Overcoming a Negative and Toxic Mindset

Hey lovelies!

This is a topic I’ve wanted to talk about for a long time, but it requires a lot of vulnerability and realness on my part so I’ve been too scared to do it. But it’s something that I feel explains a lot about me and who I am as a person, so I want to share that with you all. I also think this topic of positivity versus negativity is very important and could potentially help a lot of people… I hope you’ll be able to relate and understand where I’m coming from. I wrote this post more like an essay, so the structure is a bit different from my typical posts. I hope you’ll find some kind of encouragement from my story. Thanks for reading!

There was a time when I was an incredibly negative person, very pessimistic and a “glass half-empty” type thinker. I was horribly annoyed by positive and optimistic people, I thought that they were naively stifling their feelings and not looking at reality. The idea of “choosing joy” was so far out of my reach and I simply couldn’t understand how someone could be intentional like that in their mindset… I was completely at the will of my runaway thoughts and feelings.

Some people say that they’re just not wired to be a positive person, I used to say the same thing. But what I’ve come to believe is that everyone has the potential to change and be a more positive person, they just have to see the need and be willing to change. Part of the disconnect comes down to the way people think of these negative thoughts and habits. Is it really such a big deal to be pessimistic and cynical? Yes! I truly believe that negative thinking is a poison, it is toxic to your life and to your soul. It allows darkness to creep into your life in tiny ways all day long. It makes you miss out on so much of the beauty and joy that we can enjoy in this life. It makes you see other people in a more judgmental light. It steals your joy one day at a time. Now, let me be clear, I am absolutely not saying that you should ignore or stifle your feelings. It’s absolutely okay to be sad or angry sometimes, to feel those more “negative emotions” that are really very natural. The difference is that instead of dwelling on the negative, you feel those emotions and give them their due, then you move on. You recognize the things you’re feeling and seek to understand and learn from them as best you can without wallowing in them; the goal is to be intentional about seeing the good in the situation and to focus on the good instead of the bad. Being a more positive person does not mean that you force a fake smile and pretend that things are fine. It means practicing thankfulness while looking for the beauty and the good in everything. In doing so you can find true joy!

For me, I think a lot of this negative thinking came from deeper rooted issues in my young life, issues that I still have to fight today. Before I can move on in explaining how I overcame this negativity, I feel it is necessary to talk about how it arose in the first place. Throughout my teenage years (especially in high school) I truly hated myself and thought I could never be good enough for anyone or anything… I even thought that God hated me. Why wouldn’t He? I wasn’t pretty enough, smart enough, good enough, cool enough, fun enough, interesting enough… I wasn’t enough for myself or for other people, so how could I be enough for God? I thought I had nothing, absolutely nothing to offer Him or anyone else, and I carried that overwhelming sense of worthlessness with me constantly. I was used to thinking of myself, others, and life in general with this very negative and depressing attitude. I was the first person to speak up about how something wasn’t the way it was supposed to be, everything was a disappointment, everything had a bad ending in my mind. I was constantly building up expectations in my head of how things should be, how I was supposed to be, how life was supposed to be. And I was always disappointed because all of those things I was expecting to be perfect were very, very flawed. I had no grace for myself and truly expected myself to be able to flip a switch and not mess up anymore! It’s crazy to say that now, but looking back it’s no wonder that I turned to horrible outlets for my anger, frustration and despair.

When I would look in the mirror, I saw a thousand things that weren’t what I thought they were supposed to be… it was all wrong and I was disgusted. I remember getting very upset one Sunday morning when I was trying to get ready for church and my Dad had come in to tell me to hurry up. My response was a very exasperated, “You don’t understand, I’m trying to FIX THIS!”, meaning I was trying to fix my face. In moments when I felt I was fat and disgusting (I’ve always been a toothpick, but somehow I thought I was fat) I would tell myself I wasn’t allowed to eat that day. When I would look in the mirror I would see an ugly face, then get angry because I guess I expected it to be different, and punish myself with cuts. Something about hurting myself felt right, I wasn’t what I was supposed to be and that was (in my mind) my fault, so in my head the logical thing to do was to hurt myself as a punishment. It felt just and right. Then I’d feel guilty and my conscience would speak up, so I’d cry and get angry at myself for crying and “being weak”.

This is me being very, very honest about just how messed up my thinking was for a long time. I know I’m not alone, I’m not the only girl who has struggled like this and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has thought those things or acted that way. The point in me sharing all of this is so that you can see just how amazing the Truth I’ve found truly is. Now for the resolution and how I’ve come to be much more positive, joyful, and no longer self-hating.

First is the concept of managing your expectations in life, something that has proven absolutely crucial in my own journey. When you believe at your core that you aren’t at all what you should be, it’s easy to look at the world and be disappointed with the way it is, too. Going through life with very specific ideas of how things are supposed to be (basically expecting perfection) will always leave you disappointed and confused. There’s a big difference between having hopes and having expectations. Expecting things to be a certain way can very quickly lead to entitlement, and when you find that things didn’t go your way… well, then you’re left confused and angry. Looking at the world with hope gives peace that you can make the most of whatever situation you’re given. Rather than expecting things to be a certain way and then finding yourself scrambling when they’re not. What if you could look at yourself with hope? What if you could give yourself grace? Wouldn’t that change the way you think about yourself? Maybe then you could strive to improve in a healthy way! It’s all about your mindset.

I talk about the need for a healthy and positive mindset all the time in the fitness industry. As a personal trainer, I have clients come to me all the time saying the things I used to say. Things like, “this is the thing I hate about myself and I need to fix it,” or, “I don’t think I can even do this, but I hate the way I am so I might as well try.” Notice something about those statements? They all start with a very negative, put-yourself-down kind of attitude. I know what that feels like, hating yourself and wanting to change, but having absolutely no faith in yourself to achieve it. Maybe you don’t even know where to begin. In fitness, if you go into a workout program thinking that you’re just there to try it, probably fail, and still hate yourself, you are going to fail. And no wonder! If you go into something challenging and you’re already giving up on yourself, then why even start? The same goes for just about every situation in life. You have to do things with the right intentions and the right focus, otherwise you’ll just be spiraling from one negative and disappointing situation to the next. Instead of working out to “fix” whatever you see is wrong with your body, workout because you know it’s good for your whole body and your wellbeing long-term. Eat right to work with your body to help it function the best it can, not only because you need to lose weight or you want to look different. Workout to get stronger, to practice self-discipline, and to challenge yourself, not to finally feel confident in a bikini. Now, of course, it is absolutely okay to have goals! You can absolutely seek to mold and shape your body in a healthy way, but I always recommend that you look at things with a bigger picture mindset. Take care of yourself first and foremost because your body and mind deserve to be cared for properly, the positive changes and progress you make physically are a bonus.

Now, the greatest changes I made in my mindset (that then overflowed into every aspect of my life) came through my faith. I grew up in a Christian home with amazing parents and lots of brothers and sisters, we’re all very close. I grew up going to church on Sunday, reading the Bible and praying. I knew all of the in’s and out’s of the faith from a very young age, and I knew all too well the reality of sin and the need for a Savior. The whole concept of me being a sinner who needed a Savior made so much sense to me! Of course I needed Jesus to save me, I was worthless and had nothing to give! But what I missed was the concept of grace. The core of the faith that says that we can never do enough, we can never be good enough, and that is okay. That’s exactly why Christ died for our sins! That’s exactly why what He did for us was so amazing, because He loved us and saved us when we were hopeless and completely lost. God wasn’t expecting me to be good enough or to do a certain number of things right in order to go to heaven! Instead, He loves me unconditionally and sent His own Son to die in payment for my sins! What amazing grace! If only I could have really understood this sooner… if only I had soaked up His amazing grace from the start! I could have saved myself a whole lot of anger, sadness, and pain. The freedom that comes when you really discover and accept God’s grace is unbelievable. It allows you to live your life as an act of worship, a constant prayer of thanks to the God who saved you. You no longer have to feel like you have to earn His love! His love is freely given and all you have to do is reach out and take it. It blows my mind to think of all the times God would reach out to me in my deepest, darkest days, and instead of reaching out and taking His hand I would look away and dig myself deeper in darkness.

For so long I was a slave to negativity, I had horrible habits in the ways I would think. That’s truly what negative thinking is at a very basic level: a very bad habit. The good news is that it’s a habit that can be broken, I’m living proof! So how does one break this habit of negativity? How do you develop a healthy mindset and have grace for yourself? By immersing yourself in Truth and practicing every single day. Surround yourself with positive people who will support your endeavor to see the world and yourself differently. Practice thankfulness, even in small ways throughout your day. When I first started trying to conquer my own negative thinking, I would write down five things I was thankful for every single day. When it came to my body image issues, I would look in the mirror and tell myself three things I appreciated about myself and the way God made me. My passion for health and exercise science has also played a huge role in giving me a healthy outlet for challenging and strengthening myself. Celebrate everything, appreciate even the little things around you! Slow down and take it all in and really be intentional in seeing the beauty that surrounds you. In time you’ll find yourself saying “Thank you, Lord, for…” throughout your day, out of habit and true appreciation, instead of judging everything and being constantly disappointed. You’ll find yourself telling those around you how much they mean to you because you’ll be seeing their beauty rather than their weaknesses. You’ll see things with new eyes.

I owe so much of what I now know to my husband and high school sweetheart, Alastair. He happens to be one of those annoyingly optimistic and positive people. 😉 He helped me so much in the midst of those dark days when I would hurt myself out of anger for not being the way I thought I was supposed to be. Or when I was angry about a situation that I thought was supposed to be different, so I’d take it out on myself. Everything was gray in my world, everything pointed toward darkness, death, and hopelessness. Alastair showed me that the God I had been so afraid of was actually the One trying to reach down and help me. I remember telling Alastair a long time ago that he had helped me finally see the world in color. And I don’t know if I’ll ever get over how beautiful it all is… how could I have missed this for so long? And not only missed it, but fought it and chosen not to see it.

Beautiful souls like my Momma set an example for me of someone who chooses joy every single day, no matter how bleak things get. In the most trying situations my Momma would be there with a smile on her face, joking and laughing because, as she always says, “If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.” I remember seeing friends filled with the joy of the Lord and I wanted to be like that, but I didn’t understand how. And all along the answers were right there, reaching out to me, ready to help lift me out of the pit I had dug for myself… yet so often I just kept on digging.

I think our world wants us to keep on digging ourselves deeper and deeper in negativity. It’s the popular thing now to be a victim, to wallow and stay stuck in your problems and your past. Everyone has some sob-story to share, but so few people actually have a story to say how they overcame those demons. Why get pity and attention from people who feel sorry for you when you could get respect for all you’ve overcome instead? I’ll tell you why, I’ve been there: because it’s easier than working to make a positive change. It’s so much easier to tell a sad story and be showered with pity… it’s hard work to get up and seek out light every single day. Of course, it’s very hard and exhausting and overwhelming to constantly carry around your past. But at least then you’re used to it, it becomes a kind of comfort zone in which you’ve just accepted that “this is just the way I am.” It’s hard to change the way you think, it’s hard to break bad habits. It’s hard (sometimes it feels impossible) to conquer your demons. But I don’t see any other way to go through life. A life lived as a victim is no life at all. Maybe you’ve been hurt by someone in your past (I know I have), but by living your life as a victim of what happened you are giving that person and that situation the power to ruin your life and steal your joy. You can choose to not be controlled by your past, you can choose to move on and to get stronger. You can choose to stop digging yourself deeper in that pit and instead reach up, take His hand and climb out.

Some people say that sounds too simple, they would argue that it can’t possibly work for them (just like I did not too long ago). But nobody said it would be easy, the things in life that build character and make us stronger never are. And isn’t it so much better to try to climb out of the darkness and into the light? It doesn’t matter your situation, it doesn’t matter how complicated it is… I have to believe that with God’s help you can climb out of any pit, no matter how deep. I want to inspire and encourage people to strive for more and to choose joy. No matter what you’ve been through or done, you can change. You can step out of the darkness and into the light. You can start seeing the world in vibrant, beautiful color.

xoxo, Mary.

8-12 Week Upper Body Program: Biceps, Triceps, Shoulders, Back and Chest

Hey lovelies!

I’m so excited to announce the release of my first 8-12 week workout program! The hope is that these 8-12 week programs will make my training more accessible for those who need it. Future programs will include lower body training, fat burning/weightloss, and more!

This program includes workouts, in-depth instructions and guidance for training the upper body (specifically the biceps, triceps, and deltoids, as well as the back and chest muscles).

  • Within the program you’ll find a gym option and a home workout option.
  • The program can be easily customized for your fitness level and goals. Whether you’re new to working out or a seasoned athlete, this program will help you achieve the upper body you’ve always wanted!
  • In addition to having the guidance and instructions within the guide, you’ll also have my help whenever you need it via my private personal training email address and my Instagram DM’s.
  • You will also have access to my own demonstration videos to help you see exactly how to perform each exercise.
  • There are also several bonus topics, such as: how to avoid plateau and maximize progress, nutrition tips for your goals, a killer ab routine, and more!

Goals of the Program:

  • To provide 8-12 weeks of guidance for gaining strength, definition, and muscle for the biceps, triceps, and deltoids, as well as the back and chest muscles.
  • To teach the user confidence and proficiency in basic exercises and lifts so that they can develop a healthy and active lifestyle that will be sustainable for them.
  • To help the user learn how to safely and effectively make positive change for their overall health.
  • To show the user that they can achieve their goals if they work hard, follow directions well, and stay consistent.

You’ll receive in-depth guidance, full-time support, and detailed instructions to help you achieve your goals.

To order the program, email me at mvmfitnesstraining@yahoo.com.

I can’t thank you all enough for your kindness and support, I hope you’ll love the program! I’m really proud of it and can’t wait to share it with you all.

xoxo, Mary.

Answering Your Frequently Asked Health and Fitness Questions – Part 2

Hey there, lovelies!

Today I’ll be continuing my FAQ series with a few more questions from my Instagram (@maryvm.fitness). Feel free to reach out and let me know what questions you would like featured in this series!

“How do I make a healthy lifestyle last long-term? How do I stick with it?”

  • Rule number one: make it realistic. I wrote a lot about this in my post “Creating Your Healthy Lifestyle“. If you’ve never really worked out consistently before, it’s a pretty safe bet that you’re not going to be able to consistently workout 5 or 6 days a week, let alone every single day! So be realistic with your schedule and your goals. If all you think you can really commit to (for now) is 3 or 4 days a week then go for that! Better to do a solid 3 or 4 days a week consistently than to do every day for a couple weeks before burning yourself out and quitting.
  • Know that it takes time and results don’t happen overnight. It takes hard work and consistency, results only come to those who put in the work! If you focus entirely on when you’re going to start seeing the results I can guarantee you won’t last long. Instead, focus on the process and make the most of it. Take progress photos when you start your journey, put them away and forget about them for a few months. In the meantime, focus on giving your all in your workouts and stick with it. You WILL get results and you WILL make progress if you work hard (find a trainer or a guide that will ensure you are working out properly and effectively), stay consistent, and maintain a positive mindset. Then, before you know it, you’ll remember those progress pictures and finally be able to make some comparisons and see the progress you’ve made over the months. It’s a process and a journey so focus on the here and now. You’ll never make it if you’re obsessing about the speediness of your desired results.

“I know I need to workout… but I hate it! What do I do?”

  • Not everyone can workout in the same way, the same frequency, etc. Everybody is different and has their own preferences, so take time to figure out what types of activity work best for you! Some people love lifting and working out in the gym like I do, some people like rock climbing, cycling or swimming. I have friends who hated working out in the gym, but found that they love kickboxing or martial arts! There are so many fun and interesting ways to get a good workout, so get out there and try new things until you find something you really enjoy. This comes back to the point in the previous question as well, you’re not very likely to stick with a routine that you hate and that doesn’t fit you well. Most importantly find something you enjoy. Get creative, find your passion, get excited about the workouts you’ll be doing on a regular basis.
  • Given what I’ve said above, keep in mind that if you have specific goals (ex. building muscle, getting abs, those kinds of things) you have to do more specific workouts to accomplish those goals. So while I absolutely recommend that you try things until you find a workout you love, keep in mind that swimming won’t build a booty, cycling won’t get you a six-pack, etc. So if you have specific goals you may need to do a combination of different things (some of which may not be enjoyable to you) to accomplish those goals.
  • Finally, while I am a big believer that everyone can find some form of effective workout that they enjoy, it is important to remember that fitness is hard work. To some extent this depends on your personal goals – for example, someone who is trying to build muscle will have to work a lot harder than someone who is aiming for general health through something like yoga. It’s important to be okay with being uncomfortable sometimes as your body will be challenged and pushed to new limits. To get amazing results and progress you have to commit to the journey and expect to work hard!

“Can I eat whatever I want and just workout to get results?”

  • While working out consistently can get results despite a bad diet, those results will be extremely minimal because of the unhealthy, fattening foods you’re consuming and the lack of nutrients that your body desperately needs. There’s a saying that “you can’t out exercise a bad diet”… and yes, that is true. You have to provide your body with healthy macro and micronutrients to help it reach your goals. Proper nutrition works so closely with your workouts and your recovery post-workout. In fact, there are lots of specific ways to time and work with your food to maximize your results.
  • Remember that eating healthy does not have to be an extremely strict and miserable thing! Just like I talked about in the previous post of this series (Answering Your Health and Fitness FAQ’s! Part I) you can still have occasional treats and you do not have to cut out a thousand yummy things forever. It really comes down to your priorities and your commitment to your body and your health. Commit to taking care of your body and use healthy, nutrient-rich foods to work alongside your workouts to not only get results, but to help your body function the best it possibly can.

There you have it, another addition to this series that I hope you found helpful! I’ve really been enjoying sitting down and addressing these common questions, so many of these topics are crucial for developing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. As always, feel free to contact me with any comments, questions or concerns!

xoxo, Mary.

Never forget, we want to be strong, not skinny! Contact me for one-on-one personal training and follow my Instagram @maryvm.fitness for regular fitness motivation, tips and workouts. 💪

 

Creating Your Healthy Lifestyle

Hey there, lovelies!

Today I want to offer a post focused on some of the ways I have created my own healthy lifestyle that I believe can help you create one for yourself. I think it is so important for women to understand that there are so many ways to create a healthy lifestyle specifically for you. In order to make something that is going to be sustainable and realistic, we need to create something specifically designed for you and only you. The schedule that I use and the routine I personally stick to may not necessarily be the best thing for you, simply because we are different people with different preferences and priorities. So below I have laid out some great guidelines for anyone who is seeking to reinvent their lifestyle and take charge of their health and fitness. I hope that this post will leave you feeling motivated and ready to take the first steps in creating a healthy lifestyle that will work for you. And don’t forget, while the idea is to create something designed for you, there are so many of us here to help you figure it out! ❤

Make Your Health A Priority! 

Without a doubt, the very first step before you take on anything else is to make your health and fitness a priority. I mean really think about that for a minute and commit to taking good care of your body, mind, and soul. Without that commitment to yourself the rest of this will be a whole lot harder to maintain! Make a list of all of the reasons you can think of for why you should be making a change and why you are committed to making it happen. But don’t forget to keep it positive! Like I talked about in my last post, it is so important to do things for the right, positive reasons, and this is no exception. Take a look at my previous post, “Strong, Not Skinny” for more on that topic.

Set Realistic Goals

One of the most common reasons why women end up giving up on a routine is because it wasn’t well-suited for them to begin with. In other words, they set goals that are not attainable based on the rest of their life and responsibilities, and end up feeling like a failure for not being able to keep up. So I say let’s avoid that situation altogether by starting off on the right foot and setting challenging, but realistic goals. Here’s an example of what I mean from my own experience: I work a full-time job, I have a husband, I have an apartment to keep clean, meals to cook, my sanity to keep, etc. Taking all of that into account I can say that it’s probably not realistic for me to expect myself to workout every single day. So what did I do to achieve my goals, remain consistent and avoid being in a situation where I feel like I’ve failed? I decided to workout 3-4 times a week, consistently. Being of the “give it your all” mindset most of the time, that was a hard thing for me to do at first because I felt like I could be pushing myself harder than that. But what happened was something so exciting to me that it was one of the reasons I started this blog in the first place! I found that in sticking to that routine I was not only reaching my fitness goals (these are goals like doing 20 push-ups, for example) without getting burned out, but I was becoming more and more motivated as time went on. Before I knew it I had accomplished my first set of fitness goals and was on to working out 4-5 times a week simply because I was having so much fun with it! It became one of my greatest forms of stress relief and something that I genuinely looked forward to rather than seeing it as one more thing to get done. It allowed me enough structure and consistency to make progress while still allowing enough wiggle room for the things that are bound to come up. As I’ve had to learn the hard way, you don’t always have to suck it up, get it over with, push on through. I’m a big believer that there are ways to create a routine that you thrive on, no matter the rest of your life’s duties.

Listen to Your Body

Having a routine that fits you well allows you to do one of the most important things you can do when it comes to health and fitness: listen to your body! Similar to what I said above, so many women end up giving up because they ignore the things their body is telling them and end up running themselves into the ground. A huge point I want to stress in this blog is to not only listen to your body but to work with your body. Allowing yourself that little bit of wiggle room keeps you from missing your body’s messages and helps you stay balanced. If you’re feeling under the weather you can hear those messages and know that maybe you should take it easy that day and let your body rest. Or, on the other side, if you’ve had a particularly good and energetic week you can add on another workout if you feel like it. All of this is just to emphasize the power that you can have from listening to and working with your body to achieve your goals, rather than trying to force progress while drowning out the noise of your body’s messages.

Consistency, Consistency, Consistency!

So many girls have come to me and asked what my secret is, what I do to not only remain toned, but to continue to gain strength. My answer is always summed up in this one point right here: be consistent. That can sound intimidating because life happens, right? But in my points above I’ve explained some of the ways that I am able to be consistent while still being balanced. The truth of the matter is that you’re not going to lose weight, get defined abs, tone your thighs, get a booty or any of those goals you may have if you aren’t consistent. The beauty of it is that being consistent and maintaining a routine doesn’t have to be all-encompassing and daunting. When you find the right balance for you it will transform not only your body, but your mindset. The trick is developing a routine that is challenging without being overwhelming, that allows wiggle room without dismissing the need to stick with it.

Don’t Say Goodbye to Cheeseburgers Just Yet…

“People who are fit and ‘healthy’ are miserable and deprive themselves! Why would I do that to myself?” Behold, a comment I hear now and then (that honestly makes me really upset) from people who are skeptical about this whole healthy lifestyle thing. It always makes me really sad when I hear stuff like that, because unfortunately, society has given them reason to say those things. It doesn’t have to be that way! There are too many people out there who simply don’t know the foods they should and shouldn’t eat, the ways they can be active to fit their body, the ways they can assist their body to function properly. Living a healthy lifestyle should be all about educating yourself in the things your body does and doesn’t need and working with it to provide or avoid those things. Living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself 24/7, it means you try to fuel your body with the things you know it needs most (from food to exercise to sleep, etc.). And guess what? Eating unhealthy food now and then isn’t going to suddenly negate all of your progress! Just like missing a workout every now and then isn’t going to somehow make you gain ten pounds over night. In fact, I think it’s great to have a treat here and there. All things in moderation, it’s all about balance. There are also so many ways to make healthy foods in a way that you’ll genuinely enjoy! No need to eat salads all the time or munch on carrot sticks even if you hate carrots, people. Don’t fall for this sad narrative that taking care of your body is a miserable way to live, it doesn’t have to be that way! There are so many people out here along with me to help you create a healthy lifestyle that will work well for you.

There you have it, those are the main points I think are a great starting point if you’re trying to take charge of your health and fitness. Even if you’ve been sticking to a routine for a while, these points can be great reminders of what’s really important! I want to encourage you, to motivate you and help you achieve your goals. Feel free to contact me if you need help getting started and we can work together to find a routine that is realistic and sustainable for you! ❤ Thank you for reading!

 

xoxo, Mary.

 

Strong, Not Skinny

Hey there, lovelies!

Today’s blog post is all about self-love and healthy forms of motivation. The message that I want to put out there for other women is to be healthy and strong, not skinny and weak. There are so many ways to maintain a lean and mean physique in a way that strengthens and nourishes your body. That being said, even if you’re someone who loves to work out, I think we all have moments when we slip into some dangerous thoughts and negativity regarding anything from lack of motivation, to lack of noticeable progress, or (maybe most dangerous of all) what the scale or the mirror tells us. I’ve been there… I still go there sometimes, unfortunately. But I’m here to share the things that have turned my attitude around in ways I never could have imagined.

First, some background: I know I’m not the only girl out there that’s struggled with her body image and I know that a lot of you can probably relate to what I’m about to talk about. I’ve been down some dark and dangerous roads in the ways I used to treat myself, all because from a very young age I would look in the mirror and see someone who I thought was ugly, worthless, and just plain wrong. For a long time I didn’t properly take care of myself, in part just because I was young and didn’t really understand how yet. Heck, I’m still learning! 😉 But with time and a whole lot of help from God and loved ones, I conquered some of the most aggressive demons I had been facing for so long. I realized that I had been hurting myself in more ways than one, and hurting those who cared for me in the process… I didn’t want to do it anymore, I couldn’t keep hurting myself and those I love. I found that I was desperate for more information on how to properly take care of myself, and I found ways to fight those negative and harmful thoughts that still attack me today. So all that being said, below are the things that have helped me to overcome and thrive.

  • Redefining Myself – Trying to See Myself Through God’s Eyes

I remember one night I was crying on my sweet husband’s shoulder, asking him  why I was so broken and wrong… downer, right? He responded, “If only I could make you see yourself the way I see you, or, better yet, the way God sees you.” In that moment something clicked. I knew that God loves me and that He made us in His own image. I remembered my Mom quoting Psalm 139 where it says that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” I knew that God doesn’t make mistakes, He didn’t mess up when He made me! Looking back now I’m somewhat ashamed that I even truly thought that the way I turned out was a mistake… but it’s honestly what I thought. I could feel a burden lifting off of my shoulders as I realized that I could be free from this horrible weight of self-hatred if I could try and see myself through His eyes. So what do I do? Every day when I look myself in the mirror I reaffirm what I know to be true: that God loves me and that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. The same is true for you! ❤

  • Do It For The Right Reasons!

I’m sure you’ve also had that moment when you come home from work or school, you’ve had a long day and you know you still have a lot to do… including working out. If you’re like me, you start to spiral out of control and get more and more overwhelmed until you’re in a really negative place mentally and emotionally. I remember one night in particular when I was exhausted and down, I looked in the mirror as I changed into my workout clothes and BAM! The thought of “yuck, of course I have to workout to fix that!” came into my mind and I found myself pushing through a workout that I was much too tired for, only to finish it feeling resentful toward myself for not doing a better job and not working out harder. Not cool, not cool at all. As I talked with my hubby about it in all of my anger and frustration that evening, he made another really good point (I swear, I’m married to the sweetest man alive!). He said, “Have you ever thought that maybe you’re doing this for the wrong reasons? You workout to ‘fix’ what you see to be wrong with your body instead of working out to take care of it and strengthen it. You have to do it for positive reasons!”. He was exactly right, negativity only breeds more negativity. You’re never going to find yourself enjoying your workouts and taking care of your body, soul and mind if you’re doing it for toxic reasons you’ve gotten stuck on in your head. The next day when I went to workout, I felt once again like a huge burden had been lifted off of my shoulders. I decided to listen to my body and train according to what I knew I could handle instead of pushing myself to an unhealthy extent. I felt refreshed and genuinely proud of myself at the end of each session, and I couldn’t wait for my next workout! With this new mindset I could challenge myself and make noticeable progress in a healthy way, knowing that it was okay for me to have an off day now and then. This, my friends, is a huge part of what makes a healthy lifestyle sustainable!

  • Don’t Listen to the Scale or the Thigh-Gap

I personally have a rule that I do not step on a scale to track my progress. Of course, there are reasons why you may need to track your weight (maybe your goal at the moment is to lose a certain amount of weight for health reasons or maybe you’re tracking your weight in pregnancy, etc.) and that is totally fine! In my case I personally avoid the scale because I’ve seen the power those silly numbers can have over me and it just isn’t necessary. The same goes for trends and #bodygoals like the thigh gap or any others you can think of. I’m a short girl, I’ve got short legs, in order for me to have a thigh gap I would need to have pretty much no meat on my bones! No thank you, I’ll stick to having my muscular thighs that touch together. 😉 What really matters is how you feel and whether you’re happy with the progress you’re making according to the goals you’ve set for yourself. Which brings me to my next point.

  • Set Realistic Goals for Yourself

This is a topic that I’ll be going into more detail about in another post coming soon, there’s a lot that I want to share that I think will be really helpful! For this post I’ll say that you don’t need to push yourself to extreme lengths to get results and maintain a fit and healthy body. Working out 3 or 4 times a week, for example, is far more sustainable, realistic, and better for your body and mind than pushing yourself to workout every day. More than likely you’re in a situation like me where you work full-time, you have family responsibilities, etc. So set goals that challenge you to work hard and be consistent, but there’s no need to go to the extreme.

  • Don’t You Wanna Be a Badass?

I want to encourage and empower other women to strive for more, to be strong, to be healthy, to be fit, to show that you can kick some butt! A huge turning point for me was when I realized that being skinny doesn’t necessarily mean you’re healthy, it doesn’t mean you’re strong. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to be a tooth-pick, I want to be strong, lean and mean! 😉

So there you go, ladies! I have so much exciting content that I cannot wait to post in the near future, including more in-depth information on my workouts, goals, and ways to achieve a healthy and fit lifestyle. I wanted this post to come first before all of the rest because I really feel like it lays the groundwork for everything that is to come in the future. Thank you so much for reading!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Now go out there and kick some butt!                                                                                      xoxo,

Mary.