To Be or Not To Be, is that the question?

Taking time for yourself, taking time to be.

Do you need to be doing something productive all the time or otherwise you feel like you’re wasting your time?

A few weeks ago, I was hanging out with a new group of people that I had recently met. These were all professionals, most of them in academia, very interesting group of people. A much-anticipated spring had just arrived and had brought warm, sunny days. So, as one does around here, we got to talking about the weather. As I heard one of the ladies say that she actually preferred cold days, I found myself wondering how that could even be possible. She went on to explain that on cold, windy days it was easier for her to delve into work. Let me just point out that she was not referring to regular job hours; she was talking about doing work after finishing her job hours. She said that on sunny, warm days she just wanted to be outside, so, instead, this made it easier for her to stay inside and work. Now you may be wondering “where is she going with this?

As I was thinking about this exchange, it occurred to me that many people tend to feel guilty when they take time for themselves. I think this lady mentioned it as she talked about how she felt: Being outside on a pretty day “doing nothing” when I could be inside doing some work and being productive just makes me feel a little guilty. Have you ever heard anyone say anything like that? Have you said that?

Doing nothing. Just being

IMG_3613Some people have a problem with “doing nothing”. Many people seem to have an attachment to being “productive”. Don’t get me wrong, I am a very responsible person and I make sure I get everything done when it needs to get done, and I understand and involve in work ethic and reaching goals. However, it seems to me like more and more people are obsessed with being productive, and regrettably forget about actually living. They keep working towards a tomorrow, always striving, always reaching, never arriving, completely missing today. They are the ones always complaining about time, as there never seems to be enough time in the day for them. And that is because they are not present in the moment, even though now is all there is. What are they trying to prove? If you have ever felt like this, rest assured you’re not the only one.

We tend to live our lives feeling that we’re not good enough (on a subconscious level) thus need to do things to prove that we are worth it. During our upbringing, there is a moment (early in childhood) –just around our school years start- when just being doesn’t cut it anymore, and then comes the moment when we feel that we need to do things to prove that we are good enough to earn the love that we should deserve, so we think we need to get better grades, we need to run a little faster, we need to lose a little more weight, we need to make more friends, and so on. One thing all these different events have in common is that that is the time when we start comparing ourselves to others. Then, we lose touch with ourselves and begin following others’ desires and/or notions of what constitutes good actions and right decisions, looking for approval and acceptance in the form of (conditioned) love from others, thinking we need that to feel better about ourselves. Fortunately, there is always an opportunity to return home, to return to who we really are.

IMG_3614We tend to forget that we are human beings, not human doings. How often do you give yourself a chance to just be? Spend time with yourself, be silent, find yourself, deal with your thoughts and your feelings, get comfortable in your own skin, rejoice in your true spirit. Find moments to reconnect with yourself and be present, right here, right now, for there is no other place where you need to be. Be mindful. Make it a priority to make time for you to spend with you and just be, get to know yourself and love that person unconditionally by telling yourself “it’s okay”. Whatever thoughts you may have about who you are or what you’ve done, tell yourself “it’s okay…(to think/do that)”. Cultivate your relationship with yourself because it is the only way you will know what you really want in life –not what others want-and what really matters to you. Once your relationship with yourself is strengthened, all your other relationships will naturally follow. It all starts with you.
Then, make time to spend with those you love, for, what else really matters in life if not the relationships we have? Find the joy in “doing nothing” while spending quality time with family, friends, acquaintances, neighbors, pets, or anyone you meet. All that positive energy that you get from joyful interactions boosts your immune system and helps keep you strong and healthy. Relationships feed you, too; they are your primary food, actually, so you need to take care of them, beginning with the relationship with yourself.

It all begins with you, with accepting and loving yourself for who you are, not for what you do or for what you wish you were. This means that you need to get to IMG_3516know yourself well. Drop your preconceived ideas of what you think you “should” be like for they are most likely not your own but a result of your environment. Take time for play, for joy, for silence, for stillness, time for just being, and let go of the guilt of not doing things. This is what being productive is really about, it’s about making life matter. Life is not meant to be logical, but mainly meant to be enjoyed. It’s about making your relationships be the best they can be by giving them all of who you are –beginning with the one with yourself. In the words of my (very wise) brother, if you are not happy today, where you are, right here, right now, you will never be. If you are doing things to get somewhere to then be happy, you’re doing it in the wrong order. Be present in your life today, for there is no tomorrow. What are you waiting for? What kind of life do you want to live?

Look around you and open your eyes to all the love that surrounds you.


The Arsenal has an enemy

I’ve been pondering what moves people to failure, to quitting, to making excuses and to becoming sheep rather than sheep dogs.  Looking at the performance data we have at The Arsenal, namely attendance, I found the enemy:  Resistance.

“Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work.  It will perjure, fabricate, falsify; seduce, bully, cajole.  Resistance is protean.  It will assume any form, if that’s what it takes to deceive you.  It will reason with you like a lawyer or jam a nine-millimeter in your face like a stickup man.  Resistance has no conscience.  It will pledge anything to get a deal, then double-cross you as soon as your back is turned.  If you take Resistance at its word, you deserve everything you get.  Resistance is always lying and always full of shit.”

–Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

The enemy is within each of us, and for many of the athletes on our team the enemy is indeed winning.  How do we fight something that is invisible and living inside us?  An enemy that makes us believe it is our friend and has our best interests in mind?  I don’t have a clear cut answer, but I have some ideas worthy to experiment with:

  1. Commit with your whole self
    • Invest meaningful money and more importantly consistent time, every week, no matter what. Don’t half ass commitment and give yourself built in escape routes for when Resistance comes.
  2. Don’t go it alone
    • Find someone who is ready to battle Resistance in her/his life. Accountability is a powerful weapon that saves us from the worst versions of ourselves.
  3. Align your commitment with your values
    • If getting more fit physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally is important to living out your personal values, then you will have the inner resolve to fist fight with Resistance everyday (that is how often she comes calling). If you are doing something for superficial reasons, outside of your own personal growth, then Resistance is going to own you.
  4. Build a strategy for the worst version of you
    • If you don’t have a schedule or plan that is built for you at your worst, I can promise it is loaded with a thousand holes where Resistance will enter. Assume you will be busy as hell, tired, make mistakes and lose motivation.  That we can count on.  Don’t assume you will be the energetic, motivated and bulletproof you every day.

This is a small list of ideas, just a starter.  This battle against our number one enemy, Resistance, is something The Arsenal team is dead serious about fighting.  We have a litany of stories on our blog about your teammates who are winning this daily battle, so learn from them.  Your coaching staff and teammates are fully committed to ensure you are not ‘going at it alone’ with Resistance in your life.

Recommit yourself to fighting that Resistance inside you.  It only cares about things that matter, so if you are not fighting any Resistance right now, odds are you missing your highest calling.  You are made for so much more, now prove it.  Today and everyday forward.

CrossFit helps Ball State student overcome stress

I may not be the best at CrossFit, but I'm a better person because of CrossFit. - Kylie Mennell

The narrative goes that a mother of three should strive to have the physical capabilities of college-aged woman. This narrative got flipped on its head when Ball State student Kylie Mennel walked into The Arsenal.

“The first person I saw was Staci [Anderson], and it was crazy because she was doing a pull-up, and I had always wanted to do a pull-up. I was like, ‘Ok, she’s a badass!’ I was in weightlifting class in high school, and we always had tests where we’d try to do pull ups and dips. I could do dips, but never pull ups, and it was always frustrating.”

Kylie has played sports her entire life. In high school she was a post player and in volleyball she was a right-side hitter. But Kylie, twenty-year-old Kylie, could not do a pull-up.

Kylie’s introduction to CrossFit was through an Arsenal class on campus.

“I signed up for the semester [on campus] and really liked it. When I visited The Arsenal gym [off campus] and saw all the weights, I really wanted to go there.”

The Arsenal offers a student membership rate, but Kylie didn’t have enough money.

“I was like, ‘Hey mom, do you want to help me out here?’  She asked if I would go every day.  I said, ‘Yeah, I’m not going to waste your money.’ After I got into it, my mom realized that it was a huge part of me now, like I would be super stressed without it.  My roommates are even like, you haven’t been to the gym yet today, have you?”

Kylie needs CrossFit

“I get stressed really easily. I’m super into school, and I’m a perfectionist. But I’m really bad about balancing my time. I like to think that I can do more than I can.”

Adulting is hard. And for many, college is our first swing at adulting. College can spit out the perfectionist just as easily as the slacker. Kylie would make long to-do lists that would freak her out to the point of tears.

“CrossFit has made me a lot stronger in every aspect. It helps me in school. I’m not as stressed out. It’s my time to drop weights.”

Kylie is studying dietetics, a field which can be tough to move on in unless your grades are nearly perfect. Dietetics wasn’t her first pick. She started out majoring in radiography. Her freshman year in the dorms she got really into eating healthy at the dining halls. Her fellow students noticed.

“I lived in the dorm for two years and I was always looking at all the food they offered. Some of the dorms just have like gas station food. It’s not what I would want to eat on a normal basis. I would always eat healthier, and people would ask me, ‘Can you help me eat well?’”

Kylie is competitive but she finds joy in the success of others whether that’s a healthy food choice or an in-the-gym accomplishment. (That said, she didn’t shame me for eating a snickerdoodle during our interview. Did I mention adulting is hard?)

When I asked Kylie about her best days at The Arsenal, she talked about her friends.

“I’ve worked out with Brette since the beginning, and seeing her accomplish and improve over time has been great. Neither of us could do handstand pushups. When we finally got the kip, we were like, ‘Wow! Ok, not that bad!’ When Emily got her first strict muscle-up…that was cool.”

Kylie enjoyed high school sports, but she prefers the camaraderie built around CrossFit.

“I just like the environment because everyone is competitive, but at the same time, they are able to cheer everyone on. In high school, everyone wanted you to be better, but they didn’t want you to take their spot. Here, everyone wants you to get PR’s, get faster times, they are all about pushing you.”

“CrossFit has changed me a lot personally. I’ve always been very self-conscious. I don’t like that about myself. And going into dietetics and nutrition, you want to be confident. Your job is to make those people feel confident about themselves. So that’s really helped me. I’m glad this is leading me in the right direction.”

Confidence is earned. Kylie puts in the work. When she told her mom she would do CrossFit every day she wasn’t lying. In 2015, she went more than any other member of The Arsenal, winning the “grinder award.” And her hard work is paying off.

“I may not be the best at CrossFit, but I’m a better person because of CrossFit.”

CrossFit shows Mark Clement that you can come home again

I wouldn't have these friendships if not for The Arsenal - Mark Clement

Arsenal member Mark Clement started CrossFit because a former high school classmate, Brooke Bailey, told him he was looking a bit out of shape. Brooke was an early member of The Arsenal, and, if you’ve had the pleasure of meeting her, you know she’s not afraid to tell you a hard life truth.

“A guy I lived with wanted to join the Guard. And Brooke [a National Guard recruiter] was still in Muncie, so I was like, ‘Hey, there’s this guy who wants to join.’”

She said to bring him in. This was right after I got out of the Army. We were sitting there talking, and she said, ‘How long have you been out for?’ I told her about a month. She said, ‘You’re fat.’  I said, ‘Ok, what do you want me to do about it?’ She said, ‘Go to The Arsenal.’”

“So I came on New Year’s Eve of 2013, and the first workout was Fran. The only thing I remember from it is doing assisted pull ups. I was like, ‘I’m not going to go back. That was horrible.’”

“Three weeks later, I went again. It was pull-ups and box jumps, a much easier workout. So I thought, ‘Ok, this is not bad.’ A month later I got a membership.”

Anywhere but Muncie

Mark was born and raised in Muncie. He graduated from Southside where he wrestled and played offensive guard on the football team. He played against Ryan Kerrigan who went on to play for the Washington Redskins. I didn’t ask him if he gave up any sacks to the future NFL linebacker, but let’s just assume he did.

“When I graduated from high school, it was my intent of never coming back.”

Mark wanted out of Muncie so bad, he lobbied the school for an early graduation. After the first semester of his senior year, he had met all of his requirements to graduate, had joined and trained with the National Guard, and had been accepted at Purdue.

At Purdue, Mark joined the ROTC and was immediately seen as a leader among his peers, since much of their training centered on things he had already learned when he had gone through basic training in high school. He had the experience of an upperclassman, but was only a first year student.

In 2009, Mark put his studies on hold and deployed to Afghanistan for a year.

“I didn’t have to go to Afghanistan. I wanted to deploy.”

When Sergeant Mark Clement came back to Purdue after a year in Afghanistan, he brought his overseas experiences with him. His fellow soldiers and students took note. His fraternity elected him as an officer, and he was appointed to the school-wide committee who ran the dance marathon, which has raised more than $4.5 million in support of Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.

When he got back from Afghanistan, he was friends with the upperclassmen and in class and activities with those younger than him. This theme of being between two groups–being a bridge–would continue to play out in Mark’s adult life.

“I became close to both groups. Like at The Arsenal now, Kylie, Brette, Emily [who are all younger], and I try to work out together every day. But I also hang out with some of the older people at The Arsenal, too.”

In 2013 Mark graduated from Purdue. He had started in engineering, but then turned his focus to helping kids first as an elementary education major, and then as a law and society major. Mark’s decision to help kids who who were in trouble was a personal one.

“My younger sister got in trouble with the law when she was still a juvenile, so I decided to work with kids.”

Muncie as home?

After graduation, Mark got a job as a custody officer in Pendleton. He commuted from Muncie, but still had the goal of leaving Muncie again to live in Noblesville or Indianapolis. It was around this time that he bumped into Brooke and started working out at The Arsenal.

“About a year ago, I thought: ‘If this is my goal, why have I not done it yet? I feel like there is something keeping me here; I just don’t know what it is.’”

Soon he figured out what was keeping him in Muncie. He looked around at those at The Arsenal who choose to live in Muncie.

“There are other people at The Arsenal who are back in Muncie and love it now. They are enjoying it.They are making their homes here and having successful lives, so why would I think I couldn’t have that here?”

He saw that community wasn’t something that just existed in college or in the military, but could be built as a working adult even in Muncie.

“My roommate is someone I met at The Arsenal. I saw Courtney this weekend. Sunday I’m dogsitting for Katy. Yesterday Megan and I went to Katy’s house to decorate for her birthday. I wouldn’t have these friendships if not for The Arsenal.”

Mark just started a new job at the Indiana Department of Child Services. It’s in Muncie. He lives in Muncie. He works in Muncie. He plays in Muncie.

Mark is building a life in Muncie. The one place he never thought he would settle is his home, and that might not be the case if it weren’t for a former high school classmate telling him he should workout at The Arsenal.  

Needing support? News from Dr. Iz

Tired of dieting? Drained from toxic relationships? Overwhelmed by stress at work? Fed up with nagging cravings? Want to feel great in your body? Ready to accomplish your goals in a way that’s empowering and exciting?

I’m very happy to inform that I am now offering private health coaching for our Arsenal family on a range of topics including: weight-loss, weight-management, food addiction, chronic diseases, digestive distress, body image/self-image/self-esteem, difficult relationships, lack of energy, lack of concentration, and dealing with/releasing stress.

This is a unique opportunity for us to work together on your health-related goals. How can I help, you ask? An Integrative Nutrition Health Coach is a guide and mentor who empowers you and provides ongoing support and guidance as you set goals and make sustainable changes that improve your health and wellbeing. Throughout my education, I have been exposed to the most cutting-edge dietary theories and studied highly effective coaching techniques to help you find the right lifestyle that works best for you. As these pieces accumulate, my clients find the changes collectively create a much larger impact than they originally expected. We work on what you want to improve, and within the circumstances of your unique situation. I will guide you to find the food and lifestyle choices that best support you. I will also help you to make gradual, lifelong changes that enable you to reach your current and future health goals.

As your Health Coach, I will listen carefully and we’ll navigate the world of contradictory nutrition and health advice together to explore what truly works for you. I create a supportive environment that enables you to articulate and achieve your goals. With my knowledge, we co-create completely personalized actions based on your goals to move you toward your ideal vision of health within your unique body, lifestyle, preferences, and resources. Together we develop a deeper understanding of the lifestyle choices that work best for you and implement lasting changes that will improve your wellbeing and balance in life.

Together we will:

  • Connect the dots between who you are and who you want to be
  • Create your personal blueprint
  • Decipher your body’s unique needs
  • Set your personal goals and work towards sustainable change

What you get:

  • Four 45-minute sessions per month (sign-up for one month minimum)
  • Email support between sessions
  • Simple healthy recipes
  • Handouts specific to your needs and goals

To decide if health coaching is right for you, I invite you to schedule a free initial consultation with me. During this session, we will discuss your health and lifestyle to determine how I can best support you in achieving your goals.

What are you waiting for?

Are you ready to start feeling better than ever? Schedule an initial consultation with me today! Sign up HERE.

Or contact me at: if you have any questions.


Functional Eating: Making Wise Choices

IMG_4847By now you all now what functional foods are: foods that you need for a long and active life (who doesn’t want a long and active life, right?). Choosing foods that have a potentially positive effect on your health beyond basic nutrition should be everyone’s daily goal. Functional eating makes the body feel great and function optimally, and it all comes down to whole foods. Whole foods are unprocessed or unrefined, or processed and refined as little as possible and do not contain additives and other artificial substances. So, this means: fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and (not processed) animal products –so we’re not talking deli meat or hot dogs (sorry!). Choose foods that have no label –because they don’t need them. If they do have a label, aim for one ingredient as often as possible, or up to five ingredients tops, and make sure you know and can pronounce those ingredients. These are the foods that our body recognizes and knows how to digest and use. When we feed it processed foods, it gets confused and doesn’t know how to handle them. That’s when unbalances come.

We now live in a society where people are starving on full stomachs. What I mean is that even though we eat so much, our bodies are actually starving for nutrition. Choosing wisely is much easier than you think. Focus on what your body needs to function optimally. Remember to pay careful attention to your body and how it reacts to the foods you eat, that way you can know what works better for you and what you should eliminate from your eating lifestyle. Here is a list of nutrients that help to prevent diseases and provide your body with energy and support for all its organs and biological functions:

  • Vitamins and minerals: everyone knows how important they are, and yet, most of us are deficient in many of them. We tend pay a lot attention to vitamins, but be careful not to neglect minerals. Both sets of micronutrients support all our body systems and organ function. Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of vitamins and minerals, which is why it is really important to have several servings of each every day. If you opt for taking supplements, make sure you take them with a big meal which includes some healthy fat –as it is necessary for your body to absorb vitamins, which your liver takes care of.
  • Antioxidants: they protect against free radicals (from trans fats and tobacco smoke among other things), which may cause heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Some sources of antioxidants include: dark chocolate (70% cacao or +), coffee, green tea, berries, red wine, beans (soak up cholesterol so the body can dispose of it before it can stick to artery walls) and legumes, turmeric, most fruits and vegetables.
  • Fiber: it helps keep blood sugar steady, provides a feeling of satiety –keeps you full longer, and aids in bowel movement. Make sure you drink plenty of water through the day to help fiber act. Sources of fiber include: fruits, veggies, whole grains, flaxseed, beans/legumes (pair with vitamin-c rich foods to help absorb iron), and nuts.
  • Fat: fats dictate cell communication so what we eat -the types of fats that we eat- are very important for nutrients and such to communicate to impact the health. Healthy sources of fat include: nuts, avocado, olive oil, coconut oil. Healthy fats help lower “bad” (LDL) cholesterol levels and increase “good” (HDL) cholesterol. Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for overall health (they help prevent coronary heart disease, stroke, arthritis, osteoporosis, autoimmune disorders, among other things). (Not processed) Animal fat -i.e. saturated fat– is healthy as well, as long as it from an organic/grass-fed source. Watch out for vegetable oils and (in labels) partially hydrogenated oils! -as they’re the kind of fat you want to avoid at all cost.
  • Probiotics: they heal your gut, feed good bacteria in your body, lower blood pressure, keep you young, healthy, and happy. Sources of probiotics include: yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso.

 How can we make wise choices?  

In order to change the way we eat, we need to create new habits. The way we eat and the foods we10389080_10153044376801030_8577685006296918702_n eat are a result of the habits we learned growing up, which were not our choice. The good news is we can create new habits. What are some eating habits that you would like to cultivate? The best way to establish a new eating habit is by making food appetizing. When you try foods that are delicious, you will be happy to continue eating them. Be willing to try new foods, new flavors; use spices when you cook. Make foods as appetizing as possible. That will guarantee a choice becoming a habit.

It’s all about You

Get to know yourself, your body, your emotions, what drives your decisions. How do you feel at certain times of the day? When are you the hungriest? What time do you crave sweets/salty foods? Listen and observe. Listen to what your body is asking for and try to get to the root of it -without judgment. What emotions have triggered those cravings? Observe your thoughts. Which thoughtsIMG_4585 trigger your choices? Stop for a moment. Make sure you’re acting, not reacting. Don’t let yourself be ruled by emotions. Gain control of your life and make better choices. Remind yourself you always have choices; you’re not powerless in anything you do. In moments of cravings or desiring less healthy food options, take a deep breath, close your eyes for a moment, focus on your heart. Listen. What are you really craving in your life? Food is usually just a way to shut that voice that wants to talk to us, to push down emotions we don’t want to deal with. The more you learn about yourself, the more aware you can be about your choices.


Create joyful habits around food to cultivate a healthier relationship with food, with yourself, with life.



Digestive Health and Functional Eating

During our first workshop of the Passport to Optimal Health Program, we discussed some key concepts and facts about digestion and gut health. Here I share a recap of some of the most important things we talked about so you can have access to the information at any time, if you may need it.

We are able to take control over our health and that happens mainly through sleep and relaxation, activity, nutrition, and connection. It’s time to take control of your own health and wellbeing, beginning with nutrition. Why are food and nutrition so important? It’s all about digestion. The organs involved in digestion hold most of the power for our health, especially when it comes to avoiding diseases. We all know the role of the immune system in our body, but what many don’t know is that most of the immune system resides in our intestines. Actually, 70% of it depends on your digestion. That should paint a clear picture of why food and nutrition matter so much. Everything you choose to eat and drink has a direct effect on your health, whether you want it or not. Chronic disease is a food borne illness. What you choose to put at the end of your fork is one of the most important decisions you make every day. As I have mentioned before, food is information, and it is washing over your genes. We’ve moved from an era when once genes were considered more deterministic to one when we now understand that they’re possibilities, they’re predictive -only, so it is really important that we choose foods wisely.

We need to give digestive health the importance is deserves. Keeping a healthy gut, researchers have now learned, may be the key to a long and healthy life –not to mention happy. The microbiome –the small life that lives within us- in our gut is responsible for keeping us healthy. Doctors are now calling the gut ‘the second brain’; your gut sends direct messages to your brain through the vagus nerve. The bacteria in your gut talk to your brain and the rest of your body. They are the ones taking care of your health. Some of the dietary changes we have seen in recent generations, which have affected gut health, are: a dramatic drop in fiber consumption, increased glycemic load, and a decline in micronutrients. The most common sources that feed bad bacteria in the gut are a high-sugar, low-fiber diet, processed foods and high amounts of processed fats. If you take antibiotics, acid blockers, steroids, and anti-inflammatory, you will damage your intestinal system and it will lead to changes in the gut bacteria. So, keeping a healthy gut flora is incredibly important for good health.

Eating for energy: functional eating

10360348_10153141099126030_8201712159235686919_nEating does not need to be a difficult task. We have turned it into a much more complicated matter than it really is. If we think on terms of energy and vitality, it is really easy to choose what to eat. For our ancient ancestors, food’s main job was to nourish the body and give it strength to carry on the daily functions in life –hence the word ‘functional’. Functional foods are foods that you need for a long and active life. They are foods that have a potentially positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition. Proponents of functional foods say they promote optimal health and help reduce the risk of disease. Functional eating makes the body feel great and function optimally. All you have to do is choose whole foods: foods that are unprocessed or unrefined, or processed and refined as little as possible and do not contain additives and other artificial substances: fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and animal products including (organic/grass-fed) meats.

Choosing what to eat is not a difficult task if you consider how those foods may potentially nourish your body. Listen to your body and set the goal to learn how it reacts to the foods you eat. Observe your digestion after each meal, as well as your mood and energy. They are indicators of how your body reacts to foods; that way you can start to respect it and honor it. And, remember, YOU DESERVE THE BEST. Honor yourself by giving you the best foods there are, because you are worth it. Show your body how much you love and respect yourself.

During our next session of Passport to Optimal Health, we will be talking in more detail about which foods to choose, how to make wise choices every day, and ways to make it easier to eat the best foods for you. Don’t miss our next session: Tuesday, January 12th, 7:30pm.



A Daily Holiday

What are you grateful for right now?

Gratitude We recently celebrated Thanksgiving and, even though most of the real meaning of the celebration has been lost, many people still take the time that day to express what they are thankful for, fortunately. I had the opportunity to spend that day not with one but with two beautiful families –yeah, I confess, I had two dinners that day; I’m very organized and so is my stomach!– who were eager to welcome into their homes someone they barely know, share the result of hours spent in the kitchen pouring all their energy and love, and extend some appreciation for being there. What a wonderful time Thanksgiving is. People think about others and care about everyone who may not have a family close by to spend that day with. Everyone seems to have their arms and hearts wide open for anyone needing food, love and shelter. That is the one day of the year when we seem to return to our most essential human nature: love. What happens the other 364 days of the year?

Let us be thankful today

Most of us don’t get to experience gratitude until we lose something precious, get sick, or miss something or someone. Only when we have, say, some pain in the stomach do we not appreciate it what it means to have a healthy digestion. But, let’s not wait till then. Be thankful today. Make it a practice not to take the little things for granted. Think about everything your body is doing for you every single second of every minute. Your heart keeps beating without your command or control; it’s working for you incessantly just to keep you alive. How can we not be grateful for that? Close your eyes for a few seconds and feel your heart. Listen to it. Feel the greatness of it inside of you. It’s your direct connection to source energy. My hope is that we will not wait until we get sick or have some pain to start appreciating and being grateful for our wonderful bodies and perfect health. Be thankful today. And then every single day to come. Thank your body for providing you with the healing energy that it may need, and for being so good and loyal to you.

Being grateful is the first step to happiness and all it takes is a change in perspective. How thankful are you for your life? If we just start our day by thanking the Universe, Source energy, God, Love, or whatever name you prefer to call that higher power, I guarantee your day will take a big turn, for the better. Every morning, as soon as you open your eyes, thank life for a new day, a new opportunity, and feel how fortunate you are to be where you are. And this is why I hereby proclaim that we celebrate Thanksgiving every single day. Let us be deeply thankful today.

JoyGratitude is only a change in perspective. It trains your mind to see life and the world around you differently. It reminds you that you are a wonderful human being and have a miraculous life. You don’t need to tell your lungs to work every day, or monitor your kidneys just so they will take care of their duties, you don’t even have to instruct one leg to move in front of the other. It is all working for you. You are a walking miracle and that is something that you must be grateful for. Thank you body every day for everything it does for you. What if we took the time to care about what really matters every day, and just get over ourselves?

How do we make gratitude a constant state of being? The more you practice gratitude the easier it will come, just like exercise. The more you work out, your body begins to get used to it and then it becomes very natural where you don’t have to even think about it because it is part of your daily routine. So, practice gratitude on a daily basis in the best way for you. Some people choose to write on a journal and that creates more discipline. Others simply say it out loud or quietly to themselves before going to bed, when they wake up, or throughout the day. It doesn’t matter when or how, what matters is that you do it often to feel it with your whole being. I strongly encourage you to give thanks every day, and don’t worry about being too spiritual about it. I am grateful for my delicious cup of coffee every morning, that’s usually the moment I remember to thank for my new day. The coffee triggers my gratitude! (Ha) So, don’t judge the actions that come to your mind as you begin to say thanks, simply make it a habit. What time is it? Time for gratitude! 

I am grateful for you.



“I’m not worthy.” – voice in my head


The title of this piece likely speaks to many of you.  In my work to best build a self-confident, safe, powerful and humble fitness community for all of us, I have continued to see this internal self talk plague us.  I see it in the looks on your faces, I see it in your mannerisms and in what fires you up.  It is palpable at the box, and likely in other areas of our lives where it isn’t so plain to see.

I read a quote from Dr. Tara Brach’s book Radical Acceptance that spoke to me regarding this reality:

“Every time we hide a defeat we reinforce the fear that we are insufficient.  When we strive to impress or outdo others, we strengthen the underlying belief that we are not good enough as we are.  This doesn’t mean that we can’t compete in a healthy way, put wholehearted effort into work or acknowledge and take pleasure in our own competence.  But when our efforts are driven by the fear that we are flawed, we deepen the trance of unworthiness.” (p. 17 Radical Acceptance)\

I want to be one, of what I hope are many, voices telling you to WAKE UP from the ‘trance of unworthiness.’  I, and your coaching staff, truly SEE you.  You may not notice everyday, but we do.  You are worthy.  You are worth it and you are whole.  Right now.  Fact.

Regardless of your ambition or ‘end game’ for why you are at The Arsenal, you are right now worthy and complete.  Thinking otherwise, and marinating in self loathing and ‘when I am…’ or ‘when I can…’ thoughts is actually holding you back.  You with your clean and jerk that is sloppy, you with your lack of mobility in hips, shoulders and ankles and you that is twenty pounds over weight.  You are whole, complete and worthy.

Be assured that I am not writing this as some success story, or from some higher plane of awareness.  I personally struggle with these thoughts daily.  I work with your coaching staff every week on this type of awareness.  I do it because the voice in our head can be a real asshole.  It tells you that until you achieve some future condition, a PR, body weight, grade, job, promotion or any other change state that you remain unworthy.  It says, you cannot rest in yourself until that prescribed condition is accomplished.  This is bullshit, and you and I both know it.

If you are not worthy now, you will not be worthy then.  By your standards or anyone else whose approval you are working to earn.  I’ll close with this.  At The Arsenal, you are worth it every day, every minute, every second.  The fact that you walk in the door everyday is a massive victory of investment in self, fitness and growth.  You are worth it here.  You are worth it on your first day, and you are worth it after your second year.  You simply will not earn more worthiness from us.  You already have it all.

The challenge I pose to you today is this:  Look in the mirror and tell yourself “I’m worthy.  I’m worth it.  I’m whole.” 10 times.  Look yourself right in the eyes, and in doing so silence that voice in your head that tells you anything different.  If you struggle with this exercise, then hit me up.  I work on things like this everyday and would like to learn how I can help you on your journey.  At The Arsenal, this is what we believe.


Let’s Talk about Health, Baby!

 Passport to Optimal Health

Most people think of health in terms of illness and being disease-free. It is time to shift the paradigm of health to one of vitality and harmony. How do you want to live your life?

  • Harmony brings health, wellbeing, and sustainability.
  • Disharmony leads to illness, disease, and collapse.

It is time to take charge of your own health and wellbeing, and we are here to show you how easy it can be. At the Arsenal, we care about you as a whole being and want you to reclaim your power so you can thrive in life. It is for this reason that we are thrilled to bring you Passport to Optimal Health, a program developed by our very own Holistic Health Coach, Isabel Serrano, for our members. The program consists of a series of workshops and activities, each focusing on a different aspect of lifestyle that influences your vitality and harmony so you can become more aware of what your body, your mind, and your soul really need and find the perfect balance for you in life.

We’re kicking off this month with a workshop on Food and Functional Eating. It is absolutely vital that we all know exactly the role that food plays in our body and our health so we can make wise choices in an easy way on a daily basis. Remember, you have power to make better choices; let us help you get there. We will also talk about ways to make healthy eating easier, what foods to include in your meals, try some sample meals, and we’ll be ready to answer any questions you may have.

DO NOT MISS IT! Tuesday, Dec. 8th, 7:30pm. Sign up now!

See you then!