Two Is Not a Winner and Three No One Remembers


When M and I first starting dating, I was legitimately concerned when we were invited to our first game night. I mean, it was a perfectly harmless date, right? M was prepared for some fun times with our now best friends that we both love and get along with perfectly. 

The poor guy didn’t know any better; he didn’t see anything coming. I should have warned him, but it was month one and we were still pretending that we both had immaculate housekeeping skills no matter how busy we got, looked flawless at all times, and never went number two.

 Here’s the problem: Whenever there is an ounce of competition in the air, this typically bubbly and cheerful delight of a human being that he was growing to love turns into someone else completely. One of my dear friends/former roommate sent me this quote once, saying she had found the definition for my life:

 If you’re not prepared to lose every friend you have over a board game, you’re not playing hard enough.

 That about sums it up. I have this insane competitive streak. It gets pretty childish at times, and I hear myself saying things like, “We are going to rock this Cloodle, hop on the fast track, and beat your ass to the giant purple brain, son!”

 This competition embedded deep into my psyche affects every aspect of my life.  At work we completed StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath. The results really hit the nail on the head for me.  Basically, it assesses your top five strengths and shows you how you can use these to your advantage, and how to work with others. My number one was, of course, Competition. I love his description so I’m going to share the whole thing because, well, I can.

 Competition is rooted in comparison. When you look at the world, you are instinctively aware of other people’s performance. Their performance is the ultimate yardstick. No matter how hard you tried, no matter how worthy your intentions, if you reached your goal but did not outperform your peers, the achievement feels hollow. Like all competitors, you need other people. You need to compare. If you can compare, you can compete, and if you can compete, you can win. And when you win, there is no feeling quite like it. You like measurement because it facilitates comparisons. You like other competitors because they invigorate you. You like contests because they must produce a winner. You particularly like contests where you know you have the inside track to be the winner. Although you are gracious to your fellow competitors and even stoic in defeat, you don’t compete for the fun of competing. You compete to win. Over time you will come to avoid contests where winning seems unlikely.

 If I could have defined my entire outlook on life, it would not have been as accurate as those words. I remember as a kid, teachers would think I was looking off other kids’ papers to cheat. This was not to glean the maybe correct answers from the C student next to me, but rather because I was adding up the correct v.s. incorrect answers off his paper to compare our grades.  I got a rush, even then, from winning. M, please don’t leave me…

 This same competitive streak has been a helpful edge in my work life.  It ensures that I am constantly trying hard to stay on top of my game, thus earning the loving nickname A Game/Big Time (thanks Lar-Bo).

 Where it tends to bite me back is when it comes to my personal life.  Being in a constant state of comparison has left me pretty down on myself in the past, especially during that whole college/immediately post-college phase. Dangerous waters, my friend!

 That new-ish tv show Go On, the one with Chandler playing Chandler but with sports, had a very pertinent quote in it the other day. 

 You can’t seek happiness from outside sources; happiness comes from within.

 My measure of success had always been placed on outside sources. If I’m going to do something, I want to be the best at it.  The thing about fitness was that I’m not really the best at anything. I am not the fastest runner.  I can’t lift the most weight. I’m not the most flexible. I don’t have the most Latina hip-shakin’ moves. It’s a hard world at that gym for a competitive mediocre athlete.

 Learning to stop (ok let’s be real, lessen my obsession with) competing with others and start competing with myself has saved me much grief. It’s also been a fun way to track my progress.  Celebrating mini-victories, like shaving seconds off my run times, or, as of late, my newfound ability to begin doing some yoga, have been ways I can still celebrate winning without the risk of falling into a comparison trap.

I have embraced the rush I get in competing while maintaining my sanity.  Don’t get me wrong, nothing quite beats that adrenaline rush from actually winning versus others, but it has been a great way to keep my motivation up.

 Game nights? Well, that hasn’t changed. UNO!



yoga stretch

Guys! Guess what! I’m so happy! I had a major breakthrough this morning! I have learned it–the secret to my yoga enjoyment. It’s counterintuitive for me, but hey, that’s life.

I need my sessions to be longer. That’s it.  I was doing a short 15-minute morning routine, thinking it would be best to start slow. No, no my friends. Just do it, right Tony? I actually found that the longer session did not make my mind go crazy, but rather allowed me to relax and focus as I continued.

Other benefit–I was able to stretch just a wee bit deeper. It was very exciting!!! I can honestly say I’m very much looking forward to tomorrow morning. Who knew?

On that note, I think I need a celebratory glass of wine…


You’re Overcookin’ My Grits, Coach

we become

True confession time. I didn’t get up and do yoga today. I slept in. My alarm went off and M rolled over and said, “Babe, aren’t you going to do yoga?” I scowled at him as though he made a most ridiculous suggestion, rolled over, and grunted no as I reset my alarm 45 minutes later.

You know what? I think I was much more tired than if I would have just gotten up and done it. The extra sleep was so not worth it! I could kick myself!

Here’s the thing—I think yoga is hard. I really, really do.  It does challenge my strength, but the activities I love and look forward to do that. I’m used to pushing myself when it comes to strengthening my body. I love that challenge and the feeling of sore muscles repairing themselves.

There are two things that kill me with yoga. The first is that I am super inflexible. You know how giraffes are kind of awkward when they try to bend? I feel such kinship with them.  I’m 5’11” (and a half). My toes are really far away….

Even after a hard workout where my muscles got all nice and warm and pliable, I am just not flexible. Because of my lack of ability in this area, I’m having a hard time enjoying it. I feel like a new girl all over again, after I have worked so hard to achieve a higher level of fitness.

The second is my mind’s inability to focus with its multi-tasking default setting, which I’ve gone over before.  Why do I have to think about twelve things at once? I won’t belabor that point because I really haven’t had any major breakthroughs to share.

What this whole new routine reminds me of is the familiar feeling of utter frustration and contempt from when I first started working out. Every activity felt like a huge undertaking. A mile was climbing Everest—there is no way you’re making me go that far! Pushing that prowler was like taking on a semi truck.  Don’t even get me started on a pushup—are you trying to get me to hold the world on my shoulders? I was heaving after jogging for one minute. ONE MINUTE! And the word “jogging” is very generous for the relatively quick walk I was doing. Why was everything so hard???

Previously, I discussed the need to work harder and push yourself if you want to see results. How your body trains itself to tolerate strenuous activity is truly incredible. I’m trying to remind myself that this won’t be so hard soon.  I remember this epiphany I had while I was working out one day with Jackson, my fabulous and wonderful former trainer.

The activity isn’t getting any easier; I’m just getting better. I am able to tolerate it more. Jogging for a minute is the same level of difficulty as it was a year ago, the only difference is me. I’m different. There is very real, very tangible proof of progress.

One of the greatest exercises I did was after I’d lost about 50 lbs.  Jackson had me do the stairs with a 50-pound vest on.  It was a challenge that made me realize just how far I had come.  My body had become so much lighter and more efficient. I totally recommend doing an exercise like that no matter how much progress you have made just so you can really feel what you’ve achieved.

Keeping this in mind as I aim to improve my struggles with flexibility and strength of mind through yoga is a source of inspiration for me.  These feelings are familiar.  I will get stronger. Everything is hard at first. Discipline, baby! Well, I’m working on it…


A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action

rise up

Warning: Read at your own risk. It’s a little more touchy-feely than I usually write, but in order to continue to share about other aspects of my life, I felt the need to share this portion of my history. I do not equate my story with anything similar to real tragedy, and hope it doesn’t come across as self-indulgent. I only hope that through sharing my experiences, maybe, just maybe someone can find joy and their own self-worth.

Around these parts, I’m known for being almost annoyingly happy and cheerful.  The “almost” I added, as to make myself feel better because it has got to get irritating.  I can’t help it! It’s true! I genuinely love life, love my job, love my fiancé, love my family, love my friends. Ok, I’ll stop—don’t punch me in the face (but I’d dodge it anyway, man).

A big secret to my happiness has been confidence in who I am.  I haven’t always had it. Fitness wasn’t the only piece to this puzzle, but it was an irreplaceable tool I utilized to find my self-worth. Again, I did not find worth in fitness, but I used fitness to help myself discover my own worth.  It was more of a symbol of how I am capable of changing things in my life when I put my mind to it.

During my college years and immediately post-graduation, there were some tough days on the ego.  The weight gain caused me to lose who I was. I felt trapped in my body, and unless you’ve been there, you can’t quite get it.

Blessings through friends proved priceless. Fortunately, during this weak period of my life, I had an incredible group of friends to lean on.  Friends in whom I put my utmost trust.

Part of growing up for me, though, was learning that trust is a gift that I could not share with every person I meet.  Some of my friends were and still are wonderful people to be around, and I wouldn’t trade a day I spent with them. However, I know now that it is foolish to share details of your life with the selfish and insecure.  If a person can’t accept who they are, it can lead to a warped perspective on their views of others.

It took some time to get over the hurt of some personal ties being severed. It took even more time to forgive and move past it, accepting that sometimes what matters isn’t others’ perspectives, but rather your own knowledge of truth.

Experiences with this breaking of trust led me to a key perspective that I still consider my life mantra.


I can’t control what others think of me, but I can control my own actions. If I live a life I’m proud of, no one can take that from me.


This realization that the only person I can control is myself led me to the gym. After seeing firsthand what playing the constant victim looks like, I knew I never wanted that for myself. No one is to blame for my actions but me. I needed to take charge. I wasn’t going to live one more day in a life that I didn’t choose.

I don’t mean to be sappy, but that is what my experience felt like.  Basically, I had to decide to put on my big girl pants and take charge of my own life.  Fitness gave me a way of controlling who I was, and you know what? I felt incredible. I was stronger than I ever thought possible.

That kind of attitude couldn’t help but make me a happier, more confident person.  Stress was completely bearable because I was in control. My career was on course because I knew it was my responsibility to not just sit there, but to really make something happen. I can honestly say I’m grateful for the more challenging times because they were such turning points for me.

Oh, and for the record, a boyfriend never dumped me again because they “didn’t think I was very attractive.”  True story. Totally happened.


Because Sometimes I Need a Little Kick in the Keister


Have you ever wondered why they call exercising “working out”?  I’m no etymologist, but I do notice that the word “work” is inside of it.

Webster’s Dictionary defines work…ok, just kidding. defines work as “Exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something.” Exertion? Effort? Ugh. I thought that I heard I could just walk around the park a couple times and the weight will just melt off.

I apologize if you feel like I’m saying something that is just too obvious that it insults your intelligence, but I figure that if this took some learning for me, maybe someone out there needs to hear it.  You are not going to lose a substantial amount of weight from a leisurely stroll around the park once a week. You are not going to lose it by parking further back in the parking lot.  You are not going to lose it by taking the stairs to your second-floor dentist appointment every six months.

Changing your body requires work.  Real work. Sweating, groaning, some serious intensity, and probably some cussing. That lesson was a hard one for me, because I read articles with titles like, “Ten Easy Steps to Weight Loss,” or “Six Easy Things to Do For a Six-Pack.”  I’ve found that anything with “easy” in the title is code for ineffective. Getting in shape is an entire lifestyle change, and there’s nothing easy about it.

There’s a saying that’s all over the Internet to which I absolutely subscribe. You may recognize it because it’s at the top of this post. Or perhaps you’ve gone on the Pinterest “Health and Fitness” category page in the past six months. Or attended one of those inspiration work conferences.

If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.

It feels like common sense, right? But somehow, I spent several months just moving along on that treadmill feeling a false sense of accomplishment. I don’t mean to be a treadmill hater, it’s just that I didn’t challenge myself at all when I was jogging on it for months, and it was a huge discouragement.  If you’re not sore the next day, or at the very least if you’re really not even sweating and breathing hard, why bother?

That’s great for you. But shouldn’t it just kind of happen for me?

I think that we live in a time now where people (clearly myself included) believe everything should just happen for us.  This sense of entitlement permeates our consciousness. Things should be easy; life should be simple.  The idea of learning to relish a challenge left much to be desired for me at first.

My mind’s cure for this was the joy I got from taking on a challenge and coming out on the other end stronger—in the area of fitness, I mean that literally. Life isn’t easy, and neither is changing habits. If you’re going to succeed, you need to accept that you can’t do the same things you’re doing now and expect a different result.

There’s another big secret to losing weight that is basically the same sentiment.  By secret, I mean common sense idea that I took a while to pick up on.  

 Work harder. If you’re not getting results, you’re not working hard enough.

 The concept is so simple.  Step it up.  Don’t fake it. Try something new. Pick up something heavy. Punch something heavy. Hold yourself up. Run—really run. Ride your bike up hills. Make yourself go longer.  Make yourself go faster. Make yourself go heavier. Put more weight on that prowler. Throw on a weighted vest. Hike up something tall. Push yourself. Get the word “can’t” out of your mind, because it’s really just a substitute for “won’t try”. You’re better than that.

Not into it? Think it’s just too hard? That’s fine. The only person you’re cheating is yourself.



Mini Yoga Update:

Still on board. Still waking up to do it. Still the first week. Not a whole lot of change to share. I’ll keep you posted!

No Chrome on the Wheels. I’m a Grown-Up For Real


My wedding is four months from today. That has nothing to do with anything I’m about to write. But there you go.

My support system has been an incredible blessing as I’ve transitioned to healthier lifestyle.  An amazing fiancé and a solid group of sexy ladies have kept me pushing through and encouraged me on any goals I’ve achieved.  It’s an irreplaceable thing.

Have you hit a plateau? Have you just lost the urge to go to the gym? Have you fallen into a trap of stopping at Krispie Kreme on your way to work everyday?  Share it with your support system! People who love you want you to achieve your goals and want to help you in any way they can.

Accountability with a group of friends or a significant other, or your mom (thanks mom!) is a powerful tool. Be sure you have someone in that group who will be the person who lets you know when you’re slacking and pushes you to be better. There is nothing that will renew a fire in you more than a friend pointing out that you haven’t been true to yourself and your goals. And that your ass really does look fat in those jeans.

Then there is a different group of friends. You love them. They are so fun…but somehow they convince you to skip your gym session and drink four margaritas with a cheesy enchilada chaser. When you say you can’t hit happy hour because you’re really committed to a group class, you hear a chorus of “What’s one class?”

Jay-Z said it best. Jay-Z always says it best.

All the rappers be hating, off the track that I’m making
But all the hustlers they love it just to see one of us make it

Got Dirt Off Your Shoulder stuck in your head yet? You’re welcome. Your day will now be awesome.

So here’s my point. You will run into people who aren’t supportive, be it conscious or not, of your fitness goals. I’m not saying defriend them on Facebook, as well as in life. I am saying that it will take some effort to change their opinions of how you should be spending your time.  Your eating habits may take a blow or two from them, and you may give into some bacon cheese fries now and again that you otherwise could have spurned.

I always try to make the most time for the supportive, positive folks in my life.  It’s amazing the effect another person’s energy can have on my own! My boss always says that in this world there are energy-givers and energy-takers. So while you’re trying to align yourself with those who are building you up, I also encourage you to identify which category you currently fall into.

I’m like young Marvin in his hey.


Yoga Update!


This morning was the first day of my new wake up with yoga and quiet my mind plan. Of course I got up and did it. It was the first day.

I started small with this 15-minute yoga workout. It was invigorating.  I absolutely loved what he said at the beginning:

Don’t anticipate. Just be in the moment.

Convinced I was going to have a very zen, calming experience, I sat in preparation to begin this life-altering yoga routine. The sound of the ocean in the background was very soothing and helped me to quiet my mind…for like the first 5 minutes. After that, I went back to my 9:30 meeting, next week’s agenda, and my boxing class this afternoon.

Why is it I can be so focused on a jab-cross-hook-fade-cross combo, but when I’m in downward dog my thoughts race? I think the activity is almost more zen and quiet for me than the sound of the ocean.

5 minutes wasn’t too bad though. Who knows, maybe I’ll get 10 minutes tomorrow!

Bonus: Songza has the coolest yoga mix ever. 


Stay tuned.

Monkey Mind




I’ve been inspired!! A new challenge is on the horizon! Are you with me??

Allow me to elaborate.

It all started with a mandatory health assessment done through my job. I put a link there as a shameless plug because I truly love everything about working there and the incredible work we do. Get onboard! Ok, that’s not what this blog is about, but there you go.

In order to maintain the current cost of health insurance, all must undergo a health screening and take steps toward a healthier lifestyle. I think this is great and believe that more businesses should hop on this bandwagon. As I’m a proud health nut as of late, this was actually an exciting day for me. Minus the finger prick—why does that hurt so much?

I was formerly not used to passing a health test with flying colors, but I am proud of how everything turned out. Numbers were great…all except my flexibility. I’m in the tenth percentile. As I’ve always been a crazy academic perfectionist/overachiever, the tenth percentile is clearly unacceptable. How was I going to solve this? Touch my toes daily? Boring. Boo. There is no punching. Or grunting and heaving out of sheer badassery in the name of one more rep!!!

A Quiet Strength

I know I’ve said I’ve tried some great yoga workouts before, and I have. They were all like “Yoga Fat Burn,” and “Super Duper Power Yoga,” with the aspect of yoga for strength training highlighted.

I’ve been to a few classes too, but I’ve never been able to really, truly commit to the practice. Why? Because I get bored. Because I’m loud and rambunctious and this quiet time of meditation is just not my cup of tea. Because really, I’m more of a coffee drinker, in the car, on the way to work after staying up too late finishing projects.

This simple quest to increase physical flexibility has led me to a greater question. Perhaps I need to be focusing on also increasing my mental flexibility. Why is it that I cannot handle 30-60 minutes of silent meditation—which, just to be straight with you, means prayer to me.

 Remember how I said I’m a sucker for a trend? Well, in 2008 I read Eat Pray Love. You probably have too. I absolutely loved it, and a passage from it came to mind as I was thinking about this.

Like most humanoids, I am burdened with what the Buddhists call the ‘monkey mind’– the thoughts that swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit, and howl. From the distant past to the unknowable future, my mind swings wildly through time, touching on dozens of ideas a minute, unharnessed and undisciplined.

After much pondering, I am inspired to achieve something a little deeper and more significant than my inability to reach a higher percentile on the flexibility for my health insurance. Worthy of a cause as that is 😉  What greater inspiration for better fitness than to develop myself more on a personal level?

I am going to start each morning with yoga. I am determined to quiet my mind. I am not just going to count down the seconds until I can stop holding this downward dog.

Hayley Hobson, I also wanted to give you a shout out because you’re a true inspiration as well.  Check out her blog if you want to be inspired to test your strength. Though, if I could make a suggestion: Can you blog about how you got your great hair?? Seriously girl, it’s amazing.

So here it goes. I’m excited about the physical benefits of strengthening my muscles, but more than that I’m curious to see if I can actually keep my mind quiet.

I might hate it. At least I know I can hit it hard in the afternoon.

Stay tuned, folks.


Trapped By Try

be it

If there is one word I hate more than any other word in the English language, it is the word “try.”  Well, and the word “moist.”  But today I’m talking about “try.”

In a business/office sense, I hate it because it is a sign of inability. Want to make everyone lose confidence in your competence? Start using it a ton.

In my opinion, you’re either going to get something done, or you are not going to get something done.  When someone has said that they will try to get something to me or they are going to try to figure something out, it’s a guaranteed no-go.  If you had any confidence at all whatsoever in your abilities, you would not say you’d try. You would say that you will.

Have you ever been planning an event/benefit/party/social and people were going to try to find time to volunteer? Try to attend? Try to bring an hors d’oeuvres? Events would be volunteer-less and guest-less, with starving attendants if you relied on people trying to accomplish tasks.

Moving from the North, where people don’t care if they offend you, to the South where it’s a cardinal sin, I’ve had to learn when a yes actually is code for a polite no.  Usually it involves an “I’ll try…”

The polite decline of exercise

My annoyance of hearing this word peaked after hearing myself use it every day for about a month. Yep, I’m a culprit of the “I’ll try” syndrome.

Want to know how often I went to the gym after saying “I’ll try to make it after work,” or “I’ll try if I’m not too exhausted,” or (my personal favorite) “I’ll try to wake up in the morning.”  It’s about the same number of times as I volunteer to take out the trash. (Psst here’s a hint. M and I have lived together since October. I have taken the trash out zero times in six months.  No you cannot have him.)

Allowing myself to get trapped by the try resulted in total absence of physical activity for far too long.  I’d wake up groggy and have no energy during the day because I didn’t get my workout in, and then I wouldn’t go to the gym because I was only going to try to go if I wasn’t too tired. Vicious circle.

In order to get through those days where I’d rather eat cake and watch reruns of Friends, I scheduled my workouts in my Outlook Calendar. And in my adorable Lilly Pulitzer agenda. And on my wall calendar. And on our dry erase board calendar in the hallway by the laundry room. And on a sticky note on my work computer. You get the picture.

If it was an official appointment, I couldn’t just ignore it.  Time was saved each day, and I didn’t schedule things over it, mostly because it would have been far to much work to change all my calendars. See? Laziness can have its perks.

But in all seriousness, I did get to the point where when I scheduled my gym time/boxing class/etc. I would look forward to that appointment. It was the highlight of many days, especially if they were particularly stressful. I promise—stick to it and you may just find yourself looking forward to your 5:30pm boxing class. It sure beats that 8:00am staff meeting with that manager that makes you cringe.  You know who I’m talking about.

Try not to spit in their coffee 😉



A Bit of a Group Class Slut


I have three loves in life right now. One is my man, the love of my life. Second is my job. However, I have a very close third. My most recent group class.  It’s a new love, and perhaps we are still at that fling stage, but I see our relationship lasting a long time.

Before I reveal this obsession, I feel the need to take you through my previous relationships. Remember how I said that I hated working out at the beginning of everything? Exercise was not my friend.  Well, when we became close acquaintances, I went through several group class phases.  Group classes have been great motivators for me, and if you feel like you need an extra push to get your butt to the gym, this may just be a good opportunity for you!

Channeling Shiva Rea

First was the yoga phase. There was a lot of stretching and strengthening. I am still incredibly fond of yoga, and I’m glad we were together. One of these days I’m going to master the crow. It’s a life goal. My fiancé appreciates the extra flexibility…;) What I didn’t expect was how tough it is! Seriously, have you tried to hold some of these poses?

Jillian Michaels says it best with her little catch phrase

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

I believe yoga has enhanced my flexibility and strength, and love the calmness and piece of mind. I admit, however, one of the huge challenges for me is being still. Any advice in this area would be totally helpful. So as I continue to improve this skill, I needed an outlet.

 Channeling Jennifer Lopez

Trends make me curious. I’ve read Twilight, used to rock some saddle shoes, once was stylin’ with a bob, and am unhealthily manic over Harry Potter. Fitness trends are the same for me—I just have to try something!

Enter Zumba.  To this day, I’m not sure why I thought I’d be good at this. I’m a white girl with a predominately German heritage, accompanied by splashes of Irish and British. Zumba ain’t no folk dance and sure isn’t a river dance. I also can’t down a beer when I do it, so really there wasn’t much hope.

I’ll be damned if it wasn’t one of the most fun group classes I’ve attended, even if I lack some rhythm. The atmosphere was like a sweaty dance party. Loved it! I know I’ve mentioned the Zumba Core Kinect game, and it is the bomb, but a group class is great for Zumba! The people put it over the top.

Negative Nancy moment—I just wasn’t seeing the results I wanted from the dance parties. Don’t get me wrong, it was fun cardio and I got really sweaty, but I needed something more out of a class. Perhaps something to challenge my muscles as well as get my heart pumping.

Clouds Parted. Angels Sang.

You know that moment when you try doing something and it just works? When I met M, he could crack a joke, carry on a conversation, and watch a good football game with me. It fit. It worked. I just knew I had something great.  When I started working at the nonprofit for which I’m currently directing Communications, I fell in love with the programs, the people we serve, and my coworkers.

That was my experience upon entering TITLE Boxing Club. When I slipped on my first pair of boxing gloves and went at that 100lb bag, I knew that this was something I wanted to keep doing.

What do I love so much? The three-minute rounds of high-intensity cardio with active rests that I could work up to completing. The conditioning in the first part of class. The hardcore ab shredder at the end of class. And the atmosphere: welcoming, fun, challenging, and a true learning experience each class, as I work to correct my form and hit harder.  I can’t recommend it enough. There are athletes and non-athletes at every level who attend, and I’ve heard nothing but excellent feedback from others as well.

Oh, also—I swear I’m not getting paid for this total plug, mostly because like 10 people are reading my blog;) Thanks guys! Anyone have something that they just fell in love with doing? I’d love to test the waters.  Who knows, maybe there will be something to knock boxing out of first place. Pun totally intended.