Big Strength Gainz “Period”

What’s better than preparing for a meeting with your accountant? Talking about the female menstrual cycle!!!! I’m not just being cute… I’m actually taking a break from my taxes to engage in some good-old casual period talk.

Perhaps this is directed to the ladies… but guys seriously. If you have a girl, like a girl, know a girl, want a girl. Sit tight. 

We tend to think of the menstrual cycle as just the “period” but as it turns out (#science) there is a lot more going on than just cramps, moodiness and optimal baby making days. In addition to what seems like an unpredictable hormonal roller coster… there are actually a lot of things we can calculate and use to our advantage (in addition to ideal vacation/bathing-suit wearing dates and procreation) – Like… Wait for it… Targeting when the best time to start a diet might be and knowing when you’re at your strongest. 

I’m not a doctor so before you go nuclear because I’m over simplifying or missing a detail, cool your jets. This is an overview. Just something I’ve found to be useful and perhaps something that didn’t make it to your middle-school health class curriculum. 

This is exciting! Ladies. We are actually strongest in the Follicular Phase (approximately days 01-13) of our menstrual cycle; that is, the week of our period and the week after our period. The Follicular Phase is a prime time to lift heavy. We can also tolerate the most volume during these weeks!!! As it turns out, this may also be the best time for you to start a diet. Think about it… Who wants to over eat when they’re bloated and crampy?! So while these weeks may seem horrible, think of all the gainzzz!!! Throw on those stretchy yoga pants and go back-squat a truck!! 

The Luteal Phase (approximately days 16-28) of our menstrual cycle, are the two weeks following ovulation. This is when we experience the most lethargy; this is a great time to plan in some recovery. If you’re following a strength/lifting plan, this would be a GREAT time to schedule a deload week (because week four is generally when we will be at our weakest). This is probably not going to be a great time to start a diet because your cravings are high during this point of your cycle so adherence may be more difficult. 

Understanding our cycle is one of those things we don’t really think about but it’s an integral part of our overall health. It doesn’t usually get brought up at the dinner table (please pass the salt) but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be comfortable discussing it. Do you have a menstrual cycle? Figure out where your cycle falls and see if you can optimize these periods (pun intended). Put your knowledge into practice!!! 

Health + Happiness, 

CC 

Live It.

There are always… ALWAYS, going to be people that want to knock you down. Steal your thunder. Rain on your parade. People that aren’t open to change. What you believe in…

What goals and dreams you have set for yourself are NOT dependent on the opinions of others. If a simple insult or counterpoint is enough to rip you apart, then perhaps you are not ready to lean your own way. BUT if you listen, process and come to the conclusion your way is worth it. It has value. It would be painful to give up because you feel so deeply passionate about whatever IT is… move forward. Move forward with the people and things in your life that add value and support.

Yes. There will be challenges. You will learn often that you don’t know everything and you aren’t always right. Have the grace to admit you’re wrong. Have the guts to change your mind. BUT stop listening to all the noise. Stop believing all the distractions. Stop believing the headlines.

You are not the world police. It is not your job to convert the opinions and actions of others. If you believe in something – Live it. Live it and let others see you as an influence. Misery loves company but greatness fosters change. Be better. Talk less about people and more about ideas. Lead instead of being led. Stop chasing mediocrity. Be the person people want on their team.

For so many (many) years I wanted to blend in. I wanted to be part of the clique. It never happened and for good reason. It’s not who I was supposed to be. I like tattoos and business podcasts. I get pumped about renovations, FOOD and new work-gloves. ALL of this is OK. Not wrong – Just different.

So while you should bend with the wind – DON’T bend so far and so often you forget how to stand. Stand up.

In short – Believe in yourself. LIVE IT!

Health + Happiness,

CC

Transformations.

Warning: This post is raw. Not like, fresh sushi kind of raw… but like, expired, left in the sun, maggot meat kind of raw. I am not ashamed. What you’re about to read is who I am. This is my life and why I find meaning in what I do. This is my long-grind transformation story. I’m sharing because I know people struggling. People struggling with weight, with being a parent, with being a spouse, with money, with life…  

Sometimes a transformation isn’t about turning into a butterfly. Sometimes a transformation is about just sorting though a pile of mail and passing on an office donut. Lasting transformations don’t happen overnight, they happen in the long-grind everyday. Anyone who tells you differently is lying. Maybe you’ll believe the lie because it’s easy. Prediction: You’ll be back to where you started as fast as you can spend $100 at Target. 

Listen closely. Everything. In. Your. Life. Is. Connected. You CAN NOT transform into a buff/beautiful/successful/happy butterfly, if you are late to work, eat crap, have loads of debt… and disorganized closets. How do I know this? Because I’ve seen it time-and-time again in myself. It wasn’t until I decided to address the small everyday tasks, that I was able to see some transformation in the big picture. 

Sometimes you don’t bing and purge chips because you’re hungry and afraid of getting fat. Sometimes you eat until you make yourself puke because you have ZERO control over the everyday. I’m a recovering anorexic + bulimic. I spent two decades with one eating disorder or another; It started because I had control issues and it ended because I learn how to control my control issues. It was never about weight or food. This is important because while the symptoms were the same throughout the years, the context was always changing… so transforming from empty to whole was ALWAYS out of reach. 

In middle school, high school and college it was easy to function; my parents took care of me. For the most part they paid all my bills, bought my clothes and food, took me on trips… I just needed to pull it together enough to get good grades, shower, dress, play sports and stay out of trouble. Simple. After college things got complicated. It’s hard to hold a job, balance a checkbook, be a good human and stay attentive in relationships when you are overwhelmed by EVERYTHING. When everything is loud + screaming and you’re not sure why. 

I would wakeup exhausted, disgusted and defeated everyday. I was angry, resentful and jealous of everything. I drove myself into over ten-thousand dollars of secret credit card debt. Most of that, food I was eating and vomiting minutes later. This didn’t help my anxiety + stress. All my friends were planning their future. Getting promoted. I hated them. 

My life was a web of lies. I’d quit jobs because I was bored or they didn’t fit with my bathroom schedule. I’d procrastinate about leaving the house, cancel therapy sessions, dump my Prozac. Drink instead. It was hard to see the benefit of doing anything when you’re flush-faced hugging a toilet bowl. I’d put on shows; forcing myself look alive + alert. Side note: I could make some serious mess at wedding receptions and dinner parties. Speaking from experience; self hate, alcohol and zero nutrition are a recipe for disaster. 

During the eye of the storm I was living with Mr. Eats in New Jersey. I’d seen LOTS of therapists and nutritionists – Nothing worked and at that point, I don’t think I even cared. I didn’t care about anything… Certainly not about self-help. I remember one day, home alone – I had just scoffed down an entire loaf of white bread with butter. It wasn’t mine, I had stolen it from one of our roommates. This was common; I’d go on a binge and then have to re-buy and carefully portion out the food I’d eaten. It happened daily. 

This particular day was memorable because, alone, in the bathroom, I was choking. I could feel myself unable to breath (white bread is basically glue) – I remember panicking. Not panicking because I was afraid to die but panicking because I didn’t want anyone to see me dead on the bathroom floor with generic-brand white bread lodged in my esophagus. I was embarrassed. I was embarrassed because my parents had broken their backs to pay for my eduction. I was embarrassed because my boyfriend was blindly supportive – Getting nothing in return. I was embarrassed because I had friends + family who loved me. And here I was… I would be found dead on this F’ing bathroom floor full of stolen bread. NO! NO! NO! I remember thrusting my arm down into my throat and pulling out the obstruction. Gasping for air and crying I remember thinking… “You spoiled brat! What the HELL is your problem?! FIX THIS!” And so the long-grind transformation began. 

It started with finding a therapist I could talk to. It stated with slowly trusting myself to tell the truth and ask for help. It started with opening my mail, mapping out a plan to pay off my debt and working. Working even if I didn’t like it. Getting into a routine. Going outside. Getting exercise. Creating manageable to-do lists. It started with taking one painfully slow step-at-a-time, falling, trying again… Falling even harder but knowing I needed to stay the course. Learning I kind of liked the new me. Learning I kind of liked the process.   

And this process took years. YEARS!!! I’m still working on it. I work on my mental and physical self like it’s a full-time job. I show-up for myself! I’m on time. I understand that if my closets are messy and the dog isn’t listening that I can’t recoil and eat a box of cookies. I take responsibility. I break it down. I own my mistakes and give myself permission to celebrate my successes. 

Transformation isn’t always a graceful before + after. It can be messy. It can be intangible and irresolute. No one is going to throw you a parade for being better than you were yesterday, or last week, or last year. Transformation isn’t just for the Tuesday hashtag – It’s your LIFE. Change is nothing without a purpose and unfortunately your dress size, children, parents, partner and bank account can’t tell you who you are and what you need to be. 

Anything you have done or said lives by the power you place on it. If you are choking – Find the obstruction! If it’s important to you (like breathing important) you will MAKE it happen. Probably Opera or someone just as successful said “Find your why” – I’ll repeat it so you hear me… Find your why.

Conclusion: This is my why.  

(BIG) Goals + (BIG) Dreams

Let’s get really uncomfortable for a moment… and maybe a little rambly. Let’s do an activity (yippie!). Think BIG and wrecklessly. Set a timer, close your eyes and think of 3 BIG goals in 30 seconds…. (3,2,1…) Ok. Now how awkward was that? How small were your goals? Could you even think of three? Were they just tasks? Did you let your mind get large for a second and then you slapped yourself back down? Exactly. 

We like to think in rational terms and lists – It’s hard to set the BIG goal because deep down you think you can’t achieve the small steps to get you there. Maybe you think – This goal is too hard. This goal isn’t practical. Screw that. Let’s try again but differently. Set a timer, close your eyes and think of 3 BIG goals in 30 seconds… before you start, imagine you can’t fail. Instead of “loosing 20 pounds” say “I have a killer body” – See the difference? Instead of “I want to create my own company” say “I have a multi-million dollar bomb-a#$ business” I can thank Rachel Hollis for articulating how I’ve thought about most things since I was little girl. 

Many say “Well Chris – you’ve never lacked confidence” BUT why is that a bad thing? Work with what God gave ya!!! 

I have two businesses with zero experience in business. School was never easy for me. I’m not naturally smart. Yeah I said it!! I did well in school because I was competitive not because I was gifted. If I won anything or got good grades it was because I worked my tush off. I was always envious of peers that didn’t need to study… I’m like a sweaty bull among casual swans. In college my advisor said (and I quote) “You’re like a half baked cake. All the ingredients… but you’re just not there.” She said this one-week before graduation. Thanks for fueling the fire Dr. Hastings… I just checked. She’s still there!

Short story and something that has indirectly come up in every therapy session I’ve ever had: In elementary school I was in the slow reading group. I was in the “special” math class. I had a tutor. I was little but I was pissed off. I wanted to be with my friends. I wanted to be in the smart kids reading group. These were NEVER permissions for me to quit. I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t know what goal setting was but I could see myself there. I created vivid, detailed fantasies of reading to the class flawlessly from a chapter-book. I knew how I would animate the voices of the characters, how I would pause for effect to create drama in the storyline. It never occurred to me that there was even a chance I would’t succeed. 

Flash forward: I’m not great at anything. I am however – stubborn + confident + naive. The combination of which make me a glutton for BIG dreams. I’m in my head all the time. I get bored really quickly. I’m a builder. Doing something when it’s running smoothly doesn’t interest me. I think that’s why I’ve had approximately 100 jobs. I’d start a new position and then when the challenge and chase was over… Once I knew what I was doing or it wasn’t hard – I was over it. I’m a junkie for mess. I love organizing and cleaning and DOING. I can NOT sit idle to save my life so being an entrepreneur is PERFECT!!! I’m also the only one that wouldn’t fire my brand of crazy… so it works out. 

Back to the purpose of this post: DREAM BIGGER. SET BIGGER GOALS. Taste them, feel them, imagine intimate details about them. Know the nail color you’ll wear to your first book signing. What pen you’ll use! What the leather feels like in the SUV that brings you there. Anything I’ve ever gotten was over my head. Even relationships. Mr. Eats didn’t even know who I was in that High School lunch room. Work that shit! 18 years later we own a house, a dog, a business and I get to pack his meals for work every day. Do you think any of that would have happened if I didn’t DREAM it? NO!!! AND I love feeding people so hush yo self if you think that last part is trivial.

If you chop down who you want to be and what you want to do because it’s laborious or time consuming – guess what?! Your best life is going to pass you over like a cold winter wind and you’ll be left living in a boring shell, bitter and sad. Get crazy passionate. When I tell a story I get loud, I add colorful language, I wave my arms around like a lunatic. Goals + dreams are not these abstract unicorns. You can get them. If you think small you get small. 

Put on your favorite song – SCREAM it in the car. Drive to the grocery store like a BOSS, while working out the furniture arrangement inside your dream lake house. Let your imagination run wild like a child. “When I grow up, I want a job where I get incremental promotions and drive a reliable eco-friendly Prius. Also I want to walk on my treadmill for 3-miles a day and enjoy a small glass of red wine on the weekends.” – SAID NO CHILD EVER!!! How else do you think we have doctors, firefighters, soldiers, internet, airplanes and music.     

Hey! If your burning dream was to becoming a parent you wouldn’t just have sex once and call it good. NO! If it didn’t workout after the first try you wouldn’t extinguish your destiny and buy a houseplant! Hell no. You’d get back in there and try again front, back and sideways… and if that didn’t work you try something else. Before the kid is even conceived, you’ve named them, imagined their career, painted their bedroom, dreamt about cartoon band-aids!! The imagination MAKES it real. It makes you smell it when you wake up and live it when you put your feet on the floor.

Conclusion: Cake batter is delicious.

  

And On The 8th Day…

For three years I was on a fitness streak; never missing more than two days of fitness in a row but more likely to workout two times a day (with Sunday being a rest day). Whelp… I went on vacation last week and while it stared with some casual jogs + bodyweight workouts, my ambition petered out and resulted in pure rest. 

Upon returning from vacation I was primed to hit the gym but a long day at work knocked me down… so I justified this by digging into more work and poof! I missed two more days at the gym. Despite the fact I feel horrible I keep skipping workouts. Here’s what I’ve learnt during this process. 

It’s really easy to make excuses and it’s really hard to JUST START! And… This is coming from someone who LOVES exercise; who at times has been accused of being addicted to it. So really this post is directly pointed to anyone who can’t get motivated to lace up their shoes and MOVE – I feel you! 

Let’s commit to ending this cracked, crumbling, rut and reclaim our potential. I KNOW I’m less grumpy, more productive, kinder, less manic, less depressed and generally less shitty when I’m in a fitness/nutrition routine. I’m committing to YOU that I’ll roll myself out of this ditch. I believe you should do the same. We all have _________ (something) that locks our feet to the floor. Chains our mind to negative thoughts. SO… Right now. Stop what your doing; start a note on your phone or on a piece of paper. Outline your day tomorrow. Plan it around your fitness; meal prep. Write out when you will eat. What you will eat. When you will work. When you will workout. What will you need? Go get/do these things now. Pack a lunch. Put your gym bag in the car. Double check you list. Set your alarm. Drink some water. Program the coffee pot. Remove the excuses. 

I know if I sit in front of a computer for too long it sucks me in, so while it may seem obvious my plan includes time outside. Stepping away from the desk. Putting work away after a set time. Staying off my phone and out of email after 4:00pm; 10+ hours of straight screen time is enough to make anyone nuts. I don’t really do “balance” I operate in extremes and right now I’m flying at 100mph and need a fitness intervention!!! Do the same.  

Conclusion: Missing 8 days of exercise is about 6 too many. #math