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:

02751e0b08d9923e1f820452adf9990e60b06b7bf5f1d7e68f122fdc55a0305c

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.

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.

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.

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.

Pin this article for later!

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

Share this with a friend who needs to hear this message.

I Am Enough: A Tale of Two Women

I Am Enough | stephgaudreau.com

I am enough.

But I wasn’t always convinced of that.

Let me share with you a tale of two women:

On the left was me in 2011. I’d just finished the Tahoe City Xterra race and a season of off-road triathlon. Prior to that I spent 8 years racing mountain bikes – much of it in the endurance domain of 6+ hours – and running long distances.

What you might see is a woman who looks trim and confident and loves her body – but that couldn’t be any further from the truth.

I obsessed about my body, and I never felt small enough, even though this was the lowest weight of my adult life at about 58kg (128 pounds).

It was never enough. I was never enough.

I used competition to validate how I felt about myself and always pushed myself to do longer and harder events in order to prove my worth. I medicated myself off the stress response I got from punishing my body. It was exhausting.

What you don’t see in that photo is how weak I was, how much back pain I had, the terrible saddle sores I dealt with, the pain of a failing relationship, and how I constantly put myself down.

Funny how we tend to think that just because someone looks a certain way, their life must be friggin’ great. 

It took a few years but gradually I started to change a lot of things about my life.

I started really eating to nourish myself. I started strength training – I was introduced to it by CrossFit – and focusing on what my body could DO rather than how it looked or how much I weighed. I left my relationship. I eventually left a career that was safe but didn’t fulfill me. I read a lot and worked with some amazing coaches. I scoured the Internet for quality information about mindset and nutrition and fitness to conduct this experiment of one.

And you know what? I eventually found peace, and I started loving me for me.

It didn’t happen overnight but it did happen. It’s not perfect. I still have my moments, but life is infinitely more gratifying. 

On the right is me just a couple weeks ago. I weigh about 70kg (154 pounds)…yes, over 25 pounds more.

I routinely put my bodyweight+ over my head. I love my work. I’m not laser-focused on what I look like.

I am enough. 

One of the reasons I created the Women’s Strength Summit is to share with you the women that helped me, and if this post resonates with you, I hope you’ll join us starting March 1.

Click here to grab your free ticket to the online event, and I’ll see you there along with 30+ female experts who have a ton to share about how to strengthen not only your body, but your mind and your spirit as well.

FB Cover

Mind Your Own Barbell

Mind Your Own Bar | StephGaudreau.com

Oh the barbell.

Easiest way to feel great – or horrible – about yourself. 

The solution: mind your own barbell. 

This is something I’ve struggled with / worked on a LOT as an athlete, so please don’t think I’m getting all preachy here. It’s something that competitive, athletic people often deal with, myself included. 

When you’re pushing your limits, training hard, and entering into competitions, you inevitably, usually, at some point will stop and compare yourself to others. It’s human nature. 

Why is she stronger? Why is he faster? Why haven’t I hit a PR in this workout when everyone else did? See what I mean?

As hard as it is, MYOB(ar).

You’re comparing your performance to someone who’s not you, and a person’s unique mix of circumstances cannot be replicated by you, even if you following the same programming, work out at the same gym, compete in the same weight class, etc. 

Your age, years of experience, proportions of different muscle fiber types, ability to recover, diet, sleep, life stress, ability to deal with volume and intensity, are ALL different. Even your ability NOW compared to your ability last month, last year, or five years ago may be different. 

So what’s the best way to MYOB? Start keeping a log of YOUR progress. Your best lifts. Your training plan. Your mood. How you feel. It’s the best data you’ve got. 

Does this mean you can’t be motivated by others around you? Hell no. It just means to stop and think clearly about stuff when you want to beat yourself up for not measuring up to others.

What do you think about minding your own barbell? Leave your comments below!

Will You Bend or Break?

Will You Bend or Break? | StephGaudreau.com

“Notice that the stiffest tree is the most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.”

-Bruce Lee

So many times, we want to change our circumstances.

Life’s unfair. Random bad things happen.

If only we could change what’s happening to us, we’d somehow magically be happy. Wrong. 

What if the secret is in our response to those shitty situations, how we choose to reply.

Are we the stiff-branched tree, or are we the willow?

Notice that the willow’s success lies not in its ability to control the wind, but its inherent qualities. 

Be the willow. On the shore of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown, New Zealand, 2015.

Want more mindset tips? Grab my Gratitude 5-Day Guide…it’s free! Click on the image below to get yours.

Gratitude 5-Day | StephGaudreau.com

Is Fearlessness Good?

Is Fearlessness Good? | StephGaudreau.com

“Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh

So many of us think fearlessness is the answer. If we could just be fearless, we think we could unlock some secret to happiness. Instead, what if we gave fear a little hat tip and kept moving forward in the present moment? What could change for you? 

My husband exploring Cave Stream, South Island, New Zealand.

What do you think? Should we hold fearlessness up as a goal?