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Life is a sum of all your choices.
I have never been very tall. As an eight-year-old, I was one of the smallest in my class. So when my father offered to sponsor a basketball team through his work (he even let me name it The Mermaids), my first reaction sounded something like this: "How can I be any good at basketball? I am too short. I can't jump. I don't even know how to play."
This soon turned into a life-defining moment. My father's response opened my eyes to the power I had to choose my destiny. He said, "Staci, you can run faster than any of them. Basketball is not just about height; it's also about speed. If you choose to own what you're good at, it's yours." From that moment on, I did own it. I became a point guard who would be wherever the ball was and move to the basket at least a step ahead of everyone else.
My dad's words have stuck with me ever since. They haven't kept me from making some mistakes along the way, but they have made all the difference in helping me turn those mistakes around. I can still hear him saying, "Your destiny is not by chance-it is by choice. If you want to make me proud, then you will have to make the right choices and not let yourself be limited by what you don't have. You will have to do the best you can with what you do have." I have learned that life is one choice at a time, moving you closer or further away from your heart's truest desires.
So why don't our choices always line up with our desires? Why do we choose to do things that take us off course or completely derail our plans? In my life, I have made some bad choices and some good ones. I made the good ones when I had the courage to do what I knew was right; they were made from a place of strength, engaging my innermost convictions. I have found that when I have the courage to own the past, take responsibility for the present, and actively engage in a vision for the future I truly desire, my choices are healthy and productive. On the other hand, when I am off balance, when I can't see clearly because I am afraid, angry, confused, or simply in denial, my choices can be very unhealthy and destructive. I have been in some dark and desperate places that led me to make some bad decisions. But through those experiences, I have learned that anyone can choose to turn things around with a few simple steps.
In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.
I Was the Proverbial Ugly Duckling
Even though I had a great dad, my childhood was far from ideal. We moved constantly because of my father's work, and by the time I was in middle school, I had come to know three different mothers. Yet this was only the beginning. By the time I graduated from high school, I had also been kicked out of three different homes.
My transitory life began when I was born and given up for adoption because my natural mother was in no shape to keep me. My earliest memories are of Scotland, where my adoptive family moved when my father's company relocated him there. For kindergarten, I remember going to boarding school, the Albyn School for Girls, and only returning home on the weekends.
My parents didn't live far away, but for some reason I lived in a boardinghouse with a nanny and other children from the school. I think my parents felt a little guilty, because I remember Santa coming twice that year with a ton of presents.
After my kindergarten year, we moved back to the U.S. to live in Louisiana. My father must have been making good money in those days, because I again attended a private school. But we weren't so wealthy that I could keep up with the designer styles the other kids wore. Having the wrong clothes doesn't help a girl fit in, but I had more than my wardrobe working against me. I looked a lot like my ten-year-old son does now. I mean, he is cute for a boy, but I was a girl. I recently showed my son a picture of myself at that age, and he asked me if people ever thought I was a boy. I had to admit, "Yeah, all the time."
Private school kids-I suppose all kids, really-can be rough on the ones who don't fit in. They were certainly tough on me, teasing and bullying. I felt as if I couldn't hold my head up-except, that is, when I was on the basketball court. But even that wasn't enough to make walking down the halls any easier.
There came a day in sixth grade when I made a choice. I had to take a stand or remain the doormat everyone else wiped their feet on. I remember the day I decided I wouldn't put up with any more. I walked onto the bus and heard the kids singing their songs and mocking me again. I endured the taunting all the way to my stop-but when it was time to exit, I determined I would never let them tease me again. There had to be something better for me out there. There were other people; there were other schools. So I made a choice. I got up, turned to the bus full of kids, told them in no uncertain terms and in two succinct words where they could get off, and then ran off the bus and all the way home, where I informed my daddy I would never go back to that school again.
The next day, my dad enrolled me in public school, where I finished sixth grade.
This was a big change for me. I had made a choice. I had found my voice, spoken up, and started expecting more out of life right then and there as a little girl. I determined I wouldn't be the ugly duckling anymore.
But it wouldn't be easy.
One of the first big blows came before the end of the school year. I came home one day to find a big North Atlantic Moving Company van in the front yard. My mom, Carol, was moving out, and no one had said anything to me about it. She loaded all of her stuff up that day and left us.
I don't remember many of the details, but my dad did the best he could to put things back together, though he must have felt pretty lost and like running away himself. That summer he rented an RV and took my friend Allison and me out on the road to see the sights.
I know it might seem strange that I would end up with my dad instead of my mom, but for some reason I never really thought about it. Not long after Carol left, I would find out why.
The next year, I went to Webb Boarding School in Bell Buckle, Tennessee. It was a hard time for me because I missed my dad so much, but I also credit this year and this school for much of the creative teaching ability I have today. It was a great place with an incredibly amazing group of teachers. One of the things I remember from this year was learning to say the Greek alphabet before a paper match burned out. This was also a unique way of teaching us how to memorize formulas. The faculty really thought outside of the box!
Even though I liked this school, by Christmas I was so lonely I convinced my dad to let me come home. Before the year was out, I was back with him and-surprise!-his new wife, Peggy. By this time Dad was living near Houston, so I finished seventh grade and started eighth at Knox Junior High in Woodlands, Texas.
Around this time I began putting two and two together and figured out why I'd stayed with my dad after the divorce. I was looking through family photo albums with my grandmother and noticed I looked more like my grandmother's niece than anyone else in the family. After pressing the issue, I discovered that, sure enough, my dad's cousin was my birth mother. She was very young, irresponsible, and unmarried when she had me, so her cousin, my dad, adopted me. It was strange to learn that another member of my dad's family was my real mom. When she suddenly died of a heart attack only a few years after I figured out who she really was, I was horrified.
I'd lost two mothers just as I was trying to establish my identity as an adolescent. This would have taken an emotional toll on any kid, but during this especially confusing time, I made the decision to move forward and be the most beautiful me I could be.
After the trauma of being the ugly duckling in grade school, I began to remake myself little by little. I let my hair grow longer and, sometime in middle school, started to wear more makeup and pay more attention to my appearance. Like a typical teenager, I overdid it a little, and at one point my dad temporarily confiscated my makeup. I learned it was important to look your best, but from my father I learned there is more to a person than her appearance. Dad taught me that if you don't have a beautiful heart inside, having long hair and thick eyelashes is really a waste. Beauty radiates from within.
I took some modeling classes at this time, which taught me how to carry myself with confidence and poise. I practiced runway modeling and actually got pretty good at it. This experience helped me develop stage presence and the ability to look audience members in the eyes. Looking back, I realize it probably helped me to become the confident speaker and presenter I am today, too.
Although I was an awkward, tomboyish tweener, by the end of ninth grade, I had the confidence to go out for cheerleading-and I made it. This really changed the way everyone, even I, saw me.
Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.
Okay, So What?
Why am I telling you all of this? Because I want you to see that no matter what life throws at you, you always have a choice. You can see your past either as an obstacle holding you back or a valuable lesson propelling you into a better future. I won't tell you the past doesn't matter, because I think it does. But life doesn't hand you excuses for not succeeding; it hands you lessons for improving yourself. Your past is what has shaped you into the person you are today. Celebrate your successes, and learn from your defeats. Dissect your mistakes, and choose to make a change. Throw the rotten things in the compost to fertilize the good things you are cultivating in yourself.
Remember: Your destiny is not by chance-it is by choice.
To figure out where you are going, you have to figure out where you are now; and to figure out where you are now, you have to figure out where you have been. What's your story? What have been the turning points in your life? I had a major turning point the day I stood up in the bus and told those snobby kids what they could do with their mean songs and taunting. That decision would change the person I was, even though it took me a few years to live out.
If I hadn't chosen to transfer schools, I might never have developed the confidence to go to modeling classes and try out for cheerleading. Because I did, I learned I had a knack and a love for dance and creating routines, which propelled me forward in the fitness field. This same love is what helps me create fun and motivating workouts for the people I train today.
Although I had many disappointments while growing up, I learned to turn them into positives. My desire for a healthy family that began in those years has fed the dream of the family I have today with my husband and his family. In fact, his dad is so much like my dad, it's scary.
As you will see in the upcoming chapters, I made some major mistakes in later years looking to find this closeness, but by learning from those mistakes and tragedies I have reached the peaceful place I'm in today with my husband and kids.
Don't let mistakes hold you back. Choose to make a change, and make them lessons to propel your life forward. Let those things make you stronger and more resilient, not make you settle for less out of life.
Every person, all the events of your life, are there because you have drawn them there. What you choose to do with them is up to you.
A Personal Success Inventory
Why did you pick up this book? Most people come to me because they want to lose weight or get into better shape. If it is one of those things, I know I can help you-but I also believe being overweight or a bit out of shape is probably not the most important change you need to make.
More often than not, our physical condition is a symptom of other things in our lives needing to be realigned. Once you understand what those things are, not only will it be easier to get the weight off, but it will also be more likely that you'll keep it off. The truth of the matter is, looking good in your "little black dress" will not make you fulfilled in life. What will is finding the best way to motivate yourself to keep pursuing your dream, whether it's running a marathon or having enough energy to keep up with your grandkids.
I also want to let you in on a little secret: I don't have all of the answers for you. Now, don't throw the book away before you let me explain. I have never had a personal training client who didn't have all of the answers already hidden within them; they just needed help organizing those answers. I know the same is true for you.
What keeps most people from their goals is very simply a lack of motivation. In general, people lack the motivation to pursue their dreams, or to persistently chase after them until they are achieved. As a rule, very few people have a weight or fitness problem; most suffer from a motivation problem in one form or another.
A lack of motivation tends to result from not having a workable plan suited for you. My goal is that by the end of this book, you will have a one that will help you not only achieve your fitness goals but every other goal you have ever dreamed of achieving.
It all begins with choosing to make a change. But before we can start the next thirty days to a new you, we need to figure out where you want to end up, how this will look, and what has made you successful and fulfilled in the past. To learn these things about yourself, take a few minutes to respond to these questions:
1. What changes do you want to make, and why do you feel you need to make them?
Think for a moment what you hope your change in fitness and/or appearance will accomplish for you. Don't just get into the what you hope to change but also the why behind it. What other areas of your life would be affected? Explore why you are seeking change in those areas as well.
2. What do you already do to accomplish those goals?
You may already be doing something you can build on to achieve your goals. What resources do you have on hand? Is there a gym where you work or local facilities you can take advantage of? How active are you now? What exercise are you already getting? How might you take it up a notch?
3. What do you like to do?
A new program won't work if it doesn't fit in with what you enjoy doing. What activities make you feel good about yourself as a person? It could be something you are doing presently or something you used to do when you were younger.
This last point is so important. As I have said, something already in you, not something imposed on you, is what will see you through. Maybe you were a cheerleader in high school, or maybe you love to dance. Did you play a team sport like basketball, volleyball, or soccer? Or did you participate in an individual sport like tennis or track? Do you like to run? Or do you enjoy long, leisurely walks with time to think about your life? Do you ever take hikes in the mountains or the woods? Do you have a dog you should walk more often? Or do you like to ride bikes with your family?
There are dozens of other things I'm sure you can think of, but you get the idea. What enjoyable pursuit from your past could be a catalyst for being active now? The best place to start is where you left off. I don't know very many people who, if they have never been runners before, will wake up one day and decide to start running without eventually losing heart and quitting. (This is why there are athletic clubs and personal trainers. Most of us need support to stay active, not to mention some instruction and coaching.)
Excerpted from Motiv8n' U by Staci Boyer Copyright © 2010 by Staci Boyer. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted May 28, 2012
I appreciate the authors honesty! She is a great person to share her human side we all have thanks for the inspiration!
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