Health, Life, Life Lessons, mental health

Giving Voice To The Struggle

I’ve started this post more times than I can count. I’ve written and deleted what I would imagine is hundreds of half drafts with hundreds more floating around in my head. How do I find just the right words to say what I want to say? What if it’s not perfect? What if people don’t understand? Is being vulnerable worth it? If it’s not flowery and pretty – but raw and honest – will people even care? What if they think I’m just trying to get attention? Will it even help anyone?

… STOP…

Enough is enough. The thoughts keeping me from sharing are the thoughts that I am trying to share. Sharing is important to me. This little corner of the interwebs is a very important part of my life.  It’s not about the notoriety or attention. For me sharing has always been about making people realize they are not alone. Not only have I wanted to make others realize they weren’t alone, I needed to know that I wasn’t alone either. Over the last two years or so I’ve been eerily quiet here though. I’ve wondered what, if anything, people thought about my silence. That I was just too busy (true), that I hit my weight loss goals and had nothing else to write about (not true), that I didn’t care about sharing any more (not true), that I gained back all the weight I lost and was ashamed to talk about it (it’s complicated)… while there could be many different reasons and excuses for my lack of presence both here and on social media there is ultimately one reason…

I’m struggling. 

Not in the “it’s Monday afternoon and I’m a little tired” struggling. The dig deep, foundation shaking, world view cracking, sleepless night, anxiety filled, broken, exhausted, confused, and trying to figure it all out kind of struggling. That kind of struggling isn’t sexy. It doesn’t sell. There are no three easy steps to create pinable images out of. There’s no finished product. There’s no before and after that will fill you with a flash of inspiration.

There are always three parts to a story. The beginning, middle, and end. The beginning is easy to share. I was here… the end generally brings resolution (unless it’s last night’s season premiere of walking dead but that’s a whole other post). But the middle… the struggle… that is always somehow minimized. Yet it is the meat of the story, where the magic happens. Before and After weight loss pictures don’t tell anything about the middle. As a matter of fact, they ignore it completely. People generally don’t want to hear about the struggle. We don’t go around showing our still open and raw wounds. We may show off our scars, once the rawness and pain has passed. The struggle doesn’t ever get a voice. And because of that living in the struggle is a shameful, dark, and lonely place. That’s so sad when the reality is many of us are living in the struggle. It may not be an earth shattering, sleep taking, life altering struggle… but it’s a struggle none the less.

I’m not going to try to minimize or exaggerate my struggle. It is mine to live with, to work through, to conquer. We each have our own and it affects us all differently. No ones is better or worse, easier or harder. Your struggle isn’t any more or less important or valid than mine. While I’ve had many different types of struggle there is one underlying struggle that seems to connect with and make the others far more difficult to conquer… and that is my struggle with anxiety. It wasn’t until the last several months that I was able to put a name to the thing that has haunted me for so long. I’ve lived with this feeling for about as long as I can remember. This constant buzz (and not the fun kind LOL). This constant feeling that I had to be doing something, doing more, doing better. This suffocating fear of not being perfect. This unquenchable thirst for control over the tiniest things. This overwhelming fear of the unknown. It’s lived with me for a long time. It didn’t manifest itself in the stereotypical ways we see anxiety being portrayed. It festered just under the surface enough to be annoyingly undetectable under normal life circumstances. I managed it well without even knowing it, numbing the pain and discomfort with busyness, productivity, overachievement. I kept that dull ache at bay for a long time. This post really sums it up well –> What it’s like to have ‘High Functioning Anxiety

Over the past year or two life has been anything but normal. In a really healthy way and out of a desire to live our best life Chris and I began to ask hard questions about where we were and what we wanted out of life. You know the typical “It’s the end of your 20’s and you should have life figured out by now” kind of questions. How did we get here? Is this the life we want to live? Are we happy? If we keep doing what we’re doing now what will life look like 10 years from now? While there are a lot of deep and personal answers we discovered both individually and together there was one big decision we made that changed everything. After years of running several of our own businesses and trying to live off the high of the “American Dream” because it was what we were supposed to do… Chris decided to pursue his lifelong passion of working in the medical field. With a bachelors in marketing and some experience as an EMT nearly a decade ago we set ourselves on a journey to make the impossible happen. Less than 2 weeks before the start of the semester he enrolled in school to finish the pre-reqs he would need to get into the program he wanted. In typical Chris and Courtney fashion we dove into the deep end. Him in school and working full time with the marketing company meant I had to step up in a lot of other areas. I believed in him and his passion and ability to make the jump from marketing to nursing and wanted to do anything I could to make it happen. I was capable and driven. The story of how we are where we are today with this is nothing short of a miracle. In the past year I went from helping coach and manage to running the CrossFit completely on my own, he passed his pre-reqs, he was accepted into a very difficult to get into accelerated masters of nursing program, we sold our house, moved into in apartment, P changed schools and started 1st grade… so yea, not just a normal year.

This circumstances made my previously undetected unproblematic anxiety show it’s true ugly face. The truth is I am more than capable of handling everything I’ve been through – anxiety just made it a lot harder than it should have been. I didn’t understand what was happening with me. I was scared. Anxiety that usually manifested itself in a deceivingly productive way became almost crippling. There were days when getting out of bed seemed impossible. I was disconnected, shut down, closed off. I couldn’t catch my breath, literally and figuratively. I knew there was something wrong… but I was a perfectionist, the smart girl who should know how to handle it all. The one who helped not the one who asked for help. I was neck deep in the struggle. I said I was ok, that I could handle it. I always did. I was the strong one, the capable one. Hell, I have a psychology degree surely I should have healthy coping mechanisms for this. But I didn’t. Refusing to acknowledge I was living in the struggle cost me a lot. Not being honest with myself or the people close to me about my struggle caused a lot of pain. Pretending to be ok when I wasn’t nearly killed me. Maybe not in the physical sense. Suicide, while a very real and scary problem that I’m not discounting, is not a struggle of mine. I’d rather live with my pain than inflict it on those around me by taking my life. Living with that pain was suffocating though. I tried to numb that pain in a lot of ways – some more reckless than others. My default pain killer of choice was and will always will be busyness. If I’m not still enough long enough to feel it I can pretend it’s not there. All this self-medicating was wearing on me though. Eventually… in some very painfully vulnerable moments… I was able to admit I was struggling and needed help. And even just being able to tell someone that felt like weight off my shoulders.

I’ve spent a very long time trying to be perfect. I’ve constantly been “on” trying to prove something… to myself, to the world. I was trying so hard to hold it all together because I was so scared of falling apart. Of being less than perfect. Of not being good enough. I was talking to a very close friend of mine about this… About how I kept everything tucked so neatly inside the outline everyone drew for me with their expectations… and that if I ventured outside those lines I was afraid I’d fall apart. The response was exactly what I needed to hear even if I didn’t want to hear it (tough love friends are the best, aren’t they?)

“You can’t be scared to address your shit. Living in fear is no way to live. The truth is you may fall apart when you open it up. But guess what?  The people in your life who love you are going to be here to help put you back together and the reassembled version is going to be so much stronger, more confident and healthier.”

I lived my whole life refusing to give myself permission to not be ok. I held myself to impossible standards. I was… am.. broken. Because we, as humans, are imperfect and broken. I have, with the help of Chris and other very dear people in my life, given myself permission to be broken. And it has been intoxicatingly liberating.

I am still in the struggle. I’m just giving that struggle a voice. I have good days and bad days. I saw my doctor and am taking Anxiety meds. I set up a meeting with a therapist. I am learning how to have healthy coping mechanisms. I don’t have it all figured out. My wounds are still raw and open wounds not impressive scars. I don’t have a perfectly posed after picture to inspire you… all I have is the promise that you are not alone. You are enough.You don’t have to be perfect. Simply existing makes you worthy.

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It’s ok to give your struggle a voice. To not have it all together. Please don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’m here for you and I know each and every one of you have people around you that love you and would love to be there for you too.

Health, Nutrition, Weight Loss

Why I Became Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certified

I feel like a bit of an anomaly in the fitness world. I’ve lived and worked in this space for a few years now. Even as I have worked in this space I have still been on my own journey to discover what health and fitness means in my life. As I have come into a world dominated by people who have lived in health and fitness for most of their lives I felt like an outsider. Many fitness professionals have chosen their career because it was the easy choice, because fitness has always been easy for them. I didn’t end up in this profession because it was easy for me. I ended up here because when I was starting out on my fitness journey I felt like none of the people I went to for help understood where I was at. I had to fight like hell to get here. The things I have learned aren’t just from a textbook. I’ve lived them.

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It wasn’t that long ago I was on the other side of this industry… not the fitness professional, but the terrified fat girl walking into a gym of mostly fit people. I vividly remember what it felt like to not be able to hold myself up on a pull up bar for a millisecond. I remember how terribly difficult it felt to push my 250 pound body up off the ground, even doing a girl push up from my knees. I remember crying in the dressing room because nothing fit or getting winded climbing the stairs. But I also remember the very first time I deadlifted 100lbs and couldn’t believe I just lifted that much weight off the floor. I remember the first time I jumped on a box after months of being terrified of it. I know what it feels like to work hard and see results. I know what it feels like to work hard and see no results.
I have been where you are. 
 
It is overwhelming and confusing hearing everyone try to tell you what you should do… shouldn’t do… what to eat… what not to eat. They try to sell you shortcuts, magic powder, pills, or wraps to get you to your goal in 21 days for 10 easy payments… or whatever. I’ve tried a good amount of them and none of them worked. I was gluten free, paleo, keto, low carb, whole30. I spent a long time following a strict meal plan that dictated exactly what and how much to eat. While that last one wasn’t bad in itself (it was a healthy meal plan) the overly structured format left me terrified to deviate from the plan… not wanting to attend social outings because there would be food and I’d have to be “that girl” who brought her own food or didn’t participate because it wasn’t on my meal plan.
There are no short cuts to lasting change.
[Tweet “There are no short cuts to lasting change.”]
If you aren’t seeing results some fitness professionals might tell you that you aren’t trying hard enough or you must be lying about what you’re eating or how much you’re working out. They tell you to get motivated….  To workout more, eat less. Push harder. Rest less. Eat high carb… no paleo… no try no carbs. If you slip up they tell you to work it off. Workouts should be painful. You should turn down fun life events because they don’t fit your diet. You should be starving. Society in general has told us that losing weight can’t be an enlightening experience. That we should deprive ourselves, starve ourselves, overwork ourselves. We are put down, or we put ourselves down, for not being good enough.
This process will be hard work, but it shouldn’t feel like punishment.
 
I became a Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certified Nutrition Coach because I want to help people reach their goals in a way that makes sense for their lifestyle. I believe the best diet is the one that works for you. I believe that food isn’t good or bad, it’s just food. IMG_7787I believe that whatever way you most enjoy moving your body is the best exercise for you. We are all different. I want to help people quiet the noises of society, the media, that old friend from high school who messages you on Facebook to tell you about this awesome opportunity they have… and discover to what works best for YOUR BODY. Not what worked for your mom, your friend down the street, or some celebrity.
There is no one size fits all prescription for health and fitness. 
 [Tweet “There is no one size fits all prescription for health and fitness. “]
I became Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certified so I could help coach people to live their best life now. Not 30lbs from now. Not when they fit back in those jeans from high school. But NOW. Today. I want to help people find true health and wellness. That includes being at peace with their bodies, having a healthy relationship with food, and realizing it will be hard work… but that they are worth the hard work.
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I spent the last year learning the both the science and psychological aspects of Nutrition Coaching through the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification Program. I also have a Degree in Psychology. I’ve been a CrossFit Coach for 3 nearly years now. Helping and Inspiring others has been a passion of mine my entire life, that’s one of the major reasons I blog! Now I’m getting more personal. You’ll probably start seeing some more posts here about nutrition and wellness. Be sure to sign up for my free email newsletter to stay up to date on the upcoming launch of my online coaching program as well as get exclusive content and free resources to help you live your best life now.
What would you be looking for in a online coaching program?
How are you living your best life NOW?

 

Health, Life, Life Lessons, Nutrition

Healthy Mind, Healthy Body

Oh hey there.

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It’s been faaaaaar too long. I had a moment this summer when I realized that I was trying to juggle so many different things and doing none of them exceptionally well. I wanted so desperately to be good at everything and ended up feeling like I wasn’t good at anything. And while it was something I loved and worked so hard to build… the blog was something I had to let go of updating regularly. Who knew being a wife and mom, running (and expanding!) several businesses, trying to maintain my own health and fitness, and figuring out life with a kid now in school would be too much for one person to handle… ha. It was important to me to be more present in every day life and most of my responsibilities, like running a CrossFit, weren’t ones I could give up on. So I took a break from posting regularly here. But I’ve missed it! And now that I feel like I have a little bit of a better handle on things I’m excited to try to get back into the groove with posting here.

This blog has grown and changed as I have grown and changed. It has been a place for deep reflections, a training journal for my past races, it had a short stint as an attempted crafting blog, but mostly it has been the way I have documented my weight loss and fitness journey over the past 5 years. The thing is along with realizing I couldn’t do it all I reached a major turning point in my weight loss journey this summer. I reached a point where the number on the scale wasn’t very important. I wasn’t willing to go to more extreme measures just to see that number change. I stopped stressing about it. As I continued to study for my Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification I started implementing some of the principles I was learning. I kept up with my regular Crossfit workouts, which range between 1-2 hours a day 5 days a week. I made healthy choices for the most part and enjoyed some indulgences on occasion as well. I’m almost scared to admit it… but I feel like I found peace and balance. I don’t want to say I’m in maintenance mode. I do want to be more lean than I currently am. But I absolutely love my body where it is at as well.

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It’s weird, though. To be at a place I always dreamed of being. We just got back from a trip to Jamaica (I’ll write more about that in another post) where I spent 4 days in a bikini and not once felt ashamed or self conscious. And when people started posting pictures from the weekend I didn’t cringe or hate any of them. I looked at myself and think “wow, I did this” instead of thinking how I need to eat less or workout more.

This shift in mindset didn’t happen because I lost weight. This shift in my mindset happened because I worked on my mind and soul. By learning to care for my body I learned that there is so much more to being healthy than just eating right and working out. Being completely healthy means taking care of your body, mind, and soul.

Healthy concept, Spirit, Body and Mind, drawing on blackboard

Doing things you love, challenging the lies you’ve been told about yourself your whole life, speaking powerful truths in place of those lies, taking time to invest in yourself, discovering your worth, surrounding yourself with people who support and empower you… all these things lead to being completely healthy. And that is what a lot of people miss on this journey. That’s dangerous. If all you do is focus on the physical aspect it is far more likely the changes you see in your body won’t stay around for long. I’d wager to say the changes I’ve seen in my body, especially in the last few months, have been not because I was focusing on the physical changes but because I have been focusing on my mind and soul as well. Realizing (and admitting) that I can’t do it all was a huge step for me. It eliminated the stress I put on myself. Because no one expected me to be able to do it all… except for me. When I started removing stress and unrealistic expectations from my life I became happier and healthier.

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Same bikini, 5 months apart. I noticed a huge difference! According to the scale I’ve lost 13lbs on the scale, PR’d several lifts, and even got a few pull ups, got toes to bar, and got my rope climbs back. I haven’t changed my eating or workouts significantly. I’ve simply focused on my mental and emotional well being and tried to manage my stress more effectively. [Tweet “Take care of your mental well being and your physical well being will follow”].

It’s been a process, It always is. But you are worth the hard work.

Do you focus on your mental and emotional health or just your physical health?
What can you do today to be healthier in mind, body, and soul?

 

 

Hashimoto, Health, Life, Weight Loss

My Crazy Hormones: Part 2

My Hormones Make Me Crazy.

Last year I wrote a post about how my hormones were making me crazy. I never really revisited that after that post so I wanted to write one. When I had my hormones tested last year I had a Mirena IUD and wasn’t having periods at all (TMI? Sorry…) I did use the prescribed creams for awhile but I still felt off. One of the problems is that Progesterone rises and falls as a woman progresses through her cycle, and at that point I wasn’t having one. I had plans to have my IUD removed and decided at that point to stop using the creams just to see what my body would do on its own. That was back in May of last year. My cycle came back pretty quickly and was pretty regular for the first few months, even with my surgery and everything. Once I got through my recovery and started to figure out what normal felt like again I was still feeling off. Foggy brain, sluggish, tired despite getting 8 hours of sleep on average, and most of all a more noticeable difficultly losing weight. I had even gained close to 10lbs since my Surgery and despite my best efforts with food and exercise I haven’t been able to lose it. I also started having some weird period issues… going from 28 days most cycles to 52 days at my longest cycle. Not too mention the PMS, cramps, mood swings were horrible. This article about the symptoms of low progesterone pretty much sums up my life lately.

Symptoms of Low Progesterone

At the recommendation of my nutrition coach (after following detailed nutrition plans and seeing little to no body composition changes) I made an appointment with RevitaLive Wellness Center. I actually made the appointment last year, November I think? They were booked for 3+ Months! I decided to go to a specialist who works with hormone issues regularly instead of my general practitioner, which is what I did last time I got my levels checked. I went in January and got a bunch of tests done and went back last week to finally get the results. I absolutely loved that they did such a wide range of tests, including genetic testing for heart issues which my family has a history of. They tested not just my hormone levels, but also some vitamin and mineral levels, tested for markers of celiac, cholesterol, and tons of other things. I literally have a stack of around 20 pages of test results and explanations. A few things came back flagged. I’ll touch on each one a little bit.

Low Vitamin D and Omega 3 Levels – My Omega 3 Index came back at a 4.8% when the optimal levels are anything above 8%. This wasn’t terribly surprising as I don’t really eat fish and have been sporadic at best with my Fish Oil Supplements. My Vitamin D level came back at a 32, she said the optimal level is above 50.

Low Progesterone/High Estrogen/Low Testosterone- This would be classified as Estrogen Dominance. My estrogen wasn’t extremely over range, it was at 175 where the highest they like to see is 200. So on the higher end of normal. My progesterone, however, was super low. I had a 0.56 and she said they like to see a level between 5-10. My testosterone came back at 28 and she said they like to see it between 30-50.

Hashimoto’s/Hypothyroid- It’s no surprise that my markers came back positive for the autoimmune condition Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. I was diagnosed back in 2009. I’ve been on Synthroid/Levothyroxine for almost 6 years now. My TSH levels have fluctuated in that time from a 9.0 down to 0.5 and averages somewhere around a 2 most testing periods. They tested me out at 2.49. The acceptable levels are anywhere from .5-4.0 depending on the lab. I have always said I feel better when I’m closer to a 1.0. She said they like to keep patients under a 2.0. She also said because of my hashimoto’s that my body has a harder time converting the Synthyroid to Free T3. She suggested upping my dose and switching me over to Nature’s Throid, which is supposedly more easily converted to what the body needs despite my autoimmune condition.

So, what now?

The first thing we changed was my thyroid medication and dosage. I’m now taking a higher dose of Nature Throid instead of Levothyroxine. I also got a small injection of testosterone to bring those levels to the optimal range. They recommend the injection monthly, but will test my levels again so see where they are. Finally, I’m going to be taking a progesterone pill to bring those levels up to a normal range. I’ll be cycling those pills for 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off. I haven’t started them yet, as I have to wait for a certain time during my cycle to do so.

This is all just me sharing my experience with you. I’m not a doctor or medical professional. I know some people have very purist ideas about hormones and doing it all naturally and while I’ve tried to do that as best I can on my own I’m looking forward to seeing how this process works for me. I’m trying to have an open mind and pay attention to my body as best as I can to see what works for me. I’ve been on the new Thyroid medicine for about a week now and I’m noticing small changes, like not feeling as foggy mentally and not feeling like I need to go back to sleep as soon as I wake up. I’ll check in after my first round of progesterone and let you know if I felt like it worked or not.

Have you ever had your hormones tested?

 

 

Health, Life, Reviews

3 Tips for Sticking to Your New Year’s Resolutions with Progresso™ Light

This post was sponsored by Progresso™ through their partnership POPSUGAR. While I was compensated by POPSUGAR to write a post about Progresso™, all opinions are my own.

 

 

If you are like many people you probably made some goals or resolutions for this year. When January 1st rolls around people are high on motivation and spend the day planning out their meals and workouts, organizing those overflowing closets, and setting up their plan for getting out of debt. By the time January 15th rolls around we have become overwhelmed and our meal plans turn into take out, our savings becomes spent, and workouts are sacrificed in favor of sleeping in.

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So, how can we make our resolutions stick? The difference between a wish and a goal is plan. In order to set ourselves up for success we need to have a plan. Once you have determined what your goal or resolution is there are a few tips you can use to make your resolution become your reality.

 

  1. Break it Up
    Setting a goal like losing 20 pounds or saving $1000 can be overwhelming. Instead, break it up into smaller, more manageable goals. If you want to lose 20 pounds this year make your goal to lose 5lbs per quarter, or a little over 1.5 pounds per month. This makes it far more reasonable and easier to stay focused, instead of getting overwhelmed by a massive goal.bigchangesinsmallsteps
  2. Make One Change at A Time
    Trying to change everything at once is far too overwhelming and sets you up for disappointment. Make one change at a time. Instead of going out to lunch every day, pack your lunch a few times a week. Packing a lunch doesn’t mean you have to give up flavor. One of my favorite ways to add extra flavor without the extra guilt is to include Progresso™ Light soups as a part of your healthier lunch.

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They have 40 delicious flavors at 100 calories or less per serving! You can have your favorite flavors like Creamy Chicken Alfredo without sacrificing your goals, liking feeling good in your clothes!

 

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  1. Avoid Absolutes
    Telling yourself you will not eat dessert at all the entire year or resolving to not make any impulse purchases all year almost guarantees your failure. Making 100% absolute resolutions awakens your inner rebel. That rebel wants to find a way around the rule. Instead of making absolute goals or resolutions, make limited resolutions like enjoying dessert on special occasions or having a certain amount of the budget allotted to impulse purchases. This allows you to still indulge in those things within reason and relieves the pressure of striving for perfection.

 

Hopefully using these 3 tips for sticking to your resolutions helps you stay on track throughout this whole year. Don’t give up. You are worth it!

 

Do you set resolutions? What are your tips for making them stick?

Health, Nutrition, Weight Loss

The 5 Limiting Factors That Can Stop You From Reaching Your Fitness Goals

Happy first Monday of the New Year! I know it is just another day, but motivation and resolve seems to be at all time high on Mondays. and first Mondays are even better. The best though… the best is when the 1st falls on a Monday. I’m not alone, right? My OCDish personality loves it when that happens. I am particularly excited about today because I finally started to feel better. After about a week of battling a sore throat, cough, and congestion I’m finally starting to feel somewhat human again. Aside from feeling better, I’m also really excited to get back to a sort of normalcy. I enjoy the holidays, I really do, but I also really love the rhythm of a well created routine.

This is my life.

A photo posted by Courtney Norman (@courtnorm) on

That pretty much sums it up.

As we dive into a new week… month… year… Goal setting is at its peak. I love having goals, giving me something to strive towards. Many people have set goals related to their health. It may be the first time you have resolved to change your lifestyle or maybe it is the 100th time. Either way, let’s make this time different. The best way to reach your goal is to pin point what has been stopping you from achieving that goal and remove that obstacle. When we are talking about your ability to live a healthy life there are 5 major limiting factors that stop you from reaching your fitness goals.

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Genetic Makeup

This was one of my fall back excuses for a long time. I was convinced that my genetics prevented me from losing weight. A good portion of my family was overweight. After my mom lost a huge amount of weight when I was in my early twenties that excuse crumbled for me. If she could do it, I could to. The truth is most people don’t come close to realizing their genetic potential for health and fitness. No, you may not be a Rich Froning… he is a genetic freak. But your genetics typically allow for improvement in health, fat loss, and muscle gain.

Physical Activity Patterns

This is one that we often acknowledge. If you live a pretty sedentary life that could be what is holding you back from reaching your health and fitness goals. The recent influx in popularity of fitness tracking gadgets has helped many people become more active simply by making them aware of their inactivity. Even though I coach CrossFit, I still have a desk job that has me sitting for hours at a time. If I am not purposeful about my exercise and activity it doesn’t happen. Start wherever you are at. You don’t have to go from sedentary to marathoner overnight. If you want to get fitter, leaner, and healthier you are going to need to pursue an active lifestyle as well as purposeful, regular, and intense exercise.

Physiology

This is one I will preach about until I’m blue in the face. While exercise and nutrition are important, there are certain physiological imbalances that will severely impact your ability to reach your goals. This includes all kinds of things like thyroid problems (Hello, Hashimoto’s) and hormone imbalances (oh, and hey there estrogen dominance). These may not be issues with every person who struggles to lose weight or get fit. They were, and still are, very real issues with me. You know your body.  You know when it just doesn’t feel right. You could very well have some physiological limiting factors, but please please listen to me very closely here… While these may be limiting factors, they are not excuses for not trying. Yes, I’ve had to work twice as hard for half the results in some instances. Yes, I’ve felt like my body was fighting me every step of the way. But I did not let it defeat me. It may have been the medical reason why losing weight was hard…. harder for me than others…. but it did not stop me. I identified it as a limiting factor and did my best to remove it, or manage it. If you think your limiting factor may be physiological, find a team willing to help you get to the bottom of the issue. A good doctor, trainer or coach, and nutritionist. It’s worth the fight.

Mindset

Maybe I should have put this at the top. Having the courage to believe you can is the biggest part of the battle. After being overweight the majority of my life it took a lot of courage to step out and say maybe I can change this. Getting to that point is huge, but it isn’t the end all to the mental battle. Once you believe you can you must have the mental strength to stay in the battle once the feel goods fade away and all thats left is hard work. Getting up early to work out, eating healthy, and most of all staying consistent is not always easy. Your mindset is critical in determining if you will reach your goals.

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Nutrition

Ah, yes. This is the one. The one that more often than not will hold people back. It could be from lack of knowledge, lack of implementation, or being inconsistent. Nutrition is almost always, if not one of many, the most important limiting factor. It can be overwhelming with so many different points of view on nutrition. There is no right or wrong answer. There is no one best diet. You have to do something that works for you! Fad diets may help you for awhile, but what you need is something you can sustain for a lifetime. You can’t out exercise a bad diet. The truth is most people who think they have a generally good diet, but are still unhappy with where they are in regards to their fitness probably aren’t eating according to their goals. Regardless of what your goals or what “diet camp” you find yourself a part of there are a few things that all types of healthy eating philosophies have in common like making you aware of what you are eating, focusing on food quality, help eliminate nutrient deficiencies, they help control appetite and food intake, and they all promote regular exercise. So regardless of what route you take to get there all the popular healthy eating philosophies will help you reach your goals in similar ways. Stay consistent. Don’t give up because you mess up. Nutrition will be the make or break piece of the puzzle on your journey to health. If you’re looking for some one on one coaching to help you figure out this nutrition stuff, check out the  Precision Nutrition Coaching Presale List. this is the company I am doing my certification through and they offer a year long coaching program to help you reach your fitness goals.

Now that you know what the top 5 Limiting Factors that stop you from reaching your fitness goals you can see which of these may be problem areas for you and start making a plan to remove them so you become an unstoppable fitness force! For me it was a combination of many of these factors. Once I identified the problem, reaching my goals became just a matter of time, hard work, and consistency.

Do you struggle with any of these limiting factors? If so, which one(s)? 

 

Health, Weight Loss, workouts

Learning Balance, Finding a Healthy Relationship with Food, and Loving My Body

As you all know, I’m a big dreamer. I love to set big goals. For the longest time my main goals have been either weight loss or body image related. Lose XX number of pounds, fit in a size 12, be “normal” on the BMI Scale. Even though my goals have gone from get skinny to get healthy and from “weight 175” to “be strong” – It still all relates back to my personal body image. Almost everything I have done for the past 4+ years has somehow been related to these goals. Heck, I even turned it from a hobby into a full blow job! I guess what I’ve really been thinking about is where is that line? When do you go HAM on reaching a goal and when do you say ok I’m just going to be ok with where I’m at?

I’ve been thinking about this for awhile. I see some of the fittest people I know come into our CrossFit box. People who workout hard 5 days a week, eat strict meal plans most of the time, are the picture of health and fitness… and they still aren’t happy. They want abs like so and so, or a butt like Stacie Tovar (I mean, who doesn’t?! #strengthisbooty after all…) I’m guilty of the same thing from time to time. I am guilty of negating the progress I’ve made by focusing on the things I’d still like to change.

[Tweet “I am guilty of negating the progress I’ve made by focusing on the things I’d still like to change. “]

When I first started out on this journey I was morbidly obese. I needed the structure and discipline of adhering to a strict plan. I was motivated and had a lot of fat to lose. I had specific health related milestones I wanted to reach. I went from one side of the road to the other. I used to eat whatever I wanted, and that’s what got me to 50% body fat! I needed some intervention to turn that train around. And I did (for more about my journey check out my “Before & After” page)

Read how my health journey has helped me learn balance, find a healthy relationship with food, and love my body.

Even before my surgery, I started to realize I was happy with myself. The surgery was just the cherry on top of my body acceptance sundae. It just helped me to be able to see the body I had built underneath all that skin, and that body is beautiful. And when I realized that I was happy with my body, all size 14 and 200 pounds of it, instead of being happy I felt confused and slightly panicked. What am I supposed to do now? Where do I go from here?

After over 4 years, I was suddenly on the other side of the spectrum. I had gone from 50% body fat to 20%,  I went from not being able to do a proper air squat with my own body weight to being able to load up a barbell with my body weight and back squat it. Throughout the last few years I went through strict Paleo, Whole30, and spent the better part of the last year on detailed meal plans through a nutrition coach. It was a lot of restricting. Suddenly foods became “good” or “bad” and meals became either “on plan” or “off plan.”

Food isn't good or bad, it's just food. How I learned balance, found a healthy relationship with food, and started to love my body.

[Tweet “Food Isn’t Good or Bad, It’s Just Food.”]

I had become one of those Diet Martyrs… “Oh, guess I”ll have to skip the Christmas cookies this year” or “Man, I wish I could eat that” or “I can’t believe I ate that!” followed by a big serving of guilt and shame. While I never thought I had a full blown eating disorder, I saw an article about Orthorexia and found myself nodding my head in response to the list of possible symptoms. I had some disordered thinking and unhealthy mindsets when it came to my relationship with food. I was in the mindset of I can’t have it because It’s not on my meal plan. I followed a specific meal plan, eating the same safe foods over and over again. I was afraid to stop counting calories, measuring portions to the ounce, or following a rigid meal plan. Because if I didn’t have a plan it meant I would gain back all the weight I’ve lost and suddenly be fat again *eye roll*

How losing weight became less about the number on the scale and more about how I felt about my body.

I guess what I’m saying is I am finally happy with my body. I feel a sense of peace with where I’m at right now. I’m healthy, I’m fit, and I’m happy. Society still tries to tell me I’m plus sized, so what. This plus sized girl rocked a bikini in Florida last month! I still have stretch marks and squishy areas. I know that if I want to take my body to the next level it would require more restricting and while I know I could do it, I’m not in a place where I’m willing to do what it would take. Could that change next month? Absolutely. For more about the cost of getting lean check out this article from Precision Nutrition.

 I’d like to challenge you to take a look at yourself and your goals. If you are restricting yourself or beating yourself up about your body or how you’re eating, why? What are your goals? If you have a hard deadline goal like doing a bikini competition, by all means eat according to your goals this holiday season. If you have serious health risks that are obesity related or a history of unhealthy binge eating than maybe you need to structure your eating a bit more. Whatever you do, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons and in a healthy way. Super restrictive diets aren’t great for your mental health. Food isn’t something to fear. Take time to Learn balance, find a healthy relationship with food, and love your body.

You are worth it.

Do you struggle with Balance or a Healthy Relationship with food?
What are some things you can do today to love your body?

Health, Tummy Tuck

Abdominoplasty Update: 4 Months PO & Dog Ear Revision

4 Months. What?! It has been nearly 4 months since my Abdominoplasty already? I was afraid time would crawl through recovery but it actually has gone so fast! I have been absolutely in love with my results so far, but I did notice pretty early on that I had what is commonly referred to as a “dog ear” on the incision at my right hip.

tummytuckdogear

Here is a picture several months later, after the incision had healed. I still had some major swelling going on, and that dog ear is far more noticeable. At my 3 month follow up I talked it over with my plastic surgeon and we decided to do a small in office revision to correct the dog ear. I had to pay a small office/supply fee but he didn’t charge for his time or anything since it was a revision. I scheduled the dog ear revision for a few weeks later.

Luckily I wasn’t as nervous for this as I was for the original surgery… Remember when I passed out while he was marking me up? SO embarrassing! This time I was still pretty numb along my incision so I didn’t even feel it when he was injecting me with the numbing stuff. It was a small in office procedure and it took about an hour. I was comfortable and awake the whole time. I felt pretty good afterwards, until the numbing stuff wore off that night when I was trying to sleep. Luckily I had some pain pills that he prescribed just incase, so I took one. It wasn’t horrible pain. Nothing compared to the original surgery. It was just throbbing and painful, like a 5 out of 10. I had tape strips on it for around the first week.

tummytuckrevision

Here is a picture from about a week out. The incision is still healing, I’m a little swollen and bruised, but there is no more dog ear/triangle/pointy thing! I took 4 days off from working out to let the incision heal up. My doctor didn’t want me bending or moving too much around the hip area so it would heal properly.

dogearrevision

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Today is 2 weeks post revision. You can see the incision is healing well. My first scar is fading and I expect this one to do the same. Now the flanks are more even and there are no pointy dog ears sticking out.

I still have zero regrets about the surgery or the revision. As you can see the surgery didn’t make me “skinny” – I am still a pretty thick girl! I still have curves and I’m still squishy in some areas. This wasn’t at all intended to be a weight loss surgery or a surgery to make me skinnier. This was to remove the excess skin and reveal the shape that was hiding under it all.

4monthsPO

I feel like it did that for sure. I am happy in my own body and I’m proud of the work I’ve done to get here.I still have my days of feeling bloated or whatever, Thanks Mother Nature. Do I still have things I want to improve? Absolutely. But I believe it is possible to love your body and desire to improve it at the same time.

I know this is more a health/fitness blog and some people don’t always like these types of posts but the reality of weight loss is excess skin. I wanted to share my journey with you as openly as possible so you can have all the information you need to make your own decision on what is right for you. I know some people who have lost considerably more weight than I have that have no desire to get rid of the excess skin. Just like I have said about every other stage in my journey, it is such an individual process/decision. It is important to do your research, really think about what it is you want… not what you think you should want.

Do you have any questions about the surgery/recovery process?

Health, Tummy Tuck, Weight Loss

Abdominoplasty Recovery: Q & A (5 Weeks Post Op)

abdominoplastyrecovery

Today marks 5 weeks since my Abdominoplasty surgery! Time has seriously been flying. I honestly imagined my recovery time to crawl by. I think being on the pain meds the first week made that week go by even faster. I slept a lot that week too. The last update I posted was at 10 days post op. This was just after getting my drains and belly button stitches out. Really, that was a major turning point in my recovery! Showers are a beautiful thing and I was happy to have them back in my life!

From 2 weeks post op to 4 weeks post op things got exponentially better. I started feeling less pain and completely stopped having to take anything for pain right around 2 weeks. Some of the swelling started to go down and moving around was much easier.

//instagram.com/p/sHwuuvjIum/embed/At my 3 week post op appointment Dr Mills was impressed with how well I was moving. Again, I will tell you that being fit going into surgery helped me more than anything else. My body recovered faster and moving around was so much easier. At the appointment I was told I had an open wound on my belly button. This wasn’t a huge deal, it was just that where my belly button was ended up right on one of my stretch marks, so it took a little while longer to heal. This was during the healing process. All I had to do was keep antibiotic ointment on it. bellybutton

I also got told to stop wearing my bulky hospital binder and go to using a spanx type compression garment. I have just been wearing high waisted spanx underwear type compression. I still have swelling, especially if I do something particularly active like clean the house. I started to feel more normal and even got into some jeans! I’m wearing the same size I was before, they just fit way better!

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At 4 weeks post op I felt 99% normal. I still had some tightness, but a lot of my mobility was back to normal. I can twist and turn and have no pain. Again, the swelling is still here… and It’s actually worse in this picture because I spent most of the day before on my feet.

IMG_6461

At 4 weeks I started wearing my compression garment half time. I’ve worn it just through the night and I’ve also worn it just during the day. I think I prefer to wear it to bed because I love waking up with the flatter tummy after being in compression gear all night. I was also allowed to lift more weight, around 25lbs and up. Before I was limited to 10-15lbs. The first few days of wearing my compression gear half time I felt my core getting tired towards the end of the afternoon.

Today is the 5 week mark and I can see a huge difference between last week and this week. The swelling has gone down noticeably, at least to me.

4-5weeksPO

The swelling usually happens in the lower part of my stomach, but today it felt really flat. As far as the scar goes, it is suuuuper low and pretty light. You can see in the 4 weeks post op picture the faint line of the scar. I’m really happy with the placement of the scar and how well it has recovered. I also love my belly button shape and coloring, especially after it finished healing.  I feel totally normal. I’m SO ready to get back to working out. I can start easing back into it next week. I know once I get back to working out things will change even more (for the better!)

Here is a little progression of my results week by week. Some weeks you can see a difference and some you can’t. Tummy Tuck recovery is a roller coaster of ups and downs.

postopprogression

I asked on my Facebook and Instagram if anyone had specific questions regarding the procedure or recovery so I’ll answer them here. If you see any I didn’t get to, leave them in the comments!

Where is the best place to rest immediately post-op? Recliner, bed, sofa?

First of all, remember that everyone has a different recovery. I slept in my bed at night from day 1. I was propped up on pillows so I was almost sitting up, but I felt like I needed some separation between my “awake time” and “night time.” I Spent most of the day the first week in a recliner, which was the most comfortable. By week 3 I started removing pillows and laying down more flat. I still kept a pillow under my knees until week 3 as well.

What do you like best and least about your procedure/experience/body now?

I love my belly button! I’ve always had a spare tire around my belly button as long as I remember. So to have a cute belly button is so fun! The part I like the least about the whole procedure is the numbness I feel from my belly button to the top of the scar. It doesn’t hurt, it just feels weird and was really hard to get used to.

Was it painful?

Again, every one is going to be different. The pain pills helped the first week and once the drains was out it was less pain and more discomfort. Everything felt super tight and that was the hardest part. It was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

How long before you can walk upright/lay flat? 

I was standing mostly upright by the 8 day mark. I didn’t start sleeping completely flat until around week 3.

Did your insurance pay on the procedures?

No, this was all out of pocket. Some insurance would have covered it, but since we are self employed and have to purchase our own insurance this wasn’t included despite the fact I was referred to the Plastic Surgeon by my Primary Care Doctor due to irritating rashes and other issues. Check with your provider.

How much weight did you lose?

I cannot stress this enough…  This is not a weight loss surgery. I did not have this surgery to lose weight. I spent the last 4 years totally overhauling my lifestyle and lost 70lbs before having this procedure. They removed 8lbs of skin and tissue during the surgery. Since surgery day I’m down just about 5lbs. Swelling is crazy during the first few months so it goes up and down depending on activity level and my diet.

How do your clothes fit?

Most of my clothes were too small coming out of surgery because of the swelling. I’m just now getting to where I can fit in most of my pre-surgery clothes. They fit different, but they fit. I’m still in the same size jeans but there is a lot more room in the front!

So far I’m very happy with my decision to have this surgery and loving my results. Again, it is not for everyone. It was what was right for me. I would do it again in a heart beat. It is overwhelming to see the results I’ve worked so hard for. I’m not saying you have to go through plastic surgery to see results, but with the amount of time and the degree to which I was obese it was the option that made the best sense for me.

Thank you so much for following my journey!

Do you have any questions about the procedure/recovery I haven’t answered?

Health, Life, Tummy Tuck, Weight Loss

Tummy Tuck Recovery Update 10 Days Post Op

TummyTuckRecovery

I know I keep saying it, but time has been flying by! I wrote about the actual surgery day and the first few days of recovery already. Last time I talked about tummy tuck recovery I was waiting to have my drains out… That was a long 8 days!!

I went to my appointment on Tuesday with less than 20mL draining over a 24 hour period so Dr Mills took my drains out! I was SO SO SO nervous that it was going to hurt. Honestly, the most painful/annoying thing about the first week of recovery for me was the drains. So I took one last pain pill before going and lets just say I was feeling really relaxed once we got to the appointment. He snipped the stitches told me to take a deep breath and him and the nurse pulled both out at the same time. It felt weird, but it didn’t hurt.

Sidenote: Nothing good ever happens after a doctor/medical professional/anyone tells you to take a deep breath. #justsayin

Since I was already there and because I’ve been recovering so well he went ahead and took out the stitches in my belly button. That wasn’t painful at all either. He told me that I could wear spanx if I wanted to but had to keep some kind of garment on full time until my next appointment. He also said I could walk as much as I want, just no “power walking” or anything more intense. He warned me that I would get tired quickly and that I just needed to listen to my body.

When I got home I TOOK A SHOWER! Seriously the best shower ever. I felt human again. I also got my first peek at my tummy without the binder and drains.

tummytuckbeforeafter

Unreal. I don’t even recognize that as MY stomach. It was a very emotional moment for me to be able to see just a glimpse of the stomach I have dreamt about. I know it is still swollen at just 8 days out but there is even a tad bit of ab definition! SERIOUSLY, IS THAT ME?!

When I first started on my health journey I had this as the after in my head. I would work out and eat right and in ___ Days/Months/Years this is what I would look like, no surgery needed. The truth about weight loss isn’t always pretty. I worked out twice as hard as people I watched get amazing results in half the time. I was meticulous about what I would eat. No, I wasn’t perfect. But I worked hard and left it all out there. There are a few things that come into play here… Genetics are huge. So is the amount of time you have spent being obese. I remember having that big hanging pouch of fat back in middle school. Of course it got bigger as I got bigger. and it deflated as I lost weight. But that skin was done, it wasn’t going back no matter how many wraps/creams/pills/heavy weights/”Just toning” or whatever amazing miracle remedy you have for me. I tried it all. I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it again… I did NOT have this surgery for weight loss purposes. This is a functional, elective, plastic surgery that I decided to do to make my life better. I worked hard and lost 70lbs on the scale and gained a crazy amount of muscle. I didn’t do this to be skinny. I will always be a thick, curvy girl. and I’m ok with that.

End Rant.

Back to talking about recovery…. I posted on instagram one day last week how not every day was a good day (PS- If you follow me on Instagram, @courtnorm, I update there a lot more often!) and that is true. I felt tired and worn out last Monday but it was because of a combination of the surgery and (TMI ALERT) that time of the month. Seriously, I couldn’t tell what was worse. It was just bad timing for that, for sure. But once that went away and the drains were out I started to feel better and better.

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I even tried to put some “real” clothes on and felt good in them! I haven’t been brave enough to try on my jeans because I am still so swollen plus the part of my stomach from my belly button to my incision is still really numb and it feels really weird. Since I’m talking about swelling I noticed that, yes, my stomach is swollen but so are my upper legs… hips and thighs. I know they did lipo around the flanks and there is probably swelling/healing going on from that. I just didn’t expect my legs to feel this swollen. I also tried on some spanx, the high waisted shorts kind. HOLY SMOKES. How do people wear this every day? It was like alligator wrestling trying to get it on. and then it wasn’t even comfortable. The pair I had didn’t have a pee hole or anything so I’m convinced people who wear spanx like that have to be chronically dehydrated because going to the bathroom was a major life event. I wore them for maybe an hour and a half while washing my binder and went to the bathroom twice. All this spanx talk reminds me of the buzzfeed video of men trying on spanx for the first time. You’re welcome.

Day 8, the day I got my drains out, was my last day taking the pain pills (which means I can drive again, yay!) Now I only take tylenol maybe once a day if needed. I’ve been able to stand up straight since around day 5 or 6 so that helped me not be as sore because most of the pain was in my back from hunching over.

Overall, recovery has been uneventful for me. Which is great. and I will tell you that I believe 100% that the reason I have recovered so well is because I was in such good shape going into this. I’m not telling you that this surgery was a cakewalk, because it wasn’t. But I believe that CrossFit made me strong and fit which helped my recovery go so well. I’m used to a certain level of pain/soreness so this isn’t out of the ordinary. My body knows how to recover well.

I’m already missing my workouts, so instead of workout out I just dress like I’m going to work out. A little jedi mind trick.

 //instagram.com/p/r_14_ijIkd/embed/

Overall, I’m feeling really good. I love my results and would do it over in a heartbeat. Dr Mills is truly an artist. My scar is low and thin (you can see part of it in the before and after above). I know I’ve made it through the toughest part and recovery should be all downhill from now. It will only get better!

Thanks so much for all your kind words. You guys are the best. Be sure to follow me on Instagram or Facebook for more regular updates. If you have any specific questions leave them in the comments and I’ll try to answer them all or do another Q&A post if I get a lot of the same.

Any recovery tips?
Have you ever worn spanx?! ((WHY?!))