‘It is what I make of it’

Oops! "I'm sorry" he's saying

Here we are taking a break from sightseeing in Athens. Not sure who this fellow is.

I’d like you to meet Holly. We’ve worked together, traipsed around Italy, Greece and Turkey together, cooked and ate together, and in general had more adventures than our fair share. We have inside jokes, can talk for hours on the phone (or in a car careening around Monaco), and when I was at my lowest point this winter after being injured, spending a month and a half at home, having surgery and losing powerlifting, she showed up at my door as a complete surprise (she lives an hour and half away) bearing one of my very favorite dishes, bagna cauda.

I was able to forget for a while how much I hurt and how sad I was, as Holly let me regale her with travel stories, laughing her head off at my tales. I don’t think she realized how much her visit meant to me, but I hadn’t laughed in weeks. She’s like that — always giving, always helping. So when she decided it was time to start giving back to herself, and taking better care of herself, I was honored she would ask for my help, and couldn’t wait to help guide down a path I knew she would love.

I’m not a coach, nutritionist, or any other sort of health and fitness professional. But what I could offer was support, encouragement, accountability, and sharing tips for things that have worked for me. Right from the start she was willing to try everything I suggested, and did what I said to do, even when she thought it was crazy. (I’ll never forget the night I gave her 100 burpees and she texted me periodically throughout the evening to tell me how many she’d done, until she finished. I’ve never seen such determination!) I mainly hoped she would find how amazing it felt to challenge your limits and to grow stronger. Luckily we’re good enough friends that I could be stern and demanding, and push her hard, and know she wouldn’t hate me for it.

It’s been a couple of months or so now, and I couldn’t be more proud of or happy for my friend. She has made significant changes that aren’t easy for anyone, stuck with it even when life intervened, acknowledged when she did backslide and worked on ways to continue to improve her approach to health and fitness. And last night she texted me a photo of her first weights that she’d just bought! I can see why people like to be trainers — it’s w wonderful feeling to know I had any part of her success. We haven’t been able to work out together yet, but she’s coming over in three weeks and I can’t wait to hit the garage gym together!

I asked her to write a guest post for my blog and share what the experience has been like for her so far.  Here, then, is Holly.

Why did you decide to make a lifestyle change?

Because I was tired of being stagnant and average.  AND…I needed something different, challenging, something to shift my attention to.

What goals did you set at first?

Reduce the sugar intake – whether it be in drinks or food.  Drink 2 32oz bottles of water a day.  Exercise 5 days a week – and actually just be more active period.  Setting a 1200 calorie diet and using a phone app to track it (and my exercising.)  And just being able to cross my legs without having to hold it to keep it from slipping (stupid, I know but it’s true.)

What was the hardest change you made?

Honestly….none of the changes I’ve made thus far were hard.  Once one makes the decision to do it just happens effortlessly.  And I made the decision to stop eating the foods I had been eating.  A friend of mine (you) gave me some tips on how to make some good protein packed energy foods and not snack.  But the workouts I do are extremely hard (to me) but hard in a good way – just challenging and that’s what I want.

I want to push myself to my limits (which change as I get stronger with each exercise) and be sore the next day.  So hard = good!

What kept you going?

Honestly…one thing kept me going and still keeps me going.  One thing that I would rather not mention.  Just pushing through…that’s all.

Love the feeling of accomplishment – for nothing other than just knowing I can do it.

What was the most fulfilling change you made?.

Exercising to the point of actually pushing myself and making it a challenging workout.  Not your average everyday leisure exercising.  I actually look forward to sweating and I don’t like “not” exercising.  But I don’t think of it as exercise…I think of it as a hobby, just something I do in my free time – like going to the movies.

What results did you see first? 

My lack of craving sweet foods and even food in general during the day.  Then…I noticed I could start taking my pants off without unbuttoning them.  Honestly…that was a shocker one day.  I guess I just kept going and going and then realized that my pants don’t fit anymore and were literally hanging off me.

What goals have you met? 

Putting a stop to my sweet tooth and eating so much sugar!!  That was number one.  Honestly…I used to CRAVE birthday cake and want to actually go to the store for just that.  But now…I have a slight craving maybe once a month?  HUGE goal for me.  1200 calories a day (switched it up by adding a few hundred calories here and there), I’ve drank more water in the past 3 months than did all year LAST YEAR, and I can now cross my legs effortlessly.

What are your next goals?

I need to sit down with my trainer and come up with another set of goals.  I’m thinking endurance, something different, outside of the box.  Not sure yet.

What would you say to people who also want to make a change and want to know how you have done it? 

“BECAUSE I’M EATING GOOD FOOD AND EXERCISING MORE DUMBASS!!!!  It’s not rocket science.  It’s common sense!!”  That would be my no holds bar response.  But…honestly…my response would be “You know what to do, you just need to put your mind to it and make the decision.  It’s not whether you CAN do it or not, it’s WHETHER you want to or not and what your priority is.”

What’s the best part about changing your lifestyle? 

It’s not the compliments that I get – “OMG, you look so skinny” because ‘skinny’ is not what I’m going for and I’m actually pretty shy about that and don’t like that type of attention.  I don’t do the stuff I do for others or to get the attention.  It’s not the fact that my clothes fit better and that I’ve actually been able to go buy new cuter stuff.  And not even that I just feel better all around.  This may sound weird (I would probably roll my eyes if I heard someone say this too – so it’s ok if they roll  theirs at me) but

I feel more empowered.  Realizing this is my life and it is what I make of it – and I have the power to make that CHOICE.

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