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Soulmates, Serendipity & Miracles

I write to process emotion.  I take pictures because they evoke feeling for me – at the time, and later whenever I look at them again.  My heart is overflowing this moment as I sit down to write and process.  Let me share a story (with pictures) about serendipity, soul mates, blessings, and miracles. 

So similar that while we did NOT plan it, we ended up twinning today.  <3
We did NOT plan this. I got dressed upstairs. Tonya got dressed downstairs. Twinning. <3

From 2003 – 2005 I worked for the Central Alabama Veteran’s Health Care System in Tuskegee and Montgomery, AL.  It was there that I met Tonya.  The workplace environment was toxic but birds of a feather find each other and flock together.  That was true of our small group.  We did what we could to make the world around us just a little better.   We had so much in common and become friends immediately.  Tonya and I worked together on many projects over those couple of years.  We were both on many of the same committees and councils.  We were both in Toastmasters.  I served as a mentor in the mentoring program she created.  More importantly though, she was my friend. 

My son was 19 years old and in Iraq at that time.  He hadn’t gone to college or “just” moved out of the house.  Both tough enough to be sure.  My child left home for the first time and went directly into an active war zone.  It was so hard!  I worried about him constantly.  In the halls of the VA hospital when people would ask about him, more or less in passing, I’d start crying.  People stopped asking.  Not Tonya.  She wouldn’t just ask about him.  She stopped me, held my shoulders, looked into my eyes – tears and all.  She listened even to the things I didn’t say out loud. She sincerely cared about him, she worried about ME, hugged me, loved me, supported me every day throughout that year.  Her bond with her son is incredibly similar to the one I share with mine.  She got it.  She still does. 

We had dinner together my last night in Alabama and left promising we’d keep in touch. 


Life happened.  I moved many times after leaving Alabama, as did she.  We both went through many life experiences individually.  Growing.  Changing.  Getting busy.  Losing touch with one another.  She followed me on Facebook but never commented and I didn’t know she was watching my life from afar.  She was always there – just in the background. 

Fast forward to 30 January 2023.  I flew into San Diego that evening and took a video from the plane.  Posted it to Facebook.  Tonya recognized the skyline and wrote to me just moments later asking, “are you in San Diego?” 


“Me too!!  I’d love to see you if you have time.” 

I taught a few classes that week, did a little driving, but got back to San Diego on 3 February.  She requested specifically that we meet for coffee (or a smoothie) and sunset by the ocean. 

Three of my all-time favorites!! 

Any doubt that we’re friends?   

And so the woman from Maine picked up the woman from Georgia, in San Diego, California and we headed to the Pacific Ocean.  It was only then that she told me she was sick.  Tonya had been diagnosed with Chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH).  This is a condition where there is elevated blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries caused by chronic blood clots which obstruct the free flow of blood through the lungs.  She’d never mentioned it on Facebook.  She didn’t tell me about it in a call or a text.  She wasn’t shopping on social media for sympathy.  She didn’t say, “let’s get together for coffee because…” 

Not my friend.  She was scared but put on a brave face for the world.  She didn’t post about it. No.  She told me about it face-to-face the first time we’d seen each other in 18 years – while we were driving to get coffee.  Tonya had one large clot with 5 branch clots that took over the lower left lung and a separate clot that blocked her upper left lung. This woman who had been hiking every day now couldn’t even walk up the steps to get into her house. She couldn’t breathe. I didn’t even know what to say. 

San Diego, CA February 2023

I changed my plans for sunset because this woman I love so much who is – without question – one of my soulmates was not able to walk more than six steps without help.  I’d planned for us to walk along the beach.  That wasn’t going to be possible.  Another thing the two of us share is the ability to adapt.  We’re okay with Plan B, C, D, E, and so on and so on.  Plan B was to drive to a higher overlook.  We parked and Tonya held on to me. 

Arm in arm, we walked a very short distance and sat down to wait for sunset.  Talking non-stop.  Picking right back up where we left off. 

That night there was also a full moon!!  Everything was perfect. 

After sunset I drove Tonya back to the hotel where she was staying with her dad.  We hugged each other and talked about getting together after her surgery.  We talked about hiking in Maine during the fall but as she walked away, my cheeks were wet with tears.  I cried.  I was scared.  I didn’t tell her that.  She was crying too and so scared.  She didn’t tell me that.  She never looked back because she didn’t want me to see her crying.  I drove away not knowing if I would ever see my friend again. 

UCSD ICU February 2023

She promised to have someone let me know how surgery went.  It was scheduled for 8 February.  I taught that day but every time my students went on break I thought about Tonya. 

I finished class at 2000, Eastern.  I hadn’t heard anything from her family.  I was so sad; so worried.  I assumed the worst. 

At 2247 I finally received a message from Tonya’s cousin.  “Surgery is over and she is in the ICU.  She is sedated and on ventilator and medications to control her blood pressure but she is stable.”  A huge weight had been lifted.  She wasn’t out of the woods but I KNOW my girlfriend.  She is a fighter.  Always has been. 

The surgery was over, she would now fight for her life.  Fight she did.  Fight she does.  The very next day she was taken off the ventilator and passed the swallow test.  She ate dinner!!  The next day she was successfully getting out of bed!!  Tonya was discharged on 15 February:  ONE WEEK after open heart surgery. 

On the 5th of October 2023, I picked her up from the airport in Portland, Maine.  Since then we’ve visited four lighthouses (and even gone to the top of two).  We looked at the foliage, picked apples, and stopped in the middle of country roads to take pictures. We’ve eaten two apple pies (no judgement allowed at all), New England clam chowder, lobster rolls, shrimp, and fresh from the garden salsa.  She’s learned how to eat a lobster, met my (now adult) daughter again – Jessie was a teenager in Alabama, and played Uno with my granddaughter.  We had a pizza party, danced and laughed (so much that our faces and our bellies hurt). We’ve cried numerous times – mostly happy tears. I’ve taken her to the town where I grew up. She’s met several of my friends and seen a few of my very favorite places.  She’s talked to my son on the phone.  We’ve been called “Georgia” and “Wiscasset” by people we’ve met along the way. The two of us have made plans and set personal/professional goals.  We’ve walked in the rain; both agreeing that so called “inclement weather” is nothing.  We have rain jackets.  We went to the top of Mt Battie even though it was so foggy we couldn’t see 6 feet in front of us – and people said we were crazy and “wasting our time”. We are crazy.

None of those things were a waste of time!!

We ARE doing things regardless of whether we’re nervous, a little scared, uncomfortable or other people are looking at (and potentially judging us). 

We ARE alive. 

We ARE living. 

We are NOT taking one second of her second chance for granted.

This very morning 8 October 2023, exactly eight months to the day, after her surgery, we did a one hour Primal workout on the beach with friends (Wolfpack Family). 

Tonya asked me a few days ago if I believe in miracles.  I answered without a moment’s hesitation.  Absolutely!!!  Yes!!! 

The fact that I was in San Diego in February. 

The fact that it was such a clear, beautiful night that I took and posted an airport video. 

The fact that Tonya saw it, immediately.

The fact that I had time to meet her for coffee/sunset before flying back out.

The fact that it was a gorgeous sunset AND full moon. 

The fact that we reconnected after 18 years.

The fact that my friend is here!!!  Here at all, and here in Maine specifically. 

The fact that we’ve enjoyed a New England fall together. 

The fact that my friend worked out with me this morning. 

Is all the proof I need. 

Miracles are all around us if we just take a moment to realize it.  To truly appreciate it. 

We Believe Things Because We’re Scared. Breast Cancer Shouldn’t Be Your Biggest Concern.

“Imagine you’re sitting in a restaurant and someone at the table next to you collapses on the floor with a heart attack.  You call 911 and immediately start CPR but in vain.  The paramedics cover the body with a tablecloth and you drive home silently thinking of the suddenness of it all. 

In your mind, reading that paragraph, did you picture the victim as a man or a woman?”

Most people picture a man but statistically, it was a woman who collapsed and died at the next table.  Heart disease kills more women than men.  Heart disease, for all of the images of a man clutching his chest, is a women’s disease.  We all have our secret dreads.  Many women fear breast cancer the most, followed by ovarian cancer but the number one killer of women, by a huge margin, is heart disease.”

MY COMMENT:  Cancer sucks.  I mean absolutely no disrespect with this statement, in my opinion there’s been a lot of really good marketing for breast cancer.  Professional sports teams wear pink, there are annual fundraisers, everyone is aware of this horrible killer. 


While “fear of specific illnesses is universal, it’s important to plan and live your life based on what is (ACTUALLY) most likely to kill you rather than what you’re most afraid of.”

FACT:  “More women die of heart disease each year than of all cancers combined!  Ten times as many women die of heart disease than breast cancer.  In fact, cardiovascular disease kills more women than the next seven causes of death, combined.” The CDC lists heart disease as the leading cause of death in the United States. Number one. It’s been the leading cause of death in our country since 1918.

FACT: Two thirds of strokes happen in women. 

FACT: Two thirds of women have no warning symptoms before their first heart attack. 

FACT: Two thirds of women never recover full function after a heart attack. 

FACT: Two thirds of women who survive strokes, suffer severe disability for the rest of their lives. 

The extraordinarily good news is that most cardiovascular disease is avoidable.  The numbers vary among researchers but 70 -80% of heart attacks and strokes are caused by lifestyle.  By the long term effect of choices we make every day.  That means that making different choices, starting with exercise, can change your life.  The most sedentary women are 5 times more likely to die than the fittest women.  Exercise both reduces the risk and increases survival for breast cancer, colon, and uterine cancer – and not by small numbers. The increased survival for breast cancer, for example, has been as much as 50% in some studies.”

“Be sure to get your mammogram but keep in mind that routinely exercising (at the level to at least break a sweat) is 10 times more likely to save your life.  Partially by reducing the risk of cancers but mostly because, contrary to the picture we have in our heads, it is cardiovascular disease that kills women. It’s all about circulation. Being sedentary is formally classified as a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease , increasing risk more than smoking or high cholesterol.”

READ THAT AGAIN: Being sedentary is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, increasing risk more than smoking or high cholesterol!

From the book, “Younger Next Year” (there is a version for men and one specifically for women) by Chris Crowley and Henry S Lodge, M.D.  This is my third time reading the book and I recommend it to all of my students.  Available in print and on Audible. 

International Quit Your New Year’s Resolutions Day

Debbie Hatch  |  Family & F.I.T.

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I just sent my weekly message to the Family & FIT eFamily. I normally reserve those messages specifically for the people who have taken the time to sign up for them


Today, though, I’m making an exception to that “rule”. Today, I want to share a synopsis of that message here too.

It was just two weeks ago, the world seemed full of promise and hope. Everyone had enjoyed their last excess on January 2 and 3. The refrigerator was stocked with “better” food. The last cigarette or drink had been had. The gym membership was purchased – or at the very least, the intent to “exercise more” had been set. Fitbits and similar monitoring devices were being sported everywhere, and it seemed, by everyone!

We were, collectively, ready to “make 2016 the best year, yet!!”

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Today, two weeks into the year, is International Ditch Your New Year’s Resolutions Day. calls it a “fun holiday” and under their synopsis, it reads: “Ditch those resolutions, relax and stop feeling guilty about breaking them. After all, resolutions are meant to be broken.” I’m not big on resolutions per se, BUT setting intentions is vital. Establishing goals is so important.

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Yet, here we are. As of today (per and several like websites), 29% of people have already given up. Another 7-10% will quit before the end of the month. Here’s another sobering statistic: while 39% of people in their twenties actually achieve their resolutions each year, only 14% of people over 50 are successful.



I may not be representative of the “average” 52 year old woman but…I absolutely refuse to give up on myself. Not in these first two weeks. Not in this year. Not in this life. I also don’t think that you should!! Male or female. 20 or 60. I am more tenacious now than I have ever been, and I have a much better idea of what I want from my life.

It bothers me when people, regardless of age or what the goal was, just give up on themselves. It bothers people, sometimes, when I say that. They get frustrated and retort, “Well, I (frequently accompanied by “especially at my age”) should be able to enjoy life!”



I agree!!!!!

You should.

I should.

We should.

Whether we are 18 or 81, we should enjoy life.




But….when did “enjoying life” become gorging on food until we are uncomfortably stuffed? When did “enjoying life” become letting ourselves go to the point that we have trouble with everyday activities? When did “enjoying life” become just giving up?

Every thing we choose to do, or not do, has some kind of impact on our lives. Each of us decides how much of that we are okay with, and how much we will tolerate before we decide to do something else.

I’d like to quote Lisa Bullock, another kick-ass 50+ year old trainer/coach, I had the pleasure of speaking with the other day. “While I have a passion for both, I do realize that other women my age may not be interested in boxing or lifting heavy weights. Who doesn’t want to be able to get out of chair by themselves, though? Who doesn’t want to be able to lift their arms high enough to do up their own bra strap? Who doesn’t want to be able to bend down and pick something up? Or garden. Or play with their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”

WE make ourselves immobile, life doesn’t.

Ponder on these things for a few minutes.
Pull yourself together.
Decide what you actually want from life (not what somebody else might want for you – no matter how loving their intentions) and get back on track to working toward THOSE things!!!!

Why Even Bother? What’s the Point of this Healthy Food & Exercise?

Debbie Hatch  |  Family & F.I.T.

This is the message that precipitated my blogpost.

This is the message that precipitated my blogpost.

I saw this post on Facebook today and couldn’t help but write to it.  This is a topic I’m more than a little passionate about.
Our parents, and prior generations, provide DNA. That’s not open to debate and there’s nothing we can do about the DNA we were given.  We have what we have.  That is what leads some people to say, “Why bother then?” “Why eat healthy? Why work out? Why use sun screen? Seriously, why bother?’ ….and that really irritates me.
Why bother?  I can easily give you a hundred reasons.  In the interest of not boring you, or posting a 25 page thesis, I’ll limit myself to a Top 3 here.
#1: Because, while we can’t change our DNA, there is SO much we can have an impact on. Epigenetics is proving that, more every single day. If you don’t know what epigenetics is, it’s the study of how external and/or environmental factors can actually switch genes on and off – how things outside our body affect the DNA we can do nothing about. It’s FASCINATING!!!!!!! Truly.
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#2 By making changes in your life, not only do you have an impact on how your genes express themselves, but you influence which genes are passed to your future family 172708-20160116members. Wow!! When you are pregnant, are you going to drink, smoke, and/or eat whatever to heck you feel like? Probably not. Why not? Why bother taking care of yourself and trying to give your baby the best possible start? Why bother, because they (like you) are just at the mercy of their DNA…
If you have time, read more about that here.
#3 Regardless of how long I live, being active and flexible throughout life, is a pretty friggin amazing thing. During the entire time I’m fortunate enough to be here – be that aDIGITAL CAMERA

short or very long time – I am going to be strong and vibrant. Baring an accident or life altering injury/illness (which I’m not going to just sit around and wait for), I am going to be able to run and play with my grandchildren. I am going to be able to get out of a chair by myself and pick myself up if I fall. I am going to carry in my own groceries, and be able to reach and bend to put them away. I sincerely DO plan to be strapping a 35 pound scuba tank on my back, no matter how old I am, and jumping in the water.

The other issue I have with the passage, is equating “bacon upon bacon, butter on top of butter, fat on top of fat, never exercising, and being out in the sun burnt to a crisp” as the definition of “living life to its fullest”. Really?
While we’re talking about genetics, let’s talk about why we humans find such things as butter, bacon, and fat desirable in the first place. “If we were hunting and foraging for food in nature, we would need some way to signal us that we’d found something useful. Thanks to nature and biology, our brains have been hard wired to appreciate three basic tastes: sweet (a safe source of energy), fatty (a dense source of calories) and salty (a means of conserving fluid).” (From It Starts with Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig). The problem is that the hyper palatable food-like things we eat today are far, far sweeter, and contain more salt and fat, than anything found in nature. The hits of dopamine we get from eating these things is what keeps us coming back for more, upon more, upon more. It’s not healthy and it’s also not natural.
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Do I eat bacon? …and cookies, and cupcakes, and “bad” foods? Hell, yes!!! But I do those things in moderation. Regardless of what my DNA has in store for me, or maybe because of it, I am not going to equate the quality of my life with how much butter I can eat. Some of us would say that having the opportunity to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, move our body, and exercise – while also “jumping in the ocean, speaking the truth, being silly, kind, and weird”, driving our motorcycle, and all of the other amazing things that active, flexible people can choose to do, leads to a pretty friggin amazing life as well.

You Can’t Harvest a Garden if You Never Plant the Seeds

Debbie Hatch | Family & F.I.T.




Here’s something you might not know about me. I have a degree in Organizational Leadership. This pursuit stemmed largely from an interest in how to motivate people, sociology, and cultural (world, societal, and micro) interaction. I studied people, what makes them do the things they do, and how to help them reach their own as well as shared organizational goals.


Throughout the course of study, we learned many leadership theories. One principle seemed to crop up on a frequent basis, though. That was the requirement to appropriately plan. It is important in everything from change management to setting performance goals and day-to-day supervision.


The underlying principle is; what you do today will lead to outcomes in the future.

Let me give you a couple of examples.


Stephen Covey, an educator, author, businessman, and keynote speaker in the area of leadership, coined this theory, “The Law of the Harvest” and related it to farming. A farmer must prepare the soil and plant seeds in the spring. The seedlings must be fertilized and watered all summer. The farmer doesn’t just sit around all year and expect to have a harvest come fall!


Now.  You certainly don’t have to take a leadership class, or read one of Covey’s books, to learn this stuff.

How many times have you heard, “you reap what you sow”? That’s the Law of the Harvest!

Ever watch squirrels? They don’t wait until winter to go looking for food – they store it in the summer when it’s plentiful.


We have to do the background work!  Me.  You.  Squirrels.  Farmers.

It’s not sexy or glamorous.

It’s not always fun.

Sometimes you don’t feel like it.

It might not excite you, but it has to be done!



Here’s the second example.

I love traveling and teaching.Podium

All of my travel doesn’t “just happen” though.

I don’t just arrive at a location and teach my classes.


The trips start months in advance with a negotiation and contract-writing phase.


Today I spent a couple of hours booking airfare, hotels, and cars for upcoming trips. Once that was done, it was a few more hours editing, ordering, and shipping handbooks.

Before the class, I’ll need to review legislative updates and changes to ensure everything I’m presenting is current.  I will update my slides.  I’ll also need to follow-up and confirm the books were delivered.

As the date arrives, I’ll need to get to the airport, catch my flight, grab a rental car, drive to the hotel, find the class location and then – only then – stand in front of the class.


Do you know what? Getting healthier and making changes to become more fit don’t “just happen” either.

You don’t wake up one morning “magically” at your goal.

You need to do the work to get there.

It’s a process.


You have to plant the seeds before you can reap the harvest.



Here’s a link to the book “The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness” by Stephen R Covey

It’s an OPINION! Everybody Has One.

Debbie Hatch | Family & F.I.T.

I have been in the classroom almost every day for the past six weeks.  The classes have been relatively large and the people engaging but a couple of recurring issues have continually popped up.

11137148_985660421457971_550384260799636610_n1.  No matter what we were talking about, I had people chime in, “But I’ve heard xyz” or, “So and so told me this.”

My response is always the same.

“They are giving you their opinion as if that is THE answer.

In fact, that may have been THEIR answer. That may have worked for them.

That is not, necessarily YOUR answer.

Do you see the difference? “


We’re all different.
We think differently.
We do things differently.
We approach issues differently.


I am not going to give you an opinion.

I am going to make you form your own.

I will give you information and say, “If you do A, here’s what you can expect. If you do B, here’s what will likely happen.” Some people will choose A, and others B. That’s absolutely okay!!


This answer is relevant to soooooo much of what we do, isn’t it?

It’s rampant in the health & fitness arena.


Your friend lost weight on:

AtkinsScreen Shot 2015-05-21 at 10.48.19 AM
Weight Watchers
Eating 6 Times a Day
Eating 3 Times a Day
The Blood Type Diet
The Mediterranean Diet
Jenny Craig
As a Vegan / Vegetarian
By Cutting out Dairy…or Gluten….or           Grains….or Anything White
By Doing Crossfit
By Doing Cardio for 2 Hours a Day
By Never Doing Cardio and Only Lifting Weights

….the list is seemingly endless.


The fact is that when you watch what you eat, or change your diet in some way (any way) that your body is not used to, you typically lose some weight.


Let’s be clear.

That does not mean you lost fat.
It does not mean the lSuzy Qoss is sustainable over the long term.
It does not mean you’re more healthy!!

I’ve talked about this before.


I lost 15 pounds on a chocolate cake, coffee, and nicotine diet!!!!!



People think I was crazy and irresponsible.


Let me ask you this: what about the fat burners, squeems, lotions, potions, and diets you’ve been trying?

No judgment. Just a question…


2.  Several times throughout each day, one person would start complaining. “This law isn’t fair.” “I don’t like that.” “I made a bad choice ten years ago.”  And so on.

This always leads to other people jumping in to agree and things can go down hill very quickly.

We only have 8 hours for class so I refuse to entertain this negativity. We just don’t have the time for it!!!

My response is always the same and it, too, is relevant outside of class.

“Is there anything at all that you do anything about xyz? Could you make a change so that it’s better? Can you do anything about a decision you made ten years ago?”

Many times people don’t want to answer because they know where I’m going with my questions.

Do Something

“If you can do something to fix the problem: do it! Let’s brainstorm about how you might do that.

If you can’t do anything about it, I am going to ask you to stop complaining.

It does nothing for you, and it detracts from productive things we could be doing.  It provides absolutely zero value to our time today.  In fact, it is a waste of time.”


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I Just Feel…..Big. The Newest Great Adventure.

Debbie Hatch | Family & F.I.T.


Late yesterday, Brooke Erickson posted on her Facebook page, “Competing is not and should not be for everyone and no one should ever compare themselves to someone else’s stage physique. As tempting as it may be for you to want to compare your body to that of a stage-conditioned competitor…
believe me when I say that there is a flip side. They too, suffer from poor body image and self-comparison. They just don’t talk about it. They too, don’t feel good enough and dissect themselves in the mirror. They just don’t want you to know they have flaws. They too, can feel lost and depressed after the stage lights have turned off. Your journey is your own. Don’t worry your mind or waste your time comparing yourself to anyone else. Work hard to be a better version of you…not the woman in your newsfeed. Strive to be your 10… not theirs.”

Brooke was my coach during prep for my last Figure competition (June, 2014) and, as she frequently does, she spoke directly to my heart with her post. I want to scream a reiteration of her thoughts.

“They too, suffer from poor body image and self-comparison. They too, don’t feel good enough and dissect themselves in the mirror. They too, can feel lost and depressed after the stage lights have turned off. Don’t waste your time comparing yourself to anyone else!!!”

I have been struggling lately.

I’m not comparing myself to anyone else. I’m comparing myself to my stage-conditioned competitor FigureandLiftingself, which is just as unreasonable. Especially since I’m not competing.

Special thanks to Jeannine Trimboli for her support and advice: “Allow yourself to start looking at your weight as a tool rather than something that defines your value.”



Again….YES!!!!!! I’ve said this to clients. Why am I not applying it to myself?

The fact is, whether you are struggling to lose weight, to gain muscle, to be healthy, to find a healthy body image, or something entirely different, the struggle is just as real.

For the past 3-4 years I have been competing. I love the ripped, competitive body. I like being shredded. The physical aspect was amazing and I love being on stage.  But right now I’m trying something new.


I have a new coach (Jordan Syatt) and I’m working on Power Lifting.


I can’t wait to share my experience and all of my changes as I go through this program. But, to be honest, I’m struggling.

I feel like I’m starting back at square one. I feel like I have never lifted. This is different than anything I’ve ever done. The workouts are different. The breathing is different. The body mechanics are different. I’m excited to see what I can do.


I also feel like I don’t know this body. It’s not for figure. It’s not ripped. It’s softer. I am uncomfortable. I feel big. Not fat. Not muscle-y (I only just started this new venture two weeks ago).

Just big.


Not following my own guidance, I even stepped on the scale this weekend. I am the heaviest I have ever been other than when I was pregnant.

I’ve wrestled with that.

There’s a battle going on inside my head.

“Who cares what you weigh?”

“No one even knows what you weigh!”

“Weight is irrelevant. Your clothes still fit and you feel strong.”


All true.

I would say every one of those things, out loud, to a client.


There is that number on the scale…….

My number.

My scale.


It shouldn’t matter, but it’s in my head.


So I stood in front of my husband, distraught and naked. I asked him what he honestly thought of this body (he liked the lean, competition shape as much as I did).

Anyone that knows him will verify that he wouldn’t lie. He can’t….


My husband said, “You look amazing. You aren’t shredded but you look so strong and powerful. To be honest, this may be the best I’ve ever seen you look.” I know he was being sincere.

But that’s not how I feel.

I just feel big.



So why am I doing this?  For several reasons.

–  First, I got a little tired of just focusing on aesthetics.

–  It’s contrary to what I tell my clients so at times I felt like I was being dishonest – with them, with me or maybe both. I tell clients that their size doesn’t matter. I tell them that they need to focus on fitness, strength, and improving what they can do – – the rest of it will come. I believe that and they’ve proven it to me time and time again.

– I told a friend, who needed the encouragement to pursue her goals, that I would do this with her.

–  I am strong and I like new challenges, so I’ve decided to see what I can DO for a while, vice just what I can make myself look like.

It is my most sincere hope that as I go forward into this new challenge, I can come back and tell you that I’ve come to grips with this new shape and that I’m comfortable with myself.

It is my most sincere desire that you would also work on feeling comfortable with your body just AS IT IS RIGHT NOW…even if, and while you’re making changes.

I will share my journey with you. I’d love it if you would share your journey with me.

Sometimes You Need to Use the F Word(s): Fact & Fat

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 11.19.57 PMDebbie Hatch | Family & F.I.T.

The health & fitness world has gone crazy. At least the area that I follow has. Like so many other arenas, judgment is rampant and the dizzying height of political correctness is insane.

“Don’t talk about ‘mindset’ or ‘mindfulness’ because it’s too esoteric and you’ll scare people away.” I might lose some people then, but…


FACT: Mindset is the piece that’s missing from most health programs. People need help in stopping negative self-talk and self-neglect. When I receive e-mails like this from people in my private coaching group, I don’t think they’re frightened by the mindset work we do.

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“Don’t call weight loss a ‘journey’ because it’s “insensitive and makes people feel like they aren’t good enough right where they are.” What?


FACT: I consider the entire life experience a journey. When I stop looking forward to new goals, I will stop living. I have never seen this word as negative – in any way.

“Don’t talk about eating cookies because that makes people think that eating sugar is okay.” But, “Don’t talk about eating tilapia because that means you’re an extremist.”

“Hooray for Chipotle: serving all non-GMOs.” “Damn Chipotle for serving non-GMOs and adding to the food fear-mongering.”


FACT: I love cookies, tilapia, and Chipotle. I don’t think those things “make” me anything….except a little happier.


“Don’t talk about functional exercise because it’s useless.”


FACT: I believe we are ALL athletes. Life is our sport!!! That’s not a cliché. You pick up your children or grandkids, you carry in your groceries, you want to be able to get in and out of your car, take a walk on a sunny day, and be healthy enough to care for yourself. Every one of those things involves the ability to move!! That’s functional movement.

What to hell? Seriously. People are walking around on eggshells afraid to say anything because the words we used yesterday are not accepted today. Well, at least I have been. No matter what you say these days, you can expect someone to jump on you for it!

It really – I’m not joking – had me feeling almost paralyzed to do or say anything, recently.

Then this text message slapped me across the face and jolted me back to reality.


FACT: I’m not doing anything that I do in order to be accepted by other people. I do everything I do in order to help people who need help.


The message (which, I have permission from its author to share) was:

“I need your help”

“With what?”


The message took my breathe away!! I sat and cried for about 20 minutes. It made me feel as though I had been punched in the gut.

The positive body image arena is now so sensitive that we shouldn’t ever talk about weight or fat, “because it makes people feel bad about themselves.” No.

FACT: This person already feels bad – it doesn’t matter what word I use. The word “fat” is not a judgment call. It’s a noun. It is a real thing…and a large amount of fat around body organs is not healthy.

This is a young single mother who takes less than 5 minutes a day caring for herself.

FACT: Me, or anybody else, telling her that she’s worth it and her actually beginning to believe it are two very, very different things. We’ll need to work on self-care and compassion. We’ll need to work on self-acceptance right where she is now while establishing goals to change, get healthy, and lose FAT.


This person is desperate for help. So, yes, I used that “F-word”.

We talked about FAT, working out, and eating for her goals. I didn’t tell her she should weigh a certain amount or be a certain size. We didn’t talk about “good” or “bad” food but we talked about the FACT that she’s going to have to change the way she’s eating.

I also didn’t tell her she should just accept herself the way she currently is, though. I don’t believe that helps anything and in FACT, it can have the opposite affect of what well-meaning individuals are trying to do. It can add more guilt. Now the individual can also feel shitty because, on top of everything else, they’re not accepting of themselves “like they should”.

We just keep heaping it on.


Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying.

FACT: I don’t care what a person looks like. I don’t care what a person weighs or what size pants s/he wears. Losing weight and getting stronger are not really the goal. They are outcomes. The goal is to empower people: to help them realize they are capable of so much more than they imagined they could do.

I can’t be so worried about picking the currently “acceptable” word that I don’t say anything.


What Are You Putting into Your Mouth? And Is It Worth It?

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 10.30.22 AMDebbie Hatch | Family & F.I.T.

I have to share what I consider to be a milestone (well, as I write this, I realize it’s actually two or three milestones) for me.

First, a little background. I love the way I look when I compete. I love curvy biceps and pumped shoulders. I love rounded glutes.  I love the shredded look. I love those things so much, that for years I have weighed and measured all of my food. I have obsessed over it. I have carried baggies of food into restaurants with me when I’ve met friends for dinner.

Do you know how exhausting that is? Every. Single. Day. In life, let alone with my travel schedule. I did it because I felt like I had to.  I did it because I had been told that if I wanted to be lean and look the way I like, that I needed to….and I believed that.

For the last month I have refused to weigh anything. I’ve carried my scale in my suitcase – I always do – but I refused to get it out. I have not eaten everything I see, nor everything I have a passing momentary craving for…but I have not eaten a specific diet either. If I wanted an apple, I ate it. I didn’t weigh it first. If I wanted ice cream, I had a little bit.


The biggest tip I ever give to my nutritional clients is this:

Before you put something in your mouth, think about it. Ask yourself one question. Is this, whatever it is, worth the calories?

If it is – eat it. Enjoy it. The smell, the taste, the texture. No guilt. No self-imposed hour long cardio session later to “make up for it”.

If it really isn’t worth it to you, why are you eating it?

So many times we engage in mindless eating. We put stuff into our mouths just because it’s there or out of habit.

Stop!  Think!  Then eat.


Don’t put a ban on your favorite foods.  That makes you want them even more and getting fit should not be a punishment.  All things are allowed but not all things are helpful in reaching your goals.


I have no idea what my macros (protein, fat, carbs) have been. That caused me a ton of stress (no joke) even a month ago.

MILESTONE 1:  Much of the stress has subsided as I have just trusted myself, listened to my body, and applied moderation.

Yes, I did carry food in my suitcase over this last month. I will always do that, for several reasons. First, I travel to many remote locations and there’s not always something nutritious available. Second, with my schedule, there’s also not always time for me to sit down to a meal. Many times I eat as I’m running through the airport, or while sitting on the plane. I like to be in charge of what I eat and I don’t want to be in a situation of being “forced” to eat a Big Mac merely because that’s the only thing conveniently available and I’m starving.

So after this month, what has the result been?

MILESTONE #2: I LOST, I did not gain, 4 pounds. I wasn’t trying to lose weight and I couldn’t care less what the scale says, anyway, but I did lose weight. I’ve been strong in my workouts. My mind is clear and I feel fantastic.

And here is the biggest, hugest (yes that’s a word!!!!!) thing.

MILESTONE #3:  I was talking to my husband last night and said, “I don’t have as many veins in my arms and my biceps are long and lean instead of bumpy (which I like). Maybe I should go back on a plan but I just don’t feel like it. I just can’t seem to make myself like the idea.” He said, “That’s because you know it’s not the best thing for you. You might not be as lean as you’d like to be but I think you look amazing. You look so much more healthy now than you did when you were competing.”

THAT made my day!!!! THAT made my entire week. I mean, who am I trying to look and be healthy for anyway?

Myself – check; and my husband – check.

Sometimes we do need a plan. Examples include when we are trying to attain the goal of losing fat, gaining muscle, competing, etc. Sometimes that’s important and during those times we need to track our food.

Sometimes we need to live our lives, apply some moderation, trust ourselves, and just find little ways to build healthy habits into our every day routines.  We all know that it’s probably better to eat a piece of fruit than a cupcake.  We know that eating until we are stuffed doesn’t even feel good – much less is it good.  We know that if we eat just mountains of fat and sugar, it’s not good for us.  We all know that if we move more, if we exercise, it’s better for our bodies and out minds.  Let’s just do more of that stuff!!!

Not dieting


Gi-normous shout out to my mentor, business coach, and dear friend JillFit Physiques​ for her inspiration to me in this area.

Why Are You Afraid to be Strong?

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 11.39.59 PMDebbie Hatch | Family & F.I.T.

This post is about  a little tough love.  I want you to think about something and I want you to be 100% honest with yourself.

Are YOU holding yourself back?  I think the answer is, “yes” and if it is – here are a couple more questions.  Why?   Why are you limiting yourself?  What can we do to fix that mentality?


Before you even read one more sentence, please let me assure you:

You are not alone.  

I am not judging you.  

In fact, I do it too!!  It’s part of the human condition.  The last couple of paragraphs will tell you what happened to me tonight in the gym.  


Here are some examples of what I’m talking about in holding ourselves back.

(a) I can go into almost any gym on almost any day of the week and see people there, sitting around on the equipment. Peddling the bi11149528_765401690245974_5867065370172598381_nke so slowly that they might go 1/10 mile in an hour. Walking so slowly on the treadmill that they never break a sweat. The worst? A couple of weeks ago, in my home gym, there was a young man sitting at one of the machines playing solitaire on his phone!! No lie.

These people are physically capable of exercising; they’re merely choosing to limit themselves. I only want you to do what you can, but I really want you to do WHAT YOU CAN, not what you think you can.

If you have medical concerns of any sort, and even if you don’t, it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor before starting an exercise program!!  But, assuming you are healthy and able to exercise, your skin will flush, your heart rate will increase, you may be somewhat short of breathe, and you will (you should) get sweaty!!!


Exclamation Point

(b) Saturday, I climbed the 900+ stairs to Exclamation Point – above Chimney Rock in North Carolina. It was challenging and I can definitely feel my calves today. Several of the ladies I saw there, didn’t hike. They rode the elevator to the restaurant mid-way and just sat waiting for friends and family. I overheard a small group talking. “Do you want to go to the top?” “No, I would die.” “No. I can look at pop’s pictures when he comes down.” “There’s no way I would make it.” Several others were meandering while texting or chatting on their phones; lagging far behind their family and friends.

To be clear, I’m not talking about people who CAN’T do it or who want to sit at the restaurant and relax.  I’m talking about people limiting themselves; settling to look at photos because they assumed they couldn’t make it to the top without even trying.

In contrast, I saw an elderly couple hiking.  He was using a cane and they were holding hands.  They took turns helping each other.  They were slow but he made it all the way to to top.  She didn’t – she stopped to rest on a bench just below the summit.  She did what she could!!  It was incredibly inspiring to see them there!  Enjoying the weather.  Enjoying each other’s company.  Enjoying the hike.



Chimney Rock

(c) You may have seen my post last week. My brother in law was visiting. Every time we went in or out, I always headed for the stairs. After a couple of times of this, he asked, “is there something wrong with the elevator?” No there isn’t. There is also nothing wrong with our legs and there’s no reason we shouldn’t walk up and down the stairs merely for the movement!

(d) I’ve seen many people press the handicap button to open doors and then stand there waiting, many times impatiently, for the door to open instead of using their muscles to pull the door open. If you CAN’T open the door, use the button. That’s why it’s there. But…

(e) I’ve had clients that are perfectly capable of lifting 5, 10 or even 15 pound dumbbells, yet they lacked the confidence to do anything but 2 pounders (even though their purse weighed more than that!). If you’re a true beginner and you can only lift 2 pounds, please, please, please lift 2 pounds.

I’m not talking about a lack of physical ability, strength, stamina, or anything else. I’m talking about a self-limiting mindset. Why are you afraid to be strong? Why are you limiting yourself?


So here’s my story.


I am in Salisbury, NC this week. I know a total of 6 people in this town but no one at the local gym. I was in the gym working out last night. There weren’t many people around so I was doing supersets (exercise A for 6-12 repetitions and then exercise B for 6-12; back to A; back to B, and so on).

I did one set of two different exercises and was going back to do my second set on the first exercise. My plates had been changed from 25 pounds to 35 pounds. I thought it was weird but I just assumed that I was tired, hadn’t been paying attention, and I must have put on more than I initially planned to. Assuming I had already done one set at this weight, I did the second set of the exercise. Headed back to my second exercise. My weight had been increased by 10 pounds. I did the second set at that weight and headed back to my first exercise for the final set. My plates had been changed from 35 pounds to 45 pounds.

Okay…..something was up!!!! I wasn’t THAT tired. As I did the final set of this exercise, I kept my eyes on my other exercise area, and then it happened!

I saw one of the guys who works at the gym, changing my weights. He added another 10 pounds!!! I walked over to him and said, “Excuse me. I’m using that.” Maybe with some attitude.  He said, “I know, but I also figured you are stronger than you’re giving yourself credit for. I knew you could lift more than you had on there and sure enough…….you did!” Yup. He was right. I did.IMG_5775

I will not push myself to the point of getting injured nor should you!!!! I would not lift an amount I’m not comfortable with. I was in no danger. It was my head that was limiting me, not my body.

You can bet that I increased my weight on every single remaining exercise!!!!!

I had an excellent workout AND he gave me a free shirt. “For Strength. For Health. For Life.” for being such a good sport.

Do what you can – whatever that is. If you can only walk for 2 minutes; do it. Next week, walk for 3 and the week after that 5. If you can only (truly) lift 2 pounds; do it. Next week, lift 3 and the week after that 5. But do what you CAN.

I’ll bet money on the fact that you are much stronger than you give yourself credit for! So am I……..