2020; a Year of Mourning

Many people think of grief as something you go through when someone you know dies. While this concept has validity, grief encompasses so much more than a loss of life. I define grief as a point in time where something significantly changes, and you view it as a divide. What once was, and now the present.

It’s safe to say 2020 has been a year of mourning for all of us. The pandemic certainly brought a divide, along with ambiguous grief. The feeling of uncertainty is quite unsettling. We may be fearful of our health, our jobs, our social health, our friends, our loved small businesses closing, certain industries being strained, etc. Closing, re-opening, “dialing back”, are all phrases we are too familiar with, along with the phrase “unprecedented time”. This season of life we are in is ever changing our and evolving. “New normal” is a phrase that has stigma as well. I heard opinions say they reject the idea this is the new normal and are waiting for things to go back to what once was. The reality is, we may never go back to what once was. It is on us to accept the time it is as now, and try to move forward each day. Whether it is day by day, hour by hour, or even minute by minute.

Not only has the pandemic brought a divide, the tragedy of George Floyd has certainly brought a season of mourning.

To tie it up into a pretty bow, we had our most significant election yet.

2020 has brought a season of significant changes that will be documented in history books. That has been something I’ve been pondering recently, how 2020 will be transcribed and taught to future generations. What as a society are we learning from this?

I think the biggest thing I’m learning is how to cope with grief. I’d like to admit that I’m an expert on grief as it relates to my own personal life. I have lost many loved ones, and have had a significant amount of large life changes, specific to 2020. I rented my condo and moved to Raleigh, I lost my aunt to a tragic heart attack (and was unable to attend her funeral due to the pandemic), I quit my full time job, I chose to dissolve my long term relationship, I moved back home to Minnesota, I got a job as a server as soon as I got home, and now with the shutdown I am not employed there currently.

2020 has been a year. For everyone, not just me. I think we all can relate to the struggle 2020 has brought to all of us. The uncertainty, the mourning and loss, the pain. We are all in it, we all feel it.

So what can we do about it? This is a time where we need to unify and come together, instead of pointing fingers. If we take a step back, we may realize we are not so different after all. We are all human, we make mistakes, we have emotions, and everything you may be feeling about 2020, has validity.

I wish I could say at the stroke of midnight on December 31st all our problems would be taken care of. Since we know that isn’t the case, here are some of my personal tips for coping with grief that work for me.

  • Have real, meaningful conversations with trusted individuals about your feelings. Make sure you trust this individual to validate your emotions and truly listen to you, rather than jumping to conclusions trying to “fix” a problem.
  • Set boundaries with others. Grief can drain you, so energy conservation is vital. A simple “that makes me uncomfortable,” or “I don’t have the (time, space, capacity, etc.) to discuss that right now” works well.
  • Take care of yourself. Seek movement each day. Don’t get hung up on setting extremes where you must be on a strict diet or training regime. Your energy may be low and setting too strict or high of plans could set you up for failure, and may result in low self esteem.
  • Be mindful of what you are putting into your body. At meal times breathe slowly, practice gratitude, and chew each bite thoroughly.
  • Seek an activity that ignites your sense of “play”. This is hard due to circumstances now, but play can be found in coloring or doing something creative, reading a fun book, playing a game with a family member or friend, getting creative in the kitchen, doing a project, etc. Find something you enjoy doing, and relish in that feeling.
  • Ground yourself. This means practice being present in the moment. Breath work is great for this. If yoga is feels good, try that. A friend recently suggested a really great way to implement a new habit of grounding yourself if it isn’t something your used to. He asserted a way to make a new habit stick, is to apply it to one that’s already there. For example, ground yourself while brushing your teeth. Focus directly on teeth brushing, or maybe listen to a specific song you enjoy, or try repeating positive affirmations in your head. The act is do something intentional each day that reminds you that you are here, and the time is now.

I hope you find value in my tips, and am very grateful that you have read my post. Feel free to leave a comment on any tips that you’ve tried that works well for you. I know I will use all the advice I can get considering the year I’ve had!

Love, light, warmth, and positive vibes,

Annie

P.S. Looking for some accountability, a trusted health professional, and a cheerleader for your health and fitness goals? Schedule a FREE discovery call that works for your time and schedule using the button on my services page!

Doggie Stress isn’t so Different from Human Stress

Good Morning,

Today I want to share how my morning started off with being overwhelmed. I slept in a little bit longer as I stayed up a little bit later. Julean was up before me as he is on a time crunch for work. I got my things together ready to go to the gym, and took Benji outside. Then I noticed while I was outside, I left my keys and my phone inside the condo. I go to the front entry way, call my phone several times hoping Julean would pick up. After he didn’t, I scrolled to see if I could find a neighbor to let me in. Luckily, I was able to have someone let me in.

When I got back in, I asked if he heard my phone, and he got defensive and said no. I brushed it off at that point. Then, I notice a canvas print of us on a vacation was no longer hanging up. I automatically assumed he walked in with Benji annoyed and brushed the picture off the wall and didn’t care enough to pick it back up and re-hang it.

As I was meditating this morning at the gym, it made me reflect on the private dog training session we had with Benji last week. The dog trainer talked about how Benji is an anxious puppy, since it appears he was injured by one of his litter mates. (He has a tucked ear). Therefore, he always assumes other dogs are dangerous until proven otherwise, and gets very anxious around them.

The dog trainer explained something to me called “trigger stacking”. This concept is where Benji would go on a walk, and see one dog, and cortisol would be released. When he sees the next dog, he will have an even more anxious response since the cortisol did not have enough time to process through his body. The cortisol is stacked on top of the previous stress response with each dog he sees on a walk. This was eye opening to me as a few weeks ago we took Benji to the CHS’ Dog Day at the Saints Baseball game. I thought it would be a good idea to take Benji rollerblading prior to the event to “burn off some energy”. However, this was the opposite of the right thing to do for Benji. Rollerblading released cortisol as he saw other dogs on the path. Benji was at a heightened state of stress when he brought him to the game.

Full circle back to how I was overwhelmed this morning. Perhaps we as humans aren’t quite so different from our animal friends. My stress started as I slept in a little bit later than normal. This wasn’t a huge stressor since I welcomed the extra hour of sleep. I soon became annoyed because Benji didn’t eat his dinner last night and it was still on the floor. I try to brush it off and realize he probably really needs to go to the bathroom and that’s why he’s not eating. Being at my own heightened state of stress, I did not have the rationale to remember to grab my condo keys. Then, more stress is released as I realized I forgot, and Julean doesn’t answer my phone. Take it one step further as I notice a valued print is on the floor, my rational thinking it completely out the door at this point (no pun intended originally, but kind of punny!), and I make the assumption that it was Julean’s carelessness.

Then, I notice the 3M hook the canvas was hanging on is no longer on the wall. It was neither of our fault’s.

I’m currently working through Headspace’s series called, “Letting Go of Stress” and today’s guided meditation was exactly what I needed to hear and to reflect. I was definitely overwhelmed by stress this morning and it affected the way that I reacted. I have to constantly remind myself I need to respond to stressful situations instead of reacting. I’m interested and excited to keep going through Headspace’s series and see how I can grow my skill of responded to stress, letting go of stress, and not being overwhelmed by it.

We’re not so different from our animal friends, are we? Please share your thoughts! Have you ever experienced trigger stacking?

In gratitude,

Annie

My Competitive Journey

My competitive journey has been a whirlwind of ups and downs. After competing last night and my goal coming to fruition, I have a lot to say about this sport.

First, I must thank my supportive tribe of individuals. My boyfriend has been with me day in and out, witnessed my struggles and gave me the encouragement when I needed it most. My coach Lucienne has the ability to coach me on the level I needed. I think that is what makes a coach great – to understand your client’s personality and learning style, and then adapt your coaching to them. I must thank my family. My Dad has been my biggest cheerleader no matter what I do. He was there at my figure skating competitions. He was there at my volleyball games. He was there at my graduation. Any large accomplishment I have achieved, he’s been there right by my side lifting me up. I have several supportive friends that I plan on reaching out to individually, but I must say if you’re a friend of mine and are reading this, please know I could not have done this without you.

Now, I’ll get onto talking about show day. I am pleased and honored to announce, I WON Bikini Novice Tall at Mr. And Ms. Natural Minnesota. This is what I set out to do, and I have achieved it. I interviewed my coach on New Year’s Eve in 2018 and told her my intention was to compete in this specific show. Two weeks previous, I also competed in Natural Iowa. This was a great idea of my coach, to compete in more than one show knowing all the time, dedication, and hard work this sport requires. It was perfect that Natural Iowa was two weeks before the competition in Minnesota. I was able to get my “first show” jitters out, and I knew what to expect at my second competition. My head was in a much better place during my second show. Not to say my first show didn’t go well, I am pleased to announce I placed second in Bikini Novice Tall.

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I think the biggest thing most people from the outside looking in miss, is how this sport is much more mental than it is physical. From the outside, you see competitors spending hours in the gym, being diligent with their diet, saying no to donuts in the office, getting a soda water at happy hour, but you don’t see the incredible hard work of training your mind.

It’s easy for an outsider to see the social media posts about training at the gym and think, “Wow, that must be hard”. I’m here to tell you, being in the gym is what kept my sanity during the past 6 months. It was a constant in my life that I knew I could count on. To be honest, I’m already back at the gym right now writing this blog post as I am incline walking. An outsider may perceive this as me being a “fitness freak” but I am happy to wear that title loud and proud. This is what keeps me, me.

Over the past 6 months I have dealt with a lot personally. In March, my incredible Grandfather passed away. A few short days after, I found out one of my Aunt’s dogs that I love dearly, passed away. My mother went back into hospice. I’m currently training a puppy (enough said there). My mother fell and broke her hip. My brother and I had to make a hard decision of surgery or treat the pain as her guardians. I get news that my Aunt’s second dog (they were brothers) also passed away.

The night before my first competition I read an email from my mother’s hospice nurse informing that my mother had a fall in the shower, and had a contusion on her left cheek bone. A week later we get notice she had another fall. (Thankfully, her hospice nurse has ordered a new wheel cheer to accommodate now). Last Thursday my boyfriend’s childhood dog also passed away.

Deep breath. There it is. In sequential order. Now layer dealing with the psychological effects of carbohydrate and calorie depletion of a competition prep. The cherry on top is dealing with naysayers that don’t understand why you’re competing in this type of sport.

Now you may understand why I think being in the gym is the easy part. Here’s a funny full circle moment, I like the sport of golf because it is a humbling, mental game. Maybe this is why I was able to thrive in competitive bodybuilding. Honestly, I think I had a lot of things from my childhood and upbringing works in my favor for this sport. Growing up a competitive figure skater, I was used to competing as an individual. I was the only one on the ice and felt the pressure of all the eyes directly on me. I had the years of training to appear graceful and elegant on the ice. My mind was already being trained for competition at a very early age. My Mom even open enrolled me in a different elementary school that got out of school earlier so I could make to the higher level ice time with my coach. Thinking back, my competitive figure skating years resemble competition bodybuilding prep. I figure skated before school, after school, and my during my “off days” I was still training, off ice. I practiced ballet and dance to work on my presentation.

I have reflected several times “what could have been” if I kept up with figure skating. As I have trained my mind, I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and the Universe delivers you exactly what you need, at the right time. Figure skating delivered me incredible skills that I am able to translate not only to other sports, but in my everyday life.

This has been a long reflective post so if you’re still with me and reading this, THANK YOU.

Everyone is now asking me, “What’s next?” “When’s your next competition?” “Are you going to eat (insert a non-nutrient dense food item here)?”

This is what I can say today. Yes, I ate donuts, chocolate, a cookie, a burger and sweet potato fries, and had wine last night. I have yet to decide if I’ll compete again, and I am a 100% okay with that. I do know I will always value health and fitness as it has such a positive mental effect for me.

What’s next? Do you want to know more? Comment below, reach out to me via email, or through social media. I am a personal trainer, and am certified in Fitness Nutrition. I have the capacity of understanding how hard it is to change habits. I am happy to announce I am accepting clients for online and in person, personal training, nutrition coaching, and being an overall health coach. Let me guide you to not only look better, but feel better physically and mentally.

In sincere gratitude,

Annie

Starting Over

My last post I spoke about how I hate the word diet and true changes from quiet consistency.  I think me using the term quiet consistency made me feel like I should take a little time off from writing, but in all honesty, writing is such an outlet for me.  I really meant to write a post last Saturday, because that was a whirlwind of feelings for me.

I had the opportunity to model competition bikinis in a fashion show at a seminar for one of  the body building competitions I will compete in.  I was very excited for this, and I thought the entire day would be great, but to say the truth, it was more of an emotional whirlwind for me.  I learned so much from the seminar, and I felt a little embarrassed.

As I pulled up the figure suit I first tried on, I was so excited and I thought, “YES! Blue is my color!”  As I looked around, I had two huge anxieties revealed themselves.  I was the only model that did not get a spray tan.  I knew the spray tan was a huge part of the actual competition day, but I didn’t think it was necessary for me to model a suit.  Not only did I stick out like a sore thumb with the lack of spray tan, I was also not nearly as lean as some of the other models.  I tried to remind myself I have come so far already, but it was so hard not to compare when we all were backstage getting ready.

Then, another very large insecurity unveiled.  All the other models (except for 1), competed before.  While I was told posing for the show will be very relaxed and not a big deal, the other models knew what to do and posing looked so natural to them.  I had my supportive boyfriend take pictures of me up on stage, and I am too embarrassed to post them because I am insecure of how different I look, and how I felt that day up on stage.  I know it says a lot I had the courage to put on a competition suit 12 weeks out from my first competition, I just have to remind myself how important it was I did that, at that time.

I learned so much, and met a great group of inspiring girls, and it really realigned my mental path of my journey.  I was riding this high wave of all this progress, the multiple inches I have lost, the number of pounds,  how my clothes were fitting, etc.  Honestly, last Saturday kind of felt like a slap in the face reminding me of how much further I have to go.

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All of the models backstage during the fashion show

This is why everything is a journey.  A journey has its ups and downs.  Many people get distracted or sidetracked or feel like a failure when they view someone’s Facebook profile or Instagram account, heck, I felt that way this Saturday.  It is our ability to understand what the Universe is trying to teach you.  The Universe was trying to teach me not to compare myself to others, be grateful for what I have, and accept that I have so much more to learn and grow.

I made one of my first posts titled, “We All Start Somewhere,” and after last Saturday, it felt like it was a rebirth or a new start for me.  Exactly 12 weeks out from my first show, now is the time to buckle down, get my diet on point, get my prep on point, and the thing that needs a lot of work, my posing on point.  I did take one picture in the mirror that I am comfortable sharing, that made me decide I definitely want some sort of shade of blue for a suit. IMG_20190216_140541956

As always, I end with gratitude.  Thank you for reading where I am at in my journey.

 

Annie

Why I Hate the Word Diet

Before I get into why I hate the word diet, I want to give a huge shout out to Perfect Fit Gear co-owner, Anita Swole for having me on her podcast, Balancing Act.  You can access the podcast through this link.  I also want to give a huge shout out to her sister, Camile Swole for summing up what was discussed during the podcast:

“Anita interviewed a soon-to-be first time competitor. Her website is bunnyflexfit.com Her definition of success will not be a trophy or a place, but her success will be the transformation her body goes through during this process. She plans on competing in the 2019 Mr. and Mrs. Natural Minnesota Bodybuilding Competition on May 24th and 25th.

“-Thinking about nutrition serving as the prevention of diseases, not just flavors of food.
– Thinking about exercise as a way to combat depression or anxiety instead of just a requirement to low body fat.”

These were the two biggest takeaways I got from listening to this weeks episode of Sowle Sisters Balancing act where Anita flew solo this episode when she talked to first-time competitor Annie Rathman!

This was SO fun to listen to for me! I actually related to her viewpoint SO much. I wish other bikini competitors would also shift focus on certain aspects of competing. They touch on
– Definition of a successful prep
– Nah- Sayers
– Getting offended
– The effects of fitness in other ways than vanity
-Thinking about nutrition serving as the prevention of diseases, not just flavors of food.
– Thinking about exercise as a way to combat depression or anxiety instead of just a requirement for low body fat.
– Life happens
-Intuitive Eating

Make to check out Annies blog she mentioned in the episode!
bunnyflexfit.com/2019/01/18/how-f…owerful-emotion/” – Camille Swole

Check out the rest of their podcasts on SoundCloud

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Now, onto my definition of the word diet.

Hate is a strong word, I guess I shouldn’t say I hate the word “diet”. I would say I do hate the negative connotation with this word.

Diet, has a few different definitions within Merriam-Webster’s dictionary:

diet

noun

di·​et | \ ˈdī-ət  \

Definition of diet

afood and drink regularly provided or consumed
diet of fruits and vegetables
a vegetarian diet
bhabitual nourishment
links between diet and disease
cthe kind and amount of food prescribed for a person or animal for a special reason
was put on a low-sodium diet
da regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one’s weight
going on a diet

 

As I read through those definitions, what sticks out to me is the definition about how the diet is set for a definitive period of time. I feel this connotation, sets up a lot of people for failure. For example, “21-Day Fix,” how do you think you will truly make a lifestyle change and create a habit that will keep with you for the rest of your life, in 21 days? I’m not saying this diet is not effective, but it has something in common with other diets. Think about: Atkins, Zone, Keto, insert new fad diet program here. What does all of these “diets” have in common? It makes you focused, and consider what you eat before it enters your mouth. After you hit your goal of say about a 15 pound weight loss, most people think they deserve a treat, and slowly but surely go back to the way they were used to eating, and gain MORE weight back than they originally had!

This type of yo-yo dieting is not great for your body physically, and mentally. It creates this mind set of guilt with food, and a mind set of “oh I’d be much more happier, successful, a better person if I lost 15 pounds” or “I am a failure since I ate a donut”. This type of mental guilt breeds eating disorders and overtraining.

Why don’t we shift our mindset and instead of saying “I am going on a diet” to “I am creating a lifestyle change to become healthier”. The latter suggestion states your why, and shows it isn’t for a finite period of time. I think this type of answer would defeat any type of naysayer telling you that you do not need to diet.

I like Whole30’s approach of defeating naysayers, you tell them you’re doing a 30 day experiment to understand how to nourish your body properly. What is the person that says, “look at you being healthy” going to say to that?

There is no “quick fix” to lifestyle changes and becoming physically fit. It is feeding into out instant gratification culture and society, but unfortunately body composition change is driven through hard work, and consistent dedication. Body composition change does not come from a short, finite period of time.

 

Thanks for listening to my rant. I think this is an important message for people to understand you can’t just drink Slimfast for 3 weeks and keep the weight off for the rest of your life.

Quiet consistency is how you drive change, and become your best self physically and mentally.

With gratitude, thank you so much for reading. Please comment on your thoughts about the word diet and your definition.