Love for New Recruits

When I was heavy, the very thought of attending a group fitness class filled me with dread. I couldn’t bear the thought of being seen in a gym, of putting my own weakness on display.
I imagined walking in on legions of fitness models. I pictured gyms a bit like this:
Photo credit: AllWomensTalk

Photo credit: AllWomensTalk

I would stick out like a sore thumb. People would look at me with eyes that said I had no business being in their space.
I would be judged. I would be embarrassed.
So, I hid.
My fears were at the wheel for more years than I care to think about.
Now that I am a bona fide Gym Rat, these are the moments that will *always* make me smile through my sweat: glimpses of rockstars who have decided to face down all of the fears and fight.
They are the out-of-shape women huffing and puffing through their treadmill walks – red faced, struggling, and not giving up. They’re the senior citizens in cardigans and slip-on shoes power-walking on the track. They’re the high school students who have decided to take charge of their fitness.
Those who are just beginning their fight for healthy and strong are the toughest among us.
Photo credit: Downsize Fitness

Photo credit: Downsize Fitness

It’s not easy for them. It sure as hell wasn’t easy for me.
Those of us who have found (and fight to maintain!) personal fitness can all relate to the struggle of Chapter One.
If you are contemplating writing your own Chapter One, trust me – the gym rats are stoked to see you there. We’re a bit cultish that way – “You’ve chosen well! Just wait until you get to meet the person you’ll become! Keep showing up!”
We may not say it out loud, because we don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable – but that’s the inner monologue. Chances are, I’m behind you *beaming*.
As I stood in my kitchen today, my off-the-charts tall 3rd grader let me lift and hold her in my arms. I cradled her – not propped on my hip, but in my arms, her head resting on my shoulder. I bathed in that fleeting-treasure maternal moment for as long as she wanted to be held.
I got to seize that moment because almost 4 years ago I marched my obese, physically weak behind into Discomfort Land and I did the damn thing.
Facing down and conquering the fear of Newbie Status is worth more than I ever imagined.
You deserve to feel your strong.
Set your mind. Point your feet.
Important Notice

Important Notice

Role Models Worth Having


This is admittedly a non-standard Happy Exhaustion post, but when I found myself down a magical rabbit hole of Jennifer Lawrence Body Positive statements, I had to share. I am grateful beyond measure for superstars who choose to raise this flag high: CHOOSE … Continue reading

2015 Summer Challenge

out on a limbHappy Exhaustion is kicking off a summer-long fitness project!

Every 2 weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day I will be jumping into a new diet and/or exercise plan *with both feet*.

I’m game for ANYTHING. What would you like to see me beta test for you? You name it – raw, vegan, paleo, juice cleanse, barre, yoga, running, boxing, swimming, rock climbing, I’ll give it everything I’ve got! After each 2-week adventure, I’ll blog about any and all changes I experience – the good, the bad & the ugly!

In the name of well-informed health coaching, I am prepared to guinea pig myself – even with approaches that sound about as fun as a root canal. (Let’s not even pretend a juice cleanse doesn’t sound like pure torture. I’ll be calling on my inner She-Ra for that one.)


I will commit to complete any workout challenge 6 days a week (one day of recovery is a healthy & strong choice no matter what the adventure!) for two weeks.

Any diet challenge will be all-day-every-day for two full weeks.

I will share changes in weight, energy levels, mood, overall quality of life, and any unexpected side-effects.

Hit me with your challenge – either in the comments section here, or on this Facebook thread! I can take it :-)

Remember What’s Important

It’s so easy to let a dress size or a number on the scale get you down. But on those days when you’re feeling defeated, thinking about giving up on your Healthy & Strong journey, I hope you will remember the true rewards of your healthy choices.

It’s not about skinny, it’s about fit. It’s about taking care of your body so that your body will take care of you.

Every workout that you sweat your way through, every time you pass on ‘processed food product’ in favor of something whole, you’re doing it right.

The scale might not budge, but your insides are thriving. Don’t forget. Don’t give up.

The woman on the right is 74 years old. THAT is a goal worth chasing.

Oh, the places you’ll go.good goals

True Beauty

True Beauty is having a moment, and I’m LOVING it!

This week reality flexed it’s muscles, pushed aside all of the plastic noise, and revealed some spectacular truth.

First up, blowing the doors off the place & nearly breaking the internet was one of the most gorgeous women ever to walk the earth – the one and only Cindy Crawford. Her supermodel status is historic. Take notes, Kate Upton. The boss is here.

I’ve aspired to look more like Ms. Crawford ever since a 10-year-old Happy Exhaustion first laid eyes on her in George Michael’s ‘Freedom! ’90’. When I spotted this framed picture in the studio in Miami where we were shooting for PEOPLE I had to snap a pic, because it made me feel like hot stuff. *I* was being photographed in the same space where Cindy Effing Crawford once posed. I couldn’t wait to tell my friends.

Hanging on the wall on location in Miami.

Hanging on the wall on location in Miami.

Because I’m a bit of a pop culture junkie, I’ve known (kind of peripherally) that Cindy is also somebody’s wife & somebody’s mother. I’ve seen pictures of her with her handsome husband. I remember her posing while pregnant. I know she’s not in her early twenties anymore.

But none of theses bits of celebrity trivia ever really registered with me on a human level.

Until this week.

This week – this hit the scene:

True Beauty.

True Beauty.

Cindy Crawford is a human being. She has borne children. She is not bionic.

When I first saw this picture, it was presented in a context that said “Cindy Crawford has chosen to take a stand – to show us that even the most beautiful women in the world are human.” Since then the stories have gotten a bit muddled and it’s no longer clear whether or not she is happy to have this out there, but I HOPE SHE IS!

If she owns this, if she shares this, if she takes this Teachable Moment and stomps it out with her fierce signature strut, she will be my newest hero. She will be armed to the teeth with biblical beauty and unstoppable truth. She can lead the charge against Cultural Toxicity and I will enlist in her army.

Because in our culture, PERFECT is the enemy of TRUE.

Comparing ourselves with people we perceive as somehow ‘better’ is painful. Aspiring to (and desperately chasing!) unblemished perfection is very, very painful. It can feel like personal failure when we’re doing our best, working as hard as we possibly can, and we still can’t look like *we think* supermodels do.

Please, dear friend, dear reader – hear me: You are not failing any more than an honest-to-goodness supermodel!

Cindy Crawford is no less beautiful today than she was a month ago, but now she has single-handedly given untold thousands of women unspoken permission to catch their breath.

Even Cindy Crawford ages. Even Cindy Crawford’s Body After Baby is different than Body Before Baby. And if her reality is not color-corrected, not ‘I Woke Up Like This’ Full Supermodel Glam, then maybe we can all ease up and love ourselves a little bit more. Maybe we can be a bit more gentle when we stare in the mirror.

The next seismic reality drop of the week was ‘I Woke Up Like This’ herself. The great and powerful Queen Bey. And, just like Ms. Crawford – our Queen is also a flesh-and-blood human woman.

True Beauty.

True Beauty.

She is not color-corrected in real life. But she is *so* beautiful. She is stop-you-dead-in-your-tracks beautiful. High-resolution photographs that reveal her humanity do not take away from her beauty. But it does pull back the veil.

She is a carbon-based organism, just like you are. Just like her fellow pop diva, Iggy Azalea.

I was drafting this post when my husband asked if I’d heard about the pictures of Iggy. I hadn’t, but a quick Google search provided images of the third un-airbrushed beauty of the week.

When this picture dropped, the online body-shaming of Ms. Azalea was so intense it drove her off of social media. Her humanity subjected her to scorn, and it absolutely breaks my heart. Unfortunately, it sounds like it broke her heart, too. Her tweets as she shut down her social media accounts revealed her suffering.

True Beauty.

True Beauty.

How painful it must be to be expected to look like a walking painting at all times.

None of us are perfect. Not you, and certainly not me. I have wrinkles. I have cellulite. I have stretch marks. When I saw the high-res picture of myself that PEOPLE selected for their cover, my eyes went straight to my tiger stripes.

I confess – I had secretly hoped they would ‘color-correct’ them out. I wanted the editors to make me look more like an art project and less like my true self. But they didn’t. And as a result, I wrote one of my proudest chapters: the one in which I quickly accepted my greatest source of image-anxiety being on full display.

I earned my stripes when I had my children. They are a part of me, and they’re going to stay that way. So go ahead and look – I’m not ashamed.

Tiger Stripes

Don’t worry – Happy Exhaustion is in no danger of putting herself on a Cindy/Beyonce/Iggy level. But what I need to put out there is this: Less-than-airbrushed qualities are not failures. They do not represent an unwillingness to work hard enough, to hire the right person, or to buy the right product.

We look like this because we are humans.

Cindy Crawford is a beautiful star in our shared universe, but even she can’t stop the aging process. Even Beyonce has human hormones that affect her skin. Even Iggy has cellulite on the bootie lots of women would sell a kidney for. And even the girl whose bikini body was on the cover of PEOPLE Magazine has tiger stripes.

If you’re old enough that your skin is starting to sag and it makes you feel ashamed, I hope you’ll pivot and be grateful for the wisdom of your years. If you have pimples, cellulite, or stretch marks, consider what the body underneath your skin is capable of. Mine grew two little humans. Mine got healthy & strong while shedding 20 dress sizes.

My reality is not air-brushed. I am no one’s walking art project. Neither are Cindy, Beyonce or Iggy. But we’re all – ALL of us – perfectly beautiful.

In Case of Fitness Emergency…

In preparation for the Great Snowpocalypse That Wasn’t, I asked the resident trainer to help me put together a workout that anyone can do – even if they’re snowed in, the gym is closed, they lose power, and the sky is falling.

Well, the storm never came – but I’ll give you the workout anyway. Pin now, sweat later :-)