Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Ass Kicker (aka Mom)

Dear Mom,
Dad and I went to pick out your burial plot yesterday. We made sure to get you as close to your Grandma as possible. We also saved a seat for Dad next to you. Dad has never shown much emotion when it comes to hard times. It has always amazed me how he could be so happy go lucky in the WORST of times. Like the time Hurricane Charlie wiped your house right off the map. He was all excited that he had found all the Christmas lights hanging in the trees a block down the street. I for one hoped all that tacky Christmas shit was gone for good, no dice. Somehow he always manages to find the silver lining in the darkest of clouds. We were standing on top of your grave site and his voice trembled and his eyes watered as he said "oh no, stuck between two women for all of eternity". He still was able to crack the corniest of jokes even as he weeped for you.

We were standing there looking at great grandma's headstone and decided we were going to get you the same one. Her's said "loving mother" and the lady who was helping us asked what we wanted your's to say. Dad said "loving wife and mother". I said "I was thinking something more like ass kicker, that would be more appropriate." Dad agreed, and then we started telling this poor lady all sorts of stories about how you intimidated the hell out of people and you were only 5ft tall. I however was overruled and we went with the more PC one...whatever.

The day before we had been at the funeral home picking out a casket and what not. I want you to know that your comfort and where your physical body stayed was a real concern for us. Like when Dad said "Your mom hated to wear a bra, I don't think she should be buried in one." And I said "Ya, that would just be rude. I wouldn't want to spend eternity in one. So that issue was solved, and you're welcome!

I have been going out run/walking every day since I've been here. The jury has always been out for me when it comes to religion. I believe that there is something beyond this earth, I just don't know what to call it. I'm not sure who is right when it comes to all the many religions. I believe that whoever the higher power is has some common sense and can determine who is good and who is bad based on the life they lived, not where they spent their Sunday mornings. That being said, I put my headphones on and chose the Stevie Nicks Spotify radio station and started my run. And NO SHIT, the first song that came on was Rhiannon by Fleetwood Mac! It is always the song I remember you singing most as a kid as I sat between you and Tad in the bright orange Maverick. We called that car the "Great Pumpkin" and we disturbed all others in its path due to the fact it had no muffler. Come to think of it, that car matched your personality perfectly! You didn't have a muffler either, it was best for all to just get out of your way!

So there I was running down the street doing the ugly cry listening to every word of that song and in that moment I knew you were there with me. I hope you could see the love I have for you and the pain that will forever be in my heart now that you are gone.

I was SO mad at you for SO long and I regret that I couldn't get over it completely until the very end. You were not a perfect mom...far from it. I was not the perfect child. I really tried to be until the age of about 19. Up until that point, I had lived my entire life to make you and Dad proud. I always did everything you wanted me to do. Im sure you would have preferred that I didn't wear combat boots to my track meets and  wished I looked "normal" but you never said a word about my appearance...ever and I am so grateful for that.

What mattered to you was grades, sports and work ethic. Those were things I always could pull off because I had been raised on the motto of "You don't get something for nothing." Hard work was in our family's blood...well maybe not my brother Tad's, but that's another story.

When I told you I was gay, you said "you are no longer my daughter" and hung up on me. I have carried a grudge on my back for over 20 years because of that day. We had some hard years after. Eventually I saw a change in you, I knew that you genuinely didn't care who I loved. You welcomed all my girlfriends with open arms but I just couldn't get over the pain of that moment.

It was the moment I fell from grace. The day I went from being the daughter you were proud of to being the daughter you were ashamed of. I lost everything that day. My family was gone. I had nothing.

After years of reflection and thought, I know why you cut me off that day. It wasn't because you hated gay people. Never in my entire life had I heard you make one prejudice remark about anybody. And uncle Tommy who was gay had always been one of your favorite people. It was the death of the dream of the life you wanted me to have. You wanted me to marry and give you grandchildren and have a fairytale life. You wanted my life to be easier. What you didn't understand is that I did not "choose" to be gay. News flash...nobody does. I wasn't just trying to be "weird". Who would choose to make their life incredibly harder than it has to be? Relationships are hard enough without dealing with a bunch of people telling you you are wrong and terrible just for loving somebody. There is only one thing in this world that would make me stand up to you Mom and that is love.

I'm so sorry that I didn't forgive you sooner. I know how proud of me you were. I remember when you cut me off financially while I was in school because you "couldn't support my lifestyle". And you said I would never graduate and I said "watch me!" And when I walked across that stage a few years later, I remember you saying with a chuckle, a tear and a whole lot of pride. "I guess you proved me wrong". I can think of many times in my life when you admitted to being "wrong"... because you never were :) But thank you for giving me that moment!

You and Dad came to visit a few weeks back. You showed up on my very last day of a job I had left after almost 11 year of employment. It was a VERY hard day.

As Dad brought you through the door, you could barely walk and your pants were covered in urine from having a gran mal seizure on the way. The last thing you should have been doing was traveling to see me. I'm sure everybody was against it, but you didn't give a shit. You didn't need anybody's permission. As with your whole life, it was best that everybody just got out of your way, because nothing was going to stop you.

Can I just say "thank you!" Thank you for being your stubborn determined self. Thank you for spending 11 of your last days with me. Thank you for making Dad and I load up the wheelchair and oxygen tanks and going to the track at 4:45 am just so you could see me teaching a Bootcamp class. Thank you for coming to my bar league softball game and cheering the loudest the way you always have even though we got beat in an embarrassing way. You made sure you saw as much of my life as possible before you left.  Dad and I loaded you in the car half unconscious and wheeled you into Tilt Cycling just so you could see my business that I have put my heart and soul into. We made sure we took pictures and videos to prove you were there because we were fairly certain you wouldn't remember it. And Dad said "She will be so mad at me if she never got to see it so we better get proof."

I can whole heartedly say that any anger or bad feelings I every had were completely gone. All I wanted to do was be with you and help you and make you more comfortable. One night after you had been sleeping for about 2 days straight, dad was doing his best to wake you up so you could take the pills you needed. No matter how hard he tried, you couldn't stay awake long enough to swallow the pills. It was one of the hardest things I have ever witnessed. There were many times over the years that I genuinely thought might be the last time I saw you alive, but you always fought your way back. I knew in that moment that it was definitely the last time I would see you alive. And my heart cracked wide open.

Mom wherever you are, I know you are kicking ass and taking names. I hope they all know that it would be a whole lot easier to just get out of your way!

I love you forever.

Saturday, June 25, 2016


Plastic surgeon Dr. Maxwell Maltz wrote a book in 1960 called "Psycho Cybernetics, A New Way to Get More Living Out of Life" It seems that the idea that it takes 21 days to form a habit came from him and this book based which was based on his observations of his patients and himself. He said "It requires a minimum of 21 days for an old mental image to dissolve and for a new one to jell." This book went on to sell more than 30 million copies and the "21 day myth" spread like crazy and can be found in many self help books from the 60's up till today. Based on a 2010 study by Phillippa Lally published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes on average 66 days before a new behavior become automatic. This study proved the 21 day theory wrong. Somebody else somewhere said it takes 90 days for a behavior to become a lifestyle. I was too lazy to do the research. 

I don't know that there is a specific amount of time that applies to EVERYBODY to make or break habits. As a personal trainer and somebody who struggles with body image issues, I'm constantly thinking about how I can motivate my clients and myself to make changes to accomplish our goals. Recently I came across an article called "Side effects may include... leaness" by Ryan Andrews and had a light bulb moment. I would love to say that myself and my clients are working out and struggling to eat right for health reasons, but THAT for the most part would be a lie. The majority want to look good both in and out of their clothes. I find that for the most part, it's my clients over 50 that are more likely to focus on health and quality of life. When I really think about it, it's kind of depressing. But like it or not, it's the world we live in.

I'm 42 now and the older I get, the less I'm willing to suffer for my appearance. I mean I have been beating myself up my entire life every time I look in the mirror and I'm tired of it. Like most of us, I'm hyper-focused on my flaws instead of embracing my assets. As a personal trainer and fitness instructor, I have placed an additional pressure on myself to be perfect. How can I motivate others if I don't look good myself? And everyday I go to work and listen to people who are actually as close to perfect as you can get, struggle to lose 2-3 lbs and tell me how fat they are. They 100% believe it with every ounce of their soul and my heart breaks for them. I know first hand how heavy that mental weight is to carry on a daily basis.

In Andrews article he says "The problem here is over-emphasizing the outcome (being lean), rather than the quality of the process, and the behaviors and meaningful actions that get us there. In fact, making "get a lean body" our only focus may lead us to do downright unhealthy things" 

He is absolutely right! Extreme diets, starvation, diet pills, laxatives, bulimia, excessive exercise etc.... I myself have tried to take the easy way out more times than I care to admit. And I have seen some or all of those things done by friends and clients many MANY times in the name of "health" and "fitness". But for me, the truth is, I wanted to be as skinny as possible. And as I type those words, I feel nothing but shame. I always do my best to steer my clients in a healthy direction and ALWAYS try to talk them out of unhealthy things to get skinny, but I don't always listen to my own advice. One thing I know for sure at this point is there is NO easy way out! There is NO quick fix! And the quicker people tend to lose weight, the faster it seems to come back the moment they stop doing whatever unhealthy thing they were doing to lose the weight rapidly.

All of this to say what I have been saying for a long time. Make small changes and be patient. I encourage my clients to only do things that they can do for the rest of their lives. No quick fixes or cutting out food groups. It just doesn't work...maybe for a little while, but not for a lifetime. I think about all the times I literally starved myself and suffered through every diet on the planet only to eventually fail and therefore feel like a failure...a big fat failure.

I'm so DONE with that nonsense. So much so, that I literally have swung the other way. I eat whatever I want whenever I want with little shame or remorse. My job has changed and I now teach 10ish cycle classes a week...and I'm hungry and tired. I reward my hard work with food and can still stay in reasonably good shape because of the abundance of calories I burn daily. Lately I just haven't been feeling good. I have had a lot of personal and job stress that comes with opening a new business. I never EVER get enough sleep. I am chronically dehydrated and eat nothing but crap. No wonder I feel like shit! My light bulb moment from that article came on a day that I was feeling especially terrible. I realized if I don't make some changes for my health very soon, my body is going to shut down and my career will essentially be over. I need to make new habits and break old ones to be healthy and FEEL better instead of doing them to LOOK better. After all...let's be honest, looking better isn't apparently enough motivation for most of us. If it was, we would all look perfect. And maybe if we start doing things to feel better, looking better will be a happy side effect.

So hear's the plan...

I'm inviting my friends, family, clients, members of the Omni Club including the Zone and Fight Club, members of Tilt Cycling and Above Barre and anybody else to participate in my #makeitorbreakit challenge. The challenge will have 3 stages:

Stage 1 #makeapromise will be days 1-21 where we promise to try to break one bad habit and make one good habit. On day 21 we will celebrate keeping our promise to ourselves.

Stage 2 #makeitahabit will be days 22-66 where we continue to make or break our habits. On day 66 we will celebrate breaking our old habit and making a new one!

Stage 3 #makeitalifestyle will be days 67-90. On day 90 we will celebrate our lifestyle change!

On day 21 when we move to the next stage, a new habit to make and a new habit to break will be introduced as we continue with the original goals. Some habit changes will be very simple for some of you while others will not. So if it is easy for you, then great! You are already a head of a lot of us! The purpose of this challenge is to make you more mindful with the things you do and put into your body. To make slow reasonable changes that you can stick to for a lifetime. I'm not trying to shock your system. Rather, I'm trying to sneak up on it. I will post the new #makeitorbreakit challenges on Facebook in my group #getinthezone Omni  https://www.facebook.com/groups/NikkiTCB/ and on the Tilt Cycling page https://www.facebook.com/TiltCycling/ So if you want to get on board, "like" the Tilt Cycling page or send me an invitation to join #getinthezone Omni group where you will find many other useful articles, tip and tricks to get healthy. I will post the first habits on Sunday June 26th on these pages. We will start them on Monday the 27th....or you can start or stop them anytime you like. 

It's time to #makeitorbreakit

Monday, May 16, 2016

Second Chances.

Inquiring minds want to know!...So with the goal of time management, I'm going to write this blog to give you ALL the deets! I'm also writing this because I know I'm not alone in this situation. I never ever thought the day would come where I would write a blog about second chances. Not something I give very often. I'm a dirty dirty grudge holder. Forgive and forget is not something that comes easy to me. Maya Angelou's quote runs through my head every time I'm presented with a bad situation. "When somebody shows you who they are, believe them the first time."

Over the years I have been really working on not necessarily forgiveness, but letting my anger go. I'm not opening my arms and welcoming everybody back who I feel has wronged me, but I also don't want to give them the power to hurt me anymore. That anger is a heavy burden and load to carry through life, and it gets to the point that you just don't have the strength to lift it anymore. It's no wonder I have a bad back! Another quote comes to mind by Buddah "Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die"

We all make mistakes and if you read my blog, you know that I'm no exception. My big issue has always been that I need people who I feel have hurt me to acknowledge that fact for us to move forward with any type of relationship. If they can't acknowledge a mistake, it will never be corrected and to me, it is a clear representation of their true character and we will go our separate ways. That part has not changed. What has changed is I look at it as more of a compatibility issue. We are different people who operate at different levels, that are just not compatible. They aren't going to be a part of my life, but I try very hard to let my anger go with them as they are removed from it. I think I strive for a feeling of indifference. I don't love them, I don't hate them...we are just passing ships in the night. Is that the perfect way to operate in the world? Probably not....but it's better than having hatred and anger toward somebody. #babysteps

My entire blog is a diary. Some of my posts are funny stories from my past, funny moments in my present and many of them are very personal experiences I have had with friends, family and relationships. I waited until I was 39 to start writing and it kind of became my therapy...an online journal of sorts. It surprises me every day that anybody is actually interested in reading any of it. So far about 20,000 people have which is just crazy to me. I'm a very shy introverted person that is often seen, but not heard. For some reason, I feel more comfortable typing my words, than speaking them outside of my inner circle of friends. So I will type them now to add another intimate chapter of my ever changing life.

An ex-girlfriend has been the subject of many of my blogs. We had a very public beginning and end. She was married with children when I met her at work. Neither of us were looking to fall in love, but it happened fast and hard. And once that train started going down that hill, the brakes gave out and there was no stopping it. It was the kind of mad passionate love that you see in movies or read about in books. A type of chemistry and passion that some people have never had the pleasure and pain of experiencing. Yes, all relationships are exciting in the beginning, but this was different.

Unfortunately, there was a trail of carnage that came in the wake of all that passion. She was very much a people pleaser at that point in her life. I was not. That one fact would ultimately lead to our unfortunate demise.

She was married with children and belonged to a very conservative church. Leaving her husband to be with me did not go so well for her. It didn't matter that there had been infidelity at this point on both sides and that they were miserable together. The fact of the matter, is it was wrong. And I acknowledge that fact. We should have waited for her to be divorced before moving forward with a relationship, but the reality is, she probably would have left on her own eventually...but I wasn't going to wait around.

The gossip and madness that came at the beginning our relationship was to say the least...exhausting, but we made that bed. She was excommunicated from her church, divorced and came out to the world all at the same time. Just one of those things would be challenging for anybody, but she had them all at once. And when you care what EVERYBODY thinks, that's a hard pill to swallow. Because of this, she lied to me and everybody else to try to please as many people as possible. She wasn't lying to be malicious at that time, she just wanted to make everybody and therefore herself happy.

I was blinded by love, but we fought a lot, She put me at the very bottom of the list of people to please and she acknowledges that fact. She took for granted that I would always be there. We would get into these horrible fights where I would say "One day I will stop crying...One day that switch is going to flip and I'm going to stop caring and I will be happy to see you walk out that door. And when that day comes, there is no turning that switch back on. I will be gone forever." And that is exactly what happened.

I left.

And in an instant, she became the girlfriend I had always wanted. I was at the very top of the list with her children and nothing else mattered, but it was too late. The damage had been done, and I was NEVER coming back...ever.

Our breakup was very public and working together didn't help the situation. We have talked for hours and hours about all the horrible things we said about each other. I 100% thought she was the most horrible human being walking the planet. Everything I said about her was 100% true as far as the facts of our relationship. Everything she said about me was not true. But again, her nature is to be a people pleaser, so at that point she said things to make herself look better in the eyes of the world and in some ways, I think she believed a lot of it until the dust settled and some of the hurt and anger passed and she realized that she had a big part of the blame for our relationship crumbling.

I can not put all the blame on her. I was selfish with my love and was unable to see the gravity of all the things she was dealing with. All I knew is I loved her and wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. (We were engaged...twice.) But I wasn't the one that had to explain to her children that A. She was leaving their dad and B. She was a lesbian. I wasn't the one that was basically stoned in the public square by her church and excommunicated. I didn't have to come out to my friends and family during all of this. I didn't have to sit across from my baby daddy during mediation and divide possessions and time with the people she loves the most, her children. I didn't have to deal with many of my friends trying to persuade me to stay in that bad marriage for their own selfish reasons.

Our relationship never had a chance of survival...it was doomed. We were madly in love, but all of this was more than any two people could endure. I couldn't see that when I was in the middle of it, but it is painfully clear to me now. I can no longer point the finger at her, I have to point it at all those facts.

We have been apart for several years and she has never stopped trying to be in my life in some way. Depending on my state of mind when her texts came through, sometimes I was nice and sometimes I was not. I was so hurt by the lies she had told about me. She apologized over and over, but I just didn't believe her. She asked me to have lunch like 10 times and I always said no. At some point along the way, I started working on letting things go and on the 11th invite...I accepted. I did my best to walk into that restaurant with an open mind and LET MY ANGER GO.

She sat across from me and cried and apologized again and justified her actions with the reasons I gave above and for the first time, I believed her. And because I had let my anger go, I could see the horrible position she had been in and had an enormous amount of empathy. And really felt like a selfish jerk for not seeing it sooner. But again, all I saw was I put her at the top of the list and she put me at the bottom and she was bad and I was good...and that just wasn't fair.

So we left that lunch with the hope of having some kind of friendship.

Fast forward to today. We have been hanging out for a couple of months as friends and nothing more. And I have to say, the chemistry we have is like noting I have ever experienced with another human being. I was on a dating website for a little while and in my profile I said "I want to be with somebody I can have fun with while doing laundry"...shocking, but I didn't get a lot of dates :) Well, she is that girl. We laugh non-stop every time we are together. We trash talk each other from sun up to sun down and practically wet our pants laughing. To an outsider, it might appear that we don't like each other very much based on the things we say. But nothing ever gets taken personally...ever. It's really just a battle of wits...that lets face it...I'm better at it....but she tries real hard.

We have spent a lot of time together and have posted some pics and bantered on social media. Because of this, there is a daily stream of questions from friends and acquaintances all wanting to know..."Are you back together????" Some are concerned, some are just curious. Up until this point, we have said, we are just friends and I really don't know what is going to happen.

She went away for work last week and we found each other missing one another more than we should. We found it strange that we went years without speaking and suddenly we are finding a few days apart challenging. But it is what it is.

So we were texting about our feelings on Thursday and came to the conclusion that we should give it another shot. On Saturday as I was calling her a monster and mid-laugh, we kissed.

I never thought I would want her in the same room as me again. And now I think about holding her hand. I'm gonna give us a second chance. We might fail miserably, or we might be together forever. All I know, is at this point, my life is better with her in it. And we both feel like we have not had closure on our relationship. It feels unfinished. One way or another, we are going to write the last chapter of our story together. Could be a tragedy, or the best love story ever written. Time will tell.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

What is your motivation?

Anybody that knows me knows the way to my heart is through my mouth. I love food damn it... There I said it! I love healthy food, junk food and everything in between. I love fitness and it is my work and play. I always say "I workout so I can eat more." I tell my personal training clients "You have to workout like you eat to maintain your current body. If you want to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you take in." It's simple math for the most part. Now there are other variables, like eating protein and carbs to build muscle. And some foods require more energy to metabolize etc. Food quality is important. I also say that you shouldn't do any program or diet that you can't maintain for life. I firmly believe this to be true. I myself have tried every diet and failed. I watch my clients jump on trendy diets and get immediate results, followed by a plateau. Once they hit this plateau, they fall off the wagon and go back to their poor eating habits. They gain all the weight back plus some and feel like a failure. I prefer them to make small changes that result in small improvements in their body and be patient. THAT is a hard sell.

We all want instant gratification. I like going to Mexican restaurants because the moment you sit down, there is chips and salsa upon arrival. No questions asked. I immediately dig in and devour a basket... or two of chips. I'm full when my meal arrives and stuff it my mouth anyway.

That's how we all want diet and exercise programs to work. Big results in a small period of time and we never want those results to taper off. We want the waiter to come by with a fresh bowl of chips in the moment our current bowl gets low. At some point, you will get full and you won't be able to cram another chip in your mouth. At some point your body will adapt by lowering your metabolism etc, and your weight loss will slow down dramatically.

When my clients don't eat well, I have a great deal of empathy for them because every single day, it's a struggle for me too. I just have the good fortune of working out for a living to keep my weight under control.

I'm 42yrs old. For the majority of my life, I have worked out hard for vanity. I wanted to look good in and out of my clothes. I think that is why most people do it. I call it "the woman's curse". Let's face it, we are crazy ladies :) Think of all the extra time you would have in your day if you weren't obsessing about every calorie you put in your mouth or every dimple that lives on the back of your thighs. And it's not only the ladies. Most men work out to look good as well.

In my personal experience, for the most part, the people who have the least amount to lose have the greatest body dysmorphia issues. To most people, THEY are the goal. But all they see when they look in the mirror are flaws. They say, "I just want to lose 3 more pounds." And I almost always say, "How much of your life and happiness are you willing to sacrifice for those 3 pounds? And even if you do it, you will find a new flaw to obsess over." Maybe that makes me a bad trainer. But I think fitness and life for that matter is about more than a number.

Again, I have empathy. I go in and out of phases of being THAT girl. As I have gotten older and failed every time in my effort for the perfect body, those phases are fewer and far between. Because I burn thousands of calories at work daily, I can pretty much eat anything I want and maintain a decent (not amazing) body. And I do. People would be SHOCKED at how much food I can cram down my throat.

As I get older and wiser and my health insurance rates rise as my coverage goes down. I'm thinking more about food and fitness from a health perspective. I don't want the health related issues that come from a poor diet, not to mention, I want to slow down the aging process as much as possible. We all know that our skin looks better when we are getting the vitamins and minerals we need that aren't available in junk food. I always say "I want to change my own diaper if it gets to the point that I need them." I know wholeheartedly if I stopped working out or got injured, the weight gain would be fast and furious! And it has been in the past.

Most of all, I want to be a good/better role model for my clients. I want to be a walking example of the benefits of a healthy relationship with exercise AND FOOD! It's not about starving yourself or cutting out specific food groups. It's not about eating 100% clean and never enjoying a piece of cake. It's about everything in moderation. It's about getting the majority of your calories from good, nutrient dense foods while still enjoying a glass of wine or a couple pieces of pizza from time to time. I'm a fan of the 80/20 rule. Calories from healthy food 80% of the time and 20% from living a little. 100% clean is not fun for anybody #hangry and it just isn't reasonable or sustainable.

I think my change in perspective... wanting to change my own diaper and be an inspiration will probably help me more than trying to fit into a smaller pair of jeans ever could. Maybe you aren't trying to be a role model. Maybe your goal is to play in the yard with your grandchildren now or one day. If your motivation has been a number on a scale, and you have failed time and time again.... Maybe it's time to find a new motivation.