THE GIRL BEHIND ONE STRONG SOUTHERN GIRL
Why Southern Girl instead of just Girl?
Well, that’s a great question!
The fact is that I grew up in the South.
And while I’m proud of my physical strength, it’s my psyche that’s developed the chiseled muscles of Sagi Kalev.
And all that mental bodybuilding came out of the experiences I had growing up where I did.
I use the word southern to define me, but not exclude anyone else.
While every little girl grows up with their own unique experiences we all have shit happen to us that makes us strong (er).
Keep reading to find out why I started One Strong Southern Girl…
A SHOUT OUT TO THE TOMBOYS
I was a tomboy, gymnast, and daddy’s girl.
I was a tough kid. I was physically stronger than most of the other girls.
I liked it.
Did it mean I was never picked on? Did it mean I felt pretty, smart, or like Lynda Carter with her GoGo boots, invisible jet, and lasso of truth? Nah. But it was me.
*If you don’t have a clue who Lynda Carter (AKA Diana Prince) is then please enjoy the following IMPORTANT video entitled–Life Lessons From Wonder Woman (It really gets going around the 45 second mark)*
Incidentally, Wonder Woman was the first female I thought was a total badass.
Sadly, if you aren’t familiar with Diana Prince then you probably don’t know who the original Charlie’s Angels are, either. But the lessons I learned from Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith, Kate Jackson and Cheryl Ladd are for another day…
I was one of 4 daughters and my sisters had the market saturated when it came to beauty, intelligence, fashion, and conquering the opposite sex.
I was busy trying to decide if there was a chance I’d make the football team. (I guess you could say I was the closest thing to a son my dad ever had.)
Boys picked on me. No one would have described me as pretty. But because I’d been doing gymnastics for years, I could do a pull up and was the fastest kid around on Field Day (and those things were cool). I think I tried to embrace the only asset I believed I had. (My strength, in case you missed it.)
*Brief interlude to explain something* Ahem, this is not a story meant to illicit sympathy or discuss the nature of bullies, my traumatic childhood, or need for therapy. Just bear with me as I explain where (I think) my love of exercise and strength morphed from…
TEENAGERS ARE WEIRD
I don’t remember ‘becoming’ a teenager. In my memory it was like I woke up one morning and just knew that BOYS WERE AWESOME.
This happened around the same time that my parents decided gymnastics was too expensive and time consuming.
So practically overnight I simultaneously discovered that boys were the shiz, and that eating Oreos, Lucky Charms, and Big Macs were making my ass the size of a small planet (an actual phrase my dad used to refer to my butt…oh, the good ‘ol days) now that I wasn’t exercising 15 hours a week.
In a way I’d become more feminine. I’d occasionally fight with my sister’s over a sweater, discovered a curling iron and Aqua Net, and even wore mascara. But I missed that strong, tough little girl who climbed trees, could do a pull up, and fished with my dad.
I wanted to get back to what had always made me happy—being physically fit and strong.
I started working out at home with Denise Austin and Gilad (Bodies in Motion). (To this day I can’t think about Hawaii without picturing Gilad’s beautiful girls on a beach in high-cut leotards and leg-warmers.) I also got my hands on a copy of Buns of Steel. I wore that VHS tape out. (Like most teenage girls, I hated my thighs and was convinced Greg Smithey could squeeze all the fat out of them with 1000’s of leg raises.)
REAL LIFE CAN BE SUCKY
As life has a way of doing, things got real in my 20’s.
Life was a bowling bowl to the gut.
By 22, I had two kids and was forced to squeeze (literally) into my big girl pants real fast-like.
Looking back on it now, it seems like every few weeks I encountered a life-altering moment (marriage, divorce, welfare, single mom) that dumped shit on me that I could learn from or ball up in the corner and cry about. I learned a lot.
The word Priorities took on a new meaning. I had to juggle a bunch of them. Kids. Education. Money. Fitness.
Needless to say, after busting out two kids my body was a train wreck. I was NOT the Heidi Klum of having babies. (People would ask me ‘When are you due?’ literally 6 months after I’d had my second child. WTH? You see the carseat holding an infant sitting right next to me. People are shitty.)
I wanted to get back in shape. I needed it to maintain my sanity. I had to feel strong again. But time wasn’t something I had a lot of.
I realized that my kid’s naptime was the best opportunity for me to workout. I went back to exercising at home (which was a tiny apartment in public housing). I borrowed exercise videos and an aerobics step. (It was during this time that I discovered Reebok Step with Gin Miller and fell in love with step aerobics).
I finished my undergrad studies and by the time I started PA school I completely committed to at-home fitness. The time I had to devote to exercise was minimal. I spent hours a day studying. And I was a single mother of two boys. Exercising at home was the only option.
A friend moved in with me during PA school and introduced me to the 5 AM workout. She’d get up with the roosters and I’d hear her puffing, panting, and jumping along with an exercise video. Eventually I joined her. We started lifting weights together and I found my strength and confidence again.
THINGS GET NICE & BORING
Things started to settle down after I finished my Master’s degree and started working. I remarried and life was calm.
Civic duty called around this time and I became deeply involved in my local YMCA. I obtained my certification as a personal trainer and started spending time in a gym (working part-time as a PA and part-time as a personal trainer).
At some point my husband and I decided we wanted more kids. Over the next 3 years we adopted two kids (so, yes that’s 4 if you’re keeping track).
I went back to my foundation and started exercising at home again so I could be at home with our youngest children.
Around this time I purchased The Firm videos. I bought a high step, ankle weights, and dumbbells. It was during this time that I started writing down the details of each exercise video and taping it to the front of the VHS sleeve. (I actually used a label-maker because I’m super anal.)
Around 2006 I discovered Cathe Friedrich. I knew she was a badass from the first routine. I added more dumbbells and a nicer aerobics step to my exercise tools and purchased a bunch of her fitness videos.
Now we’re up to the most recent period of my life. Like most people my life has had a lot of tragedy as well as triumph.
In 2008 my husband passed away and I found myself a single mom of 4 kids. I moved back to the area where I was born and pushed on. I remarried in 2010 and added a 5th awesome child to the family (my beautiful step-daughter).
For as long as I can remember exercise has been the way I deal with stress. When I feel physically strong I’m able to face things that might otherwise leave me in a pitiful heap of tears and self-pity.
I process a bad day by doing a really tough workout and finding something to laugh about. It’s what works for me. During my husband’s illness (cancer) and after his death I found myself exercising (even more) religiously and realized that it was therapeutic (and had been that way my entire life).
I can’t remember a time when people that know me haven’t asked me about my exercise routine. Over the years I’ve shared my advice and tips to encourage as many people as I can to keep exercising and finding the programs that keep them excited about fitness. That’s my goal with One Strong Southern Girl.
I want to help you get excited about your next workout. My focus is on exercising at home because that’s what I’ve become an expert at.
I want to help other women find their strength and happiness.
I believe being physically strong encourages fortitude as well. And life requires that. Exercise IN SPITE of life and what it throws your way. Workout BECAUSE of life and how awesome it can be.
I hope I can inspire other people to develop their own strength and reap the rewards that come with it.
Keep reading to find out what things I love, what my fantasy job is, and my least favorite exercise…
Who Am I
Wife, Mother, Sister, Fitness Enthusiast/Blogger, YA Author
Things I Love (In random order)
working out, chocolate, my husband, books, tattoos, my kids, writing, bread, sisters (my oldest sister is also a blogger)
What (else) I do
I’m a physician assistant (for 18 years)
My Fantasy Jobs
Fitness apparel tester
Type A (I can’t stop organizing!); I’m also a big smart-ass. Shut up. You know you’re one, too
How I Deal with Stress
Humor and exercise
Nestle’s flavored water (grape and orange are the best); Cosmopolitan or a Lemon Drop Martini
My Least Favorite Exercise(s)
Running, push-ups, & air jacks
Bad cuing in a workout video, when the instructor is off beat, not telling me what weight they’re using, and worst of all…an instructor that doesn’t actually do the workout (stopping to show proper form for a second is ok but don’t walk around the whole time while I’m dying…not cool)
Bread, hands down. I’m the loser that takes the last piece of fresh bread off the appetizer plate while everyone else is trying to decide who gets it. It’s sad. I’m working on it. Also, chocolate chip ice cream.
Another Tough Mudder
A Spartan Race
And finally I’d love to share with you the wonderful organizations that have touched my life in some way and give me hope when I need it most.
“Life is complicated. Fitness doesn’t have to be.”
Direct: [email protected]