Monthly Archives: May 2014

Health & Fitness Motivation & Inspiration My Stories

Weight is ONLY a Number. Really.

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Ever wanted to take a sledgehammer to your bathroom scale? I know I have! It’s always seemed like the most ridiculous measurement of “fitness” or “beauty” in my opinion.  I’ve never fit the mold when it comes to weight. Not even close. Let me just warn you that this post is my most revealing, TMI, embarrassing, shame-filled, humiliating post EVER.  Why? Because for the first time in my life I reveal my true weight, a number I’ve never been able to come to terms with regardless of what that number was, it’s never made any sense to me.  So what you’re about to read is stuff I’ve never told my closest friends… until now.

I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life, ever since my dad told me I was getting “chubby” at the age of nine.  My mother followed it up with “you shouldn’t ever cut your hair, because you want people to focus on it rather than your face.” She constantly told me I was just covered in “baby fat” and that eventually it would magically disappear. It never did. So at the age of sixteen I was hospitalized with bulimia and spent most of my high school years either puking or starving myself (like most teen girls I’m guessing). It was my normal.  Even in my early twenties when I was on Atkins like the rest of the country, and dropped about twenty pounds, I was still a size 8-10, and weighed 149 lbs (my lowest adult weight). I ran five miles a day, lifted weights at the gym, eat the strictest diet imaginable, yet still could not get the scale to drop below the dreaded 149 lbs. When I got married I was a “thin” at a size 8, and for the first time felt really good about myself, though I still thought I was fat.

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Age 24, my “skinny” years a size 8-10 weighing 155

But then when I got pregnant with my son and gained the recommend 35 lbs, I was shocked to discover that even though I was nursing him, I had basically not dropped a pound after having him, and this kid arrived weighing almost 9 lbs! I left the hospital in the maturity pants I’d worn in and they were tighter when I left then when I got there. That was the beginning of the destructive hate-based relationship I had with my body for years after. No mater what I did that 35 lbs I’d gained during pregnancy refused to budge. So when I was pregnant with our second child I was starting from that new base weight, and when I lost that baby at 20 weeks, I again couldn’t  lose the weight before getting pregnant with my twins.

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9 months pregnant with my twins, weighing 229

Which brings me to the mear 28 lbs I gained with my twins.  Each child weighed in at six lbs each, and I’d made it to full-term (which never happens with twins). My stomach was so large that I couldn’t drive my car the last month, I couldn’t get behind the wheel. I was a whale, yet had only put on 28 lbs. My doctor assured me that the babies had basically eaten all my fat, and when I had them I’d be magically skinny, since I’d gained so little.  But alas when I went in to have them I weighed 229 lbs. One year later I weighed 225, wearing a size 14-16. Nothing I tried made the scale even consider budging. I tried Weight Watchers, trainers, kick boxing, every infomercial product on the market, even thought about liposuction side effects and that great result I could get if I tried it.

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11 days after the twins were born, weighing 225 (only a 4 lb loss from having them…like WHAT??!)

Until my husband left. Then I didn’t eat for four months, and for the first time in my life 40 lbs melted away. I was 185 and delighted to be wearing a size 12, and feeling like a million bucks. Yet, I’d never heard of a size 12 weighing 185 lbs, and actually looking fit. I’d exercised regularly my entire life, and I felt fit, and for the first time ever started to feel beautiful. I began changing my mindset and killed the negative voices that were always trying to depress the shit out of me, and began telling myself little white lies, until I began to believe them and find confidence and even start feeling sexy.

Sarah Centrella 2009
Feeling great at 185, size 12.. training for the marathon in 2010

Then in 2011 I started working with a trainer, who against my wishes had me lifting massive weights. I told him I was already denser and more muscular than most girls and that if he wasn’t careful I’d get bigger, not smaller.  He assured me I was wrong, and three months later after busting my ass and eating clean I’d gained fifteen pounds.  I’d gone from 185 to just under 200 pounds when my goal had been to lose.  He scratched his head, he just couldn’t understand it.  Needless to say when I moved to Seattle shortly after I basically gave up.   It was the first time I’d ever actually put on weight without a pregnancy and I was beyond depressed.

So at the beginning of this year I found myself at a shocking place… on a scale at my doctors office weighing 209. Yet I was STILL a size 12, sometimes 14.. but for the most part that 24 lbs hadn’t required me to buy new clothes. Like how is this possible? I talked to my doctor, she was baffled. I hired a new trainer, he scratched his head. I talked to my friends, they didn’t believe me.. “no way are you 200 lbs!” ohhhh but I was! I starved myself, eating 500-700 calories a day for months on end while working out, I eat small healthy meals, I tried Advocare, and diet pills. The number didn’t budge by a single pound. “It’s impossible” everyone said.  Yet it’s true. It’s my reality. No idea if I’m alone in this or not, but it’s what I’ve been dealing with my whole life.

Sarah Centrella 2013
January of 2014.. 209 lbs size 12-14… feeling like a size 22.

When 2014 started I wrote my resolutions like I always do, and I put that this would be the year I started training for the Portland Marathon again, and this time I vowed to run it.  I wanted to do it for three reasons:

1. Because I trained before but didn’t actually run it.  Therefore anytime I told my son to finish what he starts, he promptly reminded me I never ran the marathon.

2. Because I’m a chick on a mission to prove anything is possible for anyone.  And since I’m NOT a runner I figured who better to prove my teaching method Hustle.Believe.Receive. works with any dream.

3. Because I’ve had a “26.2” sticker on my vision board for 6 years and I desperately want to put it on my car!

I did NOT chose to run the marathon to lose weight. Believe me when I say that would not have remotely provided the motivation needed to torture my body in this way.  So since March 22, 2014 I’ve been running with Portland Fit, doing a piss-pour job of training. But I do it. I show up and I do it, documenting my weekly progress in my blog series Marathon Life.  And I’ve kept my routine of 3-5 Barre3 workout classes a week (the only group exercise I’ve ever totally fallen in love with), and I started doing it all with a waist trainer.

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My bathroom progress selfie for Marathon Life Series: Left Week 7, right this morning week 11. Zero lbs lost between the two photos…. yeah weight is ONLY A NUMBER ON A SCALE.

And today 3 notable things happened.

      1. I took my weekly bathroom progress selfie and had to examine it for a few minutes before I realized for the first time that I could really see results. Not only that for the first time in almost three years I was back feeling like my old self again. Energy, confidence, happy, sexy. I felt like I’d easily lost 20 lbs.
      2. I was back at the doctors today standing on the scale, and after killing myself for the past 11 weeks, running like a maniac and killing myself in Barre3, and eating right…. I weighed in at 202. Yep that’s right… all this work, and I’ve ONLY  lost 5 lbs!!  A normal person would have easily lost 15-20. And yes I’m still a size 12.
      3. I immediately began to downward spiral! Thank God for my girlfriends.
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part 1 of 2

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So let me recap here… Since March I have been torturing my body, putting my physical and mental through hell, working out five days a week and pushing past every barrier I have (look for Marathon Life tags). I’ve been eating healthy, drinking water… doing everything I’m supposed to do, and I’ve only lost five pounds.  Do you see why I’m not doing it to lose weight?  Losing weight is not something my body does. If that had been my motivation I’d of quit today for sure.  Because let’s be honest, why would I do all this when I can eat whatever I want and not exercise and not really put on weight? It makes no sense.  I was a size 12 when I weighed 160 (my “standard” weight/size in my 20’s), a 12 when I was 185 fit and feeling great, and today am a 12 at 209. So if that’s not proof that weight is NOTHING more than a number on a scale, I don’t know what is. I’ve felt beautiful, “skinny” and sexy as a 12, and I’ve felt like I was a beached whale in a 12.

But this is the reason I am FINALLY convinced that weight is ONLY A NUMBER ON A SCALE….. (be sure to read the caption below)

post baby body weightloss
This mornings bathroom progress selfie I weigh 202…. compared to 2007 when I was 9 months prego with twins and I weighted 229. A difference on the scale of ONLY 27 lbs! ….. yeah weight is ONLY a number on the scale.

Note: my size 12’s are a little big on me now, and my XL shirts are way to big, yet I weight 20 lbs more than when these clothes fit me…. go figure.

So I’ve decided to never look at another scale for as long as I live. It’s a pointless battle, that has gotten me exactly nowhere in the 38 years of my life.  The only indicator to me of how I look, is how I feel. If I feel energized, happy, beautiful and sexy than who the hell cares what the scale says? I’ve never in my life had a guy say; “get on a scale, I want to see the number before we can date.”   And if I ever do meet a dbag like that, you better believe I”m gonna laugh out loud and tell him to go kick rocks! No, people are attracted to you by your presence. Not the number on your bathroom scale. They believe you if you present yourself as beautiful and confident, they don’t question it.  And every now and then when I run into a dbag who is into skinny chicks, I let him know that he’s barking up the wrong tree… that will never be me. I finally love my body just the way it is. I’d love a tummy tuck to remove the skin from twins, (please god let a very generous plastic surgeon be reading this right now) but hey, that will come some day. Until then the work I put in I can feel and see and that is good enough for me.

So if you have struggled with loving your body the way I have, do me a favor and take a sledge-hammer to your scale. Vow to never get on it again. Know your body, know when it doesn’t feel great, and then do the work it takes to make it feel that way. Know a size that works for you and when your there, do what you need to do to stay fit and healthy and feeling good in that size. Because the scale is an evil bitch and it’s only purpose is to enable people to judge you and for you to judge yourself. Be kind to yourself, and your body and start loving all it does for you instead of tearing it down for what it doesn’t.  How sad is it that shame, humiliation, embarrassment and mortification have to be attached to this number? I say who cares what the number is, it’s irrelevant if you are living a healthy lifestyle and feel good about your body.

Here’s to beauty at any age and at any size.  Dare to love the skin you’re in.

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Finally able to love and accept my body the way it is… May 2014
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Love the skin you are in. Thanks Dove.

 Facebook Feedback: Join the conversation… what do you think? Is weight just a number? Leave your comments below and let me know…

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Want to work with me? Learn more about my coaching and schedule a free 15 min consultation to learn how you can live your dreams!

 

Health & Fitness Motivation & Inspiration

Marathon Life: Week 10.

Yesterday marked the 10th week of my marathon training with Portland Fit for the Portland Marathon. My mission? To run 11 grueling miles. This time it wasn’t grueling because of the vast rolling hills, crazy flights of stairs or weaving in and out of traffic… it was painful because it was the opposite. Flat, boring and never-ending. My fifteen minute pit-stop three miles in at the park restroom proved two things: 1. I should never eat spicy Thai the night before a run, and 2. I was never going to catch up with my group again. So I trudged along the next 8 miles by myself, no pace-setter, no group to aspire to run with. And let me tell you there was more than one time when I considered turning around and going home to my cozy bed, since there was no one watching, but I’m proud to say I didn’t. I forged on alone for the entire 11.

To keep me occupied I took pictures of anything remotely interesting along the way…and tweeted my misery and epiphanies, and inner dialog into the unknown. Yes I take selfies while I run, and tweet, and sometimes send bitchy “FML” texts to my besties. Don’t judge me, when your out running 11 miles by yourself see if you don’t go a little crazy! So be sure to follow my progress, journey, thoughts and ramblings live on Twitter Saturday mornings from 6:00 am -God knows whenever I finish. I’m sure it will at least entertain you.

Here is my photo diary of yesterdays run….you’re welcome.

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The dreaded “Spring water trail” not sure why I hate it so much, it follows the river with a view of the city, it’s only for runners and bikers and the entire thing is flat…. and it goes on FOREVER!

 

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This is the most interesting thing along the trail… a bird shelter thing.. with paintings if giant birds…

 

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Really, really wanting to turn around at this point….

 

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…but I decided to start tweeting up a storm instead…

 

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OK I have to admit… this was a nice view of downtown Portland…

 

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It’s called “Bridge City” for a reason…
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Portland lonely, only “sky scraper” tops out at 36 floors.
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who knew Portland had it’s own version of the “lover’s bridge” in London… not me!

 

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And then I got tired of looking at bridges…
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so I started texting… or bitchin.. depending on how you look at it…
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Finally crossing my “home stretch” bridge, while being tweeted by Portland Fit, and nearly trampled by the “fast group” who’d started their run a good 40 minutes after me… (while taking a selfie, that turned out too horrid to post.. I blame the “fast group” for that unfortunate epic fail..they stressed me out)…
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Highlight of my run… watching the fast group take a water brake after passing me (I had no idea they took breaks…why didn’t anyone ever tell me this was allowed!?)… oh yeah..the highlight was passing them… the low light was them sailing past me 30 seconds later…
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lovely, encouraging tweet from Portland Fit, which totally derailed any hope I had of quitting, stopping at the Saturday market for breakfast, or running up the street to Starbucks and waiting till everyone was gone to return to my car…After all they were assuming I could finish this thing… dammit
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I promise you if I’d of run with my debit card I totally woulda stopped for a slice… best believe!
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…That’s all I need… an angry Goose dad attacking me…

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well….it’s not pancakes but I couldn’t wait long enough to drive to a breakfast place, and there was no way I could wait for my order once I got there!

 

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Sooooo…. This week marked another milestone. The first time I’ve put on, or taken a picture of myself in a 2 piece swimsuit. Yeah…not saying it’s a good look or anything, but I’m documenting my progress for this Marathon Life blog series and that was this weeks progress. The interesting thing (insane thing) about this picture is it’s probably the first time anyone but my kids have seen my stomach in years! I’ve hidden it at all costs sense having my twins (yet I just put it on the internet like a total lunatic..smh).  When I was pregnant with my twins I could not reach my arms around my belly to touch each other, I could not fit behind a steering wheel to drive my car the last six weeks of my pregnancy.  My abs are torn and separated by more than three inches, something only surgery can repair… so please understand that this picture is painful for me to post.  But I want to inspire someone out there that anything really is possible. That if you set your mind to do something and apply Hustle.Believe.Receive. you really can live out any dream you have for yourself.

Two months ago AOL and about 1/2 million people on the internet thought it was pretty hilarious to call me a “fat disgusting pig”. To send me death threats and say things like “miss piggy should die, no wonder why she can’t get a date.” And on and on…. It’s intense when your thrown into something like that, especially when you did it from a good happy place, you don’t think people are capability of that type of animal cruelty. But they are, and the only choice I had, was to shake it off, and move forward towards my dream. I want to be clear that I registered for this marathon training and planned to run this marathon this year, for YEARS. It is absolutely NOT a result of those ignorant comments or the reaction to my weight from the Steve Harvey show. I am a size 12. I was a 12/14 when I did the show, I’ve not lost more than maybe 10 lbs during this training, and if I don’t lose any more I’m fine with that. I’ve learned to love the skin I’m in. To appreciate the health that God has blessed me with and to take care of my body in a healthy way. For all of you women (and men) out there who don’t think that you are beautiful, or good enough just as you are, please knock it off! Please look in the mirror and thank God for the health he has given you, and then if you want to change anything about yourself… go change it. If you want a different life… go get it.

Anything is possible. I am your proof.

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Marathon training week 10. First time I’ve put on a 2 piece swimsuit in 15 years.

Author Bio:
Sarah Centrella is a Life Coach for professional athletes, and anyone with a dream. She is also an author and motivational speaker. Follow her on Twitter for motivation and inspiration, be sure to Subscribe for my newsletter and info on free coaching classes.

Motivation & Inspiration My Stories Single Mom Life

Million Dollar Arm… Magnificent!

I took the kids to see Disney’s Million Dollar Arm Today…. WOW! I don’t think I’ve ever left a theater where both myself and my three kids (twin girls 6 and my son is 11) have all LOVED the movie! Like EVER! My daughter held my hand all the way through and asked me to read her the translations, and Kanen did the same for Izzy on the other side of me… they were all spellbound the entire film.  And yes we each wiped away tears at it’s inspiring ending.

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But the best part was when we left the theater my six year old asks me “When can we go to India?” I couldn’t help but smile because world travel has been the reason for all of my hustle, it’s my one HUGE life dream the ultimate dream, to travel the world and take my children to places like India. I’ve wanted to go for years, and I know I have a ton of readers and followers of my blog who are from India (I think about 1/3 of my readers are from India). I have always felt a special pull to visit and the movie took me there, and simultaneously reaffirmed my “crazy” decision this week to leave my safe corporate job and follow my own personal dream. It showed me again that anything is possible, and that with Hustle.Believe.Receive. you really can achieve the “impossible”. It’s a message I teach my children and live daily, even on the scary days like this week when you question everything.

But when you hold a dream, a vision for your life so clearly, and KNOW beyond any doubt that it’s the calling and purpose for your life…you must answer the call and give it everything you have.  Anything less, and you’ll never know if you could really be successful or not, it’s that simple.  So this week I made the most monumental decision of my life, leaving behind the known, for the unknown. Risking everything to following my passion. I know without a doubt that I will live my dream and that alone gives me peace and confidence walking into the next phase of my journey. As I made the decision I watched Oprah’s Life Class with Joel Osteen on “Dream Big” and cried the entire show, it’s as if the show was made for me. It was that last little bit of encouragement I needed to take that giant leap of faith.

This movie not only spoke to me, and uplifted me in this major transitional time, it spoke to my young children. It gave them the “big picture” of what our dream is as well, and why sometimes you need to risk everything to pursue your destiny. It’s hard to explain the big picture to children sometimes, but this spoke to them. They got it. They asked me so many questions on the ride home, about our dream and about working hard and believing in it, and they had such excitement and joy as we go into our unknown. I’m so grateful for that.

This movie was hands down the best film I’ve seen in years! I can’t wait to one day see our story on the big screen and pray it also inspires people all over the world to live their dream.

MILLION DOLLAR ARM

Feedback:

Direct tweet from official account of the movie, and the real life Ash !
Direct tweet from official account of the movie, and the real life Ash !

 

Retweet from the producer...
Retweet from the producer…
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Re: this post…
Re: being interviewed for my new book Hustle.Believe.Receive :)
Re: being interviewed for my new book Hustle.Believe.Receive 🙂
Re: this post
President of OWN TV/HARPO  aka Oprah’s right hand…. Re: this post

Author Bio:
Sarah Centrella is a Success Coach for professional athletes, the Reality TV show REVERSED, and anyone with a dream. She is also an author an motivational speaker. Follow her on Twitter for motivation and inspiration, and sign up to be a Member of her blog for free coaching classes.

Health & Fitness

Marathon Life. Week 9.

It’s Saturday so that means I’m icing my knees after another grueling training run with Portland Fit. Today I ran ten (10) miles through neighborhoods, up crazy vertical hills, along a highway, through a forest up a hillside of stairs and along the river… then did it all again on the way back.

After an hour of icing, red and bruised.
After an hour of icing, red and bruised.
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up the hillside of stairs…
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Down another hillside of stairs… the “down” is the reason for the red knees 🙁
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Up the steepest longest vertical hill EVER!
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Limping down said hill… 🙁
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Never been more excited by sidewalk chalk in my life!

It’s crazy how I equally dread and get excited about these Saturday marathon training runs. I never thought I’d get excited that’s for sure. But the feeling of completing the run is like nothing else, for real. I think I’m most addicted to the feeling of accomplishment and triumph over my mind, that it takes to get it done. Today I ran it at a 14 minute mile pace which I’m overjoyed by, finishing in 2 hours and 18 minutes, I guess that means I could finish the Portland Marathon in under 8 hours! Wooohooo!

I’m doing this for two reasons:

#1. I’ve had it on my Bucket List for years that I wanted to run a marathon by the time I’m 40 (I’ll be 39 next month).

#2. To prove to my son that Hustle.Believe.Receive applies to anything in life, and with it anything is possible.

The kinda awesome side effect is that I’ve lost about 15 lbs, and am finally getting in the kind of shape I haven’t been in since I was 22. It’s about time! Better late than never.

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This week I started with the pack, and despite not walking more than maybe 2% of the course I still wound up near that back (though not as far behind) and found myself without a pace setter.  It’s funny though, this week my own motivation and determination and personal goals were enough to keep me going when I would have walked before. I set out with the goal to run all the parts I’ve walked before, and finished with it accomplished. I love how tangible running is, it’s an immediate visual and actual connection with what we think and its following action.  It’s a great exercise in controlling your mind, and for that alone I needed this experience. I needed to be reminded of all the things I believe in and practice it more diligently than ever before. Mission accomplished.

I can’t wait ’till October and race day, can’t even imagine what that’s going to be like, but I know I can do it.

 

Health & Fitness

Marathon Life: Week 8

So Saturday I ran nine (9) miles. Yes…. me, this girl, ran nine miles! I can’t completely explain how, but it happened, I can promise you that!

And the crazy thing is I actually ran better and stopped less this time around (might have had something to do with the fact it was flat instead of hills, but hey!).  I had done one training run in the middle of the week, a two-mile loop around Nike Headquarters by my house, and four Barre3 classes, so maybe that’s what made it better this time around. All I know is that I had one thought in my head the last three miles… “give me pancakes!” I literally ran those miles just because it was the fastest way back to my car and to get pancakes!

Three house later after I’d had my delicious breakfast, iced my knees and taken a quick nap, I went outside and proceeded to try to run to my car to avoid the pouring rain… my legs did not move. It was one of those moments you have in a dream where you open your mouth but no sound comes out… yeah exactly like that. My mind was like “it’s pouring rain let’s go!” And my legs were like “fuck you bitch.” So yeah…

I have to say though overall I’m feeling better than I’ve felt in years. I have more energy (aside from Saturdays) and feel fit, or fitter. I can’t wait for October.. OK well maybe I can.

 

My midweek lap around Nike
My midweek lap around Nike

 

Halfway through my 9 mile run over Sellwood Bridge.
Halfway through my 9 mile run over Sellwood Bridge.

 

The home stretch, over Hawthorn Bridge in downtown Portland.. Pancakes.
The home stretch, over Hawthorn Bridge in downtown Portland.. Pancakes.

 

 

*This is my 8th week of training with Portland Fit for the Portland Marathon.

 

Health & Fitness Sports

Marathon Life. Week 6 and 7.

Week before last was week six of my Portland Marathon training, but this was me that Friday night… I might have been a little distracted by the NBA Playoffs.

Wizards Vs. Bulls game with my girls in DC

So yeah.. let’s just say I didn’t show up for my Portland Fit training run on Saturday morning as planned. But I did rally and run four of the seven miles I was supposed to on the treadmill the next day.

PROOF!
But first let me take a cheesy selfie! Week 7 marathon training.. body finally starting to show progress

But as you can imagine that did not really prepare me for my eight mile run yesterday; four up a winding hill and four down. And I remember promising myself to do my mid-week runs in preparation for the big Saturday morning runs, but alas I went to Barre3 four days this week instead. So when I hit the road with a hundred other runners yesterday, I cursed my legs for the first two miles. It literately felt like they were not moving! I couldn’t catch my breath to save my life, and quickly dropped to the back of the pack (which is not all bad, less pressure if you think about it). I was struggling, no way around it.

Started our run with a hillside of stairs…really?

But after about two miles, I found my pace setter.  She was about three feet ahead of me and I swear I road her tailwind all the way up that hill. Every time I wanted to quit I had to stop myself because I knew going this alone just wasn’t gonna happen today. I needed a mentor.  And before I knew it I was at the top of the hill, the spot we’d turned around at on our last run, and the rest of the way was down hill.

That got me thinking. In life, like in running, we need mentors. We need to have someone to follow to give us motivation, we see them doing it so we talk ourselves into believing we can do it to, and we actually do it. It’s such a tangible example of how powerful our mind is. If we tell it we can do it, our legs will keep moving and we WILL do it, the reverse is even more true. And every time I’m out there running thinking I must certainly be the very last one of the group, I look behind me and to my surprise I’m not. Someone else is running with their eyes on my feet, as motivation to keep going. That’s why it’s so important to be a living example of what you believe in. You never know who’s watching you, who’s looking to you for inspiration and motivation.  And when you share what you know that’s when its full power comes into your life and you begin manifesting even faster. So be a light to someone else. Share what you know and don’t be afraid to live your truth every day.

There will come a day when I will be so grateful to ONLY have to run eight miles… Just not today.

#PreparationIsClutch #smh
At least I’m registered this time!! Portland Marathon

 

Hustle.Believe.Receive. Motivation & Inspiration Sports Your Life Coach

Jonathan Stewart: Inside the Mind of an Athlete

Jonathan Stewart, giving God the Glory.

*This interview and story is featured in my book Hustle Believe Receive 

 

This is the 4th interview and story in my 5 part series “Inside the Mind of an Athlete.” A series designed to inspire and motivate you to live your dream. Each with a different focus meant to provide you with tools and real life examples that these tools really do work. It’s possible for anyone, for you, to take what you’ve learned in this series and change your life.  All the tools to success using the #HBRMethod have been demonstrated in this series, and if applied can bring you the life you desire and deserve to live.

This weeks focus is on what happens when you’ve achieved your Ultimate Dream; living it, day in and day out. It seems counter-intuitive on the surface to chose this topic for an interview, yet it’s such a critical part of achieving success.  If you’ve worked most of your life chasing your dream that requires one mindset, but actually living it is a whole different thing. It takes a strong mind to keep your footing and not get caught up in the pitfalls of success. It also takes aware intention so you don’t become complacent and stagnate when you’ve reached your goal. This story will prepare you for when your dream comes true, so that you can handle it with grace.

Meet Jonathan Stewart, star running back for the Carolina Panthers. Jonathan was my “wild card” in this series, the only one out of the five players I profiled whom I did not know personally. But when I came up with this idea initially, he was the only player I wanted for the “NFL veteran” piece.  I just knew he’d be perfect. I’ve known of Jonathan for several years, as we have many common friends and have followed him on social media, so I knew his reputation for being a upstanding positive guy and devout Christian was exactly what I wanted this piece to be about. I even wrote out the interview questions specifically for him over a month ago, yet had no idea how I was going to make it happen. But I was determined, trying to get the story idea in front of him, hoping he’d see it somehow.  A week ago he commented on a post about Kenjon Barner’s story, saying that he’d be happy to share his story as well. When he called yesterday I was so glad I’d taken the time weeks ago to prepare for this interview and was ready on the spot!  For me it was a great manifestation of everything I teach; gotta put the work in (Hustle), believe it will happen (Believe) and be ready when it does (Receive).

Jonathan, like the other athletes in this series played football at Oregon, entering the NFL draft his junior year. He was selected as the 13th overall pick in the 2008 draft by the Panthers, and is entering his 7th season with the team.  I asked Jonathan, to tell me his story and what football meant to him growing up.

“I was always the little kid growing up, out there playing catch with my older brother and his friends getting teased for being the little guy.” He laughs a little. Jonathan’s parents divorced when he was in fourth grade, and his mom began dating a man named James Parker. “He really fell into that father figure role in my life. He’d come to our apartment complex and we’d go to the field across the street, and he’d be out there throwing the ball with me for hours. He’d leave work early, or drop whatever he was doing to come teach me the game of football and spend that time with me. He introduced me to flag football my fifth grade year, and always encouraged me, never pushed or forced, just encouraged. So football came with a sense of comfort and a connection with someone who really cared about me, it came from a place of love.”

In 7th grade Jonathan began playing select league tackle football and started to notice two things: 1. He was always the smallest kid on the team and 2. He was starting to love it, and he was pretty good at it. In high school Jonathan racked up the most yards of anyone on the varsity team as a non-starting freshman, and then the “high school hype” started. “My mom raised me in church and that’s always been really important to me. I was blessed to see that at a very young age and always put God first in everything I do. So in high school I just wanted to play football, honor God and focus on school. I felt like football was my tool to honor God. Everything I did was for that end, and to make sure I was living up to that potential.”

In 2008 when Jonathan was drafted, he signed a deal with the Panthers for $14 million, and resigned with them in 2012 for a reported $35.5 million on a five year contract. Knowing what I do about money and athletes, and seeing first hand how it destroys perfectly good people, I needed to know how Jonathan’s been able to keep his head about him after seven seasons in the league.  Especially with the distraction that type of money can bring. Many players unravel when they reach this level of success. They lose a grasp on reality and are not able to think past it. The “be careful what you wish for” factor tends to take affect.

So I had to ask…

Sarah: How have you managed to stay grounded and not complacent in your success?

Jonathan:  The key to staying grounded is to stay yourself. You remember where you came from and you don’t change, you adapt.  You refuse to change for anyone and surround yourself with the people who have always been there for you. If you are true to yourself that is the kind of people you will attract, those are the kind of people who are drawn to me. I think it’s like; if you go to a Country Music concert you’ll see mostly country fans, because that’s whats on the stage, that’s what people are attracted to. So if your heart is true, that’s what is playing on your ‘stage’, and those are the types of people you will attract to yourself.   

You also need to have a good internal radar to know who’s real and who’s fake, to steer clear of the mess. I don’t ever want to be seen as something I’m not. I watch who I interact with because I know you will be judged by the company you keep. You become very aware of that, and the company you keep becomes who you want to be. If you really want to be successful you need to filter what comes at you. 

Sarah: Where does that mental strength come from? 

Jonathan:  Having faith is what’s kept me strong. When your mind, body, and spirit are connected, that’s when it really begins to have it’s full effect on your life. When my body is not where I want it to be, I have to make sure my mind and spirit are top notch, so that I’m inline with where I need to be. I turn to the Word of God, and the Bible to maintain a positive spirit, and remind myself that whatever I’m going through, I will be okay.  Especially when I’m going through struggles, I remind myself that God has been faithful to me through
everything, I’ve made it through them before, I can do it again. And having gratitude no mater what. If something is going wrong I focus
on what God’s given me, and not on my problems. It especially helps when you’re faced with an injury, it’s easy to get down and upset because you’re not out there doing what you need to do.  But I don’t let myself dwell in self-pity. Your mind is such a powerful thing, it’s critical to keep it full of gratitude, because that energy effects everything, including
your physical health and recovery. 
Sarah:  What does it feel like to live your dream?
Jonathan:  To play football was never really my dream.  I always thought it would be great if I could, but I never necessarily made that my goal. In high school I wanted to go to college and football was the way to do that. I always had the mindset that if I do everything within my power that God will open the doors and take me where I should go, so I didn’t worry about the outcome. I have joy. So I’ve always let that guide me. Making sure I keep and live in that joy. That really is my dream at the end of the day; to always have joy and not have to worry about the outcome.My mom was a single mom, raising two boys and I never saw her worry. I know she must have, but she never showed that to me, she had faith that God would provide and he always did.  She never focused on what we didn’t have or tell me we didn’t have money even though I know times were tight, she didn’t focus on that. So I’ve always been the same, not worrying about what will happen just working hard and living in the joy of the moment, and trusting God with the rest. God gives me peace and provides everything I need when I need it, so I just try to glorify him. 
Sarah: What is your dream now? 
Jonathan:  To win the Super Bowl and to make an impact in as big of a way as possible on peoples lives. In whatever way that comes about, I want to fulfill the plan that God has for my life.   I have a passion for making and producing music.  I have a production company, but I make sure the music I produce is not negative or derogatory, especially towards women. I want to uplift people.  My goal is to inspire others, it’s the backbone of my life, to reach a place where I could motivate people to reach their goals and dreams.  I want them to see that they can accomplish something greater than they can even imagine. Football is a platform for me to make an impact on peoples lives and I try to use it to create momentum to effect others in a positive way. 
Sarah: What’s your Hustle?
Jonathan: Never settling.  I have a kids football camp every year, it’s the “Jonathan Stewart Never Settle football camp,” I tell the kids to be extraordinary.  Do extra in everything that
you do. Do that consistently, and when you do over time it becomes who you are. Weather it’s a goal or a dream, seek out people who can help hold you accountable to that goal, find things and ways to push you that extra mile, so it becomes who you are. It’s a lifestyle that you create and attract to yourself.
A quote from Jonathan’s Instagram page.

 

I don’t know about you but Jonathan kinda exceeded my hopes for this piece. I had so many aha moments listening to him talk today. A huge one for me was the concept of living in joy. That stopped me in my tracks. Who lives in joy? I want that. I’ve always thought joy was so fleeting, like being in love… but to hear that it’s also a choice, a conscious decision, and a guiding force of life… that was powerful.
The other major one for me was hearing him talk about his mom.  How she didn’t focus on “lack” and communicating that lack to him or his brother while they were growing up. That hit very close to home for me because growing up poor that’s what I’ve always known. Talking about not having money, and even the last few years as I’ve been able to change my financial situation I still have always talked about it around my kids.  That was life changing right there for me. Realizing I was carrying on a negative pattern from my childhood that had negatively affected me as an adult, and knowing now I can change that pattern for my kids.
Of course I loved Jonathan’s views on gratitude and the critical role it plays in our success and happiness. And a lesson that has come up over and over in this series is surround yourself with the type of people you want to become. I can’t stress this point enough. If you want to be successful seek out successful like minded people.  Realize that the company you keep does define you and don’t be afraid to change up that circle if it’s no longer serving you. I also love that Jonathan’s belief in God is something he turns to for strength and peace, and the way he does that is the same way you can draw on whatever it is you believe in to give you that sense of peace and security. It’s a beautiful thing.
I hope this series has inspired you to go after your dream, whatever it might be. I hope you’ve taken the tools these guys have shared and incorporated them into your life. And I hope the next time you watch a football game you think about these guys a little differently than you did before. They are inspiring to me not because of what they have accomplished on the field, but because of how they have learned to control their mind, harness their motivation, and manifest their dreams. Those are all the same exact skills you can learn to master as well.
I’ll leave you with my favorite quote from Jonathan today…
“Happiness is temporary.  But joy is forever.” -Jonathan Stewart 

 

Follow Jonathan’s journey on Instagram @jonathanstewart1 and on Twitter @jonathanstewart1

READ JONATHAN’S FULL INSPIRING STORY IN MY NEW BOOK #HustleBelieveReceive 

Be sure to read AND SHARE the other stories in this series:
Week #1: Derrick Malone Jr -Current Oregon Linebacker
Week #2: Lavasier Tuinei -NFL Undrafted Free Agent “The Hustle”
Week #3: Kenjon Barner -NFL running back Panthers
Week #4: Jonathan Stewart -NFL running back Panthers (this one)
Week #5: Patrick Johnson -NFL retired Super Bowl Champion
I love this picture of Jonathan and Kenjon… Ducks fly together!

Feedback on this story from Jonathan and his Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
Jonathan’s Facebook post
Comments on his Facebook post of the story
Facebook comments

 

His Instagram Post

 

Instagram comments
Twitter post had over 20 retweets and favorites in the first few hours

 

What do you think of Jonathan’s story? Did it change the way you view football players? What did you learn? Please comment and share.
Author Bio:
Sarah Centrella is a Success Coach for professional athletes, the Reality TV show REVERSED, and anyone with a dream. She is also an author an motivational speaker. Follow her on Twitter for motivation and inspiration, be sure to  Subscribe for my newsletter and info on free coaching classes.
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