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Stop Judging YOURSELF

So I’ve eaten meals with a number of clients recently and all of them have said basically the same thing to me:

“Don’t look at what I’m eating!!”

My answer is usually, “I don’t care! I’m not judging.”

Because it’s true. I’m NOT JUDGING.

You can eat whatever you want.

The only time I’m going to care or comment is if you ask me a question or ask me for help reaching a specific goal. (And yes, if you ask for my help and then complain that you aren’t reaching your goal when you aren’t truly following my advice…Then yes…I may be judging you…)

Otherwise it is your life and lots of different things work for lots of different people!

They say it in a joking manner…But there is an insecurity behind it. And, all of these clients who think they are worried about what I’m thinking are actually more insecure because of how they are judging THEMSELVES.

How much of that fear of judgement comes from the fact that we are judging ourselves and not happy with the verdict?

We often make excuses for our behavior if we think those around us won’t approve instead of just going about our business because it is how we do things and how we want to live our lives.

We don’t want them to judge us because that would only reinforce what we are thinking.

By excusing our behavior, we think that, to some extent, we will prevent judgement.

But while we “think” we are trying to prevent judgement from others, we are actually trying to quiet down our own internal judge.

Because let’s face it most people don’t care about anyone but themselves….And I don’t mean this in a negative narcissistic way…I just mean that the little flaws we see, the judgements we are making about ourselves,  no one else even cares about because they are more focused on themselves and their life!

So the question then is….Why are you judging yourself?

If you don’t like your decisions, why are you making them?

We should feel confident and support our own decisions.

If I want to eat bad, even if no one else is, I’m going to eat bad! And I’m not going to excuse it or feel guilty about it.

I’m going to enjoy it!

And if I’m going to feel guilty about it, why would I do it?!

Because my guilt is truly what I’m excusing…I’m trying to make myself feel ‘ok’ about the decision almost by getting support from those around me and reassurance that they aren’t judging.

If they aren’t judging, maybe I don’t need to judge myself, right?!?

WRONG!

No one can reassure you but you.

And when you start realizing that the judgement of others isn’t what you truly fear, you can start to analyze why you are judging yourself.

So next time you feel like you need to excuse your behavior to someone, think about it first.

Do you really need their approval?

Why are you excusing the behavior? Do you fear judgement? Or do feel guilty and are truly judging yourself?

And if you are judging yourself, how are you going to change your behaviors so you don’t feel guilty…So that you can love yourself and feel comfortable in your own skin?

Happy Mother’s Day To The Mom That Taught Me Self-Acceptance

I am very fortunate to have been raised by one of the strongest women on this planet.

mom

She taught me that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. To believe in myself even when I falter or fall down. To always get up and fight another day.

She taught me to be resilient. To have courage and determination. To be strong.

She taught me to always be comfortable being myself – to never compromise who I am just to make someone else happy.

And my mom has always practiced what she’s preached.

She has always uncompromisingly been herself. She didn’t need to fit a mold. She was comfortable being who and what she was.

For instance, she’s an athlete and has always had no qualms about showing it. She is competitive and fit.

If you challenged her, she was going to try to beat you.

Probably one of my favorite stories about my mom being comfortable with being herself (the competitive athlete) is one of her stories about dating.

She went out to play tennis with a guy she was dating and as they walked out onto the court an older woman, who knew the guy, asked her if she was going to beat him. (The woman was basically hinting that my mom shouldn’t want to beat him.)

My mom told her, “It all depends on how good he is.”

She then did, in fact, beat him.

Her comment to me about the story was, “Why would I try to be something I’m not? Sooner or later, if we continued dating, he would find out that I’m better than him!”

“Why try to be something I’m not?”

That message stuck with me.

It may be a funny story, but it is a meaningful one. She wasn’t going to pretend to be something she wasn’t just to be “liked” by a guy.

She embraced her competitiveness and her physical abilities at a time when many women downplayed those things to be seen as more feminine. (My mom even has a story about a woman she knew acting like she didn’t know how to play tennis on a date when she was actually a competitive tournament player.)

My mother is unapologetically herself and taught me to be as well.

She has taught me to accept myself, “flaws” and all.

And that is probably the most valuable lesson you could ever learn yet one that, all too often, mothers don’t pass down to their daughters.

All too often I feel like we, adults, teach children to fit into society’s molds so that they don’t get hurt instead of teaching them to embrace who they are.

We teach them to want to always “fix” their “flaws” instead of accepting them.

And while we should always want to better ourselves, we should also be able to accept those things about ourselves that aren’t so perfect.

So thank you Man Bicep Mom for making me happy to be me. I love you with all my heart!

And Happy Mother’s Day to all you other amazing mothers out there!

“An Unconventional Sign Of Strength And Power”

The other day on Twitter I saw the following statement – “An unconventional sign of strength and power: Not being easily offended.”

Then today, I found this picture on Pinterest:

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This one made me laugh…maybe cause it’s true!?! 😛

Read the rest of this entry

Self-Confidence: Don’t Let Others Bring You Down

Coaches, friends, family can all sometimes bring us down.

Generally they are trying to help and well-intentioned, but that doesn’t mean that sometimes their criticisms can’t hurt.

It doesn’t mean that sometimes their critiques can’t make us feel more insecure.

However, we need to learn to take criticism…It is the only way we truly get stronger.

So how do you learn how to take criticism even when it isn’t said necessarily in the best way?

You learn to be CONFIDENT in your own abilities!

Easier said than done, right?

Yes…and…No

No you can’t wake up tomorrow and say, “Now I’m confident!”

But yes, you can change your level of confidence without doing more than changing the way you TALK TO YOURSELF.

You don’t have to hit some new goal to develop confidence.

You just have to decide to believe in yourself!

I think self talk is one of the most often ignored and neglected parts of our dealings with ourselves.

We get ourselves haircuts, doctors appointments…we schedule workouts and even plan out meals.

We think about how we are taking care of ourselves and all the things we need to do for ourselves to feel good and stay healthy – except about how we talk to ourselves.

We consider our words when we communicate with others. We compliment and encourage. We focus on the good things that other people do (or at least most people generally try to).

Yet we never really think about how we are TALKING TO OURSELVES. We never try to compliment and encourage. We never focus on the good things.

And positive self-talk is one of the most important things when it comes to developing self-confidence.

Developing a positive inner monologue doesn’t mean you have to wake up every morning and look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I am wonderful. I am beautiful.” Heck, it doesn’t even mean learning to love your flaws.

It simply means learning to accept yourself and realize that, yes…you do have flaws. WE ALL DO.

It just means making little changes in how you talk to yourself and in giving yourself credit for all of the good things you do. It is like talking to a friend or loved one – you want to motivate them and have them focus on all of the wonderful things you see in them!

Here is what I’ve found has helped me and many of my clients develop a more positive inner monologue and quiet those doubts raised by outside criticism.

Tips to Develop Positive Self-Talk:

1. Before you go to compete, to do a presentation at work, or to do anything challenge, take a deep breath and say, “I can do this.” Think about all of the great things you’ve done and the hard work you’ve put in. DON’T think about the other things you COULD have done.

2. Give yourself credit for small victories. Too often we ignore small victories because we aren’t there at our long-term goal yet. But if you maintain your weight or lift 5 more pounds, even if you aren’t at your goal yet, celebrate that victory! Set short-term goals and track your progress to them. Take time to celebrate even the smallest victories. It will motivate you and build your confidence in yourself.

3. Take a deep breath and think when someone gives you criticism. Often criticism is meant to help us. You can’t let criticism bring you down. If it is constructive, take a second and figure out how to use it to help you become stronger. Criticism doesn’t mean you aren’t still wonderful! We all have flaws and sometimes it is good to discover them so we can make them stronger! Realize that someone is criticizing you because they probably already think you are wonderful and just want to help! Don’t instantly make criticism a negative! Think about how it will make you even better! Don’t focus on the fact that it is potentially a current flaw!

4. “A tiger doesn’t lose sleep over the opinion of sheep.” Sometimes criticism is given to try to bring you down. The other person is probably insecure and therefore lashing out. You can’t let every criticism bring you down. We have to recognize that criticism is just other people’s opinions and that they aren’t always right. There are some times where you have to just brush it off. And while brushing it off can be hard for some, if you want to be the tiger you have to. Maybe that means reminding yourself of all your great points or just recognizing where their criticisms are coming from!

5. Build on your strengths. Don’t be afraid to evaluate yourself. Take a second today and think about yourself. If your self-talk is pretty negative, you will find you start to list all the things that need improvement. And then you may even start working on them. But what about the positives? What do you like about yourself? What are your strengths? Haven’t considered those near as much, huh? We always focus on getting rid of our flaws to make ourselves better, but what about developing our strengths? While I do think it is important to spend time making our weakness stronger, I think there is also something to making our strengths even better. Spend some time developing your strengths! It will definitely lead to a little more confidence in yourself and you will spend some time speaking positively to yourself!

Developing positive self-talk is about changing your instant reaction of saying “I can’t” when a new challenge arises to “I can.” Even if maybe you fail, the point is you CAN try. You CAN put yourself out there. You CAN risk “failing.”

Success and self-confidence isn’t developed by WINNING. It is developed by putting yourself out there and risking failure and pushing yourself to work hard to take on new challenges.

I’ve failed more times than I can count. But I have pride in myself because I was willing to risk failure to try something new.

Confidence comes not from being the best or being perfect. It comes from the acceptance that failure, that flaws, are a part of us.

All we can do is our best and that is what matters!

Woman vs. Woman

When Nutrition Analyst & Farm-to-School Coordinator Asta Garmon asked me to do an interview about women and the stigma of women who lift heavy, I really got to thinking about my experiences.

It amazed me when it really dawned on me that I’ve gotten more crap from women about lifting heavy and being bulky than I have from men.

Yea I’ve gotten the occasional comment from men about whether or not I’m worried about being bulky. But really most of the trouble comes from men when I then try to give them advice about how to lift better or when they find out how competitive and driven I am (which is honestly a blog for another day).

BUT the true perpetrators are women!

Women are the ones that perpetuate the lie.

WOMEN!

Yes…They perpetuate it by saying things like, “I don’t want to lift heavy because I don’t want to get bulky!”

But more importantly, they perpetuate it by telling women, who lift heavy, but look feminine, “Oh wow…Your arm is so…muscular.” (They say this in a way that makes it an insult NOT a compliment.)

YEP! The worst crime is committed when women say to women who have worked hard to look amazing and toned, “You look so…buff/muscular/jacked.”

They say it in a way that HINTS that these words really aren’t a good thing. They even use those specific words because they know that most women associate those words with masculinity.

Most likely these women give these backhanded compliments because they have some insecurity themselves or because they are jealous.

And honestly, you can’t really do anything about what or how other people say things. You will run into women like that. There may even be a woman or two like that in your friend group…You may even call them your “frenemy”…you know them…you love them…and yet…

But anyway, while I would love to change those comments, I can’t. There will always be people out there that will use any social stigma to put someone else down.

BUT what I can do is change the way we, women, interpret those comments.

When comments like those are made to us, we can choose to do one of two things.

We can choose to become self-conscious and bothered by the comment. We can stop lifting and then tell anyone who asks us about heavy lifting that “we don’t lift heavy because it makes us bulky.” We can be afraid that we did, in fact, become bulky from the lifting. We can then perpetuate the stigma that lifting heavy makes women bulky.

OR we can choose to ignore the comment and know that we do in fact look AMAZING and that those women have their own issues. We can break the stigma and help other women find the strength and beauty that heavy lifting can bring!

I choose to do the second.

I wasn’t born with self-confidence. I fought a long uphill battle to get it – the fake it till you make it battle. (And sometimes I’m still faking it, but no one knows the difference!)

As strange as it sounds, what you have to do to be more confident is to pretend to be confident. To act like you are confident even when you aren’t.

So when you get an underhanded comment hinting that your weight training has made you masculine or bulky, when you know you aren’t and have even had compliments about how great you look, what should you do?

You should smile and say, “Thank you! I’ve been working out super hard and lifting heavy! It just makes you feel so good! You should come with me some time.”

That’s what I say every time.

And guess what!?!

I instantly feel better and completely erase the negativity of their comment from my mind. I may still remember it enough to shake my head at them, but I’ve taken all of the venom out of the comment.

I played the part of a confident individual, which in effect, basically made me confident.

And on top of that, they will never have any clue that their comment may have made me even a teensy bit insecure. (If it even does!)

PLUS, every time you respond that way, you start to destroy the lie that women will get bulky if they lift heavy. You won’t be giving credit to their comment AND you may even convince them to become a woman who lifts heavy!

So while it may not be easy, the key to changing the stigma is by believing that in fact you AREN’T bulky or masculine even though you lift weights. The key is believing that you are healthy and strong and beautiful because you do!

You can’t change the other person, but you can change your reaction.

Let’s start there and maybe then we will silence the haters!

Drowning out the noise

Sometimes I think the hardest thing is focusing on yourself.

And I mean this in two different ways.

I mean that sometimes it is hard to say “no” to other people and instead put yourself first and focus on your own wants and needs.

And two, that sometimes it is hard to drown out all of the criticism and doubts that come from other people.

But whether or not it is hard to drown out all the noise, there are times when it is absolutely necessary that you do.

Sometimes you just need to focus on you and say screw the world!

And it isn’t easy to do that.

I still haven’t mastered how to say “no” to people when I really don’t want to do something. I get myself into situations where I’m overstressed and finally just crash because I can’t handle it all. Usually that crash involves lots of tears and maybe a chick flick or two.

But I really can’t let it keep getting to that point. And logically I know this.

So what am I going to do about it?

I’m going to remind myself that if I never say “no” I’m doing anyone a favor. Most of the time when you do something for someone when you don’t want to, you will end up not giving it your all.

So I just have to remind myself that saying “no,” even just every once in a while when I feel myself about to crash, will keep everything from totally falling apart. I will be able to give everything my all since I won’t ever crash since I will have occasionally looked out for myself.

This is a VERY important point for MOTHERS to consider. I know a ton of women who put everyone in their life ahead of themselves. Many of these women NEVER take time for themselves and they end up crashing because of it.

And crashing can mean a ton of different things for different people. It can be emotional breakdowns. Stress eating. Weight gain. Weight loss. Illness even.

None of these things are good.

And all of them could have been avoided if the person just said “NO” every once in a while.

So think about taking some time for yourself. It could help not only yourself but also everyone else in your life.

I mean think about it….which is worse, saying no to one thing or finally crashing and potentially being out of commission for a while? I know it always takes me a couple of days when I’ve become totally mentally drained to get back on track…..

Now…the second part of the drowning out the noise equation – Ignoring the criticism and negativity that comes from other people.

This isn’t easy. It isn’t easy to brush off the negative comments that other people make about you.

My question to you is, “Why should you listen to them?”

You shouldn’t. People that need to criticize and never compliment you aren’t worth listening to you.

Why aren’t they worth listening to? Because they are obviously jealous or insecure themselves and are just TRYING to hurt you.

And here I’m not saying you shouldn’t listen to the advice of others. I’m just saying you need to block out the comments that are obviously just meant to put you down.

I’ve gotten criticized by other trainers for my diet and even my workouts. But I don’t let them make me insecure about what I’m doing.

I’ve gotten great results and so have all of my clients. No I’m not saying my program will work for everyone, but it DOES work.

I won’t let the fact that another trainer doesn’t like it or that they are insecure about their own training program deter me.

I won’t let their negativity hurt me because I BELIEVE in myself. I have CONFIDENCE.

Of course developing this confidence is a whole other post, but it starts with occasionally taking a step back and DROWNING OUT ALL THE NOISE.

That is what it all comes down to – Focusing on yourself if even just for a minute and ignoring everyone else around you.

To help myself drown out the noise, I do something FOR myself.

I plug in my headphones and bust out an intense workout that just totally drains me. Or I watch a mindless movie and ignore all of the chores that need to be done.

Or I even just simply sit somewhere quiet and write a post for Man Bicep.

It’s not self-centered to take some time for yourself! It is honestly absolutely necessary!

How do you take time for yourself? How do you drown out all the noise?

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