Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Seasonal Affects

The sun is shining so brightly in Chicago these past few days that I felt the urge to talk about the weather......and it's affects!! Have you heard of this thing called Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Before moving to Chicago, I had heard of such a thing.....but never really believed in it.  Kind of like Santa Clause or the Tooth Fairy. I didn't think it was real. I lived in Bozeman, Montana and Las Vegas, Nevada for a combined 13 years prior to moving back home to Chicago. Both of these previous cities were FILLED with sunshine, more than you can imagine - especially in the Big Sky State! Las Vegas averages roughly 300 days of sunshine a year, with barely any clouds - just direct, golden rays right to your eyeballs!

Easier said than done, Barney
(aka Doogie Howser) 
To hear of people "suffering" from Seasonal Affective Disorder used to make me laugh - can someone really be THAT affected by the weather? In my mind, I would immediately associate this as a weakness! "Come on, people - get yourself together!".........or at least that's what I used to think to myself.......

Fast forward nearly 3 years and 3 Chicago winters later, I find myself waking up each morning, wondering "what is wrong with me?" I don't think it hit me as hard the first winter - new environment, new friends, new job. I didn't have the time to let it hit me. But these past 2 winters have been quite intense. Not only does my self esteem take a dive, but my energy and passion for life plummets too! I am caught in the middle of this emotional battle, telling myself "this isn't me!" and "why am I acting this way?" I am extremely passionate about teaching my fitness classes and even found myself constantly seeking last-minute subs because I just couldn't fake it. If you've ever met me, you probably think these sound like ridiculous statements......believe me, I would agree if I wasn't actually living it!

I was only open about these feeling with a few close people at first. Then I had an A-HA moment - turns out, I am not the only one!! You will notice when I mention Seasonal Affective Disorder, I cross out the word Disorder. That is not by mistake. Disorder makes it sound like something actually IS wrong with you.....when in fact, there is not. Experiencing signs of what they call "S.A.D" are actually normal.  In fact, can we change our terminology to just say "Seasonal Affects" and drop the Disorder? And let's be honest - we are not "suffering" through this, it just happens. YOU MUST KNOW it will pass, otherwise it will consume you. Please know - please BELIEVE - this weird feeling of depression or lack of energy that is "not you" WILL pass and the sun will (literally) shine again!

Tools I've used to help me get by this winter:
1. Bought a HappyLight - using it 20 min/day
2. Vitamin D - one drop in my coffee every morning
3. Took up watching Bob's Burgers with my love....
and laughing hysterically
4. Socializing - coffee dates with my girlfriends

 I almost wish I would have wrote this blog back in December and January when this was affecting me the worst.  You might be reading this right now, with sunshine blasting through your windows, thinking, yea I'm good. When in reality, this would have been a much more influential read a couple of months ago.  Nonetheless, I think it is still important to understand that we are not alone. Many times when we are struggling, we think no one else can possibly understand what we are going through - when in fact, a lot of us can. Don't be afraid to speak up. Being affected by the weather, especially in places with little to no sunlight, IS normal and is certainly NOT a disorder.

Thanks for reading! And until next time. . . . . see you at the gym! :-)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Beck is Back!

I am baaaaaaack! 
Today marks one great – big – gigantic – fabulous - YEAR that I have been away from blogging! Let's just call it - a sabbatical, a rest from work. As irony would have it, my last blog was about following through…..ha! And it is actually funny because if you read what the Following Through Blog is about – it says I wanted to do more blogging! J

Along El Camino....
Well it turns out this last year had a different plan for me. I found the love of my life and have never been happier! I changed jobs. I got a new baby cousin! I traveled to Spain and walked El Camino de Santiago with my mom, sister and aunt. I completed a #whole30. I was a BODYSTEP® presenter in Chicago at a LES MILLS® Quarterly event. I have to say, I have had a pretty crazy - hectic - and incredible year!

But what has had the most impact on me this past year?

I lost my 25-year old cousin, Stevie Beck, to depression and suicide…..

I know, it’s intense for my first blog back - but hear me out.

I consider my family very close, so when this news was delivered to us – I was not exactly prepared for or expecting it.  But I doubt anyone is.
I think it is time I come back from my sabbatical and start blogging again. Life is too good and too damn short not to, right?! I know Stevie would have wanted me to. He had such a big personality – always wanting to make people feel good, turning ANY situation into a belly-laughing good time! He had that BECK energy, drawing people into every conversation he had with them.

I wouldn’t be lying if I said that I often ask myself why he didn’t come to me, why didn’t he ask me for help? Did I say the right thing – did I say the wrong things? Did I not pay enough attention to him when things were looking a bit off?  
I know, and I have been told a million times over, I will never get the answers to these questions. I am slowly getting used to that.  And I know that I am not the only one who asks themselves these questions – family, friends, all of us I am sure have had these thoughts in one way or another.  We are nearing the 1-year anniversary of my amazing cousin and lately, with the clouds covering the sky day after day, I am thinking of what despair he had to have felt in order to carry out this act. And I wish - every. single. day. - that I could have done something to have helped him.
You never, ever know what people are going through. Some of us act happy on the outside and are troubled on the inside. Some of us wear our emotions on our sleeves and may even come across as rude. My inherent goal in this life is to leave people feeling happier than when they first approached or made contact with me. It seems my attempts to do this with Stevie could not save him – but that does not mean I will stop.  Even if you consider yourself a negative person, I am telling you - making other people feel good FEELS good!



It would be wrong of me to start writing again and not talk about Stevie.  Time will heal but his legend will live in all of our hearts.  I think it is my duty, and the lesson I have learned in all of this, is to continue spreading positivity and love to everyone. Being kind to one another is vital for our existence! 

Until next time (SOON!). . . . . see you at the gym! :) 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Following Through!

Following Through is one of the most simple and yet, for most of us, one of the most challenging things to do in order to gain an immediate sense of self confidence, control and accomplishment.

When I'm feeling down on myself, often it is because I feel as though I am not living to my highest potential. I may have said something I was (or wasn't) going to do, and then did the opposite. "Didn't you say you were going to blog weekly, Steph?!" Yes - my point exactly! Many times I sink into a funk because I truly and whole-heartedly believe I can be more disciplined - more structured - more routined. . . . . and then I let myself down. It's almost like this weird guilt that takes over and perpetuates itself through my thoughts. By no means would I consider myself a lazy person - yet when I don't Follow Through with something, it leads me to believe that I am. I feel less confident in myself, a reduced sense of motivation and even sometimes. . . . . I doubt my own goals! How ridiculous, right?!!

Let me give you a very simple, yet very real example for me: 
There are times I feel as though I have an uncontrollable need for chocolate (who me??!). And if you know me very well or have read my blogs before, I am sure I have talked about my Frankenstein-like walk when it comes to this tasty treat - arms straight forward, blank stare on my face, and nobody gets in my way - nobody..... :)

Here is the dealio - when I feel most guilty about eating this deliciousness is when I am alone. Yup - when I shove a piece (oooorrr maybe 2) of chocolate in my mouth when I'm by myself, that's when I know I am going against my word. I am not saying it isn't ok for me to eat chocolate - what I am saying is, my current strength and weight goals will not benefit from this consumption - so why do I do it?

The Hard Facts:
When it comes to Following Through, no one is REALLY watching you or holding you accountable. Seriously. Think about it. Your friends, family, coach, trainer - they have lives to live! And they may act like they care, but honestly - it's no skin off their back if you don't succeed.

So here in lies the problem with Following Through: 
No one is going to do the work for you!  

Say whaaaat??!! Yup you heard that right! Turns out you are not going to become the next big star by sitting around and hoping it happens.  You are not going to get thinner by thinking about eating healthy. You're not going to get a new job by completing your resume. You actually have to DO something and take action. Whether it be practicing for an audition, following a meal plan or submitting that resume - you have to actually DO the WORK! Waiting for success to jump in your lap is a joke! Most successful people in this world are Following Through on the actions that propel them forward toward their goals they have set for themselves.

But ya know, maybe it's not as easy for us to see.  Have you ever witnessed a new movie star pop on to the big screen out of nowhere?! Almost always, our immediate thought is how they must have "got lucky!" What we forget to think about is how long that person has been working toward this goal. Most successful actors and actresses are not sitting in Starbucks, sipping on coffee and randomly getting asked to be in major movies. In fact, many actors work their ENTIRE lives to be where they are now - but the only part we see is their success.

My Point: 
It's time we Follow Through with the hard work behind the curtain, behind closed doors.  The work that no one else sees. The blood, sweat and tears you push through for YOU, and nobody else. Let's start holding OURSELVES accountable and see what kind of magic happens in life!

I'm not gonna lie - I still have PLENTY of work and learning to do when it comes to instructing my Les Mills classes. I did not wake up one day and magically become a National Trainer. If you were to look at my weekly schedule - I practice by myself at least 2 days each week.  I film myself, I film my classes, I focus on my technique, I take other instructor's classes. Time and again, students will come into my class and say, "wow - you make it look easy!" And yea maybe I do, but that's because they don't see my Follow Through - they don't see the hard work that takes place outside of the classroom - they only see the end result!

Easier said than done? I mean, yea - sure! ANYTHING is easier said than done! BUT, the question is - do you want your goals to become a reality badly enough? If you do, than Follow Through. Even start with somethings small - Follow Through with at least one action item this week that will drive your goals onward and upward.

Life shouldn't be about looking back and wishing you did things differently. Life shouldn't be about regretting parts of your past or beating yourself up over things you "should have" done.  Life should be about appreciating the decisions you've made in order to create the person you are.  If you don't like the person you are, then change! Don't look back and regret the life you've created. Live in your now - if you need to, change the present moment - and be happy. How might you accomplish this?! My suggestion. . . . . Follow Through!

Until next time. . . . . see you at the gym! :-)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Do You Have an Excuse for Everything?!

There is always going to be a reason NOT to do something.  Always. As a matter of fact, let me give you a list choose from:

It's too cold.
I'm not ready.
It's too windy.
I have no clean clothes.
I'm tired.
I'm not feeling well.
My shoes fit funny.
I saw a black cat today.
It's too early.
It's too close to dinner time.
It's Wednesday.
I had a rough childhood.
I'm embarrassed.
My spouse isn't "on board" or supportive.

I'm sure I've told this story before - but it's worth telling again.  When I first got into fitness and working out, the only window of time I was available happened to be at 5:30am - ugh!! Every morning - literally - I would wake up and stomp around my apartment like a 5 year old throwing a temper tantrum.  As I brushed my teeth, I would start making up stories in my head - some intricate fabrications I could tell my trainer that would some how justify me skipping out on training that day. I could have just as easily listened to the voices in my head, telling me to stay home. But instead, I chose to put myself on auto-pilot. I ignored the ridiculous lies my mind was trying to convince me were true and I continued to get ready. Often times, the amount of energy it took me to conjure up these tall tales was more exhausting than my actual workouts! And 9 times out of 10, I felt better after leaving the gym dripping sweat than when my sassy attitude arrived! :)

The point of my story: There will ALWAYS be a reason or excuse not to do something. To this day, do I still make up silly stories or come up with reasons to avoid things? Sure! But I believe that my true character and work ethic begins to show when I am able to demonstrate strength and power by walking through the reasons, stepping past the excuses, and living amid the fears that try holding me back.

It's already 2014 - geez, it's already the middle of January!! Time to take a step outside of the good ol' comfort zone and let the magic begin! It's time to start changing the story in your head from I can't to I CAN! You have the ability to manipulate your own thoughts, so change your mindset - change your outcomes - alter your attitude - tell yourself that you are worth the challenge! Challenge creates change and if you TRULY want to make a change, STOP talking about it and/or giving excuses why you can't. It's just as easy to talk yourself OUT of things as it is to talk yourself IN to things! Start thinking of reasons why you SHOULD and CAN do something. . . . . and Just Do It! 

Until next time. . . . . see you at the gym! :-)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Steph's Focus for 2014: My WEIGHT!

The conversation I had with my trainer as we were finishing our last session of 2013:

Me: I am not sure I was very happy with my goals for 2013. I definitely want to set up some new goals for this year. 
Trainer:  Totally! Let's do it. It's funny, I was a little disappointed this year, too. I adjusted my weight goal and didn't quite accomplish it.
Me: Yea, I know what you mean! Shit, my weight goal has been the same for years!! 

Insert: a long. . . . awkward. . . . silence.

Me: (surprised and somewhat confused) Wait - I didn't realize you (or guys in general) had weight goals!! Where in the world do YOU need to lose weight? 
Trainer: Hahaha! Nooooo Steph, I mean my WEIGHT goal! My deadlift weight, my squat weight, etc. My goals was to increase my lifting weights!! 

We laughed pretty damn hard about this and within the moment - I had an epiphany!

My focus for 2014 will be. . . . . MY WEIGHT(S)!

For so long, I have been focused with the actual number on the scale! I've based my "success" on 3 digits that can fluctuate oh-too easily, often multiple times throughout the day! I even tell my own clients NOT to base their efforts or self worth on those numbers, yet can't seem to stay away from that measurement myself!

But times are ahh-changing - and so am I! With new role models and inspirations like Christmas Abbott and Jen Comas Keck, getting strong is now more important for me than any relationship I ever had with gravity. No more weighing myself on a weekly basis, just so I can judge my (good or bad) decisions from the previous week. It's time to throw the scale in the trash and set NEW weight goals - the kind of WEIGHT I can pick up and put down - the kind of WEIGHT that makes me feel good from the inside - the kind of WEIGHT that is going to set me up to live a long, healthy and vivacious life!

But why?! Why get stronger, Steph?! Aren't you afraid you're going to "bulk up?" Aren't you afraid you're going to look manly?! Haha! I love these kinds of comments. But if you are really reading this blog and thinking that - LISTEN UP!  Especially for us girls, unless you are taking additional supplements at home OR you are eating an atrocious amount of calories post workout and/or throughout the day - it is IMPOSSIBLE to get "big!" If you are looking to get "toned," then you have to lift WEIGHTS!

Soooooo on January 2nd, my trainer and I performed one-rep maxes on all the exercises I would like to get stronger in this year *this awesome year* of 2014:

                                 One Rep Max - Jan 2nd, 2014:
                                             Dead Lift: 235lbs
                                         Overhead Press: 85lbs
                                          Back Squats: 185lbs
                                                  Pull-ups: 4


Goals by April 1st, 2014: 
Dead Lift: 260lbs
Overhead Press: 95lbs
Back Squats: 205lbs
Pull-ups: 8

Besides WEIGHT goals, I also have some simple changes I am making so that my body can benefit, both physically and mentally, from the exercises I am performing! Some of these actions are nutrition related and some are more discipline related!

Additional Goals/Actions for 2014:
1. Take the initial steps to becoming a Les Mills Presenter
2. Limit my alcohol consumption to weekends
3. Less protein bars, more FOOD food - Are they convienent when I'm in a bind? Yes!  
Are they going to help me get stronger? Hmmm, probably not. 
4. Limit my creamer in my coffee to weekends (Starbucks, too!)
5. Avoid nuts as my snack - unfortunately, I've learned that the phrase "in moderation" 
does not apply to me and I tend to eat the shit out of them
6. Wake up with an actual alarm clock versus my iPhone
 - 6a. Avoid reading my phone like a newspaper (Facebook, Insta, etc.) until after 7am 
7. Continue Meal Prep Monday 
8. Attend a Yoga class 1-day/week - this was one of my goals for 2013. . . . and. . . . 
ummmm. . . . yea. . . . I only went to ONE CLASS in 2013. Soooo it's back on the list for 2014!   
9. Post one (1) blog every week 
10. Decide whether or not I will compete in 2014 by January 31

Do you have goals for 2014? Do you have them written down?! Questions about the benefits to lifting heavy weights? Shoot me an email at or comment below!

Until next time. . . . . see you at the gym! :-)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Twenty-Eight Days of *Thanks*

I do my very best to follow the words of my father and "have a great day, everyday." When times get rough though, like many of us, I often look for things outside of myself to help lift me back up! Usually the beginning of my thought or statement sounds like, "if I only had______, then I would be happy" or "if only______ would happen, then everything would be good for me."

Have you ever found yourself thinking this same way?! It's easy to lose yourself in these thoughts and believe that you are "unlucky" or not worth it. Everything you do isn't working in your favor and life is oh-so horrible. Mind you - all of these thoughts are NOT true!  Yet when you are in a slump, these feelings can be VERY hard to shake.

When I am ever feeling discouraged or depressed, I am reminded to go back to keeping a Gratitude Journal. You would think keeping a Gratitude Journal is something I should do all year long - but for some reason once I find myself back on track, it becomes less of a priority. Maybe now the slump is over, I am subconsciously grateful for all the things I have?! Yea maybe. But when I go back to writing things down, the act of taking my pen to paper creates and solidifies it in my world.

I think November is such a great month to be on Social Media. Why? Because it is awesome to see how many partake in the daily habit of stating/posting/shouting/tweeting what they are thankful for. It truly is amazing. In the past I haven't contributed to this daily ritual, but I absolutely love reading them!

Instead, for this Thanksgiving holiday, I figured I would play catch-up for the past 28 days and share with you what I write down in my Gratitude Journal. Some are very simple things, and some are a bit deeper. Mind you, I take a little different approach to this journal.  You may read below and think, "WOW! Stephanie has a LOT to be grateful for!" And yes, I would completely agree with you.  But here is the difference with my Gratitude Journal: some of these things below, I already have and am very thankful for. And some of these are things I want in my life - therefore I am thanking The Universe for them, in advance.

I am so very thankful and grateful for: 

1. My loving family *my mom, dad, brother and sister - words do not justify my gratitude for these four (4) people in my life*

2. My strong extended family *my aunts, uncles, godparents and.....cousins!! What would I do without my cousins?!?!*

3. My supportive and caring friends

4. My opportunistic and flexible jobs

5. My clients *most likely, they have no idea how much they inspire and motivate ME - I am grateful for them in so many ways*

#duh #sogood
6. My amazing support system

7. Chocolate. Enough said.

8. My super cute studio apartment :-)

9. My warm bed

10. Coffee.  And peppermint/mocha creamer.

11. My endless and fashionable wardrobe

12. My reliable car *during the winter months of Chicago, you may get a better idea of why I am thankful for this one*

13. My incredible wealth and abundance

14. My healthy body and heart  *two (2) years ago, I found out I had a heart murmur. After the ultrasound, the doc told me I had two leaking valves in my heart. Whoa! I am thankful for this strong heart. Every. Single. Day.*

15.  My beauty, both inside and out

16. My strong self discipline

17. My positive attitude

18. My positive energy

19. My infinite and unique creativity

20. My positive self image

21. My loving and loyal relationships *both past and present have helped me understand who I am*

22. My dedication to my passion

23. My ability and desire to motivate others

24. The opportunity to travel the country and teach fitness

25. My patience *with others, with myself, and with life*

26. Another fabulous day, FULL of opportunities for something AMAZING to happen to me!!

27. My beautiful life

28. The eyes, hands and remarkable brain that allows me to be able to write this blog

Take some time today and write down some of the things you are thankful for that you already have, and the things you WANT to have. Make a habit of checking this list often - add to it, change it, read over it.  Maybe it's not daily, but refer to it more often than just the month of November. It may help battle through the roller-coaster of life a little easier throughout the year, dodging some of those times of doubt.  Forget about looking for things outside yourself - look towards the inside! Because you are, in fact, lucky - you are worth it - and there is so much to be grateful for!

Have a healthy and fabulous Thanksgiving everyone!!

Until next time. . . . . see you at the gym! :-)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Pigging Out in Public!

Almost simultaneously as I finish the Chocolate Chip Cookie in my right hand and reach for the Double Chocolate Brownie Cookie with my left, I hear my aunt lean over and ask me, "How do you stay so skinny??" Ummmm.....BUSTED! How do I dig myself out of this one?! How am I going to convince her, while still chowing down on my delicious treats, that..... "I don't normally eat like this." Mind you - my aunt typically sees me and witnesses this pig-like, unstructured behavior at family parties and holidays, so to her - this could very well be my normal day-to-day eating routine.

I am a pretty regimented person, so I am all for "cheat" days, "reward" days, "refeed" days - however you'd like to call them. Heck, I'm pretty sure in October I had an entire week of it because of all my birthday celebrations.

Here lies the problem: monkey see, monkey do 
Well.....if Stephanie can eat cookies and ice cream and cake, then I can too.  

Holy crap, this is a big, fat FALSE! It never hit me like it did the day my aunt asked me. At this family party, a light bulb went on for me. If my aunt only sees me eating these things, she must
1. think I do it all the time and 2. believe it is ok for her, too.
Like the majority of my clients, my aunt often asks my opinion and tends to struggle with her weight. And she is definitely not alone.

I recently posted a selfie (heyooo) during my birthday week of me eating some ice cream as a post-workout meal.  It was kind of a joke, but not really - because I DID eat it.  I was trying to be silly and illustrate how I was celebrating my birthday. After posting though, I kinda started to regret it - what kind of example am I providing to those who really DO need to cut this out of their diet?

As fitness professionals, we have to be conscious of the people that are affected around us and our actions. Especially with the amount of people we can reach with social media, we are constantly being watched - whether we like it or not.  Not only is someone going to copy our strengths and all the great things we do, but they may copy our weaknesses too.  If I am posting pictures of eating ice cream and talking about eating sweets all the time (ok, not all the time....), this may not be the best way to inspire those who are trying hard to lose weight. On the other hand, it demonstrates that I am not a machine and DO give in to temptations. *It's a bit of a catch 22.* It is good for people to see me and other fitness professionals go outside the box and be "human." Yes, we all have cravings. Yes, we all give in to those cravings at certain points.

But maybe it's the times you DON'T see, the struggles through the battle of wanting something so bad - but saying NO! It's the mornings of waking up before the sun rises and working out before most people have left their bed.  It's the meals prepped on a weekly basis.  It's the continuous and repetitious bordum of eating the same (general) things and staying away from the things I know will cause me to fall off the wagon.

I'm not going to sit here and tell you I will never eat ice cream or post another picture about it again - what I am saying is that I am going to be more aware of those I affect. I am going to be more careful of the posts and blogs I write. In this life, I want to be a role model.  I want to inspire.  I want to change lives. I also want to encourage people to love themselves for who they are - both inside and out. I hope to set an example and promote a positive, healthy lifestyle.

I'm not gonna lie to ya - it takes hard work, self discipline and constant reminder to stay motivated. But if it's what you want - it's worth it. And as a fitness professional, THAT is the kind of thing I want to talk about, post about and write about!

Until next time. . . . . see you at the gym! :-)