Before and After

Much like most of you we have all seen the before and after pictures from the quick fix products on the market. The electronic ab stimulator to give you the six pack of your dreams, the waist trainer to shove your organs around into unnatural places but give you the tiny waist to fit what you think is expected, pills that will accelerate your metabolism and help drop pounds like a bad habit…..which coincidentally bad habits are really freaking hard to drop. Here’s looking at you Ben and Jerry’s you delicious assholes.

There have been plenty of people blowing up the before and after pictures by showing what stance and lighting can do to make a person appear dramatically different. However…we put so much emphasis on before and after. While I do love the before and afters on HGTV and seeing what someone can upcycle…..we are humans. Before what and after what. You are leading a long life and there are going to be many events contributing to your appearance. You are going to have highs and lows that will affect your relationship with food and alcohol and drugs and everything else in between for the better and worse.

We are all magnificent little disasters that get to fall, and mess up, and fight, and shame eat candy bars in the safety of our own cars and pretend it didn’t happen because no one saw it. It’s all going to happen and it’s okay. There’s also going to be times that you are going to reach personal bests, you’re going to be on point with feeding your body for fuel and not for the love of cake and beer. Yes cake and beer together, don’t knock it until you try it (but be smart about your pairing don’t be a savage).

After all of this let’s get to the point. My sister in law encouraged me to try a clean and lean eating challenge with her gym. I need something to push me back into really focusing on my nutrition so I can stop trying to out exercise a bad diet. Which by the way  – is legitimately impossible. Trust me. I accepted the challenge and signed up. I’ve committed to taking it seriously. Then they asked me for “before” pictures and my heart stopped. I run past the mirror when I get in the shower because I hate how I look naked. I can give you the number off the scale – no problem, I can take the measurements no problem. Images of my showing every inch of my body I work overtime to hide and draw attention away from.. Dear sweet baby infant jesus up in heaven in your golden fleece diapers….please no. You know what a huge part of making a change in your life is? Getting uncomfortable. What is that stupid motivational quote…change happens outside of your comfort zone? Uggh.

So without further ado, here is me right now, as I am. Before the clean eating challenge, but after many years of life and adventure and ups and downs and failures and successes. This body is strong and capable. It has crossed 5 ironman triathlon finish lines, completed tough mudders, completed marathons and half marathons. Those legs can press upwards of 450lbs, and squat grown ass men at the bar. My arms have been getting stronger by the day and in the gym I feel strong and beautiful. So why when I take my shirt off does all of that melt away?



Remember that no matter how big or small you feel that you look. No matter how strong or weak your body is  – not do define yourself by before and after. Define yourself by where you are right now. Every battle you have fought to get here, and every goal you have set for yourself in the future.

We are all some beautiful sons of bitches. Even if we don’t always feel like it or believe it.



Happy People on Social Media

Hi All, Liz here. It’s been a while, but life has been a little crazy. Everyday crap, emotional roller coaster, got accidentally drunk on a Monday night – the usual. Side note – if you are feeling some kind of way I suggest Victory Brewing sour monkey. Deeeelicious.

Isn’t social media great? You get to keep up with old friends, share pictures with family that live far away, watch video’s of dogs being rescued, stalk your old high school nemesis or your ex, compare your life with what you are seeing others post, curl up in the fetal position and cry……wait a second. We took a turn.

We all do it. Take a picture –

“Oh lawd no I have a double chin in that we gotta retake it.”

“Ohhh wait until the wind blows so that I get a beautiful wind blown look.”

“Susan, you look great in that picture but I look huge – don’t post it.”

“Hmmmm this is good…..but if I put this filter on it…money #nofilter #blessed”

You want to put your best self out there. You want to world to see you as the happiest, healthiest, most entertaining version of yourself. You want to write the story you tell and go ahead and blot out the not so great parts. If you’re like me you’re just insecure enough to believe it most of the time.

I have literally cried when upon making the regrettable decision to facebook stalk old friends (you all do it so don’t even judge me) I haven’t spoken to in ages and see their beautiful wedding pictures and dream honeymoon. It somehow makes me feel less than – it shouldn’t – but it does. They are all married and here’s Liz skipping off to Philadelphia chasing love only to end up single with two wieners. (for those of you who are really confused I have two dachshunds who are the sassiest wieners in town). How did my life turn out this way and that person is so happy skating through life with her buff manfriend who probably makes six figures.

I also LOVE to punish myself by going back and looking at pictures of myself in my prime when I was in top ironman training mode and the smallest and fittest I’ve ever been. I berate myself over where I am today and how much weight I’ve gained and end up feeling sad instead of motivated. Great job coach Liz. In reality life is a marathon not a sprint. Some miles you’re going to feel like a damn gazelle just hopping through life with your perfect little gazelle horns and swoon worthy legs. Some miles you are going to feel more like a seven hundred year old hippo with a bad hip trudging through and fighting to keep one foot in front of the other.

Last week I somehow made the mistake of looking at my Ex’s facebook. To quote Julia Roberts in Pretty Women, “Big Mistake. Big. HUGE.” He has a new girlfriend and any wind in my sails was promptly knocked out. Wasn’t expecting him to meet someone new before I did. The words that actually came out of my mouth were, “Someone wants him, and no one wants me.” In other words, I’m in a super healthy state of mind.

When I scroll through my social media images and posts for the most part I realize I am guilty of this too. Am I saying everybody snap a pic next time you’re ugly crying and post it for the world to see? Absolutely not, but I am saying the next time you find yourself looking through all those smiling faces and perfect families remind yourself that this is a snapshot of a much bigger picture. Social media is not real life. When you really break it down social media is essentially a scripted show. You are in total control of what people see and don’t see. For every perfectly posed picture you see, there is another beautiful disaster you aren’t seeing. Try and be strong, try and remind yourself you are not comparable to anyone else. You are a fucking magical unicorn and perfect exactly as you are. Also, don’t facebook stalk your ex. It wont end well.



More Than Just Sports

I know a lot of people who think sports are just a game. A thing that people take way too seriously, and allow to control too much of their life. To them I say, “Poo poo on you.” Sports are so much more than just a game, just a contest, just men in tight pants (here’s looking at you baseball pants oww owwwwww). Let’s have a look at a few examples of how sports have affected people in ways deeper than JUST a game.


When we were children my parents always made sure that my brothers and I were involved in sports. We all played tennis, Softball/baseball, basketball, and almost all of us were on the swim team. Putting us in those situations molded us all into strong, hard working, social, well adjusted adults with irritable bowel syndrome. Okay, that last part is unrelated…or is it? Sports cause IBS – someone do that scientific study and get back to me. See below for adorable pictures of my brothers and I becoming semi decent human beings. Unrelated…should i start bringing the bows back?


However, being involved in all of those things did teach us interpersonal skills that have been invaluable to our successes as adults. It built in us an ability to create relationships and take on leadership roles. It taught us it is okay to strike out because that is going to happen in life – you will have failure. The question is how you approach the next at bat. Do you step back up to the plate frustrated, shoulders tight, and mind already checked out. Or do you step back up to the plate loose, positive, and not worried about the fact you struck out last time? Good Lord baseball/softball is ripe with encouraging metaphors!


In middle and high school playing sports teaches you time management, and how to prioritize your responsibilities. It strengthens your ability to communicate and work as a part of a team, and in some special cases it allows our precious young adults to blossom into the leaders they were born to be. In some cases during these years the coaches of these teams become a strong, sometimes the only, positive influence in their lives. Some find the structure and support they don’t have elsewhere in their lives. Some find a confidant or father/mother figure they may not have at home. For some it is a haven in the storm; a safe place to be when everything else in their world crumbles. A place it is okay to take out aggression in a controlled and focused way. For some it is all they have to keep them moving.


Going into college sports can mean a person actually getting to go to school when they never dreamed it financially possible. It is a stepping stone for the few hardest working and most dedicated to really hone their craft before they take the next step onto the big stage. It teaches people to rely on their teammates and trust that they will always have their back.


In life sports can be a gathering. My family gathers every Sunday to watch Green bay together. I know many other families that through tough times (here’s looking at you teenage years) a mutual love of a pro or college team has been the thread that held a relationship from falling apart, or the stitch that started to bring it back together. Memories of going to your first stadium – last forever. I know fathers and sons who have gone to the same stadium and sat in the same seats for decades to cheer on the ever changing lineup of the same team. Watching sports gives you a common goal, a shared passion, a band aide during times of trouble. It is so much more than a game.


I vividly remember getting the news that my aunt had taken her own life. We drove straight through from Chattanooga, TN to Cedarburg, WI for the funeral. It was a flurry of events seeing family we hadn’t seen in years. I didn’t get to know my aunt as well as I would have liked, but I know my dad and I know her children and my heart broke into a thousand pieces for them. That weekend we decided to stay in Wisconsin upon the request of some of the family members to watch the super bowl all together. It was such a beautifully broken moment for this to be what brings us all together. That night in my aunt’s house we watched the Green Bay Packers win the super bowl.  That night football was more than a game.


So to anyone who thinks sports are just a game. Sports are a magical unicorn that can take many forms, and serve many purposes. Take a minute to remove yourself from the hooplah of the huge business industry that college and professional sports have become and focus instead on the little kid with the foam finger and their proud parents.

Comfort Zone or Happy Fat Zone

I had an entirely different blog almost completed and maybe I’ll finish it one day, but today I have something much more urgent I need to get out. Comfort zones. Comfort zones have ALWAYS led me to grow stagnant. In my case growing stagnant means….getting like maybe a little pudgy. When I say a little pudgy I mean like I can pack on 30 pounds in 4-5 months. That is a skill I am not super proud of. I have started to think of what pushes me into these comfort zones. Or what about these comfort zones lulls me into a state of making excuses for myself and rationalizing the terrible choices I make with food.


I got into a comfort zone in high school. I stopped playing sports because I wasn’t the best at them anymore.  Drinking and hanging out with people who probably weren’t the best crowd was my first comfort zone. I had a car and they didn’t, I had a job and they didn’t, and I felt wanted because they needed these things. I also lived on a diet of fast food and beer. My personal favorite was when I would eat – JUST – a bag of chips. For those of you who are like a bag of chips isn’t the worst, and is only 100-200 calories. Well I am offended by you because you assume all I can handle is a snack bag. HA! I would eat a family size bag one serving at a time throughout the day, but I rationalized it by saying I only had one bag and it was only 120 calories per serving. I don’t want to shock anyone, but I didn’t lose any weight. However, I did lose all of those friends who when I ran out of things to give them disappeared.


After deciding to get out of that comfort zone it was clear to me that it needed to involve exercise, and possibly cutting bag to half a family size bag of chips (…you know…everything in moderation). So in true Liz form I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I joined a gym started working out, and then celebrated each workout with a Wendy’s frosty and sometimes some nuggets if I had worked extra hard. YOLO. I was losing weight though because I had so much to lose so I got comfortable there. Work my ass of and celebrate with Wendy’s. At some point as any athlete will know you hit a plateau and have to shake things up. Small issue, shaking things up is uncomfortable. Unless you’re shaking up a cocktail, and then that’s totally cool.


Here we are again, all comfy and safe and happy…..and fat. Time to get out of my comfort zone again. This time it is at the hands of Tobe Taylor. I started seeing him for personal training and a little more accountability. You don’t actually know fear until you are paying a person to train you and you have to step on a scale in front of them weekly. Then the excuses you can come up with for why you didn’t drop x number of pounds get nuts. Whooping cough, west Nile, the plague, death, my mothers brothers cousins fathers cousins made me a pie and I couldn’t not eat it because that would have been rude, I tripped and landed in  bath tub of ice cream and had to eat my way out to survive, I got jumped and instead of robbing me they forced me to eat pizza at gun point. Somehow this guy got through to me and I dropped down to 139 pounds. I was motivated and dedicated and I was comfortable there. Until I wasn’t anymore. Then I slipped backwards and packed on a few more pounds and found a happy balance.


That lasted for a few months until my comfort zone became more comfy and less exercisey. Oops. I vividly remember realizing I had done it again. I was sitting in my bedroom floor in my parents house and I had just stepped off the scale and was crying. When my mom asked what was wrong I told her I had done it again. I weighed in at 155 pounds. I had thrown away months and years of hard work and self control down the drain, and I knew it only gets harder to lose it the older you get. Here we go again.


A dear sweet friend of mine thought it would be a good idea for me to do an ironman triathlon. I was drinking so I agree’d. I trained my ass off for the next year and made that ironman my bitch. I finished in 13 hours and 15 minutes I think and I took second place in my age group, which was quite a feat considering there were only two people racing in my age group. I pretty immediately signed up for the next same race the following year…..but I didn’t really start training for it….like barely at all. Spoiler alert…the weight crept back on.


I lost the weight….again….and then I met a boy. My workouts became less frequent because I was having dinner with him, drinks with him, seeing movies with him, and definitely not exercising with him. I slipped into a comfort zone there that as long as he loved me as I was I would learn to love myself even if I was a little bigger than I was comfortable with. Another comfort zone, another rationalization of less than my best.


When he moved away it shock me yet again out of my comfort zone. I had three jobs and was still fitting in workouts but too busy to stop and eat. I dropped down to 135 pounds and didn’t even try or realize. I did not get to this weight in a healthy manor – let’s just go ahead and cover that. I was having cucumber soda (shout out Mr. Q) and two brownies for dinner at 4PM and then working a 5 hour serving shift and having cocktails after work (hey their cucumber cooler at 1885!). My body I think just gave out on me.


I moved to Philadelphia and was reunited with lord Voldemort (he who was not be named), and I fell effortlessly back into the comfort zone. Working out less an going out for food and drinks with him more. I slipped back down the mountain, we broke up, and I just powered through it by eating every feeling I had for a solid year. Hear a song that made me think of him? Shove a cheesesteak on top of it. Have a thought about him with a new girl? Drown it with a bottle of wine. Start feeling worried that you don’t feel that sad? Better order a pizza just to be safe.


That became the new comfort zone. Eating my feelings. Folks….that’s not a good comfort zone. I’ve been floundering. The double whammy for me is the bigger I get the harder my depression and anxiety are to control. Fat Bastard said it best, “I eat because I’m unhappy, and I’m unhappy Because I eat. The best therapy for me is sweating out and pushing myself. When I’m not sweating it out and pushing myself I have a lot more feelings to eat. Vicious cycle. So here we are. Well here I am….at 166 pounds. For those of you who struggle with math…let me take the guess work out of it for you. I have gained 30 pounds since I moved to Philadelphia. If that doesn’t slap you in the face I don’t know what will!


So over the last few months I’ve struggled with finding a way to shake myself out of my comfort zone. I let a friend talk me into doing another tough mudder. I have avoided this since my first tough mudder in 2012. Side note – When your doctor tells you that you should not do a race because you have a 103 fever and you are very sick. Listen. If you decide you can still do it and drive to the race, but it ends up being 20 something degrees and multiple obstacles require you to be submerged in ice water…GO HOME. Naturally I ran the race and it was the worst day of my life…. but, I digress. I accepted the challenge and bullied another friend into joining me. I went into it scared I would fail at everything because I’m like maybe a bit chunkier than usual. I was worried that I would be th weak link on the team of people that I really didn’t know or they would judge me for my big ol beer belly.


I was terrified, though you would have never known it. I could not have been further from the truth. These people welcomed me with open arms. They were genuinely beautiful people inside and out. We laughed, we peed in obstacles surrounded by other people, and I think I have some new friends. In the least they are definitely invited to the wiener dog race.


Moral of the story. Never get comfortable. Never settle. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Push yourself, and never allow yourself to settle for less than. You’ll always struggle and worry and second guess, but take the leap and see if you fly.




Run Forrest, Run!

How many of you love running? How many of you hate running? Let’s Discuss!

Running is great exercise and we all know it, but it sucks. Then I sucks some more, and sucks a little more and then it REALLY sucks. Then one day it’s tolerable. Then a few days later it has become part of your routine and if you skip a run or miss a few days you are bummed that you are not running. That was my story.

I hated running in school. I thought people who ran cross country were nut jobs. Who would run miles when you could get in a car and drive!? Running sprints and conditioning work were my least favorite part of every sport I ever played. Then as you may know from my previous posts….i got fat. Like really fat. See Below:


So I started running little by little. At first to run a mile was a huge challenge, but soon enough I could run 3 miles and I fell into a habit of not pushing for more. Shortly after I got bored with it and quit. I started gaining some weight back and had to do some soul searching. I realized I wasn’t going to stick with anything running or otherwise unless I was working towards something. Liz needs goals – this is a fact. I ran a 5k, and it was heaven. I actually have a selfie I took while running my first 5k. The fun fact about this selfie is that it was taken with an actual digital camera. As in I was running with an actual digital camera taking pictures of my self. Not something I’m proud of….but definitely something I did. See Below:

runing selfie

Slowly I started running longer distances and entering longer races. I joined the Chattanooga Triathlon Club (Holler!) and found the most supportive home for perusing a healthier lifestyle I possibly could. More importantly, I found some of my closest friends. It’s amazing the difference being with genuinely amazing people will take your mind off of the terrible thing your legs are doing. So without further ado, Here is my “what running is to me”.

Running to me is so many things. Running is therapy. Running is communion. Running is a challenge. Running is a ugly. Running is beautiful. Running is undefinable.  There are some runs where I process all the anger I have pent up from the stresses of work and life. There are others where I literally cry while I run because there are emotions I don’t know how else to let out. Some times I’m just smiling like a fool the whole time I run because everything seems to be right in my world for just that moment. Sometimes I have particularly grey days where I feel nothing so I force myself to run to make myself feel….something, to make myself cope. Running is a chance for two people with very busy lives to catch up, laugh, and share in life’s highs and lows together. Sometimes you’re running and your stomach is like hey you have a choice to make….poop yourself or poop in the woods. Spoiler alert, I have done both. Sometimes you plan to go out on a 3 mile run and all the sudden you have finished 9 miles. On the flip side sometimes you plan to run 15 miles and all the sudden you only ran 2 and you’re at Dalessandro’s taking a cheesesteak to the face without stopping to breathe. You win some runs, you lose some runs, and sometimes your run will give you the runs….but I digress.

One of my new favorite things to do is pose the question of the blog to as many people as possible with very little direction. So I asked some runners I know to give me a little blurb about what running is to them, and their favorite songs to run to.

I run with no music, headphone or even my phone, it is my time to be away from everything and enjoy the rhythm of feet and pavement and sights. . . to unplug for a bit.  It is truly mental vacuuming.
Male – 46

I HATE running. There I said it. When I was younger, someone told me they felt closer to God while running. I want that, but I don’t have that. For the approximately 40 minutes I “run” my 3.1 miles (yea, I’m slow), all I can think about is not stopping or how much longer I have. I’ve regretted many things in my life, but going for a run is not one them. I don’t feel magically better, I’m not super skinny, and it’s not any easier 2 years later than when I first started, but for those minutes while I’m running, I don’t have room to think about anything other than finishing. The stress of life, the constant reminder of regret, the overwhelming sadness in the world, none of it matters while I run. Those minutes of peace keep me sane, so while I hate every aspect of running (almost), I’ll continue to run
Female – 29

When I’m running I don’t worry about anything but running. I’m not thinking about what I should be doing or what I’m doing next. I just think please don’t die, just breath. I guess running is MY time to myself.
 I don’t really have a song that I listen to when I run but anything from Yelawolf or Ritz are on the top of the list.”
Female – 31

Running changed my life. I started running sophomore year in college. I didn’t like it at first, but no one does. I decided that I needed to make a positive change in my life. I was a really big partier and a huge pot head. I was always good with school and got good grades so I never really saw a problem with my college lifestyle. Until I noticed that I was getting depressed, overweight and just generally feeling unhealthy.
I started by running one mile and as time went on I added distance and increased speed. Over the summer of 2010 I was fucking awesome at running and loved it. That fall I completed my first half marathon. I finished it about an 1:45. Which was very unexpected and a huge morale booster. I continued running and in 2011 I completed the same half marathon from previous year (Virginia Beach Rock n Roll half). Finished in 1:32 which is a little under 7 min miles. I felt awesome. Today, I mainly do CrossFit but still love going on runs. Running made me realize that being healthy and active is part of being a happy, productive human.
My favorite song to run to Firestarter by Prodigy
Male – 27

Running began as a stress outlet and has evolved into something I can no longer live without. No matter how horrible or unmotivated I feel, going for a run turns my day around every single time
Female – 27

Running means finding my inner voice and seeking challenge (since it is my weakest link in triathlon). My favorite song to run to is DJ got us fallin in love
Female – 49

Running. I HATE running, but I still try to force myself to do it because I know how important it is to my health. In every sport I played growing up, running was a form of punishment so I was conditioned to hate it and have never really been able to shake that. That being said, when I do run, I find slower rhythmic rap and rock music really help me keep pace and control my breathing. As for a specific song, I usually start with Glycerine by Bush as I build from a slow jog to my running pace.”
Male – 30

Things I love about running: being in nature, being with my friends, the feeling of accomplishment, and discovering new trails that you’d definitely never find while sitting on the couch. With running there are so many ways to challenge yourself. If i’s beating a time goal, climbing a mountain, finishing a race, or completing a section of trails you have never gotten to experience before. There’s always something new. If i don’t run i just plain feel bad mentally, physically, and emotionally. To put it simply… without running sucks! I’ve never regretted going for one, but i have regretted missing one.”
Female – 38

Running used to be the worst part of exercising for me. When I was in high school I was known for getting sick when I ran long distances. Now I try so hard to convince myself to run each day or a couple times a week, because I know it’s the only consistent way to alleviate my back pain. Now I see running everyday as a necessary healthy habit.
Female – 26

Running is great because it can be whatever I want it to be. It can be relaxing, or it can be competitive. I can use it to clear my head, or to give myself uninterrupted thinking time. It’s nostalgic (I’ve been running since I was 8 years old), but it also helps me stay current with what’s happening around town. I don’t run with music. But I always get songs stuck in head. “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon and “Little Secrets” by Passion Pit both pop up pretty frequently.
Male – 29

Again, it’s amazing to see how people can have such different views and approaches to the same things. I would jump off a bridge before i could run without music. Yet for some people being alone with their thoughts and nature is a must. For me that is terrifying. Whatever running means to you – keep doing it, and encourage others to. Run with slow people, challenge yourself to run with fast people, push yourself out of your comfort zone and strive to be your best. Or take up cycling and be gentle on your joints. Your call.




Cut Your Groove

You got a melody make them hear it. Shout it out loud and clear. Until you rattle the walls of the atmosphere, start right now, start right here. The world keeps spinning like an old Victrola, round and round, over and over. When the needle drops down whatcha gonna do? Life is a record baby cut your groove.” – Charlie Worsham

How many people have given up on something because it got hard? Or stopped trying because there were a few road blocks? Big or small please keep going. I’ve learned over the years that the pursuit of something can be a huge motivator. What is my dream? I’ve had various dreams and it turns out….I’m a big fat quitter.

In middle school I played volleyball, basketball, tennis, and softball. I was pretty good at each sport, but I would say I was head and shoulders above average in tennis and volleyball. That wasn’t without practice – my volleyball coach also went to my pool and knew me from a young age.

It was that coach – Shout out Coach Peigen – who took hard work seriously. I went to her volleyball camps every summer. One of the tee shirts from summer camp had one of the most thought provokingly terrible quotes in history on it, “Losers quit when they’re tired, winners quit once they’ve won, I never quit.” She was hard on me, not unfairly, but I use to cringe every time I heard her yell “REGNITZ!!”. She knew I was capable of more, and she would not settle for less then my full effort and concentration. She expected us to show up to every practice ready to work, but she was also the first person to make sure I was okay and my mom was doing well when she was diagnosed with cancer when I was in middle school.

As much as it pains me to say it; sometimes when I’m working on something athletically or just in life and I start to slack or try to quit early….somewhere deep in the back of my head I still here her yelling “REGNITZ!!!” and end up picking up the pace. She instilled in my some killer volleyball skills – didn’t try and break my unique service habits…spoiler my arm motion in volleyball looks a lot like my tennis serve. In high school I left my safe familiar volleyball home with coach Peigen. I made it to my new school and made varsity my freshman year, and did pretty well my sophomore and JR years. My senior year we got a new coach. Who told me that he could tell I was the heart and soul of the team, but I was short so he would probably just rotate me in to serve and then rotate me back out. I didn’t like that. I worked so hard to earn my spot and this guy thought he knew something.  So I quit.

Tennis – my parents spent A LOT of money on getting my brother and I into camps, private coaching, good equipment, and in my case the best tennis fashion a girl could have. Shout out Mom! We both got good. My brother I will admit, better than me. My brother played through high school and actually was on the state champion team. I played all through middle school and was undefeated all through middle school. I also purposely put my self in second seed on my team to ensure my ability to win. Thus, settling for less than the best from myself. I got into high school and had to choose between softball and tennis  – tennis won my first year. Unfortunately, I had stopped private lessons and consistent practice somewhere in middle school and apparently all the other kids at my new school….had not. So, I quit.

Basketball – my parents had my in YMCA leagues etc as a kid and I played all through middle school where I excelled. I got to high school and played for one season and hated it because I wasn’t the top dog anymore. My parents made a deal with me that if I gave it another season they’d get me a cell phone. I accepted the deal, and then quit. Sorry mom and dad.

Softball, I played as far back as I could remember and I was never the best, but my enthusiasm and leadership in team settings kept me in the game here. That and my willingness to dive and slide in dirt and play through pain. I got to high school and after I quit tennis after one season I fell back to softball. We were terrible, and after one season…..wait for it…..I quit.

Swimming. I am a fish. I think I was a dolphin in a previous life. I grew up spending my entire summer in the water. I swam competitively my entire childhood and had some success. When I got into grade school and picked up volleyball, basketball, and got more serious about tennis something had to give. Since very few schools in Chattanooga, TN had swim teams I quit.

I have always had dreams of being a singer. I wanted to be Shania Twain. I love singing, and writing songs is extremely therapeutic for me. I wanted to learn how to play guitar, and I learned how to play probably C, A, and G. before I quit because I wasn’t learning I over night. I continued singing and working with another guitar player. We played a couple open mic nights and people complimented me, but no secret talent scout showed up after two open mic nights and gushed over my writing and singing abilities while begging me to sign to their label. So, I quit.

There is only one thing in my life I have not quit on, Ironman triathlon. As I gear up for my 5th Ironman I am starting to take stock of my past decisions. It’s really easy to quit. It’s really easy to make excuses. It’s really, really hard to gut it out when it hurts, and you’re tired, and every muscle in your body says stop. That goes for all things in life. In sport, in work, in relationships, and in everything else you go through. It is how you handle it when things get tough that will define you. Do you quit or do you rise up to the occasion?

Which is what brings us back to that thought provokingly terrible quote. After I sat down and thought about my life, and all the decisions I have made it finally makes sense. “Losers quit when they are tired, winners quit when they’ve won, I never quit”. Now I look at this as a reminder to not settle. Never quit pushing yourself, and never settle for less than your best. If life was a record is yours skipping all over the place from all the times you have quit or given up? Or is it going to play a beautiful song with some pops and crackles from life’s challenges and successes? How did you cut your groove?



Finding the Happy Switch

Depression. I’m willing to wager that a lot of people either cringe or scoff when they hear that word. For some people it is an excuse for others to seek attention and pity because it isn’t a real disease. For others it is the monkey on their back that no matter how hard they work at breaking free from it, they are just carrying that little bugger everywhere with them. Sometimes that little monkey takes a nap and you are free to enjoy life, but you’re kind of always aware he is still there and could wake up at any moment and wreck you all over again. Anxiety. Reread the last couple sentences, #samesies.

I grew up not fully understanding the concept, not understanding that this was an actual diagnosable mental illness, and not understanding there wasn’t some mythical switch you could flip and “just be happy” like so many people advised. It seems like such a simple thing when you’re feeling low and blue to just….be happy. Unfortunately, for all the people who believe in the just be happy approach depression and anxiety are a little different from your everyday sadness or feeling the blues.

When I am in the thick of it I feel completely isolated and alone and like the only ability I have to communicate this is by weeping. To the point I have had to call a friend to literally lay on top of me so that hopefully the actual physical pressure would slow my head down long enough to catch a breath. I can’t communicate what is wrong and why I am feeling this because….I myself do not know why. Sometimes I am slapped right in the face with a nicely seasoned cast iron skillet full of overwhelming sadness with a side of no one loves you gravy for no apparent reason. Sometimes I feel so alone that I fully believe I am a burden on any path I cross and I just stop crossing paths. I have gone through periods of my life where I would go to school or work and then lock myself in my room the rest of the time. Sometimes that would last a couple days, sometimes it would last a couple months.

Lately it has been a little harder to stay a float than normal. I love to joke about my love of naps and sleep in general, but in reality a lot of times I expend so much energy pretending that I am all good in front of people by the time I get home and sit down I physically cannot stay awake. Blah blah blah sad stuff and more sad stuff, you get the picture. I am on a daily medication to help me manage and I am using exercise and this very exciting blog to help me stay focused on positivity and healthy things.

As I started thinking about this blog and hot to approach it I thought about the really amazing connection people had with my mirror image blog because you saw different points of view across different sexes and ages. So I set out to do the same thing here. Unfortunately, there is still this horrible stigma surrounding depression and anxiety. People are still scared to share, ashamed because of public opinion, or refusing to get help because of pressure from family etc. So here are the few, the brave, the beautifully strong masterpieces of people who were willing to completely open their hearts in the hope someone else who needed to see this would know they are not alone.

“I think I’ve had anxiety pretty much my whole life. Depression has only been in spats that were, on a whole pretty, depressing. I think if I had words to call what I was going through, it would have been much easier.
I have OCD. It’s mild, but one of the things that comes with the territory is called catastrophic thinking. I remember from a young age worrying anytime anyone was late. One minute late, and my brain immediately went thinking that the person was dead or in a car wreck. It has taken years on conscious effort to train myself to call that OCD or anxiety and tell myself a more likely scenario. Faith has helped a lot too because instead of anticipating bad  things, I pray about what I am worried about and know that even if the worst happens, God won’t abandon me. I won’t be alone. When I find myself going deep into the anxiety that one day when Jonathan or one of my boys might die (statistically, it’s likely I will outlive Jonathan), I start instead to focus on the gift of having them now. Life is fluid and I can count on it changing, so rather than worry about the impossible to know future, I fight to focus on now, to cherish now because it is fleeting. If I spend now worrying about the future, then I have missed the beauty of the moment. Not that it’s easy or even something I can always do or do without medication, but that is how I choose to fight it.

Female – 35

“I can tell you it can be dreadful and exhausting to suffer from anxiety and depression.  In November 2014 I attempted suicide because I couldn’t live with myself anymore, or so I thought. Luckily, with the love and support of my husband and family I was able to get through the nightmare and face my darkest fears. It was not an easy process. I had spent years abusing alcohol and marijuana, as well as making other poor decisions. At times I felt like I was completely alone and out of touch with reality. Now that I have dealt with and faced the underlying causes of my illness and realized that genetics play a part (I needed to accept it as an illness just like someone who has diabetes or epilepsy), I am able to acknowledge my triggers and deal with them proactively. I also realize that I need to take maintenance medication to keep me in balance. Once you accept it, it does get more manageable and easier to deal with.”

Female – 33

Depression is a strange thing. Sometimes you go weeks on end and you don’t have a “bad day”, but then all of a sudden there it is. This weight that you can’t explain. It makes you not want to do anything at all. It makes it hard to even get and go to the bathroom, much less get a shower and taken on the world. People are so quick to judge and not understand depression. When your depressed, it’s not that you are lazy or a flake, you literally lack the strength to get up and keep going. Your motivation is 0. On those “bad days”, what I personally do is start talking to God. I know, I know, here we go with the Jesus stuff, lol. Seriously though, I’m hear to tell you without the peace that God gives, I wouldn’t be here. There have been times where I have wrote a suicide note and walked out the door ready to end it all only to hear a voice say, “You are worth more”. Call it what you will, but personally I know it was God telling me that this to shall pass. Don’t let the depression win. In resent years, months and days, I’ve come to see why I’m here. There are so many people I’m able to relate to and empathize with people who are struggling. I’m able to look into their eyes and see the pain that is hid inside. The pain they keep away from everyone and I’m able to tell them that I love them and give a hug. It may not seem like a lot, but to someone who is on the edge of that ledge, it means the world. So the next time a buddy or acquaintance cancels on you or is distant from you, call or text them and tell them how much they mean to you and how much you miss them. You never know when you might save a life.

Male – 30

“I first had a “diagnosed” bout of depression at age 18 when I first was in college. Transition to college was tough–really tough, tougher than it “should” have been given my blessed, easy high school career and position in life. I ended up being hospitalized numerous times for my depression, seeing multiple doctors, being medicated beyond coherency, being told I couldn’t function in life ever without my therapist…having panic attacks in class to the point of it taking 6 years to complete my undergraduate degree. My brother and I aren’t close anymore…I guess it was too traumatic for him to see his older sister be hospitalized in and out and not know exactly what was going on. I wish we were closer. I got through it though…the persistent part of me kept believing there was hope, even when I had a doctor tell me at age 19 I should consider electric shock treatment because medications aren’t working. Perhaps the thing that kept me hoping were the friends and family that supported me. I may not be the best friend at times, but I do remember those friends who were there for me then, and that kept me going. I wish I could tell them how grateful I am for them now…because now, after a decade that has included numerous hospitalizations, over a dozen different medications, so many tears, multiple “withdrawals” in college, I am now about to get my own medical degree…people will call me “doctor.” But hardly anyone knows my history of depression in this new world, because I fear that if they knew they wouldn’t deem me capable of what I am currently doing in life and what I want to achieve. I still don’t share my story out loud because stigma is so great. But I do think that dark period in my life will make me a better doctor that could ever be.

Female  – 29

I have depression which I can usually tell when it is coming on and start taking my lexapro for 6-8 weeks.  After 6-8 weeks on it I’m usually good for a year to 19 months.  When I’m depressed I don’t want to be around ppl or even myself.  All I want to do is sleep and not adult. The depression increases if I’m stressed over any situation that I can’t control.  Basically I always need to know there is a plan b or c or if I’m in a depressed state it magnifies it x 100.    I’ve always had anxiety but never to the point I needed medication for it until recently.  I started having full blown cluster panic attacks and started taking vistaril when I need it.  I’ve always thought of myself as weak due to having depression and anxiety. Most days I just try to put up a brave front so no one knows.  I feel like if ppl know I suffer from both that I will lose my job or have my competency (at a career I worked my ass of to get) put into question

Female – 45

Thankfully my depression is more managed today than it has been in years past. It developed in my late teens but didn’t really manifest itself around 21 or 22. It got worse, like a lot worse, like I almost drove my car off the side of a mountain worse. And almost swallowed a bottle of pills worse. It wasn’t easy, but through a LOT of trial and error with doctors and meds, I was finally able to find the medication that keeps me most balanced. It doesn’t mean it’s gone; there will be waves that come that I can’t avoid and that will put me in bed for a couple of days. But I know now that those days will come, and they will also pass.”

Male – 28

Depression and anxiety can manifest in different people, different ways, and it’s very real. Do not be afraid to ask for help, do not be afraid to talk about it, and do not be ashamed. There are so many other people out there going through what you are and you’re only alone if you suffer in silence. Reach out, talk to someone, ask for help. You are normal and beautiful and complex. you are not alone.



Maybe the Answer is to Never Ask Why


When I was younger I always felt very alone, not in friendship and family, but in love. In my head I have always been alone, in the sense of being single, because I am not enough. If I was, someone would see me and know what I had to offer was enough.  It is because of that feeling that I have made some pretty questionable decisions. Some are funny and harmless to look back on, some dangerous to myself and others, and some make me disappointed in myself. While I’m not proud of all of them – it is the experiences they led to that have molded me into who I am today. Today I am a strong person who can get through almost everything. There may be a small intermission for me to cry and wallow for a little bit, but then I push that doubt back down with the help of a little ice cream and I get through.

        I remember feeling so inadequate to those around me because my friends all had boyfriends from an early age. They got to do valentine’s day things, get asked to the prom in super cute ways, and always have their person between classes etc. Being able to say the word boyfriend seemed like such an unattainable thing to me. No one I like ever liked me back, possibly because my liking someone looked a lot like Ron Weasley after he ate the whole thing of love potion spiked chocolate cauldrons from Romilda Vane #michiefmanaged. I once ran into a previous “crush” (we’ll call him Tim) leaving a gym with a friend of mine (we’ll call her Melissa) and made a complete ass out of myself. I realized who it was and started yelling “omg Tim I used to be obsessed with you!! Melissa did you know I used to be obsessed with Tim this is that Tim!! Tim omg do you remember when I was obsessed with you?!” This went on for an excruciating probably 45 seconds that felt more like 45 minutes after the fact. So through my younger years I took the obsess over a person and they will eventually break and love me or break and put out a restraining order. (that last part is a joke – I was never that bad.) None of these guys were ever mean to me, probably because they saw something in me I didn’t yet, and they felt bad for me.

        The next phase of me trying to be enough for someone was the drinking. I started working in restaurants and the age old way servers bond is by getting completely shmammered together. At some point it went from having a few drinks to ripping a couple shots before the shift and having mixed drinks in our employee cups as we worked. Then I started disappearing from home for days at a time. Sometimes I would tell my parents where I was, sometimes I wouldn’t. I just kept drinking and eating anything in front of me because people thought I was fun, I was the life of the party. My sobriety test was walking down a line of people while I was in heels and letting them push me. If I fell I couldn’t drive, if I stayed upright I could drive. It is a miracle I didn’t kill or seriously injure myself or, even worse, someone else. At that point in my life though that wasn’t even a thought in my head I was still miserable and alone deep down inside so I continued to roll the dice.

        I realized too late that almost that entire group of people who liked me and thought I was fun, were not really my friends. When I couldn’t do anything more for them they were gone. I decided to try and get my life together a little bit. During the last couple years I had ballooned out to 220lb’s and I hated what I saw in the mirror.  I started going to the local gym and really putting in work, and I was even talked into beginning to race triathlon. I met a man named Tobe Taylor who started saying hi to me every day at the gym. I wasn’t aware yet that this man would change my life. On a whim I went and ran a 5k he was hosting for his charity, and that was the first 5k I had ever run. I reached out to him about personal training, and he asked me to come in. Tobe trained me through the entire year I was prepping for my first Ironman Triathlon. I finished it and never felt more fulfilled. For the next few years I made some genuine friends who I still talk to today through hours on the bike and pounding the pavement. Chattanooga Triathlon for life.

        One weekend my dad brought my brother, my sister in law, and I to a family night for his company. Side note – everyone else had their newborns and toddlers – we were a class act. I was dressed in faded jeans a Nike tee shirt, and I had no makeup on and had not even touched my hair. I met a boy that night, who I tried really hard to ignore because he was short and I really like tall guys, but I couldn’t ignore him. The sparks were undeniable even my brother said so. He asked for my number in front of my entire family, which I would assume he is still proud of to this day. We began dating and quickly fell into a comfortable habit of me staying at his apartment with him, cooking dinner, and going out with friends. The only problem with all of this is, he was from Philadelphia, and had always been clear that is where he would live the rest of his life. Tennessee was just a one year stop over for training for the company. I fell hard. So hard that one night against my better judgment I told him I was in love with him. He said….nothing. Once I had fallen into full on hysterical tears apologizing for telling him he explained why. He had only told one girl he loved her and he didn’t mean it. He said it because it was what people did and he didn’t want to tell me until he was saying what he meant. I buried that feeling down deep and tried to never bring it up again.

       Soon enough the year was up and he was moving home to Philadelphia. I made the decision in my own head pretty quickly that I would move to Philadelphia, we would get married, and that would be my life. So I got to work finishing what was necessary at school, and started applying to any job I thought would get me to Philadelphia. During that time period I became a little withdrawn from my own life. Where I use to love watching Green Bay Football with my family I would instead hide in my room with my dog and watch alone in silence. I kind of shut down outside of work and trying to get a job in Philly.

        We were long distance for a year and a half, and the night before i was suppose to interview at my current company this boy freaked out. If I was sure this is what I wanted, that he was scared etc etc. So I asked a very straight forward yes or no question, “if I move here and I like it and establish my own friends and places, do you see me as someone you would want to marry and have a family with?” He said yes without skipping a beat. So I went on the interview, nailed it, and got the job.

My Best friends Lee and Katie helped me pack everything I own into the back of a UHaul and hugged me goodbye. The next day my mom and dad drove the truck we borrowed from my brother carrying the UHaul trailer full of all of my things. I rode behind them in my little two door Chevy with my best friend of 8 years Reggie White (dachshund) in the passenger seat and my new baby of 10 weeks Vince Lombardi (also dachshund, brand spankin new puppy variety) asleep in the back. I didn’t cry the entire drive, I was so sure of what i was doing. Then we arrived at my new apartment and my parents helped me get all my boxes up and set up my bed and TV, and then they left. The moment they walked out I fell on the ground, grabbed Reggie, told him it was just us now and we were alone, and then I cried like a baby. Don’t worry Vince was too young to understand what was actually happening, and too busy peeing on the carpet to care.

        I started my job and immediately bonded with a couple of my co workers. Those girls became my family pretty quickly. I made my mark in the company with my hard work, and willingness to help others, or crack jokes when needed. For the first year of me living in Philadelphia it was pretty good. I got to see my boyfriend all the time, spend time with his family and friends. He got to meet all the friends I had made and hang out with us. Then his lease was coming up and we had been together over three years and I moved across the country for him. So the natural next progression would be to take another step forward and move in together. He got very noncommittal when this subject arose. His exact words were “Ideally for me you would keep your place and just spend a lot of time at my new place, but we would still have our own spaces when we need them.” I very easily told him that I would not split my life in two and cart my dogs between two separate places just because he was scared. He needed to figure out what he wanted and just be honest.

        He landed on wanting me to help him apartment hunt because he wanted us both to feel at home. After the first couple visits it became clear to me he didn’t mean what he was saying.

       There were months between me realizing that and us actually breaking up, but our relationship was over. I was alone again. The one person who had finally thought I was good enough, didn’t think so anymore.

Over the last year and half I have floundered. I’ve lost touch with everything I knew about myself and loved about myself and found myself just constantly under a cloud. I am very good at not letting other people know with my outward appearance and actions that I feel dead inside. At the encouragement of a very good and genuine friend I finally broke and went to the doctor to discuss options regarding medications. This was a big step for me because during my upbringing anxiety and depression isn’t something that was ever talked about in a serious sense. It was very much present in my family, taking the lives of two of my family members on my dad’s side, but we still never really talked about it. So I made an appointment and showed up for it, and I cringed when the nurse announced to the waiting room I was here to talk about anxiety and depression. When I sat down with my doctor she had a list of very specific questions that I could not even complete because I was on the floor of the exam room in a ball weeping. Eventually I got it together enough to finish the exam and she let me know that I had severe depression and anxiety. She prescribed me a daily antidepressant and an anti anxiety medication for as needed use. I walked out of that office somehow feeling less than, like having this diagnosis made me less than who I am.

I began taking my daily medication and trying to make a direct effort to push myself out of my comfort zone, shake things up, and maybe break loose from this pit I was in. I Tried boxing which helped, I started lifting weights which has been fun and very body positive, and I tried to really focus on having a lot of fun at the bar I work at a couple nights a week. Laugh as much as possible. Even with all of these things I was still having more bad days than good and I was continuing to eat every single feeling I had. I was still alone, and maybe I needed to be that way.

There was a guy who came into my bar a lot. He was cute, hilarious, and understood my crazy work schedule. We hit it off and shared the same juvenile sense of humor. We had a discussion one day about anything being there and the term friends with benefits was thrown around. I died a little inside. That isn’t who I am. My number is VERY low because I take my health and heart seriously. I will not open myself up like that emotionally or physically unless I know and love a person. For some reason though, I got it in my head that this is the fun thing that would shake me out of the funk. Just do it Liz,you’re an adult and you’re allowed to have fun. I talked myself into it and without going into details….. it was a disaster. I came out of the experience having gotten no joy and absolutely ashamed of myself. It’s a scar I will carry on my heart for a while, but also a lesson learned.

Somewhere during all of this I met a girl who is an absolute inspiration. She is a veteran, has multiple life changing medical issues, and the happiest disposition I have ever seen. I have never seen her not smiling and happy, and she will help just about anyone who asks. It was this girl who stopped in to see my on my birthday and listened to me fall apart talking about wanting to start a blog about life and health and fitness. About seeing a ton of really strong superhero body types represented who are blessed with the time and ability to focus their life on every aspect of health and fitness. Seeing a ton of larger people who are on the frontline of the body positivity movement, which I think is absolutely amazing. Not seeing so many average people, as I referred to them before, not seeing may everyday superheroes. The people who are strong and putting the time in at the gym, but they’re also juggling work, school, kids, animals, and maintaining a quality of life. The people who aren’t big but aren’t small. Where are those people? Her response was pretty simple. Do it, be that person. So here we are.

        For a long time I have let the feeling of not being good enough stop me from doing things. I have let the sadness of being single dampen my light. I have ignored the feeling of having more to offer the world, and put the capability to do more on a shelf.

So here we are. I am 28 years old and single. I have gained 30lbs in the past year and a half and now half of my clothes don’t fit. I am a four time (soon to be five time) ironman triathlete. I have been doing two a day workouts 4 days a week for the last month and my arms are looking jacked. I still eat my feelings. I still sometimes feel like i’m not enough, but now sometimes I feel fulfilled alone. The feeling of fulfillment comes from finally being open and honest about things. From scaring the ever living shit out of myself by opening myself up to criticism by some; to hopefully be the light in the dark for others. So that hopefully if there is someone somewhere who feels not good enough, who is scared to seek help because of the stigma surrounding mental illness, who is alone in a city away from home because they moved for a relationship, and for anyone else who is lost….hopefully that person see’s this and says…..#samesies.


Mirror Image

        What do you see when you look in the mirror? I got to thinking about this when after finishing a half marathon on Sunday I looked at a picture taken of me during my post race ritual (chugging a beer at the top of the art museum steps like a lady) where I was revolted by my own image. I didn’t even see the joy on my face laughing at the fact I celebrate a feat of athleticism by chugging beer. All I saw was how fat and unattractive I looked. I immediately was taken out of the moment by my own self criticism. The joy was completely deflated from me, unlike my body which was still inflated to full size. I know this because all day all I could do was look in every mirror I passed and mentally berate myself for getting so fat. I had become the beast….except instead of a magic old lady witch cursing me, I had been cursed by cheesesteaks and beer!

        No that we have taken that moment in my head – yes it’s a scary place – let’s check back into reality. I was wearing a fluffy white rain jacket over my pasty white skin from a terrible angle while the wind was blowing. That image doesn’t honestly represent how I look, or how I feel for that matter, yet I can’t shake it. I keep looking at this image and then looking at myself in the mirror and it doesn’t compute…but if I look fat in the picture I must me missing something right? Here is the image in question – taken post Love Run half marathon on Sunday:



Here is an image of me right now sitting at the little bar I work in typing my little heart away on this blog:


        So I set out to see how other people feel when they look in the mirror. I reached out to a whole lot of my friends (who are amazing btw) and asked them to write a couple sentences about what they see when they look at themselves in the mirror. Those were the only instructions. What I thought I was going to get was everyone tearing themselves down and nitpicking little things they wish they could change or didn’t like about themselves. Which, I did get some of….but……I got an overwhelming amount of positive responses and people who have embraced their body. Better yet don’t even see the body when they look at themselves, they see all of their personality traits, goals, and successes as a person. Y’all, I love my friends and to be perfectly clear – they are all beautiful, perfect, angelic creatures who I adore.

When I look in the mirror I cannot, not see my mega chunk thighs full of stretch marks that will never disappear despite every remedy the intraweb has to offer. I see a permanent slouch because I’ve never fully embraced my above average height but most importantly I see a young woman who’s okay with being awkward as hell most every day.”
Female – 26 & ¾

When I look in the mirror I try to look past the flaws I’ve designated myself– big nose, crooked teeth. It’s so much easier to see what’s wrong versus what’s right. It’s a daily battle.”
Male – 28

The things that I would think would bother me, generally don’t. I am bald and short and overweight, but somehow I usually don’t mind what I see in the mirror. Insecurities creep in, but they are manageable and lessen when I do good things for myself: Exercise, eat well, etc
Male – 43

When I look on the mirror, I see a husky shell of a man who was once a recruited college athlete. I see someone who is a great husband and is very happy with their life but who has become content with his physical appearance and general inactivity. As children we tell ourselves that we will never bet fat or out of shape; but we don’t fully understand the reality of life, yet. It beats you down and it takes a strong will to overcome how easy it is to settle into a routine and become 50 pounds over what you should be.  I’m disgusting.”
Male – 31

When I look in the mirror I see a work in progress. A mom trying to get comfortable in her own skin. Someone who stopped trying to make herself fit and mold and accepted her body for what it is. That her body shows the beautiful journey of two babies.”
Female – 36

When I look in the mirror I see who I think I’ve always related myself to – a strong athlete. Lately, I’ve been admiring my awesome traps and poppin; quads; I’ve even started to notice my booty looking fine too. Now, I do have my bad days where I see nothing by what I call my ”kangaroo pouch” type of stomach or the “flabby bits” here and there. Body image has not always been easy for me to deal with as I think it can be difficult for a lot of people. But, as I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone through fitness, work, and relationships, on most days I see who I truly am – a strong ass woman ready to take on any weight lift, task or bump in the road that comes my way.”
Female – 29
**The person who sent me this email used the subject, in all caps, “I LOOK HOTTTT” and I think that’s worth mentioning we should all have that self confidence**

I struggle from time to time looking at myself. I know how much I’m capable of and yet, somehow I keep getting in the way of myself from long term achieving the body image I’d like. I’ve been there and done it and somehow it gets away. As I get older it doesn’t get easier having to rebound. At this point though with where I’m at, I feel determined.
Male – 28

“String bean, that’s what I see when I look in the mirror. Sometimes it bothers me, sometimes I’m like…lets rock this skinny body! I like some parts more than others, which is, I assume, how everyone thinks. I like my face (is that weird to say?) but I’ve never felt very feminine. I’ve got no hips and small boobs. I will say that I never feel like I’m allowed to complain about what i see in the mirror because there is always someone with bigger “body-liking issues” than me, it has always felt alienating.”
Female – 26

So what I see when I look in the mirror is someone who is hardworking. Someone with goals in life who is trying to achieve them. Someone that loves hard and often gets taken advantage of because of their kind nature. Someone who has more to love, but is comfortable with themselves.
Male – 29

Looking at mirrors is like getting my picture taken: I avoid it at all costs. I hate the way I look, especially knowing what I can look like when I’m in shape
Male – 25

When I look in the mirror I see a strong woman. I see someone who isn’t as thin or pretty as she used to be, but i’m OK with that. I have found my strength and my attitude matter more than my looks, and i am perfectly fine with that.”
Female -51

When I look in the mirror I don’t see beauty unless I have makeup on. I see muscle and a strong woman but also someone who is unhappy in her skin, although I try and accept my body for how it is flaws and all.”
Female – 29

When i look in the mirror I smile at myself, because when you smile at yourself you are smiling at the world. No matter what problems you have, you never know who’s day you could make by giving them just that little bit of positivity.”
Male – 31

When I look in the mirror, I see a “fixer upper”. I would really be pretty if I….just got rid of this double chin, lose some weight, really took the time to put makeup on, and maybe had a little botox, I compare myself to unrealistic standards and beat myself up because I fall short. Looking in the mirror is definitely my least favorite thing to do.
Female – 42

When i look in the mirror i see a guy who is trying to hold on to his physique and I think I am doing a pretty good job, but then I see the flawed areas and want to hide them underneath loose fitting clothes. I see a version of my dad that I’m not happy with, but I also see a version of my dad that I’m proud of from what he taught me.Sometimes I see the guy my wife sees, and it makes me smile because I’m a lucky guy that she sees me with my faults and loves me still.
Male – 52

In the morning when I wake up I spend the majority of my morning avoiding the mirror, and when it comes that time to finally face myself my mood changes. I don’t see who I feel I am. I see a large nose that steals the attention and a double chin I’ve never had until now. I see arms that need to be covered so the jiggle isn’t as prominent, and a mom pooch that looks like i am 4 months pregnant, and thighs that will soon ooze out of the side of my chair when i get to work. Then i begin to worry about my outfit and if it will hold up to all the movement I will be doing during my day, and if it will do it’s job hiding all my flaws and jiggles.”
Female – 26

A weathered figure. A meat puppet. A conglomeration of knowledge, experience, and memories. So much potential squandered, so much potential remaining.”
Male – 28

When I look in the mirror I see a strong body, one that I have sacrificed countless hours of hard work to build. Stretch marks and cellulite on my legs and butt that showed up like unwelcome guests to my 6th grade puberty party. Lines that started to appear under both my eyes and creases on my forehead. Lines that I swear appeared out of nowhere on my 26th birthday. My nose – my favorite physical feature. It’s not perfectly straight or small and quaint, but it’s my grandma’s nose and because of it I will always see a little bit of her in me.
Female – 26

When I look in the mirror I see flaws. I see fat stomach, a face full of adult acne, and a million reasons why I am alone. I see someone who wishes she could love herself more completely, and fights daily to get better at that. I see a work in progress.”
Female – 28
        These people gave me pause to wonder why they don’t see what I see, and in some cases, why I don’t see how they see. The next time you look in the mirror and see a million things you don’t like or that bring you down – do me a favor. Search for one thing you love. Your white teeth, your beautiful hair, your smize, the triceps you have been working so hard on, your attitude, something funny you said, a nice thing you did for someone else, and focus on that. All the negative in the world will overwhelm us if we let it. Our only option is to choose to focus on the positive no matter how little you think you see and feel. I promise that you are the ray of sunshine in someone else’s life.




Everyday Superheroes

Do you ever see someone at the gym in completely mismatched clothes, hair barely held back in a messy bun, bags under their eyes, who look a little like WTF am I doing here? Those people who have kids, fur babies, multiple jobs, a full course load at school, or for whatever reason just have a crazy full schedule – those are my kind of people. The one’s who may not be able get in two a day workouts or the marathon gym sessions or actual marathons they had planned, but day after day they show up. Let me tell you they may have a little jiggle when they wiggle, but these people are strong. These are the people you want in your life.

We see plenty of actual superheroes with ideal bodies who look great in their swimwear winning the crossfit games, lifting cars off people, saving the planet etc. We see plenty of people on the opposite end of the spectrum fighting for their lives and taking drastic measures, but what about the rest of us. The people who aren’t wielding 6 pack abs, but also aren’t at a place where weight loss surgery or medical intervention are needed in the slightest.

That’s where I find myself. For years I’ve felt not quite good enough. I would be looking in the mirror tugging gym clothes down to make sure they don’t accentuate my tummy rolls. Being a little to intimidated by all the superheroes at the weight section of the gym to go over and try to do a deadlift or a pull up. Hiding out in the cardio section and doing pushups and dips at home. One day I put on the sassiest outfit I could piece together, played the sassiest playlist I had, and I marched right over to the weights and went to town.

To my surprise…I’m pretty strong. I’m a four time Ironman triathlete so I know I have endurance and mental strength, but now I feel a whole new kind of empowered and strong. Even better I’ve had people tell me seeing me march right into the lion’s den every day inspired them to start doing the same. You never know who is watching – so never let self doubt stop you from anything, you may be the spark that lights someone else’s fire. You might just be an everyday superhero.

This Blog is something I feel led to do. I feel like I need to be a voice for these everyday superheroes. I want to be honest about the struggle between wanting to maintain a truly healthy lifestyle and how damn good carbs and cheese are. Don’t even get me started on dessert – chocolate chip cookies are my spirit animal. Some of the topics we’ll roll through are:

  •  Anxiety and Depression – the stigma surrounding it, the power it has over a person, and the reality of living with it
  •  Forgiveness – of both yourself and other people. Anger, guilt, and shame are really heavy weights we need to drop
  •  IBS – Y’all a lot of people have it and the stigma needs to go away. I have it and it is a hilarious disaster in my life
  •  The Buddy System – it deepens friendship and pushes you further on your journey
  •  Food – God bless I love food. Green food, Protein food, Deep fried food, Chocolate food
  •  Addictions – We all have them in one form or another, let’s chat about the effects
  •  Fear – Yes spiders are scary, so is failure, disease, and losing loved ones
  •  Dogs – Literally just an excuse for me to share about Reggie White and Vince Lombardi the best wiener dogs in the land, and get photos of all of your Fur babies too squeal over.

I am so excited about this adventure and all of the things i will learn from others and about myself in the process. Here’s to hoping for a wild ride.