What lit a fire under my ass. Literally.

Do you?

I have had a few clients recently ask me what got me motivated in the very beginning… What was the catalyst that made me stop everything and start running headlong for fire and mud? I thought it would make a good “resolution recovery” topic for the first post of the year.  😉

I would love to tell you guys that it was my kids, or my husband or some profound spiritual moment that shook me to my core… and that from that moment on- I was a changed person… and decided to take better care of my body and health.  But alas… I was forever changed by excellent marketing- a promotional video from Spartan Race… I know, I know… *hangs head in shame*.

In this video they were highlighting “Team X.T.R.E.M.E” racing the 2012 Virginia Super Spartan… particularly highlighting Cpl. Todd Love (Triple Amputee Marine) and Sgt. Todd Galloway (Double Amputee- Army).  The imagery and interview of Todd’s dad are particularly moving, and the clips of these guys just kicking ass on the course- after a little morning tandem jump out of a plane- will get your pulse going and maybe even get you to sign up for an OCR.  But the profound moment(s) for me are at the 8:00 minute mark (click here for the jump to the clip) where Noah says: “You know a lot of people tell me ‘I wanna do this, I wanna do that’. Well you know what? You gotta do it. There is no *want*, either you do it- or you don’t. You just… There are no excuses.” And then, immediate clip to Gary Love “That’s why he does what he does. There is no stop to my son. You know, he has no quit in him”.

It was a kick in the chest. This dude standing there with half an arm clearly visible in the frame- saying “either you do or you don’t. NO EXCUSES”.  I remember just sitting there– (mouth breathing, I am sure)– staring at the screen… and the thought that flashed through my mind was: “What the fuck am I doing?! I have two very capable arms and legs… and this guy is getting up and down a rope with one arm and an ARMPIT”.  From that moment in September 2012, it has been a steady drumbeat of realizing what I am truly capable of.  I ran a Warrior Dash right away- just to try out this mud-running thing.  I loved it.  I went on to run my first Spartan Race (Atlanta Sprint), in March of 2013- 6 months after watching that video:

First Spartan 2013

First Spartan 2013

I was completely hooked and immediately signed up for the Super in Wintergreen, and the Beast in South Carolina to complete my Spartan Trifecta.  The Trifecta consists of completing a Sprint (3-5 miles), a Super (6-8 miles), and a Beast (10-13 miles) in one calendar year…  Here I am with my Trifecta Medal almost exactly a year after I watched that video:

Trifecta- Nov 2013

Trifecta- Nov 2013

 

And in 2014… I added in multiple Battlefrogs, Rugged Maniacs, Savage Races, and a few non-muddy street races like the Peachtree.  I really feel like I embraced my inner athlete in 2014, and while I am not up to snuff to run with the elites, YET… I do finally consider myself a runner, and obstacle course racer:

2014 Racing

2014 Racing

(I do tend to enjoy the races that have a military beneficiary- Like BattleFrog and their support of Trident House… they even dedicate each obstacle to a fallen Navy SEAL… but its mostly because of how motivated I was by Team XTREME)

2014 was full of hard and scary moves, choices, and decisions- and some amazing opportunities and experiences.  I decided to change careers from homeschooling mom, to full-time personal trainer (which was HUGE for me).  I earned a bunch of medals, my RKC Certification, and learned so much about myself- what I am really about, and what I really want out of my life… which if I had to boil it down to one word- it would be “experiences”.  I want to experience so much with my kids, my family, my friends, and on my OWN.  That *on my own* part is a real game changer for me… 100% of my life up till late 2013 revolved what I thought I was “supposed” to be doing and what others thought of me… I finally stopped people-pleasing that year.  I think I have fully recovered from that shit 😉

I am not about to go all “New Year, New Me” on you.  Actually the opposite. I really like who I am becoming.  I am not leaving anything behind in 2014… I am carrying it all forward into 2015.  I have an amazing Client Roster at MBT, a race schedule that I simply CANNOT WAIT to accomplish, and a few non-fitness items on my bucket list that have me just… giddy.  I have no clue where I am going or what everything will look like when I get there… but I am enjoying the wind in my hair and the beauty in the messy parts along the way.  As a matter of fact, I hope that I never “arrive”… I am enjoying the ride that damn much.

And all of this because of a piece of marketing material.  I am not saying everyone has to sign up for an OCR… by no means.  But when something grabs your your attention, listen to it… get motivated… get passionate… and get after it.  There is no want… ladies and gentlemen… either you do it or you don’t.

Much Love,
~January

January Shiflett, RKC is a personal trainer, kettlebell instructor, obstacle course racing coach, and resident potty-mouth at Maximum Body Training in Cartersville Georgia.   You can contact her for classes and training opportunities at January.Shiflett@me.com

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I call Bullshit.

For most people success is rarely a straight line- it is full of misfires, stutter-steps, failures, and re-starts. Success for me started on an otherwise normal Tuesday, a day- like so many other Tuesday’s before it- that I could’ve made the choice to stay exactly the same.

But those decisions never really sound like how I just phrased it- do they? We tell ourselves we will start that “diet” on Monday… why? Because we just love how crappy we feel when we eat processed food, and we’d really love the opportunity to feel that way a few more days?!? And let’s not start that new workout regimen till the first of the month- because nobody ever lost weight or got strong when they started on the 13th, 17th, or 25th … right? Right?

It's total bullshit.

It’s total bullshit.

It’s all bullshit.   And yet we still listen to it, obey it, and believe it. We ultimately waste an incredible amount of time by being passive players in our own damn life story. Let that wash over you for a minute. By doing the same thing you have always been doing, by believing in the bullshit excuses, you are simply floating through your life completely un-engaged with your true dreams and goals. If you aren’t engaged and making choices that will bring you closer to those dreams then what exactly are you doing?

I have two major regrets from my weight-loss journey. The first was my all or nothing approach to food.   If I made a bad choice- then I would just chuck the whole day. I would essentially say “screw it” to making good food choices for the rest of the day… because I had already gone and messed it all up with ONE bad choice earlier on. That type of thinking allowed me to be a victim to the “accident/cheat/slip-up”, and lets be honest, I never tripped and fell face first into a pizza, I made an active choice to eat it. This rationale also alleviated me of any responsibility to practice self-control for the rest of the day. This bullshit set me back over and over again.

The second major regret was waiting so long to get into the gym- I wanted to wait till I had lost “enough” weight so that I wouldn’t be the “fat girl” and I would better fit in and fly under the radar. This type of thinking is SO SO bullshit on so many levels:

  1. That thinking means that the current gym members must be assholes and would look down on me for doing the exact same thing they did… join a gym to get results.
  2. Lifting heavy weight and following a training program is THE fastest way to ignite your metabolism and lose body fat… you know- the results I wanted.
  3. I was intimidated because I knew that I couldn’t perform the way I imagined the members inside the gym could. And I was right. But by not joining- I only confirmed that fact and delayed my own success indefinitely.

 

Here’s the thing- I know it takes a lot of guts to dress up and show up at a gym, especially in the beginning… you don’t know anybody, and you don’t know what to do- and everything feels weird and uncoordinated. You can do yourself a world of favors by hiring a personal trainer ahead of time. By hiring a trainer you can make sure that you not only perform exercises safely and correctly… but it also means that you’ll have a friendly face there too.

Here’s the thing… I think that we listen to the bullshit, like what I listed above, in order to keep ourselves safe. The reality is that we are all just very fragile, delicate souls. We don’t want to reach out and make profound change- because it could mean that we have to be really uncomfortable for a while. It could mean that our friends will be critical, or maybe even distance themselves from us… or coworkers may take potshots at your new “fanatical” ways. Making change would also mean that we have to shrug off our safe/damaging habits… which would leave us alone and defenseless to some dark parts of ourselves that are scary to confront. In fact- I can almost promise that there will absolutely be some really gnarly junk that you are going to have to address… after all, you haven’t been listening to bullshit for all this time, for no reason have you?

There is good news though y’all. Once you start ignoring bullshit, and deal with the real issues that lie beneath… there is happiness, balance, and incredible peace on the other side. It’s not all unicorns and butterflies 24/7… But you begin to recognize all that old bullshit when you see it, and you tell yourself to quit listening. You start defending your inner peace and happiness like your life depends on it- because frankly… it DOES.

So what’s it going to be? Are you going to keep denying yourself your very own happiness… just sloshing along through a fog of a life? Or are you going to call out the BS, shrug it off, deal with it… and claim the goals and dreams that have been sitting here waiting for you all this time?

Much Love,
~January

 

January Shiflett, RKC is a personal trainer, kettlebell instructor, obstacle course racing coach, and resident smart-ass at Maximum Body Training in Cartersville Georgia.   You can contact her for classes and training opportunities at January.Shiflett@me.com

It’s Easy for You… You’re Fit.

beforeafter

“It’s easy for you”… it wasn’t always.

I have ran into this comment a few times recently… some version of “it’s easier for you… you are fit… you like this stuff… you aren’t out of shape.”  I am not put off by it at all… but it always gives me pause.  Perception is a funny thing. Most of my “friends” on social media and followers of my blog are aware of my struggle with weight, and my eventual progress with losing it for good… However, it has come to my attention that I have made quite a few new friends that don’t know my story, and therefore- have quite a skewed perception on my level of health-nutty-ness (there are crazies out there that think I don’t like candy y’all!).  They just know that I am now a kettlebell fiending, obstacle course racing, lover of all foods whole and clean.  But it wasn’t always that way.  Just 3 years ago I was an obese (220lbs on a 5’9 frame), smoking, metabolically damaged, completely out-of-shape, unconditioned, uncomfortable, weak and unhappy woman.

I have previously outlined my history of how I got fat, what I did right with food, and exercise to eventually lose the weight.  And while I have adjusted my food to follow more of a Whole30 food plan, and I now have earned my RKC Instructor certification… The highlight reel still holds true:  good, whole, clean foods and lifting heavy things will get you big results.  Now- 3 years after that Drivers License picture up there… I have started a career as an Personal Trainer and I get to run Obstacle Course Races in all kinds of awesome places.  But the most important is that I am now happy in my own skin, I recognize myself in pictures again, I am no longer a smoker, and I am definitely NOT a weak woman.

3 years ago- to this very month I was searching too, looking all over for answers. And I can tell you with absolute certainty, the answer is YES. YES YOU CAN DO THIS. It comes down to consistent, daily, sustainable, and realistic changes. There will absolutely be hard days that leave you challenged to stay on your food plan, and there will be extraordinarily sore days after working hard for your goals… BUT YOU CAN DO IT. You don’t have to wait for a silly arbitrary resolution to get started… GO. NOW. Start today!  Even a small change like tossing your soda for a water will put you one step ahead for tomorrow.

I would be honored to be part of your journey as you transform your life. Whether you are a mom looking to drop weight and get strong; an athlete that is looking to improve his strength and conditioning; or a weekend warrior needing to train for the next obstacle racing season… I would be honored to work with you as your personal trainer. I work out of Maximum Body Training in Cartersville GA, and I am RKC certified. I offer kettlebell classes, small-group, and private training.  I want to be on your team.  Feel free to contact me anytime for more details: 770-773-5987 or check out my profile at Dragon Door.

Major Announcement…

This symbol means business.

In 33 days I will be attending the RKC Workshop in Atlanta (Cartersville)… My trainer, Beth Andrews RKC is hosting it- and it will be taught by Master RKC Keira Newton (I am loving the fact that this one is being hosted and taught by some badass crazy strong women).  I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to attend this workshop and learn from the best of the best…

Blood. Sweat. Respect.

But if I were being totally honest with y’all- I would admit that I am also full of anxiety about this as well.  This 3 day workshop will be the hardest thing that I have ever done in my life. There is about a 30% failure rate of all of those that attend this course. The amount of mental and physical strength necessary to even think about signing up for this workshop is incredible (check out the requirements here). It’s intense- all day for 3 days- receiving instruction, completing workouts, and then being tested on strength, endurance, and the material presented. It all counts- and any failure means you don’t receive your certification- it’s game over.  Physically I have a mountain of strength, endurance, and technique that needs to be cleaned up and tightened up.  Mentally, I need to pull my collective shit together and focus down on the work that is ahead of me.  Becoming a RKC Instructor is a major goal, would be an epic accomplishment, and a ginormous step towards building my dreams… but it  also demands that you commit yourself 110% to earn the respect that this certification commands.

So that’s it, that’s where I am at guys. I am heading into the cave… it’s time to tear it all down to the foundation and rebuild- both physically and mentally.

The numbers don’t lie… ‘cept when they do.

I have been fighting an INFURIATING fight with *the numbers* over the last 6-8 months. The scale just WILL. NOT. MOVE. And no, I have not forgotten that I recently preached all about “focus on performance, not the scale“. I do totally believe that on the day to day- the excitement of performing new feats is what will keep you getting up early and showing up more than any scale ever will. But all those platitudes aside, we all love to see measurable change- whether it is on the scale, in the tape measure, or even in the fitting room (you know I am right).

I want to stop right here and encourage you if you are in the same boat… Doing all the right things and seemingly not seeing any progress is a really REALLY crappy place to be. Many times a change in diet or work-out regimen is enough jiggle you out of that place. But listen to me on this: stay the course and ignore the little bastard voice that is telling you to jump ship, listen to your trainer- or continue on your training plan- but most importantly- finish what you started.

So my trainer- Beth Andrews, Sr. RKC– took my measurements a few days ago. And frankly- I was disappointed. I wasn’t destroyed. I didn’t go to Dunkin Donuts or anything. But damnit… the changes just weren’t as much as I thought they should be… a quarter inch here, a half inch there. It’s progress, sure… but so so so small. Why don’t I have more to show for all of my efforts? Here are the numbers… It starts with May 2013, when I started working out at MBT after a weight gain from a fractured ankle:
Tape Measurements

Sonofabitch.

Yes- from May 2013 to now is a decent amount of change… But the recent numbers are just barely moving. And the scale was even moredepressing- maybe 5-8lbs since JULY. Beth was firm that I looked different, and wanted to see where my body fat was at with the calipers. So we went thru the pinching, and the adding… and there it was… measurable change. Freaking finally:

19%!!!

19%!!!

Woohoo! Woohoo! Whoohoo!

YESSSS!!! I have been aiming for a body fat percentage under 20% since the very beginning… So I will be honest when I tell you that I may have done the Carlton when I saw that.

Yes, yes, yes… Numbers do not define you. But if you are measuring your change and progress- please let me be an example… take lots of different measurements. By *just* looking at my tape measures and the scale it would appear that I have not made much change at all in the last 6 months. However, my total body fat measures show a completely different story. Those pinches show that I have changed my body *composition*. My area and mass have not changed much- but the amount of toned muscle has increased by grannies, fat has actually been burned away and I do in fact look completely different.

Take pictures. Take tape measures. Record your weight, your fuel, and how you feel. Have your body fat measured. Record your jeans size. All of these things matter… you may not see progress on the scale or in the tape measure- but you may see it in how your jeans fit. And any progress is important and should be measured and celebrated!

Not only am I thrilled with my Body Fat progress- but I don’t feel like shit anymore. I have learned so much about how important food is, about what a balanced training plan looks like, and most importantly how to really listen to my body and decipher the signals it sends me. That said- I don’t have it all figured out- in the least! haha! I have recently started the Metabolic Effect eating plan- and made some realizations on errors in my eating up till now (mostly just not eating enough for all the new muscle, and I wasn’t paying enough attention to fiber). I have learned that as my body changes- I have to make adjustments too… In other words, the diet and exercise that worked for the obese me won’t be the same formula for the overweight me, or the leaner version of me.

On Sunday I will be running the Georgia Spartan Sprint with a good friend, and freshman to the OCR scene. It’s his day to celebrate! He has been rehabbing injury and knee surgeries and working hard for 2 years… AND TOMORROW I WILL WELCOME HIM TO SPARTA! I am so ridiculously giddy! I plan on taking some pictures to post up here for comparison of where I was last year at my own first Spartan race and now… I will blog about it all as soon as the bruises fade- AROO! AROO! AROO!

KEEPING IT REAL… BEFORE AND AFTER.

My ass is clenched so tight right now y’all. I have never typed and backspaced as much in my life, as I have in the last 4 days.

I promised to post up some before and after photos in my recent post about when the numbers lie to you.  I had planned on taking pictures at my Spartan Sprint this past weekend- and pose similarly to photos I took a year ago at my very first Spartan. But frankly, I forgot once I was there and got ridiculously giddy about running the damn race…  Blog Fail. Then, through a boring chain of stupid-iphone-update-is-making-me-homicidal events (Read: I had to back-up my phone) I re-discovered photos I took when I started training with Beth at Maximum Body Training.  So I decided to see if I could find that same bra, and shorts and compare the differences. I couldn’t find the bra- it was tossed early on for getting too big… And I could find the shorts- but not the black ones… I found the same ones in gray. So I took the pictures… pic-stitched them together and started comparing piece by piece.

Okay. No I didn’t. I zero’d in on my belly and stretch marks and loose skin in every. single. picture.  There, I said it, STRETCH MARKS and LOOSE SKIN. ugh.

Clearly I solved the stretch marks last year by applying an Instagram filter to camouflage them, lol. I showed the side-by-sides below to a few close friends and family members who remarked about the changes, how great certain muscles or whatever looked. I replied, “What about my belly? What about those stretch marks? The skin?” Most said they said that they just didn’t notice. So I am here to announce that all of my friends are pathological liars. The whole lot of them. I need new friends.

Then I remembered how impressed I was with Lauren Fleshman’s viral blog post that Runner’s World re-posted about a month ago.  Her before and after photos were taken within ONE WEEK… This woman was part of New York’s Fashion Week with muscles people! She and a handful of other women were part of Oiselle’s Spring Show – she should have been on top of the world! She looked amazing! She gave hope to the rest of us girls out in gyms across America- that the Fashion Industry may just start making room for developed quads and biceps!  But instead, she found fault with images from her practices taken later that week. In these images she was unaware of the camera, not sucking it all in, and not uber flexing everything she had.  She posted ALL of those photos- and the response was overwhelming.

So I’ve decided to woman-up and post mine too. Hell, mine are a before and after from 28% body fat to 19%! I should be proud of those changes- and not just focusing on the marks and the skin. I would love to say that I have turned a corner and can see my body objectively- I am *trying*, but not there yet… My mentality is a work in progress along with my fitness goals.

So here you go- my before and after photos. The before photos are from 5/28/13. There is only about 10 pounds difference between then and now… I will add that I am absolutely sucking it in as hard as I can in the “before” pictures. I remember getting a cramp in my side from “holding it in” so long! It’s embarrassingly true! The “after” pictures are completely un-altered. No filters, no airbrush, no nothing. I didn’t suck it in- but I did make damn sure to stand up straight, lol. Till next time…

Generally firmer throughout core, bingo wings are gone, love handles MIA. Shoulders are starting to appear.

overall progress

Update: 09/29/14… Unfortunately my blog (and the server that it sat on) suffered a SNAFU and the above picture is the only side-by-side that I was able to capture. I do have the original before pictures- and I will post them below, with a few afters from the same time period. But I can’t seem to salvage the original “after” images… Sorry!

Core and Glute

IMG_2455
And here’s an overall shot of how I looked at that time…

If I find my original afters- I will update again! I am so sorry!

It’s not you- it’s your work out.

How many times have you started a diet or new workout regime- that DID work initially, but then plateaued, and perhaps you even gained some weight back? And how many times did you meet this problem with the answer that it “must be me”, “I didn’t go hard enough”, “I wasn’t consistent enough”, etc? So you increase the intensity and frequency- only to get a negative response- like injury or weight gain? Then blame yourself again- for something that MUST have been lacking in YOU?

STOP IT. No really… Stop the thing that is not working. It seems so simple- and really… it is.

When I first started dieting and “working out” (long steady state cardio, like running and biking)- I dropped weight dramatically and fairly quickly at first. After about a month or so- the weight loss started to slow- and eventually stall completely. So I ran longer. I tried (Ha!) to run faster, and more often. It didn’t work- as a matter of fact, the scale started to creep back up! My hard work was reversing! Not only that, but I managed a stress fracture thanks to all that beating of the pavement.

About this time I was exposed to Kettlebells… and I started to dramatically drop weight again, AND I started to see a difference in my physique. I wasn’t just shrinking, my body was morphing out of a fluffy appearance and into more of a toned and athletic appearance. That’s not to say that there weren’t mis-steps and injuries along the way- I was am not a Personal Trainer- so I was throwing punches in the dark with my day to day work out program. That all said, just picking up the weight and educating myself on proper form and technique got me out of the hump- and I saw QUICK results.

Eventually though, even my beloved kettlebells ended up stalling me out at one point, so I moved to more traditional weight lifting workouts- and again saw results. The point is that there are some core elements to losing fat that don’t change: clean whole foods, cutting sugar intake and processed foods out of your diet will always work… Picking up heavy weight is also neccesary for healthy fat loss, improved overall fitness, and ultimately a good looking physique. But what I have found, is that your programming needs to change every 6-8 weeks or so. Just a few weeks of challenging your body in a different way will keep you moving forward… and frankly, my brain enjoys the challenge of learning something new and mastering a different movement. So when your workout stops giving you the results that it once did, do not just double down and kill yourself in the gym- just STOP… it’s not you- it’s your workout.