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If I wrote my web site address on my face mask, everywhere I go could be a tax deduction.

I’m searching for most popular words in 2020 and I can’t find any websites that include: “Covid 19” or “Social Distancing” or, my favorite of them all “Stay Safe.” Expressions that some of us literally never want to hear again.

What I did get was “Straight Fire” which is something you’d say instead of you’re the bomb. And “Cringy,” which is exactly what it sounds like. And “Mewd,” which is kind of a fun play on the same word, different spelling: “mood.” And finally “Cancelled,” which is something you’d pronounce when a person or organization acts senselessly or thoughtlessly. That these organizations continue to exist is irrelevant. As in: Fry’s Grocery store doesn’t offer hand wipes or sanitizer at the checkout so they’ve been Cancelled. I can tell you it’s a word I’ve used often when making medical appointments since I’ve yet to find a doctor office front desk staff with better human relation skills than a honey badger.

Anyway, I’m looking for some sort of positive to come from the government mandated unemployment and social isolation over the last six months. I know it’s hiding under the approximately $3 trillion debt we’ve incurred that child abuse prevention organizations, or US Veteran affairs, or anti-sex-trafficking groups could have used to entirely change the face of the planet for all time.

And I came up with this awesome idea to Sharpie my web site address on my face mask as a way to  contribute to the solution to the problem of spreading disease. What I’m gambling on is my blog doing the greater good. I’m not totally against face masks. They have their place on some occasions. But they are not the solution to the problem of spreading disease. They are the Paedocypris compared to the blue whale of lifestyle choices. They are the The Lottery of 21st Century traditions.

It is not my intent to chastise mask-wearers, or mask-wearing. It is my intent to say, can we just not make safety about social isolation -whether behind a mask or 6-feet apart or shut in? It is my intent to implore you to make your safety and protection about the miraculous abilities your body was created to do from the day you were conceived. Getting outside. Breathing fresh air. Eating fruits and vegetables as your primary source of calories. Exercising. Socializing. To name a few. These are your safety and protection! Your body was created to stay alive and fight disease (including a Corona Virus) provided you give it the proper nutrition and movement and human connection.

Knowledge is Power

Knowledge is power

I’ve been journaling since I was 13-years old. That’s about 32  years’ worth of journal-writing that says almost nothing. I’m not judging really. I’m just saying. They really say nothing.

I’m listening to a book by Jim Kwik, the memory guru, called Limitless. It’s about memory and being smarter, with personal growth tips that can’t be ignored if we want to excel in anything from recalling names to memorizing 18-minute TED speeches. Jim Kwik says I can learn to read at least a book a week AND remember what it said. And only recently has that sounded intriguing.

For a while I quit reading and journaling because I said I “didn’t want to be in my head.” It was too hard to know stuff and not be able to apply it. So, it just sat there. Nowhere to go. I’m talking for years I checked out. My learning and writing was very limited. Those were the squandered years, I call them. Not to be too self-deprecating, because I did the best I could. But they were years, I’d say, God did not use me.

You know the story self-help experts tell about a stone-cutter chipping away with tiny taps of the mallet, and then upon one small strike, the stone finally breaks? That’s the story Jim Kwik related to me today in Chapter 6. And just in time! Because I’m earning a Master’s degree, and it is my supreme desire to be really, really smart at something. And not just smart, but powerful. Knowledge, he says is not power. The application of knowledge to make positive changes in the world is powerful.

I’m back to writing, and writing nonsense, and writing stories, and writing dreams, and building word pictures as much and as many as I can. I jot notes in my phone, in documents, on notepads, on sticky pads on my bathroom mirror. Every page of a book… Every journal article… Every musing… Even the squandered years… A tap on the stone and all of it matters. All of it is indeed not just swirling in a dead-end brain, but it’s going somewhere.

If I have faith in anything, it is the faith that God has some purpose for me. A purpose that is all mine. And although there are some very dark days when I believe nothing I did will be of any use, I always end up returning to this crucial conviction. All of it matters. Learn. Do. Experience. Fail. Succeed. Ponder. Imagine. None of it is nothing.

Anchors Away!

Since coming out, I’ve had some great thyroid, and state-of-the-medical-system, and healthy-living conversations. I love hearing other people’s health success stories.

Some friends loaned me a book, called Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans, I think should be required reading for every high school and college student (or every 55-year-old looking to make a pivot). Seriously, no one should leave their teen years, or enter a career without spending reflective time with the exercises in those pages.

The other day, the authors talked to me about the difference between a gravity problem and an anchor problem.

A gravity problem is an in-actionable problem, like gravity. It’s an obstacle you cannot move that’s in the way of achieving your goal.

An anchor problem is one that just holds you in place. It’s an obstacle that is holding you back from something you want to achieve, but it is not all-together immovable.

I think too many people think their medical issues are gravity problems when they are really just anchor problems. I think too many people have been told by media and the medical profession that their health issues are incurable (i.e. a gravity problem), when in fact with lifestyle changes they can most certainly affect their health for better (i.e. an anchor problem.)

Someone told me today her friend who has a thyroid thing was told by her doctor there is nothing that can be done to change her situation. I’m not sure the details, but I think my friend’s friend needs another doctor. I was told the same thing. In my mind, until I am completely 100% sold that this lump on my thyroid is a gravity problem, it is an anchor problem.

Anchor problems don’t mean you don’t make compromises. In fact, that’s kind of the idea. If I see this thing as an anchor problem I’m free to investigate options. And I’m free to investigate what I want, then make adjustments and modifications based on what is indeed possible. I have to be very clear on what I really want.

Obviously I don’t want a lump. But more than anything, I want a healthy, vibrant, energetic, full head of hair. If I believed I had a gravity problem, I wouldn’t be taking 24 supplements a day, to impact my gut health, which will impact my gland health, including my thyroid, and hopefully this goiter. But more than anything, I would feel defeated and hopeless. And I don’t want to feel that way. No one does.










Control Freak

I keep a white board marker, or an old lip pencil handy to write words that I need to see on my bathroom mirror. Recently I wrote: “God is in control… Trust God.” And when I wrote it, I didn’t really know what that meant. I mean kind of. I wrote it, because there is too much going on today that I cannot control. And Although a lot of it is just wrong, I have very little chance of making much of an impact.

I live in a way that subtracts as many elements from my life as I can that I can’t control. For example, I have not watched news for more than 25 years, just shortly after I received my undergrad in Journalism. It is a product that is so far from anything that helps humans thrive. I believe the news media is damaging, and in fact dangerous, and is the reason for a lot of what is wrong with our country today. Even 25 years ago I saw that. So I subtracted it from my existence.

Instead, I choose to be involved in things that I can impact. People in my circle, for example. People who patronize whatever business I’m doing; people I see behind the counter at the grocery store; even people across the wires in my social media. I believe the world would be a better place if everyone followed my example.

So, by writing those words on my mirror: “God is in control,” I was seeking supernatural peace, and hope. But as a person who has an intense respect for the power of words, I knew it was important that I understand what that means, not just have words in my face every time I brushed my teeth.

So, true to God’s character, He gave me a lesson in what it looks like to allow Him to have my back.

The other day, I got a great taste of how unkind people can be when my husband and I showed compassion and love toward our neighbors, and they returned it with sarcasm and condescension. It was a horrible day with an outcome that, although I had no control over it, my mind would keep rehearsing what I should say, or should have said.

So God told me what it means to allow Him to be in control: Choose love.

That’s what it means to allow God to be in control. If my default is love, I am at peace. My husband and I chose love. And even though the neighbors crushed us, I would still do it again. Those words: “Choose love,” release me from anger and frustration. The neighbors can be mean and horrible people to me all they want, but they cannot penetrate God’s control. And I allow God to be in control when I choose love.

I’m not talking about forgiveness, although that’s a very important element. Imperative, in fact. I’m talking about love being the only reaction that is sustainable over the long term; that is the only armor capable of protecting a heart. I know it’s not going to get easier. In fact, I’m sure harder lessons are coming down the pike, so I’m asking God to bless my heart. I’m asking God to develop in me a soft, yet resilient heart. I’m asking Him to build my love armor so solid that callous people cannot pierce it. I’m asking Him to help me make the default action love.

3 Reasons to Love Statistics, Squared

Actual text message to my friend:

“Hey, what time do you want to meet up tonight? This morning I’ll be hunkered down under the authority of  Greek symbols, correlation coefficients, and something called post-hoc analysis. There’s a lot of talk about ‘relationships’ but I’m not fooled. They know I’m cowering under their power to make or break my future career. Haha! Anyway, if I conquer the ANOVA before the sun goes down, I’d love to hang out.”

I’m in week six of eight of masters-level statistics. Whenever I say that word: statistics, pretty much everyone raises their brows, and widens their eyes with a “oh man…. Feel sorry for you” expression. They know it. It’s crammed with obscure symbols, formulas with-sum-of-the-squares divided by something I don’t have enough space to include here, and affiliations between curves.

The truth is, I actually really like statistics. Statistics puts words to numbers. Meaning to otherwise useless figures. Stories to data. Seriously! you cannot go wrong with the ability to put stories to data. If I can conquer this, it’ll give me a super power beyond the normal human!

(For example, I can not only wonder what would happen if I compared the home values of people who ran 2 or more Spartan Races each year, between the home values of people who ran fewer than two Spartan Races each year, I can know whether to do T-test, a Z-test or an F-statistic; I would be able to see if the p-value called for a rejection of the null hypothesis or a fail to reject the null hypothesis; and then I’d be able to tell the world whether or not participating in multiple Spartan Races has any correlation to home value, or home value on multiple Spartan Races -depending on the independent variable, of course.)

Are you still with me?

Seriously though. Statistics is going to be a powerful force in my world!

Here are a couple of other lessons I’ve learned with Statistics that has nothing to do with statistics

  1. Trust myself to figure it out. If I adhere the butt-glue to the chair, start somewhere, keep searching, search some more, eventually, I’ll find the answer. And it is SO REWARDING!
  2. If I’m going to whine, I must write notes to describe specifically what I need as if I’m asking a respected professor. Then do some research. Do some more research. And if I’m still whining, get help.
  3. School is good for so many reasons. It’s not just almost criminally expensive, and it’s not just a gamble with huge amounts of time and no guarantee of the work I expect my degree to be worthy of, it really does teach tenacity in a way athletics does not.

It’s Time For a Change! And I’m Making It Happen!

I have been a certified fitness professional for more than 35 years. I’ve seen the inside of a thousand and one gyms around Arizona; I’ve worked with people in their homes and on the trails; I’ve founded and ran successful gyms in two locations in Oregon. Hundreds of us have been impacted and inspired by the culture set at Next Level Fitness Training.

And now, I’m excited to tell you about some changes I’m making at NLFT.

As of June 12, 2020 am offering Fitness Coaching, serving people who would like movement, mindset and nutrition coaching within a comprehensive plan. Most plans are 12-weeks long (of course, depending on athletic goals, and with options to continue.) All plans include developing a strategy for your real life, and a close partnership so you stay on track. Personal fitness training, from that point, is an additional service.

Whether you want to compete in an obstacle course race, keep up with the grandkids at Disneyland, or achieve another fitness goal of your dreams, you’re embarking on, and depending on a change in habits to make it happen. If it’s too important to leave to chance, please  visit my web site at, or call me 541.260.8825, I know we can do this!

I am also available for presentations in your work environment on the topic of Healthy Living. In addition, I’m planning fitness retreats for recreational women athletes who want to be better this year.

Sincerely, Andrea Bowden – Next Level Fitness Training

ACE Certified Health Coach Since 2018

ACE Certified Personal Trainer Since 1985


I am offering a special on 16-weeks of fitness coaching for a beginner runner who wants to train for a half-marathon. This is a perfect program for a current exerciser who wants to do something incredible this year!


I believe all bodies are different and respond to different strategies uniquely. I believe exercise is the gateway drug to everything that ails us. I believe in challenging our physical limitations on a regular basis in order to build our mental toughness, which builds our confidence, which makes us better people. I believe conquering obstacles in the gym has a direct connection to conquering obstacles in real life, which makes us better people. I believe our mental health is a priority. I believe most of us grossly underestimate our athletic abilities. I believe most of us have the potential to get in the best shape of our life as we age. I believe, in small, like-minded groups, with inspiring leadership, we can become people who accomplish impossible goals.

They’re Here!

A few weeks ago I mentioned I’m on a new path to heal this thyroid thing. My functional medicine doc was going to recommend a set of supplements to get my gut in check, which will affect my overall health, which will hopefully heal this lump.

Well, they’re here!

It’s really not as scary as it looks. My dose calendar is a little daunting though: From one bottle, I take one capsule 30 minutes before meals four times a day; others I do the same, only three times a day; and from another bottle I take two, 30 minutes before meals, three times a day; and another, I take one twice a day with meals. I put 10 drops from the dropper bottle in water, and I mix two scoops of protein in a smoothie.  Oh, and brush my teeth with the paste twice a day.

Every day. For two months.

I love hope though. Don’t you? My husband and I have made our health a priority because we really, really don’t want to be sick in our old age. Nothing is certain, I know, but at some point, a person has to accept research in one direction or another.

And I don’t believe traditional medicine is working hard enough to contribute toward healthy communities. I don’t believe traditional medical doctors are set up, either with the educational system, or with the medical system, to actually care for our health needs. And so those of us who want to get and stay well have to do our own research, be very diligent about our choices, and be willing to take a serious financial hit.

I listened to the #IAmEnough lady Marisa Peer, on the Model Health Show podcast a while back and she advised me not to say “my goiter” because it’s not mine. It does not belong on me. Maybe it’s teaching me something now, but it is not welcome for very much longer. And, I have always been hopeful that there is a cure. I believe my body is reacting to something it doesn’t like, and it’s up to me to find what that is. Covering up symptoms with medication, or surgery is not hope. It is a last resort after every possible option has been exhausted. But it is not hope.

I’ll keep you posted.











I’m Selling The Car

Here’s something I’ve never said before: “Is there a place we could stop and get a burger?” I realize it’s one of the many facts about myself that make me an outlier. Here’s more: I don’t like chocolate. My mind often sees things backwards, like every time I see a sign that says STOP, SEVERE TIRE DAMAGE IF YOU BACK UP I have to ask if the sign is talking to me as I approach it, or talking to me as if I were coming from the other direction. And, when you ask me to think of the first thing that comes to mind when you say “tool,” I say “pencil.”

An “outlier,” yet another personality feature I had to: Discover. Resent. Accept. Like. I had a difficult childhood that I now partly attribute to my unusualness that my parents just couldn’t understand. And today, when I hear a child wailing, especially around the age of 4 or so, I think that person is just misunderstood. And my heart stings. And  I want to have superpowers to get in her little head, to guide her words so she can tell her caretaker what she really needs. And I want her to know her desires are not unacceptable. Her wishes are not unreasonable. Her feelings are worthy of respect.

When I was in my early 20’s I sold my car, “on a whim,” I call it. I was working and going to school, and it never occurred to me to ask how I will get to those locations if I don’t have a car. Maybe it’s something people do when they’re young. Maybe it was because I didn’t want to pay for a repair. Maybe it was because I was just really, really not very smart.

Actually, I think it was destiny. At the very least, it was something God used for immeasurable good. I worked at a gym at the time. One of the members had a bike he could loan me. I started cycling. Then I started running. I became a competitive duathlete. Rode some seriously long rides, and ran some seriously awesome miles with some seriously amazing people. All because I sold my car on a whim.

Last year, my therapist taught me to be aware of my feelings, which I had traditionally distrusted. I was taught that feelings are silly. To a point, I think that is true. I think there are times when we need to hold off on making decisions when feelings are too emotional – if that makes any sense. For example, I actually pray for God to give me a love for something before I let it go. Instead of letting something go because I hate it. He usually pulls through for me.

Over the last eight years my real job has been personal fitness training (although I’ve been in and out of the industry for more than 35 years), but for a few years now, I’ve been feeling like I need a change. Desperately! I tell myself my emotions are too intense. I’m being irrational. I lecture myself: I must be more patient I must be more grateful My feelings are not to be acted upon you’re talking nonsense. And the most potent of them all: Is the grass really going to be greener on the other side of the fence, Andrea!?

“I don’t know!!” is the answer to that question. The answer to that question is why making decisions like selling cars without processing how one will get to work and school is a great strategy. And the answer to that question is why sometimes I think things that don’t make any sense to some people are exactly the reasonable things for others. Sometimes the grass is greener when changes are made, and sometimes they are not.

I am 4-years-old again, trapped in my head, fearful of failing, needing God to supernaturally place words in my mind, wishing for validation and worth, and here’s what I’m trying to say:  I am going to trust my feelings. I’m good at what I do; I am intensely passionate about the field; it’s my only source of income, but I’m selling the car.


P.S. It should be noted, I’m never leaving the field of health and wellness. I’m just making a pivot. I still have an intense desire to help people set and reach fitness goals. I believe most of us have potential to get in the best shape of our lives as we age. I believe, in small, like-minded groups, with inspiring leadership, we can become people who accomplish impossible goals. I believe in challenging our physical limitations on a regular basis in order to build our mental toughness, which builds our confidence, which makes us better people. I believe our mental health is a priority. I believe most of us grossly underestimate our athletic abilities. If you want to get in the best shape of your life… only better! If you have fitness goals important to you, I’m here for you.







Underachieving Overachiever

I don’t think there is another more underachieving overachiever as I am anywhere on the planet. You know how they say it’s sometimes better to cut your losses because a win is looking pretty grim? Well, today is another one of those days when I’m asking if it’s that time.

Today is one of those days when I’m asking if I should resign my creativity, grieve the loss, and hope for selling cars for a living.

Today is one of those days when I wish I had the guts to burn everything I’ve ever created, so tomorrow I could believe “It’s better to have loved and lost, then to never have loved at all.” Today is one of those days I wish I had a Neuralyzer, so tomorrow and forevermore I could wake up not thinking about my ambitions.

I’m the only person I know who feels like she’s always moving, but never getting anywhere. I’ve heard every motivational talk ever given from the time motivational talks ever started, and they always tell me that it’s the people who persevere who come out on top. But maybe I need the motivational talk that says, “Andrea, it’s time to raise the white flag. You are never going to succeed at your dreams. Give up and live your life.”

I’ve always had trust issues with God. But this year I chose Trust as my word for 2020 because I just didn’t want to be on the fence anymore. So, do I trust Him to keep going, or do I trust Him to let it go. My gifts, talents, skills, experiences, passions are all a gift from Him (for which I have been genuinely grateful) so I’ve been moving on the belief He’ll let me use them. But maybe I’m not a person who’s supposed to use gifts, talents, skills, experiences and passions. I’m just being real.

Today I’m feeling pain from a life of bad decisions, from rejection, from failure. I wonder if I’m not alone.

Closest Friends

I just found out people who write for a living write even when they don’t feel like it. And a common trait among successful people is they get out of bed early even when they don’t feel like it.

Do you get it? Do you get the implications of this?! Backtrack with me for a bit: These people, who we look up to at this very moment, actually experience unpleasant feelings. Think about this: These amazing people set their alarm and ,rather than bouncing out of bed like we all envision they do, might say something like “When the hell am I ever going to be able to bloody sleep in?!” or “My mind is so devoid of anything intelligent, I make myself sick!”

Well, this changes everything, doesn’t it?

I get all sour about my circumstance, feeling like I’m spinning my wheels, and scream “what the hell do normal people do?!” So, you can imagine how relived I am to learn normal people have similar questions.

This is huge!

You know that saying “You’re a product of your five closest friends?” Ken Coleman, in the Proximity Principle says those people you hear through your radio waves or in a book could be those “friends.” It’s not just the people we’re face to face with.

Many mornings, over the years as I’ve tried to grow a business I’ve felt very alone. An outlier. Pointless. Purposeless. And frankly disconnected from real conversation with real people. When Ken told me I could count my heroes of professional achievement, among my five closest friends, I made a little mental shift.

Hundreds of hours of Donald Miller’s voice from Story Brand Podcast have streamed through my auto speakers. The guests on Spartan Up podcast; books, held in my very hands, by Tony Robbins, Bob Goff, Daniel Pink, Joe Friel and Carol Dweck; audibles by Brene Brown, Johann Hari, Simon Sinek, Grant Cardone, and Seth Godin among others inspired in me infinite ideas, plans, and visions.

If I count them as friends, it makes their intended impact more tangible; and I take my role in their purpose more seriously. I want to be a product of these people. I feel more not alone… and a part of this huge circle (as cliché as that sounds). And it feels good.

What circle makes you feel good in your humanness? When you scream profanities, does someone’s voice tell you something reassuring? Do the words you read and listen to cause you to lean in to the direction you hope for your life?

I want to be the person someone counts as their friend. I want to be the person others can look to for an example of perseverance and tenacity. So, I guess I’ll keep at it! I’ll keep typing; I’ll keep setting my alarm; and I’ll keep spinning my wheels if that’s what it takes.

And maybe someday we can be friends.