About Me

About Me

Linda Bartosik...
First steps of a beginning writer. Follow me on my journey. Read More...

My newest book now available on Amazon!

My newest book now available on Amazon!

Many treasures lie under the sea, but will Alistar find the one that will make ‘The Perfect Birthday Present’ for his mom? Join this adventurous little sea star and his best buddy Barnaby (a blob fish) as they travel through the beautiful deep blue sea, meeting many other creatures of the deep. When the two friends finally stumble upon the perfect present, Alistar needs to make a difficult decision, which only he can make. When he does, the little sea star learns that there are times when it is not the present that is important, but the thought behind it.

My First Cover! Now available on Amazon – Kindle & Hardcover

My First Cover! Now available on Amazon – Kindle & Hardcover

For Linda Crowley, the first day of the year had always been set aside to work on new, positive beginnings and 1970 was no different. Her husband and children were by all accounts healthy and no one even considered the terrible thought that tragedy would strike before the day was over, and life as she had known it was gone.

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My first illustrating project available on Amazon

My first illustrating project available on Amazon

Haley doesn't have a normal pet she has a goat, Ralph. He thinks he's having fun but he's causing untold trouble for Haley. Trouble seems to follow Ralph everywhere he goes only he doesn't know it. Haley's father says Ralph has to be sold!

Stop Talking!

I talk to myself all the time. Every time I begin a new project either at work or at home I am instantly overwhelmed. Then I start talking it through to myself. This helps me separate what is important from the mishmash swirling around in my brain. In this instance talking to myself is helpful and has enabled many projects to move forward.

I have a big life. I do a lot and still have a lot I want to do, but we are only given 24 hours in each day. I want to pack it with as much stuff that interests me as possible. For me, seven of those hours are spent sleeping, so I have 17 more hours to work with and I don’t want to spend a minute of them thinking about things, like sleep, that should automatically happen in my day. There are things like showering, brushing my teeth, exercising, and eating that I refuse to talk to myself about. They are scheduled in my day and they happen automatically so I have time to spend on things I really want to accomplish – things that I need to consult myself on. Even my hair and nail appointments are scheduled for the whole year because I can’t waste time on deciding if I want to call and make an appointment.

There are times when I simply must stop talking – especially when it comes to diet and exercise. My workouts are on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. Yoga is on Monday and Friday. I don’t ask myself if I want to go. I don’t enter into a discussion with myself about whether I feel like it or not. I just go. My food for the week is planned and I don’t ask myself if I really want to eat that, or will eating that make me feel good, or even make me happy. Feelings are whimsical. They come and go and change from hour to hour. I can’t tie diet and exercise to how I feel because that would throw consistency completely out the window. Having discussions with myself about food and exercise takes away from time spent on projects both at home and at work that I really must talk to myself about.

Recognizing when to stop talking to yourself is crucial to accomplishing goals and putting your energy into things you are passionate about, rather than spending time going round and round with yourself about going to the gym. Take the things that need to happen to keep you healthy, put them on your calendar and just do them like you’d do any other appointment you scheduled. When you stop bantering with yourself about things that shouldn’t even be a topic for discussion, you will be amazed at how much time you gain for the other aspects of your life.

So, as another day goes by, it’s important to discern when to stop talking.

Scale Obsession

Let’s face it. We are a society obsessed with numbers. From our credit scores, our ages, to our scale weights, these numbers dictate how we feel about ourselves. Today I must take some time to address scale weight. In my experience as a fit coach, the numbers on the scale either pump people up or discourage them. Most people, when embarking on a weight loss venture, do not understand what the scale is saying about their bodies. They do not know how to use it as a tool and not as a mood predictor. Their whole nutrition/exercise program is focused solely on that daily number on the scale. Many people drop their new program when they see the numbers simply because they are disappointed.

If you have been practicing unhealthy eating and are 30+ pounds overweight, switching to healthy, whole foods is going to trigger a 4 to 5-pound loss in the first week. This simply means your body is getting rid of excess water and toxins. In the second week 2 of those pounds may return because you were dehydrated and your body is seeking its way back to equilibrium, not because you are doing something wrong. All you see is the numbers and your conclusion is the program isn’t working. After all that work in the first two weeks all you lost is 2 pounds. What do you do? Get discouraged and dump the program.

Let’s remember the scale does not track how much you eat or drink. It does not measure how much you exercise. It cannot distinguish that you gained 2 pounds of muscle and lost 4 pounds of fat. Both good things that you don’t realize because the numbers only indicate a 2-pound loss. You lost 4 pounds of the stuff you needed to lose and gained 2 pounds of the stuff you needed to gain. The scale can’t tell you that the 2 pounds of muscle you gained is going to rev up your metabolism and HELP you lose even more weight and gain even more muscle. You do not realize your program is a success if you focus solely on that scale number.

Here is how scale weight works when you are on a long term program that is helping you change your food and exercise lifestyle. (I do not believe in “diets”). This picture shows my own weight loss journey since June.

The solid line is my trend over time. The jagged line is a record of my everyday scale weight. Just look at all those ups and downs. Can you imagine my life if I let those ups and downs dictate my mood every day? It’s evident that even with all those up days, I was still following my program and making progress. It is important to weigh yourself everyday so you can follow your own trend. It is equally important to not fixate on each day’s number. You simply weigh yourself, log it and move on. Of course, on some of the days your weight goes up, you will probably be able to attribute it to something, and sometimes not. On the days you can figure out why you see the uptrend, you are learning about your own particular body. Tracking your weight daily will help you learn about your own unique system and how food and exercise affect it.

Embarking on a healthy lifestyle change REQUIRES you to tune into your body and educate yourself about yourself. Taking progress pics and measurements each month is a great way to examine what is happening to you. Noticing that your clothes fit differently is also a great way to measure your progress. If you have recently began a health and fitness program, please do not fixate on that daily number. Learn to use it as tool that gives you clues and insight as to how your body behaves.

Take a breath. Slow down. Results happen over time, not overnight. Our program here at Koko is 52 weeks long. We start slow and uncomplicated. As a coach, I give you time to explore how your body behaves before we begin making changes to your lifestyle. Once both you and I have a handle on how you live, eat and move, then we can devise a plan that you can live with the rest of your life.

And so, as another day goes by, another number gets logged in, and you are another step closer to your goal – whether the number goes up or down.

The Courage to Bumble

To do anything well you must have the humility to bumble around a bit, to follow your nose, to get lost, to goof. Have the courage to try an undertaking and possibly do it poorly. Unremarkable lives are marked by the fear of not looking capable when trying something new.

Have the courage to bumble.

Epictetus 
 The Art of Living.

I don’t know where the fear of failing when trying a new thing was born from. As a former teacher I witnessed a lot of children stressed out from “not wanting to do it wrong.” I would tell them that if we all could do everything perfectly the first time we tried it, there would be no need to even have schools. It was a constant battle to try to get them to view learning as an adventure. It was only when they became proficient at a skill, and looked back on their first attempts, did it make sense why they were there. Only then did they begin to discover the joy of learning something new and became ready to tackle something else. Gradually “mistakes” became a good thing and were the steps to improvement.

We have to have the courage to “bumble.” I love that expression. “Bumble about” and actually enjoy not getting it right the first, second, or even tenth time. It’s really not about becoming proficient or perfect at something new we are trying. Why? Because when that happens, guess what? It’s time to try something else new. It’s all about the journey, not the destination.

I put away my painting and writing for a number of years because of the fear I felt when faced with a blank canvas or page. Then this summer I came across that quote and decided to begin “bumbling about” with acrylics. I want to do my art/yoga studio over this winter, but I told myself I had to complete one painting first (even if it’s only following a You Tube tutorial.) There was no sense making over a room if I was just going to sit there and look at it, so I did it. I learned to paint a wave. I found a wonderful You Tube teacher and now there are hundreds of other things I want to learn to paint. I want to learn about color, texture and different mediums. I think I am finally willing to “bumble.”

Whether your journey is a creative one, or your beginning a new fitness program, you have to have the “courage to bumble.” Good coaches, teachers, or mentors will applaud your “bumbles” and point out what you learned from them. They will teach you how to turn them into wins.

And so, as another day goes by, consider what it is you want to do. Go out there and try and by all means, “have the courage to bumble.”

Be Strong + Well!

September is back to school month, when learning resumes. I like to think I am always learning and reading about new things, but somehow September gives me renewed interest in exploring new concepts. With Labor Day suddenly upon us, this year is no different.

As a FitCoach, I feel I am supposed to be an example to my clients. I should look “fit” and “strong”. I know that to build muscle and shave body fat I have to lift heavy things and put them down. I know strength is measured by how much weight I can lift now as opposed to a year ago. I know that it is important to do this consistently to keep making progress.

In my head I know all this, but then there are those days that I feel tired and really don’t want to lift heavy things. There are days when my back gives me an issue from doing something stupid like picking up a heavy Adirondack chair and carrying on my chest with my back bent backward.  I know I need to rest my back before weight training for a few days. Then there are the precious days my family is visiting that I do not want to take the time away from them to go lift heavy things. It’s times like these that leave me feeling like I am somehow not meeting my expectations of being “strong” and “fit.”

Today I read a quote that made me stop and think about what it really means to be strong. Measuring strength solely by the number of pounds lifted is a very narrow definition of strength. We are so much more than the number of pounds we lift or the number on the scale. We are people – humans – and there is a lot more to us than numbers. I came across this quote from the book Pressing Reset,Original Strength Reloaded:

That quote summed up the true meaning of strength. I now realize that even though I must lift heavy things, it does not define how strong I am. For me, strength means being able to push my furniture around to clean behind it. It means being able to lift my two-year old grandson out of the crib and safely carry him downstairs. It means being able to clean and organize my whole house, spending the day going up and down three floors. It means a daily bike ride around the neighborhood. It means walking up the beach path and not feel my heart pumping out of my chest (like 6 years ago.) Strength is me out there passionately living my best life.

As we move into the new month of September, take a moment to consider what strength means to you. Please comment below (on Facebook post) and let me know how YOU define strength in your physical life.

Happy September! Be Strong + Well!

Food Sense – Makes Sense!

This week my two-year old grandson was being a picky eater. One day all he wanted was goldfish crackers and peas. The next day he had a plate of meat, potatoes, and broccoli. Broccoli was always a favorite, however on this day he ate two pieces of broccoli and devoured the meat and potatoes. While we may think this is typical for a two-year old, I learned something about food this week that made me think twice.

When we are hungry our body is asking us for fuel. It wants macro nutrients like protein, fruits, veggies, and carbs. If we feed it sugar, caffeine, and white flour in twenty minutes we are hungry and it’s asking for fuel again. It’s like your car needing regular gas and you fuel it with diesel. It can’t run. Neither can our bodies and our bodies will keep asking with “hunger” until we feed it the right kind of fuel it needs to run.

Each of my grandson’s meal choices were made by him listening to his body. A two-year old can’t opt to feed it sugar or white flour when he’s hungry like we can. He intuitively chooses the foods his body needs on any given day and that’s why his choices seem haphazard.

We adults would be smart to take a lesson. At two pm when our stomach is feeling so empty it hurts, our body is not asking for a candy bar and a diet coke. When we feed it these foods, we are hungry again by 3 pm. It is a signal we are not giving our body the right fuel so it keeps asking. We give it a bag of chips next. The carbs might sate us for awhile, but we have added a ton of useless calories. If we gave it protein and fruit in the first place, we’d be good until dinner time and avoid the sugar crash. Our body would be sated and able to power through the afternoon.

And so, as another day goes by, we would be smart to pay attention to what goes “IN the mouth of babes.” Lol! Have a great weekend, everybody!

Goal!

I spent 23 years teaching Kindergarteners to read. When they formed that letter A for the first time, they had no idea it made a sound or could be used to form words. They had no idea how vast the world of reading was. Each day they came in and focused on the one small bit I presented. They had no idea they were learning to read. It took 10 months of focusing on small parts and eventually it all came together and they were reading.

Starting a weight training program is very much like that. Here at Koko we have a Smartraining system that works similar to a beginning reading program. It takes a long time of putting small parts together, and if done in the right way, you get big results. Each workout is built upon the previous ones and is designed to work with the future ones, just like my reading lessons.

Three years ago I set a goal for myself. I was going to follow the Build program right through from the beginning, through the intermediate, and finish with the advanced. Each track takes one year to do. This week I am proud to say I finished the advanced program and reached my three year goal. I couldn’t even chest press 40 lbs in my first year and my strength test capped out at 100 lbs this week. My strength was built slowly, without me even knowing it. Just coming consistently, three times a week for three years and focusing on the small bits each session presented, and here I am just a week before my 66th birthday – strong and able.

A lot of you are just beginning your Smartraining program here at Koko. Just come consistently, follow your program, trust the process and you, too, will make huge gains over time without even knowing it. One day you’ll notice how much stronger you are and how much better your clothes fit.

And so, as another day goes by, it’s a million little things that make up the big things, but you have to trust the process. Have a beautiful weekend!

Va-ca-tion!

Hello again! Koko Linda has been gone for two long weeks. One was a lovely vacation with our adult children and our grandchild, the other was a week spent training new people at another club. I’m happy to be back at work in Centerville resuming my normal schedule.

On my vacation week there was very little time for working out. A two-year old never stops, except for his nap, and at that time I needed one too! I let my daughter and her husband have that few hours on the beach alone, while I sat in the cool house and watched the baby monitor. Time with him was precious since they live in NY and my husband and I weren’t going to give up a minute. Needless to say there wasn’t much time to workout that week or even on the weekends.

In addition to no time to workout, vacation brings with it all the foods and drinks we don’t normally have. There were trips to Seafood Sam’s for that yearly taste of fried fish. There were specialty mixed drinks, and of course, there were endless bottles of wine by the fire at night and spiked sparkling waters for the beach.

I enjoyed every moment of that week and can’t wait until they return on Labor Day weekend. I did not say no to any food I wanted. I totally ate a pint of popcorn shrimp all by myself. I sat and enjoyed the drinks while visiting with our children. I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon naps while monitoring the monitor.

I often hear my members say “Oh no! I have to go on vacation and you know what that means. All I have accomplished will be lost.” Me? I didn’t think that way. My thoughts were “Bring it on! It’s finally here!” It was 10 days out of 365. Those 10-14 vacation days are not enough to hurt you. In fact, it’s why we spend the time the other 355 days following our meal plans and going to the gym 3X a week. When that vacation comes around your body will be ready for it. A few drinks and bad meals are not going to sabotage what you spent a year working on. Remember, it’s not what you do on vacation, it’s what you do every day of the rest of the year that determines your fitness and health.

August is vacation month. If you have a vacation or even a staycation planned, look forward to it. Forget the gym and the meal plan. Focus on the people you’re with. Nap by that pool or on the beach. Rest your mind from everything you do the during the year. Plan a few fancy cocktails. Pick some good restaurants to dine out in a few nights. Approach your vacation without a hint of guilt over food and exercise. Keep in mind vacations and holidays are the reason you live the way you do every other day. Your goal is to be able to keep enjoying vacations and your family well into your golden years.

And so, as another vacation goes by, it’s back to business – until Labor Day! Have a great August!

Feeling Small

Sometimes when I watch the news I feel very small and insignificant. I think to myself, “Besides my small vote, what can I do about these big situations?” It’s overwhelming to think of myself on my tiny speck of Earth in the face of all that adversity. What can I do about anything? And then I saw this:

“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito in the room”

Dalai Lama

Well, that changes things. Whatever I do or say each day in the rooms where I work and live CAN make differences. I don’t need grand gestures. Constant kind words here and there, constant considerate gestures to those around me, and what happens? I become just as effective as that mosquito.

It’s the same with working our food and exercise routines. A healthy fitness journey is not meant to be done with a grand gesture. It’s meant to be as constant as the buzzing of the mosquito. One meal or one workout might not seem like much when the big picture includes 3 workouts a week and 3 healthy meals a day for 52 weeks. But every single little 30 minute workout and each meal make a huge difference in forming the big picture of your healthy lifestyle.

And so, as another day goes by, try applying this to other overwhelming things in your life – be the mosquito.

‘Tis The Season…

It happens twice a year – December and July. ‘Tis the season for the parties, the bad food, the wine and sugary drinks, etc. July is the beginning of the beach season and of course, we need a stocked cooler for an afternoon at the shore. You don’t have to fear this. There are some great choices out there that won’t sabotage your weight loss and workout routine. Handling the food issue is just a matter of making the best choices. Summer is definitely easier than the middle of winter because of the plentiful variety of seasonal vegetables and fruits. When out, and dependent on others for your food, just keep in mind your plate needs a serving of protein, vegetables, and a little carb to keep you full longer. Drinks are another matter.

Of course, we all want to imbibe a little when at the beach or out with friends. Two weeks ago, I found a drink in my local convenience store that I thought was rather unique. I bought a variety pack to try on our weekend beach day. It was something called Crook & Marker. I read the can and found out it was only 60 calories, zero sugar, made with organic alcohol, quinoa and was also gluten free. It was called spiked and sparkling and the flavors looked yummy. This seemed too good to be true, but it was. I took a couple cans to the beach for the afternoon and it was truly delightful. The flavors were bold and fruity. Last year I tried something called White Claw, another sparkling seltzer, but the flavor was thin and I quickly grew board with the first can. This Crook & Marker was hands down a hundred times better in the flavor department.

Since that beach day, I tried it at home in an ice-filled wine glass and it did the trick. I was able to enjoy a drink on the patio and not feel I was sabotaging everything I worked for all week.

And so, as another day goes by, let’s raise a glass to summer finally arriving on Cape Cod and fill it with a healthier, more sensible choice.

(If you know of any other drinks that fit this category, please comment on the Facebook page so we can all benefit!)

Celebrate the Struggle

What? I don’t know about you, but I go through my days trying to avoid the struggles in my work and personal life. My workout life is where I learn to deal with most of my struggles, and today was no different. Sunday my little toe met a couch it didn’t like. We recently got a new sofa and the old one is sitting in the kitchen in a usual traffic path awaiting donation. This little toe has made my week difficult. I can’t put a shoe on my left foot, so how was I supposed to workout? I can’t stand the thought of missing workouts because of a toe – there’s nothing wrong with the rest of me – so I had to figure it out. Well, running wasn’t feasible, so the elliptical with flip flops it is. Weight training with a flip flop was okay because it’s relatively stationary work. Anyway, I made it through and by Sunday I should be able to wear shoes for the next workout. Wearing one shoe and one slipper sock all week at work was a bit inconvenient, too, but I made it work.

Isn’t that how we are supposed to approach all our struggles? Accept that it’s not the best situation, but if we persist, we can usually make it work. My two groups of 6 week challengers here at the club are in their 2nd and 4th weeks. The challenge of taking on a new food and workout program is overwhelming. Changing your schedule to get to those 3 workouts a week, revamping your food shopping routine, preparing your meals for a whole week, etc. is a struggle. My challengers who have completed their programs and achieved great results are also challenged by keeping up their fitness routines. Missed workouts, sickness, injury, and bad food slip ups are what makes the challenge a challenge. Living a healthier lifestyle involves change. Change is never easy because we struggle with giving up what we are used to doing. It causes us to leave our comfort zones.

Leaving our comfort zones and taking that leap into the great unknown is one of the biggest life struggles there is – it is also one of the best parts of life. Don’t miss it. Don’t be held back by hanging onto the familiar. It’s hard? You hit a roadblock? Persist. Don’t give up. You WILL figure it out. I guarantee that when you do, you will marvel at the strength you had that you never knew you possessed and you will find yourself celebrating that struggle.

And so, as another day goes by, let’s approach our current struggles by remembering – “It seems impossible until it’s done.” (Nelson Mandella)