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Life

Just Say YES

May 25, 2017

Hey friends! Whoa, it’s been a while since I’ve been able to check in on my blog and I’ve missed y’all.

I’m here to share something personal with you regarding a shift a noticed in my life. I used to say NO to everything. Really…I did. My gut reaction was almost always, “No, I cannot do that” or “nah, I don’t want to do that.” When I met Austin and actually started to listen to him (hahaha), I started saying YES more and more and slowly but surely, I’ve found myself saying yes to tons of things I would of said NO to years ago.

I said YES to pursuing fitness full-time a few months ago.

I said YES to moving to Tennessee with Austin for medical school.

I said YES to that brownie. 🙂

I said YES to taking a rest day.

I’ve been saying YES and I’m not looking back. I’ve noticed that since I’ve started to say yes, I’ve had a ton more life experiences that I reflect on in a positive way. I used to be very regimented and would force myself to work out every day (even when my body craved a rest) and only eat dessert once a week and go to bed by 8:30pm every night…I was structured to a T. Well, then Austin comes into the picture and disrupts my structure in the best way possible. Yes, I’m still structured and organized but I also know how to have more fun and experience life in a FULL way, instead of a calculated way.

I’m so grateful to Austin for countless reasons but I’m most grateful that I learned to relax and experience life the way it’s supposed to be…life isn’t a structured to-do list…life can be messy and there is such beauty in that.

To wrap up this little story, try to say YES to more and see what happens. I’m betting you won’t regret it!

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Life

Barb’s Story

March 12, 2017

Let me introduce you to my beautiful and fearless friend Barb. I met Barb at the YMCA because she is always there in the morning working hard. She started coming to my PiYo classes and I was immediately drawn to her because of her incredibly positive presence. After I got to know Barb a little better, I learned even more about her tremendous strength. I asked Barb if she would share her story with you. Please read below because she is an inspiring woman!

My God strengthens me in so many ways. When I first learned that I had Ovarian Cancer of course I was shocked. I went into the hospital with what was thought to be an infection in my abdomen. After three days in the hospital receiving intravenous antibiotics my doctor decided to do emergency exploratory surgery. This was on Labor Day 2016. Before allowing the doctor to do the surgery I asked if I could have my pastor pray for me. A friend who just happened to be in town was with me at the time and she jumped in and became my secretary and put a call into my pastor and his wife. I was expecting a conference call on speaker phone in my hospital room. But no, God had something bigger planned. My pastor and his wife headed straight to the hospital after they got my call. Not only did they pray for Tom and I but they stayed in the waiting room with Tom the whole time while I was in surgery.

While I was in surgery little did I know how big God was taking care of Tom. Not only were our friends (our Pastor and his wife) there with him along with our out of town friend but two women whom my husband did not even know ended up in the waiting room to pray for and with us. They all were there when the doctor came out and informed Tom that they had found a tumor and that they had to do a total hysterectomy. The doctor told Tom that there was a 95% chance that the tumor was cancer. Our pastor commented “well we serve a God of 5%s.” As God provides, the women, one whom I knew who was there because she had heard and answered God’s calling that day that told her to go to the emergency room for me, the other I did not even know, both had had cancer and were able to ask questions from their experience that we would have never known to ask. They were a great comfort to Tom.

Once back in my room and after the others had left I asked Tom if they had to remove my ovaries. Luckily for me Tom is a strong man of faith. He looked at me and simply told me they had found a tumor and removed it. The strength in which Tom was able to give me the news was just so matter of fact that I took in the news and then asked what’s next. Of course the mass needed to be tested. I have been blessed by the knowledge that my cancer is Stage 2…. it has been explained to me that it is rare that they find Ovarian cancer so early.

I am so very blessed with the people that the Lord has placed in my life. Many times over the next couple of days so many came and went and all shared their faith and prayers with us. There were times when I was alone in my room that I struggled with what our new normal might look like. I’ve had two very special woman close to me that have been on this journey with Ovarian cancer. Both are strong in their faith and both have been there for me through this.

I do not recall ever asking God “why me”. I did cry out His name though because I know there is healing in His name. Two women that visited me while I was in the hospital provided me with scripture that resonated with me. The one that gripped me the most is 2 Chron. 20:15 “This is what the Lord says, Do No be Afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s”. I decided at that moment that I was going to live out this journey in a way in which others will see that Cancer is not a death sentence.

Tom and I have felt the prayers of our family and friends. It is truly amazing to know that God loves us and that He has provided great Christian friends to carry us through. I know that it is because of those prayers that I have been able to remain strong. He has blessed us by this journey more than we can even imagine.

So many times during this journey we have witnessed how God shows up strong. Before I started on Chemo my beautiful friends gathered at our house and prayed over Tom and I. He has enabled me to be able to continue to work full time. I have not had to modify my workouts, in fact, I have even branched out and tried new classes. Along with Metabolic Effect three days a week I now take Warm Barre and PiYo. Just as I couldn’t imagine going through this journey without God, I couldn’t have done it without my workouts. One of the ladies who had just recently been on this same journey told me that she would go home from treatment and drink a lot of water and walk for an hour so that is what I did. I saw her continue to show up at the Y and workout and I wanted to do that too. I was afraid that if I stopped I wouldn’t start again.

No matter where I go I have a very strong support system and I hope that I have been able to give back to everyone who has given to me in some way.

God has strengthened me in ways that I may never realize. He has kept me healthy through this journey.

Life

How I Became Confident Without Makeup

March 6, 2017

I’m sharing my heart with this post because it’s definitely not been easy.

I used to be one of those girls who couldn’t leave the house without her mascara, eyeliner and concealer. I wouldn’t go to the gym without those “essentials.” I felt that everyone could see my dark circles, my pimple, my short eye lashes…that everyone was looking at me and seeing my flaws.

Do you know what changed my outlook on this?

  1. Hot yoga

  2. Austin.

  3. God.

First of all: the yoga part. Y’all are probably thinking, “What, Madison, you crazy?” Okay. If you have ever been to hot yoga, you will understand. You absolutely cannot wear makeup at all when you go to hot yoga. You sweat from every pore and if you wear makeup, you will look like a melted painting by the end of class.

Secondly, and way more important than hot yoga: Austin changed the way I look at myself in the mirror. When we first starting dating and would go on hikes together, I would make sure to have on a full face of makeup. I didn’t want him to see me without my mascara on. It was super important for me to have a certain “image” around him. There was one date where I couldn’t have on my makeup, maybe it was at a pool (I do not remember)…all I remember is the way Austin looked at me, regardless of if I have on makeup or not. He looks at me like I am the most beautiful person in the world. He’s never given me any sort of insult on my looks and compliments me daily on my inner beauty. Austin gave me the confidence to actually feel beautiful – no matter what I wear or do.

Lastly, and the most important of everything in my life: I asked God for help in this shallow feeling I was engulfed in…to always be perfect…to project the “perfect” image to everyone.

No one is perfect but God.

I felt I had to show everyone the “perfect Madison” because that’s the image I’ve always projected. After a specific period in my life, I started looking at myself in the mirror a bit differently. Before: it was “how can I improve on this look?,” “I wish I didn’t have love handles,” “I have dark circles.” Now, I am so proud and happy to say that I look at myself and have started to say, “what can I do GOOD today?” “how can I spread joy?”

Here’s the challenge: my profession is in fitness. Fitness is image driven. Thankfully, I have an awesome best friend (HEY MELISSA) who helps keep me grounded and reminds me of the reason why I do what I do.

I help people become and stay healthy in order for them to live out to their fullest potential.

I’m sharing my experience because it’s not easy. There are days when I get in a rut and I’m so hard on myself. However, it’s a journey and we’re all human. I am here to tell you that there is FREEDOM in going makeup-free and walking out in the world without “hiding” our flaws. There is actually beauty in the imperfections and you can achieve the freedom I have.

Try it out because I am telling you that the vulnerability you feel of showing people the “real you” is totally worth it.

Life

Envy and the Comparison Trap

February 27, 2017

Last weekend, I found myself sick with a cold at home. I looked across the street and saw a couple in my neighborhood getting home from shopping and then doing yard work together. I immediately thought, “That must be nice….to be able to hang out with your husband two days a week and do stuff together.” I got into a little rut for a few minutes thinking about Austin being a first year resident. He was at work sick and I was at home sick. For those of you who don’t know about residency, first year for internal medicine residents is one of the worst and we are lucky if he gets 1 full day off a week, working 6 days a week from 6am to 7-8pm. He is working so hard and I’m incredibly proud.

Comparing ourselves to others is SUCH an easy trap to fall into.

It can happen to me multiple times a day! If you start to notice it, you will be shocked at how often we compare ourselves and envy others.

“Must be nice to be her.”

“I wish I had her legs.”

“She doesn’t know what it’s like to be me.”

“I hate my stomach and wish it looked like Jane’s.”

What got me out of my comparison rut from last weekend? I thought a few things:

  1. I am on God’s timing. And this season in our life with Austin’s residency may be hard at time, but it’ll be worth it.
  2. What are the positives of the situation? I thought to myself, “why am I fortunate?” and I could list at least 20 items. That is GRACE right there!

I think as women, we use our bodies and image as comparison the most. That breaks my heart when I see myself and friends doing that. Since I’ve changed the way I view exercise (see this BLOG POST), I honestly look at my body in a healthier way and exercise because I love my body, not because I hate it. When I catch myself thinking, “I wish I had thinner thighs” or something negative like that, I think that I’m so fortunate to have strong legs to carry me through this life.

Take that item you’re self conscious about (and comparing to others) and list 3 reasons why it’s AWESOME.

Make a note to try and practice those positive affirmations for 1 day. Constantly remind yourself of your beauty and why you are uniquely YOU.

Does anything good come out of comparisons? When has comparison been a good thing? Follow me here…

What I’m getting at is this: no results come out of using envy as a motivation. For example, if you say “Jane has the best abs, I’m going to get abs just like hers,” that is not going to motivate you to your goals. That is a short-lived and shallow goal. Instead, try and turn motivation into this, “I want a stronger core to protect my back and to be able to lift my kiddos easier.” Use positive and life motivation to achieve your goals. You’ll be more motivated and be working toward something that matters.

I hope y’all don’t think I’m preaching to you. I am just very passionate about helping others with  positive self talk and avoiding the comparison trap (just ask my friends, I love to “annoy” them about this hehehe). If you ever want to talk about this or need any help, I’m here for you and would love to offer my personal stories and advice. Send me an email!

 

Life

The Power of Positive Self Talk

January 31, 2017

Hey y’all…I had a whole series of posts I’m planning to do on denim this week (so exciting) but I’ve got something else on my mind that I felt was more important to share with you.

We all do it. We look at ourselves in the mirror and cringe. We lift our shirts up and look at our stomach, wishing it were smaller. We look at our thighs and hope for a thigh gap. We joke with our friends that we have “birthing hips.” We shake our arm flab and ask ourselves “how do we get rid of this?”

I’m going to be completely honest and vulnerable here…up until 6 months ago, I talked to myself this way almost every day. I looked at myself in the mirror and instead of seeing the positives, I saw the negatives. I would dissect myself and each body part and wish it looked a different way.

What changed for me 6 months ago?

My motivation changed. Instead of waking up every morning thinking of “Madison.Madison.Madison”…I am instead trying to think “How can I make today great?” and “How can I help someone today?”

Looking at ourselves in the mirror and talking negative to our bodies is not only harmful to us but it’s SO SELFISH. And I know some people will read this and think “get off your high horse, Madison,” but I am here to share what’s on my heart and to tell all of us women (and men) that we can STOP the negative self talk by shifting our motivation to others and how to make a difference in someone’s life that day or week.

I’m so lucky to be able to teach fitness classes so my motivation is challenging the participants in my class and helping them feel empowered when they leave their workout. THAT is what makes my heart happy.

The second I stopped focusing on Madison and the “wrong things” about my body…I started to become a better wife, friend and instructor. Somehow getting rid of all that negativity in my brain and heart, left room for so much more! I find myself being more present in day to day life and for that I am so happy.

I’ve struggled for years with eating issues and this positive shift in my life changed me drastically. It’s what made me fully be invested in my fitness career instead of doing something I didn’t love. This positive shift empowered me to pursue what I love. I still remind myself of this when I have bad days (hello HORMONES) but I’ve improved drastically.

The amazing news is that we can all do this! 🙂 There is a key to living your life in a way that lifts others up…we’ve got to get rid of the negative self talk and LOVE ourselves.

Loving ourselves and seeing the beauty is where the secret lives.

Start small…every morning before you shower or get ready for the day: list 3 reasons why you are beautiful. Or great. Or awesome. Or fabulous. The more you do this, the more comfortable you will be in your own skin and the amazing thing:

The more positive we look at ourselves…the more light we see in others!

WHOA 🙂 It opens up a whole new world.

I know this is long but it’s been on my heart for a long time and I’m taking each day at a time. Please reach out to me if you need help in any way. I’m here for you always!

Life

My 2017 Focus Word

January 6, 2017

EMPATHY

For most Januarys in my life, I’ve had a long list of New Year’s Resolutions…and I haven’t kept them (shocker, I know). This year I am changing it up and just doing 1 focus word: empathy.

In my mind, the definition of empathy is to step into someone else’s shoes. All too often, I tend to judge something or someone before really offering my compassion and understanding. By putting myself in their shoes and focusing on what they have gone through and where they stand: that can only make me love more unconditionally. Why put stipulations on loving friends, family, and acquaintances? Will empathy make me more vulnerable in 2017? Perhaps, but that’s okay.

Over the past few years, I’ve found myself softening some of my “hard edges.” I think a good bit of that has to deal with my husband and his empathetic nature but also most of it has to deal with me shifting where I find happiness. I used to want to climb the corporate ladder and success meant making more money each year. Things changed when I started teaching more group fitness and helping women on their wellness journey. That desire for more money, more professional growth in terms of “managing people” stopped pretty abruptly. I found myself not motivated by marketing but instead getting so excited to teach my fitness classes. I truly feel alive and happy when I teach others. God has been working on me for a long time to realize this and finally with some recent professional developments, I have realized it! I’m stubborn, what can I say?! 🙂

With all of that said, I’m hoping by leading a more empathetic life can help me grow personally in my relationships, open my heart more to others and reach more people in the fitness world. I’m hoping to document that on this blog with posts weekly on fitness tips, personal stories, fun recipes to bring family and friends together and of course style advice to make us feel beautiful both inside and out.

Cheers to 2017!

I’d LOVE to know and if you’re willing to share, what is your focus for 2017?

Please comment below!