Evolved Eating, Evolved Training, Evolved Living...

Creating a Fitness Vision and Training Goals for the New Year…

This is an advanced goal setting technique that’s been hugely useful to me. It evolved from an Anthony Robbins program I worked through about three years ago – and that program was nothing short of life altering for me.

The basic process is to envision the life you WANT to live – as vividly and in as much detail and depth as possible – and record it in an MS Word file or other word processing document. Using an electronic doc lets you add in pictures, embed videos and links and edit and change to your heart’s content. My current “vision doc” is over 130 pages of text and pics and it’s something that I’ve evolved and edited and changed and read and reread.

“Written Goals” for the 21st Century

A lot of “self-help” types get into written goals. I think of this exercise as written goals on steroids! With an electronic format you can insert all kinds of stuff as you find it and CAPTURE it to inspire you later. Cool pic on a training blog? Copy and paste! Inspiring video? Put the link in your doc! Cool quote on Facebook? Copy and paste! You can get really detailed and crazy with this – and I suggest that you do! The more detail you put into your vision, the more time you spend creating it and the more emotion you give to it, the more fun you’ll have and the more strongly you’ll connect to your goals and dreams.

I’ve been working with mine and editing it for YEARS. Some days I’d spend a lot of time editing it – or just reading it – and other times I’ll go weeks or more without looking at it at all.

Fedorenko Competition Kettlebells

Make It Yours

In the end, it’s about what’s useful to YOU. I greatly revised and expanded on the original exercise that Tony Robbins did in “Time of Your Life” and I encourage you to adapt what I show you here to your own purposes. The most important thing is that you feel EXCITED and INSPIRED and JACKED UP to train and go out and MAKE YOUR GOALS HAPPEN when you work on this thing or read it. Put as much time and detail as you want and make it FUN and deeply INSPIRING to you!

It’s a really fun process and it’s pulled me through a lot of really though times – times when all I had the energy for was to imagine the life I would eventually have and the great health and training that was in my future. And that future IS coming to be! Think of this document as a target or a compass that keeps you on course and helps you adjust your course as you grow and evolve.

Here are the seven sections from Anthony Robbins’ original exercise and a short description of each…

Your Ultimate Vision

This is the really fun part. Find some quiet time and imagine what you would accomplish, what your life would be like and WHO YOU WOULD BE if there were NO LIMITS. Imagine it in as much detail as possible and don’t censor yourself at all. When I did this for the first time I actually saw who I TRULY wanted to be – and it WASN’T who I was at the time and it wasn’t even where I was heading. Imagining the life I wanted with no limitations completely changed the course of my life.

Take some time, put on some music and GET INSPIRED. Imagine your BEST SELF and your ULTIMATE LIFE if you could live any life you wanted!

Your Purpose for Achieving Your Vision

Now that you have your vision, you need a purpose to help drive you toward it. This is the WHY of your vision – WHY do you want to be that person? What will it GIVE YOU to have health and vitality and fitness and performance. The purpose part is important because it’s the energy and the drive and the emotion behind the vision you’re striving for!

Roles

This is one Tony Robbins gets kind of silly with and you don’t even really have to do it. The basic idea is to create “roles” or “identities” for yourself. Examples might be: “CrossFit Firebreather,” “Champion Ultra Marathoner,” “Master Martial Artist.” You can be as silly or as serious as you want on these, but the point is to come up with things that will motivate you and remind you of “who you are” when you’re going to work out or are doing the things that will get you to your ultimate vision.

Resources to Help you Achieve the Vision

This is one of my favorite parts of the exercise. When I actually started thinking about ALL the incredible resources I had available to me to make my vision a reality I was blown away! 100s of books, DVDs, a garage full of equipment, 7 different certifications, a TON of friends who CrossFit and even a few who own an affiliate, great teachers and friends in a bunch of different martial arts, all the great blogs out there and my Facebook friends. I could write for DAYS about all the resources I have. When you see it in that way, it’s pretty hard to think you couldn’t achieve your goals. I think you’ll find that you have A LOT more resources that you realize when you sit down and list them :-)

Three to Thrive

This is another good one. What you want to do here is figure out the three MOST important things you need to do on a regular basis to achieve your goals. In other words, what are the THREE things that, if those were ALL you could do, would get you pretty close to your vision. For example, it might be “train at least four days a week,” “eat an all whole food Paleo diet” and “sleep well and keep stress low.” The point is, these are the three MOST IMPORTANT actions you’re going to take on a REGULAR BASIS to achieve the vision you’ve created.

A side note here is that, when I originally created my vision document, I increased this to five. So I had “Five to thrive.” Typical over-achieving from me… I cut it back to three to FORCE myself to focus on the MOST important activities as opposed to having five I was doing inconsistently. Three to thrive is a tool to help you focus on the MOST important aspects of your life. It’s NOT another list of stuff to do…

One Year Goals

This is the big one. Where do you want to be ONE YEAR from now? What are the big ones and some of the smaller ones? 300lb Bench Press? Sub-4 Minute Fran? 90% of your food Paleo and organic? Drop 4% bodyfat? Some of these will take the ENTIRE year and some will happen faster. We get more specific about this in the next section…

Quarterly Goals

Now that you know your One Year Goals, you can break those down into smaller quarterly goals. For example, if your Bench Press is 260 now, you know you need to add 40lbs to the lift over the course of the year. You’d probably want to do something like this: in the First Quarter – add 15lbs, in the Second and Third Quarters add 10lbs per quarter and then add 5lbs over the Forth Quarter to have a 300lb Bench Press in a year’s time. You get the picture.

It’s all about evolution and finding your way…

In the original Anthony Robbins program, the “vision” is about a paragraph and the “purpose” is about the same. I originally did it that way, but found I wanted to expand and add to it over time. The process is SO MUCH FUN when you get into it that it’s hard to leave it at just a little paragraph or two. When you start adding pics and videos and stuff, you’ll start to see how much “inspiration” you can pack into a Word document.

For me, the big payoff from having a written document like this is it serves as a REMINDER to me about where I’m going and who I’m becoming. Like I mentioned in the video, I’ve been through some VERY dark times in the past years and having this “ideal” vision to return to was a major factor in getting through. No matter how bad I felt or how discouraged I was, I could read my goals and my vision and be reminded of what the future could be with enough work and determination.

Like they say, you can’t hit a target that you can’t see!

So, open a fresh new document, think about where you want to be and WHO you want to be and get busy!

I wish you a happy, healthy and successful New Year!

ttys

Adam

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To all my friends on Christmas Eve…

Bacon Christmas Tree

A Lot Can Change in a Year

This is a different kind of post for me. I’m not going to rant about the Medical Establishment. I’m not going to talk about working out or Paleo diet. I’m not even going to use the word “douchebag” (except for there :-)).

This blog didn’t even exist a year ago. Strong is the new Skinny didn’t exist a year ago. A year ago I wasn’t feeling so great. A year ago there were some very dishonest and negative people in my life.

I’ve been thinking for a while about how I need to thank all the great people in my life for who they are and for what they do. The thing is, every time I think about who I need to get in touch with and thank or just let them know I’ve been thinking of them – even if I haven’t called – I think of someone else I care about and someone else who made a difference this past year. So, imperfect as it is, I’m writing this post so I can let my friends know what they’ve meant to me this year.

This was SOME YEAR…

A lot’s happened this year. There are many things that I thought would be different this Christmas. When I envisioned the future last year at this time it sure didn’t look like this. But, the truth is, I wouldn’t change a thing about my life right now or what I’m doing. Now that I think about it, in the last 6 months there have been a whole bunch of moments where I felt… happy. Like, TRULY happy. And content. And safe. And blessed. And loved. That’s more than I can say about the previous 10 years COMBINED. I’m on the right track – even if it looks sloppy from the outside…

Do you have any “real” friends or are they all on Facebook?

Someone actually asked me this not too long ago. I don’t think about it like that, though. As far as I’m concerned, if people care about you and support you and help you reach your goals and learn and grow – and make you LAUGH – they’re “real” friends.  I have a lot of “live” friends too – and FOR SURE – I haven’t seen enough of them and that’s bothered me. Things have been nuts, but my “life downsize” that I undertook this summer has started having the desired effects and I’ll be around more soon. And, for a lot of my friends who I’ll probably never meet face to face – THANK YOU. You’ve all been an inspiration and a great support and a source of sanity for me that I can’t even put into words. You all rock!

Then there’s SINS

What can I say? Marsha made a shirt, I wrote a blog post and almost 10,000 people now have become a part of Strong is the New Skinny on Facebook. I think I speak for Marsha too when I say that I’m humbled and thankful – and that is a serious understatement. All of YOU have been such a source of inspiration and friendship and support I can’t even begin to explain it. We’ve ALL created something VERY SPECIAL together and there’s a bunch of really cool stuff on it’s way for us in 2011. The group started up 9/1/2010. We’re not even 6 months old yet! We’re just getting started!

And then there’s mom…

I’m here at my family’s beach house in Old Saybrook, CT. It’s where I grew up. Last night my mother was baking cookies, like she does every year, and it felt like home. It ALWAYS feels like home here. This past year my mother has done more for me than I can even explain. She’s believed in me even when I haven’t believed in myself. I’m truly blessed to have a mother like I have and hope in the coming years I can repay her for all her support and faith in me. BTW, yes I ate a bunch of cookies and, yes, I feel like crap today :-)

And, for those who protect us…

And, there is STILL a war going on overseas and plenty of stuff happening here at home. There a A LOT of men and women who won’t be with their families tonight because they made the commitment to protect our freedom and keep us safe. “Thank you” doesn’t really cover it. You’re in our hearts and our prayers and THANK YOU for protecting the greatest nation on earth.

Let’s make this our best year EVER!

As far as I’m concerned, the good stuff is just getting started. I have a ton of goals to get at this year and I’m gonna do it! I have some of the greatest people I could possibly have around me and all the support and all the resources I need to make it happen. And, I thank ALL OF YOU for that! I couldn’t have gotten here without you and I can’t get where I want to go without all of you either. AND, LET ME KNOW if I can help YOU with YOUR goals. This stuff works both ways as far as I’m concerned…

Thank you for being my friend

Happy Holidays

Happy New Year

And God bless

ttys

Adam

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CrossFit Goes Globo-Gym?

CrossFit Reebok One

We Used to be Counterculture…

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a weird sense of foreboding since I heard about the CrossFit/Reebok partnership. I found this pic on crossfit.com and it didn’t make me feel any better. This pic SCREAMS globo-gym to me. Especially the “10 General Physical Skills” mural on the wall. YIKES!

Now, before everyone freaks out, let me say this: I LOVE CrossFit, the culture and what it has done for all of us. CrossFit changed my entire life. And Glassman is an absolute genius. I’ll never forget the night I read his “What is Fitness?” and was completely blown away by it and inspired. A few months later I was attending every CrossFit Cert I could find…

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the whole story, here’s the official announcement:

The Good…

The GOOD in the partnership is – for sure – the fact that the more effective CrossFit methodology and training techniques will make it out into the mainstream. This IS a good thing. In particular, the HUGE majority of people who want effective training and have been brainwashed by globo-gyms and fitness magazines into thinking machines and treadmills are the way to get “fit” will FINALLY have access to good information and effective training. Here, CrossFit making it to the masses is a GREAT thing.

And, as I said, Glassman is a training genius and he can do whatever the hell he wants with his baby as far as I’m concerned. He created it, we owe him a lot and he deserves to have “CrossFit” spread to the masses if that’s what he wants.

The Bad…

SciFit posted a really good article about the partnership (good AND bad) recently. It’s definitely a good read and probably has a more positive spin than anything. Here’s the thing: CossFit USED TO BE a subculture. I LOVED that I was part of this wacky, extreme training community that was seen as a little “nutty” from the outside. If CrossFit goes entirely mainstream – and I have NO DOUBT that it will if Reebok is involved – we will absolutely see it take on more of a “group exercise” tone. And, I shudder at the thought, we could even see “career” group instructors “picking up” a CrossFit cert to make themselves more marketable. You know, something to go right along with their Spinning and Zumba certs.

There’s no doubt in my mind that there is going to be a dilution of the core training principles if CrossFit goes “big.” One of the major benefits of CrossFit boxes was that they were virtually always owned by an experienced trainer who took the work very seriously and considered himself a producer of elite athletes. If CrossFit Reebok gyms start opening everywhere they’re going to need to be “staffed” and that is a scary, scary thing…

Everyone’s into CrossFit, no one does it anymore…

To me, the opportunity – and the question – is: “Where are the splinter movements?” Where are the smaller communities and blogs that are carrying on the quality and intensity that CrossFit had at the start of this whole thing? There have been a number of people who have split off from CrossFit – my friend Robb Wolf being one of them and OPT Fitzgerald being another. It will be interesting to see if a bunch of displaced talent comes together to carry on the REAL work of furthering the “sport of fitness” and moving training and nutrition science ever forward.

And, if there are ALREADY some “splinter groups” or schisms forming, BY ALL MEANS drop me a message and let me know!

To sum it all up, I’ll leave you with this:

What you’re looking at above is recognition that CrossFit is now officially an ANSI Accredited Certificate Program Issuer for their Level 1 Trainer Course. Essentially, we’re talking about Level 1 trainers now having a “map” that they need to follow, with rigid standards and black and white rules. As Seth Godin says in Linchpin:

“Our society is struggling because during times of change, the very last people you need on your team are well-paid bureaucrats, note takers, literalists, manual readers, TGIF Laborers, and fearful employees…. What we want, what we need, what we must have are indispensable human beings. We need original thinkers, provocateurs, and people who care…. Indispensable linchpins are not waiting for instructions, but instead, figuring out what to do next. If you have a job where someone tells you what to do next, you’ve just given up the chance to create value.”

When I found CrossFit back in 2007 with the help of my good friend Merle Mckenzie, there was no map. There wasn’t even a written test at the end of the Level 1 Cert I took. For a guy like me, that was GREAT – give me an awesome, intense weekend of training and theory and turn me loose to create MY OWN map and find my own way with a great set of principles.

Maps, standards and sets of instructions are confining and stifling to Linchpins but they’re exactly what you need if you’re planning to replace coaches who consider training others “doing art” with low paid employees who need a manual to tell them what to do next.

ttys

Adam

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An Open Letter on Community…

CrossFit women running

Some of you know I’ve been working furiously on my Paleo Diet eBook these last few weeks. It’s been great to get back to “real” writing in a word processor and take a more serious tone in my work. It reminds me of college and that’s kinda cool. :-)

The other thing this project has done for me is bring me back into the technical world. I spent some time here when I was originally building my blog and was absolutely blown away by how helpful and supportive everyone is. The forum I’ve spent most time on is The Warrior Forum. I’ve been able to get EVERY programming, website and general question I’ve had answered – usually in a few minutes to an hour – on this forum. Another cool thing is that you can search the archives and see PAST conversations and learn from them and add to them to (we can’t currently do this on Facebook).

Community is King

I’m really excited about the whole community thing and have a longer post about it coming. In the meantime, I want to throw this out there. Most of you have heard of WordPress. In over 15 years of working with computers and software I can say that WordPress is hands down the easiest and most problem free application I have ever come accross. What does that have to do with community? WordPress is a FREE, open source application that has one of the tightest, smartest and most helpful communities behind it.

Think of the WordPress community as the CrossFit of blogging :-)

Our Own Community

With all the time I’ve recently spent on message boards, it’s made me think again about OUR OWN community and the SINS Forum we started a while back. This past September, I had created a full vBulletin forum for the SINS community. There were a few enthusiastic early adopters on the forums, but we just didn’t have the “critical mass” it took to get the forum off the ground. On top of that, there were issues with Spam and a few technical glitches that probably kept things from running as smoothly as they could.

The Spam is dealt with and the technical stuff is coming along. I’m also looking into integrating the stand-alone forum more tightly with Facebook.

So, my question to all of you is this: Are you interested in giving the stand alone forum another shot? If enough of you are behind it I’ll get back to work on the project and roll it back out in January. Personally, I think we have so many GREAT discussions on the SINS Facebook page and it’s a shame that many of them “roll off” the page and die out. A forum would be a little more permanent and allow us to connect more strongly as well as preserve our conversations for others to read and join as time went on. With better Facebook integration, we’d keep the SINS Facebook experience going and growing AND we’d have a deeper more permanent aspect to the experience on the stand-alone forum as well.

I’ve seen so much great support and sharing in the other communities I’m part of and it inspires me to take what we do on the SINS page to the next level.

Let me know what your thoughts are in a comment below and if you’d like to get involved in the project directly.

ttys

Adam

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Still Not Good Enough…

Marsha from Strong is the New Skinny

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

- Theodore Roosevelt

I make it a habit to ignore the few critics we have here at SINS. As far as I’m concerned, we’ve done a hell of a lot MORE to promote strong women and healthy body images than anyone else out there who is supposedly so damn perfect. Once in a while though, I get irritated enough that I have to rant. I know everyone HATES when I rant ;-)

A site recently linked back to my blog and the post wasn’t very flattering. I usually don’t care when this happens – unless the person criticizing has completely misinterpreted things and spun them in an unflattering way. The author was “disappointed about the origins of the movement/slogan” but the “origin” of the moment was never even mentioned or linked to!

What pisses me off more than anything is that the SINS message and movement has proven to be highly flexible, positive and tolerant of all kinds of people, opinions, goals, ages and fitness levels. I mean, we even “let” some vegans hang out with us! ;-) If any of the authors who criticize us for not having a PERFECTLY crafted message actually wanted to work WITH us to create change, there very well could be room in the SINS community for their ideas. Of course, this would mean they’d actually have to put their ideas out into the world – as opposed to just on their blogs that get no traffic – and then THEY might actually have to face some criticism themselves.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again now: Imperfect as we are, Marsha and I put ourselves out there EVERY FUCKING DAY to make a difference, be the change we want to see in the world and create a space for people to get together and share and encourage each other. I challenge ANY of our critics to show that they do more than we do and more than just make noise and complain about what could have been done differently.

Here’s the comment I left on the site and here’s a link to the post. I usually don’t like to link back to these types of posts, but practicalpaleolithic.com has 1000s of backlinks now and I can spare one or two for the less fortunate :-P

****************************** Here’s my reply ******************************

Tadhg,

You’ve provided a pretty critical opinion of SINS and you didn’t even mention the ORIGINAL article that started the movement: http://practicalpaleolithic.com/paleolithic-diet-blog/is-strong-the-new-skinny. You also didn’t mention the Facebook group that’s now over 9,000 strong and is a thriving community of men and women who support and encourage one another. http://www.facebook.com/StrongIsTheNewSkinny is home to a wide range of people with all different body types.

I hear from people daily who embrace the message and make the message relevant to THEM and THEIR lives. It’s brought a lot of people together on a topic that needed to be brought out into the light.

My interview with Marsha was anything but “another ‘I found a way to lose x pounds’ story.” I’m not really sure where you even got that. Marsha is a strong, genuine and REAL woman who lays her daily struggles out there for the world to read and many women are encouraged by her message.

My ORIGINAL article – the one you didn’t mention – has now been shared over 4,700 times and inspired a lot of women (and men).

Since that article went viral, I’ve received thousands of positive responses. I’ve also received a few negative ones like yours – “it should have been done different, it should have been more this, it should have been less that, it should have said this and not that, it was written by a male and it’s bad…” And on and on.

Whether or not I did it “right” by your standards I ACTUALLY DID SOMETHING. And Marsha and I continue to put ourselves out into the world every day and continue to DO SOMETHING to create change.

Your post tells less than half the story of Strong is the New Skinny and it’s typical of the few negative responses we’ve gotten. How about working WITH us to create change and make things better instead of cherry-picking the message and criticizing?

I’m around if you want to talk…

Adam

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This is My Journey – Guest Post by Linda McFeeters

One of the things I LOVE about being part of Strong is the New Skinny is all the incredible people I get to meet. My new friend Linda McFeeters just happened to post on SINS about her training goals and a bunch of weight she lost. I can be pretty impulsive at times and I just reached out to Linda and asked if she wanted to tell her story in a guest post. I just KNEW it was a good one. It was a gut feeling. Linda didn’t disappoint! Here’s an incredibly inspiring story from a strong woman who has seen, heard and felt stuff that ALL of us have at one time or another. Here’s what SHE chose to do with it…  -Adam


I never knew I was fat until the first day of kindergarten…

Until kindergarten I was perfect in my little world. I was adored. The very first day of school my little world got blown apart.

I remember what I was wearing. Now, let’s remember it was the 60’s! An a-line dress in a geometric print of orange, yellow, blue and green with a peter pan collar, sewn by my mother, and orange fishnet stockings. All the children sat cross legged on the floor around the piano bench where our teacher sat. A hole sprang up in my stockings….my ‘pudge’ squished out between the bits of fishnet…the hole got bigger and more of the fat on my legs pushed through. Then I could sense it. The heads turning to look. The furtive glances between my new ‘friends’. The giggles hidden behind tiny hands. I stayed inside the cloak room during recess, trying to push my fat back into the stockings to no avail. I hated my fat legs.

I still do.

I learned through the years that to be accepted, and fat (because that is truly what it is although we politely use words like chunky, husky, big girl, large) you better have one hell of a good personality. I learned to be the fun one, the understanding one, the smart one, the kind one. And I learned how to work my way around being the fat girl. But through every year there was always at least one…and sometimes many….who called me names…loudly….in the hall, on the bus, out passing vehicle windows, behind my back and to my face. I never let them see me flinch. That was saved for my heart, my soul…deep inside.

There were years of diets. Fad foods. Needles, ‘vitamins’, pee-sticks, baked white fish and steamed celery. Cabbage and grapefruit. The lists are endless. Many worked for awhile but always the weight would come back on and always more than before. With baby Number 1 I gained 40lbs that never went away. Along came baby number 2 and another 25lbs that never got lost. From that point on it just kept coming back on.higher and higher… Eventually I weighed in at my heaviest ‘known’ weight – 306 lbs.

Walk until I can’t think anymore or can’t move anymore…

At a very low point in my life, and after being diagnosed with severely high blood pressure, I laid on the couch one night, a big glass of wine beside me, my hand dipping back and forth from chip bag to mouth and I thought to myself “I could die like this. This is how I could end up killing myself. If I don’t stop doing this I AM going to die…or … I could get up and walk on that treadmill in the corner…walk until I either can’t think anymore or can’t move anymore”. So I got up and got on that machine. I walked and walked, cried and cried and walked some more. I walked until I couldn’t walk anymore. Eventually I realized that my time spent moving helped clear my head. Made me feel better….happier. Within a few months of that, I started getting up before daylight and walking outside..in the dark..so no one would see me and make fun. As the season changed, daylight came earlier and I found people waving at me as they drove by – not making fun of me. My confidence increased. I met people on my road that I had never spoken to before. As I walked and felt better about myself, I began to watch what I was eating and over the course of the summer I lost 40lbs.

Then I moved houses. And then I stopped walking. The fear of new people in my neighbourhood kept me inside. Again fearful. Again the weight crept up. A year into my new home, for some strange reason that still evades me, I signed up to walk a marathon. A huge public event. No small feat to be taken lightly. I garnered my only friend I had at that time who was ‘into fitness’ to walk with me and to meet up every Sunday to train for the long distance that was in our future. We trained for this from December to March…the worst part of the year here in southern Ontario. We walked through rain, sleet, hard snow, ice, soft fluffy snow….we found every public bathroom there was to find!

I couldn’t find snow pants to fit my size 28 body…

I couldn’t find snow pants to fit my size 28 body so I walked in two pairs of the loosest track pants I could find, with a long raincoat to cover my butt – to spare anyone driving by with all the jiggling and wiggling. I struggled to even stay within eye sight of my fit and thin friend. I kept up a steady stream of self-talk for hours on end to get myself through those days. There were lots of negative thoughts to be pushed away with ‘just one step at a time’ thoughts. There were days that I would come home to stand in a hot shower and cry my heart out. Who was I to think that I could do something like this? I was a loser. I was fat. I was a big fake with none of this so-called self-confidence. Loser. Fat. Ugly. Those words kept playing over and over in my head. I was breaking my own heart. But somewhere inside me, I would not give up. I kept heading out for my training walks eventually getting up to over 55km in one week.

The day of the race came, there were thousands signed up for this…and me. Fat Linda. I walked. I walked and walked. Head down, one foot in front of the other. At the 18 kilometre mark I was looking for a way off the course – but couldn’t find any! What the heck? Shouldn’t there be buses standing by to pick up those who couldn’t finish? If there were, I didn’t see them. And I was not about to approach someone at a drink station, the fat girl, to see how I could get out of this thing. So, on I trudged. I felt every ounce of my weight working against me. I was passed by almost 7000 spandexed bums. I crossed the electronic finish line 5 hours and 25 minutes later. My friends…my crowd…went wild! I cried. I’m crying as I remember this moment.

This was the exact moment that changed my life…

I was never so proud of myself in my life. True, honest pride. Amazement. Self-knowledge. My heart knew I could do it. It only had to prove it to me.
Since then, virtually nothing has stood in my way to be a healthier me. This is what this journey has been about. Not about being ‘thin’. Not about seeing a certain number on the scale. Not about fitting into a certain size. I read everything I could get my hands on about nutrition. I listened to my body. What made it feel good. What made it feel too good. What was the difference? Well anything that is too good – probably is too good to be true. I dropped the ‘too good’s’ from my diet and like an apple falling from a tree, my weight fell … Fat Linda began her journey of disappearance.

As I carried on with my fitness I felt the need to attach myself, yet again, to ‘something’. I needed a goal. One evening I was following one click to another on the internet and I came across a bodybuilding site. I was looking for ‘Motivations’ and along came this story of a woman who went from being obese to being in a bodybuilding competition at the age of 50. I had never even known anything about bodybuilding at the time. Bunch of ‘muscle bound dick heads’ is all I associated bodies like that with! The minute I read that article I knew this was IT! This is what I was going to do!

That would be me someday!

I found a bodybuilding trainer in my area and with all the fake courage I could muster I met her and signed on! Over the next 2 ½ years I gave my all to my coach, my training, my nutrition and I lost, shed, pee’d out….over 150 lbs. I carved a body that I truly never knew existed.

With a laser like focus I did not waiver from my nutrition or my training. I learned to eat, and like, foods that I never ate before. I learned to love the feel of aching muscles. To laugh when my muscles failed me at the end of a gruelling set. To grit my teeth and ‘suck it up’ when all I wanted to do was puke or cry – and sometimes both.

I was too intimidated by ‘fit’ people to workout in a gym, so I built a gym in my home. Nothing got in my way. I had lose skin from losing so much weight and at my age, it was not about to spring back to anything resembling ‘youth’! So I had a full body lift where I was cut completely around my body, the skin pulled up, cut off and re-joined. I had an inner thigh lift as well. Nothing got in my way. I began official competition training 8 weeks after the surgery and 20 weeks out from the competition date. I had all kinds of people tell me that I was ‘too skinny’. I now had people judging me again for the way my body looked. Men stared. Women scowled. And yet, among people who ‘live the lifestyle’, I found acceptance, admiration and support.

When I told people that I was going into a ‘bodybuilding’ competition I had a lot of negative feedback. Everyone thought I would turn into a hulking male-like figure. “You don’t want to look like that!” I could not believe that they didn’t see what I did. The discipline. The drive. The guts. Female bodybuilders do not have to be ‘men with boobs’! I came onstage with no sparkles (and believe me, I live for sparkles!) and no heels – but I was still all about the hair and makeup, lashes and nails. I posed with female flair and hard-ass confidence. That being said, I didn’t not win and I did not expect to. My body will never be completely acceptable in this industry – there has been too much of a lifetime of stretched skin. But I was very successful in being a FEMALE bodybuilder … in bringing every ounce of estrogen that is me into a perceived male dominion. Even within the ‘industry’, female bodybuilding has fewer competitions, less categories, less press. It frustrates me to get excited about an upcoming show only to find out there is no female BB. We need more women willing to kick off their heels and come to the pose-down!

But I’m just the fat chick. Who’s going to listen to me :-)

I am now in training for power lifting. I want to further strengthen my body. I want to build my inner grit along with my outward muscle. I am on a quest to forever challenge my body, my mind and my self belief. I have gone from seeking acceptance to being a role model. And once again, I have signed up for the marathon this year. I have come full circle and am so excited to find out what the next chapter of this fabulous life will bring me!

There is no easy way to go from being obese to being fit. There is no magic. I am not going to tell you anything foolish or foofie! There is only one way to get from being heavy to lifting heavy and that is one day at a time, one pound at a time…one heartbeat at time.

This is what I believe in. This is what I live. This is my journey.

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