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Escape the Monsters: Introducing "The Unweighted Project"

Welcome. This is my first blog, and it’s about 5 years in the making. It’s been on my to-do list for THAT long.

But surprisingly, as I launch myself into a commitment to write on a regular basis, today’s topic is not about running. Or nutrition. Or how to create accountability for healthy habits. Moving forward, I plan to share the heck out of ALL of that stuff to help you take back control of your health FOR GOOD. Stay tuned.

But not today. Today is about taking imperfect action. It's about lining up at the starting line, ready or not, and not giving a damn if the training was perfect. It's about accepting where and who we are--and throwing it OUT there for the world to see. It’s about getting rid of the WEIGHT that holds us back. You know the weight I'm talking about, and it has NOTHING to do with skinny jeans.

In life, we often find ourselves hesitating to take action. Perhaps we are looking for the perfect time or place or opportunity. Maybe Monday. Maybe next month. Or next year. We carry SO MUCH in that waiting, as we inch toward the starting line. Should I do it now? Should I SAY it now? Should I try it now? What if (fill in the blank) happens? So. Much. Weight. It chases us. It holds us down. It’s almost like trudging through life with an 80-pound rucksack on our backs, paralyzing us with inaction.


“We can spend our whole lives escaping from the monsters of our minds.”

--Pema Chodron

Ah, the ever-present monsters. I was introduced to Pema Chodron as a 20-year old Division 1 swimmer at the University at Buffalo. My coach at the time, Dorsi Raynolds, often worked in Chodron’s lessons before and after our intense pool sessions. What I remember most about that time, other than being completely and utterly exhausted (5 pool miles + weights was a regular day), was that when Dorsi talked, the world kind of stopped to listen. Her lessons struck you--and they had very little to do with swimming (or so I thought). I certainly couldn’t soak it all in then. I was too young, too naive, and too afraid to slow down and face the monsters. Plus, I could outswim and outrun them. Yet, as time has passed and I have slowed down, the insightfulness gained in those moments comes back. I’ve learned that we carry around a lot of unnecessary “stuff” in life. Recognizing it, owning it, and then off-loading it for good opens the path of clarity.

I've watched what has happened in our country over the past few weeks very closely. As I mentioned in a recent Facebook post, I can't begin to understand how black men and women have suffered in this world and throughout our history. How exactly did we get to this place? Why? I don’t have the answers, yet I CAN and WILL listen and educate myself at every opportunity until racism no longer exists. I cannot remain silent. I may lose a few friends over it, as I did this week. It stings. It really does. Losing “weight” is hard. Yet, it is this moment in time that has precipitated my call to action and has reminded me to STOP HESITATING. Stop waiting for the perfect time or place. Put it out there. Take this important first step.

So that brings me here, a place that I failed to brave for the past five years. Stay with me. When I started Jersey Women Strong, and really, throughout my professional career in the fitness industry, my mission was to help women improve their own well-being through fitness, while at the same time strengthening our community through outreach and volunteerism. I'm committed to using my platform, running and otherwise, to speak from the heart and have meaningful dialogue with those willing to do so. I’m looking to change lives and help ALL OF US get rid of the physical, mental, and emotional baggage we carry, so we can achieve deep health.

And then it hit me. “The Unweighted Project.”

The name plopped itself on my lap a few days ago. I’ve been trying for so long to put into words the direction my coaching has taken over the past several years. How could I bring it all together? Where exactly was I going with all of this? Admittedly, I’ve been all over the place at times. Name changes. Format shifts. Momentum swings. Finding a central theme has proved to be a great challenge.

Yet, whether it’s working to get you faster, stronger, leaner, or healthier, for me, coaching has ALWAYS come down to clearing the path. And unloading. Quite frankly, it’s not as simple as covering “x” miles in zone “x”. Or hill repeats vs. tempo runs. It isn’t solely about macros, or fasting, or kale. Science is cool, and those things are important. But life doesn’t always fit into a pre-made formula.

For me, coaching boils down to releasing the heaviness that slows our progress. It’s about opening up to a way of thinking and DOING that perhaps never presented itself. It’s about finally facing the monsters and throwing them off your back.

Most of the time, I'll talk with you about fitness. Or nutrition. Maybe I’ll even throw in some burpees and some touchy-feely meditation for you. Along the way, I plan to watch you smash the HECK out of your health goals by getting rid of that CRUD that weighs you down. Sometimes, I'll talk with you about things I'm passionate about and need to share. I might ask you to dig into your uncomfortable zone a little bit.

We don't have to agree on everything. That would make for a pretty boring existence. Yet, together, can we commit to ensuring no person ever feels they have to walk alone in this world? Can we share the load and the burden? Can we get rid of the unneeded “weight” and CHANGE LIVES?

In every moment, let's be active, not reactive. Let’s buckle up and get after it today and every day. Let’s be kind. And open-minded. Let’s do, rather than say. For me, it's long overdue. Are you ready? Start tossing what’s holding you down right now, and let's get unweighted TOGETHER.


-- Coach Dana


P.S. If you’d like to jump on into my existing Facebook group (sorry guys--this one is for the ladies), click here and answer a few short questions. I put out lots of FREE content, including live boot camp classes, challenges, etc. You’ll also occasionally hear about private coaching opportunities, paid coaching programs, webinars or speaking engagements. I’d love to have you. You can also find me here:


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