Where Is Your Motivation?

I am a huge note taker. Over the years I have filled up countless notebooks on my experiences in working with people. I have worked with 100's of people over the years. One of the catalyst that shows up over and over again is the word motivation.

The single defining term that determines if you will hit your goals or not is motivation.

I'm not talking about if you are motivated or not. Because we all are at some point. That isn't what matters on a deeper level. What are you motivated by and the type of motivation will determine how far you will go and sustain your progress.

Current weight loss trends would have you to believe that you must be miserable to achieve optimal results.

I found a quote that pretty much sums up what people think when they come to me for health and fitness advice.

Mark Twain once said, "The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like, and do what you'd rather not."

Psychologist have dove into this topic heavily over the last 40 years. Research in psychology has shown that the type of motivation you have is more important than the amount of motivation you have when pursuing a weight-loss goal.

Take a moment and answer a question for me.

I am losing weight because...
1. I feel like there is no other choice; other people are making me do it.
2. If I didn't lose weight I would feel bad about myself.
3. It is personally important to me to reach this goal.
4. It is important to attain my goal and I feel it will be enjoyable.

What type of motivation did you have?

1. This type of motivation is 100% external. I like to call this type of motivation the scare tactic. You feel like you have to embark on a weight loss journey because the doctor told you that you are pre-diabetic. Your partner told you that it was time for you to drop a few and get back to the weight that you were at when the two of you met.

2. This type of motivation is the unconscious adoption of the ideas or attitudes of others. It's introjected motivation. Partially you want to achieve better health but mainly out of guilt or ego. Your clothes do not fit anymore, and sometimes you feel like people look at you weird. They are all external reasons to change. Societal norms and the pressure you may feel from others are the reason that drives change. It's pursued in order to get a reward at the end or avoid a negative consequence.

3. You've made a decision to lose weight because it is something that is precious to you. You value the choice. This is called Identified motivation. The view that you have on weight loss is positive and the decision to take on the goal was yours. Maybe you want to experience things you've never been able to do before. Things like hiking, wearing a bikini, walking up and down stairs without being exhausted, or wanting to be around for your kids. You experience a strong sense of personal responsibility and importance in the task.

4. This type of motivation is Intrinsic Motivation. The motive behind you wanting to improve your health is for you. You understand that there will be benefits that you will reap. But this is a journey that you are traveling on for your own sake. You intend to make good nutrition choices and engage in some sort of physical activity for the pleasure and because it is important to you.

Improving your health and fitness already requires tons of effort on your part. Changing your nutritional habits and beginning any new fitness routine can be challenging in itself. You might as well take a deep look into the driving force behind you wanting to improve your health. Because if it is for extrinsic reasons it will only be a matter of time before you are searching for ‘more motivation’. And we all know how that ends. 

Women Breaking The Stigma

Woman. A simple word that holds a lot of societal expectations. Who has set these expectations? This question has been running through my head the past week.

Society expects a woman to be skinny not muscular, made up not dressed down.  The societal expectations are for us to have our nails done and lips painted.  We are expected to be rescued and not be heroic.  A lot of expectations put a woman as being weak and too pretty to lift a finger.  In my opinion, I believe a woman should feel strong, beautiful without the expectations of society to tell them they cannot be those things because they lift weights or have a desire to.

To the woman who feels discouraged.

To the woman who feels self conscious.

To the woman who feels worthless and unhappy.

To the woman who wants to be more and to feel strong instead of helpless. 

This message is for you..

I want to empower you and to let you know that you are not alone. You can change the way you feel and how you look by putting your efforts into developing a better mindset to a stigma that has been around for years. A woman is just as capable as a man in terms of walking into a weight room and sculpting her body and enhancing her mental strength. 

As a woman, I have been challenged by family, friends and people who voice their opinion about me being a power lifter and a competitive physique athlete without me asking for it.  Being a female, it is uncommon to have bigger muscles because society says that it is not “feminine” or “attractive.”  Who is to say being physically active is unattractive? I receive countless comments as a competitor to not become more muscular or to not compete because it's “gross.” How is putting your effort into your health and well being “gross?”  These comments are the cause of some women to not get involved in resistance training.  You do not have to be a power lifter or a physique athlete to be healthy or “fit”.  Health comes in many forms and the expression of fitness looks different for everyone.  Every woman deserves to feel good in her own skin whether she works out at home with her child or in the gym with the free weights.

As a woman, I understand what its like to be unhappy with your body and how conflicting and intimidating it can be to walk into a gym and move towards the resistance training section. Do not be scared to take your fitness into your own hands. Resistance training can make you feel empowered and strong. verses weak and intimidated.

Weight training molds great characteristics for women that we already possess. Our dedication, grit, perseverance, and drive elevates to new levels when we are physically strong. 

A woman can set her own expectations and change the stigma of women in the weight room. 


Failed Success

Have you ever gone to the gym and started your workout routine and felt like not being there or something just felt off? Maybe you were tired that day. Maybe you didn’t eat enough. Maybe you were just simply having an off day.  

That was me today.

I walked in the gym with my head phones on with my music bumping through the speakers.  I was ready to begin my leg workout. I got through my warm up with ease.  I even did well on my first two sets of barbell squats but as the weight got heavier my body was not responding well.  My last sets were brutal.  My body felt so weak, I was distracted, I was tired and hungry. My form was suffering from my body’s inability to get with the program! I kept trying to correct my form but my mind and body were fighting against each other.  

Why is this soooo frustrating!?!

I know a lot of people have asked the same question! The gym can make you feel feelings that you don’t like feeling.  Some of you have probably experienced this many times when going to the gym.

Before, when the sense of frustration came over me, I would just leave the gym because my workout was completely “ruined.”  I became unmotivated and discouraged.  How in the heck are you supposed to get excited after failing during a set?? Now that I have more experience, I will tell you a little secret… you don’t.  If you really want to succeed at something nothing will stop you.  You get up and try again.  So after a “failure” you have to brush off the bad reps and sets, and you move on.  It took me a little bit to let my failures go.  I wanted to go back and redo them because they weren’t good enough.  But that’s what lifting and exercise is about. Learning that it’s okay to fail or to have a bad lift or rep because you learn from it.  

So, you failed.  When you fail, you don’t just accept it, you stay and fight for it.  

Failure is part of the process that will lead you to success. 
Failure is essential.  
Failure is vitality.  

After my failed attempt at my last set of squats, I prepared for the next exercise.  I dwelled on my squats for a few seconds and reminded myself that I had an entire workout left, and I could not let a few bad repetitions ruin the rest of my workout.  My coach told me to think of each repetition as being one step closer to my goal and to not waste a rep.  Today, I felt like I had done the opposite of what my coach advised me but some days you just have an off day.  I finished the rest of my workout with my head held high and a big smile because I did not allow the first part of my workout stop me from finishing strong.

Your exercise success isn’t about how well you do on the days you feel 100 percent or the days where you killed your workout.  No, exercise success is about how you fight and claw your way back to a place where your mentally prepared to attack the next exercise regardless of any flaw or failure.  Your success is determined by your grind and getting through the mental aspects of FAILING. 

In my many years of exercising, I can tell you that I have experienced this feeling quite a few times, but I have just recently learned how truly beneficial it is to fail. 



Why You Should Be Snapping Shameless Selfies

Oh the infamous selfie. You see them everywhere: Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest, basically every social media outlet we can think of in today’s society.  It is insane how much the “selfie” has impacted our world.  This is not something experienced in just the U.S. but in every country. The “selfie” has globally connected us in ways I never knew to be possible.

Usually, I would go on and on about how self-centered and egotistical people are who take selfies, but I have had the opportunity to see just how much selfies can impact someone’s life.

I will use myself as an example.  

I have been working out my entire life.  First I was a gymnast, then I transitioned into resistance training. Several years have passed since I began this journey and now the way you track progress is a lot better.  I can use “selfies” to see changes in my body from week to week in order to determine how my nutrition is impacting my body as well as areas I need to develop more in the gym.  The “selfie” has forever benefited and changed my life for the better.

If we look back before camera phones were invented, then we would find other way ways of obtaining objective information to judge progress with our bodies.  These ways included: circumference measurements, waist to hip ratio, bioelectrical impedance, weight scale, BMI calculations, etc.  The progression of technology and the creation of the “selfie” has developed another way for us to track progress.  Using a “selfie” along with the other types of tracking mechanisms, can truly show how our bodies are changing as a whole. 

I encourage others to embrace in taking a “shameless selfie” for themselves in order to see physical changes in a photo and compare them from weeks and months prior to starting a weight lifting program or a nutrition plan.  The changes that you see will be more impactful and rewarding than looking at yourself in the mirror on a daily basis.  If you rely on glancing in a mirror every day, then you will be left with the subjective opinion of what you are "feeling" that day. And you know your feelings change like wind direction.  Only a “selfie” can capture your progression in the mirror.  

My clients always tell me that they regret not taking selfies while they were in the midst of their journey of losing body fat. I urge you to lose that fear of the unknown. The “selfie” can boost your confidence even when your body might not look exactly the way you want it to at that very moment.  

The shameless selfie can be considered as motivation to see how far you have come in your fitness and health journey.


Broken Mirror Syndrome

A form of obsessive compulsive disorder that may affect as many as 1 in 100 people, according to the International OCD Foundation. The disorder commonly starts in adolescence when children begin to compare themselves to their peers. The obsessions can consume a person's thoughts, harming every aspect of their life. In 2007 I was preparing for my 2nd bodybuilding competition. Seeing the changes in my physique week by week had me pumped up and highly motivated. Around two weeks away I started to feel myself slip into a negative state of mind. I quickly snow balled out of control and found myself making trips to the nearby gas station to load up on all the sweets and junk food I could find. I remember one time I ate over two dozen honey buns. Crazy right? Sitting in my chair that was given to me by a client I would lay back and tell myself how I would fail at the goal of placing in the top 5 of one of the largest Texas shows around because I didn't deserve it.  I missed my goal of placing in the top 5 by placing 7th in a very tough line up of 20+ competitors. It taught me a valuable lesson and I slowly patched the behavior but it took me years to fix it.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="32px"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Here are some of the strategies that helped me get back in a better frame of mind. It started the road of loving myself again:

Behavioral Experiments

This can be critical in testing thoughts. An example would be, "If I criticize myself after overeating, I'll overeat less" vs. "If I talk to myself kindly after overeating, I'll overeat less." Figuring out whether self-criticism or self-kindness is more effective in reducing future overeating. This will help counteract thoughts like when your kind to yourself you will give yourself a free pass to overeat and lose self-control.

Thought Records

These are also designed to test the foundation of thoughts. "Everyone thinks I'm ugly." You could do a thought record evaluating the evidence for and against that thought. Things against the thought would be like "My best friends always says she is jealous of my body." "Backstage all the girls said they loved my hair and make up." Look at the thoughts that were negative vs the ones that were positive side by side. Come up with more balanced thoughts like, "I feel like this when... Feeling like this is negative. If I was really ugly my boyfriend wouldn't tell me I was beautiful all the time." Thought records help on a logical level.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="32px"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image="35649" alignment="center" style="vc_box_border" border_color="grey" img_link_large="" img_link_target="_self" image_hovers="true" img_size="300x300"][vc_empty_space height="32px"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Happy Activity Scheduling

Write down the next seven days down on a piece of paper. For each day, schedule a pleasant activity that you wouldn't normally do. Doing activities that produce higher levels of positive emotions in your daily life will help your thinking become less negative, narrow, and rigid.

Situation Exposure

This involves putting things you would normally avoid on a list. For example, a person that hates looking in the mirror, wearing things that show there arms, or covering the scar that you have hated for so long. Work your way into these things slowly. Experiment with each item several times over a period of time until the distress you feel about being in that situation is about half of what it was the first time.


Try bringing to mind a recent memory that provoked you to feel a certain way. Play it through your mind and keep visualizing the image in detail until your level of distress reduces about half its initial level.

This list of techniques is a short list but will give you a good idea of the variety of techniques that are used for self therapy. They helped me over come a lot and put me in a better place emotionally, spiritually, and physically.


Mental Imagery

Surrealism had a great effect on me because then I realized that the imagery in my mind wasn't insanity. Surrealism is my reality."  - John Lennon

There are four factors that impact the quality of mental imagery: perspective, control, multiple sense, and speed. I will describe these four factors to help you tap into a powerful tool to take you to another level.

Imagery Perspective. This refers to where the "imagery lens" is when you perform imagery. When I first started preparing for competitions I would buy all sorts of bodybuilding movies. I would watch them to prepare my mind on what I needed to go through to achieve my goal. Sort of like a football player watching film before the next game to prepare for his opponent. This is an external perspective that involves seeing yourself from outside your body. The internal perspective involves seeing yourself from inside your body looking out, as if you were actually performing the sport. I achieved a new level of mind-set when I began to sit quietly and imagine myself going through my workout before I even got to the gym. Sweat falling from my face, every repetition done with perfect form and each exercise done to its maximum capacity. Research indicates that one perspective is not better than the other. But each individual should find what works best for them.

Control. Silence in the room, my mental imagery is full tilt. I'm about to attempt my best lift of 315 lbs on bench press for 6 repetitions but at my 4th repetition I put the weight up and did not finish the last two repetitions. Why is this? This is imagery control, which is how well you're able  to imagine what you want to imagine. It's common  for athletes to perform poorly in their imagery and it often reflects a fundamental lack of confidence in their ability to perform successfully. If you make a mistake during imagery, do not let it go by. Press your "imagery playback" and edit the imagery video until you do it correctly.

Multiple Senses.  This is not called visualization because it is more than just visual. Good imagery involves the multi-sensory reproduction of the actual sport experience. When I utilize mental imagery I picture the way I feel before the training session, the smell of the gym, the noises around me as other people are achieving their goals and it makes the experience real. The most powerful part of mental imagery is feeling it in your body. It really ingrained new technical, mental skills and habits. You see world-class athletes do this all the time before competitions.

Speed. The ability to adjust the speed of your imagery will enable you to use imagery to improve different aspects of your sports performance. When I would use imagery to think about the 315 lbs bench press I would always perform the movement as slow as possible to make sure that I would be using the correct form and every muscle fiber was involved to move the weight up and down. When you first start to work on technique in your imagery, slow the imagery video, frame by frame if necessary, to see yourself executing the skill correctly. As you see yourself  performing well in slow motion, increase the speed of your imagery until you can perform well at "real-time" speed.

I hope that the four factors that go into mental imagery have helped you in some form or fashion. They really resonate with me and I love to share information that helps me in hopes that it will help someone else.