Progress Not Perfection


Amazing.  Awesome.  Fantastic.  Incredible.  Invincible.  Inspired.

These words describe what I felt like after reaching my weight loss goal and becoming a personal trainer.

My life was completely changed by fitness.  I felt younger, happier, healthier…just plain AWESOME!

Years passed…

Obsessed. Critical. Self-deprecating. Labeling. Judgmental.

These words are what I allowed myself to become.

Never Enough

For YEARS I struggled with the issues above.  Instead of focusing on my accomplishments and how awesome I was feeling, I focused on my weaknesses and my feelings of inadequacy.

In my eyes, I never measured up.  I was never fit enough.  My arms: not defined enough.  My butt: not firm enough.  My stomach: not flat enough.  I needed more muscle.  I needed a lower body-fat percentage. I needed a better tan.

Nothing was ever ENOUGH. I was never enough.

Due to my constant need for comparison, I began drowning in negative thoughts.  I compared myself to every female I saw.  Ladies at Target, chicks in magazines, fitness competitors, skinny chicks, muscly chicks, girls at my gym, ladies at the grocery, TV stars…. You get the picture.


So, I trained HARD in the gym.  Is that a bad thing?  Not necessarily, but…

Working out TOO hard or TOO often can be a bad thing.  Your body tells you when it’s had enough…mine was screaming for me to slow down, back off, REST!!  I just wouldn’t listen.  This mentality landed me a couple lovely shoulder and back injuries that haunt me to this day.  If only I had listened to my body, these injuries were entirely preventable.

My unhealthy obsession continued to grow.  I began to weigh myself… EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  If the scale had moved up…AT ALL…I would begin to panic, or feel like a failure.  Eventually, once a day was not enough.  I began to weigh myself every time I stepped into my bathroom!

I felt as if I had something to prove.  I was vocal about health and fitness. I ate healthy and made sure everyone knew.  I drank TONS of water.  I downed protein shakes. Ate loads of veggies.  Took my vitamins. Timed my meals. Planned my workouts in advance.  All the while, making plenty of time to judge others who weren’t as “dedicated” or “healthy” as I was.

Still despite all of I effort, it was never enough.  At least not in my mind.

I constantly felt like a failure.

Eating a bad meal? That one bad meal would ruin my whole day.  Eating ANYTHING not considered “healthy” made me feel an overwhelming sense of guilt.  I would berate myself.  I’d call myself names while looking disgustedly at my reflection.

My thoughts: “Ooooooo, you had a piece of chocolate cake?!?!  Throw in the towel, fat kid!”

Missing a workout?  I would worry about the weight I would put on because of that missed workout.  Missing one workout made me feel like a phony.

My thoughts: “Personal Trainer?!?  You can’t even get your own ass to the gym!  You are a joke!”

I had an ALL or NOTHING mentality.  If I failed miserably at one meal, I’d follow up with even crappier eating choices the rest of the day.  If I missed a workout, I would miss five.  Makes sense right?!?!  (Why the heck do we do this crap to ourselves??)



What started out as a journey to freedom, became my own personal prison.  I was not free to live.  I had to stick to a certain diet.  A certain workout.  A certain number on the scale.  A certain persona.

At some point, I began to come to my senses.  I began to think, WHY?  Why am I so concerned about how other people view me?  Why am I so hard on my body?  Why is this no longer fun for me?  I was letting my comparison mentality rob me of who I was.  Of my goals.  My desires.

My health and fitness journey began as a way for me to better MYSELF.  Not to impress anyone else.  I go to the gym for me!  I eat well for me!

My journey is just that…MY journey.

People-pleasing used to run very deep in my DNA.  So it’s a disease that I’ve had to work hard at curing. I am slowly, but surely, cutting this mentality out of my life. Trying to measure up to someone else, trying to meet someone else’s expectations, trying to be someone you aren’t…All those things are ridiculous, and not to mention, EXHAUSTING!!!

Shaking off that mindset, feels like coming alive.  Many of us live daily under the weight and baggage of social constraint.  Why?  Why do we let society dictate our “norm”?  Have you seen the state of our society today?  WHY would we want to let THAT dictate who we are?!?!?!?

News Flash:  This isn’t high school anymore.  Time to leave the childish thought processes behind.  Time to grow up. Time to live life for YOURSELF!  Who the hell cares if you’re the cool kid?  Who cares if you are the most good-looking? Who cares if you are the strongest? Fittest? Most disciplined? Who told you that you had to be defined by a number on a scale?

So what if you don’t look/act like everyone else.  You are YOU!  You are not better than anyone, and there is NO ONE better than YOU!


Finding Balance

Ongoing theme of my life at the moment = “Finding Balance”.  Why do I want balance so much?  A balanced life = a happy life. Sounds easy enough right?  Ha!

In order to find balance, I had to completely change.  Not my diet.  Not my workouts.  Not my beauty routine.  Instead the thing that needed the most change was my mindset.

I began to view my life as a whole.  Fitness and nutrition are just two of the puzzle pieces that make up my life.  Just two words in the definition that is Kristal.  I am so much more.  Taking a step back, looking at the big picture, makes it much easier to see where adjustments must be made.

I want a life filled with peace and happiness.  I want a life that makes my heart smile.  I found that the negative vibes I was drowning in were coming directly from me.  My own thoughts toward myself and my body were poisoning my life.

So I threw out the scale (ok,ok…it’s still around, just not easily accessible).  And now, instead of beating my body up about not looking up to par, I thank my body.  I began to allow myself to feel comfortable in my own skin.  I accept that I am flawed.  We all are.

It’s ok.  I’m ok.  You’re ok.

The key, to overcoming this negativity, lies in knowing you are amazing.  Your body, no matter the shape or size, works miracles for you every day.  Mine has done some pretty awesome stuff:  run miles, jumped hurdles, hiked a few mountains, and given me five amazing kids.

Balanced Eating

Here’s a secret: there is no miracle diet.  No juice cleanse, no Dr. Oz concoction, no cabbage soup or lemon drink  is going to make you healthy.  You may lose a pound or two, but nine times out of ten you are gonna gain those pounds back and they will bring their friends. You’ll end up weighing MORE than you did before starving yourself in the name of “detox”.

Your body needs FOOD. Eating is a GOOD THING!  Just remember…. Find balance…

For me balance in nutrition is not about finding the perfect diet.  Instead it’s about being mindful of my choices.  I try to eat whole, healthy foods on the reg.  I stay hydrated and I still take my vitamins (just not the 52million supplements I thought I needed before).

The difference is, I also allow myself to indulge in the occasional chocolate cake, Starbucks coffee, and slice (or two) of pizza, WITHOUT FEELING GUILTY!!  I allow myself to live. (Funny, now that I allow myself to eat these things without guilt, I don’t eat them nearly as often!  Mind over matter?  Who knows…all I know is I LOVE that it is working for me!)

We are all SOOOO different.  That’s the beauty of life.  What works for me, may not work for you and that’s OK!  Find what works for you, find what balance looks like in your eating habits and roll with it!!

Perfection is a Myth

Before I wrap up this post, I want to let you in on one more secret.

Perfection doesn’t exist. 

We are all human, it is in our very nature to be flawed.

Not one person, on this Earth, is perfect. 

I have a friend who runs an awesome personal training studio in West Georgia.  His motto is, “Strive for progress, not perfection”.  I LOVE THAT!  I’ve made it one of my mantras.


Progress!!  It’s all about the progress…Keep striving for progress.

Maybe you aren’t the super fit guy/gal at your gym.  Maybe you’re not be the skinniest person in your circle of friends.  Maybe you LOVE pizza and ice cream way too much.  Maybe you’re not be at goal weight.  Maybe you aren’t society’s idea of beautiful.

Let me tell you right now…


(*Unless you are ugly on the inside, that’s an entirely different can of worms…a post for another day? Ha!)

What matters most is…YOU are YOU.  Be true to who you are.  If what you are doing is not making you happy, STOP doing it.  If the people that you are associating with don’t see your worth, find a NEW circle of support.  You are in charge of your life.  Stop letting society and negative thought patterns tell you otherwise.

Fail, Fail and Fail Again

My last tidbit of wisdom on this topic: Don’t be afraid to fail.

We all fail.  We all eat bad shit.  We all skip workouts.  We all have bad habits.  We all struggle.  It’s OK!!!


Don’t let your short-comings stop you from being who you were destined to be.

You my friend are DESTINED to be happy, healthy and balanced: Mind, Body and Soul!








Food 101: Start a Food Journal

Food journals work!

When changing your eating habits you need stability, accountability, motivation, record of what works, etc.  Food journals give you all of that and more!

I personally use a food journal when I have a fitness/weight loss goal in mind.  When  my pants fit a little too snug, when my body feels “off” (and I’m feeling sick, or sluggish, or even depressed), when I OD on sugar…habitually… (I’m human…and I have a problem…first step is admitting right?), after one too many nights of dining out.  These are times that I reach for the trusty food journal.  My food journal hasn’t failed me yet!  (Although, I must admit I have failed my food journal…)

Q:What the heck is a food journal?

A:  Whatever you want it to be!

Do you keep a journal?  Have you ever?  Is your journal the same as it was when you were 12? Is your journal/diary the same as your siblings (come on, you know you have taken a peak at someone else’s diary…)?

Food journals are like any other kind of journal or diary = Unique to the individual using them.  They can be uber detailed, or scribbled onto a legal pad.  No matter the level of detail, a food journal is serves as a record of everything that your put in your mouth.  Scary thought? Maybe…but…

Are you a facts & figures type of person?  My husband is.  When he keeps a food journal he figures everything out…all the way down to percentages of food groups consumed each day!

Or are you like me?  You like the idea of organization but ALL those numbers are just TOO much to keep up with!

Doesn’t matter!  Either way you CAN BE SUCCESSFUL with a food journal!

Q:  What information should I include?

A.  Record of EVERY food item that crosses those beautiful lips of yours!

The most detailed food journal is USELESS, unless you are TRUTHFUL!  Be truthful with yourself.  There is a reason you are thinking about starting a food journal right?  Always remember your goals.

Do you want to lose weight?  Eat more protein?  Drink more water?  Stick to a vegan or vegetarian menu?  Do you need balance in your eating habits?

Don’t lose sight of why you are doing this.  With those goals in mind be sure that you include these facts for every entry:

  • Time of meal
  • Number of Portions
  • Food Item
  • Beverage

Those are the basics.   You can begin that simply.  You can also become more detailed, like my husband, by adding these facts to your entry:

  • Number of calories
  • Grams of proteins
  • Grams of carbohydrates
  • Grams of fat
  • Grams of sugar
  • Ounces of water

Q:  How will a food journal benefit me?

A: Three words:  Accountability, Reality Check, Motivation*

*(ok, so that was 4 words…three ideas?!? You get the point!)


As a personal trainer, I have seen the importance of accountability.  I know you’ve done it…we all have…

You get ready for the gym.  Suddenly the phone rings.  You get tied up on a phone call.  Well, it was a nice thought, but since my routine was interrupted by that phone call I will just skip the gym today….I will get back into the swing of things tomorrow…

If you are anything like me, tomorrow may come.  Or it may come a couple months from now.  Or it may never come.  Who cares?

Now take that same scenario and add accountability…

You get ready to meet your workout partner at the gym for your 8:30am, regularly scheduled, workout.  Suddenly the phone rings.  You explain to the person on the line that you are on your way to an appointment and you will have to return their call in an hour when you finish up…You head out the door, make it to the gym on time, hit the gym hard and leave feeling accomplished.

Accountability can make all the difference. Food journals are like workout partners.  Not only are you putting that food in your mouth, you are now responsible to write it down.  This simple act can make a huge difference in the way that we perceive food.

Reality Check:

My reality is….I eat bad shit.  Not all the time, not tons of it, but I still eat bad…on the reg.  Keeping a food journal is like someone standing beside me saying, “You really gonna eat that piece of chocolate cake?  Did you see how crappy you ate yesterday??”

“Knowing” what we have eaten, and seeing it written down in black and white are TWO totally different things!!!

There’s power in documenting your diet!  Power and control, but first there’s reality… IN YO FACE…saying THIS is what you are putting in your body.  This is the fuel that you have chosen.


One good choice leads to another.  If you make your workout, chances are you will eat healthier that day.  If you eat healthier, chances are you will make your workout.  When I make it to my yoga mat, I find time to meditate.  When I meditate, I find time for yoga.  Good things….good vibes…good foods…good brings more good….makes sense right?

Food journals can keep you motivated.  Along with my food journal entries I keep track of my progress.  What progress am I making towards my goal?  (Always keep those goals in sight…there is a reason you picked up your food journal) If my goal is weight loss, I record my daily weights.  If my goal is water consumption I record my intake with each entry as well as each day.  If my goal is balance, I go all in…I will then keep up with all the details and numbers that my husband utilizes on his food journal worksheet.  Use your goals to help you decide what information you will keep record of.

Questions? Comments?  I want to hear from you!  

Here’s a FREE (detailed) FOOD JOURNAL TEMPLATE for Excel: