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 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


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 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

Staying on the Wagon

regretGetting started on a new diet and fitness regime is easy.  I mean really… we all know what we “should be doing”.  And the initial motivation is pretty easy to come by…  being unhealthy and overweight is not fun. And lets assume that you haven’t fallen for any gimmicks (pills, shakes, get-thin-quickies) this time around… and you purchased that gym membership, set an appointment with a personal trainer, and got rid of all of the fake food in your house.  You go with great gusto and determination through the first days, maybe even weeks.  But inevitably, the novelty *will* wear off.  What then?  This is where 95% get bored, sidetracked, and fall off the wagon all together.

So what worked for me, that kept me in the successful 5%?  Well, I do believe that going Paleo, and lifting heavy were absolutely crucial in my campaign.  And I do need to point out that I still abide by a Paleo Lifestyle and Lift Heavy 5-6 days a week, running the other two days.  I will admit that in the beginning, I thought the diet and lifting would be short-term… just to lose the weight and get skinny.  As I highlighted in my introductions, I learned that those changes would have to be permanent for me to be healthy and keep the weight off permanently.  So with the “permanent changes” in mind… you cannot have your special number on the scale as the goal.  At least not as the only goal.  You will reach that special number, then what happens? Well- most people gain the weight back.  And again- we don’t want to be that 95%- or most people.

I think having other goals that are performance based is the best way to stay on track.  Those goals can be competitive or fun- but I really and truly believe that you have to find something that motivates you beyond weight loss.  Having performance goals will keep you going during the plateaus, and keep you engaged and away from boredom.  For me that began with my trainer-friend asking me if I could do a Pull-up or Chin-up.  Nope.  I couldn’t.  But, you know what? I really wanted to be able to do them- when I took a second to think about it.  So I started incorporating exercises and looking up progressions to get me to that first pull-up and chin up.  Soon after that I found out about Obstacle Course Racing (AKA: OCR’s)- like the Spartan Race, Warrior Dash, and the Tough Mudder.  So I started training my running speed and my strength for those courses and obstacles. (I ran my first OCR at the Warrior in Alabama in October ’12, and I will be running my first Spartan Race in March ’13 in Atlanta…. I am so geeky excited!!!).  I also have weight lifting goals- being able to bench press XXX or deadlift YYY.  Yes, my weight continued to trickle down… but that has just been a happy consequence of working hard at my other, more primary, goals.

The point is that there are plenty of days that I really just want to eat that brownie, or say “eff it” to working out. And if “weight loss” were my sole motivator… I would have likely found an excuse. Having other goals have helped combat the “eff it’s” and keep me consistent and motivated… and firmly in the 5%.  🙂

See you next time,

Resolutions Suck.

Resolutions will put you in a van... DOWN BY THE RIVER.

Resolutions will put you in a van… DOWN BY THE RIVER.

I really hate the idea of resolutions or diets even.  I think women (especially) assign a lot of emotions to both of those words.  I know I did, hell I still do.  It may seem like I am splitting hairs when I call my diet a “lifestyle”, my exercise “training”, and my preference to be called “fit or strong”- instead of “skinny”.  The words Diet, Exercise, and even Skinny are totally loaded to me.  All of them sound negative- as if they are punishments for bad behavior and bad eating.  Hell, even “skinny” is a naughty word now… click on FB- it’s loaded with the “Skinny” Girls Vs. “Curvy” Girls graphics and quotes all over the place (I think that skinny and curvy can both find unhealthy extremes, by the way).

I remember a time not that long ago that I did believe that a diet was punishment for a gluttonous appetite, and exercise was the sentence for laziness and sloth.  I know now- that I was setting myself up for disaster with this type of perspective.  Who wants to eat food that they view as a punishment? Who wants to show up and really work out hard- when they only there to fulfill their probation terms for previous sins? No one.  You might last a few days- or hell, with enough determination- a couple of weeks.  But, I am convinced that those negative connotations can make or break your ability to succeed.

Once you are on a diet that works for you- then it does just become the way you do things.  You don’t feel like you are dieting.  The food you eat is just the way you eat now- because it makes you feel good, it relieves you of ailments, and fatigue… It’s just your lifestyle.  I now know that I will suffer from a “carb hangover” if I take in too many carbs… and so I avoid them like the plague.  Do I get cocky every now and then, and think my tolerance is higher than it really is? Sure!  Do I just give up, and keep eating tons of carb-laden food, and other junk that’s not good for me, and makes me feel terrible? No.  But it *is* what I used to do.  “Oh well, I guess I will get back on my diet Monday”.  I can now appreciate how awesome I feel when eating real foods.  So, when I get cocky and off-plan, I don’t want to wait to get back on track with my eating.  Now, I start right away.

It took me a little longer to come around on the exercise thing.  As I have blogged before, I tried straight cardio (again) at the begining of this journey… and found no real results from running alone.  Then I got turned on to Kettlebells and lifting heavy weights.  I now enjoy working with Kettlebells so much that I truly look forward to my workouts..  If you aren’t having fun or if your workouts are becoming boring and monotonous, then you need to change something.  It may be that you just need a challenge, or a friend to workout with to rejuvenate your training time.  But don’t just keep trudging away at it, and hating it.

The final issue that I have with resolutions- is the “all or nothing” tension that goes with them.  How many times have you said “Well, I have already screwed my entire day/week with that Donut, maybe I will try again tomorrow / next week”?  We have all done it.  And then the day becomes 2, or 3- and before you know it- your one of the “failed resolution” statistics.  WHO CARES that you totally screwed up on that last food choice??… Make a better choice the NEXT TIME you have the chance.  You don’t have to wait on some arbitrary date to make better choices.  You don’t have to wait till the calendar says “Monday” to pick up some weights, or go run.  You can do that TODAY- with your very next opportunity.  That’s right- it’s an OPPORTUNITY.

I guess it’s the strict parameters that we invent for our resolutions that set everything off on the wrong foot for me.  Resolutions mean diets and exercise that aren’t tasty or fun.  They mean little forgiveness for goof-ups along the way.  Instead, why not just make a *decision*? For instance- if you need to get your eating on track, then just decide that you want to change your eating habits at every opportunity.  The same for exercise- just make a decision to be more active today than you were yesterday.  For instance, you can try to replace your beverages with water at every opportunity. Or, you can try to park further away from the door at work to walk a little bit more today than you did yesterday.  I think that small changes are far more fair to your body and mind.  They are easier to incorporate into our routines, and stick with. And when we feel the rewards and benefits from small changes, it’s easier to be motivated to stick with it- and eventually add more goals.  Additionally, when we make BIG CHANGES we expect BIG, QUICK results… and our bodies just don’t work that way.  There is a reason that all the gimmicky ads for weight loss include the disclaimer that their *results are not typical*.  HaHa!

As I stated back on New Years Eve, I am thrilled and excited for 2013…  I hope that you are over your New Years Resolutions by now… and are looking forward to just making different decisions in 2013!

Kettlebell Day: 12/20/12

My sister in law is in town for the holidays and was game to work out with me today (WHHHEEEEEEEEE! A workout buddy yea!!!!)… She is just getting started with Kettlebells- and rocked it out with 30 seconds work and 30 seconds rest- going for two rounds.  Several people have asked me what to do in the beginning… She did exactly what I would suggest: shorter work times, less rounds (2 instead of 3), and she modified some the exercises to her capability. We both did the same weight- because I only have one set and we wanted to workout together.  I will list our workout below and I will put my sister-in-laws modifications in for those that are just starting out to see.

*A quick word about modifications… I make them when I don’t have the correct equipment or space, but they can also be made for your skill level too.  Just make sure you trade “like exercises for like exercises”. So an upper body pull should be switched for another upper pull, or push for push, or cardio for cardio.  For instance- if you don’t have the bench to jump over and back on- switch it for mountain climbers or burpees… as those get your heart rate up quickly just like the jump overs.  If the workout calls for renegade rows and you don’t have two KB’s of the same size to do them (or the capability)- then switch to bent over rows with dumbbells.  If you can’t do a full push-up, do inclined push-ups instead.  My point is that many exercises target similar areas as others- and while it may not be as “optimum” as the one the program has for suggested you do- you can compensate for it instead of cutting the move all together.  Cutting the move all together will likely leave you with an unbalanced work-out (one side worked, but not the reverse side).  Hope that makes sense… Feel free to comment if not, lol!

ANYWAY! On with the workout! Here is what we did (my SIL’s is in italics), and my reps are in the brackets. Go HERE to see the original work-out with out my modifications in it – and her video tutorial is imbedded in there as well 🙂

1. 50lb Deadlift Plus Burpee (10, 10, 10)
~50lb Deadlifts
2. Alternating Swings – 25# (28, 26, 25)
~2 Handed Swings – 25#
3. Dynamic Pushups (12, 10, 12)
~Inclined Pushups
4. Skater Hops (36, 34, 30)
5. Standing Bent Over Rows (18, 19, 24)
6. Alternating Single Leg Glute Bridges (20, 22, 23)
7. Mountain Climbers (40, 27, 39)
Then I RKC planked (click HERE for the how-to) for a personal record of 40 seconds… I am writing this 6 hours after the workout- and dudes- I am feeling that plank!

Repeat for 3 rounds at 40 seconds working and 20 seconds of rest.  If beginning- start out with 20 or 30 seconds of working and 30 seconds of rest. Again- I use the Gymboss App (Free!!) to keep up with the time and rounds.  Many Congrats to my Badass-Sister-From-Another-Mother…  She worked freaking HARD! I am so excited for her and this new adventure that she is on….

See you next time!

Unlearning Everything I Thought I Knew (Pt. 2)- Fitness

So, where were we… March 2012. I was down 40 total pounds from November weighing in in the low 180’s.  It was spring, and I knew I needed to get my body MOVING if the scale was going to continue to track downwards.  So, I did the same thing as before- Crazy Long Ass Cardio Workouts.  And the scale wasn’t budging, not even a pound.

I just happened to be shooting (I am also a photographer, not a hunter) a good friend of mine, who is also a Personal Trainer. I told her about what I was doing… and it not working.  Her response was simple: “Get a Kettlebell, it’ll get you results and fast”.  I didn’t even know what a kettlebell was.
Instead of regurgitating everything I researched and found along the way- I am just going to list off the big misconceptions and lies I had to unlearn, with links to people that have said it way better than I ever could:

  • Lifting Heavy Weights Is a Must in Fat Loss.  You *can* lose fat and build muscle all at the same time. See 30 reasons why here.
  • You Will NOT get BIG and Bulky from lifting heavy. I don’t know who started that myth way back whenever… I am convinced that they were scared of strong women.  This is such a BIG HUGE LIE. Unless you are a Dude, with Dude hormones- OR are taking anabolic hormones you simply CANNOT get bulky.  God just didn’t make us girls that way.  Take it up with him.  For evidence, I offer Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C, and I could list dozens.  Just believe me on this.  You have been lied to. (That is unless you think my exhibits look bulky-  and if that’s the case, I can’t help you- maybe an optometrist can.)
  • Lifting Man Weights Can be FUN.  Yep… Click it and check it out.
  • Kettlebells are THE secret Weapon.  There are many articles you can google and find out why Kettlebells are the bomb… but here is one from an Author I trust and an organization that is responsible for certifying trainers in the way of the Kettlebell.

That’s it.  Yep… my exercise lesson is really that freaking simple. Lift heavy stuff.  Put it back down. Do it again. And again. If you want some endurance- go get yourself some cardio.  But just don’t count on it for fat loss.  In order to lose weight, you gotta lift it. I have totally been bitten by the Obstacle Course Racing bug (like spartan races, warrior dashes, etc)… and there is an expectation that you run in between the obstacles (geez!)… so I include training for trail running in my workout rotation.  I am not saying Cardio is bad… it’s great for heart and lung health, endurance and conditioning.  My only point is that cardio should be done for *good health*, and weight training should be done for fat loss (although it obviously contributes to good health as well).

As for my results: I started seeing muscles take form and tone up within just a week or two of starting with Kettlebells (at that time I was doing them every other day for 20 minutes, taking the weekend off). The fat just peeled off of me. I have continued to see toning and reshaping every week with my kettlebell. Then in May or so, I began to incorporate traditional HEAVY weight training into my workout rotation. I love lifting heavy for so many reasons- but the main one is just because I CAN. I am *that* strong that I can bench press, deadlift, squat, etc with weights in the triple digits in my hands. Also I have been able to focus on some areas that I wanted to improve even further on. For instance, I decided one day that I would like to have an ass- since I am not genetically predisposed to having one… So I have been a deadlifting, squatting, hip thrusting FOOL since then- lol!)
I now weigh about 20 pounds more than the day I got married- I was a size 8/10 back then.  However, I am now a size 4 in jeans. Clearly, I am smaller now (even though I weigh more), than I was 13 years ago- before I had children! The point is don’t just watch the scale to measure your success. I keep up with measurements, pant sizes, pictures, and the scale.  Don’t depend on just one. Speaking of pictures- here is what I look like now…

August 2012

August 2012

October 31, 2012

October 31, 2012

I don't *think* I look big and bulky :)

I don’t *think* I look big and bulky 🙂 December 2012

My two “go to” resources for my workouts are:

Kettlebell days: www.myomytv.com and if you are new to Kettlebells- check out her Beginners Corner.
Weight Lifting Days: I pretty much follow this workout on Nia Shanks page- and just increase my weight every week. Scroll about half way down, she has a 3 day plan there.  She explains why only 3 days in the body of the blog post.
Off Days: I do nothing, or maybe go for a run 🙂

Yea!!!! The introductions are OVER! Now I can get on with the fun stuff that I really created the blog for… the daily workouts, fun links, etc. etc.  Please feel free to leave your thoughts, responses and questions below! There you have all the info on how I got fat, unlearning everything about food, and now the fitness part.  Thanks for reading! See you after my next work out!