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.)

THE RULES OF THE GAME:

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 :-)

Sweat!

Sweat!

Make Your Resolutions Your Reality

Lace up your big girl shoes. Go get it!!
#ActuallyICan #KillYourExcuses
go find

Happy SECOND Anniversary, Happy Exhaustion!

I know my right hand looks like dinosaur talons (can you tell I have a young son?) but I wanted to sneak a TWO into my pose-replication!

I know my right hand looks like dinosaur talons (can you tell I have a young son?) but I wanted to sneak a TWO into my pose-replication!

 Happy Exhaustion is officially two years old!

Look how little change there is in those after-after-after pictures! SCORE!

Guys, I maintained! I really, really did! Happy dances all up in this piece.

On December 6th, 2012 I stepped on that scale and the goal that once felt so out of reach had become my reality.

On that day I set up this blog with no intent to become a blogger. I just needed some extra online space to answer all of the questions that came flooding in when I announced my success to my social media circle with my very first Before & After picture. (The first two of the four seen above)

Two years later, Happy Exhaustion is an essential part of who I am.

As I considered what I wanted to say in this anniversary post, I thought of my Healthy & Strong lifestyle like a 2-year-old child.

On my first anniversary,  my Healthy & Strong self was only a one-year -old. It was barely past it’s infancy, just learning to stand on it’s own two feet. I could hardly believe I had kept the weight off, which made me feel a bit unsteady. I was still afraid I was going to fall and lose it all.

Now that Healthy & Strong is a 2-year-old, it’s running all over everywhere. It’s pretty sure it’s the boss of the household. But it still slips and falls, has temper tantrums, and has a lot to learn.

This year has been one for the books. No danger of forgetting the year I was on the cover of PEOPLE Magazine!

I wanted to pose with this week's edition of PEOPLE as proof that this pic was taken today, but the current cover is just WAY too depressing for this celebration post. Luckily, Sexiest Man Alive is still on the stands. That'll do.  Sexiest Man Alive is allowed to pose with me :-)

I wanted to pose with this week’s edition of PEOPLE as proof that this pic was taken today, but the current cover is just WAY too depressing for this celebration post. Luckily, Sexiest Man Alive is still on the stands. That’ll do.
Sexiest Man Alive is allowed to pose with me :-)

PEOPLE was the hands-down highlight of this Happy Exhaustion year. It still feels like a full-on out-of-body experience. I’m grateful for the new friends I made at the shoot for reminding me it was real.

Happy Exhaustion even kicked off a new career for me this year!

A few months ago, I became a goal coach. I have the privilege of working with people in pursuit of their own Happy Exhaustion. I get to blog in person!

With all of the precious lessons I have learned along the way, I’m able to help others to tailor their own approach. It’s a dream job for me, and I feel very lucky to have it.

If you could use the support of a cheerleader who understands *all* of the excuses and obstacles on the road to fitness, reach out to me over at the Happy Exhaustion Facebook page! I have yet to meet a  roadblock that I  can’t wrestle into submission ;-)

Now… my Proof of Maintenance picture. I gotta tell ya – I contemplated not posting this part.

But, as my brother pointed out – I have already ‘primed the pump’.

I have stated publicly & repeatedly that this picture will be here, and I don’t want to appear to be hiding anything when the rubber hits the road!

I toyed with the idea of only posting the Red Dress pictures. Because, really – that’s so much more important than a number on a scale.

Every single one of my clients is married to the number on the scale. *I* am married to the number on the scale.

I don’t want to be. I don’t want my clients to be, either. I want us all to use the way our bodies feel & the way our jeans fit as our guides.

Some day I hope to occupy that head space. I thought leaving out this picture would help to make that statement.

But, since I tied myself to the tracks… Maybe next year will be Red Dress Only. Today, you get some proof :-)

It’s not the number from the scale in my Miami hotel room during the PEOPLE shoot. It’s better than that – it’s my happy place. It’s where I reached my goal. It’s where I was this time last year. And despite the way the scale can drag me down, you know I enjoy when it lands where I like it to!

Proof!

Happy Exhaustion’s Holiday Survival Guide

It is upon us. The season all dieters/fitness enthusiasts dread most: The Holidays.

Oh, God give me strength. No use pretending the holidays aren’t challenging.

On this day 2 years ago, I was not The Girl Who Lost 100 lbs. I was the girl who lost 96 lbs. My 100 lbs goal was so close I could taste it. There was no WAY I was letting Thanksgiving put any extra distance between me and my declaration of success with my very first Before & After picture.

That year I began developing Holiday Survival Strategies.

If you’re closing in on your own goal – or just don’t want some holiday event to send you completely off the rails – then this one’s for you.

All Eyes-On-On-The-Prize, Goal Chasing, I-WILL-Fit-Into-That-Dress-On-New-Years-Eve fitness friends quaking at the thought of a table loaded with trigger foods, never fear! Happy Exhaustion is here to help.

(Note: If your goal is further in the distance and a few lbs don’t matter much in the Here & Now, then dig in! By no means do I believe Healthy & Strong means NEVER INDULGING AGAIN. If a day of “sometimes foods” is just what the doctor ordered, then enjoy the pie! Just don’t forget to get back on track the next day…)

For my friends who need an assist – I feel your struggle. The struggle is real.

Ready to fight?

Here we go!

Ready to Holiday Like A Boss?

Ready to Holiday Like A Boss?

1: Start The Day With a Workout

Your gym will probably be closed, and you might not have any equipment at home. NO EXCUSES! Get that metabolism up & running before your brain has a chance to catch up.

Start the day with a sweat – feel thankful for a body capable of a working out!

Here is a freebie, courtesy of the trainer I’m married to:

In descending reps 15-1 (15 of each, then 14 of each, etc. until the last set is only 1 of each)

15-1: Squats

15-1: Mountain Climbers

15-1: Push-ups

15-1: High Knees

15-1: Abs of your choice.

(I’ll be doing oblique twists, but if you prefer sit-ups, go with it!)

2: Mentally Prepare For Your Trigger Foods.

We all have foods that light up the pleasure centers of our brains and make us act like junkies chasing a fix. For me, it’s sugar. One taste and I lose all control.

What’s yours? Sugar? Buttery carbs? Fried saltiness?

Psych yourself up to avoid your triggers. I mean COMPLETELY. Best way to avoid falling off a cliff? Don’t dance on the ledge.

I will not be having any pie tomorrow. It won’t be fun, but I’ll go to bed proud.

3: If You Didn’t Make It, You Don’t Know What’s In It.

This tip is for my fellow calorie-trackers. If you think you can guess-timate how many calories are in Aunt Mae’s famously delicious green bean casserole, round up! Chances are good that her casserole is so delicious because it’s prepared with a cubic ton of butter.

To survive this hurdle, be the one who brings the low-cal options. If you made it, you know *exactly* how many calories to track when you eat it. This is why I’ll be the one bringing steamed asparagus and a dark green salad. That way I know there will be foods that will satisfy me without hitting my tracking with a giant question mark.

4: Beware of Hidden Sugars

Holiday foods can sneak sugar into unexpected places. Keep an eye out for cranberries, pumpkin, squash, and other naturally high-sugar bites. For the holidays they’ll probably be roasted, boiled & reduced with extra sugar and butter just for good measure.

Can’t imagine Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce? “That’s not even Thanksgiving!” Ok. Go ahead. But instead of slathering it all over everything, take a tablespoon-worth and enjoy the bites with a touch of sauce. Let them feel like indulgences.

5: Don’t Drink Your Calories.

Just a sampling of why this one’s important: The average cup of eggnog (ONE CUP!) has 225 calories. Mulled wine: 210. Cider: 175. Know what your body will love you for? Water.

(Don’t hate me.)

6: Eyes On the Prize

Whatever your fitness goal may be, keep it in the front of your brain. Think how far you’ve already come, how hard you’ve worked. Remember how much you want what your goal looks like. You’ve overcome difficult moments on this road. You know you can do it. You’ve done it before. Now do it again.

7: Is It Worth It?

Do a little math. How many minutes will you spend enjoying those calorie-bombs? Now, how many minutes do you imagine you’ll spend kicking yourself for unhealthy choices?

Know how many calories you burn running a mile? About 100. Is that single cup of eggnog really worth an extra 2.5 mile run?

8: Rise Above Peer Pressure

This one’s hard. Especially because it means I’m saying mean things about your loved ones. But the girl at the holiday table who isn’t cheating on her diet is rarely the most popular girl in the room. She might be doing what those around her wish they had the willpower to pull off. This can make her the target of saboteurs.

“Surely you’re going to take today off! It’s Thanksgiving!”

“Seriously, one day won’t make a difference.”

“You have GOT to taste this! I made it just because I know it’s your favorite!”

Diet Derailment: Dead Ahead! RED FLASHING LIGHTS!

No matter what the motivation of your loved ones, they’re not the ones who have to walk in your shoes. They don’t have to burn off your calories. Don’t let them drive your choices.

9: Say No to Left-Overs!

If you’re not hosting, politely decline to take any left-overs home with you (unless it’s those healthy, yummy steamed veggies you came with!). Leave with nothing more than an epic sense of pride.

If you’re hosting, encourage everyone who brought food to take home their own left-overs (as well as anything else less-than-wholesome that you can unload! Unless your guests are on paths like yours… give them props and let them leave with their pride alone.)

Deliver the rest to the nearest soup kitchen without delay.

10: It’s Just One Day

Even if you have to white-knuckle it through the perilous waters of the holiday, you’ve survived hard days before. Regular old Tuesdays when your co-worker had a giant bowl of pasta and eating your baked chicken made you full-on ‘hangry’. Stupid Fridays when your buddies were out pounding beers while you stayed in.

You killed it then, you’ll kill it now. Your pride at the end of the day is worth so much more than buttery gravy with a side of pie.

Enjoy the beautiful parts of the holidays. Enjoy your family, your friends, your health.

You don’t need to sabotage yourself to enjoy a special day.

Good luck! I’m with you!