Everything you want is on the other side of fear.

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Change is exciting but often scary. Even when we know that change is good for us. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of what others think and even fear of success often keep us from pursuing our dreams. Yes, I said fear of success. Why is that, isn't success something we all aim for? 


Last November I did the 2nd scariest thing in my life. I shipped out to Basic Combat Training for the United States Army. This is only 2nd to March 27, 2013 when I raised my right hand and was sworn in. I was terrified. I was 27 years old, which in terms of enlisting is ancient. We were still at war, what if I get deployed? Can I make it through BCT? Will I fail? What happens if I don't fail.....? All of these questions were going through my mind. This quote above is literally something I read every day the weeks prior to shipping out. I have always wanted to serve my Country. Always. Fear always got in the way. November 13th I shipped out, and no YouTube video could prepare me for what I experienced. It was the most amazing, challenging, difficult, rewarding experience I can imagine. I learned how incredibly strong I am and I left February 19th with a sense of pride I cannot even explain. I just accomplished something that less than 1% of the American population ever will. 


I know, you are thinking ok Thea, what does this have to do with health and fitness? Why am I reading about your experience at BCT? Believe it or not - this fear - that overwhelming fear of the unknown is something that keeps people from stepping foot into a fitness center. Here are some of the most common fears that I have come across and some tips on how to overcome them.


·         Not knowing what you’re doing.

·         Getting hurt.

·         Navigating an unfamiliar environment.

·         Having people judge you

·         I look fat. 

·         I have no one to go with.

·         I will look silly.

·         What if I work hard but don't hit my goals?

·         I don't deserve to be happy and healthy.


Tip 1. Consider why you want to go to the gym in the first place.

Those are the most common. First and foremost I ask "Why are you here?" If you answer things like, it’s what I should be doing, and I want to look good for other people. You need to revisit your motivation? Do you want to be healthier? Lose {x} number of pounds? Be able to get up and down the stairs better? Be a better soldier? Be a better {insert sport} competitor? 


Tip 2. Ask the Fitness Director for assistance or hire a personal trainer.

Often centers will have fitness directors to get you started. They can show you the basics of the machines and some even the guidance as to what to do when you are here. Otherwise hire a trainer. We are educated and certified so that we can get you to your goals in the SAFEST, QUICKEST, way. 


Tip 3. Get a workout partner. 

Find a friend or a family member. Post it on Facebook -"Looking for a workout buddy!" You would be surprised how many other people are looking for the same! 


Tip 4. Try a group fitness class.

This one is tricky, often people will worry they look silly or like they don't have a clue what is going on. Guess what? No one does! Let the instructor know you are new. Trust me no one is watching you. 


Tip 5. Set small goals.

Your first goal should not be to lose 40 lbs. Your first goal should be - step into the gym. 


Tip 6. Expect setbacks.

What's that saying? Rome wasn't built in a day. It took me over a year to lose my 120 lbs. And I had set backs. But I keep pushing. You have to keep pushing. 1 bad day will not ruin the rest of the week unless you allow it to. Preparing for possible setbacks helps you deal with them as they arise. 


Tip 7. Realize people are there for them.

Most people are so focused on themselves at the gym that even if you do something silly, they won't notice. 


Tip 8. Know that you are worth the time.

Some people fear the end result. Often time people allow their weight to dictate whether they are happy in life. Know that you are worth the time it will take, that you are worth the effort. More importantly know that you are worth being happy and healthy.


Tip 9. Don't expect it to be easy.


DNF'd While Daring Greatly


"The credit belongs to the man {woman} in the arena, whose face is marred by dust & sweat & blood." A favorite quote of mine from Teddy Roosevelt. I will be honest, I know little about the former President...history was never really my thing. I do know that throughout my work with Team RWB I have had this quote read to me, read this quote to others, and read this quote personally more times than I can count. I now know why.

Earlier this year I signed up for my first race; a 50k. I didn't just sign up for my first Ultra, I signed up for my first race - ever and it just happened to be an Ultra. I trained. I whined. I was miserable. I hurt, everywhere. I am not a runner I would say. Why in the name of everything did I think this was a good idea I would question. I felt like a fraud, I am not a runner. I continued to train. I worked my butt off. Hours out of my week doing my least favorite thing, running. I realized if I could just get out of my head I actually enjoyed the trails. If I quit worrying about the miles and just focused on one foot in front of the other I wasn't miserable. I became obsessed with New Balance shoes. I ate a lot of Jolly Ranchers. I discovered that Airheads makes the best gum for long runs. I would explore and find new trails. I learned a lot of cool new places in the Bismarck area that I had no idea existed. I made running a priority. I became pretty good friends with a few people who helped make the running experience less miserable. I signed up for a 15k. I ran a half. I didn't hate my time on the trails. I started to feel less like a fraud. I looked forward to my time, lost in the trees, feet dirty and legs tired. I started to feel like a runner. I trained. I trained hard. 

August 12th after a maze of red windy roads, cows blocking my path, random patches of snow and a pretty kick ass Hanson playlist I stepped into MY arena. The arena was named the Maah Daah Hey. I was ready. I felt great. My nutrition was on point. I slept the night before. I was excited. I worked hard. I wanted this and I tend to be a pretty determined person. I was cursing the large beast of a hill, but having a blast on the declines. I was high fiving people I have never met as we crossed paths. 

After a number of out and backs I still felt pretty good. Finally got the nutrition under wraps. Wasn't sure how I'd do that beast I called switchback hell 2 more times but otherwise in a good place. Got up the beast and started to work my way down. Pain shot from my big toe to my butt cheek. Cramping, gotta be normal right? Figured I'd make my way down and walk it off a bit and stretch. Pain through the entire rest of the way down. Got to a flat way and stretched a little and walked. Felt good. Trudged up another incline, legs were on fire but no pain. Started to go downhill and extreme pain again. With no option, I made my way walking up hill, slowly running the flats and walking down the declines until I got to the aid station. I removed my shoes and my socks to find a huge lump on the arch of my foot which was also a pretty purple. I could not move my big toe without extreme pain and if I attempted to plantar flex my foot a pain shot up to my bum. I iced it, thought I could wait it out a bit. No luck. After a few tears and accepting what was happening I got a ride back to the start. I got into my car and cried the entire 3 hour drive home. 

I continued to cry for the next two days.

I let everyone down.

People donated money to support Team RWB with my attempt to do so. 

I let everyone down.

I failed.

I failed bad.

Or in race terms...I DNF'd.

I cried a little more. How was I going to tell everyone I couldn't make it past half way?

"...but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly..."

I tried. 

I tried hard.

I learned to enjoy running.

I raised money for an organization I believe fully in.

I ran more in the past few months than ever before. 

I felt my depression was much less noticeable than in months prior. 

I showed up.

I showed up without fear.

I gave it all that I had.

I didn't quit. 

My posterior tibialis (a calf muscle) quit.

I showed up.

I gave it my all.

I failed.

I failed.

But I dared greatly. 

I will try again. 

I may fail again. 

I will dare greatly.

I will eventually not fail. 

I will know triumph of high achievement and at worst, if I fail - I will fail daring greatly. 

Goal Setting

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Setting goals is so important, not only in regards to health and fitness but in life in general. Without them, we go through life in a state of contentment. There are a multitude of different types of goals; long term, short term, personal, professional. The most important thing about goals is to set SMART Goals. Below I will break this down.

SMART stands for;

Specific: Your goal should be as specific as possible. It needs to be precise enough to be able to judge if you have hit it. It should answer WHAT is your goal. HOW often or HOW much.

Measurable: How will you measure your goal? Setting measurable goals will give you specific feedback and hold you accountable.

Attainable: Your goals should push you and be challenging however you need to be able to realistically achieve these goals.

Realistic: Is the goal and timeline realistic?

Timely: Do you have a timeline? A timeline keeps you accountable and provides motivation.


Different resources will give you different answers on what a short term goal time frame is. Some say one week, some say one year. To me a short term goal is something that must be accomplished prior to completing a long term goal. A long term goal then is the sum of multiple short term goals. This is why I love the idea of goal pyramids. Below is the template and an example of how I like to set goals.

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This template places at the top the long term - or final - goal. The goal set is specific, measurable, and has a set time table. If the short term goals are followed the goal is also realistic and attainable.


I have found that writing goals down, or having photos of goals up is a great tool to use to keep you motivated. If weight

loss is a goal, keep a photo near you of that swim suit you want to get into, the legs you want to have. If running a 5k is a goal keep a picture of someone crossing that finish line near by. By having those reminders you are more likely to be reminded of why this goal is important to you.


Remember there will always be reasons that you can't. Set backs are bound to happen. I love the quote "Some say RESILIENCE is to bounce back from adversity. I say that you land at a higher place!" - R. Tew. Use these setbacks as a learning experience. Don't allow them to hold you back. Take what you learn and come back better, stronger.


Sharing your goals with others also helps keep you accountable. They can help keep you on pace and often you will not want others to see you fail.


i am just {an impact}


Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt once said "nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent."  I have seen this quote many times but never really thought much about it. But the past few weeks I have thought about it a lot. And to be honest, I think it's a bunch of hooey.  

Inferior is defined as "of low standard or quality, a person lower than another in rank, status, or ability."

Consent is defined as "permission for something to happen or agreement to do something."

So why on Earth would I give someone permission to make me feel like I am of poor quality? I didn't and yet there were multiple times in the last 14 days that I have been made to feel that myself and what I do are less than what others do or that I should aim to do more with my life. 

While I do not feel that every comment or action (and believe me there were plenty recently) was made or done in a malicious manner, I sure as heck didn't say "hey guys let's make me feel like complete trash today." 

To be told, even indirectly, that I should aim to do more with my life or that someone feels they are capable of so much more in their life than "just being a trainer" had me questioning what I do, why I do it, and if I am letting people down. Am I settling? This thought sat with me for a few hours and then a client, I will call her Judy, came in and showed me that she was wearing her wedding ring. She was pretty darn excited to finally be able to wear that again. Then I remembered Judy also told me a few months ago that even through my DNF I inspired her to sign up for her first race ever. 

Well crap, that's quite an impact on someone who I have worked with for just a few months. 

I then started to think about what being just a personal trainer has allowed me to do. I am a trainer but I own my own business in which I have a fitness studio and I have other trainers who share my space. I get to watch my clients be able to wear a wedding ring after years, run their first 5k, pass their Personal Trainer exam, win Miss America, work through some tough times, see something in themselves they didn't before, and simply gain an entire tribe of people who support them. 

Just as importantly, I get to make an impact in my community through my business. I can volunteer at any and every event that I want to. I can sit on the Missouri Valley Homeless Coalition, the Erickson Merkel Scholarship Foundation, get involved with the AFSP and NAMI or any local chapter/nonprofit that I want, be a Friend of the Library, host as many fundraising events that I want, cover as many events as I want to as a member of the North Dakota National Guard, and of course I can be as active as I want both locally and regionally for Team Red, White and Blue. Being able to be as involved with Team RWB as I have been, growing as a leader within the organization has also lead me to start my own mentoring program, the ME TOO Movement.  So let's talk about just being a personal trainer again. 

As just a personal trainer I have won two national awards for my business's involvement and impact in the community.  One of which only 12 women were selected out of around 1000 people. 

I started to think about all the reasons that I should not feel inferior, little or less than. BUT I still did feel that way. And I gave no one permission to make me feel such a way. So how is it that no one can make me feel inferior with out my consent? 

I think the quote would be more accurate if it was worded more like "people may make you feel inferior without your consent, but it is up to you how long you allow them to make you feel inferior." 

What is my point with this rant? Why did I list a number of amazing things that I get to do everyday by just being a personal trainer?  

Because I think all too often we are scared to live big.

We are scared to admit that we may actually make a difference in the life of someone else. 

We are scared that we may care so much about something and fail.

And somehow when you don't fail it is even scarier to know that you are not here to just be mediocre. 

So regardless of what you do for a living, if you are just a {anything} please know that it is up to you what you will do with any title you hold. You get to {impact} the people around you however you choose to. And people around you for whatever reason, intentional or not, may make you feel inferior, with or without your permission. That is okay too, as long as you don't allow that feeling to stay. Your value as just a {anything} is the value that you decide it is. In fact, your value or how important you are as a human being should be based on how effectively you live, your awareness of your potential, and the empathy and kindness you show to others in any role or title or position you find yourself in.

Permission granted or not, other people may make you feel inferior and maybe sometimes we need that brief moment of feeling small, inferior, less than, so that we can take a moment to remember all the reasons that we are not. 

Maybe I needed these reminders to know that I am not just a personal trainer.... I am actually just an {impact}.


Nine Strangers on a Short Bus

The Veterans Outdoors Adventures' 2nd Annual Women's Retreat was one that I will unlikely forget. 

We met at Izzy's house and the first thing you see is a school bus, a very small school bus. 8 seats, not quite large enough for 2 to a seat and the back that barely fit the hats I brought along, let alone all of our luggage. We knew from those initial introductions that this would be a great weekend, but it wasn't until we got on the bus we knew how great of a weekend we would have.  Prior to our first "fuel stop" (meaning we ran out of fuel and had a patrol man check on us and an uncle bringing us some gas...)  I got to know everyone pretty well. If we are being honest I could write a page about each woman, but I will sum it up. 

Izzy - the founder of VOA and a powerhouse of a woman who is determined to serve our veterans. A great antiquer, and someone through her stories and passion you can learn so much from. 

 Amanda - can put the pedal to the metal even though she can barely see over the steering wheel. She made sure everything was running smoothly, including getting underneath the bus and working on it. Her genuine nature convinced me to go into a pool that felt like it was 32 degrees after being in 106 degree hot springs...and to go under the freezing water.

 LeAnn - owns the "crappiest" coffee shop in Devil's Lake. She likes to lick windows and is slightly obsessed with unicorns, which is perfect because there is no other spirit animal for her. She is strong and the person I would want backing me in any situation. 

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Corean - more than just myself had an instant connection with Corean. She is the epitome of the quote "do not mistake my kindness for weakness." Now that I have helped her with her Facebook profile picture, we are BFFs (even is she doesn't know it yet).

Kari - my "hold my beer" gal who was extremely encouraging as we floated down the Madison River. Something I was terrified to do. She provided a bravery in me (as we spoke I found out that we have a lot in common) that had me standing on a tube. She provided a sense of adventure and courage out of something I found to be terrifying.

 Cass - typically quiet and self described socially awkward was so comfortable with this group that neither of those describe her anymore. She didn't feel as though she deserved to be here but after the weekend knew she did. (And if she's reading this and still doubting it...you did.) She is a great soldier and serves our country well.

 Brandi - The big sister of the weekend. She took care of everyone, regardless...well of anything. She can do anything she has to do.  Fear is not a word she knows and she made sure the adventure an adventure. And while it doesn't speak to her character she has the cutest haircut.

Sabrina - If Brandi is the big sister, Sabrina is the fun, crazy sister. Fun followed her around. She is loyal to supporting our veterans both inside the VOA organization but also as a career. It also should be noted that family is her number one value, which I find extremely important.


Myself - Now for me. 



I go on adventures often. Team RWB blessed me with that opportunity which is why I had no hesitation applying for this trip. I just don't often do them with just women veterans, who live in the same state as I do. I wasn't sure what to expect.

 I laughed more than I have in a very, very long time. I think we all did. I was brave. While I often consider myself brave, bravery never occurs when water is involved. We zip lined over the Gallatin River....had to climb on moving ladders. The zip lining itself was amazing. But the standing on trees and waiting had me a little nervous. Plus Izzy could never grab on to her yellow straps, she always grabbed mine. :P The last line we did got pretty close to the river but I chose to do one of the more challenging take offs the "trust fall." I became a little braver each time these women cheered each other on, whether it was me or the others. 

 The biggest fear for me was tubing. It sounds silly to be terrified, I mean petrified of tubing down a river, connected with family, a beer cooler and water never higher than hip height. I was with a SEARS trainer for goodness sake, and was still terrified. Yet somehow all of a sudden  I was excited. I got in and had one of the most relaxing times of my life. I even jumped in the water trying to move us so we'd avoid rocks and my tube flipped....over my head. I was under water and Izzy was there immediately. I don't know how she was a good 3 or 4 tubes down from me, but she was there just as she said she'd be. 

 This group of women taught me a lot of things:

As women veterans and first responders we just understand each other. We didn't talk about diagnosis or significant events that caused such diagnosis. Or any event in which others may have considered us victims. We are not victims of anything, we are survivors of everything.

We felt safe and like we had known each other for years after just one night. 

Age, background, location, marital status, branch of service, years of service can't separate family. 

And this family we ride our short bus proudly, no matter how many times we run out of gas (gas gauge fault, which after 2 times we were able to correct), how many people stare at us because we are in this bus, we'd gladly get on this bus any day.

What I learned training Miss America

I met Cara in January. She is bubbly and seems to be excited about everything in life. For those of you who know me, you know that bubbly would never be a word used to describe me. 

 Needless to say, I was very concerned about what I had gotten myself into when I said I would sponsor this girl. 

 My concern lasted all of 3 minutes. A normal session included a tough workout, that she would kill while smiling and conversations about what was next for her. Cara became a great client, an incredible friend and someone I have come to respect very highly.  She is one of the most resilient and strongest women I have had the privilege to meet. 

I think of myself as a strong woman so to work along side other strong women is something I find very inspiring. 

So I did my best to sum up what Cara taught me in between burpees and push-ups. 

 1. Women can be both nice and strong. 

2. It's perfectly acceptable to believe you can change the world. It's also acceptable to try to do as much good as you can for others. 

3. You should be proud of your accomplishments and you should not be afraid to talk about them. 

4. Women need to support other women. The success of another doesn't mean it's your failure. You can pursue success while still celebrating the success of others. 

4. You don't have to be fully ready for something. You just need to be brave. 

5. It is ok to be brave enough to have conversations that matter. 

6. Failing once, doesn't mean you failed forever. 

6b. Never quit. 

7. Circumstances can make a dream or a goal more difficult, but persistence and a passion to live big will eventually prevail. 

8. You can have a bad day. In fact you can completely lose it for a little bit. Just keep it in perspective. 

9. It can be pretty amazing to be a trailblazer. 

10. There is very little more important in this world than service to others. And it is extremely important to empower our children to practice this at a young age. 

11.  It's ok to know who you are and what you expect and want in life. 

12. It's ok to change your goals, wants and expectations. 

13. It is ok to live big. And to surround yourself with people that never allow you to live small. 

14. It's great when people describe you as driven and ambitious. It's just as great to be described as kind and compassionate. 

15. It's ok to decide what is important and it's ok to say no to what isn't. 

16. It's ok to believe that your dreams should have no limits and that you live in a world where anything is possible. 

17. It's ok to have to pave the road as you go. 

18. The most powerful voice you will ever hear is your own. 

19. Believing in someone is one of the greatest gifts you can give. 

20. It's ok to know that you are smart. It's ok to feel beautiful. To know that you have really pretty eyes. It's ok to use your fingers to list the things you are good at. To use only positive words to describe yourself. To know you are a strong leader. You can say no to anything and anyone that tries to make you live small when you know you were meant to live big. It's ok to know without a doubt that you are much greater than any past failures and that you are going to move mountains.

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I have some pretty amazing clients. All extremely different and all bring out different positive attributes about myself. Last night I was talking to a client about why I love what I do. I can sit and talk to her about behavioral health things, while comparing our latest MORPHE pallettes and then figure out the best place to find toe rings. And while discussing how funny it is that her running a race in the rain is the reason she is there and we can laugh about matching hats. I am also extremely blessed that I get to witness clients change and grow over time. 

I want to stress that I in no way feel responsible for their transformations, but being apart of their health journey I get to witness it.

I have watched young ladies go from local title holders to Miss North Dakota's Outstanding Teen to Miss America. Their confidence stayed strong through their training, but to learn from them what I did still baffles me. Their passion and drive is something I admire and strive to reach. 

I got to thinking today about two specific clients. Mary and Sarah. Mary is not what I would call someone who ever lacked confidence. She is and since the moment I met her has always struck me as someone extremely strong and extremely assertive (I use assertive positively). But I found out it took her quite some time to join my FITCAMP and if you know anything about my FITCAMP you know it is one of the least indimiating places to be. She has been apart of the tribe now for some time and now she is often leading modifications for people. She is someone I call for advice and trust completely. But my favorite part about Mary...are the selfies I now get of her in her bold, often shades of purple, LipSense. That right there is confidence and the Mary I first met wouldn't have worn purple lipstick.

Sarah. I know she won't mind so I will be completely honest here. Sarah was a very needy client in the beginning. Constant need of validation after every workout. This was about three years ago. She too has become a great friend and in the last year has gone from needing validation to providing it. She studied extrenely hard to become a certified personal trainer and has helped fill in for FITCAMP. Now, she has the confidence to start her own camp all on her own. 

Fitness and the decision to become a better version of yourself with a healthy lifestyle can impact so much more than the way you look. 

Now I will get to myself, and an incidient that happened tonight that brought back the confidence that I had for most of my life. 


* the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust.

* the state of feeling certain about the truth of something.

* a feeling of self-assurance arising from one's appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities.

Firm trust. That is my favorite part. When I was younger I always pushed the limits in terms of fashion. It never bothered me what people said. I knew I was a little out there for Minot, ND but hey I liked that I could express myself through fashion and that I could often see designs as art. 

As you will see in the slideshow below I definetly had my own taste. Carrying the latest Dooney & Bourke (Lindsey Lohan was the spokesmodel for this one ha!) with a pair of BEBE shoes that I still have in a box. Wearing a mini skirt and long duster that I got in France. Big flowers in my hair were common and I was often way more dressed up than I needed to be, even when playing dance dance and Aladdin's Castle. Dressing up a normal outfit with a vintage necklace and wearing a crazy bridal gown to the International Military Ball. I was used to people not always understanding how I dressed. But tonight, tonight something happened that made me remember who "me" is. 

 I was at A & B Pizza with the Out of the Darkness Walk Committee and went to the restroom. As I was walking in a table of younger girls turned and started laughing. I heard earring and knew right away they were talking about my new retro pair that Jocelyn insisted went with my outfit and new hair. And she was right. There were perfect. But they were loud and almost obnoxious. Oh yeah and huge. But these earrings, these crazy earrings that were the reason people laughed at me....brought back confidence I have not had in a very very long time. It reminded me of who I was, who I am. I am a business owner, a fitness professional - so heels and skirts are out. But I love some great earrings, fun makeup and an awesome hat. I don't know why but even though I rock some hats very few can I have not had the confidence that I do now that I was laughed at. It reminded me of every time someone told me I should quit trying to dress like someone in a magazine. Every time someone laughed that I dropped $50 on a book called Fashion at the Edge: Spectacle, Modernity, and Deathliness or something similar. It reminded me how I....never....cared... and it brought back a little part of the old me. The me that believes in myself as much as I believe in others. 

Confidence goes by a number of words. certainty. courage. determination. backbone. boldness. daring.fearlessness. faith in oneself. Whatever word works for you, find what brings you the confidence you deserve to have in yourself. Whether its purple lipstick, passing an exam or literally getting laughed at, find it, hold on to it and never forget it. 

I'd love to hear what makes you confident, or why you have that firm trust in yourself. For me, it was always there I just lost it and these crazy earrings brought back that firm trust in me, Thea, the girl who falls a lot and dresses differently sometimes.

Please, Please Please - Click here to go to my Facebook page and post what makes you confident. I would honestly love to hear it. 

Earrings in Question 

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