I'm still buzzing after a 3-day weekend in Los Angeles - Venice Beach to be exact. I went out to L.A. for two reasons: to attend a Mastermind event with my business coach Jill, and also to treat myself to my birthday weekend in one of my favorite cities.
In case you're new to the concept, a Mastermind group is like a brainstorming session on steroids. It includes education, brainstorming sessions, hot seats, and requires total honesty, commitment and openness. The group I'm in is for female fitness entrepreneurs, so everyone there was a personal trainer, nutrition coach, dietician, or athletic trainer who runs her own business.
Throughout the weekend, as I observed and interacted with these ladies, I noticed a common thread that tied all of my experiences together. Although we were there for business development purposes, of course - being a group of fitness pros - the topics of food and exercise came up in conversation.
I noticed how these women talked about food and exercise. The words. The emotions. The attitudes. What I saw made me so happy. It solidified that I was in the right place.
A Fly on the Wall
If you could have been a fly on the wall with me in Venice Beach, here's what you would have seen:
A group of smart, fit, athletic, driven women - who also love good food and move their bodies because of how good it makes them feel.
"So, do you eat a Paleo diet? Do you carb cycle?"
No way. There was not a single conversation about our diet plans. (At least not that I heard...)
Aside from a few requests for gluten-free menus, when we ordered out, we ate real, normal, food and enjoyed it. (Okay - there was one epic fail moment when some of the girls wound up at a vegetarian restaurant on Abbot Kinney Blvd. that was woefully short on protein...) For our fancy dinner Saturday night at Charcoal, our table was covered in slabs of grilled meat - steaks, lamb, chicken, etc. - and giant bowls of roasted vegetables and fresh salads. When dessert came, everyone grabbed a spoon and dug in for a couple bites each. There were some glasses of wine and cocktails, too. And when we ordered some bowls of really amazing fries for the table to share at dinner the night before, no one said,
"I should not be eating these! So many carbs!"
We were a few blocks from one of the most famous gyms in the world - Gold's Gym Venice Beach - and we couldn't WAIT to go workout! Honestly, we sounded like a group of kids who wanted to go to the playground!! We didn't want to work out to burn off the calories we ate at dinner the night before. Nah, we just wanted to get to the gym so we could MOVE and get our bodies feeling good again because we'd spent hours in chairs, hunched over laptops and note pads. We just wanted to sweat and lift and stretch and MOVE.
A Trainer with a Candy "Problem" and a Donut-loving Dietitian
My roommate for the weekend - a fabulous trainer from Boston named Lauren - is quite open about one of her personality quirks: she loves candy. She's this super cool, strong, smart, ambitious fitness pro who also happens to love sugar like woah. There was a bag of sour worm candy in our hotel, and on Saturday night after dinner, she bought a bag of peanut M&Ms - NBD. And on Sunday morning, she banged out a $hit-ton of chin-ups. (Note: eat candy before my next lifting sesh.)
There was a registered dietitian from Chicago - Carolyn - who shared that she could never give up dessert, and that right now she's on a major quest to seek out gourmet donuts. "GUESS WHAT?!" I told her. "ME TOO! I have one a week!" We vowed to meet up for a donut date the next time I'm in Chicago.
To me, these ladies were fit, strong, healthy, and REAL. They are the kind of women you want to be friends with - and learn from, too.
Food Freedom and Healthy Lifestyles
What I was really witnessing and participating in all weekend was a group of women living a healthy lifestyle and enjoying LIFE.
Because we eat well the vast majority of the time, we can do things like enjoy a girls' weekend and not stress about gaining weight or fitting into our pants come Monday morning. Because we enjoy delicious, rich, indulgent foods in moderation (and often by sharing them with others), we can experience all the deliciousness a city like L.A. offers without pigging out and going overboard. We work out because we LOVE it, not because we have to. And that means we gladly get up at 5:30 a.m. on vacation to hit the gym. (I might have whined about the lack of coffee though...)
It's like they say: Happiness is an inside job. Fitness and nutrition is too.
To spend an entire weekend with other women interested in leveling up in business was such a gift! I built new friendships, learned new skills, and left feeling re-energized.
As fitness and nutrition professionals, we are so much more than our body composition and how we look. One of the best lessons I've learned in my 5+-year journey as an entrepreneur is that you have to be more than your look. You have to be more than your body, your food, your workouts, your gym selfies. Don't get me wrong - I love sharing those things too, but we have to be more than that!
After working in the fitness industry for 10 years, I've seen trainers and nutrition "celebrities" go from "hot" to "not" in the span of a few months. There will always be someone leaner, stronger, faster, younger, hotter who comes along and gets all the attention. If that's all your career is based on - your look - your career will likely be very short-lived.
If you want to make a lasting impact and have longevity, learn how to speak and how to write. Learn how to teach and tell stories that connect with the people you want to help. Learn how to use technology and work smarter, not harder. And most importantly, invest in yourself and surround yourself with people who challenge you to be better. Never stop learning.