instead of my own it clicked as to why I wasn’t able to maintain the diet or the crazy intense workout programs.
On the surface I was doing all the things I thought I was supposed to, but deep down, I didn’t want to have to give up carbs or sugar forever. I didn’t want to have to follow a meal plan any longer. I didn’t want to have to do a specific workout if I didn’t feel like it.
The craziest thing is, even when I was doing #allthethings I wasn’t even getting the results I wanted anyway. So not only was I not rocking the 6-pack abs, I wasn’t even all that happy doing what I was doing.
Self-discovery, the key to your success…
The first thing I did, was said no more. No more to following someone else’s rules, meal plans, or exercising the way I thought I should.
I got to know myself and what really mattered to me.
I had to figure out what was giving me energy, what was draining it.
If my kids were the most important thing, was the way I was living reflecting that? Was I actually working out for my husband or for some other reason?
I have to admit, I was scared to let myself be the one in charge at first. Even with a background in exercise and nutrition, I had forgotten how to trust myself to know what I needed.
In many ways, I felt like a failure.. I mean why, as a fitness professional was I struggling so much with what to eat and how to move my body?
There were many times I felt uncertain of doing it my way instead of what the world told me to do.
…trust me, it’s going to take some time
Though it’s taken some time (which all good things do) I’ve been able to find my own version of balance. This came through being patient with myself, having grace when I messed up, and rebuilding the relationship with myself.
I get it, the idea of owning your behaviors is scary. It means you’re responsible for what happens. When we follow a diet or commit to following someone else’s plan for our lives, they are sort of responsible right. We can pass the blame…even if it’s just a little.
I promise though, it is 100% worth it to do the work in getting to know yourself.
When your actions are aligned to what you really want and what is actually important to you, living a healthy lifestyle takes way less will power. Which makes it easier to stick with even when life gets crazy. Now that’s a healthy lifestyle I can get behind 😉
I used to think having the perfect body would bring me happiness. It would bring me joy, it would make me ‘enough’.
I got the perfect body (or as close to it as possible), and still felt like joy, happiness, and ‘enoughness’ were missing.
In fact, when I was my leanest, smallest, and fittest my marriage was the most unhealthy it had ever been.
I was the most selfish I had been.
When I realized I couldn’t keep going the way I was, and ‘let myself go’ a little, I found a weird freedom.
I felt like I could breathe, catch my breath, relax a little, but realized I still had those same fears and desires… to be happy, joy filled, enough. I started chasing success in work. It didn’t take long before I noticed the same unhealthy obsession and patterns as when I was pursuing a perfect body.
The enoughness, the happiness, the joy…it comes right here, right now in this moment right where your feet are. It comes from inside. It’s not in a number on the scale, your bank account, your likes, or in any relationship with another human being. The happiness, the joy, the enoughness comes from a healthy relationship with yourself. A sense of belonging to yourself. And being comfortable being you. Not the version of yourself you think you need to be.
Even if you lost the weight or hit the goal, you’re still going to be fighting for more…if you can’t be happy, joy filled, content, in the body you’ve got now, in the relationship you’re in, or the job you have, you never will be.
Is contentment the same thing as giving up?
For many, the fear is that being content means we’ve simply given up or sold ourselves short.
We might fear the whispers of what others will say or think about us for “letting ourselves go”. But more than anything maybe we fear actually having true joy, peace, happiness, because then you run the risk of losing it.
No matter what I am chasing, if I’m doing it to add anything to myself or to make me more enough, I will never reach it.
Instead of pursuing our goals and dreams so that we can have whatever it is we are seeking, we must pursue them FROM the place of already being enough. When we can work on our health from that place, we can find peace that even if we don’t reach the goal, we still make progress. Even if we don’t have the fairy tale marriage, we still have a great one.
As long as you’re doing the things from that place of needing them to make you happy or content, it will never come.
You can’t control the outcome no matter what you try.
But, you can control what you think, feel, and experience here and now.
Who’s to say ‘there’ would be better anyway? I’ve been ‘there’ in my body, and I was miserable. On the surface I thought I was happy. But I wanted to run away from my life, from my marriage.
I thought the grass was greener on the other side. Turns out, the grass is greener where you water it.
It’s time to work, work, work…
Set out to work on yourself. Not in the superficial way, in the deep way. For me, I started reading books, listening to podcasts, found mentors.
You’ve got to develop new thoughts about your circumstances, your body, your marriage.
Craft a new belief: there is NOTHING you or I could do, achieve, or have that would make us more loved, enough, prized than we already are.
Redefine what success looks like for you in each area of your life.
The worldly view is hard to escape. Our old views of success keep creeping in. That is why you need to deeply connect with yourself and how you want to define success in your life.
The thief of your joy + the antidote
Comparisonitis is another thing that will derail you from making lasting progress. Do what you must to guard your heart and mind from this thief. Comparing yourself is not only a waste of time, but literally makes no one feel better about themselves.
Do you need to unfollow some people? Do it.
Gratitude is another amazing weapon against the comparison trap. Be grateful for what you have. Forget what she has, what she’s doing, or what she looks like. What can you be truly thankful for today? Find joy in those things by celebrating them today.
Defining success on your own terms allows you to run your own race. You’re free to be radically yourself.
Staying present and grateful for what you do have in this moment lets you find joy in the journey. You’re no longer waiting until the ‘after’ to live the life you want to live or be the woman you were created to be.
The journey is the gift, and the sweet spot is enjoying the process while you work toward the destination.