Themes of the Future:
Health Transformation Part 1
Hello beautiful readers, before you begin this post, I urge you to reflect back on my recent blog Themes of the Future!! This may give you some insight into the personal journey I am on, and the goals I have laid down for myself with thorough introspect into my decisions. Im so excited to share with you today, the ways in which I’ve been working hard to follow through on those goals I set for myself. We’ll call it Themes of the Future: Health Transformation Part 1! I think these steps have been an excellent approach to conquering the physical goals and I’m very excited to share all of the hard work, both mental and physical. So, let’s get going!
Turbid times for all
I think it can be said with little hesitation that this year, so far, has been transformative for us all in some way. Almost unbelievable that such statements can be made only four months into a new year which, for many, was once looked upon as a time for a new beginning, and a promise of hope. I personally have never lived through such turmoil socially, economically, even conventionally. Early on, it felt like every day brought a new wave of change, and what once felt like a daily tsunami of life altering information influx, it has now become a part of the daily routine to simply ride the waves. Though there is pain, and uncertainty, and worry, there is also adaptation. If anything, it’s become apparent that the silver lining to our tender times may lie solely in the saving grace of this ability.
As many of you know, and are also experiencing similar situations, my dental school journey has taken quite the turn in the past few months. The school’s doors were closed under government direction and students dispersed to their permanent homes to weather the storm. Our labs, which entertained the majority of our schooling hours, were placed on pause. Our classes went from mandatory- attendance, to pre-recorded online lectures and exams. I can’t say it was easy, in fact there is nothing in my being that felt ease with that transformation, but as the weeks have gone on (6 to be exact) it has become easier to bear. Slowly routines, habits, new schedules formed, and slowly the attachment old patterns have blurred and faded in order to adapt to this new normal.
Progress is Progress
When I wrote my piece Themes of Future, I was (as much as I am now) seeking a sense of permanently constructed peace in my life. It was something in the works for many months, years, until the proper timing and mindset finally came to fruition. Although I do not fail to see the pain and worry that others in our world are facing with the Covid 19 pandemic, I have had to take the approach of my personal front-line defense to this situation as continuing to focus on those goals, and adapt my situation to maintain my peace. I think the Me that wrote that blog in January would be proud of the perseverance shown today. Because of the Me of April 30th that just read back over that blog post, hesitant to find some way in which I’ve since screwed up one of my goals, I walked away pleased with the progress. With (likely) an unpopular opinion on the situation, I am urged to feel that this transient quagmire can also be seen as a time to focus on personal growth. With the right mindset, one could wash away pain, worry, uncertainty, and frustration and instead use it as a time to slow, to regain focus, to reset a suffocating schedule, or to regain control of toxic habits. Maybe even, all of the above.
Where to begin…
While I could choose a myriad of ways to have directed the approach to this week’s blog post, I feel the need to discuss one of the more personally transformative ways the crossroads have led me in the past few months of seeking permanency in my actions in life. I am currently involved in two excellent programs, one for self transformation, and one for fun on the side. Today, we will talk about self transformation, a health transformation. Let’s call this blog Part One.
Instead of being a result of the pandemic, it became a learned adaptation to life during the pandemic, and has allowed me to reset my habits as a result. It started long before any school closings or community-shutdowns, and evolved with me through both circumstances. More to come…
The starting line to self transformation
After two moves in the past year, crashing from an unsustainable wedding diet, starting dental school, moving far away from my favorite gym, and evolving habits that had me resenting exercise as a whole… paired with many worldly adventures and guiltless indulgence in all the wonderful treats on the way… I was heavier, and far from happier. I had gained quite a bit of excess weight, lost nearly all of my muscle tone, and gained an unhealthy dose of insecurity along the way.
I have never been overweight, I have never really been out of shape, that is until this mixture of events left me at my heaviest and truly unhealthiest. Being someone who has been active and very health conscious my whole life, these events did leave a toll. Believe me, I’m all about living your best life and body positivity no matter the shape or size, but I’m even more encouraging of the mindset that I personally don’t feel good until I feel good in all capacities of the phrase. We are each entitled to our own interpretations. Self neglect for me is personal self disrespect, and thus the reason for my discomfort.
I personally wanted to be able to run again, without my knees hurting or being burned out after a couple of miles. I want to carry my backpack or rucksack without being so winded and feeling weak. I wanted to trim back the pounds that prevented me from wearing my favorite clothes again, that were growing in piles by the months. I wanted to be able to see my muscles again and be able to bear my own body weight better when I trained. I want to be able to set some personal PT records, and be able to face my Army trainings head on when they come without having to train for them. These are some of the goals that have, and continue to motivate me.
When writing Themes of the Future in my office that January night, one goal struck me as the most concise interpretation of the control I was craving to regain. The goal:” Consume nutritious foods, move daily, dress to feel good, choose only what feels good.” It sounds simple on the surface, but it takes commitment and a hefty dose of education to truly conquer these goals. There is no quick fix, there is no fad diet or one-size fits all program that can permanently address any of those items, as much as we may want them to. At the very moment of writing that piece, I had a great mindset and I was ambitious. I had a new gym subscription waiting in the tabs of my computer to be completed, a fitness plan laid out in my planner for the upcoming weeks, and a list of groceries to fit a strict meal plan I had written. However confidant my approach seemed on the surface, it still would fall short of success because it was lacking in foundation.
Through January and February I began to self coach. I got back into weight lifting. Having an education in Nutrition Science, I ran my own nutritional guidance, and I tried my very best to follow cookie-cutter heavy lifting programs that left me unfulfilled, strained from improper form, with motivation quickly waning. It wasn’t much time to see progress, but I could already see that my routine would not hold up long term, and I needed to find my personal secret recipe for success. It was at this time, almost by fate, I discovered someone that allowed me to do just that.
The secret ingredient: Strong Academy
I discovered Strong Daily and the Strong Academy by coincidence, but it certainly seemed to be a big sign at the time. I had previously looked into online personal trainers but talked myself out of committing to them. One of these trainers I had previously looked into was Maddie Oakey. On a February afternoon, a social media encounter left me in shock, when talking to one of my favorite motivational instagrammers, she informed me that she (temporarily) and this trainer (permanently) were actually in my area, and she was being coached by her as well with excellent success in her journey. Within a day I found out this trainer is local to me, she goes to my gym, and her program was on flash-sale for new members, leaving me a little stunned and feeling like the universe had just screamed at me to reconsider and commit.
The program: simple enough, 8 weeks of online one-on-one personal training and nutrition coaching based on your goals, preferences, and lifestyle. (At a hella-good price!)
Realizing my recipe for success
Since that fateful day of decision in February, I’ve been able to regain my control and find my personal recipe for success, not because I was given a myriad of unhealthy limitations and cookie-cutter workouts, but because I was actually given freedom. I was able to choose my goals and have tailored workouts for achieving them. I was able to request alternative workouts, and make room for fun classes I like to do on the side (more to come in part 2). I was able to have freedom with my nutrition which is especially sensitive to me. I was able to join a community of non-overbearing, genuinely friendly, goal oriented girls who I can run questions by and share positivity with at any time, day or night. And lastly, I was given access to educational materials which offered me the exact science-based, no-bullshit information treasure trove I have always needed. All of the above help to lay a solid foundation for approaching actionable goals and forming healthy, mindful habits!
The eight-week program started two weeks prior to our shut down, affording me two full weeks of gym-oriented workouts. My trainer stood by my side with nutritional coaching and tailored training to build a sustainable routine amidst a rigorous school schedule. But the true defining character of my health transformation did not come from adapting workouts to a school schedule, it came in the weeks following, when I otherwise would have had every reason to give up and weather the storm. In a time that could have been an additive factor to my already unhealthy lifestyle, I smoothly transitioned to a time of renewal and reversal of the lifestyle I once thought I could never overcome. For this I am unbelievably grateful.
So, in summary – my personal fitness recipe for successful health transformation:
- Freedom of goals – I want to be able to choose my goals, broad (lean out) or specific (be able to do a pull-up), and gain guidance in how to achieve them.
- Freedom in nutrition – I personally need to be able to choose my meals. I have a background in nutrition science, and I have yet to find a “meal plan” that I could deem appropriate in any way. Not only that, but meal plans are very toxic. We all need variety, we all need education on how to maintain balance in our diets without eliminating ANY macro or micronutrients. I can abide by a macros plan that sets appropriate goals, but I need freedom to choose meals.
- Workouts that I like – I cannot follow a plan that has me doing 100 burpees a day. I need variety, something to make me sweat but not leave my knees sore from jumping around all over the room. Being able to get up in the morning and be excited to go to my little space and knockout the daily workout is important. If I know I have a workout coming up that isn’t filled with exercises I like, I would eventually fail. I want to say what equipment I have and have workouts tailored to it, and I want to be able to do things on the side like virtual classes, and have that be acceptable.
- Community – I do noooooot mean MLM ploys, I really mean a genuine community. I don’t want to be bothered constantly, I really don’t want to do zoom calls or accountability groups (those work for some people but not me personally). I just want a group of people I can go to about recipes, or advice, or just to support each other, even if thats a group chat with my friends with similar goals. This program had a group chat on insta that I find refreshing, not overbearing, and very much accepting of me. I learned in this transformative time that I do need that.
With each of these ingredients discovered, I was able to finally make some progress. After 8 weeks I notice better sleep patterns, better moods, and an overall better feeling about my body. I have stopped worrying so much about the scale, in fact there has been no change in that department, but my measurements have changed quite drastically. Heres a few photos to show for the work.
Where will we go from here?
When I compare my actions during this time to my prior-stated goals of establishing permanency in various categories of my life, I find peace in knowing that this was an excellent approach to begin to chase those goals. It was time for me to chase them hard, and it feels good to have regained some control back in my state of health. Thanks to Maddie and her assistant coach Sarah, I’m able to say this.
This week marked the end of our 8-week academy, but I’ve already signed up to be in the next. If anyone out there wants to join along, go seek out @maddieoak and @strongdaily on instagram for more information. You can also visit her website HERE.
The Strong Academy is what I have been involved in, and will continue to be for at least another round, but they do have an email subscription which offers a daily in-gym and at-home workout with minimal equipment.
These weeks have taught me so much important information, but we all know there is no quick fix or one-time permanent change. I knew going into this that my goals for this year are far from one small task. But through this journey I’m able to find the small weaknesses that have rendered me vulnerable to failure in the past, and I will keep working to look for those. My goals may not be the same as yours, but I’m confidant that with the proper mindset, and actionable goals, you will find it too. Im excited to start up another 8 week session with my trainer, Monday! Ill send another update as I continue!
If you want to join as well, head over to www.thestrongdaily.com/hello
Right now you can get the daily email workout subscription for just $1 for the first month, no commitments!
If you want to join what I did, snag yourself a spot in the Strong Academy (starting 5/4) use code “50off” for $50 off the academy price!!
Until next time, stay safe, stay well, and keep chasing your goals!