Upper Limits


Well this corner of the internet certainly has some cobwebs on it and they’re not decorations for Halloween! According to WordPress my last post was 5 months ago when I was trying to be a “coach”. Anyways, I’m glad to be back and writing again. Hope you’re all still on board.

For the past couple of weeks I have been taking part in Swim Bike Mom’s (or Meredith Atwood as she’s normally referred to) Swim Bike Fuel Program. She’s done two other rounds since launching last year and each time I said, “Maybe I should try this but what I am really going to get out of it? Eat more veggies and cut out sugar? Duh.” But then I started to read the comments of those who had gone through it and of Meredith herself who admittedly has always been a work in progress (just like myself) and has really changed things around for the better. I finally committed both financially and mentally to doing this and am very happy I did.

Since Ironman Mont-Tremblant in August of 2015, I’ve struggled…with a lot of things. But most importantly, at the root of these struggles, has been my lack of mental fortitude and strength. I became soft, lazy and unaccountable – to myself. I told myself that it was ok to eat donuts for breakfast for whatever reason, I said I didn’t need to go run because I was tired, I explained away the things I knew I should and deep down wanted to do which has led me to gain weight, lose muscle and lower the expectation of myself as an athlete and professional.


As I’ve worked through this journey over the past couple of months, I’ve realized a couple of things as it relates to mental tenacity:

  1. I’ve been treating myself with kid gloves as it relates to sports, almost as if I was going to break if I pushed myself or that I would injure myself. If I injured myself, I wouldn’t be able to do anything so I did the bare minimum.
  2. My mental image of myself as an athlete since IMMT changed significantly (and even from Ironman Lake Placid). I’ve never been the athlete to “just finish or just get through it.” No, I’ve scouted the competition, set goals, had coaches push me, etc. But when I signed up for the two Ironmans, my approach changed for some reason, I didn’t attack the goal of the Ironman because it was “just to finish” (which completing an Ironman despite a specific time is a tremendous achievement, I have yet to do it). By setting the goal of just finishing, I admittedly did the bare minimum and therefore failed.
  3. By lowering my standard recently, I ultimately was making certain I didn’t fail. Because lets face it, failure sucks and no one wants to fail but ultimately we need to fail in order to appreciate the process and achievement it takes to succeed.
    1. Side note: this is a lesson first taught to me by my mentor and now friend Trip Durham. He specifically wanted me to fail at something the year I was the team leader in college for our game ops group. I didn’t fully understand it then and I didn’t really experience failure the way he was expecting it until I tried Ironman. Trip writes on his own blog and I highly encourage you to follow him.

So back to Swim Bike Fuel. One of our lessons has been on self-sabotage. This program is not just nutrition focused but rather focuses on why we make the choices we do and how we mentally go about things. In the self-sabotage lesson, our leaders referenced the book The Big Leap and Gay Hendrick’s term “Upper Limits”. As I read the lesson I found myself agreeing with a lot of it but honestly its taken me about a week and a half to truly put all of the pieces together and understand the picture fully.


I’ll try my best at explaining Upper Limit as I understand it: when things are going well and good things are happening to you, you also may recognize that the other shoe must drop and something must go wrong because really its too good to be true. So if you don’t achieve so much, not having those achievements won’t hurt so bad. Essentially, we lower our bar to reach, making it easier on ourselves. I also take it to mean that we lessen our resiliency and don’t exercise that muscle as often. We don’t fight to keep the good things going or we allow the “bad” things to counteract or outweigh the good things.

Here’s an excerpt from Gay Hendrick in DailyOM “Each of us has an inner thermostat setting that determines how much love, success, and creativity we allow ourselves to enjoy. When we exceed our inner thermostat setting, we will often do something to sabotage ourselves, causing us to drop back into the old, familiar zone where we feel secure.

Unfortunately, our thermostat setting usually gets programmed in early childhood, before we can think for ourselves. Once programmed, our Upper Limit thermostat setting holds us back from enjoying all the love, financial abundance, and creativity that’s rightfully ours. It keeps us in our Zone of Competence or at best our Zone of Excellence.”


Gay goes on to talk about relationships, money and the like and how we can use tools to change our outlook as to where we stand currently. He sums all of this up with, “Because few people understand how the Upper Limit Problem works, many of us believe we are flawed, not destined for greatness, or simply not good enough to deserve the dreams we want to achieve. Others miss out on big-time success and chalk it up to bad luck or bad timing. Millions of people are stuck on the verge of reaching their goals, can’t seem to scale the wall, and are struggling under a glass ceiling that is completely within their control, waiting to be removed. But here’s the good news: You’re not flawed or unlucky or anything of the sort. You’ve got the Upper Limit Problem, and it can be transcended in the wink of an eye—if you’re equipped with the right tools and a willing heart.”

So at the end of the day, I’m working on changing my internal dialogue about how I feel regarding different situations in my life. As it relates to running and triathlon, I’m learning that I am a runner and I am a triathlete, a competitive one, I’m just on the path to getting back to that and so I must be patient with myself but also push myself to keep forward progress going.


In 2 weeks I will be on the Verazzano Bridge in New York City ready to tackle my first marathon ever with 50,000 of my closest friends. When my credit card showed I had a charge from NYRR, I was filled with dread. Dread because I knew I would have to train and push myself and do things that were going to mentally and physically tough. I wanted to quit many times this season while training for this race and it took me a long time before I even got serious about training but ultimately, I made the decision that I need to do this no matter what and to get it done.


Last weekend I did my longest run ever of 20 miles. I planned out my Sunday as I was already registered for the local Marine Corps Half Marathon that was re-scheduled due to Hurricane Matthew so I just needed to tack on some more miles and knock them out. When the new race course was announced, it was the least exciting course possible but one that will ultimately benefit me on November 6. The course was four loops around the Jaguars stadium and their empty tailgating lots. There weren’t many supporters, nothing in the terms of scenery and the weather was ridiculously humid (as it has been all Summer) but as I went into the race, I knew that if I could knock out the 20 miles with this race as the majority of the miles, I could do the marathon in NYC.

That training run probably deserves its own post and maybe I’ll do one but I had a big mental win that day when I made the decision to leave the post-race area (after dry heaving into a trash can for a bit), head back to my car for more fuel and complete four more miles to make it an even 20.

I’m tired of setting my bar low and not really achieving anything in the process, only not liking where I’m at. So I’ve decided to “let go” of comparing myself to pre and post Ironman situations and just move forward with being the athlete that I am and to stoke that internal competitive fire because really I’ve missed it.


When I do find success, it may hit when that medal goes around my neck in NYC or in another form, I will remember that I put in the work and deserve to enjoy the moment and not to self-sabotage with something else. Its all about balance and knowing when to push and when to ease up.

I hope you identify your own Upper Limit and find some meaning for yourself in my long over due ramblings.

My 3-Day Refresh Results! Hint: they’re great!

My 3-day refresh results

As promised here are my 3 Day Refresh results!

I started this past Monday morning and went through Wednesday evening. I specifically chose to do this during the week because I felt I would be less tempted to give in on something when not out with friends and because I wouldn’t be home during the day when its easier to make an excuse.

First, some numbers from Monday, May 9:

  • Weight: 180 lbs
  • Hips: 40″
  • Belly: 38.5″
  • Waist: 35″

Now this is not easy to put out here but I want to be transparent and show where I am truly starting from. I don’t go off of weight much as I rather go by how my clothes fit, what my energy levels are and how I feel in general but in cases such as this numbers are important. So let’s dive in.

Monday, May 9

Breakfast: Shakeology (chocolate) with unsweetened vanilla almond milk, small serving of fruit. 1 cup of coffee and lots of water.

Shakeology and water

Mid-morning: Beachbody’s fiber sweep drink. This is a lemon flavored drink that was surprisingly good. In between breakfast and this drink, I was hungry but once I got the fiber in I felt better.

3-day refresh fiber sweep

Lunch: 1 serving of fruit, 1 serving of vegetable, 1 serving of healthy fat and Beachbody’s vanilla Refresh shake (made with water).


Mid-afternoon: 1 serving of broccoli and 1 serving of avocado. More water!

Dinner: baby kale salad with 1 serving of bell pepper, 1 serving of zucchini, 1 serving of tomatoes, some pine nuts, olive oil drizzled and salt and pepper for seasoning plus another vanilla Refresh shake. After I ate dinner I felt satisfied but as the night wore on I was tired and hungry. It seemed everything on TV had food on it! I was also starting to develop a headache. I could have gone to bed at 8:30 that night and definitely turned in early.


Tuesday, May 10

Disclaimer: to make life a heck of a lot easier on myself, I ate the same thing for three days. I love avocado (and broccoli enough) that I was ok with repeating these three days. Any longer and that would be too much. 

Not going to lie, Tuesday was a rough day for me. If you saw this post What Happened When I Didn’t Meditate then you’ll know it was my fault for how it started out. The headache from Monday night carried over into an all day headache Tuesday.


While my mood and headache was sour, my appetite wasn’t as strong or noticeable than the previous day. In fact, I wasn’t hungry by the time I normally eat dinner but once I did eat my salad, I still wanted something else and had to look away from the cheese stick calling my name in the fridge.

Note: throw away or hide all non-Refresh items.

Wednesday, May 11

I woke up feeling really refreshed and noticed that my sinuses were much clearer than when I started. This and the headaches are something I noticed when I started Paleo back in the day as well. My body has a hard time with grains and wheats and too much dairy which is why the Refresh was perfect.

The headache was barely noticeable and my energy was much improved from the previous two days. I felt satiated the entire day and knew I wanted to keep this momentum up.

Also, I did not workout any of these days. The first two days I simply did not have the energy and the third day was a very long day.

So, how did my numbers fair?

Well, I lost a total of 5 lbs and 2.5″!

Not to mention I am breathing clearer and have now proven to myself that after all of these months I’m capable of the following things:

  1. I can in fact lose weight.
  2. I can stick to clean eating.
  3. I don’t hate salads
  4. Eating well does not have to mean meal prepping every Sunday
  5. I can eat less and my body will be ok
  6. I was not drinking enough water before but now I’m enjoying it and making it a priority

The first two days, I loss 2 lbs each day and then on the third day was down a 1/2 lb.

Here are my final body measurements:

  • Weight before: 180 lbs. and weight after: 175 lbs.
  • Hips before: 40″ and hips after: 39.5″
  • Belly before: 38.5″ and belly after: 38″
  • Waist before: 35″ and waist before: 33.5″

Now its your turn! Join me where I’ll coach you personally through your own 3-Day Refresh using the same products I did. You’ll be in a private Facebook group with others doing the same challenge so you already have built in cheerleaders.

The challenge starts Monday, May 23 but you need to place your challenge pack no later than next Wednesday, May 18 so things arrive on-time. Just click the blue button to join.

challenge button


What Happened When I Didn’t Meditate

What Happened When I Didn't Meditate

Tuesday was a rough day and looking back now, I helped myself start it off that way by not making enough time to meditate for 10 minutes. I was in the middle of my 3 Day Refresh (results and thoughts coming soon!) so I was experiencing withdrawal from sugar and therefore had a bad headache starting Monday night and into Tuesday all day long. One of those where you really just want to lie in a dark room with no noise and shut out the world.

I found myself irritated very easily and not very social at work, prompting my friends to ask what was wrong. At the time, I just didn’t feel like being social; we are allowed to be in our own heads sometimes! But honestly, I was annoyed with conversations around me, my work and how I was feeling in general.

As the day came to an end, I thought back through the past 2 weeks and realized the mornings where I started off with meditation, I truly did have a better day. I set my intentions for the day through meditation and it allowed me to not succumb so much to irritating things. I’m looking at meditation as my Gore-Tex if you will, a coating of repellent that allows words, thoughts, actions, etc. to slide right off.

Yesterday morning, I meditated and was in such a better place when I went to work. Even through a series of crazy work conversations that would have normally sent me reeling for the rest of the day due to the stupidity of some people, I had my moment and then moved on. Its crazy how you literally feel yourself lighten when you’re meditating but it actually happens.  This morning I woke up in a hesitant mood, one where I wasn’t sure how I was feeling or what I was thinking. I recognized this when the Headspace app teacher asked me to become aware of the feelings, not think about them per se, but just become aware of its existence.

By recognizing how you’re feeling, you’re able to figure out a way to make it better and move past that feeling. I’ve done the 10 free sessions with Headspace and have to buy their plan to continue. Its certainly not a cheap subscription but it does cost the same as one therapy session! I know I need to do it for my sanity as I’ve seen such positive results, I just feel like I’m shelling out money left and right currently.

Do you meditate daily? What tools do you use?