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Plot Twist

Plot Twist | StephGaudreau.com

Plot twist (noun): a radical change in expected direction.

This post is bound to be a ramble because I’ve gotta get out all the stuff that’s in my head, but the tl;dr is that things are a-changin’ round these parts.

I’m closing down the blog and active content creation – for the forseeable future – here at StephGaudreau.com…

…and shifting it, along with my energy and message, back to StupidEasyPaleo.com.

I know, probably not what you expected, right?!

I’m so excited, and I want you to join me.

(If you found me through SEP and followed me here, the good news is that you won’t have to check two sites and two sets of social accounts to get your daily dose of Steph-ness.)

I’ve gotta say this up front, because I know there’s a chance you wrinkled your nose at the p word (paleo). If it’s not your jam, that’s totally cool…but hear me out:

I believe in nourishing your body, and every body is different.

I believe context is more important than rigid dogma.

I believe in making humans harder to kill.

I believe in helping you become stronger so you can achieve your full potential.

And all that goes way beyond food or a strict dietary regimen.

What we want to believe is like this…

Plot Twist | StephGaudreau.com

…is actually more like this:

Plot Twist | StephGaudreau.com

Stick with me, and you’ll see what I mean. It’s a chance to explore how to make yourself resilient and strong and badass.

But let me back up, because every plot twist needs a back story.

In 2011, I started my blog and began posting recipes for the world so I’d remember them. I wrote however the f*ck I wanted because, well, like three people were reading it.

And then in 2013, I left my 12-year teaching career to make Stupid Easy Paleo my full-time gig. (Yes, scary. Yes, exciting. More on all that in a soon-to-be-published post.)

Risk is a funny thing.

In a way, you’d think that taking a flying leap into entrepreneurship would mean charging forward with that “write what I want, do what I want” spirit.

Well, as the stakes rose, I got more concerned with stuff like web traffic, SEO, and email subscribers. Naturally. If you start an online business, that tends to be a logical progression.

But I started softening my voice and my opinions. What I gleaned from the “biz world” lead me to believe that I had to vanilla-fy who I was to appeal to more people and “be successful.” (That was what I took from it at the time. I was wrong, obvi.) If you look back at blog posts from the 2013-15 period, it’s there. I got lured by the siren song of trying to appeal more broadly…

…and mid-2015, I knew I was going to head straight into the rocks if I didn’t do something.

I’d created this pretty big website with a great community and social following, but I’d painted myself into a corner, afraid to express what I really had on my mind for fear of losing what I’d created.

A very small percentage of comments coming in were complaints…about only wanting recipes – not all the other stuff that goes into a healthy lifestyle – or objecting to my very occasional use of wash-your-mouth-out-with-soap words.

And I let it change me.

I didn’t stick to my guns. I didn’t listen to my gut.

Hindsight is always 20-20.

Looking back, I should have had the cojones to keep writing about what I was passionate about…yes, food but also fitness and mindset and how to not take yourself so seriously.

But instead, I ran away and created another space for myself. Here. A “safe” place where I could say what I really wanted.

Everything I was reading, business-wise, at the time was saying, “Niche down. Get specific. No, more specific than that.”

Okay, so Stupid Easy Paleo would be about recipes. And all the other stuff would go here.

If I could go back to July 2015, my first urge would be to slap myself in the head…

…but then again, that’s all part of the process…trying things out, making mistakes, keeping what works, and pivoting. I really admire my pal Dave Conrey for his skill at doing exactly this. (If you’re curious about pivoting, read Rework by Jason Fried & David Hansson.)

So I can’t say I regretted the split. Not at all. It’s taught me a shit ton.

I’m a child of divorced parents, perhaps like many of you. I know what it’s like to divide time and have two parallel tracks and feel conflicted about where you fit in, what the rules are, and what’s expected of you.

Here’s the thing: For some people, splitting their businesses makes sense. And I’m not here to tell you that’s wrong. (I always joke with Z that if I sold Pokemon cards, I’d definitely make a different website for that.)

But what I ended up with was a divided heart and mind. Not to mention a confusing, logistical nightmare.

I launched this site in January 2016…and on the daily, I’d think, “Should _____ post / program / thingie go on Stupid Easy Paleo or here?”

If I wanted to say something on social media, should it go on this Instagram or this one?

Instead of solving my problems, it created more of them.

And if it was confusing for me, I can’t even imagine what y’all were thinking…other than, “What the hell is Steph doing?”

The reality is that both sites are aspects of my philosophy. It became impossible to separate them effectively.

I spent a whole year agonizing over what to do. So much precious mental energy, down the drain.

And at one point, I thought I knew.

I got really close to moving the last 6 years of Stupid Easy Paleo here, keeping a lot of it and pushing self-destruct on the rest.

Starting this new site has been hard…building it and everything that goes with it from zero.

I have seven email inboxes, two different e-commerce systems, two badass coaching programs on two different websites, and two completely different sets of social media accounts.

Tired yet just thinking about it?

Some people could probably manage this just fine, but it’s been a huge challenge.

But last week, while on a call with my business coaches, I had a huge lightbulb moment. (Yes, even coaches need coaches.) I’d invented a problem where there wasn’t actually one.

(It’s worth noting that nothing changed except how I chose to view the situation. Powerful lesson in mindset, indeed.)

Yes, there will always be the minority who complains – right before announcing to the world that they’re unfollowing. #ByeFelicia

Yes, some people may never get on board with being harder to kill because they’re turned off by the paleo word. They’re probably not My People anyway. (h/t Dallas Hartwig.)

No, I can’t please everyone. No, I’m not responsible for how others perceive and react to my work.

But damn, that’s taken a long time to sink in.

It’s easy to say you know something. But to really believe it and live it, that’s another level. It’s a process.

Anyway, my dominant feeling this past week has been RELIEF, followed by excitement. I’m so psyched to share my philosophy and really go deep about how to make unbreakable humans on Stupid Easy Paleo. Without fear. Without holding back. Unapologetically me.

Plot Twist | StephGaudreau.com

So, What Now?

Basically, all the things you’ve come to know and love about the blog here will move to a new spot, streamlining the process. If this split and merge have been confusing for you, I am really, truly sorry…sometimes the learning process isn’t linear.

This merge will mean more energy for me to invest in creating more stuff you love…instead of constantly dividing my time. And you’ll find a large community of like-minded people who you can learn from, too. The more, the merrier.

It’s going to take a little time for the full merge to happen, and I’m pumped about bringing the Harder to Kill lifestyle to the forefront of Stupid Easy Paleo. Over there, I’m going to tweak things a bit to reflect that as this year plays out.

Details:

  • This site will remain up, but will become more like an author bio page instead of an active blog. My SG Instagram will also remain up, but soon, I won’t be posting there. Follow me here on IG.
  • Stupid Easy Paleo will include more content than just recipes going forward, which I’m really jazzed about. I LOVE teaching and coaching about a holistic approach to health. (I’m not getting into racecars or knitting or underwater basketweaving, don’t worry.) Follow me there and jump on my newsletter for weekly updates.
  • If you’re a Strength School member, you’ll continue to access the program and login here. Eventually, I’ll be moving (and rebranding!) it. I’ll email you when that happens.
  • If you’re on my SG newsletter, I’ll be transferring that to my SEP newsletter. I’d love for you to stay on, and I’m going to send an email out about that very soon.
  • I’m planning on another summit later this year. If you’re Women’s Strength Summit All-Access member, nothing’s going to change for you. Continue to access all the interviews as you have been. Stay tuned for details on the new one!

Alright dudes, that’s the true story, the plot twist, and the new direction.

If you know me, you’ll know how much this meme encapsulates so much goodness because I’m a crazy cat lady:

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My hope is that being vulnerable and honest will help someone out there reading…

…maybe it’ll help you take action on something in your life, to change things up, or to have the courage to move beyond the fear of “what if.”

My wonderful friend and coach Allegra Stein has always impressed something upon me:

You can’t know-for-sure if something’s going to be a spectacularly epic success or a flaming-pile-of-poo-failure until you do it. Until you act. Until you live it.

The paralysis of trying to “make the right choice” can keep you absolutely stuck and tortured by your own thoughts.

So here’s my story of taking a path and deciding later on that it didn’t work out like I’d hoped. And everything’s gonna be just fine.

In fact, no: Everything’s gonna be fucking great.

Pull-Up Tips and Technique: Part 2

Pull-up tips around the Interwebz run the gamut from totally asinine to absolutely legit.

Pull-Up Tips and Technique: Part 2 | StephGaudreau.com

And here in Part 2 of my pull-up series, I’m detailing the technique and finer points of getting your chin over the bar for the first time.

If you haven’t already, go back and read this first…How to Do a Pull-Up: Part 1It covers key drills to practice for learning to hold a hollow body position.

And be on the lookout for Part 3 which will discuss modifications and accessory work to help you get your first pull-up.

Pretty Ugly

I said this in Part 1, but it bears repeating: Anyone can do ugly pull-ups with broken body positions. They’re not physically impossible. In fact, thousands and thousands of horrible pull-ups are performed every day around the world.

Does an ugly pull-up still work muscles? Sure. Can you build strength with ugly pull-ups? Yep.

But if you’re a novice who’s working on her first successful chin-over-bar moment, dialing in your technique with these pull-up tips will make it more efficient and therefore, easier. 

Dialing in technique with these pull-up tips will make it more efficient. Click To Tweet

And, it’ll keep your joints moving through the safest ranges of motion so you stay injury-free. After all, there’s no sense in hurting yourself in the process and having to sideline your efforts.

So, aim for pretty movement. For good technique.

And please, if you see a website that offers pull-up tips with half naked women, click away. Nobody has time for that shit. (Screenshot from an article written by a guy. Not hating on the women themselves, but most chicks reading that won’t relate to these body types…or worse, they’ll think they need to weigh 115-pounds and get extremely lean to even get a pull-up. Plus, that mega-wide grip and crossed legs ain’t helping beginners get their first pull-up. Fitness writers, do better.)

Pull-Up Tips and Technique: Part 2 | StephGaudreau.com

Let’s break this down piece by piece.

Pull-Up Tips and Technique*

Hand Position

*As always, don’t do anything that feels gross in your body or causes pain. You know yourself best.

It may seem obvious, but there’s only one point of body contact for a pull-up – your hands – so grip and hand width become critical.

Let’s start with hand position.

Your palms can face toward your body in what’s an underhand, supinated, or chin-up grip.

Pull-Up Tips and Technique: Part 2 | StephGaudreau.com

In a chin-up grip, you can recruit more biceps – thus requiring less lat involvement – as you pull, making the movement a bit easier. If you’re still working toward your first pull-up, I recommend starting with this narrow grip. You can gradually scoot your hands outward as you get stronger.

Or, your hands can face away from your body. That’s usually called an overhand, pronated, or pull-up grip.

Pull-Up Tips and Technique: Part 2 | StephGaudreau.com

This grip requires more lat – latissimus dorsi – involvement. Those are the wide sweeping muscles that fan across your mid-back and attach up at the head of your upper arm bone, the humerus.

Many novices don’t know how to activate the lats…or the development isn’t quite there, so this type of grip is often more challenging for your first pull-up.

You can also mix your grip, one hand over and one under. I’m not going to cover that one as I find it slightly uncomfortable…but it may be an option for you as you progress.

Knuckles On Top

Enter one of the most underutilized pull-up tips ever. (It’s something I learned from gymnastics dynamo Carl Paoli.)

The difference “knuckles on top” can make in your pull-ups is huge. Yet, it’s something people often wanna argue about. I think that’s because they don’t understand physics.

Here’s the take-away if you want to skip to the next section:

Getting your knuckles ON TOP of the bar makes pull-ups easier.

Now, let’s pick this apart if you want to know why.

In the photo below, my knuckles – where my fingers meet my palm – are on top of the bar. I also have my thumb wrapped around the bar and over my index finger which strengthens my grip.**

This actually shortens the lever arm of the movement, helping me externally rotate my shoulder joint…

…and that allows me to more easily generate torque and initiate the movement by pulling my shoulder blades together and down.

It’s also far easier to hold a hollow body position when my knuckles are on top. Click here for Part 1 where I explain the hollow body.

**You may not be able to wrap your thumb around if the bar is fat and your hands are small. If that’s the case, you can still get your knuckles on top instead of hanging from your fingers. If the bar is standard diameter and your hands average, there’s no excuse.

Pull-Up Tips and Technique: Part 2 | StephGaudreau.com

Compare that to the photo below. Here, I’m hanging from my fingers. It essentially lengthens the lever arm and decreases the torque in my shoulders, which makes the movement harder to initiate.

Pull-Up Tips and Technique: Part 2 | StephGaudreau.com

If you don’t believe me, give it a try for yourself. Hang from the bar with your knuckles on top. Then hang from your fingers. Which is harder and feels more taxing? Which one are you able to maintain more body tension with?

Are fingertip pull-ups a thing? Yes. They’re an advanced technique. Remember, this tutorial is for novices working on their first pull-ups.

Grip Width

Now let’s look at some pull-up tips related to grip width on the bar.

As a general rule, narrow hand grip is easier than wide. The wider you place your hands, the more challenging it will be.

If you’re working on your first pull-up, start with a narrow grip and slowly increase the width of your hands.

Narrow, chin-up grip

Pull-Up Tips and Technique: Part 2 | StephGaudreau.com

Let’s go back to the chin-up or supinated grip. Start with narrow hands, very close together. Gradually widen your hands as you gain strength. Once you reach a neutral grip – arms straight above your head – flip your hands to a pull-up or pronated grip.

Neutral pull-up grip

Pull-Up Tips and Technique: Part 2 | StephGaudreau.com

Now, I’ve widened my hands so my arms are straight up and down, no angle. Note I’ve flipped my hands over. My knuckles are over the bar, and my thumb is wrapped around.

From this position, I can begin to work on engaging more lat – specifically the lower part of the muscle – which takes some emphasis off my biceps. Once you gain proficiency here, you can widen your hands even more.

Wide pull-up grip

Pull-Up Tips and Technique: Part 2 | StephGaudreau.com

Now I’ve widened my hands past neutral which you can see from the red line. I could go even wider…

For beginners, this wider grip is hard because it requires more upper lat strength. If you’re keen and understand physics, you might conclude this grip would make for an easier pull-up because it shortens the range of motion. Simply put, I’m not hanging as far from the bar.

And while that’s true, the shortened range comes at a steep price: needing super strong lats, something beginners don’t often have. As you can see, there’s a huge trade-off.

If you’re working toward your first pull-up, don’t emphasize this grip until you’ve mastered the neutral grip. Or, save this grip for static holds or negatives. (More on those in Part 3.)

Wide-grip pull-ups are definitely cool and make your back muscles look badass, but they’re not ideal for beginners.

Body Position

To round out our pull-up tips and techniques for efficiency, let’s talk body position.

If you want to review the basics of a hollow body position and how to scale it, see How to Do a Pull-Up: Part 1.

Just like a hollow hold or hollow rock, having a tight body with plenty of tension makes for efficient, pretty, less difficult pull-ups. If your meatsuit is floppy or you’re broken at the knees, hips, or neck, your body will feel heavier.

Again, you can do a pull-up that way. But as a novice, it’s going to be harder. And just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Let’s break down this body position on the bar.

1) Neutral grip. Knuckles on top of the bar. Thumbs wrapped around the bar and over my index fingers. (If it’s a fat bar and you can’t wrap your thumbs around, fine. But get those knuckles on top!) Deep breath, butt squeezed, and trunk braced. Neck neutral, feet pointed, and legs glued together.

Pull-Up Tips and Technique: Part 2 | StephGaudreau.com

2) Here, I’ve begun to pull. Yes, I’m using my arm muscles, but what most beginners miss is that I’m initiating the pull by knitting my shoulder blades (scapulae) together and pulling them down. Part 3 will explain how to begin training this movement. My upper body naturally leans back a little bit here.

Pull-Up Tips and Technique: Part 2 | StephGaudreau.com

3) Still pulling, and I’m keeping my elbows as close to my body as possible. Note how my upper body continues to go back slightly as my feet naturally go forward to counterbalance my body. Toes still pointed. Butt still squeezed like I’ve got a $100 bill between my cheeks. That protects my lower back from hyperextension.

I see way too many loose lower bodies from pull-up novices. You’ve got a ton of mass below the waist. Tighten it up!

Pull-Up Tips and Technique: Part 2 | StephGaudreau.com

4) Elbows close. Body in a really solid plank or hollow position. Chin neutral. No breaking at the neck…or hips…or knees.

Pull-Up Tips and Technique: Part 2 | StephGaudreau.com

5) Chin over, body still hollow. Elbows close in.

Pull-Up Tips and Technique: Part 2 | StephGaudreau.com

Here’s what it looks like all together:

Watch it a few times. Really pick out the points I detailed in the steps above. Can you see them? Observing someone else do pull-ups and paying close attention activates mirror neurons in your brain for the pull-up itself. Sounds like witchcraft, but it’s not.

(So if you’re gonna fire up those mirror neurons, watch someone who’s doing it right!)

To Summarize

Following these key pull-up tips will help you not only do a better, more efficient first pull-up…

…but also understand it. When you understand why, you can better troubleshoot your own learning process.

Part 2 covered the following:

  • Grip position – underhand/supinated/chin-up vs. overhand/pronated/pull-up vs. mixed
  • Grip width – narrow/chin-up vs. neutral vs. wide
  • Knuckle position – on top of the bar, thumbs wrapped around the bar preferably
  • Body position – hollow body, tension, elbows in

All these pull-ups tips play into the mechanics of getting your first few pull-ups with the least amount of struggle.

Remember to take a look back at How to Do a Pull-Up: Part 1 for drills to help build hollow body strength. And stay tuned for Part 3 where I’ll go over other pull-up accessory work and variations to mix into your routine.

Pin this Pull-Up Tips & Technique tutorial for later.

Pull-Up Tips and Technique: Part 2 | StephGaudreau.com

Have a question about these pull-up tips? Leave them in the comments below.

How to Choose Your Own Fitness Adventure

When you choose you own fitness adventure, you open up a world of possibilities for getting stronger…

Choose Your Own Fitness Adventure | StephGaudreau.com

…and you make it more likely that you’ll stick to whatever you choose, greatly increasing your odds of seeing the improvements you want to see by exercising.

But let’s back up to the 1980s.

As a kid, I absolutely loved the thrill of “choose your own adventure” books.

Choose Your Own Fitness Adventure | StephGaudreau.com

We’ll conveniently ignore the fact that I always seemed to die by falling off a cliff or getting eaten by a tiger. Anywho…

I got to be in control, make the choices, and follow my own path which made it absolutely riveting.

So it confuses me when I meet women and they immediately apologize to me for not doing a specific kind of workout…

“I’m sorry…I don’t do ________,” or “I know it’s not ideal, but I like doing ________.”

You get the gist.

This, frankly, is bollocks because:

  • As long as you like what you’re doing, that’s what matters.
  • You don’t have to please anyone else.
  • There’s no one perfect way to exercise.

Let’s explore why choosing your own fitness adventure makes it more likely to hit your goals. (And if you want to see two new kickass programs from my pals that’ll allow you to do just that, keep reading down to the end.)

On Motivation and Consistency

Choosing your own fitness adventure rules for a couple huge reasons.

1) Time and time again, studies show that a key driver of intrinsic motivation for any behavior is autonomy.

Put another way, you’re more likely to stick to something without the need for punishment or reward when you’re given more choice in the matter. Using the carrot or the stick to lead behavior change is less effective than boosting self-motivation.

You're more likely to stick to something when you have choice in the matter. Click To Tweet

If you want anecdotal examples, just think about how jazzed you are to do something when you only have one option…

…and it’s one you’re not particularly psyched about.

On the other hand, if you make your own choices, you develop ownership which strengthens your investment in the process.

Fitness is no different.

2) Consistency makes it more likely you’ll be successful.

This one’s kind of obvious but follow me here.

When your workout routine isn’t one you really like, you flat out won’t want to do it.

Now, if you have specific goals – say, getting stronger or improving your body composition by building muscle – it’ll be harder to reach them if you don’t consistently exercise.

(Note: Exercising isn’t actually the best way to improve your body composition, but that’s a topic for another day. And, you don’t have to exercise hard every single day to get the benefit. But when you can only muster one workout a month because you hate it, don’t expect to make any progress.)

Three Key Questions for Your Fitness Adventure

Choose Your Own Fitness Adventure | StephGaudreau.com

Okay so great, choosing your own fitness adventure helps boost motivation and consistency…

…but how do you go about finding the workout that’s right for you?

You’ve gotta ask yourself three questions:

  • Where do you come from?
  • Where do you want to go?
  • Why are you doing it?

Let’s dig in.

1) Where do you come from? 

I don’t mean this literally. (I’m from Springfield, Massachusetts…United States…Earth…Milky Way…).

I mean, how the heck did you get here now with your current circumstances?

  • What’s your strength like?
  • Your health status?
  • Do you have any old or new injuries?
  • What’s your schedule like?
  • Really, how much free time are you willing to spend on fitness? (Don’t lie.)
  • How much dough can you spend on fitness?
  • …etc.

2) Where do you want to go? 

Again, don’t take this literally. I mean, what are your goals?

  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • What’s the intended outcome?
  • What’s your timeline?

And last but not least…

3) Why are you doing it? 

This is the most important question of all. And as with any diet or lifestyle change, including fitness, you’ve gotta get crystal clear about your motivation. If you can get to the root of your why, even better. To do that, ask why – and answer it – at least five times.

  • Is it a desire to show up in the world as your best self?
  • To reach your full potential?
  • Do you want to be healthy & strong for your kiddos?
  • Do you want to see your grandchildren grow up?
  • Is it to live independently and with quality of life when you’re older?

Keep this reason at the forefront of your mind. It’s easier to stick to change when you have a why.

It's easier to stick to change when you have a why. Click To Tweet

Finding What You Like

So, if choosing your own fitness adventure is key to happiness and success, how can you find what you like?

For better or worse, the Interwebz and even your local community – are stuffed full of options for workout plans, gyms, and classes. You could probably spend years trying them all.

Here are some tips:

  • Embrace being a beginner. So many people won’t even try because they’re afraid of looking stupid. Tough love coaching moment: Get over yourself. Caring coaching moment: Nobody expects beginners to be masters. In fact, quite the opposite! Run with it.
  • Give something 5-10 chances before you decide if you love it or hate it. On one hand, sinking hundreds of Benjamins into fancy gear right off the bat means you’ll regret it if you decide it’s not for you. On the other, if you hang for a while you might find the workout starts to feel awesome once you’ve gotten over the urge to pee yourself from nervousness.
  • Ask your friends. Personal recommendations are always better than Amazon reviews or Yelp.
  • Go check it out. Head over to the gym, studio, or rec center and see what it’s like. Feel the vibe. I know it sounds woo but your gut will tell you what’s up. If it’s nervous butterflies, cool. If your hackles go up and the alarm bells are sounding, not cool. If it’s an online program, see if there’s a guarantee or refund policy. You can always test it out!

Two Awesome New Choose-Your-Own-Fitness-Adventure Options

I believe in finding the right fit for your body, goals, and life circumstances. It’s one of the reasons why my 6-week Harder to Kill Challenge has three different fitness tracks.

There are tons of great programs out there that’ll fit your adventure…

…and I’m stoked to share these kickass new choices from Noelle Tarr and Jen Sinkler.

Noelle and Jen were both speakers at my Women’s Strength Summit last year. They’re both super sharp, lovely, strong women who are passionate about helping others. And, I’m proud to call them friends.

Fitness Adventure 1: Get Strong From Home

If building strength sounds great to you but you 1) don’t know how to begin and 2) would rather do it from the comfort of you own home, Strong From Home is the program you’ve been waiting for.

Choose Your Own Fitness Adventure | StephGaudreau.com

I’ve seen how tirelessly Noelle’s worked on her program, testing, refining, and tweaking it. She’s known for her instructional videos with minimal equipment that you can do right in your living room, and she’ll help you make a plan to reach your goals. Trust…this is effective stuff.

Click here to watch Noelle’s free e-course, or here to read more about Strong From Home.

You don’t need a membership to a fancy gym to get strong, and Noelle’s proving it. It also covers the mindset of getting stronger, something I personally love.

And to make it even sweeter, Strong From Home is on sale during its debut from January 17-24, 2017. Click here for all the deets, including 3 different levels of support and features.

Fitness Adventure 2: Build Your Bigness

The Bigness Project by Jen Sinkler and Kourtney Thomas is a different kind of adventure beast altogether. It’s all about building bigger muscles. Yes, of course, stronger muscles…but bigger muscles, too.

Kourtney sums it up perfectly by saying:

When clients tell me that their goal is to ‘tone up,’ ‘slim down,’ or ‘look long and lean,’ they’re all telling me the same thing: that they want more muscles. And that’s what we’re going to do: We’re going to get you more muscles.” Brilliant!

Choose Your Own Fitness Adventure | StephGaudreau.com

 

Hypertrophy training is the technical name for it, though some will recognize it better by the term bodybuilding. Of course, everyone’s genetic potential to build muscle will vary – and nobody’s gonna look like Arnold Schwarzenegger by doing this program – but The Bigness Project will help you out a little bit.

And the ladies are talking about the mindset of embracing your bigness, too.

Choose Your Own Fitness Adventure | StephGaudreau.com

Check out the program here – 14 weeks of training with a couple different levels – will be live on January 24, 2017.

To Summarize

You’re more likely to stick to your workout routine when you pick one you like. Instantly, feelings of intrinsic motivation improve, and you’ll be consistent.

To guide you on your fitness adventure, ask three critical questions:

  • Where do I come from?
  • Where do I want to go?
  • Why am I doing this?

No matter what your cup of fitness tea, you’ll find loads of options out there. Remember to give something new a fair shake, don’t let being a beginner intimidate you, ask your friends, and test it out when you can.

And of course, check out these two new rad resources from my badass lady friends:

Book covers image by Reformer.com.

How to Do a Pull-Up: Part 1

The pull-up is pretty freaking rad.

How to Do a Pull-Up: Part 1 | StephGaudreau.com

Not only is it a great exercise all-around, but it’s also like a rite of passage on your strength training journey. It’s like you’re wee Mario who just found a magic mushroom and gets leveled up to Super Mario…stronger.

Ticking off that first pull-up is a goal for many women. But it’s more than just that…

…being able to move your own bodyweight is your basic human right.

Being able to move your own bodyweight is your basic human right. Click To Tweet

And if you’re a woman, you can do a pull-up. Any trash mag, stupid ex-boyfriend, or internet trolls was dead wrong when they said females can’t.

The Best…and the Worst

Getting your first pull-up is intoxicating. It’s the best feeling ever. It supercharges your confidence and opens your eyes to your potential.

“If I can do a pull-up, what else can I do?!”

Here’s one of my first successful attempts way back in October 2010. Note the cyclist lycra. I was just a couple months into my strength training journey.

Also note I’ve gained 10kg (over 20 pounds) since then, and I can still do pull-ups. Hell, I can do even more now because I’m stronger.

I don’t want to harp on bodyweight, but recently someone told me they should just try to lose weight to make getting a pull-up easier. I find that to be a depressing proposition. Read Instead of Weight Loss, Focus On This to find out what I recommend. Remember, strong first.

Unfortunately, being unable to get your first pull-up even though you’ve been trying is quite possibly the worst feeling ever. If you’ve been strength training for a couple years and still don’t have a strict pull-up, it’s time to get to the bottom of it.

So in this blog series, I’m going to coach you through how to do a pull-up, including videos, sample accessory movements, and more.

Part 1 will cover body position, Part 2 will be the fundamentals of the movement, and Part 3 will cover drills to practice.

It’s really hard for me to assess exactly why you’ve been struggling with pull-ups especially without seeing you move…

…so there’s going to be some diligence and personal responsibility required on your part to do what’s right for your body.

In other words, if you’re injured or the movements I discuss here give you pain or feel icky in your body, it’s up to you to look out for yourself.

Okay Steph, Teach Me How to Do a Pull-Up Right Now

Hold on there, tiger. I know you’re eager, but we’re going to break this way down.

It might surprise you that Part 1 of this series isn’t going to focus on pull-ups at all. Not even a little.

I look out into the fitness landscape – whether it’s at the gym or online – and I see a massive disconnect between the way we live and the things we expect our bodies to do.

Many of the clients I coach struggle to go below parallel in a squat, for example.

The first conclusion everyone points to is a lack of mobility or flexibility, and while that’s true for some, there’s a bigger, more fundamental problem:

Nobody goes below parallel on a regular basis because of how our modern environments are built.

Just take a quick look around your home or office right now. Chairs, couches, cars…shit, even the toilet only requires us to squat to parallel but never below.

People literally don’t know how to use their hamstrings and glutes to stand up out of a below-parallel squat.

Here’s my loving husband Z demonstrating a very typical body position in today’s modern world:

Sitting at a table hunched over a computer. People work, drive, play video games, text and spend a significant portion of the day like this.

(I’ll give him credit here…he’s sitting more on his sit bones. That way, he’s not squashing his poor hamstrings quite so much.)

How to Do a Pull-Up: Part 1 | StephGaudreau.com

Extrapolate this lack-of-use out to everything we come into contact with: moving sidewalks, escalators, and everything on wheels.

As my very wise friend Jamie Scott summarized so well, modern humans are opting out of movement like never before. And it’s reaching crisis-level proportions.

Modern humans are opting out of movement like never before. Click To Tweet

Our collective kinesthetic awareness is fading in a world that enables us to sit back, relax, and never move. Cue Wall-E.

How to Do a Pull-Up: Part 1 | StephGaudreau.com

Is it no surprise then that even the most well-meaning, motivated people go into the gym and don’t quite know how to move their meatsuits?

Or that their tissues are so bunged up they can’t get into basic body shapes other than the sitting-while-hunched-shape?

Worse still is that the trainers, coaches, and “experts” many people entrust – and pay good money to – are often oblivious to these fundamental challenges. It’s just rah-rah cheering or a lousy prescription for more foam-rolling.

My fellow coaches, you have an obligation to do better for your clients. To get to the root. To realize they need vitamins more than they need ice cream. And to know that putting a loaded bar on someone’s back before it’s time is not doing right by them.

My dear reader, you aren’t to blame for way this modern world is working against your biology and your humanness. It’s not your fault. 

But it’s going to take a conscious effort on your part to opt-out and take a stand for your own health, to ask questions, to move with intention, and to have patience with the process.

/rantoff

Seriously though, it’s important to unpack why so many people struggle with basic, fundamental human movements. Now, I want to give you some practical stuff to walk away with.

It Starts with Body Position

If you’re going to set out this year to do your first pull-up, let’s break it down to the basement level: body position.

See, you can do a pull-up – any movement really – with terrible form. It’s likely to be woefully inefficient, could cause overuse or injury, and is probably ugly as shit to look at.

Or, you can resolve to do a pull-up and practice all the accessory drills to get there with focus, intention, and efficient form. Plus, it’ll be easier.

Here’s a way to picture it: Let’s say you have to carry a 25-pound bag of dog food across a parking lot from the store to your car. Will it be easier to hold the bag outstretched, away from your body or hugged in close to your body? You already know the answer…close!

If your body is flopping around, loose, and in broken positions while you’re doing a pull-up, it’s going to feel heavier. It’s less mechanically efficient.

Practice solid shapes.

Your aim in a strict pull-up will be to keep your body tight. That means squeezing your butt, pinning your legs together, pointing your toes, getting your shoulder blades seated down and back, keeping your neck neutral, and bracing your abs. Got all that?

Even finding this position takes conscious effort. You may be feeling muscles you didn’t know you even had.

Think about Olympic gymnasts. Their bodies are rigid, long, and taut. They point their toes. They maintain tension in their bodies.

Start with a hollow body position on the floor.

How to Do a Pull-Up: Part 1 | StephGaudreau.com

(I’m not going to delve into all the nuance here. Just know that everything is tight and squeezed. There’s tension in my body. It’s not floppy or soft. I’ll cover how often to do movements like this in Part 3.)

From there, work on hollow rocks.

Now your body is in motion. Can you hold that shape? It’s challenging, but this hollow body position directly translates to you hanging from a bar and moving efficiently through a pull-up.

Then, progress to hanging on the bar. 

How to Do a Pull-Up: Part 1 | StephGaudreau.com

You’ve got to squeeze!

Maintaining tension is a core principle of all movements from air squats to pull-ups to 300-pound deadlifts.

Here’s another example where you can practice tension: push-ups.

Christmas, if I had a buck for every shoddy push-up I’ve ever seen on Facebook, I’d be retired. As well-intentioned as the 22-day push-up challenge was, it exposed a lot of collective weakness.

Often, people just don’t know what they don’t know. But when these push-ups are happening under the “watchful” eye of a coach, I cringe.

Start with a simple plank position. 

How to Do a Pull-Up: Part 1 | StephGaudreau.com

Can you keep everything squeezed with a neutral spine? No stripper butt, sagging chests, or elbows winging out at 90-degrees, please.

Once you master this, try a push-up, keeping everything the same. 

If you can’t do a standard push-up, increase the angle of your body by propping yourself up on a sturdy bench or box. Start on the wall if you need to. Lower the bench or box as you get stronger.

Notice how my elbows are pinned in close to my body? That’s going to be extremely important for getting an efficient pull-up.

How to Do a Pull-Up: Part 1 | StephGaudreau.com

Lots of people want to poo-poo bodyweight movements like they’re substandard, but trust: Bodyweight exercises can be very challenging when done correctly.

To Summarize

The foundations of getting your first pull-up are rooted in body position. Unfortunately, our modern environments put us at odds with our biology – unless we consciously opt out – making it harder to get into functional positions.

You can start laying the foundations of a pull-up by practicing holding shapes like hollow rocks and planks, feeling like it’s like to maintain tension.

Sound movement patterns are a must if they’re going to translate to efficient, safe movements like pull-ups.

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I’ll really pick apart the pull-up mechanics you need to master.

Pin How to Do a Pull-Up: Part 1 for later

How to Do a Pull-Up: Part 1 | StephGaudreau.com

Questions or comments? Leave them below!

F*ck The Hustle (Before It’s Too Late)

The Hustle.

F*ck The Hustle | StephGaudreau.com

It seems particularly appropriate to talk about busyness and The Hustle at this time of year, when the madness of the holidays is in full swing.

There’s parties to attend, presents to buy, and planes to catch. And while it can be fun and exciting, it’s also wicked stressful.

Family relations, bank account balances, and taking time off work on top of normal obligations can make you feel like a hamster trapped on an accelerating wheel.

But it’s not just the holiday season that’ll get ya.

No, The Hustle is something that’ll strike you down any time of year, often when you least expect it…

…so in this post, I’ve got three reasons to f*ck The Hustle before it’s too late.

Defining The Hustle

According to the Googles, “hustle” is defined as…

Hustle /ˈhəsəl/

(verb): force (someone) to move hurriedly or unceremoniously in a specified direction

(noun): busy movement and activity

Now, you could argue that inherently, neither of those definitions is particularly nefarious. “Hey, what’s wrong with being busy or occupied?”

Nothing. But The Hustle I’m speaking of is more a mentality and a lifestyle than is portrayed in any dictionary entry. (That’s why I capitalize it as a proper noun.)

You get clues to it in the meaning of the verb: Forcing, being hurried along, and overall, a really dark, negative, frazzled energy.

When it comes down to it, The Hustle means pushing harder, doing more, and resting less because you think it’ll help you get ahead.

And it’s all a grand fucking illusion.

Last month, I posted a revision to a quote that Think Grow Prosper put on their Instagram:

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-4-33-45-pm

I mean, come on.

Think Grow Proper’s original post pissed me off enough that Z and I dedicated Season 2 Episode 1 of Harder to Kill Radio to the topic.

My post got over 1100 likes and dozens of comments from people like you who are sick of this kind of “motivation” too.

And while I can sort of see an angle here – be persistent, have grit, etc. – if you’re drained, you’re not doing yourself any good by pushing through it. (Plus, sometimes quitting is a sign of strength, too. But that’s another post for another time.)

Being tired is one thing. We’ve all been there…when we give ourselves the ol’ pep talk to make it past a looming deadline or finish the semester strong.

But being drained, hanging on by your last nerve, and wrecking your health in the process is sheer lunacy. We’ve got to stop making it okay to Hustle ourselves into the ground.

F*ck The Hustle (Before It's Too Late) Click To Tweet

Here are three reasons to f*ck The Hustle:

#1: Everyone’s Quite Shitty at Multitasking

Multitasking is for computers, not humans. Study after study has demonstrated that people are really terrible at it. And even though you might think you’ve mastered it, you haven’t.

It’s pretty typical, when you’re deep in The Hustle, to juggle 8271 balls at once. You hop from task to task, desperate to get a little bit done for each.

And while you might be busy, you’re unlikely to be effective at what you’re doing.

Here’s what typically would happen to me:

I’d spend all day skimming the surface of my work tasks (let’s not even add in everything else that goes along with life) for several straight hours. I was occupied, but I wasn’t really getting anything done. And to top it all off, I finished feeling drained and stressed, like no matter how fast I went, I couldn’t keep up.

Ever heard of “switching cost?” It’s fascinating. Basically, it’s the degradation in accuracy, speed, and even safety that results from multitasking. That article links to primary journal sources if you wanna jump in deeper and get nerdy.

It’s bad enough to hustle your way through “brainless” tasks like email, but the effect is even more detrimental to creative tasks that require real brain power. It takes time and focus to descend into the kind of space that allows for effective problem solving.

Not only that, but hurried, hustled thinking means you’re hanging out in a stressed state which closes your mind off to other possibilities.

#2: The Logic of The Hustle is Flawed

F*ck The Hustle | StephGaudreau.com

The Hustle often gets heavily defended in entrepreneurial circles, as if doing it is the way only way to succeed. Recently, I even heard an argument for The Hustle, like it’s some sick rite of passage.

It usually goes something like this:

“Mr. X or Ms. Y runs a 7-figure business. They worked hard to get there. So, if you want a successful 7-figure business, you’ve gotta Hustle, too.” (By the way, it’s not good enough to just have a 6-figure business anymore, in case you hadn’t noticed.)

Fuck that.

Let’s deconstruct this logic.

First, let’s go with the assumption that just because someone heads a million dollar enterprise means they Hustled to get there. We just don’t know that for sure. It’s easy to look out into the Internet and make up all sorts of stories about how people earned their success.

Maybe they didn’t Hustle at all. Maybe they’re a trust fund kid. Maybe they know the right people. Maybe they had an Oprah moment. Maybe they paid for it. Or maybe their success is a result of consistent but reasonable hard work over years.

My point is, you have no idea unless you know them personally. Most people you see at the top of the game have been at it a long time. They’ve made mistakes. They’ve put in the work.

Don't confuse The Hustle with Consistent Hard Work Over Time. Click To Tweet

Secondly, let’s assume they did engage in The Hustle, burning the candle at both ends 24/7, forsaking their health and well-being for the sole purpose of finding “success.” Just because they did it doesn’t mean it’s 1) necessary, 2) right, or 3) worth it for you. Just because they Hustled doesn’t mean it’s the only path to success.

The culture online entrepreneurs are creating, the unspoken work ethic, the push for making it to the top at all costs, is insidious, and it’s common to fall victim unless you’re vigilant.

Thirdly, how do you define success? Get really clear about success looks and feels like to you. Is it how many zeros are tacked onto your bank account balance? Is it living into your purpose and leaving the world a better place? Is it both? Neither? Something entirely different?

Do you deserve to make money whilst helping others? Of course. I’m not advocating working for free.

But think about whether the cost of The Hustle is worth it for you. Be honest about what you’re likely to give up, and determine whether the image of success you’re driving so hard toward is something you actually want. Or would you happy with a little less money and a lot more health, peace of mind, or space to live the life you’re hell bent on creating?

Working hard and having goals isn’t stupid. Hell, I’ve been working on my businesses for over five years now, chipping away, showing up, messing up, and changing direction.

Am I in the 7-figure club? Nope. Do I want to be? Not if the tradeoff means I’m chucking my health, wellbeing, and quality of life out the window.

The thought that you can have it all – the piles of money, the success, the fame, great health, peace of mind, and bangin’ body – is so pervasive in our culture that we rarely stop to question if it’s really possible.

#3: Your Health Depends on It

F*ck The Hustle | StephGaudreau.com

The Hustle is bad for your physical, mental, and emotional health.

Again, you aren’t a machine. Your biology is governed by cycles, waves, and rhythms.

And it just makes sense that when you have periods of higher energy expenditure, it’s got to be followed by periods of rest and recovery.

To paraphrase Tony Schwartz in The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working: Humans are built for sprints followed by rest, not marathons of constant output.

Moderns humans live in discordance with our biology in staggering ways including how we sleep, eat, work, and hustle about our day. We’re constantly bucking Mother Nature, and it’s starting to take its toll in the ever-rising incidence of metabolic diseases, mental illness, and cancer.

If you’re the average Jane, the deck is already stacked against you, and much of what Western culture values and how it operates isn’t your fault. You probably didn’t create the corporate structures of your workplace or choose the hours of your child’s school day.

All of this boils down to stress load versus the quality of recovery, and The Hustle just pushes the needle ever in the direction of stress overload.

Individual tolerances, genetics, and environment can buffer some of it, but when you push too far and Hustle too hard, something will break.

You will break.

A few months ago, a friend posted an article on Facebook about the hidden mental costs of entrepreneurship. I got into it with a guy who considered himself quite the successful businessman (with the zeros at the end of his bank balance to prove it).

His success came at a huge cost: diabetes and obesity.

He admitted to Hustling himself into disease.

And the crazier part is that he was okay with it because he had lots of money as a result. I guess folks like that can’t be reasoned with.

Ultimately, going against the status quo of Western culture takes conscious choices on a daily basis. You’ll feel like a rebel at first, but then you’ll come to see that everyone is so busy worrying about themselves, they probably won’t even notice what you’re up to.

How To Recognize You’re Deep in The Hustle

F*ck The Hustle | StephGaudreau.com

In all fairness, sometimes it’s really hard to realize you’re deep in The Hustle because it so quickly becomes a “normal” way of being.

My purpose here isn’t to just point out what’s wrong: It’s to offer you some insight, coaching, and help when you need it most.

Signs you’re in The Hustle:

  • Feeling emotionally triggered or defensive by reading this post.
  • Feeling as if the pace of life is spiraling out of control.
  • Proclaiming, “I don’t have time for that,” on a regular basis.
  • Making little progress despite working harder and longer hours.
  • Believing that if you slow down, you’ll fall behind.
  • Feeling the constant crush of keeping up with others around you. Aka FOMO.
  • Being unable to sit still for more than five minutes.
  • Skipping work breaks. (Or if you’re self-employed, failing to give yourself breaks throughout the day.)
  • Skipping meals to keep working.
  • Suffering from comparison-itis: the belief that you’re so far behind everyone else, that you can’t stop or you’ll fall further behind.
  • Requiring sugar, caffeine, and other stimulants to make it through the work day.
  • Multitasking as your primary workflow.
  • Frequently getting sick.

Of course, there are more. And if you’re feeling generally stressed out day after day, you’re probably in The Hustle, too.

6 Ways Counteract The Hustle

F*ck The Hustle | StephGaudreau.com

So, if you’re in The Hustle, what can you do to ameliorate it?

1) Take more frequent breaks.

Ideally, take 30 minutes of restorative break time for every 90 minutes of work. If that’s not possible – no hate mail, I know some people have jobs where that’s impossible – make your breaks truly restorative. No, answering emails or scrolling social media is not restorative. Whammy.

2) Be quiet & unplug.

Devote some time each day to sitting quietly or meditating. If you say you can’t do five minutes, you need it even more.

3) Define your own success.

Is it a state of mind, a financial goal, a contribution to society, a type of lifestyle? Write it down.

4) Nourish your body & mind.

That includes eating real, whole foods a majority of the time, moving and strengthening your body, renewing your energy daily, and practicing positive mindset.

5) Say no. 

The great illusion is that you must do all and be all, all the time. Learn how to say no. If others are disappointed, that’s on them, not you. You’re not responsible for other people’s feelings. EVER. Use your new-found free time to do more of the things above. Nobody gets to the end of life and says, “Well, I wish I’d worked more.”

6) Opt out. 

Time to put on your big girl pants. You get to decide how to run your life. Society will do it if you don’t. Opt out of the bullshit that’s not working. Don’t let others decide what’s right for you.

To Summarize

Hard work is great, but you need to counter it with plenty of rest and recovery.

The Hustle is a monstrous lie. Multitasking is crap, successful people don’t always Hustle (especially not 24/7)…

…and even if they do, it doesn’t make it good or right.

Learn to recognize when you’re in The Hustle, and use the six strategies above for exiting out.

Your health and wellbeing is precious. Guard it ruthlessly.

Thoughts? Add them to the comments below.

5 Sports Nutrition Myths Busted

Sports nutrition – also called eating for performance – is a topic near and dear to my heart. As a competitive Olympic weightlifter, coach, and holistic nutritionist, I frequently work with athletes to tweak their food to fit a real food template.

5 Nutrition Myths Busted | StephGaudreau.com Sometimes, to boost performance, it may be beneficial to get a bit more specific with your nutrition according to a plan. It’s not for everyone, but if you have specific performance goals, it can help you to dial things in.

To prepare for some big weightlifting meets in the last two years, I’ve gone through two different 12-week programs. (Even coaches need coaches.) By far, my favorite of the two and the one I recommend to fellow athletes is Renaissance Periodization (RP). (Use my code to save 10%: steph10.)

Here’s why I like it as a short-term strategy:

I was able to fully customize it to the foods that worked best with my body (ex: I used coconut water for my during-workout carbs), and I never had to log my food.

Today, I’ve invited RP owner Nick Shaw on the blog to dispel some common sports nutrition myths for you. These are things that we hear all the time when it comes to eating for performance.

Take it away, Nick!

Sports Nutrition Myth #1: You have to log macros in MFP (My Fitness Pal) to lose body fat.

Absolutely a myth!!

I have never once used MFP in my entire life and have been able to do many successful cut phases. MFP is a great tool that helps a lot of folks, but we actually designed our templates to NOT need MFP. (To save 10% on RP templates use the code steph10). You can know that certain foods will have trace amounts of “crossover calories” – ex: the amount of protein in say beans or nuts – and when you take the averages of most food sources you can get a pretty good idea of where those numbers will fall.

Ultimately, you want cutting or massing to be easy and sustainable in the long run – with dedicated phases of NOT dieting in there of course. Having to log every single meal and every single thing you eat into an app can really become a burden for a lot of folks. If you can take that out of the equation and reduce the math and time spent thinking about cutting or massing, chances are that will help make it easier for folks out there.

Simple = easy. Easy = greater chances of diet consistency. Consistency = better results. Better results = more likely to transition into a lifestyle, not just a one-time diet. 

Sports Nutrition Myth #2: You can’t get leaner and perform well at the same time.

Absolutely a myth!

I’ve worked with and seen literally thousands of clients that are able to lose weight/fat and see strength improvements. A good way to help busy this myth is to lose weight at a slow and steady rate – think 1-2 lbs/week for most people or maybe 1% of their weight per week.

You also have to set limits on the amount of time spent cutting, think 12 weeks or so, tops. After that you may see diminishing returns in the amount of calories you have to pull out to see further weight loss vs. performance dropping. You can also help this by NOT cutting carbs first in a diet. Keeping carbs up longer over the course of a plan should help most folks sustain – or improve – performance while in a hypocaloric state. 

It should also be noted that the more new you are to diet and/or training, your chances of seeing PRs while cutting goes up as well. 

Sports Nutrition Myth #3: You need several hundred grams of carbs a day for performance.

Very likely a myth.

Certainly having more carbs in your diet will help you perform better, but there will certainly be cases where outliers can and will occur. The first example that would jump out to me would be a very small female athlete – think a 48kg lifter – that might only weigh 100 pounds or so. If she’s having about 1 g carbs/lb of bodyweight on a lower volume training day, she could be eating 100g (roughly) worth of carbs and could still easily hit PRs. That’s a lot different than several hundred grams! I’m sure there are also examples of some athletes using keto – higher fat/protein while keeping calories up – that could also see performance increases due to calories being such a powerful overall tool. 

[Steph’s note: I asked Nick to address this myth because I hear it a lot from the endurance community where carb-loading and carb-heavy diets still persist. The 48kg athlete likely does not need 300+ grams of carbs a day to perform well.]

Sports Nutrition Myth #4: If you cheated on your diet and the next day, you gained weight…you added fat.

TOTAL myth!! 🙂

When you “cheat” on your diet, chances are you’re eating delicious foods filled with lots of carbs/fats and sodium. All of these things can cause water retention. Unless you’re eating thousands of calories in your cheat meal, chances are you are not gaining actual tissue and your body is just holding onto water for a variety of reasons. Chances are if you track your bodyweight after having a cheat meal, you’ll see a spike in weight for a day or two and then it comes RIGHT back on down so long as you get back on track. 

Sports Nutrition Myth #5: For performance, it doesn’t matter when you eat, as long as you get enough calories.

This is somewhat true and not necessarily a myth. Having said that, it’s important to note that nailing your calories and overall macros for the day is by far the biggest piece of the puzzle to nutrition, it’s not the ENTIRE puzzle and leaves a little bit missing. The more advanced you get in athletics, the bigger role nutrient timing can have and thus timing your food intake around training, practices, etc can yield even better outcomes. If you have longer workouts (think over 1-2 hours) or have multiple workouts a day, the role of timing your food around training goes up even more.

In Conclusion

Thanks again Nick for addressing these common sports nutrition myths! If you’re curious about using RP’s templates for your performance, head over to Renaissance Periodization and use my code to save 10%: steph10.

I truly believe that making long-term change that sticks depends on customizing a real food template to your context, aka the You Diet.

Pin this article about 5 Sports Nutrition Myths, Busted for later!

5 Nutrition Myths Busted | StephGaudreau.com

Why I Quit Hormonal Birth Control

Over two years have passed since I opened my last packet of pills and quit hormonal birth control.

Why I Quit Hormonal Birth Control | StephGaudreau.com

In this post, I’m going to share why I quit hormonal birth control, what happened afterward, and what I use instead.

But before I dive in, I need to heavily preface this post so I don’t get a shit-ton of hate mail.

This post isn’t meant to be a sociopolitical or religious conversation. It’s not a medical conversation either. I’m not a doctor – I didn’t stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night – nor am I a medical professional of any kind. I’m not trying to make a statement about feminism or women’s rights, and I’m not trying to tell you what to do with your own reproductive health.

With that in mind…

If you told me a few years ago that I’d be blogging about my birth control, I probably would’ve squirmed a little bit in my seat. Fact is, in the side conversations I’ve had with friends or the email exchanges I’ve had with other women since I quit hormonal birth control, something’s become apparent:

It’s just not something that a lot of people are talking about, and women are curious to learn more.

The choice to quit hormonal birth control is a very personal one. I was at the place in my life where it made sense to seriously start questioning what I was doing and whether it was good for my health or not. As a 35-year old married woman in a stable and committed relationship, that was my reality, so I began asking around.

But let’s go back a ways first.

Let’s Just Say I Bloomed Early

Gag. I hate that term.

At 10 years old, my body went from chubby pre-teen to menstruating young woman overnight. My mom gave me a book about periods – probably because she noticed I wasn’t flat-chested anymore – and I read that a period would feel like a “low, itchy sensation.”

Well, when I was graced with menarche, it felt achy, not itchy. (Note to self: Get better at skimming.)

Not that being the first to get your period and braces is bad enough for a 5th grader, but every month I got sick. Really sick.

I hate to be graphic, but when I got my period, I’d spend the first 24 to 48 hours vomiting until bile came up. Going to school wasn’t an option, so I’d stay home and writhe in bed. After a while, mom realized this wasn’t normal, and so around age 12 – I think…my memory is a bit fuzzy – I got my first pelvic exam. Hooray!

The concern was that my cousin was dealing with a severe case of endometriosis and perhaps I had it, too. “Not to worry,” the lady doctor said, “you don’t have it. It’s just raging hormones, and you’ll outgrow it.” To be fair, I’m paraphrasing, but that was it. You’ll grow out of it.

Well, I really didn’t. And I always had a feeling something wasn’t right.

I remember calling mom to come pick me up from school once because my period started. I’d popped some Advil (knowing it wouldn’t do anything), and willed for her to get to me as fast as possible. We lived a half hour away, and I could feel myself going downhill. As she drove up, I hurled into the trash can in front of the school doors. I was 16.

At age 19, a college sophomore, I went on birth control pills.

And They “Worked”

Yep, hormonal birth control worked as promised.

I wasn’t getting as sick. I avoided pregnancy. I took my little blue pills each day like my doctor told me, and my period was very predictable.

So what was the problem?

At first, nothing.

(I did have a short break from hormonal birth control after my divorce, and when I was off them, I felt so much better, but I went back on them soon after.)

But then, at age 33, my gyno definitely diagnosed me with endometriosis after doing a tissue biopsy. FFS. As far as I know, my endo is mostly confined to my cervical area (the location of the biopsy), but I’ve never had a exploratory laparoscopy. To be clear, I don’t desire motherhood, and while some women reading this might be horrified that my fertility status could be affected by my endo, I’m not stressing about it because I don’t want children.

All those years, I knew something was wrong with me, and I was right. To say that I felt vindicated and confused all at the same time would have been accurate. But I was starting to pay more attention to my health – I went paleo two years prior to the diagnosis – and putting things in my body that were working better for me.

Around the same time, my birth control prescription had to be changed, and the hormones increased. I started to feel like crap, and the side effects began to pile up. Moodiness, weight gain, low energy. Despite feeling pretty good for the previous couple years, I knew this decline was due to the change in my pills.

In the summer of 2014, a full two years after my endo was discovered, I decided enough was enough.

Why I Quit Hormonal Birth Control... Click To Tweet

Considering My Options

I started considering what other options I really had because I wanted to quit hormonal birth control altogether.

To me, it was a natural evolution. I’d already been working on nourishing my body, getting stronger, sleeping better, and using fewer “chemical” products at home and on my body. Z and I were married, and I felt terrible despite the few different prescriptions I’d been switched to.

I’d also changed doctors – my old gyn wouldn’t allow an IUD because I was still “of reproductive age” even though he knew I didn’t want children – and the new one was willing to do a copper IUD. (Yes, I was fully aware of the risks.)

In fact, I felt really excited at the prospect of finally being off hormones (as pumped as a woman can be at the thought of having a little T-shaped piece of metal shoved up her hoo-ha)!

Well, despite the doctor proclaiming my uterus “measured perfectly” and going through with it, I was absolutely crushed when I went back for a checkup the following month and it had dislodged.

She asked me if I wanted to come back in another 4 weeks and try again. When I said no, she wrote me another prescription for birth control pills. I walked out, tore the slip up, and went on a mission to find a better way.

I decided to quit hormonal birth control because I was tired of the side effects, I knew there had to other ways to manage my fertility that worked with my lifestyle, and the risk factors just weren’t worth it anymore. Frankly, I was also really pissed at mainstream medicine for becoming a pill-and-hormone pushing machine, unwilling to help women manage underlying lifestyle factors.

I was really pissed at mainstream medicine for becoming a pill and hormone pushing machine, Click To Tweet

Creeping Around Other Women’s Social Media Profiles

Turns out, my research was short-lived. I remembered reading something Liz Wolfe posted about how to quit hormonal birth control, so I did what any normal human would do: I creeped her Facebook page for more info. (Liz and I are actually friends, so it’s not as weird as it sounds.)

When I found her Facebook post about it, I just bit the bullet and asked.

Why I Quit Hormonal Birth Control | StephGaudreau.com

Yep, that’s a screenshot of the actual message I sent her.

Liz was a great sport and filled me in. I’m so grateful for her because this still seems like something women don’t really talk about. Add to it the fact that many doctors – though not all – seem hell-bent on prescribing hormonal birth control as the contraception default, and it’s no wonder women are confused.

Side story: I now have yet another gyn, a lovely woman roughly my mother’s age. When I first met her, we had the following conversation:

Doctor P: What are you using for birth control?

Me: I track and chart my basal body temperature plus other signs of ovulation.

Doctor P: Isn’t that a lot of work?

Me: No. (Looking puzzled.) I lie in bed for a minute every morning and take my temperature.

Doctor P: Do you know you could still get pregnant?

Me: As you can with any other form of birth control. I follow the rules for avoiding pregnancy. I don’t want to take hormonal birth control.

Doctor P: Have you considered Mirena? (Mirena is a type of IUD with “low dose” hormones.)

Me: Mirena still has hormones. (And it has a higher risk of blood clots than many other forms of hormonal birth control. No thanks.)

Doctor P.: (changed the subject)

As much as I liked Doctor P, I absolutely loathed being treated like a dum-dum who didn’t know anything about my own fertility. And it galls me that women the world over are 1) being presented no other options besides barrier methods or hormones and 2) that hormonal birth control is being used to treat the symptoms of other bigger health issues. More about that later.

Enter: FAM

On that fateful July day two years ago, Liz told me about FAM (Fertility Awareness Method), and it’s changed my life and health for the better. I’ve been off hormonal birth control since then with great success.

What is FAM?

In a nutshell, FAM is a combination of approaches that allow a woman to track and chart when she is ovulating. By measuring basal body temperature (BBT) – recorded with a special thermometer – and tracking other signs like cervical fluid, cervical position, ovulation pain, PMS symptoms, etc., a woman can closely pinpoint ovulation. There are some basic rules about when to abstain from sex or use a back-up barrier method (if you don’t want to get pregnant) or when to have sex (if you do want to get pregnant).

Note: FAM is not the same as just assuming that women ovulate on day 14 of their menstrual cycle.

While 14 days is an average, it’s not absolute, and it may not apply to you during every cycle even if you do tend to ovulate at 14 days.

Case in point, last month I got tattooed on Day 12 of my cycle. Because of the physical stress, I actually ovulated 4 days later than normal. Had I assumed “everyone ovulates around 14 days” and had sex without a barrier, I could have gotten pregnant. Luckily I have tracked fertility signs for two+ straight years and knew that my ovulation was delayed. In the past, I’ve also ovulated late after a very long international flight and while I was sick with food poisoning.

How FAM Works

Like all other forms of birth control, there are detailed and specific rules for doing FAM. I used the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler.

Every morning when I wake up – before getting out of bed – I lie there and take my temperature orally with a special basal body temperature thermometer. This takes a minute or so. (If a doctor tells you this is harder than taking a pill every day, gee, you might rethink your choice of providers. I did.)

Then, I log my temperature with a fertility tracking app. I use Fertility Friend because it’s the one I found two years ago. There are other ones without all the pink and purple flowers if you like your fertility tracking without the stereotypically girly motifs.

I also log other signs like cervical fluid changes, breast tenderness, etc.

If you’re sitting here thinking you could never do it because that’s “gross,” I have to say this: Having knowledge about how your body works is not gross. It’s empowering, and it’s your right. For too long, women have been prescribed hormonal birth control that allows us to be completely oblivious to what is happening in our bodies. Periods aren’t talked about. Or when they do, they’re often joked about or seen as taboo.

Have you ever completely freaked out because your period was late? I have. Tracking actually gives you the power to know if / when a late period could really be a pregnancy.

Have you ever panicked because you had vaginal discharge? I have. Turns out, discharge around the time of ovulation is normal. Tracking can help you know if that’s normal for the time of month or if you could have an infection.

Have you ever felt a sharp pain in your side around the middle of your cycle and thought you could be having an appendix problem? I have. That could actually be ovulation pain.

My point is that so many women are disconnected from what is normal in their bodies and what’s not. To me, FAM is a tool that allows me to be more in sync with what is happening from month to month.

So many women are disconnected from what is normal in their bodies and what's not. Click To Tweet

FAM is not perfect. If you don’t follow the rules, you can get pregnant. (I’ve seen estimates of 0.6% failure rates if followed exactly.) But I’d rather deal with that risk compared to the shitty things that hormonal birth control does to a woman’s body and how terrible it was making me feel.

After I Quit Hormonal Birth Control

Within two months after I quit hormonal birth control, I had normal cycles. Maybe I’m lucky? Maybe I had worked hard on improving my foundation of health prior to quitting and it paid off? I like to think it was more the latter. Everyone is different, and I acknowledge that 1) not every woman is an ideal candidate for FAM and 2) there are other non-hormonal methods besides FAM that work well for other women.

But I have to make this plea:

If you’re dealing with hormonal issues (PCOS, endometriosis, acne, irregular periods, amenorrhea, female athlete triad, etc.), hormonal birth control is often a band-aid that covers up the problem instead of heals it.

The pill and other hormonal birth control methods have so many downsides that women have come to, frankly, put up with because it’s often presented as our only viable option.

I used to think I needed hormonal birth control to make my skin better or make my periods less painful. Turns out, that was not true. I may get a pimple here or there, especially around my period, but my skin is great thanks to a nourishing, anti-inflammatory diet, good sleep, the right amount of exercise, and reducing my stress. I do take Advil on the first day of my period, but I don’t vomit anymore. My pain is very manageable. Yes, there was a transition period where I had a little more acne, for example, but that wasn’t enough to make me run back to the pill.

Note: Endometriosis is now gaining recognition as an inflammatory disease. That means that factors that ramp up inflammation in the body (ex: certain edibles like gluten, dairy, and sugar; poor gut health; environmental toxins; and more) can make endometriosis worse. When I consider my family health history, especially my maternal line, I see several autoimmune / inflammatory diseases present: rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, gout, and endo to name a few. People may think paleo is a fad, but for me it’s meant a significant reduction in the amount of inflammatory foods I consume.

Please learn more before you just stop cold turkey.

Click here for a quick primer about how to quit hormonal birth control.

I highly recommend the following resources:

Not only are both women personal friends of mine, but their depth of knowledge and their passion for helping others improve their health is palpable. Go check out their work. There are far more downsides to hormonal birth control than what I listed here, especially when used to manage other hormonal / health problems. (Get Dr. Briden’s book to learn more.)

In the two years since I quit hormonal birth control, not only have I amassed a lot of data about my menstrual cycle, but I also feel like I’m far more in tune with my body than I’ve ever been.

For example:

  • I always know which day I’m going to get my period once my temperature drops back down.
  • I know that the week before I get my period is not the ideal time to lift really heavy (more about that in an upcoming post), and if I’m having an “off” day around my period, it’s normal.
  • It’s been far easier to build and maintain muscle mass now that I quit hormonal birth control.

Every woman’s transition of hormonal birth control is different, and my story might not reflect yours. However, staying on hormonal birth control just because coming off it was uncertain stopped jiving with me.

In Conclusion

Quitting hormonal birth control is one of the best things I’ve done for my health, but it may not be for everyone. Flashing back to age 19, FAM (fertility awareness method) probably wouldn’t have been the best choice.

FAM has pros and cons, like every method of pregnancy prevention, but for me the benefits far outweighed the downsides.

Talk to your doctor and educate yourself so you know what your choices are. Your self-advocacy can help make all the difference.

Hormonal birth control methods, though often used to “treat” other problems, are not cures. They are synthetic analogues to your body’s natural hormones and are not without risk. Repairing your hormonal imbalances can be achieved through work with a cooperating practitioner and lifestyle changes. Sometimes, traditional methods must be used when more natural treatments fail. It’s not a failing on your part, and it’s not necessarily wrong, but you should at least be aware of natural treatments before being pressured into surgery or other interventions. My goal here was to share my own story of finding another way.

We covered a lot of ground in this post, and I said a lot of adult words like vaginal, sex, and discharge that might make you squirm, but you stuck with it to the end.

I hope this post about why I quit hormonal birth control empowers you to consider your best options and make the best possible choice for your health.

Use the share buttons so spread the word about Why I Quit Hormonal Birth Control and help continue the conversation!

Why I Quit Hormonal Birth Control | StephGaudreau.com

How to Avoid Getting Bulky: Expert Tips

Avoid getting bulky.

It’s something women the world over have spent years in absolute dedication to. This post explores some of the best practices wannabe internet experts often miss when help womankind everywhere in this pursuit.

[Note: I was raised in New England, land of real maple syrup, Friendly’s “Cone Head” ice cream sundaes, Fenway pahk, and wicked sarcasm. Only continue reading if you have a sense of humor.]

How to Avoid Getting Bulky: Expert Tips for Women

If I had a dollar for every blog post, magazine article, or celebrity trainer espousing the correct training method women must follow to achieve the elusive Goldilocks level of muscle – you know, enough to look mildly tube-like but not enough to scare the dickens out of little kids – I’d be sipping coconut water on a Balinese beach instead of chained to this laptop.

Truth is, these so-called experts often completely miss the mark. I’m here to set the record straight for these internet trainers with the very best tips for avoiding this dreaded “muscle bulk.”

Avoid Getting Bulky Tip #1: Only lift dumbbells that weigh less than your head.

Fun fact: The average human head weighs approximately 10 pounds, so only lift less than that for the rest of your life. Even after you’ve developed a really solid base of good movement patterns and mobility, it’s best to only ever hold a heavy weight if you have the opportunity to pose for photos.

Bonus points if you apply the best advice from other celebrity trainers found in pithy single-paragraph magazine blurbs, such as this gem on staying feminine:

How to Avoid Getting Bulky: A Modern Woman's Guide

In fact, it’s best to just keep your arms by your sides at all times to avoid creating those masculine muscles. Don’t want to end up wider than a semi-truck! For optimal smallness, you’ll want to use an exercise program that doesn’t encourage you to put your arms over your head.

Avoid Getting Bulky Tip #2: Eat less than a toddler.

For maximum bulk-avoidance, be sure to use a giant dinner plate and appoint it with 3 cubes of chicken breast – any and all bits of fat meticulously removed with the skill of a brain surgeon – 2 celery sticks, 1 cherry tomato (tomatoes are high in carbs after all), and a glass of air.

And if you want to speed up the slimming process, cut out 1/3 or more of your daily calories. Sure, you’ll lose any muscle mass, but who needs that anyway? All it does is increase your metabolism and burn fat, the exact thing you’re trying to do when you “tone.” The horror!

How to avoid getting bulky: expert tips you need to know Click To Tweet

Avoid Getting Bulky Tip #3: Sleep is for dummies.

Why languish for 8 hours or more wasting time in bed when you can be doing other things like applying the newest Snapchat filter (butterfly crowns, duh) or binge-watching Stranger Things on Netflix?

After all, sleep is known to help improve health and – gasp! – build muscle.

For best muscle avoidance, regularly stay up past 11 p.m. and wake up before 5 a.m. to do allthecardio. Pro tip: Do all of this on an empty stomach and only drink coffee until past noon each day. Who needs adrenal glands, anyway?!

Avoid Getting Bulky Tip #4: Stress the shit out of yourself.

Perhaps the best-kept secret of bulk-avoiders everywhere is to be stressed about everything 24-7. With all the cortisol coursing through your veins, you’ll ensure you don’t accidentally venture into Bulky Land.

How does this sorcery work?

Since, as a woman, you only have a tiny fraction of a healthy male’s testosterone levels, ramping your cortisol up all the time will tank your test to practically zero. And since we all know that testosterone makes your muscles magically quadruple in size if you so much as glance sideways at a weight, anything you can do to stress yourself out all the time means you won’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of growing muscle. Win-win.

Which kinds of stress count toward this muscle blockade? My favorites are worry about:

  • Eating too much fat. (See Tip #2.)
  • Eating too many carbs. (Also, see Tip #2.)
  • Eating your macros to the exact gram. If you’re +2 over on fat, well…
  • What everyone thinks about your body.
  • Thighs that touch together.
  • Cellulite…shudder.
  • Having abs even though getting them means you’re miserable.
  • What you look like in shorts or anything with less coverage than a $2 plastic rain poncho.

The above are just a sampling! The possibilities are endless.

Avoid Getting Bulky Tip #5: Contract Avian Bone Syndrome.

If all else fails, you can go the route of Phoebe from season one of 30 Rock and contract Avian Bone Syndrome to avoid getting bulky.

Phoebe’s hollow, bird-like bones were one surefire way to avoid getting bulky at its absolute epicenter. Sure, she had to avoid most human contact, but for the hard core bulk-o-phobe, this goes beyond just atrophied muscle. Why only lose muscle mass when you can lighten your bones, too!

In Conclusion…

This post is totally satirical, and it’s the most sarcastic thing I’ve ever published. I’m not intentionally poking fun at you if you struggle with anything listed above. It’s a commentary on all the crazy, BS things I see internet coaches recommend to women.

I’m so sick of so-called experts treating you like garbage for caring about your own health.

While it was funny to write on one level, it pains me as a nutritionist and weightlifting coach to know that women keep falling prey to these types of damaging practices in the pursuit of a “hotter body.”

It takes the convergence of some very specific factors and a huge amount of effort to produce women who have bodybuilder levels of muscle. Lifting heavy-ish weights a few times a week is simply not enough to bulk up.

If you do lift weights and feel like your clothes are getting tighter, it’s quite possible you had sub-healthy levels of muscle to begin with.

I repeat: If you lift weights and your clothes get tighter, you may not have had enough muscle to start with.

Remember the scale and your weight only tell part of the story. If you want to track whether your body is changing for the healthier, at the very least take photos every few weeks and get a DEXA scan once a year to measure important factors like bone density.

Track your health in a myriad of ways. Get your mind right. Nourish your body. Manage your stress. Move with purpose…and thrive.

A healthy body is what matters.

Pin How to Avoid Getting Bulky for later:

How to Avoid Getting Bulky: Expert Tips for Women | StephGaudreau.com

How Kristen Ended Years of Negative Self-Talk

Kristen R WSS Negative Self-Talk Success Story

Negative self-talk is something you probably do without even noticing. You might even feel like your mindset is the thing that’s really holding you back from finding a healthy relationship with your fitness or diet.

I know that the way I used to approach eating better and working out definitely came from a less-than-healthy place of guilt and shame.

Whether it was wanting to do harder and harder fitness events to “prove my worth” or cutting out allthecarbs because I was afraid of gaining fat, I knew this wasn’t the best way to approach my health. I pushed myself to do more only to feel worse about it, and I ended up at my lowest weight, still feeling unhappy about everything.

My real life friend Kristen (who happens to also be my attorney) and I have a lot in common.

  • We’re both go-getters and successful business owners.
  • We both used motivation and negative self-talk in unhealthy ways to try to change our bodies.
  • The harder we both tried, the more despair we felt.

Luckily, Kristen and I both discovered that healing our mindsets was the answer.

I’ll let Kristen describe in her own words how the Women’s Strength Summit gave her the tools to overcome her negative self-talk and get on the road to mental freedom and true happiness.

(Take it away, Kristen!)

I suppose I should start this post by explaining my overall nature. I’m a lawyer by trade, so my crazy anal-retentive attention to detail, type-A, overachieving characteristics suit my chosen profession well. However, I can safely say, as a person, I’ve been suffering under the weight of my own personality for as long as I can remember. Yes, I’m very fun, outgoing, crazy, with a minimal brain-to-mouth filter, and I swear like a sailor. But inwardly, I’m intensely critical, judgmental, stressed, and full of anxiety.

I always thought these traits sort of went hand-in-hand, and I’ve always used my perceived “negative” personality traits as a means to drive me toward what I believed to be success. Over the course of my career thus far, I’ve told myself that the reason I’m being so hard on myself was to keep me motivated. To keep my eye on the prize. To keep me pushing myself forward. Any attempts to relax, take a day off, or just BE, resulted in me sternly telling myself I was being lazy, worthless, slovenly, and definitely UN-successful.

How Motivational Self-Talk Can Hurt

This has always been the case – not only with work, but also when it comes to my own self-improvement. By referring to myself as “fat,” or pointing out my physical flaws, I was not only simply acknowledging what others had to “see” too, but I was also driving myself toward my perceived notion of physical perfection.

For those of you who don’t understand this (lucky you), the negative self-talk goes something like, “Gross. You’re fat. Get your ass up and go to the gym. This is what’s best for you. Get moving. Come on. Don’t be lazy. Don’t let the laziness win. Get up. NOW!” 

I never felt that this kind of talk was the same as the commonly understood “negative” self-talk, but rather as motivational self-talk. I mean, how many of you have seen memes like these?
Kristen R WSS Negative Self-Talk Success Story

“Rest Later!”

“Don’t stop when it hurts, stop when you’re done!”

“Make yourself stronger than your excuses”

“No pain, no gain!”

The list goes on and on.

The underlying tone of these messages are clearly negative, but instead, we perceive them as motivational, not intentionally mean or picking you apart. So, clearly, if I decided I needed sleep instead of going to the gym, or if I decided to eat a piece (*ahem, bar) of chocolate slathered in almond butter, I was “allowing” myself to let the excuses take over. I wasn’t putting my mind over matter. I was letting something taste better than skinny felt, and all the rest of that garbage.

My Own Enemy Was My Thinking

For most of my teenage years, and throughout my twenties, this is how I approached self-improvement. If I didn’t see the scale move, if I didn’t eat the “right” foods, if I didn’t work out the “right” number of times per week, I was “letting myself go.” If I didn’t get every project done at work, or didn’t jam-pack my schedule, I wasn’t passionate enough or somehow “asked” to be stressed.

I was still convinced this was not really negative self-talk, because I know that outwardly, I’m not what people traditionally consider as “overweight” and my business bank account is healthy, so I’m not about to close my doors. I am incredibly active, fit, healthy, and all-around average when it comes to my size.

However, I truly believed that because my body didn’t look the way I believed it could, that I was fat FOR ME. If I didn’t meet a certain business goal in a particular month, I was FAILING. I know we always talk about not caring how others perceive you, but we rarely talk about how to handle a warped self-perception. How do we separate the difference between motivation and harmful mindsets?

Part of the reason I focus my law practice on helping those who help the world, i.e., socially conscious, sustainable, aware businesses, is because I want to not only help my clients reach a broader audience and spread their messages, but also so I can learn from them. Enter one of my first clients, Steph Gaudreau. Steph had told me she was putting together an online summit by women for women to address all aspects of building strength, be it mental or physical. She asked if I’d be interested in checking it out, and of course I said yes.

Kristen R WSS Negative Self-Talk Success Story

How My Negative Self-Talk Started to Change

Steph’s Women’s Strength Summit came at the heels of me deciding that 2016 would be the year I would speak differently to myself. I was very incredulous about my goal. I was convinced that addressing my accomplishments and appearance in a positive way would result in me becoming lazy, unmotivated, and unsuccessful both in life and business. I could not have been more wrong.

Putting aside negative self-talk, especially in the beginning was incredibly challenging. The amount of mean shit I would say to myself without even thinking twice was absolutely dumbfounding. Why is it so easy to say, “gross,” “shut up,” “that’s stupid,” “you’re dumb,” or “you look hideous in that,” but so foreign to say, “you’ve got this,” “way to go!”, “you are killing it today.”

At first, every nice thing I said to myself felt as though I was bragging or being egotistical in some way. Keep in mind, this is me saying things to myself, inside my head! Nobody was listening, yet I felt this extreme sense of unworthiness every time I said something nice. Despite these uneasy feelings, I powered through the first couple of months. Did I slip up at times? Absolutely. But one of the most interesting things that happened came around month four.

In the interest of anonymity, let’s just say “a friend,” came to visit. She said something about being fat, and rather than my usual call-and-response habit of chiming in whenever a friend said something negative about herself (talk about some twisted solidarity), my hackles immediately bristled. I said, “I am trying really hard this year to love myself. Hearing people speak negatively about themselves makes it hard for me to be nice to myself. Do you think you could try not to do that around me? For the record, I do not believe you are fat, at all, and I hope you believe it too.” I don’t think she was expecting it. She looked at me, paused, and said, “You’re right. I shouldn’t say those things.” Was it awkward? Yes. Was it completely worth it? Hell yes.

And Something Surprising Happened…

Not only did my awareness of negative self-talk in general become heightened, I actually began to see physical changes, too. Oddly enough, I am exactly the same weight I was when I started this inner challenge in January 2016. This in and of itself is a feat for me, because I generally gain and lose the same 10 pounds, over and over throughout the year, depending on how hard I’ve decided to beat myself up.

Yet despite this fact, I was losing inches. I credit this to actually seeking out foods that made me healthier as opposed to constantly living in a state of bingeing and restricting my food. I was celebrating what my body could do in the gym, rather than treating it as a punishment for eating “too much” the night before. I was sleeping more, relaxing more, taking more time off from work – and relishing it!

From a business standpoint, things became clearer too. I realized that my “why” isn’t to become financially rich, but to have a flexible and rich life. I already had that. This realization made me feel a sense of calm and success that I had never felt before. I was finally able to bask in the glory of the goals I’d already achieved. To set new, realistic ones; and to take my first long vacation in almost 3 years. Do I still wish I were doing “better?” Of course. I am still a driven, business owner. But I don’t walk around bashing myself for taking a vacation. Do you see the difference?

I truly believe the phenomenal group of empowering women included in Steph’s Women’s Strength Summit were the catalyst I needed to jump start this change in me, and I cannot recommend it enough.

That doesn’t mean you need to do what I did to get healthy, but I am one of the converted who wholeheartedly believes that your health and life goals cannot be achieved through negative self-talk. No matter how much you believe you’re motivating yourself – trust me – you are doing more harm than good. I challenge you to focus on gaining health rather than losing weight. To celebrate how far you’ve come, rather than looking at what you didn’t achieve. You might just be surprised.  

Kristen R WSS Negative Self-Talk Success Story

-Kristen Roberts

(Steph here again)

My heart is bursting with gratitude for Kristen having the courage to share her story overcoming negative self-talk. I’ve personally seen her transformation, and when she graciously offered to share how the Women’s Strength Summit changed her thinking with this community, I was incredibly honored.

There is zero doubt in my mind that someone out there will resonate with Kristen’s story and see that finally, it is possible to shift her mindset too.

If it strikes a chord with you and you’d like to learn more about the Women’s Strength Summit, click here:

http://womensstrengthsummit.com

xo Steph

Kristen Roberts is the Founder and Managing Attorney of Trestle Law, APC, a boutique law firm that specializing in helping sustainable, socially conscious food and fitness companies with their business, intellectual property, and employment needs.

Instead of Weight Loss, Focus on This

Instead of Weight Loss, Focus on This | StephGaudreau.com

What if, instead of weight loss, you shifted your focus to health gain?

Mindset, language and intention matter when you’re approaching a major shakeup in your lifestyle.

Whether it’s eating better, committing to that exercise program you’ve been wanting to try, or sleeping more, how you frame things matters.

Thinking on your choices as a loss, what you’re “giving up”, the feelings of deprivation, hoping you don’t “slip up”, etc is a huge mistake.

What if, instead of weight loss, you shifted your focus to health gain? Click To Tweet

I cannot emphasize this enough.

Instead, approach lifestyle changes as an addition, an exploration, an experiment, an enhancement.

The energy around that language, that mindset, is TOTALLY different.

When you focus on weight loss, you’re always at a deficit, always struggling, hurrying, being pulled and dragged.

 

Instead of Weight Loss, Focus on This | StephGaudreau.com

Possibilities become endless. You start to enjoy the journey and recognize all the ways your life is improving.

The energy is light, buoyant, and one of infinite potential.

Health gains come from a place of self-love, from the desire to nourish and heal.

Weight loss comes from a place of self-hatred, of minimizing, of shrinking down to fit.

As my good friend Dr. Jolene Brighten so succinctly put it recently, “Weight loss is a by-product of better health.”

It is the result of taking steps to gain health, not the cause.

Don’t get sucked into the tug of war with the scale.

Add things to your routine – an hour more of sleep, another serving of veggies, some quiet time for you – instead of focusing on what you’re losing or taking away.

Gradually, you’ll gain a foothold and these small but powerful good habits will start to effortlessly fall into others like dominos.

Health gain.

Shift your mindset and see what opens up for you.

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Instead of Weight Loss, Focus on This | StephGaudreau.com

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