Stephanie Under Construction Blog

Staying Focused

“It’s not about what the other guy is doing, it’s about your values and how that’s reflected in your service.”

I was filling out some information on a profile questionnaire last week and was asked for the best piece of business advice I’ve received. Well, that quote is it. It came from one of my closest and probably most trusted friends that I’m missing our almost daily interactions right now. Life and curve balls. Not a big fan. I’ve already got my big long list of things we have to get caught up on from the past few weeks. Anyway…stories for another day.

I’ve had a lot of negativity and the word “no” directed at me a lot lately. But as I started to really get run down and feeling defeated in this, I sat back the other day and had an epiphany as I let my (sometimes too smart for his own good) friend’s words roll around in my mind–while I received responses in the negative to requests to pursuits I had gone after in some different areas, I was starting to 1-blame myself for the response and/or 2-blame the other party that made the negative decision. There’s some big faulty logic there. And my defeat and bitterness was showing, even if only in my mind, toward those that perhaps had received a different outcome in the same/similar situations.

In the end, there’s no blame to be had. As I broke down the situations that were weighing on me the most, being told no was probably a blessing. I would’ve been tied into things that would’ve taken time, made me be more cognizant of how I interact in particular circles, and possibly limit my scope of service in ways that I’m not comfortable with considering. I felt so much freer once I came to this realization–especially in limiting the freedoms of my words and practices–one of the main reasons I choose to operate my own business.

I was transported right back to the countless conversations my friend and I have had whether sitting in our offices or out on bikes about the foundational principles in which to run a business, navigating it successfully from a biblical worldview, and how to stay the course when it gets hard–and it gets hard. But there’s always people that have your back.

I couldn’t see that last part until I stopped looking at the negatives though. Once I was able to see the negatives really weren’t negatives, then it was time for action. Next steps.

I’ve made some pretty bold moves in the last few weeks. Uncharacteristic ones. But they’re paying off quickly. I wish I could freeze time for a little bit to catch my breath to process and understand it all, but I just keep moving forward–and staying focused. I’m physically and mentally tired–I can’t begin to express the laundry list of what I have been through with family and friends over the last several months (oh yeah, let’s throw a pandemic into the mix for kicks and giggles too), but one step at a time, I’ve got this. I’ve got this–because God’s got me, and His plan is set.

I would love to…but…

It’s no big secret that I’m a proponent of small business. Um, I own one. Many of my friends and acquaintances own or work for small businesses. I live in a rural community that thrives on small business. Support small business.

However, I’m cognizant of where I spend my dollars. Not only do I need to be mindful of managing my household’s and my business’s budgets, I spend money within my values and what’s important to me and my family. Money talks.

In light of world events, many people have turned to or are leaning harder on secondary sources of income, or have sought out new avenues of supporting their families. I wholeheartedly support self-sufficiency and will always do my best to be a cheerleader, encourager, provide advice, refer, and when I can, provide monetary support or be a client of that business.

But.

There’s always a but.

I can’t be a client, monetarily support, or promote something that does not align with my values. It’s not that I don’t want you to be wildly successful or love you for the amazing person that you are–it’s simply your product or service I’m not jiving with–and we can separate the two and still maintain our relationship.

Here’s an example of what that looks like:

There is a direct marketing athletic clothing company that has launched recently with some super cute styles at fairly reasonable prices. Between my own training and my work training others, it’s a fair assessment I spend 65%+ of my week in sportswear, and now that I wear straight-sized clothing, I’m an ideal client for these consultants to reach out to when they host their parties because they know I can order from them without hesitation. (*keep that last thought in your mind)

Let’s rewind to five or six years ago when I was at a size where sportswear was almost completely inaccessible due to my size. It is degrading, embarrassing, and downright uncomfortable to try and exercise in clothing that is not made for your body shape or size. If you’re lucky enough to find something made in that size, it is not flattering or fashionable (because, well, if you’re wearing something in a circus tent size, you should obviously look like one too). Now, as time as gone on, some brands have gotten better in expanding size lines, creating clothes that fit a fat body that are functional that are the same as their straight-sized lines, and done better at representing fat bodies in marketing and advertising, but there’s a long way to go.

As my body not only changed in size, but these various brands came available, I began to actively seek out the sportswear brands that have all-inclusive sizing. That means that the same leggings or sports bra for the person that wears a size 0 is also available for the person that wears a plus size 34. That’s an extremely tall order for a sportswear company, especially most small businesses, I get it. But it’s not impossible. And actually, the ones making it happen, are small businesses–the larger corporations are the ones lagging in this area.

I’ve made a personal commitment that as my current sportswear collection wears out/sizes out, that I am only purchasing clothing from companies that encompass inclusive sizing in their practices. Unfortunately, I lack the financial means to simply donate my current wardrobe and start from scratch, so each piece has been replaced appropriately as needed. This is important to me, not only from my own lived experience, but it also speaks to the principles in which I run my own business that I referenced the other day. I don’t feel right wearing a piece of clothing in my studio and having a client comment say something about it/ask where they can obtain it and it not be available for them (*remember that direct marketing company from earlier?). If I am to remove barriers from my clients achieving their goals, then I’m going to remove all barriers.

Not every company is on board yet, and unfortunately I have other commitments where I can’t hold true to this personal commitment. I belong to endurance sports teams that contract out their team gear each year. The endurance sports community is by far still behind the curve on inclusivity–there have been some improvements, a few niche companies have hit the market, but unfortunately endurance sportswear has not understood the need yet for inclusive sizing. Granted, I’ve done my homework in this arena because I’ve now worn a lot of different sizes–and while someone might not be able to wear the brand I’m currently wearing on a given day due to sizing availability, I am able to send someone in a reliable direction for quality swimming, cycling, and running gear to meet the needs of any sized body. Now, I’ve had a couple conversations where it’s been suggested that I should leave these teams. I disagree. When you look at the purpose of the teams, the people on the teams, and/or the mission or products those teams represent–the teams themselves are in full alignment with my values. I just have beef with their suppliers, but I continue to offer my opinions, suggestions, and advocate for inclusivity at every juncture in order to be a catalyst for change for the future. There’s a point in time where you don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Advocacy for change is just as important.

We need to support each other when we can. When someone says no, they aren’t just being a douchebag. I’ve learned to explain my no to people, and that’s a really hard thing to do–mostly because I think in instances like this, people need to understand. I’ve been met with a myriad of responses. Sometimes people just don’t care–they just wanted to make a sale, and they move on. Others are genuinely blown away because they’ve never thought about it from this perspective (especially this clothing example). I know in my own business, I want to understand your no–and I will ask why. If you don’t want to explain, that’s fine, but it’s all a learning tool, and that’s part of business and life–learning, growing, and being supportive to one another too.

I want us all to succeed.

You’re a WHAT?!

I’m a HAES Registered Professional.

I am a Health At Every Size (TM) Registered Professional.

Some time ago, I, along with over 16K and counting professionals across a spectrum of fields took a pledge to uphold the following components within our business practices:

Now, why is this important? Um…have you met me?! (In case you haven’t, you really should.)

The very core of my business is to break down the barriers–ANY barriers–that stand in place of someone achieving their goals. We are all unique being with unique challenges, lives, stories, experiences, desires, and “whys,” and there is nothing on God’s green earth that can stand in the way of a determined person. Except ourselves.

I’ve seen in my own journey at different what seemed to be the brick walls of “you can’t” and “you won’t” and had opportunities robbed of me of size, gender, knowledge, rural living, access to services, access to medical care, and even things as small as the ability to obtain appropriate clothing due to size. No more.

I’ve done the homework in my life, lots of it over the years, and I REFUSE to let anyone not reach their goals–whatever they may be, fitness, nutrition, or otherwise–because they come up against something that seems to them to be insurmountable. Nothing is impossible.

My job is to come alongside a client, look at their goals–what it is that they want to achieve, break it down to the action steps to get there, make sure the resources are available that they need for success, and keep them accountable and encouraged to reach their potential while showing them what they thought was a just a pipe dream full of stumbling blocks can actually be a lived reality. Our dreams don’t have to be “somedays,” they can be now. So, let’s do it!

I’m Doing a Detox

I know, right?

No…I didn’t stutter. I’ll give you a moment to pick up your collective jaws from the floor before I back up and explain.

First, we all know my VEHEMENT disapproval of cleanses and detoxes and the science I’ve got to back that up. At the very basic premise–you can’t add a supplement or food to the body in order to clean to detoxify it. Your body already knows how to do that. It was literally created to do so. It didn’t forget how. I promise.

Second, I actually think detox is quite possibly the wrong word for the endeavor for which I’m going to embark–but I haven’t landed on a better one to suggest to my nutritionist friend for her program after studying the materials at length, so, jury’s still out on that one.

So, then, why?

I’ve actually got a few reasons why I would like to give this *specific program a try.

  1. I know the certified nutritionist running the program. She is trained, professional, knows her stuff, and I feel comfortable asking her questions throughout the five-day period as it pertains to my specific needs and being open and honest.
  2. Real food. No supplements, processed replacements, or gimmicks. There is no franchise, MLM, or larger company behind this
  3. You choose your food. We received a recipe guide with meal suggestions, alternative meals, snacks, and then even a supplemental guide with even more alternatives we can put in place of different meals and snacks. There’s no prescribed menu.
  4. You eat what you want when you need to. There’s nothing in this program that tells you that you eat X amount at X time and that’s all you get. You eat according to your needs. This is in line with how I fuel my body according to the principles of intuitive eating and using a hunger/satiety/fullness scale.
  5. New recipes! (I should’ve said this list was in no particular order) I *might* have failed to mention that this is five days of a vegan diet. This is an experiment for me in trying new and different things. I am pretty good at providing advice to my clients for vegetarian options when that is something they prefer/need, vegan is out of my wheelhouse completely–I need my meat!–which leads me to…
  6. Referral. In my business, I want to be able to confidently refer my clients to providers I trust when the scope of care is beyond my reach. There are limits in the arena of nutrition that I cannot tackle due to my certifications and I HAVE to refer out–I want to know what the service is like that my clients will receive. What better way than to experience it myself? Plus, then I have the benefit of providing firsthand knowledge too in allaying referral fears.
  7. Supporting local business. Uh, duh. Not only is that a no-brainer all the time, it’s even more important with the state of affairs in the world right now.

*(I said this specific program–as in: I’ve only ever even considered trying this and only this for the reasons outlined above in a very calculated and pragmatic manner. I will NOT, repeat, NOT, be entertaining other supplements, detoxes, and/or cleanse programs. Please do not solicit them to me. You won’t likely appreciate the candor of my response.)

Now, to say I walk into this with a little trepidation is an understatement–I’ve got my arsenal of backup with me too. The idea of straying from my everyday diet (as in the food I consume on a daily basis) to something out of the norm raises the anxiety level a bit, and just the word “detox” sends a thousand restriction warning bells off in my head. But, I don’t go at this alone, either. Not only do I have the support of the group and nutritionist providing the program, I have the support of my own sports dietitian if I need it, a myriad of tools that I can call upon that arrest the eating disorder shackles daily, my triathlon coach, and the people in my life that keep me accountable to my goals everyday. As y’all know, THAT stuff is priceless!

I really want to do this too as an experiment…shake things up, try some new dishes, see what’s out there, and play a little scientist too and see how my body reacts on a vegan diet for a few days. Do I see it as a lifestyle change? Heck no! But, I’m honestly curious to see how my body reacts and feels. Oh yeah–I forgot to mention too. For me, there’s no scale involved in this one. It’s packed up for the duration, no before or after weights, and I’ve talked to my coach about the intensity of the workouts I’ll have during that period of time so I won’t be taking any before/after high intensity workout weights to be tempted to see what’s going.

I also have an out. I can call it quits at anytime. If it starts to play too much emotionally or is triggering me beyond a certain point, it’s done. My mental well-being and health are always more important than an experiment. But that’s why ALL the pros are at the table in this one. Should be a fun ride though…I’ll keep y’all posted! More later.

Praise Him In This Storm

There’s going to be people that are going to take this post the wrong way, and that’s okay. You’re not me. You’re looking at a snapshot and not the full story of life, and we all have different worldviews and values in which we bring to table to sift through some of these ideas. And that’s cool. But it doesn’t change the truth.

God. Is. So. Good.

I don’t think there has been a day that has gone by in the last several months that my husband and I haven’t uttered/texted some variation of that truth to one another, and often to others in our various conversations as well. We continue to be blown away daily in how God took over our plans and blew them out of the water.

Spoiler alert: We didn’t plan to move back to Lake Havasu as fast as we did. We were several months into the process of what we felt was going to take until fall 2020 for us to comfortably transition. What was anticipated to take roughly 12 months, God said, “Take that–how about 12 weeks? I’ve got plans.” Trust and Obey.

We weren’t ready, but God was. Everything fell into place. It was a tidal wave, and completely overwhelming in every possible way you could imagine, but every detail worked out. To perfection. Not a chance could we have orchestrated winding up what we had dedicated ever waking breath to–and many dreams and nightmares too–for so many years and handing off our ministry, find our absolute dream home (seriously, short of building it from scratch, we couldn’t have dreamed it any better–there’s just a few minor upgrades we’ll make when we get to that point) in the community that we love with our whole hearts, have my husband begin thriving in a new career that he’s loving, and launch the business of my dreams. Just follow the steps He laid out. Trust and Obey.

Life’s pretty grand, right? All our needs are met, we can breathe easy. God is good.

Enter the world turning upside down. Needless to say, I don’t have to go into detail how COVID-19 has brought the planet to a screeching halt.

But. I can tell you, I still cry daily in sheer awe at God’s provision. For He is good.

Let’s back up the train a little bit…remember those plans we had? That God had better?

Nothing happens in God’s plans for us (*in this case, my husband and I) by coincidence. (Trigger warning, this is the part where some of you are going to start taking things the wrong way, so the easily offended can stop reading)

With the current state of the world, while we would have stepped up to the plate and done what was expected of us, we would have struggled in a lot of different ways. I’m not going to lie, and I briefly touched on it in a social media post yesterday–living with PTSD is making it very difficult to manage the everyday symptoms of anxiety and depression that come along with it and not letting it escalate into extremely unnecessary fear or panic. I am blessed to be able to distance myself now from the chaos of the world, still conduct business to help support my family, and also choose how much of the pandemonium I’m going to allow into my life (sadly, more than I like to, but being a responsible business owner and allied health provider, information and knowledge is power). I don’t have to for one second feel guilty for taking care of myself first.

As for my husband, he is thriving in a new career that he is having a blast with! He’s getting to meet new people, see new places, and minister to people in unique places that often are overlooked or don’t get to hear about the love of Jesus. He is affirmed in his work and worth, and his work has meaning and value–and that affirmation is something that was lacking from so many key places for too many years. It’s something that as his spouse I can tell him until I’m blue in the face, but that doesn’t always make the impact sometimes. My heart has always hurt for that, and I just burst with pride and excitement when I hear from him each day now and what he’s up to. Especially during this time, being an “essential worker” and in extremely high demand, he’s serving in ways that I’m sure he never imagined.

Now, don’t mistake my words–life isn’t all sunshine and roses. Life is real. Life is messy. Life is life. I wish a lot of things to still be different. I wish things like some of the quarantine recommendations and sheltering orders were different so I could spend time with particular family members, but that’s not feasible or prudent with this virus right now. Life is hard. Life takes work.

But I do know these things: this too shall pass. All our needs are met. God is so good.

So, all that remains, is just to continue to trust and obey. And praise. Always praise. Always.

International Women’s Day

Is this where I’m supposed to write a sappy feminist post?

No? Okay. Good. That means y’all know me by now.

International Women’s Day is one of those observances I cringe a bit over because of my own opinions on equality vs. equity and my worldview.

Here’s the deal–I was raised with strong leaders. Women and men. Women that never used their gender as an excuse or a pass for advancement, or leverage for “more” in life. They worked for every opportunity, same as their male counterparts. The men, showed the same value in work, integrity, and diligence–and they treated women as their equals, advocated for their same level of opportunity, and were never threatened by them working at the same or higher level of advancement. These were my examples. How “modern” for the 80s.

In my faith walk, I’ve learned my place in biblical marriage. (Ohhhh…I think just heard a collective gasp around the world, LOL) Hear me out. If you think I’m a doormat for a second, wait for my husband to stop laughing and he’ll explain that one to you. I have my own opinions, my own decisions, and my own freedoms (including that of speaking, teaching, preaching, wearing jewelry, wearing my head uncovered, and any other Bible passage you would like to proof-text…come at me, bro). My husband is the spiritual head of our household, but that in no way is a means of control. Ever hear the joke that the wife is the neck and makes the head turn? We work together. And quite honestly, when it comes to matters of theology, scripture, and doctrine…that is totally my husband’s wheelhouse. Hand me the paperwork and administrative tasks any day of the week. We need each other.

At times I wonder if my views have done me a disservice, because I look around sometimes and just think, “instead of complaining so much about the problem, do something.” Perhaps it’s because I’ve spent years as a leader in position dominated by men for literally centuries, and come up against the good, bad, and ugly–some minds I’ve been able to change, and others that will never change (women included) and even going forward as a business owner, there’s always challenges that I will face as a woman in business–but see here’s the thing: I don’t use my gender as the excuse.

I will always work hard, seek answers, support, knowledge, and growth just as I always have to succeed because that’s what I’ve been taught to do to thrive as a leader. I just get to do it with pretty curls loose and a far better professional wardrobe now. I support women to reach for the stars, to better themselves, and to reach every opportunity in life. But I also take advantage of the male friends and allies in my corner too–there’s some smart cookies out there that I glean from in my own successes big and small.

At the end of the day, it comes down to this–we don’t exist in a vacuum and we never really know who need in life. We need each other. Love one another. Let’s celebrate what we ALL do.

Analog

Whelp, all good things must come to an end…full speed ahead again. But this time, it’s my hand on the throttle. Don’t get me wrong–still riding out the honeymoon here in paradise, but it’s time to get back to the business of adulting after two weeks of transitioning. At this point, we are probably 3x more unpacked in this house in 17 days than the one we lived in for the last 2 1/2 years. It actually looks like people live here vs just squatters, lol. Definitely another garage sale in a few weeks as I finish going through more stuff! This move we have dedicated to unpacking completely and downsizing the clutter as we don’t intend on moving again. So much fun to put together a home that’s “yours” and as time goes on to continue to chose the remaining furniture and things we need. But, we’ve got the basics and that’s all that we need!

The past several months have been well…I don’t think I can concisely sum up the emotions…on top of all the work in this transition, the holiday season, and recovering from surgery. While I’m not naive to the calendar of races creeping up quickly, my coach in his infinite wisdom, understood the pressures on me and knew what I would heap on myself as well and challenged me to this–no watches, no workout selfies, no social media/strava until I get settled. This would give me a chance to truly hone in on RPE and not stress about metrics, calendars, missed workouts, and structure and completely listen to what my body needs in the middle of healing, busyness, and one of the most stressful times of my life. Have I overdone it? Yup. Have I taken it easier than I probably needed to? Yup. Any regrets? Not a one. Though, all good things come to an end, and now that I’m on a routine now, we talked this morning that “the analog project” is coming to an end.

I recently went through Deena Kastor’s book, Let Your Mind Run, for probably the fourth time–this book resonates so much with me in how I want to balance the things I value, life, business, and training. To have flexibility in honoring what’s most important, yet also meeting the responsibilities of life and reaching our greatest potential. Win. Win. Win. And…peace.

Yesterday I sent my husband off to his job training and boy, they hit the ground running! Poor guy sounds exhausted. I too had quite the day. I had set a rather lofty agenda for the day to start off the week with a bang and got a ton done. Couldn’t be more pleased with all that I accomplished around the house and in my office today. Definitely starting the week on the right foot!

It’s so fun to see how things are taking shape as I still unpack all the fitness equipment…this shot is just a sliver (25%) of the studio space I’m utilizing for the gym for Heart and Sole (uh, and my bike trainer–with a view!)