Last for the last time

Last week I hit a wall.

I know, it's pretty early for that, considering we’re less than three weeks into the new year. But I hit it anyway.

For the past eight months, maybe longer, I’ve barely squeezed my workouts in. 20 minutes here. 30 minutes there. Very little warm up, no rhyme or reason to the exercises I choose. Just trying to get something in. And something is better than nothing, right? 

When I'm missing my workouts, that's when I know my life is out of balance. Because the one thing I find most restorative in my life is training on a consistent basis. 

The lack of balance in my life was brought to light last week when my therapist handed me a worksheet with a list of standard questions: How much time do you spend tending to the needs of others, professionally or with family and friends? How much time do you dedicate to taking care of “you” and what does that look like? Do you do activities that are restoring - what other activities do you do that restore you? What activities give you energy? What activities take your energy?

All good questions right? 

My therapist then handed me a sketch pad, and asked me to sketch out the answers.  I laughed, but she was serious. The thing is, I see her on Fridays and usually by the time I walk through her door I’m so smoked from the first four days of the week that I can barely concentrate on conversation with her. 

So I sketched out my week - and this is what it looked like. 


The red is time I spend doing something restorative - the purple is any time I spend with Sheila. And the rest is everyone and everything else. My weekends are a bit better of course, but this is the time I spend growing my business and writing - which are both things I enjoy - but they aren’t always very restorative. I’ve known for awhile that I pack my weeks pretty full. But I don’t think I realized just how full I’ve been packing them.

But why? 

Well, I've come to my calling in life a bit later than some. I didn't walk into my twenties and thirties doing the work I loved. I walked into both of those decades blind, trying to feel my way towards my purpose. So while I'm 42 years old, I have some catching up to do in the fitness industry, and so I'm still trying to pay the dues I should have paid at 25.

But that's only part of the story.

You could say I focus on other people’s problems because I’m trying to avoid working on my own. But I don’t think that’s the entire story either. I genuinely want to help people, and I meet with my therapist because I'm genuinely trying to figure some things out for myself. 

I think a larger part of the story, the one that's harder to tell, is the layer of self-loathing I have for myself. I try to help and support as many people as I can because that’s the only way I can feel worthy. Of what, I don’t exactly know. Love, time to myself, success - I'm sure the list goes on and on.

I don't write this because I want anyone to write back and tell me I'm worthy - please save your words. I write this because I know that many of us feel unworthy - of love or acceptance or self care or a balanced life. We put ourselves last yes, because we care that much, but also because we feel that we deserve so little. 

I don’t believe the line that we need to care for ourselves so that we can better care for others. We care for ourselves because we are worthy. 

I know, that’s just one big dung heap of a mess to get into on a Sunday morning, isn’t it? 

Welcome to the inside of my head. 

Sheila calls these my existential crises, which she is privy to more than most. 

But on the other end of this existential crisis was a pledge I'm making to myself, that I put in an Instagram video last week. That I've put myself last for the last time. 

I've asked several folks to hold me accountable to this pledge, and I had one person text me a reminder on Friday. My pledge is to train at least three hours in the next week. Training for me means that I have a program (thanks Josh Williams Fitness) to follow, and that I'll dedicate those three hours to restoring my body. 

What is your pledge to yourself? And who can you ask to hold you accountable. 

I'm here, and I'm available, except for those three hours of next week. :-) 

You didn’t blow it

Thanksgiving is four days away. But I want to tell you today, right now, that if you have a piece of pumpkin pie, you didn’t blow it. 

If you lick the batter of the pumpkin pie while you’re making the pumpkin pie, you didn’t blow it. 

If you have mashed potatoes and gravy and stuffing and several helpings of each, you didn’t blow it.

In PA, we call these gobs. But in Maine they are whoopie pies. Whatever you call them, if you eat one, it doesn't mean you blew it. 

In PA, we call these gobs. But in Maine they are whoopie pies. Whatever you call them, if you eat one, it doesn't mean you blew it. 

I often have clients who don't even want to meet to talk about nutrition this time of year because "I've been bad. I've been awful."

No. You haven't been bad. And you haven't been awful. 

You've been human. Human, okay? 

What you may have done though, is decided that after one or two cheat meals and a few missed days at the gym, you've completely screwed up all of your goals. 

No. No you haven't. 

The only way you blow up your nutrition or exercise routine is when you give it away. When I coached softball a few years back, our team struggled for wins and had plenty of games where the score was out of hand. And the only thing I asked of my players in those games was to give nothing away. 

You know what the hardest thing to do is in moments like those? 

Give a shit. (Sorry mom, I said shit. Again.)

It is so tough to drag the bat up to the plate and swing like you care because when you’re losing 18-0 in the third inning, even a home run is just a drop in the bucket. So what does your at-bat and your effort even mean in those situations?


You caring means everything. You caring enough to try matters. In that situation, your effort matters to your teammates, to your coach, and to you. That at-bat matters because you matter. Because we don't play sports and love sports for championships and play-off wins. We play and love sports for the moments. 

And your fitness and nutrition journey is no different.

What matters is you giving up. When you decide that because you ate something that was not on your plan, you should chuck the entire plan. When you judge yourself so hard because you “slipped up.” 

When you decide that you can’t stick to anything, that nothing will ever work, that you might as well not even try because you ate something that wasn’t on your nutrition plan. Or because you missed one workout. 

Researchers actually named this the what the hell effect. You got up and had a cookie for breakfast and decided that the day was lost. So you might as well do fast food for lunch and pizza for dinner and start again tomorrow.

 So today I challenge you. 

That eating a donut for breakfast when your in-laws brought donuts doesn’t mean your day is blown. 

That missing the gym for the past three weeks in November doesn't mean you have to wait until December. Or January. Or even Monday. 

And eating a piece of pie - even eating a whole pie - does not make you a bad person. 

Let me say that again. 

You are not a bad person if you have a meal that doesn't meet the nutrition goals you outlined with your coach. Or in your head. 

Please hear me when I tell you that you are not a bad person.  

This is my favorite quote:

"It is never too late to become what you might have been." - George Elliot

It's not too late. You're not a bad person. You can do this. 

But what you can't do is throw in the towel. (In Pittsburgh we wave our towels, we don't throw them.) Don't give up on you. A donut for breakfast does not mean you start again tomorrow. It means that you had a donut for breakfast.

Believe in yourself. And believe that one or two or five decisions doesn't define you. Ok? 

Do you want help not throwing in the towel? Do you need help believing in yourself? Do you want some guidance and a judgement-free zone to make a plan? Email me. Message me. Comment below. I'd love to hear from you. Do you have a topic you'd like to see addressed? Let me know that too. Be strong. Be kind. To others, but especially to yourself.