Sunday, July 29, 2012

Luck Won't Get You Fit. Hard Work Will.

I have been asked quite a bit how I’ve managed to drop some lbs. and get lean, especially my abs. After all, I am the mother of three kids (two sons and a stepdaughter) and I’m over 40. Having a fit body at this stage in the game is the exception and not the rule so we might as well give up the good fight, right? Nope. Not so fast. Oh, and this information is for women AND men interested in my particular journey.

There is a science to getting fit—a science that, after a lot of trial and error, seems to be working for me. The reality, which you’ve heard, seen and read Ad nauseam, is thatthere are no short cuts. We all know this. 
It has taken incredible discipline and a desire to get it right and you can do this too. Even if you’ve tried and given up 100 times, collapsing into a sea of French fries and double stuffed Oreos as you waved your white flag in defeat, convinced that you’d never lose weight or tighten up your body… know that it can be done! If you’re anything like I have been in the past, you’ve been half-assing it and dancing around getting fit. Like me, you’ve had fits and starts, going hard for a minute but remaining frustrated and a little sad about your ass being too big or your stomach being well, you know what your stomach looks like. Believe me, I have tried to get motivated and focused so many times and I’ve beat myself up over my inability to truly get fit. You see, I have been a marathon runner for almost a decade and I’ve pretty much been a lifelong runner. Over the past few years I found myself eating all kinds of food that I absolutely, positively know in my heart of hearts are terrible for me but I justified my eating by telling myself I would run it off on my next 16-mile run. Bullshit. I was lying to myself, falling into really bad habits and generally making myself believe that being 20 pounds too heavy was okay. After all, I was over 40 and my metabolism was slowing down, so this was all just a sad fact of life and a sign of aging that I had to accept. Bullshit. I lied to myself and if you believe this old age hype, you’re lying to yourself too. People can tell you what you’re doing wrong and how to do it right but if you’re not ready to give yourself a dose of tough love and shift your thinking, you’ll stay exactly where you are. I know I did for at least four years and it sucked. Big time.
Let me first say this: I am not a physician and I am not dispensing medical advice. You need to consult your physician before you start any strenuous exercise or weight loss program and that’s not what I’m doing here. As requested, I am sharing what is working for me. With that out of the way, here are some things that I figured out FOR ME:


I told myself IT’S TIME…Time to stop lying to myself and pretending to be in shape. Let me be clear, I still have a ways to go but I made a commitment to myself that I wasn’t going to live like an undisciplined child eating a package of cookies or a pint of Häagen-Dazs any longer. I told myself that I had to learn at least a little bit about nutrition and how to consume calories that fuel my body instead of destroying it. I made an agreement with myself that I would cut out sugar and carbs. Yeah, I said it; I cut out the sugar and the carbs. Not completely, but I stopped adding loads of sugar to my coffee and stopped pouring spoonsful of honey in my tea. I stopped eating my favorite chocolate candy (which almost made me lose my ever-loving mind) and drinking juice which contains a ton of sugar. I stopped pretending that I needed to eat huge bowls of pasta and tons of bread in order to have enough energy for long runs. I learned that I could get good carbs with more nutritional value from sweet potatoes, broccoli or black beans, for example. I started making careful decisions in the kitchen and I asked my husband to slap the potato chips out of my hand when I started to backslide. I made a choice. Instead of fast food or high calorie dishes and my all time favorite—chocolate, I chose me. I’ll say it again…I chose me.

Initially I didn’t think I could do it but I had an ongoing talk with myself and day by day eating nutritious foods became more and more enjoyable and eating crap became less and less desirable. I also talked with my brother, sister and my mother a lot. We have all struggled with eating foods we know are nutritionally bankrupt (Holla if you hear me Garrett’s Popcorn & Harold’s Chicken lovers!), but I had to make this decision, not for today, but for life. Will I ever eat pasta again? Sure. I just had a small amount while I was on vacation in the Dominican Republic this week. Will I eat rice? Yep, did that too. But I am so focused on eating the good-for-me foods like salmon and spinach and mangoes and almonds and kale and baked chicken, that my desire for other foods is becoming a non-factor. This is called a psychological shift, a change in mindset, really. And my abs, my butt and my thighs, all of which are slowly but surely getting tighter, are thanking me for it.


I got in the gym. That’s right… the gym. Weightlifting. Resistance training. Again, I’ve been a runner for years and it has been nothing for me to lace up my running shoes and train for a marathon. Running 20 miles? A piece of cake. Doing a push up? Oh hell no, not me. I was completely intimidated by the idea of lifting and in retrospect I could kick myself for not embracing weight training years ago. It’s not that I’ve never worked out with weights, I just never hung in there long enough to see the true benefits, and there are MANY. I am getting stronger and stronger. My core strength is bananas, my biceps, triceps, back and shoulders are becoming more defined, my thighs are getting more toned and my abs, as I’ve been told, look ridiculous (Thanks, Tara.) :-)  Because I run, I convinced myself that I didn’t need to lift. Bullshit. See how my lies to myself were stacking up?

Jackie Jackson, Certified Personal Trainer & Owner of Triple Fit
When I lived in Chicago, I worked out with an exceptional certified fitness professional (and an awesome massage therapist), Jacquelyn Jackson (CSCS, CPT, LMT), owner of Triple Fit ( and on Facebook: Jackie has a fabulous brand new fitness studio at 2150 S. Canalport and she teaches classes, conducts one-on-one and group training. If you’re serious about turning the corner and making a commitment to your health and well being, you need to reach out to Jackie or I can share your information with her and she will give you a call. If you’re not in Chicago, reach out to her anyway. She is an excellent resource and can help you find a good trainer in your area. Here’s why Jackie is so dope: She not only creates workouts to meet your specific weight loss or strength training goals, she teaches you which exercises are most beneficial for you and explains why you’re doing what you’re doing. She is a master trainer and teacher. In my opinion, the two must go hand-in-hand. You have to understand the why. Education and the science behind why we move, how we move and why we eat what we eat are just as important as showing up at the gym every day. It took me a long time to figure that one out.
Believe me, pushing away from the table, trading in your membership to your favorite wine and cheese club or fine dining establishment and investing in a good trainer are decisions you’ll never regret. Think about it: most of us go out several times a month (or several times a quarter) to eat high calorie meals and enjoy high calorie (and expensive!) drinks with friends. Or we load our grocery carts with carb and sugar-laden junk that gets us one step closer to chronic illnesses like diabetes or hypertension. The money we spend on this stuff could be applied toward a great trainer, a gym membership and foods that are fueling our bodies with good nutrients and good fats. It’s a personal choice and one that is paying dividends for me. These days I workout in the gym two days a week with an AMAZING trainer who kicks my butt like it’s nobody’s business. His name is Mike Jackson and his girlfriend, Alicia, has abs of steel. She is an inspiration for sure! Mike does one-on-one training and group sessions. In addition to lifting weights, I run or bike outside three to four days a week.  I also buy high protein foods and lots of fruits and vegetables and mostly cook at home. My husband gets annoyed sometimes that I am choosing to eat differently but he is incredibly supportive and I think I’m rubbing off on him a little. :-)  When we go out, I eat food that keeps me focused on my goals and I don’t come home bloated and guilt-ridden because I overate and feel fat as hell. Honestly, that feeling just got old to me. I was tired of feeling fat AND being mad at myself. I’ve been down that road too many times and I refuse to go back, not for vanity’s sake (although it feels great to be told that I look like I keep myself in shape), but because living a healthy lifestyle is THE priority. This is not an ego orgy for me. This is about my health and feeling great. Looking fly is simply a residual effect of healthy living. BONUS!
Can’t afford a trainer or a gym membership? Yeah, that’s still no excuse. You can commit to a program like Insanity My brother, Paul, is a beast when it comes to Insanity. After struggling at first because it is a really challenging workout, he is totally committed. So is our childhood friend, Scooter. Insanity is less of a financial commitment than a trainer but it is a commitment to getting fit and developing a better you. We all know that when we shift our focus and start doing things that make us feel better about ourselves, other parts of our lives start to improve as well. Again, this is about getting rid of the lies and excuses and investing in YOU. Make a choice. You can get with this or you can get with that… My early 90s hip hop fans know what I’m talking about. :-)


I started reading everything I could get my hands on about nutrition and the psychology behind food cravings and addictions. Let me take a step back and once again say that for years I was STUCK. I could not stop eating chocolate, sugary foods and salty foods to save my life. To say that I struggled is an understatement.
I was searching for some type of program that would help me refocus on dropping a few pounds and getting lean. My line sister, Lisa, whose abs are SICK, introduced me to Advocare products. At first I thought, “Yeah right, I love Lisa but she is on some BS. I’ve never even heard of Advocare!” I talked with her, did my own research on the company and found that they develop a host of energy, weight-loss, nutrition and sports performance products. In fact, Advocare is endorsed by many professional athletes including New Orleans Saint’s QB, Drew Brees, and world champion sprinter Veronica Campbell-Brown.
Lisa got me started on Advocare’s 24-day cleanse and it was such a nutritionally complete process. There isn’t some crazy calorie restriction with the 24-day cleanse like a lot of “weight-loss programs” and the benefit for me is that it was exactly what I needed to refocus on healthy eating and portion control. I backed away from the carbs and sugar once again and did really well on the cleanse. The Advocare products only enhanced what I was already committed to, which was getting lean through weight training and running, and being smart about my nutrition. I got through the 24-day cleanse, dropped around 12 pounds, developed leaner muscles and became more toned (I’m still working on the toning part but it’s all coming together).  It works for a lot of people. You can purchase Advocare products online through a distributor and because I saw firsthand what the 24-day cleanse did for me and I LOVE their sports performance and energy products, I am now a distributor. It just made sense for me because I have tried lots of cleanses and diets and all kinds of stuff. Nothing did for me what Advocare has done. Period. Today, I use several products including the UNBELIEVABLE Spark energy drink, which replaced coffee for me, meal replacement shakes, Omega-3 fatty acids, etc. If you’re interested, please reach out to me. I want to be clear that I am telling you about Advocare because it is the one group of nutritional products that helped me get these abs, this lean(er) body and more energy than I’ve ever had. I feel healthy and completely focused on my fitness goals due in part to Advocare. Again, this is not a game. These are life choices and I am winning (or at least giving it my all).
Whatever your goals, please know that if I can get focused and transform my body and my psyche, you can too. It’s not rocket science—but it IS science. You may start and fail and that’s okay too. Just don’t give up. Always know that you can set the bar higher and do better, especially if you’re reading this while sipping a triple chocolate mocha with double whipped cream or sitting in Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot going to town on five chocolate coconut cake donuts. (Put ‘em down right now!!!) You don’t have to do what I’m doing or be on some extreme diet (I would never recommend that). I do, however, recommend giving it your all and pushing yourself, especially if you know that you’ve only been halfway committed. No matter what you decide, map out a plan, get with a trainer or find a workout partner for some level of accountability, stop eating crap, and invest more in yourself and less in the things that have you stuck. And I would strongly recommend Advocare’s 24-Day Challenge, not because I’m trying to sell you something, but because it has really helped get me to that next level of fitness and renewed my commitment to taking care of myself.
I am very interested in learning about your fitness goals and what you want to accomplish. I think everyone can benefit from and learn from each other so please post your questions and comments below and I’ll ask my fitness experts and friends who have committed to this way of thinking, living and being to weigh in too. And if you need a virtual coach, I can hold your hand as you get going on your own personal fitness journey as long as you promise to help someone else along the way. That’s what success—and life—are all about: Paying it forward.


Feeling Kinda’ Healthy These Days

Jacquelyn Jackson (CSCS, CPT, LMT), owner of Triple Fit:
Find Triple Fit on Facebook:
Advocare Website:
Advocare on Facebook:

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Monica Cost: The Things I Used to do to Sneeze

On Sunday, January 1, I was feelin’ some kinda way, yet I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what this feeling was.  Without question, I felt excited about the new year and the tremendous blessings God has provided. I felt and always feel surrounded by the love of my incredible family. I felt completely confident about the steady growth of my company, LeslieWrites, LLC, and the positive vibes from my new clients in Chicago and my tried and true client in New York. No doubt.
New Year’s Day is a day to embrace and celebrate new beginnings as the holidays come to a screeching halt. We reflect on how we raised our champagne flutes (or paper cups) :-) the night before, toasting what lies ahead, leaving the past in the past. I get it and I was feeling all of that too, but I woke up feeling introspective and perhaps even a little melancholy. I decided to grab my blanket and settle in on the couch for the afternoon to check out the new book by author, Monica Cost, entitledThe Things I Used to do to Sneeze! How to Live an Authentic Life with Awesome Sensations. Truthfully, the title of the book was a little silly to me and I’m sure that was part of the point. Monica is a savvy brand strategist and an all-around classy, driven woman. I was certain that behind the funny and as I discovered, completely relevant title, she had some eye-opening things to share. Because I had a few hours to kill before getting my kids from the airport, I decided to devote time to getting in Monica’s head and picking up a few lessons along the way.
The Things I Used to do to Sneeze!… Let me tell you, God used Monica as a vessel to provide me with some of the more important lessons I’ve learned as an adult. She breaks down some fundamental principles associated with core values, living life on your own terms and being completely honest about who you are aesthetically, emotionally, spiritually, relationally, professionally, financially and parentally. She writes in great detail about how people in our society live in “The Land of Make Believe.” Amen to that.
What I appreciate about the book is that Monica takes her readers through several of her own very personal life experiences to illustrate how her journey brought her to the point of living an authentic life. In chapter 4 Monica writes: “…I now choose acceptance as opposed to ‘fitting in.’ I’d rather bring myself, quirks and all, with my well-intentioned heart, and let people decide on truth, rather than bring a representative situated perfectly for a particular group, which is, quite often a lie.” Break it down, Monica!
While we all know the importance of walking in our own truth in principle, sometimes it takes a profoundly honest person like Monica to hold up that mirror at just the right time to help us focus on being the type of person we need to be. “I want you to live a life true to your journey to achieve your most desired sensations,” Monica writes. “In the end, our world will be better because we had the best of you.”  I found myself giving Monica an imaginary fist bump as she impressed and inspired me page after age. For me, The Things I Used to do to Sneeze! was a wonderful, quick read. As I step confidently into the new year, I believe her message will help me stay the hell out of “The Land of Make Believe” and it will help you too.
So my question for you is: What are you doing to live an authentic life? Please post a comment below. I’d love to hear from you on the subject of living your own truth.
Living Authentically (or at least trying to),