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.

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

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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.

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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

ZFG

ZFG | StephGaudreau.com

Guys. When it comes to your health and well-being, nobody is going to do it for you. Nobody. Not your spouse. Not your kids. Not your friends.

You have to be relentless. ZFG.

If you’re stuck, stop focusing on the end result you want. It may be too far from where you are now to seem achievable. Instead focus on the process. If it’s exercise, focus on your performance. If it’s food, focus on choosing nutrient-dense, non-junk food. If it’s your mental game, focus on the tiny things that bring you joy.

So many of us wait for huge signs and dramatic final results. The secret is in the process and showing up every day for yourself.

Zero Fox Given by @whiskeygingercollective

Thoughts about taking care of you? Leave them in the comments below.

Getting Outside

Getting Outside | StephGaudreau.com

“Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.”

– Sir John Lubbock

Scrolling through photos of New Zealand on my camera roll and this one of Lake Wakatipu caught my eye. Immediately a flood of memories has come back and it reminds me of my commitment to go outside more and just be.

Admittedly, I’ve not done very well on this commitment since I got home but it’s something I’ll continue to work on. I know it’s something I must do to truly be and feel whole.

Queenstown, New Zealand.