Friday, January 30, 2015

Three Reasons to Throw Your Rule Book Out the Window and Do Whatever the Hell You Want

Last weekend Sibe, a few friends, and I went to a music festival. With every intention of enjoying a relaxed day and getting home in time to get 7 hours of sleep, we headed to Pittsburgh’s Strip District around 3 in the afternoon. I definitely didn’t plan on arriving home twelve hours later, full of too many beers, a meal that would make Paula Deen cringe--and completely happy.

Usually when I go out, I keep drinking to a minimum and eat as healthily as I can. While I rarely wake up hungover, sometimes a different funky after-feeling hovers the next day: my Inner Badass scolding me, “You’re too good. You’re missing out.”

So this past weekend I let my Inner Badass lead. For one night, I decided to forget about being good, moderation, and acting like my ideal health coach role model. Not only did it feel great, it totally re-energized the way I’ve been thinking about my life and my business.

Here are 3 reasons to throw out the rule book and do whatever the hell you want.

1.          It’s fun. Down and dirty, no guilt, fun.

“You’re no fun anymore,” my Inner Badass says. When did fun become such a guilty pleasure anyway? I used to love to go out all night dancing, talking to friends and meeting new people.

“What do you do for fun?” has become the most challenging question I ask my clients. Most don’t know because we don’t do enough of it. Why is fun something that has to wait until all of our chores are done?

Nowadays-late nights are a rarity. Luckily, I’m married to a Dutch man with a zest for life and a love for the club where his friend deejays, and last weekend, there was no way I was getting home at midnight. Result: we drank and danced all night like we did when we first met. It was totally magical and awesome to be transported back in time to those first awesome moments in our relationship. Let’s make having fun a priority.

 2. Everything in moderation, including moderation.

While I love living and eating in a healthy balanced way, I sometimes lose my balance by being too strict. I’m not saying that you have to drink all day and smash an entire pizza at 3 a.m. (although, ahem, I’m not not saying that). 

The further we shift from an all or nothing mentality, the less activity and food outside of our routine will derail us. Health is about more than eating exactly the right foods in exactly the right amounts and doing the perfect workout routines. It’s about living in a way that supports your body, so you can enjoy what really makes you feel alive. Sometimes that’s kale and sometimes it’s pizza and it’s important to know the difference.

3. When you let go of your rules, you step outside of your comfort zone. When you step outside your comfort zone, you grow.

Although I woke up with three pounds of pizza in my stomach, my Inner Badass was glowing. It felt great to break my own rules, and it made me realize how much I believe in listening to my inner voice and living as authentically as possible. As my Inner Badass would put it, “What do you want, not what should you want?” When I embraced that attitude last weekend, Sibe and I bumped into tons of our friends. It was no coincidence. We were living in our authenticity at that moment, so we attracted the people we love to join us.

The following days, I looked at the places in my life that could use more guidance from my inner rule-breaking rebel. A few areas, including my business, stood out. Keep your eyes open for some awesome changes coming up in the next few months that reflect a little more edge, rule breaking and fun. Shit just got real. 

What restrictions and rules to you impose on yourself? How might that be holding you back in areas that may seem unrelated? To reframe - if you're holding tightly onto a belief that you need to work 60 hours per week, but your inner badass doesn't want to, how does that affect other areas in your life?  In other words, what does your Inner Badass have to teach you?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

What is it like to work with Vanessa - Inside Kalin's Program

Kalin is a gorgeous young woman with energy that could match a packed football stadium. You feel it instantly. She vibrates on an awesome frequency. But when Kalin sat down with me for the first time, she was feeling dark, distant and grey. Kalin approached me apprehensivey in November. She had been stuck in a rut for the past year emotionally, and physically for many years longer. She told me she was frustrated because she had been telling herself for so long that she wanted to change, and wanted certain things for her life, but her constant lack of ability to follow through had her questioning if she even knew what she wanted at all. She  had doubts in her ability to follow through with diet, exercise and just about everything else and wanted a change. She set New Years Day as a goal: not for a certain weight or distinct acheivement, but to start the first year in as long as she could remember NOT thinking about weight. She wanted to feel energized, excited and confident in herself and in her life. Here's what happened, in her own words, from her heart...

We all have a moment where we look at our lives and think, "I can do better..."

I remember lying in bed thinking to myself: HOW will I ever come out of this?

I had left school in Philadelphia right before finals (an already stressful time) to come back to Pittsburgh. My dad was in the ICU recovering from a stroke and my family and I were practically living at the hospital... My life (and everything I owned) was still in Philadelphia, but packing up my apartment and wrapping it up there was impossible at the time. Sleep was low, stress was high, and life SUCKED. Major changes were happening faster than I could cope with and because I didn't know what to do - I did nothing...

Life. completely. knocked. me. down.
I wasn't eating right, barely sleeping and I sure as hell wasn't working out. My life was completely out of balance. Needless to say, it took a few months of doing nothing before I had 'my moment.' When I did, it finally occurred to me that things were going to keep happening that were out of my control - but not taking care of myself could no longer be one of them.

You might be wondering how those events led me to Vanessa of Sweat and Butter. I didn't roll out of bed one day and think, "I wish I practiced yoga and drank green smoothies!" I rolled out of bed and thought, "I wish I was happier."

I knew I needed help getting myself back on track - and I knew I had to try something I had never tried before. The hope of potential happiness is what led me to Sweat and Butter.

If you take a look at my 'Kalinspiration' posts, you'll see how much Sweat and Butter taught me. I learned that the food I put into my body does impact my energy levels, how I feel and how I function. I learned about vitamins and what they can do for your mind. I learned how to do hot yoga, barre fitness, kickboxing, TRX and boot camp workouts. I learned that being 'healthy' is so much more than green smoothies and salmon for dinner; it's how you approach your life. Most of all, I learned that living a healthy lifestyle and being balanced is more about shifting your mentality from thinking you can't to believing you can - and committing yourself to that belief. 

Before I started working with Vanessa, I was always living in extremes. I either took on way too much or nothing at all. No matter which extreme I was in at the time, I never made time for what is most important: my health. Working with a Health Coach helped me recognize my unhealthy patterns. Having another person to hold me accountable - helped me correct them.

When I started my 'Challenge,' I was approaching it like a finishline - a deadline I would reach and become healthy. The truth is, it's a never-ending journey - and one that I am eager to continue! Throughout my '50 Day Sweat and Butter Challenge,' I learned more about health than I ever thought I would know. I strengthened muscles and qualities in myself that have changed me as a person. With Vanessa's help, I was able to escape a really dark place in my life and regain my balance.

Most people gauge success stories in measurements: pounds lost, inches shed, muscles built. But it's really not about the changes in the 'after' photo at all. In fact, what makes a story a 'success' has nothing to do with what you lose, and everything to do with what you gain.

 Kalin Alberts, Pittsburgh, PA

I graciously thank you Kalin: for the opportunity to work together, and for you having the courage to share your story to insprire others. You can reach Kalin to hear more about her experience or ask her your questions at and check out her entire program photo journal on instagram @kalinspiration.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Why Prioritizing Your Relationship is Actually Hurting It

Break-up Bucket Lists were going viral this week, listing the top 50 things to do after a break up or divorce. Alongside the obvious suggestions like speed dating, dating people outside of your type and one night stands are some other items that concerned me. They include ideas like: take a trip alone, buy flowers for myself, meditate, get a massage, swim in the ocean naked, learn to say no, learn to say yes and many more. 

The lists suggest a very true and unhealthy common relationship behavior. In an attempt to prioritze the relationship or our partner, we stop doing things for ourselves and by ourselves. Instead, we absorb into the relationship and sort of merge into one person. In doing so, we leave behind the little mini passions and interests that we had at the start. 

My husband travels for work two weeks at a time, spending a week at home in between. When he's home, I try to rearrange my schedule so that I have maximum time for him. ​On his most recent trip home, we got into a bit of an argument over a comment he made about me not spending enough time working. Unaware that I had rearranged my schedule for him, he assumed our week of lounging and eating out was my norm. I was hurt and offended that he didn't appreciate my hard work or efforts to make time for him. Feeling unappreciated, it dawned on me, though, that we all clear our schedules for our partners in little ways all the time. While we do it out of love, it often goes unnoticed by ourslves and our loved ones. 

Whether it's waking up early to pack everyone's​ lunches instead of meditate, or saying​ 'no' to some much needed alone time when your partner is off of work, we regularly make small sacrifices to our own growth and life for the benefit of our relationships. Even deciding just a few nights a week to bask in the comfort of your loved ones and your couch instead of going to that book club or yoga class compiles over the years to mute our passions and stifle our own personal growth. 

Years go by and we realize that somewhere along the way, we lost ourselves. Whether or not that leads to the end of your relationship with your partner or your kids, it certainly leads to a damaged relationship with yourself. We wake up bored, overweight and unfulfilled and wonder where the excitement disappeared to.

Relationships, marriage and parenthood aren't destinations at which we arrive and hang up our personalities and personal growth for a rainy day when you're single. They are partnerships we must enter into with the agreement to cultivate three relationships at a time​:​ y​our own, your partner's and your relationship as a couple. Though compromises are inevitable, there must always be room for your your needs as an individual. You must cultivate your own passions and relationships so you feel as energized in the relationship as you did when you started it.  Keep the mystery of having two lives alive, the way it was when you first met. 

This week, make your own Bucket List--the 5 or 10 or 50 things you have been pushing aside because of your relationship. Do you really need to be single to pursue most of them? Probably not. Choose one or two that you can easily accomplish this week or this month, and go for it. Notice how pursuing your passions--whether they're cooking a meal, meeting up with a friend, or trying something bigger--deepens your sense of self. How does that change what you offer your relationship with your partner? I bet you have a friend that should read this: pass it on!

Follow me on Twitter @BeyondtheMD