As I sit here marinating in mild depression and loosening my belt, I look back at 2020 and see the silver lining in unlikely places. It was and continues to be a challenging time for so many of us. I remember evaluating all the areas of my life that were out of whack, AKA the Thrive 9 love buckets. Balancing these aspects of life given our collective situation seems impossible. We are isolating ourselves from person-to-person interaction, restricting ourselves from our loved ones, and many of us might not be able to participate in church, races, school, dating, concerts, etc. in a way that truly connects the human spirit. Our collective stress and anxiety levels have been maxed out for a myriad reasons. I don’t have to tell you that this is not normal human behavior. However, it is instinctual to protect ourselves and others from harm like COVID. In these times I understand we’re trying to do what we can do given new information... it just feels a lot less human, among other things.
Adversely, we’re living so much more of our life watching TV and on social media. People mindlessly scrolling, wasting so much time, chipping in on social conversations where it’s easy to be passive aggressive or just plain mean. Relationships have been destroyed over the phone, and by text at that! There has been so much fear-energy shared through these screens, and not a single point or challenging idea has been met with the effort of looking people in the eyes and having a hard conversation to remedy the multitude of issues before us. Humans have existed and evolved to be problem solvers, it is core to our survival, yet so many of us dig in and navigate from a map that allows no exploration or correction. Please hear me when I say, I am not excluded from these observations. I frequently turn the lens inward to evaluate my actions and reactions, and I am by no means perfect.
What I am though is a doer, for better or worse, and I recognized the need to feel more connected in this challenging time. More human. I had a small idea, I let it germinate, and by opening it up to my amazing group of Lake Girls the idea bloomed into a beautiful event. All for the benefit of 2 women that needed to be lifted in these hard times.
No matter the situation you’re in due to the pandemic, you’re experiencing something that you’ve never experienced before. Unfortunately, it might be showing up in your waistline or wallet (I know it’s showing up there for me!) Until we can go back to normal, it is important to have grace for your situation and that of others. Focus on what you CAN do... not what you have failed to do.
I, YOU, WE all have the ability to DO something. Do something out of love not fear. Do what you can, it doesn’t have to be money related. Do understand what makes you feel human, evaluate your love buckets. We are not perfect, but we are still worthy. Human.
Habit loops are created in large part by our survival, emotion, and logic - our 3 brains. The brain stem, limbic system, and cortex. Behaviors that turn into habit loops start with a cue, then a routine, ending in reward. I'm going to keep this simple, but here are just a couple examples:
Sometimes people think they have severe chocolate cravings, when in reality they could have a micro nutrient deficiency, like iron or magnesium. So the survivor brain is telling the body, "Hey the last time we were this low on magnesium, delicious chocolate saved the day. Let's do that again."
Some people have a habit of eating ice cream before bed, especially in times of stress. This habit could have started as a special treat at your grandparents house over the summer months, but now eating ice cream at night has transcended into this warm and comforting feeling... actually releasing feel good endorphins like dopamine. Over time this behavior can develop into a self-soothing ritual. That's emotion taking over.
During the past few months, many of us may have been creating new habit loops - adjusting to our new normal. In these times, it's important to be aware and mindful of our current patterns. Think about what you're doing that's new. Ask yourself, is this aiding to my wellness? Am I engaging in binge eating, having 1 too many cocktails, sleeping less, not moving as much?
Here are just a few strategies I've discussed with my clients to help keep them on track:
1. Make sure you have a cutoff time for eating, I suggest 7 pm.
2. Have yourself a delicious cup of herbal tea or calming magnesium drink before bed.
3. Engage in nightly meditations or body scans (there are so many free apps out there!)
4. Take advantage of all the free big fit apps, reduced price zoom workouts, YouTube fitness, or simply go outside and walk a few times a day. The body was designed to move! I am currently running Zoom fitness classes for only $15 a workout, T/Th mornings at 6 am. #noexcuses
Small, simple behaviors like the above can have a huge impact on your wellness. I encourage you to try them and share what's working for you with others. We could all use some healthy life hacks during this Covid-19 season!
Stay healthy, friends!!
Since I've been meaning to blog about 4 different and important topics... I'm going to completely ignore them to post this, because coronavirus.
1. Procrastinate. What? You've got time! Go ahead and catch up on all the netflix, amazon, hulu, disney +, etc. Or maybe watch preview after preview of suggestions you might want to watch later, creating yet another list. (Slowly chipping away at it, not so much out of desire but FOMO... and because you're tired of hearing about how good *insert that series here* was for the 10th time.)
2. Make a list of all the cleaning you can finally do since you have the time. Make those baseboards your b*tch and that toilet sparkle. Oh, you can even start to declutter! Tackle the attic and/or garage! Hmmm, start looking into where you should make your donations of gently used clothing and that one nightstand that doesn't go anywhere in the house. Maybe you can make a couple bucks selling some of the stuff?! I sense another list coming on!!
3. Read a book. Like actually sit down with a book, a book with pages and that fantastic book smell! There's some great self-help jazz you can get into, maybe reacquainting yourself with the Bible has been on your list for some time now, or that one SEXY book your bff lent you that "changed her marital bed." Which one to choose though? That's a hard one. *pun intended*
4. Workout! Oh shoot the gyms are closed. Well, you could do a video workout. I hear they are making a bunch of popular, fitness streaming services free during this quarantine. I also heard about a few amazing yogis on youtube, maybe try that out! Warning, you might get got caught up watching suggestion videos via youtube algorithms, your viewing history, and waning motivation. Maybe workout later, you have time.
5. Spend limited time on social media and go outside. Oh, but don't forget to take pics of all the things you encounter in the wild. You simply MUST post them too, because you've never noticed how beautiful a walk at your local park could be, and now you have to share that beauty with everyone. What's that!? Nancy is posting photos of the same walk you were just on, you have to discuss this. Now Brad is messaging you about an even better outside. What?! (2 hrs later - still on social media)
6. Try something new, like TikTok! You can be creative, artsy, musical, deep, funny, shallow, etc. You'll have to watch a couple videos so you get the hang of it. Understand that you'll have to hit the back button like 7 times to get out of the app, because TikTok puts a new video in your face every time you try to exit, perfect for your ADHD. Just don't get so caught up watching hours of TikTok your legs go numb from sitting on the toilet too long. You could actually fall down when you try to stand up - advice from a friend.
7. Stay off all social media! Remember, there's outside, books, workouts, clean... *ring ring, a fancy cell tune, or vibrate* Gotta get that, it's Mom. (2 hrs later - still on the phone with Ma talking about the stuff she saw on social media.)
8. Cook the food you purchased for the zombie apocalypse. Do NOT eat it all. It's a worthy challenge many have already failed. Thank God we can still go to the grocery store, for now. Remember, you must avoid people'ing, and pray your spring allergies don't act up while you're standing within eyesight and earshot of humanity.
9. Watch the news. Just kidding!!! Complete the 2020 census.
10. Oh sh*t! Are you supposed to wfh? Well you're nailing #1 on this list. Way to go, Champ! ;-)
In all seriousness... stay healthy, friends. Sending love, prayers, and positive vibes - worldwide.
It's a simple question I ask people about the food they're eating when they ask, is this good for you? Well does it go bad??? Now there are plenty of foods that are great for you that don't go bad within a week or so, please don't think I'm suggesting some kind of new shelf life "diet" (I'm not.) I am here to simply begin an internal dialogue with you about the food you or your loved ones are eating and serving - ESPECIALLY if you're trying to lose weight.
I'm going to tackle this conversation from all different angles, and if you're interested in contributing your $.02, please email me at Stephanie.email@example.com
Let's look at food for what it really is, energy and survival. Yep that's it. Now don't get me wrong there's a huge emotional component to food, however i'm not talking about that today. Here's a really quick summary of what food is to the body, in terms of what we're reading on the labels. Macronutrients (protein, fat, carbohydrates) are essential for life, and micronutrients (vitamins & minerals) although not imperative for survival in the week-to-week or month-to-month, they are very important for many reasons. For the sake of this post and to keep it simple, I like to imply that micros are the little cogs that make the big cogs (macros) work efficiently.
A long shelf life with food usually equals preservatives, additives, inflammatory fats, and higher sugar content. What does that actually mean? I'll continue with the analogy of big cogs and little cogs. Picture a mail room where your body's macros and micros get sorted, the mail is essentially your food, water, vitamins, and minerals. What does it do with all the junk mail?! How is it supposed to sort through the crap that doesn't naturally exist? It doesn't know, so it does what we all do with potential real mail, but likely junk mail... we put it to the side and let it collect over time - bogging down our system. There's actually real science here I'm not talking about, but I'm doing this on purpose... you're still reading, aren't you?
This is for all my people out there investing in weight loss in the form of calorie/point counting, meal replacement shakes, and prepackaged frozen meals, etc.; I encourage you to ask this very question about the nutrition you're about to consume, invest in, or serve, does it go bad? This should lead you down a rabbit hole...What's the shelf life? Where do the macros come from? Are there only macros and micros in this food product? What are all the ingredients and can I pronounce them? Am I getting healthier by consuming this product vs. simply losing weight? Is this something I can sustain?
I'm not suggesting people be perfect in their daily nutrition and only consume whole foods, trust me I KNOW HOW HARD THAT CAN BE in the beginning! I'm suggesting that if you're spending $100-$500+ a month on something you cannot sustain or do not enjoy in the long term to lose weight, you should contact me or your local holistic health coach. Get rid of the confusion, it's much easier than you think. AND it begins with HEALTH.
In an effort to keep this short, I'm going to stop here, but there's more to come!!! Also, I have to pack some leftovers... Cook once, eat thrice! #thrive9er
This is my daughter, Lilly. She just beat me in Memory for the first time and is pretty happy about it in this photo. It took her about 20 times though, and of course I didn’t let her win! Now in all fairness to myself, I didn’t really try because I was answering emails and texts (hey a working mom has to do what a working mom has to do!) The point is, this child demonstrates something worth talking about. She has great CONFIDENCE in doing the things she wants to do and thus begins to do them well. I guess we can argue that most humans are designed this way. The more we enjoy things, the better we get at them through increased practice. However, confidence isn’t a trait everyone shares at a natural set point, and there’s a reason why.
The definition I’m referring to is, a feeling of self-assurance arising from one's appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities. Personally, I’ve become more confident over the decades for a multitude of reasons, getting healthier is just one of them. Unfortunately, many women I’ve worked with over the last couple years seemingly began life confident, only to have their self-assurance and appreciation of their abilities erode over time. The I can turned into maybe I can, then later became a flat out I can’t.
As we progress through life, we become more self-aware. We compare ourselves to others, we set goals or benchmarks that we think we should achieve with some arbitrary timeline attached. We say things to ourselves like, I should be able to do that at this age, or I should have that by this time. And all too often, these thoughts create negative vibes and self-doubt when we don’t achieve all the things we think we should be able to do, when we think we should be able to do them. Many times it’s because we’re comparing ourselves to other people. What do you think this does to our CONFIDENCE?
Take yourself back to when you were 5 years old. I think it’s safe to say that the list of things we used to compare ourselves to others was pretty short then. However, it was still there. Kids see other children do tasks or fun obstacles, and they set a goal for themselves. They declare that they will do that too! So they begin to practice by implementing small but progressive action steps through play. Most start small. That’s key, because by starting small they build confidence with each successful pass, and they have fun developing a new skill.
Two things are happening in this stage of goal setting and attainment. First, because they are starting small, they don’t worry about getting it right on the first try. They aren’t concerned with how it might look to the other children, there’s no perfection pressure. Second, THEY ARE HAVING FUN! If the desire to acquire a new skill is less than or equal to the actual fun they are having in achieving it, they will absolutely keep at it. Humans crave pleasure, joy, and happiness. Are you seeing how confidence fits into all of this? Of course you do, it’s simple, especially when you’re thinking about hitting your 5 year old goals!
Well I believe that confidence comes from a narrative. What is the story you’re telling yourself? Are you even aware that you’ve been telling yourself your story almost your entire life? Are you confidently able to keep trying or maybe move on to something better through self-discovery? A problem many encounter is that they are living their biography through another's narrative, enter I should have… the comparison complex comes from somewhere. When we’re experiencing negative feelings about not achieving specific benchmarks our confidence decreases, and the narrative tends to shift. Inversely, when we’re doing well our confidence expands and our story takes flight. Take a second to think about that… mind blowing, right?!
Now I want to talk to you about mudballs. Yep, mudballs. So my beautiful, always-has-to-wear-a-skirt, unicorn loving, lip gloss wearing child is her happiest when she’s at her nature school. She goes to a forest certified preschool and practically cries most days I pick her up. She isn’t physically gifted or brave for that matter, meaning she’s very cautious about being adventurous within the realm of her gross motor skills and abilities. However, what she does do she does with confidence. She moves at her own rate and owns it. When she sees a child doing something that looks fun to her, she tries it. Which brings me to the mudballs.
I recently asked her what she likes so much about her school, and her answer was simple and beautiful. She loved making mudballs. She didn’t seem to care about getting her dress dirty, or that some of the girls in her class just weren’t into it. I imagine her inner narrative read something like, this mud isn’t so bad, I’m really interested in it, and I think I can make something really pretty out of this. I’m going to try to do that because it’s fun. She honed in and focused (easier said than done with this one) and she spent real time on this skill and loved it. She had the confidence to do what made her happy, without comparison, and she did it well. I think we can all learn a lesson from our 5 year old self. Explore, determine if you actually like what you’re doing, and either move on or get better at it. Write your narrative in a way that helps you achieve your goals because you can.
Let me set up the scene for you... it's chilly and you're wearing your favorite sweater and boots. You just finished a duet of *insert favorite song here* with one of your closest friends in the car (at the top of your lungs, I might add.) You just turned onto 9N in the Adirondack mountains, gazing upon a beauty all its own. It's your job, sitting shotgun, to point out all the properties and businesses on Lake George worth taking your eyes off the road for a second or 2.
Or maybe it starts out like this, you're rockin' your favorite pair of shades in disbelief of how warm it looks outside, yet how brisk it truly is - the perfect fall day. You've just solved all the world's problems in a deep conversation with your bestie through an amazing discussion that sprung out of mayonnaise. You feel lighter, your head a bit clearer, and in this moment you're ready to take on one of your biggest challenges, YOU.
Sometimes, well actually many times, we're the reason we aren't getting what we want. Other times, we just don't know how to get it. My philosophy is that we are all authors writing the narrative that determines the trajectory of our life... but it doesn't just end there. Because in order to live in your most awesome, ideal, fulfilling story, you must be healthy enough to make it happen. Your biography is deeply connected to your biology.
THAT is exactly what the Lake Girl Retreat is all about. We work together to define, refine, strategize, tackle, move, break-down, build-up, and lift ourselves & other amazing souls along the way. There will be tears, there will be laughter, and there will be healthy adventure! All this amazing work will kickoff in the town of Bolton Landing, NY. The sparseness of the off-season, a curriculum designed to meet people where they are at, combined with the power of strong, determined women will insure that. Oh, and there will be built-in, automatic health gains along the way!
This is the first of many Lake Girl Retreats. If the S.H.I.F.T. Retreat is any measure of how successful Lake Girl will be, than I can promise it will be AMAZING! Does this resonates with you? Get on the lake with us November 8-10, 2019 (there's only 1 room left!)
*sets soapbox down, clears throat, steps up on soapbox*
Before I get going here, I want to take you back in time. It was a Friday night in the fall of 2001, actually it was about 2 AM, so technically it was Saturday. I had gotten home from working a shift at a sports bar in my hometown and knew I had to get to bed ASAP. I had to be up and ready the next morning to cheer for my college football team - Go Huskies! Yes, I was a cheerleader... go figure.
As I peeled off my smokey, beer/liquor soaked uniform, I caught my new cheerleading duds out of the corner of my eye. It was displayed nicely on my chair, along with spanky pants, Bloom U socks, and my cool cheer kicks. I cringed. It was the first flat front cheer skirt I had to wear after over 10 years of cheerleading. I hated it. I was curvier then... and pleated skirts suited my thick thighs and butt (which weren't really "in" at the time.) Needless to say, I tried it on again just to see. Maybe it wasn't so bad?
Well, it was worse than I thought. I just had to lose weight before wearing this uniform in public. So I did what any other sleep deprived college girl with body image issues would do! I went for a run, at approximately 2:30 AM on a weekend night - by bars, in a college town. I was REALLY smart back then.
Here's a then and now pic from this exact moment in time that I'm speaking about. Sorry the quality isn't the best, but if I thought that this size 12 me was horrible (which you can see, it's not), it was about to get so much worse!
As time went on, my late night "panic runs" continued. I upped my weightloss game by investing a lot of money in OTC diet pills (I've tried them all) and laxatives (talk about cramping!) I would have spent my last dime on magic beans if the marketing touted weight loss. I was a freaking mess, and I just kept getting bigger and bigger. My cravings were out of control, my self-worth was next to zero, and my shame level was through the roof. You wouldn't believe what people do to feel an ounce of worth in someone else's eyes because they can't find it in themselves.
Oh, and my health was sh*t! Hypothyroidism, anemia, sick all the time, etc. When I look back at all the things I would have done to lose weight, not once did I consider getting healthy. And that, my friends, is why I do what I do. I used to gain and lose 20 lbs for sport. You cannot imagine how bad that is for your health - that's another post! I'm just saying if you want to know the secret to my sauce, I'll tell you. First I want to tell you what else I tried, aside from the measures I took above to become a thinner version of myself.
The great thing about diets is that they actually work... when you can stick to them. I must have started a new diet every other week! Mondays I was always balls to the wall ready for the new me. Thursdays I was getting 1 AM delivery from the local pizza shop to soak up all the beers I had consumed earlier in the evening. The fact was that the more I dieted, the heavier I got. Definitely another post.
Meal Replacement Products (and the like)
Gawd, I loved me some Slim Fast! Actually, in all fairness, this moved the needle for me a bit. It was cheap, I was actually eating something before my 2 PM binge sessions, and it tasted like sweet chocolate! When I plateaued on Slim Fast, I went on to the next one. Overall, I prob lost about 10 lbs on this sugar-hopped method, and I also had energy to kick my ass in the gym. I did forget to mention that I actually do enjoy eating real meals though, so that was a huge drawback.
Punishment in the Gym
In all honesty, I had no friggin idea what I was doing in the gym back in college! Mix that with the fact that I was too afraid to ask anyone (for fear of being judged) what to do and how to do it, I just did what I thought the pictures on the machines were doing. OMG, I would hate to have a highlight reel of me working out then... I probably nearly injured myself at least 5 times a session. Additionally, my midnight workouts were killing my grades - you could almost be sure I wasn't making morning classes the day after a late night workout!
The Reason Healthy Lifestyle Adoption is the ONLY Thing that Sticks
You're basically the summation of your daily habits. If you read a lot of British literature everyday, you can probably have an intelligent and fruitful conversation with a *insert fancy college here* professor. If you run everyday, chances are you are confident and correct in your assumption that you can run a race without dying. If you brush your teeth twice a day, you're a normal human being, congratulations! You see where I'm going here though, right?!
When I shifted gears to simply get healthy, everything changed. Things I didn't even expect to change CHANGED! I honestly did not know that over the course of 2 years I was going to drop some serious lbs and go from a size 14-16 to a 4-6. I just knew I wanted to feel better, and I knew to feel better I had to clean up my health. In my mind "skinny" didn't feel better, it just looked better.
I got a few healthy lifestyle habits down, and I was doing them almost everyday. I started by eating mostly whole foods, getting exercise that I enjoyed, taking a good multivitamin, and actually drinking water. That's it. That's what started it all. But even that can feel so overwhelming. I know, and I hear you. That's why Thrive 9 exists. It's the right steps, with the right intensity, in the right order. It's proven to work, and it lasts forever.
As co-creator of the Thrive 9 program, I know how easy health gain can be. The body we live in is temporary, it'll always change with age. Your body composition and health will directly correlate to your body maintenance through lifestyle choices. If all you do is implement the Thrive 9 habits into your lifestyle, one habit at a time, you will live longer and look better - end of story. If you don't like the body you live in today, please know that it's not a life sentence. Look into my Pocket Coaching program, it's a steal. You now know why I do what I do, please don't suffer anymore.
I wish I had more before and after photos, but I hated myself so much that I pitched all of my full body shots where "I looked fat." However, you can see some of the Evolution in my face in the pic below. I've sustained my health and size for over 15 years, and it started by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Who knew?!
One of the things that I recently discovered is that if you really want something, you will get it. I remember the first time I read about this concept... I certainly couldn't have been the first person to call bullsh*t on this, right?! I get it, keep reading.
Here I am, 2 years later, doing exactly just that - professionally. Is it easy? No. Has my vision changed as I have evolved throughout the process? Yes. Can I help you find and follow through on YOUR magnificent obsessions? Maybe. Depends on how bad you truly want something, and here are a few things to consider:
When you're READY to make the jump into the unknown (in any realm of life), you start spending productive and obscene amounts of time on it. Daydreaming, thinking, envisioning, acting on, problem solving, etc. What you might not know is that you're already shifting the gears and creating momentum towards that vision. So you're more than a few steps away from your launching point, you hatched the idea - so it's already a thing. High-five!
If your motive is something like to get rich, keep going. You have to dig deeper. Why do you want to be rich? There are simple, maybe less than legal ways to make that happen, right? You can trade in your moral compass to ride on a bad@$$ boat, drink rum drinks, and dance with hotties off the Jamaican coast. I don't know, that's what came to mind first??
Just follow me for a second... you still have to live your life day-to-day! You still need to sleep, eat, poop, etc. You're not going to discover a new way to put on your pants. There are other areas of your life that money cannot fulfill. Does money make things easier? Yes. Does money make life worth living? No. Don't believe me? Get rid of all your senses. No smelling the roses, tasting the sweet and savory, kissing in the rain, seeing the sunrise/sunset, and all that other happy horsesh*t.
What and who do you want to be in all those other moments when you're not living like a jetsetting party person?! What do you want to think, read, and talk about? How do you want to feel?
The law of averages applies to the people you keep closest to you, too. You need to talk about and discuss your magnificent obsessions with others, it's important. How else are you going to learn and grow into the person you truly want to be - in any realm. That's how you find your people, you should all contribute to each other's lives in a positive way. Relationships can be hard, but that's how we grow - even if we have to let got of those that pull us down.
The world is busy, try to make time for those that understand the person you are and who you'd like to become. If you are better because of them, and they are helping you achieve your goals, they certainly deserve a front row seat in your life.
So I had an idea, and I made it happen - recently. The three things mentioned above brought it to life. I spent a lot time thinking about hosting a retreat. My motive, to help women by empowering them to focus on their biography and biology. My crew (and co-host), Jen Croneberger of http://www.thefivewords.com/ is pretty amazing - go ahead, look her up.
We'll be implementing Thrive 9 habits for health-gain (more to come on that!) AND we'll be digging deep, working hard, healing and creating peace and balance with 10 beautiful souls in the Smoky Mountains. Lake Hiwassee here we come!!!
Contact me if you'd like information about the S.H.I.F.T. Retreat (June 21-24, 2019)
Share ~ Heal ~ Ignite ~ Focus ~ Truth