“I think I’m gonna pass.” By Chris Heedles

So who has finally woken up from their turkey-induced coma? I haven’t, but I really need to not eat for the whole month of december….Hopefully most of the food is pretty much gone and you’ can return to your regularly scheduled programming of EMOMS and AMRAPS. Like it for not, Holiday season is upon us but food is just the beginning of what’s to come. Some of us may have gotten a healthy dose of carbs over the past few days but we may also have got a huge helping of confrontation. The holidays provide us with opportunities to share with family, but once we get around the dinner table, awkwardness is inevitable.

Holidays can be hard because of the amount of time we experience confrontation. The aunt you haven’t seen in years asking when you’re going to settle down, or questioning about your weight or what you’re doing with your life. Those are always fun. You want to snap back like kermit sipping coffee, but you avoid it all. You rationalize it in your head and you decide to not lunge across the table. WHY, because confrontation is icky, awkward, and downright uncomfortable. We avoid it because naturally we shy away from anything that produces negative emotions. The funny thing is though, avoiding the awkward conversations is contradicting. We let things simmer and build up and all of a sudden, its not just your grandma’s famous gravy that’s boiled over and exploded all over the kitchen. Conversations at the table around the holidays may seem minor but if we don’t face them head on immediately, then we begin to feel invalidated, rejected, and unsure of what are needs really are. Below are some steps to help you learn to be better at confrontation so you don’t have to dread the holidays anymore.


1. Be Timely:Address problems when they are small. Quicker = less build up

2. It’s about making people on your team "right," not "wrong.”:Confrontation is about closing a gap between what should happen and what is happening. Communicate to find a solution, not to bring someone down.

3. Make it about issues, not people: You don’t want the other person to feel attacked. This is why it’s important to confront the issue not the person or their character.

4. Be Concise: If you’re not concise, you risk losing your power. Use facts, not feelings, and be specific about what the issue is

5. Communicate with a reasonable tone of voice: nothing gets solved by raising your voice.

6. Aim at a resolution or next-step:Leave the convo with a future game plan for change.

7.  Follow-up: Check the status of the issue. This is also an opportunity to remind the other person that you care about him or her.

Its not easy but it is well worth the practice to give yourself peace of mind and stand up for yourself.

I'm Fine Really, Everything is fine - Chris Heedles

If you’ve watched “Friends” as many times as I have, you know the episode when Ross finds out about Rachel and Joey. That look of pure shock and panic is all over his face but he insists  he’s "fine.” I’m not really sure Ross will never be fine, but we will save that for later.

Panic can strike at any time and it has a weird way of showing itself. One moment you can be sitting down thinking about nothing out of the ordinary and all of a sudden it hits you….like a train. Your chest tightens up, the time between breaths decreases, you start to sweat and your hand is trembling. Many instances people who have experienced a panic attack report feeling like they were having a heart attack, the symptoms are that similar. Panicking can permanently scar some individuals because of the severity of the actual experience. Simulating a heart attack is not an ideal way to find out that you need to address your stressors and anxiety. If you’re like me and have experienced panic attacks, I am sorry you experienced it, but I’m also here to tell you there are ways to manage them.

During a panic attack, you want to do your best to ground yourself. Do your best, although it won’t be easy, to do the following:

- Feel where your body is. Are you on the ground? Standing? Up against a wall?

- Focus your eyes on one thing. If you look around too much you’ll be overstimulated

- Try to match your breath with someone else if you have people around you

- Perform a 6 second inhale and 6 second exhale if you’re alone

- Call a loved one, listen to the calmness of their voice

Prior to a panic attack, you have a few options. Acknowledging triggers and moments where you are stressed is important. If you do not address stress, it builds up and eventually will become too much to manage and you may be prone to a panic attack. Therapy is one of the best options, however journaling your day, and being mindful of your stress level will help you become more aware. If you are not aware of your triggers or current stress level, this is a good place to start.

How do you do it? - Chris Heedles

If someone were to ask you, on a scale of 1-10 how stressed you are, 10 being the worst, how would you rate yourself? Besides causing you to feel more anxious being asked this, it gives you a chance to reflect. Reflect on how stressed you are, what is stressing you and how you perceive stress.

Stress is known to be negative. Many people associate stress with higher rates of depression, anxiety, blood pressure, and impaired performance. But what if we look at stress in a different way? Research has found that some stress is good for you. Stress can in fact improve performance as it causes our brains to be more alert. When we are stressed we experience the fight or flight response in the body and normally people shy away from the stress and fly away. What we need to do is practice positive reappraisal, which essentially is changing the way we think about stress to then change the emotional impact of it. There are many articles online that interview several CEOs of major companies, to determine what their stress levels are. Many reported only a 3 or 4, on a scale of 1-10 but from the outside looking in, we may wonder why its not a 10 at all times. Several of the CEOs interviewed reported they saw stress as a challenge rather than a threat. From their perspective, this creates opportunities. The second most important factor related to stress is the physical preparedness that it manifests. The CEOs reported they viewed their increased heart rates, or shaky hands as a bump in energy preparing them for a good performance. Everyone perceives stress differently, and that’s okay, but it is helpful to welcome the stress instead of running from it. Stress does not have to be this paralyzing experience, and if we can learn to change the way we think about a 6 or 7 on our own scales, we can grow resilience within ourselves.


Stuck Like Glue by Chris Heedles

The workout calls for squatting and It’s the same weight you did a few weeks ago, but you can’t seem to get it up. You’ve worked on mobility so the range of motion isn’t a problem. You worked on your sticking point, so coming out of the hole isn’t so hard to push through. You even bought that weird "thigh master”  gizmo from that late night infomercial because you’ll do whatever it takes at this point. As much as you don’t want to admit, you’ve hit a plateau. Everyone hits them, which doesn’t make it any less annoying, but here you are. You’re stuck.

Plateaus can show up for a number of reasons. 

-For starters, our bodies become immune to the same thing over and over again. Stimulus needs to change in order for our bodies to get the signal to adapt. Switching up routines can help create some diversity in your programming. 

-Other times our bodies need a break. Having a goal is great, but many times we fail to plan resting periods and don’t listen to our bodies. A plateau could be a sign that we need to rest. 

- A huge mental factor related to plateaus is believing whats right in front of us and not digging deeper. We tend to take things at full value without analyzing what else could be happening. In terms of fitness, we need to resort back to consistency. If you hit a plateau with a weight, take a break, return and switch the program, and take notice of patterns in your lifts. 

**That new PR should be the result of consistent lifting and adequate programming, not a “I Felt good, so I went for it,” moment.

If you base each lifting session in your future, off of that one 300lbs squat , you’re gonna have a bad time. Plateaus, albeit frustrating, are teaching tools. They provide us with valuable information about our bodies, programming, progress, and mentality. If you let a plateau get in the way of becoming a better athlete, then you have a lot to learn. Embrace the chance to learn.

Because The Said So - Chris Heedles

Life gives us so many choices. Today we can be anything we want to be. We can be a doctor, lawyer, trainer, coach, teacher, construction worker, whatever you want to be, its possible with hard work. How many of you are actually living the life you dreamed of? Are you following the path you want or the path designated by someone else? The late great Steve Jobs made a speech about not getting trapped by Dogma. For those of you who have not seen it, I strongly suggest listening to it. Dogma refers to living with the results of other people’s thinking. You see it all the time. People become doctors and lawyers because their parents were doctors and lawyers. People have been told they are good at certain things and discouraged from others, so they go the path of least resistance because someone else told them they couldn’t cut it going the other direction. We have to begin focusing on our inner dialogue, not the words of others. Five years from now, if we want to be in a different place, the only way to do that is to step outside our comfort zone and take a path that we want to travel. The words of others should not dictate your choices, behavior, line of work, family, love life, or happiness. Our future is strongly influenced by our thoughts, what words we read and listen to, and who we associate ourselves with. None of these factors should be controlled by the thoughts of someone else. Take ownership of your life and begin to recite a new dialogue in your head and suddenly watch things change.

I Have To Go by Chris Heedles

Has anyone ever been to a sleepover when they were young and in the middle of the night, you wake up and want to leave? You could’ve had a nightmare, missed your mom, wet the bed, been picked on, or all of the above, regardless you just wanted to leave. Did you call your parents to pick you up? Probably not. If you did then this post may not be for you, but if you didn’t, then I want you to know something. IT’S OKAY TO LEAVE. It is completely fine and even encouraged to leave an environment that is not serving you. We all need to hear this because the reason why people don’t leave things like jobs, relationships, families, parties, places, is because we are worried about how us leaving will impact others. It’s easy to get caught up in going with things and stay in an uncomfortable situation, but it does not have to be like that anymore. Maybe when we were young we were told, “oh they were just joking, go back to sleep.” or “Don’t worry, they didn’t mean anything by it.” The uneasy feeling you felt was strong then and its just as strong if not stronger now as we are older. Im letting you know that you can say NO and you can LEAVE any situation that is not comfortable for you. That town that dimmed your light, that significant other who’s treating you poorly, or that job that makes you dread tomorrow, it is okay to LEAVE. Leaving can lead to new opportunities, new people, new doors, and new growth. 

Why Am I Doing This? by Chris Heedles

Mental Health is not clear cut. People will always say its not black and white, however they fail to mention just how colorful it is in the middle. All diagnoses look different for everyone and symptoms are even more broad. Anxiety for instance is not just constant worrying. Experiencing a desire to control people and events or having difficulty sleeping, could be a sign of anxiety. If a child is defiant or exhibiting challenging behaviors not consistent with their temperament, they may be anxious. Agitation, anger, unmanageable sadness, overthinking, avoiding activities, and even physical pain can all be signs that we are anxious. 

So WHY am I telling you this? Not to make you feel worse but to bring awareness to something that a lot of people do not understand. It is totally okay to have anxiety, its pretty normal, however if we do not pay attention to our behaviors and learn about how anxiety shows up, then we will never be able to manage it. There are few worse feelings than feeling a certain way and not knowing why? To learn about your own anxiety, here are a few tips:

1) Try to identify the factors in your life which lead to your anxiety. This can be people, places, things, or events. 

2) Consider the stress factors in your life, as anxiety is likely to worsen at times of high stress. Work, family, relationships, environments, life transitions, etc.

3) Take note of how your body reacts during stressful times. Do you sweat more? Does your heart race? Does your stomach turn?

4) Take note of how long your anxiety lasts and if it is different depending on the stimulus. Anxious about a PR, how long were you anxious for? 

5) What did you do last time during a stressful event to calm yourself down? Did you meditate to yourself? Deep Breathing? Did you Leave? (Leaving is totally okay)

Bringing awareness to yourself about your anxiety is such a big part of conquering it. It is also recommended to share what causes your anxieties with loved ones and friends so they can understand as well. The more you know, the more you can do to beat it.

You Gotta Suffer A Little by Chris Heedles

This may sound a bit extreme, but hear me out first.

Happiness is a funny thing. People feel that there is this special equation with happiness being the end result but this isn’t true. If you ask 1000 people what happiness means to them you will have 1000 different answers. Everyone’s vision of happiness is different, but many people believe, “If I look like X, then I’ll be happy” or “if I get this new Y then I’ll finally be happy.” If thats what you believe happiness is, Im sorry to be the one to tell you, but you’ll never achieve it with that mindset. Happiness is the result of suffering. Suffering through the ups and downs of life until you get to that goal.

If you want to look a certain way and believe happiness is achieved once you get a 6 pack, then you have to suffer through the regimented meal plan, hard workouts, battles with the scale, and much more. You have to be able to endure the hardships that comes with getting a 6 pack. You also have to battle the possibility that you may never achieve that “6-pack” and what that would mean in terms of your happiness. Ideally we reach our goals and I DO HOPE that when you have a 6 pack you become happier, if thats what you want, however Im more hopeful that you’ll succumb to the realization of how you have transformed mentally through the suffering. As soon as you welcome the suffering, happiness begins to show itself. We are all scared to suffer but we need to realize that is where the change really manifests itself. It is when you allow yourself to experience certain levels of physical and psychological pain, you begin to transform physically and mentally.

Remember your first time doing FRAN? I’ll give you a few seconds to think about how your lungs wanted to explode and how your form was so horrendous, you cringed the longer you looked back at it. Let that marinate………

Now think about how FRAN is months, or even years after your first time. Way different right! What got you to the point you are now? You suffered didn’t you. Hours and hours of pull-ups, squats, barbell work, and conditioning. Battles inside your head of whether or not you could shave your time down, and whether or not it was worth practicing your pull-ups. Ripped calluses, bruised shins, deflated egos, and defeated minds, got you to that point. Suffering is necessary, even mandatory for us to BEGIN experiencing happiness in some aspects of life.