I Am Braids and Brass

My truth:
I am a mom of two! One beautiful 2 year old and one hilariously happy 9 month old.
I workout 30 minutes a day MAYBE 45 depending on my kids moods.
I eat mostly clean and swing in and out of being a total zealot and not caring.
I have gone from results focused, to healthy living focused, back to results focused and am finding my way back into a happy heart focus.
I’ve gained a booty in two months, muscles I’ve never seen on my arms before and quads that are noticeable. I search for more but am pulling back that search for being happy and content while still striving for those goals and not getting lazy in my eating habits.
That is my balance.
I am imperfect and insecure but at the same time strong, mindful and powerful.
I don’t have a lot of money.
I shop sales racks, I buy groceries based on sales and I use coupons.
I shop at thrift stores partly because it’s cheaper and partly because I love finding unique clothes no one else is wearing right now.
I feel the strongest I’ve ever felt in my entire life and I’ve only been lifting weights for two months while expecting the results of someone who’s been doing it two years.
None of my pants fit.
Sometimes I yell at my children when I don’t mean to.
Sometimes I’m the most loving calm mother ever.
I drink Shakeology every day and another protein from a local store that isn’t related to beachbody at all.
I love home workouts, I love going to gyms, I love hot yoga and all things outdoors.
I love getting my nails done when I can afford it, but stick to French tips or clear because I hate nail polish; having my hair the perfect colour is always a must.
I love lipstick, I hate mascara.
I love getting dirty playing outside with my kids, I hate getting my hair wet when I go swimming.
I do not fit in a box.
Accepting that is my transformation.

It started with a dumbbell.
I am Braids and Brass.

Advertisements

On What Saved Me? Fitness or Jesus?

I can’t seem to figure out how to word this. I’ve tried blogging this for months and it endlessly falls short of the words I would love to give it.

But I keep saying fitness saved me. I was depressed. I was so low I quite seriously contemplated letting my family adopt my son, as I was clearly unfit to be his mother. I laid in bed crying. My house was filth because I didn’t even know how to pick up a plate to wash it; I literally was overwhelmed by every little aspect of life. I couldn’t deal.

And as most of you know, I rediscovered my love of fitness, and newly discovered a love for a nutritional supplement called ShakeOlogy. The first time I had it, it was like a drug. My mind was totally clear. I should find the video I recorded … I was in absolute tears because of how incredible I felt. Awake, energetic, like a fog had lifted. I finally understood what getting all the nutrients my body needs daily looked like, and I was hooked.
Fast forward from there and I was working out again with a program called CIZE, and I just cried at the end of every workout. The release, the joy…I suddenly was me again. Fitness and nutrition saved my life.

But shouldn’t I be saying Jesus did? After all, I’m a Christian who believes Jesus saves… I was depressed. I still struggle on the day to day.

And I struggled with this thought for months. I would dive into books every day on personal development and not once did I touch my Bible; and somehow I felt I was growing closer to Him. But on the other hand I felt shame.

How could I, who loved Jesus so fervently, give so much to fitness and reading books and not Bibles, not getting up early to pray but willing to roll out of bed to hit play…how could I say fitness saved me when Jesus is the one who saves?

Simply put, I find my freedom in fitness. I find Jesus there. It’s meditative for me. Clears my head and heart. It paves the way for me to see Him who gave me eyes to see.

My son asking to read the Bible with me the first time he’s seen me read it

I just started reading my Bible daily 3 days ago. Because I didn’t force myself to. I didn’t tell myself I was a bad Christian for not doing it. Because I didn’t let legalism dictate my actions. I let my heart, which I trust God resides in, guide me.

I didn’t let the lies fill my heart. I didn’t let them stop me. Because it has in the past. I force myself to believe I should read the Bible and not other books or get up early for other things and it always derailed me leaving me a failure, again.

But here I am. Believing that it is ok to say fitness and Jesus are one and the same for me. This is apart of who I am, how I was made. And that it’s ok for Him to speak to me in a workout and in the Bible and in other books that aren’t “Christian books”. Because God can speak to us anywhere, any time, we just need to listen, and be ready to respond.

God pointed me in this direction so He could speak to me. I started exercising again so I could hear him. So I could escape the prison of my mind telling me to give up. That motherhood simply wasn’t for me.

We were created to move. We were created to be free. He freed me to move. Fitness freed me to listen.

So did fitness save me? Or did Jesus?

My answer?

Yep.

No Perfect Bodies; On Why You’ll Never Look Like Me

Unless I’m standing straight…I get rolls.

You don’t see that on Instagram or Facebook. And I want you to see it. 

I have rolls, cellulite and love handles. 

Stuff doesn’t fit. 

So what is the perfect body?


The perfect pregnant body is one that carries, sustains, and sometimes sadly, loses babies; yes, you are still perfect. It can birth naturally, via c-section or with the assistance of drugs and tools. It can breastfeed, it can bottle feed and give skin to skin for comfort, and loving caring arms. It can sag or tighten, wiggle or not. 

The perfect pregnant body is not one without stretch marks, fat rolls or weight gain. 
My desire is to embody a healthy pregnancy, not give an unrealistic idea of what anyone can or should look like. This is my journey. Mine. You can’t actually have it, because you are not me. Your body will look different. 

I hear a lot “you have the perfect little belly!” and while this has made me feel good in the past … it’s starting to make me a little uncomfortable when said. Because if I have the perfect belly…what does that say about someone who doesn’t look like me? Was she not perfect? Is she not the embodiment of feminine, God given, life sustaining perfection without the “perfect round little belly”?


I have seven years of fitness behind me. I have a small frame. I have exercised through two pregnancies and have eaten well for myself for the better part of a decade. 

Simply put, I love health and fitness. 

It didn’t take me being overweight to realize I needed a change, I was always more into health food than anyone in my family, like the real earthy hippy kind of food. Yea that’s me. I was always in sports, and when sports died out after high school I moved into running, hot yoga and the gym. It’s ebbed and flowed but essentially had the same projection for most of my life…

This is me. 

35 weeks with baby 2

Does my life sound similar to yours? No? So stop comparing yourself to me. Stop feeling bad for not being where I am. You might get here, you might not, but where you get to isn’t less because you aren’t naturally small. 

 

I hope this doesn’t come across arrogant like I think everyone wants to be me, I’ve just heard a lot of people say they wish they could look like me. And I love that I am privileged enough to show people what a fit and healthy life looks like, but don’t make me out to be perfect. Because if I’m perfect, and you can never be me because I’m me and you’re you, you have set yourself up for complete and utter failure. And that’s just not fair to yourself. 


I want you to see that you could inspire the next generation. Your kids could be little freaks like me! Imagine, little grass munchers haha Craving fruit and enjoying avocado ice cream and matcha teas, not because we have to but because we want to. Do you see though? It’s not about what we look like, it’s inspiring others to live healthy fit lives. It’s being healthy and fit just because it makes us happy and healthy. 

So when you are looking for some inspiration, I am grateful for the opportunity to provide that; I’m grateful and humbled. It’s an honour to share my life with you and to bring you on this journey with me. 

But please, for heavens sake, if you’re looking for someone on whom you set goals after, make sure it’s someone who has a similar body type to you; if that’s me, I’m flattered. Because aside from what I was born with, I have worked very hard to maintain and strengthen this body. I am proud of my muscles and my ability to run and chase my family.  But please remember this when looking to the Internet for the next “Pinspiration”…

Aim for healthy, aim for strong looking women, aim for the fittest your body has ever been. And be proud of your body however it looks when you fuel it, work it and rest it. 

There is no ideal. My goal is to coach you into a healthy relationship with food, exercise and self acceptance. 

You should try it. Contact me and let’s join hands. 

On Sharing the Real Pictures…

 

These two photos were taken the same week. Guess which one I didn’t share on the world wide web?

Yep. The left. The one that shows my squishy tummy. The one that made me cringe, and cry, because it’s been 7 years since I looked any different from the picture on the right, and I placed my value on it.

At this point in my mom journey, I was 6 months post partum and diagnosed with Post Partum Depression, which I had refused treatment for. I was and am scared of medications, but I was mostly scared of admitting I needed them, and couldn’t fight it on my own.

My fitness and how I look has been huge to me, for a very, very long time. I’ve struggled with my weight a little bit, but mostly I’ve struggled with accepting myself as I am, and just enjoying working out and eating well for the sole purpose of just that, being healthy. Being strong. I have a definition in my mind for how I should look, and I beat myself up if I don’t look that way.

And I didn’t.

And here I am, 3 weeks out with baby number 2 and have become a health and fitness coach, have been sharing my fitness journey this pregnancy on social media like crazy, and am now faced with the sudden reality that soon I will be sharing my post partum fitness journey.

No more pretty belly selfies.

No more “wow, you have like, the perfect pregnant body!” comments …

It’s about to get real.

Our culture LOVES pregnant women. Honestly I get stopped all the time. Talked to all the time. And I hate being pregnant so imagine how fun that is 😉

But what about post partum? Have I been basing my worth on how I look this pregnancy? Maybe. Probably. Sometimes. Not always. I work on it. I am doing my best to embrace the love handles, the cellulite and the thickness that weighs me down and frustrates me. I can’t say I fully embrace it because I am afraid of the after.

In fitness, it seems the truest successes are the ones that have flat tummy’s post partum and say “see, if I can you can.” which is sort of ridiculous because … every single body is different. Where we started is different. Where we are going is different … so how does that equate to us all being able to achieve the same goal?

It doesn’t make sense.

And yet here I am, with my post baby goals being things like, walk across the stage in Nashville at the Beachbody classic, and in my head I have the perfect body. And that’s the only reason I’m brave enough to consider it. Because I’m fairly certain I’ll get to where I want.

But what if I don’t?

What if I don’t look how I think I should? Will I still compete? I say yes…but this is going to be a very challenging period of learning to love the new me. Because our bodies are just different after babies, and I never accepted that. I tried to cheat it by sharing only the photos I wanted to.

IMG_9024

I shared this photo last summer, but I didn’t share that I undid the top button most of the day and sucked in my baby ponch most of the day because I couldn’t stand how my own body felt.

I was, in short, a fraud.

And maybe I still am. I’m able to accept my body right now because this is the way it’s supposed to look.

Will I be able to share with you all, when it gets really real, and I’m on the other end of this pregnancy?

I know I will force myself to, because it will force me to grow. And I want to grow. I want to be real.

But know that I’m just as real a person as you, I have feelings, fears and I struggle with my own set of issues. And if you say things like, I have no reason to feel those fears because I look great, you’re missing the bigger picture.

The point is that no woman seems to be able to love themselves fully. Regardless of how fit we are, I guarantee you, ask the fittest woman on the planet, I bet she hates her nose or something.

If you think because I have this body I have that I should have no reason to not love myself, then you’re struggling to. Because you have an idea in your head of what perfect looks like, and unfortunately, none of us stack up.

So here’s to not stacking up.

Here’s to being ourselves, and having fit goals but still enjoying life and love all the while.

Here’s to eating a piece of pizza because we have plans that have held us up and we can fall back into the next day.

Here’s to balance, here’s to healthy babies,

and here’s to the next 3 weeks of being as healthy and fit as possible as an act of love to myself, and respecting the results whatever they may be.

IMG_7301

 

 

On the Cheat Meal and Balance

Ok ladies and gents, welcome to the fitness portion of my blog, where I will share thoughts, tips  and encouragements on all things fitness. 

Today the message that’s heavy on my heart is about finding balance. 

Do you know what I hear all the time? “I fell off the wagon…” “I cheated last night …” “I screwed up again…” and it’s not a healthy mindset

The pendulum has swung and people go from eating unhealthy and having NO fitness in their lives, to expecting themselves to eat healthy and on point 100% of the time and workout every day without fail for the rest of their lives. I’m of the belief that this is not attainable. It’s also not sustainable. 

We cannot expect perfection of ourselves from now on for the rest of forever, that is why people fail. That is why people have one chocolate bar and don’t try and workout or eat healthy again for a year. Because you failed and what’s the point because you just keep failing, right?

Well, let me just clear the air. A chocolate bar isn’t failing. 

Let me ask you this … if you drop your phone and the screen cracks, do you figure since it’s cracked you might as well stomp on it until it’s completely destroyed? No. You pick it up, maybe you fix it, maybe you put a case on it … you get the point. One treat doesn’t mean you destroy your body from here on out. 

It doesn’t make sense. 

I am here for my mental health. The body results etc is all fun, but it’s all a natural by-product of the work I put in for a healthy mind. To be the best version of myself starts with my mind. And in all truthfulness, a healthy version of myself doesn’t look like me sitting alone in the corner eating plain chicken and steamed broccoli for the rest of my life while my friends laugh and play while indulging in greasy food. 

This journey is supposed to be one of freedom. Yes, we want to eat clean most of the time, fuelling our bodies and getting our blood pumping to keep our hearts strong, but I also want to go for a meal or desert with my family and never feel guilty. 

Because enjoying or refraining from food doesn’t define my idea of a full OR a deprived life. 

It’s not about food. 

Right now, I am sitting on the beautiful island of Kauai in Hawaii for 10 days with my family and so far I’ve had chips and salsa for lunch, a bottle of Pepsi and some (ok half a box of) gluten free Oreo cookies in the last 4 days. And I don’t feel bad. I don’t feel like a hypocrite either. Because I’m not trying to tell people to live in a box for the rest of their lives.  


I will take you on a 30 day challenge to clean up your eating and to get you to a place where you are making MORE healthy choices than unhealthy. Where you are exercising 3-6 days a week depending on your goals. Where you can lift your spirits from a workout and fuel your body for a long healthy life through clean eating, and then go out for a beer and nachos with your friends because you know you have the discipline and practices in place that that one night isn’t going to ruin your end goal, whatever that may be. 

We live for these memories. 

What I want people to learn is HOW to eat, how MUCH to eat, and then how to go on and live life on their own terms in their own definition of balance, and live healthy long lives fulfilling their goals and dreams because their weight and internal health isn’t holding them back. 

Get strict for 30 days. 60 days. 90 days. Whatever it takes to make that total life change. Get to the point where if you start eating junk, after a day or two you don’t feel good and know it’s time to reign it in and eat clean again. Get to the point where skipping a workout is the worst feeling. That’s where you want to be. It’s a mindset

I can’t tell you what your balance looks like. But I can tell you that eating a chocolate bar doesn’t mean you’ve screwed up again and are off the wagon. 

There is no wagon. 

This is life. 

And if you keep telling yourself that you’re cheating, you’re going to feel guilt and shame and you’re going to want to hide it. 

There is no room for shame on my team. 

Set your goals. Learn how to achieve them, and reward yourself with living.  

Don’t sit at home alone eating a pint of ice cream; how uninspired! Go to a ball game with your friends; laugh, cheer and have awful dome beer with nachos and cheese so fake you could probably make a plastic bottle with it. But the food is not the focus. The point is, you go out and enjoy your life, with no guilt and no shame. If you want to eat clean while you’re out, eat clean. But if you want a beer and you know that your life is on track and you have the self control to enjoy one day without making it a habit, have a damn beer and relax in the knowledge that you have put in the work. 

Life is not made or broken on the back of enjoying junk food or not. A healthy life is not a deprived life, it is a free life. And only when you get into that funnel of freedom do you really get it. 

If your happiness is based on the foods you eat, that is the root of the problem. 

And it has nothing to do with balance, and everything to do with cheating. 

Abs, Instagram and Happiness

Being fit does NOT mean having a six pack and cut obliques. Being fit CAN mean that, but to me it means being strong of body, soul and spirit.

For the last 18 months, I have been fit of body, but my soul and spirit were weak.

I am a mother of almost 2 (second is due June 29th!). My son, born July 2014, suffered from constipation for 8 months, which caused him to have reflux as well, and we trudged along for 17 long months of him waking every 30 min-2 hours, nursing all night long, needing help to sleep through naps, never having a moment to ourselves. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, truly.

I quickly sank into post-partum depression, but denied it for a very long time. I even went to my Dr. once, and talked my way out of anti-depressants, and never went back for help. It’s hard to open up about it when you’re in it, and having convinced myself I didn’t really need help, it was even harder after that.

Then winter of 2015 hit, and I hit my ultimate low. This is where my journey begins.

I was angry all the time. I hit my dog harder, and more often than I can bring myself to admit, and I’m grateful dogs are as loving, and forgiving as they are loyal.

I began yelling at my 17 month old son to sleep, to stop touching me, to stop nursing, and I’d have to put him down and go, leaving us both to cry in anguish, so I didn’t do anything really harmful to either of us.

I began contemplating ways out; adopting him out to one of our families, for certainly they could do a much better job than I ever could as his mother. Thankfully other things were too horrid for my mind to contemplate, so as soon as those darkest of thoughts entered, they shuddered away. I believe this was Holy Spirit, guarding my heart even when I had completely lost sight and touch of who God was.

My mind, was a fog. And the battle was waged under the haze.

I finally broke. I needed sleep, and I needed it because I was dying. Inside, but maybe outside as well … I felt like I could not live one single more day without a full nights sleep. It was the slowest torture I’ve ever felt, and even as I write, tears well up in my eyes to think of the pain I surrounded my family with, because I didn’t get help. I asked for help; I opened up.

I went and slept at my parents house for 5 nights, leaving my husband, who had lost just as much sleep as I had, to fend for himself and take on night duties full time. To this day, I know God surrounded him with the fiercest of love and strength, to pull him through those nights, as he had anguish and sorrow in his heart as well. It was a long, weary battle. But I slept. And I slept again. And again…

I finally started regaining clarity and with that, a sense of direction, and something I’d been praying about for a few weeks became the clearest of answers to me, I contacted my friend and asked her how to become a beachbody coach. I knew I needed to get working out again, that this was my happy place. I’ve loved fitness for a very, very long time, but as a new mother, almost forgot how, unless I was running outside during the summer. I knew winter had shut me in (Canada, hello freezing), and I knew that I needed to make myself a priority again. So I started to research.

I researched the shakes, because it was something totally new and foreign to me, but I knew that I absolutely needed something to get me healthier on the inside than I had been capable of getting myself for the past 6 years, and especially in the last 18 months. Once I fell in love with the shakes, I researched the business, and what I kept finding was: people first, profits later. People first. People first. People first. It was like their banner. Be YOU. Help OTHERS. Be healthy. Be fit. People first. I couldn’t love or agree with something more.

I joined, first for myself. And really, I can’t even verbalize a ‘why’ that I joined. I can’t explain it. I’ve always wanted to get into fitness for a living, but never knew how, and why I figured this was the time, well I can’t say. But it changed my life. What I see now, is that I knew I needed accountability, I needed something to be passionate about, and I needed something that was just mine.

I got my program, CIZE; Endorphins began to rush, my fog began to lift, I began to figure out how to help my son sleep, we started sleeping more, eating better following the nutrition guide; I drank my shakes and had energy like I hadn’t had for a long time. I began to heal, and my amazing husband who has loved fitness as long as I have joined with me, and we started taking our lives back. Back from depression, back from lethargy, back from apathy. We wanted to win.

I cried a lot over the next few weeks, and 5 weeks later, I still cry at the end of every single workout. I cry because it’s a burst of joy that I can’t explain. It’s a sense of accomplishment, a sense of my old self, a sense of a bright future, and just plain fun in my life again.
When you workout, and eat right, your body will be what it will be. If you end up having some physical goals, so be it, but they will come from a healthy, happy mind. A mind that has exercised daily the habits of self love, dedication, and feeding their body like the temple it is.

If when that is done, you are still bigger than me (which is 5’3 and around 110-120lbs, I don’t weigh myself, ever), then guess what, you’re still freaking fit and an absolute rockstar in my eyes. You don’t need to be me, or anyone else on this planet, to succeed at fitness. You just do you, and that joy is yours to own. You don’t need a six pack to post a body proud photo on Instagram. You don’t need 600 likes to tell you that you meet this societies standards. You also don’t need to stop working out because working out means you don’t prioritize your family first. I don’t believe in fit shaming, I don’t believe in fat shaming, I don’t believe in skinny shaming … I don’t believe in mom shaming.

I don’t believe in shaming.

My highest engagement posts on Instagram aren’t ones of flexing, they aren’t of my “tiny preggo body”, they are of my raw, real posts about the challenges of motherhood and PPD. It  became so clear to me that fitness of mind is more important, and it’s a much harder muscle to work, but it comes from determination, and just hitting play every single day.

We are all worthy of looking in the mirror and seeing a masterpiece, created with purpose. That doesn’t give us a reason to eat like crap and sit on our butts all day, because that’s not how our bodies were designed to function.

But it does give you a reason to love your curves, love your chub, love your skin and bones, love your thighs, your arms, wings, tire, muffin, thunder thighs, big hips, cankles, skronny, lanky self. Whatever you use to describe you, turn it into a compliment. And then get up, and get to work, and treat yourself like the freaking princess God made you.

You ARE worthy. You are ARE beautiful. And you have my support.

Welcome to Braids and Brass, my name is Michelle, and I am a fitness and health coach, a mom pulled from the wreckage of depression, who still struggles day to day, but continues forward none the less.

I hope I can help you find community, accountability, self love and encouragement on your fit journey, and I welcome all that you bring to mine.