Is your BUT bigger than your WHY

One of my missions this year has been figuring out how to get people to make lifelong changes toward their fitness and health goals. You see, getting in shape and getting your dream body is simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. The hard part about making lasting fitness and health changes is the “change” part. Its easy to stick with the status quo and keep doing what you are doing if staying in the same place means you don’t feel immediate pain.

One of the main questions I get asked as a health coach is “How do I get motivated?” It seems like a straight forward question but the REAL answer is pretty complicated. Sure I can give you tons of tips on how to make eating right and exercising a habit: Schedule your gym time, don’t buy junk food at the grocery store, invite a friend to workout so you have an accountability partner, create a kick a$$ playlist that makes you want to move. But really, at the end of the day your motivation comes from within you.

You have to make your reason for changing so important that it cancels out all of your excuses. In other words, you have to make your “why” bigger than your “but.” You have to be sick and tired of being sick and tired. The pain of same has to be greater than the pain of change. I can keep going with the motivational sayings, but you get the idea. Your reason for wanting to get fit has to be big enough to make changing your behavior the only option.

So how do you do that? I find it helpful to write things down. First, make a list of everything that bothers you right now about not being in shape. That can be anything thing from: I don’t feel good physically to I don’t like the way I look in my clothes. Look over your list and let it settle in, maybe even read it aloud. Get angry, let your self feel the emotions that come from the items you wrote down. Next, write a list of what you want to accomplish by getting in shape and how that will feel or what it will mean to you. Look that list over, let it sink in and maybe read it aloud as well. Post that paper somewhere where you will see it often (maybe the refrigerator ;)). Then, take action. Do one thing that moves you toward your fitness goals: go to the gym, throw out your junk food, go for a walk, etc.

Getting motivated isn’t always easy, but having a big reason that pushes your forward will help you achieve your goals. Motivation + Action = Success!

What do you do to stay motivated?

Financially Flabby

Recently I have started working hard on budgeting. I have mostly been one of those types of people who **TRIES** not to spend too much money. And yet lately, at the end of the month I was left wondering where my money had gone. I hadn’t done anything lavish or extravagant and I certainly had enough money coming in so why was I SO broke.

I was fed up with myself, so I made it my mission to figure out where my money was going and put myself in a better place financially. I started googling “how to budget” and that’s when I stumbled across Dave Ramsey’s book “Total Money Makeover.” Dave preaches common sense personal finance. It might not be the most sophisticated plan, and it might not be a get rich quick scheme, but it works, and his millions of followers are testament to that.

 

What I found surprising about the book, however, is that he compared getting financially fit to getting physically fit. I could relate to that metaphor. I spend a lot of time trying to help my clients get physically fit and the parallels are uncanny.

 

The just of his teachings are this: budget, get out of debt, save 15% of your income and invest in mutual funds. Pretty basic, right? But the principles for getting fit are arguably even more simple when you get down to it: Exercise most days of the week 30 min per day, Burn as many calories as you eat, eat mostly whole, minimally processed foods.

 

The thing is though, being physically fit comes easily to me. That made the financial fitness metaphor really work for me. I simply applied the focus and discipline I exercise around fitness and nutrition toward finances.

 

What I realized, through Dave’s teachings, is that the most important Catalyst for change both for getting financially fit and physically fit is having a reason. Being sick and tired of being sick and tired. Being in a state where the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.

 

I’ve counseled many people who make their fitness and nutrition a priority for a few weeks, then lose focus and fall off the bandwagon. I have also helped many people who have completely turned their life around and made the focus on health a core value.  So what’s the difference? What makes some people change and some people revert back to old habits. The answer is complicated.

 

What made me splurge today on a $20 uber to the airport when I could have taken a $7 bus? Did I feel like I deserved a splurge, was I too tired to be inconvenienced by riding on a bus? These are very similar feelings to what people experience when they struggle with what to eat or when to exercise.

 

Impulses are easy, they feel good in the short term, they offer immediate gratification. But the thing is, the long term pain caused by immediate gratification is not always gratifying, in fact it is sometimes worse than the pain you experience in the short term. For example, when your daily donut makes you feel good when you’re eating it, but ultimately results in a sugar crash and  self-loathing.

 

While I’m trying to work off my last few pounds of debt, I hope I can inspire you to look a little harder at the choices you make with your finances, with your fitness and really in all aspects of your life. Personal growth requires a commitment to self observation, discipline and persistence.

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Being a Single Mom

ON Being a Single mom

Lying in bed the other night with a stomach flu, covered in a cold sweat, exhausted, skin pin-pricked with goosebumps from a fever, kids finally asleep, I had the thought “This single mom thing sucks.” Moments like that are my low. Moments when I am made painfully aware of the fact that these little humans depend on me for everything and if I am a not feeling 100% too bad so sad, throw myself a pity party and then just put one foot in front of the other because I have no choice. I HAVE to be there for my kids. I CAN’T let them down. And even when it doesn’t feel like I could possibly “adult” for another second I pull myself together and somehow make shit happen.

ON Being a Single mom

But those aren’t even the worst moments. The worst moments are when Cyrus cries for his dad. When he tells me that he misses daddy and wishes daddy would come back home. When he tells me that he “lost his family.” In moments like that I swallow my heart, fight back tears and try to sound cheerful as I tell him that he’ll see daddy soon. Its moments when I see another happy “whole” family, a family like we could have been, like I wish we had been and I mourn the loss of my own  fractured family. It’s moments when my child takes his first step or does something so funny I am snorting milk out my nose laughing and yet there is a tinge of sadness because there is no one to share the experience with. No one who will care like I do.

But its not all bad. Sometimes its nice to be the only one in charge. No one to argue about plans with, no one to match schedules with. If I want to spend a few hours with the kids at the pool one evening, I do it. If I feel like taking an impromptu road trip to the beach, I can. If I feel like making pasta for dinner the fourth night in a row, my kids applaud.

It’s been a little over a year since I have been separated from my ex-husband and I am finding my stride in this single mom thing. I’m going to be honest, the first few months were rough– a blur of tears and stress and sleepless nights and caring for a newborn. Adjusting to having two kids is hard enough without also having to deal with a separation, but I took one day at a time and  I made it through. I got stronger. I started to feel more in control. Even the lows didn’t feel so low. I started to feel grateful again. I started to feel happy and at peace. My time with my kids is precious and as difficult as it can be sometimes (especially when having the stomach flu) I wouldn’t change it for the world. I feel blessed to be the mommy of two amazing sweet, happy healthy little boys and it is my privilege to guide them through this part of their life. They give me so much purpose and joy. I am proud of myself for stepping up to the challenge of being a single mom and for not only surviving but thriving.

I have also realized something. Everyone has their struggles. No matter how perfect someones life looks, they still have problems. Don’t judge a book by its facebook profile. Everything is not as it appears. If you are struggling with something, know that you are not alone. The greatest power we have in facing our struggles is perspective. Choose a perspective of gratitude and those struggles can only make you stronger.

XOXO

Valerie

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Hard Decisions

Hi Guys! I can’t believe its been over a month since I last posted. I have been so consumed with the selling of my house and everything related. I finally got an offer and I’m looking forward to closing on my old house and moving in to my new house in about a month! Holy cow. Did I say in about a month? It feels like that move is speeding toward me like a bullet train. I hate moving. BUT I am excited to start fresh. Here’s the catch though, I still haven’t found a house to move into! I know… crazy right? There are two houses I am trying to decide between and my anxiety is at an all time high. I feel like I am at one of those major turning points in my life where whatever decision I make will literally change the course of my life.

hard decisions

So how have I been trying to make this decision? Well, in the past I have based my decision on a “gut feeling” I run through pros and cons and then I think about what each choice would be like and the option that gives me the best “feeling” is the one I choose. This time though, my boyfriend has encouraged me to be a little more “scientific” in my decision making. So in addition to making a pros and cons list, I have been taking a hard look at the numbers: my budget, the price of the houses, the potential resale value, cost of renovations, distance from the key places in my life. I have found this process interesting and helpful in someways, but it has still been hard to make a decision.

Maybe that is just the nature of making hard decisions. You can look at all the information and facts but when it comes down to it, your intuition plays the biggest role in your decision making. I have found a few ways to tap into my intuition effectively:

1. Meditation- I have written about the benefits of meditation before. Meditation, the practice of focusing in on something, usually the breath, has been tremendously effective in helping me connect to my “inner wisdom.” As woo-woo as that might sound, there is something to quieting the mind that allows it to solve latent problems. When I meditate, answers to hard problems I am facing sometimes just come to me.

2. Writing- Whenever I get stuck on a decision, I turn to my journal (or blog) I write for a while and usually, by the end of writing I know what to do.

These are my go to strategies for making decisions, but interestingly sometimes decisions have their own ways of working out regardless of what I think or decide.

How do you make hard decisions? Do you have a go-to strategy? Do you believe in intuition or do you think decisions should only be made based on facts?

 

 

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Summer Changes

I spent a much needed week with the boys at the beach last week. It was perfect… just what I needed: relaxing, soaking in the sun and enjoying quality time with my little loves. Today was my first day back to my “regular life” and it just felt strange. I felt a shift, a change. I couldn’t put my finger on it.

School is out, summer is just around the corner and as the seasons shift it is natural for us to feel a shift in our own lives. I talked a lot about feeling like I was in limbo in my last post, limbo is usually a temporary state before change happens. Now, rather than feeling the weightlessness of being in limbo, I am feeling the gravity of change. The settling, the weight, the heaviness. And that is NOT a BAD thing.

As I settle into my new state I feel more grounded. It is like a breath of fresh air has been breathed into me. I have new hopes, new desires, new perspectives. I am looking forward to freshening up many aspects of my life. Here are some things I will be working on this summer:

  1. Starting a morning routine: writing, exercising, setting goals for the day
  2.  Cutting back on caffeine: its no secret that caffeine is my drug of choice, and while I have cut back some, I am sick of the highs and lows that I still feel.
  3. Creating my first online course

How about you? Have you felt a shift this summer? Do you feel the need to freshen things up to make a change? Are you ready to get healthy? To get in the best shape of your life? To set goals and achieve them? If so, I can help. I’d love to work with you to help you achieve your health and fitness goals. You can find out more here.

What are you working on this summer?

XOXO

Valerie

 

Patience

My house is on the market and it feels like I have been living in limbo for the past few months. I like stability and all this uncertainty has created a sense of impatience in me. I am impatiently waiting for my house to sell. I am impatiently waiting to find a new house and I am impatiently wondering how it will all turn out. And then I remind myself Patience is a virtue. In fact, patience is a virtue that pays dividends.

It is so hard to be patient. Especially in modern society where we expect everything instantaneously and depend on instant gratification from things like Netflix, Youtube and Google. But trust me, patience is a skill that is worth honing.

About this time last year, I was SUPER pregnant. I’m talking over 40 weeks, which, if you don’t know anything about pregnancy means past 9 months, in other words, ABOUT. TO. POP. At the time, I was plagued by the same sense of impatience that I am currently experiencing about the sale of my house. I was impatiently waiting to know when I would go into labor, impatiently wondering how it would go down and impatiently worrying about my baby’s health and safety. Because I had a previous c-section, I could have side stepped over the impatience and scheduled the birth, but after learning about all the health benefits of having a natural birth, I decided the trial on my patience would be worth it. And it was! 2 weeks after my due date I had my healthy baby boy, and labor went great! Unlike my c-section delivery where it took weeks to feel back to normal, I felt totally fine the day my baby was born. Patience in that case paid off.

And patience will pay off for you too. If you get impatient in the search to find your perfect partner, you might end up in a bad relationship out of your desperation to find a match. If you are sitting in traffic and you begin to feel impatient, does that get you to your destination faster? No. It simply makes you more stressed and angry by the time you arrive. If you get impatient with the process of getting in shape—working out and eating right and decide to go back to your old habits because you are not seeing results right away do you think you will ever get the results you desire? No! Of course not. These situations, like many others in your life, require patience.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am a big believer in taking action and working toward what you want to accomplish. But I think patience is a complement to that. Action is great in situations where you have control and can take action. Patience is necessary when you don’t have control and when action is not necessary. I think of taking action as sowing the seed for your success and patience as the time it takes for those seed to blossom.

So how can you have more patience? Well, it helps to know that patience is like a muscle. As you exercise patience, your ability to be patient grows. So next time you find yourself in a situation that requires patience, don’t get frustrated, look at it as an opportunity to strengthen your patience “muscle.” If you are feeling impatient, try techniques to help mollify that feeling. Deep breathing and meditation are two great ways to help calm feelings of impatience. It can also help to look back on your past and recall times that required patience and how you made it through and how that patience paid off.

As you can see, patience is an important virtue to cultivate. The more patience you can find in each day the more peacefully you will journey through life. There are many situations where you will have no control, and getting worried, anxious and impatient will only hurt you. As Arnold Glasow said “The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.”

Do you struggle with having patience? How do you handle it?

XOXO

Valerie

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The Green Eyed Monster

Theodore Roosevelt said “Comparison is the thief of joy.” This week in my classes I have been focusing on achieving “your personal best.” Meaning, instead of compairing yourself to others, you look inward, dig deep and give it what YOU have. To compare yourself only to yourself. This is easier said than done.

I have green eyes and my mom used to call jealousy the “green eyed monster.” Hey could she be talking about me? And the truth is I find myself in the trap of comparison and jealousy a lot. A few weeks ago, I got news that a friend got a promotion in a prestigious organization and is moving to a location I have always dreamed of living. While I was happy for her, I couldn’t help looking at my own life and feeling inferior– In the middle of a divorce, trying to sell my house and reinvent myself I felt like I was light years behind where I should be. Did you catch that “should”– one of my least favorite words. Because you see, its all about perspective. If I really look at my situation, I have a great life. I am working my dream job, helping others through Pilates and Health coaching. I have accomplished my goal of writing a book and am working toward my goal of creating an online course. I have a nice house and I am looking to upgrade. I have two sweet, beautiful and healthy little boys that I get to spend plenty of time with each day. I am healthy and fit and I have all the material things I need. So why let comparison steal my joy and what should I do about it?

Instead of letting comparison get me down, I am using it to teach me something about myself. What is it about my friends news that stirred up jealousy in me? Is there something I am looking to accomplish, is there something I am yearning for but don’t have? How can I make my life into one that I would envy? What actionable steps can I take to achieve that life? I have also found it helpful to focus on the positives in my life and the things I am grateful for. It is so easy to get into a negative thought pattern so each time I find myself in one, I force myself to see the positive and try to think of something I am grateful for in that moment. And you know what? I have seen a huge improvement in my habit of comparison and jealousy.

With the prevalence of social media, it is so easy to get trapped in the cycle of comparison and  jealousy. But instead of letting comparison be the thief of your joy, try my tips: think of the positive things you ave going on in your life and come up with some actionable steps that will move you closer to what you desire.

Do you find yourself falling in to the comparison/jealousy trap? How do you get yourself out?

XOXO

Valerie

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Closet Clean-up

Hey Guys!

Hope you are having a great week! I am in the middle of selling my house. If you have ever sold a home while living in it with two young kids, you know how crazy that can be! I have been on a cleaning and renovating blitz and now it seems like most of the work is done and I JUST have to constantly keep my house perfect. (totally realistic with a one-year old cruising all over the place ;)).

Well one of the things that is nice about selling your house is that it forces you to clean up and get rid of all your junk. If you have listened to Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, you know that minimalism has kind of become a trend. So trendy in fact that even my mom has been listening to minimalist podcasts. There is something empowering about letting go of your physical belongings. You feel lighter, freer, happier. In Gretchen Rubin’s book “The Happiness Project” one of her missions to find more happiness IS cleaning out her closet …. so I’m going to suggest you do the same this month and I am going to tell you exactly how to do it.

 

Messy and unorganized spaces can make you feel messy and unorganized mentally so just imagine how much more productive you will be once you clean out your closet.

Here is what you will need:

Start by going through your clothes and putting them into 3 piles: Trash, Donate, Keep. In Marie Kondo’s book she suggests picking up each item and asking yourself if it brings you joy. I think this is a good template for deciding whether or not to keep an item. If you haven’t worn it in a year, it most likely needs to be donated or trashed. If it doesn’t fit, it most likely needs to be donated or trashed. If you are saving it for a Halloween Party that hasn’t yet happened, it most likely needs to be donated or trashed. YES, even if it has the tags still on it. Trust me you will feel so much better without all that clutter that you will never use. Put the items you will donate and the items you will throw away in separate trash bags.

Next, you are going to put all the items on the new Huggable Hangers. Maybe you think I am crazy for suggesting you go out and buy all new hangers but when you see how much space you save and how nice it looks with all uniform hangers you will understand. Also, your clothes will actually stay on the hangers! Organize your items by sleeve length and color.

With the hanging shoe container, you are going to fold your pants in half, then in half again and stack them in the little sections by color, brand or function.

And there you go! Your closet will be clean and you will be way more productive. Let me know if you try this. I would love to know how it worked out for you… I am loving my new closet space!

Here’s a picture of one of my closets:

Before

After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

XOXO

Valerie

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Pierce is 1

I can’t believe this little cutie is 1! As I came home late tonight after teaching, I couldn’t resist scooping my sleeping now-one-year-old up for some dream time snuggles. Reminiscing about 1 year ago today when he was born.

 

First trip to the beach

 

 

Having fun on the swings

Eating Farro

A year ago today I achieved my goal of having an all natural VBAC thanks to my amazing doula, Michele, and my awesome Midwife, Bev, During labor they commented about how strong Pierce’s heart rate was. I took comfort in that fact and knew that it was a sign that he would be a strong and healthy little boy.

 

showing off his cruising skills

 

First time abroad– Mexico\

Pierce loves going for walks

Pierce is so happy and sweet. People always comment on how cheerful and easy he is. He has 4 teeth, gives high fives and kisses on command, claps and can say yay, cyrus, mama, yes and hi. He crawls and stands but doesn’t walk yet. He loves hugs and adores his big brother. He likes being tickled and thrown in the air. His favorite toys are balls. Pierce eats EVERYTHING. After a slow start with solids he now will put pretty much anything in his mouth. His favorites are bread, oatmeal, “yummy greens” and chicken.

Practicing for his passport photo

 

Brotherly Love

Learning to crawl

This year has been a whirlwind. If you have read my previous posts, you know that my life has not exactly been smooth sailing but I am thankful everyday for this sweet baby and the joy he brings.

Sleeping like a baby

These brothers love each other so much it is the best thing to watch

Cyrus, Pierce’s older brother, has also grown so much from being a big brother. He is more helpful, more responsible and loves to smother his brother in hugs and kisses. My heart bursts when I see the two of them together. They have a special bond that I hope will only get stronger as they grow older.

Happy Halloween!

So, Happy Birthday Pierce! I love you to the moon and back, can’t wait to spend many more years together.

Love,

 

Mom

 

 

Bubbles

bubbles

You are at your 4 year old’s Karate class. He is taking his test to earn his first Karate belt. Your 3 week old newborn is strapped to your chest in a carrier, nestled into your warmth and asleep. It is the day before your husband’s 35th birthday. But he is not here. He is in Florida. You are trying to pay attention to your son’s Karate test, but your phone is clutched tightly in your hand and you can’t drag your eyes away. You are waiting for a message from the private investigator. You are giddy with anticipation. You are not disappointed. Your phone buzzes three times. Three pictures have arrived. They are of your husband. But who is that with him. Who is that with her arm tightly snaked around his body? Who is that whose collagen filled lips are meeting his? He’s with another woman. Your suspicions confirmed. He is cheating.

Your heart stops. Your heart is free falling. It take a few minutes but you finally hear your heart shatter into a million jagged pieces on the floor. Your head is exploding. You feel the room collapse around you. A fat, hot tear rolls down your cheek and you wipe it aside quickly so the other mothers around you don’t know that your entire world has imploded. You know then and there that you will divorce him.

The next few days are agony. You can’t tell your husband you know. His birthday passes without you saying a word. He is still in Florida. You go to Home Depot and purchase a big box of contractor trash bags and new locks for the doors. You chuckle to yourself that they should market the items together and call it the “cheating ex starter kit”. You change the locks on your doors. You put some of his things in the garbage bags and leave them in the garage.

His flight is delayed. You text him that he should find somewhere else to stay when he gets back. You tell him you changed the locks. You send him a picture the PI sent you and tell him to stay with the collagen lip girl. You leave his stuff in the garage. He breaks in anyway.

A fog descends on your world. Nothing is easy. Your husband moves out. The next few months are a blur of tears and pain and caring for a newborn and a four year old, alone.

3 months pass. You feel better. You decide to try your hand at dating. You join Tinder. You heard that its known as the “hook up app” but you don’t care. You just want to flirt and feel like a woman… not just a mom. You start swiping, mostly left but here and there you swipe right.

You go on a date. You clutch the steering wheel. Your palms are sweaty. You walk in the door of the restaurant. He greets you with a warm smile. You order a glass of champagne. You don’t drink. The bubbles go straight to your head. “You’re kind of brilliant” he tells you as you part ways. You throw your head back and laugh partly because the bubbles are hitting you and partly because you believe him.

6 months pass and your first date is your boyfriend. You are at the courthouse where you got married to your husband. Now, you are getting divorced. The judge asks you questions. You answer with a straight face. You tell her about the pictures you got from the PI, your heart does not shatter, your head does not explode, the room does not collapse. The judge pronounces you divorced. You are surprised that instead of sadness or anger you feel peace and relief.

Your boyfriend takes you out to brunch to celebrate. They don’t have eggs so you order fish. And champagne. You still don’t drink. It is delicious. The bubbles go straight to your head. They fill up the space where your heart was. You can’t believe you are this happy. You close your eyes and smile, because you realize that in the aftermath of destruction, space is created: space for bubbles, space for opportunity, space for hope and space for love.

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