Define success on your terms-how to find your North Star

Define success on your terms-how to find your North Star

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.

x,

Alisha

PS. Are you on the list yet? Get strategies sent right to your inbox weekly by joining the list. Fill out the form below if you’re ready to embrace The Strong[HER] Way to live, move, and eat.

 

How to be healthy, present, and have more meaningful connections

How to be healthy, present, and have more meaningful connections

 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 😉 

Why having the perfect body won’t make you happy

Why having the perfect body won’t make you happy

 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.

How to communicate with your partner to get the support you need while making lifestyle changes

How to communicate with your partner to get the support you need while making lifestyle changes

In the early days of marriage, I remember being terrified to speak my mind. I was afraid if speak up for what I wanted or needed he would get mad, and would end up leaving. I know how silly that must sound… so insecure, and perhaps even a bit naive to how real love actually works. I’m not entirely sure where that insecurity or fear came from, but it was there, and it was real. 

It took us going through a pretty rocky season–one I’m not sure we would have survived had it not been for our faith. We found ourselves in a situation I was sure I would have walked out on before I was actually there.

At the same time, the strangest thing happened. I was no longer afraid to speak up, to petition for my needs in our relationship. There was an ease between us that wasn’t there before. Maybe it was because I knew then that we were two flawed people committed to making it work. For good or bad, in sickness, and in health until one of us kicks the bucket.

Here’s the deal…if you’re in a healthy, loving relationship, you have to know your partner is on your side.

He’s for you.

He wants to see you soar and succeed. 

You mean we’re on the same side?

I used to think it was me vs him. That if one of us got what we wanted, that automatically meant the other didn’t.

I would tip-toe around what I needed, what I wanted.

And then got so mad when he didn’t read my mind accurately. This of course caused so many other problems then if I had just been up front, open, and honest with him about what I needed. 

 Many of my clients come to me ready and excited to make a change in their lives..yet, as we get into the work, they have all sorts of excuses why they can’t follow through–and more times than not it has something to do with their partner.

Recognizing you’re on the same team is the first step in opening  the lines of communication. When you understand it’s not a fight to see who is going to get what they want, but that you both can have what you need and want, you’re able to ask for   what you want without feeling ashamed or guilty.

Even though it shouldn’t be, woman guilt is a real thing. So is feeling guilty for taking time for yourself when you should be doing the laundry, cleaning a toilet, or any other item on your never ending to-do list instead of trying a new workout class or going out with your girl friends. 

The problem is when we don’t ask for what we want, we often end up resenting our husbands or partners because we feel like we don’t have any time for ourselves. 

…but he can’t read your mind 😉

The reality is my husband didn’t know what I needed unless I spoke up. Neither does yours.. And if they don’t know what we need, how in the world can they give it to us or help us get it for ourselves?

I had to trust him. I had to let go of control of the insecurity and fear he might leave me. I had to learn how to delegate. 

 Carve out the time on your calendar to chat with your partner.

Be willing to negotiate your schedules so each of you get  time to recharge. 

Protect the time you carved out for yourself as best as you can. I know how hard this can be when you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders.

Let them know how they can support you. This is key! They don’t know what you need from them unless you tell them.

Look out for the speed bumps

 Not all partners will be supportive, I get that. This is an unfortunate reality too for some of you reading this. While you can’t change them, you can still control yourself and your time. Figure out ways you can still get the time you need for yourself without them feeling like you’re being selfish.

Could you do something for yourself early in the morning? Perhaps during the day, you can take a break and do something kind for yourself.

Brainstorm ways you still take the time for yourself despite them being on board. 

Maybe your partner is on board, but you let your guilt win, and you don’t give yourself the time you needed and wanted. If this is where you find yourself, you’re just going to have to get over the guilt. 

The best way to do that is by exploring why you’re feeling guilty about investing in yourself. What do you feel like you’re dropping the ball on if you take a time out to treat yo’self? Then ensure you take the steps needed to not drop the ball or get rid of that ball all together 😉

When you and your partner can band arms and get on the same page, it ends up being a win-win for everyone.  You get what you need (time to take care of you), and they end up getting a more energized and confident version of you–which allows you to take better care of him and the rest of your responsibilities. 

The best part might be, you feel like a team working for one another instead of fighting with each other. Get ready to welcome a whole lot more peace, calm, and time for yourself. 

How to be more intentional first thing in the morning

How to be more intentional first thing in the morning

Maybe this sounds like your mornings too…

I’d  roll out of bed 15-20 min before I had to be up. My kids have always been into early mornings. It was always mad dash to get everyone out the door on time. No wonder I was crabby, exhausted, and spent the rest of the day trying to catch my breath.

What if your day didn’t have to start like that? Wouldn’t it be great if you could enjoy a hot cup of coffee and a little time to get your head in the game before everyone else was up, and the world was knocking at your door?

You can start your day fresh,  with more peace, and a lot more calm. The trick is to carve out time for yourself before the busy of the day sets in. But this, like any other habit takes some practice. 

Let me guess, at this point you might be thinking to yourself, this is great for the early birds. Perhaps you already feel like you don’t have enough time, let alone add one more thing to your list.

Here’s the magic: Once you develop the habit, you won’t have to think about it. In fact, you’ll be so stoked on how you’re feeling after spending some time filling your cup, you’ll be too excited to get up and get the day going.

I think one of the reasons, people aren’t more excited to get up and at ’em is because the day is too chaotic. If my days felt like that, I wouldn’t be too happy to get out of bed either. In fact, I wasn’t.

When I’d roll out of bed, I was immediately reacting to life, instead of calling the shots. And if you’re not setting some intention behind your morning routine, then you’re likely in the same boat I was.

Another thing that may be tripping you up are some of the other habits you’ve got, that you’re not ready to get rid of just yet…like late night Netflix binges or hours of mindless scrolling. 

I had some habits that definitely had to go, if I was going to be able to get my butt out of bed earlier.  While I thought watching hours of TV or scrolling my social media was recharging my battery, I noticed I didn’t always feel better or more refreshed. 

Often, I’d wake up the next day feeling drained and exhausted.

On the rare occasion I would get out of bed earlier than usual, I found I had so much more time to get ready.

The days I had actually taken the time to read my bible, journal, spend time praying or meditating I had a different head space.

You might be on board to give this whole  morning thing a try, but not sure where to start. It’s ok, I didn’t either. 

I read the book Miracle Morning  by Hal Elrod as a recommendation from a friend of mine at the time.

The book helped give my mornings structure. I used it as inspiration, and just kept tweaking until I found what worked for me and the time I had. 

My mornings these days consist of going through my daily devotional, read a personal development book for about 10-15 min, journal some thoughts that came up or things I’m wrestling with, meditation/ prayer, and then I visualize my ideal day.

Here’s the thing to realize though, having a great morning starts the night before. Not only is it important to look at how you’re starting your day, but also how you’re winding down the night before.

If you’re finding it hard to get up a bit earlier, you may wanna take a look at your bedtime routine, and make some tweaks there.

Remember, it’s not about massive overhaul here. Instead, look at what small change you’re willing to make. And then intentionally practice it…daily. You also don’t have to wake up hours earlier. Try waking up 10-15 minutes earlier at first, then you can bump it back as needed.

As we know perfect doesn’t exist–this goes for our sleep as well. There are days when you may do everything ‘right’, and still don’t sleep well. This can make getting up early much more challenging than it might already be. Just do what you can. Maybe you cut a few things out, or shorten the routine up a bit. That’s ok! Just do what you can. 

Any time I travel, or have a change in routine it can be hard to stay with my morning routine. Again, decide what you can do even when you’re short on time or out of your element and do that. Think about it like this, what would the minimum be that you could do to still feel energized and excited about your day be? Do that. Then when you get back into your groove, you can adjust again.

I never thought changing one little thing, like how I start my mornings would have had such a profound impact, but it has. I don’t feel like I’m running the whole day trying to find my groove because I create my groove first thing in the am.

You will feel like you’ve found extra time in your day, and it’s because you have.

If you constantly feel like you don’t have enough time, it can be tempting to avoid adding one more thing in, but I just want you to try it. If you don’t like it, you can always go back to sleeping in 😉 

Starting day with intention makes it easier to be intentional throughout the day. Keep in mind freedom comes from having structure without being harsh or rigid. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t do it perfectly or you miss a day here or there. However, to create new habits, you have to commit to consistency.

Make it easy on yourself to win the day, by winning your mornings. 

 

How to feel better about yourself without losing weight

How to feel better about yourself without losing weight

Think about the first time you ‘knew’ you needed to lose weight.. or even thought about losing weight? Chances are you were pretty young. And if you weren’t the one struggling with your weight, you knew a woman you who was and still probably is. 

Here’s the truth: you don’t need to lose weight to feel what you want to feel about yourself.

But, you must to take care of yourself like you matter.

Which is something I don’t see women doing very often. For many women, their needs get pushed to the bottom of the ‘to-do’ list while they are busy taking care of everyone else. After a while of neglecting themselves, they forget who they are. And they don’t like what they see when they look in the mirror. 

This is usually when the typical dieting behavior kicks in. The fantasies about what life would be like if they just lost those last 10 pounds or if they were a bit more “toned” fill their minds.

They try to beat their bodies into submission via strict diets aka “healthy lifestyles” and crazy workouts.

A new way to ‘self-care’

Weight loss is highly celebrated and elevated in our culture. Comments like ‘you look good, have you lost weight?’ only further the idea that weight loss = health and that health looks a certain way–no matter what it took to get there.

Instead of following the traditional model of health that focuses solely on weight loss and fearful thoughts around food..

Eat well.

Move your body.

Talk to yourself like you love yourself.

before you’ve lost the weight.

Do it from a place of compassion, love, and a desire to take care of you the way you take care of others. Not because you fear that looking a certain way will be the only way you can earn love or acceptance from others.

Do it because you know and believe you were created for a purpose and you can’t do it if you are exhausted, and are beating your body up with lifestyle choices that aren’t serving you. 

Your mind needs a makeover 

 1. Give your thoughts a makeover. Notice the words you use to talk about yourself and your body.

What kinds of feelings or emotions do those thoughts evoke for you? If it’s negative, you gotta change that pronto.

2. Change your thoughts- first notice the thoughts you think about yourself NOW, what result is that producing for you?

Then choose new thoughts to think. Yes, you get to pick what you think about. You don’t have to be at the mercy of the mean girl living between your ears. 

3. Take care of yourself NOW, not when you’ve lost the weight–what does YOUR healthy lifestyle look like?

Instead of following someone else’s plan for your healthy lifestyle, create your own. There are many ways you can move your body–find a way that works for you. 

And aside from a few key nutrition habits, you don’t need to follow a meal plan or specific diet despite popular information found all over Google.

Prepare for battle

We are immersed in diet culture, there is no denying it. Depending on how steeped in it you are, you may have a hard time shutting the inner diet police down. The thoughts and feelings of inadequacy or disgust because of your weight, size, or shape will mostly likely creep back in.

Stand guard against those thoughts. 

Here are some strategies you can use to wage war against the diet fueled thoughts:

  1. Write out the new thoughts you want to think about yourself. You can put them on post it notes around the house or in your car.
  2. Come up with new ways to describe yourself that have zero to do with how you look.
  3. Talk to yourself as if you were talking to someone you really loved.
  4. Remember you don’t have love the way your body looks, but you don’t have to hate it either. Practice body neutrality.
  5. List out what your body can do now, and what it allows you to do.

As you continue on your journey of leaving the weight obsessed world behind, you will find you’re less stressed, life feels less chaotic, and you’ll have more energy for the things that you *actually* care about.

You’ll be making choices about your body, food, eating, and exercise from a place of care rather than  duty, obligation, or penance.

You won’t be eating better or exercising in order to feel good enough, you’ll be doing those things because you already know you are.. 

If you’re ready to make the next move in your life, and you’re not sure how to start, I’ve got you. The Mindful Eating Project is open now, click the link to fill out the application!