Tag Archives: accountability

Joe Shogrin: Not a Douche-bag

 

The weather and the campaign trail are getting hot this July; and the heat radiating from Cheyenne City Council Candidates canvassing neighborhoods, is no exception. This 2016 election brings out twenty-eight candidates between three City Wards. It appears that Individuals are crawling out of the woodwork this year, inspired to step up and serve their local community.
One of these candidates is Joe Shogrin campaigning for Ward 3.
A local political supporter wondered why I hadn’t interviewed Joe, yet, based off of my unprompted interview with Mayoral write-in candidate, Richard Johnson; and I said “If Joe wants to talk, I will sit down and listen, and write something up.”

Well, Joe Shogrin DID express an interest to sit down and talk with me about his campaign and his visions for Cheyenne’s future; double bonus win for him, I live in Ward 3, as well. So, we had an impromptu and rather casual meeting over a beer in my humble garage.
Joe stands at about six foot four inches. He is a man who looks like he can lift some heavy equipment with agility… which all makes sense, when I find out he is a High Voltage Lineman. As I understand it, this isn’t easy work for the weak of heart, fear of heights type. This is work that transcends seasons, and jumps straight to badass modern necessity; a-no-one-likes-being-left-without-power-during-a-snowstorm-kind-of-labor.
In 2010, Joe Shogrin left Altus, Oklahoma (population 22,000) for the fine (if not larger) town of Cheyenne, to continue his work as a lineman.

Now, personally, electricity scares the dried fecal matter out of my colon. I don’t really understand how it works.  I know that it is especially dangerous when prefixed by the words “High” and “Voltage”. This isn’t the case when it comes to Shogrin. Joe isn’t scared of electricity or heights. Joe loves his job. Beyond that… Joe LOVES helping people.

“You know the thing that really drives me, is being out there in the middle of an ice storm or a lightening storm, and there are all these people out there who are out of power and suffering… and, I know, we gotta get that power back on.”

Before working in the electricity business, Joe was humbly working as a janitor; however, when he found out that his first baby was on the way, he realized he needed a real career in order to support his growing family.
As luck, God, or good grace would have it; Joe found himself at the right place, at the right time when he went into the Altus City Building to ask about available jobs. He was presented with the opportunity for an entry level, seasonal meter reading gig that would be laid off in six months. He took the job, reading meters for six months, and at the end of it promptly joined the Linemen Apprentice Program.
Joe credits most of his career longevity and advancement with his ability to self teach and seek out knowledge in his chosen field. I make a mental note that these are great attributes for individuals to possess when running for public offices that represent widely varied demographics.
“Cheyenne is an interesting market because a lot of our Councilmen (people) are small business owners, so they look out for small business interests which is an important dynamic that needs to happen, but I feel like the council today isn’t really for the people. Politics shouldn’t be that way at any level. They are there for us, there to serve us. That is what I want to get back to. That is why I want to be on Council. I feel like we have a problem here; a disconnect from the people to the Council; the Council to the people, right on up into the State house and the Senate, upward. We basically have disconnects on every level of Council right now, which is dangerous.”
These are potent observations, that should not be taken lightly; especially from someone willing to put their name in the hat to play a long standing local political game. I think about Rich Johnson’s comments about his beginning attitude in politics being idealistic and optimistic, and how much has changed in his perception of what he could change during his first year in council.

Politics is like High Voltage line work… it isn’t for the weak willed, and easily battered. Maybe Joe really has a chance at winning a seat and assisting in some much needed changes.
I want to know why Joe thinks he would be a good fit for City Council.
“I’ve worked for the city (as a lineman) and one of the biggest strengths I bring to the table is moderation. Mediation is where it is at. I am some one who is willing to moderate and work in the middle. You give a little bit here, you take a little bit there, and after a while you have a compromise.”

So, Joe Shogrin is a willing mediator in favor of compromise. He comes across as open minded and level headed, not to mention brave, with functional risk taking. (Heck, you have to possess those attributes to get that far off the ground to deal with electricity in treacherous weather….)
“I am very supportive of our local economy, but our economy goes through these boom or bust cycles every 10 years with oil. We have good employers; (it just seems) when we are comfortable making money, we crash. We don’t plan ahead, we don’t set anything aside for when the bottom falls out. You can’t base your economy off of two or three (major income) issues with a city this size; we have to diversify our income sources and work load as well as the types of jobs we have. I am kind of disappointed because I see our Council and Candidates, and when I talk to them they are like ‘ We have to support small business!’ And I agree 100%, BUT, we also have to support moving forward to the next level so we can (as a community) support small business. If people have money in their pocket, they are going to spend it and they are going to spend it here, mostly. Now they may go to Fort Collins, but we could build up our down town area; do stuff that will keep them ( local money) here.”
We talked for awhile about Keith Coombes recent Facebook post for Ernie Novembers’ Record Store, calling out downtown business owners for having such short business hours; especially in the summer time, on the week end. Just a few weeks ago Keith kept the business open an hour later than their usual 9 pm closing down. Ernie November, already stays open later, every day of the week, than any other non food related walk-in place of commerce in down town Cheyenne. By keeping the doors open for interested patrons, beyond the posted closing time, thereby engaging the community; the business was able to make an extra $500 bones on the books. This is great for one small local business… and it should be inspiration to other small business owners to take heed and ride the periodic tides we have when it comes to downtown interest and seasonal shopping. (Here is a link to Keith’s post if you want to check it out for yourself.)

“One of the constituents (running with me) is big on down town. His platform is ‘Bring Back Downtown.’ He says that he goes down there at night, and it’s dead except for the bar scene. You have a couple of beers and walk around, but there is nothing to do. It makes you wonder, what is there to go down there for? The bar scene? That may not be what the Councils’ job is, but, it’s also (what adds to) a perception of the community. Everyone is struggling to make a living, and so as a Council, what can we do to help them? I know that business owners are making their own schedules and want their time… not everyone is willing to work 12p-9p; and it isn’t the Councils job to impose that… but as a friend of the community, working to be in the Council; I would suggest that they really look at that and consider adjusting. Maybe try working some different hours and see what you get in the results. Downtown is essential to so many activities in Cheyenne. We have the Plaza, the Depot and space; sadly, it is underutilized. Bring the people in like we do on Friday’s. If I am to be a steward of peoples money, I’m not just going to spend it (willy nilly). I am not going to spend it on something that I wouldn’t spend my own money on.”
Joe is a blue collar guy, working blue collar work. He has to get his pants dirty and his hands callused to do what he does. He has to challenge his fears and step into the unknown in order to help strangers. He finds satisfaction in a job well done. I admire these attributes in general, and especially when it comes from those who feel invigorated enough to step from their obscure silence into a cooperative community position; willing and excited to help tow the line.
I shared my concern about certain ambitious projects in the city that seem to be rising to the top of discussions without real priority; for instance, the Sky Bridge. It is a very large scale project that was introduced to the town as “a way to make our skyline unique”, yet it doesn’t seem that this project should be any priority; especially when taking into consideration that there are so many defunct properties in down town… It seems like an over ambitious project with no real connection to realistic priorities as it pertains to actually improving Downtown Cheyenne for its residents. Another example is the Children’s Museum that started as a granted project, and is now being presented as a building that will be paid for with tax dollars, under the guise that it will invigorate a down town that already has a parking problem, and few options for kids. (On a personal note, I think the Museum is a great idea, but it belongs closer to Lions Park with other kid/family friendly activities; perhaps in the existing old terminal of the Regional Airport, which is historic in itself.) I also share my concern that we are wasting resources with all of these surveys that cost money to assess, in order to figure out a consensus for the direction of down town.
“A project like the Sky Bridge should be funded by grants on a Federal level. And if they try and make us pay for it through taxes, I am going to fight it. I will dress up as Darth Vadar with my friends dressed up as Chewbacca and everything, and I will say ‘DO NOT PASS’ and have some fun with it. Most of these surveys are coming from the State level. I have been talking to some of the candidates I am running with, who are interested in interacting on that level, and I think I can smooth a road over between State Statutes and City Council. If that could happen we could make a positive impact in Cheyenne and Casper, because (State statute) it effects them too. “
Joe is a big proponent of calling out what doesn’t work, and then figuring out solutions that work best for everyone. He has a soft heart for those around him that are suffering from circumstances that are out of their control. He asserts his compassion by volunteering community service, coaching soccer and mentoring children who have no fathers.
“I could be at home watching night shows like everybody else, but instead I choose to invest my time in the future. I have been watching City Council meetings for about two years. I get upset about it because they are suppose to be the voice of the citizens and some of the things they vote for are not Citizen Friendly. It’s like, if I started ‘Joe’s Lawn Mowing Business’ or ‘Joe’s Tiki Hut Stand on The Corner of Joe Rd.’ Then my interest would be ‘well I gotta make sure they don’t close that little loophole, so I can keep my business.’ That is how they (City Council) work, they protect only what serves them. I serve people. That is who I want to serve. I care about everybody, including them. So far as I can tell, there is no real Leadership on Council.”
Joe is quite the people person, and he aims to lend a helping hand whenever the opportunity arises. This is an attribute more leaders should have.
“I am the type of person that will pull over and help you if I see ya stranded on the side of the road… or if I see ya struggling with something. If I see you struggling with your lawn mower, when I am driving by, I will stop to help you because I am pretty good with stuff like that.”
Shogrin’s goal in acquiring one of the Ward 3 Council seats, is to bring together the community of Cheyenne. He understands that many hands working together, can accomplish more in less time. He believes that some of the beautification that needs to happen in the city, could be accomplished quickly if we could set a time and date to get together to get things done. He notices that people are some what “shelled off” in this city, and he wants bring them out of their isolation. He wants to have a strong community that cares for the welfare of one another.

“We have to take care of ourselves. Not just our house, but our community. That is hard to talk people into doing because people are so introverted and shelled off from the world with their face in their cellphone on Facebook.”

Joe has a unique perspective on running for City Council, he doesn’t view it as a competition and he doesn’t view the other constituents as opposition.
“I can’t say enough nice stuff about the people that I have met who (are also) running. I mean they all seem like really nice people. I am not running against them; I am running WITH them. In all honesty, if I get in, and they don’t all they gotta do is call me and say ‘Hey, Joe. Watch out for this. Can you help me with this? ‘ In my mind I am running with seven other people. We all want the same thing; we want to make Cheyenne stronger, bigger, and better. Basically I am surrounded by seven other people that have the same heart for the City that I do; so why would I make an enemy instead of a friend? I care for those people. Win or lose, we are in it together.”
Team work and compromise,is not a platform many actually run on… in fact, to some it may not even seem like a platform at all. The truth speaks loudly in this moment; if we truly love our City and desire to make it better, we have to work together and prioritize our compromises. Is Cheyenne mature enough to be progressive and thoughtful in it’s evolution? Cheyenne is large enough, to start carving out it’s own unique image in the comparative landscapes of other cities. What do we want to represent to ourselves and prospective future residents, and visitors alike?

As the cost of living continues it’s incremental increase across the boarder in Colorado; Cheyenne is bound to be a destination for those who can’t afford to live in Colorado’s changing economy. How can we encourage those who move here, but retain work in Colorado, to spend their money in Cheyenne with local business’? Especially when the heart of the city is in somewhat sad disrepair? What can we do to beautify our town and effectively diversify?

” A constituent made a comment about maybe trying to get the homeless people out of that area (downtown), and the Wyoming Tribune Eagle spun it like they’re a homeless hater . I’m like ‘No.’ The press will do that to you.’ But, responsibly, if you get them out of the area, you help give them means and ways to work. You gotta work with them, to have them work with you. There is always a balance, always a compromise to work things out. My friends joke that I could negotiate a deal between the Devil and God. I say, ‘I might be able to’ It’s about compromise, and it’s about working together and that’s my whole agenda.”
One of the big compromises Joe observes that needs some attention, is the wages in our great State. At this point in time, wages for most jobs doesn’t even come close to competitive national averages; which could be one reason Colorado transfers, may choose to keep their jobs and money across the boarder. Joe is concerned that our below average wages need to be addressed as a way of adding to the positive draw for current and future residents.
“If you have a CDL other places you average about $50,000 per year. Here you make about $12.24 an hour, which is about $25,000 dollars a year. And here you have to have a Heavy Machine License, because a lot of these guys have to go unload heavy equipment… so that is additional, but typically a Heavy Machine Operator will make $60-70 thousand a year. Not here. We may pay those guys $18 an hour. Then we have our Fire and Police departments, and we are growing, so we need to think about that because those departments are going to have to grow in the future. Since I have been here, I think we have grown by 6,000, that’s a lot, and now we are short on both Fire and Police. I was talking to both Chiefs, and basically Fire needs another outpost over on the east side of town. Those business’ on the east side of town actually have higher insurance rates because the response time of the Fire Department. That is one of our bigger employment centers over there. There are 2000 plus jobs in that area. “
An area of address Shogrin finds pertinent, is the need for City funding to diversify their support into more of the activities and organizations in town. Joe then referenced the failing Ice and Events Center that was taken over by the City a few years ago. Lack of advertising and promotion of activities at the Event Center has made it slip to the back of most peoples minds when contemplating a fun family friendly social activity.

“The city tends to really support four or five organizations. We don’t promote our business’ well enough. There are local business’ here, that I haven’t even heard of. You can go down off Dell Range into one of the local shops; take my friend who owned Kabob King. When he took over that building down there behind Applebees, and I go in there to have a Kabob Burger, and I look over at Applebees and their parking lot is packed. I look at his parking lot, and there are two cars in it. Applebees is a big box store. 90% of the money they make over there goes back to the corporation and the rest goes to service and bar staff. We have a lot of organizations that can help you promote your business, but a problem  I see, is they are not all under one umbrella and they need not be governed by the City Council because that says corruption. Maybe not this year, maybe not next year, or even in eight years; some where down the way, it’s going to get corrupt. Corrupt government pisses me off more than anything. If I see something right or wrong going on, I am going to call it. If it’s wrong, and I am doing it, I am going to apologize and get re-educated. I’m not above that, it’s a strength I have going into Council, if I get there. I’m not above admitting when I am wrong and learning something new. Sometimes I need help too, and I am not afraid to ask for it.”
Observing past candidates and current Council meetings leaves much to be desired in even giving the illusion of working together as a committee for the people. Many meetings run long circles around the issues with little being accomplished with the time spent meant to progress the city and address issues. Members seem unwilling to compromise or budge on their stances, which begs the question, are these representatives REALLY FOR the people and the City, or are they solely fixated on protecting their own personal interests?
“I am like, one percent asshole. Other than that I want to bring people together. At the end of the day I want us all to work together as a team. My first goal in City Council, would be to bring everyone to work together as a team. The first thing we have to realize is the first priority is, we are working together for the same reason; We are for the people, we are for Cheyenne. It’s an easy commitment. If some one is 25% right about something, we don’t have to just shoot them down. You take that 25% and build on it. Without our town having a great future, our business’ will not have a great future. If business doesn’t have a great future, the town isn’t going to have a great future and have a chance to actually become prosperous. “
Joe noted that Cheyenne’s focus has seemed geared toward the tourism that is primarily generated during the summer months in the Capital City, versus prioritizing the actual residents and business’ that run year long that actually supports city programs with tax revenue. He feels that if we invest in the beautification and maintenance of our city, it will be more attractive both aesthetically, and and in functionality.
“You see beer bottles sitting in the gutter for 3 days and no one wants to pick it up. We don’t practice due diligence in picking things up. One of the issues we have with downtown is it just needs a new coat of paint… and if enough people were to help, we could get it done in three hours. It doesn’t have to take a lot to make a place look awesome. If the City were to prioritize, and set aside a few days where city employees just went around helping people get things cleaned up…Can you imagine all these experts in their field with a budget and some grants, and we could clean up downtown nicely. We have beautiful buildings, they’ve just been neglected. “
Every downtown is known for having a ghetto area. How can Cheyenne, revitalize and address the issues that arise from an alcohol infused area that draws homelessness and at-risk adults, effectively? How do we clean up our act with out over gentrifying? How can we assist sub-sectors of our community that are disenfranchised and potentially dealing with chemical abuse and mental health issue, who are drawn to these areas where like minded poverty stricken peers congregate?

“I know why they congregate down there. Both of our Homeless Resources are down there within walking distance. You have the intersection of two busy highways right down there, and on top of that you have three places downtown there that offer free wifi. Then you are also in walking distance of MLK park, in which they sleep in if they can’t find a spot that is safe to sleep at, at night. It’s not about making the homeless people leave downtown, it’s about giving them an incentive to leave downtown. I think that is the problem people have had with downtown ‘Oh, it has to be clean’ and they want to do like they did in Denver. They swept through the homeless parks and rifled through their things, destroyed their things.”

13465971_1745896805657737_3765290143080208362_n Overall it appears Joe Shogrin really is for the people and the City. He is most definitely NOT a douche-bag. His apparent willingness to work with and for others, all while focusing on resourceful solutions that capitalize on the unique expertise and strengths of individuals working as a team, seems profound and exactly what the city of Cheyenne needs right now. With this attitude many positive things can be accomplished over a shorter period of time, thereby accelerating us into a bountiful future for this Magic City.
If you would like to connect with Joe on Facebook, click here.
If you would like to call and schedule a chat with him about any questions or concerns you may have, give him a call at (307)630-8342.
If you haven’t already, you still have time to register to vote; the primary election is in August and the race is heating up. You can register to vote at the County Clerks Office at 2020 Carey Avenue.

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Richard Johnson, Renegade Politician Pt.1

If you are a Cheyenne resident voter that follows local politics, the name of Richard Johnson, has probably popped up in conversation more than once around the water cooler.

In all seriousness, it appears that he has a completely diametric effect on those who have taken notice of his politics; whether from the outside looking in, or first hand. You either love him, hate him or find yourself completely confused by him and his presence in the political arena. Some may say, though, that “that’s par for the course when it comes to politicians.” Rich, however, is far from par for the course when it comes to politics.

And, now, our Black Sheep Councilman, is running for Mayor, on a write in campaign.

Richard is a life long resident of Cheyenne. Being labeled as “subversive” or “controversial” is nothing new when it comes to how he chooses to play his role in the game of society. Even from a young age, Rich was getting things done in a manner of hard grit sandpaper. Ruffling feathers with his ideas; all the while making strong attempts to bring sub-sectors of our community, places and ways to feel involved.

Take for instance, his involvement and passion to help get the skate park built.

I remember this town before there was a skate park.
Though I didn’t skate, many of my friends did and I knew how badly they wanted a place to go; a magical place where they could do what  they wanted to; a place where they weren’t going to get yelled at or cited for “illegal skating.”

Rich was just a few years older, and cared about skating AND politics enough to jump in; because, even when building a skate park, it all comes down to politics and support of the community.

At a first and superficial glance some may assumed that Rich is just out to break things. Breaking the systems and people who view him as obstructive or destructive… but can One individual really break something that is already blocked and/ or broken? Can One individual use their own transparency to show others that they need not pretend that superficial fixes and ignorance will alleviate a certain history of systematic dysfunction, that no longer fits our growing and changing economy?

I suppose Richard is out to challenge that in a very direct way that will yet again ruffle feathers.

This is not to say that in the process of his involvement, officially with the City Council, that he hasn’t himself changed, and noticeably so….

It’s a moody spring day in Cheyenne, Thursday in the Third week of May; we decide to meet up at the new Danielmark’s Brewpub, to discuss his effect on the community, and the reasons for the write in campaign.

Rich looks like I feel; tired, and perhaps retaining some water. On his head is a black ball cap that proclaims “DON’T ASK ME 4 SHIT!”… ironic accessory to wear to an interview… when all I have is answers to ask for.

As per usual, he has also accessorized with one of his favorite black metal band t-shirts; today it’s Panzerfaust. According to Wikipedia “Panzerfaust is an inexpensive, single shot, recoil-less German anti-tank weapon of World War II. It consists of a small, disposable pre-loaded launch tube firing a high-explosive anti-tank warhead, and was intended to be operated by a single soldier. ” This could be the end of this article. Whether or not he realizes it (and I guess that he does), he sums himself up consistently, without the help of others.

My hope for this series of pieces, is to give you a more clear view of where Rich stands on topics effecting this town.  For those of you who may be on the fence, or just on the side of the fence where the haters hang out; This is for you.

We grab our brews, and head out the the nice new Danielmark’s patio, and jump straight into it.

“Well, Rich, tell me about how you have become who you’ve hated?”

Basically over the last month I have done a huge paradigm shift from who I was before January 5, 2015. Pretty much before that I was an idealist, and now I am the fucking worst pessimist you’ve ever fucking met.

“So you basically skipped realism, and jumped straight to pessimism?”

Yeah, it’s pretty much, this whole escapade is total fucking failure. At least my site lives up to it’s name now. (The infamous FaceBook page “Richard Johnson, You Failed This City)

“Why are you feeling so disappointed?”

Well, because I know that there are ebbs and flows, and right now it’s on a flow, and soon it will be on an ebb…and we’re going to get another old man as Mayor. And I bet you that this year the status quo is going to go out in droves and kill everything (progressive.) I was actually waiting for more candidates to run against me, not because of who I am, but basically because of what I stand for. So I thought there would be a lot more opposition candidates. I mean they have nine more days to file… I figured they would come in a put the kibosh on it. I mean if they really look at it, I haven’t done anything except repeal some laws and ordinances. Like spitting is coming up, and weapons. Basically chickens was a thing that nobody thought should happen, but I just did it to piss people off.

“Are you maybe just being a little too hard on yourself? I mean, you have only been in the position a year, and it probably takes at least a year to figure out what you are doing, since you hadn’t done it before.”

No, I knew exactly what I was doing. I did it with the skate park. I knew what government was all about, that’s why I thought I could just, kind of, mesh in. But, you know, really, it’s just smoke and mirrors. I don’t really feel like anything has really been accomplished in seventeen months.

“But, you didn’t have a clear plan, right?”

No. And I never do. I never run on that type of shit. I told them, that I have no agenda. For my write in, let’s just say that this community better hope I’m never elected for Mayor.

“What does that even mean?”

I will raise impact fees for developers. I will never have a six penny or seven penny tax, where you have to pay for a fire station because a developer wants to keep a couple of million for themselves. I WILL RAISE IMPACT FEES, and I WILL make developers pay for fire stations and more police officers. And I know, the Chamber of Commerce is going to come after me and tell me that I am not supporting local business. Then the Council is going to flip flop on me because they are a bunch of cowards. They are going to get scared that suddenly local business’ that hires local employees, is going to get the shaft again. If you look at inflation rates the Walmart on Livingston paid $125.00 for their final flat.”

Richard then explains his observation of wasted funds on spaces, with things like landscaping, in the name of “beautification” with plants that are having a hard time surviving in our climate at the times of year that they are planted. At the same time he is addressing his experience with the community complaining about the overgrown Green Way, that is justified to not be trimmed as a means of “trash mitigation and purification of waters with natural grasslands.”

Johnson makes note that Cheyenne lacks a specific beautification plan that is symbiotic with the climate and environment of the city and surrounding areas, and that citizens and business’ are wasting funds yearly on everything but long lasting beautification solutions that can also add to the the potential uniqueness of Cheyenne.

Maybe it was the topics of trash, and  monetary waste; that the conversation led next to the other Mayoral Candidates running for office.

As you may have heard before this article, Johnson, is running on a write in campaign. No signs, no banners, no $25.00 entry fee to put his name in the hat. He doesn’t think you need to spend money for a campaign, and he is out to prove it in his own renegade way. Some people are laughing, I know… and maybe I am giggling a little on the inside, too. My reason is, “you never know until you try, and if you don’t put any money in… what do you have to lose?” Right?

A slight controversy recently came up online, after Marian Oor announced her Mayoral bid with videos, balloons and bright orange posters. Richard boiled it down to gimmicks and things that would end up as trash in peoples yards.   In turn he encouraged  voters to avoid posters on their lawns and in their business’, and instead, actually investigate what the constituents were currently doing in the community that would prove they should have a seat ( whether City Council, Mayor, or beyond.)

Social Media followers of Richard Johnson, and active participants in the community eager to try their hand at city council agreed with his logic. Gabe Pina of Pina Accounting and the Downtown Cheyenne Business Coop is running for a seat in Ward 3 City Council.  He  was inspired to ask his supporters to donate to one of several community charities in lieu of campaign donations.

I almost feel like an asshole now, every time I go into a new business opening, because I am surrounded by fake assholes. I am surrounded by ‘candidates’. It’s almost like everything I have done for the last year and a half on my own was “Oh I am elected, now I have to really go out and support my community. “

And support his community he did. “Richard Johnson, You Failed This City” has been just as abuzz with community events as it has been with Johnson’s personal rants; raves, observations, controversial pictures and not so rhetorical questions.

Anything having to do with Cheyenne; issues within the community have been posted to his social media participants, by Richard himself. Concerns by the public have been emailed to him, and he has posted them anonymously to gauge the interest of the community with topics raised. Overall, Rich has made a pretty concerted effort to attend as many events as possible regardless of  niche or perceived “cool” factor.

More than once, Richard, has arrived unannounced, and not specifically invited. And, perhaps to some onlookers, who may have been self placated in their own perceived superiority; were the least impressed with the effort in which Mr. Johnson was asserting himself into political circles concerning this community in the fine state of Wyoming.

So, though perhaps not out to impress, Richard Johnson is more willing than others to play the game and attempt to beat it by breaking the status quo.  Whether he  breaks it, or perhaps just overloads the system; there is bound to be an impact for Cheyenne.

(To go to Part 2, CLICK HERE)

The Abyss of the Mind

I started writing this for Mental Health day in May, however in the depths of my doldrums, words were hard to capture.  Recently I have had some conversations with friends of mine, who are also in the midst of depressive episodes in their lives, for various reasons.  And in knowing that, I feel less alone; their vulnerability and willingness  to talk about it has strengthened our friendships while broadening my perceptions of what it is that we are experiencing.

If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, please feel free to reach out to me.  I would like to create a public dialog about these experiences and offer emotional support.  Many people going through  depression have a hard time talking about it, and often expend much of their energy trying to pretend that they are okay.  Some of us are very good at hiding how much internal turmoil we are actually facing.  Please feel free to comment and share your story and if you have found any healthy coping mechanisms that have given you some relief.  If you are feeling suicidal please find help, or  call The National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255, which can connect you to local resources.

It’s lonely on the inside looking out at all the smiling faces, lingering in places of joy. And in this solemn slumber I am left to wonder why it seems so easy for others to get on emotionally in positivity. Wonder what it is about me that feels so lost and out of love, despite the deep set knowing that my life is nothing but good.

See, I am not struggling from hunger, or left out in the cold to wonder where I will sleep; in fact my life feels pretty safe and secure, but this obscure stranger lurks there. This shadow that doesn’t seem to care much for my better welfare. It clouds my good ideas, and glosses over memories, twisting how I perceive the past, present and future. And that is no way to live.

In my darkest hours I have sat in contemplation at the meaningless anticipation that slowly burns inside me, for a day I have yet to see, one where I will be free of this depressive malady. Melancholy has been my mantra for too long, it’s the silently sung anthem of my attitude as of late.

And it doesn’t suit me very well. Some days it’s hell trying to smile and pretend that this mental pressure isn’t there, and that I have no cares in the world. It’s been the discussion at the tip of my tongue for too long, and suppression has started swelling, and it’s going to bust through it’s shell of deception.

Deniable, the Debbie Downer, no one wants to invite her to the party where she will largely bring others down. And despite it all I know my own ability to raise the vibration but lately it’s hard to rise to the occasion as I sit in this procrasterbationary cycle.

There is a roadblock in my view, and it skews my ability to see where my path leads, and what it means to me. I feel that at 34 I should have made more progress instead of this arrested development. There is massive pressure in the potential, and I level myself by staying away from making too many decisions. Each task of the day leaves me in wanting, each choice to make more over baring than the last.

In this depression, I want to be taken care of . I don’t want to care for others, and yet that is an unavoidable reality. There is no one to swaddle me, and hold me silently, for a moment of peace and feeling connection.

And isn’t that exactly what depression is? A feeling of isolation so pervasive that it effects one down to their core. It feels incredibly unreliable. I try to put words to it, but I find it unexplainable. I know it’s a type of depression that drugs will not fix, and therapy is no match for; realizing I just want more connection, but I can’t seem to move forward and make that happen. Feet bound in concrete, frozen from make a move toward any one direction. My synapsis on some sort of delay. Thinking today is the day, still nothing happens and I find myself waiting on tomorrow.

Education is my distraction. Information is my drug. And the more I learn about the world, the more I feel torn between throwing myself headlong into humanity; and hiding out away from reality. The push-me-pull-you of a person with sensitive strength, confused on how to assert her existence within this existence. Missed opportunities because nothing seems to light my fire. The foundation of excuses.

The fuel of my youth; a desire to be seen as acceptably intelligent, bound for successes undreamed of yet,  if only I could leave the small perimeter of my home. When I finally left, I felt I was on some sort of path, but with each pursuit I would follow, there was still a hollow in my heart; a dissonance with my purpose.

Materialism didn’t suit me, so some may see me as living life like a vagabond. The only purpose I’ve held onto, is the service of humanity… but where is the service to me? I swim in a sea of information, I drown on all the options, cast out into the depths of indecision.

I can’t seem to find a conclusion, on what actually TO DO. And in this place, I miss experiences of love, laughter and adventure. Three things I adore. Somehow I always answer “no.”

“Yes” is it’s own foreign language, I can’t wrap my mouth around it.

My heart wants to know this foreign language, but my mind won’t record it.

No regrets, but I bet if I knew then, what I know now, maybe I wouldn’t feel this depression like an extremity. An extension of me I can’t seem to detach. Feeling like I know too much; I see too much, I feel too much. Overwhelmed and shut down.  Emotionally paralyzed; my body can’t metabolize all this stimulation that bombards me in silence. A personal crisis, I tell myself will not last forever. Nothing lasts forever.

Fit Body Boot Camp- Week 13- Meet the Boss Lady, Sara Goossen

Fitness CAN be fun, with Sara Goossen!
Fitness CAN be fun, with Sara Goossen!

Are you familiar with the action of a wrecking ball?

That is Sara Goossen in a nutshell. The lady is powerful, energetic, and ready to knock excuses out of the way. She is a bright and compassionate person who sees the potential in people and then helps individuals harness their inner bad ass. This talent is an imperative staple in her personal business model.

October 1, 2012, Sara opened Fit Body Boot Camp- Cheyenne, with 14 clients. Her goal is to change the lives of 5000 of Cheyenne’s citizens by 2017. As of April 2015, she has trained and cultivated a community of 1200 residents who are interested in adopting a healthy life style. That is an average of 400 people a year, getting active and aware in the fair city of Cheyenne and it’s surrounding areas. No small feat for this 5’3″ wrecking ball.

Sara and I got together to discuss her fitness past and her optimistic fitness future; how she came to start FBBC and some of her own trials and tribulations in the fitness process.

Before I jump into the interview, I would like to state that when you are looking for a gym, and a support system to help you change your habits; having a leader like Sara is imperative because she has run the gamut of unhealthy eating and body weight issues. She has children, she knows struggles and excuses. She has taken initiative on her own, in her own life in order to transcend her past hang ups. In turn Sara has turned hardships into valuable insight for those at any point in their fitness journey.

It may be easier for certain people to take her ethic very seriously because she didn’t start out on this lifestyle right after high school or college before having children; when most women’s bodies are still in that youthful metabolism. She wasn’t always healthy. It was a choice that she had to dedicate herself to; which meant a long road of challenges that led to the changes that are evident in her today.

Let’s find out more, shall we?

March/April 2015; back in  the game after a 2 month break.
March/April 2015; back in the game after a 2 month break.

STATS

AGE: 28

HEIGHT: 5’3″

WEIGHT: 145.3 lbs

FAVORITE EXERCISE: RUNNING STAIRS, WORKING THE BACK, AND SQUATS

LEAST FAVORITE EXERCISE: BUILDING CLIMBERS

Breaks are temporary... This lady is out to GET IT DONE!
Breaks are temporary… This lady is out to GET IT DONE!

Let’s talk about your fitness past, eating disorders, all that stuff.

It goes so far back, it’s disturbing… so, okay, 10 years old; my mom told me I needed to stop eating granola bars because they were making me fat and at that point in time I had just finished some book, I can’t remember the title of, and it was talking abou this girl who would throw up, because she was so fat. So…I…followed suit.

Thank God for Children’s Literature, right?

Yeah, I was like, “Well, now I am well informed and I can solve this problem.

(Sara reminences with awkward laughter.)

So, at ten years old that started fourteen years of just roller coaster disordered eating; ranging the spectrum of binging and purging to just starving myself. When I got pregnant with my son, when I was sixteen, I kind of just said “Fuck it. It doesn’t matter if I am skinny; it doesn’t matter if I am fat…I am pregnant. I can eat whatever I want and have no guilt.” I gained 50 pounds when I was pregnant with him, and I lost ten. I lost some weight nursing, but after I stopped nursing him, I continued the disordered eating cycle.

Just picked it up where you left off?

Yep, just picked it up right where I left off. And I knew… I was an athlete in high school, I knew about nutrition but it’s not something that I ever listened to because disordered eating was so much easier than learning how to feed myself. At nineteen I married my now ex-husband, (my daughters’ father) and gained all that “happy weight” I maxed out the scale before we got married, at 197 lbs…. so, I looked like a cow in my wedding dress.

None of this happens over night... it takes time to get to either end of the spectrum.   Which one would you prefer to be closer to?
None of this happens over night… it takes time to get to either end of the spectrum. Which one would you prefer to be closer to?

Thank god for girdles….

After that we were trying to get pregnant with Emma, and couldn’t get pregnant… couldn’t get pregnant. We tried for two years, and I finally went to the doctor and asked “what is going on?” I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and the doctor told me that I had to make a lifestyle change, or else…. “you’re going to end up with diabetes; you are more apt to have certain types of cancer, you are just going to get fatter, your thyriod is going to peter out…” All the things that go along with PCOS… “This is your future. You either make a change now or enjoy your future where it is headed.”

At that point I sought help because I knew my disorder was no longer a sustainable way to live life. It wasn’t mentally or emotionally healthy.

So I lost about 20 lbs. and we got pregnant with Emma through a series of fertility treatments. When I was pregnant with Emma I only gained about 20 lbs and then I lost it all right away. At that point they (the doctors) said “Well you are probably not going to be able to have any more children, so don’t worry about it.” And I thought, okay, cool; I am just going to go back to doing the whole weight loss thing, because I still had fifty pounds to go.

So I lost another twenty pounds, and then I got pregnant with my daughter Ileena… BOOM! I remember going to my dads house and saying, “Well… I am pregnant again just when I was gettting my ‘sexy’ back.” My grandma looks at me and says “Well honey, maybe that’s the problem.”

Double edged sword on that one…

Yeah! So I got pregnant and did that whole thing and I only gained fifteen pounds with Ailena , and I lost that all right away. November 2009 I found Body For Life, Bill Phillips, transformation.com ; whom I heard about from my step-mom. So I thought, I am going to try this thing. (Everybody thought I was crazy for starting during the holidays.) It was pretty easy; three days of lifting, three days of cardio, all high intensity intervals. By doing that the next three months I was able to loose the rest of the weight. About half way through that three month process I was like “Ya, know, I want to help other people because I can do this as some one who has struggled their whole life with eating well and taking care of themselves … I can help some one else do this.”

I got my personal training certification.

How long did that take you?

It was about four months and about that time I was working for my dad as his administrative assistant amoung other things. I decided that I would try this training thing before and after work, and see what happens. I did that and it just blew up, so in June 2010, I quit my job working for my dad and I started training full time.

I was doing a lot of one on one training and two boot camp sessions at a local gym. I was making money, doing something I love. I worked there for two years and I left because there were some issues that made it neccessary for me to get out of that environment. I decided, I am just going to start my own place; I left and they came after me with for violating my no-compete/ no-solicitation agreement.

Looking back, I was so mad at the time. I was furious, like how could they do this? How can this stand up? Well, it stood up because I had solicited the people who had signed up with me, but were also their clients. I had to take a year off of training and I went back to working for my dad for a year and within that year I knew I needed to do something. I was miserable.

When you are following a life of passion and suddenly it is taken away; it’s like the wind has been knocked out of your sails. You don’t even feel like a human being. I started looking down in Colorado for places I could move to and open up. I was doing all this during the same time I was being sued and working for my dad; I also had gotten a divorce from my kids father. It was everything that could go wrong, did.

I was at an impass; like shit, what do I do?

I looked down in Boulder and I spent about six months driving back and forth, just looking for a location I could open up. I encountered road block after road block.

By this point I had already talked to the CEO of Fit Body, who has been a long time friend. I told them, I want to do this but I have to wait until this year is up or I am screwed.

Was that part of your Non-compete agreement? Did you have a time limit to wait?

Yes, that was the year. One year to the day, October 1, 2012; we opened up with fourteen clients. I was just so excited to be open and be able to do what I love to do. That’s it… the rest is history. Here we are today; looking for another space, a bigger place… sitting down with the bank and talking about bigger loans.

The beginning bare bones of a fitness fortress in the making.
The beginning bare bones of a fitness fortress in the making.

That’s pretty quick, only three years.

Yeah, less than three years actually.

How do you know the CEO of Fit Body?

The fitness industry is so small, it really is. So if you don’t know every one you soon will if you stay in it long enough. I met him doing a master mind. I was in there with the two founders of Fit Body Boot Camp, Steve Hochman and Bedros Keuilian. I was in Steve’s Master Mind and through that I met Bedros. We had several conversations and talked on the phone several times, emailed back and forth; He called me up one day and said ” What’s it going to take to get you to open a Fit Body? And I told him, “You know what it will take, you know what I am up against right now. It’s going to have to take one hell of a deal and some patience and that is where it’s at.” So he said “Alright, let’s make it happen.”

At this point it was going from licensing to a franchise, so they were looking for people and I just happened to be one of those people.

Do you get together with other gym owners?

I do know a lot of the Fit Body owners simply because we get together quarterly; every three months, usually in San Diego or Chino Hills, California. There is a great community with in Fit Body, even from a corporate structure coming all the way down to the clients. It’s nice that we can just continue to pay it forward. It’s pretty cool, and a very unique situation.

Would you like to talk about your competition stuff?

OH YEAH! Sure! I don’t want to bore you to tears with business.

I first competed in August of 2011, I also ran the Denver half marathon in October 2010, and after that I gave myself permission to never run again. (laughter.) I find it really useless and painful. It turns out I am better suited for lifting heavy things than go fast.

2011 looks good on Sara Gosseen!
2011 looks good on Sara Gosseen!

Did you do this on your year of sabbatical?

No, it was right before everything blew up in my face. Then I competed in my second figure show August 2013.

2013 looked even better!
2013 looked even better!

Did you win anything?

I did. I placed 5th in the second show, I was pretty excited about that. Granted there were only six figure competitors, so I was 5th, but I was happy to have something to take home, regardless.

My first show I did there were 36 figure competitors, and I think I finished 34th. So I was like, “I think I have improved!”

'High Knees
‘High Knees” are different than heinies… make sure both are in good form!

Were these in Wyoming?

The one in 2011 was in Loveland, Colorado. The Warrior Classic, and the other one was in Wyoming, and that was the Jay Cutler Classic. And that Dude, is a Big Dude. I have a picture of him somewhere.

Not only is Jay Cutler bohemoth, but he makes Sara look like a tiny lil tea cup.  Jay Cutler Classic 2013.
Not only is Jay Cutler bohemoth, but he makes Sara look like a tiny lil tea cup. Jay Cutler Classic 2013.

 

He was there?

Yeah, he is huge! He is a moose of a man! My head is as big as his shoulder!

He could pick you up in the palm of his hand!

Honestly I am getting the bug again, to compete. I am trying to weigh out the time commitment that it takes, along with my other obligations to see what it will take… if it’s something I can feasibly do right now while keeping everything else balanced. I do love competing .

If you wait to have your own place, you could put on your own competition, in house competition. Then you won’t have to go too far.

That is one of the most fun things about competition; you get to meet so many interesting people from all over the country. People who are busting their asses just to get super lean for just a minute. It literally lasts a day. You deplete enough to have a six pack for a day, and then you gain 20 pounds the next day because you drink water. It’s crazy.

It would be interesting to time lapse a person going through the build up to competition, and then the 24 hours afterward. Once you get the tanner off, and start drinking water again, it’s like what the hell? You blossom like a flower.

You still eat, you carb load the day of to fill out your muscles because you have depleted to the point that you have taken all the glycogen and striped your body of literally everything. It’s not something you want to do often because it is kind of dangerous, BUT, it’s still fun to push your mental ability and physical barriers. That is big for me, because I love the challenge.

Are you a challenge junkie?

I totally am! I love the personal challenge. Competing against other people is fun, but figure prep is anywhere from 2-5 months.

It’s kind of interesting that you have struggled with disordered eating which is in and of itself sort of an addiction, and pushing your body to a limit and challenging it, but not in a very healthy way. And here you have turned your addiction around to a healthier way of expressing it. Yet, there are still these extremes that you go to.

It totally is. What I think helps me with competing and the lifestyle of body building is the structure that it provides. It’s like a security blanket. You take some one with an eating disorder who has struggled with that their entire life, and you say, “you don’t have to struggle, here is some structure. Have a nice day.” It’s like, “okay, this is safe.”

Then the biggest struggle, is will power to be able to keep on the regamine.

Yeah, it’s like any other fitness goals… as long as you have that dead line… the finish line at the end; it makes it that much easier. It’s not like you have to do this for a lifetime or else… It’s here is your dead line, and then you reset the goal. And that is something that is really, really exciting for me.

Through competing I learned to accept my body, where ever it is; whether I am 120 pounds or 145. I am still strong, I am still beautiful and I am still worthy of love and acceptance and success. That is one of those things that I have accidentally learned through the process. It is a by product.

I know a lot of people who compete who struggle with that mindset. Like if they don’t have a six pack they are done for. They are like “Oh My God, My Life Is OVER!”

It basically boils down to bulemia or dysmorphia. It’s all activated on the same brain wave length, same neurological pathway. It’s been nice to find freedom from that as I have gotten older. To not be stressed out about the numbers, to see yourself and be like “You look good!”

IT’s a good example to your kids, too.

I hope so. Sometimes I wonder, “am I ruining these little people?”

Mommy, Wife, Business Owner and Encourager of the Masses... what can't this lady do?         Photo courtesy of  Lacey Dippold Photography
Mommy, Wife, Business Owner and Encourager of the Masses… what can’t this lady do? Photo courtesy of Lacey Dippold Photography

Instead of “You’re the reason mommy has a drinking problem,” it’s more like “You are the reason mommy has an exercise problem.”

That’s funny beacause when I took two months off earlier this year, my kids were like “what is wrong with her?” I did not feel like myself. I felt like I was insane most days; like absolutely bat shit crazy.

You needed to be exerting yourself.

Yeah, I needed that rush of endorphins and I think it was something that I had always taken for granted because I have been doing it for so long, it’s just been part of my life for so long. When I completely took it out, I had no idea the impact it would have on me. Not just physically but spiritually, emotionally and mentally. I got to tell you, the week we started working out again, my husband and I; He was like “Gosh you are so much easier to be around.” And I knew he meant that in the sweetest way possible, instead of being a jerk, and I was like “I know, trust me, it’s easier to be in my head.” I went to the doctor and I asked am I schitzophrenic, what is going on here? And she said “I think you are depressed.” And I just needed exercise.

So tell me about your favorite success story to come out of here.

My favorite one, honestly, is from when I very, very first started. He followed me when I opened Fit Body. His name is Austin, he was 16 when he came to me he was 386 lbs. and he was tall and huge. He knew he had a problem. He was home schooled so he didn’t have a lot of interaction with other kids. The reason he was home schooled was because when he was in school, the other kids were just horrible to him because he was so big and kind of awkward and quiet.

He would come, every single day to Boot Camp. At that point in time, they were 1 1/2 hour sessions, he would show up at 6:00 AM, every day. And even if he couldn’t do it, he would struggle through it.

He asked me, “what do I eat? how do I do it?”

His mom was onboard, but I didn’t see her much. Sometimes she would come and walk while he did Boot Camp. Every now and then she would come talk to me, well when I took the year off, Austin started power lifting and he took his focus off the weight loss. Then he came over to Fit Body when I opened, and he brought his mother with him, and they did it together.

It was just so, so, so cool. He ended up losing 110 lbs by the time he was 19. Then they moved to Oregon. He was such a great, great kid. It was just so cool to see how he was able to influence his mom because it’s usually the parents who influence the kids. He was able to influence his mom after two years of going at it by himself.

Was she also over-weight?

Yes, she was, but such a nice, nice gal. I look back on those two, especially Austin and I think “That kid could have made every excuse in the world because teenagers do, adults do. Teenagers learn from what the adults model.” He just was like “I am tired of this. I am tired of being the ‘fat kid’. I don’t mind being a ‘big kid’, I am 6’3″. But I am tired of being the ‘fat kid'”

The last Halloween he was here, he dressed up as The Hulk; and that involved taking off his shirt, and painting himself green, and walking around with out a shirt on. Two years prior to that you would have never seen him do that. It was so cool to see him blossom from this awkward quiet, video gamer (indoor) kid to this little ball of life and energy, and sass.

It was fun to not only see his journey of weight loss but also to see how he grew as a person. To see him evolve into an adult from a kid that just didn’t want to be fat and made fun of.

Do you stay in contact with him?

I do. I stay more into contact with his mom because he is a young adult now and all over the place.

It would be interesting to see if he takes a career in Fitness from this influence. It seems like people who a great at teaching come from a past of being ostersized.

So, we have touched on this, but obviously Fitness has a positive effect on your homelife.

Oh God, yeah! The kids are like “Mom, go work out, you are driving us crazy.” It is also nice though, because my husband and I can share it together. Every morning Monday through Saturday we go work out together, and then go to work and do our thing. It’s been a good bonding experience for us too. Although it did take us three years for him to come and work out with me. The first time we exercised together, he was having a bad day and we were just friends at the time. I was like “he’s having a bad day, just go lift, and he will be fine.” Well a half hour in, he is dry heaving on himself, and I was like ” I thought you were in shape?” Well, after that he didn’t come back to work out with me for three years. And he comes to boot camp, and he makes it through the whole thing, and after that he said “I am going to have to wait until you are ‘deconditioned’ a little before we can work out together.”

He took the oppertunity while I took two months off to “even the playing field.”

Since then it has been nice, in the last couple of months to have that morning time with my husband because we have five kids… we need that time together. It’s nice to have that time and cheer each other on.

What are some of your future goals?

Really my mission is just to help people and it always has been. I am in the business of changing lives and if I am not changing lives, then I am doing something wrong.

Watch out folks....
Watch out folks….

YOU RUINED MY LIFE THROUGH EXERCISE!

Ha, ha! Oh man, if some one said that to me, I would have to reevalute everything. I really do just want to leave an impact on this world. And, Cheyenne… God Bless it, and all of it’s citizens; (but Cheyenne) is a FAT city. Overweight, unhealthy; spiritually, mentally and physically. People are over worked and under paid, or over worked and over paid. They have little or no time for their families , no time for themselves; no time to do anything. So we have people spinning their wheels, but for what? At the end of the day if you don’t have your health, you have nothing left. I don’t want to out live my children. I see obese kids around and I want to slap their parents. I don’t want to beat the kids, but I want to slap the parents. It makes me so mad. But then I look at it, and you have to change the lives of the parents before you can change the lives of the children. At the end of the day, it is our job as adults to make those responsible decisions. It isn’t easy, but it is our responsiblity.

It’s in my heart to change the health of this community, if not the entire community of Wyoming, but that’s a long way off down the road. I want to continue to make a difference in peoples health and in their lives.

Thirty minutes of exercise might not seem like much, but it can change how a wife treats her husband. She is in a better mood, she feels better about herself, she feels more attractive… she actually wants to be with her husband instead of saying ” I don’t see what you see, at all.”

It changes how a mother treats her children because she has more energy, she will want to take them to the park, or go hiking and do stuff. Or maybe she is just in a better mood and doesn’t want to paddle their butts just for being little people.

It is just fitness, it is just a work out… but it can change EVERYTHING. I have seen it with myself. I saw it when I started my journey years ago and I still see it today. If I don’t work out, I need to work out because I start feeling ‘cagey’ inside. Anxious.

What has your biggest triumph been in your personal fitness journey?

I think just staying the course. Every day is a new day. I can’t say one event has been a real defining moment in my health and fitness journey. I think it just staying course with the lifestyle. I mean sometimes I fall off, just like anyone. I go on a little cookie diet, when I feel stressed, and then I gain eight pounds and then I have to lose it again. At the end of the day just knowing that I am doing what I need to be doing is just great. But when I am not doing that I can tell a difference. So for me, it’s just committing to the lifestyle.

Is there anything you would want to change?

No. Not really because I believe even the hard stuff is lessons. And I think I am far more grateful now toward some of the hardships that I went through. When you look back at it, it just gives you an oppertunity to learn about yourself; to learn about others and the way the world works. Hardships are often self inflicted. So if anything it’s just learning about who I am and who I want to be and who I do not want to be. It’s just about growing up.

Would you like to give any tips or inspiration?

It’s just about consistency. You have to pick and plan and be consistent. It doesn’t matter what your plan is, as long as it has some good foundation of physical health, mental health and spiritual health. Even if it’s CrossFit or lifting or body building or boot camp; whatever it is, I think it’s just about picking something that works for you and stick with it. I know Boot Camp isn’t for everyone. I wish it was. At the end of the day finding something that works and sticking with it long enough to get results. So many people just go about their life by starting a new program every two weeks, saying “But I am just not getting results.” and I am like “Dude, it’s only been two weeks. Do you know how long it took me to lose 70 pounds?”

How long did it take you?

Beginning to end it took three years. Granted I got pregnant twice in between, but it took me three years to lose that 70 pounds. It’s not going to happen over night.

After spending all this time taking other peoples measurements; when do people, on average see a difference for themselves and accept that change is occurring?

Typically eight weeks, especially for women. I call it an 8 Week Miracle. Literally nothing on the scale can change and inches may not change, but may be your clothes fit differently. For whatever reason the inches may not change, your body fat may not change, and then one day you wake up and somewhere between the bedroom and the bathroom, you realize you lost your ass. It’s like it’s just fallen off somwhere and you hop on the scale and you are down ten pounds from the night before. And you will be like “what the hell? My scale must be broken.”

So you call in a spouse or a loved one and you have them hop on the scale and it says what it always says to them, and you hop back on there and it says the same thing, “you are down 10 lbs.”

You have to trust the process, long enough. Not just “half commit.”

“Oh I am just gonna work out for eight weeks and hope that everything is going to happen. You have to have a plan. Have a plan of attack and exicute it flawlessly. Even if you have one bad day, okay, perfect; get back on the band wagon, but don’t let that one bad day or one bad meal derail you for the next six months.

So I think that is the key. Consistency. You have to be consistent, no matter what. And that goes with anything; if it’s fitness related, or business related, or if you want better relationships. What ever it is, BE CONSISTENT! STICK WITH YOUR PLAN! Things WILL change.

In summery; Knowledge, is the awareness that all action has a reaction, and Wisdom, is using that awareness to your advantage whilst utilizing all available resources.

Fit Body Boot Camp works because of the significant insight that the program lends through collaborative Wisdom and Experience.

Fit Body Boot Camp is calling out more of Cheyenne to get involved in their fitness; and during the month of May we are taking extra efforts to expose residents to the opportunity.  If you have been following this blog and you are tempted to try it; COME ON DOWN!  Let them know you read this blog and that it has helped you to take the first step in health and wellness; or if you are new to town and looking for a fitness community and this seems up your alley, come take a test drive.

You can find out more by going to fitbodybootcamp.com/cheyennefitnessbootcamp, or on Facebook Fit Body Boot Camp Cheyenne.

If this article interests you and you would like to read more, check out these related blogs.  And as always I appreciate “likes”, comments, suggestions and subscribers; so  please feel free to interact.  And remember kids, Fitness is great, but Burpees SUCK!

Fit Body Boot Camp- Week 12- Perscription Fitness

Keep in mind while reading this, as if it was one of those 1:30 second commercials for some new prescription drug, like Botox.

To Those Of You, who know Motivation can be hard to come by; To the down trodden and sick of being slovenly, To those who live in fear of their full potential… To those who know it isn’t going to be easy.

Fitness isn’t instantaneous, it won’t happen over night. Persistence requires practice in patience, it is slowly accrued through determination and mindfulness.

Sometimes it’s going to be hard, and your first inclination will be to give up; but you won’t because you hate how your past life style felt. You have experienced the rush of endorphins, you have felt satisfied by the sweat on your brow. Daily you feel you have accomplished something meaningful.

Fitness is about the commeraderie of a job well done, especially if it was challenging. It’s noticing the laundry feels lighter, and the hike up a few flights of stairs no longer leaves you winded. It is the joy in hauling in 10 grocery bags, like it ain’t no thing.

Fitness is showing up even when a warm bed seems like the preferable idea. It’s bundling up for a walk or jog, even on the coldest days. It’s eating clean and getting your nutrients.

There are going to be excuses, and obsticles, daily. Some days it won’t happen at all. It may cause you to feel guilty when you don’t work out one or two days in a row. You will have many moments of self justification, and self judgement. There will be days of successes. New bodily abilities will be aquired.

With Fitness, it may seem to take a long time before you really start to see a difference in yourself. Not because things aren’t changing, but because it takes time to adjust to actually seeing yourself IN your new lifestyle. It may be aggrivating, at times, and a pain in the ass at others (for various reasons.) You will have a love/hate relationship, but it will totally be worth it.

You will be adding time to your biological clock while assisting your body at reversing the damage of an unhealthy lifestyle.

By embracing Fitness, you will be setting a good example for your children, and those around you. It will open doors to new experiences and people. It will make the impossible, possible.

When adopting Fitness, your body will be sore, and sweaty; you will look like hell, red faced and exillerated. You will be taking a proactive movement in your bodies chemical out put. Some times you will feel high on bodily produced “feel good” compounds. Some days you will feel you can tackle any thing that may get in your way. Other days, you may feel you just want to rest, rest, rest.

Oh, Fellow followers of the Fitness train, you may often ask yourself, “when will I be perfect,” and you may find frustration at the highs and lows of the path that follows. ( And, You WILL have highs and lows.) You will realize life is the same but different. You may aquire a new sense of confidence.

Prolonged exposure to Fitness can cause changes in perception and strange urges, such as; an increased desire to walk places or ride a bike, to dance like no one is watching in public places, excitement at the thought of entering a marathon, uncontrollable desire to buy a new bathing suit, a strong addiction to yoga pants or exercise clothes and various types of complementary footware, as well as the inclination to travel to new countries and climb historically tall mountains.

Once infected with Fitness, one may find it hard to eat certain foods, or to sit still for long periods of time. Fitness can even cause dry mouth, increased heart rate and dehydration. It is always best to drink water with Fitness, and to supplement with good nutrition.

If you or someone you know has Fitness in their life, you should definitely hang out together and get the most of your time together, hand in hand with Fitness.

Fitness is for all ages and abilities, however Fitness can be intimidating to people with heart conditions, bad joints or low levels of coordination. People with these conditions should consult a doctor before getting busy with Fitness.

Fitness is an over the counter perscription, and can be found nearly everywhere. It can available in more than 1000 varieties. There is no one size fits all Fitness, so ask around to see what kind of Fitness will suit your needs.

Fitness requires patience, persistence and positivity to be fully effective. Bad attitudes and self deprication hinder the positive effects of Fitness, and can cause fatal side effects like eating disorders, low self esteem and dysmorphia.

Do not take Fitness when highly intoxicated or suffering from narcolepsy.

Consult your doctor if you experience pain while on Fitness.

For more information about Fitness, Google: Fitness.

Fit Body Boot Camp- Week 11- Meet Trainer Amber Lemberger

If you want to meet a woman who gets right down to business, look no further than Fit Body Boot Camp Trainer, Amber Lemberger. We met up at the gym on a lazy Sunday afternoon to discuss her roles at boot camp, and give her clients a view of her journey.

Amber has a sense of poise about her. She is friendly and professional; dressed in shorts and a white running jacket. Hanging from her ears were some of the most sparktacular earrings I have ever seen. They matched nicely with her beautiful wedding ring.

Amber looks like a fitness instructor but not just any fitness instructor; a Classy Fitness Instructor. Her whole aesthetic appears carefree and yet, intentionally manicured. I imagine her at her primary employment at a dentists office… face half covered in a mask…wearing scrubs or lab coats all day. I imagine her wearing this during the interview about fitness, and the juxtaposition of it makes chuckle on the inside.

Let me introduce to you, Amber Lemberger; part time American Fitness Association Certified Fitness Trainer, Certified Dental Assist, 2011 Warrior Classic Body Building Competition 4th Place Winner, and Aspiring Mother.

STATS INITIAL WEIGH IN OCT. 2013 / MARCH 2015

AGE: 31

HEIGHT: 5’3″

WEIGHT: 120LBS/ 111LBS

ARM: 10.25″ / 9.25″

CHEST: 33.25 ” / 32″

WAIST: 25.5″ / 24.5″

HIPS: 34.5″ /32.25″

THIGH: 22″ / 19.75″

BODY FAT: 20% / 15.2%

FAVORITE EXERCISE: SQUATS & ANYTHING WITH LEGS

This interview basically starts before it begins. Amber is excited to talk, and has read my previous interviews, so we jump right in and I hit the record button.

ME: So I am basically doing these articles to allow people to get a good idea of what’s going on here (at FBBC), to make it less intimidating.

AMBER: One of the biggest things I think , is that people think we are perfect. That we have had no problems or that everything has come easy to us, and, I am like “no”… it’s definitely far from that.  I think that is the most important thing for people to see. We all struggle, we all came from somewhere. ”

Amber was born and raised in Independence, Iowa; and was involved in basketball, volleyball, and tennis through out high school. She takes a minute to reflect, “Basketball was by far my favorite.”

Amber quit sports when she attended Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa as she pursued education in Dental Assistance.

AMBER: I worked out here and there when I had time when I was at college, and then I graduated college and moved here (Cheyenne) in 2005. I occasionally worked out when I wanted to, nothing super intense or crazy. I didn’t eat the greatest, I still ate out and all that good stuff.”

In 2011, Amber was working at Smart Sports, another fitness center in Cheyenne. A few of her comrades were encouraging her to compete in a fitness competition. She decided to jump on board and change her lifestyle, in order to see how well it would go.

August of 2011, Amber enters the Warrior Classic after just 16 weeks of training involving a super intense eating and exercise regime. She lost approximately one pound a week with the help of a personal trainer and placed 4th in her category. Still in the competitive mood and under peer pressure, a year later, Amber returned to the 2012 Warrior Classic and received 9th in her class.

August 2011 Warrior Classic 4th place Winner, Amber Lemberger.
August 2011 Warrior Classic 4th place Winner, Amber Lemberger.
Amber in 2012, 9th place in her division at the Warrior Classic.
Amber in 2012, 9th place in her division at the Warrior Classic.

AMBER: No sweets, no bread, no fruit. Basic meat and vegetables and complex carbs; the entire time. I also Carb Cycled the entire time. Then I was on very low, restricted carbs the last two weeks. Toward the end you cut water. I took fourth, it was exciting. It’s very intimidating getting on that stage for the first time. I was so nervous that I was shaking…but I had just busted my ass for 16 weeks, so I am just gonna get up there and strut my stuff… I am gonna give it all I got!

After I competed,  is where I struggled; it’s tough. You have seen what your body can do, but you also have to be able to have a maintainable body. A figure body is not maintainable, it’s not healthy. At that point it’s not maintainable unless you want to be a raging bitch every day for the rest of your life.

(Amber chuckles, knowing full well what she is talking about.)

You are literally restricting yourself of everything, you get one cheat meal a week. A MEAL. That’s it. I had sweet potato pancakes every Sunday as my cheat meal, and they were fantastic! The last five weeks I didn’t get a cheat meal at all. (She pauses) It’s hard, you really have to accept your body the way it is and be okay with that. That was really hard for me. I struggled for a long time.

ME: It must be hard to put yourself in that position; to be judged by people and to purposefully put yourself in the situation where you are being compared to the person next to you.

AMBER : It’s hard because so and so up there may not be natural, using steroids or other things. Now, I personally, can not do those things to myself, that’s not something I wanted to do; so I had to be okay getting on stage next to somebody knowing that they aren’t natural. You have to know down in your heart, “You know what, this is me, and I look damn good for training for 16 weeks even if I don’t get first place.”

It’s definitely hard, and they (the judges) are really critical of you. They told me “You need to trim down your legs.” I was on the stair mill 50 minutes a day for WEEKS, and they still told me I had to lean them down, more. I was just like Ugh (exasperated sigh).

ME: It must be hard to be judged like that after pushing your body as far as it would go, and have to  them tell you “Eh it’s still not good enough.”

AMBER: Yeah, for sure. One of the things that was hardest for me is I just don’t have a big upper body. So that effected my points, too. The experience alone, and saying that I have done it was…. I just was totally down with that. All of it. The tan, having your suit glued to your butt. It’s something you will never know, unless you do it. I mean standing nude in a cold tent, being sprayed with three coats of tan. You have to bend over, and spread your legs. At that point you’re just like “who cares, I trained way too long to not be here and sticking my butt in your face.”

The whole experience, gives you a high for the whole day. You can do anything on the day of a show, because you know “I’m almost done.”

It’s been a ride since 2011. A lot of ups and downs.

June 2011, before competing in the Warrior Classic.
June 2011, before competing in the Warrior Classic.

Amber moved right in to talking about Fit Body Boot Camp.

amber4

AMBER: I knew owner Sara (Goossen) from competition and in September 2013, I thought, “I am going to give Boot Camp a go.” I wanted something different. I don’t want to spend two hours in the gym, a day. I don’t have time for it.

I came in and I heard Sara was looking for a trainer and I love helping people. I am a dental assistant during the day and it’s a very helpful profession. It’s very gratifying. You get to see so many good things throughout the day, you also see some pretty bad things but you get to make people feel good about themselves. And that’s what I love. So I met with Sara, and she said “You know, I never would have thought that this was something you would have wanted to do.” So I started coming in, and working with her a bit and then I started training. And I love it! I love helping people. I love being here.

My training style is a little different. When I am in here, I am serious. When I work out I have bitch face. When I am here, I am focused on working out and getting people where they need to be. I mean, there is laughter and joking, but it’s more “We are here to get this done.” I am here to push you, and if that means sometimes it’s tough love, then it’s tough love, ya know? I love seeing people succeed. I love seeing people do something that they couldn’t do before.

I try to put the heavier weights in peoples hands, I love pushing people to the extreme because that is what they want, and they are so much happier when they surprise themselves.

The best compliment is when some tells me that I helped push them. We all need to be pushed, even me. We have to push each other. There are days when I just want to shut off the alarm and not show up, and I have to push myself.

I was lifting alone at 4:30 in the morning, and then Amanda McDaniel started lifting with me, and it made all the difference. Having some one show up that early, it’s like “Hey, I am accountable to you.”

I am very motivated, I don’t need anyone else to motivate me to get here; but when I am working out, it’s good to have that push or to have some one next to me. Like, “oh she is faster than me.”

ME: It seems that is one of the things that makes Boot Camp so successful, it includes everything you need to jump in there and get things done. It takes care of the awkwardness.

AMBER: Oh yeah! Everyone here is so helpful. And it doesn’t ever feel like Bobby Jo is better than everyone else. If some one is struggling, you show them or help them. If you’re new, I don’t think anyone has ever felt secluded. We are all, always trying to help them jump in; which can be hard for a trainer because we are always watching the time and keeping track of the sets that you have done. You are trying to watch form, and help the new people learn what they are doing. Sometimes it’s difficult; there is just so much going on at once. Sometimes people may not understand how much we have going on in our minds in one 30 minute training session.

ME: Not to mention watching 20 people, making sure they don’t injure themselves.

AMBER: Yeah, you can’t always see everyone. Sometimes people think they can hide that they are nauseas or light headed, and they hide it pretty well until they can’t. And I am like “you have been feeling like this for the last 10 minutes? Why didn’t you say something?” But sometimes they are afraid to say anything, but that’s the hard part, knowing if they are “okay”. Is their form okay? (As a Trainer) You want to give your attention to everyone but sometimes it’s hard.

What is nice, is that people that have been here for a while will jump in and be like “Hey this is how you do this.” And that is really helpful.

I have regulars in my class, and it’s nice because I get to know them and build lasting friendships. Knowing that they can confide in you and that you can share your own stories with them is great. Like I said before, sometimes people don’t think that you struggle as a trainer. But they do, they have. I can attest to that on a daily basis. I mean, I have had body issues my whole life. It’s nice to be able to share that with clients because they think that it’s just them; but no, I’ve been there.

ME: It’s great that these friendships are built on encouragement instead of falsehoods or just blowing smoke up each other’s ass.

AMBER: It is nice. It is nice to know that people can come to us. I like that. These are true friendships. I had a girl message me today, and I message her every morning to come work out, because she has a hard time getting up. So at 3:45 every morning I send her a text, “Hey Boot Camp Today!” Anyway, she texted me and said, “sorry to bother you on a Sunday.” And you know, it doesn’t bother me. I want them to know that they can call me on Sunday, it isn’t a big deal and I want to be able to help whenever I can.

It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is; we all need some one to confide in, and that is what friends are for.

ME: What strides do you feel you have made through boot camp?

AMBER: I think it has made me accept myself more. A. Because I find I am happier with myself, I have gotten better results with the way I feel I look better than I did when I was just doing my own thing with the lifting and cardio. I am probably the happiest with myself that I have ever been just because I feel stronger. I feel like I am in the best shape I’ve ever been in; cardio wise and everything. Boot camp has definitely made me feel better about myself. I think it’s all the encouragement and the fact that you GET RESULTS with what you are doing. 90% of it is diet. If you watch what you are eating and come to class every day, you are going to get results in less than an hour a day.

It’s made me realize more isn’t always better. Killing yourself in the gym isn’t always better. To even go and do 20 minutes on a stationary machine… I just can’t do it any more. I just don’t want to do it. It’s like the most dreaded 20 minutes of my life!

ME:  What do you feel, on your fitness journey, that your biggest struggle has been?

AMBER: Self Image for sure. I am the most critical of myself. I preach to people, like, “Don’t weight yourself.” “Don’t stress about the numbers.” But I am probably one of the worst critics in the past of weighing myself entirely too much. I would pick myself apart on a day to day basis, especially after competing.

ME: So it never manifest, for you, as an eating disorder?

AMBER: I have never “not eaten” or thrown up. I would say I had body dysmorphia, and a self image issue but it never been to a point of not eating or throwing up. I have to eat every two hours, I feel like I could kill someone… so if I am not eating every couple of hours then I am not doing okay.

Amber 2015, looking great and well balanced.
Amber 2015, looking great and well balanced.
Check out the curves and definition in her back!
Check out the curves and definition in her back!

ME: Do you feel like Boot Camp has been beneficial to your relationship?

AMBER: Yes, I do! It’s made me feel better about myself. My husband is very supportive of everything I do and he is very loving . He always tells me he loves me and that I am beautiful, but he said it’s hard on him when I am hard on myself. He would say “My wife is wonderful, my wife is beautiful…but she is saying other”. It was really hard on him. But now I am happier with how I look and that makes it easier on him. He would be giving me these compliments and I would be “uh-huh, sure, okay.” In one ear and out the other. When you start feeling better about yourself it makes life so much easier.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have days just like every body else. We all have our days where we just don’t feel like ourselves.

Boot Camp looks good on Amber, wouldn't you say?
Boot Camp looks good on Amber, wouldn’t you say?

Amber and I chatted a bit longer off the record, and I can honestly say that she is an amazing and resilient spirit. Her positivity toward helping others is quite inspiring and I wish her the best with her future endeavors, namely, of the baby making variety.

Having a compatible trainer can help make or break your physical fitness routine. At Fit Body Boot Camp, the trainers are all very personable and passionate about helping others succeed at their fitness goals and living a life style of health. Each of them is willing to assist where ever necessary in order to lead by example.

Client’s aren’t just clients….this is fitness family.

Come check it out, and be inspired, no matter your fitness level!

Fit Body Boot Camp-Week 10~A Gym With An Incentives Program?

What is the best part of going to a gym? Getting in shape and feeling better.

What is the worst part of going to the gym? Finding the will power and motivation to create a life style change.

This is where most gyms fail their members. They may have 16 rooms and a bunch of classes, but generally they feel very impersonal, and unless you go with a partner, or have a trainer; there is a good chance you will walk in and out with out having said a single word to anyone else.

When I use to go to a “regular” gym, I avoided eye contact, and would make my way to the Cardio Cinema, where the room is dark, and there is a large screen playing a movie, helping to create the illusion that no one is watching me. I found the regular gym to be, intimidating.

At Fit Body we all know that steady stream cardio, does little to raise the metabolism for much longer than the duration of the actual exercise; but before I was with Fit Body Boot Camp, I was unaware of that fact.

So, each time I would go to that dark room, I would hop on a cardio machine, and zone out. I was consistant with it for about 5 weeks, and couldn’t see any improvements. I stayed away from the weight machines and free weights because it had been years since I had lifted, with out instruction I was wary of injury. Those 5 weeks started to get really boring, jumping from one stationary cardio machine to the next. I wasn’t being challenged physically, but mentally I was being challenged to just walk through those doors on a daily basis. Eventually I just stopped going, feeling defeated.

Fast forward to January of this year, when I joined Fit Body Boot Camp-Cheyenne’s 6 week Transformation Challenge. From the moment I signed up, I was given paper work to read regarding nutrition and how the body uses that energy through food, to build muscle. I was also invited into an online Facebook Accountability Group with all of the other Challege participants.

Right away, I knew this wasn’t some ordinary “figure it out for yourself” program. The trainers want to encourage a healthy lifestyle that will create noticeble results quicker than your average cardio class, and they also want to train people to make this a sustainable lifestyle of fitness.

In orientation I had to write down, my goal weight/size, and I was informed of an incentive that, if I get to my goal within the year of attending FBBC… They will PAY ME $300.00!

I want to look better and feel better, and wear a size 8 in jeans… I have a ways to go, but if I reach my goal within the year, Fit Body Boot Camp will be paying for my new wardrobe! See what I am saying about incentives?

Everyday that I am able to show up, I am able to look at people, and have conversations with them. I am learning about their lives; these are the people who make up my community both in and out of the gym. They are people who come from all walks of life. For me, this is an incentive. There is a sense of trust, that if you can jump around and jiggle together, then you might as well learn the name of the people next to you. You start to see who is who, and when you interact in the online accountibility group, you find a little family of people who all struggle at times, but also have triumphs. Here is where you can find 24 hour support from a community of people commited to bettering their own lives and assisting others in their desire to be better as well.

Photo Courtesy of Jaimel Blajszczak
Photo Courtesy of Jaimel Blajszczak

Part of the sponsored accountibility is the personal responciblity to record a food log, and hand it in. There is also a sign in sheet that one must remember to sign everyday. You must weigh in at least twice a month. All of these things are being recorded by the Trainers, and being noted in your personal file. The reason is to show progress, and trigger point what may be stunting progress. It’s also being used as part of an incentive program called “Fitty Club.”

Fitty Club is exlusive and invite only. It will include a night out for dinner with all the trainers and winners, and their families. It will Include awards, and prizes! Yes, prizes…

For the last Six Week Challenge, the Fitty Club met up on a Thursday evening at Two Doors Down, a local eatery with some great options for those who are eating clean. (The Tuna Wrap or Salad seemed to be most popular with the Club members.)

There was a lot of laughter and jovial conversation, as Challenge Winners were able to sit across from one another and talk over their meal; a pleasant change from huffing and puffing, red-faced and focused during Boot Camp.

After the meal was finished Owner Sara Goossen casually called up the winners to recieve their awards.

1st Place was taken by Amy Porter with 12.89% overall change, which took into account weight, measurements and body fat. She was awarded an Ipad mini and a $50 gift card for Itunes! She was plesantly surprised by her gift.

Amy Porter with her Big Win Grin and a snazzy Ipod mini with $50 gift card.
Amy Porter with her Big Win Grin and a snazzy Ipod mini with $50 gift card.

2nd Place went to Michelle Heinen with 10.26% overall change, and she won $200. I know right?!?!

2nd place winner, Michelle Heinen with Sara Goossen. Pictures courtesy of Monica Yarborough
2nd place winner, Michelle Heinen with Sara Goossen. Pictures courtesy of Monica Yarborough

3rd Place was hard earned by Courtney Tatum with 9.54% overall change, she won 1/2 off her next month.

3rd place Winner, Courtney Tatum stoked with her win!
3rd place Winner, Courtney Tatum stoked with her win!

Does your gym do anything like that for you? Probably not. Like I said, Fit Body Boot Camp has great incentives. If this sounds like something you could use in your desire to live a healthier life, give Fit Body Boot Camp-Cheyenne a visit on Facebook or at fitbodybootcamp.com/cheyennefitnessbootcamp/.

*Thank you to Monica Yarborough and Jaimel Blajszczak for their photo contributions to this article!