Categories: All Eat Lift Live

Happy Thanksgiving, Here’s to Recovery!

The holidays hold value differently for everyone. There are two types of people in this world: those who love November 1st through January 1st, and those whom are terrified by it. I was once someone terrified by it for a plethora of reasons. If you are reading this, you are likely well aware of the fact that I am not only a recovering drunk and coke head, but also a recovering bulimic. The holidays have been a bit rough over the years for me and I am here to offer some insight for anyone who can relate. I am not trying to tell you how to live your life, I am just trying to tell you how to NOT live the one I did for so long.

If you are recovering from an eating disorder, an alcohol problem, or addiction in any facet, you probably fucking hate the holidays with every iota of hate you have in your heart. I know this, as I was recovering from all those things for A DECADE. Yes, I spent 10 salty years hating holidays because of my own personal issues I refused to deal with. I thought they were “silly” and “stupid”; this likely had to do with the tough girl vibe that I embarrassingly put out for so long. What a sad, sad way to live.

The holidays once meant booze, binging, and purging. I didn’t think of things like thankfulness, family, and generosity during November and December, but rather how fucked up I could get or how much I could eat. My ED was at its height from 18 to 22, and those were the years associated with binging and purging. Nothing about the holidays was “special” to me aside from getting to shove mass quantities of calories into my face. In fact, the only reason I was ever really excited to see my extended family members, was due to their impressive culinary abilities (this is not the case anymore Judy, Sudy, Steph, and everyone else on my mother’s side of the family who I know is reading this… I love you all dearly).

I was finally able to get my binging and purging under control in my early 20s, however it was replaced with severe clean eating orthorexia. I then masked that issue with substances. All of the substances. The anxiety and fear I had put on food completely prevented me from enjoying it, let alone even eating it. So, I took to alcohol and cocaine in times of hunger and confusion (aka Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years). I was so caught up in tracking my macros and having abs, that I avoided the holidays with my own family just to stay away from the possibility over eating. I coped with this behavior by drinking and using. Vicious cycle. Le sigh.

By the time I was 25, my holidays officially meant loneliness, as I alienated myself in hopes to “beat” the holiday weight gain that 99% of people experience and are completely ok with. Welcome to the fitness industry where we FREAK THE FUCK OUT about the typical five-pound holiday weight gain during the months where no one sees your body. Beyond being terrified of food, I was such a sloppy drunk, not a single human being invited me to have Thanksgiving with them in 2012. Not my own family, not my friends, not even one of the thousand of strangers following me on the internet. I remember laying alone in my empty house completely shit faced on Thanksgiving that year, sobbing over my life and what I had let it become.

I was sick. And I need to recover. So, a few months later, I got sober. And the next two holiday seasons were incredibly scary for me. I didn’t have food anymore and I didn’t have booze anymore. I had found myself in a very toxic, unhealthy two-year relationship which was preventing my recovery but I was too afraid to leave. Although I was on the mend from my eating problems, and I was refraining from drinking and using, I was not partaking in healthy behaviors across the board thus I never truly felt sober, but more so just “dry”. The holidays spent in that relationship entailed throwing objects, name calling, and threats. Thus my hatred grew stronger.

Once I grew the balls to exit that relationship, I had never felt so free. I was taking care of myself through healthy eating and training. I converted to being actively sober. I started to become the person whom I was truly meant to be. I got help. I made changes. I learned how to love and forgive myself. And then I found my person and I fell head over heels in love.

Once I started working on ME and all the reasons I had fooled myself into hating the holidays, everything changed. The eating disorder, the drinking, the drugs, the toxic boyfriends over the years… those were all things happening because I am an addict who was not treating my illness which I let manifest into hatred. Please don’t be like this. Take care of yourself and get the help you deserve.

This is my second year appreciating Thanksgiving for exactly what it is. I fucking love this holiday so much now, as it is one of the highlights of my year. I have never in my life appreciated my friends and my family to level that I do right now, and I can truly attribute the change to the willingness to admit all my flaws and actively work on them in order to improve my quality of life. Which in turn improved the lives of the people who surround me as no one likes to hang out with a miserable fuck.

Today, I will eat what I want (aka my gluten free, vegan dinner). This is my second TG as a vegan, but first with a Celiac Disease diagnosis. Yes, I am now recovering from 30 pounds of weight loss and internal organ damage from poison aka wheat. The recovery trend lives on.

Today, I will not over eat. I will eat till I am full. I will not care about protein, crabs, or fat. And then I will have one huge piece of pie. Tracking, weighing, and measuring IS NOT conducive to my goals this year.

Ok, enough about me… let’s talk about you. The food and the booze (the two things that the holidays aren’t about, yet we make them about them).

Ask yourself what you want to get out this weekend… are you feeding your goal or your soul? Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks, just do whatever will make you the happiest, as you are the only person who gets to make that choice today. You can eat conducive to your goals or you can take a one day break from that, but your MENTAL wellness should be the deciding factor. Which ever will aid the most in your personal growth and recovery should be the thing you do. (I want to preface this with something for my 500 Black Iron Nutrition Members: all of the following scenarios are more than ok with me and I will hold no judgment; this is about you, not me).

Maybe you are reading this and thinking “Fuck. Off.” as you wait for a bar to open. And that is completely ok as you are right where you are supposed to be on this wild ride.

Maybe you are someone who doesn’t do well with the “unknown” when it comes to calories and macros, so it is likely in your best interest to loosely track for the sake of your own mental sanity, as not tracking may lead to anxiousness. You aren’t going to worry about macros, but you’ll keep your calories in check.

Maybe you are someone who truly values the time you get to spend with your loved ones today, so put your phone away and don’t worry about your macros. The MyFitnessPal app should still be on your phone tomorrow. No regrets, family first.

Maybe you have to make weight next weekend, thus you should be on your best behavior THIS year, as there will be plenty of opportunity to overdo it in the future. Weigh, measure, track, and go leave everything on the platform.

Maybe Thanksgiving is YOUR SHIT and you plan for it the whole year, so OF COURSE you go completely overboard and hate yourself a little bit for it. Totally fine.

Maybe you have no food issues and no substance abuse issues and you are surprised that I even have to write this for 400,000 people. You are not ignorant or oblivious, your struggles have just been different.

Maybe you have made a nutritional commitment to yourself and this is your first year attempting portion control and moderation. So, you are a little scared that you will fail and let yourself or your coach down. Stick to your guns and follow through with your commitment. Remember why you are doing this… for your health.

Maybe you are two weeks or two months sober and this is your first sober holiday season, so you are completely losing your shit. Email or DM me. Stay strong if I am slow reply, I get a lot of these email this time of year, I reply to every single one.

Maybe you are going through a divorce, your dog died, you had a falling out with close friend, you lost your job, your new business isn’t doing well, you are broke, you are sick, so on and you just want to find comfort in food or alcohol. Please to seek it in humans first, as we are the ones who can actually offer that comfort.

Be good to yourselves. All of these things are ok. I really hope you all have the best day ever. I love you.

-KMC

Closing note: The scale is probably going to be up on Friday morning, and you should just own that shit. It will go down.

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The Current State of Fitness Social Media

A few weeks ago, someone Tweeted at me, asking my take on the current state of fitness social media. There is no way to respond to that question in 140 characters, thus I failed to reply. However, since seeing that question, I paid closer attention to what I saw as I scrolled and I think the only word I have to describe it… interesting. I truly think it is great and terrible all at once. There is no way to describe it simply.

I started my Instagram account in early 2011 and I used for what everyone else did at first: filters. At the time, I didn’t even know that Instagram was a photo sharing app. I had a friend who worked at Apple who told me about the app while it was still in the beta phases; it’s pretty neat that I was one of Instagram’s first 1,000 users. As I became more familiar with the app, I started to participate in the “Photo A Day” challenges that were once all the rage for us OG Instafolks. In January of 2012, the photo a day challenge I was participating in called for a picture of breakfast, so I posted a picture of my egg white and veggie omelet with a grapefruit. The next day called for a picture at work. I was a personal trainer at the time, so I posted a picture in my sports bra at the gym. My Instagram went from 200 friends to over 1,000 strangers and I fucking panicked. I wanted to delete my account as I was not a fan of complete strangers “following” my life. Ryan Cox (who many of you know as “RyFace”), who still works for me to this day, advised me to not do that… and here we are.

I had no intention of going into the fitness industry prior to social media. I was a personal trainer in college to pay the bills, but I was in school for criminal justice and psychology. That being said, I also had no intention of being a fitness Instagrammer due to the fact that fitness IG wasn’t a much of thing in 2012. I unintentionally made it a thing thanks to the insane feedback to my fitness related posts.

I took the “Photo A Day Challenge” concept and created a fitness themed one in April 2012. I you have been around for a while, you remember my “BAMFIT” days of posting insane workouts and borderline disordered meals (hey, we were all there before flexible dieting). The “BAMFIT APRIL” photo challenge was reposted thousands upon thousands of times and my IG slowly crept up to 10k. Enter Instagram fitness accounts as people realized there is plenty of content to be posted daily regarding fitness and nutrition. It was bound to happen eventually, and I am not arrogant enough to take full credit for it, but that was a large catalyst in the movement.

Now that you have some back story, I can get on with my point. I feel partially responsible for the mess we see online today. Yes, it’s a mess. But it wasn’t always this way. In 2013 and 2014, shit was actually really cool. We posted workouts, meals, selfies, new equipment, the list goes on. But things started to get boring as more and more people were jumping on board, trying to do the same thing that thousands of other people were doing. Posts got redundant, content stopped being original, everything started to get over saturated.

People had to start getting more creative because workouts and meals weren’t cutting it anymore. As Instagram started to give us new features, it allowed us to put out content in new ways but as the industry saw the value of social media, everything slowly went to shit. Next thing you know, everyone is using a tool once used simply to motivate people, to sell products and services. There are plenty of Instagrammers who try to sell something with every post, whether it is coaching, supplements, or apparel. Furthermore, since “everyone is doing it”, people’s marketing tactics are getting ridiculous and the Instagram trends are beyond eye roll worthy.

Social media trends encourage influencers to sacrifice their authenticity in the pursuit of likes and followers because they see other people gaining traction from ridiculous comparison photos (“good lighting” vs “bad lighting”, “8am” vs “8pm”). They see a popular post and immediately mimic them in hopes for their own popular post, opposed to putting their own authentic angle on it. Here is my least favorite trend of this year: Posed vs Un-posed.

NO SHIT, YOU LOOK BETTER POSED?!?! Here is why I take issue with these types of posts: people are attempting to be transparent and relatable. If you have to TRY to be these things, that is a problem as it should come naturally. If you made a posed vs un-posed post for likes, you missed the entire point. One person made one vulnerable post for the RIGHT reason, then the whole gang saw the success of that post, took an overly unflattering picture of themselves and paired it next to the best picture they could take of themselves, and a small part of the internet died that day. Fitness IG took a good thing, and ruined it by making it redundant and overly extreme.

Extremes are “sexy” in this industry. Preaching balance and moderation isn’t edgy, and because sexy extremes sell, we see people say stupid shit like “the grind never sleeps” and “team no days off”. For the love of God, do not follow these disordered people. The grind needs to sleep and your brain and body needs days off.

When I scroll through my feed, I am no longer motivated. I see discount codes, supplements, and nudity. Sure, all these things are cool; we all like to save money and if anyone says they don’t like boobs and butts, they are lying. BUT, I am not inspired or motivated to be better by these types of posts a majority of the time. I am actually incredibly discouraged by them. They make me lose hope in the future of fitness as it seems everyone has forgotten why we started training in the first. It was not to sell supplements on Instagram and not to Photoshop our perfectly beautiful bodies for likes (which an entirely different issue that I won’t get into here).

People have become dependent upon their bodies to sell products opposed to their brains. I see posts of girls holding supplements from their sponsors in a sports bra or bikini, clearly drawing attention to their bodies to get likes on a post they very well know would receive less likes if it were just a picture of the protein powder or pre-workout. A less sexy post doesn’t make it a bad post. You can make an informative post and express yourself with your words to get your point across. I know how marketing works and I know that “sex sells”, but this logic is beyond flawed. In fact, it is almost like these girls don’t understand that likes truly don’t mean shit and they certainty don’t equate to sales. They use the likes on their photos for leverage with sponsors. I can’t even put it into words how backwards this is.

Once upon a time, getting a sponsorship was a very special thing. It was something to be proud of as they were earned by integrity, merit, and athleticism. Now they are literally handed out to every single person with a decent sized following with no vetting process. Having a large Instagram following does not make someone a good person nor a good athlete. Having a large following does not entitle you to sponsorships if you haven’t done shit to earn said sponsorships.

As someone who owns a business that sponsors athletes, I take great pride in our process and I am beyond proud to sponsor the people I do. Contrary to what a lot of the other big brands have done, we don’t choose athletes based on a social media following. We choose athletes based on their personality, their reputation, and their work ethic. A sponsorship from DNDL is earned the old fashion way, not through likes and followers. Another interesting characteristic about my athletes, is that they are all small business owners or career oriented individuals. Their careers come before their training. I have no interest in sponsoring someone who doesn’t work their ass off outside of the gym as well. The DNDL motto is “EAT LIFT LIVE” and not “EAT LIFT LIFT” for a reason. I see value and inspiration in real people with normal lives who still make the time to train and compete. These are the relatable people I seek out to inspire you. Not “social media stars” who get paid to post on Instagram or make their entire living from social media… there is nothing relatable about that lifestyle.

Which brings me another issue… Fitness Instagrammers thinking they are a damn celebrity just because they had a line at the Arnold. If you are a fitness influencer at a fit expo, there will obviously be people wanting to meet you. But do you get asked for your autograph at the grocery store? Nah. No one knows who you are off the internet. If you are only well known on Fitness Instagram, you are not a celebrity. You are popular. Very few fitness Instagrammers fall into the “celebrity status” (I do think the blue check mark holds a small amount of value).

I have a moderately large following in the social media fitness scene, but that is the extent of my “stardom”. Outside of the internet, I am just a person who lives a life similar to everyone else’s. Are my businesses successful due to social media? Yes, they are, and I am very grateful for Instagram as it is largely responsible for all that I have built. But as someone who was one of the first in fitness Instagram, my following sure has grown slowly. I don’t post for the sake of posting. I don’t post discount codes often because that isn’t a priority for what I am trying to offer people. I don’t post for attention or to boost my following. I post a very transparent depiction of what is happening in my life in hopes to inspire and motivate others. I am in no way better than anyone and I have no agenda. It is a shame that more people in my field don’t share this same mindset.

Everyone wants to seem better than their peers… aka their “competition”, since that is the reality of the “professional” fitness world.

In fact, so many fitness Instagrammers are so desperate for validity and popularity against the “competition”, they create stupid, edgy titles in hopes to sound unique. People literally make up labels to make them seem different from thousands of others just like them. Or, people tack their achievements onto their names to make themselves seem accomplished and knowledgeable instead of just letting their actions speak for themselves. People using titles and accomplishments to gain followers and their trust, to turn a profit is a slippery slope. We should be using experience, honesty, and evidence to support our claims.

There is no control with social media; no governing body ensuring that bad info is weeded out. People can quite literally say whatever the hell they want, and if they have a large enough following, people will take their word for the truth. Popularity doesn’t mean someone knows what they are talking about, as likes and followers don’t validate a person’s word. And they definitely don’t make someone a good person.

Long story short, Instagram has almost ruined fitness. Almost. Fortunately, there are a lot of people putting out incredible shit. The women I am mentioning at the end if this article, are raising their voices, challenging the status quo, starting businesses, breaking world records, and teaching others how to be strong. These women are more than their bodies. These women have strong bodies and strong minds.

I encourage you to seek out people who fill your brain and screen with positivity and good information. There are plenty of genuine people who aren’t interested in your money and simply want to share cool content with you. Their content actually had something to offer. When you follow someone, look at their posts and captions and decided if they are posting to help improve others or posting for head pats. Are their posts genuine? Do they offer relatable insight? Are they trying to sell you something? Are the asking you to like/comment? Are they telling you to tag a friend? Get to the bottom of their motive and don’t fall into traps.

The women I am about to mention put their heads down to do the work, speak up when there is something to say, never mislead you, and don’t use IG solely to improve their bank accounts. They strive to educate and empower. They don’t burden you with their problems, but are transparent about their struggle. The offer SOLUTIONS and don’t add to the problems. They have walked the walk with competing, coaching, training, eating, and life. Their captions are loaded with healthy insight, they keep it fun, and their intentions are good ones.

Jill Coleman, Emily Abbott, Adee Cazayoux, Neghar Fonooni, Jen Sinkler, Stefi Cohen, Lauren Bondi, MegSquats, Q Welch, Karina Baymiller, Ella Kociuba, Bec Chambers, Riki Long, Charity Whitt, Allison Scudds, Alex LaChance, Mattie Rogers, Evan Childs, Emily Duncan, Dana Linn Baily, Ashley Beaver, Simply Manders, Leah West Casciano, Chlo Jonsson, Jen Bretty, Bonnie Schroeder, Sarah Lifts

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My Trip Around The Perimeter Of Iceland

I am one of the few people who gets to boast that I went to 30 countries before I turned 30 (that was the most pretentious sentence I have ever typed, insert the eye roll emoji here). I wish I appreciated travel in my early 20s the way I do now. When I first started traveling internationally, I was still a heavy drinker. My trips abroad were spent in pubs and bars. I regret this so much as I approach 30 and have more travel experience under my belt. Do I miss drinking? Absolutely. I envy my travel companions who enjoy afternoon local beers in foreign lands. I think drinking in different cultures is a large part of the experience, but getting black out wasted defeats the entire point of travel. As I have matured, so has my travel style. When I was 23, I wanted to shop in Italy; by the time I was 27, I sought out Gothic architecture. When I was 24, I wanted to dance in European nightclubs; when I was 28, I wanted to climb Volcanoes in Costa Rica. I grew up.

I have been to every continent (with the exception of Antarctica), I have seen a lot of cool shit, I have hiked in Africa, swam in the Mediterranean, driven over London Bridge, sailed in Croatia, and sat in Hungarian bath houses… all of those experiences were nothing short of incredible. But none of it can compare to Iceland. Literally nowhere on this earth holds a card to it. Have I been everywhere? Not even close. But I have been to enough places and know enough fellow travelers who have each gone to 30 other places, and we all agree on one thing: Iceland fucking rules. HARD.

I have been to Iceland twice now, both times with Matt Vincent (and his wife Ashley) as my tour guides. Our first trip to the island was in December of 2014, and we had roughly 5 hours of daylight a day. Pair that with the rough storm that hit the island, and this made sightseeing tough and our options were limited. We stayed in Reykjavik and ventured south to Vik for a quit overnight trip. This was your typical touristy Iceland trip: The Blue Lagoon, Jakabol, The Glacier Lagoon, Seljalandsfoss, and Skógafoss. All these things were beautiful but we definitely stayed safely in the “Reykjavik Bubble” and due to the darkness of winter, the drive to these incredible places hardly showed me what Iceland truly has to offer. (All of these mentioned places are easy to find and get to. Most of them offer shuttle rides from the city that stop off at numerous locations.)

The first time I left I loved it and missed it, but it was not at the very top of my “favorite places” list; although it was probably in the top five just from the brief, dark visit. I came home feeling very “small” as I had never really felt like I was I was at hands of Mother Nature as I was in the Icelandic winter. The wind, snow, and rain were overwhelming (keep in mind that I lived in New York City at the time and I was no stranger to extreme winters). I was impressed. And eager to head back during the summer.

At the Arnold in March of 2017, Matt mentioned that he was headed back in June. I was jealous and joked about going… Matt told me to make it happen. So once I got home, I did! At first, Ben and I were going to arrive earlier than Matt’s six-man crew as we were already going to be on the east coast for a wedding. I got on the phone with Matt to go over the trip details. We weren’t sure how much time we were going to be able to spend with Matt, as they were planning on driving the perimeter of the island—The Ring Road—and our dates didn’t quite line up to join them for that adventure (sad face). Now here is the exact conversation that my brain had with itself immediately after hanging up the phone with Matt:

“Drive the perimeter of the island…. he just said that. That sounds tight! I really want to do that too! I have already hung out in Reykjavik for enough time, I want to see everything else. I guess if we just book flights back to home from the wedding, then plan on leaving from home two days later, we can be there the exact same dates as Matt. Yea, I like this plan better.”

So a few weeks later, on June 16th, we landed in Reykjavik a few hours after Matt’s gang did and the journey began. He had Nick Koumalatsos and Alison Capra in tow, as well as Brock Gomez (who films and produces Drifta Lifta for Matt) and his wife, Natalie. The eight of us had this amazing trip planned out to drive the perimeter of Iceland… something few can claim. We started off the trip with a few mellow days in Reykjavik to get plenty of food and rest as we had many long days on the road ahead of us. Iceland in June means 24 hours of daylight and we didn’t even necessarily have sleeping arrangements made all the way around the island.

Matt is friends with all the giants of Iceland, so we got to train at Hafthor Bjornsson’s gym. We got to wander the streets of Reykjavik during the Iceland’s independence day. We went to the big Lebowski bar (I went full white girl with excitement). We ended our time in the city with a quick day trip to Gullfoss and Geysir: the massive waterfall in the opening scene of Prometheus and the geothermal fields with massive geysers. Both of these are an hour inland from the city and easy to get to. There are busses for rides or you can easily rent your own car from a number of places. As far as lodging in Reykjavik is concerned, we used Airbnb (which is my typical go to for International Travel as I like the experience better than hotels).

Here is the video documenting the first part of the trip: https://youtu.be/C4G29aDJIQM

We woke up June 17th and packed eight people plus a shit load of gear into two adventure vehicles (we used GO Car Rental Iceland) and we were ready to party. The adventure began! We drove all day, we filmed, I stepped in my own shit, we watched the big guys pick up stones, we drove some more, we went back to Reykjavik to watch Chris Burkard’s Under An Arctic Sky. This film was really inspirational due to the fact that there were several parallels between what Chris did in Iceland and our own journey we were about to embark on. We realized this trip wasn’t about the drive, but our story: who we were and why we were there. We left inspired.

That night was the first time tensions rose in the group. We drove aimlessly for what felt like forever in the midnight sun and arrived to a very small A-frame cabin in the middle of nowhere aka Grundarfjordour. Once we finally got inside to where we saw there was only one bed, so the eight of us got cozy! We were exhausted, hungry, and a storm was approaching. We finally fell asleep at 2am and wake up to rough weather. This meant our drive to the Westfjords was deemed unsafe so we got to work on setting up a ferry ride up to the fjords. Tensions continued to rise in the group as our plans slowly went to shit and we started to fall behind schedule. We arrive in the Westfjords and unload our gear into our housing for the night. Matt arranged the lodging here and I am unsure of the name of where we stayed, but I did my own research and found a couple cool places in the area. You can also utilize Airbnb around the island. Here is some info on lodging in the Westfjords: https://www.westfjords.is/en/where-to-stay.

Luckily, we ended the long day on a positive note, as we went on a midnight birthday hike in the actual middle of nowhere. This is easily the most remote part of Iceland and a place that very few people can say they have visited in their lifetime. To get to experience this part of the world, not only in car, but on foot was a life changing experience for me. Iceland has a unique way of making me feel small, which is not something I feel anywhere else in the world. Ben, Brock, Ash, Nat, and myself got to frolic through fields of flowers, climb alongside waterfalls, and the view from the top was absolutely incredible. I turned 29 on top of the world.

The next day wAS my birthday, and it was a long one. The days starts a bit rough for me as I explode two liters of sparkling water on myself and it took me about 7 hours to get dry and warm again; typical Krissy. We had a long drive to North Iceland where we finally got to stay in a hotel and eat at a restaurant instead of a gas station, so I kept my eye on the prize and snapped out of my whiny mood (boohoo, poor me, I’m in Iceland for the adventure of a lifetime or my birthday).

Now I am going to explain to you the level of excitement that was attached to our arrival at this hotel… do you remember growing up watching Disney movies and you had your favorite characters, then one day your parents tell you there is place called Disneyland where all these characters walk around in life sized form… and that you get to go there? I might as well have been a seven-year-old driving up to Disneyland for the first time. Matt and Ash had told me about this place months prior, and I had done very through research. I spent virtually every single day torturing myself by looking at pictures of it. ***Travel Pro tip: Search the Instagram geotag or your destination prior to arriving to a place, so you waste less time researching the area once you get there. Find people who visited prior to you and you  may discover some hidden gems close by whether it be food, hikes, etc.***

So, we pulled into the town of Siglufjörður and my heart actually fluttered a bit… I was taken back by how beautiful this place is and I was immediately filled with so much gratitude that I get to not only see this place, but I get to see it with incredible people whom I hold close to my heart. The Siglo Hotel lives up to expectations and then some (the hype is real). Everyone’s spirits were immediately lifted and the trip takes a turn for the best. I mean, look at the view from the geothermal hot tub that sits on the Arctic Ocean…

Here is the video documenting the above mentioned part of the trip: https://youtu.be/ctBasG8p8b0

After an evening at the Siglo Hotel, we were sold on the idea of staying a second night. This meant a hiccup in our plan to make it around the perimeter of the island. We had a few options:

1) Complete the drive around the island, which would entail a 10-13 hour drive to the south part of the island since we no longer had time for a night in East Iceland.

2) Drive through the middle of the island on the gravel road that the locals don’t even feel safe on through volcanoes and glaciers. This road is typically closed and not drivable.

3) Stay in Siglufjörður for three nights, then drive back to Reykjavik they day before we depart back to the states.

We got news that the drive through the middle wasn’t open, which eliminated one option. As cool as it would be to say that we have driven the perimeter of Iceland, we decide that this country isn’t meant to be experienced from the inside of the car and we decide against doing what we came to do. The surrounding area is stunning, so we dive into the Arctic Sea and we embark on a hike above the town. We also decide to get friendship tattoos to represent the trip.

Here are the videos from Siglufjörður:
https://youtu.be/q__q3Px5wqg
https://youtu.be/x62zx1MXo4E

To me, this trip was never really about making it around the entire island. I came on this trip to spend time with people I love and I learned a lot in the process. When I arrived in Iceland, I had no interest in having my own YouTube channel, as I looked at a channel as a burden, opposed to a creative outlet. After watching the rest of the group express themselves through film and tell a story, I wanted to do the same. I left Iceland with one goal in mind: to share part of my life with as many people as possible in hopes to inspire travel, as world travel is largely responsible for who I am today. When I quit using and drinking year ago, I embarked on international travel in hopes to do some soul searching, and boy did I. Every time my passport gets a new stamp, I evolve and I come home better with a larger appreciation for life and the world we live in.

Matt, Nick, and Alison documented the trip far better than I did. I learned more and more about filming as the trip went on, and I am excited to put all this new info to use in my future videos as I continue to grow as a content creator. Thank you for watching and for your patience with my content. I am currently outsourcing the work while I am in film editing school, so I look forward to sharing all my new dexterities as I continue to develop my editing skillset.

Nick’s Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/MrNicksmith82
Matt’s Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/mvincent4130

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Have Less, Do More

I have been in the fitness industry for over 10 years. I started working at 24hour Fitness when I was 18 years old, first at the front desk then I was able to earn my position as a class instructor and eventually became a personal trainer. I didn’t start my fitness business through Instagram; I worked very hard training clients in person for 5 years before social media took over the fitness industry and everyone became some form of online coach or trainer.

Ten years later, I am now a gym owner. I made what most people would consider to be a large sum of money in a short amount of time at young age from selling my fitness/nutrition e-books and from my lifestyle brand, Doughnuts & Deadlifts. Two years ago, I had over a quarter million dollars in my savings account after many years of hard work. I chose to use that money to open Black Iron Gym and employ a group of people who I believe in and who believe in me.

If I’m being perfectly honest, I don’t have a lot to show for a decade of hard work when I compare myself to most of the other big names in the fitness industry. I don’t live in a mansion, fuck, I don’t even own a home yet. I don’t have a garage full of luxury vehicles. I don’t own a nice watch, or any nice jewelry for that matter. I don’t have veneers on my teeth, I don’t get eyelash extensions, and I have no idea how to do my makeup with very little I have. My Instagram does not showcase the things I have bought, rather it’s purpose is to motivate people to get physically fit, stay mentally healthy, challenge themselves, travel, and get the absolute most out of life.

I walk into Black Iron Gym everyday and see my members smiling, laughing, and working hard. In my opinion, that is something far more valuable than any material possession one could purchase. The feeling I get walking into my gym is far more meaningful than the feeling one must get when they walk into a garage filled with a half million dollars worth of foreign sports cars.

For the sake of transparency, I do live very comfortably. The house I rent is roomy and nice, in a modest, gated neighborhood. Two years ago, I bought a bottom of the line Range Rover that I saved for for years. I get to walk into my closet everyday and I have a selection of Lululemon and Nike to choose from. I am not writing this to convince anyone that I don’t like nice things, because that is not always the case. The point is that when I came into a decent amount of money when my online presence in the industry took off, I had a choice. Would I spend it on things or would I spend on a concept greater than myself that would help others? I chose that latter while still treating myself to nice things once I feel like I have earned them and can safely afford them.

Frivolous spending for the sake of instant gratification has not once brought me happiness that lasted longer than a few days. Take it from me, money will never buy happiness. Prior to opening the gym, I had a $6500/month penthouse apartment in Manhattan, on the weekends I would treat my team to $750 dinners, and I had more clothes and shoes than I could possibly wear. I was still miserable and I lacked purpose. I was just a moderately attractive girl with a large social media platform who sold a shit ton of e-books and was in the early stages of selling a shit ton of t-shirts.

I constantly felt like I had something to prove and it was completely exhausting. The notion of making others aware of your success and status is an empty way to live. Your self worth should not be predicated on your social media following nor the total dollar amount of all your possessions. Furthermore, you should never seek validation from people you will never meet by boasting about your cars, shoes, and bullshit. Head pats from thousands of people on Instagram that come from showcasing your stuff will never replace real life, deep relationships that come from showcasing your soul.

Karina Baymiller recently wrote “What in the hell have we gotten ourselves into? We’re so busy proving our happiness and status via the things we can afford (to people we don’t even know nonetheless), that we’ve forgotten what we really, truly need to be happy.” This really hit home with me given the changes I have made in my life as of late and I felt compelled to write about what she said. The past two years have a been a personal journey of enlightenment and I have learned a lot about happiness.  I am a rich woman when it comes to experiences and meaningful relationships.

Life experiences, without a doubt, bring more happiness than material possessions. The hard thing about this notion, is that material possessions provide a concrete, tangible representation of wealth and value where as experiences depend upon memory. You can slap a value on a Rolex, a pair of Yeezys, or a Mercedes, but memories and experiences are essentially priceless… their value is literally so precious that it can’t be determined.

One could surely argue that Black Iron Gym is a “material possession” given that it is full of nice equipment that I bought, but I did not buy it to show off. It was not purchased for a dick measuring contest. The gym was paid for to act as a lifelong, boundless experience for myself, the people whom I employ, and the countless people who will come to Black Iron to better themselves over the years. I look at it as an investment toward the legacy that I am trying to establish. I am not building an empire, empires fall. I am creating something eternal that will undoubtably last.

I have come to terms with the fact that I will never get my personal financial investment back from the opening cost of my gym and I am 100% alright with that because I am no longer compelled to posses more things. In my opinion, I have built something that will provide careers and livelihoods for myself and my team for the rest of our lives. The gym will live on after my time on earth is done. I will be remembered within the walls, not a forgotten social media “celebrity”.

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