What You Don’t See

I had a bunch of photos taken of me this weekend and wow, what a crazy experience.  I know that I am confident, I am strong, I am happy, I am secure, and to be honest, I don’t even think that much about my body when I leave the house; however, this weekend was eye-opening to say the least. At our workshops I preach loving yourself and to focus on the process of getting healthy; however, what I see when I look in the mirror is something entirely different than what the camera sees. Here’s what I mean; six years ago I hauled myself to NorCal Strength and Conditioning, stuffed inside my husbands sweat pants, with fear, pain, grief, and depression glueing me to my car seat, barely able to walk inside that gym. But I went, I listened to Robb and Nicki, I worked, and I never looked back. Since that very first day, feeling good, feeling great rather, has been my only motivator and I think that’s part of why I don’t always see what the camera sees, what my husband sees, what you all see.  I just want to keep on living. I just want to keep on picking up weights, hearing the plates crash to the ground, pulling myself up and over the bar. I just want to keep on chasing my kids, jumping on the trampoline, going to bed early and waking up at dawn so that I know what it feels like to want to get out of bed. Every. Single. Day.  I want to do these things forever because I finally know what it feels like to really LIVE.I am busy. I get stressed. I screw up. BUT – I no longer compromise my health. Not for you, not for my family, not for anyone. I have learned that without my health I am nothing and what I never ever think about is how that equates to what I look like in a photo or in the mirror or how that even matters. What’s awesome is that it doesn’t matter; because I’m loving myself every single day for the strength I actually possess to make it through each day; where 6 years ago it was simply a struggle to drag myself out of bed. What’s awesome is that what the camera sees is just a bonus and not my focus. I spent too many years making how I looked in the mirror or in a picture my main priority; but losing someone you love and consequently losing your own health and your will to even try; can sometimes be a harsh reality slap in the face. It took this very thing for me to realize that no matter how great or horrid someone might think they look; the only thing that matters is health.

Now I am healthy. Now I am strong. Now I am the wife, mom, daughter, sister and friend I have always wanted to be. Now I do not see anything in the mirror but a confident women who radiates health and what I see could look a million different ways to a million different people but to me what I focus on is the light in my eyes and that’s all that matters.  What I don’t see when looking in the mirror is what only the camera can reveal; and I am shocked! It’s almost a little bit crazy and as I sat last night with John looking through all the pictures that were taken; all I could do was smile. But it couldn’t be me I was looking at in those pictures but some other lady because I only know how I feel. And I’m totally ok with that.

My focus is life and what I do to take care of myself these days is really simple. I eat super clean. I don’t eat a lot of “paleo” treats because when I avoid treats, they taste too sweet and make me feel gross when I do eat them; not to mention it’s time consuming, hard and expensive to make that stuff anyway. I try not to keep it complicated because I have a very healthy relationship with food (finally) and this is the best way for me to keep it that way. I also rarely drink but for the occasional glass of wine or vodka soda with lots of lime. I drank a lot the year my mom died. Wait, let’s be honest; I drank a lot for several years after my mom died and now I only want to have a drink to celebrate life, not mask my emotions or to “de-stress.” Celebration is much better than disconnection. I eat cheesy corn chips or sauce smothered enchiladas now and then; when the moment arises but otherwise, I’m way too busy to think about “cheats” or “treats”.  I cook a lot on the weekends and my family eats tons of leftovers or whatever creations I’m working on for the next cookbook or from previous cookbooks or for a new blog post recipe.  I always have a huge amount of eggs, tuna salad, chicken salad, and sliced veggies on hand so that I’m not constantly making lunches or snacks for the boys. I drink one or two cups of coffee in the morning and rarely have more than that but I don’t stress out about it if I do. I lift heavy weights – meaning I dead lift, back squat, press overhead, bench press, do weighted pull ups, and currently I’m having fun (emphasis on FUN) doing a bunch of glute work and some old school body building stuff (yes, I do bicep curls – GASP!) I’ll do some metabolic conditioning that usually looks like sprints, kettle bell swings, or jumprope and it rarely lasts longer than 10 minutes. I try to walk as much as possible but I need/want to do more of that. I’m super active with my kids; playing, running, wrestling, jumping, laughing, being silly. (Being silly is great exercise). I go to bed when I’m tired and that’s usually pretty early because I’m running around like mad all day. I homeschool Jaden and Rowan and Coby is in his last year of high school and we are currently searching out potential colleges. I love what I do, I love Everyday Paleo, but I won’t do this anymore when I stop loving it. I love writing books. I love doing our workshops with Jason. I love hanging out with my husband and laughing and playing with my kids. I keep my family my focus and when I feel like I start to slip, when I feel like it’s all going over the edge and my health is starting to take a back burner I SHUT IT ALL DOWN for a few days! I will never go back to how things used to be and that’s my mantra; so if the blog is a bit quiet or if Facebook is a bit stagnant it’s not because I do not care; it’s because I DO care and when I do give you all I’ve got I want to offer myself to you with health as my backbone, not because I feel like I have to or that I need to.

If I let my life wreck me; I would be a horrible role model for all of you, and not at all what I want to be for my family.

I want you all to do the same – which means figure out what works for you. I want for you to look in the mirror and see health. I want for you to notice what makes you glow, what you feel, and why you breath in and out deep from within your soul. This is what you should be seeing when you look in the mirror. Not how thick or thin, strong or weak, lumpy or bumpy, shredded or bulging, big or small; but how great you are. My personal goal is to always see my best self looking back at me (which has nothing to do with my appearance) and everyday I strive to be the best I can to my own body so that I can be the best I can for everyone who needs me.  Most importantly; I need me.  I am not happy unless I am being truly authentic to who I am and how I want to live and I want to live well.

I want to live well. I want to always see the light in my eyes.

I will leave you with a picture that simply radiates the joy that I feel in this life that I am living. This is not one of the pictures that inspired me to write this post; but rather a picture that brings tears to my eyes that I am well enough to have these moments.


Sarah Fragoso

Sarah Fragoso is an international best selling author of 6 books, co-owner of the Chico, CA based gym JS Strength and Conditioning, and founder of the Everyday Paleo franchise. Sarah is the co-host of the popular Sarah and Dr. Brooke Show podcast and she also conducts workshops and retreats on the subjects of nutrition, lifestyle and fitness.

Her message is from the heart and she carries a genuine desire to help other families looking for guidance. These attributes have contributed to her successes and provide the drive to keep the discoveries coming.

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  1. Brad Frithsen says:

    This is awesome. Very inspiring way to look at life, food, and fitness. Thanks!

  2. Penny Danner says:

    ♥ you Sarah!!!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE this!!!! You are SUCH a great example to us all!

  3. Thank you for this. This is what I am trying to create in my life, and you explained it so much better than I have been able to. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing.

    1. You are very welcome Anna and thank YOU!

  4. Laura Lehman says:

    Loved this! Thanks for being an inspiration!

    1. Thank YOU!! : )

  5. Virginia says:

    LOVE. 🙂

  6. Wow, what a powerful post! This is what it’s like when transcend from “diet and exercise” to lifestyle changes. It’s all about the confidence of knowing your body, having your health under control and having the tools to reset if life gets in the way. Confidence! You are an living example of your tag line…
    I hope you frame this photo and put in on your living room wall!

    1. Great idea with the photo – I just might do that. Thank you!!

  7. Great Pic!!! I’m still a work in progress and what you have written is so inspiring. Thank you.

    1. We are ALL works in progress; life would just be super boring if we were all perfect… ; )

  8. Thank you so much for being so authentic! Beautiful post…

    1. Thank you Wendy!! : )

  9. Erin Devitt says:

    This is such a beautiful post, Sarah!! I whole-heartedly agree with your stance on health as a primary focus, and I hope I get to a point where it all comes together. You are such an inspiration! Xoxo

    1. Thenk you Erin! xo

  10. Stephanie KL says:

    What an inspiration. You have given me the desire/need to see my inner glow and to be the best that I could be. Thank you for your words of encouragement!!

    1. Glow on girl! Thank you Stephanie! : )

  11. Love this and love you. So proud to be your sister. You are my inspiration every day.

    1. Thank you sweet sister, love you so much too. You have ALWAYS been my inspiration. xoxo

  12. Melanie says:

    Sarah, this is a wonderful post that is such a great reminder for everyone. You truly are an inspiration!

    1. Thank you so much Melanie!

  13. Becky Araoz says:

    Sarah, thanks for this reminder of how we should look at life & having priorities set straight. God bless!

    1. Thank you Becky!

  14. Tirzah says:

    Sarah, Thank you for this post. It is just what I needed to read. I have been Paleo since January and was doing really well until the summer came and we travelled a lot with my hubby for work. As a result Paleo went partially out the window and so did my health. Just last night I felt horrible and knew it was because of how I was eating. Your post this morning reminded me that I need to take care of me. And if that means setting other things down for a few days so I can refocus, then that is what I need to do. Hearing that you homeschool as well (not sure how I missed that before!), encouraged me, since I too am a Homeschooler and sometimes I let that be my excuse. No more excuses… Today is a new day and I will take care of myself… Why? Because I need it, my family needs me, and it enables me to live life to the fullest! Blessings t you!

    1. Thank you so much Tirzah! Refocusing is something we ALL need to do now and then thanks to life constantly trying to get in the way. : )

  15. Jessica says:

    Thank you Sarah. I read this with tears in my eyes, and a lump in my throat. After a long battle with being overweight and then a long road recovering from an eating disorder, I am finally rocking the body I always wanted- but reading your post made me realize that none of that matters at all without health. Yeah, Paleo living leaned me out, but most importantly, it CHANGED MY LIFE! My relationship with food is healing, and I am healthier now than I’ve ever been. I owe a lot to you and Jason and the folks at EPlifefit. Thank you for encouraging us all to be our best selves, and for reminding us that health comes first- asthetics are a bonus! By the way, you are beautiful inside and out. Thank you for giving so much to the rest of us- you are a great role model for other young women like myself. Keep on keeping on! We all love you.

  16. Fantastic post! It clearly illustrates how this is so much more than just a diet, than just a way of eating. Thankyou for sharing.

  17. Awesome! Very inspirational.

  18. WOW! I am crying reading this! I wish I could write that in the way you did. I have been paleo on and off trying to find my way. and one thing I know for sure is I feel like me when I am eating paleo and have balance in my life. It was sort of strange because, while I am not to my goal weight or fitness level, I relate so much to your story. I have 3 sons and homeschool too !!!. thanks for the cookbooks . I currently own two of yours and love them so much.f. i am on the journey

  19. Thank you very much, it is very inspring blog entrance.

  20. Thank you Sarah! Your words are always so encouraging. I listen to your podcasts with Jason and have your “Everyday Paleo” cookbook. I have searched every Costco and can’t find the new Italy cookbook. I live in So Cal, Rancho Cucamonga. I need to purchase your cookbooks as gifts to my family and friends!

    1. Hi Sherry! I’m so sorry you’re having a hard time finding the new book in Costcos! They are most likely sold out or sometimes they get buried under the other paleo books so you have to dig. 🙁 The good news is that you should be able to also find all of my books at any Barnes & Noble and you can of course order them from Amazon if you are willing! Thank you so much for your support!!

  21. Kris Gleason says:

    Thank you so much for being real!

  22. Wow, what a beautiful post. Thank you so much for writing it. My 3-year-old golden retriever was just diagnosed with malignant cancer last week. While I’m devastated, reading this inspires me to live life to the fullest with her until her final days, all while taking care of myself and eating clean and getting enough exercise. Thanks.

  23. Bryan Bach says:

    What a great post with which to start the week! Thanks for taking the time to share this so honestly and thoughtfully. There is gold in this post and we are all richer for having read it. P.S. Awesome freaking photo.

  24. Lynne Creighton says:

    I read Sarah daily, watch for new recipe’s, and am learning how to inspire myself and others though a cleaner lifestyle. After 15 years and 7 months (starting in 1999) of dis-ease, intestinal parasites, vaginal infections, and a digestive system that was just a hot mess, I have found a calm in my life that centers in my paleo lifestyle! Thanks so much to Sarah, Chris Kresser, Robb Wolf and Dr. Cordain and my paleo pal here at work Elizabeth Oropeza. I lost my 90 year old dad in November after a 6 years of deteriorating health. A stroke followed by a TIA a year later, and the refusal to take on the physical therapy left his body and mind to move on a slow downward slope. I watched his body get smaller, the strength diminish, balance go completely, multiple gastro problems, and speech that was jumbled and slurred. But his mind was sharp as a tack! We would talk football, baseball, and golf especially, and I would share my golf rounds with him and he would tell me of how he played “that hole” in his lifetime. He would remember the date, the score and who he played with, and sometimes the weather! But when he went into home hospice for 19 days and my 85 year old mother was caretaking him, he looked up at me two nights before he passed and asked, “what am I still doing here?”. All I could say was, “you must still have some business to take care of here in this realm”. He could not turn over in bed, go to the bathroom, and was eating mushy food at 2 bites a meal. I promised myself and my husband that I would NEVER want my life to end like that. I wanted to be healthy, fit, thriving, and living life to the fullest till my life’s end. Then in January, all hell broke loose and the next 7 months were spent with doctor appointments, gastro procedures, vaginal procedures, and then there was calm and my system leveled off and I found paleo. I am 61 years old, a singer/dancer/choreographer and I am in the best shape of my entire life! So blessings to all and thank you Sarah for “What You Don’t See”, as it was a blessing to my heart, mind, and soul! p.s. bought the Every Day Paleo shirt and have been wearing it with a huge smile on my face!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story Lynne; so incredibly touching and YOU are why I keep on doing what I’m doing! Keep on dancing and singing – life is filled with so much joy!

  25. So raw,
    So real,
    So perfect.
    You radiate and shine like a star.
    Thank you for sharing so much that is intrinsic to you, yet resonates within us all.

  26. Your picture, post and raw feelings brought me to tears in my office. You spoke what my souls screams at me everyday and 100% without a doubt craves. Thank you.

  27. Hi Sarah! What a beautiful and powerful post! Everyday Paleo was recommended to me by a friend and what an introduction this was! I have not gone Paleo yet (making REAL change is a little overwhelming to me right now) but this certainly is inspiring and I can completely relate to this blog! Congratulations on your success and commitment to yourself and family. I’m looking forward to exploring your blog and website.

  28. What a great post, Sarah! Thank you.

  29. Your line about “if I let my life wreck me. . . ” just really resonated with me. After my daughter was born 3 years ago, I’ve been so busy taking care of everyone else, that I neglected to take care of myself. I’m currently 25 pounds heavier than my heaviest, which was 40 pounds heavier than I needed to be. My daughter has been constantly sick for several years, I’ve had a parent constantly in and out of the hospital, and my husband’s job keeps him away from home most of the time. ALL of the household management, every single problem has fallen to me. And, I’ve been there, using food to mask my emotions.

    I cannot thank you enough for your post. You’ve given me some much needed insight to my life, and this post drives me to finish my workouts (which I’ve picked up again this week) and start eating clean. You are a wonderful and amazing blessing. Your post has blessed me more than you’ll ever know. Thank you.

  30. You are an inspiration!! Thank you!! My family and I started our journey almost a year ago. We changed our lifestyle when we discovered that the chemicals in processed food where to blame for our son’s behavioural and sleep problems. We started eating clean and could not believe the difference it made in not only our son, but all of us! We finally met that sweet boy that had been hiding behind an array of feelings he couldn’t explain or cope with. And the rest of us all started to feel better too. Health problems that we thought were things we would always live with disappeared, we had so much more energy and love for life. We will never go back, instead we go forward striving to improve more each day and loving the journey it’s taking us on! Reading your story is very inspirational for me and I can feel your positive energy after reading it…Thank you!!

  31. You are so inspiring and it is refreshing to hear someone talk about the way you feel versus the way you look. Thank you for everything you do you are truly and inspiration to many people.

    Come to South Texas for a workshop PLEASE!

  32. Angela says:

    So glad I read this post. I will re-read it many times over. I’ve had the privilege of attending your seminar, Sarah, so I can literally visualize your glowing, animated self speaking these words 🙂

    I’ve struggled with cystic acne for 11 years and it’s taken a toll ln my mental well-being. I’ve developed a phobia of all reflective surfaces, literally afraid to look at my own marred face. That which is literally skin deep causes me to feel shame and disgust about my appearance. This post invites me to look for something different in the mirror and to mend my shattered self-image. For that, THANK YOU SARAH. I know today is a turning point in my life.


    1. You are awesome Angela! Thank you so much for responding. Big hugs from me!

  33. Loved this post! I am still finding my way in changing our foods to better my health (chronic pain, weight and other bits and pieces), and it is so nice to hear this 🙂 Thank you so much.

  34. Dawn Fallon says:

    You are truly inspirational and infectious!! I wish you did your podcast everyday. Making a different eggplant/ ground beef dish tonight, but will try yours next!

  35. I know this is an older post, but it really speaks to me in this stage of life. There is this struggle to build, be present, and truly live life. Thank you for putting into words what I can’t.

    1. You are so very welcome! : )

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