Tag Archives: Confidence

How to Overcome Obstacles and Negative Thinking

Hands down, the biggest obstacle in my life sits right between my ears. The discouraging inner monologue and negative spiral my mind can go down at times is incredible (in a bad way, to be clear). Oftentimes, I dwell on the things I haven’t accomplished yet. I let mom guilt overwhelm me as I attempt to be present for my child but fret over a lack of productivity for my career. I feel it creep up again when I frantically play catch up on work during my son’s naps and days at school, not wanting the solitude and “me time” to end, yet simultaneously glancing at the clock every hour wondering when I can pick him up and snuggle him close again. Gosh, I need him just as much as he needs me. 

I know I’m not alone in being hard on myself because I’ve heard my clients and friends open up in similar ways; pouring out frustrations that are born primarily from internal strife. A lot of people who come to me for personal training frequently fall into discouraging self-talk. At first, they don’t admit it. But as our relationship and trust grow, they share their insecurities and reveal the ways they get trapped in their minds while pursuing things like exercise and professional goals. The fact that these people are accomplished CEOs, lawyers, celebrities and government officials shows me that this propensity to feel insecure is a common human experience. But just because something is common doesn’t mean it should be normal. I like to think that we DESERVE to feel empowered to overcome obstacles and negative thinking.

It can be scary to tackle our goals with confidence. It’s easiest to talk ourselves into all the reasons why things WON’T work out the way we dream. I’ve been there. I have recently shifted from the manuscript-writing phase of a book to the pursuing-publishing phase. The two couldn’t be more different. While I savor the feeling of sitting at my desk and writing for hours, I don’t necessarily feel exalted at the prospects of getting turned down by potentially a LOT of literary agents. Time will tell…I’ve only just started. EEeekk! If I allowed discouraging thoughts to run my decisions then I would freeze before ever moving forward.

How do we conquer such deflating feelings? How do we ensure we’re in charge of our own minds, in a positive way?

Whether you’re tackling a new professional endeavor or stepping into the gym during a vulnerable time for your body or mind, there are effective ways to coach yourself through the process. Here are some strategies you can try…

 

1) Get Out of Your Head

Avoid Comparisons

Women seem especially prone to comparing themselves against one another. I’ve done it, too. It’s such an awful trap to fall into. Unfortunately, there’s no way we can “win” doing this. When we compare our lows to other people’s highs (a.k.a. the world of social media) we feel that we are perpetually failing. We badger ourselves over our perceived inability to be as successful as the woman we know who is dominating her executive position at a fast-growing company. We feel deflated when we have children that are a mess (and who are showing us who’s the real boss) when we see images of moms with a whole brood of little ones who are pristine, groomed and on good behavior. We feel silly for being proud of ourselves for lacing up our sneakers on a Saturday morning for a brisk walk when we are confronted by women boasting photos of their sculpted bodies after hours of hitting the weights.

I’m already feeling a little depressed after writing that last paragraph. Yuck! The thing is, we have to stop with comparisons. We have to hold ourselves back from them because they get us nowhere. A pastor I know said “Just play your own position. Know your own role.” In other words, know your “lane” in life and own it. Be proud of what YOU bring to the table and remember that you can’t be or do everything at once. The world is blessed with people of diverse talents for a reason; it’s how we keep the whole thing moving.

Recognize Negative Thought Patterns

One of the most helpful things we can do for ourselves is to openly acknowledge negative thought patterns. These are repetitive and unproductive thoughts that leave us stressed and/or depleted. They don’t serve any purpose, yet they can fill our minds and bodies with disease. If we start to recognize these negative thought patterns then we can choose how we react to them. For example, one of my clients used to say “I’m sorry” any time I corrected her form during a workout. There was no need for her to apologize – my entire job was to help guide her towards better success and health! Yet every time “I’m sorry” escaped from her lips without her thinking. We talked it out over time and finally managed to keep her from going down a negative path in her mind. Instead of allowing thoughts of failure and inferiority to dominate any time she received constructive feedback, she took it in stride. She kept her head high and didn’t divert her gaze with a defeated sigh. It was a huge win for us in our training relationship. Thereafter, both her body language and communication exuded better confidence.

A good place to start improving your mental process is writing down your most obvious and common negative thoughts. Next, list out several positive reactions or thoughts you can counter them with. The reason this is important is because negative thoughts are like quicksand; the more we struggle in them, the faster we sink. We need something hopeful to turn to.

Address Discontent

Another way we need to get out of our heads is by getting rid of discontent. In order to move forward in a healthy and happy life, we can’t focus incessantly on what we don’t have or what we want more of. This way of thinking causes people to feel that their lives aren’t good enough. You can see how this is a negative thing, right?!?!

It seems painfully obvious that this kind of thinking leads up down a bad path, yet we do it anyway. ALL. THE. TIME. Often, we focus our energy on what we don’t have or what we crave to have without even thinking. To be questing after a status or promotion seems purposeful in life, maybe even positive and healthy! The challenge is where our mindset is rooted. If happiness hinges on your “not-there-yet,” “some-day-I-hope-to” aspirations, then there isn’t enough joy available in the present to fulfill you. Turn your focus to gratitude. What do you have right now that you’re grateful for? Who are you and why is that enough to sustain you here, today?

 

 

2) Gain Confidence

Act the Part

As we shed negative thinking and pursue our goals with the right intentions, we can gain confidence in simple ways. Acting confident (even if you don’t feel it at first) and expressing yourself with upright posture will impress upon those around you that you’re a force to be reckoned with. It can also affect your brain chemistry. Tall, confident posture can stimulate the release of hormones that keep you feeling good. Hence, if you act confident then you just might become confident.

Accept that Obstacles Happen

Obstacles happen. They do. In my fitness career I’ve had many; one major accident that made my body feel like it belonged to a 90-year old, numerous setbacks with fitness startup companies, managers telling me to pick a niche focus in fitness even though my passions encompass a lot of areas (apparently that’s not very conducive to creating a “brand”), and more. In writing, I had a professional offer me feedback on my first manuscript that made me take pause for the next decade. A whole decade while I waited for that “aha” moment when I could revisit the book with fresh, mature eyes.

We can look at obstacles as unfair or frustrating if we believe they shouldn’t happen, but obstacles are a part of life’s growing pains. We should anticipate them so that we can bounce back from the inevitable way they will trip us up. We don’t have to give them power to make us insecure.

Find Meaning

When you’re having trouble staying confident because of setbacks, try to find meaning in the tough times. This sounds full of cheese, I know. For example, getting hit by a car years ago helped me become a well-rounded fitness professional because I became more capable of addressing people’s old injuries and back pains. In the moment it wasn’t always evident that I was growing in a positive way from the pain, but in time it became crystal clear. In fact, over the course of my life I have grown and learned the most through hardships, not good times.

Random Aside… This is similar to trees when you bring them home from the nursery. Removing them from a supported environment causes them stress. They might look weak and lean over after you plant them. But in response to the stress of having to support themselves, the roots shoot out and create a broad base. This allows the tree to slowly right itself and shoot up towards the sky. Similarly, we can thrive if we respond to stress by growing our roots deep, making it harder for the next big storm to tip us over in its wind.

 

3) Tackle Your Goals

Break Things into Small Tasks

Procrastinators and perfectionists alike can benefit from taking broad, longer-term goals and breaking them down into simple, actionable steps. For example, if I’m training someone to run a marathon we can’t focus immediately on the long runs. We have to start with the short and intermediate runs to build up stamina and train the muscles for the stress to come. We can’t think for too long about the total mileage that will be logged over the course of the training program or we may never begin. It’s intimidating to go from running a couple times a week for fun to logging 30-50 miles per week! My runners simply need to trust that each run will have a cumulative effect as we head in the direction of the race.

STOP Method

Per Psychology Today‘s recommendation, we can use the STOP Method to effectively move past emotions of fear, shame and self-doubt when we’re tackling our goals. STOP stands for:

STOP

Take a Step Back

Observe

Proceed Mindfully

By taking a moment to calm our emotions, we can look at our feelings from a different perspective. For example, if someone else had a similar emotional reaction, what would it look like to you? What would advice would you give them?

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a way of approaching our life, goals and relationships with better appreciation, service and enjoyment. Mindfulness allows us to better discern what’s worth our time and effort. As we make better, more confident and healthful decisions, we become productive in the ways that matter and fulfill our authentic selves. When our goals are aligned with what we truly care about, there’s no stopping us.

 

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

Advertisements

Core Support: KeepMeTight

I will be the first to admit that I don’t approve of quick fixes for fitness and diet. They never work. There is no magic one-size-fits-all solution out there on the market. Trust me, if there were, I would share it with you ASAP! But there isn’t…and likely never will be. So, you can imagine my skepticism when I was introduced to the Founder of KeepMeTight, Shameeka Hunt. But, after getting to know Shameeka, I see that there are scenarios under which giving people temporary aids for health and fitness may be appropriate. Shameeka’s story (below) and another woman’s story (who lost 70 lbs!) encouraged me to take on a new perspective.

Roni Noone recently wrote an article for MyFitnessPal’s blog, Hello Healthy. It was called The Truth About Before and After Photos. Roni explained that she worked hard to lose 70 lbs and was shocked when her before and after photos were stolen online and posted to a diet website with a false statement that she had used the company’s products and had lost all 70 lbs in 30 days!!! Can anyone tell me what the heck this company was thinking?

KMT 9

Roni was outraged (rightfully so). But, it wasn’t just the fact that her pictures were stolen that she was upset. She was frustrated that her weight loss process, which had taken her roughly a year, was being painted in an unrealistic light. In the article, Roni persuades women to steer clear of quick fixes, emphasizing the most foundational element that aids in weight loss: “Honestly, the hardest part for me was accepting and loving myself regardless of how much fat my body was carrying. Once I realized that, the eating less and moving more thing didn’t seem as hard as it once did.”

Shameeka Hunt shares this philosophy. She wants to help women feel their best so that they can move with confidence throughout their weight loss and toning journey. Shameeka’s before and after photos aren’t boasting extreme weight loss in 30 days, they’re showing you the difference in tone you can gain right away so that you can live life more confidently while you tackle your goals. Kudos to this woman for changing my stubborn perspective on compression apparel! 

Read on for my interview with Shameeka!

 

1) What made you decide to start KeepMeTight?

KeepMeTight originated from a personal need I had after giving birth to my 2 children (both via C-section) within a 3-year period. Even under a strict exercise and nutrition regimen, I found it extremely difficult to lose the baby bump. This was a problem for me given my desire and need to get back into my pre-pregnancy clothes, business suits and other form-fitting exercise attire. Like many women, I’m very conscious of my appearance and take pride in how I look in public. I needed something to provide me with support and comfort while I recovered from the abdominal incisions, and so I could stay active in my personal and professional pursuits.

KMT 3

 

2) In your own words, why is core support so important?

I always like to use an analogy of our core being like a tree trunk – it is the base of support and connects to all parts of the tree (roots, branches and leaves). Likewise our core is in the center of our body. It provides the same stability, balance and connections [to the parts of the body above and below it] as a tree does. The main muscles of the core are contained in the belly and back. These muscles work together with the hips, shoulders and neck to maintain spinal alignment. If something in our core is misaligned, weak or not working properly, another part of our body will be affected.

So, it’s easy to see that by strengthening our core we can alleviate unwanted strain on the body, like acute injuries or long-term damage.

 

3) Who do you recommend this product for?

I recommend the KMT Band for two kinds of people: 1) anyone who wants the aesthetic appeal it provides; a flattened stomach, and 2) anyone who wants or needs additional back and posture support. There is no better feeling or self-image booster than knowing that you look fabulous in your clothing and can easily transition between daily activities with the KMT Band. There is also nothing that beats solid core support since we need it to feel healthy and strong!

 

4) How does the product feel when it is worn during exercise?

The KMT Band is made of cotton, allowing it to feel comfortable and breathable. Cotton is a material that helps wick away sweat too! The KMT Band covers the whole abdominal area so it acts as a tool to assist in flattening your stomach and engaging your core muscles. The KMT Band also provides back support, serving as a physical aid that reminds you to maintain proper form and posture.

KMT 11

 

5) What is your philosophy on health and wellness? Is that integral to your company in any way?

My personal philosophy on health and wellness is simple – it’s a lifestyle. A state of good health and well-being takes conscious effort and becomes a habit, not something that is temporary, seasonal, or just because you need to get into “that dress.” This philosophy is integrated into KeepMeTight in that the products that are and will be developed serve a purpose; they support a person’s current and desired health and wellness goals (to include exercise and nutritional regimens). I do not believe in anything taking the place of what our bodies were intended to do, but there is also nothing wrong with having the proper “tools” to help you reach your goals.  And that is what KeepMeTight and the KMT Band do – provide that psychological and physical support that should be used as a tool to get you a step further in your health and wellness journey.

KMT 10

 

6) As a busy businesswoman, mom and fitness fan, are there any strategies that you use to stay healthy day by day?

Given the busyness of life, I have found that I need to think and do creative things that become a part of my schedule versus routines that are a hindrance or place a big time commitment on me (since I really don’t have a lot of time). One of my routines is taking long distance walks while pushing my kids in a double stroller. This allows me to exercise over various terrains while building my physical endurance, working against the resistance of my own body weight and that of my children. It also helps me unwind and mentally decompress while listening to music. Plus, I get to meet my neighbors!

I’m also big on exercises for cardio workouts and yoga routines that I can access through my TV or mobile device. Again, since I have children, I can get a good workout in with my children at home that doesn’t require additional travel time. One huge benefit I find in exercising with my children present is that they typically join in the exercise, which reinforces the importance of family time and staying active for everyone. Quick tip: Women with infants or toddlers can use their babies as resistance while exercising or “playing” (at least the little ones will think it’s playing)!

When it comes to food and nutrition, I’m a rather particular eater. So, I have found that blending fruits and vegetables into a smoothie or juice (with stalks and rinds included) allows me to get all my nutrients in a liquid form. It also allows me to be creative with colors and tastes, so it’s fun and good for me. What is even better is that the fruits and vegetables are typically picked or purchased from a local farm, which adds a sense of pride for me since I know how my fruit and vegetables are grown and can support local farmers.

KMT 8

 

As you can see, Shameeka’s lifestyle and product are in tune with overall wellness and finding solutions that help women work towards the bodies they want. As mentioned, it all starts with feeling good and confident, and you don’t have to wait until you’re at your goal weight to feel that way!

Thank you, Shameeka, for sharing your story and exciting business with us!

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

wellnesswinz logo 2

 

References:

http://blog.myfitnesspal.com/the-truth-about-before-and-after-photos/?user_id=98146046627053&alt_source=mfp&alt_medium=email&alt_campaign=weekly20150629&utm_source=mfp&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=weekly20150629&mkt_tok=3RkMMJWWfF9wsRokva%2FPZKXonjHpfsX66%2B0tUK6%2FlMI%2F0ER3fOvrPUfGjI4DScpnI%2BSLDwEYGJlv6SgFSrTFMblm0LgLXhM%3D

https://www.keepmetight.com/

Boudoir Lessons for Bikini Season

Beach Body

So, I have a confession to make. Back in March, I decided to embark on a mission to discover how Victoria’s Secret models feel when they’re in a photo shoot wearing…not much. It started as a little oh-la-la present for my husband, who travels four days out of the week, but it turned into a full-fledged, top-priority operation [on behalf of my readers]. I sought to discover how on earth someone could feel comfortable in little more than a bikini’s worth of material, and learned way more than I bargained for. No, I’m not sharing pictures, those are for my hubby’s eyes only, but I will share the lessons learned along the way, and the ladies I encountered who are changing the world, one bikini-fearing, underwear-shopping-adverse woman at a time…

When I signed up for a photoshoot with Three Boudoir, I knew I would have to restrain myself from going crazy over the next few months. I’m the type of person who likes to have event specific goals to train for (weddings, bikini season, road races). It’s easy to be motivated by external pressures that have tangible deadlines attached. It gets us tying up our gym shoes a little faster, and choosing salmon and broccoli more often than steak and fries. But, I wanted to challenge myself to refrain from ramping up my exercise and trimming out a few hundred calories every day, in preparation for the photoshoot. I actually wanted to just feel like myself for once. I knew that if I could step into that intimidating environment, cameras flashing, feeling…normal…that I would really put myself to the test.

I have to tell you; I’m SO glad that I did. Upon signing up for the photoshoot, I anticipated that I would be plagued by major stomach cramps from pent-up anxiety and a ten-fold increase in nervous butterflies on the day of. Surpisingly, my tummy only did a small flip-flop or two.

Body Confidence Bobbi Brown

I was grateful to the Three Boudoir girls for the encouraging emails they sent me prior to the photoshoot. I was initially worried that I may have put myself into a queue to be objectified, but when I got their first email, I understood that they were all about empowerment, and that thrilled me. They incrementally boosted my confidence and made me feel reassured about just being my natural self. Here’s a little sample of their enthusiasm: “Give yourself a huge pat on the back. You are brave and fearless. You are about to take on a super fun boudoir shoot that is going to leave you feeling sexy and ready to take on the world.”

Every single email that the company sent me was full of positive language. I’m pretty sure they used “hot,” “sexy,” “gorgeoous,” “amazing,” “brave,” and “beautiful” dozens of times each. Even though I giggled and let the comments slide off of me at first, over time, I started to feel better about myself, and was more excited than nervous. I started to believe in my bravery and beauty. What an even grander benefit than having pretty pictures!

On the day of the shoot, I was overwhelmed by the warmth of the women who helped me pose and look my best. I give myself ZERO credit for being able to strike those poses on my own; it’s hard work! They were encouraging, natural and fun. The time actually flew by. I felt my long-standing intimidation of models, and the unnatural poses they’re photographed in, begin to melt away. I might not look exactly like a lot of models, but I’m me – and that’s pretty awesome. Likewise, for you! 

What made the biggest impression on me though, is that apparently lots of women are more accepting of themselves than I knew. Apparently, plenty of women prefer to leave their simple “imperfections” front and center rather than edited out of photos. The boudoir ladies told me that lots of women prefer to let birth marks and scars show in their pictures. For example, without naming names, they told me that even women who have undergone surgery following breast cancer may prefer to let their scars show, because it’s part of their identity. This fits exactly within a message, on Three Boudoir’s website, that all women can take to heart: “Every single person that comes through our studio has unique qualities that we know exactly how to draw out and capture in photos.” Oh man, I might as well be their spokeswoman with all this good PR! Haha. No, they did not ask me to write this. I prayed for the confidence to share this all on my own.

Done with Guilt, On with Life

Unfortunately, positive affirmations and mood-lifting information isn’t internalized very well by women. Glamour magazine polled 1,000 women, ages 18-40, and found that body image today is actually worse than 30 years ago.  Even though women have been dominating in many professional fields, proving to the world that we should have been taken more seriously long, long, long ago, we’re suffering from a lack of self-esteem more than ever. Why?!? Someone tell us why!!!

According to Glamour, modern women compare themselves more to the girl next door than celebrities. Instead of flipping through magazines a few times a month, as may have been the case 30 years ago, we’re now inundated by at least 1.8 billion, yes BILLION, new pictures posted to social media every day! Since we’re seeing a lot more normal people, we curiously scan the endless images until we find someone that looks like our “ideal body,” and then believe we should and can look like that too.

Nowadays, the thinking is a little like this:

“Oh, I know I can’t achieve a Cameron Diaz or Madonna body. It’s unrealistic because I’d have to be super rich and paying a personal chef and world-class trainer to sculpt that kind of bod. But, my friend Michelle’s recent pictures on Facebook and Instagram make her look super amazing and she’s not a celebrity. She has a child and a full-time job! If she can get a ripped stomach then I can do it. If I can’t look like her, there must be something wrong with me. I have to prove that I can be just as on-top-of-it and slim. Why not, right?”

I’m all for women feeling empowered because of other people’s successes, but comparing ourselves to others is apparently at the core of what makes us dissatisfied. Geesh. What to do?

Here are few simple steps towards feeling your best:

1) Quit comparing yourself to others. Easier said than done, I know. But, you should try anyways.

2) If looking at other people’s pictures makes you feel bad, then place a limit on yourself by monitoring your media browsing.

3) Reinforce positive language about your body whenever the urge to shame it creeps up – aka, fake it until you make it. Positive affirmations breed positive thinking.

4) Exercise – it’s a natural self-esteem, feel-good boost.

5) Give yourself some love. Think about what healthy actions make you happy and do more of them, instead of repeating negative habits or actions that lead to frustration and anxiety.

Bikini Joy

Another fun thing you can do to feel invigorated and ready for bikini season, is treat yourself to some new underwear that will make you feel great and build up your confidence! I recently met a fellow UVA alum, Katie Fritts, who started a company called UnderClub. Katie discovered that many women often don’t toss out their older pairs of underwear and are so pressed for time that they don’t have the mental energy to make a one-off trip to the mall for minor but necessary basics like underwear. Underclub offers women a way to turn this chore into a fun subscription-based service, delivering customized high-quality undies straight to their doorsteps. To accompany the cute packaging with every order, Underclub includes a personalized note for customers; a simple reminder of their beauty or a little something to make them feel good. Love it. 

Whether or not you’re planning to buy chic new undies or a fun seasonal bikini, I encourage you to remember what you love most about your body, mind and soul this summer. You don’t need to be in skimpy stuff to feel worthy or attractive, and you certainly don’t need to be objectified, but you can put on a sleek, sexy, feminine, bold, fun, or classy attitude that makes you outshine the sun. YOU make any little piece of fabric look good. Don’t forget it.  

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

wellnesswinz logo 2

References:

http://www.glamour.com/health-fitness/2014/10/body-image-how-do-you-feel-about-your-body/1

http://www.glamour.com/health-fitness/2011/02/shocking-body-image-news-97-percent-of-women-will-be-cruel-to-their-bodies-today/1

http://www.threeboudoir.com/

http://www.underclub.co/