Three Life Lessons From the Past Year–My Birthday Present to You

To sum up my 32nd year, I think Charles Dicken’s quote, “It was the best of times and the worst of times” summarizes the past year.

My birthday year started off rough with the unexpected passing of my mom July 10th and, then a few days, later the stroke of my 25 year old “healthy and fit” brother.Dustin and mom fm4l gear

Lesson #1

Life is precious, health is precious and we aren’t guaranteed another day. We do our best to stay as fit and healthy as possible but that doesn’t guarantee anything. My mom was the pinnacle of health but it couldn’t prevent her massive brain aneurysm. My brother ate pretty healthy and exercises regularly but somehow it didn’t prevent a clot from reaching all of the way up to his brainstem.

Grief is real, but so is joy, and joy can come after grief. Our family is closer than ever and my dad is doing very well and starting to get a clearer picture of what life looks like as a widower.

The Transformation Center saw incredible growth over the past year with the launch of our Fit over 50 small group training program. We have had over 340 (mostly women) join the program the past year and have seen incredible improvements in their health, weight, strength, balance, energy and confidence.

I got back into town early this morning (at 2:30am) from Phoenix where I was presenting at the Functional Aging Institute International Conference. I was honored to be acknowledged as having one of the best and most cutting edge fitness and health programs for 50-90 year olds. Many thanks to everyone who has played a role in this.

Lesson #2

Success is a team effort and we can’t do it alone. This is a lesson I have been learning over the past 12 years in business. Starting out, I had to wear every hat, but as things grow I am able to find people who do certain things WAY better then I could.

There are times in life when we need help and we need to check our egos at the door and ask for help. This year I have had to ask for help more than ever before and my friends, team of trainers and staff, and clients have helped out so much and I am grateful for that.

When we ask for help, we are also letting go and putting trust in someone else. There are things in my life and business that I have clung onto not wanting to let it go, but I am slowly giving those things up to others and it has been scary, uncomfortable, and nerve-racking at time, but it is necessary for growth to happen.

Each year, I try to train for something different, to keep me excited about exercise and to keep my body improving.

With the death of my mom, I decided to commit this year to doing something I really didn’t think I could do, participating in Ironman Wisconsin. This was mostly because I didn’t know how to swim at all and the thought of a 2.4 mile lake swim seemed beyond daunting. I also have virtually no experience with running.

With 3 months to go until the Ironman, I am feeling extremely prepared and confident.

Lesson #3

There are SO many lessons I can share on this topic, but will save that for another day, but the one lesson from this that I want to share is to DESTROY the lies in your head that you “aren’t” or you “can’t” do something.

For 32 years I told myself, I told you, I wrote about it in my book and blog that I “don’t do cardio,” as well as I can’t swim.Dustin run pic

These beliefs stifled any chances of me being able to do it because it eliminated me even asking the right questions.

Once I had decided upon the desire outcome (finish Ironman), I had to ask myself a new set of EMPOWERING questions like:

1. Who can I hire to teach me how to swim?
2. What type of running mechanics do I need to make sure my troubled knees can handle it?
3. Who specializes in creating a program to get me to the finish line of IM?
4. Where is there a community of triathletes in Madison that I can spend time with?

These 4 questions might not sound like much but they opened the door for possibilities.

Since that decision, I officially started training in November giving it my 100%. There have been ups and downs but the trajectory has mostly been up!

At 33, I can say I feel like I am in the best shape of my life. I am not as strong in my upper body as I have been before, but my dramatically improved cardio, leanness and increased energy I have gained trumps it all.

Thank you so much for being part of my life, during the ups and downs. I hope in some small way I can educate and inspire you to not only go after new physical challenges, but in all areas of your life, strive for improvement.

Cheers to another year together.

I’m More Than a Number!

I’m more than a number.

Neither my weight nor my clothing size defines my self-worth.

I say this now, like it’s easy. But it’s NOT. It takes constant reinforcement to remind myself of that in this day and age.

Just look in any women’s magazine and you’ll find multiple articles about how to shred fat and drop 10 lbs in 2 weeks… all surrounded by super-lean models.

Scroll through instagram and see “fitspo” everywhere… it’s supposed to be motivating but so many of those models are crazy lean—skinnier than I’ll ever be.

It’s easy to get down on your body and your looks when constantly surrounded by all of this. Especially if there is part of your body that is sometimes hard to love. =)

More than a number

My superpower is getting outside each and every day this year with our two boys. Trading the tablets for the trees; spending our time in the light of the sun rather than the light of a screen. It’s challenging us and changing us and that’s good.

So when People Magazine launched a campaign geared toward “proving that women are more than just a number”, more than just their size, I was initially happy to see a mainstream media outlet taking on this issue.

But unfortunately, the campaign is asking people to share their picture with… you guessed it… their number! People’s #ShareYourSize campaign is asking people to post pictures with their clothing size.

I get that the idea is to show that all sizes are beautiful and that there are many different body types out there.

All that is true, but I’d rather learn something about those people and what their bodies can do for them. I’d want to hear about my friend who is a grandmother and is training for her first triathlon. Or my friend in the Navy who has three kids and who did a tour in Iraq. Or my friend who is bravely recovering from an accident that destroyed her knee.

I couldn’t care less what size clothing they wear. I want to know what they do.

I want to learn about women who constantly grow by pushing themselves out of their comfort zone and challenging themselves. I want to be motivated and inspired by their example, whether big or small. Because that’s how I will become a better version of myself.

So we are launching an alternative to People Magazine’s campaign.

Share your picture on Twitter or Facebook with a sign that says something about you, but nothing about your size or weight!

Share your Secret Superpower—something that you are proud of or that challenges you in some way.

Use the hashtags #shareyoursize AND #morethananumber. Tag @People and @FitMomsforLife and let’s change the conversation!!

We are more than a number. We are strong. We are healthy. We are Fit Moms for Life!

Update (4-29-16)

So many beautiful women who are Fit Moms for Life agree… we are proud to share a few of these amazing people!
morethananumber 4

more than a number 2

more than a number 1more than a number 3

Self-Care Revolutionized

I don’t know why, but making the time for self-care can feel so difficult this time of year.

Maybe it’s because we’ve been sick a fair amount. Or maybe it’s because the days are short. Or that it’s a crazy busy time.

Regardless, it can be too easy to start pushing self-care aside and letting other things creep in and get in the way of workouts, healthy meals, stress-release time, etc.

That’s why I so love this quote from Lisa Bauer, who leads an awesome Yin Yoga class at the Transformation Center on Wednesday evenings.

Many of us equate self-care with being selfish. Self-care is filling up so you can continue to take care of others. Self-care is feeding your spirit, taking care of your body, calming your mind, so you can be more present in the world and with those you love.

Lately, though, I’ve been thinking about self-care as a revolutionary act: Taking care of yourself is kind of like flipping off this cultural notion that we should be going, doing, winning, striving, setting goals, meeting goals — all the time, in order to have worth. Self-care is stepping outside that cycle and saying, “Nah, I’m gonna just be good to myself, and be myself.”

I love that because the funny thing is that when you adopt that mindset, it actually becomes easier to make the changes you want to make… for all the right reasons.

take care of yourself (1)When you stop spending so much energy trying to be the person you think you “should” be, and instead love and care for who you are, it frees up the space to be able to take care of yourself.

When you find that sense of self-love and self-worth, you want to take better care of your body and your mind, because it matters to you.

Then it becomes easier to take the actions that will get you closer to who you want to be in the future, because you love and respect yourself now.

Personally, I’m adding yoga back into my fitness routine because it reminds me of all of these things. Plus, it loosens my muscles and joints and just makes me feel better. I had let it slide as time grew tight. But I’ve realized that I need to let other non self-care things slide instead.

How about you? How can you take better care of yourself? What can you do to start letting go of the notion that you must always be doing more in order to be worthy? How can your actions reflect that shift in perspective?

If you are looking for a place to start, try moving more. Nutrition plays a huge role in your overall health, but exercise can help you feel better more quickly and can give you the energy to make other changes.

Whatever it is, start now! There is no better time.

Need support? Check out the community and support in our flagship 6 Week Challenge program.

Lessons Learned from Staying Active Every Day

We’ve always been pretty active as a family. But this year, I wanted to be more intentional about it.

I’d noticed that it was too easy to stay indoors on our short, cold winter days in Wisconsin. And, especially on those days, our boys had too much extra energy and acted out a lot more.

Plus, I recently read Younger Next Year, which is a great read that talks about how critical it is to do something active each and every day, especially as you get older.

As our lives have gotten busier, my husband and I have found this harder and harder to do…

So, on New Years Day, we decided as a family to commit to getting outside every day, even for just a little bit.

I’m tracking our progress and posting pictures a couple of times each week on Instagram with the hashtags #365outside, #activeeveryday and #outsideeveryday. (You can find me at h88emily.)

While we are only two months in, it has been a great experience so far! Here are a few of my early take aways:

  • Getting outside helps the mood and behavior of our boys. One of our sons is on the autism spectrum, and some days can be really challenging. Getting outside, even for a short period, can really help. I remember one evening in particular, where a walk on a dark, cold night saved us from hours of awful outbursts.
  • Skating

  • We think about new things that we can do as a family outside. This challenge caused us to discover geocaching, for example, which has been a blast and an easy thing to do together. I’m not sure I ever would have tried it otherwise.
  • We’ve had some spectacular moments, like this evening on the ice on a perfectly glass smooth lake. The ice was so smooth that it didn’t make a sound under our skates. It. Was. Amazing. I’m not sure we’d have been out there to discover that without this challenge..
  • Our house is messier because we get outside in all kinds of weather. We are in mud season right now as the snow melts in Wisconsin and there is A LOT of mud in our house and our front yard is a disaster. So we spend a bit more time cleaning… I still think it’s worth it.
  • It’s been easy to stay unplugged. We’ve never had a lot of screen time in our house, but the kids have watched almost no TV since we started this in January. And they haven’t missed it!

While it hasn’t been easy every day—some of those short, cold, Wisconsin winter days were tough, especially when they are in school most of the day—it’s been worth it to actually think about when we were going to get outside and what we were going to do. Although it’s not too planned most of the time—there’s a lot of creative play that happens in the sandbox and the snow banks. But knowing that we made this commitment causes us to be very intentional to think about how and when we are going to get out.

We’ve only missed one day so far. It was well below zero, with a 30-40 below wind chill, and while we could have gone out, I decided that it just wasn’t worth it. We went to an indoor pool and went swimming instead. So, still active… just not outside. =)

It’s been totally worth it for us and we’ve seen benefits already in time spent together as a family, time being active, and our kids’ behavior.

Plus, it doesn’t usually cost us a dime!

What can you do to get more active as a family? It’s a lot easier to stay in shape when you can do it together!

Post your goals in the comments here and connect with me on Instagram so we can hold each other accountable!

How to fall in love with your health in the New Year

How many times have you set New Years resolutions in January, only to abandon them by March?

We’ve all done it!entertainment-career-resolutions

But it can leave you feeling guilty and like you’ve failed yet again to improve your health, exercise more, eat better, etc, etc.

It sets up a negative spiral in your relationship with your body and your health.

The good news is that there is a better way and you can fall in love with your body and your health—you just have to shift your mindset first.

This year, when you are thinking about the resolutions you want to make, skip the ones that involve losing weight, getting into better shape, etc.

Instead, focus on loving and accepting yourself. Decide that you are worth taking care of—that it is worth the effort to put yourself first once in awhile.

Then, instead of thinking “I should exercise more” or “I should lose weight,” ask yourself “How can I do more to take care of myself?” “What can I do to put myself first?” “How can I make my health more of a priority?”

Pick 1-2 small action steps that you can start now and that feel doable in the context of your life.

Then take action. Right away!

Make those 1-2 things the focus of your attention and energy for the next few weeks. Tell a friend or family member what you are doing and ask them to hold you accountable.

Once you start to experience some success in taking action and making changes, it will start to shift your view of what is possible.

Then you can ask yourself those same questions again: “What else can I do to take better care of myself?” And pick another small action to start focusing on, once your first actions start to become part of what you do each day.

That is the key to starting healthy habits that last. Start small with actions that you can sustain. Early success will keep you going, and they will ultimately become part of who you are and what you do each day without thinking about it—just like brushing your teeth.

It doesn’t even matter what the actions are, as long as they are taking a small step on your path towards health. However, actions that help you feel better will naturally keep you motivated to continue.

There are our top picks for healthy habits to start to incorporate into your life. These things will all help you look and feel your best. However, pick something that resonates with you and that you can work into your life!

  • Move more, whatever that means to you—walk each day; exercise a certain number of times per week; take the stairs instead of the elevator; etc.
  • Reduce the processed food that you eat—if your great grandma didn’t eat it, then you shouldn’t either.
  • Eat more veggies—drink a green smoothie each day.
  • Drink 96 ounces of water each day.
  • Get at least 7 hours of sleep.
  • Don’t eat carbs alone—always eat carbs with a protein to help balance your blood sugar and reduce cravings.

Make 2016 the year that you enjoy success with your New Years resolutions and fall in love with your body and your health!

Tips from 2-time gold medalist and mom Lindsay Tarpley

2008-7-12-US-WNT-Denver-Practice-8436s-412x600Today I’m excited to share an interview with Lindsay Tarpley, a 2-time Olympic gold medalist in soccer, an owner of Sweat Cosmetics, and a mom of two young kids—Jacob and Alexandra, who she calls her greatest accomplishments.

Lindsay won her first gold medal in 2004 and played on the Women’s National Team until 2011, when she suffered a career-ending knee injury during a send-off match for the 2011 World Cup against Japan. Since her injury, Lindsay has had five surgeries and is still rehabilitating her knee. You can learn more about Lindsay’s history here.

Just this summer, Lindsay joined the Fit Moms program at our Transformation Center in Madison, and we are looking forward to working with her in a budding partnership with Sweat Cosmetics—a company that shares our values of empowering women and encouraging sweat.

I wanted to talk to Lindsay to learn a bit more about her background and her takeaways from competing at such a high level.

And, at the end of the interview, you’ll see a link where you can enter to win one of Sweat Cosmetics’ twist-brush mineral foundation sets. They have generously provided us with several to give away, and my team members tell me that the product is awesome. =)

1) As an elite athlete, what does it take to compete at that level? How do you maintain that level of excellence and still pay attention to the other important areas of your life?

Being an elite athlete is incredible, but it also comes with a lot of responsibility. In order to be my best and play at such a high level, I had to make sure I took care of my body, mind, and overall physical well-being. I loved competing at the highest level and it was always an honor to represent the USA. Now my passion has turned to Sweat Cosmetics, which encourages and empowers women to embrace their beauty and live an active lifestyle.

2) Now that you are a mom, what has been your biggest challenge when it comes to taking care of yourself and how have you worked to overcome it?

I learned quickly that being a mom is an all-consuming wonderful challenge! It has taken me a long time to realize that after having my children, I still need to create time for myself. As soon as I walked into the Fit Moms Transformation Center, I felt like it was a community where I could work hard and reenergize myself. It is an encouraging environment that pushes me to be my best. I’ve learned that in order to try and get the best out of my children, I need to set the example and try to get the best out of myself first.

3) Lots of women feel overwhelmed when trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle, whether that has to do with getting fit, eating healthier, or just making the time in their busy lives to take care of themselves. What advice do you have for women who want to make a change but struggle to get started or to make time for themselves?

The hardest thing to do is start. It is always easier to say, “I’ll start tomorrow.” I would encourage you to make the decision to start TODAY. Be your best. Do something for yourself. Do it now. Believe me, I understand how hard it truly is, but I am a better mom because I have found time to take care of myself. Fit Moms for Life has provided me a supportive community that pushes me, challenges me and encourages me. As a result of making the time, I am a happier, healthier, more fulfilled person, which makes me a better mom for my family.

4) What’s the story behind Sweat Cosmetics? What are you all out to accomplish?

Our mission at Sweat Cosmetics is to narrow the gap between beauty and fitness. We want to empower women, embrace beauty and encourage sweat. We are all former/current professional soccer players and we appreciate wanting to work hard while embracing our beauty. We launched at the Women’s World Cup this past June with our all-in-one convenient, Sweat Stick. Our mineral-powder is a makeup and sunscreen that contains skin-loving ingredients which will protect and repair active skin. Our stick comes with a magnetic brush for easy clean-up. We are a brand that active women can trust to keep their skin healthy and beautiful. So, go ahead and SWEAT!!!

5) Finally, what is your favorite thing to do for fun?

I feel fortunate that I am very passionate about Sweat Cosmetics. I enjoy being part of a great team of people who want to empower and encourage women. It is important for women to know that they can live an active, healthy lifestyle while embracing their beauty. I love my morning workouts at FM4L and feel thankful that I found a community that helps push me and makes me a better all-around person. Also, I enjoy cooking healthy meals, shopping anytime, and exploring the outdoors.

I hope you got something out of that—I think it’s always helpful to hear from others who are successfully balancing a busy life and still managing to take care of themselves.

TP2-white-standing-with-refill-squareNow for the fun stuff…

I’m excited to announce that we are partnering with Sweat Cosmetics because our companies are so closely aligned in terms of our values.

Sweat has developed an all-natural mineral foundation and sunscreen that my team tells me is very easy and quick to apply, workout-proof, and lasting.

We will be giving away several of their twist brush set + mineral foundation Sweat Sticks ($42 value) over the next few weeks.

Please click here to enter!

When you do, you’ll get coupon codes good for 20% off at both Sweat Cosmetics and Fit Moms for Life.

Good luck!

A Surprising Way to Manage Stress

It’s 8 AM, the school bus comes in 4 minutes and you have to be at work for a meeting by 8:30.

You’ve been up for hours already, tending to a crying baby, packing lunches, and trying to get everyone dressed, fed, and ready to head out for the day.

But your preschooler just had an accident, your baby spit up on your shirt, and you all needed to be out the door one minute ago.

No wonder you are STRESSED!

I’ve heard many versions of that story from the moms I’ve worked with over the years.

I’ve also had plenty of my clients who have struggled with chronic stressors of loss, caring for an ailing parent, job changes, moves, etc.

Stress happens to all of us, sometimes with devastating impacts to our bodies and our minds.

But I learned something amazing about stress recently from my good friend (and FM4L nutritional consultant) Tracie Fountain.

Recent studies have shown that the right mindset can completely transform your body’s response to stress… that the way that you THINK about stress and its impact on you can change the way that stress actually impacts you.

Think about that for a minute.

That means that you have the power to literally change what happens in your body when stress happens (because it will–we cannot eliminate stress!) by changing your mind.

Check out this mind-blowing TED talk for more.

Then join us for a free workshop tomorrow night as Tracie talks more about this and gives us some small steps that everyone can take in their daily lives to help change the way that we think about and respond to stress.

The workshop starts at 7 pm, October 27, at the Fit Moms Transformation Center at 202 South Gammon Road in Madison.

→ Click here to join us live in Madison ←

→ Click here to reserve your spot in our online webcast ←

Don’t miss this great opportunity to learn how to better manage this challenge!

 

How My Life Has Changed Since My Mom’s Death

It has been just over 3 months since my mom unexpectedly passed away from a brain aneurysm and 3 months since my 25-year-old Dusin-Mombrother suffered a stroke.

I still get asked quite often “how am I doing?”

I don’t have anything to compare it to but I think I am doing quite well given the challenges my family has recently gone through. For those wondering, Eric, my brother, has now made a 100% full recovery and is back working out almost everyday. Thanks so much for all the prayers and support!

There are many lessons that I have learned from the past few months but the biggest one for me has to be the sense of urgency I have.

Maybe said another way, the reduction in my procrastination and investing my time, energy, and money into my top priorities.

This has also caused me to get more aggravated with others when they tell me one thing, and do another, or they say something like, I will do that later even though they just told me it is one of their top priorities.

I obviously work and am surrounded, 24/7, by people who are either in the process of transforming their health or life or considering it.

There is a HUGE difference in the mindset of those who are in the process of transforming themselves (actually doing the work) and those who are talking about wanting to change.

I have become hyper sensitive to this.

So many people want to be happier, healthier, fitter, have more energy, reduce their pain, etc, but far fewer are actually willing to invest the time, money, energy, reputation, hopes and dreams to see it come to fruition.

Here are some differences between the DOERS VS SAYERS:

DOERS:
-Understand the importance and schedule the time necessary to get the result they want
-Surround themselves with others who are DOING
-Invest the necessary money, even if that means on cutting back on things that aren’t as high of a priority
-Find the time by reducing less important activities
-Understand there will be roadblocks but are determined to overcome them
-Realize that the pain of their current situation is worse than their perceived pain of making the change and the future pain of NOT DOING is even worse.
-Know there will never be a perfect time to start and the best day to start was yesterday and the second best day is today

SAYERS:
-Look at their busy schedule and refuse to move things around to make the time
-Allow lesser-valued activities to take over their lives for the more important things
-See how much it will cost and compare that to what else they could be buying (bigger house, newer car, more clothes, more vacations, etc)
-See the roadblocks ahead and quit before they start because they don’t want to fail
-Are afraid of what others will think and say about them as they make their change
-Have a short term mindset rather than thinking about the long term outcome
-Think that a year from now life will be in a better spot to make the change

I want to wrap this up and bring it back to the health and fitness topic.

I know you agree with me that your health is one of your top 3 priorities in your life.

If that is true, are you spending the time, energy and resources on your health? Are you exercising and sweating MOST days of the week? Are you educating yourself on what you should be eating or how to be cooking? Are you intentional to surround yourself with friends who are doing the same?

You have the ability to change, but it starts with a decision.

Are you a DOER or a SAYER?6 week challenge

I want to end this message with a few things I have done in the past three months to progress in a few areas of my life. This isn’t meant to impress you but rather impress upon you that it is possible.

With my mom’s passing, I wanted to help even more women her age, dealing with menopause and other aging issues, get healthier, have more energy and meet others who are looking to do the same.

In the past three months, there have been over 621 women who have wanted to learn more about our new Fit over 50 small group training program. I have called each and every one of these incredible women up on the phone. I love doing this but I would be lying if I said there weren’t moments when I didn’t feel like making another call and following up.

Some days, I have worked 16 hours and I really never take a full day off of work, weekends are usually 4-6 hours each day.

To make sure I follow up and not make excuses as to why I shouldn’t call up these women each day, I set specific rules up for myself on how fast I need to follow up and constantly go back to my motivation, to honor my mom and provide a life changing program for these women.

My second example is completing an Ironman competition and learning how to swim. I have considered in the past doing an IM but had a million excuses why I couldn’t do one.

Since death hit so close to home, I know I am not guaranteed another day and I can’t let my dreams just be dreams. I want them to become my reality.

Here are the steps I have taken so far to be ready for the Ironman race in September 2016:
-Joined a biking group that meets 2-3X/week so I can go biking with better riders
-Hired a coach who happens to be a professional Ironman who will guide me through the process and bring me into his group sessions with his triathlon students
-Hired a swim coach to start with the basics of swimming 3x/week
-Told you that I am doing it (accountability and social support)
-Watched over 12 hours of YouTube videos on Ironman training (this isn’t necessary since I have coaches who can teach me but I like to geek out to this stuff).
-Interviewed over a dozen Ironman finishers on their experience and what worked and what didn’t work

I have set myself up to succeed in each of these areas by structuring my day and environment to support it.

Left to my own motivation, I know I wouldn’t run, bike or swim on my own. I need accountability and other people to do it with.

You have the ability to improve any area of your life that isn’t a 10. It won’t be easy but it is made easier when you have a sense of urgency, have a plan and set up your environment to support that goal.

If you are a DOER and are looking for help on crafting your plan and setting yourself up to succeed, check out our 6 Week Challenge, which puts all the pieces together for you. It’s like hiring me as your personal health and fitness coach… at just a fraction of the cost.

You can do it. I believe in you.