Releasing what holds you back

TRIGGER WARNING: This post discusses abuse and rape culture. Some people may find it upsetting.

As we barrel through our everyday lives, we aren’t always conscious of what is fueling our mood, emotions and abilities. Some days, I feel like I just can’t get it together and nothing is going my way. Maybe its a full moon, or my Aunt Flo, but realistically, unless we stop to reflect on whats up in our heads, we just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Recently a client came to me and they were feeling stuck. It reminded me that the space of “stuck” can have many perspectives. It might not always be about what you’re eating or about how hard you are or aren’t exercising. There are deep mental and emotional layers on the path to success, AND to feeling successful. When it comes to self-love and self-advocacy, being honest about the things in life that have contributed to the person you are is an important part of the puzzle. I’ve been working so hard over the past year and a half to build a space where women can truly just be themselves. I work hard to make sure they know that they are safe and they are believed. As the founder of this space, I feel compelled to let them know they aren’t alone on this, or any journey when it comes to being a woman.

I originally wrote this blog during the Kavanaugh hearing. It didn’t get published during all the hype and my courage wore off, so there it sat. I believe that in order to become un-stuck, you need to effectively process emotions in order to make a clearing for growth and transformation. Our culture seems be under the wave of change. Women’s rights need to undergo a positive change…. and we are all about that over here in this corner of the internet. We are a studio created by a mom, for moms — meaning we are formed by and for WOMEN. We are here to empower women…. so if this offends you, then I truly apologize that this may not the corner you’ve been searching for.

My feelings are still so incredibly strong and twisted up. Literally, until I wrote this post, this was a story that only 3 people in this world knew. None of which included my mother, my husband or my sister. They have obviously gotten a chance to read this before it was dropped on the inter webs. I’ve been hanging on to this for far too long. While I don’t feel like it holds me back from day to day, it could be an important layer holding me back from success. I am ready to fully release what has happened, because #metoo. I guess this is a story about a trauma that I thought I filed away. But, it turns out that if left un-dealt and “unfelt” it eventually floats back to the surface. During the height of the Kavanaugh hearing, thats what happened for me.  It’s finally time for me to work on healing the wounds that are so much deeper than I realized. Letting them heal and leave a scar is the only way we can really ever “get over” it and move on.  After all, that’s what being a healthy adult is all about. 

Today I want to tell you about a night over a decade ago.

I was 23, living in Orlando and working in timeshare sales. I was single, and one day the most charming and beautiful man asked me on a date. I knew him from the sales floor. I had seen him around for months, and so I said yes.

Now, my mother raised me to have a head on my shoulders and to ALWAYS be careful. I had known of this guy, but I didn’t really know him, and no one I talked to really seemed to know him.

The pit I have in my stomach just trying to type this is absolutely horrific. In fact it’s harder than when I wrote about our family’s struggle with depression and suicide.

The day that I accepted his invite to dinner, I planned to meet him at the restaurant. This way I would have my car & I would be in control. We met up and I don’t remember why, but he had this brilliant reason we needed to change the plan and go somewhere else. We could leave my car and get it on the way home. We weren't going that far, and obviously I didn’t want to offend him by saying I would drive my car to the other restaurant, so I got in his car and went.

We ate an uneventful dinner; things were okay. I wouldn’t say sparks were flying, but I also wasn’t dying to get home. After dinner, for some reason or another, he had some reason we just needed to stop at his apartment. Honestly, I can’t remember if it was that he had to let the dog out, or what the reason was, but I went along with it. When we got to his house, I sat down and I was waiting for him.

That’s when it all started to go bad… That is when for the first time in my life I was truly afraid. I remember him pinning me down. I remember him holding me so tight that I had bruises on my wrists. I remember him biting me, and telling me I liked it. I remember looking around the room for anything I could grab — only, I couldn’t move. He weighed much more than I did, and was much stronger than me. My eyes never stopped scanning and my brain never stopped planning for anyway I could get out of his grip. I remember the look in his eyes and the fear it created in me. I was scared to make him mad. Because, if he wasn’t already I wasn’t sure what would happen if he did get mad. I don’t remember the date, the restaurant or even his name, but I remember the feelings. I remember being so grateful the moment the front door opened. His roommate walked into the kitchen, which was visible from the living room. I knew at that moment, the ONLY reason I was not raped was because his roommate had spoiled his plan.

I shook trying to keep it together while he took me back to my car. I got home, I walked into my neighbors apartment and cried. I cried, and I cried some more, because tomorrow I had to go to work and look at him again.

To the day I wrote these words on my computer screen, there were only 3 people who knew what happened. My neighbor, my best friend at work and my roommate. That’s it. NO ONE ELSE. These three people who knew, I haven’t spoke to them in over 10 years. I couldn’t tell you the date this even happened. I couldn’t even tell you the season it happened… but I can remember the fear. Honestly, I don’t even remember his name, but I can still picture his face clear as day. And here was this poor woman, Dr. Ford, testifying about something so real, and it just didn’t seem to matter. Or matter enough.

I didn’t date for YEARS after this event.

I didn’t tell my story because I wasn’t raped.

I didn’t tell my story because I should have known better, it wasn’t random.

I didn’t tell my story because the thought of someone telling me to get over it might have damaged me more than the event itself.

I didn’t tell my story because I worked with my attacker, and what would happen if I made him mad?

I didn’t tell my story because I just wanted it to be OVER.

There are millions of reasons these stories go unreported. I can’t speak for any other woman on this planet. But, I can tell you I believe them.

I can’t imagine if anyone told me that this didn’t happen.

I can’t imagine if anyone told me it wasn’t that bad.

13 years later, I am putting this story out there because it is 2019 and I have a 4 year old baby girl. I cannot believe I am raising her amongst this culture. It scares me how misogynist this world still is, and I am concerned for her future. A lot of those thoughts I’ll save for another day, but for right now I want to focus on the rape culture and the #metoo movement. I want to focus on the fact that so many women don’t report these assaults because of shame, fear and a million other reasons.

If you don’t understand why women don’t tell their stories, it’s most likely because you haven’t experienced it. Thank God & the Universe for that, because NO ONE should experience it.

I have SO many more feelings. So many more thoughts. It doesn’t go away - it always happened - but getting it out to ANYONE means that it no longer has negative power over me. Deciding to not hold it in means that it can no longer hold me back (even if I didn’t realize it was holding me back).   

Don’t let it hold you back. Don’t let anything hold you back, because you deserve more.

If you have a story- I believe you.

TABITHA SWEENEY is the founder and owner of Vitality Buffalo. Vitality Buffalo is a fitness studio specializing in family friendly fitness.

Easy Food Swaps

Big results are the culmination of a million little DAILY habits.

You can save hundreds of calories a day by simply making SLIGHT changes to your nutrition. This is by far is the best way for your results to stick. While it won’t happen in 6 weeks with 20 pounds, there will be incredible results over time!

Like anything in life, there is no one size fits all approach to health and fitness. There are studios and nutrition coaches on every corner, but not all are created equal.  That isn’t to say that one is good and one is bad, or that one’s methods are right and the other’s are wrong. I’m saying that you need to find the one that works for YOU! This means that whatever their method, it has to fit into your life, and more than that, you have to ENJOY it!

I know that there are many coaches and studios out there who would disagree with my methods and teachings. In fact, 5 years ago, I would have disagreed with myself! As I have evolved as a woman, trainer and mother, so has what I preach. The part that makes me the happiest is that I wholeheartedly believe in what I say.  The same way those who preach paleo or keto truly believe that their way is the best.

So what is our Vitality 365 method?

BALANCE & GUILT FREE CONSCIOUS DECISIONS

This is 100% the center and core of our studio.  Vitality 365 teaches our members how to change small daily habits with consistency over time. This will lead to sustainable results.  Here’s the thing- this method is SLOW. If you drop 20 pounds in a month, you made way more than SMALL changes. Around here, we learn how to eat the pizza AND still feel in control.

Feeling the control is super important. I promise that over the next year there will be A LOT more content coming out in regards to conscious decision making & self growth.  But for today, I am going to leave you with this chart we put together of easy swaps that can save you hundreds of calories a day. However, the key is to remember you have to swap for a bit while NOT replacing the calories (eating an extra cookie) you are swapping. Swapping without indulging will lead to visible change!

For example:  Mustard has 0 calories per tbs, and Mayo has just about 100 calories per tbs.  Making that change at lunch every day will save you 700 calories a week. 3500 calories = 1 pound.  In 5 weeks, you’ll be down 1 pound…. FIVE WEEKS! Most of us would say F it before we even get there because we would be frustrated… yet if we stick with it, it’s working.  The best part is, you didn’t give up your bread, you didn’t give up your cheese and you aren’t hating life.

Once you stop dreaming about the mayo you gave up, you can pick another easy swap. Lets say soda for seltzer.  Again you’re going to save about 140 calories per serving. If you drink 2 cans of soda a day, that’s a 280 calorie swap. That’s 1960 calories in a week.  In just under 2 weeks you’re down 1 pound!

This is key though…. you can’t give up the 2 cans of soda, and add in 2 brownies.   We NEVER preach that you can’t eat something. But we DO preach being aware. CHOOSE to eat it and then do it without guilt while owning the decision (this leading to another blog, for another day). I just want you to keep in mind that while easy swaps 100% work, to FEEL your body changing, you must be aware that you are replacing calories in ways you weren’t previously.

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TABITHA SWEENEY is the founder and owner of Vitality Buffalo.  Vitality Buffalo is a fitness studio specializing in family friendly fitness. 

Hitting the RESET Button

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The holiday season has come and gone along with the sunshine and my motivation.

Around the studio lately it seems that everyone has the same goal. To hit the RESET button on their nutrition, their goals and themselves.

So this morning I posed the question…. HOW?

Today I want to share with you how I hit the reset button in our house.

Whenever the season or the weather shifts it seems that we need to come back to center. Our motivation drifts a bit and we get caught up in the day to day. In this case, the dark and over here in our corner of the world, the never ending snow and or rain have made it so that the only thing I want to do is curl up on the couch and settle in for my next Netflix binge. Of course, while munching away on comfort food.

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I have a few key strategies that I always default to when it’s time for me to reign myself back in.

#1) WATER: If my nutrition isn’t on par the downward spiral ALWAYS starts with the fact that I’m not keeping myself properly hydrated. Drinking half of your body weight in ounces per day isn’t always easy. However, when done consistently, I promise it makes all the difference how you feel.

When I’m at this point, I stop trusting the fact that I am filling up my bottle enough times throughout the day and start making myself prove it. I pull out the 101 ounce bottle and that is what I use to fill my cup. I only fill from this so that I know my numbers are accurate. My goal is to drink it all before I go to bed.

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#2) VITAMINS: I have a select combination of vitamins that I have been taking for YEARS. Can I tell you something though? I HATE taking pills. Like hands down, I am the WORST at it, and it doesn’t take much to convince me to stop taking them. That being said, I notice a HUGE difference in myself, my cravings and my energy when I am consistently choking them down each and every morning. So, chances are if my habits are starting to turn, I likely ditched the vitamins several days prior.

#3) LOGGING: I have never committed to food logging long term in my life. Truthfully, I don’t plan to. BUT I DO use it as a tool when I feel myself going awry. I pull out my app and I will use it to start planning. I am a creature of habit, so once I get a few days in with good macros numbers I will continue to eat the same thing day in and day out for weeks on end.

#4) PROTEIN: Truth be told: I am a carb girl. You will NEVER 100% convince me to give up grains… but I do know better. And I know that if I’m not being conscious, my tastes will always default to more garlic bread instead of more chicken. So I make sure that I have a protein at every meal and that I only allow myself seconds of protein over breads and such.

Above are MY top strategies and tools for hitting the reset button.

Here are a few other ideas offered up by the tribe:

  • Drink 8 ounces of water and wait 10 minutes before giving in to the craving

  • Set specific times of day to eat and only eat inside those times

  • Create an eating only zone in the house & no eating outside of it

  • Set the timer to eat slower

  • Handwrite & journal what you are eating along with your feelings

  • Go up and down the stairs 5 times before giving in to a craving

  • Clean out the cupboards and throw out everything that isn’t healthy

  • Keep all snacks out of sight

  • Pack up the dinner leftovers before sitting down to eat.

  • Want something sweet after your meal? Eat a few berries, a clementine or even toss a piece of gum or a few mints in your mouth.

However you decide to, what matters most is that you are hitting this reset button with a commitment to yourself. Without the commitment to yourself, old habits will creep in and falling back into your usual slump will look like a comfortable option. This is where I like being a part of a community that I can bounce ideas off of and grow with. When it comes to nutrition, community isn’t for everyone and that’s totally OK. But, if you think it’s the extra support you need, we have an online group through Facebook called The Fit Mom and both in person and online nutrition meetings here, at Vitality Buffalo. We ‘re here for you whenever you need us!

Cheers to the reset and growing into the best version of yourself possible! When you hit the button and make a stride, leave me a comment or send me a message! I’d love to be a part of your cheering section!

TABITHA SWEENEY is the founder and owner of Vitality Buffalo.  Vitality Buffalo is a fitness studio specializing in family friendly fitness. 

Body Positivity

I'm going to transcend back several years here.  20 plus to be exact, to a time when I over and over again wanted to know why boys don't have to wear shirts and I do.   

I remember fighting this point over and over and over again, because it seemed to be just another double standard of society.  We BOTH have nipples, so why must mine remain covered while theirs don't need to be?  

I think it goes without saying that I never won the argument and I believe that my mother shut it down most of the time by telling me I would go to jail and that was that. 

Fast forward.  

Today I'm 35, it's 90+ degrees outside and we are digging out half our front lawn to expand our driveway.  Did I mention our lawn is clay and we are doing it by hand.  My shirt is drenched in sweat and I'm starting to get legit angry over the fact that I can't be outside topless as this sweaty t-shirt is hanging off my body. 

The hubs looks at me and says- so take your shirt off and just wear your sports bra.

WHAT?!

I have NEVER done that before.  I mean I have worn my bathing suit in public.  I have worn my bathing suit to wash the car but I have NEVER worn shorts and a sports bra without a shirt.  

My answer:  I can't. 

His response: Why?

My answer: I just stared at him, I didn't have an answer.  Then I started to make excuses - no one wants to see me in a sports bra. We live on a main road with a LOT of traffic.  

His response: No one wants to see the neighbor sitting on his tractor cutting the grass without his shirt on either but he doesn't care - so why do you?

HUH....

I went inside for a few minutes. 

Can I REALLY do this?  I've been lazy with my workouts lately.  My body still has several more pounds to go before I hit a comfortable status.  What will people think?  What will people say?

- HOLD UP - 

Why does any of that matter?  Why am I going down this rabbit hole?

I have built a studio that completely embraces the body positive movement.  Where we ACCEPT the fact that women's bodies don't look like they do in magazines and we are ok with it! We are better than ok with it, we PROMOTE it! 

Am I really going to keep my t-shirt on, and be uncomfortable and miserable because I'm scared to show off my body?  

Here goes nothing.... 

Embracing your body doesn't mean that you are totally comfortable.  It doesn't mean that you look in the mirror and love every little detail about yourself down to the stray eyebrow hair and stretch mark.  Body positivity means loving yourself,  and being confident in your amazing, strong body regardless of your flaws.  It means saying "I'm not perfect,  but I'm still amazing". 

So whether its working outside in your sports bra,  wearing a tank top in the summer and showing off your arms,  or just looking in the mirror and saying something kind to yourself when you see your beautiful face - find some ways to work body positivity in.  I don't have to see you to know you are beautiful,  we all are in our own ways.  Show your beautiful self some love.  

And if you were wondering -

I crushed it: in my yard,  in my sports bra with all the cars passing by on my busy road.  

 

 

TABITHA SWEENEY is the founder and owner of Vitality Buffalo.  Vitality Buffalo is a fitness studio specializing in family friendly fitness. 

Just one of our stories

Trigger warning:  This blog post discusses mental health and suicide prevention.  Please be mindful to your own triggers,  and if it raises something in you - know you aren't alone.  Find somebody to talk with,  or we are always here to reach out to.  

I have been feeling a pull lately to begin telling our story.   Mental Health Awareness is blowing up all over Facebook and I have a lot pulling at my heartstrings.  As I write I'm not sure if this will be a single piece, or multiple pieces.  I don't know exactly what I want to tell, or what your reactions will be, but I know that this is one of our stories I want to share.  

I believe that we go through things in our lives for reason.  It is our DUTY to share it, when the time is right, so that we may help others.  By not telling our story then we went through a lot of pain, a lot of anguish and a lot of heartache for nothing.  I NEED good to come out of this one. So here it goes....

Let me catch you up to speed with a quick timeline so you can keep things in perspective:

May 2016: We closed on our forever home in the Village of Hamburg.  We had an apartment in my grandmother's house and we decided to make a few "quick" renovations before we moved in. 

June 2016: The plumbing in the apartment went.  The house was not livable with a toddler and and my pregnant self, so we moved in with my parents (for what we thought was going to be 2 weeks or so).

July 2016:  We had a big issue with the painter and the "fixing" of the walls and we decided to plunge and rip out the bedrooms.

August of 2016: Cal was born.  We were still living with my parents.

April 2017: We signed the lease on the space that would become Vitality Buffalo.  We were still living with my parents.

August 1 2017: We opened the doors to Vitality Buffalo.  We were still living with my parents. 

..... and this is where this part of the story begins.

Friday August 25th 2017: Tensions were high, emotions were strong and it seemed like someone was always angry.  Over the past year things between my husband and I had been disintegrating.  We were fighting a lot.  We didn't overly want to be around each other, it seemed like all we did was yell at each other.  We had been living with my parents, our two kids, our cat and our dog for over a year.  I went from being pregnant to getting ready to celebrate the baby's first birthday and we were still living in my old childhood bedroom.  

My husband had called and told me that he was going to stop at the gym on his way home.  We had so much to do; the kids birthday party was on Saturday and the list was long.  I met him over there, I'm sure that in my mind I was going to yell at him about something or another because it seemed like at that time in my life that's all I was ever doing.  I walked in and I looked at him and insticivtely I knew something was wrong.  

He had been battling anxiety for awhile.  The doctors had changed up his meds about 6 weeks before and I just remember walking up to him and asking if I needed to be worried.  I remember his exact words to me "I won't tell you not to be worried".  We agreed to call the doctor Monday morning and that I was going to go with him. 

Up until this point - I knew he struggled with anxiety but I had NO IDEA the depth of it.  I had no idea the demons he was up against.  A lot of my anger came from him telling me how hard things were for him, and me truly not understanding.  My exact thoughts were "we aren't in any different position than any other 30 something couple with toddlers (who are living with their in-laws and completely remodeling their entire house)".  So yeah, I mean the part about living with my parents may not have been ideal, but they were there to help with the kids, we weren't paying rent and a mortgage, we weren't living in the dust and my dad was helping us with the majority of the most expensive work.  Really - we were pretty lucky.  So every time he started in on the pressures & stress card I started to lose my mind a bit.  In retrospect, I really wish that I would have listened and pried just a little bit more. 

We came home from the gym and we had a plan. 

Only we never made it to Monday to morning my world stopped turning just five short hours before the doctors phone line would open. 

Monday August 28 2017 3am: The baby is crying.  I wake up and notice Patrick isn't in bed, but that isn't anything new because there are three of us sleeping in a double sized bed and one of us is usually pushed downstairs to the couch.  I head down to make a bottle, only he isn't on the couch.  I get the bottle thinking my mind is playing tricks on me - and he must be in bed.  Only he isn't.  The panic is starting to set in.  Something is wrong.  450 calls later and he still isn't answering his phone.  His car is gone.  By the time I find him, I realize that his pill bottle is empty and his water bottle had been filled with beer.   The rest is a little blurry.  There was an ambulance, days at ECMC, pleading with the doctors to help him. A lot of fear, a lot of tears and so much more. 

When he was finally alert in the hospital and able to communicate he looked at me and said "I'm so sorry, i just needed the pain to stop".   I remember saying, "but we were going to call the doctor in just a few hours...." and all he said was "I couldn't wait that long". 

The only reason he is still here, is because I found him in time.  If we are being brutally, ugly, honest - he was angry with me for finding him.  I was so blindsided.  Three days earlier I hadn't even known he was depressed or the depths of his anxiety.  I knew we were going to call the doctor, but even at that point I had ZERO idea that this road was even on our map. 

Attempted Suicide.  That wouldn't happen to my family.  We are a working class family.  We both have college educations, we own a house (granted we aren't living there yet - but we are turning it into our forever home), we have nice things, we have two beautiful children, the dog, the cat, two cars that have been completely paid off.  He has a good job, I just opened my own studio and am getting a chance at living out my dream.   

Attempted Suicide. It has taken me months to even be able to actually say those words.  

Attempted Suicide.  The next few months were a blur.  Therapy for him.  Therapy for me.  Therapy for us.  A LOT to work through.  A LOT to figure out.  A LOT to decide on.  Out of work & back to work & out of work again.  We learned a lot about ourselves as individuals and as a couple.  We learned who are our truest of friends are.  We learned who would judge and who wouldn't.  We learned that family is more than blood.  People asked what I needed and I didn't even have an answer.  Prayers.  We needed lots and lots of prayers.  I needed him to get to a place where he WANTS to be here.  

The thing about going through suicide or an attempted suicide is that it isn't socially acceptable.  There are the few people you let in on your secret and that's it.  There are no Go Fund me pages, there is no public support, there are very few people who even know the depth of your despair and struggles.  To make it worse, when the provider of a one family income takes an abrupt leave of absence survival mode really comes to light.  We made it through the holidays because of friends who knew our situation and we vowed to return the favor next year.  

See the thing is, you are in a bad place, and then it actually still gets  just a little bit darker before the light breaks in again.  

Why am I writing this..... for a lot of reasons.  Like I said in the beginning - if we go through these things and we don't share them then it was all for nothing. 

Depression and mental health don't look a certain way.  Depression and mental health aren't unemployed.   They aren't homeless.  They aren't ugly.  They are every day, hard working people.  They are tricky little bastards that make you feel better on the meds so you go off.  They trick you into thinking something is "wrong" with you and that you aren't worthy.  They tell you that no one would miss you and in fact that everyone would be better off without you. 

I am here to tell you that that couldn't be farther from the truth.  

I thank God daily that he's still here.  That I didn't have to ruin my daughters birthday by telling her that Daddy was never coming home again. I thank God daily we are finally approaching a state of recovery and can begin to talk about this.  I thank God every minute for the people that I have in my life who literally picked me up and carried me when I couldn't walk.  For the friends who called and just said, "I'm coming with a pizza" or "leave your kids for as long as you need".  For the shoulders who dried my tears and the arms that hugged me as I grasped to understand what was happening.  Mostly I thank God that he is still here with me. 

It isn't just the person who attempts the suicide who "goes through it" it is the entire family unit.  

You might be surprised to learn who is dealing with issues like this.   These issues are often hidden away for so many reasons - but we need to talk about them to be there for each other.  If suicide is something that you find crossing your mind - please reach out.  To a friend, to your Doctor,  to me.  You are wanted and you should be here.  

If you need somebody to reach out to immediately,  here is the contact information for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  

1-800-273-8255

"We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals."  

 
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TABITHA SWEENEY is the founder and owner of Vitality Buffalo.  Vitality Buffalo is a fitness studio specializing in family friendly fitness. 

Vitality Buffalo will once again walk alongside the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention in the fight against suicide on September 7, 2019 at Canalside Buffalo. You can learn more about the walk, how to join our team or contribute to our fundraising efforts by clicking here!

Your Feelings Are Valid.

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Life is a series of ebbs and flows.   Some days are better than others.  Some months are better than others.  Hell, lets be real, some YEARS are better than others.  

Some people know this, and I don't share it lightly, but 2017 was a rough year for my little family and this has carried into 2018.  My daughter and my husband have both faced some extremely trying and ongoing medical issues.  I’ll spare you the details but the search for medical answers has brought significant stress and drastic change to our little family.

Anyways, a few weeks ago I was on the phone with my cousin.  She called just to vent.  She was packing for vacation with the family.  Emotions and tensions were running high and patience was running low.  

We all know the feeling.  We have all been there before.  We are already at our limit and then something happens that pushes us over the edge.  Pretty sure it’s an experience as intrinsic to motherhood as childbirth itself.

As she is venting about the popcorn her husband couldn't find in the pantry and the endless pile of laundry, she suddenly stopped mid-sentence and immediately began apologizing.  "I'm so sorry, I forgot who I'm talking to and what you guys are dealing with.  I'm crying over popcorn and you guys have 'real' problems, you don't want to listen to this... I'll let you go."  

My heart broke, because yes, we are dealing with 'real' problems right now.  But girl, I have been on the other end too.  I have cried because my kids won't fall asleep, because I can't find the remote to the TV, because I tripped over the same shoe 14 times already today.  You know what - those ARE REAL PROBLEMS TOO.  In the midst of being sleep deprived, hormonal, and pulled in 14 different directions - sometimes those very 'small' things seem very, very, big.  

One thing I have learned in one of my many counseling sessions is regardless what your problem is; your feelings are still valid.  You don’t need to meet any criteria to have feelings about your experience.  I think this is a really important lesson that can have a grand impact on our daily lives.  I get through my days right now by constantly reminding myself that as much stress that sits on our shoulders right now, we know that we are still VERY lucky and we have a lot to be thankful for.  My life didn't always carry the weight that it does right now, and it won't carry it forever.  

With that said, every tear I have shed, every curse I have yelled in anger, all of my emotions are all valid.  It isn't invalid because there are people who have bigger worries than me.  In turn, what I am going through does not invalidate somebody else’s experiences.

Do not allow anyone to take away your feelings.  THIS is how the word "crazy" starts getting thrown around.  If you're like me, I can handle being called many, many things but please don't call me crazy.  It stems from a relationship back in college almost 20 years ago (gulp) when every time I voiced my feelings, instead of validating me, the guy I was dating would call me crazy.  Sadly I know this is an experience many others have gone through as well.  Somehow as women, society tells us our feelings don’t matter unless we are dealing with something of great substance. If our problem doesn’t qualify as substantial enough, we are supposed to accept life as it is and just move on. 

But the truth is, your feelings are valid and you have the right to not only feel them but to voice them.  When we keep things inside too long, it allows all sorts of nasty stuff like self-doubt, guilt and shame to take root.   We express our feelings to get them out, work through our stuff and move forward.  There is some kind of magic that happens when we vocalize what we are holding in; the negativity begins to lose its power and the healing process begins. 

So here is the thing, one of my main goals at Vitality Buffalo is to create a space and community where women can gather and be real.  Friendship and community are so essential to facing life’s hurdles straight on.   Please know when you walk through our doors, you are free to be yourself and bring all of your emotions and feelings, good and bad.  When we are able to be true to ourselves, it is then we are able to grow into the best versions of ourselves.

 

 

TABITHA SWEENEY is the founder and owner of Vitality Buffalo.  Vitality Buffalo is a fitness studio specializing in family friendly fitness. 

What size bell is right for me?

Lets face it... weights are an investment.  They aren't cheap and most people can't afford to have a collection the same size as the studio does in their living room.  The most common question people ask is what size bell should I buy?

My response is almost always the same:  HEAVY! 

Which usually provokes a confused stare and a nervous laugh from whomever I just said that too. But here's the thing... I'm serious! 

So lets take a hot minute to talk about WHY I give this answer. 

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1) Because bells are an investment and I don't want to see you outgrow the bells you just bought. 

      If you buy the bell you can currently press and consistently use it you will not only outgrow your bell quickly but your progress is going to halt.  What are you working towards if you can already press that bell for 10 reps.  So next you'll press it for 12 then 15 then 25 .... all you're doing is increasing the amount of time you have to workout for to continue to get results.  Now there are places and people who will tell you that volume training is good for your endurance, yada yada and that's great.  I won't necessarily tell you it's wrong, just that it's a method I practice scarcely as I genuinely prefer to spend less time working out and more time with my kids. 

2) Because there is a lot you can do with a heavy bell - you just don't know it yet! 

    Many of our signature kettlebell moves are actually designed to move heavier weight than you think.  Turkish getups and windmills for instance are the most beneficial to you as you start increasing your weight.  Now that's not to say that you will pick up and perform these moves with a heavy bell the first time you try them. You need to learn how to properly execute them, BUT the goal is to eventually perform these moves with a heavy bell.

3) Because when you start getting strong, your life will change in ways you didn't imagine

       The emotional transformation that takes place as you get stronger is incredible.   Its actually one of my favorite pieces of coaching- witnessing that transformation as clients begin to blossom and their confidence begins to take a whole new level.  

4) Because even if all you can do is swing it, that alone is a REALLY good workout! 

       Its good for your glutes, your lungs, your abs.  Simply swinging {consistently & correctly} will absolutely offer you body comp changes! 

If you're still trying to decide what you would do with a heavy bell that you can't press overhead yet- here is a quick workout you could try:

Start your stop watch, you are going to work for :40 seconds and rest for :20.
 {That means if your timer is working you are starting every time the minute hits :01 and resting every time it hits :41
Deadlifts
Swings
Squats
Farmer Carry
Core Hold
Two handed chest press
(if you are able - if not that's totally ok, just skip it)

That is just a FEW of the moves you can hit with a heavy bell.... this list goes on and on, and as you grow into your heavy bell you start taking these moves to the next level.  Ex: Single leg deadlifts, single leg squats, overhead carry, overhead press, windmills, turkish getups

So the very last question is: what does "heavy" mean?  I suggest starting with a weight that is 15 (to 20) pounds HEAVIER than your single arm press!  Yes that's right.... so if you can press a 20 (to 25) pound bell overhead I would go with a 40 pound bell.  If you are starting at 10-15 pounds that you can press over head then I would settle in with a 30 to 35 lb bell.  I know this still leaves a lot of room, because ultimately I want you to choose a bell that although it may slightly intimidate you, you are comfortable with.

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If you try any of these, let me know!  If you take the chance and buy a heavier bell and need more ideas, shoot me an email over at: Tabitha@VitalityBuffalo.com

#becausemuscleschangeeverything
 

 

 

 

Give me a ..... D-E-F-A-U-L-T-S

Google defines default as:

 

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We all know the negative connotation that can be associated with the word. But what if we turned that word into your best friend, and showed you how to use it to your benefit to get RESULTS on your wellness journey?   

What if, when you don't have something planned or life throws you a curve, you had a back up plan that you didn't even need to think about, you could just do!  Chances are you have default actions in your day to day life already.  You have dinners that you constantly fall back on when you forget that there is a school concert that night - and if you're like most people it's a box of mac and cheese or a plate of spaghetti and red sauce.  Why? Because it's easy.  It's already sitting in your pantry and you don't need to read the instructions.  It is comfortable, and you can go box to table in 11 minutes flat!  

This is what your health journey needs.  Both for dinner & for movement. 

So today I want to share with you some of my all time favorite defaults.  

I have gone days, weeks, months where this is literally all I ate and all I did for a workout so I could stay on track.  Is it perfect - absolutely not. But it is better than the alternative- which for me is take out and a nap!

IN THE KITCHEN:

Here's a little fun fact about me... I HATE TO COOK.  I don't mind planning, I don't mind shopping, I don't even mind prepping..... but that's about as far as I willingly go in the kitchen.  Before my husband, I lived on baked potatoes and cereal.  

My number one dinner default is: pita pizza. 

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I take a whole wheat pizza (or other crust source depending on what we have in the house at that moment), drizzle it with olive oil, leave a dash of garlic and top it with feta and whatever fresh veggies we have and bake for 20 minutes.  If I have some shredded chicken I'll toss some of that on too! 

Shredded chicken leads us into my second kitchen default.... buying a weekly rotisserie chicken to shred and leave in a tupperware bowl.  

This gives me instant protein that I only have to microwave for a minute to heat it up.  I can pile it on a slice of bread with some bbq and a little cheese and toss it under the broiler for an open pulled chicken sandwich.  I can toss it on a salad, pick on it plain, or even top some tortilla chips with it!   BONUS: I can toss it on the highchair and the babes will go crazy for it - no work on my part!

My third default is a "dunker" egg sandwich.  

Honestly- I dont even know what this type of egg is really called because we grew up calling them dunkers.  You know the kind that you could dunk your toast in!  

I fry one up on the stove and toss it on a piece of toast!  This is a great dinner when I'm getting home after the kids are already in bed!  Again nothing to think about and I have everything I need.   That is the point of the default.  The key though - is that to make it a good default not only does it have to be a smarter choice than the "other option" but you MUST ENJOY IT!  If you don't enjoy your default I can guarantee that you won't default to it! 

TO GET MY MOVE ON:

Stairs! 

I LOVE stair workouts!! 

Honestly - I can't tell you how many times I have just set a timer for 10 minutes- then went up and down the stairs as many times as possible for that 10 minutes. 

Another Idea is to pick a movement for the top of the stairs and a movement for the bottom: Example 10 squats at the top and 10 pushups at the bottom.... pick a number of sets or set the timer and go.  

I also just grab a weight and go up and down.  I may change where I hold the weight with each round - or I may not.  

While stairs are my number one default workout, my runner up would be:

10 squats
10 pushups
10 burpees
        3-4 times through or for as many times as I can in 10 minutes

It's full body and I don't need to think about it.

Lastly - I often revert to windmills and single leg squats.  Sometimes I'll pick up a heavy weight so that I can decrease my reps and still feel good! 

Hope this serves as a little inspiration to you.  Defaults by nature will be the thing you keep doing when you don't feel like it - to some degree we don't pick it, it's what we LIKE to do.... but we do sometimes have to tailor and force it until it BECOMES a habit!  Remember a good default will keep you moving forward at a time when you could potentially start slipping backwards. 

Nakedness

My husband and I have talked in circles about the differences between men and women.  Everything from why we think differently to why we act differently, as well as the differences in what Hollywood portrays as truth versus reality.

Let me just get to my point {spoiler alert for the guys}: Girls locker rooms are nowhere near as exciting or sexy as they are portrayed on TV. And nothing kinky has ever happened at any sleepover I've ever been at in my life. 

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I remember the first time that we had this conversation- I told my husband that most women have never seen their friends naked.  A girls' locker room is mostly full of self-conscious ladies who open their locker door and turn their front towards it, while skillfully changing their clothes to show the least amount of skin possible.  I remember being YOUNG when I learned to change my undies {from undies to swimsuit} by putting one pair on top of the other and then carefully removing the pair underneath. 

I mean, for a culture that is incredibly sex crazy, we are actually really prude.  Look at the debate and conversation that has been started over breast feeding in public!  {That is a topic for a whole other day, but it certainly drives home the point}. 

Growing up, I didn't think twice about hiding my body.  I was taught to cover myself, to stealthily change my clothes in the car so no one would see, and to avert my eyes if someone else was trying to change. You quickly learn not to stare in the locker room and you certainly didn't ask any questions.  So where does that leave us some 20+ years later?

For me, it makes me feel sad.  Sad because the only thing that we as women have to compare ourselves to is magazines and movies.  Everything we have to compare ourselves to is FILTERED. It is why we struggles with self-love, self-acceptance and REALITY!  Because we haven't been exposed to reality. 

When I got my husband's perspective on locker room culture, he told me that he had seen about 90% of his {male} friends naked.  From what he tells me, the way the guys locker rooms are portrayed on TV is pretty much real life! {This is where my jaw dropped}

This- I believe- is why guys are much more comfortable in their own skin than women.  They hold more self-love and acceptance than we do, without having to work as hard for it. That is not to say that no men struggle with body image and self-confidence, but I do believe that "most" guys are much more comfortable with their bodies than women.

After having our first baby, I was terrified for my husband to actually SEE me.  My body didn't look the way it used to, didn't feel the way it used to.  Truth: I have nothing to compare it to, because we as a society don't promote or accept a NATURAL body. I didn't know if what had happened to my body post-birth was normal, because I rarely saw other women in their natural state.

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In fact, for many of us our reality growing up was constantly hearing our mothers talk about diets and their own flaws.  Always harping on the "last 10 pounds" they need to lose.  Or even worse, mothers who were sitting on the sand because they didn't want to be seen walking down the beach in their bathing suits.  We LEARN our self-doubts. 

Let's make a pact. Let's start complimenting each other's "flaws" and teach our girls to love themselves.  Let's show them it is okay to be REAL.  As parents, WE are the only influence they have to learn this from. Change isn't going to happen overnight, but I want to do my part to teach my daughter that she doesn't have to feel ashamed- whether she's a size 2 or 20, she can feel confident in the skin she's in.